Ezekiel 13

Vs. 3, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!”  History is repeating itself as Ezekiel would have to deal with false prophets, Jesus would also warn us against false prophets (Matthew 24:4).  They were false prophets who were preaching and telling God’s people lies.  Question: What were these lies?  They were prophecying the enemy would not be able to destory Jerusalem and that they would be back home soon.  It seemed like a Godly thing to say, yet they did not seek God in their assumptions.  Think about it…who wants to hear messages of doom because they are a sinner?  These false prophets were much more popular than people like Ezekiel and Jeremiah who were willing to tell the truth about the consequences of their sins.

 

Regarding application…Ignoring God’s Truth.  Vs. 12, “When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”  There is a consipracy going on in the world today.  There is a lie that spreads in the church today.  We are hiding the truth.  We know the truth, but we are not allowing the truth to set us free.  So many of us Christians know what to do…Read God’s word, pray, fellowship, love, etc.  But, we are not doing what the truth tells us to do.  As we start out this busy week of school, studying, work, life, etc…I urge you not to ignore God’s truth.  Soften your heart and be reminded through God’s prophet Ezekiel how important it is to rely on the Lord alone!

Lamentations 3

Vs. 1, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.”  This was a very difficult time for Jeremiah.  In the midst of all this devestation, Jeremiah is grieving…but we also see him have some hope.  Jeremiah in an incredilbe example for all of us.  I really don’t know how he was able to keep such faith in the midst of tragedy.  This is faith.  He took his eyes off the horizontal world and looked up veritically to God as his lament continued.  Noticed as the chapter continues, he then calls upon his people to turn back to the Lord because of their sin.

 

Regarding application…God’s Compassion.  Vs. 22, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  Perspective.  That must be what it is.  Jeremiah had a bigger perspective.  All those years that God’s people had a chance to turn back, they didn’t care.  Consequences came, but God would promise Jeremiah that He would restore the very people He is disciplining.  God wasn’t just keeping a covenant, He had compassion.  So many of us want to blame God when bad things happen.  Yet, we should be thanking Him for His compassion that we even have air in our lungs.  Thank you Lord!  This is the God of Jeremiah and this is the of God today!

Lamentations 2

Vs. 1, “How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion with the cloud of his anger…”  Indeed, this is quite a fire and brimstone message upon God’s people!  How sad that so many would not listen to the truth and turn to false prophets.  They did not want to believe that anything could happen to them.  Though they turned from God, they took him for granted.  The scenes Jeremiah shares with us are things I hope to never see.  People strung out dead in the streets, children fainting in the streets and dying.  It is a graphic scene and one that is intended to remind us as readers not to forget.

 

Regarding application…God’s Wrath.  Vs. 6, “He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting. The Lord has made Zion forget her appointed feasts and her Sabbaths; in his fierce anger he has spurned both king and priest.”  Yesterday, the application was on “Sin Seperates”…and today we are reminded of God’s wrath.  The Babylonians did not prevail…it was God’s wrath that brought the consequences to his people.  If we only looked at this chapter, we would have a very distorted view of God.  That is why it is very important to step back and look at the full context of the Bible.  Even in Jeremiah’s life…he spent 40 years sharing God’s love and mercy upon the people.  But they would not listen.  There was nothing else that could be done, but bring about punishment because their hearts were so hard.  Yet, unlike and enemies punishment…God’s wrath has love and promise to it.  God does not delight in evil.  He allowed such to happen so that his people would turn in repentance.  God is faithful and always will be.

 

Think back in your own life for a moment.  There have been valley’s and mountains.  Yet, God is doing everything he can to draw you nearer to Him.  Question: Are you like the people of Jeremiah’s time?  Ever hearing, but not doing?  Don’t be so complacent and lazy that such a thing could happen to you.  Turn your heart back to God TODAY!  His love and mercy is endless.

Jeremiah 44

Vs. 11, “Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah.” Question: Why? Because God’s people still would not listen. This chapter gives us Jeremiah’s last message to the Judah remnant in Egypt. Fourty-six years of faithfully administring God’s word as a His prophet. We are reminded from this chapter how God had given them every chance to turn back to Him (vs. 1-10). The people were so stubborn that they reasoned all these struggles came when they stopped worshipping other God’s (vs. 15-19). They ran to Egpyt for protection, but God would remind them that Pharoah wouldn’t be able to stop God’s wrath.

 

Regarding application…God’s Faithfulness. Vs. 14, “None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” Even in the midst of this very dark message and the increase of wickedness among the Judah remnant in Egypt…we see God’s faithfulness at work. What an amazing God we have. Sadly, Jeremiah is believed by biblical scholars to have died in Egypt. Yet, there would be a few fugitives…faithful few, that would live to return back to their homes. God would not hold all guilty because some still had faith in Him. Isn’t that how God works today? Despite, so many who will not listen nor turn…God will bring all of us back home. But until that day, “just say, no!” to the things of the world and turn back to God this week…more importantly…today!

