Everyone Has A Story
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
Everyone has a story. Some of us get the chance to share it. Some of us never do. God started our story long before we were born, before we were conceived, before the foundations of the world. While everyone has a story, many of us don't get to live our own story. Why is that?
Some people don't get to live their own story because they would rather live someone else's story. Instead of talking about their own experiences, they get into the conversation only by mentioning what someone else has done. For example, "My sister went to Hawaii last year." "My cousin shops at that mall." "My mother can bake a good chocolate cake." Do you know people like that? They talk about everybody else's experiences and accomplishments, but they never share their own story.
Some people don't get to live their own story because they put their lives on hold while they make sure someone else is living his or her dream. For example, a single parent chooses not to take that college course because she is sending her son to camp for the fifth consecutive summer. A couple doesn't go on a well deserved vacation because their teenager wants his room remodeled. Another person can't buy that suit she wants because she is sending her spouse to medical school.
We claim we will do what we want to do only after we help others do what they want to do. When we spend our entire life sacrificing for others, we never get to live our own life.
Everyone has a story. Don't take your story go to the grave with you. Don't let your tombstone bear this inscription: "An Unfinished Life." Live your own life. Have a story to tell...not through your family or friends, but through the life God has given YOU!
Destiny Defined and Described
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)
Everyone has a destiny. Our destiny didn't just start yesterday. Destiny is God's predetermined course of events for our life. According to Jeremiah 1:5, our destiny was established BEFORE God formed us in the womb. That means our destiny is older than we are. Our destiny is woven within us. Our destiny is part of our makeup. Our destiny is in our DNA. Our longings can never be satisfied until we begin working toward our destiny. Many people become sick, depressed, or stressed out because they are not fulfilling their own destiny, So often people try to live out other people's destiny while leaving their own destiny lacking nutrition and nourishment.
Some people confess late in life that they still don't know what their destiny is. Believe it or not, everyone has the same destiny and that destiny is to help God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. However, God gave us different ways to fulfill our destiny based on our individual personalities, attitudes, likes, dislikes, habits, gifts and talents. People, circumstances and resources gravitate to us when we work toward our own destiny.
If everyone would do what everyone was designed to do, then God's plans and our destiny would coincide. Let's do our part to fulfill our own destiny! And in doing so, we will fulfill God's purpose for our lives and for the world!
The Relationship Between God's Word and Your Prayer
Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it." (Jeremiah 1:12)
Since God watches over His word to perform it, you should pray according to the word of God. If what you are praying for doesn't line up with God's word, then there is no need to pray for it.
If you are praying for a specific thing (and you should be), then go through the entire Bible and find every instance that relates to what you are praying for. Then pray those scriptures back to God. Your prayer becomes the "living" word in your mouth. Commit yourself to praying the scriptures to approach God with His own unchanging, unfailing word.
God watches over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12), and His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). He will make sure whatever He says will come to pass. And if your prayer is what God says, then your prayer will be answered.
Make sure what you are praying for lines up with God's word. Then God will watch over it. After all, it is His word.
Return to God
"Return, O backsliding children," says the Lord; "for I am married to you." (Jeremiah 3:14)
People who have walked with God but who have later chosen to turn their backs on Him are called "backsliders." The word "backsliding" is used 13 times in Jeremiah. God calls backsliders to repent and return to Him. The word "return" is used 47 times in Jeremiah. Notice the ratio. God wants His children to return to Him. He wants backsliders to give up whatever is separating them from being in an intimate relationship with Him. God says "I am married to you."
Absolutely nothing needs to separate you from God's love . . . except your choice not to receive it.
God Wants You Back
"Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married to you." (Jeremiah 3:14)
In the midst of Israel's turning away from God, He tells them He wants them back. Even though He refers to them as backsliding; yet He calls them His children.
Backsliding is a term meaning to gradually falls away from what one has learned to be truth and "slip" and "slide" back to the way one used to be, doing those things one used to do and going those places one used to go. This process of turning back does not happen all at once; thus the term "backsliding." One act of disobedience can cause a chain reaction and before you know it, you have slipped and slided into a situation so deep you think it is impossible to get out of. And you are right! It is too deep for you to get out of on your own. You need help from the One who still calls you "Children." You need help from the One who is still married to you. For God has said, "I want you back."
Therefore, "Turn, O backsliding children; for I am married to you."
Break up your fallow ground . . . (Jeremiah 4:3)
It's spring and nature shows its beauty. However, because of this winter's below average temperatures and snow-filled days, conditions are ripe for an abundance of potholes to form this spring. Potholes are formed when moisture seeps into the pavement, freezing, expanding, and then thawing. This weakens the pavement. Traffic loosens the pavement even more, and it eventually crumbles and pops out. This is an excellent analogy of life.
Have you ever been minding your own business and something occurs causing you to stumble slightly? That's a pothole! Have you been experiencing the grace of God, the love of Jesus and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit and suddenly without warning, somebody does something to you to cause you to be sidetracked? That's a pothole! Have you been worshipping God, praising God, and experiencing God's presence and you get a telephone call with bad news to make you think something is going wrong in your life? That's a pothole!
Just as you will see many potholes this spring, there comes a time in every life when we will experience potholes. Are we to change directions just because of a pothole? Are we to give up driving because of potholes? Are we to call our bosses and say we are not coming to work until the potholes on our routes are fixed? Indeed not! What, then, do we do about life's potholes?
We do the same things with life's potholes as the Department of Transportation does with potholes on the road. The pothole is carved out with a jackhammer or masonry saw to create a neat rectangle. Once the excess asphalt is shoveled away, an adhesive is applied and asphalt is added in layers. It is leveled off and compacted with an asphalt pavement roller. First, let's admit there is a pothole in our lives. Then let's take the advice of Jeremiah and break up our fallow ground so we will be in the position to plant again. Let's use life's potholes as an indication that God doesn't want us to get comfortable and complacent. The bumps in our lives should tell us something.
