Key Questions: How is your heart? What is the foundation of our well being?
Big Idea: (1) How to be blessed (or cursed) should be the most important question of our life. (2) The condition of our heart always dictates and determines the state of our ultimate well being or blessedness (or sickness). [Next week, we shall cover Jeremiah 11-16 for Easter Sunday: A Weeping Gentle Lamb.]
Thank God for grace--the key that unlocks the Bible (Tit 2:11-15). Thank God who abundantly blessed our Easter retreat at Abbey Resort last week (3/31-4/2/17)! Thank God for the three sisters of mercy, love and grace (Eph 2:4-5). Thank God that grace begins with Grace Fitch and that even Jim--the serial killer--is forgiven by grace. May the grace of God be real to us and be the solid foundation that sustains us to live righteously at present and in the future and forever.
Might there be a problem with such a truly wonderful grace (since it is always undeserved and can never ever be earned)? With every wonderful blessing, counterfeits unfortunately masquarade as the real thing. So it is good to consider what grace is NOT. Grace NEVER:
- ignores (our) sin.
- negates (our need for) repentance.
- disregards (the true condition of) our heart.
- disobeys the Scriptures, the law (torah).
- tolerates loving something (idols) more than God.
- presents as cheap grace (which never results in true change from inner transformation).
- avoids (but welcomes) training in righteousness.
- forgets that life often involves difficult and painful struggles, conflicts and hardships.
- allows us to settle and be comfortable in ourselves and in our ever present self-centered inclinations and selfish desires.
Why should we Christians study difficult books of the OT such as Isaiah and Jeremiah (which requireds much knowledge and information regarding background, geography, history and context that is unfamiliar to us)? Doesn't doing the "hard stuff" make life "easier" in the long run? Shouldn't we lose our life in order to find it?
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man…’” “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water…” “The heart is deceitful above all thingsand beyond cure.Who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heartand examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct,according to what their deeds deserve” (Jer 17:5, 7, 9-10).
- How many times is “heart” repeated (1, 5, 9, 10)? What is our “heart”? Why is it so important (Prov 4:23)?
- What is the inscribing of Judah’s sin alluding to (1; Ex 31:18)? With what result (2-4)? Whose fault is it (4a)?
- Who is a cursed person (5; Isa 2:22)? A blessed person (7; Prov 3:5)? What are each like (6, 8, 11, 12-13; cf. Psalm 1)? When we trust ourselves what are we forsaking (13; Jn 4:10, 13-14; 7:37-38)?
- Why should we not trust our own heart (9; Gen 6:5; Isa 64:6)? How does God help us (10; Mt 11:28-30)?
- Jeremiah's six confessions are 11:18; 12:6; 15:10-21; 17:14-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18). What is happening with his fourth confession (17:14-18)? What is his resolve (17:16)? What does this show about him?
- How does keeping the Sabbath day holy express our faith/trust (19-27)? Practically affect the people (21-22)?
- What kindles the unquenchable fire of God’s anger that burns forever and will not be extinguished (4b, 27)?