Thursday, 19 October 2017

The yoke of youth

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust— There may yet be hope.  – Lamentations 3.27-29

Willie Nelson has a song called ‘I Wish I Was Eighteen Again.’ Part of it goes like this:

Time turns the pages and life goes so fast
The years turn the black hair all grey
I talk to some young folks but they don't understand
The words this old man got to say
Oh I wish I was eighteen again...
Oh I wish I was eighteen again

I like the sound of the song. I kind of like Willis Nelson’s music. I am not yet old, I guess. Like the old man I will never turn the heads of young ladies again (of course I never did) and don’t feel like all I do is stand and pretend. But I don’t wish I was eighteen again.

First of all I was a real nerd at eighteen. I did all kinds of stupid stuff. I made some very unwise decisions. Those years of youth are tough. I regret a lot of what I did in those years. I am happy enough to leave those years behind and move on.

But those years do truly mould us and make us. All those tough days of mistakes and embarrassment and messing are part of who we are today. It is good to go through all the trials of youth – but I wouldn’t want to do it again. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

It is good to wait

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. – Lamentations 3.25-26

Jeremiah could hardly bear the loss of Jerusalem as he stood in the empty streets of the city that was once a shining light on a hill. He had been lamenting the state of the city and weeping over how long it would be until the city was restored.

But then we called to mind that they were protected by God’s mercy. That His compassion would not fail. That God’s love and His mercy were new every morning. He remembered the greatness of God’s faithfulness.

And then he called to mind that in times like this it was good to wait on the Lord.

I often wonder about that because I don’t like to wait. Why is waiting such a great thing. James gives us a hint when he says that trials produce patience and patience brings us to maturity. ‘Let patience do its work in you’ he writes, 'and you will grow to maturity.' 

I think the key here is that when we patiently wait we are putting our faith in God to sort things out. It means that we have done all that we can do and now we have to sit back and trust Him. It means that I don’t rush ahead ignoring God in my quest to get it done. It means I don’t gripe when I can’t do anything more. Instead I trust Him and grow though my waiting.  

God will deliver and His deliverance is best. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Lord is my portion

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" – Lamentations 3.24

What is my lot in life? The lots fall out in all kinds of ways. The lot of some is to be rich and powerful and famous. The lot of others is to carry on one day at a time. The lot of some is to live paycheque to paycheque. Sometimes our lot is joy and sometimes it is hardships.

What all is just part of life. That’s the way life goes.

We however can live above all of that because the Lord is our portion no matter what else happens. I may not have much in this world. I may never have fame or fortune. My lot in this life may be to quietly labour away in my little corner of the world doing what little God allows me to do.


But I still have the Lord as my lot in life and because He is I will hope in Him. Others may have all kinds of things, but I know that I have Christ and that gives me hope no matter what crosses my path or comes my way. I can only be content when I realise that the Lord has said ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ My eternity is secure in Him and having Him as my lot in life it will be worth it all when I finally see Him. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Great it Your faithfulness

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3.22-23

Last week I spent a day at a Christian workers conference in Kilkenny. It was a much needed day of edification and encouragement and blessing. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is the singing. One of the songs we sang last week was ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ by Thomas Chisholm. I could hardly do better than in capturing the essence than Chisholm did.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
 “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!’

Here is what Chisholm said about the song late in his life – “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

We have that assurance as well. No matter what our health issues, no matter what our economic woes, no matter what comes our way today we can dig down and rely on the fact that God is faithful today, His love will not fail today, and His mercies will be poured out again today. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Lord's mercies

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3.22-23

Now we get to the things that Jeremiah called to mind to encourage himself in the Lord. Though he must have felt nearly consumed He still was able to dig deep enough to find what he needed. What he needed was to remind himself that it is only the mercies of God that keep him and us from being consumed. Mercy, of course, is another way of saying ‘kindness.’ That mercy, that kindness, of God is what keeps us going.

Where would we be without the mercy of God? Where would we be without the compassions that do not fail? When I look at this world that sometimes can seem as much a train wreck as Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day I can’t imagine living here without the knowledge that God’s mercy is with me. At the end of the day I know that He loves me because Him compassions do not fail. Mercy and love are new every morning.