Roads with high traffic volumes have more potholes than others due to the sheer amount of use. We who are working in the vineyard are likely to experience more potholes than those who do nothing. Even though potholes are unexpected, unwanted, and inconvenient, we should not let a little old pothole keep us from doing the work of the Lord.
Show me a life without a pothole, and I'll show you a life that is not moving in the Kingdom of God.
Pleasing GodWhat do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me. (Jeremiah 6:20)
How One Decision Can Affect Many
Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back. (Jeremiah 4:28)
Have you ever thought about how one of your decisions can affect many people; even people you don't know? Throughout the Bible, men and women made decisions that changed the world. Adam and Eve made a decision to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That decision brought sin into a world. (Genesis 3)
The first murder was committed when Cain made a decision to kill his brother because God accepted Abel's sacrifice but not Cain's. (Genesis 4) Abraham became the Father of Many Nations when he decided to accept God's command to leave home and go to a place God would show him. (Genesis 12) Later Sarah made the decision for Abraham to sleep with Hagar. Abraham's one decision to act on his wife's decision changed the world. (Genesis 16) The impact of that one decision still impacts us today as evident by the two ongoing wars.
When making a decision, consider who will be impacted by it. Know that no decision you make affects only you. It affects the feelings and future of others. Make wise decisions. One decision you make today could affect not only you but also many others for years to come.
Some people go overboard doing the wrong things trying to please God. They think God wants this and that. Sometimes they busy ourselves with things that do not please God at all. Some people involve themselves in evil all week and on Sunday they "sacrifice" just enough to God to make themselves feel better.
What then can we do to please God? God Himself said, "Obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22). It is better to be obedient to God than to try to atone for having disobeyed Him. It pleases God for us to honor Him with our obedience than with our rituals.
If you want to please God, give Him your heart.
Birds of a Feather
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. (Jeremiah 8:7)
Thanksgiving is just a few days away, so there is only one bird on everybody's mind: a turkey. A proverb says, "Birds of a feather flock together." However, during your Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey on the table is not going to be the only bird around. There will be lots of other birds sitting around the table that you will have to mingle with. Even though you are not of the same feather, for a few hours you still have to flock together.
God has a special interest in birds. There are over 300 different birds listed in the Bible. Since God loves beauty and variety, there are more than 9,000 different species of birds on earth. There are land birds, water birds, tropical birds, birds of prey, perching birds, game birds, birds that sing and birds that fly. More than likely, you will have no problem getting along with the cooked bird on your table, but how are you going to relate to the living birds sitting around the table? How can all birds flock together on Thanksgiving even though they are not of the same feather?
First of all, each bird must know that it is a bird.
Then each bird should know its own characteristics. All birds are not all alike. The ostrich can run extremely fast up to 50 miles per hour, but the ostrich cannot fly at all even though it is a bird. All birds can't sing like the mockingbird, robin and hummingbird. Some birds have beautiful colors on the outside that make them stand out such as the blue jay and peacock. The swan is a water bird that is graceful and beautiful on the outside, but its skin underneath the white feathers is extremely ugly. There are nocturnal birds such as the owl, but it is not the wisest as most people think. The crow is the wisest bird. The raven is the longest living bird who has lived up to 69 years.
Birds belong to the same categories because they are birds, but they are quite different. Here are some interesting facts about birds. Some birds can fly as high as airplanes. Geese have been seen flying over 29,000 feet. The fastest flier is the eagle that can fly more than 100 miles per hour. The largest bird is the male African ostrich that grows to over 8 feet tall and could weigh up to 300 pounds. The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird in Cuba that is 2 inches long and lives in a nest the size of half a walnut shell.
After your turkey dinner, you might not feel light as a feather or as free as a bird. You might chatter like a parrot, or even talk turkey, but try not to end up eating crow. If you have to work the next day, you might have to go to bed with the chickens because you have to get up when the rooster crows to go to work to get a feather in your cap because you don't want to appear to be a bird brain since your boss always give you goose bumps when he is around. Just don't call in sick and give the boss a cock and bull story that you got sick when you put duck sauce on your turkey. To him, your excuse will be like water rolling off a duck's back. Anyone can see that this is just a bird's eye view of the types of birds, unless of course you are as blind as a bat.
God is the greatest bird watcher of all. And He knows every bird (Psalm 50:11). Remember to give God thanks as you celebrate this Thanksgiving with the turkey on the table as well as the flock around the table.
Isn't Knowledge Enough?
This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Isn't it enough to know about God, Jesus, and the Bible? Isn't having knowledge enough to please God? Knowing about God is NOT the same as knowing Him personally. We get to know others by their human wisdom, power, kindness, and riches. God, however, puts a higher priority on knowing Him personally and living a life that reflects His justice and righteousness.
Knowledge of Jesus is NOT the same as obeying and having allegiance to Him. Knowing about Jesus does not guarantee eternal life. You must do more than know that Jesus is the Son of God. You must honor, obey and surrender to Him and let Him become the Lord of your life.
Knowledge of the Bible is NOT the same as obedience to its message. The Word of God must be in the heart as well as in the head. Knowledge is NOT salvation or obedience. Knowing the Bible is important, but obeying the Bible and its author will bring you into right relationship with God.
Isn't knowledge enough? No, it isn't! Knowledge must be combined with Allegiance and Obedience!
