Jeremiah 11 & 12:
Standing for the truth
These are challenging times to be a believer. There is a huge clash of world views. The truthfulness of God’s Word is attacked on many fronts. And while it is going to get more and more intense as this world of ours spins closer and closer to the 2nd coming of Christ, it’s not new.
There was a “clash” in Jeremiah’s day, too. Chapter 11.21-23:
21 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand’— 22 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts. ‘Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; 23 and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.’”
There were people who didn’t want to hear the truth and who threatened Jeremiah. In fact, they threatened to kill him if he continued to speak God’s truth. But God said, don’t worry about them, Jeremiah, I’ll deal with them in My time and in My way.
There will be people who are not going to like it when we speak the truth. They may be family members, co-workers, supervisors, friends or enemies. Don’t be surprised and don’t try to fight evil with evil. Remember Romans 12..21 tells us:
“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Love them. Pray for them. But don’t quit speaking the truth out of fear or intimidation.
Sometimes we fear they will withhold their love or acceptance from us. But Jesus said:
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10.37-39).
If you’re undergoing persecution because of your relationship with God or for speaking the truth in a world which doesn’t want to believe there is any absolute truth, you’re in good company. Take some time and study out that whole passage in Matthew 10.16 and following.
While we’re not to be argumentative, neither should we deny the truth:
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10.32-33).
We don’t want to be like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time about whom it was said:
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jn. 12.42-43).
Our strength and song
Verse 14, “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.”
What a great encouragement! No matter what we are going through, we are not going through it alone or in our own strength. We are to rely on His strength so that He will be our song in the end. He is to receive all the praise and honor! As the song says:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!¹
Stay where God has you
“Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place.”
Where has God called you to be? Has He called you to be a stay-at-home mom during this season of your life? Has He called you to a job that is boring and mundane? Has He called you to be a wife and asked you to submit even though you disagree? Has He called you to a church where you’re not being used in the way you want to be used?
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6.6).
20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called (1 Cor. 7.20-24).
The bird who wanders from her nest, not only exposes herself, but she exposes her offspring to the enemy. Be faithful over what God has called you to do today. If we humble ourselves under His hand, He will exalt us in due season.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Jas. 4.10).
Earnest in prayer
I was struck with the references to prayer in this chapter:
2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
12 Epaphras, … always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Are you earnest in prayer? John MacArthur says this is “to be courageously persistent” or “to hold fast and not let go.” Are there things for which you are being persistent in prayer or do you give up and entertain the idea that God doesn’t really answer prayer or, at least, He isn’t hearing your prayer?
Jesus said in Luke 18.1, “…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Other translations say we should not cave in or give up.
Do you labor fervently? Prayer is not always easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Sometimes prayer is hard work. Are the results you desire, important enough to you that you will labor fervently?
What an awesome privilege we have to come to the creator of the universe and be a part of what He is doing in the earth! Hebrews 4.14-16:
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
¹Because He Lives by Bill & Gloria Gaither
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act. With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.
Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Charles Stanley
Through prayer, you can know God better. You can learn to hear His voice above all the distracting noise of the world, and you can experience His wisdom, comfort, power, guidance, and love as you face difficult challenges and trials. When you finish reading this book, you will know… How to discern God’s voice above all others, why you can trust God’s character, what might hinder you from hearing Him, how the Holy Spirit helps you pray, how to win your battles on your knees, how to pray for others, and God’s ultimate goal in speaking with you. You will most certainly be blessed as you read this book by growing deeper in your personal relationship with God.
Does Prayer Change Things?
Does prayer make any difference? Does it really change anything? Yes, says Dr. R. C. Sproul in this Crucial Questions booklet. Though we cannot hope that our prayers will change God’s mind, prevailing upon Him to act against His will, we can be sure that prayer does change things including our own hearts. Plus, it is one of the chief means by which God carries out His will in the world. For these reasons, Dr. Sproul argues, prayer has a vital place in the life of the Christian. In short chapters packed with practical wisdom, he unveils the purpose, the pattern, the practice, the prohibitions, and the power of prayer, calling Christians to come before God’s presence with joy and hope.
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