Posts Tagged ‘ Holy Spirit ’

August 19, 2017

August 19, 2017


Focus Verse: Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’
Jeremiah 29:7


You didn’t actually think I was going to let you off the hook with a nice and easy devotional on Jeremiah 29:11 did you? I had to go here first, because this verse is the perfect set up for understanding ALL of Jeremiah 29:11, not just the part of it that makes us feel good.


You have to take into consideration what’s going on here. Jeremiah is telling the people of Jerusalem that they are going to be captive in Babylon for seventy years. This is contrary to the popular prophets who are saying that the captivity will just be a brief stay, two years at the most, and then they’ll be right back.


Side bar real briefly – be wary of “popular prophets”. There was no such thing as a popular prophet in the Old Testament and that doesn’t change a whole lot in the New Testament. Most prophets were either killed or faced death and ridicule on a very regular basis. So be cautious of prophets and teachers who make you feel good all the time. The Word of God is absolutely encouraging, but it also needs to be challenging us on certain issues in our lives or we aren’t growing more like Christ.


And now the rest of the story.


Jeremiah 29:11 is a real feel good verse. We put it in graduation cards and tell it to people who are struggling to see God’s will working in their life. But it comes on the tail of this sucker punch to the people of Judah. God is telling them, through Jeremiah, not only that Babylon is going to take them away from their homeland, the land promised to them by God, but that they should get comfortable there! Think of what a blow to the ego this must have been! The nation that is capturing you, destroying all of your homes, taking all of the precious and valuable things out of the temple of your God, killing your friends and family, God is telling you to pray for this nation’s well being. Are you kidding me right now, Lord?


God is telling the Israelites to actively seek the ‘shalom’ (NASB translates this as welfare) of Babylon. I don’t have the time or space to break down everything that this word means in Hebrew, but to say that ‘shalom’ means peace is only giving it about 10% of it’s full meaning in Hebrew. Shalom is about a completeness, a wholeness, a perfect well-being. It is peace, but it is so much more too. And God is telling the Israelites to be active in giving this shalom to their captors.


So when God goes on to say, “I know the plans I have for you…”, it is with this in mind – that the Israelites are to seek shalom with their captors in Babylon, to pray for those who persecute them (does that sound familiar?).


I’m not taking anything away from the encouragement that Jeremiah 29:11 holds for us who are in Christ. Just trying to deepen your understanding of it. God knows what you’re going through. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then He has a reason for whatever you are going through right now. He’s asking you to be content in your Babylon, to seek shalom with those who are against you and to pray for them daily. He’s asking you to trust Him and His plan, even if it doesn’t make sense right now; even if it isn’t going according to how you think it should go.


Again, this is an impossible task for you to do on your own. When we look to Jesus though, we watch His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane get denied. We watch as the only sinless man gets falsely accused, denied justice, and hung on a cross, surrounded by thieves. And never once does He question God’s motives. Never once does He question whether or not God really loves Him. We can’t do this, but Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in us. That’s the greatest hope this world can never offer! It only comes through Him.

August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017


Focus Verse: “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
Jeremiah 18:6


What an encouraging verse! We are the clay in the Potter’s capable hands. God had a plan when he created every single one of us and He made you perfectly to fulfill that plan of His. YOU are a custom piece of artwork. YOU were custom built to fulfill the exact purpose God has for you.


There are so many ways I could take this lesson from God’s Word. You were made for God’s purpose for YOU, so stop trying to fulfill someone else’s purpose. You were made for God’s purpose, so as long as you are in Christ, you are exactly where He wants you to be, doing what He wants you to do. But I’m going to take it somewhere else with this one because I don’t think many people teach on this side of the coin.


Let’s look at Jesus Christ. I heard a sermon from my hero, Timothy Keller, the other day in which He said something that shook me to my core, “Jesus Christ is the only human being God has ever told, ‘Obey me completely and I will crush You and send You to hell.’”


Mic drop.