Running With Horses
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? (Jeremiah 12:5)
It is simply amazing how some people buckle under the slightest trial and/or test. Even though life can be hard for us at certain intervals of our lives, we must hold on to every bit of faith that we can muster. Life was extremely difficult for Jeremiah despite his love for and obedience to God. When Jeremiah cried out to God for relief, God's reply to Jeremiah was, "If you have raced with the foot soldiers and have become weary, how are you going to complete with horses?" God's reply in effect was, "If you think these relatively calm conditions are bad, how are you going to cope when things get really tough?" In other words, "If you get tired while running with the foot soldiers, what are you going to do when you have to compete with stallions?" The ultimate question to Jeremiah was, "What are you going to do in severe trials that are sure to come?"
Are you keeping up with the foot soldiers? Are you getting weary? Can you run with horses? Those who have confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should be able to stay in the race even when the going gets tough.
Prophet or Priest?
Both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not. (Jeremiah 14:18)
Do you know the difference between a prophet and a priest?
A prophet is a person who speaks TO the people FOR God. A prophet receives his call directly from God. The prophets Jeremiah and John the Baptist were called before birth to become prophets (Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:13-16), and their authority came from God alone. There are many prophets in the Old Testament; however, there are only four major prophets and twelve minor prophets with books bearing their names.
A priest is a person who speaks TO God FOR the people and conducts various rituals to atone for the sins of the people. In the Bible, priests had to be born into a priestly family. Every priest could trace his lineage back to the tribe of Levi and descendants of Aaron. (1 Chronicles 23:2; 24:6, 31) There is no longer a need for priests because Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice once and for all to bear the sins of the world. (Hebrew 9:28)
Summary: In the Bible a prophet approached the people as a representative of God. The priest approached God as a representative of the people. We, today, can approach God on our own because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
Pain Mixed With Joy
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name; O Lord, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)
We encounter pain in our lives sometimes by the hands of others and sometimes by our own wrong choices. One of the most encouraging revelations found in the Bible is that God may not remove our pain instantly, but He will balance it with His joy.
No matter how our painful situation occurred, God has truly promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). Also, God shows us how to shortened our time of pain. Find out what God has said about your situation. Find His words and feast on them. The word of God will become a joy and the delight of your heart. Your pain will become mixed with joy...God's joy. Then the joy of the Lord will be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
The quickest way to find relief while in a terrible situation is to read, study, and meditate on God's word and by doing so you will find your pain mixed with joy for a short period of time. Then God's joy will dominant your situation completely.
Strength, Fortress, and Refuge
O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress . . . (Jeremiah 16:19)
In this prayer, Jeremiah addressed God with three distinct names: strength, fortress, and refuge. Each name gives a slightly different glimpse of how Jeremiah experienced God's presence. Each picture is of power, security, help, and protection. Let God be your STRENGTH when you are weak, your FORTRESS when enemies come against you, and your REFUGE when you need to retreat from life's pressures.
Or perhaps you have other needs in your life. Call on God using the names of your own particular needs.
A Matter of the Heart
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
As much as we try to do what's right for the right reasons, only God understands what's in our heart and what our true motives are. "The heart is the most deceitful thing there is, and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is. Only the Lord knows! He searches all hearts and examines deepest motives so he can give to each person his right reward, according to his deeds--how he has lived" (Jeremiah 17:9-10). God makes it clear why we sin and do evil things--it's a matter of the heart.
If we could see a spiritual x-ray of our own hearts, we would be so ashamed. We would see how clogged and corroded our hearts are because of our evil deeds and thoughts. Every thought finds a resting place in our heart and becomes our motive for what we do. Therefore, if our heart is pure, our motives will be also. Whatever we do, let's ask ourselves if we are doing it for the right reason. Do you really want that job or did you apply for it just to keep someone else from getting it? Do you want that new house because God has placed it on your heart, or do you want it for other reasons?
Since we cannot know the motives of our hearts, like David we should constantly pray, "Create in me a clean heart; renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).
Open Season For A Heart Replacement
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Oh, how we wish we could see what's in our own hearts. Oh, how we wish we could see and understand what's in the hearts of those we love and care about. That's an impossibility! We do not know what's in any heart, but these are the things we know for sure: Every heart is deceitful above all things. Every heart is beyond cure. And no one can understand it. Oh, how we wish we could.
Modern technology has made it possible for expectant mothers to have an ultrasound where a sonogram shows the sex, weight, and other things about a baby months before the baby is born. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine lets physicians know what's wrong with an ailing patient. An X-ray can tell if a person's chest is diseased. A mammogram can tell if a woman's breasts are free of cancer. An electrocardiogram (EKG) can detect problems with the physical heart. However, there is no machine to pinpoint the disease of the spiritual heart, and no human physician can give a prognosis. However, the Great Physician sees what's in our heart and has concluded that the heart is wicked beyond measure and there is no cure for it. What, then, is the solution since there is no cure for it?
The heart cannot be repaired. The heart has to be replaced. God offers to remove the terminally wicked heart and replace it with a new heart. The old heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19) God can write his laws on this new, pliable heart.
Three of the four major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) all report the sinful condition of the heart. They all conclude that a heart transplant is in order for ALL of us. And God is the ONLY donor. Let's stop praying that someone's heart be healed. Let's stop praying that someone's heart be changed. Let's stop praying that someone's heart be repaired. Let's begin to pray for ourselves and others that God will replace ALL cold, sinful, wicked, and deceitful hearts.
It's open season for Heart Replacements! Those wanting a Heart Repair need not register.
The Heart of the Matter
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Whenever we buy a watermelon from the supermarket, we take a chance on the sweetness of it. Farmers in the field thump watermelons with their thumb and listen for a distinct sound to help them determine how a watermelon will taste. Sometimes farmers go so far as to cut a plug in the center of one watermelon in a group to determine if its heart is sweet. If the heart is sweet, it is assumed that the rest of the watermelons in that group will be sweet as well.
