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Bible Insights

The Bible Personifies Wisdom

What the Bible Teaches About Wisdom May Shock Us

The book of Proverbs talks a lot about wisdom. The word pops up in fifty-five versus in this thirty-one-chapter book. That’s a lot of wisdom. This may be the reason why many think of Proverbs as a book of wisdom.

As Solomon and his co-writers compile the proverbs in this book, the reoccurring theme of wisdom takes an interesting turn in chapter 8. In this, we see Wisdom personified.

This means instead of being an abstract concept to pursue, Wisdom takes on the characteristics of a person, perhaps the expression of a spiritual entity.

To consider Wisdom as a feminine side of God fills me with a sense of wonder and awe. Click To Tweet

Wisdom Personified Is Female

First, we’re introduced to Wisdom as female. I like that. Wisdom stands at the fork in the road. She calls us to listen. She speaks truth. The discerning accepts her words as right. They possess knowledge.

Then we read what Wisdom has to say. We encounter the words of Wisdom as someone speaking to us and advising us. It’s an interesting read. Be sure not to miss it.

Wisdom Witnessed Creation

Even more amazing, however, is what Wisdom reveals about herself. Midway through her discourse, Wisdom shocks us by saying she was there when Father God created our reality.

This means that Wisdom existed before creation. She was there prior to the beginning of time. She witnessed creation, therefore she wasn’t created.

This causes me to ask, just who is Wisdom?

I wonder if Wisdom is a facet of God. If so, I find comfort that God has a feminine side. To talk about God as our heavenly father and his son as our Savior, while comforting to most, is decidedly masculine. To consider Wisdom as a feminine side of God fills me with a sense of awe.

Though the Bible teaches us much about God, there’s so much more that we still don’t know. One day we will understand it all. After our time here on earth is over and we join God in the spiritual realm, he will explain everything to us—or maybe she will.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Proverbs 8-11, and today’s post is on Proverbs 8:27.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

With God’s Help Joseph Can Interpret Dreams

God Reveals the Meaning of Dreams to Joseph

Joseph (son of Jacob, in the Old Testament) is in a world of hurt. His life has spiraled downward. The favorite son of his father, his jealous brothers stoop to selling him as a slave to some passing traders. Joseph ends up in Egypt, a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.

Despite his dire circumstances, Joseph works hard, and his master prospers because of Joseph’s diligence. Potiphar’s wife, however, has eyes for Joseph. She solicits him, but he rejects her overtures.

Embarrassed and angry, she one day pays him back for his integrity. He pulls away from her, again rejecting her advances. In doing so his cloak falls off as he runs to safety. She accuses him of attempted rape, and Joseph ends up in jail.

Again, Joseph makes the best of his situation in prison. Soon the warden puts him in charge of the other prisoners. Joseph succeeds in his assignment, even though he’s still a prisoner.

Joseph Can Interpret Dreams

One night two of Joseph’s fellow prisoners have dreams. Joseph interprets both dreams. A few days later his explanations occur just as he predicted: one prisoner is executed, and the other is reinstated to his former position with the Pharaoh.

Though Joseph asked the released prisoner to lobby for his release, the man forgets. Joseph languishes in prison for two more years.

Pharaoh Has a Disturbing Dream

Then Pharaoh has a dream. A troubling one. A dream no one can interpret. Then the forgetful man remembers Joseph and recommends him to Pharaoh as someone who can explain the meaning of dreams.

When asked if he can interpret dreams, Joseph says that he can’t. However, he asserts that God will provide the dream’s meaning to him. This is a bold statement to make. If Joseph doesn’t discern the meaning from God, Joseph’s situation could become even worse.

He risks facing summary execution for further upsetting the Pharaoh.

Yet not only does Joseph explained the meaning of the Pharaoh’s disturbing dream, Joseph also recommends what actions the Pharaoh can take. Pharaoh likes what he hears, releases Joseph from prison, and puts him in charge of everything.

