Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 21 2019 - Jeremiah 26:1-16 – Jeremiah threatened

False prophets were proclaiming a message the people wanted to hear – "Everything will be alright. You are God's chosen people; he would never raise his hand against you. God will not allow Jerusalem to be destroyed. You will continue to live at peace. "

Jeremiah, however, had been called by God to deliver an unpopular but very necessary message. He was commanded to go and stand in the temple courtyard and declare:

This is what the Lord says: if you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth. (vv. 4-6)

Jeremiah was bringing them a warning and calling upon the nation to turn from its evil ways and return to singlehearted devotion to the Lord before it was too late.

But his message was not appreciated by his hearers. Instead of thinking carefully about what Jeremiah had said and considering their own ways, priests, prophets and all the people seized Jeremiah saying, "You must die!"

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that he will encounter times in his own ministry when people do not want to listen to the word of God. "Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3). Nor is the situation any different today. Whenever people feel compelled to share an unsettling and uncomfortable message – whether that is the gospel message of sin and salvation or warnings about the dangerous effects of man-made climate change – there will always be others who will seek to gain a popular hearing by telling people not to worry, it will never happen.

The officials of Judah were summoned from the royal palace and assembled in the New Gate of the temple. The priests and prophets hauled Jeremiah before the officials saying, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!" (v.11). How would you have felt in Jeremiah's situation? How might you have responded to the charge being brought against you? I suspect that if it had been me, I would have sought to refashion my message in a way that might make it more acceptable to the city officials.

But Jeremiah, rather than becoming defensive, goes on the attack by repeating the same message:

"The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God. Then the Lord will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you." (vv.12-13).

He then adds that if they kill him they will sin further in shedding innocent blood. He has only spoken the words the Lord had given him to speak. This seems to have got through to some of his hearers for we read, "Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, ‘This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.’" (v.16). The city officials and the ordinary inhabitants of the city seem to have drawn back from shedding the blood of one who has simply brought them the word of the Lord, but the religious leaders, priests and prophets, seem reluctant to let Jeremiah go free.

The same was true with the ministry of the Lord Jesus. The common people heard him gladly and even the Roman officials seemed reluctant to put him to death, but the priests and the Pharisees seized him and stirred up the crowds to join them in calling for his death.

Father God, we thank you for the message of your judgment and salvation that is to be found in the Lord Jesus. Keep us from trimming our message to please those to whom we speak. Help us to pass on faithfully the message you have given us in your word.

Aug 21 2013 - 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 – Incarnate Spirit

There were those at Corinth who opposed mind and spirit; to be spiritual was to speak without the engagement of the mind. Paul opposes such a crude antithesis; he writes, “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

The extraordinary message of the gospel is that in Jesus, God has appeared in the flesh. And in Jesus’ resurrection, the living God still – and forever – inhabits our flesh! The outpoured Spirit has also come to dwell in us. He does not take us over or simply use us – like some form of spirit-possession – but comes to reshape mind and heart, understanding and will, affection and purpose. He comes to transform us into the likeness of Christ; yet we remain fully ourselves. To set mind and spirit against one another is paganism and spiritualism.

I was once taken to task by one of the congregation of a church where I used regularly to preach. He took me aside after one service and chided me for using notes in my preaching and for reading commentaries and other helps in my preparation. “You need to get your message from the Lord,” he told me. I was later told of a pastor of this denomination of churches who, one Sunday morning, failed to turn up to take the service. When a member of the congregation went to his house to find him he said that he was still waiting on the Lord to give him his message for the congregation. This was viewed as a mark of deep spirituality!

I replied by assuring my critic that I did seek to get my message from the Lord through careful study as well as through prayer. I believed that the Spirit of God was as actively present with me in the study as he is present with me in the pulpit. For the same reason I valued the commentaries and other works produced by godly people down the ages. The Spirit of God had been at work in them and that same Spirit now ministered to me through them. Spirit and mind must not be opposed.

But there is another danger that needs equally to be guarded against, and that is the danger of pride in one’s own learning. The church in London of which I was the pastor had a long and noble history. At one stage, during the nineteenth century, the minister was a man of great learning who preached to a congregation in the East End of London. They revered him and thought his sermons were wonderful to listen to, but it was said that few understood him. This equally is condemned by Paul. We are to speak not to impress people with our spirituality or our learning but to be understood. We are to speak to strengthen, encourage and comfort those who hear (14:3).

Let’s be careful not to oppose spirit and mind – or Spirit and mind. In Jesus, God has appeared in the flesh – the Spirit of God perfectly united to human mind and body. I want the Spirit to mould my mind and to shape my life; I want to bring every thought captive to Christ. I want to speak in the power of the Spirit to the mind and heart of those around me so that they will understand what God has done for them in Christ and be drawn to follow him.

Living God, we praise you that in the Lord Jesus Christ you have come to dwell among us, and in the person of your Spirit you have come to dwell within us. Teach us more of what you would have us be. May mind, heart, affections, will and behaviour be transformed by your living presence as the Lord Jesus Christ becomes incarnate in us, his body.

Peter Misselbrook