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.

BREAKING CAMP

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  2 Corinthians 5:1-9

Growing up in Southern California brings back fond memories of summertime camping with the family.  My dad was a city fireman for over thirty years and because of his work schedule of 24 hours on duty/24 hours off, he would have as many as three days and sometimes five off, plus accrued vacation time which led to many camping trips during many summers.

Setting up the Campsite was always an adventure. 

Dad had to find the exact spot for the tent location.  He knew that the preciseness of location was a must or my mother would have him move the location to her liking.  The men (my dad, and brother), all three of us, would call my mom a ‘picky camper’!; the campsite had to be near the restrooms with hot and cold showers AND… the site had to be neat and clean for the entire stay.  Oh, and a clothesline was always stretched between two pine trees near the picnic table to hang out damp washcloths plus any wet bathing suits and towels brought back from the local swimming hole at the nearby river.

Don’t forget the rake! 

Mom wanted my brother and me to take turns in raking the campsite every morning after breakfast, then hook up the nearby hose to settle the dust in front of the tent.  “NO DIRT IN, OR ON THE TENT!”

The sad part in all of this…eventually, we had to leave and break down the campsite.  Although mom wanted the trip to be enjoyable for all, she also wanted her experience to feel like,,, let’s say, clean, tidy, and like home sweet home.

“But Mom, it’s all just temporary!”

WE LIVE IN A WORLD COMPOSED OF THAT WHICH IS ONLY TEMPORARY.

For,  “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  (1 Peter 1:24-35, NIV Bible)

ALL will eventually fade and pass away.  Only that which has its foundation built on and in God and in His Word will live on.

DWELLING IN TENTS –

The TENT should remind us of the TEMPORARY NATURE of things which we deal with.

Abraham in the Bible Lived in a Temporary Tent but looked for a Lasting City [Hebrews 11:8-10].

BEDOUIN TENTS:

  • They were portable.
  • They were protective.
  • They were durable.
  • They were temporary.

The Hebrew Nation dwelled in TENTS but looked for a HOMELAND.

Marvin Wilson, a noted author remarked, “Israel’s religion might be called a ‘pup-tent’ religion.”  [See Footnote [i].]

The Israelites traveled for forty years in the wilderness and in doing so, they dealt with the “temporary” to achieve the permanent–Canaan, the Promised Land.

Each Year the Feast of Tabernacles is a Reminder.

It might surprise some, but Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles as well.  On the last day, “great day of the feast”, He stood in the Temple and cried out:

John 7:37-38 (NIV)

[37]  On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  [38] Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

God Lived in a Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) but Longed for the Heart of Man (Exodus 29:46) –

The Tabernacle was a CONTRAST to the magnificent temples of pagan gods that surrounded God’s people.  When God laid out the CAMPING PATTERN for the Hebrews, the TABERNACLE was at the center while the twelve tribes camped around it in the shape of a CROSS.

That may be incidental, but God did teach them that He was in their midst–in the very heart of the Campsite.  Their lives flowed from Him and He taught them this arrangement would only be temporary.

Even the TEMPLE would picture the TEMPORARY–

God permitted the Temple that King David had proposed to build but the Tabernacle had been sufficient:

2 Samuel 7:5-7 (NIV)

[5] “Go and tell my servant David, This is what the LORD says: Are you the one yo build me a house to dwell in?  [6] I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day.  I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.  [7] Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

The TEMPORARY was made visible when the VEIL in the Temple was torn (“rent”) from top to bottom at Jesus’ Crucifixion [Matthew 20:50-52].

God was mourning His Son–symbolized by the “renting” of His garment.

God was changing His residence [1 Corinthians 3:16, AMP] –

[16]  “Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?

God dealt with the TEMPORARY to establish the PERMANENT [Jeremiah 31:31-34].

JESUS momentarily lived among us but looked for His Father’s EVERLASTING house (John 1:14) –

JESUS’ brief LIFE was but 33 years…His brief DEATH…3 days.

In the interim until His return, He’s preparing a PERMANENT PLACE in His Father’s House [John 14:1-6].

Jesus dealt with the TEMPORARY to establish the PERMANENT and we live in the Short-term but should look to the Eternal.

That brings me to some QUESTIONS for all of us to ask ourselves:

  1. HOW MUCH TIME, EFFORT AND ENERGY DO WE PUT ON THE TEMPORARY?
  2. HOW MUCH TIME, EFFORT AND ENERGY DO WE SPEND ON THE ETERNAL?

(2 Corinthians 5:1-5) – LIFE IN TENTS

Especially notice what Paul is saying in the verses here.  He says, “For we KNOW [not we hope for or we expect or even that we believe] that if our earthly house of this TABERNACLE were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  This is a very positive “KNOW”.  Paul knows because of the fact that the Holy Spirit has made it real to him.

The Word “TABERNACLE” – (Translations – ERV; AKJV; ASV; DBT).

The word for “tabernacle” is skene, meaning “tent”.  That’s the same word that was used for the wilderness tabernacle on the Old Testament in the Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament into the Greek language.  The Old Testament tabernacle, a skene, a tent.  It was a flimsy sort of thing.

That thought brought me back to my CAMPING DAYS as a young boy and as a father raising my own children believe or not.  Setting up a TENT in the middle of the day was hard enough, much less at night by car headlights as once happened in the pouring rain.  At the time, I was thinking, I hate tents!  No privacy, there always seems to be small rock poking my back in the floor of the tent–right where my sleeping bag lies.

I like CAMPING IN TENTS, but only for a short time, not for weeks on end.

So it’s a little disconnecting to hear how the apostle Paul describes life in this world, as a TENT CAMPING TRIP that lasts your entire life!  For we must KNOW that if this TENT that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a HOUSE not made with human hands, but an eternal home in the heavens.  For in this tent of ours, we GROAN longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.  We don’t often think of LIFE like this, do we?

We hurt at times, reminders that our earthly bodies are TEMPORARY structures: sore joints, aches, pains, diseases, you name it!  We can resonate with that language especially as we grow older as we GROAN to put on the heavenly dwelling!

But at the same time, even as we look forward to our heavenly body, TENT LIFE is still a little scary, because one day, for each of us, hearts will stop beating, and lungs will stop breathing, and the CAMPING TRIP is over.

TIME TO BREAK CAMP and it’s then we’ll be glad that we have another home!

2 Corinthians 5:6 [Amplified Bible]

So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised to us].

Let’s be honest that many times we feel completely at home in our bodies [“tents”] and they’re all we’ve known.  I know every scar and can point directly to moles on my back that I’ve never seen with my eyes.  However, as long as I’m at home in this body, I’m absent from the Lord.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight”  [2 Cor. 5:7].

Paul explains that we WALK BY FAITH–We take God at His Word.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather take His Word than anyone else’s word.

FAITH is taking God at His Word.

Remember, who you are, that the soul never dies; the soul goes to be with Christ as a true believer–the ‘overcomer’.  It is the physical body that’s put to sleep. 

It’s the BODY that must be changed–TRANSFORMED [1 Cor. 15:51-53].

RESURRECTION doesn’t refer to the SOUL or the SPIRIT.

The English word RESURRECTION is the Greek word “anastasis”, meaning a “standing up.”  It’s the BODY which will stand up.

Knowing these things, we WALK BY FAITH.

Being Ambitious [2 Cor. 5:9, AMP].

“Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him] or away from home [and with Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him.”

The Greek word “philotin” is “to esteem as an honor”.  It is the same Greek word which is translated “study” in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV).

[11]  To make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you”

Be AMBITIOUS to mind your own business!

We should be Ambitious, LABOR, study. “to esteem as an honor” in such a way that we will be accepted of Him.  I’m not talking here about “works”.  This isn’t AMBITION to become a great somebody but to do our very best to PLEASE God.

Being ACCEPTED in Christ.

Being accepted in Christ is my…your standing before God at the “judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).

God sees me in Christ, and He is made for me ALL that I need:

  • WISDOM & RIGHTEOUSNESS.
  • SANCTIFICATION & REDEMPTION.

[see 1 Corinthians 1:30]

HE IS MY PERFECTION – I am COMPLETE in Him!

You can’t add anything to COMPLETENESS.

True believers have Christ, and we are accepted in the Beloved.

ACCEPTED in Christ Jesus the standing that ALL BELIEVERS have before God.

But to be ACCEPTED of Him is a different thing.

This has to do with our present state and refers to the way we are living our lives.  Are we living in the “tent” of ours for Christ’s sake?  Are we “ambitious” to live in acceptance of Him?