Jeremiah 31

Vs. 1,“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people.”  The Lord is reminding Jeremiah that He will one day restore God’s people.  You may recall that Israel was split in two…the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah).  Jeremiah prophecies of the return from Babylon, but of course there is a dual meaning to the End Times as well.  I think it’s important to remember the faithfulness of God as Jeremiah chronicles His history and love towards His people.  When we go through trials, often times we remember the good times from the past to give us a hope for the future.  Notice too how God spoke to Jeremiah in a dream (vs. 26)…God certainly has interesting ways of communicating to us.  Through…the Bible, messages, prayers, Holy spirit and others are the most common ways God speaks to us today.  All in all…this is a very vivid and wonderful reminder of what is in store for us when we turn our hearts back to the Lord.

 

Regarding application…God’s New Covenant (Promise).  Vs. 33, “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  Jeremiah is the only Old Testament prophet who would speak about the new covenant fulfilled by Jesus!  The new covenant is the second stage of God’s promises in Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  While there was nothing wrong with God’s old covenant, there was something wrong with us.  The old covenant was the first stage to pointing us towards Jesus.  We can’t be Godly alone.  We must surrender.  We live this life based on promises.  While we have had disappointments from others, God will never break His promises.  That is an incredible truth that should resonate in our hearts and minds.  Question: How then shall we respond?  Be faithful as He is faithful.  Turn to God each day so He can mold you and make a you the perfect jar of clay!

Jeremiah 18

Vs. 1-2, “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”  Over thirty words in the Hebrew vocabulary relate directly to pottery, because the manufacture of pottery was a major industry in the Near East in that day. No doubt Jeremiah had passed the potter’s house many times, but this time God had a special message for him.  God is the potter, we are the clay.  Even in the chaos of sin, God would show Jeremiah’s His true intentions for His people.  We see the grace of God.  But, Jeremiah is getting fed up with the people’s response to God’s grace.  God’s clay would resist the potter.   They would conspire against both God & Jeremiah.  We see Jeremiah’s angered response, but I believe it is a righteous anger, much like Jesus’ response in the temple…a response of vindication rather than revenge.

 

Regarding application…God’s Path.  Vs. 15, “Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways and in the ancient paths.  They made them walk in bypaths and on roads not built up.”  Instead of walking on God’s path, they chose to make their own detours and paths.  Question: What made them go down these Godless paths?  Of course, sin nature, but look how specific Jeremiah is in this verse.  The answer is found in “worthless idols”.  You see, we may think we are still on God’s path (much like they did)…but when we devote our time & energy on things not of God…we unknowingly take a wrong turn on the road of life.  Remember from our “Elevate” Retreat…God often hates the things we love.  God’s path is not easy to follow.  For we know God’s word is a lamp unto our feet…and the only way to walk His path is to be filled with His Word!  It is a path of discipline, perseverance & strife…but it is also a path filled with love & joy!  I pray you would never stumble from this path of God…but if you do, don’t ever forget that God’s way begins back with His word!  You can have an emotional high or even spiritual high at times in your life that may bring you back to the path…but you can only stay on it by His Word!

Jeremiah 15

Vs. 1, “Then the LORD said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!”  God would respond to Jeremiah’s prayer with this verse.  No matter who sought to intercede for Judah, God’s mind was made up…He would not relent.  God had chosen the Jews to be a blessing to the world, but now they would become abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth (vs. 4).  We must be careful to not assume God enjoyed what He was doing.  This brought incredible grief to our Lord just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem many years later.  We would see Jeremiah’s heartfelt response as he pleads his case to the Lord.  Jeremiah was nearly questioning his purpose and ministry…but God would bring him a test that many of us would find incredibly hard to endure.

 

Regarding application…God’s Food.  Vs. 16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.”  Had Jeremiah forsaken God’s word during this tumultous time…He would not have lasted and endured.  We don’t simply read God’s word…even Satan & pagans do that….WE MUST EAT God’s word!!!  We must chew and taste the goodness of it.  We must let it digest into our souls and let it revitalize our very being!  When I come across a fellow believer who has told me they are struggling…the number one thing I ask them is, “Are you doing your QT’s?”  Every response I have heard so far is the answer, “NO”.  Brothers & Sisters in Christ…are we so dull & ignorant?  When we choose to not dine at the table of our King, we WILL grow weak.  His Word is the only thing that can sustain us in times of tribulation.  We must be grounded in it now, so that when the storms come, we are strong enought to endure.  I’ll never grow tired in reminding each of you daily why we must turn to God’s Word!  Keep your eyes elevated to Jesus!

