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Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 32–34
Old Testament Only: Psalms 58–62
New Testament Only: Romans 11:1–24
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Push On Through

Jeremiah 33-37

Push backWhile some of the prophecies we’ve read in Jeremiah dealt with the very near future, others dealt with a future that would come much later and some which have not yet come to be. The following passage is a case in point.

Jeremiah 33:14-16 ESV

[14] “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. [15] In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. [16] In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’”

The “Righteous Branch” of David would come much later; that was Jesus. Through that branch security and salvation would come for individuals. Security and salvation for Judah and Jerusalem, however, won’t come until Christ returns and His Millennial Kingdom is established. God has a plan and it is being accomplished step by step. The purpose of that plan is to return as large a remnant as possible to Him.

Brother, remember whose you are and that you are part of His plan. Continue to do that which He asks of you. Accept every challenge He brings your way for it is through those challenges that He will grow you into the spiritually mature man He intends you to be. Push on through to the glorious finish.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 29–31
Old Testament Only: Psalms 55–57
New Testament Only: Romans 9:30–10:21
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Pursuing God

Jeremiah 29-32

Race - HurdlesThere are many individual verses that Christians memorize because they give us such great comfort. One of these verses is found in today’s Scripture.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Now that is indeed a comforting bit of Scripture. It behooves us, however, to read such verses in context. This statement by God is given to the people of Judah who were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. He is telling them that after their punishment and cleansing through 70 years of captivity, He will restore them to the Promised Land. God has plans for the remnant of Judah which include raising up the Savior of the world through them. If you know the history of the Jewish people you know that they did return to Israel as God promised but they also continued to have rather horrible difficulties all the way through the 20th Century and beyond. They still face existential threats today.

God’s plans for them were for welfare and not for evil and yet the Holocaust is undeniably evil. So where is the future and hope God promised in the verse above? Well that hope came to them about 2,000 years ago and their future is to be found in the hope that Christ offers. We like to claim God’s promises but we always seem to miss the context in which those promises are made. There are often things we need to do to receive the blessings God promises. God has told us that if we return to Him, if we trust and obey Him, we will be blessed. Check out the verses that follows the one above.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV

“[12] Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. [13] You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. [14] I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

Notice the work that is required to gain the promise God made? We are to pray to Him. We are to seek Him with all our heart. It is then that we will be restored. We are not to just sit on our hind-quarters and wait for blessings to fall out of the sky. We are to pursue God with all our heart! Jeremiah 29:11 is a wonderful promise of God but to receive it we must pursue Him.

Now lest you misunderstand me and interpret what I’ve just written as suggesting that we must perform works to be saved, let me clarify. There is nothing you can do to “earn” salvation. God calls whom He will to salvation and when they accept the free gift of Christ’s blood shed upon the cross for atonement for their sin, they are saved. Salvation is the greatest blessing one can ever hope to receive. Once we are saved, however, additional blessings are found in pursuing God, in obeying God, in trusting God. So many of us submit our life to Christ and then kind of sit down and wait for a shower of worldly blessings to rain down upon us. The Christian walk is active; it requires continued pursuit of God as He leads us into ever greater maturity in Him.

The plans He has for you include maturing you in Christ as well as spending eternity with Him in Heaven. It is in eternity that we find our greatest blessings and reward; not in this disgusting, perverted, fallen world. So rejoice in the plans He has for you for they are indeed amazing. He has given you a future and a hope. They are both found in Him.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 26–28
Old Testament Only: Psalms 50–54
New Testament Only: Romans 9:1–29
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Evil Used To Cure Evil

Jeremiah 25-28

DoctorDo you doubt that the Earth and everything living thing upon it belongs to God? When something belongs to you, you can to do whatever you want with it right? If I have a car I can sell it, I can give it to a charity, I can give it to a wealthy man, I can even give it to a criminal if I so choose. I can take a sledgehammer to it and beat it to a worthless pile of junk and then melt it down to its basic elements – if I so choose. It’s mine right? I can do whatever I want with it right? Yes I can.

Now if I made the car from scratch there could not be any possible disagreement with the statement that I can do anything I want with it. God made the Earth and everything in it from nothing. Everything belongs to Him and He can do whatever He wants to with it. He made you and He can do anything He wants with you too. For some reason we, the created, seem to think that the Maker has no right to determine what happens to His creations. Well, no matter what you think He has every right to do with His creation as He sees fit. Thankfully He sees His creation as something He wishes to save. He has to cut out the cancer of sin, however, to ensure that part of His creation survives, but He is willing to do just that.

God can actually use the cancer of this world to remove cancer in this world. As we have been learning in Jeremiah, God allowed a portion of Judah to be taken into Babylonian exile and then He allowed the destruction of what was left. He used the Babylonian’s to achieve His purpose of saving a portion of His Chosen People. He did this to ensure that His plan of salvation for the world would be achieved. The Babylonian nation was an evil nation. It could well be argued that the Babylonians were worse than the Israelites when it came to their relationship with God, but God used the evil Babylonians to cut away the evil within Israel.

It may seem odd that God was not only allowing evil to triumph through the murderous actions of the Babylonians, but seemingly wiping out His own Chosen People. It only seems odd, however, if you haven’t been reading along. It only seems odd if you don’t understand God’s purpose. I got to thinking about all of this because of the following verses from today’s reading.

Jeremiah 27:5-7 ESV

[5] “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. [6] Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. [7] All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.”

