This functional baseball bat-shaped beacon is known as the Chirma Hang “Baseball” Lighthouse and it is located in Busan, South Korea. It, along along with a sculpture of a ball and a glove, was built to symbolize the importance of baseball to Busan and to commemorate Korea’s first ever gold medal in Olympic baseball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many other lighthouses have been built in the image of something important to a particular town or province.
Red horse lighthouse in Jehu City, South Korea commemorates the Korean Jehu Horse.
The Baby Bottle Lighthouse is also in Busan, South Korea. It was built to signify the importance of childbirth as well as encourage it. [Read my devotion on this lighthouse titled, The Light of Life)
Once used as lighthouses, The Rostral Columns in St. Petersburg, Russia, were erected to commemoratea naval victory. They each have four pairs of ships prows that represent the four major Russian Rivers.
True followers of Jesus Christ are like lighthouses for God in this world.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
And even though we shine the light of Christ by spreading the Good News of His salvation, we also portray an image that can either complement or contradict the message we proclaim. Our actions, reactions, and passions play a vital part in demonstrating to the world the genuineness of our faith and the true saving and transforming power of the Gospel.
“Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
“…[I]n speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
1 Timothy 4:12b
What would others notice when they first meet you? What would they say is your true passion after spending some time with you? What do your casual conversations and work and social ethics declare about you as a Christian? Be honest, if someone was to build a lighthouse that depicts what you are passionate about, what would it look like (shape/accents)? Would it include an image of the Bible, a cross, or praying hands? Would it be accented with flowers (if you are an avid gardener)? Or, bald eagles and Siberian tigers (if you advocate for endangered species)? Would it be painted to resemble the inside of a library (if you love books)?
Faro de Ajo is an active lighthouse located in Spain. It was painted with over 70 colors to show off the cultural diversity of the area. It also alludes to the natural wealth of the region by representing local fauna.
There is nothing wrong for a Christian to have a passion for something or support a cause that is non-spiritual. The problem arises when it overshadows spiritual/heavenly devotion.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
“Set your minds (hearts) on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Or when it opposes (in any form) the holy precepts of God as revealed in Scriptures.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.”
“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”AMP
1 John 2:15
Unfortunately, there are many professing Christians whose true passions shine brighter than the light of Christ. Like those whose love for bling is glaringly obvious. Their lighthouses would most likely be over-laid in gold and accented with precious jewels and all that glitters. What’s even worse, is that there are also those whose lighthouses would be heart-breaking or even offensive to look at. Like those of abortion advocates. Imagine what images those would exhibit!
Hopefully, your lighthouse would first convey your evident love for God and His word by shinning bright and steadily. Then, it would be accented with things that you are really fond of or are devoted to. Maybe it would have images of your favorite animals, foods, vehicles, super heroes, or countries you’ve visited, etc.
God created us for His glory and to enjoy and take care of the earth, not to worship it. He should have first place in our hearts and minds. He also created us uniquely different. That means that our lighthouses can be shaped and adorned in a variety of ways. Just let us make sure that what people notice first is HIS light. Then, whatever else it conveys, it includes things that compliment our love for Him and for others.
By the way, my lighthouse would also convey my love for…lighthouses!
White lighthouse photoshopped by me to include images of lighthouses.
What else would your lighthouse convey (look like)? I’d like to know. Please share your answer in the comment section below.
Prayer: Father of light, thank you for who I am in you. May my earthly passions never hinder my love and devotion for you so that your light may continue to shine brightly in and through me. Help me to remain faithful to you and your Word. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.
Where to find the peace of God in the circumstances of life
It is possible in spite of great grief, sorrow, loss, discouragement, confusion, pain and broken relationships, to learn how to live in the peace of Jesus and return to peace when ambushed by the anxieties and the brokenness of this life.
All of us battle anxiety.
All of us struggle to live in the peace of Christ. All of us struggle to remain in perfect peace.
However, the Prince of Peace, Jesus, can restore peace to you regardless of how the world around you tries to take it from you.
The apostle Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 4:6 not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
If you and I are going to live in peace we have to stop worrying.
That is easier said than done, right? When you are lying on an operating table or sitting at your kitchen table trying to figure out how to make ends meet, or saying goodbye to a love one, or trying to save your marriage or rescue a wayward child. These moments are not easy moments. It is hard in these moments to turn off the mind, to trust the Lord with it, and live out peace in your life.
It is easier to give up, give in and just worry ourselves to death.
The apostle Paul wants to teach us from God’s Word how to break these cycles of worry that create chronic anxiety in our lives that cripple our emotional abilities to function in healthy thought patterns. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
You have to let the peace of God guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
How does this take shape in us?
It took me a long time to learn this, but now that I am almost 50 years old, I’m a lot smarter.
When you are in the midst of a crisis or consumed by worry, ask yourself this question: Do I want to understand and control my life, or do I want the peace of God?
Here is the catch, you can’t have both. This is the fundamental decision that will determine the level of peace in your life.
I have decided I would rather know that God’s got it than to know what God’s doing in my life.
And when I reach this place, his peace consumes my fear because my control has been released to him. And then I no longer want to know what is going to happen. I am just comforted to know that whatever happens, God’s got it. And more importantly, God’s got me. It is at that moment when his peace passes my understanding.
I would rather have God’s peace in my life than the knowledge of knowing what he is doing in my life.
My knowledge only complicates my life. His peace simplifies my life. It gives me hope, regardless of the circumstances or the eventual outcome. This enables me to return to peace quicker and live out peace in my life more effectively.
As you practice letting go of needing to understand your life, you realize what you think about has a lot to do with how effective you will be at living in the peace of God.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy we should think and meditate on.
It is important that you and I practice good mental health.
It is unhealthy to focus on dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, uncommendable, things that lack excellence or are unworthy of praise. However, God wants us to practice healthy things and to think on healthy things.
So, are you practicing what you think about? Are you thinking on healthy things, or do you focus on unhealthy things in your life? Do you focus on how people have wronged you, the relationships that you wish were different but can’t do anything about, and the pain and destruction other people have caused you? Are you getting better or bitter with age? Only you know the answer to that question.
No one wants to be a negative thinking or acting person, but many of us find ourselves in this rut. We feel out of control, which leads to negative feelings, which lead to negative thinking on negative things. This negative thinking eventually leads to negative acting. Once this occurs, our behavior begins to destroy the fabric of our mental health.
Negativity is not a healthy thing to focus on, and it will negatively affect your walk with the Lord and even your physical and mental health over time.
Who in your life models for you good mental health? Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:9 to focus on those people in our lives. We are to put into practice the things we have learned, received, heard and seen in them, and if we do, the peace of God will be with us.
If you and I want to experience the peace of Christ, we have to practice the presence of Christ we have seen lived out in others’ lives. As we do this, we have to remain positive about what God can and will do through us. He tells you in Philippians 4:13 that you can do all things through Christ. What does that mean? It means you can handle success and failure. You can handle gain and loss. You can handle good times and bad times.
Ask God for the strength to do it. He will give it to you. And sometimes that strength will come through the help of others. Paul was grateful for the help he received from the Philippians. He told them in Philippians 4:13 how kind it was for them to share in his troubles. All of us need someone to share in our troubles. It is how God made us.
One of the first things anxiety steals is your attitude of gratitude. It is easy to feel alone, overwhelmed and defeated. It is important you remember how others are with you. Who in your life are you grateful for? Remember them. It will give you the strength you need to go on.
