I found something so exciting in Jeremiah. Let’s set the stage: The Lord calls upon Jeremiah to go and speak without fear about all He shares with him. Of course, Jeremiah (like many before him) says, “Oh no, Lord, GOD! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” (Jeremiah 1:6) and then the Lord reaching out His hand to touch Jeremiah’s mouth and tells him, “I have now filled your mouth with My words.” (v. 9)
This makes my heart leap. Have you ever been in one of those situations where you have been able to speak a gentle truth, offer a loving comfort or submissively follow in a way that you know you could have never, would have never been able to do if God hadn’t stretched out His hand and filled your mouth with His words and your heart with His love? It’s an incredible feeling. I’m so thankful God doesn’t allow me, myself, and I to get in the way of His plan and will use me to do something I never thought capable for His glory. Of course, we are always capable when we say, “Not me, but You God!” And the story doesn’t end there. God gives Jeremiah two visions. I just want to look at the first and hope you will dig into the book of Jeremiah to read about the second one.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, asking, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I replied, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I watch over My word to accomplish it.” Again the word of the LORD came to me inquiring, “What do you see?” Jeremiah 1:11-13
Here is what God lit up in lights for me to see – “. . . for I watch over My word to accomplish it.”
This is the kind of revelation and reminder that keeps me coming back day after day to God’s word. We often envision God looking down on us and watching over us, but have you ever considered that He watches over His word so that it is accomplished?! Those nine words make my arms raise in joy, my eyes look to the heavens, my heart leap with gladness and my spirit soar with faith and hope. I know and trust God’s word to be from Him. I believe every word penned by human hands He guided and allowed to enter His holy text, but to picture Him watching over His word is such an incredible image and a great reminder. God is close! He is in every teeny tiny detail, He see all, knows all and will accomplish all He has promised and declared.
What an awesome God we serve. I pray we honor Him in all ways, praise Him for His power, embrace Him with all our hearts and serve Him with every cell. He is here, He is always near and He is in control so we can set all fear and uncertainty aside.
I’m interrupting our journey through the Bible this week for two special reasons: Christmas and a cool story. A few months ago my Dad gave me an 2,000 year old coin called a widows mite. Although it was smallest Jewish coin valued hardly as much as our penny, it’s special for two reasons: 1) my Dad gave it to me and 2) it existed during the time of Jesus. There is also an amazing story in the Bible with two great lessons for us as we enjoy and savor this Christmas season.
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 ESV
These four short verses are packed with two great lessons. First, our gifts of service and tithes don’t have to be extravagant and over the top for them to touch God’s heart. When we give sacrificially with love and trust, God honors it. He knows our hearts and our intentions. We will never be able to repay Jesus for His sacrifice and thankfully, we aren’t expected to. However, God does want us to live a life worthy of our calling and offer the love, forgiveness, grace and mercy to others that He extends to us. Second, this Christmas season take a moment to look around at the people in your office, your neighborhood and community. Pray God will show you someone who needs a kind word, gesture or donation that would be nothing for us to give, but mean the world to them.
I had a jeweler make the coin my Dad gave me into a charm to add to my necklace. It will continue to be a reminder for me of God’s calling on my life to love others and trust in His provision. It will also remind me of the loving earthly father that my gracious God has blessed me with. Talk about a priceless gift.
Merry Christmas to all of you! I’m thankful to each of you for following my blog and sending me occasional e-mails of encouragement. I pray you and your families have a Christmas filled with joy and Light. I look forward to continuing our study of the Bible in 2016.
No, that isn’t a typo (I didn’t mean to type the Drudge Report). One of the most exciting parts of reading the Bible is making new discoveries every time you open it up. Most recently, I discovered a new word. Well, new to me. Dirge is a slow song that expresses deep sadness or sorrow. Honestly, I have no recollection of ever having read or heard this word until reading it in 2 Chronicles (HCSB).
As this point in 2 Chronicles we find King Josiah being a bit stubborn and heading off to the Valley of Megiddo to fight the King of Egypt (Neco). We even read that Neco tells him not to come and that these are God’s words. Not surprisingly, this leads to a mortal wound by Neco’s archers which then results in a mourning kingdom. King Josiah had been the one who lead the Israelites back to God after finding and then following God’s laws and decrees. He rebuilt the temple and began celebrating the appointed festivals. He was last incredible leader the Israelites had before its destruction. He had basically lead Israel through a revival and now he was gone.
20 After all this that Josiah had prepared for the temple, Neco king of Egypt marched up to fight at Carchemish by the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to confront him. 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What is the issue between you and me, king of Judah? I have not come against you today but I am fighting another dynasty. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God who is with me; don’t make Him destroy you!”
