Monthly Archives: June 2018

Jeremiah 26-29; God’s Got Plans

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that seem to indicate God wants His children to be healthy and wealthy, or at least receive the things they ask Him for. 29:11 is one of them.

So is John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

And Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

There are dozens more. You probably can come up with some off the top of your head, too. God promises to bless His people, to answer our prayers. And I believe Him.

But I look at the Bible as a whole and see many, many examples of God’s children not receiving what they ask for. Believers who are sick, tortured, poor. Paul said he prayed three times about something and God never granted him what he wanted.

So which is it? Is God true to His word, or not?

More than we ask or think!

We are short-sighted if we limit God’s promises to the material. Yes, God answers our prayers for physical healing, or financial relief. Sometimes He gives us the desires of our hearts. But not always.

If we limit God to answering only our material needs, we miss out on the greater thing. How does God prosper His children?

I am with you always… (Matthew 28:20)

Peace I give you… (John 14:27)

If you confess your sins… I will forgive… (I John 1:9)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Remain in me and I will remain in you… (John 15:4)

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… John 14:3)

There are more. God promises His presence, His strength, His joy, His righteousness, His help in our time of need. Someone told me once that I can believe all that because I’m not hurting, I’m not hungry, I’m not homeless, I’m not being persecuted. But I know there are hurting, hungry, homeless, and persecuted people who know the truth of these promises even better than I because of their circumstances.

The interesting thing to me about this is that, the closer I get to God, the more time I spend with Him in His Word and in prayer, the more I find His desires become mine. I think less about my physical comfort, and more about reaching the lost, or more about the needs of my neighbors. My prayers become more about others than about myself.

My friend, Toni, lived much of her life in great pain. She had a disease called HS from the time she was a child, and doctors were unable to do much to help her. But she never lost her joy in the Lord. She never lost her servant’s heart even on those days it was hard to move.

There is a youth convention in Atlanta held on New Years day each year, and Toni felt led to volunteer on New Years Day last year, 2017. She had such a burning desire, but common sense told her it was too much for her, as her pain had increased to an almost unbearable level. She talked to her husband. They prayed. And they went.

My friend was a greeter at that conference for hundreds of teenagers. Her job was to hold the door, and welcome the kids as they went into the worship services. She said she “fist-pumped” dozens and dozens of young people that day. In fact, she came home with bruised knuckles. But, she said, “I felt called to be a door holder.”

Four months later, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread. Her pain, that she thought was from her HS, was in fact from the cancer that was destroying her organs. But I will tell you, even with this devastating news, Toni believed in the plans God had for her, plans to prosper (her) and not to harm (her), plans to give (her) hope and a future.

God has plans. His plans include showering you with the forgiveness Jesus’ blood bought for you. He wants to fill you, build you up, be your joy and confidence. He wants to draw near to you, to walk with you, and finally, to bring you home to be with Him forever.

That’s where my friend lives today. She’s finally home.

Our road might be hard. Or we might enjoy the physical comforts of this world. But with Paul, let’s “learn to be content whatever the circumstances… whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need…” (Philippians 4:12-13)

And let’s trust God to bless us with Himself, to give us what we need when we need it and not a moment before. Let’s give Him our hearts, and let Him work out the rest as we obey Him.

Let’s trust God’s plans.

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Jeremiah 21-25; It’s That Serious

God has quite a lot to say to shepherds in these chapters of Jeremiah, doesn’t He? But before you think you’ve dodged a bullet because you aren’t a pastor or teacher in your church, remember God commanded all of us to “Go,” to share the Gospel with our world. What Jeremiah writes to the shepherds of God’s flock, applies to all of us who are called by Jesus’ name: Christian.

We have a message from God to tell. And God takes it very seriously that our message be truly His. The only place you will find His message is in the pages of the Bible. Not the Bible plus anything. Not someone’s opinion of what the Bible says, not a new revelation. God has given us all the Truth we need to know right here in these precious pages.

We need to know what it says. Because not only does God place a great deal of responsibility on the tellers of His Truth, He places responsibility on listeners as well. Yes, false prophets, preachers, and teachers will pay dearly for their lies. But those who follow them will not get a free pass, either. The Bible is clear. You either believe God or you don’t. Believing anything other than what God has given us is a death sentence.

It’s that serious.

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word every day. We’ve got to be memorizing it, thinking about it, testing everything we hear according to what is in there. We’ve got to recognize a lie and reject it, not go along with it because it sounds good, and everybody else is following it.

Satan can be pretty subtle. His lies often sound Biblical. His lies can sound like love, and tolerance, and compassion, and praise, and success, and happiness, and health. His lies often are accompanied by a Scripture or two.

But they are still lies. And if you go along with those lies you will be held accountable. If you spread those lies God will show no mercy.

I’m honored that you read my post today. But if this is the extent of your “devotions,” I’d rather you didn’t. Instead, pick up your Bible. Put all the other books and blogs away. Turn off your TV or radio preachers. And get in God’s Word. YOU get in God’s Word.

Because you are going to be held accountable for what is in there. It is that serious.

