Sunday, November 8, 2015, 10:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Heart’s Desire.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 24 (NASB). Two Baskets (vv. 1-3) After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the officials of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me: behold, two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord! One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten due to rottenness. Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad figs, very bad, which cannot be eaten due to rottenness.” There are two very basic classifications (or groups) of people in this world of ours. There are those who believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, who have repented of their sins, who have submitted to God, who have been transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and who have turned to follow Jesus Christ with their lives. Then, there are those who don’t truly believe in Jesus Christ, who have not repented of their sins, who have not been regenerated of the Spirit of God, and who are still walking in darkness (sin, wickedness). Within each of these two groups, though, also exist two other basic groups. [See: Matt. 13:1-23, The Parable of the Sower, which gives us the four groups.] Although becoming a follower of Christ does not mean we now live in sinless perfection, Jesus did set us free from slavery to sin so we can now become servants of righteousness. He has empowered us to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, so no true believer in Jesus Christ should still be persistent in conducting their lives after the flesh and not after the Spirit (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9). And, yet, the Bible speaks of followers of Christ who have fallen back into sin, and who need to repent and to turn back to their Lord (See Rev 2-3, for example). So, we know from scripture that it is possible to have believed in Jesus Christ, but later to have slipped back into old ways, and to be in need of coming to God in repentance and renewed faith. We also know from scripture that there are many who call themselves followers of Christ who have never truly been born again. They aren’t in the group that makes no claims to faith in Jesus Christ, yet they are just as lost, because they never repented of their sin, and they never trusted Jesus Christ with their lives. They may have all the appearance of godliness, but deny its power in their lives. They may be zealous for their religion of choice and for good works, but they are still operating in the flesh, living by their own rules, and not living in submission to God. Many of them make up their own version of God/Jesus, which fits their sinful lifestyles, and they may twist the scriptures to try to excuse away their sinful behavior, while still claiming the promise of heaven, but one day Jesus is going to say to them, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” unless he changes their hearts. The Good Figs (vv. 4-7) Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. Notice with me here that God does not say these are those who are living in sinless perfection or that they are those who have arrived spiritually, and need no further spiritual growth or maturity. In fact, many of these were sent into captivity because of their sinful rebellion against God, their idolatry and their spiritual adultery, as well as because of their refusal to listen to God and to his messengers, and to heed the calls to repent and to obey God with their lives. God sent many of them into captivity in order to bring them to their senses, so that they would repent of their sins, would forsake their idols, and would return to their Lord, so that he could revive them, refine them and purify them. These are those who are genuinely saved, whether they are walking in consistent fellowship with their Lord and are living in victory over sin regularly, or whether they are struggling with sin or have temporarily backslidden and are in need of revival. God knows those who are his, and he will work in our hearts and lives to mature us, to make us holy, to transform us into Christ’s likeness, and to bring us to our senses when we are led astray. He will, like he did with his children of old, discipline us “for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Heb. 12:3-11). In other words, He may have to send some of us into captivity, or he may take us through a time of great trial and tribulation, but we must know it is for our good, that he may purify us; that he may turn our hearts to him so that those who have gone astray may return to him with their whole hearts. The Bad Figs (vv. 8-10) ‘But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness—indeed, thus says the Lord—so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them. I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.’” There are those, as we stated earlier, who don’t know Christ as Savior, and who have never confessed faith in him at all. Yet, among them there are those who make a profession of Christ as Savior, but they never repented of their sin, and they are still persisting in conducting their lives according to their sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit. They pretend to know Christ or they are self-deceived into believing they know Christ, but it is in form and performance only. Apart from genuine faith in Jesus Christ via repentance and obedience, which are necessary components of believing faith, they are lost. They have no hope of eternal life with God, even though many of them believe they do. So, they are destined to spend eternity in the fires of hell in eternal torment and punishment. Yet, scripture teaches us that in the last days before Jesus’ return that the gospel of Jesus Christ will go throughout the earth, and that people from all nations will come to faith in Jesus Christ, even among those who presently made a profession of Christ only, but don’t really know him (See books of Isaiah & Revelation). So, even if such people are presently among the unsaved, there is still hope that they can turn their hearts to God/Jesus Christ in humility and repentance, that they will surrender their lives to Jesus Christ, and that they will be regenerated of the Spirit of God and be given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived in the power of the Spirit, walking daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. So, we should be praying for their salvation, as well as we should be believing God for the revival of his wayward church. In addition, we should be faithfully sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as he taught it, and as his NT apostles taught it, so that many will hear and will believe, and so many who are straying presently will return to Christ in repentance and renewed faith. We should never give up hope, but we must persevere in our walks of faith and in sharing our faith in Jesus Christ with all who will listen. My Heart’s Desire / An Original Work / June 29, 2013 Based off Rm. 10; Lu. 9:23-26; Ep. 4:20-24 Loved Ones, Oh, my heart’s desire Is that you might come to Jesus. Many appear zealous for God, But they do not trust in Him. They have not submitted to the One Who saved them from their sins; Not forsaken their sins, Nor have they obeyed their King. The word of the Lord is near you: The word of faith we’re proclaiming: That you must confess your faith In Jesus as your Lord and King: Believe in Him as your Lord, And follow Him where’er He leads. Share the gospel; be a witness, And meet others’ needs. Beautiful are the feet of those Who bring the good news of Jesus: Anyone who would come to Him Must deny himself today; Die to sin and self, and Let the Spirit transform you in heart; Put on your new self in Jesus, Yielding to the cross.