JEREMIAH (who wasn’t a bullfrog!)

Hoyt Axton was a songwriter and wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody that kept playing in his head.  The tune was absent of any lyrics but the producers asked him to sing any words to the song.  A member of Three Dog Night said the original lyrics of the song were “Jeremiah was a prophet,” but no one like it.  “Just make up anything.”  And they did!  [Wikipedia – Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)]

In this Bible Study, I would like to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Jeremiah the Prophet and God’s plan for his life and yours as well.  The words you will read weren’t just ‘made up’.

GOD’S CALLING!

Jesus really does know who we are!

Scripture:  Jeremiah 1:4-10

We read in the story of a man named Jeremiah and how God shares with him how intimately He knows him.

JEREMIAH was a prophet in Israel.  A PROPHET was one who would foretell future events; he was one who would receive a specific message from God to speak to the people; all to do this by the power of God.  A person never decides one day they’re going to be a prophet because somebody said they should be.  You have to have a calling from God to do this.  And it’s actually during Jeremiah’s calling that he discovers something amazing about God.  He discovered that God really knew who he was!

Living In An Impersonal World

When you stop and think about it, when you shop, get your groceries, do your banking, go to school and do your work all in front of a computer screen without ever having to speak to another person…that’s an impersonal world we’re living in.

Living in such an isolated environment makes it difficult to imagine that there’s a God who truly knows who we are; who knows us on an intimate level.  A God who knows you better than any spouse can know you, better than any parent can know you.  God really knows everything there is to know about you.  The God of the Universe knows everything, and I mean everything–“Oh, oh!”– about us!

Our Scripture passage points out some things concerning you and your relationship with God.

Before You Were Born God Knew You (vs. 5).

That’s truly an amazing statement and a true one.  God knew you before you were born.  I remember how excited my wife and I were before each of our three children were born.  We couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, to see who they were.  For nine months they are inside that belly and you are excited about them coming out to meet you for the first time in the recovery room and you introduce yourself to your new child.  We couldn’t wait to see what they would be like.  [*Note:  I might be dating myself but when my kids were born the dads-to-be weren’t allowed in the delivery room.]

But the Bible says that before we were born, God knew us!

The word “know” carries with it the sense of relationship and approval.  In other words, God had a STAMP OF APPROVAL on Jeremiah’s life.  It means that God specifically knew Jeremiah and what he would become.

Obviously, God was speaking to Jeremiah here so you may think that God knew Jeremiah before he was born, but there’s no way that He would know you, the average Joe.  However, God tells us over and over again in His word that He made us and formed us.

There’s no arguing with this Scripture.  He specifically says that God knit me together in my mother’s womb.

David goes on to say, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.”

You can’t argue the FACT that God knew you before you were born.

Another Scripture puts it quite clear for us as well.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship),  recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

WE WERE CREATED TO DO GOOD WORKS…and the Bible says that God has prepared us in advance to do those works!  God didn’t just KNOW Jeremiah but He knew each and every one of us before we ever took our first breath on our own.

You might be thinking about why it’s such a big deal that God knows us.

THE BIG DEAL is, if God knows you, that means He knows what you’re going through in life.  If God knows us, that means we’re not alone, you haven’t been forgotten.  God knows the struggles that you are facing.  God knows the temptations that you come up against.  God knows your family situation and He has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Before we accept Jesus as our Savior, there’s a God that knows who you are…knows what you have need of and wants to meet those needs.  God sees the life that you have come out of, but He also sees the life that you’re going into.

Being Set Apart Should Bring Us Confidence (Jeremiah 1:5)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  [NIV]

God set Jeremiah apart, meaning that God had a specific purpose in mind for Jeremiah before he was even born.  In Jeremiah’s case, his designed purpose was to be a PROPHET.  He was commissioned by God to spread a message of judgment to the people of Israel.  Not exactly what you would call a fun message to preach.  It was if God was telling Jeremiah, “I know you have got a tough message to deliver, but let me tell you something.  I know you!  I am not going to leave you alone,  I am going to be by your side every step of the way as you deliver my message.”

Each person reading this should know that you were created for a specific reason.  Each person was created on purpose for a purpose!  Knowing this indicates to us that no one on the face of the Earth who is a mistake.

NO ONE accidentally came into this world.

Some parents may not have expected you, but NO ONE was an accident because God had you in mind before you were born.

Not only did He had you in mind, but He also had a purpose in mind for you when you came into the world.

We need to hear that message more often.  We hear too much that we are no good; we hear that we were a mistake; we hear that we have no purpose in life, but that’s not what God says.  God made it very clear in Jeremiah’s life that he was here for a purpose.  He even said in Jeremiah 29:11,  “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the LORD, thoughts, and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  [AMP].

God’s PLAN versus Our PLANS

God wants to encourage us and let us know that He has plans for your life.  He doesn’t want you to throw in the towel.  He doesn’t want you to give up and not serve Him any longer.  He wants you to know today that He has plans to prosper you, not harm you.  God wants to be a part of your life.  He knows you and He has set you apart for His purposes.  So many times we don’t realize that God has a plan for our lives so we try to fill up our lives with our own plans, which in turn leaves us empty–that we’ve failed somehow.

“An African Plant May Help Fight Fat”

I read a story this week on the CBS website about an African plant called “Hoodia” that looks like a cactus that grows wild in the desert.  The plant is apparently getting a lot of attention these days because it seems to be a good food suppressant.  Scientists have discovered when you eat small amounts of the plant, it leaves you with a sense of being full when in fact you’re not.

Some of us are filling up our lives with things that we think are making us full and satisfied.  We’re filling our lives up with work and material things; things that physically make us feel good.  It may make us feel good and full for a time, but as time goes on we’re going to discover those things don’t actually make us full; they don’t actually give us a well-balanced and full life.

JESUS CAME TO FILL US UP!

Jesus said in John 10:10 (AMP)

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

The word “abundant” is in reference to being overfilled.  There’s no way a person can have an ABUNDANT LIFE if they feel as though there’s no real purpose or meaning in their life.  They will never feel “stuffed” until they know their purpose.

God told Jeremiah that He had set him apart.  The phrase, “set you apart,” means to separate [sanctified in the New Testament]. In other words, God separated Jeremiah from the rest of creation for a special task.  That was Jeremiah’s calling to perform a special task.

