Archive for March, 2011

Redeemed!

For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

Jeremiah 31:11

Any time I see the words “redeemed” and “ransomed” in the Bible, I sit up and take notice.  As the old song says, “we are redeemed, the price is paid; what a wonderful Saviour!”  I love writing about my Redeemer and I am daily thankful for the ransom that He gave for me.  I love the picture this verse paints of the Lord’s ransoming and redeeming us.  I know that, doctrinally, this passage is dealing with “Jacob,” or the nation of Israel.  But I think that a wonderful application can be made for us as Christians.

“For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob…”  He has redeemed me.  Has He redeemed you?  I have a general knowledge of the meaning of the word “redeemed”, but I looked it up in the dictionary, and what I read was a tremendous blessing:

Redeemed:
1. to buy back
2. to free from what distresses or harms
3. to free from captivity by payment of ransom
4. to release from blame or debt
5. to free from the consequence of sin
6. to change for the better
7. to repair or restore

Think on those things and I think you will find yourself thanking the Lord and praising Him for “redeeming” you!  As I read those definitions in the dictionary, I began to realize what a perfect word “redemption” is for what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.  Every one of those definitions is a part of what salvation entails. 

We have been “bought back” by the Lord.  We have been freed from those things that could distress or harm us.  He has freed us from captivity.  He has released us from the consequence of our sin and freed us from a heavy burden and debt of sin that we could never hope to pay.  He has given us a new heart and changed us for the better.  All of these things come together in the simple word “redeemed!” 

This is actually not what I had intended to write about, so I will write about the second part of the verse tomorrow.  I will leave you with one more line from another old song: “redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!  Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!”  Amen.

Bury Thy Sorrow (Hymn)

Bury Thy Sorrow
Mary A. Bachelor

Go bury thy sorrow, the world hath its share;
Go bury it deeply, go hide it with care.
Go think of it calmly, when curtained by night;
Go tell it to Jesus, and all will be right.

Go tell it to Jesus, He knoweth thy grief;
Go tell it to Jesus, He’ll send thee relief;
Go gather the sunshine He sheds on the way:
He’ll lighten thy burden—Go, weary one, pray.

Hearts growing aweary with heavier woe
Now droop ’mid the darkness—Go, comfort them, go!
Go bury thy sorrow, let others be blessed;
Go give them the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.

This is a first for me.  I will admit that, to my knowledge, I have never actually heard this hymn played or sung.  I would like to find the music to it to see what it sounds like, but I have not heard it.  I came across the lyrics of it the other day and thought it was a great song that contained a great truth.  So, while I do not know exactly how this song is sung, I do know that it is a good one!  We all have sorrow and heartaches, but we can not allow them to control us and destroy us.  I was very much encouraged by the last line:
“Go give them the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”  We need to take our sorrows and our cares to Jesus and we need to allow Him to help us be an encouragement to others.

I Was Chastised

I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou has chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.

Jeremiah 31:18

How often has God had to “take us to the woodshed?”  The Bible is very clear about the fact that God will chasten and correct His children.  He is very clear that, if we do not judge ourselves and confess our sins, He will do what it takes to bring us back to Himself.  The question is: what do we do with His correction?

Here, Ephriam (representing the ten tribes of Israel) says “Thou hast chastened me, and I was chastened…”  That is a simple, yet deceptively deep statement.  How often have we been chastened and not learned anything from it?  Earlier in the book, God tells the Israelites that “In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction…”  (Jeremiah 2:30)  I have seen times in my own life that I have been chastened (both physically and spiritually) and did not learn from it.  On the other hand, there have been times that I was chastened, and received that chastening and “straightened up.”  That is the goal of God in chastening us.  He doesn’t just randomly punish us.  He corrects us; if, of course, we will receive that correction.

I like the description of being like “a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.”  That is like us.  Our nature is wild and does not like to be told what to do.  Our nature is to buck and resist the Lord’s yoke.  But in Matthew 11:30, He tells us that “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

When He chastens us, are we chastened?  Or do we stubbornly continue in our own way?  The next time we find ourselves under the chastening hand of God, let us make sure we learn our lesson!

A Token For Good

Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.

Psalm 86:17

In this verse, the Psalmist asks the Lord to show him a “token for good.”  The context is that he wants this token for good so that those people who hate him will see it and know that he is on the Lord’s side.  Sometimes we need that “token for good” for our own benefit.  Sometimes we need God to give us just a little something to show us that He loves us.  We know that He loves us.  We know that He has promised to “never leave us nor forsake us.”  We know these things, but sometimes as we walk through the valleys of life, our faith gets weak and frail and just need something from Him.  We may be walking through a period of darkness in which we just need one ray of light to remind us that our struggles are temporary.

I know that God has given me many “tokens of good” throughout my life.  There have been times that I have been discouraged.  There have been times that I have been depressed.  There have been times that I have been on the edge of despair.  But He is faithful and He always sends some little reminder that I am His and He is mine.  I want to be more aware of these “token of good” and I think I will try to start looking for them.  I don’t know how many times He has tried to encourage me and I have missed it.  I think we would all benefit from looking for His tokens of good, and when we find them, thanking Him for His goodness and mercy toward us.  I love this verse and I love the phrase “tokens of good.”

Unite My Heart

Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Psalm 86:11

I was reading this verse, and the wording toward the end struck me.  The first part of the verse is easy to understand: a simple truth and a simple prayer.  We, like the Psalmist, ask the Lord to teach us His way and to help us walk in His truth.  We need that teaching and that help more often than we realize, because our very nature is against everything that God is and stands for.  It is not natural for us to want to learn His way.  We all have an inborn tendency to want to go our own way.  We do not naturally “walk in his truth.”  Psalm 58:3 tells us that “they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”  We need to learn to go His way and walk in His truth every single day of our lives.  That is the simple part of the verse. 

The part that I had trouble understanding is “unite my heart to fear thy name.”  How can my one heart be united?  I can understand if the prayer had been for the Lord to “unite our hearts…” but that is not what it says.  It does say in Philippians 2:2 that we should be “likeminded” and “of one accord, of one mind.”  So I think there is truth in the statement that our hearts should be united, but I don’t think that is what this verse is dealing with.

I think that this verse speaks of the deeper truth that, as Christians, we have two natures.  We have a spiritual nature and we have a flesh nature.  The spirit wants to follow the Lord and obey Him and please Him.  The flesh wants everything contrary to Him.  I think that Psalmist wants His entire heart to follow the Lord.  He wants everything that he is to be devoted to the Lord.  He want to be “all in.”  And I think that is a good prayer for us.  How often do we find our heart divided in its affection and loyalty?  We need to pray that the Lord would help our heart be united in following Him!

Hope In The End

And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

Jeremiah 31:17

I have only a simple thought of encouragement for today.  I came across this verse, and can not stop thinking about this: “…there is hope in thine end…”  That is such a powerful, comforting and encouraging statement.  There is hope in our end.

Hope is a powerful thing.  Most people live their entire lives “hoping” for a better tomorrow.  But true hope is found only in Jesus Christ.  And that hope is a hope that “maketh not ashamed.”  (Romans 5:5)  No matter what we may be going through here and now, we have hope.  We have real hope. 

We should be thankful every day of our lives for that hope, and we should be praying every day of our lives and reaching out with the gospel to those who do not have this hope.  What a wonderful thing to know that we truly do have hope.

Thoughts of Peace

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Passages like this remind me of the fact that God is our Father.  So many people are hesitant to follow the Lord because they think that He will destroy their lives and “ruin their fun.”  I get this attitude from young people, but I think that there are quite a few “old” people out there who also tend to think like this. 

Just as a human father truly wants what is best for his children, so our Heavenly Father wants what is best for His children.  As children, we didn’t understand everything our earthly fathers did.  We sometimes didn’t understand why they wanted us to do certain things and why they would not allow us to do other things.  But, in the grand scheme of things, their decisions were for our good, whether we realized it or not.

God tells us here that He knows the thoughts He thinks toward us.  He tells us that they are thoughts of peace, and not of evil.  If we will follow Him, He will never lead us astray.  I have been often stung by the heartache of sin, but never when I was following Him. 

The Bible tells us that His ways our higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  We may think that we know what is best for ourselves, but do we really think that we know better than God?  These are good verses to remember when we do not understand everything that God is doing in our lives.  He thinks thoughts of peace, and not of evil toward us.  What a comfort!

Tell It Like It Is

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.  Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.  As for me, behold, I am in your hands: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.

Jeremiah 26:12-14

It’s hard to not feel a little bad for the prophet Jeremiah.  At the same time, it is impossible to not admire him.  He preached a message of judgment to a stiffnecked and hard hearted people who did not want to hear it.  He was persecuted and saw few, if any, results from all of his efforts.  He was preaching to a people who had rejected God and who had no interest in repenting and turning from their evil ways.  Yet he preached on.  How often do we stop telling others what the Lord wants us to tell them because they aren’t nice to us?  How often do we give up because we can’t find anyone who will listen to our message?  I know that I have given up far too easily and far too often.  I think that we can all learn from the testimony of Jeremiah.

He tells the people to “amend their ways and their doings” and to “obey the voice of the Lord your God.”  That is a simple, but very powerful message.  The first step today would be to tell people to obey the voice of the Lord with regards to accepting His Son Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.  Then, with His help, they can “amend their ways and their doings.” 

Earlier in the chapter, they had decided to kill Jeremiah.  In verse 14, after delivering his message, he tells them that he is in their hands and to do with him whatever they want.  He does not fear the people.  God gave him a message to give, and he gave it.  God has given us a message to give.  Have we given it?

Christ Has For Sin Atonement Made (Hymn)

Christ Has For Sin Atonement Made
Elisha A. Hoffman (1891)

We are redeemed, the price is paid
What a wonderful Savior!

Refrain

What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus!
What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord!

I praise Him for the cleansing blood
What a wonderful Savior!
That reconciled my soul to God
What a wonderful Savior!

Refrain

He cleansed my heart from all its sin
What a wonderful Savior!
And now He reigns and rules therein
What a wonderful Savior!

Refrain

He walks beside me in the way:
What a wonderful Savior!
And keeps me faithful day by day;
What a wonderful Savior!

Refrain

He gives me overcoming power
What a wonderful Savior!
And triumph in each trying hour
What a wonderful Savior!

Refrain

To Him I’ve given all my heart:
What a wonderful Savior!
The world shall never share a part:
What a wonderful Savior!

I thought that this hymn was called “Wonderful Savior”, but I found the lyrics under this title so apparently I was incorrect.  But regardless of the title, this is a great hymn.  Just the title (either one!) is a wonderful statement.  “I praise Him for the cleansing blood… that reconciled my soul to God.”  That is indeed something for which to praise Him!  He has for sin atonement made and He is a wonderful Savior!

Kill the Messenger

Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.  Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?  And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord…    …Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.  Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying The Lord sent me…

Jeremiah 26:8-9, 11-12a

The New Testament tells us that the things in the Old Testament were written for us as “examples” and that they were written “for our learning.”  This is one of those passages from which we can learn something. 

We have all heard the phrase (and, in some cases, have spoken it ourselves) “don’t kill the messenger.”  That is exactly what the Israelites are wanting to do in these verses.  The nation of Israel was horribly backslidden.  They had rejected the Lord, and had refused His numerous offers to return to Him and be restored.  In light of that, God had sent Jeremiah to warn them of their coming destruction.  As such, most of the book of Jeremiah is a pronouncement of judgment. 

When faced with this pronouncement of judgment, instead of repenting and humbly returning to the Lord, the people decided to kill God’s messenger, Jeremiah!  They said “Thou shalt surely die” and “This man is worthy to die.”  Why?  “For he hath prophesied against this city.”  

While we would agree that this is a terrible thing, what lesson can we as Christians gain from it?  I think the lesson is this: what is our attitude toward those whom the Lord uses to bring conviction to our hearts?