Joseph goes from favorite son, to slave, to prisoner, to the second in command in Egypt. Click To Tweet

Joseph goes from favorite son, to slave, to prisoner, to the second in command in Egypt. This all happens because he continues to trust God and put him first despite suffering as a slave and then languishing in prison for several years.

In the end God rescues Joseph, putting him in a place of authority to later save his entire family from poverty and starvation. All this happens because Joseph can interpret dreams—through God’s revelation.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 39-41, and today’s post is on Genesis 41:14-16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Dangers of Centering Prayer

Beware the Risks of Clearing Your Mind

Several years ago, my spiritual director recommended I consider centering prayer as a spiritual discipline. About the same time, a dear friend was exploring this technique as well.

The goal of centering prayer is to connect us with God. It’s more about hearing from him then him hearing from us. The idea of connecting with God more deeply on a spiritual level appealed to me. I read the recommended book that taught about centering prayer.

The process the author outlined unfolded as an involved series of steps to follow with exacting precision. As I recall, it would take several minutes, up to an hour each time I tried.

Vital to centering prayer is the instruction to clear your mind. The writer admitted that it would take a few months of concerted effort to achieve the desired results. And even then, the sought-after spiritual outcome might not always occur.

Just reading the book exhausted me.

Instead of approaching my Creator with joy, the prescribed approach would rob me of my delight in connecting with him. I decided not to pursue centering prayer. The whole thing didn’t feel right to me, but it wasn’t until later that I understood why.

Now I have a bit of insight as to why this spiritual practice felt misaligned with Scripture.

Take Every Thought Captive

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul teaches them about spiritual reality. He reminds them that their battle is not in this world but in the spiritual realm. Among his instructions to this congregation, he encourages them to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5).

This is the opposite of what centering prayer teaches when it says to clear your mind. Clearing your mind strikes me as the opposite of holding every thought captive, as God’s Word commands.

Always Be Alert

In talking about the future, Jesus tells his followers to always watch and pray. In doing so they will escape what is to come and stand before him (Luke 21:36).

How can we follow Jesus’s command to always watch and pray if we empty our mind of all thoughts? We can’t. We must be alert and watch.

A House Swept Clean

When Jesus’s opponents criticize him for driving out demons, he responds by teaching them about the subject. He wraps up with the hypothetical case of an impure spirit leaving its host. When it finds no place to go, it returns to the person it left, finding “the house swept clean and put in order” (Luke 11:24-28, NIV).

It then goes and finds seven more demons, even more wicked than it. They invade the person, leaving them in even worse shape.

I wonder if the idea of a “house swept clean” is the same thing as a clear mind. If clearing our mind opens us to receive God in the spiritual realm, might it also open us to receive other spiritual beings as well? To open us to unseen supernatural entities that don’t have our best interest in mind?

I don’t know if this is the case, but it’s a risk I’m unwilling to take.

Connecting with God on a spiritual level to hear him and fellowship with him is a worthy pursuit. Click To Tweet

Centering Prayer Conclusion

The idea of connecting with God on a spiritual level to hear him and fellowship with him is a worthy pursuit, which can produce an amazing outcome. But I don’t think centering prayer is the best way to do that.

The way I learned to hear from God is much easier to do and much more effective. As a bonus, I don’t need to clear my mind contrary to what Scripture teaches and risk opening myself to negative spiritual influences.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Reduce the Noise in Your Life to Better Hear God

We Must Remove Distractions to Hear What the Holy Spirit Says

I recently listened to a talk on the topic of noise. It was the opening message to a sermon series. The teaching provided many thought-provoking ideas to consider. It also supplied me with a springboard to examine my own contemplation about noise—specifically the noise around me. It triggered the realization that we need to reduce the noise pollution in our life to better hear God.