Before You Were Born, God Appointed You (Jeremiah 1:5)

According to Webster’s the word “appoint” means:  “to assign officially; equip or furnish.”

We could read this Bible verse like this:  “I ASSIGNED you as a prophet to the nations (people).”  “I will equip or furnish you to be a prophet to the nations.”

God didn’t really give Jeremiah a say in the matter.  God appointed him to be a prophet before he was even born.  He equipped him to be a prophet before he was born.

Wait a minute here,” you might be saying.  “Don’t I have a choice?  I’ve got my rights!  I have some decisions I want to make on my own in what I do or don’t do.”

That kind of thinking is backward.  The Bible is very clear that we were created for God to do with as He chooses.

Jeremiah 18:6 says:

Think about the above Bible verse for a moment.  Does a ceramic bowl get that way because it chose to be a bowl?  Of course not!  It became a bowl because that’s what the potter wanted it to be.

“What if I don’t want to become what God wants me to be?”

You have that choice. 

He will never make you do something that you don’t want to do.  You don’t have to conform.  If a potter gets a piece of clay that doesn’t conform to the image that he wants it to, the clay becomes useless in his hands.  The problem is that the clay will miss out on being a productive vessel.  I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are misled in life; why so many people feel a void in their lives.  It’s because they are not doing what they were created to do.  The end result of that is always frustration.

Before you were born, God appointed you to a certain task.  Now the question is, are you willing to fulfill the calling that He has on your life?

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CREDITS:

“Jeremiah was a bullfrog” – Wikipedia

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); Bible verses found in photo images are various translations.

Who Is Melchizedek in the Bible…Or As I Like to Call Him, ‘Mel’?


If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of ‘Melchizedek”.  I’ve come across the name, once again, in bible study in The Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-22, and to save me the time of writing down “Melchizedek,” over and over again, I took the liberty of calling him ‘Mel’.

Many religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek.  Ancient Gnostics go to great explanations of claiming Melchizedek was actually Jesus [For more on the term “Gnostic,” go to GotQuestions.org/”What is the definition of the term Gnostic? ]. Others say he was the archangel, Michael.

Suffice to say, I don’t recommend an Internet search answering these sorts of questions.

In Hebrews 7, the information presented gives the most information about ‘Mel’ in the entire Bible.

Of course, Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis … 12 pages into my Bible.

  • Genesis 12 contains God’s call of Abram and God’s promise that would make Abram a great nation and Blessed him (Genesis 12:2).
  • Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories in the new land.
  • At the beginning of Genesis 14, there’s a report of war among several kings.  Caught up in the plunder of war, Lot was carried off by the victory and apparent victim of circumstance, Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the middle of Genesis 14, Abram learns of his nephew’s plight, takes a group of 318 soldiers, routs Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.

It was after Abram’s return from the victory that the story unfolds with Melchizedek.  Even though it is contained in just three chapters in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram.  Mostly because it’s a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s Blessing on his life:

  • He chose the Blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings.
  • He credited God for the victory won.
  • He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most high”.

AND THIS IS THE END OF THE ACCOUNT.

There are no more details about ‘Mel’ to be found in Genesis.

Most history books I’ve run across don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek, but they don’t have much else to add either.

Aside from our text in Hebrews in this study, the only other place I could find in the Bible was Psalm 110.

Psalm 110 is what Bible scholars call a Messianic psalm, a prophecy that describes the ultimate Savior, the Victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity.

And this particular Psalm describes the Messiah as “a priest after the manner and order of Melchizedek”  (verse 4).  

Sound familiar?

Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This duplication of this specific language presented at the end of Chapter 6 of Hebrews is in the precise language of Psalm 110.

Hebrews 6:20 (AMP)

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

This is to remind us that none of this is primarily about ‘Mel’…it’s all about Jesus!

Although, as a Word Detective, it might be really tantalizing to think of all this in terms of unlocking some great mystery about this baffling Melchizedek.  The main point I find here is to tie Jesus to the prophecy found in Psalm 110.  So we will be best served to look at this passage of Scripture not so much for answers to the question “Who is Melchizedek?”  Rather, what we should really be after are the answers to the greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

The author who penned these words under the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit has no interest in leading us as readers to Melchizedek.  We are being led to Jesus!

What is found in this passage of Scripture now is Melchizedek being used as an illustration to help us understand more about Christ Jesus.

Melchizedek’s position is worth taking a close look at in Hebrews 7.

The beginning of the chapter explains that he is both king and priest.  Specifically king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem), priest of God Most High.

Jesus too is both King and Priest.

This mention of genealogy seems curious when it comes to studying this in the context of the Bible, especially the Old Testament historical books.  Unlike almost every other figure in the O.T. historical books, ‘Mel’ has no genealogical context.  He isn’t identified as “the son of” anyone, no begat.

Neither his birth nor death is recorded.

In Melchizedek’s case, scripture is silent about all that made him unique.  In this case, what distinguishes Melchizedek isn’t his genealogy, but his righteousness, peace, his association with God Most High!

Verses 4-10 makes us aware of Abraham’s position in respect to Melchizedek.

Abraham, the father of faith, the one through whom God chose to create a special people for Himself, subservient to Melchizedek.

  1. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek–giving him, in an act of worship, a tenth of what he had.
  2. ‘Mel’ blessed Abraham.

First the blessing and then the tenth. 

The lesser person is blessed by the greater.  Abraham wasn’t BLESSED because he tithed.

He gave because he was already BLESSED!

Jesus, too, is greater than Abraham.

Jesus, through this illustration, is associated in a superior order than all kings and priests, especially all those kings and priests that would come from Abraham.

Verses 11-14 make more of this idea of genealogy and ancestry.

The LAW given by Moses, established the tribe of Levi, the tribe of priests.

But Jesus wasn’t a Levite, as ‘Mel’ wasn’t a Levitical priest; Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Under the old covenant, one would be a law-breaker if one claimed to be a PRIEST but not qualified by his genealogy,

If you weren’t a LEVITE, you couldn’t be a PRIEST.

But like Melchizedek, who preceded the Levites, Jesus is a PRIEST superior to the Levitical priesthood not on the basis of RULES or ANCESTRY, but on the basis of the POWER of an indestructible life…a life everlasting! 

So, Jesus makes possible what the imperfections of the old priestly order could never deliver.

Jesus introduces “a better HOPE” as described in verse 19.