Because of this I can sing ‘every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.’ I don’t need to worry that He won’t be there tomorrow. I can wake up in full assurance tomorrow that God’s mercies will still be there and His compassion will not let me down. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

This I called to mind

And I said, "My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD." Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers And sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.  – Jeremiah 3.18-21

Lamentations is called that for a reason. It might have been called 2 Jeremiah, but the title really reflects the book. Jeremiah wrote that whole long book of warning and imploring God’s people and begging them to return to Him, but they had ignored Him and now he writes ‘How lonely sits the city That was full of people! How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces Has become a slave! She weeps bitterly in the night, Her tears are on her cheeks; Among all her lovers She has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.’

That is just the start of his lamenting. By the time he gets to chapter 3 he has lost hope.  ‘My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord. When I think about this I sink in despair.’

Something had to happen here. Jeremiah chose the right path and said ‘this I recall to mind.’

We will get into what he called to mind a little later. For now it is enough to look at the fact that Jeremiah chose to move along out of his despair and see another perspective.

There are times that we all need to do just that. There are times when we need to choose to recall that God is involved and get our eyes off of our circumstances. Jeremiah had to stop looking at what he could see and remember and focus on the things he could not see.

And that’s where we are today. When things get dark, and they will, we need to call back to mind the great Bible truths that we know and hold dear and turn our attention there. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

The First and the Last

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. – Jeremiah 44.6

Throughout the whole word of God we find regular references to the fact that God exists outside of time. That’s a wonderful concept. I like sci-fi and I enjoy a good time travel story. The idea of moving through time has drawn the attention of many a writer. Because time is the one thing we can’t control it is always fun to think about what would happen if we could.

But that is where God is. He is of old and from everlasting to everlasting. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the First and the Last. He is the Author and the Finisher.

And most of all He is I AM.

The I AM is the One who always was, is, and will always be I AM. He can’t forget the past because He is I AM there. He is I AM now so He doesn’t miss anything. He is already in the future because He is I AM then as well.

Because He is always the First and the Last and everything in between nothing is going to catch Him off guard.

I am blessed by this reminder. At my age I have concerns (fears if I were being totally honest) about my future. We are not by any means ‘set’ for our later years financially. I must rest in the fact that God is already there. He knows all that is going to happen and what it happening in 2025 or 2030 or whenever and He has already promised me that He is going, or He is, already in 2030 with me.

I don’t know what the future holds – but I know the One who holds the future in His hands. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

When we pass through the waters

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. – Jeremiah 43.2

When you pass through the waters I will be there
When you pass through the rivers they will not drown you
When you walk through the fire you will not be burned
When you walk through the flames they will scorch you

These were promises to Israel for a specific time and place and purpose. So how do they apply to us? Do they mean anything to us?

I think there is still an application for us because they all speak of the protection and the provision of God in times of trouble. If we take these truths as speaking of eternity we find great hope. In physical terms sometimes we do get burnt. Sometimes the floods overwhelm us.

In this life.

But even when that happens we don’t have to be consumed. God walks with us through the fire and through the floods. We don’t have to face the hard times alone. Even in the depths of our worst suffering God is there with us.

And then, when our earthly journey is done, we will have our final deliverance. We have the ultimate victory in Christ. We are His and He will carry us through to the end.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

You are mine

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  – Jeremiah 43.1

There is a lot packed in this few verses. Though written to Israel we know that each of these truths also applies to the church today.

God has also created us
He has also formed us
We also need not be afraid
He has also redeemed us
He has also called us by name
We are His

Every one of these is a special blessing and I could take a week to look at them. But I want to focus on the last one – we are His. We belong to the creator and sustainer of the universe. We belong to the eternal unchanging one. We belong to the almighty, all-knowing, ever present God. We belong to the god of ‘God is love.’

Of the course that gives us the ability to say in the midst of the troubles and say to Him ‘I am Yours!’ As the words to a modern Christian song put it ‘not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done; not because of what I done, but because of who You are…I am Yours.’

Don’t let anything diminish that thought today. We are His. We are His precious possessions. I think He has us taken care of. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, 'Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.' And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, or anything which He has sent you by me.  – Jeremiah 42.20-21

‘Pray for me’ is something we hear all the time, especially now in the social media age where everyone has immediate access to all their friends all the time.

That is a good thing. Mary and I have greatly expanded our prayer list as we have been made aware of needs around the world that we never would have known about otherwise.

But that ‘pray for me’ is become almost a universal phrase that everyone says kind of like ‘something is wrong.’

I guess that’s okay for the world, but I found something here that makes me mull this whole thing over.

Jeremiah said the people were saying, ‘pray for us’ but at the same time they were disobeying God and weren’t even trying to follow Him.  ‘Pray for me,’ they say, ‘but I’m not going to do anything to change my ways.’

Think about that for a second. We say things like pray about my anger – but then we ignore ‘be angry but don’t sin.’ We say ‘pray about my lust’ but we ignore ‘set no wicked thing before my eyes.’ 

Now I now that we only have success in our battles with God’s help, but still, we can’t just sit back never changing and never working and expect to get it all fixed just by and do nothing. ‘Pray for us, and we will obey God.’ But then we don’t obey.

We need to get serious. Pray, ask God for help, seek His way – but then we have to do something about it. 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Whether it pleases me or not

So they said to Jeremiah, "Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the LORD your God sends us by you. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God." – Jeremiah 42.5-6

Whether it pleases us or not, we will obey the Lord, because it will go well when we obey the Lord.

That sounds like a simple statement, but it says a lot.

We will obey God even when it is not what we think we want.

That is a hard thing to do because none of us like what we don’t like, do we? It takes great faith to say ‘I will do what God says, full stop. I will do what God says even when I take no pleasure in it because I trust that what He wants done is best.’

It is sort of what we ask our children to do. They don’t always like it. They can get angry when we tell them. They can sit and stew and hold a grudge. They can clearly show their displeasure. Just like us and God.

But hopefully our kids learn to do what we ask because they learn to trust us. If we are parenting properly we don’t send our kids on especially onerous tasks just because we can. We try to teach unity and teamwork and everyone doing their part. And sometimes we do it because we love them and what is best in the long run.

If we really trust God we ought to be able to do the same. We ought to be able to say ‘yes Lord, I will’ even though we can’t see the wisdom or the good because He does see the wisdom and the good.

And isn’t that what faith is all about?  

Sunday, 8 October 2017

That the Lord may show us the way

And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do. – Jeremiah 42.2-3

It is really, really hard to know what to do sometimes. Sometimes we get to the end of our rope and just don’t know what today. Sometimes we get to the point where we can’t even see a fork in the road and have to decide which path to take because sometimes we get to the end of the road and all there is there is a cliff.

We have all been there. Maybe you are there right now. Maybe there is a situation where you can’t see any possible human solution. Maybe there is no way out.

What do we do when they is no way to go?

‘Let is beseech the Lord…that [He] may show is the way…and the things we may do.’

God tells that He will show us the way. Proverbs 3.5-6 say that if we trust God with all our hearts, don’t depend on our win understanding, and always acknowledge Him that He will direct our paths.

We don’t have to be clueless. God will show us what we need to do. When we don’t know where to turn we can trust Him enough to direct us. He directs us through His word. He directs us by the Holy Spirit. He directs us through our circumstances. We need not despair because He will always be with us and He promises to be our guide. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

That they may return

Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. – Jeremiah 36.2-3

‘Write a book Jeremiah,’ God says, ‘and in that book write now my words so that My people will return to me and I will forgive them.’

God knows that His people are ‘probe to wander’ and the ‘leave the Lord we love.’ He knows that our flesh is always drawing us away from Him. Our natural inclination is to pursue what pleases us. That is why we have to be told to turn away from the world and the flesh and the devil.

But let’s say we have wandered. Then what do we do? 

We can be assured that our God wants us to come back. Write the words Jeremiah, so that people will turn back from their evil way and I will forgive their sin.

There is a clear story with the prodigal son and His dad. The son gets tired of his wasted life and decides to go home. I can’t imagine how he felt. Maybe he was afraid. Maybe he was still proud and arrogant. Maybe he was happy go lucky.

We will never know because before he ever go there his dad left the front step and ran out to welcome his son home.

That is the picture of what God says here. ‘Let them know Jeremiah that I want them to come home. I will welcome them back with open arms.’

What a blessed thought. If we wander God wants us back. If our family wanders God wants them back. When we come back God will come running to welcome us home.

Come home. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Things you can't imagine

"Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' – Jeremiah 33.2-3

While this verse is obviously a promise to Jeremiah, it also has something to teach about the power of a prayer answering God. God told Jeremiah and the people to ‘call unto Me and I will answer you and show you mighty things which you cannot know.’

While that promise is specific the idea still carries on. Jesus said ‘men ought always to pray and not to faint.’ Paul wrote ‘pray without ceasing.’ James said ‘you have not because you ask not.’ John wrote ‘if you prayer according to God will He hears you and if He hears he answers.’

Notice that God did not say ‘call on Me and I will answer you and give you whatever you ask for.’ He doesn’t say ‘call on Me and I do whatever you say.’ He says ‘call on Me and I will show you great and mighty things that you can’t imagine.’

