October 21 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.’” ~Jeremiah 6:16

OLD TESTAMENT

This sermon will tell you why Jeremiah was so unpopular. He goes after the peasants (Jer. 5:4), the powerful (Jer. 5:5), and the preachers (Jer. 5:12)! He is calling all of them a bunch of stubborn people who will not listen. The people have been blessed, but they still commit adultery: “They are well-fed lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife” (Jer. 5:8). They do not care about orphans or widows (Jer. 5:28). When they come to worship and offer sacrifices, which is only when they have time, they are just going through the motions (Jer. 6:20).

Jeremiah’s voice is the only one crying out. The preachers tell the people what they want to hear, and that’s the way the people like it (Jer. 5:31). They have an infected wound, but those called to the work of soul care are applying Band-Aids to a life-threatening lesion (Jer. 6:14)! The answer to the problems faced by God’s people (then and now) is not to cover them over with Band-Aid solutions. The answer is to return to the “ancient paths,” the tested and tried wisdom of the Lord that has been with God’s people from the beginning (Jer. 6:16). There is a certain way to live that will bless us, and God has revealed it to us in His Word. Others have walked these paths and have found them to be blessed! It is a good way or, as we might say, “the good life.”

Let us not be like the stubborn people who lived before us. Let us listen to the prophet and humble our hearts. Let us repent of our sins and turn from paths that lead to harm. Let us worship God and God alone. Let us love our wives and children and neighbors. Let us care for the poor. In so doing, let us avert the discipline of the Lord.

NEW TESTAMENT

First and Second Timothy, along with Titus, are collectively referred to as the Pastoral Epistles. They bear this title because they deal with pastoral matters in a local church setting. They were written to acting pastors (Timothy and Titus) who most likely served in interim positions. Paul appointed Timothy to oversee the church in the city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey), while Titus was overseeing the church on the island of Crete.

Both local churches had some problems that needed straightening out (1 Tim. 1:3; Titus 1:5). Timothy and Titus’ duties included appointing capable leaders called elders; correcting troublemakers who wouldn’t shut their mouths; teaching people the Word of God; and putting solid ministry practices in place, like caring for widows.

The Pastoral Epistles have long been a teaching tool for pastors leading a church. The letters dispel some of the modern myths about pastors, especially the notion that they are glorified social workers. Pastors are first and foremost shepherds (leaders) of God’s flock. As such, they are to ensure solid leaders are in place to care for the church. They must confront or correct people. They must be teachers who can handle the Word. They should be concerned about enacting the best ministry practices to be sure the church is accomplishing the mission of Jesus Christ.

Is your view of the pastoral job description derived from Scripture?


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.