In the priestly order, only a select few could dare approach YHWH, but Jesus set aside what “was weak and useless” and made a way “by which we draw near to God.”

The old order of SACRIFICES made in the old order of Levitical priests, in which men continually offered payment for SIN through offerings, was set aside.

There were no chairs in the Temple or Tabernacle, for the work was not done.  But Jesus accomplished for us, once and for all, A NEW HOPE by which we draw near to God.

Finally, these last verses in the passage take our mind and spirit back to the prophecy in Psalm 110.  We have to remember, the point here is that Jesus isn’t merely like a king, like a priest, like a Messiah.  

The POINT here is…Jesus IS that Messiah!

He is sealed with an oath from the Creator (“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” Psalm 110:4) and not a priest by association or ancestry, but a PRIEST by declaration.

God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn (made an OATH) and will not change His mind:  ‘You are a priest forever'”

(verse 22 b.) – Because of His OATH. Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  A whole new order, a new way, a new deal, a better covenant…

“SO WHAT?” you might say.

At one level, the “so what,” is simply the benefit of study.  The illustration found in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek gets a little technical, I’ll admit, but it’s powerful!  There’s a real reward that comes with a clearer understanding of God’s Word.

That understanding draws us closer to God and for this confidence that comes from the Word, we can shout, “AMEN”!

There’s of course, this very practical reminder…to keep our focus on Jesus.

‘Mel’ is one of those figures that has been hijacked and made into something that was never intended by many.

If you were googling Melchizedek, you’d soon find yourself way out in the theological weeds.  You can also go to Amazon.com and find all sorts of books that would want to take you down all sorts of weird roads.

But those “roads” take people away from the plain and simple basics of our faith.

We should take away from this study, a reminder that Scripture points us to Jesus.  We don’t need to search for secrets and mysteries about Melchizedek; the intent of this passage of Scripture is clearly to draw our attention and understanding to Jesus:

He is…

  • King of Righteousness
  • King of Peace
  • Priest Forever.

We’re reminded of the continuity of our faith.  That all ancient history points to the hinge of history, Jesus our Savior.

…that all religious practice, all rules, and law, all sacrifice and worship…ALL of it is trumped (if you will), superseded by a Superior Order, Jesus, the promised priest forever!

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CREDITS

The New International Commentary On The New Testament – The Letter To The Hebrews

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations used are so noted.

 

 

Christmas In October, Really?

Scripture Study – NUMBERS 24:17

Okay, it may be a bit early for a blog-POST about A “STAR” at Christmas, especially since I’ve been reading and studying in the Book of Numbers in the OT of the Bible.  I don’t believe in ‘happenstance,’ so before venturing down a dead-end road I prayed and asked God for some answers to the timing of this POST.  Why had God’s Spirit given me this particular verse at this particular time?

Here is how He answered my questions:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV Bible)

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So after meditating on God’s answer from His Word, I began to consider our Saviors birth and the details knowing that Jesus’ birth is amazing at any time of the year and not just during the Christmas holidays.

CONSIDERING THE DETAILS OF JESUS’ BIRTH…

Would we have planned it that way?  None of us would choose to lay our newborn in a trough where animals had fed.  I wouldn’t have.

BUT THAT WAS GOD’S WAY FOR HIS SON!

Maybe we would have thought, “Yea!  Let’s send some angels!”

Would we have sent them to no-name shepherds, out in the country where no one else could see them?  I wouldn’t!

GOD’S WAY IS NOT OUR WAY!!

But God’s Way Does Not Fail!

That’s something for us to take heart to, especially when tragedies in the world recently make us want to cry out,  “Why God, why this way?  It’s too hard for me to understand!”  But His Way doesn’t fail!

With that thought in mind, look closely now at this PROPHESY from NUMBERS 24.  I think you’ve heard this Prophesy many times before and you know how it’s fulfilled in JESUS.

But after looking at the CONTEXT of the verse, God’s Way becomes all the more AMAZING!

His Way Amazes!

This PROPHECY didn’t come about in the usual way.  It wasn’t spoken directly by the LORD when He promised the Savior to Adam and Eve or to Abraham.  The words weren’t unspoken by a BELIEVING PROPHET of Israel–Isaiah or Micah.  It was spoken by someone whom we would call a Sorcerer.  His name was Balaam, son of Beor.

As the story begins, the LORD had brought ISRAEL out of Egypt about 40 years earlier.  And now was the time to enter the Promised Land.

On the east side of the Jordan River, Israel’s armies had defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  So when the people of Moab saw this, they became terrified!  Can you imagine over 601,000 combat-ready troops approaching the city where you live?

Then king Balak, son of Zippor took action.  If the Amorites couldn’t stand against Israel, he figured he couldn’t either, so he tried another tactic.  He sent an envoy to Balaam, son of Beor in Pethor.  He wanted to employ Balaam to CURSE Israel.  If they were CURSED, perhaps the outcome of the battle would be to their favor.

That night the LORD told Balaam not to go and he sends the envoy back to king Balak the next day.  But Balak was persistent and sent more princes who were more distinguished and promised Balaam with even greater rewards.

That night the LORD allowed him to go, IF, and only IF, he did exactly what the LORD would tell him.  As Balaam sets out, he apparently had decided in his heart, not to do what the LORD would tell him.  You know, the old crossed fingers behind the back tradition.

The angel of the LORD stood in his way and would have killed him on the spot, except Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and went off the path around him.  Since Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he became angry with his donkey.  Finally, for the third time, there was no room for the donkey to go around and it sat down and Balaam beat the poor animal.

AND THEN THE DONKEY SPOKE:

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?  Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”  (Numbers 22:29 NIV)

And the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, agreeing to speak ONLY what the LORD told him.

Now King Balak readied seven altars with sacrifices in preparation for Balaam to curse Israel.  But instead of a CURSE, Balaam spoke a BLESSING instead since those were the words of the LORD.

King Balak had Balaam try again at another place and again he blessed Israel.

They tried a third time and instead of resorting to SORCERY as he had on previous occasions, Balaam continued to BLESS Israel as the LORD had told him.  By now, King Balak was furious!  But before he left, Balaam spoke some more words with a BLESSING and PROPHECY, including the Text for this BLOG-POST in Numbers 24:17 (NIV) – 

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A STAR will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.  He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

His Way Brings Hope!

