Jeremiah 1-3, Psalm 14
Many will quote a particular verse when asked what moved them in following God. For Martin Luther it was Habakkuk 2:4, "...But the just shall live by his faith". For Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel Movement, it was Jeremiah 3:15, "And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." Chuck Smith chose this verse as the theme for his ministry, the teaching of the Word, because he felt that through the Word we come to a knowledge and understanding of God. Teaching the entirety of God's Word would cover all topics the amount and the way that God would want them covered. This teaching style differs from the great majority of other churches today. Most churches are topical. Those in leadership decide on what topics are relevant to the body. Many churches take more of a self-help approach adopting more of a theology combined with psychology approach. But for me, Pastor Chuck had it right, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
We see the mindset and position of the people of Judah through the prophet, Jeremiah, just prior to their being taken into captivity by Babylon. It sounds eerily similar to the way that we, in the United States, are now. Founded upon Christian principles, we have strayed so far from our Christian heritage. Most in our nation have strayed and don't think or care about God. We read in Jeremiah 2:5,7, "Thus says the Lord, "What injustice have your fathers found in Me, That they have gone far from Me, Have followed idols, And have become idolaters?...I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness, But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination." God blessed us with a nation which is fairly unique in that it has all of the natural resources we could possibly need or want. But we find ourselves godless and trillions of dollars in debt due to our worship of the idols of self, greed, covetousness, lust, etc. Most who do make an attempt to return to God, do so half-heartedly. We read in Jeremiah 3:10, "And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense," says the Lord." Though King Josiah when he received the Word destroyed the idols, cleansed the temple, brought back prayers, worship, and sacrifice, the people returned in reformation, not regeneration. They were doing the right things outwardly, but their hearts remained far from Him.
We desperately need God's Word in our lives to guide us daily. We read in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." Jesus knew the only way that man would truly change is not by external rules, but by internal transformation. That is why He was so straight-forward with Nicodemus in John 3:7, when He said, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again'." We all mess up daily in our walk. We all sin daily and this will not change until we are with Him one day in heaven. We are either all in or we are not. We can learn a lesson from King David when he sinned mightily falling into adultery with Bathsheeba and then masterminding the plot to murder her husband, Uriah. We read of David's response in Psalm 51:3-4, 16-17, "For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge...For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise." Our nation and we ourselves so easily backslide. The solution is not a quick-fix or a lesson on that particular problem. The solution is a washing of our heart through the power of His Word, the entirety of His Word.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: