Saturday, November 16, 2019

Watchmen ...

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." - Ezekiel 3:17-18 
"Duty to Inform" is a legal ruling that reads as follows: "Duty to warn is the legal obligation to warn people of a danger. For example, manufacturers of hazardous products have a duty to warn customers of a product's potential dangers and to advise users of any precautions they should take. Psychologists have a duty to warn the third parties or authorities if a client poses a threat to himself or herself or to another identifiable individual." (uslegal.com) In a self serving world, the welfare of others has to be commanded.
In the world of Ezekiel, there might have been a temptation to ignore the impending judgment of the wicked. In chapter two, the Lord sent the prophet "to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me"...whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house)" Why warn anyone who would choose to ignore the blessings and goodness of God? Why inform them of the eternal condemnation waiting for them? Why bother, when they had no intention to change? Even for a man of God, was the eternal welfare of others commanded.
Well, you may say, "I'm not a 'watchman' for anyone today...I have no obligation to warn unbelievers of their impending doom. After all, the world is full of evangelists and preachers who get paid to do that. You may want to rethink this approach though. Have we not received the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of the saving grace of God? (Acts 1:8) Didn't the Lord, "through Christ reconcile us to himself and give us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:8) What should we say about Jude 22-23..."And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire"?  Yes, we have been made watchmen, and the eternal welfare of others has been commanded...

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Relationship or Rubbish?

"Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old" - Lamentations 5:21
The day that divorce papers are finalized, everything becomes crystal clear. They are documents that itemize all that was valuable in the marriage. Who gets the house? The boat? The vacation cottage? What amount of money that will be paid in alimony? All that really matters is the tangible things of monetary worth. A final commentary on the marriage... Rubbish over Relationship. 
As Jeremiah listed all that Israel suffered in the way of loss, the tangible things were most grieved over..."Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners." (Lamentations 5:2) The luxuries of life, the daily pleasures, music and dancing were all gone. Their misery seemed to revolve around the loss of earthly treasures rather than the spiritual communion with the Lord Himself. What was the final commentary? They had chosen poorly... Rubbish over Relationship.
It's all a matter of priority my friend. Where we place our values in the beginning will always determine the outcome. If you plant your life in the shifting sands of tangible things, your world will eventually pass away with nothing left to show for your efforts. But, if you plant your life in the rich topsoil of knowing and loving God, your world and all your efforts will last forever. Choose wisely... Relationship over Rubbish.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Always...

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” - Lamentations 3:22–24
Imagine a young child hanging out of a second story window and the building engulfed with flames. As he cries for help a stranger passes by and offers to catch the youngster if he will jump. Without any hesitation, the response is a firm "no thank you". The building is getting hotter by the moment and the young lad continues to reject offers to jump. Suddenly, out of the crowd runs his father with open arms crying out "jump!" As quickly as his father cries out, a jump is made into the safe and secure arms of only one person... The one that he could always trust.
After all that was suffered from the Lord's corrective measures upon the nation, the prophet returned to the heart of the matter. God cared enough for his people to deliver them from an unending life of sin and degradation. The physical loss was great, but spiritual loss is forever. Jeremiah knew where to find consistent consolation and hope for the future. He spoke of the Lord's steadfast love never ceasing, His mercies never coming to an end and the greatness of His faithfulness. This was his portion in life... The One who he could always trust.
No matter what your circumstances my friend, there is One who calls for you to "jump". He's not a stranger, but your loving, merciful and faithful Heavenly Father. He's there by your side in sunshine and storm. His hand is extended to walk you safely through the darkest Valley. When you choose Him as your portion in life, He will be the One that you can always trust.



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Beware...

"Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading." - Lamentations 2:14
On the morning of December 7, 1941, a radar operator on the northern tip of  the Hawaiian island of Oahu reported that there was an unusually large “blip” on the radar screen, indicating a large number of aircraft about 132 miles away and fast approaching. He had no idea that the "blip" was the first wave of more than 180 Japanese fighters, torpedo bombers, dive bombers and horizontal bombers who were bearing down on Pearl Harbor. Once informed, Kermit A. Tyler, Army Air Force first lieutenant on temporary duty at Fort Shafter’s radar information center responded... "Don't worry about it". Beware of those who mislead.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel were prophets of God that proclaimed the truth. That truth called for repentance and major life changes. Their voice was ignored and their message rejected. The voices that were received, spoke of good days ahead and totally failed to warn the people of impending judgment. Danger was closing in like an F5 tornado in the dark of night. The nation was devistated because they listened to false and deceptive messages that said... "Don't worry about it".  Beware of those who mislead.
There is no question that the Lord desires good for His children. But, that good is often waylaid by unrepentant sinful conduct. When we are sin sick, our heavenly Father brings us to a place of confession and spiritual renewal before His blessings rain down on us. Another prophet named Hosea recorded a similar thought, "... it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12) When the Lord speaks to you about sin, listen to Him and ignore the deceptive messages that say... "Don't worry about it". Beware of those who mislead.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Super Hero...

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses." - Jeremiah 51:15–16
I grew up with just one televised super hero. He was, "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!.. Yes, it's Superman." Super heroes have become regular fare over the years, with movies galore and unending adventures. But, when we leave the theater and head down the road, fiction gives way to reality. Oh, if only there was a real Super Hero!
Israel never tired of searching for newer and more powerful gods. Babylon showed up with great wisdom, might and golden idols, overthrowing the people of Israel. But in time, this powerful nation and it's little man-made gods crumbled under the power of the Lord of hosts. For years Israel lost sight of the greatness and power their of own God. Imagine, they really had a Super Hero.
We open the pages of the Bible and quickly discover the One who "made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom". He is truly, "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! and much, much more. Why search for newer and more powerful sources to meet your needs? Paul the Apostle referred to the Lord as the One who is "able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think". (Ephesians 3:20) Yes, my friend, there really is a Super Hero...and the LORD of hosts is His name! (Jeremiah 51:19)


Monday, November 11, 2019

A Strong Hand...

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon." - Jeremiah 50:33–34
My wife and I grew up on Long Island, N.Y. We spent more days at the beach than can be counted. We dated at the beach, ran our dogs at the beach and raised our boys at the beach. You might think that we knew better than to let our car get stuck at the beach. But we did, and were it not for the help of a strong truck, we'd still be at the beach. Getting out of a deep hole requires a strong hand.
Judah was in a deep hole. They ended up there by their own doing. After years of rebellion and idolatry, the Lord sent the armies of Babylon to carry them into captivity. The hole was deep enough, then over time their captors "proudly defied the Lord" (vs. 29) making things worse. At just the right moment, as predicted years earlier, a Redeemer brought them rest with a strong hand. 
Are you in a hole today? Did you know better, but got stuck anyway? Are you thinking that you're on your own since you got by your own doing? Well, the encouraging word is, that you too have a Redeemer. And, should you call upon him with a humble heart, He is ready and willing to bring you rest with a strong hand. 






Sunday, November 10, 2019

Anything???

"The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" ~ Jeremiah 32:26-27
You may have lost your home or car in a flood or fire. The devastation is overwhelming. You begin to ask, again and again... "Is there any hope? Can God really turn things around and will my life ever be the same again?" The tragedies of life can be so consuming that your vision for future grace is easily blinded. It's at a time like this that we need a word from the Lord. And when it does, it often comes in the form of a question ... "Is anything too hard for Me?"
The scene for Jeremiah was even more confusing. The Lord directed him to buy property for the future, but to the naked eye, there was no possibility of a future. Jeremiah was a prophet, and yet his vision was blurred by the circumstances. "Is there any hope? Can God really turn things around and will my world ever be the same again?" There is no shame or harm in seeking understanding from the Lord in the midst of turmoil. But, when He answers, it may come in the form of a question..."Is anything too hard for Me?"
There is no doubt that the Lord expects us to pour over His question and come to the place of faith... "No, there isn't anything too hard for God". But, once we've arrived at this conclusion, how then shall we live? Shall we rest in Him, trusting in His wisdom and divine plan for our good? Seeking understanding and finding the answer is only the beginning of embracing the confidence and courage that comes from God's timeless question.



Saturday, November 9, 2019

Wholehearted...

“Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed." - Jeremiah 48:10
Apart from criminal conduct, why are people fired from their jobs? The right answer would most often be... slackness. Such habits as, spending too much time at the water cooler, spending company time texting friends and family, reading or daydreaming about vacationing, and basically putting off until tomorrow what really needs to be done today. Employers want employees who do their work with wholeheartedness , not those who work with slackness.
The Lord has always had the expectation for His work to be done with wholehearted devotion. He even expected His work of judgement and punishment to be carried out with diligence. In the passage before us we find a word of warning given to those carrying the sword of destruction to those who, "trusted in their works and their treasures." (verse 7) Wholehearted devotion has always been required from servants of the Lord. There's no place for slackness.
Jesus said it in a very pointed and convicting manner in Matthew 10:37-38... "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.“ And again in Mark 8:34..."And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" For those who love the Lord and are called to follow Him... there is no room for slackness.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The blessings of life...

"You said, ‘Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not...” - Jeremiah 45:3–5
Power, prestige, position... the stuff that drives men mad and nations into chaos. For many people, to be great in eyes of the world has more value than gold or silver. On the other hand, to be without fame and fortune, and just average is a nightmare for many. The real problem is, while seeking great things for ourselves, we end up missing the blessings of life. 
This passage is incredibly poignant. While the Lord is in the very process of breaking down and plucking up all His great work, this man is grieving over his personal pain and weariness. There doesn't appear to be any consideration on Baruch's part for the Lord's grief over the apostasy of His people. His only interest is to find personal rest and achieve great things for himself, while missing the blessings of life. 
Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10). It sounds like the Lord's counsel to Baruch... "Seek them not... But, I will give you your life as a prize" There are many thieves in life, and some are deep within our hearts. Seeking great things for selfish gain is certainly one of those thieves that ultimately rob us of the blessings of life. 



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Promises kept...

"Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” - Jeremiah 42:5–6
Promises promises... How many times have I heard promises made at the altar, only to be followed, a few short years later, with the broken promises of divorce? Or consider those promises made by your general contractor to repair your house on time, but not even close. For many people today, promises are only made to be broken. Is there anyone left who is true to their word?
The state of broken promises is as old as time itself. The Israeli leadership pleaded with Jeremiah to seek the Lord's mercy and direction. With this request came  the unqualified promise to obey whatever God commanded. But, when the answer came, they broke their promise, with no intention to be true to their word.
Prayer, with commitment to accept the Lord's answer, is not to be taken lightly. Promises to God are not to be broken. Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes 5:5... "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay."  Men and women of integrity are always true to their word.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Go the distance...

"King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud." - Jeremiah 38:5-6
How great is our commitment to that new job? What are we willing to sacrifice for the success of the company? Are we all about the bigger picture and greater goal? I know many people who have changed jobs in a heartbeat, when they were asked to do tasks outside their job description. It's been said that any company or group is only as strong as it's weakest link, and that link is the one who refuses to go the distance.
Jeremiah was "hired" or "called" by the Lord to be a prophet. The job description for a prophet didn't always contain great detail, but it generally involved telling the future, proclaiming God's word, and calling for repentance. On occasion, the prophet might find himself in grave danger, in the very midst of doing God's will. For the sake of the call and the success of God's plan, a faithful prophet like Jeremiah, was willing to go the distance.
What are you all about my friend? How important is the work of God and His eternal purpose to you? When you agreed to follow Jesus, were you willing to do whatever it involved...and  a little bit more? Were you even willing to sink down into the mud for the success of the His kingdom? To be a "strong link" in the work of God, you need to go the distance.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

It won't go away...

"Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned." - Jeremiah 36:27–28
In 1624, by order of the Pope, Martin Luther's translation of the Bible was burned in catholic communities across Europe. On May 10th, 1933, Nazi youth groups burned 25,000 books that were considered anti-german at a large bonfire in Berlin, Germany. During the months of 2015, it was reported that ISIS burned over 100,000 titles with which they didn't agree. Burning books is like sticking your head in the sand, you can't make them go away. 
The book of Jeremiah begins with... “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth." (Jeremiah 1:9). God called the prophet to speak the message of the Lord Himself. The words were convicting and very hard to hear, but they spoke truth that was greatly needed. The Word of God provided the only hope for Israel. Yet, the king took offense and cast it into the flames. Rejecting God's Word is like sticking your head in the sand, you can't make it go away.
I doubt that you sit around the camp fire and burn the pages of your Bible that offend you. But, you might just as well burn them, when you ignore them or refuse to read them. One of the biggest reasons anyone refuses to read the Bible is conviction of sin. As Jesus says in John 3:19, "People loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." You can choose to stick your head in the sand, but you can never make it go away.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Something special...

