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June 24, 2018

Devotion for June 24

            The words are forever etched in my mind: “He’s still workin on me, to make me what I ought to be.” I cannot possibly determine the number of times I sang that song as a child, but I will admit it has only been in the last ten or so years of my life that the truth they emphasize really resonates within me. Especially I read the words of Paul in Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” Not that the word of God needs any help, put perhaps an illustration will bring a little perspective to this statement.

            Suppose you pull up to a gas station and your vehicle is not working properly. This particular gas station has a garage attached, so you park as close to the garage area as possible. No sooner have you gotten stopped then a man approaches and instructs you to open the hood of your vehicle. You notice he is grabbing hoses, puling wires and belts, opening various compartments, and so you assume he is a mechanic. Just then, he rises up from under your hood and you notice he has the emblem of a milk company on his shirt. This guy is the delivery man for the local milk company. Are you going to receive mechanical advice from him or even allow him to continue working on your vehicle.

Jeremiah 50 (CSB)

1 This is the word the Lord spoke about Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, through the prophet Jeremiah: 2 Announce to the nations; proclaim and raise up a signal flag; proclaim, and hide nothing. Say, “Babylon is captured; Bel is put to shame; Marduk is terrified.” Her idols are put to shame; her false gods, devastated. 3 For a nation from the north will attack her; it will make her land desolate. No one will be living in it— both people and animals will escape. 4 In those days and at that time— this is the Lord’s declaration— the Israelites and Judeans will come together, weeping as they come, and will seek the Lord their God. 5 They will ask about Zion, turning their faces to this road. They will come and join themselves to the Lord in a permanent covenant that will never be forgotten. 6 My people were lost sheep; their shepherds led them astray, guiding them the wrong way in the mountains. They wandered from mountain to hill; they forgot their resting place. 7 Whoever found them devoured them. Their adversaries said, “We’re not guilty; instead, they have sinned against the Lord, their righteous grazing land, the hope of their ancestors, the Lord.” 8 Escape from Babylon; depart from the Chaldeans’ land. Be like the rams that lead the flock. 9 For I will soon stir up and bring against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country. They will line up in battle formation against her; from there she will be captured. Their arrows will be like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed. 10 The Chaldeans will become plunder; all Babylon’s plunderers will be fully satisfied. This is the Lord’s declaration. 11 Because you rejoice, because you celebrate— you who plundered my inheritance— because you frolic like a young cow treading grain and neigh like stallions, 12 your mother will be utterly humiliated; she who bore you will be put to shame. Look! She will lag behind all the nations— an arid wilderness, a desert. 13 Because of the Lord’s wrath, she will not be inhabited; she will become a desolation, every bit of her. Everyone who passes through Babylon will be appalled and scoff because of all her wounds. 14 Line up in battle formation around Babylon, all you archers! Shoot at her! Do not spare an arrow, for she has sinned against the Lord. 15 Raise a war cry against her on every side! She has thrown up her hands in surrender; her defense towers have fallen; her walls are demolished. Since this is the Lord’s vengeance, take your vengeance on her; as she has done, do the same to her. 16 Cut off the sower from Babylon as well as him who wields the sickle at harvest time. Because of the oppressor’s sword, each will turn to his own people, each will flee to his own land. 17 Israel is a stray lamb, chased by lions. The first who devoured him was the king of Assyria; the last who crushed his bones was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 18 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am about to punish the king of Babylon and his land just as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 I will return Israel to his grazing land, and he will feed on Carmel and Bashan; he will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and of Gilead. 20 In those days and at that time— this is the Lord’s declaration— one will search for Israel’s iniquity, but there will be none, and for Judah’s sins, but they will not be found, for I will forgive those I leave as a remnant. 21 Attack the land of Merathaim, and those living in Pekod. Put them to the sword; completely destroy them— this is the Lord’s declaration— do everything I have commanded you. 22 The sound of war is in the land— a crushing blow! 23 How the hammer of the whole earth is cut down and smashed! What a horror Babylon has become among the nations! 24 Babylon, I laid a trap for you, and you were caught, but you did not even know it. You were found and captured because you pitted yourself against the Lord. 25 The Lord opened his armory and brought out his weapons of wrath, because it is a task of the Lord God of Armies in the land of the Chaldeans. 26 Come against her from the most distant places. Open her granaries; pile her up like mounds of grain and completely destroy her. Leave her no survivors. 27 Put all her young bulls to the sword; let them go down to the slaughter. Woe to them because their day has come, the time of their punishment. 28 There is a voice of fugitives and refugees from the land of Babylon. The voice announces in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God, the vengeance for his temple. 29 Summon the archers to Babylon, all who string the bow; camp all around her; let none escape. Repay her according to her deeds; just as she has done, do the same to her, for she has acted arrogantly against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. 30 Therefore, her young men will fall in her public squares; all the warriors will perish in that day. This is the Lord’s declaration. 31 Look, I am against you, you arrogant one— this is the declaration of the Lord God of Armies— for your day has come, the time when I will punish you. 32 The arrogant will stumble and fall with no one to pick him up. I will set fire to his cities, and it will consume everything around him. 33 This is what the Lord of Armies says: Israelites and Judeans alike have been oppressed. All their captors hold them fast; they refuse to release them. 34 Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of Armies is his name. He will fervently champion their cause so that he might bring rest to the earth but turmoil to those who live in Babylon. 35 A sword is over the Chaldeans— this is the Lord’s declaration— against those who live in Babylon, against her officials, and against her sages. 36 A sword is against the diviners, and they will act foolishly. A sword is against her heroic warriors, and they will be terrified. 37 A sword is against his horses and chariots and against all the foreigners among them, and they will be like women. A sword is against her treasuries, and they will be plundered. 38 A drought will come on her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is a land of carved images, and they go mad because of terrifying things. 39 Therefore, desert creatures will live with hyenas, and ostriches will also live in her. It will never again be inhabited or lived in through all generations. 40 Just as God demolished Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns— this is the Lord’s declaration— so no one will live there; no human being will stay in it even temporarily as a temporary resident. 41 Look! A people comes from the north. A great nation and many kings will be stirred up from the remote regions of the earth. 42 They grasp bow and javelin. They are cruel and show no mercy. Their voice roars like the sea, and they ride on horses, lined up like men in battle formation against you, Daughter Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard about them; his hands have become weak. Distress has seized him— pain, like a woman in labor. 44 “Look, it will be like a lion coming from the thickets of the Jordan to the watered grazing land. I will chase Babylon away from her land in a flash. I will appoint whoever is chosen for her. For who is like me? Who will issue me a summons? Who is the shepherd who can stand against me?” 45 Therefore, hear the plans that the Lord has drawn up against Babylon and the strategies he has devised against the land of the Chaldeans: Certainly the flock’s little lambs will be dragged away; certainly the grazing land will be made desolate because of them. 46 At the sound of Babylon’s conquest the earth will quake; a cry will be heard among the nations.

Philippians 2 (CSB)

1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, 16 by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me. 19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I too may be encouraged by news about you. 20 For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; 21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father. 23 Therefore, I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 I am confident in the Lord that I myself will also come soon. 25 But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need—26 since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 For this reason, I am very eager to send him so that you may rejoice again when you see him and I may be less anxious. 29 Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me.