God is not a genie in a lamp that we can call on to get our wished granted. When we prayer we are depending in Him to do ‘great and mighty things’ even if we don’t understand what those things are.

So we can call on God. My let’s not limit Him to what we can imagine as an answer to prayer. Let’s let Him show us the great and mighty answers that we can’t even imagine. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Repent now everyone

They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.' – Jeremiah 25.5-6

Repentance is one of those things we don’t like to talk about a lot. It is kind of hard for people to accept that there is a need for repentance. Everyone else needs it, but we don’t like to admit it because it says that we have something we have to repent from.

Of course the reality is that everyone needs it because ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ We know that ‘there is no one who is good enough, not a single one.’ We know that the wages of sin is death. We know that God says later ‘all men everywhere must repent.’

The wonderful truth though is that God does anything about our sin. He could have just cut us off and started over again. Instead, because God is love he provided a path to repentance. Despite our sin He still loved us enough to give His only Son to pay the penalty of sin, which is death. Then, He offers the free gift of everyone who will trust in His Son.

There is no hope apart from repentance and repentance is impossible without Christ. All men, everywhere, must repent. The message is as real today as it was when Jeremiah wrote them. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A hammer and a fire

"Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? – Jeremiah 23.29

One of the greatest problems with sharing my faith, in my weak and feeble human mind, is that people are not going to listen. You try it over and over again, but nobody wants to hear and nobody puts any authority in the Bible. I sometimes think that I have to convince people that the Bible is true before I can share from it.

But I think that idea is missing the point. The Bible doesn’t need me to try and prove that it is worth hearing. It is alive and powerful and can work on hearts even of people who would seemingly have no interest in it. God’s word is a fire to burn away the dross of the mind and hammer to smash down the walls of opposition and doubt.

The power of God’s word does not rely on my powers to convince someone they can trust it. The Bible does its work because it is the Bible.

So what do we do? We just boldly but lovingly proclaim the word of God even if people say don’t believe it. We may not see any chance but God’s word will not return void. Who knows what the planted seed of the word of God might do?

Keep proclaiming. Keep teaching. Keep declaring. And let God’s hammer and His fire do their work! 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Here, there, and everywhere

"Am I a God near at hand," says the LORD, "And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the LORD; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the LORD.  – Jeremiah 23.23-24

The omnipresence, or the everywhereness, of God is an important truth for us to grasp and apply. If we are not aware that God is everywhere we are going to find ourselves feeling very weak and very alone. We are going to feel like no one knows what we are going through. Aloneness is a terrible thing – but it is something no Christian ever need fear.

God asks ‘Am I a God that is only close by and not far away?’ Can anyone hide from God so that I can’t see him? (Adam and Eve tried that) Don’t I fill heaven and earth?

David expressed it wonderfully in Psalm 139 –

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

It is a blessed thought that there is no where we can go where God is not. No matter what I am going through I can be sure that God is right there with me. I don’t have to worry about what I will be going through tomorrow because God is already there.

Here, there, and everywhere. That’s where God is. Let me rest in that wonderful truth. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Take the mark

For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? – Jeremiah 23.18

Jeremiah continues on with his focus on the word of God.

Who has stood in the counsel of the Lord?
Who had perceived His word?
Who has heard His word?
Who has marked His word?

I like all those questions. They are questions we should ask ourselves. Have we sought God’s counsel in our daily lives? Have we perceived His perspective through His word? Have we heard His word today? And have we marked His word?

I like that last question. This idea of mark is the place where we plant our flag. This ‘mark’ is the rallying point. In rugby the mark is a place of safety where the player cannot be hit and from where he can start play safely again.

It is strange where we take the mark. He Jeremiah speaks of taking our mark on the word of God. We can take on mark on what is popular, or based on our own desires, or what others say, or what our culture dictates.

We though need to ‘take the mark’ on the word of God. That is our safe place. That is where we prepare for the ‘next play’ in our lives. It is not a place to stop, but to get in position to play on.

Do we mark the word of God, hear it, and move on? 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

O earth, earth, earth!!

O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! – Jeremiah 22.29

What a plaintive cry we hear in this verse. There is a whole section of Jeremiah here that focuses on the importance of the word of God. We tend to think of the New Testament as the place for that God of emphasis, but Jeremiah has a real heart for the word of the Lord.

Here is the great cry, thrice repeated ‘O earth, earth, earth!’ God is certainly trying to get man’s attention. Three times God says the same thing. It’s almost like he is trying to get the world’s attention.