When we think of noise, we typically consider it from an auditory perspective, as in a tangible noise that assaults our eardrums. But noise occurs in other areas as well. There is visual noise, mental noise, and emotional noise. Yes, even spiritual noise.

Anything that distracts us from what is most important in our life is noise. Noise has a negative impact on our emotional state, our overall health, and our mental capacity. This is in addition to the noise pollution in our physical environment.

All sources of noise, in all forms, serve as a distraction and make it more difficult to hear God when he speaks.

Noise All Around Us

Life bombards us with noise.

Though we each live in different environments, with varying degrees of noise from diverse sources, life blasts us with noise.

In addition to the sounds from our environment, all too often we bombard ourselves with additional racket. We may do some of this without thinking, but other times it’s intentional.

Many of us also try to force our minds to multitask, even though real multitasking is an illusion. True, we can have one conscious focus, along with one subconscious input. But we can’t truly focus on two things at once.

At best we merely train our minds to quickly switch back and forth between the two. This, however, doesn’t produce optimum results. It’s exhausting. Some say attempting to multitask even damages our brains.

With all this noise pollution around us, how can we expect to hear God when he speaks? He may be talking, but are we in a position to hear?

Too often, the answer is no.

Reduce the Noise

For some time, I’ve been working to reduce the noise—the distractions—in my life. This has served to produce a saner, happier, and less stressful existence. It has improved my mental health and provided more opportunities to hear from God.

Here are some areas I’ve tackled.

News

One item I’ve addressed is the news. As I told friends on my email list, I’ve stopped listening to the news. It’s negative, biased, and has an adverse effect on my mental health and overall well-being. I’ve now gone over one year without listening to the news on TV or radio. I do subscribe, however, to one weekly newspaper so that I’m not totally unaware of what’s going on, but when it comes to news, that’s it—along with whatever my family may tell me about.

Social Media

Another area is social media. The noise there is intentional and can serve as a huge time drain. Yes, I still have a presence on social media, but I don’t go there often. I seldom go to a few platforms, and I visit most others only once a week for a brief check in.

Facebook is one place I go to each weekday, but it’s only once a day. I review messages in the handful of Facebook groups I’m in and see updates from family. It’s intentional and brief. I schedule this Monday through Friday. It’s a task to complete, which I try to do in as short a time as possible.

Smart Phone

I’ve seen too many people who were slaves to their phones, granting it their attention at every idle moment and having it inundate them with an array of alerts.

My smart phone is for my convenience, so I place severe limits on it. I don’t have any social media apps on it, and I’ve not connected it to my email. There is no email message that needs my immediate attention.

Few people have my number and—unless I expect a call from someone—I never answer numbers I don’t recognize.

Computer

I use technology for my work, with my computer being central. Just as with my cell phone, I’ve turned off every alert except for reminders tied to my calendar.

I also pursue a zero-inbox strategy with my email. Else there’s a pile of pending messages to add more noise to my life—emotional noise, not physical. In parallel fashion, I’m pushing to have only one tab open in my browser. It’s a work in progress.

Noise Reduction Goals

I’ve made much improvement in my effort to reduce the noise in my life—the distractions that bombard me every second of every day—so that I can better hear from God. But I have more work to do.

Here’s my current list.

Podcasts

I’m a podcasts junkie and subscribe to over two dozen informative programs. Some are faith related, others are about writing and publishing, and a few benefit my business. I try to listen to them only when I’m doing some subconscious activity, but in the push to listen to them all—even at 2x, twice the normal speed—I sometimes find myself listening to recordings when I should just turn it off and listen to God.

Windows

’m not talking about the computer operating system but the number of application windows open at any one time in my computer. Right now, I have seven open. That’s too many. Each one serves as a distraction, a source of mental noise. Each window I close is one more step to reduce the noise in my life.

Smart Phone

When I first got my phone, I pledged I would never pull it out in the presence of someone else. Even if it rang during a meeting, I would ignore it. The person in my presence should be more important than the person on the phone trying to interrupt us.