God will give you the strength to do what he has asked you to do and endure what he has asked you to endure. He will bring just the right people in just the right time to help you shoulder what he has asked you to carry in this season. I have experienced this many times in my life over the past 24 years of being a pastor.
We know from Acts that God called Paul to share the gospel in Rome. Philippians 4:22 tells us Paul was effective because he remained faithful regardless of the cost, even if that meant his life.
Paul went to Rome and spent quality time with the Lord in a jail cell. I wonder if he ever thought to himself, So this is what my ministry influence has come to? I expected more in the later years of my life.
Little did he know that Rome would become the vehicle by which God would disperse the gospel to the entire world. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome.” And if all roads lead to Rome, then that means all roads from Rome lead to the entire world.
God used Paul in that little jail cell to send the gospel to the household of Caesar. From there, the household of Caesar took the gospel to the entire world. This is why you and I get to know of Jesus today.
Sometimes looks are deceiving. Sometimes our “insignificant moments” turn out to be our most significant moments in life.
Maybe you feel like Paul may have felt. Maybe you feel like your ministry or the significance of your life has been narrowed to little or nothing of what you expected.
Remember this, God sees, and he hasn’t forgotten what you have done for him.
He remembers and he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
It worked for Paul, and it can work for you too.
Can you say, I don’t understand what God is up to in my life, but I trust him?
If so, the gospel of Jesus Christ will go forth in your life in a more effective way, in spite of the anxiety-filled circumstances of your life, because you have chosen to live a life of peace through the power of Jesus Christ.
“I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” Psalm 119:15-16 (NLT)
We read the Bible because we know how valuable it is to our entire lives. It is water to our spirit. And since our spirit is eternal, it supersedes and shapes our natural being as well — body, mind, emotions, and will. We read God’s Word because it gives us energy, clears the mind, directs our path, draws us to God, abates our worries and satisfies our soul!
1. Read the Bible for Guidance.
If God can direct the universe, then He can direct our lives through the Bible. Reading the Owner’s Manual to Life (the Bible) is the only way to live life at its best design.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
2. Read the Bible for Sustenance.
We are both physical and spiritual beings, so we need natural food and supernatural food to stay strong and healthy. Also, during difficult seasons in life, we may need a lot of spiritual nourishment. Reading the Bible provides that necessary nourishment.
“People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (NLT)
3. Read the Bible because it’s Alive.
The Bible is not only a physical book, it is a supernatural Source of Good. It is God’s Living Water (His Presence) moving through our lives (John 7:38) as we read it. Read the Bible and God’s energy pours into our lives.
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
4. Read the Bible for Blessing.
Reading the Bible promotes wellness in our lives as we allow it to shape our beliefs, thoughts and actions. We may not feel the results of its nourishment at first, but our daily reading will eventually become evident.
“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says …” Revelation 1:3 (NLT)
5. Read the Bible to Purify.
Reading the Bible is to the spirit like water is to the body, it purifies! Reading the Bible gets rid of all the spiritual toxins (doubt, worry, fear, etc.) and replaces them with pure liquid Jesus and all that good found in Him! Reading the Bible refreshes and revives us!
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Psalm 119:9 (NKJV)
6. Read the Bible for Correction and Equipping.
We can live in victory because the Bible is cutting out all that is not of God and replacing it with things that actually help us overcome. Letting God correct us by reading the Bible leaves room for Him to equip us. Reading the Bible gives us everything we need each day to be victorious!
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
7. Read the Bible for more Jesus.
The Bible says Jesus is the Word spoken to create and redeem all of us. Jesus is the Person of God and His presence flows in the Bible. When we read the Bible, we drink the very presence of Jesus and all that good contained in Him.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” John 1:1-3 (NLT)
8. Read the Bible for Healing.
The well-spring of Jesus’s healing power is found in the Bible. Once we fully believe God and His promises found in His Word, our faith WILL activate Jesus’s power in our spiritual, physical, relational, emotional and mental lives! We just need to read the Bible to get that power!
“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)
9. Read the Bible because it’s our Offensive Weapon.
God protects us, and He does give us one tool to fight back and to overcome, the Bible! Reading the Bible every day will make us better at wielding our Swords and fighting the good fight of faith. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 We can only have victory each day by reading the Bible.
“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)
10. Read the Bible because it’s Freedom.
If we feel oppressed by thoughts or limited by our own attitudes, the Bible is Truth. And once we know the truth about who we are in Christ by reading the Bible, we will live in the freedom God has given us as His children and co-heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17 Read the Bible and walk in complete freedom!
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)
11. Read the Bible because it’s Eternal.
Every promise the Bible gives us, as we read it each day, stays with us forever! Everything in this world will fade except those things rooted to Christ. Read the Bible and discover what’s eternal, so we can apply eternity to our daily lives on earth!
“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Matthew 24:35 (NLT)
I recently had the privilege of speaking on the theme of Paying the Price at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in California, pastored by Rob McCoy (a short clip is here.) My brief exhortation drove home the fact that America crossed a dangerous line years ago. Instead of repenting and turning back to God, we have walked further into the deep waters of ungodliness.The decadence and brutality in our streets are unparalleled in our history. Despair and depression reign in our land. But—believe it or not—I am hopeful.
Where do I find such hope? In studying various spiritual awakenings (including those in the Bible), I have found that darkness often precedes light. For instance, in his book on revival, W. T. Stead makes a stunning observation: “It is the darkest hour before the dawn. The nation always seems to be given over to the Evil One before the coming of the Son of Man [Jesus Christ]. The decay of religious faith, the deadness of the Churches, the atheism of the well-to-do, the brutality of the masses, all of these, when at their worst, herald the approach of the Revival.” He then concludes with this powerful offer of hope: “Things seem to get too bad to last. The reign of evil becomes intolerable. Then the soul of the nation awakes.” Sadly, it often takes tragedy and calamity to wake us up.
Have We Really Sought the Lord Wholeheartedly?
Decades ago, Gordon Cove challenged readers when he wrote, “You have not sought the Lord with ‘your whole heart’ until you have tried a protracted season of prayer and fasting.”Could a lack of prayer and fasting be one of the hindrances to a spiritual awakening? Absolutely! Desperate times call for desperate measures. A full stomach makes seeking God difficult, prayer hard, and worship challenging.
Cove continues, “In many cases, where fasting has been added to the prayers, along with deep consecration and weeping before God, the answer has miraculously come to hand.” Fasting doesn’t twist God’s arm, but it does bend my knee. Fasting isn’t a work; it’s exchanging one appetite for a greater one.
The Spark that Ignites the Flame
My goal isn’t to overemphasize fasting, but it’s clear that fasting has fallen by the wayside and King Stomach is still on the throne. In reading about the spiritual renewals under the preaching of John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Duncan Campbell, Evan Roberts, and the Puritans, as well as in the First and Second Great Awakenings, I have found that, along with keeping the Word of God front and center, intense prayer and vigorous fasting were the sparks that ignited the flame. God heard the cry of His children.
Could it be that we aren’t willing to pay the price through a deep season of prayer and fasting? Granted, in the same way we cannot produce a field of corn by making it rain, a spiritual awakening cannot be orchestrated. It’s God’s work alone, but we can prepare the soil of our heart by fully surrendering our lives. God revives those who submit themselves to Him with open and empty hands (Isaiah 57:15).
