Archive for November, 2020
“Behold, I am the Lord of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me” (Jeremiah 32:27).
Though not often heard today, “Behold” is a word found over 1500 times scripture. In fact, it bookends the entirety scripture; appearing first in Genesis 1 in association with the creative works of God (v.29), to its final usage in the last chapter of Revelation and the proclamation of Jesus, “Behold I am coming quickly” (22:12). Behold means to see with attention, and is used most often in relationship to what God has done, is doing, and will do. Wisdom would demand we give greater heed when this word appears in our study of scripture. Regardless of the circumstances, God is doing something, and you can be certain it will be something to behold.
“Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah, because Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, ‘Why do you prophesy, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it’” (Jeremiah 32:2-3).
While we regard Jeremiah highly, he was considered a traitor by his own people because he preached a message they and, especially, Zedekiah did not want to hear. Such is the nature of truth; it’s rarely a polite attention-getter, but most often a screaming indictment against the life we have already chosen to live. As a true prophet of God, Jeremiah recognized no one is done any favors by withholding the truth of God’s word; that only by truthful proclamation can individuals make the decisions necessary to abide in relationship with the Father and partake in the hope that only he offers.
“Or do you not think that I cannot appeal to my Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:54)?
From the beginning of his public ministry in Cana of Galilee, to its culmination upon a cross just outside Jerusalem, at any point along the way, Jesus could have opted out. Instead, laying aside privilege, power, and position, he chose to opt in. This he did for a greater purpose; choosing to identify himself with the “least of these” and take upon himself the sins of us all. In an opt out culture, where the masses act only for themselves toward a path of least resistance, the call of Christ to the life discipleship, and carrying the cross, means we must daily choose to opt in—setting aside rights, entitlement, and self-fulfillment for the missional purposes of God.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
In the faith we seek to live out, prayer is a vital key; a means by which God rescues us from the preoccupation of self. Prayer is an activity but, also, an attitude toward every waking moment of life. The challenge of both Jesus and Paul, to pray always/unceasingly, is an approach to life that desires to stay in unbroken fellowship with the Father throughout the day. Such prayer transforms the heart, resets the mind, and heightens one’s perspective; elevating the devoted pray-er above the ever-changing and anxiety-ridden landscape of human circumstances to the eternal/transcendent realm of God’s assuring promises.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to clothe oneself in the garments appropriate for the life of Christ that we are to make known. It is the daily, regimented means by which the internal reality of who we are in Christ is played-out with growing consistency. Just as our childhood games of “good guys” and “bad guys” were enhanced by dressing up to look the part, the wardrobe of Christ is necessary to playing the role God has written for our lives.
“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
While “Got Milk?” was an advertising campaign encouraging the consumption of cow’s milk, Peter is advocating the milk of God’s word and the necessity of its ingestion for growth in the kingdom life of salvation. Just as a newborn, being completely unaware of other alternatives, has a single-minded, intuitive desire for the milk of the mother’s breast, we, too, must turn away from other formulas and alternative food sources that a spiritual culture seeks to offer in the place of God’s word. Ours is a life utterly dependent upon the milk of the word.
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
The New Testament portrait of the church is always multi-generational and never demographically focused. The healthiest churches recognize the beneficial exchange that occurs when there is an appreciation for the generation that came before us and the one that will come after. It’s too easy for any one generation to narrow Jesus down to our Jesus; our experience; our way of knowing him. As we, together, share our stories and witness of faith each generation benefits.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-6).
Spiraling downward, flailing, grasping, bewildered, fearful, anxious…these are but a sampling of the emotions felt in times of unexpected adversity and hardship. While the masses seek to find answers and, thus, their security in such things as conspiracy theories, political corruption (as if that were something new), and fraudulent pandemics as a means of undermining civil liberties, God’s people hold forth a long history of having found their hope in one thing alone—waiting upon the Lord. In the very soul of our waiting is hope. None of the tragic and life-altering events of human history have ever caught the sovereignty of God unaware. Just wait!
“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10).
In the Ancient Near East, the heart and mind (literally, the heart and kidneys) capture the full spectrum of the human psyche; the hidden things that comprise a person’s character and personality. The heart and mind represent the inextricable link between the way a person thinks and how they act. Thus, both are under the purview of the Lord’s judgment. Only by dwelling on the right things can the right things become our practice (Philippians 4:8-9).
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8)
A person whose trust is the Lord (v.7) has a unique and significant influence in the parched landscape of despair, fear, and anxiety. In times of uncertainty the hopeless masses lash out, fueling the fires of division and malicious rhetoric. As followers of Christ, however, knowing we are the ambassadors of Christ in this world, by words, actions (and social media posts), ours is to be a presence of calming peace and reassurance.