Zacchaeus – the wee little man – in Luke 19 was lost. He tried to find himself in work and in wealth. And, in both he was at the top of his game. He was no mere tax collector, but the chief-tax collector. He oversaw all tax collection in Jericho, a fabulously wealthy and progressive city. And he was fabulously wealthy. But it came at a cost. Success cost him his identity and his integrity. His name, Zacchaeus, meant “righteous one.” But his reputation was that of an odious sinner. All he had gained was nothing compared to what he had lost. He was lost and longed to be found. Perhaps Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus. That he was a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.” The religious establishment had no place for Zacchaeus in their lives or their religion. But maybe this Jesus would be different. What kind of man was Jesus? He had to see. You might think at first glance that Luke 19 is a story about Zacchaeus looking for Jesus. But it is actually quite the opposite. It was Jesus who came to Jericho looking for Zacchaeus. Listen to “Lost and Found” as we examine this passage and see how God’s love for us unfolds in the seeking and the saving of Zacchaeus.
The people of Judah had rejected Jeremiah’s call to repent. They continued to live with their backs to God. What about you? Have you lived with your back to God? Are you unconcerned about his sovereign justice? God offers us sovereign grace, but if we turn away from it, all that is left is sovereign judgement. We should all be concerned. Listen to “Beyond Repair” as we examine Jeremiah 19 and consider the dangers of living life with our backs to God.
When the Lord speaks the best, last word, the word of grace, will you let that be the last word? Or must you speak the last word yourself, “following your own plans” according to the stubbornness of your heart. Jeremiah 18 is a remarkable passage about God’s steadfast grace toward stubborn, ungrateful rebels. What is the last word in your life? What last word defines you? Listen to “The Last Word” from Jeremiah 18 as we consider the power and beauty of God’s sovereignty exercised toward us in grace.
The prophet Jeremiah took great pains to make clear the deeply ingrained sin in the people of Judah. By the time we get to the end of Jeremiah 17, we have heard the prophet call the people to repentance for their perpetual idolatry, their self-serving greed, their heartless oppression, and their continual refusal to heed the call of God to return. So, it seems a little surprising that Jeremiah makes so much of calling them to repent of contempt for the Lord’s Day . With so many dire issues on the table, is this not a bit of straining a gnat and swallowing a camel? Yet this thinking shows that we have not rightly understood that the Lord’s Day stands at the center of our Christian life. Listen to “Never a Fast Day”, as we examine Jeremiah 17:19-27 and consider the the great blessing of remembering the Lord’s Day.
The Fall broke more in us than we are aware. The effects of total depravity extend into every last aspect of body, mind, and soul. The prophet Jeremiah expressed this most poignantly. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The ancient word heart used in this verse is an inclusive idea, encompassing the heart, soul, mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory, inclination, resolution, will, conscience, the seat of appetites, emotions and passions and convictions and courage. All these, Jeremiah says, are treacherous, rebellious and incurably sick. Yet, we cannot see it. Listen to “Total Depravity” as we examine Jeremiah 17 and consider the diagnosis of total depravity and the remedy God offers us in Christ.
The prophet Jeremiah was called to follow Christ down a difficult road. Four decades of preaching fell on deaf ears. No one listened. No one responded. He was hunted by the authorities and hated by his own friends and family. He was not allowed to marry. He was forbidden to be a part of the life of the community either in the joy of its feasts or the sorrow of its funerals. His life would be a living sermon, declaring that God has also withdrawn from the life of the people. How far will Jeremiah follow? What about you? How far will you follow Christ? He offers grace and mercy freely. But it is a costly grace. It bids us to come and die. Is there a place where you say, “here but no further?” Listen as we examine Jeremiah 16 and consider the costs of God’s call to follow.
Have you ever felt let-down by God? Have you been disappointed when He seemed deaf to your prayer, unconcerned about your trials, and unappreciative of your obedience? How will you respond? How will you move forward in following Him when he seems to have become an adversary? Listen as we examine Jeremiah 15 and observe Jeremiah’s struggle to come to grips with a God who seems to have let him down.
Jeremiah was called to a ministry of crisis. From his calling to his conclusion, Jeremiah’s life and ministry was one of sorrow and struggle. He was a man of great faith in the midst of a faithless generation, called to preach judgment to his beloved people. But as we read through Jeremiah’s preaching, as well as his emotional confessions and lamentations, we see a man who was,never a dispassionate observer of his nation’s sufferings, but entered into the anguish of the people and suffered with them.
By observing his struggle, the Lord sets before us warning and direction as we wrestle with God’s chastening. What will God’s refining work provoke in us? Bitterness? Accusation? Presumption? Growing hardness? Faith and repentance? Lustrous silver? Or only dross?
Listen to “Crisis Management” as we examine Jeremiah 14 and consider how the prophet’s lament in a time of crisis warns and instructs us as we respond to God’s refining work.
In our idiom, “asking for a friend,” is a euphemism for our own concerns. But when it comes to Christian prayer we are called to ask boldly for others through the ministry of intercession. Listen to “Asking for Friend” as we consider Psalm 122 which calls us to pray for the sake of our brothers and to intercede for the church, the world, and our neighbors.
Is your life characterized by thanksgiving, or better yet, thanks-living? Have you learned to receive everything – the good and the bad, the joyful and the sorrowful – with thanksgiving? Our redemption is manifest chiefly in a grateful heart. What does your life declare of thankfulness to God? Listen as we examine Psalm 107 and consider the promptings, the pattern, and the practice of giving thanks and living thankfully.