People have looked to the STARS for hope throughout the ages past.  Ancient astrologers tried to predict the future from the Stars.  Modern science looks to the Stars to find new planets, a new hope when the earth is dried up.

Then we have celebrities, movie stars, and people look to them for hope and inspiration.  But how they disappoint!  All those different kinds of STARS are FALSE Hope.

But these words in Numbers 24:17 are spoken from such an unlikely source, these words were spoken almost three and a half millenniums ago, these words are THINGS spoken that don’t disappoint.

For God’s Ways Do Not Fail!

That STAR did come at the right time and was laid in a manger.

 

How many years had passed for God’s way to work out according to His schedule of GRACE, not our schedule of instant gratification.

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not now”

Numbers 24:17 (NIV).

Almost 1500 years after these words were spoken before THAT STAR came.

But He did come!  The LORD keeps His Word!  And that should bring us all HOPE.  Hope doesn’t disappoint or prove false.

For the LORD keeps His Promises.

In Moments of the Darkness of Sin…what does the Hope of the Star Bring?

How dark the night can be!  But even in pitch-blackness of night, doesn’t even compare to the DARKNESS of Sin… the shroud of DEATH.  And since everyone is born into this DARKNESS [Romans 3:23; 5:12; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5], our natural self-thinks that it’s normal.

But God didn’t make us be creatures of the night; rather, He wants us to be His children of the Light.  Now, this goes against our inherited nature.  We don’t want to be seen by others as naked; our hearts laid bare, our secret sins exposed, our self-imagined goodness.  We cling to artificial lights to make us feel good by our own efforts, running from the TRUE LIGHT.

BUT DARKNESS AND SELF-IMAGINED LIGHT….end in Death and Hell.  NO HOPE, NO JOY.  Only the weeping and gritting (gnashing) of teeth [Matthew 13:42].

BUT LOOK!  A STAR HAS RISEN!

And this STAR shines into the DARKNESS…THE TRUE LIGHT!

This Star has worked a marvelous change in you and me–that worked a NEW BIRTH in us– A REBIRTH!  We who had been born children of darkness, we were reborn:

John 1:13 (The MESSAGE Bible)

“The Life-Light was the real thing.  Every person entering Life, he brings into Light.  He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice.  He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.  But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.  These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.”

SO THIS STAR brings you and me HOPE!

He has shattered the DARKNESS OF SIN, bring the LIGHT of forgiveness.  Thar was God’s Way to save you and me, namely to send His Son into our DARKNESS, so that He took our guilt upon Himself and died in our place as the SACRIFICE for our sin, and so ransomed us with His blood.

How far above our ways!  God’s Way doesn’t fail!

His Way Prevails!

COMFORT comes with this Prophecy when it talks about the SCEPTOR.

God’s Way will not fail, for that STAR who shines into the darkness to SAVE US, is the SCEPTOR.  He, JESUS, is the KING who has redeemed us to be His people.

HE IS YOUR KING…for He ransomed YOU with His blood!

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He has conquered SIN, Satan, and Death for you, risen from the grave in Victory and Glory for you.

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He is the Almighty God and He reigns over all at the Father’s right hand.

I thought about that for a minute.  Think of it when said and done.  When a foreign King. a pagan Sorcerer plotted to undermine God’s plan for His people, the LORD used a dumb donkey to set things right.  GOD’S WAY DOESN’T FAIL!

He even used that pagan sorcerer to speak a wonderful promise of the Savior.  A PROMISE that stirs HOPE in our hearts still today…each and every day of the year.

So whatever you are facing right now, whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, look to the STAR in the manger. see His Scepter, follow Him in HOPE!

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Amen.

Philippians 4:7

 

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You might enjoy this Music Video at the end of this Blog-Post from YouTube:  A STAR IS BORN!  “Mary Did You Know?”

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), unless stated in the text.

The KEY to An Anchor In Any Storm is The Rope

During World War II, Ruth Caye Jones wrote the words and music to a hymn that was a simple, yet powerful song.  A housewife related that in the middle of her busy day she received spiritual inspiration–she wrote what God told her to write down.  The song was written in response to the daily stresses and strains of a woman and her family while living in uncertainty of worldwide upheaval and war.  [See Footnote [i] ]

Here is but one verse from The Solid Rock, Lyrics and music by Ruth C. Jones:

In times like these, you need a Savior

In times like these, you need an anchor,

Be very sure, be very sure

Your anchor holds and grasps the Solid Rock.

 

Sound like a familiar theme?

When it comes to our life…”In times like these” we need to have an adequate ANCHOR for our ship (life).  We don’t need to throw out the anchor all the time…only in storms. God is our ANCHOR, but He is NOT just a crutch or a help in time of trouble.

For many people He is…they only call on God when they need help.  God is so much more…

  • He’s our CAPTAIN to show us the way.
  • He’s our COMPASS to guide our way.

God is there with us when things are going well, to bring us closer to Him.

But in those STORMS, in HARD TIMES…He is there to be our ANCHOR; to protect us and keep us safe.

This all brings us to our Bible study in ACTS 27:18-44 –

For Mrs. Jones, it meant the horrors of war…the poverty of rationing which my mother tried to explain to me when I was a child…tears of those who lost loved ones in battle.

For us today, IMAGES like these, can mean many different things.  Maybe seeking public assistance for the first time…memories of standing in line at the unemployment office week after week.  Oh, how I remember those days.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be watching your marriage slowly fall apart…because of infidelity or external stress.

It may be dealing with the mounting challenges of getting older…diminished health and abilities…a sense of uselessness or at least being devalued.

The Apostle Paul and his fellow prisoners in the midst of facing the STORM–

All prisoners aboard are being transferred to another prison when a terrible storm accosted their ship.  These sailors were probably not rookies, but seasoned salts.  This wasn’t their first storm, so the fact that they were so scared gives account to the storm’s severity.

IT WAS BAD, they didn’t think they could survive, they were going down, and they were making preparations.  So they took ROPES and passed them under the hull and cinched them up to strengthen the ship against the waves.  They even threw the cargo overboard to lighten the load to allow the boat to float higher and take on less water.

VERSE 18 says they did the unthinkable:  “they began to throw the cargo overboard”

They threw the ship’s tackle overboard because they weren’t leaving anything to chance.  They were taking DESPERATE MEASURES!

The next day a few sailors were so frightened they attempted an escape in a life raft but the attempt was discovered by Paul and stopped by the ship’s captain.

