Tag Archives: Jeremiah

Editorial: Reconciliation With God (October, 2014) – Jon Mitchell, Interim Editor

The weeping prophet pleaded, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!” (Lam. 5:21). In a sense, the entire message of Genesis through Revelation can be summed up in the concept of restoration…Jehovah reconciling man to himself. We see God’s plea with us in the inspired pen of Paul when he wrote his second letter to Corinth: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). His love for us is so great, his compassion so deep, his kindness so beyond comparison, that he was willing to give his only begotten Son for our redemption (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16).

Our Father is the source of “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). His love for man is so far-reaching that he sends blessings every day even upon those of us who reject him and do not even try to follow his ways (Matt. 5:44-48), which in the end will be the majority of his creation (Matt. 7:13-14). The plate of food for which the atheist refuses to give thanks to a God he refuses to acknowledge, each breath of air taken by Muslims who adhere to corrupted views of their Creator…all come willingly and freely from a God who loves them in spite of themselves, a God who freely offers us all the gift of salvation and eternal life which none of us deserve (Rom. 6:23; Tit. 2:11).

Yet it takes two for complete reconciliation to occur. God’s hand has always been outstretched from Eden until today, and will continue to be held out for us until the day of judgment. Are we willing to take his hand and allow him to pull us back to his side? We are given the choice as to whom we will serve (Josh. 24:15). The Almighty is pleading with us to make the right choice. The apostle wrote, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1). God loves us with all his being, and only asks that we do the same by submitting our lives to his will (Matt. 22:37; John 14:15; Rom. 12:1-2).

How Satan tries to deceive us into thinking that we can offer God less than our all and still be restored to him…and how sad it is that he succeeds more times than not! From the beginning God’s followers have often wrestled with the sin of giving him lukewarm, mediocre service (Rev. 3:14-22; Mal. 1:6-9). We love the idea of God saving us from our sins by his grace…and yet we also love to follow own desires instead of his! This leads us to believe Satan’s lie that we are still reconciled to God even if we unrepentantly and rebelliously usurp his authority and turn away from his commandments (Rom. 6:1-2; Heb. 10:26-31; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Friends, our Father in heaven has done and continues to do more than enough to bring us back to him. His hand is outstretched. We must take hold of it by giving to him what is rightfully his…our lives, our service, our obedience.

Jon

 

Monday Morning Message for the Minister – Steven K. Guy

I love preaching and training men to preach.  The Lord has blessed me with a number of opportunities during my nearly 40 years of ministry.  I want to encourage every brother to preach the word.  It is heartbreaking to see so many leave the ministry.  Ministers are men of God who need encouragement.  I pray that this message will encourage the brethren to hold up the hands of their preacher and get involved in the greatest work on earth.  Monday is traditionally the “down day” for the minister.  Having studied, taught, visited, counseled, and prepared himself for a full day on Sunday, Monday faces him with the never ending reality that it starts all over again.  Many preachers take Mondays off to physically rest.  However, the mind knows no such luxury.  It keeps right on thinking and the thoughts on Monday, especially, can be rather pessimistic.  This message is to help the minister make it through the Monday morning quarterback blues and to uplift him for the rest of the week.

When Monday arrives, the minister already feels behind.  it’s like driving past telephone poles.  As soon as you pass one, another is upon you.  Two more sermons, two more Bible classes, and a host of ministry responsibilities lay ahead for the week.  Unless the title “preacher” is a misnomer, the first responsibility is that of preaching the word.  This is where Paul began and ended with his advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 1 and 2 Timothy 4).

Preaching the word involves not preaching fables (spinning stories, 2 Tim. 4:4; 2:16-18), but preaching the holy and inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 3:15; John 17:17), which are complete to equip and produce men and women of God.  It was this word in which Timothy had been reared (2 Tim. 3:15), which first produces faith (2 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 10:17) and in which Paul had nurtured Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14).  Rome was not built in a day.  Neither are faithful men, women, or churches, but they are built through such preaching of “sound” words (2 Tim. 1:13), “with all long suffering (patience) and doctrine (teaching)” (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2).  Preaching the word will not always be inviting or appreciated, but the man of God is to preach it “in season and out of season” for it will convict, warn, and encourage the brethren and the lost to be right with God (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:24-26; 3:10).

