Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jeremiah 29:11-14

"'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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 29:11-14

The words of Jeremiah 29-11-14 were originally penned to God's Old Testament people who had been taken into exile, but they are still relevant to God's people today.  God's plan for us is to prosper us and not to harm us.  He always works for our spiritual good, and no ultimate spiritual harm will ever come to a child of God!

Our definition of success and prosperity may not always match the Lord's definition, but His way and will for us is always best.  True success and prosperity is found in seeking to please and honor the Lord with the resources, opportunities, and blessings that He has given us.  True success is found in trusting the Lord's leading and direction in our lives.

God may allow difficult circumstances in our lives as well as times of relative calm, but we can be certain that His plans for us are always for our best and are not meant to harm us.  His plans according to Jeremiah 29:11b are to give us "hope and a future."  When everything around us seems to be falling apart, the Lord already has it all figured out!  The Lord already has a plan in mind for our lives from all eternity!  Every step and event in our lives has been planned by the Lord and is known by the Lord.  Why should we fear anything?  The Lord allows these difficult times to help get our eyes off ourselves and more focused on Him.  His plans in even difficult times are meant to give us "hope and a future."

In order to have the assurance of the Lord's presence in our lives, however, we must always call upon Him in prayer.  We must seek a relationship with the Lord with all of our hearts.  It must be our passion to serve and please Him.  The Lord must be most important in our lives.  Our lives in what we consider good times and in times which we consider difficult times must be centered on our growing love relationship with the Lord.  We must also find our strength in the Lord alone.

This is the path and secret to joy and success in the Lord.  Life will continue to contain uncertainties and times of difficulty.  The Lord, however, is our certain future; if we seek Him with all our hearts.  People and things will fail.  The Lord will never fail.  He will bring us from victory to victory!  Praise His name!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Jeremiah 18:1-6

"Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand."  Jeremiah 18:6

God often teaches us spiritual truths in the Bible through the use of parables or living pictures.  In our Scripture passage today God gave the prophet, Jeremiah, a living picture.  God did this to help Jeremiah understand an important spiritual truth.  God told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:2, "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."

In Jeremiah's day one could not go down to the local retail store to buy a bowl, vase, or pot.  One had to go to the potter's house.  The potter would start with a lump of clay.  The potter would then put the lump of clay on a potter's wheel; and with the touch of his hands he would form the clay into a beautiful vase, bowl, or pot of some kind.

Sometimes the potter made something that did not please him, or the vessel "was marred in his hands" (Jeremiah 18:4).  This may have happened because some impurities had not been removed, or perhaps a piece of unwanted material in the clay would not yield to the work that was being done on the potter's wheel.  If this happened, the potter would smash the pot and remake it over and over until it was a vessel pleasing to him.

The Lord God is the Potter in our lives, and we are the clay in His hands.  He is in sovereign control of our lives, and He controls all the events of our lives.  When spiritual impurities come into our lives the Lord God recreates and molds our lives to be more in tune with His will.  All the events of our lives are used to make us more like Jesus.

God especially uses problems, difficulties, and trials in our lives to mold us into the kind of people who truly reflect the Lord Jesus.  The Lord wants to bring us ever closer to the center of His will.  Difficulties teach us to not rely on our own self-effort and devices.  Difficult times in our lives teach us to rely and trust only on the Lord.  Difficulties in our lives also help to remove the impurities of sin from our lives, and they help us to grow in our love relationship with the Lord.  All the events of our lives, including difficult times, are meant to shape us into beautiful vessels for the Lord.

Our prayer to God should be that He will make us into beautiful vessels of purpose for Him.  When we fail and allow spiritual impurities into our lives we need to pray that the Lord will take us back to His Potter's wheel.  We need to pray that the Lord will then reshape us and form us into something more beautiful for Him.  From the beautiful fragments of our lives the Lord can make us beautiful vessels for Him!

We must not fight against or question the Lord's molding of our lives.  We need to pray that each touch of His hand in our lives will help us to become whom He wants us to become.  The Lord knows just the right amount of pressure to put on our lives.  We must remain thankful for how He is working and leading in our lives!  We must persevere in our willingness to submit to the Lord's will.  We must be submissive to the Lord even in trials and difficult times in our lives.  The Lord has promised to be with us all the way.

We must also ask the Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit's power and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We must yearn for the Lord to control our lives completely every hour and every day!  There is a song that expresses this well.  The words to this song need to be our prayer each day.  "Lord, You're the Potter.  I am the clay.  Mold me and make me in Your own way.  Take me and break me, Savior, I pray, into a vessel of honor today."                                                                             

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jeremiah 17:5-17

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; it's leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."  Jeremiah 17:7-8

There is much anxiety and emptiness in the hearts and minds of most people in this world.  For the Christian there should always be a sense of peace and resting in the Lord.  For even Christians, however, worry sometimes creeps into our lives.  Worry is sin.  Worry occurs in our lives, because we are trusting in something or someone other than God.  Worry means we are making someone or something else in our lives more important than the Lord.

Sinful worry involves having our roots or foundations in life in something other than the Lord.  Sinful worry involves putting our trust and hope in things other than the Lord.  Jeremiah 17:5 says, "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord."  If we put anything before the Lord we will be like a dried up "bush in the wastelands" according to Jeremiah 17:6.  Such lives are meaningless.

What makes you and I anxious?  What makes us worry?  What are our hearts set on?  What we worry about may be a clue as to what is becoming more important to us than the Lord in our lives.  Many things can be "good" things in themselves, but even "good" things must not be more important to us than the Lord.  Is our jobs or careers more important to us than the Lord?  What about our families?  What about our reputations or what people think of us?

Even when we think we are doing the Lord's work we must be very careful that people's perceptions of us does not become more important to us than the Lord.  We need to be emptied of ourselves and filled with the Lord.  If we are chasing after anything other than the Lord's will, we will not even notice the blessings and prosperity that do come to us.  We will still be discontent.  Jeremiah 17:6 says it will be as if we are living "in the parched places of the desert."

What a contrast there will be in our lives, if we are truly resting and trusting in the Lord!  Jeremiah 17:7-8 says "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream."  Blessed and joyful are we, if we trust in the Lord and find our total fulfillment in Him!  Blessed are we, if we trust Him and have our confidence in Him alone.  He will fill us with His living spiritual waters.  He will give us all we need for time and eternity.  In our natural state we are born in sin, and we are like a tree which is a "bush in the wastelands."  But the Lord Jesus through His wonderful salvation and work in our lives transplants us by living waters of His Holy Spirit!  We become rooted in Him!

Such a tree or life in Christ according to Jeremiah 17:8b "does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."  Such a life in Christ does not fear and wilt in times of difficulty and challenge.  Such a life continues to trust and rest in the Lord even in the difficult times in life and continues to bear spiritual fruit.  Such a life finds his or her joy and confidence in the Lord alone and puts the Lord first in his or her life.  May we be deeply rooted in the Lord.  He alone is our "spring of living water." (Jeremiah 17:13b)  He alone is our "refuge in the day of disaster." (Jeremiah 17:17b).  He alone must be the Lord of our lives!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Psalm 62

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 62:5-6

In this Psalm King David found Himself threatened by people who wished to dethrone him and do him harm.  In this dangerous situation David turned to the Lord.  David said in Psalm 62:1, "My soul find rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him."  David found his rest, confidence, help, and peace in the Lord alone.

We too can find our confidence and help in the Lord alone.  If we put our confidence in anything or anyone but the Lord, we will often be disappointed.  We, however, can go to the Lord at any time and anyplace; and He will be our help and strength.  Hence, the Lord is also our source of peace and repose in this world of turmoil.  In Psalm 62:2 David says, "He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken."  Like David the Lord is our rock or foundation.  We can trust the Lord at all times.  He is our sure foundation even when it seems as  if our world is crumbling and falling down around us.  The Lord is our salvation.  He is our Savior from sins.  He also saves us from many unseen perils and pitfalls each and every day.  The Lord is our fortress or protection.  Hence, not matter what is going on in our lives; we need "never be shaken."

In spite of all his troubles David had learned the secret of waiting and resting in the Lord.  So often when we face a crisis in our lives we try to work out the adverse situation or circumstances by our own devices.  Sometimes we will also run to other people for help.  Often we go to the Lord only as a last resort.  We need to follow David's example and go to the Lord first.  We must find rest in the Lord alone.  David said in Psalm 62:5-6, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."

Notice in these verses David was once again repeating and acknowledging what he has already said in verses one and two of Psalm 62.  Rest and peace for David's soul could be found in the Lord God alone.  The Lord was His only hope for time and eternity.  The Lord alone was David's rock, salvation, and fortress.  We too must find our rest, peace, protection, and help in the Lord alone.  Then we can say with David, "I will not be shaken."  No matter what the situation we can trust the Lord and rest in Him in quiet submission.  Our well-being for time and for eternity depends on the Lord God alone.  He is our sure foundation and refuge.

We have the absolute assurance of the Lord's protecting presence in our lives at all times.  Hence, David said in Psalm 62:8, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  The Lord will never fail us.  Hence, we must go to Him alone with our every need; and we must "pour out" our heart's needs and desires to Him.  The Lord understands our needs and sympathizes with us better than anyone else is able to do.  Psalm 62:9 reminds us that human beings are "but a breath."  Resorting to our own devices, especially sinful ones, to get us through a crisis will prove to be of no avail.  But our God is our refuge and help.  We serve a faithful God.  We also serve a loving and powerful God!  If we trust in the Lord, He will direct our paths!