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." - Jeremiah 33:2–3
We've all had those days when the waves smashed us onto the rocks. We knew how we got there, but we had no idea how we would survive. It didn't matter how many times we'd been there before, because this was the worst ever. This time we needed something special.
Jeremiah was in just such a place. He was shut up in the court of the guard and Jerusalem was under siege. (32:2) The nation was in deep weeds and this prophet knew why. No matter how many times he warned them, they just wouldn't listen. He was desperate for answers and this time he needed something special.
The Lord gave the most encouraging words possible..."Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." At just the right time, an answer was promised. For those who seek the Lord in the time of need, there's always something special. 




Sunday, November 3, 2019

Can't hold it in...

"If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." - Jeremiah 20:9
Have you ever tried to stop talking about something that you're incredibly excited about? Maybe you just proposed to, or were proposed to by, the love of your life, or you were just informed that you're expecting a baby. It could be that you've been very quiet about a medical test and you just got the report that you're cancer free. Somethings you just can't hold in.
As the years of mistreatment, rejection and loneliness passed by, Jeremiah grew weary and thought about keeping his faith to himself. He tried hard to keep quiet about His God, but the presence of the Lord and knowledge of his Word burned hot, deep within. He knew he would continue to suffer all kinds of persecution, but this was one of those things he just couldn't hold in.
The big questions here are... Have you been "born again"? Have you received forgiveness from God and been miraculously transformed by the Spirit of God? Have you experienced a complete change of heart and love for the Lord? Do you see the Lord responding to your prayers in ways that you never thought possible? Then how could you possibly keep quiet about it? These are the things that you just can't hold in! 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Real Love lasts forever ...

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." - Jeremiah 31:3
We live in the day of "starter marriages". By definition such marriages are those that last five years or less and don't produce any children. I guess Tina Turner's lyrics are best applied to such relationships... "What's Love Got To Do With It?" The wording of most wedding vows also comes into play when you think about it; did the couple really plan to love and cherish each other until they parted in death? So, the question haunts us ... Is there a real love that lasts forever?
Consider the circumstances  that preceded this verse. Israel had rejected the Lord, persecuted His prophet, rebelled against His Word, chased after other gods and embraced the wicked ways of pagan nations. Yet, The promise of everlasting love and faithfulness stood out like a grand lighthouse in the worst storm. These aren't the words for a temporary relationship, they sound like the words of Romans 5:8 ... "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." The awesome truth is... real love, God's love, does last forever.
God's love reached across the ages, from the heights of heaven, to the depths of our worst condition of sin and lifted us up, placing our feet on the eternal Rock of His Salvation. His love wasn't for a moment, a day, a month, a year or a lifetime... it's everlasting.  We never deserved it, couldn't work for it, couldn't buy it and were never worthy of it. Now, we can wholly depend on the Lord's faithfulness throughout life and eternity because of real love... His love, that lasts forever.

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Friday, November 1, 2019

Well read ...

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:10-13
Context, punctuation and small print ... communication is greatly dependent on all three. For example..."Throw Momma from the train a kiss". Pity poor Mamma if this proposal is misread, because she'll be in the hospital for a long time. Or, consider the guarantee that your new watch is "water proof". Then you read the small print and discover that it's only water proof in depths of two feet or less. Directions and promises are always best when well read.
The above passage includes Jeremiah 29:11, one of the most often quoted verses to encourage believers. While this promise is a beautiful expression of blessing and hope, does the context fit every life situation? This is a word of promised restoration to a people who have suffered divine correction for years of wicked and godless living. It also speaks of the changed lives of these returning people, who willingly pray and seek the Lord with all their hearts. Directions and promises are always best when well read.
The principles of God's mercy, grace and love are found woven throughout the Word of God. But, always consider the context, punctuation and small print that clarifies the passages to which you cling. God's plans for our welfare often follow his plans to correct our rebellious ways. God's plans to give us a future and hope are often linked to our readiness to pray and seek Him with our whole heart. Kept in context, all His plans are good for us. Directions and promises are always best when well read.

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