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Jeremiah 17:7-9 1
7 “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 that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

clip_image165Background 2

According to the book, the Prophet Jeremiah was a son of a priest from Anatot in the land of Benjamin, who lived in the last years of the Kingdom of Judah just prior to, during, and immediately after the siege of Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the raiding of the city by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. According to the book, for a quarter century prior to the destruction, Jeremiah repeatedly issued prophecies predicting God’s forthcoming judgment; advocating the Israelites put down their idols and repent in hopes of turning away God’s judgment and fulfilling their destiny as his chosen people. Jeremiah’s fellow Israelites refused to heed his warnings and did not repent. His efforts failed and he witnessed the destruction of everything he knew, the exile of the Israelite elite to Babylonia, and the fleeing of the remainder to Egypt.

The book of Jeremiah depicts a remarkably introspective prophet, a prophet who was impetuous and often angered by the role into which he has been thrust. Jeremiah alternates efforts to warn the people with pleas to God for mercy until he is ordered to “pray no more for this people.” He engages in extensive performance art, walking about in the streets with a yoke about his neck and engaging in other efforts to attract attention. He is taunted and retaliates; he is thrown in jail as the result. At one point he is thrown into a pit to die.

Biblical Truths 3

Those who make God their Hope, shall flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither. They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they shall not be anxious in a year of drought. Those who make God their Hope, have enough in him to make up the want of all creature-comforts. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in holiness and good works. The heart, the conscience of man, in his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the conscience, which should set right the errors of other faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of others, or depend upon them. He that believes God’s testimony in this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is in the heart, God sees it.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you think Jeremiah meant when he used the words “When the heat comes?”
  • How would you explain a person who bore fruit in the year of a drought?
  • Why is it so hard for mankind to understand his/her own failings before God?
  • Besides trust, we are called to place our confidence in Him – What do you think this means?
  • Who are the Jeremiah’s of our time?
  • Why is it so hard to recognize a prophet?
  • How would you decide if someone was a “prophet” of today?

 

Philippians 4:11-12
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Background 4

The Philippians felt a very deep interest for the apostle. The scope of the epistle is to confirm them in the faith, to encourage them to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ, to caution them against judaizing 5 teachers, and to express gratitude for their Christian bounty. This epistle is the only one, among those written by St. Paul, in which no censures are implied or expressed. Full commendation and confidence are in every part, and the Philippians are addressed with a peculiar affection, which every serious reader will perceive.

Bible Truths 6

The nature of true Christian sympathy, is not only to feel concern for our friends in their troubles, but to do what we can to help them. The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favorable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly.

Items for Discussion

  • Is it harder to be content with our circumstances today than it was in the Apostle Paul’s day? Why or why not?
  • What are some examples of how pride interferes with generosity?
  • How can a person in need be prideful?
  • In the commentary used for this study from Matthew Henry, he uses a term, “Christian Bounty.” What is a Christian’s bounty?
  • The Apostle Paul knew both plenty and want. How might a full set of life’s experiences help someone with their faith walk and their understanding of God?
  • Why would God’s kingdom benefit from watching someone in need?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does a church live up to the very characteristics that the Apostle Paul is describing?
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