God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility
A.W. Pink, in Gleanings from Joshua, said, “It would indeed be strange if we apprehended how that on the one hand Canaan was a free gift unto Israel, which they entered by grace alone; and on the other, that they had to fight for every inch of it!” Although we are totally dependent on God, a spiritual awakening will not come without a fight.
In the book of Joel, the people’s provisions had dried up and withered away. They were desperate and despondent, but God didn’t give up on them. To show the magnitude of their sin and the need for humility, God told Joel to consecrate a fast and cry out to Him. Crying out, fasting, and repentance were the sparks that ignited the flame (Joel 1:4-14; 2:12-17). If you’d like to join me in fasting for our nation, see the note below.
Four Essential Steps to a Spiritual Awakening
The following scriptural truths, along with prayer and fasting, can no doubt ignite the fires of another spiritual awakening.
1. Embrace godly sorrow and confess sin. Confession of sin is often a precursor to a spiritual awakening, both personally and corporately. During the 1904-1905 revivals in Wales, Evan Roberts said that four things contributed to the revival. At the top of the list was the confession of sin as well as acknowledging Jesus Christ publicly, followed by obedience to the Spirit and the removal of doubt about God’s truth. How are you doing in these areas? If we don’t make changes here, we will not experience all that God has for us.
2. Humble yourself before God does. In Isaiah 58, fasting was ineffective because the people were harsh and self-focused. Whether it’s pastors throwing tirades from the pulpit, carnal Christians mocking God, or proud believers who never look in the mirror, we have not yet humbled ourselves. We underestimate how rebellion and pride prevent spiritual awakenings: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Pride must be crushed under the power of the cross.
3. Holiness is not a suggestion. Second Corinthians 7:1 says that we must purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our spirit. Romans 12:1 reminds us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Without holiness, no one will see revival. Perhaps it’s time to examine yourself and see how you’re doing in this area. If nothing comes to mind, ask God to show you areas of sin in your life. Spend a Sweet Hour of Prayer with God.
4. There must be continual hunger and thirst for God. On this point, I’m often reminded of the three times in Leviticus 6 where God instructs that fire should always be burning on the altar. And Jesus, in Matthew 5:6, tells us that only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.
A spiritual awakening is God’s power meeting God’s people who are hungry for more of Him. Full surrender isn’t optional; it’s essential:“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
It’s not about perfection but direction. What direction are you heading? Will He find you empty, humble, and desperate, or full, arrogant, and satisfied?
Will you pay the price for a national awakening? It’s our only hope.
Note: I recently became so broken over what we are leaving the next generation that I began a lengthy water fast, not knowing that it would be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m planning to post my experience in May 2021. You can hear about the outcome by subscribing to my YouTube channel here. Additionally, my new book, 40 Days to Reset Your Life, is scheduled to be released in June. This book demonstrates how prayer and fasting can reset your life and change your spiritual course as well as the course of the nation.
James is still addressing the suffering saints when he writes, “Be patient.” This is his counsel at the beginning of his letter (1:1–5) and is still his counsel at the end of his letter. He knows God is not going to right all the wrongs in this world until Jesus returns, so we must patiently endure—and expect.
Three times James reminds us of the coming of the Lord (5:7–9). This is the “blessed hope” of the Christian (Titus 2:13). We do not expect to have everything easy and comfortable in this present life. “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Paul told his converts, “We must go through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We must patiently endure hardships and heartaches until Jesus returns.
But the question we must answer is: How can we as Christians experience this kind of patient endurance as we wait for the Lord to return? To answer that question, James gave three encouraging examples of patient endurance.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
If a man is impatient, then he had better not become a farmer. No crop appears overnight (except perhaps a crop of weeds) and no farmer has control over the weather. Too much rain can cause the crop to rot, too much sun can burn it up, and an early frost can kill the crop. How long-suffering the farmer must be with the weather! He must also have patience with the seed because it takes time for plants to grow. He has to wait many weeks for his seed to produce fruit.
Why does he willingly wait so long? Because the fruit is “precious” (v. 7). The harvest is worth waiting for. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
James pictures the Christian as a “spiritual farmer” looking for a spiritual harvest. Our hearts are the soil and the “seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). There are seasons to the spiritual life just as there are seasons to the soil. Sometimes, our hearts become cold and “wintry,” and the Lord has to “plow them up” before He can plant the seed (Jer. 4:3). He sends the sunshine and the rains of His goodness to water and nurture the seeds planted; but we must be patient to wait for the harvest.
Here, then, is a secret of endurance when the going is tough: God is producing a harvest in our lives. He wants the “fruit of the Spirit” to grow (Gal. 5:22–23), and the only way He can do it is through trials and troubles. Instead of growing impatient with God and with ourselves, we must yield to the Lord and permit the fruit to grow. We are “spiritual farmers” looking for a harvest.
You can enjoy this kind of harvest only if your heart is established (James 5:8). The ministry of the Word of God and prayer are important if the heart is going to be established. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to establish the young Christians in their faith (1 Thes. 3:1–3); and Paul also prayed for them that they might be established (1 Thes. 3:10–13). A heart that is not established cannot bear fruit.
Keep in mind the farmer does not stand around doing nothing: he is constantly at work as he looks toward the harvest. James does not tell these suffering believers to put on white robes, climb a hill, and wait for Jesus to return. “Keep working and waiting” was his admonition. “Blessed is that servant whom the Lord finds doing so when He returns” (Luke 12:43).
Nor does the farmer get into fights with his neighbors. One of the usual marks of farmers is their willingness to help one another. Nobody on the farm has time or energy for disputes with the neighbors. James must have had this in mind when he added, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged” (v. 9). Impatience with God often leads to impatience with God’s people and this is a sin we must avoid. If we start using the sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest!
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
A Jewish congregation would understand this simple reference James made to the Old Testament prophets. These men were well known for suffering wrong when they had done no wrong. They were harshly treated for faithfully declaring the Word of God. James alluded to such prophets to urge his readers to be patient when they themselves were suffering for doing good. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also used the prophets as an example of victory over persecution (Matt. 5:10–12).
What encouragements do we receive from their example? For one thing, they were in the will of God, yet they suffered. They were preaching “in the name of the Lord,” yet they were persecuted. Satan tells the faithful Christian his suffering is the result of sin or unfaithfulness; yet his suffering might well be because of faithfulness! “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Tim. 3:12). We must never think obedience automatically produces ease and pleasure. Our Lord was obedient and it led to death!
The prophets encourage us by reminding us God cares when we go through sufferings for His sake. Elijah announced to wicked King Ahab there would be a drought in the land for three and one half years; and Elijah himself had to suffer in that drought. But God cared for him and God gave him victory over the evil priests of Baal. It has been said, “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
Many of the prophets had to endure great trials and sufferings, not only at the hands of unbelievers, but at the hands of professed believers. Jeremiah was arrested as a traitor and even thrown into an abandoned well to die. God fed Jeremiah and protected him throughout the terrible siege of Jerusalem, even though at times it looked as though the prophet was going to be killed. Both Ezekiel and Daniel had their share of hardships, but the Lord delivered them.
Why is it that those who “speak in the name of the Lord” often must endure difficult trials? It is so their lives might back up their messages. The impact of a faithful, godly life carries much power. We need to remind ourselves our patience in times of suffering is a testimony to others around us.