At one point they took sounding…checked the depth of the water and discovered it was getting shallow.  At about 90 feet deep. they decided that was close enough to shore because to get any closer, it might cause them to be smashed on the rocky coast.

SO THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS AND PRAYED–(27:29)

I underlined in my Bible Acts 27:29:  “Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.”

The LAST thing they did was PRAY.

PRAYERS to God was the last-ditch anchors for them.  People who do that…never have Hoped in a storm.

The average depth of the Mediterranean Sea is 4900 feet.  Ships don’t anchor in water that deep, especially the ships of Paul’s time.  They only anchored in the bays and harbors along the coastline where the water is shallow.  I think the only reason they were anchoring at this depth was their FEAR of the storm and being run aground.

THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS…Why so many?

Was it because the STORM was so bad?  That’s what I thought at first reading.  But I don’t believe that was the reason.  The think the REASON they threw out FOUR ANCHORS is… each one did little good, so they thought there was safety in numbers.

Most of you know from pictures the design of an ANCHOR.

It is made with arms, some two, some more, and these arms are curved with points.

The points are to help the anchor bite into the bottom of the sea.  The deeper the bite or grab…the stronger their hold.  But because the arms are curved, it’s necessary for the ANCHOR to tip over to bite into the bottom of the sea.  If it doesn’t tip over it just slides along the bottom.  Have you ever felt in life’s raging circumstances you were just sliding along the bottom?

There’s more…

So as I see it, the PROBLEM for the sailors was not the STORM, and it wasn’t the ANCHORS, it was the ROPE!  The ROPE was too short!!

BECAUSE of the lack of rope, it wouldn’t allow the ANCHOR to tip and bite–to take hold–that’s why they used so many.

WE ALL HAVE A BOAT IN OUR LIFE…

We ALL get into storms…problems.

We ALL have an ANCHOR…God.

These are the same for ALL of us.

BUT…NOT ALL HAVE EQUAL ROPE!!!

Some have more ROPE than others.  What I’m getting at is, THE ROPE is your FAITH!!!

FAITH is the thing that connects the BOAT (US) with our ANCHOR (GOD)–

WE CAN ALL HAVE IDENTICAL BOATS WITH THE SAME ANCHOR and one holds on better than another.  That occurs because of the ROPE.  One has more rope and his anchor can tip more, bite deeper and hold stronger!

In MARK 9:24 I love the man who said to Jesus,  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  Using this passage of Scripture, he was saying, “Lord, I have enough rope (faith) for the shallow water (little troubles) so give me more rope so I can handle the deeper water.” [paraphrased]

I don’t know about you, but I certainly need more ROPE in my life at times.

That brings us to the other things God reveals in the Bible.  

I believe the sailors HAD MORE ROPE–enough rope to easily anchor at the depth of 90 feet…BUT wasted it!

Look at verse 17 in the Amplified Bible:

[17]  After hoisting it on board, they used supports with ropes to undergird and brace the ship; then afraid that they would be driven into Syrtis  [quicksands off the north coast of Africa], they lowered the gear (sails and ropes) and so were driven along. 

They wasted some of their rope, ROPE that would have allowed their ANCHOR to tip and grab and hold…they wasted it trying to SAVE something that was bound to perish anyway.  Paul had warned (Acts 27:10) that the ship they were on would be lost, destroyed.  But they took ROPE from the anchors and used it to try to save the ship.

RESULT:  Rope was too short for anchors.  The ship was lost anyway.

WE ALL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO LENGTHEN OUR ROPE…(FAITH)

When the sailing is smooth…more time to PRAISE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS, READ, MEDITATE, ETC.  That’s when we seem to have more time to devote to our FAITH.

HOWEVER–like the SAILORS, we waste time and the opportunity by using the TIME to try to tie up and protect the STUFF that is going to perish anyway.

We spend time…cutting grass that will grow back; watching TV shows that don’t matter and playing video games because there’s nothing else to do.

Am I saying we shouldn’t take care of OUR STUFF, or have any fun?  No, that is STEWARDSHIP.  What I’m trying to say is, we should use more of that time to get closer to God and let Him give you more ROPE so you can handle deeper water.

Look at the SAILORS…ROPE TOO SHORT–ANCHOR NOT HOLDING.

Look at Paul.  Paul’s ANCHOR was holding in the ROCK of God’s presence.

ACTS 27:23-25

For Paul, just having a WORD from God was enough to anchor him and give him blessed assurance.  He knew God was a PROMISE-KEEPING GOD!

Romans 4:21 (AMP):  Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

The ANGEL OF THE LORD that ministered to Paul told him of GOD’S PLAN (V. 24):

Acts 27:24:  ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’

PAUL’S ANCHOR WAS HOLDING IN THE FIRM FOUNDATION OF GOD’S POWER!

(v. 44)  …And so it was that all [276] escaped safely to land.

GOD HAS THE POWER TO DO ALL THINGS!

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the Lord, “thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  (Jeremiah 29:11 – AMP).

  • If God has the POWER to cause an ax head to float…2 Kings 6:6
  • If God can cause a donkey to speak…Numbers 22:28
  • If God can raise the dead…
  • If God can tell the thunder and lightning to stop…

HE CERTAINLY HAS THE POWER TO KEEP YOU AND ME SAFE THROUGH ANY STORM!!!

Why then did Paul’s ANCHOR hold and the Sailors don’t?

MORE ROPE (FAITH) –

In times like these, we need an ANCHOR.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the SOLID ROCK.

Is your ANCHOR holding?  Do you need more ROPE right now?

[Leave your answers or your comments in LEAVE A  REPLY box at the bottom of this page]

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Hymnspiration: In Times Like These by Sharon Hall/May 17, 2015.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in a Moral Fog

Being in a FOG
Being in a FOG

One Helicopter Pilot’s Story:

A helicopter pilot was flying over Seattle and got lost in the dense fog that rolls in from Puget Sound.  He emerged from the fog and had no idea where he was.  He could see a tall building nearby with people working at their desks, hovered the aircraft near one of the windows holding up a sign asking “Where am I?”  One of the workers wrote a response then held up a sign that said,  “You are in a helicopter.”  The pilot nodded his thanks and flew straight to the airport runway.  One of the passengers quipped, “How could that sign ‘you’re in a helicopter’ help you know where you were?”  The pilot said,  “Simple.  The answer that guy gave me was technically correct, but completely useless, so I figured that must be the Microsoft Customer Relations Building, so I knew where I was!”

