November 2 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.’ But you have not paid attention or listened to me.” ~Jeremiah 35:15

OLD TESTAMENT

The Babylonian siege would last about a year and a half. The capture of a well-fortified city required patience, determination, and skill. The aggressor could at anytime lose his kingdom! If the aggressor stayed too long, he risked another enemy assaulting his home city. Before word of the threat reached his encampment, it might already by too late to rush home to defend hearth and home.

Inside the besieged city, a king had to manage multiple threats: starvation was a constant threat, sanitation was usually a problem, and disease could break out at any time. Keeping up the morale of the people, especially the troops, was also a concern. People like Jeremiah running loose preaching doom and gloom could spark a coup, which is why the king has him under guard. The siege of a city was a high-stakes game of Chicken.

Jeremiah isn’t silenced completely though. He preaches a sermon using a nomadic family as an example. The Rekabites sought safety inside Jerusalem’s walls, but the clan was famous for living off the land. Their forefather instructed them not to drink wine, build houses, or plant vineyards so they didn’t. They remained nomads as he had ordered. The Lord’s word to His people was this: The Rekabites dutifully obeyed man-made rules given by their ancestor, but I, your Creator, have given laws to bless you and to keep you, to bestow my goodness upon you, and these you have questioned and disobeyed (Jer. 35:6-19). Isn’t it amazing the things people will do for lesser causes than devotion to God? Athletes will literally punish themselves daily to win games. Students will sacrifice sleep, time, and money in order to obtain a degree. Soldiers will shave their heads and say YES, SIR to every unreasonable request for their country (or just to get through boot camp!). Our great God often asks less and promises more. Yet we give Him more grief and less devotion than He deserves. May God help us to repent and avoid His discipline!

NEW TESTAMENT

Titus, the young pastor pro tempore in Crete, had his hand full. How could he not when the city where he serves has been described like this: “[They] are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12)? That’s not the kind of advertisement a mega-church is going to post to attract a talented pastor to its town! (I’m sure not applying.) Titus needed elders (ch. 1). He needed to teach the Word with the help of others (ch. 2). He constantly reminded the saved to be subject to their leaders, “to be ready to do what is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2). (Even, dare I say, the president you did not vote for!) This advice was important because what was really at stake was the gospel. It was imperative for the church to make the message of salvation attractive (Titus 2:10).

Therefore, the pastor also had to deal sharply with those who refused to listen and brought division to the church. Paul, the letter writer, acknowledged that some people refuse to change. So the young pastor is given a rule of thumb: three strikes and they are out. Warn the divisive once, warn them twice, and then put them out of the church (Titus 3:10). Why? Because the gospel is at stake! Such persons do not adorn the gospel or make it attractive. It may be that they have not truly been changed by the gospel.

Thus ends the pastoral letters.


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.