This example James used from the Old Testament prophets ought to encourage us to spend more time in the Bible, getting acquainted with these heroes of the faith. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The better we know the Bible the more God can encourage us in the difficult experiences of life. The important thing is that, like the farmer, we keep working and, like the prophets, we keep witnessing, no matter how trying our circumstances may be.
In Part 2, we will look at the third example of patient endurance: Job.
I am confident of this: that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
The Bible teaches not only does Jesus save us, but He keeps us in the faith. It teaches God not only gives eternal life, but will preserve us in that life. It is not life until we sin again, it is not life until we feel differently, it is not life until times get tough and our faith grows weak, it is eternal life which will never end. Scripture is filled with the assurance that our salvation is secure.
Many people, however, tend to doubt their salvation. Here are five reasons why:
1. They have a faulty understanding of how they are saved.
If a person thinks he is saved by good works, then it stands to reason he would think his salvation could be lost by bad works. This is the problem with many people today. They feel they can lose their salvation. They say, “If I could earn it, I could lose it. If I could deserve it, I could desert it.” But this is incorrect. The truth of the matter is since we cannot earn it, since it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast, then we did not deserve it in the first place.
This is why a proper theological understanding of salvation is important. God chose to save us, not based on our merits or what we deserved. Rather, He chose to save us in spite of who we are and contrary to what we deserved. Salvation is based on His goodness and grace, not on our merit. When we get a proper understanding of that, when we get a clear picture of how bad our sins are and how great God’s grace is, it will give us a new and deeper appreciation for our salvation.
2. They do not have a biblical understanding of perseverance.
Instead of realizing what God has said and trusting He will be faithful to His Word, many people have based their beliefs on what someone has told them, how they feel, on faulty interpretation, or something other than the revelation in God’s Word. This is the fundamental problem with all doctrinal error, that people have not rightly divided the Word of God and have based their belief on a view which is not biblical.
Many people base their beliefs on experience. They might say something like this: “I knew a person who was a great Christian for many years, but then one day he decided to walk away from the faith and leave God behind. He just laid down his salvation and abandoned God.” Scripture gives insight into such cases: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19). If we are truly saved, we will persevere in our salvation to the end.
3. They are ignorant of God’s promises in His Word.
The level of biblical illiteracy today is astonishing. Many professing Christians know more about their favorite sports teams than they do the doctrines of the faith. It is no wonder why so many of us are so easily led astray by every wind of doctrine which blows across the ecclesiological landscape.
The antidote for this is simple: get grounded and rooted in the Word of God, and learn what it says about who God is. God’s Word tells us He gives eternal life: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13).
4. They are out of fellowship with God and do not sense His presence.
There are many Christians today who experience doubts about their salvation for no other reason than they are out of fellowship with God. Our salvation is all about relationship. It is about walking and talking, breathing and being; it is about practicing the presence of God in our lives. But many Christians have allowed sin to remain in their lives, unconfessed and unaddressed. They have grieved the Holy Spirit of God and are no longer sensitive to His presence in their lives, nor are they aware of His movement around them. It is little wonder why people in such a state doubt their salvation.
The solution for this is simple: Get right with God. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
5. They are not saved and sense they are lost because they really are.
One of the reasons people doubt their salvation is simply because they are not saved. They may have knowledge of the church. They may have knowledge of Scripture. They may have grown up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian friends and family, but at the end of the day, they cannot say they have ever experienced a transformation of their life, the kind of transformation which only Jesus can bring when He gives a person a new heart and a new mind.
It is to this end that Paul tells the Christians at Corinth: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The reason many people will go to hell from a church pew is because they never gave themselves a spiritual examination. They never stopped to consider whether or not they were really saved. If you are truly saved, you should know it. God does not want you to be paralyzed by fear or doubts, which are ungrounded or unfounded.
The solution is clear: know what God’s Word says about your salvation. Stand on the truth that it is Jesus who saves you and not anything you have done. Ground yourself in good doctrine. Remember your salvation is a reflection and an extension of God’s character. Let Him show you if there is any sin in your life and stop for a moment to examine yourself spiritually to see if you are truly in the faith: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Now, I told you a couple of weeks ago that we had finished the New Testament. Doesn’t mean I’ll never go back there again. I will. I have some plans to. But the natural assumption is that we’re going to take a look at the Old Testament. And I do have some plans for that. I’m working on kind of putting together a sort of a long series that could last the rest of our lives together, that you could – you could sort of call “The Road to Emmaus.”
You remember in Luke 24, Jesus on the road to Emmaus said to the disciples, it says that he said to them, “Beginning at Moses and the prophets and in all the holy writings, He spoke to them of the things concerning Himself.” Well, Moses, that’s the law; the prophets, the prophets; the holy writings, all the other books. Those are the three categories of the Old Testament.
So Jesus went to the Old Testament and taught them the things from the Old Testament that were about Him. So I can’t cover everything in the Old Testament, but I think we’ll go on a road-to-Emmaus journey and we’ll go through the Old Testament and find all the things that refer to Christ there. And there are many of them, and you might be surprised to know that Christ appears first in the Old Testament in Genesis 1:1. And last, in the last chapter of the Old Testament, in Malachi. So He is the beginning and the end of the Old Testament and whole lot of places in between. So that’s one of the things I want to do, among several others, and I’m kind of working on that as I attempt to reinvent myself this summer.
Now, I want to demonstrate to you that I do really know there is an Old Testament, and I am actually willing to teach the Old Testament to you. So let’s get a sample, all right? Open your Bible to Jeremiah – open your Bible to Jeremiah, the remarkable prophecy of the man known as the weeping prophet. He wrote this great prophecy of fifty-two chapters, and in addition to that, of course, he is responsible for the wonderful, deep, and insightful book of Lamentations. Jeremiah.
And I want to talk about Jeremiah because I think Jeremiah is a man for a time like our time. The Old Testament prophets were historical figures, real figures living in real events that are laid out for us in their prophecies and in their histories. But they are not unique in the sense that the times and the seasons and the issues that faced them were somehow never repeated. They are, in fact, the same cycles that are repeated through all of human history. Jeremiah lived in a time in a nation that is very instructive for us, living in the time and the nation in which we live today.
I think you are pretty much aware, if you are at all attuned to the character of our culture, that naturalism dominates our society. You might say there was a time in America when supernaturalism dominated our thinking. In other words, we were a nation under God. And you know they’re deleting that from the Pledge of Allegiance, I understand even at a golf tournament, trying to figure out how to get it off our coins. But there was a time when we were happy to say we are a nation under God, we are supernaturalists.
We believe in a Creator. We believe in God as a sovereign ruler of the universe. But we have abandoned that and we are essentially now rapidly becoming a nation of naturalists. The most influential intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, educators, politicians, judges in America are mostly naturalists.
Naturalists assume that God exists only in the imagination of religious people, that the idea of God is, frankly, a superstition, an irrational superstition that is created out of a pre-scientific era to meet certain anxieties of the human heart. The truth is, however, there is no God and everything is simply a consequence of natural effects. Naturalism is the idea that nature is all there is, that virtually everything that exists is simply the product of unplanned, uncontrolled accidents. Life is based on this assumption, that we have just randomly evolved into what we are today.