Don't you just wish you could choose your friends that way? Don't you wish you could sample a person's heart to determine the sweetness of it. Don't you wish you could determine what a person's heart is like so you won't get tangled up, twisted up or tied up in a toxic relationship? Some people are nice only on the surface. However, deep down at the core, at the center, at the heart, they are desperately wicked, evil, and vicious. And this description is not reserved for unbelievers only. Many Christians are hard hearted and mean spirited.
People aren't watermelons where we can thump them to hear how their heart will sound. We can't cut a plug out of their heart to determine how sweet it is. But when it comes to doing what Jesus would do, we should do likewise. We are commanded to love people...yes, even the mean ones! And maybe, just maybe, our love for them will cause them to love as well. (Proverbs 25:22)
Go out and buy a juicy ripe watermelon today. Better yet, go out and love someone whose heart isn't ripe.
Right Conduct and Right Motives
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 17:10)
Your conduct is what you do; your action; your behavior. Your motive is the reason for your actions. Some people excuse wrong behavior by saying, "My intentions were good." or "I didn't mean any harm."
Is God pleased with right conduct or right motive? God is pleased and rewards right conduct that stems from proper motives. Good intentions cannot excuse wrong conduct. On the other hand, righteous living that camouflages ungodly motives is hypocritical. God is NOT pleased with right motives and bad behavior. God is NOT pleased with wrong motives and good behavior. Right conduct and right motives must be synchronized.
The proper motive for righteous behavior is to do everything as unto God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
We Often Get What We Think We Deserve
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 17:10)
We might not be aware of it, but it is a kingdom principle that we often get what we think we deserve. Some people do not have the quality of life they could enjoy because they think they don't deserve better.
Successful people are successful because they think they can be. The students who make the highest marks on test papers are the ones who think they can. They erase the possibility that they can't do it. Usually on final examinations that I give, the last question is: "What grade do you THINK you deserve from this course?" Almost always without fail, the students get what they think they deserve. When their test scores fall a little below what they said they deserve, in most cases I give them the extra point or fraction of a point to push the grade over into that higher category...just because they were realistic in admitting they deserved it.
So you see, it pays to know what you deserve. When you know for sure, then God honors that by putting the right people and circumstances in your path so you can truly get what you think you deserve. God responds to your faith about yourself and never to your doubts.
What is it that you think you deserve? Recognize it and begin to act as if you already have it!
Shaped by the Potter
So I went to the potter’s house, and there he was working at the wheel. (Jeremiah 18:3)
Have you seen the child’s toy that teaches the child to learn the different shapes: square, circle, triangle, rectangle, etc.? No matter how much the child may push and push, the circle will not go into the shape designated for the square. No matter how much the child may push and push, the rectangle will not go into the shape designated for the triangle. We, as Christian adults, should
learn from that child’s toy.
Jeremiah learned that same lesson by going down to the potter’s house. He saw the potter mold and shape vessels into what he wanted them to be. The potter had complete control over the clay. Whenever there was a defect in the vessel, the potter would put it back on the wheel and reshape it until it was pleasing in his sight.
God does the same thing with us. He has the power to shape us to conform with His purpose for our lives. As we yield to God’s powerful hands, we become exactly what He wants to make us to be. God has molded each of us for a specific mission that He wants us to complete. We oftentimes do not allow ourselves to fit into the shape for which He has molded us. We push and push and allow others to push and push us into a shape that was not designated for us. Remember the child’s toy with the shapes. It is impossible to ever fulfill your purpose unless you fit into the mold God has shaped you for. While you are trying to fit into somebody else’s designated shape, your shape is left vacant.
Honor and accept the mission God has molded you for, and everyone will be pleased: God, yourself, and the ones waiting to be served by you.
Seeing God's Face and Not His Back
Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my BACK and not my FACE in the day of their disaster. (Jeremiah 18:17)
Why would God promise His own people the punishment of seeing His back but not His face? This was a figurative way to say that God would not help the people out of their coming troubles. Instead of seeing God's face as He walked toward them, they would only see Him walking away from them just as they had walked away from Him so many times in the past. In other words, God's action will be paralleled to the people's actions.
In this last day of the year, I would think of no better way to end it but by giving you this advice: If you want to receive God's blessings, you MUST act in accordance with His commandments so you will be able to see His face. Disobedience, on the other hand, will result in your merely seeing God's back.
The decision is yours: Face or Back?
Furthermore, tell the people, "This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you THE WAY OF LIFE and the way of death." (Jeremiah 21:8)
Jeremiah's statement illustrates a principle that runs throughout the Bible. We have two ways of doing things: the right way and the wrong way; two ways; THE WAY OF LIFE and the way of death. Long before Jeremiah spoke these words, Moses spoke the same words to Israel. They could choose to walk in THE WAY OF LIFE and prosperity or death and destruction (Deuteronomy 30:15).
Walking in God's ways will always bring blessings to your life. Walking in the way of your own self-centeredness will definitely lead to destruction. Choose to walk in THE WAY OF LIFE that honors God.
Be specific in your request to God. Hopefully, what you t m God is exactly what He wants to give you to bring glory to Him.
When Your Heart Is Broken
My heart is broken within me. (Jeremiah 23:9)
If your arm is broken, you go to the doctor's office or hospital's emergency room and get it set. If you suffer from painful headaches, backaches, ear aches, or stomach aches you can take medicine for it. But what can you do when your heart is broken? Is there a specialist you can go to? Is there a particular medicine you can take to heal a broken heart? Unfortunately, NO!
