December 6: The Easy Way
Jeremiah 10:1–11:23; Philemon 1:1–7; Proverbs 14:1–14
There is a certain amount of freedom in being foolish. Foolish people don’t stop to reflect on their actions. Characteristically unimaginative, foolish people don’t stop to consider how their words and actions affect others. The scary effect of foolishness is that it’s contagious: “Leave the presence of a foolish man, for you will not come to know words of knowledge. The wisdom of the clever is understanding his ways, but the folly of fools is deceit” (Prov 14:7).
There is an ease in self-deception because it’s our natural state. “There is a way that seems upright to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12). But the right way is not simply a more reflective, thoughtful life. We need a new way of life that can only be brought about in Christ—the one who reversed the power of death. Following the right way doesn’t mean relying on our own ability to be righteous through thoughtful actions. Rather, it means understanding our need for His righteousness. It’s God’s work in us, recreating us. It’s His Spirit, directing our ways and making us new in Him.
The fool does have influence, but a life transformed has far-reaching influence because it’s not our own work—it’s God’s. This is the calling of which Paul reminds Philemon. Paul tells Philemon that he has “great joy and encouragement” because of Philemon’s love. Because of his love, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you brother” (Phlm 7). For this reason, Paul also holds Philemon to a high standard. Because of his great influence, he needs to be intentional about how he treats Onesimus, the redeemed slave who had wronged him.
Pray for a transformed life, and pray for the work of the Spirit in your life, dividing the light from the darkness and the foolish, deceitful parts from the wise. He will help you understand His ways if you ask Him. He will make the darkness evident, and He will show you the way of wisdom—a life that reflects Christ.
How are you praying for the Spirit’s ongoing work in your life, dividing the foolish ways from the wise?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Hear ye the word of the Lord that he speaketh unto you, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not afraid for the signs of heaven, though the heathen be afraid of such. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuteth a tree out of the forest (which is the work of the hands of the carpenter) with the axe, And another decketh it with silver, and with gold: they fasten it with nails and hammers that fall not. The idols stand up as the palm tree, but speak not: they are borne because they cannot go: fear them not, for they cannot do evil, neither can they do good. There is none like thee, O Lord: thou art great, and thy Name is great in power. Who would not fear thee, O king of nations? for to thee appertaineth the dominion: for among all the wise men of the Gentiles, and in all their kingdoms there is none like thee. But altogether they dote, and are foolish: for the stock is a doctrine of vanity. Silver plates are brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, forthe work of the workman, and the hands of the founder: the blue silk, and the purple is their clothing: all these things are made by cunning men. But the Lord is the God of truth: he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his anger the earth shall tremble, and the nations cannot abide his wrath. (Thus shall you say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.) He hath made the earth by his power, and established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his discretion. He giveth by his voice the multitude of waters in the heaven, and he causeth the clouds to ascend from the ends of the earth: he turneth lightnings to rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is a beast by his own knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his melting is but falsehood, and there is no breath therein. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the maker of all things, and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts iis his Name. Gather up thy wares out of the land, O thou that dwellest in the strong place. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, at this time I will throw as with a sling the inhabitants of the land, and will trouble them, and they shall find it so. Woe is me for my destruction, and my grievous plague: but I thought, Yet it is my sorrow, and I will bear it. My Tabernacle is destroyed, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone from me, and are not: there is none to spread out my tent anymore, and to set up my curtains. For the Pastors are become beasts, and have not sought the Lord: therefore have they none understanding: and all the flocks of their pastures are scattered. Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the North country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons. O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself, neither is it in man to walk and to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment, not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy Name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, Which I commanded unto you fathers, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do according to all these things which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God, That I may confirm the oath, that I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land, which floweth with milk and honey, as appeareth this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord. Then the Lord said unto me, Cry all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them. For I have protested unto your fathers, when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. Nevertheless they would not obey, nor incline their ear: but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his wicked heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant which I commanded them to do, but they did it not. And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words: and they went after other gods to serve them: thus the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant, which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring a plague upon them, which they shall not be able to escape, and thou they cry unto me, I will not hear them. Then shall the cities of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, but they shall not be able to help them in time of their trouble. For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah, and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars of confusion, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. Therefore thou shalt not pray for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for when they cry unto me in their trouble, I will not hear them. Therefore thou shalt not pray for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for when they cry into me in their trouble, I will not hear them. What should my beloved tarry in mine house, seeing they have committed abomination with many, and the holy flesh goeth away from thee: yet who thou doest evil, thou rejoicest. The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: but with noise and great tumult he hath set firer upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts that planted thee, hath pronounced a plague against thee, for the wickedness of the house of Israel, and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal, Ad the lord hath taught me, and I know it, even then thou showedst me their practices. But I was like a lamb, or a bullock, that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they had devised thus against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and cut him out of the land of the living, that his name may be no more in memory, But O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, and triest the reins and the heart, let e see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. The Lord therefore speaketh thus of the men of Anathoth, (that seek thy life, and say, Prophesy not in the name of the Lor, that thou die not by our hands.) Thus therefore saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will visit them: the young men shall die by the sword: their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, And none of them shall remain: for I will bring a plague upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation. Jeremiah 10:1–11:23
- Paul a prison of Jesus Christ, and our brother Timothy, unto Philemon our dear friend, and fellow helper, And to our dear sister Apphia, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the Church that is in thine house: Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God, making mention always of thee in my prayers, (When I hear of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all Saints.) That the fellowship of thy faith may be made effectual, and that whatsoever good thing is in you through Christ Jesus, may be known. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because by thee, brother, the Saints bowels are comforted. Philemon 1:1–7
- A wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish destroyeth it with her own hands. He that walketh in his righteousness, feareth the Lord: but he that is lewd in his ways, despiseth him. In the month of the foolish is the rod of pride: but the lips of the wise preserve them. Where none oxen are, there the crib is empty: but much increase cometh by the strength of the ox. A faithful witness will not lie: but a false record will speak lies. A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy to him that will understand. Depart from the foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way :but the foolishness of the fools is deceit. The fool maketh a mock of sin: but among the righteous there is favor. The heart knoweth the bitterness of his soul, and the stranger shall not meddle with his joy. The house of the wicked shall be destroyed: but the tabernacle of the righteous shall flourish. There is a way that seemeth right to a man: but the issues thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:1–14