 

Jeremiah 16-20; And Yet

Have you ever felt you can’t win for losing? That if it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all? That no matter what you do, someone is going to be mad? I think Jeremiah was right there.

God gave him a message for the people. And the people wanted to kill the messenger. Shouldn’t God give him success if he was only doing what God told him to? Hear what Jeremiah tells us the people said about him for telling the truth:

So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says. (18:18b) (Sometimes it seems the Bible could have been written in 2018)

Reading these chapters, you can feel Jeremiah’s despair, his frustration. He was ready to cash it all in.

And yet, he said something in chapter 20 that convicts me:

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more of his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (20:9)

That begs the questions: Am I ingesting God’s Word to the point where I’ll just burst if I don’t tell someone? Is God’s Word like heartburn that can only be belched out to bring peace? Am I aching to tell someone the good news of Jesus? Am I tired of holding it in?

So last night, I went to Chick fil A and ordered a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. I ate the whole thing and loved every bite. But about 45 minutes later, I had such heartburn I thought I was having a heart attack. It hurt so bad. I was bloated, and miserable. (this is no reflection on Chick fil A. It has everything to do with the fact I didn’t take my acid reflux medicine yesterday. Ahh, love the aging process)

That’s when I started burping. I will confess that, being the classy lady I am, I let ’em rip loud and long. 🙂 I live alone so I didn’t hold back. (I just hope my neighbors didn’t hear) Sometimes the belch itself hurt, but after a while the pressure in my chest and stomach calmed down.

Sorry for being so gross, but I thought of this while reading Jeremiah’s words this morning. And I can’t help but be convicted that my love of God’s Word doesn’t always burn within me like that, until I let it out.

The liberal media, false teachers, people who don’t want to hear from God because it doesn’t fit their agenda want us to shut up about Him. These bullies threaten to attack us with their tongues, and ignore what we have to say. They have the power to shut down businesses, or refuse to serve us in their restaurants. They call us names from their talk shows, and ridicule us to our faces.

So many of us are being intimidated to keep quiet. Who needs the aggravation? Right?

And yet, God is worth the aggravation. If I get my feeling hurt when ridiculed or challenged for following Jesus, so what? I am reminded God died for the person giving me a hard time. People gave Jesus a hard time. And He died for them, too.

I need to be reading and thinking about God’s Word every day. I need to be learning, growing, allowing Him to fill me to the point where I have to tell people or die.

God, thank you for your Word that is so personal, I can get a lesson from You out of heartburn. I love You! I do love reading Your Word. I do love the time I spend with You, allowing You to share Your heart with me through these pages. God, give me heartburn, and may it burn with the good news of Jesus Christ for those who don’t know Him. May You find me faithful.

 

 

 

Jeremiah 11-15; Should We Stop Praying?

I hate what’s happening in the United States. I feel like we’re riding inside a snowball, bounding down a  mountain, picking up speed, and getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s out of control. So many mindless people are joining this self-entitled, hate-filled movement. It’s scary.

I thought it was interesting that God told Jeremiah there is a conspiracy among His people. (11:9) I think there is today, too. Satan is conspiring to destroy us every bit as much as he was working to destroy God’s people then. And he uses people to do his bidding. Don’t laugh at the very real possibility that there is an intentional movement in our country today to undermine Truth. And it’s working.

Here’s an important warning. Look at verse 18:

Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me… (emphasis mine)

Jeremiah himself was being led astray. Jeremiah, the prophet of God was falling for the seemingly innocent plan of the wicked. So many people today are being led to the slaughter, and give about as much thought to where they are going as a sheep, just following the crowd.

I am burdened for our country, as was Jeremiah burdened for his. I pray God will lift the veil, that people will see their sin and be appalled by the things they’ve done. I pray that sinners will repent, that Satan will be defeated, that people will stop and think before allowing themselves to be led down a path that will lead to destruction, and I pray that this country will take a bold stand for the truth of Scripture.

But then I read in Jeremiah and hear God say, “Don’t bother praying for these people. I’m not listening. I’m done. And it’s time for them to pay for rejecting me.” (11:14)

Then He says it again three chapters later! (14:11)

What does Jeremiah do in response? He keeps praying. And so will I.

I still believe God is not willing that anybody die without knowing His Son Jesus. I still believe John 3:16-17. I still believe 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

You might ask, what can one person do? That verse is the answer for those of us who are called by Christ Jesus’ name:

  1. Humble yourself.
  2. Pray without ceasing.
  3. Seek God every day by reading His Word.
  4. Repent of sin in your life.

And here’s what God promises He’ll do:

  1. He’ll hear you.
  2. He’ll forgive you.
  3. He’ll heal our land.

We deserve God’s punishment. He has every right to hate us for the way we treat Him. I don’t blame Him if He’s done with us like He was done with His children in Jeremiah’s day. But as long as I have breath, I will beg Him to have mercy. I will plead with Him to soften hearts, to bring about revival in His Church, to accomplish what He wants to do in the hearts of those who do not yet know Him.

