All Posts Tagged: Jeremiah
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
All of creation is content to be what it was made to be, except man. Fish flourish in water. Ants are not depressed about their size; they are productive, building massive colonies. We waste time aiming at the bull’s-eye on someone else’s board, pursuing a race we were never equipped to run.
Let God, not you or the culture, define you and your distinction. You are His masterpiece. There are more than 7 billion people in the world, but no one exactly like you. Nothing about you is a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes. He took extreme care in sculpting you with everything you need for accomplishing His purpose. When God created you, it was with a predetermined course in mind, an assignment just for you. “Everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him” (Colossians 1:17). Because you are His creation, it’s important that God defines you and no one else. You will be tempted to forget this from time to time because so many competing forces want that opportunity: you, your family, friends, coworkers, enemies, and the media. You must resist them all. If you don’t, you will never become all God intended you to be. I admit it’s easier to adapt to someone else’s concept of you, accept that label (even if it’s negative), or mimic a friend than to spend quality time developing an intimate relationship with the only One who knows why you are here in the first place. Quality relationships always take work.
Before you were born, God selected your parents, your intellect, your looks, your race, your gifts, and your talents. Your mother may have told you that you were a mistake. Maybe for her, but not for God because He doesn’t make mistakes. It doesn’t matter the circumstances of your birth, planned or unplanned. God was not caught sleeping that day. You were in His mind before you were born. God told Jeremiah: “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” (Jeremiah 1:5). Notice that Jeremiah did not stop God mid-sentence to tell Him about his dreams or visions for his life. He didn’t ask God to orchestrate his long-held desires. Jeremiah recognized that the sovereign God of the universe, Who created everything, and Who knows everything about everything, was speaking. Jeremiah’s Creator told him, “I knew you before the sexual act occurred that created you. I set you apart because I have a distinct assignment, an appointment for you.”
Those words don’t only apply to Jeremiah. Yes, the assignment was specific, to be a prophet at a particular time to a particular people, but the God of Jeremiah is living today and does not change. He has a specific role for you. It may be in your home, on your job, in your neighborhood, or on the world’s grand stage. It is uniquely crafted for you. He ordained that you would be alive now to accomplish it. What I love about letting God define us is that what He has in mind is usually more massive and exciting than we could ever imagine. Our race, gender, looks, pedigree, intelligence, natural abilities, and age cannot hold us back when we are in sync with His purpose. There is no greater joy than knowing that you are right where God wants you to be, doing exactly what He had in mind for you. —Cheryl Martin, Distinctly You
Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)
In the last post in this series, we learned that whereas the Father “is the ultimate source of all things,” Jesus is the Father’s construction agent. The obvious next question is: how did Jesus do it? How exactly did He construct the cosmos? What did He use to get the job done? The answer is simple but exceedingly profound.
“God is the One Who used His power and made the earth. He used His wisdom and built the world” (Jeremiah 10:12). The foundation of what IS … is God’s power and wisdom. I suspect that you understand the word “power.” Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki? However, the word “wisdom” is a bit more difficult to grasp, especially from the Hebrew perspective. We’re more acquainted with “knowledge,” the accumulation of facts and figures.
So, check this out: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have specifically chosen Bezalel. I have giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is able to design pieces to be made from gold, silver, and bronze, to cut jewels and put them in metal, to carve wood, and to do all kinds of work. He’s a master at every craft!’” Bezalel’s profile captures the meaning of wisdom. Get the point?
Now, here’s profundity—“Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” As Father’s construction agent, Jesus himself is God’s power and wisdom at work in building and sustaining the universe. Just as the Sistine Chapel is a display of Michelangelo, the Creation is a grand display of Jesus! The material world is jam packed with His power and wisdom!
Meister Eckhart said: “Every creature is a word of God.” Here’s an illustration: a mandarin duck. What you observe in design and coloration is a display of Jesus, the Word! Perhaps we should learn to utter this simple prayer of Michelangelo: “Lord, make me see Thy glory in every place.”
The people of Capernaum heard that Jesus was at home. Jesus was still teaching when four people came, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. Because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above Him and let the man down in front of everyone. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, He said to the crippled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. (Mark 2:1-12)
“Four people came, carrying a paralyzed man.” There are times when we’re spiritually paralyzed, unable to get ourselves to Jesus. Consider David’s words: “I am sinking in deep mud, and there is no solid ground; I am out in deep water, and the waves are about to drown me. I am worn out from calling for help, and my throat is aching. I have strained my eyes, looking for Your help.”
Jeremiah also described the condition: “He shuts me in so I’ll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. Even when I cry out and plead for help, He locks up my prayers and throws away the key. He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He’s got me cornered.”
And, the great apostle Paul said this to the church at Corinth: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”
At such times we need others to carry us to Jesus. We need others to bear our burdens—“Carry one another’s heavy loads. If you do, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This is the time and place wherein Christian fellowship is tested. Will we do what Jesus did?
This is the story and testimony of John Tesh; yes, THE John Tesh. Listen carefully because someday YOU may be spiritually paralyzed!
Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.
Elijah (1 Kings 19:3-5)—Terrified, Elijah quickly ran for his life. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life!”
David (Psalm 22:1-2)—My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to You, my God, but You do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Solomon (Ecclesiastes 2:17-20)—This made me hate life. It was depressing to think that everything in this life is useless, like trying to catch the wind. That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth.”
Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:20)—I gave up on life altogether. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.”
Paul (2 Corinthians 1:8)—We do not want you to be uninformed about the troubles we experienced in Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.
Elijah, David, Solomon, Jeremiah and Paul—these were heavy hitters in the realm of faith! YET, they experienced and expressed deep emotion! Conclusion: faith and feelings are not mutually exclusive. Emotion is part of the original human package. Look at the Model: “Jesus saw Mary weeping, and He saw how the people with her were weeping also; His heart was touched, and He was deeply moved. ‘Where have you buried Lazarus?’ He asked them. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they answered. Jesus wept” (John 11:30-33).
“To ignore, repress, or dismiss our feelings is to fail to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit within our emotional life. The gospel portrait of the beloved Child of Abba is that of a man exquisitely attuned to His emotions and uninhibited in expressing them. The Son of Man did not scorn or reject feelings as fickle and unreliable. They were sensitive antennae to which He listened carefully and through which He perceived the will of His Father for congruent speech and action.” —Brennan Manning
Here’s practical advice for balancing faith and feelings: “Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may stumble and frequently fall, endure lapses and relapses, get handcuffed to the fleshpots and wander into a far county. Yet, they keep coming back to Jesus” (Manning). Why? “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” —C.S. Lewis
Check back next Friday as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.
I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables expresses the experience of many of us. Watch the video and then ponder the rest of this post…
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I prayed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
And they turn your dreams to shame
Still I dream he’d come to me
And we would live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed
Believing “there was no ransom to be paid,” Israel had “used and wasted” their God-given dream.” “Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this? This is crazy! Isn’t this your father who created you, who gave you a place on Earth? (Deuteronomy 32:5-6). Then a tiger [Babylon] ravaged their hopes, leaving behind a hellish existence of shame and regret. And yet, “God told them, ‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. So I’ll start over with you and build you up again, dear Israel.’” “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and hope—never forget that. I will bring you back to the place that is your rightful home” (Jeremiah 29:10-14).