Jeremiah had a ringside seat in the arena of this reform. It is hardly conceivable, though, that he remained a spectator. He was not the sort of person to stand on the sidelines. He helped. He participated in the reform with his preaching. We have fragments of his sermons.
“You’ve solicited many lover-gods, like a streetwalking whore chasing after other gods” (Jer 3:2). The people had abandoned the God who loved and called them into being and had given themselves in reckless prodigality to every god and goddess they met. Moral pollution works the same way as environmental pollution. The waste products are careless living work insidiously into the soil of thought and the streams of language, poisoning every part of society.
Jeremiah pleaded with them: “Plow your unplowed fields” (Jer 4:3). Superstition and idolatry form a tough crust that makes us insensitive and unreceptive to the word that God speaks in mercy and salvation. Ploughing is a metaphor for the repentance that prepares the ground of our heart to receive what God has for us.”
Jeremiah was scathing and sarcastic: “And you, what do you think you’re up to? Dressing up in party clothes, … putting on lipstick and rouge and mascara! Your primping goes for nothing” (Jer 4:30).
Through it, all Jeremiah conveyed hope: “Ho stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. then take it. Discover the right route for your souls” (Jer 6:16). There are old paths, well-trodden and clearly marked, that lead to goodness and to God. The Scriptures–in this case the Deuteronomy scroll–map the roads. If we ignore them, we stumble over obstacles. Jeremiah’s preaching was tireless in insisting on the plain, obvious truth: that God is among us, that we can and must live in faithful love with him.”
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blamesless for the day of Christ …”
Here is an excellent and challenging comment on these verses from Alec Motyer:
“the hymn-writer caught the matter perfectly:
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
In this respect Christian love is no different from any other sort of love: it can both waste itself upon unworthy objects and also bestow itself on proper objects in unworthy ways. In other words it needs divine illuminative knowledge in order to know what to love, and discernment to know how to love.”
Phil 1:1 “… To all God’s holy people (Saints) in Christ Jesus at Philippi…”
“But the heart of the matter is this: the saint’s separation is not a reaction against but a response to; not a more determination to be different from the world but a whole-hearted determination to be like God by obeying his word.”
Here in this wonderful definition of what is means to be God’s separate (or Holy or Saints) people, are some helpful ideas/phrases for helping each one of us to work out how to live this in the cut-and-thrust of life:
“not a reaction against” – we live in a culture that loves to react action things
“But a response to” – a desire to respond to God’s every whisper
“Not a determination to be different from the world” – this is the road to deathly law
“but a whole-hearted determination to he like God” – to live each day looking to be more and more like our great saviour
“by obeying his word” – lives centred around God’s word, not my feelings, opinion or perspective.
“Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path.” (v11)
Why is this such a provocative statement? Sandwiched in the middle of a Psalm about the Lord rescuing us from terrible and distressing situations, it would be easy for this verse to be replaced with “God, just get me out of here!” However, even in times and seasons of pain, setback, uncertainty and loss, there are things that the Lord is able to teach you. In fact, I would suggest to you that there are things that the Lord is only able to teach you in these unsettling times. However, I want to suggest that it takes a courageous heart to pray “teach me your way, Lord”.
Notice, the second part of this prayer, “lead me in a straight path.” I don’t know about you but when I’m under pressures, facing setbacks or even loss, my life can quite quickly unravel on the inside. I can start to wonder and daydream about a different life, a ‘get out’ plan. However, here in the midst of the distress, and uncertainty, David prays that the Lord would keep him on a straight course.
Lord, today, regardless of the circumstances that I am facing, I want to pray two things. Firstly, would you teach me your ways. I want to know you and your ways more deeply as a result of walking with you today. Secondly, would you keep me from wandering. Would you keep me on the straight path of your plans and your purposes! Amen.