Daily Devotion, 4-27-2020

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Warning Signs
Today's Reading: Jeremiah 23

As we go from one place to another in our vehicles and in our work places, we often see warning signs to make us aware of what's ahead.  The signs carry many messages of wisdom to prevent us from danger and from endangering others.  Today's message from Jeremiah 23 is packed full of wise words... warning signs for all of us.  At first glance, you may feel that these words are just for pastors, preachers, evangelists... that is shepherds or prophets.  But the truth is these warning signs are for all who claim to be Christians and therefore called to go forth and share God's Words with others.  

This passaage is about accountability as people of God. We are held accountable by God for those people God has placed in our life to lead and to influence.  We also are influenced by the words and actions of other spiritual leaders and therefore, as both leaders and those who are led, we need to recognize some of the warning signs that are pointed out in Jeremiah 23 (vv. 1-4)

We need to be mindful of spiritual leaders who do not practice what they preach or who water down the gospel of Jesus Christ by subtly encouraging disobedience.  Many times we may be attracted to spiritual leaders (preachers and teachers) who have charisma and deliver beautifully rehearsed messages that "appeal to the audience" rather than being true to God's Word.  Such leaders may be perceived to be great leaders but in reality are self-serving and minimize God while elevating themselves (vv. 9-14).

When a person who leads others spiritually elevates him or herself and minimizes God we are distracting the persons we lead from a very important message... God is a caring and present God who DOES know and care and is big enough to handle all of our problems.  Instead, some modern day, self-serving church leaders, want their followers to lean completely on them for guidance; they want others to feel they are irreplacable.  Remember it is God we worship and a good spiritual leader constantly reminds us of this truth.  We worship a BIG God (vv. 21-24)

An effective leader for God displays evidence of God's Word in his or her life.  In other words, these leaders are fruitful not just numerically but with fruit of the spirit--- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. In other words, an effective leader quietly and humbly displays evidence that God is at work in their lives. They do not need to say a single word --- evidence of God's word speaks for itself (vv. 33-39).

The final warning sign is for those who are led. Often times, we shop around to hear a Word from God that makes us feel good.  But what if it doesn't make us feel good?  What if we make fun of messages that would require us to change our hearts, our minds .... our lives?  In a way, we too are responsbile for whom we choose to follow.  We do this when we continue to follow leaders who do not assume accountability for us spiritually, or who preach a watered down message to make us feel good, or subtly make us feel that it is okay to disobey God, or try to appeal to us rather than appeal to God.   When we follow the wrong kind of leader who only makes us feel good, we need to ask ourselves why.  I challenge all who read this to strongly consider those you lead and those who are leading you.  What kind of message are you preaching or hearing?  Is it your message or a message from God?  Before dismissing a message that may lead you to be sad or uncomfortable, ask yourself why you are rejecting the message and the messenger.  Be aware of the warning signs and motives when it comes to leading others and being led by others, spiritually.  We need to ensure that the message we proclaim is God's message and not our own (vv.33-39)


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