Over time my resolve has slipped. It’s true that without email and social media on my phone, I’m not pulling it out for the latest updates during every idle second. But I too often find myself looking something up germane to the conversation I’m having in real life. But, In truth, we need to know every answer to everything that comes our way in that exact second.

Television

Long ago I stopped turning on TV to see what was on or because I lacked the motivation to do something more productive. But even though my TV consumption is now intentional, I still watch too much. This is another area where I need to reduce the noise.

Few TV programs and movies pass Paul’s lofty list of what to think about: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Instead of seeking out shows that “aren’t too bad,” I’ll be better off applying Paul’s list to the visual entertainment I consume.

YouTube

Watching videos online can be a huge time suck. That’s why I stay off YouTube as much as possible, otherwise one video leads to a second, which calls for just one more. Before I know it, I’ve lost a half an hour of my time that I can’t recover. Yet when I go online to post a video, there it is, begging me to watch the next intriguing, can’t-miss video. If I can resist watching the first one, I’ll stave off wasting thirty minutes of my time.

I do, however, subscribe to a couple of YouTubers, but I block out time to watch them on television. I go through the list of pending episodes, and then I’m done, without watching anything else.

May we all reduce the noise pollution in our life and allow more time to hear from God. Click To Tweet

Less Noise and More Hearing from God

Some may conclude that by removing these many things from my life I’ve made it somehow less interesting, even boring. Let me offer a counter conclusion: less is more.

I take most seriously what my Creator says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). The less noise I have in my life, the better I’m able to connect with the Almighty. I have much more noise reduction to accomplish, but I’m headed in the right direction and making steady progress.

May we all reduce the noise pollution in our life and allow more time to hear from God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

When God Calls Do We Answer? When He Speaks Do We Listen?

Punishment May Await Us If We Fail to Listen to God

Isaiah wraps up his lengthy prophecy talking about judgment. He prophesies that God has destined the people for death. That they will be slaughtered. There will be consequences.

Why would a loving God want to kill his people? Through the mouth of Isaiah, God explains why. He says that when he calls his people, they don’t answer. It would be like you and me passing each other on a path. You say, “Hi,” but I ignore you. That would be rude. It would disrespect you. And that’s exactly what God’s people do to him. They’re rude and disrespectful.

And to make sure we don’t miss his point, God rephrases it. He adds that when he speaks, his people don’t listen, either. That would be like you telling me, “Wait! Don’t step into the road.” But I ignore you, walk into traffic, and blam! A car hits me. So it is with God’s people. He tries to warn them, but they don’t listen.

Our Actions Have Consequences

Instead of answering, instead of listening, they do the exact things that God says are evil. They intentionally do what displeases him. That’s premeditated disobedience. They may figure they’re free to ignore what God says because they don’t think it matters or because they assume there will be no consequences. At least they haven’t seen any consequences for a long time.

But God’s patience is at its breaking point. He says, “Enough is enough; your time is up. You ignored me and disrespected me long enough. You’re about to enter the punishment phase,” all because they didn’t listen to God.

When God calls, we better answer. When God speaks, we better listen. Click To Tweet

We may have a similar view of God, perhaps not directly but indirectly. We may choose to ignore God because we think it doesn’t matter, that we’ll still get into heaven. We may assume there will be no consequences because we haven’t seen any yet. However, just because God loves us and will forgive us doesn’t mean our wrong actions won’t have negative outcomes.

When God calls, we better answer. When God speaks, we better listen.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 64-66, and today’s post is on Isaiah 65:12.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God Speaks to the Prophet Amos through a Vision

Regardless of How God Speaks to Us, We Should Listen to What He Says

The words of the Old Testament prophet Amos appear in the book of the Bible that bears his name. The words the God speaks come to Amos in a vision. But the Bible doesn’t tell us the circumstances surrounding the vision or how it occurred.

