Once again, I find myself in a tough situation. Many people are also in tough situations – financial, health, family, personal situations that are extremely difficult. Yet, God through His prophet Jeremiah reminds me again that even in my tough situation, God knows everything. He is in charge of everything. And, He is perfect. His perfection makes me believe I am going to be okay. Actually, more than okay. Something better always come out of adversity. Always.
God tells me:
“For I know the thoughts which I think on you, saith the Lord, the thoughts of peace, and not of torment, that I give to you an end and patience. (For I know the thoughts which I think about you, saith the Lord, the thoughts of peace, and not of torment, so that I shall give you a good ending.)”
How do I hide from someone who is everywhere? Well, duh — the obvious answer is: I can’t. Why? Because it is impossible to hide from someone who is with me in my hiding place. God almost laughs at our efforts to do something in secret.
“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.”
I remember being admonished to “practice the presence of the LORD” — I think I heard that in Sunday School. That’s not a problem. I am keenly aware that He sees me — He sees not only my outsides, but all that stuff I try to hide on the insides, too. He sees all that stuff on the insides because He lives there, too.
Jesus says He is living water, that anyone who drinks of Him never thirsts. Jeremiah writes:
“7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord (Happy is the person who trusteth in the Lord), and the Lord shall be his trust.
8 And he shall be as a tree, which is planted over waters, which sendeth his roots to moisture; and it shall not dread, when heat shall come; and the leaf thereof shall be green, and it shall not be moved in the time of dryness, neither any time it shall fail to make fruit. (And he shall be like a tree, which is planted by the waters, which sendeth out its roots to moisture; and it shall not have any fear, when the heat shall come; and its leaves shall be green, and it shall not be moved in the time of drought, nor at any time shall it fail to make fruit.)”
Jesus says He is the vine while those who trust in Him are the branches. As long as the branches are attached to the vine, life-giving sap provides nourishment for the production of fruit. Even in a drought, in the heat of the sun, the leaves on the vine remain green and the fruit never fails to appear in season.
Let us remain planted over Living Water; let us remain in the Vine; and may our fruit always be pleasing to the Lord.
Images carved from timber by craftsmen and adorned with silver and gold for the purpose of worship “can do no harm and they have no power to do good.” (Jeremiah 10: 5) Do not be awed by them or “by signs in the heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:2) These idols can not speak and can not walk. Others must speak on their behalf, and carry them from place to place. “The figures [a man] casts are a sham, there is no breath in them. They are worth nothing, mere mockeries, which perish when their day of reckoning comes.” (Jeremiah 10:14,15) “They can no more speak than a scarecrow in a plot of cucumbers.” (Jeremiah 10:5) People who worship these images carved by men “are fools and blockheads one and all, learning their nonsense from a log of wood!” (Jeremiah 10:8)
“But the Lord is God in truth, a living god, an eternal king.” (Jeremiah 10:10) “He is the maker of all.” “The Lord of Hosts is His Name.” (Jeremiah 10:16)
“Hark, a rumour comes flying, then a mounting uproar in the land of the north, an army to make Judah’s cities desolate, a haunt of wolves. I know, O Lord, that man’s ways are not of his own choosing; nor is it for a man to determine his course in life. Correct us, O Lord, but with justice, not in anger, lest Thou bring us almost to nothing.” (Jeremiah 10:22-25)
“But now this is the Word of the Lord, the Word of your creator, O Jacob, of Him who fashioned you, O Israel: Have no fear; for I paid your ransom; I call you by name and you are My own. When you pass through deep waters, I Am with you, when you pass through rivers, they do not sweep you away; walk through fire and you are not scorched, through flames and they do not burn you. For I Am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your deliverer.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Jeremiah calls himself God’s dupe. He’s been flogged and placed in stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin, in the house of the Lord. (Jeremiah 20:1-2) Jeremiah moans that God “outwits [him] and prevails.” He groans that he “is made a laughing-stock all the day long, everyone mocks [him].” (Jeremiah 20:7) As a prophet of the Lord, he proclaims “violence and destruction,” and as a result “[he] is reproached and mocked all the time for uttering the Word of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 20:8)
Jeremiah decides enough is enough. He sets out to “call [God] to mind no more, nor speak in His Name again.” (Jeremiah 20:9)
What happens? “[God’s] Word is imprisoned in [Jeremiah’s] body, like a fire blazing in [his] heart, and [he] is weary with holding it under, and [he] can endure it no more.” Not only that, Jeremiah senses that his friends are watching “for a false step” so they may take revenge. (Jeremiah 20:10) Boldly Jeremiah asserts “the Lord is on my side, strong and ruthless, therefore my persecutors shall stumble and fall powerless.” (Jeremiah 20:11) He rattles his own soul, urging himself to “sing to the Lord, praise the Lord.” (Jeremiah 20:13)
In a marked mood swing, Jeremiah suddenly stops praising his Lord, and curses the day he is born. “Be it ever unblessed,” he cries out, “the day when my mother bore me!” (Jeremiah 20:14) He marvels that “death did not claim [him] before birth, and [his] mother did not become [his] grave.” (Jeremiah 20:17) He struggles to comprehend “why [he] came forth from the womb to know only sorrow and toil, to end [his] days in shame.” (Jeremiah 20:18)
Jeremiah laments, “I am weary with holding [the Word of the Lord] under, and can endure it no more.” (Jeremiah 20:9) The imprisoned Word of God burns like fire within, and must escape. Jeremiah curses the day of his birth, but he continues speaking until the day of his death.
The Lord God says, “Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protest, ‘We won’t!’ I appoint watchmen over you and say, ‘Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn.’ But they protest, ‘We won’t listen!’ ” (Jeremiah 6:16-17)
John the Baptist, in a camel-hair garment and leather belt around his waist, comes to the Wilderness of Judea and says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” John, who eats locusts and honey, is the “voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!” (Matthew 3:2-3) People listen, flocking to him to confess their sins and be baptized in the Jordan River.
Among these people are Sadducees and Pharisees. John calls out to them, “Brood of vipers!” The religious leaders of his day; and John calls them ‘vipers.’ He asks them, “Who warns you to flee the coming wrath?” essentially agreeing they own the knowledge needed to escape destruction. He goes on, however, to accuse them of not acting on that knowledge. “Therefore,” John says, “produce fruit consistent with repentance.” John warns them with the ram’s horn not to presume that because Abraham is their father, they are safe. God is able to make His children “from these stones!” declares John. The Baptist is almost saying, these stones are better children of God than you are! (Matthew 3:7-10)
John baptizes with water, but tells of “the One who is coming after me.” (Matthew 3:11) John knows Jesus is more powerful and will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit will seal the repentant; and “the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.” (Matthew 3:12)
Which is the way to good? Jesus says, “I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
God bemoans Israel, who are the people of God, saying: “They turn their backs to me and not their faces; though I teach them again and again, they do not listen or respond to discipline.”
I’ve heard parents bemoan their child, “We’ve tried everything, but he ‘turns his back to [us] and not [his] face.'” “We teach [him] again and again, [but he] does not listen or respond to discipline.'”
I’ve heard that a few parents eventually disown or surrender to the child, usually after many many years of frustrating efforts.
But, I know that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) God never gives up on us.
“The sin of Judah is recorded with an iron tool, engraved on the tablet of their heart with a point of adamant and carved on the horns of their altars to bear witness against them.” The witness is: “the heart is the most deceitful of all things, desperately sick; who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“In enmity [God] strung His bow; He took His stand like an adversary and with His strong arm He slew all those who had been His delight; He poured His fury out like fire on the tent of the daughter of Zion. The Lord played the enemy’s part and overwhelmed Israel.” (Lamentations 2:4-5)
“Arise and cry aloud in the night; at the beginning of every watch pour out your heart like water in the Lord’s very presence. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children. Look, Lord, and see: who is it that You have thus tormented?” (Lamentations 2:19-20)
Jesus says: “I Am the man who has known affliction, I have felt the rod of His wrath. It was I whom He led away and left to walk in darkness, where no light is. Against Me alone He has turned His hand, and so it is all day long.” (Lamentations 3:1-3) “I have become a laughing-stock to all nations; the target of their mocking songs all day.” (Lamentations 3:14) “Remember, O remember, and stoop down to Me. All this I take to heart and therefore I will wait patiently: the Lord’s true love is surely not spent, nor has His compassion failed; they are new every morning, so great is His constancy. The Lord, I say, is all that I have; therefore I will wait for Him patiently. The Lord is good to those who look for Him, to all who seek Him; it is good to wait in patience and sigh for deliverance by the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:20-26)
God’s people cry: “O Lord, turn us back to Yourself, and we will come back; renew our days as in times long past. For if You have utterly rejected us, then great indeed has been Your anger against us.” (Lamentations 5:21-22)
“Although they broke My covenant, I was patient with them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant I will make with Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will set My law within them and write it on their hearts; I will become their God and they shall become My people.” (Jeremiah 31:32-33) “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
“[We] cling to deceit; [we] refuse to return… No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.” (Jeremiah 8:5-6) God bemoans His people, saying: “My people do not know the requirements of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:7) “They reject the Word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9) “They are put to shame; they are dismayed and trapped.” (Jeremiah 8:9) And, on top of this, their “prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of My people as though it is not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:10-11) They are “all greedy for gain.” (Jeremiah 8:10)
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of My people?” (Jeremiah 8:22)
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast 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.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
As for us, God’s children, “how can [we] say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes handle it falsely?” (Jeremiah 8:8)
We must cry out, “No one is like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your Name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations? This is Your due… There is no one like You.” (Jeremiah 10:6-7) “[You] are the true God; [You] are the living God, the eternal King.” (Jeremiah 10:10)
Are you able to remain green when “the heat comes” “in a year of drought?” Are your roots stretched “along the stream” “like a tree planted by the waterside?” When the sky dries up and rain does not fall, are you able to “bear fruit?” Are you able to see “when good comes” because “your heart is [not] far from the Lord?” (Jeremiah 17:6)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and rests his confidence upon Him. He is like a tree.” He is like a tree with a healthy root system and full foliage that “stays green.” This man “has nothing to fear.” He “feels no care, and does not cease to bear fruit” for the Lord.
Yet, Jesus asks: “But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” And here is another parable that [Jesus] tells. It is aimed at those who are sure of their own goodness and look down on everyone else. ‘Two men go up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stands up and prays thus: ‘I thank Thee, O God, that I am not like the rest of men, greedy, dishonest, adulterous; or, for that matter, like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all that I get.’ But the other keeps his distance and does not even raise his eyes to heaven, but beat upon his breast, saying, ‘O God, have mercy on me, sinner that I am.’ It is this man, I tell you, and not the other, who goes home acquitted of his sins. For everyone who exalts himself is humbled; and whoever humbles himself is exalted.’ ” (Luke 18:8-14)
The man who is exalted is the one who puts his trust in the Lord; the one who recognizes that “the heart is the most deceitful of all things, desperately sick; who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The man who prays, “Heal me, O Lord, and I am healed, save me and I am saved;” (Jeremiah 17:14) this is the one who is exalted. This man is “like a tree planted by the waterside, that stretches its roots along the stream, When the heat comes, it has nothing to fear.”