Daily D – Jeremiah 23:20-22
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds. (NIV)
If there is one way to make a lot of money in ministry, it is to tell people what they want to hear. Tell them how good they are just as they are. Tell them God hates everyone they hate. Give them reasons for self-righteousness.
We are not here to make a lot of money; we are here to make a lot of disciples of Jesus. We are apprentices in his path of healing, hope, and salvation.
There is a pastor nearby who has made quite a name for himself. He gets his picture in the paper frequently. Paul Harvey used to talk about people like this on his radio reports. He would famously say, “He would want me to tell you his name.” Paul would move on then to the next story without telling you the name.
This nearby pastor is very clear on who he hates. He says God hates them, too. I wonder if he reads the same Bible you and I read? Jesus said, in effect, “Love everybody everywhere.” He wants everyone to know and experience his love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and purpose. He doesn’t want anyone to perish.
Jesus prayed for his crucified companions, his crucifiers, those who manipulated circumstances to get him crucified, and even the one who betrayed him and the other one who denied him.
Pay close attention in this text, and in many, many others, who really ticks off God. It’s the false prophets, the preachers who say they have a message from God but don’t. These come in two varieties: too hard and too soft. Some are like the one mentioned above who has a ready-made list of everyone he and God hate.
There are also those who say God’s standards are out of date. Come as you are and stay that way! There’s no need to change! Your sin is fine! We may sin together!
Like Goldilocks, what we are looking for is what is Just Right. Just Right understands the reality of sin and its consequences and comes to our Father in heaven through the atoning work of Jesus in humility and gratitude. Just Right lives the life of God’s dreams for us instead of the life we are paid to live or the life others demand we live.
Verse 22 aims right at the heart of the matter. God says about the false prophets,
“But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.”
Beware of any preacher or prophet or priest who does not regularly spend time alone with God submitting heart, head, and hands to him. Beware any authority figure who does not humble himself or herself before God and before the people he or she serves. Arrogance is evidence of the lack of God’s presence.
Those who stand in God’s presence, in his council, have the same experience Isaiah did in 6:1-8. In God’s brilliance, our every flaw is exposed and confessed. In God’s love, every sin is cleansed. In God’s purpose, each of us receives new direction.
Those who stand in God’s presence, in his council, see what he sees and say what he says so that every person may turn from evil ways to God’s way of life.
Mopping the floors at our office yesterday, a singer on my playlist said God is teaching him how to kneel. Only trust preachers, and prophets, and priests who are good at kneeling.
I will get good at kneeling in God’s presence.
Our Father, please forgive my arrogance. Please redirect my life. Empower me to love everybody everywhere as you said. Deliver me from my tendency toward self-righteousness and judgmentalism. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”