The vision may have come to Amos at night in a dream or in that early-morning time between the unconsciousness of sleep and the consciousness of being awake. Or perhaps the vision came to Amos as he was praying or fasting or meditating. Regardless of the details, God speaks to Amos in a vision.

Some of the other prophets also have visions but not all. For other prophets, such as Jeremiah, the Bible simply says that the word came to them. And God spoke directly to Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Job, and Isaiah. Other times, angels serve as messengers to carry God’s word to his emissaries.

Regardless of the process, however, God speaks to his people. It may be through a vision, words, or thoughts. It may be through an angel, a person, or another means. The method doesn’t matter but the message does.

Are we ready to listen to what God says to us? Click To Tweet

Be Faithful to What God Says

When Amos receives his vision, he proclaims it to the people. A scribe records it for us to read in the Bible. In this way, Amos is faithful to his vision. God speaks to him, and he shares it with others.

I wonder if God spoke to other people who weren’t faithful with his message. They didn’t proclaim it to others and therefore those words didn’t make it into the Bible. We’ll never know, but it’s worth considering.

God speaks to us, too. Are we ready to listen to what he says? And when we hear, are we faithful to say or do what he says?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Amos 1-3, and today’s post is on Amos 1:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

8 Tips on Fasting

Jesus Expects Us to Fast, but Do We?

Jesus fasted (Luke 4:1-2). Should we follow his example? Though his disciples didn’t fast (Matthew 9:14), he said when he returned to heaven, the time for fasting would resume (Luke 5:34-35).

In his well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about fasting. He says, “when you fast (Matthew 6:16-18).” He doesn’t say “if you fast.” It seems clear that Jesus expects us to fast. How’s that going for you?

Here are eight tips about fasting, that I’ve learned the hard way through experience:

1. The Purpose of Fasting Is Not to Get God’s Attention

If our intended outcome of fasting is to get our Lord to notice us, we’re missing the point. We don’t need to do anything special to garner his attention. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. We don’t need to earn his consideration. Fasting so that he will grant us favor may irritate him more so than win his appreciation.

2. The Purpose of Fasting Is Not to Abase Ourselves

When we fast, we do not deprive our self of food as an act of mortification. We do not seek to degrade ourselves. Fasting to produce pain accomplishes nothing of merit.

3. The Purpose of Fasting Is Not to Suffer

Fasting isn’t about us suffering as an act of devotion. Though it’s correct that as we stay true to our faith we may suffer as a result, this suffering is what others impose on us. It’s not self-inflicted.

4. The Purpose of Fasting Is Not to Gain Respect

Some people who don’t fast are in awe of those who do. But the intent of fasting is not to win the approval of others or garner their admiration. If the opinion of others is why we fast, their esteem becomes the only outcome.

5. Don’t Fast to Achieve Side Benefits

Fasting often has positive physical outcomes. Aside from possible health benefits, fasting can produce weight loss and boost productivity. But if these become the motivations for fasting, forget about realizing any spiritual outcomes.

6. The Goal of Fasting Is to Connect with God

When we fast, we push aside the physical to focus on the spiritual. As we do, we draw closer to God and experience him in a more intimate way that might not have otherwise been possible.

7. The Goal of Fasting Is to Pray and Listen

When we fast, we can take the time we’d normally spend in meal preparation and in eating and use it to pray and listen to God. By denying our physical desires, we heighten our spiritual awareness.

8. The Goal of Fasting Is to Better Align Our Perspective with God’s

When we fast and connect with God, pray, and listen, we can better comprehend reality through his eyes. Instead of trying to get God to see things our way, we can better see things his way. Fasting helps us to relate with the viewpoint of our Creator more effectively.

