Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marks of a Consistent Life of Faith

Jeremiah 42

Jeremiah – prophet to God’s people; a consistent, though rejected, voice for God

Gedaliah – governor of the land appointed by Babylon; friend to Jeremiah and murdered by Ishmael

Johanan – captain of the Jew’s army; took all of the remaining Jews to Egypt

Jeremiah teaches us that in a life marked by faith . . .

1.      We need to seek the Lord’s guidance for matters in our lives (1-3).

2.      We need to pray for other people (4).

3.      We need to develop a habit of listening to the Lord (4).

4.      We must speak the truth to others, even when it is difficult (4,9-12ff).

5.      Our goal must be to please the Lord more than people (4ff).

6.      We must adopt an attitude of obedience before God’s will is revealed (5-6).

7.      We must be willing to wait on the Lord’s guidance (7).

8.      God’s direction requires us to trust Him (10-12).

In judged Jerusalem it was impossible to confuse material prosperity with God’s blessing.  Social status with God’s favor.  National pride with God’s glory.  Rituals of religion with God’s presence.  The clutter of possessions was gone; the trappings of status gone; the pride of nation gone; the splendor of religion gone.  And God was present.  All the cultural and religious presuppositions that interfered with clearly hearing God’s Word were taken away.  Conditions had never been better for developing a mature community of faith.  Out of the emptiness God would make a new creation.  - Peterson

9.      When God speaks, He challenges us to replace our fears with faith (10-12)

There is nothing more difficult than to live spontaneously, hopefully, virtuously – by faith.  And there was never a time when the external conditions were less conducive to living by faith than in those devastating and bewildering days following the Babylonian invasion.  The temple, the focus for worship for half a millennium, was in rubble.  The ritual, rich in allusion and meaning, was wiped out.  The priestly voices, who had spoken in reassuring tones for decades, were silent.  Out of this traumatic dislocation Jeremiah told the people to set aside their fears and begin a new life of faith.   – Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses

The clarities of the life of faith develop from within.  They cannot be imposed from without.  They cannot be hurried.  They are organic and personal, not mechanical and institutional.  Faith invades the muddle; it does not eliminate it.  Peace develops in the midst of chaos.  Harmony is achieved slowly, quietly, unobtrusively – like the effects of salt and light.  Such clarities result from a courageous commitment to God, not from controlling or being controlled by others.  Such clarities come from adventuring deep into the mysteries of God’s will and love, not by cautiously managing and moralizing in ways that minimize risk and guarantee self-importance.  These clarities can only be experienced and recognized with the eyes of faith.  - Peterson

10.  Refusing to walk by faith has its own negative consequences (13-18).

11.  The Lord knows our motives (19-21).

Johanan and the people respected Jeremiah enough to ask for his prayers, but they didn’t’ trust God enough to follow His counsel.  They were tired of living by faith.  They decided to go to Egypt.  Fear was one motive.  They didn’t want the risk and hazard of depending on an invisible God.  They didn’t want the hard work of rebuilding a life of faith in God.  They were looking for an easy way out.

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