Tag Archives: Jeremiah

No God I won’t, but will You…

It was a dark period in the history of God’s people. The once strong nation divided after King Solomon’s death. The 10 tribes to the north became known as Israel and the 2 tribes to the south were Judah.

This sad state of affairs lasted slightly more than 200 years. In all, there were 38 kings but only 5 – all of them in Judah – were God-fearing, good leaders. God sent prophets repeatedly to call the people to repent and come back into their covenant relationship with Him but they stubbornly refused.

Israel experienced judgment at the hands of the Babylonian Empire. They were conquered and led away into exile. Judah rallied for a time because of placing their trust in God, but another bad king once again led to moral decay and chaos.

When Judah finally experienced judgment at the hands of the Assyrians, it was a two-year ordeal. When the final assault was at hand, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to make one more appeal to God. Jeremiah was straightforward in his message from God – it’s too late!

King Zedekiah, along with all of Judah, persistently ignored God’s prophets who warned about the consequences of unfaithfulness to God. They refused to honor their covenant relationship with God and yet when the chips were down, King Zedekiah wanted God’s help.

Stop and think about that for a moment!

They refused to do life according to God’s directives, but still wanted – perhaps even expected – God to come to their rescue. Does that sound at all familiar to you? It does to me.

I think it describes much of what is called Christianity today.

We participate in church life and even other token activities identified as what it means to be a Christian; but then we do life pretty much how we want. Yet when our back is up against the wall we want and even expect God to come through for us and bless our agenda.

And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

Bob Yawberg, one of my mentors, kept a journal throughout his nearly 40 years of ministry. The simple title was “Saying Yes to God.”

Lord, forgive us for abusing the covenant relationship with You that cost Jesus His very life.

May we recognize that You are the center of life and may we say “Yes” to doing life with You.

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Surrender

One of the worst verses in the Bible

Let me introduce you to one of the worst verses in the Bible:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I know, I know! This verse is the golden child of the Christian universe. It’s the place we go to in the midst of chaos to reassure ourselves that God has our back. It’s the promise we claim when we’re worried about the future. In fact, it’s probably the most popular promise of God in the entire Bible!

But it’s not the promise found in the verse that makes it so bad. It’s our wrong expectations based on misunderstanding the context. Before Jeremiah 29:11 comes Jeremiah 29:10. And there we find the context of God’s promise:

“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” ~ Jeremiah 29:10

God had plans for Israel. Plans of prosperity. Plans of giving them a hope and a future. But first came 70 years of exile in a foreign land, waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.

  • 70 years of poverty preceded plans of prosperity.
  • 70 years of pain and danger preceded plans of no harm.
  • 70 years of seemingly hopeless present circumstances preceded plans of a hopeful future.

This is the reality we don’t like to talk about when we quote Jeremiah 29:11. Yes, God does have plans for us. That’s an incredible promise we should cling to. A promise that’s true. A promise that’s more than a pipe dream. But it’s also a promise that doesn’t always find its completion now. Sometimes it’s later.

And later is usually always later than we want it to be!

We expect the utterance of this verse to calm the chaos now. We expect God to reveal our future now. But that’s not the purpose of this verse. It’s supposed to give us something to cling to in the midst of chaos. In the midst of an uncertain future. In the midst of circumstances that scream the very opposite of what God is telling us He has for us.

It reminds us that regardless of what our present reality and waiting might tempt us to believe, God has not forgotten about us. We are still His people. He is still our God. And He still has plans for us.

It’s only when we surrender ourselves to God’s timetable that Jeremiah 29:11 becomes one of the best verses in the Bible!

* Adapted from a blog entry by Steven Furtick.

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Filed under God's Will, Life in General, Scripture, Trusting God

Why the mess is there!

Jon Walker is a former editor of HomeLife magazine. In the January 2000 issue, he wrote about an excruciating choice he and his wife, Sherry, had made. Their child was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, meaning that there was no way the child would survive for more than a few days after birth. A geneticist recommended an immediate abortion, which the Walkers rejected on moral grounds. Jon told the doctor that he believed the baby was a creation of God and therefore deserved “dignified treatment.”

Jon and his wife had already lost three children in utero, so they knew what they were talking about. Jon admits, “The last 16 years haven’t been easy, and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that some days I wonder why God keeps asking us to walk this road. It doesn’t appear fair, but in those moments, I think about the prophet Jeremiah, who pleaded with God to let him go home and be quiet. He didn’t like the life he’d been called to, but then again, he came to realize it was never his life to live. It was God’s all along.”

Jon goes on say, “My wife and I wouldn’t trade the pain, the heartache or the difficulty of the last 16 years for anything if it meant abandoning God and his sovereignty in the process. We are better people because of the anvil he placed us on.”

Jon’s story doesn’t end there. In addition to losing this precious child – their fourth, in a twelve-month span Jon was rushed to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain leading to a gallbladder removal, had a kidney stone removed, a hernia repaired, and underwent an operation on his writing hand.

The suffering he experienced was enough for a decade, yet God had permitted it to descend in one brutal year. Even so, Jon treasures 1999. Jon says, “I have to tell you that I’m not at all defeated by these events. In fact, I’ve come to view this past year as perhaps the greatest of my life. I’ve learned that because God is in me, He’s also in the middle of the mess, and I’ve learned that the mess is there to show me where I’m hanging my hope.” (From Authentic Faith, p 80-81)

What’s the mess you’re facing right now and where are you hanging your hope?

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Filed under Encouragement, Faith, Hope, Inspiration