Sunday, July 20, 2014, 5:57 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Give Thanks.” Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Jeremiah 9 (NIV). I Would Weep Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. ~ Jer. 9:1-2 Jeremiah felt the pain of the sin of his people. He truly wept day and night over their adulterous ways. He felt the burden and weight of their sin upon him because he cared about them deeply. How he longed for them to return to their Lord God and to cease from their idolatrous ways. Although he was in the minority in his feelings, should he have been? The Lord told the man clothed in linen to “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it” (Ez. 9:4). This is something that we, as followers of Christ, should all feel in the depths of our souls and in our emotions. We are the Body of Christ. That means we should feel what Jesus feels, and we should care about the things he cares about. But, do we? It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? ~ 1 Co. 5:1-2 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. ~ 2 Co. 11:4 I believe that we have a serious problem of apathy and self-absorption in our day and age within the church to where very few believers in Christ truly weep over the grave sin condition of today’s modern church movement. We all need to be more like Jeremiah, not only in weeping and grieving and praying over the sin within the church, but in praying for God to bring revival, and in being devoted to encouraging and strengthening our brothers and sisters in the faith so that we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness; and also in following our Lord’s commands to come out from the sinful world and to be separate – set apart (unlike; different) from worldliness, and set apart to God and to his service. Not By Truth “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. “Beware of your friends; do not trust anyone in your clan… Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. ~ Jer. 9:3-6 Lies and deceitfulness abound today, not only in the world in general, in advertising, in sales, in business dealings, in politics, in governments, and in the news media, but also within the church. Much of today’s church is run just like big business, which includes the massive use of marketing techniques and schemes in order to draw in large crowds of people. What goes along with such business dealings within the church are trickery, manipulation, lies and deception. As well, for those who consume much in the way of TV and movies, lying is commonplace in a lot of what is viewed, and these attitudes and values get passed on to us through these mediums. And, added to that, many cultures and traditions incorporate lying into their communications with people, often with the excuse that they are being “nice,” or as a way to avoid conflict. So, we need to be discerning, and we need to not blindly trust everyone or everything we read or hear or see. Refine and Test Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?” ~ Jer. 9:7-9 Our Lord God loves his church. That is why he gave himself up for us so we could be saved. That is why he has given us his word to teach us how to live godly and holy lives in this present age. That is why he has given us his Spirit within us to counsel, encourage, teach, exhort, strengthen and empower us in our faith. That is why he has given us each other that we may help encourage, strengthen, build up, exhort, and instruct one another. That is why, too, he is sending some of his servants – his watchmen - out to give messages of warning against sin’s deceitfulness, against wolves in sheep’s clothing, and against falling prey to lies and deceptions, as well as to encourage us in our faith, and to exhort us to turn from our sins and to follow Jesus Christ in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives. Yet, it is also why he refines and tests us, because he disciplines those he loves. Not Obeyed Him Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross? The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” ~ Jer. 9:12-14 The “law” today is Jesus Christ and it is his word. In Is. 2:3-4 we read: “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations…” This is a prophecy about Jesus Christ. He is the Mountain of the Lord. He is the Temple of the God of Jacob. He is the Law, and he is the Word of the Lord. He will teach us his ways that we may walk in his paths. Romans 10:4 says: “Christ is the culmination” (fulfillment; sum; goal) “of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” As well, Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). And, John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. ~ Jas. 1:21-25 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. ~ 1 Jn. 2:3-6 We must obey Jesus Christ and his word. This is not optional. And, it is not legalism, either. The New Testament is real clear on this issue. Obedience to Christ and to his word is evidence that we are in Christ and that we love God, as well as we will experience the blessings of God in what we do when we walk in obedience to him and to his word. Yet, this is not just following a set of rules. Obedience is complete surrender to our Lord. It is giving of our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in mind and heart. As well, we can only obey our Lord Jesus in the power and working of his Spirit within us. Circumcised in Heart This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh— Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.” ~ Jer. 9:23-26 We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing with us when we go. All we have is from God. So, we should never have cause to boast about our own wisdom or own strength as though we have something we did not receive from God. All our praise should go to our God/Jesus Christ for all that he has done for us and within us. Even our faith is a gift from God, as well as is our ability or even the desire within us to obey him. We did nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Only by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins can we even have eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we must put that faith into practice in our lives by submitting to the cross of Christ in allowing Jesus to circumcise (put sin to death in) our hearts. Our delight should be found only in HIM. [See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 & 1 Jn. 1-5.] Give Thanks / Don Moen / Henry Smith Give thanks with a grateful heart Give thanks to the Holy One Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son And now let the weak say, "I am strong" Let the poor say, "I am rich Because of what the Lord has done for us."