Fasting helps us connect with God through prayer and listening. As we fast, we better align our perspective with his. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

When done the right way for the right reasons, fasting helps us connect with God through prayer and listening to him. As we do so, we better align our perspective with his.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Learn How to Receive Holy Spirit Insight

Discover How to Hear God’s Voice and Discern Spiritual Direction

I’ve shared with you the arc of my faith journey, the spiritual transformations I’ve experienced so far in my life. I built upon that by relating my experiences in reading the Bible and praying for my children and future generations. Next, I decided to share how I learned to hear from God and receive Holy Spirit insight.

A Key Question

People often ask me how they can hear from their Creator. It seemed a great idea to tell you how I learned to discern God’s voice. Alas, I’ve already blogged about it. Not once, but twice. (Yes, I write so much that I sometimes forget what I’ve written.) Though the two posts share the same essential tips, read both to get the full picture. Each post has unique content that can inform the other.

I realize the way I discovered how to hear from God may not work for everyone, but it will work for some. I pray it works for you.

Building on this theme of listening to God and discerning his voice, I covered Simeon and Anna who both encounter baby Jesus shortly after he is born (Luke 2:22-40).

God reveals to Simeon, a godly man, that he will live long enough to see the long-anticipated Savior. One morning the Holy Spirit prompts Simeon to go to the temple. Simeon obeys and meets baby Jesus, just as supernaturally promised.

Anna, who already spends much time at the temple, also sees Jesus. She praises God and confirms the baby is the Savior who the people anticipate. How does she know this? The Holy Spirit reveals it to her.

I also wrote about hearing God speak from an Old Testament perspective, about Moses and Ezekiel. At that time, not everyone had God’s Spirit living in them and only a few could discern God’s words. In this case, people who wanted to hear from God, would seek an intermediary.

Today’s Truth about Holy Spirit Insight

Today it’s no longer necessary to ask someone to inquire of God on our behalf (but if you need to, don’t be shy about asking for help). Through Jesus, we all have the gift of God’s Spirit living in us. If we follow Jesus, we all have the potential to hear God’s voice and receive Holy Spirit insight.

If we follow Jesus, we all have the potential to hear God’s voice and receive Holy Spirit insight. Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean everyone can do so—at least not yet. But the capacity resides within us. To realize Holy Spirit insight requires us to pursue it and practice. As we do, we may not always hear fully, but hearing something from God is better than hearing nothing.

If you don’t try to hear Holy Spirit insight, it won’t happen.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

When We Say We’ll Do What God Says, Do We Really Mean It?

The People Ask Jeremiah to Seek God’s Will, But They Don’t Like the Answer

Those few of God’s chosen people left in the promised land have it bad. Babylon has conquered them. Insurgents have just killed their captor’s appointed ruler, and the people fear they’ll face retribution.

They Seek God

They do what they should’ve done all along. They turn to God. They want to know God’s will. But they can’t, or don’t know how to, hear directly from the Almighty. Instead they want an intermediary. They go to Jeremiah for help.

“Pray to the Lord,” they ask the prophet, “and inquire of him where we should go and what we should do.”

Jeremiah Agrees but with a Caveat

The prophet listens to the people’s request and commits to seek God as they asked. Then he adds a warning. He pledges to tell the people everything that God says whether encouraging or discouraging, whether positive or negative. And for his part, Jeremiah promises to not hold anything back.

“We’ll do whatever God says,” the people promise. “Whether good or bad we will obey him.” They sound sincere. We assume they are. But let’s see what happens.

Jeremiah Waits to Hear from God

God and Jeremiah have a tight connection. He hears regularly from God and writes it down for the people—and for us—to read. It seems reasonable that as soon as Jeremiah seeks God’s instructions that he’ll get a quick response. It should only take a few minutes.

But God’s timing is different than ours. God doesn’t speak to Jeremiah right away. For the rest of the day nothing happens. For the rest of the week there’s no word from God. Then ten days later the word of God comes to Jeremiah.

An Unexpected Message

The people are afraid and want to flee the promised land. They wonder if Egypt is the ideal place to go. There they’ll be out of the grasp of Babylon’s reach. They expect God will confirm their logical decision to scurry off to Egypt.