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How Can We Know Right from Wrong?

Most of the moral advice today is found in magazines or heard on talk-shows which leads to more confusion.  So how about this advice:

“Let your conscience be your guide”

No, that’s not in your Bible.  Can you guess (no Google-ling please) the original source of the saying?  I thought it came from my mother when growing up; and she no doubt coined the saying from the 1940 Disney movie “Pinocchio”.

In the movie, Jiminy Cricket sang a song to Pinocchio in which he said,  “Take the straight and narrow path; and if you start to slide–give a little whistle, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Darn it.  I’ll have the tune embedded in my head while writing the rest of this post!

Can you let your conscience be your guide?

My answer?  YES and NO.

“YES” when you are really young, you should pay attention to your conscience, but as you grow older, we’re going to see dangerous things in letting your conscience be your guide.

Titus 1:15-16  (RSV):

[15] To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.  [16] They profess to know God but they deny Him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.

“To the pure all things are pure” – What does that mean?

Some people would like it to mean that one can engage in some sort of less than pure entertainment and not be adversely effected by it.  For example, some have said that they could view pornography with their own “purity” (?) that make their observations pure.  They suggest the only way one could be adversely effected by such must have a “dirty” heart (mind) to begin with.

So what is the apostle Paul trying to convey in this passage of Scripture?  Does it mean if I am “pure in heart” in every thing I do, will it be construed automatically as PURE?  Does it mean that a person’s lust, greed, immorality, cursing, cheating and lying are all “PURE” if the person committing them is pure within?  I think that anyone who is rational thinking and dedicated to pleasing the Lord knows better than that.

Spiritual Principles of a Pure Conscience:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines the English word “pure” in Titus 1:15 with the Greek word Katharos, “pure”, from the heart.  In the Greek, there are different words for PURE (“hagnos”); WINE mixed with water may be “hagnos” – pure, “not being contaminated”. But “katharos”, as used in verse 15, implies “when there is the admixture of any element even though the later is ‘pure’ in itself.”

Our English word “conscience” comes from two Latin words:  CON meaning “with” and SCIENCE meaning “to know”.  The New Testament word, sunelesis (Greek), means “to know together”.  Both words have the idea of “knowing with ourselves” or “knowing within ourselves”.

When it comes to MORAL DECISIONS, it means to “understand internally”.

Cain’s Conscience–

In Genesis 4, because of Cain’s outrageous anger, he kills his brother Abel.  Although this act was committed long before the Ten Commandments,  “You shall not murder”, Cain knew instinctively what he had done wrong.

Your conscience is to your soul what your nerves are to your body.  When your hand grabs hold of a hot pan’s handle on the stove, the nerves send a message to the brain: THAT’S HOT!  REMOVE YOUR HAND!

The same is true with CONSCIENCE.  Your conscience is like a warning light telling you what you are about to do is wrong…and if you do it, your conscience says, “See, I told you not to do that!”

Having a God-conscience:

People are born with a sense of right and wrong.  The Bible teaches God provided two solid proofs to point out His existence.

THE FIRST…an external witness of creation.

When you understand the amazing ans awesome order of the Universe around us, you are driven to admit to a higher intelligence that designed all this and created it!

THE OTHER WITNESS to the existence of God is an internal witness-conscience.  The fact that we are born with moral equipment called conscience.  It should prove there is Someone who determines the rightness and wrongness of our actions.  You don’t have to read a written law to know that stealing, killing, and lying are wrong; that’s something everyone instinctively knows.

Romans 2:14-15 says,

[14]  When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.  [15] They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them].  (Amplified Bible).

Your CONSCIENCE doesn’t make you do right, or wrong, but lets you know when your about to do wrong; makes you suffer when you have done wrong.

Moral Guidance is Contorted–

Our conscience is like a piece of sharp metal within our soul.  It has sharp corners when you are considering doing something wrong; corners that can stab you on the inside.

Filing the Edges
Filing the Edges

However, every time you ignore or deny your conscience, it files down the sharp edges of the metal of steel.  The next time you are faced with the same opportunity to do wrong, conscience stabs you again, but this time, the jab isn’t as sharp.  Over time, as you continually resist the words your conscience brings to mind, sharp edges are worn down until you seldom feel them.

The Bible says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.  They profess to know God but they deny Him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed”  (Titus 1:15-16).  

Have you ever told a lie?  The first time you told a lie you probably felt badly.  But the next time you told it, it became a little easier.  People have convinced themselves that telling a “little white lie” is not actually bad–everyone does it.  Their conscience has become “dulled”.

SO HOW DO WE COME OUT OF THE “MORAL FOG”?

Your CONSCIENCE must be transformed by JESUS.  If you and I could spend our entire lives listening to and obeying our God-given consciences we would live a perfect life.  But God’s Word tells us,  ALL sinned and we fall short of the glory of God.

Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever cheated or stolen?

Have you deliberately hurt someone?

That’s why ALL of us end up with a messed-up conscience.

Having a Guilty Conscience–

Samuel Langhorne Clemens–pen-name, Mark Twain struggled personally with his own guilty conscience.  In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, his struggles with conscience came out of Huck’s mouth:

“If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does, I would pison him.  It takes more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, no how.”

When you have a guilty conscience, seems like it’s hard to ignore–but that’s a good sign; shows your conscience hasn’t been completely deadened.

What Do You Do When You Have a Guilty Conscience?

Hebrews 10:22:

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”  (NIV).

The Bible teaches a guilty conscience is a dirty conscience.  It is like moral filth that you allow to accumulate and then. pollutes your soul.  And when your conscience becomes dirty, it always affects the way you look at yourself and others.

JESUS can do two important things for a “dirty conscience”:

#1.  Your CONSCIENCE must be cleaned by His blood.

When people have a “guilty conscience”, they do all kinds of things to get rid of their guilt.  Certain areas around the world people crawl on their hands and knees up steep mountains to reach a church altar.  Other people throw themselves into religious activities trying to get rid of their guilt.  But the Bible, God’s Word, teaches only one thing to clean a “dirty” conscience–the Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:14:

“How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?”  (Amplified Bible)

I have an old Hymn Book I keep close to my computer out of nostalgia from long days past and for reference in writing my blogs.  In writing this past week on  addressing our CONSCIENCE ISSUES that in living, we need to ask ourselves the questions a Hymn writer by the name of Elisha Hoffman asks:

“Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?  Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”  [from Are You Washed in the Blood].