The call to preach began with the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14).  We read Matthew 28:18-20 and feel a sense of “oughtness.”  Ivan Steward said, “Go ye means go me.”  The apostle Paul said, “For necessity is laid upon me.  Yeah, woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).  But who feels sufficient for these things?  (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5)  Paul tells us that God gives us the sufficiency.  But at times, that concept is challenging to remember.

When Jeremiah was called, God said, “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (1:8).  You remember a similar situation with Moses in Exodus 3 and 4.  Moses was about 80 when God called him and his response was also a feeling of inadequacy (Ex. 4:1, 10, 13).  But God’s response to Moses was one of assurance (Ex. 3:12, 14-22; 4:2-9, 11-12, 14-17).

It is that assurance which motivated Jeremiah, Moses, you and me to begin and depend.  However, those Mondays come when we wonder if we are adequate for the task.  I believe Isaiah was of such a mindset when he entered the temple that day and was given the vision of God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  And above it stood the seraphim…and one cried unto another, and said ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory'” (Is. 6:1, 3).  Ironically, this vision at first made Isaiah to feel his inadequacy:  “Then said I, ‘Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:4).  Again, the vision ends with God’s assurance, “and he laid it (a live coal, v. 6) upon my mouth, and said, ‘Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Is. 6:5).  It was the twin understanding of our forgiveness and His assurance of being with us that motivated us to answer God’s call in telling others about Him (1 Thess. 2:14; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We remember that we felt the same fervor Isaiah had when he said, “Here am I, send me” (v. 8).  However, please note that Isaiah was told he would face rejection just like Jeremiah (Is. 6:9-13).

With such an awesome task, the young minister’s feeling of inadequacy can be lessened by the advice of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).  To the older minister called later in life and wondering if he is adequate, remember Jesus’ response to Peter’s feeling of inadequacy, “Simon, fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).

Jeremiah’s call was to preach his word and be rejected by many, but be delivered by God.  The prospect of such a life is challenging enough, but as Jeremiah complains, “Why do the wicked prosper?” (Jer. 12:1).  It is tough to try to preach about forsaking the ways of the world and its folly (Jer. 20:8) when seemingly, the success of the world is flaunted and the righteous forsaken (Jer. 12:1, 4), especially His ministers.  When young men and old alike contemplate ministry for their lives they may hear advice (even from the church) such as, “Oh, you do not want to be a preacher; there is no future in it!”  When brethren have stewed preacher for Sunday lunch and churches have revolving doors to the preacher’s office, servants of the Lord cry out for justice.  Many feel like Jeremiah who accused God of tricking him into the ministry (Jer. 20:7).  Jeremiah felt that God had put him between a rock and a hard place.  If he preached God’s word, he was tortured physically.  If he tried to hold it in, he was tortured emotionally and spiritually.  What a predicament!

The prophet Habakkuk had a problem with God’s justice.  God’s response was for the preacher to wait, that the just shall live by their faithfulness (Hab. 2:1-4).  What is faithfulness?  It is abiding trust.  The wise man Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Jeremiah came to the same conclusion in Jeremiah 17:7:  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, in whose hope the Lord is.”  Jeremiah illustrated this point by contrasting two plants.  One plant is of such a nature that in any environment, it would not be productive (Jer. 17:6).  This is the man who trusts in himself or in the advice of men.  The second plant is as a tree planted by waters which even in a drought, would still be productive (Jer. 17:8).  This is the man who trusts in the Lord, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).  Jeremiah, in a better moment, had realized that nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17).  God confirmed this in Jeremiah 32:27, “Is anything too hard for God?”  Trusting in the Lord will get us through all of our Mondays victoriously.

The truth is none of us are sufficient in and of ourselves.  The sufficiency comes from God “who also hath made us sufficient as ministers of the New Testament” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).  God has told his ministers throughout the ages, “I am with thee…”  Not just on Sundays, but also on Mondays (Heb. 13:5-6).

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