But God doesn’t do what they expect. He tells them that if they stay put, he will bless them. The Lord says they shouldn’t fear the military might of Babylon. They should place their trust in him instead.

“However,” God says, “if you disobey me and don’t stay where I put you and instead scoot off to Egypt, then don’t expect any favors.” Though they reason that Egypt will afford them food and safety, instead they’ll die there from starvation and war.

Jeremiah did is the people asked. He sought God’s will and then, as promised, told the people everything God said. There’s a blessing for obedience and a warning for disobedience.

The People’s Response

The people promised they would do what God said. They heard Jeremiah’s message of what to do, along with the accompanying promise of provision. They also heard Jeremiah’s message of what not to do, along with the associated warning of death.

What do the people do? They accuse Jeremiah of lying. Following the adage, “they shoot the messenger”—at least metaphorically.

They don’t like Jeremiah’s message, so they decide to dismiss it. But by ignoring Jeremiah, they’re ignoring God. They decide to do what they wanted to do all along. They hightail it to Egypt, disobeying God’s command in the process.

And to Jeremiah’s dismay, they drag him off with them as they flee to Egypt.

May we break this pattern of selective obedience. Click To Tweet

What About Us?

When we say we’ll obey what God says, do we really mean it? Too often our obedience is selective. We do what’s easy and ignore the difficult parts of God’s commands that don’t make sense or that we don’t like. In short, we don’t believe God’s message—at least, not fully.

God’s people did it long ago, and God’s people still do it today. May we break this pattern of selective obedience.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 41-45, and today’s post is on Jeremiah 42:1-3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Four Lessons from Job about Devotion to God

Job Professes His Spiritual Practices

The words of Job’s friend Eliphaz fail to comfort him. Instead they stir up anger. With a friend who speaks like Eliphaz I’d be angry too. In Job’s reply to his so-called friend, he professes what he has done to align himself with God. He claims his practices prove his devotion to his Lord.

Job Follows God

Job says that he follows closely behind God. It’s as if he walks in God’s shadow, placing each step in the footprint of his Lord. With intention he trails after God, focusing on staying right behind him.

Job Resists Distractions

Job follows God with unswerving dedication. He keeps his eyes fixed on God, walking in his path. Job does not look to his left or to his right. He tunes out worldly distractions so he can remain steadfast in keeping aligned with God, going everywhere that God goes.

Job Obeys God’s Commands

Next Job says that he keeps the commands of God. He listens to what God says and follows his words with unswerving commitment. It’s as if Job pauses in expectation for God to speak. Then he immediately obeys him, doing everything he says to do.

Job Treasures God’s Words

Job ends his testimony saying that he values God’s words more than food. Though we might think this refers to the written Word of God, the Bible, it does not. Job likely lives in a time before the Scriptures existed. This means Job treasures the spoken words of God.

Job would rather feed his soul by listening to God then feed his body by eating food. For Job to hear God speak, Job must remain in close relationship with him.

There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. Click To Tweet

The Outcome of Job’s Devotion

Job is a man who carefully follows God with singular focus, obeying him and valuing everything he says. It’s an example of godly devotion we will do well to follow.

You’d think that for Job’s dedication, God would bless him and keep him from discomfort. Yet for this time in Job’s life, he is in much distress and God’s blessings are absent in his life. Though a positive and pleasant outcome await Job, it’s far removed from his present life.

This is a hard reality to accept and to comprehend. Yet there are two things we must remember. First, God is Sovereign and can do whatever he wants.

We must accept this truth even if we don’t like it.

Second, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. In the end, we, like Job, will see God’s blessing and reward. Until then we should follow Job’s example of devotion to our Lord.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 21-24, and today’s post is on Job 23:11-12.]

Discover more in Peter’s new book Dear Theophilus Job: 40 Insights About Moving from Despair to Deliverance. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.