August 15, Wednesday

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

“Who is in Control?”

Jeremiah 29:8-9

For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah has been delivering some not so great news to a people who really could have used some encouragement. The Jewish exiles in Babylon were in a city where everything—the food, culture, buildings—all screamed, “Not home”! They were in Babylon because Jerusalem had been brutally conquered and ransacked, and the temple was destroyed. The royal line of David was seemingly no more. Good news in their context might have been news that Babylon was going to be punished by God, or that they would be able to return home soon.

And as we read last week, some prophets did in fact prophesy this very thing. But God makes it very clear that the good news that they are prophesying (that they would be able to return to Jerusalem in two years) was not actually from Him.

The very enterprise of prophecy requires some assumptions: first, that there is a God who can speak to us; and second, that this God is in control. While we know this, we allow our cultural, theological biases and personal needs and ambitions to skew how we hear, read and understand the will of God. We often read what we want to read, hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. The Jewish exiles chose to listen to these lies, because the prophets were prophesying what the exiles wanted to hear. In turn, the prophets might have been prophesying what they thought the exiles wanted to hear. When we do that, we unconsciously put ourselves, our needs, thoughts and desires, in control.

God is quite clear—He is in control and we are not. There is good news coming for the exiles (we’ll see this later in Jeremiah 29), but it’s only truly good news if it’s actually coming from the God who is in control. False prophets tell us what we want to hear; true prophets tell us what God wants us to hear.

Prayer: Father, I want to hear truly from You. As I read Your word and spend time in prayer, I ask that I would be hearing what You want me to hear, even if it doesn’t seem like good news in that moment. Give me discernment! I want to do Your will, not mine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Esther 4

 


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean “to be ready in season and out of season” to preach the word?
  2. Looking at verse 3, what is a constant danger that people will fall into?
  3. How does Paul encourage us to handle this challenge?

Notes

  1. This means being ready to preach the word regardless of circumstances. Whatever we may feel we are going through, we need to be ready to preach the word, rather than to pursue teaching the things that just suits our needs or desires. As Jeremiah experienced, sometimes God’s word seem contrary to our needs, but still, we are called to preach His word, knowing that it truly is good, regardless of the season.
  2. People often just want to hear what they want to hear. Paul says that people will surround themselves with voices that affirm everything they do. We do not like to be challenged, because it disrupts our comfort. This is a challenge for us as well. What voices are we listening to? Do we ever listen to voices that challenge us in different ways? May we become a people who humbly listen to voices that challenge us in our blind spots!
  3. Paul says to “be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” There is a focus that is required to endure suffering. If our goal is our own comfort, we will be swayed by all voices that affirm our comfort. But when our goal is to pursue Christ, regardless of circumstance, we can endure suffering because we know that it is only temporary. We can see past the short-term pain and see the long-term joy we have with Jesus.

 


EVENING REFLECTION  

Do you seek to control God or are you surrendered to His ways? Is your obedience or faith at all conditional upon certain circumstances or outcomes? Let’s seek to surrender those to the Lord today!

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