Creation, then, is the result, as we know it, life as we know it is the result of unconscious forces randomly mutating. Man says evolutionary science is the purposeless end of a purposeless process that did not have him in mind. Oops, he just showed up. This is what is taught in the universities and then this is what is learned by the students. Those students then become the next generation of educators, the next generation of politicians, the next generation of social architects, the next generation of judges who make their legal decisions. They become the next generation of journalists who interpret things that are going on in the world from a naturalist perspective. It is a form of atheism.
And while not all of them would deny the existence of some god, they are almost all very anxious to deny the existence of the biblical God. Those who believe in God are seen as irrational. Those who believe in the biblical God are seen as dangerous and must be kept out of the public discourse. And in the name of separation of church and state, we cannot have people who believe the Bible and the biblical God to be the true God have anything to say about public policy, public life, education, government, social order, law, courts, or morality.
All this rejection of God is purported to be based on science. It is called for by intellectualism. It is demanded by freedom and tolerance and mutual respect. There’s no place for anybody being an authority, anybody saying there is one God who is the absolute ruler who has written one book in which is contained all His will and all truth pertaining to Him and life in His world that is necessary. That is absolutely objectionable. There is this wholesale rejection of God. It is, however, not intellectual, it is the product of the love of iniquity. That’s all it is. Not a love of freedom, not a love of intellectualism, it’s not a love for science, it is a love for sin that drives this.
If you get rid of the God of the Bible, you get rid of the Bible. If you get rid of the Bible, you get rid of biblical morality. If you get rid of biblical morality, you can live any way you want with the assumption that there would be no consequences. So all the supposed intellectual naturalists are nothing but Hedonists wanting to express their lust in an unbridled way. Anybody with half a brain knows that all of this didn’t come from no one. Spurgeon said, “I can scarcely conceive a heart so callous that it feels no awe or a human mind so dull and destitute of understanding as fairly to view the tokens of God’s omnipotent power and then turn aside without some sense of wonder and obedience.”
How can you look at what exists and not be in awe of the source of it? How can we sin against so great a reality by denying it and then sin against the will of the very God we deny against the greatness of the Almighty? Well, our instruction today is going to come from the prophet Jeremiah as to how we respond to a society like ours which is very much like his.
Turn to Jeremiah chapter 5 – Jeremiah chapter 5. In a 52-chapter book, obviously there’s a lot more than we would attempt to cover, but I think I can give you a feel for the man and his time that will relate to how we approach the time and the place where we find ourselves today. Chapter 5 and verse 20 is one of the sermons of Jeremiah that comes from the Lord, and it gives us a good insight into the way things were.
Jeremiah is told by the Lord to say these things. “Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying,” – here is the message that God gives him – ‘Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear. Do you not fear me?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do you not tremble in my presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree so that it cannot cross over it. Though the waters toss, yet they cannot prevail. Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.
“‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart. They have turned aside and departed. They do not say in their heart, “Now let us fear the Lord our God who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” Your iniquities have turned these away and your sins have withheld good from you.’”
Now, what is this saying? It’s really a very, very clear statement. He is saying that the people of God, the men of Judah, the people of Jacob, the Jews have looked at the creation, they have seen the ocean and the land that bounds it, they have understood the rain at the appropriate season and the seasons and the rain that together produced the food that sustains life. They have seen the enduring consistency of all of this. They have seen the power of these provisions and the wonder of them – that is to say, the majesty of God in creation is on display. The providence of God is manifest, and it ought to stir up their hearts in worship. That’s why he says in verse 22, “Do you not fear me or worship me? Do you not tremble in my presence?”
On the contrary. They say in their heart, “Let us” – verse 24 – “not really fear the Lord.” It should say, “Let us fear the Lord now.” But they don’t. Their wills do not submit to Him. They don’t even give Him honor as the Creator and the provider. The almighty power of Jehovah is manifest, it is visible in the works of His creation, that should constrain His covenant people, Israel, and any people in any era of history to fear His name, to be in awe of Him as the Creator, to reverence Him as the source of provision, the One who controls the sea, provides the land and the seasons and the food.
How can we contemplate this God and not worship Him and not give Him honor and not turn to Him and not obey Him? That is the question that God tells Jeremiah to pose to Judah, the southern kingdom, the remaining people in the land of Israel. The northern kingdom already had been taken into captivity for their own apostasy.
But there’s more here than fact. There is an analogy here, and I want you to see the analogy. The analogy appears in verse 22. It is a fact that God places sand as a boundary for the sea. It is a fact that the waves toss and yet they cannot prevail, they roar yet they cannot cross over. It is a fact that God controls the oceans with the shore. The sea, then, Jeremiah says, never breaks its boundary. It obeys me in all its movements. It may toss and turn, there may be an occasional tidal wave, there may be an occasional tsunami, but the sea will go back to its ordered place.
However, on the contrary, verse 23, “This people has a stubborn and rebellious heart. They have turned aside and departed. They will not be bound. They will not stay within the confines of God’s will and purpose. They are a revolting and rebellious people. They go astray. They break all the boundaries. This pure, puny, sinful man, this little creature that God could crush like a moth under your shoe, this man will resist the restraints of God and overrun all his boundaries. Man in his fallenness cannot be held in check, either individually or collectively. The sea tosses and turns but it obeys. It is restrained by a little belt of sand. Its mighty powers are held back.”
But people, says God, who have stronger restraints than sand are rebellious and overrun the borders that God has established. That’s what the people of the nation Israel had done. The borders, the boundaries, His promises, His threats, His judgments, His commands, His Covenants, and they overran them all. Man is hellbent on revolt. It’s just the way it is. That is how, God says, Jeremiah must see His people.
Now, into this situation in the southern kingdom of Judah, God drops this prophet, and he’s a remarkable man. His message is the judgment that is coming and it is coming fast. In fact, the judgment came in his lifetime. About a century earlier, there was another very familiar prophet, Isaiah, who said the same thing, “Judgment is coming, judgment is coming, judgment is coming,” and he was referring to the Babylonian captivity, the holocaust of the arrival of the Babylonian-Chaldean army to desecrate the temple, destroy the temple, conquer Jerusalem, massacre multiple thousands of people, and carry the rest off captive into a pagan culture. That particular holocaust, among many in the life of Israel, Isaiah said would come. About a century later, Jeremiah arrives, and it’s during his lifetime that it actually does come.
Jeremiah was a preacher for about the same length of time as I have been here, 42 years – 42 years. He preached during the reign of five kings. The first king was a man named Josiah – Josiah. The end of the reign of Josiah was a time of reformation and a time of revival. The law was recovered, and Josiah sought to bring the law to the people, and it produced a revival.
However, a prophetess named Huldah showed up and said, “This is superficial. This is man-centered. This is not going to last. This will have no permanent reformation.” That was true. The superficial revival under Josiah didn’t last. What Josiah did was right, he did all the right things, but the people’s response was surfeited and superficial.
Josiah’s reign was followed by the second king during the ministry of Jeremiah, a man by the name of Jehoahaz. He only lasted three months. He was followed by Jehoiakim and he returned the people to corruption. He led them right back into idolatry and the worship of false gods.
He was followed by Jehoiachin, who also lasted three months. And Jehoiachin was followed by the final king during the time of Jeremiah and the last king of the southern kingdom before the captivity, a man named Zedekiah, who was a vacillating weakling, saw the nation more swiftly down the steep slide of depravity that led to absolute ruin and deportation. He had tough going.