To be AMBITIOUS to be accepted doesn’t mean that we are to crawl over everybody and step on top of them in order to get to the top of the heap.

God gave His Word to the prophet:

Jeremiah 45:5 (NIV)

“Should you then seek great things for your self?  Do not seek them.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.”

That’s putting it plain enough don’t you think?

There are no guarantees in this world aside from the Grace of God.

This is what we hold onto in the storms we face here on this earth.  The TENTS of our lives get tattered and worn out, and they get blown about by the winds of struggle and conflict, and they get drenched by storms of tears and heartbreak and then get covered with the dirt of sin.

But we have a PROMISE to stand on that gets us through the storms.

And that PROMISE is, I’m going to have a glorified body [house] someday that will make a mansion look like a worn out tent, and my God has already paid for it in full!

KNOW THIS & STAND ON…

  • THAT OUR GOD IS GOOD.
  • THAT THE CROSS HAS CHANGED US.
  • THAT THE EMPTY TOMB WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.
  • THAT GOD’S GRACE WILL NEVER DESERT US.
  • THAT WE HAVE THE UNSHAKEABLE BUILDING AHEAD OF US, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS!

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CREDITS  & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Quote byMarvin Wilson, author of “Our Father Abraham – Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith.”

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Bible TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or as noted in the text.

Commentary:  Sermon Notes from Jerry Shirley on 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 – Sermon Central.

Photo Images:  Google Image Search – settings, advanced.

 

 

When Is “Enough”, Enough?

6a011168574e19970c01539046a676970bI was in a local pet store one day, wandering up and down the aisles, looking for the unusual, when I heard a constant rattling…almost annoying sound.

And the mystery was revealed.  HAMSTERS running in their little wheel as it spinned, running with all their might, but never getting anywhere.  They are running, the wheel is spinning, but nothing else changes.

In my close observation, I knew the spinning wheel is there for their exercise, but I wondered if the hamster might be thinking to himself when the wheel starts spinning,

“Yeah, I’m on my way now. Nothing can stop me.  I’m breaking out of this joint!”

The HAMSTER follows his trails in the cage, runs in the spinning wheel, giving everything he’s got, only that he hasn’t moved from inside the cage where he’s trapped.  There is nothing he can do to break the cycle on his own because there is a much more powerful, larger being, with vastly more intelligence already determined how his life will be spent and where he will go.  Sad commentary if you are a “pet” lover.

Many times, I too have felt like the little hamster;  I’m running in circles like the hamster but never getting anywhere.

That brings me to the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 2:1-3:

[1] THEN WE turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord directed me; and for many days we journeyed around Mount Seir.

[2] And the Lord spoke to me [Moses], saying  [3] You have roamed around this mountain country long enough; turn northward.

I want to direct you to look at a story presented in Deuteronomy; of a people in God’s Word that were caught in the same spinning wheel of life.  They seemed to be going nowhere because they had lost direction and just kept running in the same circle.

stock-photo-illustration-of-wheel-121045525

God had plainly set their path but for nearly 40 years they were on a journey to…how should I say it…NOWHERE!

Finally, the day came when they realized they didn’t have the answers; they had no true direction; and that someone greater than themselves had to direct their path if they were ever going to be anything other than mindless runners on the spinning wheel of life.

The sad part is that countless thousands had died in the process of running in circles while never finding the real meaning of existence, dying in a vast wilderness with their dreams and hopes lost forever.

God had made a way when He delivered them from the SLAVE PITS of Egypt.  A way for them with a greater PURPOSE, A DESTINY that would change their lives forever...IF… they would only follow His direction and remain FAITHFUL to His Purpose for their lives.

But FREEDOM has a price; and TRUE FREEDOM demands limitations.  Freedom without limitations becomes ANARCHY, which I see happening in our city streets today.

TRUE FREEDOM can only be found by following GOD’S PLAN; and everything else only leads to another form of SLAVERY; either to SIN within ourselves; or to the controlling hand of someone else who will dictate to us the conditions of life.

We will truly need a FIRM FOUNDATION to rely on; that won’t be shaken or changed with a determination to ‘stick to it’!  Of course, the only TRUE FOUNDATION is found in Jesus Christ, our Savior and the Word of God that will never fail, nor ever change.

Psalms 37:23-24:

[23] The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].

[24] Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.

