October 23, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Judgment is a Flood”

Jeremiah 47:2-5

 Thus says the Lord: “Behold, waters are rising out of the north, and shall become an overflowing torrent; they shall overflow the land and all that fills it, the city and those who dwell in it. Men shall cry out, and every inhabitant of the land shall wail. 3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions, at the rushing of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels, the fathers look not back to their children, so feeble are their hands, 4 because of the day that is coming to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that remains. For the Lord is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.5 Baldness has come upon Gaza; Ashkelon has perished. O remnant of their valley, how long will you gash yourselves?”

A little about myself:  I’m a missionary who goes by the title “pastor”; and it’s been one of the greatest thrills of my life to serve God in SE Asia.  My family has made two big moves in the last 13 years: first, moving from America to Indonesia; and then moving from Indonesia to Singapore.  We came here with a dream of planting a healthy church that would serve God’s purpose among the nations.

One big event that sped up our transition was a terrible flood in our part of Indonesia.  I remember waking up to my wife’s scream, jumping out of bed to find that our bed was floating in water—literally floating.  The whole house was flooded, as well as our whole neighborhood. Water was thigh-deep everywhere in our home, and everything was drenched.  My iphone was submerged in water for three hours, so I covered it in pre-cooked rice for days and prayed for healing—and it worked! It took two days just to get the water out of the house.  When I waded through the streets, there were hundreds of dead poisonous centipedes, which makes you wonder where they were all hiding. We spent the next few days cleaning, disinfecting and salvaging what we could.  Tragically, many of my books did not survive. Nothing was unaffected, and all of this happened on the very week we were launching worship services in Singapore. I didn’t even have dry clothes. I flew to Singapore and bought clothes to wear on Sunday.  

There’s nothing impotent about a flood—irresistible and unrelenting is more like it.  This is the picture Jeremiah paints of God’s judgment. It’s like a river surging over its banks at flood season, invading places that had previously been deemed secure.  But no amount of running for higher ground would reverse God’s judgment of the Philistines.

To add to the graphic picture, Jeremiah describes not just the sights but the sounds of impending defeat.  Men will cry out; people will wail. The earth would shake and tremble as Egypt’s chariots charged near. The only silence would be the response to the Philistine’s cry for help.  Horrifying. Dreadful. Final.

This is the bad news that’s part of the good news of the gospel: It’s NOT okay to sin before our God and Maker; we will be held accountable to God for the life that was entrusted to us; and that we must respond to Jesus’ gift of grace before it’s too late.  Because either Christ will bear the unrelenting judgment of God in your place—or you will.

You don’t have to look too hard to see the bad news of the gospel at work in the world around us.  The reality and weight of sin is evident everywhere. Look at the news. Look at your fears. Look at our reasons for conflict.  Remember today how much you need the undeserved grace of Jesus, and extend that grace to someone who needs it as well.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank You today for the undeserved grace that we have received at the cross— that You took the dreadful judgment we deserve, so that we might receive the wonderful embrace that You deserve from the Father.   Help us to live in light of this grace today and share its wonders with those around us. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Peter 2


Lunch Break Study  

Read John 16:7-11:  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Before His death, Jesus teaches the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit.  

Questions to Consider

  1. What are we told in these verses about the work of the Holy Spirit?   
  2. Why does Jesus say it’s better for Him to leave so the Holy Spirit might come?  
  3. Is there a person who needs the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in their life?  Pray for them.

Notes

  1. The Holy Spirit convicts the world about our common need for forgiveness (especially the sin of not believing in Jesus) and Jesus’ identity as victorious Savior (going to the Father, the Ascension) demonstrates that He fulfilled the will of God.  That’s righteousness. And Satan’s decisive defeat and ultimate judgment demonstrates Christ’s victory. It’s the Holy Spirit who brings these truths to bear on the souls of men.
  2. Because the Holy Spirit is with us and dwells within us (Jn 14:16-17).  He teaches us and impresses Jesus’ words to our hearts (Jn 14:26-27). He’s NOT silent, He speaks and declares God’s truth to us (Jn 16:13-15).
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Our cultural moment usually prioritizes the immediate over the eternal; getting results over building character; a good quarter above and beyond a good life.  In what areas of your life do you feel this tension? Do you find yourself lost in the rush to achieve short-term goals? Ask God to give you a vision for the eternal investments He is calling you to make.  

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