Archive for February, 2011

The “Good”

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

There are a few verses in the book of Jeremiah that, when I read them, immediately caused me to think of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”  Those will be the themes of my next three posts, all taken from this passage in Jeremiah.

Here we find the “good.”  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”  The verse tells us this and then goes on to give us a delightful description of the life of that man.  Nothing in the description is bad and everything would be things that we would all like to have exemplify our own lives. 

The picture is of a very fruitful tree, planted by a river.  A tree planted by a river has no worries about obtaining water (I suppose a tree doesn’t technically “worry”, but this is imagery so we will go along with it).  A tree planted by a river has all the water it could possibly ever need.  The heat doesn’t bother this tree and the drought that kills other trees not rooted by the river won’t touch this tree.  This tree is ever supplied by an endless flow of pure water.

The same can be said of those who put their trust and their hope in the Lord.  He will constantly nourish and help them.  Even when there are trials and troubles and problems all around Him, He will not whither and will continue to bear fruit.  This is an excellent picture of how wonderful it is to fully trust in Him.


Blessed Redeemer (Hymn)

Blessed Redeemer
Avis M. Christiansen (1920)

Up Calvary’s mountain, one dreadful morn,
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss.


Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding—dying for me!

“Father forgive them!” thus did He pray,
E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so.

O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end!
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore.

This is such a powerful hymn about Jesus dying on the cross for us.  The words speak for themselves, but I will repeat one line that, to me, sums up the enire song: “No one but Jesus ever loved so.”  That is so true.

If He Does It

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14

How many times have we had some sickness, from which we recover, only to get sick again?  I had a cold a few weeks ago.  It lasted about a week, during which I suffered from a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose and headache.  It wasn’t the worst cold I’ve ever had, but it was annoying.  I would say that, as of right now, I am “healed.”  I feel fine.  I do not have that cold any more.  But will that be the last time I ever catch a cold?  I would like to say that it will be, but I seriously doubt it.  I will probably catch another cold at some point in my life, probably sooner rather than later.  So my “healing” will turn out to be a merely temporary healing.  And I think that is basically the summation of all human sickness in the history of humanity.  Those who were “healed” were only healed temporarily.  Eventually, all humans succumb to one thing or another from which they do not heal.

The same goes for “saving.”  If you were to pull a person from a burning building, you would get credit for “saving them.”  But, again, that saving would only be temporary.  Their life could again be in peril the next day or the next week or the next year.  In our normal experiences, “healing” and “saving” are temporary things.

Not so with God.

I love the wording of this verse: “heal me, and I shall be healed.  Save me, and I shall be saved.”  That really does sum it up.  If God is the one doing the healing, it is permanent, final and absolute.  If God is the one doing the saving, consider yourself saved. 

What a glorious truth this is!  If we are trusting in man (be it someone else or even ourselves), we are going to be disappointed.  But when we put our trust in God, that is a hope that is secure.

Correct Me Mercifully

O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Jeremiah 10:24

This verse immediately reminded me of another verse that I like, Habakkuk 3:2 “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”  I like the phrase “in wrath, remember mercy.”  I think that is an important phrase for all of us and it is a phrase that I like to use sometimes when praying.

We all know the devastation that sin brings.  We all know that sin is wrong.  We all know that we reap what we sow.  We all know that, as God’s children, we are going to face His correction when we go astray.  And receiving that correction is an important part of our Christian lives.  But, when we find ourselves in need of correction, we would be wise to remember the verse that says “in wrath, remember mercy.”

In this verse, the prophet is asking the Lord to not correct him in His anger, “lest thou bring me to nothing.”  God would be just in wiping us off the face of the earth every time we sinned.  But He is merciful and slow to wrath.  He would be just in “brining the hammer down” every time we failed Him.  But yet He retains His mercy.

It is an important thing for us to receive correction when we do wrong, but it is also an important thing for us to pray that the Lord will remember mercy when He is forced to correct us.  We deserve all of His wrath being poured out on us, but, thanks be to Him, He is merciful to us.  In wrath remember mercy.

Who Made It?

Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

Jeremiah 10:11

Much has been made over the past hundred years or so about the beginning of the earth.  Some people believe that the earth, and life on the earth, came from a gradual process called evolution.  According to this theory, simple organisms somehow evolved into more complex organisms and continued mutating and growing until arriving in the modern, twenty-first century world of vast diversity and complexity.

Others choose to believe the Bible when it says “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”  I happen to be in this category, just in case anyone reading this would wonder.  As I was reading this verse in Jeremiah, I started to think about the beginning of the earth.  This verse tells us that “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even thy shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens…” 

I thought about all of the different civilizations of the past and their “creation myths,” some of which make for interesting reading and some of which are just down right strange.  None of those “gods” made the earth.  And they will perish.  But what of those who believe in evolution?  They would stand up and say that they do not believe in any god making the earth.  Then it occurred to me.  Evolutionists worship human intellect and reason.  That is their “god.”  All worship of intellect and reason and even nature is just an advanced form of self worship.  And I believe that the Bible would tell us that that too will perish.

There is only one God who “made the earth.”  Let us be glad today that we serve and worship Him!

Work of Man vs. God

Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.  But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:9-10

As we read through the Bible, we can’t help but notice that over and over again the Lord compares Himself to the work of men’s hands.  While that may seem at first glance to be a ridiculous comparison, the Lord makes it over and over again in the Bible.  Why?  The only reason I can come up with is the simple fact that we need it.

In these particular verses, He mentions silver being spread into plates being brought in from Tarshish and gold coming from Uphaz.  These were probably very nice and ornate things.  It takes a skilled craftsman to work with metals and make them into something beautiful.  The men who made these things were skilled.  The objects that they created were no doubt beautiful and valuable.  The Bible describes them as “cunning men.”  There are many nice things all around us today.  There are many nice things that are result of peoples’ great skill and intelligence.

But they are not God.  These verses tell us that at His wrath “the earth shall tremble.”  Entire nations can not stand before Him.  He is the everlasting King.  But how often do we “worship” those other things?  How often do we spend our lives and our time obsessing about things that were made with mens’ hands?  How often do we ignore the God of the universe in favor of earthly things? 

The more I think about it, the more I begin to understand why the Lord needs to remind us so often that He is God and the things that we so often work so hard for are not.  Because we need it.

Goodness and Severity

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God…

Romans 11:22a

I was reading a book the other day and came across this passage and how it relates to the cross.  It was an interesting point made by the author and since I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of days, I wanted to share it here.

When you think about it, the cross is the ultimate culmination of both God’s goodness and His severity.  Of course, when you really start thinking about it, everything goes back to the cross in one way or another.  But think about these things: the goodness of God and the severity of God. 

At the cross, we have the severity of God manifested in the terrible punishment that His Son Jesus Christ took on Himself.  Think of all of the pain- from the scourging to the actual crucifixion.  Think of the mental agony of Jesus being forsaken by His Father.  Think of the blood that He shed.  All of that was a punishment for our sins.  Jesus was perfect.  He had done nothing wrong.  He was innocent.  He was sacrificed for our sin.  All of God’s wrath and severity was poured out on Jesus on the cross. 

The goodness of God is clearly seen at the cross.  He sent His Son Jesus to die a horrible death for us.  Jesus (Who is God) sacrificed Himself for us.  He shed His blood that we might be saved.  If you want an expression of love and of goodness, look no farther than the Cross.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

When we stop to look at the cross, we really do behold the goodness and severity of God.

Who Would Not Fear Thee?

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?  for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

There was one phrase that really struck me when I first read this passage.  “Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?”  That is a very interesting question and it got me to thinking.  Who wouldn’t fear the Lord?  Think about that.  Who would not fear almighty God?  This verse refers to Him as the King of nations.  God is the creator of the entire universe.  God made everything.  God has power over everything.  God is all-powerful.  God is all-knowing.  God is not just the creator of everything, and not only does He know everything, but He is everywhere all at once.  Why would anyone in their right mind not fear Him?

To me, it makes no sense.  But the fact remains that there are many people in the world who have no fear of God.  There are probably more people in the world who do not fear God than there are people who do fear Him.  Why is that?  I honestly don’t have a good answer for that question.  There are some who do not fear Him simply because they do not know Him.  There are some who do not fear Him because they have rejected Him and have tried to put Him out of their minds.  The Israelites that Jeremiah is writing to had rejected Him and ignored Him.  They had no fear of Him even though they were His earthly people.

I asked the question, but I have no good answer to the question “who would not fear Him” other than through the hardness of our own hearts.  It is important that we never lose our awe and our fear of the Lord.

Blessed Quietness (Hymn)

Blessed Quietness
Manie P. Ferguson (1897)

Joys are flowing like a river,
Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart His home.

Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
What assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me,
How the billows cease to roll!

Bringing life and health and gladness,
All around this heavenly Guest,
Banished unbelief and sadness,
Changed our weariness to rest.

Like the rain that falls from Heaven,
Like the sunlight from the sky,
So the Holy Ghost is given,
Coming on us from on high.

See, a fruitful field is growing,
Blessed fruit of righteousness;
And the streams of life are flowing
In the lonely wilderness.

What a wonderful salvation,
Where we always see His face!
What perfect habitation,
What a quiet resting place!

I do not have children, but I am a teacher.  I say that to say that I definitely enjoy some “blessed quietness” every now and then.  But I don’t think that type of quietness is what this hymn writer was writing about.  This quietness is a quietness of the soul that can only come from knowing the Lord.  His salvation is wonderful and it gives us rest and assurance, even though the storms of life may rage around us.

Instruction and Rejection

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein and ye shall find rest for your souls.  But they said, We will not walk therein.  Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.  But they said, We will not hearken.

Jeremiah 6:16-17

This continues the sad story of the children of Israel.  God had given them everything and they had rebelled against Him.  He had chosen them, He had led them out of slavery, and He had given them the land of promise.  But, after all of that, they had turned their backs on Him.  Again, He here tells them to “stand in the ways” and to “ask for the old paths.” 

He tells them that, if they will do those things, they would “find rest for their souls.”  Instead of being judged, punished and destroyed, they would find rest.  All they had to do was return to Him.  But they refused.  The verse says that they said “We will not walk therein.”  What more could the Lord have done for them?  What more could He have given them?  They didn’t just stumble.  They didn’t just “make a mistake” here and there.  They made a conscious decision to reject the Lord and to have no part in Him or with Him.  Later generations would say “crucify Him!  crucify Him!”  They would shake their fists in the very face of God and tell Him “His blood be on us, and on our children,”  (Matthew 27:25)

Let us be ever vigilant that we do not react to Him as these people so long ago did.  Let us watch our own hearts and ask Him to help us keep them fixed on Him.  Let us not ever reject Him.  Let us ask for the old paths.  Let us walk in them.  Let us stand in the way with Him.  What a convicting thought!