Saturday, November 30, 2019

Don't mess with the Name...

"I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came." - Ezekiel 36:21–22

Identity theft is a serious problem today. Great care is made to protect our wallets, credit cards and computers. The misuse of our names can mean the loss of all our possessions and future  financial credibility. Our name is not just who we are, but what we are, and ultimately, it's our very legacy. So, "sticks and stones, can break my bones" but don't mess with the name.
The Lord says ... "I have concern for my holy name". He isn't concerned with identity theft. It's all about the honor that He is due. It's about living before a watching world in a way that is worthy of His name. Israel was called to be Jehovah's inheritance and the apple of His eye, but they trampled His name under foot by their misconduct. His name was not only who He was, but what He was, and their lifestyle simply ... messed with His name.
So, how does this apply to you and me? From the day we place our faith in the Lord for our salvation, we become "Christ Ones" or Christians. We move through our daily activities identifying as a child of God. We call upon our Heavenly Father in prayer and we also invite others to believe in Him. But, when we choose to speak or act in a way that dishonors our Lord before a watching world, we are profaning His name. We may even use His name flippantly with such phrases as "Oh, my God". We are called by His name and if we fail to honor Him with our conduct...we're messing with His name.


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Friday, November 29, 2019

Doing it right...

"The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them." - Ezekiel 34:4–6
Job descriptions are really important. They aren't written just to give management reasons to fire someone. These simple paragraphs of defined expectations provide clear guidance for a productive business. In most cases they express the desire and heart of the owner for future success. Doing the job right has lasting value.
The spiritual care for God's people is not a business endeavor. It's something of far greater importance and the shepherds of Israel failed in their calling. It involved far more investment of life than they were willing to give. The job description demanded compassion, sacrifice, and total involvement in the lives of God's flock. The spiritual health of the Chief Shepherd's sheep has always been his heart's desire. Doing the job right has eternal value.
Whether it's a pastor, elder, deacon, Bible teacher or a spiritual leader of any kind... the job is singularly focused on the spiritual welfare of God's flock. If you have been called of the Lord and have accepted such a roll, your job is important. It's not an easy task, but it's one that shares the heart of the Chief Shepherd. Give it all your compassion and sacrifice...and love them like Jesus. Doing the right job has eternal value.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Hidden Hand...

"I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations. He shall surely deal with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out." - Ezekiel 31:11
Historians view the rise and fall of nations as the work of great or weak leaders. They attribute the success or failure to political wisdom or military strategy. Some nations force their way, while others buy their way into greatness. Whether rise or fall, history concludes that human effort is only the cause. The Hidden Hand is ignored. 
Sidon, Tyre, Assyria, Egypt and Babylon.... all nations of power and worldwide influence. Leaders came and went, battleground victories were many and generations passed by like the morning frost. Was their success or failure a matter great armies or international alliances? Only one cause supercedes all others... The Hidden Hand of the Almighty. 

Before you give yourself to anger, frustration or downright disgust over political leadership or national disfunction, remember the lesson of history. All mankind and every nation is a part of... His-Story. God has always ruled in affairs of men. He alone gives "into the hand of the mighty", He alone "casts out" the proud despot. Nothing happens apart from the Hidden Hand of the Almighty. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Spoiling a good thing...

"You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you." - Ezekiel 28:14–15
Imagine that you've planned to make a scrumptious souffle for the Thanksgiving meal. You choose the best butter, finest flour, fresh milk, free range eggs, cream of tartar, ground salt and pepper. Every ingredient is selected with care, but you discover that you mixed in a rotten egg. What does that it matter? After all, everything else is  in excellent condition. No one will really notice?? ... It doesn't take much to spoil a good thing. 
The picture portrayed by Ezekiel calls the readers attention to the real source of evil in Tyre ... Satan himself. Such perfection, such wisdom, such beauty, and he was blameless in all his ways until, one little thing went rotten. Unrighteousness, in the form of pride, was found in this angel, which led to corruption and violence. In the end, this anointed guardian cherub came to an appalling and dreadful end. It doesn't take much to spoil a good thing.
How about your estimate of yourself my friend? Do you occasionally look in the mirror and think how blessed the world is to have such great person as yourself? Have you ever wondered how your company, neighborhood, church, or family could possibly survive without you? Confession, repentance and renewed humility will be needed to avoid an obvious fall from such delusions. The proud heart quickly forgets that... "from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever." (Romans 11:36) It doesn't take much to spoil a good thing.



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How much will you give?

"The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down." - Ezekiel 24:15–16
What does it cost to serve the Lord? Elizabeth Howard was born in Brussels, Belgium to missionary parents. She was led of the Lord to train for missionary work with the Quichua Indians in Quito, Ecuador. Elizabeth met Jim Elliot at Wheaton College and they were married in Quito in 1953 with a passion to reach unreached tribes with the gospel. In January 1956, Jim was speared to death, along with four fellow missionaries by Auca natives.
At twenty-nine years of age, Elizabeth became a widow with a ten month old daughter to raise, but her devotion to the Lord's calling kept her in Ecuador to continue the mission work until 1963. During those years she successfully reached into the tribe responsible for her husband's death, as well as wrote three of the twenty four books written over her lifetime. The cost to serve the Lord for Elizabeth Elliot was high, but the fruit of her service was great. 
The cost to serve the Lord as a prophet was just as high for Ezekiel, but the message of his life remains for all time impacting multiple generations. How willing are you to give your all for the work of God? Is reaching the souls of the lost important enough for you to pay the ultimate price? The well known entry in Jim Elliot's college journal says it all... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose". 