Here God makes the point that everything belongs to Him and He will do with it as He sees fit. What we need to do when we see evil triumphant is to remember that God can and does use evil to achieve His good purposes. To this day evil is being allowed it’s time to achieve God’s purpose. He will use evil to destroy evil, and more importantly to save a remnant of His creation for Himself. As verse 7 shows us, evil may be allowed to triumph for a while, but eventually it will be destroyed. In the end, what survives the surgery God is performing on the world will be evil free. Don’t let evil get you down – its days are numbered. God is in control and His purpose is being achieved.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 23–25
Old Testament Only: Psalms 46–49
New Testament Only: Romans 8:31–39
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Like Sodom And Gomorrah

Jeremiah 21-24

Mushroom Cloud - Fire redIn many previous posts I have made the point that God gives people the fullness of time before He brings judgment. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were left to their evil ways until there was not one righteous person left among them. God gave the land of Canaan over to the descendants of Abraham only after the Canaanites had been given the fullness of time in their pursuit of man-made gods. Now we read of the judgment coming upon Israel as they too have been given their fullness of time. They have finally and completely turned their back on God.

Now if you think I’m just speculating here, take a look at the following verse from today’s reading.

Jeremiah 23:14 ESV

“But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”

This nation, that was supposed to be faithful and obedient to God, has become like Sodom and Gomorrah to Him. These people have come to view God as their great butler in the sky. They think they can pursue their lives any way they want, and worship their man-made gods any way they like, and then when trouble comes they expect God to rescue them. Sound a lot like us here in America today doesn’t it? Well, the answer for them then and us now is “forget about it”. That is not right relationship with God.

You see, God has told us what it takes to be saved, and what the consequences are if we choose to do otherwise. In fact God tells us exactly that in today’s reading as well.

Jeremiah 21:8 ESV

“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.”

God has put before all of humanity, from the beginning of time, the way of life and of death. The choice is ours, as are the consequences. Many wonder why it has been over 2,000 years and Christ has still not yet returned. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, like Canaan, and like Israel, humanity is being given the fullness of time to choose. The end will come and when it does it will not be pretty for those who have chosen to turn their back on God. Knowing this, how should you live?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 19–22
Old Testament Only: Psalms 42–45
New Testament Only: Romans 8:1–30
(Current Plan is Chronological)

Rooted In Christ

Jeremiah 17-20

Tree by river with benchAre you happy? Are you at peace? No matter what happens, are you calm and confident? Why not? Isn’t that what you are supposed to have in Christ? As Christians we know we are supposed to have this incredible life but it so often seems to fall far short of what we were expecting. Now if we were expecting to never have illness, or financial trouble, or difficulty of any kind, then we had unreasonable expectations that fly in the face of what Jesus told us to expect. On the one hand He told us that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly; on the other hand He said that His followers would suffer for His sake. How do we balance what we perceive as diametrically opposed concepts?

Well one way to balance these concepts is to say that we are not to have an abundant life while still living in the fallen world, but rather in eternity, and that we are not to suffer in eternity, but rather while we live in this fallen world. This view supposes that we cannot simultaneously experience abundant life and difficulty. I don’t believe such a view is biblical. The Apostle Paul suffered greatly for the name of Christ and yet wrote of his joy from prison. You see, his joy was not dependent upon his temporary condition but upon his relationship with Christ.

Happiness, peacefulness, calmness and confidence in the storm are available to the Christian today, right now, but not if we are looking for them amongst the temporary trinkets of this world. All of that only comes when we plant ourselves firmly in Christ. We must abide with Him if we are to experience what we have been promised. Today’s reading reminds us of that truth.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV

[7] “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. [8] He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jesus spoke many times about His followers being fruitful. In fact He even spoke of being fruitful with His disciples just hours before going to the cross. He also spoke, at other times, of Himself as being living water. If we read the verses above in the light of Christ being the river in question, then we come to understand that we are to be like the tree that is planted by that river. The further away from the river, the more susceptible we are to drought; it is harder for us to partake of the life giving sustenance of the water. When we are planted closely to that river we need never worry; our joy, our peace, our confidence is not shaken when things go wrong because we have what we need to sustain us through the dry spells.

In case you think I’m stretching things about the river being an analogy for Christ, take a look at the following verse found shortly after the verses quoted above.

Jeremiah 17:13 ESV

“O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.”

You see, the Lord is “the fountain of living water”. Jesus is the source of not only life but abundant life. Fruitfulness is made possible by the fountain of living water; it is the source of the Christian’s abundant life and if we find our spiritual life less than the Bible tells us it should be it is because we have planted ourselves too far away from Him. We need to get closer to the river. We need to get closer to Jesus. We need to uproot our lives and replant them in Christ so that we will never thirst again. Our roots will then draw in living water. We will not fear when heat comes for our lives will remain green. We will not become anxious when all around us is wilting and drying up for our lives will continue to bear fruit.

It is important to remember that people turn to God when trouble comes, and rarely before. When trouble comes the Lost will turn to God and they will find you and me full of joy and peace and confidence ready to share living water that will revive and save them. That is our task, to be ready for the heat and the drought, for it is then that we will truly bear fruit a hundred fold in Christ.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

No Reading Today

by | August 17, 2014 | In Daily Reading No Comments

Alternate Plans
Bible Order: Jeremiah 15–18
Old Testament Only: Psalms 38–41
New Testament Only: Romans 7:7–25
(Current Plan is Chronological)

No Reading Today

Sleeping ManOur current chronological reading plan has no reading for Sundays. Take this day to reflect on what God has said to you through His Holy Word this past week.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!