22 But Josiah did not turn away from him; instead, in order to fight with him he disguised himself. He did not listen to Neco’s words from the mouth of God, but went to the Valley of Megiddo to fight. 23 The archers shot King Josiah, and he said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded!” 24 So his servants took him out of the war chariot, carried him in his second chariot, and brought him to Jerusalem. Then he died, and they buried him in the tomb of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25 Jeremiah chanted a dirge over Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women still speak of Josiah in their dirges to this very day. They established them as a statute for Israel, and indeed they are written in the Dirges. 2 Chronicles 35:20-25
The entire kingdom was deeply saddened and mourned his death. This is where our new word comes in. Jeremiah chants a dirge (song of sorrow) over Josiah. It’s his funeral song, his ceremony, his wake (as we call it). Commentators say that his obituary was full of all the positive things Josiah had done for the Israelites by honoring and turning back to God. All that said, the overarching thought that has stayed with me (besides a new vocabulary word) is this: What will they sing over me? Who will sing my dirge and will it be positive? Will they be able to say that I laid down my life and lived for the Lord? That I gave in a sacrificial way? Gave my children a strong foundation to guide them? Honored my husband and humbled myself before others? This Christmas season, I pray God will guide each of us with a willing heart to do all these things and more for Him in the time He has given us.
Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 1 Kings 2:3 (ESV)
As I read about King Josiah this week, I was reminded about an old post from October 2012 I had written on the lost book of law. I dug it out for you today. “You didn’t tell me not to do it today” my son argued. “Son, I didn’t think I had to tell you the same rule (don’t wear your socks in the yard without shoes on) every day. “When I tell you once ~ that stands for everyday!” I reinforced with a not so happy tone in my voice. Repeating the same thing over and over again is part of a mom’s life! It can be so frustrating to ask my kids not to do something one day only to have them “forget” the next day. Does it all fall out every night when they are sleeping?
This all came to mind as I was revisiting the story of King Josiah. My son is 10, but Josiah was only 8-years old when he became king. Can you imagine? I’m sure he had many servants to pick up his socks. Josiah reigned Jerusalem for 31 years. Who says the Bible doesn’t have some good stories?!
And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 2 Kings 22:8 (ESV)
Here’s the crazy thing that stood out to me as I revisited this story. Notice what 2 Kings 22:8 (above) says. “I found the Book of Law.” The Book of Law (God’s directions & laws for his people) has been either hidden or misplaced for years and years. They didn’t even know what the book was until they began to read it because it had been forgotten by previous generations. This is difficult to comprehend when we live in a world where I alone probably have 20 different types of Bibles in my house, but it’s true. They had lost it and were living the laws that had been watered down after years mixed in with whatever else had come along.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV)
So when The Book of Law was found and King Josiah heard the words read from it he “tore his clothes.” Can you imagine discovering something that gave you every key and insight into how you needed to live for God and recognizing you had been doing the opposite in most cases? Josiah tore at his clothes because he was beside himself with despair, anguish and regret. They had been getting it all wrong, but God honored Josiah because he quickly repented, turned from idols and went back to observing festivals and following God’s laws.
So Josiah removed everything that was detestable from all the lands belonging to the Israelites, and he required all who were present in Israel to serve the LORD their God. Throughout his reign they did not turn aside from following Yahweh, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 34:33
We go through times like this in our own lives. We live like God’s word has been lost. We live as if we don’t remember His ways, His truths and His commandments. Then, by the grace of God we find it again and hopefully mourn our sin and begin to live according to His ways once more. You may have lost it for a while, but God has never given up on you. You may have lost it for a while, but God still loves you. You may have lost it for a while, but God can still turn your failures into His triumphs. Return to Him today. We may let go of Him, but He never let’s go of us! With God there is always hope!
*Reposted and revised from 10/2012
Sifting through Isaiah this week I uncovered a little nugget of truth hidden in chapter 66 verse 2.
My hand made all these things,
and so they all came into being.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will look favorably on this kind of person:
one who is humble, submissive in spirit,
and trembles at My word.
In this one verse, the Lord declares that He will look favorably upon a person with three qualities. Let’s sit on this verse today and consider what’s required in order to be this kind of person. First, the Lord desires someone who is humble.
The definition of humble is: someone who is not proud; not thinking of yourself as better than other people; given or said in a way that shows you do not think you are better than other people; showing that you do not think of yourself as better than other people.*
Second, the Lord is looking for a submissive spirit. This word has such a negative association in our world today. Look closely at the definition. The definition of submissive is: willing to obey someone else*
Submitting to someone doesn’t mean rolling over and playing dead it’s just a willingness to obey someone other than yourself. God desires for us to seek His wisdom and ways and be willing obey Him even when it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t seem to make sense. To look past our own selfish desires and motives to be a part of a BIGGER story. His story.
Thirdly, God is looking for those who tremble at His Word. So often, we associate trembling with fear, but the definition of tremble is: to shake slightly because you are afraid, nervous, excited, etc.; to shake slightly because of some force*
God wants to see us reacting in awe, excitement, fear and anticipation to His written word. Maybe our bodies will even react in actual movement with a shiver or a shudder. If I had a penny for every time I’ve gotten goose bumps as I read God’s word we could all sit down and enjoy some frozen yogurt while we discussed these three qualities.
This world is a mess, but our God is still in control. He is not surprised by anything that has happened or will happen. However, through it all He is looking for those who are humble, submissive, and tremble at His word. Take a few moments today to sit in meditation and prayer with God about these three qualities. Ask Him to reveal where you have flaws and give you His strength and courage to make the changes that are required for you to be one of those He looks upon favorably. I know I have some work to do!
*all definitions from Merriam-Webster.com)