The Practice of Godliness

"The Lord spoke his word to me, saying:
"Go and speak to the peope of Jerusalem, saying:
This is what the Lord says:
"I remember how faithful you were to me
when you were a young nation.
You loved me like a young bride.
You followed me through the desert,
a land that had never been planted.
The people of Israel were holy to the Lord,
like the first fruits from his harvest. . . .
How then did you turn into a wild vine that grows bad fruit?"
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 21

The Practice of Godliness
READ Jeremiah 2:1-6:30
SITUATION Many sinful kings led people astray in both Judah and the Northern Kingdom. Eventually, the Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom (722 B.C.). Judah was on the verge of similar punishment from Babylon. Jeremiah began his prophecy against Judah by outlining the people's unfaithfulness to God and urging them to repent or face strong punishment.
OBSERVATION Any severe and prolonged pattern of sin practiced by people who claim to be devoted to God invites punishment from God.
INSPIRATION Many people will profess faithfulness, but few will demonstrate it. The virtue of faithfulness is often costly, and few people are willing to pay the price. But for the godly person, faithfulness is an absolutely essential quality of his character, regardless of what it might cost.
What is faithfulness? How do we practice it, and when do we exhibit it in our lives? The biblical word denotes that which is firm and can be counted upon . . . . The faithful person is one who is dependable, trustworthy, and loyal, who can be depended upon in all his relationships, and who is absolutely honest and ethical in all his affairs . . . .
If we are careful to be honest in the little things, we will certainly be careful to be honest in the more important things of life . . . . If our society needs to reemphasize the virtue of honesty, it certainly needs to place great importance on dependability . . . .
Reliability is not just a social obligation; it is a spiritual obligation. God is even more concerned about our faithfulness than the person who is relying on us in some particular situation . . . .The faithful person is not only honest and dependable, but also loyal. . .
Whether it be in honesty or dependability or loyalty, faithfulness is frequently a costly virtue. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to pay that price. (From The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges)
APPLICATION Do you gossip about others? Do you criticize others? Do you lustfully think about someone? Last April did you cheat the government? Do you work hard on your job, or do you waste time? If you repeat sin again and again you will experience God's discipline! Consider your life and ask the Holy Spirit to help you get rid of sin.
EXPLORATION Backsliding -- Psalm 78:56-68; Jeremiah 17:5; Ezekiel 18:24-26; Matthew 5:13; Galatians 5:7-9; Hebrews 5:11-6:12.
The Devotional Bible - Experience the Heart of Jesus, Max Lucado General Editor, New Century Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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