God never promised us a PATH without a few falls.

In service, in ministry to the saints or to the surrounding community.  He never said that life would be easy, not facing problems.

What He did PROMISE was that we would never be forsaken and even when we fall, the Lord will keep us by His hand.

God ALWAYS provides a way for FREEDOM to reign and for the VICTORY to be won if we just keep on, keep’n on in following Him.

ISRAEL began their journey; but they had much to learn, and so God predetermined them to take a long journey to get to their final destination:

Deuteronomy 2:1

THEN WE turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord directed me; and for many days we journeyed around Mount Seir.

03990_000_bible-photo-2

From the pits of BONDAGE in Egypt, relating to our DELIVERANCE from the grip of SIN under the hand of Satan, Israel proceeded into the WILDERNESS, and area called Mount Seir where they wandered for many days, in fact, for 40 years.  They just kept going around in circles, moving their camp many times along the way.  Sometimes staying in one place for a few years, and then moving to another when the water ran dry, or the grass was gone for their animals.

I wonder how many times ISRAEL experienced a deja-vu moment in their wanderings?

How many times did one Israelite look at another and say,

“You know, I think we’ve been here before.  Something about this place looks familiar and I know I’ve climbed this mountain before.  I feel just like we are running in CIRCLES and nobody knows which way to go.”

I see the same thing happening in the world today.

Mankind has no clue of direction; history just keeps repeating itself and we don’t learn the lessons of the past.

The PATH has already been laid in front of us and we begin to wonder in our own understanding leading us to nowhere.  Our world has lost its way; no man has the ability to LEAD the human race to a place of perfect peace and safety; and every day the race just gets faster while the destination more obscure.

The same thing happens in the CHURCH as well, for we are the church.

Christians often express their concerns and just keep running in circles, never accomplish what they want to in their lives.  I know this to be true because I have been there before.

That place in MINISTRY where doubt and a critical spirit raises its ugly head...A MOUNTAIN blocking the progress of my journey.  Every day seems to end in disappointment and frustration because nothing ever seems to change.

Some of us struggle with the same old self-created HABITS and the WHEEL is spinning; we are trying as hard as we can but nothing is changing.

Let me give some encouragement in the Lord if you are in this position of “wheel spinning”–going around in circles.

Just keep on running, but run where God tells you to run.

The BAD HABITS may be A BAD TEMPER; A CRITICAL SPIRIT (I’m guilty!); LACK OF SELF-CONTROL…etc.

The BAD HABITS start out as mole hills and become mountains because we won’t quit talking about them.

In effect, we just keep CIRCLING Mount Seir just like Israel did for all those years.  The march goes on, time passes, but nothing seems to really change.  When is “Enough” enough?

And the LORD spoke to me saying, “You have roamed around this mountain long enough; turn northward”  (vs. 2, 3).

Things began to change for ISRAEL, and all the things in your life are changing as well.

Sometimes the CHANGE happens so slowly its unnoticeable at first, but eventually the CHANGE will be great.

Israel’s attitude changed one step at a time.  With each step forward they drew closer to the end of their journey.  Like the old saying, “How do you begin a journey of a thousand miles? By taking the first step.”   

And so it is with our walk with JESUS.

Those whose FAITH is too weak, fall by the wayside as the SEED of the gospel stolen from the heart; they will die right beside the path of life.

But the strong in the LORD, those who ‘sell out’ to God; serve Him with all their heart, mind, and soul and will remain FAITHFUL to the end; they will not only SURVIVE the JOURNEY…but will become VICTORIOUS over ALL THINGS!  (Luke 1:37)

God doesn’t give up on His people.  Though many never saw their PROMISE LAND; never occupied that land; God never forsook ISRAEL.

God won’t give up on you or me either!!  We are going to WIN the battle.  Romans 8:37 says, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him [Jesus] Who loved us.”  Have you ever heard of a “CONQUEROR” who ever lost a battle?  If they did, then they wouldn’t be called “conquerors”.

Whatever you are going through right now, you are going to OVERCOME this mountain in your life; if you just remain FAITHFUL until the race is won.

It’s time to quit circling around MOUNT SEIR.  Enough is enough!  Move on!!!

The ISRAELITE’S backs were facing the Promise Land, meaning they were going the opposite direction where God intended them to go; so God turned them around and placed them back on the right path.