The first king, superficial revival; the next four, rapid decline. And through 42 years of these five kings, Jeremiah’s message never changed – never, ever changed. He was always the voice of God to that society, as any faithful preacher must be. His preaching in no way deterred the idolatry. His preaching in no way stopped the slide. His preaching in no way eliminated the judgment. He never saw, essentially, any impact on a national level through 40 years of his efforts. He was faithful and he was despised, and eventually they threw him in a pit to try to shut him up.
I see so many parallels between Jeremiah’s time and Jeremiah and our time and faithful preachers today. We stand near the holocaust. We have to be on the brink of a devastating judgment in this nation. We have gone through some quasi revivals. There are people who would argue that we’ve had some revivals, that the gospel has spread, that Bibles have spread, that we’re on television and radio and through all kinds of media, the gospel is going out and yet we see no – no reversing of the direction of this nation. We see no lasting results.
The church seems superficial and shallow and consumed with self-fulfillment and self-gratification. So we come to a place in the life of Jeremiah that parallels our own time, and we ask this question: How do we approach a nation on the brink of judgment? Let’s learn from Jeremiah. I’m going to show you three elements.
Number one, Jeremiah understood that he had a divine mission – a divine mission. I’m sure there were people in those days who were calling for all kinds of social reform, all kinds of political action, all kinds of educational advancement. But none of those had anything to do with the calling of Jeremiah, nor did they have anything to do with our calling. Ours is a divine mission – a divine mission.
In other words, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” That becomes clear to us in the commission of Jeremiah. Let’s go back to chapter 1. It’s one of the most fascinating callings that any man of God has ever had and here, Jeremiah is informed of things about which he had no knowledge. Verse 4, “The Word of the Lord came to me,” he says. “The Word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’” Wow.
Here’s the first thing to understand about a divine mission: Your life is predestined by God – your life is predestined by God. Long before Jeremiah was ever conceived in the womb of his mother, long before Hilkiah, his father, and his mother came together to bring him life, long before that, sometime not only before the birth of Jeremiah, before the conception of Jeremiah, but probably before the foundation of the world, Jeremiah was chosen and appointed as a prophet, not only to Judah but to the nations. His message extended beyond Judah and it’s still extending even today, across the globe wherever the prophet is read.
Long before life ever was given to this man, God had determined to separate him, put him in a unique place at a unique time as a consecrated prophet of God to speak for God – predestination. Here, in this brief beginning with eleven short Hebrew words, God gives Jeremiah his own biography. Beginning in eternity past, the timeless eons of eternity, right on through until there are no more nations left for him to preach, God sums up his calling as predestined. He is an intensely human personality, this Jeremiah, and if you read the book and read it and read it and read it, you’re going to learn to love this man.
He is very human, and yet his humanity does not explain the power of his preaching and the relentless endurance of his faithfulness. He is a man who is mysteriously endowed with power from on high to survive the rejection that marked his entire life. He is so humanly weak that he can’t stop crying, and yet he is so unassailably strong that he will not yield and compromise. He is a powerful personality. He is a lovable personality.
Now let me tell you something. When there is a crisis, people look for a program, but God looks for a man. When there is a crisis, people look for some system to fix it, and God looks for a man and God looks for a woman. When God wanted to deal with a crisis, He started with a baby. In this case, Jeremiah was that baby. And He designed him in the womb. And He put him together to have the human capabilities that he needed to do this. He also endowed him with the spiritual equipment to fulfill his appointment by God.
Jeremiah knew this, and this was the bottom line, he was sovereignly ordained by God to do what he did. And it was never a matter of results. It was never a matter of his will. In fact, to show you that, look at verse 6, “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God’” – sounds like Isaiah, “Woe is me.” Are you kidding? “Alas, Lord God, I don’t know how to speak, I’m no speaker, and I’m just a youth.” You’re looking at the wrong guy. I’m inadequate, I’m not qualified, I can’t do this.
How did he overcome that sense of insufficiency, inadequacy? What took him beyond that was the clear indication that he had been predestined by God to this calling. By the way, whoever doesn’t have a sense of being predestined by God to service will never lead a spiritual revolution. Most people living in the church today have no sense of divine mission, they’re just bouncing from job to job and event to event and engagement to engagement and activity to activity. That’s the way they live, that’s the way they raise their kids.
There’s no sense of an overarching divine mission. There’s no sense – and this is tragic – in the life of believers that the birth of every believer was ordained by God, the death of every believer was ordained by God, which means the middle was ordained by God and for purposes that advance the name of Christ and the glory of the kingdom, and that’s the last thing on our priority list. Not Jeremiah. He knew that he had been called by God from before he was born, designed in the womb, separated from the womb, separated from the society, appointed to be a prophet, and he had been called to fulfill his mission.
Not only was he predestined by God but he was provided by God what he needed. He says, “I don’t know how to speak and I’m a youth.” So the Lord says to him, “Don’t say ‘I’m a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak.”
Now, the first thing you would say is, “What am I going to say? What am I going to say?” The educators say that the greatest fear that humans have is the fear of public speaking. Well, the reason people have a fear of public speaking is very often related to the fact that they have no idea what to say or they think that what they have to say isn’t important and most of the time they’re exactly right. In fact, some of the people who do most of the public speaking have the least to say and should be embarrassed about speaking.
But when you have the most important message, that hesitancy has a way of disappearing, does it not? When you see the children on the brink of being consumed in the house fire, you really don’t stumble over the fact of whether you should publicly yell, “Fire, get out” and grab somebody. It’s about the passion of it. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to say because you’re not going to have to invent it – you’re not going to have to come up with it. I’m going to provide it.
I’m going to give you the words to say. You’re going to speak for me. You’re going to have divine wisdom. All that I command you, you shall speak, and everywhere I send you, you shall go. That’s how any true minister, any true preacher that represents God has to approach ministry. I am predestined to this and I am provided the message. Jeremiah was resisted and hated and despised and abused.
That leads to the third aspect of his calling, not only predestination and provision but protection. Verse 8, “Don’t be afraid of them, I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. You have nothing to fear. You are called by me. You are empowered by me. You’re going to face opposition. You’re going to face antagonism, and he certainly did, constantly.
Nobody listened to him. Nobody paid attention to him. The nation didn’t turn. It was a very hard, discouraging 42 years, and people hated what he said and hated him for saying it. If you want to do an interesting study sometime in your Bible, find all the places where it says, “Fear not,” and it’s not said just to little widows who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or orphaned children who didn’t know who was going to care for them and protect them.
“Fear not” is said by God to Abraham and Moses and Daniel and Mary and Peter and Paul because any human being, even the strongest leaders, face the fear that comes with confronting people with a message they don’t want to hear. But you’ll have protection from God.
There’s a fourth component here, verses 9 and 10, power. “The Lord stretched out His hand, touched my mouth and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’” Verse 10, “‘I have appointed you this day over the nations, over the kingdoms, to pluck up, to break down, to destroy, to overthrow, to build’ and to plant.’”
That is amazing. Jeremiah feared he was nobody. He was young, he wasn’t effective as a communicator, he was unskilled in oratory. The divine answer is, “Don’t worry about it. I am going to give you the words to speak. Don’t worry about the reaction, I will protect you from the enemies of that truth. And know this, that the words that come out of your mouth will shatter and build. They will tear down and they will plant. Your words will be destruction to people and nations and construction to other people and nations.”
