One of the fascinating sequels in the Bible is the book of Jeremiah, followed by the book of Lamentations. The first book is all about Jeremiah’s pleadings, on God’s behalf, for God’s people to come back to Him. The book is full of recollections of God’s many attempts to get their attention and remind them that they had a covenant. He would be their God, provide all for them, and they would be His people, faithful to Him only. But they didn’t listen. To put it delicately, they pretty much decided to flaunt their unfaithfulness in God’s face. So then comes the book of Lamentations. All God’s warnings ignored, the desolation came. Now begins Jeremiah’s laments over how none of this would have happened, if God’s people had just been faithful.
Tucked in the first chapter of Lamentations is an interesting concept in verse nine. God’s people didn’t consider their destiny.
Think about that for a moment. They were so wrapped up in the here and now, instant gratification that they forgot about their ultimate destiny as God’s people. Remember that ultimate destiny? They were never to lord it over others. God simply chose them to be the ones to share His love with all the rest of the world. They lost sight of that destiny and became an exclusive club for snobs instead. God’s original plan was to save every single person on Earth. The people He blessed to share that good news with others – they failed, because they didn’t consider their destiny.
What is your destiny? Are you so caught up in the here and now, hand to mouth, daily grind and all of that – have you lost sight of your destiny? Is your marriage something you’re just surviving today, or does it have a destiny to be great? Can you hardly wait until the kids are of legal age and out of the house, or does your parenting have a destiny?
Life isn’t just about today. God created you for greatness. You have a destiny – don’t lose sight of that. Today’s decisions affect tomorrow. A score of tomorrows becomes your destiny. Have you considered your destiny today?
In the past two months, I have attended two funerals at the same church, with the same nice funeral home folks from down the street and the same congregation and community. But the funerals were vastly different.
Same church, same desire to love God and serve Him with their whole life, but the two men who passed away had one major difference. One led with truth and the other led with grace. The Bible has a lot to say about truth and grace. The truth will set you free. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. In John’s gospel account, he says we were able to catch a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.
After spending time devouring God’s Word, it seems that we need both truth and grace in our lives. From reading at the beginning of all things, in the book of Revelation, to the beginning of our little part of it on Planet Earth, in the book of Genesis; the truth is that we screwed up. We disobeyed God and brought much suffering upon ourselves and a curse upon humanity. But Jesus led with grace. He already had a plan in place to save us.
Two funerals. Two different men. The man who led with truth, had a few people say some nice things about what he had done to serve others. Those attending the funeral were scattered around the largely empty church. The man who led with grace? His funeral was packed with standing room only, even in the balcony. So many people shared stories amongst themselves about the impact this man had made in their life. Relationships were healed that day as folks saw a living demonstration of grace and healing.
Two men, two funerals, two outcomes. Lesson learned: we make a better impact for God when we lead with grace.
I’m reading one passage/chapter from the Bible each morning. I went through the Psalms. I must admit, I took Psalm 119 by sections. Next I went to Philippians. It was only 4 chapters long, so what next? I finally landed in the book of Nehemiah. I specifically remember passing by Chronicles and Numbers. I really didn’t feel like reading long genealogies. Ha! God had something wonderful for me today in Nehemiah chapter 3.
Nehemiah isn’t a super long book, so I thought I can handle this one chapter that names everybody who helped rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that had been broken down and burned. I’m starting to drift into that when will this boring list be over phase when I discovered, it wasn’t that boring after all. I noticed something. Everyone was included. People who lived in Jerusalem and those that lived in Jericho. People who were just your average citizens and folks that were priests and even the Nethinim. Two verses especially stood out. One man is listed as taking a section – and his daughters! My favorite verse: the sixth son of a certain man took a section of the wall and rebuilt it.
Have you ever felt like the sixth son? Back in medieval times, the first son was the heir, the 2nd wend to the military and the 3rd went to the church. You might find something for a 4th or 5th son to do, but to be the 6th son? Yet this man, the 6th son, is specifically mentioned as doing his part in rebuilding the wall. He is included.
I think that’s one of the many things I love about God’s way of presenting things. His grace, His mantra of “I have room for everyone” is found in so many places and so many different ways in the Bible. The Nethinim, a group of people set to always serve in the temple in menial tasks; a man who had a handful of daughters and the sixth son. There really is a place for everyone in God’s kingdom.
I was exchanging Mother’s Day greetings with several moms via text this morning, when my husband realized his failure. One of the moms, a single parent, has a son younger than our youngest child. Karl wondered, when did he ever have a chance to go to the store and pick out a mother’s day card for his mom?
It will be on his radar next year, the week before mother’s day, Karl will make sure young children of single moms have an opportunity to go shopping for a card for their mom. It’s what the Bible is talking about when it says to care for the fatherless and the widow. Just a way to make it practical.
Have you heard this before? “Religion is for the weak.” Or how about this one? “God is for wimps.”
My personal opinion is that people who speak such things do so out of ignorance. Evidently they haven’t taken the time to read the Bible and see whether the God described there is wimpy or weak. A few passages in Revelation talks about Jesus coming back a conquering King with His robe dipped in blood. Sounds like a mighty warrior, not a wimp.
In the Old Testament there are numerous references to God’s mighty right arm. In the book of First Kings, Elijah encounters God in a still small voice. Of course, this was after the mighty wind (think tornado), earthquake and fire that passed by first. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Micah. Chapter 7 verse 8 says, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” In other words, you haven’t seen the last of me because God never gives up and neither do I. You have been warned.
My new favorite among this caliber of verses is Amos 3:8. “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” I remember being at the Oklahoma City Zoo as a kid and everyone there freezing for an instant. We knew it was safely enclosed, but when that lion roared, you could hear it through the entire zoo and it made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
Is God loving and merciful? Of course! There are countless stories in the Bible of His great love for us and that is an understatement. Does God show mercy? Of course He does or you and I wouldn’t be here today breathing and taking up oxygen. As Christians, we are called to share the love of God with others. If you’re not sure about whether or not God is strong enough for you, read more about Him. You just might be surprised.
Imagine if you will a courtroom where the judge decides before even laying eyes on the defendant or plaintiff that the defendant is guilty. He then has to make sure all the evidence presented in the case supports that and he doesn’t allow any evidence proving innocence to be shown. Is this justice? Is this the right approach?
Unfortunately, many who study the Bible do so in a manner like the judge in my parable. We already have ideas about what the “truth” should be and instead of looking up each and every reference to that particular subject – we only select the verses that prove our point or can be misrepresented somehow to do so.
What is your approach? I will admit, I’ve been on both sides of the coin at times, but I have greater peace and satisfaction in “truths” I discover when all of the evidence is seen and carefully examined. Pray as you study God’s Word. Pray for wisdom and the right approach.
Last weekend I learned this little gem from Pastor Carlos Craig, one of our speakers at the retreat for ministry wives. If you get done reading a chapter or passage of the Bible and think, what did I just read? Chances are you have let the cares of the world choke out the Word.
Jesus talked about this in Matthew 13:22.
And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Perhaps our time would be better spent turning all of our worries, concerns and anxieties over to God, so we don’t choke on His Word.