The name “SEIR” means holiness; and they were wandering for 40 years just learning to be holy people unto the Lord!  Without HOLINESS–no man can see the Lord and you can’t see the PATH to walk in.  You are walking BLIND.

Now I began to think deeper about Mount Seir; how that it could represent some of the great mountain ranges in our lives that we must overcome.

I’ve already mentioned some of the HABITS which you, no doubt, have already mentally added to.

All of these things are just huge MOUNTAINS that seem to loom over us with DOUBT, and FEAR, and maybe SHAME.

So how do we get rid of that mountain (s)?

If you had to move a mountain and there was no way around it, or through it, how would you do it?  You would start by moving one rock at a time.

Just like you begin a journey of a thousand miles with one step–you move a mountain by moving one rock at a time.

Moving Mountains, One Rock at a Time
Moving Mountains, One Rock at a Time

Now sometimes you can speak to that mountain and YES, God can and will move some of the mountains out of your way.

BUT…there are MOUNTAINS in our lives that we are going to have to work on ourselves. Maybe for a lifetime.

Those MOUNTAINS are there for a purpose and you just have to keep moving them–one rock at a time until they are behind you instead of in front of you.

The TASK of OVERCOMING your mountain may seem impossible; but then that’s where God begins to work for you (Luke 1:37).

He makes the IMPOSSIBLE possible and He will not allow you to be overcome!

Banana-Oats-Fitness-Cookies-Howie-in-the-mountains

In your struggle to move your mountain, you will have times when you feel like you’re finally WINNING THE BATTLE!

Then suddenly…you find yourself in a pile of rock rubble, wondering if the VICTORY will ever come.

I have experienced this in my own life, finding myself in the “rubble” of CRITICISM.

I may go on for days, weeks, without being critical of someone or some thing.  But just when I think I’ve overcome it, here it comes again.  Often, my beloved wife of 51 years will give me that look without saying a word, knowing that I’ve lost my way–again!

But little by little, one STONE at a time, that MOUNTAIN is coming down.  I believe that most of my mountain has been moved; but there are still a few rocks and yes, boulders, that have to go.

We still have a lot of MOUNTAINS to move in our Christian lives.  None of us have cleared them all.  The KEY is to remove them and not just keep CIRCLING around them.

Never accept the excuse that “That’s just the way I am.  I can’t help it!”  That is a cop out!

We can’t allow ourselves the luxury of CAMPING on the wrong side of the MOUNTAIN forever when VICTORY in Jesus can only be found on the other side.

REMEMBER what the Lord said to Moses and the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 2:2,3…

“You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go North” (The Message bible).

What mountains are you facing as you read my thoughts in this blog-study?  

Whatever it is, you can begin dismantling it right now!  Give it to JESUS; seek His help. Why move it alone?  You can do ALL THINGS through Christ Jesus, who strengthens you, but you have to let Him lead.

I am moving my stones right now!  What are your STONES?  There is no better time than right now to move NORTH!!

IN JESUS’ NAME

 


Photo Credits:  Photo Pin and Google Images.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

Are You SEARCHIN’ FOR DIRECTION IN YOUR LIFE?

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SEARCHING FOR DIRECTION IN LIFE?

One of my favorite singers of the past, was the late Dusty Springfield along with Dionne Warwick: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin‘. What was the lyricist “prayin'” for?  To find, search for LOVE, perhaps in all the wrong places?  Perhaps, but in doing so, frustration must have set in to the “thinkin”.

My search for some answers, begins with finding and knowing God’s will in my life; the search for direction–thus, the question presented in the title for this weeks BLOG.  Not in your life necessarily, but in mine.  Hopefully. in reading this post, you will find and know God’s will more clearly in your life too!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Bible).

DOING GOD’S WILL WITH A SMILE –

Before doing God’s will…we need to know before the “doing”, “HOW DO I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS in any given situation of my life?”

The answer I found, isn’t really complicated.  There are steps in the process like everything else in life.

We live in a “I want it now society”, and patience in knowing, is not a virtue of ours.  Yeah, we might know the words found in Galatians 5:22-23 (“THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”)…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…but living with them, applying Holy Spirit’s gifts…that’s not something most of us seek on a daily basis.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t…just, most of us don’t!

FINDING THE ANSWERS IN THE RIGHT PLACES:

How can we find the WILL OF GOD for our lives?  If we don’t follow God’s will for us, we will pay a heavy price in facing the negative consequences.