Please, don’t stop praying.

 

 

Jeremiah 7-10; Are You Religious?

The children of Israel were feeling pretty comfortable. I mean, they were God’s chosen people. The Ark of God was right there in a temple in their capital city. King Josiah had just led a revival, and the people were once again worshiping God like their forefathers had.

But Jeremiah burst their bubble.

“You might look like you’re obeying God to the rest of the world,” he says. “But God sees those idols hidden in your homes. God knows what’s in your hearts, and He sees as much evil in you as He does in the hearts of the pagan people around you. You might point to them and say, ‘well, at least we’re circumcised.’ I’m here to tell you God is more concerned about your uncircumcised hearts.”

I hope you went to church yesterday. I hope you opened your heart to God and worshiped Him among a fellowship of believers worshiping Him, too. To your neighbor and friends you might be the picture of a religious person. But how’s your heart?

The problem with being a religious person is that too many think going through the motions on Sunday somehow balances out the sin they commit on Monday.

It doesn’t.

God isn’t impressed with religiosity when the idols of jealousy, unforgiveness, self, dishonesty, or whatever a person thinks he’s hiding, are being hoarded. Those “hidden” sins indicate an uncircumcised heart. And Jeremiah will tell you God’s opinion of that.

Don’t think your religion is going to save you. Until you give God your heart and allow Him to cut out the sin you’re holding onto, you are as lost as the atheist or the Muslim.

When you stand before God on that day, He’s not going to ask you what church you belonged to. He’s going to look deep into your eyes, straight to your heart. And unless your heart is covered in Jesus’ blood, you will face eternity without Him.

Please. Don’t go there.

Jeremiah 5-6; You Can Believe What You Want To Believe

“How many times do I have to tell you…?”

I bet you’ve said that more than once in your lifetime. We humans can be slow learners. We humans don’t like to be told what to do. We humans like to do what we want to do, say what we want to say, live like we want to live, believe what we want to believe.

And we humans would be wrong to believe that’s ok,

God, through Jeremiah, gives His people repeated warnings. You don’t ever have to guess what God demands. He spells it out clearly. Then He spells it again.

But:

A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end? (5:30-31)

I read a thing on FaceBook this morning about prayer. It’s beautifully written and tells us prayer is thinking positive thoughts, it’s hugging a friend, or cooking a meal for someone, it’s when we say, “drive safely,” it’s “an expression of your silent being,”

Come on, people. Really? That’s just stupid. And stupid is contagious:

“DNA doesn’t determine gender.” “Homosexuality is not a sin.” “Abortion is not murder.” “Rich people are evil.” “God is love and accepts everyone.” I could go on but I’m getting angry,

You can believe what you want to believe. That’s your God-given ability. But believing something doesn’t make it true. There is one Truth. There is one Way. There is one God. That’s not something I’ve come up with on my own. It’s been true from the beginning.

You can believe what you want to believe. But your belief won’t change the Truth. Understand that what you believe will land you either in heaven or hell. There is no third option.

That’s the truth. And with Jeremiah I ask,

But what will you do in the end?

Jeremiah 1-4; You Can’t Have It Both Ways

We know from history that the Babylonians took the nation of Israel into captivity. We know from the Bible God allowed that to happen because the Israelites sinned, and continued to sin even after God’s repeated warnings.

Don’t ever forget that God punishes sin. Every sin. Oh, maybe not the moment we commit the act. He might give us warnings, or a slap on the wrist first. He is patient. But just because you seem to have gotten away with it because God didn’t zap you the second you sinned, doesn’t mean He’s forgotten it. It doesn’t mean He’ll let it slide. Every sin comes with a death sentence.

As I was reading these chapters, I heard God’s agony over His disobedient children. I heard Him plead with them to come back to Him. I heard Him warn them about the awful consequences they were facing without Him. He reminded them about the times He had been faithful in the past when they called on Him. He begged them to call on Him again so He could rescue them yet again.

But it seems the people heard only half of what God was saying. They heard: “… I will frown on you no longer for I am merciful… I will not be angry forever… I will choose you… How gladly would I treat you like sons, and give you a desirable land…” (3:11-19)

God really did say all of that. Those promises came from His heart. But Israel was still in trouble, which lead to the unbelievable audacity Jeremiah had to call God a liar:

“… Ah, Sovereign Lord, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats.” (4:10)

Wow.

People still question God today, still blame Him when things don’t go our way. And the message of God’s love and provision is still being preached today.

Without the “If.”

God sums things up in 4:18:

“YOUR OWN CONDUCT AND ACTIONS have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” (emphasis mine)

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect God to bless you while you are holding on to sin. You can’t expect God to hear you until you first call on Him, repent of sin, bow before Him, and obey Him. You can’t claim His love and protection, and ignore His holiness.

God’s history with the nation of Israel shows us that He not only demands obedience at the exclusion of everything else, He deserves our obedience. It shows us how He delights in blessing our obedience, and how serious He is about our disobedience.

Do you want His blessing? Then obey Him. Period. You just can’t have it both ways.