The circumstances surrounding our broken hearts might be different. However, the pain is the same. Therefore, we can use one guaranteed prescription and our hearts will be healed immediately. So what do you do when your heart is broken?
You can go to the Great Physician. You can ask God to heal your heart. Pray the simple prayer, "Lord, heal my heart." You can ask God to perform surgery and replace your broken heart with His. It will be ineffective to focus on and give God a litany of things that caused it to be broken. Also, you must rid your heart of any anger or bitterness toward the person(s) who broke your heart.
So, what do you do when your heart is broken?
- Ask God to heal your heart.
- Don't focus on what or who broke your heart.
- Enjoy a renewed heart and a right spirit immediately. (Psalm 51:10)
What Causes God to Relent
Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God. Then the Lord will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. (Jeremiah 26:13)
We all know that when we confess our sins, God forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and puts us back in right relationship with Him. That means also that we stand in line for His blessings. Here is more shouting material that you might not have realized. When we repent, God relents. What does that mean?
The word "relent" means to become less severe, harsh or strict. It means to soften the blows, to slack up or to ease up on one's punishment. When we repent of a particular sin in our lives, God softens the blows on any preconditioned punishment. When we turn away from our sin, God eases up on the punishment He had in store for us. He might even cancel what He had set in motion to happen to us.
For example, there are punishments for us in the invisible realm that never happen to us because we repent in time, and God relents on bad things in the visible realm that are coming our way. The gun of a would be killer jams, the car heading your way stops within seconds of hitting you, the promotion that was taken from you is given back, or a sick loved one near the edge of death recovers....ALL BECAUSE YOU REPENTED OF SOME SIN IN YOUR LIFE.
Keep short accounts and repent of your sins as they occur. Do not let them pile up. Perhaps there is a punishment in motion for you right now. You may stop it by repenting. If you REPENT, God will RELENT!
The Perfect Plan
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Every life has been designed by the Master Planner. Therefore, we all have been made to experience the very best. Then why don't we have all that God has intended for us to have? Even though the plan for our lives was put in motion long before our birth (Jeremiah 1:5), we were born with a sinful nature. When we allow sin to distract us from the perfect plan God has for us, we do not enjoy all of God's benefits (Psalm 103).
The perfect plan of God becomes real when we submit to Him totally and let Him control our entire beings. When we get out of the way and let God take over, the perfect plan for our lives is manifested and God gets the glory!
Reach Beyond the Break
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
There is a story about a man who was drowning, and a life line was thrown to him. The man yelled, "The rope is breaking." The man from the boat yelled back, "Reach beyond the break."
We, too, need to reach beyond the break. There is a future beyond the break. There is hope beyond the break. No matter what today looks like, God has promised us that if we hold on, our tomorrows will be better. The easiest way to have that future and a hope is to reach beyond whatever is breaking your heart. If you focus on the break, the rip, the tear, the hole, or the frayed rope, your mind will comprehend only the brokenness. But if you focus on what lies beyond the break, you will find solace, comfort and wholeness again.
As you read this 500th message in the last 3 years, may all of you reach beyond the break in your lives and know that God promised you a future and a hope. And God's word does not return to Him void, but it shall accomplish what He said (Isaiah 55: ll).
Seeing Your Dreams Come True
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
What do you think about often? What do you dream about? What are you thinking about when people tell you to "snap out of it?" Is it the same thing or a multitude of things? Usually people have one main dream and the other dreams are offshoots of the BIG dream. Whatever your dream is, God will bless it if you have included Him in it.
God is the one who placed certain desires within you to cause you have the dreams you have. To leave Him out means you have to make your dream come true on your own. And that's impossible! To include the One who put the dream in your mind in the first place ensures His support.
You are not crazy to think you can be the best salesperson there is. You are not crazy to want to return to school at your age. You are not crazy to want to travel all over the world. You are not crazy to want to start your own business. You are not crazy to want to move up the corporate ladder. You are not crazy for wanting these things, but you are CRAZY to attempt to attain them without God.
Know that God wants to be part of your dreams. He is rooting for you to succeed. However, He wants to be part of the process from beginning to end. Start no project or pursue no dream with God's input.
Where is God in your dreams? If God is not part of what you are planning, go back to the drawing board and include God. In fact, ask God to take over. You will notice that things will go much easier for you and your destiny will be fulfilled much quicker.
Include God in your dreams. Not only does God know how, but He wants to and has promised to prosper you and to give you hope and a future.
How God Gets Our Attention
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
According to the above scripture, God wants to give us a hope and a future. In order to do that, He must first get our attention. Many of us are not spiritually alert enough to hear God's voice. Also, we allow the clamor of our daily lives to muffle out God's voice. In His desire to communicate with us, God uses a number of ways to capture our attention. How does God get our attention?
- God gets our attention by disrupting our ordinary routines. This forces us to slow down and to focus on God.
- God gets our attention by making us restless.
- God gets our attention through the voice of the voiceless. Eli received a message from God through a small lad named Samuel. (1 Samuel 3:4-9)
- God gets our attention through an unusual blessing. God wants us to know that we can depend on Him for our needs.
- This method is not pleasant, but God gets our attention by saying "No" to our prayers. David's child died even though David had prayed fervently. That got David's attention. (2 Samuel 12:16-18)
- God uses disappointment to get our attention.
- Sometimes God will use bizarre or extreme circumstances to get us to stop and listen. In Exodus 3:1, God got Moses' attention through a burning bush.
- God gets our attention through defeat. Israel was defeated by the small city of Ai in order to get Israel's attention. (Joshua 7)
- When you begin losing material belongings, it could be a way for God to get you to pay attention through your financial troubles.
- Tragedies, sickness and affliction will certainly get one's attention. While we must never look at these being caused by God, we should regard our tragedies and afflictions as God's way of getting our attention. (Read the Book of Job).