GOD wants to know His will for your life–

If you’re NOT a believer in Jesus Christ, NOT placed in a saving faith in Him, you’re out of the will of God!  He desires that ALL come to repentance, faith, and to be born-again.

GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 40:8:  “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

“LAW” (or His Word) = WILL OF GOD.

Example:  We know through reading the Word of God that marrying an unbeliever is NOT God’s will for our lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  God tells us in His Word, ‘Don’t get the cart before the horse’ in new relationships in dating.  Your desires may just precede God’s desire in your life.  And that’s not His will.

THE FIRST and PRIMARY WAY of knowing God’s will for your life…

You are unsure in making an important decision in your family; changing jobs, changing locations because of your job, financial commitments, and you don’t know where to find the answers in your Bible.

If you don’t know where to find your particular circumstance in God’s Word, and don’t have a BIBLE CONCORDANCE, invest in one.  SEARCH for it in God’s Word.  IMPATIENCE might just lead you in the wrong direction.

 1.  God wants us to be WHOLE and NOT SICK…

[2] And behold, a leper came up to Him (JESUS) and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.    [3] And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying,  “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured.  And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed  (Matthew 8:2-3 AMP).

2.  Knowing God’s Will for us is Not to be Poor and in Debt…

More than Enough!
More than Enough!

God wants us to have enough so our needs are met and we give to others in return.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender”  (Proverbs 22:7).

God’s Word also tells us, to those who might be struggling making ends meet in this economy, one reason why He sent His Son into this world:

[JESUS speaking] …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

The “overflow” is much more than “just enough”!

3.   GOD doesn’t want us to be DEPRESSED:

HIS WILL for us is to be happy (to “enjoy life”), full of joy!  (Philippians 4:4)

“REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS, definesDEPRESSION” – dishearten, dejection, lowness, worthlessness.  

If you are feeling in a state of constant depression right now…it’s NOT God’s will for your life!

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us.  But just knowing where to find thee TRUTH and not claiming and receiving God’s will for our life is another.

So, how can we know the specifics, the details of GOD’S WILL?  Our Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, doesn’t tell us who to marry, even if we are following God’s will.  E.g., disciples in the boat–“Let us go over to the other side.”

4.  Through the PEACE OF GOD:

“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts, since members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful”  (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

“RULE” =  “BRABEUO” (Greek word)  [Footnote [i] ].

This verb is found only in this verse and expresses the underlying sense of “having the role of greatest influence.”  The Amplified Bible says PEACE, [“acts as umpire continually”.]

Just as every sport that has disputes, they must be settled by the officials, the PEACE OF GOD as the umpire, settling all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives.

THE PEACE OF GOD is always “umpiring” in our hearts, but we don’t always pay attention to it.  Sometimes, we even go against the PEACE of God in our hearts.

As you sit in the presence of God, be still, take a “time out”, consider all the options, discerning the will of God by the PEACE given to your heart (Psalm 46:10).

5.  DISCERNING correctly what the Lord is trying to tell us–

Lining the Lights Up…

Aligning Things Up!
Aligning Things Up!

There was a certain harbor that was treacherous and dangerous to enter.  In order for the captain to guide his ship safely into the harbor, he had to be attentive to three lights used to guide him.  When all three lights lined up as one, he knew it was safe to proceed.  Then, and only then, would he bring his ship safely to port.

As we seek GUIDANCE, we too have to be attentive to “THREE LIGHTS”…to guide us into the harbor of His will:

~ The WORD of God,

~  Our outward circumstances,

~  Our inner conviction.

When all three of these Lights line up, we can then proceed with assurance, of being led safely into the harbor.

6.  God’s Will Revealed Through the Word of Knowledge and Prophecy:

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:8 AMP).

“…to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]”  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL with this!  Whatever is being revealed should be tested and consistent with the Word of God.  We shouldn’t take others words blindly, but we ourselves should test what the other person has said in respect to what God says (His will) from His Word (Scripture).

God does speak through audible voices sometimes (friends and family).  We have to DISCERN whether we’re listening to God’s voice, or someone elses.

Good intentions…

If we are receiving a word of knowledge or prophecy from a person, we should know and make sure that particular person that’s speaking to our issue is living a godly life too.