#2.  Your CONSCIENCE must be corrected by His Word.

When you become a Christian,  “set your conscience to the Bible-Word of God”.

We READ in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word ALWAYS points you to JESUS.  He becomes your standard of right and wrong:

[16] ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;  [17] That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (KJV).

When you become a “true believer”; a follower of Christ Jesus, born-again of the Spirit–your determination of right and wrong no longer depends on your CONSCIENCE because you can’t “let your conscience be your guide”.  You come out of LIVING IN A MORAL FOG.

You don’t decide what is right or wrong on how you feel, because you have learned that feelings can be unreliable.  Your standard for MORALITY is NOT what the “majority” in SOCIETY are thinking.

THE “DOINGS”, the “DEEDS” PROVE THE LIE (Verse 16):

“They profess to now God but they deny Him by their deeds”

It is rather easy to talk about God.  The phrase “Thank God!” is probably expressed several million times across the land each day.  What a grateful God-fearing nation we must be!

We notice how at the Academy Awards, so many thanked God for their award.  But the fact remains while one may verbally use the name of God, this doesn’t mean they really know Him.  In fact, it is a false claim to say one “knows God” if they are disobedient to His Word by their deeds. John, the disciple of Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit had much to say about this (1 John 1:6; 2:4-6).  

The Scripture passage in Titus 1:16 says those who say nice things about God but will not submit to Him are:

“liars”

“detestable”

“disobedient in nature”

“worthless for any good deed”

That’s pretty strong stuff!

The Pure in Christ Come Out of the Fog–

“…in ALL THINGS, show yourself to be an example of good deeds with PURITY in doctrine dignified”  (Titus 2:7).

The godly man or woman teaches the TRUTH and dignifies it with righteous living (1 Timothy 4:12).  

In front of everyone we come in contact with daily, with a clear (PURE) CONSCIENCE, the proof is in the “doing”.  It is because of the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus we’re motivated to take a stand with a “pure conscience”, even if it is unpopular:

“And everyone who has this HOPE [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (1 John 3:3 AMP).

Here’s my last question:  Has the fog lifted, can you see the landing lights on the airport runway– can you see God?

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

–Matthew 5:8–

The Mud Between Your Toes!

A Muddy Adventure
A Muddy Adventure: A Horror Story of a Young Boy “Stuck In The Mud”–

A Horror Story Of A Young Boy “Stuck In The Mud”–

Kids do some pretty stupid stuff and call it an adventure.  The year was 1952, and I was invited by two friends… to go on a frog hunt.  How could I say NO to such an expedition; although I had no idea what I would do with ‘dead frogs’!

One of my friends had taken an old broom handle (about 5-ft long) and nailed a spear-fork on the  end–then find a frog and stick it with this magnificent Ozark frog spear.  The three of us then would ride our bicycles over hill and dale, riding against oncoming traffic on a busy California freeway .

WHY? There was a fishing/frog pond on the other side of the highway railing that was sure to be hiding… a 10-lb. frog–hey, I was a 10-year-old boy who had a vivid imagination!

There wasn’t much water in the pond during the summer, but plenty of cat-tails and tall saw-grass surrounding the stagnant water.  All three of us carefully crawled through the fencing, pulling the bicycles through after we were safe on the other side.

IT WAS TIME TO GO FROG HUNTING!

Edge of the MUD Pit
Edge of the MUD Pit

After spending forever  finding any frogs, we decided that just maybe…if one of us could wade out a little ways in the small pond, then someone on the pond’s edge could float the “frog-gig” out to one of us.  Perhaps then–we would be successful and if nothing else, brag to all those back home on how the biggest frog we ever saw got away.  I VOLUNTEERED and grabbed the end of the broom handle.

As I carefully waded out into the shallow, algae covered pond, and I quickly noticed– I had become embedded into the mud bottomup to my knees.  I couldn’t move and was stuck in mire.

At first, I was confident, that my situation was conquerable, but then…confidence soon left.  “HELP”, I yelled.  “I’m stuck in the mud.”  I heard a friend’s voice close by:  “Throw the frog-fork back to us and we will pull you out.”  What a brilliant idea I thought as I hurled the boy-made spear on to dry land.  But in turning around to heave the projectile, I sunk deeper into the muck.  I yelled out to my friends, “I think it is ‘quick-sand’.”  It’s amazing how a young boys minds can play tricks on him.  And you know, the same occurrence can happen in adult minds.

To make  a long story longer, the guys pulled me out of the mud safely by using the manufactured frog-sticker and after returning home I had a great story to tell the neighborhood (definitely NOT my parents), along with the evidence of dried mud– from my toes to my thighs.

An Adult Horror Story of Being Stuck in The Mud–

The prophets in the Old testament  all had this one thing in common“turn or burn.”  It wasn’t a very popular message with the people in Jeremiah’s day nor is it a popular message in churches today.  After all, we certainly don’t want to be repugnant to any visitors on Sunday mornings , do we?

Don’t ‘shoot the messenger’–

In reading the story of Jeremiah’s ministry I found something troubling that happened to him–troubling for us 1000’s of years later:

JEREMIAH 38:1-6 NIV–

SHEPHATIAH SON of Mattan, Gedalia son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said,  [2] “This is what the LORD says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live.  He will escape with his life; he will live.’  [3] “And this is what the Lord says” ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’  [4] Then the officials said to the king,  “This man should be put to death.  He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in the city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them.  This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”  [5] “He is in your hands,”  King Zedekiah answered.  “The king can do nothing to oppose you.”  [6] So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern [dungeon; pit] of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.  They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”

We break in on the story that is outlined more completely in the previous chapter.  We see what the people did when they didn’t like the message.  When the message isn’t to our liking, the tendency is to ‘shoot the messenger.’  And Jeremiah got caught in the cross-hairs, so-to-speak.

Looking where JEREMIAH ended up–In the Mud!

An Ancient Cistern
An Ancient Cistern

JEREMIAH was put into an empty cistern-maybe even an empty well.  After the city being besieged for a some length of time, the city’s source of water storage had run dry!  But whatever the case, the bottom had revealed some unpleasantness.  Down there, where Jeremiah found himself, was a horrible slimy pit!