This is the power that belongs to the one who proclaims the truth. The great power brokers in our world, the kings and potentates and the rulers, have no power – they have no power. The power they do have is the weakness of human power or even worse, the power of the kingdom of darkness, neither of which can even approach the power of God. Kings, nations, empires boast of their power, yet the power in the world belongs to the mouths of the messengers of heaven. God picks up this obscure young man of about 30 years of age from a tiny, little, obscure country and says, “I will set you over nations, over kingdoms of the earth. Your Word will destroy and your Word will build.”
So this was his calling. He was on a divine mission. And, people, we live in a nation in a dire crisis of abandonment of God, headed for a holocaust of judgment. We’re already under the judgment of Romans 1, we’ve been turned over to our immorality, our homosexuality, and a reprobate mind. We’re on the brink of divine judgment, and what is needed is that the kingdom of God. And the representatives of that kingdom understand that our mission is divine. The reason for your birth, the reason for your death and your conversion in the middle is so that you can speak the Word of God to this culture on the brink of a holocaust. It’s a divine mission, it’s why we live.
Secondly, what characterized Jeremiah was a direct message – a direct message. He didn’t pull any punches, we would say. He didn’t pamper, cajole, soft-soap, skirt issues. He didn’t say, “Well, we don’t really want to talk about sin,” and he paid for it. Chapters 30 to 33, he wrote when he was in prison. He didn’t spend his life trying to avoid controversy, trying to make everybody happy. If you read chapter 14 and verse 7, you will hear him say, “We have sinned against God as a nation.”
If you read chapter 17 and verse 9, you will hear him say, “Your hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” He preached against sin. He indicted the nation. He indicted the sinners for their sin categorically in chapter 3, chapter 9, chapter 11, chapter 19. He accused them of being involved in false religion – false religion. You have turned to idols from the true God.
Chapter 2, verse 12, “Be appalled, O heavens, at this. Shudder, be very desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” – that’s false religion. They have turned away from the fountainhead of life, the Lord God, the One who made His Son the living water to quench the thirst of the soul of every penitent sinner.
This wicked thing they have done, turning from the fountainhead and trying to fill up their broken buckets, concocted and created by themselves as if they could hold the water of life. Labor long, do they, in false religion, hewing out cisterns, man-made, collecting dirt and dead animals but holding no water. That’s false religion.
If you are to be a faithful prophet in a nation in decline and crisis, you must expose false religion where it exists. This is not a time for tolerance, this is not a time for embracing everybody and saying, “It doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you follow your heart.” Listen, this world is full of damning false religion. I have been accused through the years of being intolerant and I accept that as a compliment. Of course I’m intolerant, I am as intolerant as God is, as Christ is, as the Bible is of anything that damns people’s souls while promising them heaven. It is a direct message. We’re not just talking about making people feel good, we confront lies.
In the seventh chapter of Jeremiah, Jeremiah indicts them for worshiping the queen of heaven, who is now cast under the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And so we confront Roman Catholicism and Mormonism and every other ism and spasm and schism and whatever it is, any of it, all of it, because we have no choice but to confront and expose false religion. That’s what Jeremiah did. He did it all the way through chapter 19 and beyond that.
He also confronted corrupt spiritual leadership. Go to chapter 5, where we were, and we’re just looking briefly at these, but chapter 5, verse 30, an appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. What is it? The prophets prophesy falsely, the priests rule on their own authority. He confronted the false prophets. He confronted the deceivers and the liars who had infiltrated Judaism. So on the one hand, he attacked the idolatry of false religion, and then he attacked the corrupt infiltrators of the true religion.
You cannot be the prophet of God, you cannot be the mouthpiece of God, you cannot be the representative of God unless you have a direct message that goes at false religion as it exists contrary to the truth and as it exists inside the categories of the truth. Jeremiah 23 says the same thing. Jeremiah 25 says the same thing.
These were false teachers who were saying whatever they wanted to say, whatever satisfied them, and the people loved it. Sure, they fill up those places where false teachers tell them what they want to hear, how good they are, how wise they are, how powerful their thoughts and their words are and how they can create their own euphoria in this world. All those liars find people who love to hear that, but what will you do at the end of it? What’s going to happen at the end when you face the judgment?
This is a direct message. He addressed wickedness in general in chapter 3. Chapter 3, verse 24 and 25, will be a sufficient illustration. “The shameful thing has consumed the labor of our fathers since our youth, their flocks, their herds, their sons, and their daughters.” It’s just – the whole society is immoral. Shame describes all conduct. Verse 25 talks about lying down in our shame. We have sinned against the Lord our God and our fathers from our youth, even to this day have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.
There’s overtones of sexual deviation, sexual perversion, sexual immorality, all about the book of Jeremiah. Perversion of marriage in chapter 3, sexual perversion there and elsewhere as well, the sexual perversion coming physically as a part of the spiritual perversion of worshiping idols. They were a wicked, wicked people.
They were also dishonest, chapter 5. This is really an indictment that we can identify with. Aren’t you weary of being lied to by people in power? Listen to what Jeremiah says in chapter 5, verse 1, “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem. Go everywhere in Jerusalem, look now and take notes, seek in her open squares. If you can find a man, if there’s one who does justice, who seeks truth, and I’ll pardon her.” Huh. I’ll halt the judgment if you can find one guy who tells the truth – one person.
Liars, deceivers, “O, Lord,” verse 2, although they say as the Lord lives” – as the Lord lives, that’s a way to swear. I swear I’m telling you the truth, God is my witness, as the Lord lives, I’m telling you the truth – they still lie, they still swear falsely. “O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?”
Sounds so much like our society. Corrupt religion abounds everywhere. False prophets have infiltrated Christianity everywhere. Moral corruption abounds on every front. Dishonesty is everywhere. There’s a rejection of Scripture.
Look at chapter 11, and we’ll wrap this up in a minute. Chapter 11, verses 8 to 10, “They didn’t obey or incline their ear but walked each one in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore, I brought on them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; they did not. The Lord said to me, ‘A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah, among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to their iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel, the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.’”
Pull one statement out, “They refused to hear my words.” Characteristically, they rejected the Word of God. They rejected the Word of God. They deliberately abandoned the Word of God. You know, that’s characteristic of our culture. There’s no place in our society for the Word of God, the truth of God, the Scripture, the Bible. It’s an amazing thing. And then in chapter 13, just to kind of summarize this second point, God does a very interesting thing. It’s a visual aid. You don’t need to read it, I’m just going to tell you what happened.
He tells Jeremiah, “Go get a pair of shorts” – underwear – “and put it on and wear it and don’t wash it.” You’ve heard of wash-and-wear, this is wear-and-don’t-wash. “Wear it and don’t wash it.” And then He comes to him and says, after he’s done that, “Go take that pair of shorts and go far away, go” – according to chapter 13, verse 4 – “up to the Euphrates River and hide it. Bury it in the crevice of a rock.” What? That’s two hundred miles. And by the way, two hundred miles is a long trip when you’re walking.
Go two hundred miles and bury dirty shorts? What is this? Well, he goes and does it, and the Lord tells him later, “Go back and get it.” What? “Go back, get those dirty shorts.” And when he goes back, by the time he digs them out, they’re horrible, disintegrated. And He says, “That’s my people. I drew them to myself as intimately as I could, and they became more foul and more foul and more foul, and I separated myself from them, and they corrupted, and they’re under judgment.” God doesn’t change the rules, right? And we don’t have covenant protection. Jeremiah was a man who had a divine mission and a very direct message – very, very direct.