God knows exactly what we need, and He wants to give it to us, but first He must get our attention. If unexplainable things are happening to you, it might be God's way of getting your attention in order to give you a hope and a future. Pray to God and ask Him this question: "Lord, what are saying to me through this attention getter?"
What Your Future Holds
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
What your future holds depends on your relationship with God. For those who know God and love Jesus, their future will be very positive. On the Day of Pentecost, there began a spiritual awakening that will intensify as the present age draws to a close. For those who are part of this spiritual awakening, there will be security, peace, great joy and tremendous prosperity. For those who do not know God, the future will look very bleak. Therefore, your future depends on where you stand with God.
You might wonder why everybody's future will not be the same. A very good biblical example is in Exodus Chapters 7-11 that record how the ten plagues were imposed on the Egyptians; however, they did not affect God's chosen people who were in the same vicinity.
If is possible and very biblical that one group of people can prosper and one group of people can perish. Even though both groups are in the same society, God Himself said He knew how to make a difference between His people and the rest of the world. (Exodus 8:23) Therefore, it is not good to compare your future with those around you.
So, what does the future hold for you? Well, it depends on you and your obedience to God. If you obey God, you will prosper. If you turn your back on God and do what is right in your own eyes, then you will encounter insurmountable problems. Therefore, the best thing to do to prepare for the future is to maintain a proper relationship with God. Then leave your future up to God who has promised He will prosper you and give you a future and a hope.
What To Do When You Don't Hear God's Voice
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Admittedly, no matter how much you love God, you will not always hear His voice. No matter how much you praise and worship God, you will not always hear God speak to you. No matter how much you are immersed in the Word of God, there are times when you just don't and can't hear God's voice. So, what are you to do when you don't hear God's voice? Good question! And here is the answer!
When you don't hear God's voice, trust His plans! This is worth repeating...When you don't hear God's voice, trust His plans! The above scripture clearly shows that God has plans in mind for each of His children. God alone knows the plans. Other people, including false prophets, may suspect and pretend to know, but God alone knows. Therefore, God is going to guide you toward the fulfillment of the plans He has for you.
We are not always around our leaders, employers, or advisors, but we know the plans and visions they have for the company. So we trust their plans even in their absence. We should trust God so much so that even when we don't hear His voice, we will still know that He is working His plans out for our good.
What are you to do when you don't hear God's voice? Trust His plans!
Had You Not . . .
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
As we get older we should think over our lives and thank God for EVERYTHING that has ever happened to us . . . the good, the bad and the ugly. Every single disappointment, heartache, headache, pain, or suffering of any kind has brought us to the place where we are today.
Had you not gone to that particular high school or college, you would not have met and married who you did. Had you married someone else, your children would not be who they are. Had you not accepted that job you now have, you would not have your present circle of friends. Had you not relocated from a far away place, you would never have gotten to know the people in your neighborhood. Had you not joined that particular church, you would not be worshipping with your community of faith.
When you think back over your life, you can't help but imagine what life would have been like if just one piece of it had been different.
You haven't always known how your life would turn out and you still might not know, but God has always known. To wish one piece of your life had been different is to tell God He made a mistake.
Even now God is working behind the scene on your behalf with this principle in mind: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
A Ray of Hope
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
A Christian's hope is not based on what he sees or feels. It is based on God's faithfulness. Having hope, even just a ray of hope, while we are suffering shows we understand God's grace and mercy. Hope comes from believing God will do what He promised.
In Mark 5:36 when Jairus was going through a crisis Jesus said, "Don't be afraid; just trust me." These are comforting words for anyone who is going through a crisis. These words of Jesus give both HOPE and PROMISE. Look at your problem from Jesus' point of view. He is the source of all hope and promise. In the midst of your worst storm, look at the situation with spiritual eyes. With a ray of hope, you will discover the solution is just over the horizon.
Seek and You Shall Find
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
According to God's divine plan, we are to have hope and a future and live life to the fullest. We are commanded to call upon God in confidence to guide us through whatever circumstances surround us. God's grace can be sought and found when we seek God wholeheartedly. Nothing — absolutely nothing can prevent us from finding God when we seek God with our whole heart.
It is God's good pleasure to be found by us. God is not out of reach. Diligently seek God today, (Hebrews 11:6b) and let God control your life. You just can't do it on your own!
Restoration and Joy
" . . . and I will heal thee of thy wounds, says the Lord. . ." (Jeremiah 30:17b) " . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b)
Restoration is a gift from God. God's capacity for restoring life might be a mystery to us and is beyond our understanding. Forest trees burn down and are able to grow back. Broken bones are healed. Those who grieve are able to smile again. Depression and sadness are not permanent conditions. Our tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of bad situations.
When you are burdened by trouble in your life, know that several things are true:
- Your trouble is real. Don't deny it. Call it what it is, and pray along those lines.
- God has not left you comfortless no matter what you are going through.
- Your trouble just might be a way for God to get the glory through your life.
- Your time of sadness will end and you will find joy again.
Be patient while you wait. God's great harvest of joy is on its way. Hallelujah!
Demonstrate Your Faith!
And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel . . . I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and along with the open copy put them in an earthen vessel, in order that they may last for a long time. (Jeremiah 32: 9; 12; 14)
The story of Jeremiah buying a field and putting the deed in an earthen vessel might seem like an ordinary sale of real estate. This story is much more! This is one of the most powerful stories of faith and hope in the entire Bible. God instructed Jeremiah to buy a field at the time when his entire family was in exile. As Jeremiah watched the Babylonians besieging Jerusalem, he wondered why God told him to buy the field. Yet Jeremiah was obedient. His investment was a demonstration of faith that God would bring his people back to occupy the land.