And Jesus still obeyed His Father. I had to ask myself the obvious question, would I still follow God if He told me the same? The answer has to be yes. Why? Because He is the Potter and I’m the clay. I don’t get to tell the Potter what I want to be made for. I don’t get to complain that He made me as a pot with no purpose other than to be broken to pieces. Maybe a latrine, to just get crapped on over and over again. Or maybe the most gorgeous piece of artwork the world has ever seen; something that makes people stand in awe of the One who created it.


I am choosing to praise God equally either way and I hope you’ll join me. On this day, I’m choosing to declare to God that He is the Potter and I am the clay, and whether He glorifies me while I’m here on this earth or crushes me to the dust, I will praise Him and serve the purpose for which He has created me.


How will I do this? Through the power of the Holy Spirit in me. I can’t do this on my own. I have way too much pride for that. But Jesus did and has offered the Holy Spirit to do it through me as I surrender to Him.


Not a super peppy and happy message…you can see why no one likes to teach on this. But I choose to believe all of the Bible, not just the parts that make me feel good.

August 16, 2017

August 16, 2017


Focus Verse: “Although our iniquities testify against us,
O Lord, act for Your name’s sake!
Truly our apostasies have been many,
We have sinned against You.”
Jeremiah 14:7


Woah. Iniquities and apostasies, O my! Once we sift through the five-star theological vocabulary words though, a pretty life-changing message emerges. To see it more clearly, let’s take a peek ahead at Romans 8:33-34:

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

There was a time when our sins, or iniquities, were the only voice in the eternal court of law that God heard. They testified against us, bring up every action, every word, every thought, that came against the covenant God made with the human race, the covenant to be His people and to claim Him as our God.


But the Lord DID act for His name’s sake! Jesus Christ humbled Himself and came to earth, lived the life that perfectly fulfilled the covenant between us and God and then suffered the penalty that we deserve for not living up to that covenant. After being denied the very presence of His eternal Father for three days and descending into the pits of eternal damnation, the power of God would not go gently into that night. The right hand of the Father, the Holy Spirit, reached down into the depths of hell and pulled the Only Begotten Son out. Every ounce of effort and energy that Satan and all of his demons could muster was nowhere near enough to keep Jesus in the grave.


Once resurrected, after a period of teaching for forty days, Jesus was ascended to that same right hand of the Father. From this seat, the seat of honor and glory and mercy, Jesus is now the only voice in the eternal court of law that God hears! Somebody get excited about this!


Now, anytime our sins even attempt to sneak in an accusation, the voice of the Holy Spotless Lamb booms from the right hand of our Father, “IT IS FINISHED!”


What more do you need? You, who were once so lost in sin, living apart from God, have been purchased and bought with a price, and now you are more loved and accepted than you could ever imagine. God has freed you completely. O come let us adore Him!

August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017


Focus Verse: “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not fear them,
For they can do no harm,
Nor can they do any good.”

There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and great is Your name in might.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
Indeed it is Your due!
For among all the wise men of the nations
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You.

But they are altogether stupid and foolish
In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
And gold from Uphaz,
The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith;
Violet and purple are their clothing;
They are all the work of skilled men.

But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth quakes,
And the nations cannot endure His indignation.
Jeremiah 10:5-10


What other god speaks to his followers? What other god offers to walk with those who follow him? What other god humbles himself to come down and serve those who should be worshiping him? Jesus Christ is the only One!


God proves Himself true, over and over again, through relationship with us. There is no other god who offers this experience. There is no other god who comes to those whom he created and gives up everything to win their hearts back to him.


Jesus Christ is the true God! He is the living God and everlasting King! The very earth trembles before Him, yet His love for us is everlasting. The God of the universe gave up everything for you. What other god can make that claim?

August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017


Focus Verse: Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23-24


What are you boasting in? Now let’s not take too high a view of boasting here. Sometimes we can look at the extreme, see we are innocent of that, and ignore the fact that we are guilty of thousands of minor versions of the major. But all sin is equal in God’s eyes, the major and the minor versions are still rooted in the same disobedience.