Jeremiah 10

Vs. 3, “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk.  Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”  We see how foolish it is to worship things made by humans.  Abraham himself was once a worshipper of idols before he trusted in God.  By this point, God’s people had no excuse, for they were instructed quite cleary from the Mosaic Law not to worship idols.  If only they would comprehend the glory & majesty of the true Living God!  Theologian A.W. Tozer, “…the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”  Our temporary idols of today may not be made of wood, but they bring just as much competition as the wooden & golden idols of yesterday

Regarding application…Our Way & God’s Way.  Vs. 23, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”  We are on the road of life and the moment we turn from God…we take a major wrong turn.  It would be like witnessing a car go down the wrong side of the street.  Most people would think or call out to them about how incredibly foolish & dangerous it is to drive in the wrong direction.  Yet that is exactly what we do when we direct our own steps.  Verse 23 is reminds me of what the Apostle Paul would say to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19-21)

Our lives once belonged to us…but now we are slaves to righteousness.  On the road of life, we have only “One Way…Jesus!”  By the Grace of God He gave us intellect & will…but we are not meant to fathom the ways of God.  In our endeavor to live a life for Him…sometimes I think we as Christians overanalyze ourselves more often than we should.  We analyze the “why’s” of our Christians lives…when all God said was to have faith & obey.  Sometimes we make life more difficult than it should be.  It’s almost refreshing to know that it is not up to “US” to figure it all out!  Let’s truly thank God that we simply have to follow the directions.  The next step you take…ask yourself…is it my way or God’s way?

Revelation 21

.”  God will make that which is imperfect…perfect.  Consider it an “extreme makeover” for the earth!  God is redecorating and renovating the earth as we know it.  No matter how much “Green” we go…only God can make it perfect.  And what wonderful changes there will be when we see it for the first time!  This city will unite people from both Old Tesatment times and New Testament times…there will be no need for Temple, for God will dwell personally with us…there will be no need for natural light (for God’s glory will be light enough)…and there will be no need for night (for night symbolizes death, sin, sorrow).  It is an enourmous city…a city that measures 1500 miles on every side (that’s 2/3 the size of the United States).earthVs. 1, ”

Regarding application…God’s Glory.  Vs. 6, “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  The most important aspect of this new Heaven’s and Earth…is God’s eternal glory!  Question: Why would Jesus give the apostle John this preview?  To give all of us the reminder that Jesus is going to prepare a wonderful place for us (John 14:1-6).  But another aspect about God’s glory is that it is not something God is holding back until we reach Heaven….God’s glory is something that was promised to us when Jesus asceneded to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:8).  We sell ourselves far too short in this life.  We give the excuse that we can’t be perfect so why try in the first place.  When you come into the presence of God and see the Glory of the Risen Lord by faith…something changes in our lives!  God’s glory gives us the ability to not just wait for the new Heaven’s and Earth…God’s glory gives us the ability to bring God’s presence in the lives of people today!!!  The preview and glimpse of the New Heaven is only to motivate us that when we have done His will…He has such a wondeful place in store for us!

Revelation 16

The bowls of wrath contain the direct judgment of God upon the world; they are not the result of what people have done or Satan’s influence.  Once again, they are very similar to the plagues against Egypt .

1st Bowl

These sores will be worse the leprosy or cancer.  It mirrors the sixth plague.  It’s interesting to note that God is in control of all such ailments to the body.  Whether allowed or because of the result of sin.

2nd Bowl

This bowl turns the seas to blood!  Unlike the trumpet that turned 1/3 of the seas to blood, this turns it all to blood.  Of course blood signifies death.  What once was full of life now becomes full of death.

3rd Bowl

This turns to the rivers to blood & fountains to blood.  This is huge because all of the Earth’s water supply is now blood!  The evil world shed the blood of God’s people…now God will most definitely bring consequences!

4th Bowl

The sun will scorch people!  Yikes!  I remember when I was badly sun burnt at last year’s beach outing in San Clemente…It took literraly nearly a year for it to heal.  This will be quite a painful consequence to say in the least.  One biblical commentator mentions this bowl we be a preview of what Hell will be like!

5th Bowl

Now we see the opposite…this bowl will bring darkness to the land.  It is possible this darkness will only apply to where the Beast has setup his kingdom.  Satan is the prince of darkness, so it is only appropriate that darkness from God be a consequence.

6th Bowl

?  Many scholars believe it is the Asian countries that have the largest population in the world.  They will come to fight the war against Israel .  Satan & his trinity (The antichrist & the false prophet) will assemble this vast army against the Lord.  This is also the only passage that has the word Armageddon, although there are many passages that speak of it.  Armageddon: Mount of Meggido.  Har or Ar = Mountain.  Meggido = place of slaughter.  It’s location is the plain of Esdraelon.  Barak defeated the Canaanites & Gideon defeated the Midianites in this same location.  It could be an actual place where the war is done or it can a metaphor for the battles thorughout the tribulation.The Euphrates river will be dried up so that the Kings of the East may come and find passage to eventually fight in the War of all Wars: Armageddon.

7th Bowl

This is the last of the wrath before Jesus comes back!  We are near the end of the seven year tribulation.  The voice is Jesus (vs. 17)  There is a great earthquake that splits Jeursalem into three and destroys the city of Babylon .  And we end the last bowl with Hail the size of 100 plus pounds!

Regarding application…God’s Wrath.  As William Newell says, “Men who will not be won by grace will never be won at all.”  God’s wrath is final…just as Pharoh hardened his heart…the people who live with one more chance…still turn from God.  But that time has not yet come to this world.  We as God’s light are called to do our part in bringing those whose hearts are hard back to the Lord while we have a chance.