Monday, November 25, 2019

Stand in the breach...

"And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none." - Ezekiel 22:30
Can one person really make a difference? Well, consider this man... He was raised on a rural North Carolina dairy farm. As a teenager, he was turned down for membership in a local church youth group and was almost expelled from Bible College. He was warned, "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks" But, according to his website, he preached to live audiences of 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. According to his staff, more than 3.2 million people responded to the invitation to "accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior". He provided spiritual counsel for every president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. When God sought a man... He found Billy Graham.
It was a sad commentary on Israel that no one was found to "stand in the breach". But, will God find someone to do so for your country? Do you doubt that you can be that someone? Start with a simple prayer, "Here am I Lord, send me". Then "stand in the breach" everyday by praying for your world. When God seeks someone to make a difference... Let him find you.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Where revival begins ...

"... And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house." - Ezekiel 9:6
The average teenager is usually skeptical of authority. One of the reasons for this attitude rests on the inconsistency of their parents. No one is perfect, but when parents set the rules of engagement high, and fail to live up to them themselves, cynicism will run rampant. Any form of leadership will rise or fall as a result of a consistent or inconsistent lifestyle. Simply put, they need  to... "Practice what they preach"
The nation of Israel ran after every form of idolatry, immorality, greed and sorcery. Whether in town or on the high places, hearts were cold for God and hot for sin. The question rises, "Where were the watchmen of souls?" Before the average man on the street could be dealt with, the leaders needed to be called into accountability. They were the ones who failed to live up to God's Word. They were the ones who dishonored the Lord at every turn. They were the ones who failed to... "Practice what they preach".
Today, many of God's people are praying for revival in our nation. We see the godless ways all around us and we cry out, "How Long, Oh Lord?" But, historically and Biblically, revival must always begin with God's people. The convicting messages of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, were spoken to the churches. Such words of rebuke such as..."I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first." (Revelation 2:4-5), call for the revival of the watchmen of souls. Before God's people can hope for national revival, they need to ...  "Practice what they preach".

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Great Expectations...

"“As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out." - Ezekiel 20:33–34
It's thirty-two days before Christmas and counting. For the little ones (and big ones as well) this countdown is an exciting adventure. Every day takes them closer to special gifts and celebrations. For retailers each day is a new opportunity to make it rich. School students also have their eyes on the prize of a break from classes. Life seems so much better with great expectations.
There was overwhelming hardship for the people of Israel at the time of Ezekiel. Their days were darker than ever, with the Lord against them, the nations against them and their past catching up to them. Their families were being broken up and scattered around the world. Yet, in the midst of prophetic bad news there was a glimmer of hope... The Lord would restore them some day. Life became easier with great expectations. 
The real reason for joy and hope in this season doesn't rest on presents, profit or a break from school. It centers on God's fulfilled promise of a Savior and the return of the Lord one day soon. No matter how dark your days may be, the presence and the promise of Jesus will bring you lasting light. Life is always better with great expectations of HIM! 


Friday, November 22, 2019

Turn and live...

"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" - Ezekiel 18:23
I don't know about other fathers, but for myself the following statement was always true... "This hurts me, more than it does you". Whatever the discipline was for my sons as they grew up; time out, writing "I will not hit my brother" 25 times, being grounded from a favorite activity, or going to bed early, I never enjoyed the process. I knew such guidance was needed, and was always relieved when they got the point and matured in their walk with God. My goal, for both sons, was a spiritually healthy future.
The reader of the Israel's wayward ways and God's chastening hand might grow weary of such sadness. One might conclude that the Lord was a hard taskmaster who had little or no mercy for His people. It could be concluded that God reveled in the retribution of the rebellious. But, the above statement is the Lord's way of saying... "This hurts me, more than it does you." He greatly desired that wicked hearts would turn from their evil paths and be restored to a spiritually healthy future.
No matter how difficult your life has been, when the Lord leads you through the dark valley, there will be joy in the morning. When discipline is necessary, and it often is ...("My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” - Hebrews 12:5-6), know that it comes from your heavenly Father whose goal is a spiritually healthy future. 

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Skin deep?