To prove that Jeremiah was willing to wait for however long it took, he sealed the deed and buried it in an earthen vessel that would be preserved for the future. Then Jeremiah prayed: "Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you" (Jeremiah 32:17). Jeremiah kept alive the hope that someday his family would return to their ancestral homeland. The remnants did return after seven decades.
Jeremiah knew something that we should also know: NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD! Invest time, energy, and money that will demonstrate your faith in something God has told you to do . . . even if it means buying a field under unconventional circumstances!
Hope in Unusual Situations
(Jeremiah 32:6-15) New Year's Eve Sermon 2001
"Unusual." Something that is unusual is NOT a common occurrence; it does NOT happen often. Something unusual happens "once in a blue moon." By the way, there is such a thing as a blue moon. The only blue moon this years was on November 30. The next one is not until July 31, 2004. Other than the blue moon, there were numerous other unusual situations in 2001.
House fires, forest fires, floods, and famines, hurricanes and tornadoes. Unusual Situations. Kidnapping, hijacking, anthrax, terrorist attacks, heart attacks, stomach aches, backaches, headaches and heartaches. Unusual Situations. Bankruptcy, divorce, suicide, homicide, genocide. Unusual Situations. Bombings, boats sinking with an entire diving club, people being eaten by alligators. Unusual Situations.
Yes, we have witnessed some unusual situations this year...things have happened to impact our lives. Unusual situations to us, but not to God. God knew these things would happened. That's why He said... "I will never leave you nor forsake you." "I will be with you even to the end of the age." "I will give my angels charge over you to protect you."
UNUSUAL SITUATIONS. Our text tonight tells us what to do in unusual situations. The message tonight is a bridge to take us from 2001 into 2002. Jeremiah 32:6-15 depicts one of the Bible's most profound examples of hope in unusual situations.
Let's talk about Jeremiah, the Man before we talk about Jeremiah, his Message.
Out of the 4 major prophets and the 12 minor prophets, I believe Jeremiah had the heaviest task to perform. He is called the "weeping prophet" for good reasons.
Jeremiah was lonely. God told him not to marry. At least Hosea was allowed to marry even though he was commanded to marry a prostitute. Ezekiel was married, but God commanded him not to mourn the death of his beloved wife. But Jeremiah was commanded not to marry at all. God wanted him to be single, to be one, to prove to the nations that God Himself was one and there could be no other God.
Jeremiah's calling was established while he was in his mother's womb. At 21 Jeremiah was already a priest, but God called him from his priesthood to become a prophet to speak to kings, judges and high officials in his own hometown of Jerusalem. Jeremiah had one main message: Kings would be killed and Jerusalem would be destroyed unless people put away their idols and turned back to God. No easy task did Jeremiah have.
The people refused to hear the truth, so they despised Jeremiah and tried to kill him several times. They tried to get rid of the messenger thinking that would get rid of the message. Jeremiah's own family assisted in the plot to kill him. Once he was put in a well. His enemies thought he would sink in the mud and die, but God had a way of escape for Jeremiah, and he was saved.
Jeremiah was imprisoned several times for prophesying the truth. In fact, in our text tonight, he is in prison in the courtyard of the king.
Yes, Jeremiah had something to weep about, wouldn't you say? Like Job, Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. He wished he had died in his mother's womb. He did not want to preach gloom and doom to his own people, but God said, "If you don't break them, I will break you!" That's why as ministers, we have to tell you what God has told us to tell you. Otherwise God will punish us.
Once Jeremiah tried not to tell the people what God had said, but because of God's power, Jeremiah HAD to tell it. He was compelled to tell the people what God had said to him. It was like he had "fire shut up in his bones."
Jeremiah preached the same message of gloom and doom for 40 years without any visible results. People did not change. They refused to put away their idols and turn from their wicked ways and focus their attention on the one and only living God.
By man's standards, Jeremiah was a FAILURE. By God's standard, Jeremiah was FAITHFUL. Not only did Jeremiah continue to prophesy, but many times he was used as an object lesson to make a point. God commanded Jeremiah to preach an entire sermon while wearing a yoke around his neck to show the people how rebellious they were. A yoke is piece of heavy equipment used to command animals to go this way or to turn that way at the leading of their master. Rebellious animals such as the oxen are stubborn and stiffened their necks and shoulders rather than to be led. This is the same with stubborn, hardhearted and stiff-neck people. They follow their own ways instead of being led by God.
In our text, Jeremiah is illustrating his hope in a most unusual situation. Century 21 or any other real estate agency would say Jeremiah made the worst financial investment of all times.
LET'S GO TO THE TEXT to find out about the property that Jeremiah bought. (Jeremiah 32:6-15)
Jeremiah bought property from a relative at the time Jerusalem was being destroyed and people were taken in captivity to Babylon. Jeremiah bought the property as a sign that the people would return. Jeremiah, himself, was given the option of either going into exile or staying at home. He thought he could do more good by staying at home even though it was destroyed. If he stayed in Jerusalem, the captives would have something to come home to. He wrote letters to encourage them how to live while in slavery. He told them to continue raising their families because they would be there for a while. The captives were told to pray for the welfare of their enemies for in their welfare, they would find their own.
That's a good principle. Pray for your enemies for in praying for them, you will be blessed as well.
There are other good points that we can glean from this passage. These points will help us in the upcoming year. Let's itemize them and write them on our heart so that we may use them as our very own life applications.
Verse 7— The word of the Lord CAME to Jeremiah.
Point #1. The word of the Lord must come to you.
Verse 8 — Then Jeremiah's cousin Hanamel came to Jeremiah and said the exact words or CONFIRMED what God had told Jeremiah.