There’s a third thing, and I’ll close with this. He was characterized by a deep mourning. He’s known as the weeping prophet, chapter 13, verse 17, “If you will not listen, my soul will sob in secret for such pride. My eyes will bitterly weep and flow down with tears because a flock of the Lord has been taken captive.” This is God weeping, and God wept through the eyes of Jeremiah. God wept through the eyes of Jeremiah. Jeremiah says, “O, that my head were a fountain of waters, that my head were a spring that just kept gushing water so that my tears could continually flow for my people.”
We don’t ever want to get to a place where, as we go to a nation on the brink of a holocaust of divine judgment, we become indifferent or callous. We want to have the heart of Jesus, who saw the city of Jerusalem that He was going to judge and wept over the city of Jerusalem. We want to have the heart of Jeremiah. I’ll read that to you, chapter 9, “O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” I just wish my head was a fountain of unending tears. He even calls, in chapter 9, later in the chapter, for mourning women to come out and mourn with Him over the condition of His people.
So for 42 years, he followed his divine mission. preached his direct message, and was characterized by deep mourning. What was the result? What was the result? Chapter 7 – quickly – the result, verse 23, I’ve already told you, “This is what I commanded them saying, ‘Obey my voice and I’ll be your God and you’ll be my people and walk in all the ways I command you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart and went backward and not forward.” Wow. Discouraging – discouraging. Why do you do this if nobody listens?
I’m going to close with the twenty-fourth chapter – twenty-fourth chapter and the fourth verse. “Then the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs’” – that had been illustrated on a fig tree – “‘Like these good figs, I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good. I will bring them again to this land. I will build them up and not overthrow them. I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know me, for I am the Lord, and they will be my people and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart.’”
What is that saying? There is a remnant. There is a remnant. After the destruction and the devastation and the judgment and the purification of the captivity, there is a remnant that God will save.
Why do we preach if nobody listens? Because the nobody is qualified. Within that vast number of rejecters, there is a remnant that God will save, that God will forgive, whose hearts He will change. That’s why we do what we do. You, dear ones, are that remnant, part of that remnant in a nation on the way to judgment.
Father, thank you for your Word to us. We are so grateful for its richness. It’s life-giving to us. Thank you for this precious church. I pray for those here who have not come to Christ. O Lord, would you give them that new heart? Would you cleanse them? Would you love them and seek them and draw them to yourself and save them? Thank you for all that you’re doing here and will continue to do as we’re faithful to you, and we’ll thank you in your Son’s name. Amen.
For all christians, here is an important matter to chew on. Believers do not live by the letter but by the Spirit. Have you ever thought about why we lack in love and compassion as a believer? Isn’t it necessary we think on this matter and change our outlook?
We have at some point of our spiritual walk realised that the Bible doesn’t seem to fit with the actions of the church OR today’s church isn’t really living upto the standards of our New Testament forefathers.
We see the apostles and believers living a fiery lifestyle for the glory of God. Young believers like Timothy and Stephen were examples of true Christianity. They were full of the fire of love and power from above.
Peter, a fisherman, unlearned and ignorant knew the Old Testament because of living all His life as a Jew. Peter was a completely different man after the anointing of the Holy Spirit came upon him.
People change. Cultures change.
What has remain unchanged for all Christians?
The word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, the apostles and believers gave room to the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit in their lives everyday which revived them and brought many souls into the truth.
Do not rely on world history and writings to be inspired; it will get confusing. Inspiration comes directly from God through the Holy Spirit for the believer willing to surrender all. Confirmed by the word of God.
We need to stop complaining about our pastor or leaders. There is a need to stay focused on allowing the Holy Spirit to work powerfully, so Jesus is revealed in and through our lives.
Be a diligent believer, and an encouragement for your Pastor and the house of God. There is no excuse for any believer to live a low standard life. Believers are called to look at Jesus alone. Fix your eyes on Jesus to stay faithful.
Although the majority of parents in America are concerned about their children falling behind due to the closure of schools over COVID-19, the split over whether or not to open schools is purely a partisan choice. According to market research and public opinion group Ipsos, 78 percent of Democrats oppose re-opening schools while 79 percent of Republicans support the decision.
Schools have been closed nationwide since the coronavirus outbreak began in the United States in early to mid-March. Since then, scientific research has largely reached a consensus regarding the safety for school-aged children, encompassing all parts of the COVID-19 threat including their risks of development and rates of transmission.
According to the Foundation for Research of Equal Opportunity, maintaining the closure of schools poses expansive threats to the mental, emotional, and physical health of children and their family than the reopening schools could.
“While the risks of COVID-19 in children are low and manageable, the harms of prolonged school closures are high. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, ‘The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020,’” the report says.
The science also points to children being at very low risk of hospitalization or death from the novel coronavirus.
“The Center for Disease Control’s most recent report shows 12 pediatric COVID deaths total, compared to 174 pediatric flu deaths this season. In the 2018-2019 flu season there were 400 pediatric deaths, and the 2009 swine flu pandemic killed 2,000 children,” writes Phil Kerpen in The Federalist.
Despite the strong scientific support for sending children back to school next month, democrats still advocate for keeping schools closed and continuing alternate forms of learning.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been pushing back on school openings since early July, when she said, “We don’t want our children to take risks to go to school.”
Democratic governors, including the governor of the state with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are hesitant in opening schools. Cuomo claims his likely pending decision to remain closed is “data-driven.”
“Everybody wants to reopen schools, but you only reopen if it’s safe to reopen, and that’s determined by the data,” Cuomo said. “You don’t hold your finger up and feel the wind, you don’t have an inspiration, you don’t have a dream, you don’t have an emotion–look at the data. We test more and we have more data than any state. If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don’t have the virus under control, then you can’t reopen.”
Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are pushing for schools to go back to teaching in-person. The next COVID-19 relief package, proposed by a Senate Republican, will include $70 billion for K-12 education, half of which is for schools that reopen in-person. It leaves only $5 billion for governors’ discretionary education spending. The education spending accounts for just a small percentage of the $1 trillion total package that is set for negotiations with democrats this upcoming week.
President Donald Trump has also expressed strong support for reopening schools this fall. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the president faces resistance from local leaders, many of whom are Democrats.
“President Trump has repeatedly said he wants schools to reopen fully and that keeping them physically closed hurts the economy and working parents. But some state and local leaders have already postponed school start dates and delayed in-person learning, saying it is too dangerous to have children back on campus where infections could spread,” the article reads.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, however, recommends leaving the decision at the discretion of localities. Trump accused Biden of taking a meager stance for political reason, and thereby putting the health of students second.
Corrupt Joe Biden and the Democrats don’t want to open schools in the Fall for political reasons, not for health reasons! They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany quoted Dr. Scott Atlas in a press briefing, who says the argument to keep schools closed is non-existent when looking at the science. Atlas is a member of Hoover’s Working Group on Health Care Policy and the former head of neuroradiology at Stanford Medical School.
“Of course we can do it. Everyone else in the Western world, our peer nations, are doing it. We are the outlier here,” she said. “The science is very clear on this… The risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu. The science is on our side here. We encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science. Open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children.”
Despite the overwhelming scientific support, the public debate over opening schools in America remains a partisan issue.
Allison Schuster is an intern at The Federalist and is also a rising senior at Hillsdale College working toward a degree in politics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonShoeStor.