Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin
I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. – Jeremiah 23:25-28
I came across this passage this past week, and in light of the political unrest and civil strife, I thought it could help everyone.
God’s Old Testament people were headed down a path to destruction. Their kings and priests had led them into idolatry and immorality. They had tossed aside God’s will for their lives in favor of sinful lifestyles that brought them temporary happiness and pleasure. As God witnessed such rebellion, he was not pleased. Yet, because he loved his people and did not want to see them destroyed because of their sin, God sent them a prophet – Jeremiah – to warn them. Jeremiah pleaded with the people on God’s behalf to once again follow God and his will; to turn from their evil ways and live.
Such words of warning were not easy for God’s people to hear. In fact, they eventually closed their ears to them in favor of more pleasing messages from false prophets – liars who told the people, “Don’t listen to Jeremiah. Keep living as you are. You are God’s chosen people, after all! Everything will be just fine!”
It was such false prophets that incited the Lord to speak the words before us today. With these words, the Lord makes it very clear that such false messengers and their messages will not be tolerated. Only his Word and those who speak it faithfully will.
What false messages are out there in our world today? Do any of these sound familiar? “The Bible’s rules for holy living are ancient and outdated. They don’t apply to us anymore!” Or, “All roads lead to heaven, so it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something!” Or, “Don’t worry about committing little sins. You are God’s people, after all! He will look the other way.”
All of those messages are prevalent in our society today, and they all have something in common: They are lies. The truth, however, comes from God and can be found only in his Word. In his Word we are rightfully confronted with our sin. In his Word we are led to acknowledge our sinfulness. In his Word we are told of our Savior, who suffered the punishment for our sins in our place. In his Word we are led to trust that our sins truly are forgiven and that we will live forever through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say, then, other than to echo what our God says through Jeremiah: “Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.” For God’s Word is truth, and through it we have eternal life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, your Word is truth, and in it you show us the path to life. Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts today so that we may love and understand your message. Amen.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. – Psalm 33:16-19
Our society teaches some tough lessons even to youngsters. Teenagers getting picked on at school can look to others for help. They can reach out to parents and teachers. They can appeal to the school administration. Ultimately though, our society teaches that we all need to take care of ourselves. Take some self-defense classes. Learn to outsmart your oppressors. The harsh reality of the classroom, the street, and the world is you can’t rely on anyone else.
The writer of Psalm 33 learned that valuable lesson, but he learned an even deeper truth. It turns out you can’t even rely on yourself. Your own strength can sometimes let you down. Your own skill can disappoint you. Your own greatness can leave you lacking.
So where can you turn when everything and everyone has already let you down? The LORD hasn’t forgotten about you. His mercy never fails. The LORD has never been outsmarted, overpowered, or outmaneuvered.
Too many times we only turn to the LORD after we’ve tried everything else and everyone else has already failed us. Instead Psalm 33 encourages us to never let our hearts slip away from the LORD. His eye is always on you. His mercy isn’t just demonstrated by running to authorities for help, but he always embraces you personally with his compassion. His strength doesn’t just offer you techniques for self-improvement, but rescues you from your self-inflicted spiritual quagmires. He doesn’t just reveal methods for addressing your inadequacies; he delivers your soul by the life and death of Jesus for your salvation from the curse of sin and the hold of death.
If you are in trouble at work or school, no reasonable person would tell you to wait it out until all the issues resolve themselves. If you aren’t happy with your life’s direction, no one would want you to sit tight until everything just magically takes care of itself. That’s the difference between waiting for our resolution of our issues and waiting in the LORD. When we hope in God, we are trusting in his deliverance. This kind of hope is based on God’s action, not our strength. It’s not a wishful, magical kind of hope. It’s a rock-solid trust that gives true strength in our God of real and eternal rescue.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your deliverance. Turn me away from my ways that depend on my own strength. Put praise in my heart as I recognize your strength for me and give joy to my life as I trust in your love for me in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. – Psalm 32:8
What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the word “warrior”? Perhaps you think of “strength,” “vitality,” “power,” “winner.”
Do you think of someone who takes refuge? I’d guess not!
In verse 8, the Hebrew word translated “man” isn’t the normal word for “man.” Instead, it’s the word which emphasizes a man’s strength and power, and it’s often translated “warrior.” So we might translate, “blessed is the warrior who takes refuge in him.”
A warrior has to take refuge? Why?
Because no matter how strong we might be, no matter how powerful, how seemingly self-reliant we are, there are certain things that we cannot do. We cannot cleanse our consciences from guilt, we cannot earn forgiveness, we cannot earn a home in heaven. We cannot prevent the passage of time and the ravages of age.
No matter how strong we might think we are, we need God! We need a Savior from sin, to cleanse our consciences. We need Jesus to win forgiveness and eternal life for us. We need a faithful God to walk with us through each and every time of our lives, and to welcome us into the eternal home in heaven which only he can prepare for us. You and I need a God who is good!
“Taste and see!” Your God IS good! He HAS won forgiveness for you. He HAS won eternal life for you. He IS your refuge!
And he will be your refuge forever!
Prayer: Lord God, be my refuge and strength. Amen.