Probably all of us have been in slimy mud at some time in our lives.  Fortunately, Jeremiah didn’t have to stay in that predicament for very long:

Jeremiah 38:7-13 AMP–

[7]  Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian [a Cushite], one of the eunuchs who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon or cistern pit; and while the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin,   [8] Ebed-melech went out of the king’s house and spoke to the king, saying,  [9] My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, who they have cast into the dungeon or cistern pit; and he is liable to die of hunger and is [as good as] dead in the place where he is, for there is no more bread left in the city.  [10] Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying,  Take from here thirty men with you and raise Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon or cistern pit before he dies.  [11] So Ebed-melech took with him and went into the house of the king [tp a room] under the treasury, and took along from there old rags and worn-out garments and let them down by ropes into the dungeon or cistern pit to Jeremiah.  [12] And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah,  Put now these old rags and worn-out garments under your armpits under the ropes.  And Jeremiah did so.  [13] So they drew up Jeremiah with the ropes and took him up out of the dungeon or cistern pit; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.”

WHAT ARE YOUR ‘MUD HOLES’, YOUR ‘SLIMY PITS’?

We ALL have them.  We all have those places let down into life which are not as pleasant as we would like them to be.

WHAT ARE YOURS?

— Maybe it’s your health–it isn’t what you would like it to be.

–You might have an ongoing or developing health condition to be lifted from you or you’d like to be lifted out of the mud pit, as Jeremiah was.

— Maybe your ‘mud pit’ is some family problem or problems that plague you!

— Your ‘slimy pit’ might be that of too few dollars at the end of the month–this is a common one in these days, for several reasons and not all of your own making.  You’d like to be lifted out.

— Maybe your ‘mud-hole’ is a poor teacher you have at school, you want to be out of that class to a better teacher.  You know you’ll be lifted out at the end of the school year, but that seems like a long way off, yet.

— Your pit might be older age–the ‘golden years’ that have tarnished and you hadn’t anticipated that to happen.

— Perhaps unemployment or underemployment is your ‘cistern’, your ‘dungeon’.

I know that you’ve at least one ‘pit’ that you are in–we all do!  We ALL have the mud between the toes; we’ve had themwe will have them–they are part of our lives.

How do you feel about your ‘pit’, and how well are you handling your ‘pit’ of trouble?

I’m sure you wish for someone to come along like they did for Jeremiah–somebody like Ebed-melech and remove you–lift you completely out of the MUD!  I was sure glad when one of my 10-year-old friends helped me get out of the ‘slimy’ mud-pit.

Some dungeons are pretty awful–I know that all to well: “too few dollars, unemployment, sticky family situations and much more.  You wrestle with doubts sometimes in the dark of night, in the privacy of your own thoughts.  Sometimes you doubt God and wonder about Him, why you’re in this muck and mire.

Psalm 34:18 says,  “The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.”

He Looked Up!

All Jeremiah could see from where he was at was a circle of blue!  

He looked down from where he was, and watched the mud ‘squishing’ between his toes, wondering how he had ended up at the bottom of a slimy pit!

We’ve Got to Start Looking Up–Right From Where We Are!  It’s A CHOICE–

Some things we can learn from the bottom of a pit– the best view from where you are is UP.  Or, the other choice is to glare at the mud at the bottom.  But that’s depressing.

You can also focus on the stark, barren walls that surround you in life.  But, the footholds aren’t there and that’s discouraging.

And the choice of looking up can help you to see God in all His glory, with His outstretched hand.  You know too often, God is an afterthought in the good life.  When everything is going well–great job, healthy kids, loving spouse–you figure you deserve it.  After all, you’re a nice person, you’ve worked hard all your life.  And God doesn’t really enter the picture outside of the ‘mud-pit’.

Sometimes things take a turn for the worse!

This is in order for us…many times,to discover the truth.  David acknowledged in Psalm 121:1-2:

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence shall my help come?” 

“My help comes from the Lord,  Who made heaven and earth.”

And so, if being in the pit teaches us to rely on God continuously, then it’s a cheap lesson.

IN THE MEANTIME…WE SOMETIMES ENJOY THE MUD BETWEEN OUR TOES and ALL OVER!

The WORD DETECTIVE in 1943
The WORD DETECTIVE in 1943

It’s easy when you are in a pit, looking around at the dark walls, and down at the murky bottom and think:

—  This is it, things will never get any better.  I might as well just give up and die!

—  The health care system is the “pits”; my child won’t get the care he deserves!

—  The economy is the “pits”; I’ll never get another job!

“Poor me, Whoa is me!”

That is the sound of mud oozing between your toes–you keep on, keeping on, wallowing in [verbally confessing] it.  In fact, you can even get use to the darkness, the mire, the slime–  telling everyone who asks you, “How’s your life treating you?”  You respond…”I’ll be fine, thanks for asking.”  And under your breath, “I wish people would just leave me alone.”

“Look Up” and see the blue sky!

You can look beyond the bottom of the pit, beyond the prison walls–see where you could be and should be.  Visualizing what it will be like out of the pit, walking around enjoying the sunshine, getting on with life.  You can’t dwell on the negative forever–well actually…you can!

“Look Up!” at the “WHATEVER s”–

Paul says something that has given me courage down in the mud:

“Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]”  (Philippians 4:8 AMP).

Remember, it could be worse!

As Jeremiah found out by looking up, you learn who your friends are or who they aren’t.  Who in your life is your Ebed-melich?  When your down…when things are the ‘pits’…find out who your friends really are.

The philosopher William Nelson once wrote:

You’ll Always Have Someone

And if you ever find,  That fate is unkind,

An’ the devil starts takin’ his dues.

When your fair weather friends,

Leave when fair weather ends,

There’ll be someone waiting for you.

And if there are no friends waiting for you at the top of the pit, keep in mind Jesus’ words:

“I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing.  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father”  (John 15:15).

The PROMISE given in Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am persuaded beyond doubt that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,    Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of god which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t know your pit, but I know our God:  “…be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  [I will] not,  [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!”  (Hebrews 13:5 AMP).

Getting the Picture Yet?

God didn’t forget Joseph when his brothers had left him a pit…

God didn’t forget Daniel in the pit of a lion’s den…

And He won’t forget you, no matter how deep and dark your pit seems.  So, it’s time to LOOK UP!