What is worth three saying three times? What is the focus of the attention? It seems like such a simple thing – ‘hear the word of the Lord!’

This world is in a terrible mess. No wonder we hear the cry ‘O earth, earth earth!’ God knows that the whole world needs to hear His word.

But how are they going to hear it. They can’t be saved without the word of God and they can’t hear unless someone tells them.

And guess who that is? It’s not the preacher or the church leaders or the missionary. It’s you and me that God calls to share his word.  How will they hear unless we tell them? 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

They will not prosper

But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.  – Jeremiah 20.11

It sure doesn’t seem like things are going our way. I was looking at the 2016 Irish census results a few days ago and was saddened to see that the percentage as those who identify as any kind of evangelical Christian has dropped again. The total is well under 2% of the Irish population. It is the smallest percentage of evangelicals of any English speaking country in the world.

Not only that, it seems like we are returning to the norm where we as Christians are no longer going to be in some sort of ‘most favoured people’ status. Opposition and persecution has been the lot of God’s people through most of history and most of the world.  Those who live in the ‘christianised west’ have enjoyed freedom and liberty and even favouritism for a long time.

But that is not our lot. Jesus said that those who ‘live godly in Christ Jesus’ will suffer persecution so had better just get used to it. The people in Jeremiah’s day knew all about it. The people in the early church today knew all about it. Christians in North Korean and Sudan and Morocco and so many other places today know about it. I am not sure why we think we ought to be exempt.

It is a scary thought, but we can be assured that no matter what we have to face we are on the Victor’s side. The enemies of God will stumble. They will not prevail. They will be ashamed. They will not prosper. Their eternal confusion will never be forgotten.

Why? Because the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome one!

We will get through whatever may come our way in the way of persecution and come out like fine gold on the other side. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

I quit!

For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, "Violence and plunder!" Because the word of the LORD was made to me A reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. – Jeremiah 20.8-9

Jeremiah had had enough. He was trying to be faithful. He was preaching and doing God’s work. He did what God told him to do. But nothing was happening. No one was listening. The people continued in their sin.

So Jeremiah decided to quit. ‘I am going to stop talking about God! I won’t preach any more about Him. I quit.’

Isn’t that something? Jeremiah, one of the great heroes of the word of God said that He was done. He wasn’t going to preach anymore.

How sad is that?

He tried, but he soon found out that He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t quit. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut. God’s word was in his heart. It was like a fire burning in his bones. He was tired of trying to hold it back. He could not quit.

There is nothing wrong with getting discouraged. There is nothing wrong with feeling like quitting. Sometimes folks may even cross the line and stop.

It is what happens next that matters. Jeremiah dusted himself off and got back into the game. He couldn’t stay quit.

That is our test. It gets bad. We back off. We get lazy. We may even stop.

Then what? That is the question. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Where is the word of the Lord?

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise. Indeed they say to me, "Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!" – Jeremiah 17.14-15

This taunt of ‘where is the word of the Lord?’ or, in essence, ‘where is your God?’ is one that has always afflicted God’s people. We live by faith and we trust God and we talk about Him and when people don’t see Him work they say ‘where is this God of yours? Why isn’t He helping?’

If we aren’t careful we might join their chorus. If our hope is in our expectation or our plans or our desires then we might well say ‘where is this word of the Lord in my life?’ When He doesn’t act according to our plans or our wisdom we may be tempted to ask ‘where is God in all this?’

I don’t know about you, but I have been there. I have wondered why God is in this or that situation.

Those are the times when we discover if our faith is real. Can I trust God and His word even when I don’t sense their reality in my life?

We walk by faith, not by sight. I walk by faith in the word of God because it is the only answer. Instead of asking ‘where is the word of God?’ my thought ought to be ‘let’s see how God is going to sort this out.’

God’s word is still there – what are we doing with it? 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Whose hope is in the Lord

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.  – Jeremiah 17.7-8

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

No merit of my own
His anger to suppress.
My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.

And now for me He stands
Before the Father’s throne.
He shows His wounded hands and names me as His own.

His grace has planned it all,
’Tis mine but to believe,
And recognize His work of love and Christ receive

For me He died,
For me He lives,
And everlasting life and light He freely gives.