Point #2. God confirms His divine word through human confirmations.
In Verse 7, it was by divine revelation. In Verse 8, it was the human confirmation.
From this verse on, everything that happens next is left up to Jeremiah himself. After God gives us a command, it is up to us to carry out His plan. We must participate in our own blessings.
-In the last sentence in Verse 8, Jeremiah said "Then I knew. . ."
Point #3. Every word that comes to you is not from God. You must KNOW whether it is God's, Satan's or your own.
Verse 9 — Jeremiah BOUGHT the field. That was his response.
Point #4. You must respond to God's commands by doing what he says to do.
Also in Verse 9— Jeremiah paid the correct amount for the purchase.
Point #5. You must PAY THE COST. No negotiations.
Verse 10— Jeremiah went through the entire natural process.
Point #6. Even with divine appointments, you must ABIDE BY LAWS AND CUSTOMS of your day.
Verse 11— Jeremiah signed the deed and sealed it.
Point #7. No deal is complete until the paperwork is done.
Verse 12 — Jeremiah gave the deed to Baruch, his secretary to complete the transaction because he was in prison.
Point #8. You must ENLIST THE HELP OF OTHERS. We all need each other's help sometimes. No Christian should be a lone ranger. Ask for help for yourself, and give help to others.
Verse 13 — In the presence of all, Jeremiah affirmed his hope in unusual circumstances. He did not sneak around to make his purchase. Then he charged his secretary to put the deed in an earthen jar to preserve it for many years because God promised houses and fields and vineyards again be will be bought in the land.
Point #9. You also must BELIEVE GOD'S PROMISES. Like Jeremiah, you must do something to indicate your hope in God's promises.
By the way, the exiles did return after 70 years.
HOPE IN UNUSUAL SITUATIONS. We, as Christians have a hope and His name is Jesus. Jesus is our hope of glory. He is that solid Rock that will keep us in unusual situations.
God told Jeremiah to buy the field because it was "his right of redemption by purchase" at a time when the nation was undergoing unusual circumstances. God sent His Son to redeem us by purchase. Jesus, too, went through the same steps I just mentioned. He knew when it was time to go to the cross to redeem us by purchase. It cost Jesus something . . . His life, He paid for us with His blood, He was crucified by the capital punishment of His day. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit to preserve us until the Day Jesus returns. And He will return. I can't promise you it will be in 70 years, 70 months, or in 70 days, but by faith I know He WILL return!
Jeremiah followed these steps. Jesus followed these steps. We can follow these same steps to be successful and fruitful in the upcoming year. Trust God in unusual situations because all of His promises are YEA and AMEN.
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
A proper complimentary closing for letters, whether business or personal, is "Sincerely yours." The person then signs his or her name to indicate everything that has been said in the letter is true. By closing with "Sincerely yours" the person is endorsing what he or she has said. "Sincerely" simply means whatsoever is honest and just and pure and true. "Yours" means that which belongs to you.
We can talk or write letters to God and use the complimentary closing, "Sincerely yours" when we mean from the bottom of our hearts, that we sincerely belong to God. God has already written on our hearts that He is our God. When we sign our names to the letters we write to God, we are endorsing our belief that God is our God and we sincerely belong to Him.
Egypt . . . Wilderness . . . Promised Land
And Joseph arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt" (Matthew 2:14). "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness" (Matthew 4:1). "You have given them this land, of which you swore to their fathers to give them: a land flowing with milk and honey. (Jeremiah 32:22).
The Christian's life can be compared to three major places in the Bible. Egypt is a place where people go when they originally intended to go somewhere else. Egypt is never one's first choice. It is alternative place to go when things are not going the way they should. Egypt in the life of a Christian is never to be a place to stay. It is an interim place only until you can move on to the site which had been your first choice. To stay in Egypt is to stay in slavery and bondage. Get out of Egypt the first chance you can!
You cannot get to your final destination, the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness. There is no way to escape your wilderness experience because that is the place where the Christian is trained, grows, and develops. Life is not easy in the wilderness for it is a place of testing, trials and temptations. You MUST go through the wilderness in order to be strengthened. Your stay in the wilderness depends on how quickly you practice obedience and endurance. The sooner you learn it, the sooner you will be able to reach the Promised Land. Because of their disobedience, it took the Israelites 40 years to make an 11-day journey. Let it not take you that long.
Having gone down to Egypt and through the Wilderness, faithful Christians can make it into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Getting into the Promised Land can be done ONLY through obedience and faithfulness to God. Being in the Promised Land means having all that God has promised. That includes land, riches, salvation, and peace of mind.
Staying in the Promised Land should be the ultimate desire and destination of every Christian.
God's Telephone Number
Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
When you call on God expect God to answer you and show you things too wonderful to even imagine. You can seek God for any area of our life that needs repairing. When you commit to make changes in your life, God joins you in that commitment..
When you take the first step to make a commitment, then God commits to help you fulfill your commitment. God not only encourages you, but God will show you The Way of Life.
You call God.
God will answer you.
God will show you "great" and "mighty" you never even thought of.
Things You Do Not Know
Call to me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Have you ever met someone who "knows it all"? No one knows it all. There are mysteries of God. We will never know it all. When we meet God face to face we will discover that what we do know is so minute in comparison to what it is to know.
In order to learn new things from God we must take the initial step and "CALL" to Him. Then God will ANSWER and TELL us great and mighty things which we do not know. The things God will tell us will be far beyond our greatest expectations because He is that type of God.
We must be mindful to examine the answer to our prayer. Often times we pray and go about our business, and do not recognize the answer when it come because it might not come in the form we expect.
Call to God, but recognize the answer when it comes. It will be something great and mighty that you do not know.