January 21, 2016

Jeremiah 51:46 Do not lose heart or be afraid
when rumors are heard in the land;
one rumor comes this year, another the next,
rumors of violence in the land
and of ruler against ruler.

This time the NIV and the Japanese are extremely different. In the Japanese it says, “If you don’t do this (get out of Babylon) then you will lose heart and be afraid of the rumors you will hear in this land.” Rather than an encouragement, it’s a warning. We don’t like to face the consequences of disobedience. It goes without saying that the world would be a much more pleasant place if everyone were obedient to God! That said, someone who is obedient to God could take this verse the way the NIV renders it. In speaking of the Last Days Jesus mentioned “wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24:36) We are more than capable of being devastated by rumors. Right now there are plenty to go around, and certainly not all of them are base­less! There really is a lot of junk going on in the world, because the devil is always out to steal, kill, and destroy, but we must remember that Jesus came to give us genuinely abundant life. (John 10:10) We cannot be strong against the onslaughts of the enemy, to walk in Jesus’ abundant life, unless we are fully submitted and obedient to God. (James 4:7) I see many people who are debilitated by fears of all sorts. The answer for every one of them is submission to and trust in God. Too often we try to trust when we aren’t willing to be submitted. That never works! It is the heart that is fully submitted to God that is rock solid in Christ, immovable in all the storms of life.

I have had my times of fearfulness and I have had my times of disobedience, and looking back on them, there is significant overlap. The devil continues to try to make me afraid, and I face plenty of opportunities to yield to that temptation, but at this point I find I am not so moved. As a pastor I deal with people constantly who are tied in knots by fear. I am to speak God’s peace to them, but I must not fail to speak repentance as well. I need to help them see that their failures of obedience lay them open to every attack of the enemy. Bad things happen even to those who are fully obedient, simply because we live in a fallen world, (John 16:33) but when we are committed to obedience, even those things can’t really shake us.

Father, I had wondered what I was supposed to speak on Sunday! Thank You for making it clear. I ask for clear guidance as to what Scriptures to use and for everything else about my preparations, that it may indeed be what You are saying and not just something I’ve dreamed up. May I speak Your Word to accomplish Your will, in the hearts and lives of my hearers and in the heavenlies as well, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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