Whenever I hear these words I think of this great old gospel song of old. ‘My hope is in the Lord’ ought to be a rallying cry for us. Our hope is not in our bank account or our homes or even other people. I am preaching through 1 Peter right now and the whole letter is about having hope to endure through persecution and trials. In chapter 1 verse 13 Peter writes ‘Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;’

In times of fear and confusion and trouble we can be assured that we can rest our hope fully on the grace that will come when Jesus comes again. We need that hope to get through every day. We need that hope in financial crisis and illness and emotional distress and disaster. We need that hope in eternity that one day it will be worth is all. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Trusting in man

Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.  – Jeremiah 17.5-6

As I look around from my little corner of the world I see a lot that is good. I see good solid Christians loving each other and loving others. I see people doing good for each other. Sometime it can be easy to think we would be fine without God.

But that would be a mistake. Look at the history of the world and the world today. Eventually man fails. All the great utopias of the world have failed because at the end of the day we all look after number one.

When we start trusting in man it is because we have departed from trusting the Lord and have stopped trusting Him. When we get to that point where we leave off trusting God to trust others it is evidence that our hearts have departed from the Lord.

There is a lot of ‘trusting in man’ on today. There are folks for whom trusting a man’s politics override his character. Nothing seems to matter as long as their politics are right.

Trusting in man is a dangerous choice. Instead let us do right and trust the Lord with the results. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

There is none like you

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might), Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You. – Jeremiah 10.6-7

All men are looking for something. Man always has. God has put eternity in man’s heart and man is always looking to satisfy what to do with knowledge.

The issue is that people are looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. Man never will get what he really wants because sometimes he doesn’t even know what he wants. There is nothing and no one like the Lord.

‘Who would not fear You, for this is your rightful due?’

That seems like a fair question to me. Who would not choose to follow the One who knows everything? Who would not choose to follow the One who is all-powerful? Who would not choose to the One who is eternal and never changing? Who would not choose the One who is all-love?

Part of the problem is that people have a wrong view of God and their wrong view of God can come from the way His people represent Him here on earth. A true image of God would draw men to Him. That’s why Jesus said we can summarise the Law by living God and loving others. Our actions too often turn people off from God. When we are full of hate and anger and harsh words and we support public figures who do the same no wonder people don’t want to ‘fear the Lord.’

Most people’s view of God comes though the lives of His people. Let’s be sure that we are drawing men to God and not turning them away. There is none like Him. Our lives ought to reflect that great truth. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Glory in this

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD. – Jeremiah 9.23-24

Wise men should not glory in their wisdom. Mighty men should not glory in their might. Rich men should not glory in their wealth.

Of course when I read this my mind is drawn to 1 Corinthians 1 where we read:

 ‘For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;’

There is clearly a temptation for those who are wise and mighty and noble to think that, when something is accomplished, it was accomplished at least in part, because of their ability. It is only natural.

Paul just builds on this verse in Jeremiah when he wrote to the Corinthians. Because the wise man has to be told not to glory in his wisdom or the mighty man to glory in his might Paul says that God doesn’t often use the wise and mighty and noble because it is too easy to give them the glory.

So God uses people like you and me. I am so blessed by this. I don’t have to be strong. I don’t have to be wise. I don’t have to be rich. I don’t have to be nobility. I just have to be me because when I am me it is obvious that whatever I do is being done by God and He is the only to whom glory may be given.

God delights in us knowing Him. That is all we can glory in, not in we are or what we do, but because we understand and know Him. He deserves all the glory because He exercises lovingkindness and judgement and righteousness in this world. No man, no matter how rich or strong or mighty can do that – so let us give all glory to Him! 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

They don't know how to blush

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; In the time of their punishment They shall be cast down," says the LORD. – Jeremiah 8.12

What a wonderful way to describe the world we live in today. Were the people in Jeremiah's ashamed of their sin? No, in fact they didn’t even know how to blush. Is our world ashamed of its sin today?

The strange thing is that blushing has almost become something to be embarrassed about. No one likes to look a ‘prude’ or an innocent. We are embarrassed to be embarrassed, we are ashamed of being ashamed, the thought of blushing makes us blush.

That’s a real tragedy. Sin ought to make us blush. There are things that are a shame to speak of even in private. A lack of sensitivity to sin should be something to concern us. If we can’t blush at our sin something is seriously wrong.

Even in these days of open mindedness and moral ‘freedom’ and open sin and marches and parades and celebrations of sin God’s people have work to do if we are not embarrassed by the sin around us.

But it is even worse when we are not shamed by the sin in our own lives. The ‘little’ inner sins in our hearts can get so entrenched that we grow accustomed to them being there and the shame we once felt is gone.

That shame should not lead us to live guilt ravaged lives. Instead our shame should lead us to repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness.

It is vital that God’s people blush at sin – and then do something about it.