Archive for November, 2020
“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
One can easily imagine the impassioned vows made from the belly of a whale. Vows are the tangible expressions of an inward commitment. The vow of commitment made to following Christ is a consuming passion; impacting every facet of life. In fact, from the perspective of scripture, the only legitimate faith is the one that manifests itself tangibly. By this our gratitude to God proved out.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful” (1 Timothy 1:12).
A constant source of strength and encouragement in the life of faith should be the fact that Christ has considered us, even when we were undue consideration. Even in the light of who we were as lost sinners, and who we are as struggling saints, he considers us faithful. What a remarkably gracious God and sufficient Savior we serve.
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
Of the various Greek words that could have been translated as “good” in the English language, Jesus utilized the one that manifests itself in a form of goodness that is beautiful. In other words, the goodness of his life was portrayed in such a way that it was attractive. While religion can often portray goodness and moral uprightness in a way that is repulsive, the winsomeness that is to characterize the Christian faith is borne out of our relationship with Christ, the good and beautiful shepherd.
“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving,…(Jonah 2:9).
A truly thankful heart cannot be muzzled; it speaks with gratitude to all people and every circumstance. To be perpetuated and handed down to the next generation, the faith of God’s people must be not only lived but articulated for others to hear, understand, process, and bring to consideration. Just as the left and right wing of an airplane are equally important, so are speaking it and living it in the effective communication of the gospel.
“To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).
Many are making a sacrifice this Thanksgiving holiday—postponing travel during the pandemic for the protection of family and friends. A sacrifice of thanksgiving is a common expression in scripture. To examine the phrase exhaustively through the biblical text, is to emerge with the understanding that it ultimately is the sacrifice of self. It is the acknowledgement our dependence upon our heavenly Father and confidence in his providential plans and purposes. When practiced deliberately and intentionally, regardless of circumstances, it alters one’s perspective on every facet of life.
“I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul” (Jeremiah 32:41).
Fourteen times in verses 36-44 the first-person personal pronoun, “I,” is used to describe the future activity of God in bringing about the restoration of his people. Nowhere is this more profoundly captured than in the idiom, “heart and soul.” While found elsewhere in scripture, this is the only occurrence of its use in association with God. It captures the totality of his being and speaks to his full commitment to seeing his promises fulfilled.
“Indeed this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My wrath from the day that they built it, even to this day, so that it should be removed from before My face” (Jeremiah 32:31).
Each of the biblical prophets seem follow a redundant pattern: calling the people of God to repentance, their failure to do so, then the forthcoming judgment of God, followed by restoration and renewal. There is great benefit in the retelling of these stories. First, perhaps we shall be the ones to break the cycle; giving heed to the prompting of God’s spirit and ordering our lives according to the principles and precepts of his word. Secondly, because of the bountiful mercies of God’s grace, fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, we have the assurance of a future hope far exceeding our failures of today.
“And Jeremiah said, ‘The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, ‘Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it’” (Jeremiah 32:6-7).
Nothing seems more foolish than going through the legal processes of buying a parcel of land already seized by the Chaldeans. Such is the nature of hope; it has greater faith in the future of God’s sovereign purposes than it does the prevailing crises of today. Jeremiah desired to inspire the people not with just another sermon, but in the routine transactions of daily life. In times of uncertainty, what do those with whom you intersect daily see in you? An unshaken hope and confidence for a better tomorrow? By our daily actions, attitudes, and social media platforms, we are interpreting and explaining the life of faith to a hopeless and watching world.
“But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4).
The providential care of our Heavenly Father should be an ever present reminder that the negative, external forces of our broken world do not have to shape our lives. In his own purposeful and omnipotent way, God is able to take the negative that was intended against us and use it in a transformational way to mold and shape us into the people he has designed us to be.
“Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:6).
A latent fear for many is going to the doctor. It seems the visit to our healthcare provider is never as simple as receiving treatment for the discomforting symptoms that prompted our visit. The examination is always more extensive, comprehensive, and invasive than would have been desired. A good doctor, however, is concerned not only with a patient’s current illness but their overall wellness. What is true of a good physician is nonetheless true of the Great Physician. While the desire for relief and rescue might cause you to turn to him in the painful moments of your life, doing so brings far greater implications. His concern is not only for the pain of the moment but the holistic wellness of our lives.