What Do You Want to Hear from Jesus?

The words of Jesus

Jeremiah 50 to 52 The tale of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin reveals a pointed lesson for us.  When God tells us what to do, there is a choice; surrender and live or reject and die. God says, surrender your life to me, and you will have everlasting life. But, just as then, many still think they can save themselves or wait or do many works in God’s Name. 

Both kings sought Jeremiah’s advice as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep.   Jehoiachin believed Jeremiah; surrendered and saved his family. Zedekiah tried to escape through a tunnel at night time but was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Riblah, he lost his family, the royal household, and his eyes. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison. But, after 37 yrs., Jehoiachin was released to sit at the king’s table. Blind Zedekiah would die in his bronze chains with the vision of his children’s faces as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.

What are the takeaways from these two men and their end?  One accepted God’s way and was released. The other rejected God’s way, and these words will ring in his ears: “I never knew you.” Remember these words from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [Jn 14:6]

The lesson is clear: Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.

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Snail Mail

Snail ,mail

Jeremiah 29 Do you miss home; the familiar sounds and smells? Do you often reminisce about that time? Put yourself in the shoes of those taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. You are longing to return to your homeland, but it seems like there is no hope; the days drag on and on and on. You are trying to discern from the news what is really happening. Whose words are true?  One the one hand, you hear the exiled priests saying, “Don’t worry, it will end soon! Our wealth will be returned to the Temple, and our kings will rise again.” On other days you hear:  get busy; build houses, have big families. And to add to that you hear: PRAY FOR BABYLON AND THE BABYLONIANS!

PRAY for the Babylonians who took me captive?  Are you kidding me?

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Whose words are right? Because God knows they need assurance, He empowers Jeremiah to pen a letter to them:

Dear Exiles, know this; God loves you. He has put you here so you will not have to experience the calamity in Jerusalem. Don’t listen to the false reports of returning; God has not sent those who spout those words. Instead, remain faithful. Live and be productive. When 70yrs has passed, God will send you back to rebuild His city!

The Lord has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

Lovingly, Jeremiah

PS This God’s plan if you will accept it. Remember, you are a child of the Highest God.  Don’t forget who you are and don’t forget whose you are.

God has a plan for you in 2020 if you will accept it. He loves you and He has put you right where you are to do His work. Even though it is hard, God is asking;

Will you accept My plan for you even if you don’t understand it?

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Principle: Remove the Rotten Figs!

Are you a good fig or rotten?

Jeremiah 24 God showed Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs to reveal His plan. First, King Nebuchadnezzar rounded up and carted off the most favored craftsmen, the young and wise students. Surely those taken were the worst of the worst or the rotten figs, and the ones left behind were the best of the best—the good figs, right? How often we draw the wrong conclusion. God removed the best “figs,” Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Three Hebrews, to a place of protection—Babylon.  He knew what Nebuchadnezzar would do, so He removed His good figs far from the calamity. Those left behind thought they were undoubtedly the best of the best, but God sent Jeremiah to say to those left in Jerusalem; you are the rotten figs.

Romans 8:28 reminds us that “Truly all things do work together for good to those who love God.” In Babylon, the “good fig’s” faith grew and their desire to acknowledge God as Lord. He used that time to prepare Nehemiah to return and rebuild the wall and Ezra to return to teach in Jerusalem.  What about the rotten figs? Just like we would toss rotten figs to the garbage heap, God would banish them. God allowed foreigners to scatter them around the globe, or they died there—all because of disobedience and no love for God.

It’s easy to look and draw conclusions. Take a moment and ask, which fig am I? Will I edify or ruin the barrel? 

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“Anointed for Service”

Isaiah 61 Have you ever said: What does God want me to do? Messiah didn’t have that problem. He knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. We may be centuries apart, but the Israelites to whom Isaiah was writing and speaking had the same questions you have.

Listen as Isaiah allows Messiah to speak. “I have been anointed for the service of the Lord.” Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote:  “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1 Jo 2:20] Peter wrote:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Pet 2:9]

Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. He would encourage the poor, help the brokenhearted, and free those imprisoned by sin. God gave him spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.

Has God shown you someone that needs a refreshing word from the Lord? It might be a parent who has a child that has made a wrong choice, or someone has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely—or just perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.

Remember, God has called each of us to fulfill the Great Commission.

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Who is God to you?

God protects

Isaiah 43 to 45 God is our Protector

I am God, and there is no one else. He alone is God. It is because He is God, He will and can protect us. Whether it is water as in the Red Sea or the fiery furnace as the Three Hebrew Children faced in Babylon, God was there, and He will be there for you. Hagar faced loneliness and fear of the unknown but came to understand He is “El Roi,” the God who sees me. Just as a parent holds the hand of a child God is holding on to yours with His loving hand of protection.

But, it isn’t just fire or water. We can trust that wherever we are, God is there. Isaiah wanted the children of Israel to know this truth: “When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk in the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.” [Is 43:2]

 Has the enemy come to frighten you and to demoralize you? These examples should be in your memory arsenal. Remember, the Holy One of Israel is by your side protecting you. You are never alone as you trod this earthly land; God is with you, and He promises: you will hear a word spoken behind you; “this is the way, walk in it, whether you are heading to the right or left.” [Is 30:21]

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Praying with all boldness!

