December 7: Relationship Will Change Us
Jeremiah 12:1–13:27; Philemon 1:8–25; Proverbs 14:15–35
Although God has granted us complete access to Him through Christ, we struggle at times to live this reality (John 17:15–17). The stale or frightening depictions of God in stained glass and Renaissance paintings have convinced us that He is distant, quick to anger, or disinterested. Nothing could be further from the truth; the Psalms remind us that He is caring, close, and listening (e.g., Pss 22; 23; 26), and He yearns for a relationship with us.
Sometimes it helps to hear the words of others who have struggled with the same thing. Jeremiah provides us with such an example. He remarks, “You will be in the right, O Yahweh, when I complain to you. Even so, let me speak my claims with you. Why does the way of the wicked succeed? All those who deal treacherously with treachery are at ease” (Jer 12:1). Jeremiah knows that Yahweh is right in all He does, but this does not prevent him from freely expressing his concerns.
If we really look into our hearts, we may find that fear is preventing us from entering into an intimate relationship with Him. We’re afraid of what He will say; we’re concerned that He may rebuke us. Indeed, this is what He does when Jeremiah speaks to Him: “If you run with foot soldiers and they have made you weary, then how will you compete with horses? If you have fallen in a peaceful land, then how will you do in the thickets of the Jordan? For even your relatives, and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you, even they call loudly after you. You must not trust in them, though they speak kindly to you” (Jer 12:5–6). Yet within this rebuke, we also find advice—and the advice is comforting. By openly communicating his concerns to God, Jeremiah now knows what he must do. He knows how he must act.
There is joy to be found in knowing that we have a God who listens—a God who is not offended when we speak to Him but is eager for our company. What are we afraid of? After all, He already knows what’s on our minds. We need to grasp the idea that God is all about relationship.
What would change about your life if you went deeper into your relationship with Christ? What should you be asking God right now?
JOHN D. BARRY
- O Lord, if I dispute with thee, thou art righteous: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? why are all they in wealth that rebelliously transgress? Thou hast planted them, and they have taken root: they grow, and bring forth fruit, thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long shalt he land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds because they said, He will not see our last end. If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou match thyself with horses? and if thou thoughtest thyself safe in a peaceable land, what wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? For even thy brethren and the house of thy father, even they have dealth unfaithfully with thee, and they have cried out altogether upon thee: but believe them not, though they speak fair to thee. I have forsaken mine house: I have left mine heritage: i have given the dearly beloved of my soul in to the hands of her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me, as a lion in the forest: it crieth out against me, therefore have I hated it. Shall mine heritage be unto me, as a bird of divers colors? are not the birds about her, saying, Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to eat her? Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, and trodden my portion under foot: of my pleasant portion they have made a desolate wilderness. They have laid it waste, and it, being waste mourneth unto me, and the whole land lieth waste, because no man setteth his mind on it. The destroyers are come upon all the high places in the wilderness: for the sword of the lord shall devour from the one end of the land, even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace. They have sown wheat, and reaped thorns: they were sick, andhad no profit: and they were ashamed of your fruits, because of the fierce wrath of the Lord. Thus saith the lord against all mine evil neighbors, that touch the inheritance, which I have caused my people Israel to inherit, Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out of the house of Judah from among them. And after that I have plucked them out, I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring again every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And if they will learn the ways of my people, to swear by my Name, (The Lod liveth, as they taught my people to swear by Baal) then shall they be built in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, then will I utterly pluck up, and destroy that nation, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord unto me, Go, and buy thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. So I bought the girdle according to the commandment of the Lord, and put it upon my loins. And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast bought, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go toward Perath, and hide it there in the cleft of the rock. So I went, and hid it by Perath, as the Lord had commanded me. And after many days the Lord said unto me. Arise, go toward Perath, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. Then went I to Perath, and dug, and took the girdle from the place wheer I had hid it, and behold, the girdle was corrupt, and was profitable for nothing. Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, After this manner will I destroy the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. This wicked people have refused to hear my word, and walk after the stubbornness of their own heart, and walk after other gods to serve them, and to worship them,: therefore they shall be as this girdle, which is profitable to nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I tied to me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord, that they might be my people: that they might have a name, and praise, and glory, but they would not hear. Therefore thou shalt say unto them this word, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine,and they shall say unto thee, do we not know that every bottle shall be filled with wine? Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, BEhold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon the throne of David, and the Priests and the Prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with drunkenness. And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not spare, I will not pity, nor have compassion, but destroy tem Hear and give ear, be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken it. Give glory to the Lord your God before he bring darkness, and or ever your feet stumble in the dark mountains, and while you look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death andmake it as darkness. But if ye will not hear this, my soul shall weep in secret for your pride, and mine eye shall weep and drop down tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive. Say unto the King and to the Queen: Humble yourselves, sit down, for the crown of your glory shall come down from your heads. The cities of the South shall be shut up, and no man shall open them: all Judah shall be carried away captive: it shall be wholly carried away captive: Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the North: where is the flock that was given thee, even thy beautiful flock? What wilt thou say when he shall visit thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains and as chief over thee) shall not sorrow take thee as a woman in travail? And if thou say n thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the multitude of thine iniquities are thy skirts discovered and thy heels made bare. Can the black Moor change his skin? or the leopard his spots, then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil? Therefore will I scatter them , as the stubble that is taken away with the South wind. This is thy portion, and the part of thy measures form me, saith the Lord, because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in lies. Therefore I have also discovered thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the filthiness of thy whoredom on the hills in the fields, and thine abominations. [Woe] unto thee, O Jerusalem: wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be? Jeremiah 12:1–13:27
- Wherefore, thou I be very bold in Christ to command thee that which is convenient, Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, though I be as I am, even Paul aged, and even now a prison for Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds, Which in times past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable both to thee and to me. Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is mine own bowels, Whom I would have received with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the Gospel. But without thy mind would I do nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. It may be that he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever. Not now as a servant, but above a servant, even as a brother beloved, specially to me: how much more then unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord? If therefore thou count our things common, receive him as myself. If he hath hurt thee, or oweth thee ought, that put on my accounts. I Paul have written thiswith mine own hand: I will recompense it, albeit I do not say to thee, that thou owest moreover unto me even thine own self. Yea, brother, let me obtain this pleasure f thee n the Lord: comfort my bowels in the Lord. Trusting in thine obedience, I wrote unto thee knowing that thou wilt do even more than I say. Moreover also prepare my lodging: for I trust through your prayers I shall be freely given unto you. There salute thee Epaphras my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow helpers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, Amen. Philemon 1:8–25
- The foolish will believe everything: but the prudent will consider his steps. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil, but a fool rageth, and is careless. He that is hasty to anger, commiteth folly, and a busybody is hated. The foolish do inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. The evil shall bow before the good, and the wicked at th gates of the righteous. The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the fries of the rich are many. The sinner despiseth his neighbor: but he that hath mercy on the poor, is blessed. Do not they err that imagine evil? but to them that think on good things, shall be mercy and truth. In all labor there is abundance: but the talk of the lips bringeth only want. The crown of the wise is their riches, and the folly of fools is foolishness. A faithful witness delivereth souls: but a deceiver speaketh lies. In the fear of the Lord is an assured strength, and his children shall have hope. The fear of the Lord is as a wellspring of life, to avoid the snares of death. In the multitude of the people is the honor of a King, and for the want of people cometh the destruction of the Prince. He that oppresseth the poor, reproveth him that made him: but he honoreth him, that hath mercy on the poor. The wicked shall be cast away for his malice: but the righteous hath hope in his death. Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding, and is known in the midst of fools. Justice exalteth a nation, but sin is a shame to the people. The pleasure of a King is in a wise servant: but his wrath shall be toward him that is lewd. Proverbs 14:15–35