But it is possible for some true servants of God to NOT LISTEN to the Lord correctly.  In that case, they should tell you clearly they are not sure.

PROPHECY is not fortune-telling.  We’ve got to be careful of this.

“What should we DO to know God’s will for our life?”

Romans 12:1-2 KJV:

[Verse 1]  “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your responsible service.

[Verse 2]  “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

This “renewing” is not a  one time experience, but a daily reminder in every decision and circumstance we face in our lives.  In order TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, we need to…

OFFER OUR BODY (who your are in your spirit–our whole being) as a LIVING SACRIFICE, living holy lives.

KING DAVID came upon the scene of a threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Araunah as commanded by the Lord.  When Araunah saw the king coming, he went out and bowed himself down before the king.

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you; to build there an altar to the Lord.”

What Araunah did next seemed to me a honoring gesture as he offered the king everything he had for the altar of sacrifice–of worship and praise.

But David refused the offer in saying to Araunah,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my GOD of that which cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24).

“What’s that particular story have to do with knowing God’s Will for my life?  There is never an offering, a sacrifice of worship, praise or anything else that doesn’t cost you something.  After paying the price, according to God’s Will in the circumstances, David made the offering.  He knew God’s will in this matter because of the Word of his LORD GOD.

The RESULTS OF KNOWING and APPLYING THE STEPS:  

So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and Israel’s plague was stayed.”  (verse 25).

PHILIPPIANS 2:13:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

GOD gives us the DESIRE to do His will and…He also enables us to do His will.

ILLUSTRATION:

A young man entered his church one Sunday morning where he started praying before the service began.  He was so anxious to find God’s will for his life that he took out a piece of paper he kept in his bible, writing down all the things he was going to do for God.

He started to PRAY that God might revel to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.

God whispered in his ear, “This is not the way I want you to find My will.  All I want of you is for you to sign your name and leave the paper blank for Me to fill in.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credit:

Photo Pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOY Is The Flag Flying Over My Castle

“JOY is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that the King is in residence today.”  ~ William Knight.

A REVELATION:

I and my wife are die-hearts when the Olympic games come every four years and the XXX Olympiad in Great Britain was no exception.  We spent hours watching American television commentary on the variety of events presented.  But what I really enjoyed was seeing London’s historical landmarks and the surrounding countryside.

I particularly was interested in one historical fact and custom: When her Majesty the queen was in her residence, the royal flag was raised and flown over the castle signifying her presence.  Now this detail might be ‘old hat’  to the native citizens but to an uninformed American…it certainly was revelation to me!

The Revelation to John:

“Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies–the church] the word of this prophecy; and blessed are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near”  (Revelation 1:3 AMP).

HAPPINESS IS AN ILLUSIVE THING:

Happiness or JOY is hard to hold on to at times with all the things that are happening around us and our family.  Tim Hansel observed,  “If you have to move even ten inches from where you are now in order to be happy, you never will be.”

Another writer spoofed,  “You should do something every day to make other people happy, even if it’s only to leave them alone.”

It might surprise you some that The Book of Revelation begins with the word BLESSED=Makarios- Greek word, meaning “large, lengthy” and hence denotes “to pronounce happy, blessed.”  You might be thinking right now, How in the world can this prophetic book make us happy?  One answer might be because it reminds us that our King is on the throne!

Believers Should Be Joyous/Blessed By This Book.

“John to the seven assemblies (churches) that are in Asia: May grace (God’s unmerited favor) be granted to you and spiritual peace (the peace of Christ’s kingdom) from Him Who is and Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven Spirits [the sevenfold Holy Spirit] before His throne.” [verse 4]

“And from Jesus Christ the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead [first to be brought back to life] and the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth.  To Him Who ever loves us and has once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood.” [verse 5]

(Revelation 1:4-5 AMP).

Because it’s God’s revelation.  God speaks to His Church in His Fullness:

GOD THE FATHER IS,

THE ONE WHO IS !

THE ONE WHO WAS !!

THE ONE WHO IS TO COME !!!

Literally our Father is,

THE ONE BEING

THE ONE WHO ALWAYS WAS and…

THE ONE WHO KEEPS ON COMING TO BE !

Back to (verse 3) for OUR RESPONSE–

God has revealed Himself in His fullness and His church responds with JOY (v.3).  OUR JOY (blessedness), comes from understanding and practicing what God has to say about Himself.