Praying together

Isaiah 3 – 6 You may have heard this saying: what goes around, comes around meaning that what has happened will happen again. Isaiah listened to what God said: “Youths will proudly defy the elderly and riffraff will challenge those who were once respected.” God was preparing Isaiah to understand what the Apostle John wrote later:  “Therefore, do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” and especially when you present Christ. [1 Jn 3] Today, thankfully there are many young people acting righteously. When you see that stop and thank God for them! Better yet, thank them in person.

In chapter 6, God told Isaiah that the people would listen but not understand, see but not comprehend and have hearts that would turn away. God was saying to Isaiah; this is My ministry, and you are My servant and you will experience what I have been experiencing since time began.

Today, if you are in ministry or you are discipling another, know this truth: “the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4:4]. Therefore, we must pray with all boldness: Father, remove the scales of their eyes, open their ears, and give them hearts to understand. Claim the same prayer Paul requested from the Ephesians:  “pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.”

How may we pray for you today?  

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Character Formation is a Team Effort

Teamwork

Proverbs 22:6 & 15 Character comes from years of training. God has placed before us those who influence us for good or evil from childhood through our adult years. What we do with that training determines our path of life. Some of us will become leaders, and some of us will be followers. The principle given in verse 6 is not a promise, but it “implies channeling the child’s conduct into the way of wisdom.”

Observation of children shows that some are quick learners, and some only learn the hard way. Perhaps that is why King Solomon said: train up, make it an ongoing process, in the way he should go because “folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” Children do not become automatically wise without training, and it must be an over and over again process.

One piece of that training includes developing skills of discernment. According to Webster, discernment is how to perceive truth from error, virtue from vice, and acuteness of judgment. It doesn’t end at age 18 or 25 or 50. It is an ongoing process, as Paul told Timothy: Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed. We are all a work in progress, and some are farther along that road than others.

Remember this promise: God’s divine power has bestowed on us—you and me—everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Therefore,

Be patient with self. Keep studying. Keep memorizing. Be diligent.

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Study God’s Word to Gain Wisdom

study God's Word

Proverbs 13 Some sheep/children are teachable, and some will refuse correction. Solomon was a teachable child, “Solomon demonstrated his loyalty to the Lord by following the practices of his father David,” [1Ki 3:3] However, his son was incorrigible. We have all heard this saying: “Don’t do as I do but do as I say.” Perhaps in hindsight, Solomon is saying, do not lose heart; I have placed before you the wisdom I have gleaned to raise a wise child even though my own son did not accept that truth.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, chose to flounder with fools rather than walk with the wise. He was spiritually deaf, as many are today. They wish to have their ears tickled rather than heed God’s counsel. The principle is clear: A wise son (daughter) accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

Today, Parents must hide God’s word in their hearts. The hidden treasures will guide you to understand the type of child God has placed in your care and how to raise them properly in the ways of God. When you are diligent, you can claim this promise from 2Peter 1:4 “Through these things, he [God] has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises,” so that by you can share the nuggets of truth to the next generation, as Psalm 78 tells us.  As part of your parenting routine: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [2Tim 2:15] 

Which child are you raising? You can know by studying the book of Proverbs. 

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Unity is Key to the Health of God’s People

Pray for unity

Ps 133 “Be Unified”

Unity is not a new idea. We read that even Jesus prayed for his disciples: “that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you.” [Jn 17] Before him, the psalmist wrote: “how beautiful it is to be unified as brethren.” As the Father and Son are unified, we are to be as well. Our model is the Trinity, and we are to be the messengers of this unity to the world.

In Genesis, we read a sad story about disunity and a family that failed to model that principle. Abraham and Lot had lived side by side, but disunity came about over water and grasslands. Whereas Lot was feuding, fussing and fuming, Abraham sought unity: “Let there be no quarreling between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives.” [Gen 13:8] However, Lot chose to ignore this wise counsel and moved away from Abraham choosing his herdsmen and the well-watered plain of Jordan. He never returned even in his darkest hour. Lot’s decision is a lesson for us in what NOT to do. That is why we need Psalm 133:1,

“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!” 

Is there disunity in someplace in a relationship between you and another? Beloved: make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [Eph 4:3]

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Do you know your ABC’s?

The ABCs

Psalm 119: Many of us have scores of Bibles at our fingertips and bookstores galore. But, the early Israelites learned through oral recitation using the memory aid tool: “abecedaries” just like children today learn their A-B-C’s in a sing-song fashion. All 176 verses of this psalm remind us of the steadfast love of God and His Word and mention the Word of God in nearly every stanza.  

Martin Luther memorized this entire psalm, and as a monk, he followed the pattern to recite long passages of scripture. He found Psalm 119 was easy to memorize because of its sing-song pattern. What a great challenge for us! Just as the psalmist said, those who are blessed are blameless and obedient to the law of the Lord. They choose to observe God’s statutes and seek Him with their whole heart.

The psalmist knew the principle of 2Tim 3:16

“All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof correction, and training in righteousness.” 

Take time to walk through each stanza for your edification so that you might know who God is and what He does through the hearts and minds of those who taste and see that the Lord is good. 

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