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.