We are BLESSED when we read the words.

The word READ comes from the Greek word anaginosko (Vine’s COMPLETE Expository Dictionary).  It primarily means “to know certainly, to know again, recognize.”  In the little Dutch town I live in: Lynden, Washington USA, there is an old saying “If you’re not Dutch you don’t know much.”  I know and certain that no matter what the weather is like tomorrow, the sun will certainly rise!  That is anaginosko!

The word is often used in the New Testament in reading the Bible in PUBLIC WORSHIP.  1 Timothy 4:13, the apostle Paul says,

“Till I come, devote yourself to [public and private] READING, to exhortation (preaching and personal appeals), and to teaching and instilling doctrine.”

This isn’t READING for the sake of just reading.  Years ago in the public school system, we had a Weekly Reader program that earned points for the most books read.  Since volume was all that mattered, most students picked all the short books that a person could find.  They weren’t reading for understanding.

Christ’s Church is BLESSED in reading His words carefully.  In the same way we are BLESSED when we HEAR the words.  That WORD means to hear with understanding:

“This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand.  [13] 

In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says:  You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive.  [14]

For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them.  [15]

But BLESSED (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear.  [16]

Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men [men who were upright and in right standing with God] yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”  [17]

(Matthew 13:13-17 AMP).

The MESSAGE wasn’t just for His disciples!

We in the church are also to keep those things which are written in our hearts.  The church at Sardis READ and HEARD God’s Word but failed to keep it (Revelation 3:3).

The emphasis of the words are two-fold:

1.  UNDERSTANDING.

2.  CONTINUATION.

ALL 3 words are Present Participles–

We are BLESSED and full of JOY if…we keep on reading, hearing, and keeping of these truths.

JOY IN KNOWING HIS PURPOSES [verses 5b-8].

His Purpose in the Past (VERSE 5):

“To Him Who ever loves us and has once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood.”

Not only is God’s character revealed here but so is His PURPOSE:  CHRIST LOVED US!  Jesus is the picture of God’s love for us:

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even]

gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in

(trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him

shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have

eternal (everlasting) life.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to past sentence on)

the world, but that the world might find salvation

and be made safe and sound through Him.

Matthew 3:16, 17

Comprehending, Understanding the Extent of God’s Love for us.  (Ephesians 3:17-19 AMP):

“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!  May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.  That you may have the POWER and be STRONG to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it].  [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!”

After reading those verses in Ephesians, if that doesn’t make you joyous, then you must be dead!  You better pinch yourself just in case.

HIS PURPOSE IN THE PRESENT  (VERSE 6):

According to the words in Revelation 1:6, Christ Jesus has made His Church “kings and priests.”   TRUE BELIEVERS should be happy by this knowledge!  If you are lacking confidence in your faith right now, being a king or priest in God’s Kingdom NOW…should make you want to scream and shout with self-confidence.

Matthew Henry says this about Christians, overcomers:

As kings, they govern their own spirits, conquer Satan, have power…

with God in prayer, and shall judge the world.

He hath made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them

to enter into the holiest and to offer spiritual and acceptable

sacrifices…and for these high honours and favours they are bound

to ascribe to Him dominion and glory for ever.

HIS PURPOSE IN THE FUTURE (VERSE 7):

Christ is returning for His Church!  The timing might be debated but the FACT of His coming back is not debatable!!  Why is He returning for His overcomers?  Because we know He loves us; He washed us from our sins, made us a part of His Kingdom and we will gladly receive Him.

Christ’s Church.

We look forward to Christ’s return because His revealing will be our revealing:

“The Spirit Himself testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.  And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also; heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.  [But what of that?]  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!”  (Romans 8:16-18 AMP).

We know JESUS lives inside of us and we will live forever but the world can’t see that.  How BLESSED will be that day when what we are on the inside will be revealed to ALL the world to see on the outside.  While the Church is BLESSED with JOY by the thoughts of Christs’ return.  The LOST WORLD will mourn with His return because they rejected Him (Revelation 6:15-17).

Does the thought of God being with you bring you JOY or FEAR?  Your answer to the question reveals what your RELATIONSHIP to Him is.

One Final Question to Ask.

Are you finding JOY in your walk with God, or are you chasing happiness in the things that you can never truly be satisfied with?