"And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty..." - Ezekiel 16:14-15
"InStyle", "People Style Watch", "ELLE", "VOGUE" and "Glamour" are all popular fashion and beauty magazines. According to recent research, followers of these periodicals number approximately 2,894,766. Then there's this: Annual sales for... Skin Care = $5.6 billion, Makeup = $8.1 billion, Fragrance = $4.3 billion. This has become a driving force in our society, in spite of the fact that such beauty is only skin deep.
The story before us in Ezekiel 16 tells of the Lord's beautifying Jerusalem. In an allegorical manner, He spoke of anointing her with oil, clothing her with embroidered cloth and fine leather, adorning her with ornaments, bracelets, neck chains and earrings. He gave her the greatest "make-over" of all time. As a royal city, she was the very first "My Fair Lady". But, rather than honoring God with her beauty, she gave it away to others. She trusted in her blessings, becoming unfaithful to the One who blessed her. In the end, the beauty that she settled for was only skin deep.
Solomon noted in Proverbs 31:30 that "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised." (CSB) The outer beauty that cost us so much time and money is fleeting. Time and life always takes it's toll, but the beauty that God gives is a heart beauty that lasts forever. We can nurture this beauty to honor the Lord, or we can settle for the outer beauty that will always and only be skin deep. 

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Nothing but the Truth ...

"The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’" - Ezekiel 13:1–2
During the late 19th century a form of newspaper reporting developed called Yellow journalism. It was a style of reporting that emphasized sensationalism over facts. During its heyday it was one of many factors that helped push the United States and Spain into war in Cuba and the Philippines. Today, we hear about "Fake News", where facts are slanted by the reporter's personal prejudice. Over the years, messengers of news have often failed to give the truth, and nothing but the truth.
You might say that the prophets of Israel, during the days of Ezekiel, were also guilty of reporting "Fake News". These were men who were out of touch with the Lord and yet, claimed to have heard from Him. They had their own personal prejudice and it was woven through all that they prophesied. They spoke "from their own hearts", and "they misled (God's) people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace" (13:10). They failed to give the truth, and nothing but the truth.
This passage should warn us to choose carefully those preachers and authors to whom we pay attention. But, it also gives us food for thought concerning our own life paths. Are we really in touch with the Lord? Do we spend sufficient time daily, in the Word of God and prayer, to discern His voice of direction? Or, do we feed ourselves with "Fake News" from "our own heart"? Do we convince ourselves that we're at peace, when there is no peace? Do we fail to listen to, and obey the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Step by step ...

"And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city." ~ Ezekiel 11:23 
How does "This Old House" reach a level of progressed deterioration? Does it happen in a few weeks or months? Not really. Many years of little upkeep and another decade or two of total neglect. Decay begins without any notice and continues in the same way. Slowly, over time, what was once a beautiful home, turns into an old dilapidated wreck. The glory of past days slips away step by step.
In the very same way, apostasy and godless living took it's progressive toll on Israel. The slow decline ate away at the very core of her wealth, health and strength. Without recognizing that the Lord God was the single source of all she needed, she lost all the blessings and privileges. Slowly, over time, what was a beautiful people of God, turned into a broken and depraved nation. The Glory of past days slipped away step by step.
You may ask yourself today, tomorrow or next month ... "How did I end up in this mess?" Prayers for relief and blessing have been made over and over again. Yet, you can't understand how the Lord could allow you to slip into such a sad condition. It takes time for spiritual decay to wreck your life, but until you return to the Lord with a repentant heart, hard times will continue. And the Glory of past days will slip away step by step. 

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Limited value ...

"They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing. Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity." ~ Ezekiel 7:19
Gold and silver have been desired as fine jewelry for both men and women. These metals reflect wealth as well as stylish living in many circles. The history of "gold rushes" tell us of the sacrifice that some people will make to gain these precious metals. Then there are those who have chosen to include both silver and gold in their investment portfolios as they plan for their financial future. Whether you wear it, give it or bank it, gold and silver will always have a limited value.
When the judgment and wrath of God fell upon Israel, everything changed dramatically. Treasures that rocked their world and ruled the market place became empty and meaningless. Though they had a great wealth of gold and silver, it wasn't able to deliver them from God's wrath and it failed to satisfy their hunger. For years they depended on the value of these metals to carry them through the hard times, but when placed against their spiritual needs, they had limited value.
Gold and silver are beautiful, as well as other earthly treasures. The real problem isn't in the shallow worth of such things. The stumbling block is found in the fact that we grow to trust in these commodities to deliver us in times of troubles. When we trust in anything or any one other than the Lord Himself, we soon discover our great poverty, since our gold and silver will always have limited value.

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Are you ready?

"Behold, I am against you, O proud one, declares the Lord God of hosts, for your day has come, the time when I will punish you." - Jeremiah 50:31
You are scheduled for surgery. You have an appointment to meet with your boss. Your wedding date is soon approaching. All of these scenarios have one thing in common... a certain day is coming. Such days may be hopeful or fearful. The next question is the following... Are you ready? 
Babylon was a very powerful and proud nation. The Lord had chosen to raise up this people to carry out his corrective measures on Israel. He gave success in all her military campaigns. All that had been accomplished could be traced back to the purposes of God. Yet, Babylon became brutal in all her ways and deeply arrogant. Finally, the day of reckoning had come...and she wasn't ready. 
A day is coming my friend. A day "when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." (Romans 2:16) That day is on God's calendar and it won't be changed for anyone. Those who know Jesus Christ as Savior have no fear of this day. But, those who have proudly rejected His offer of salvation just won't be ready. 





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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