The Hebrew word used in this passage comes from root ‘halal’, specifically ‘yithalal’. There is another form of this root that we are familiar with today, ‘halluyah’, from which we get the word hallelujah. Most commonly, “halluyah’ is translated “praise the Lord”, the ‘halal’ getting the definition praise and the ‘yah’ translating Lord. ‘Yithalal’ on the other hand is translated as ‘man glory’. That took a little while to set up, but I’m going somewhere with this (if you haven’t picked up on it already).


Our boasting is not excessive bragging according to this passage. Our boasting is taking credit for any praise that belongs to God. What praise belongs to God? EVERY PRAISE! There is nothing that you have that God has not given to you. Your talents, opportunities, skills, abilities, connections…you name it, all comes from God’s gracious hand. The fact that you are still alive and kicking, that you even woke up to take another breath this morning is a gift from God.


Now let’s not fall into the mistake of false humility off of this teaching. We are to deflect any praise we receive to God. This doesn’t mean that we deny the praise. If someone tells me that they love how I lead worship, the proper response is to give God glory for that. It is NOT proper to deny the praise. “Oh, well I’m really not that good. I just do my best.” That’s false humility and people can pick up the stink of that from a mile away.


This is actually how I used to deal with compliments. I thought that humility was thinking less of myself, but that’s absolutely not true. In fact, it’s insulting to the God who has blessed me with the gifts and talents that I have!


The proper response is to praise God for the gifts He has given us. When people recognize those gifts, use it as an opportunity to point the spotlight on Jesus. Give Him praise for being so liberal in His blessings on your life. Boast about his love! Boast about his justice! Boast about His righteousness! As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Let he who boasts, boast in the Lord”!

August 13, 2017

August 13, 2017


Focus Verse: To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it.
Jeremiah 6:10


“The Word of the Lord has become a reproach to them…” What a devastating statement. And a statement like this spells only disaster for those to whom it holds true. Sadly, people don’t trust that God has their best interest in mind. They don’t believe that the Bible is His inspired Word. They distrust men more than they trust God. They can’t believe that men, in any age of history, could write something without cultural bias. As a former English teacher, that’s one of the first things that I taught my students when reading any kind of book, to try to spot the writers bias because we all have them.


The Word of God is different though, if you believe it is Spirit inspired. It wasn’t men writing these books (yes, they physically held the pens, or quills, or chisels…whatever the medium happened to be at that time), it was the Holy Spirit. But some of us don’t like that. We distrust men more than we trust God.


We also equally hate being told that we are wrong. So that makes it twice as easy to throw the Word of God away when it shows us the error of our ways. We don’t want to admit that we have flaws that need ironed out, we don’t like to admit that we can’t do it on our own, that we need a Savior, so we throw the Word of God out and dismiss it, either altogether or as a set of general guidelines, but nothing we need to adhere to strictly.


But God’s Word is LIFE! God speaks LIFE! His commands in scripture aren’t to burden us, they are to give us the fullest life possible – life IN Him! The reason He tells us that we are wrong, the reason He corrects us, is because there is a better way we could be living by, HIS way, and He wants to see us grab that. He wants to help us live it out through His Holy Spirit.


It is this life-giving message of God’s Word that we can take delight in. Go read through Psalm 119. That’s taking delight in God’s Word! It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about delighting in God’s Word. Why? Because God’s Word IS life. God’s Word gives life! Let His Word breathe life into you today!

August 12, 2017

August 12, 2017


Focus Verse: Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:6-8


If God has called you (and He has called all of us), then He will equip and empower you to complete the work that He has given you to do. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. We can’t sit back and do nothing and expect God to bless us (unless that is what He has specifically called you to do). We can do our work from a position of rest though.


Are you resting in God’s calling today? What has He called you to do that feels impossible? Step out in obedience and work from a position of rest. Rest in what He has already done. Rest in the fact that the Holy Spirit is empowering you to accomplish what God so desires. Rest in the fact that you aren’t strong enough to screw up the will of God; that He will move through your weakness to show off His strength.


You may feel inadequate, but that’s a great place to be. It means that you have to rely on what Jesus did and what He will do through the Holy Spirit in you.


What an amazing God we serve!