Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah’

Do You Know Where You are Going?

It is a simple axiom of the traveler that if he would arrive at the desired destination he must take the right road. How far a man may have traveled is not important; what matters is whether or not he is going the right way, whether the path he is following will bring him out at the right place at last. Sometimes there will be an end to the road, and maybe sooner than he knows; but when he has gone the last step of the way will he find himself in a tomorrow of light and peace, or will the toward which he journeys be a of trouble and distress, a of wasteness and desolation, a of darkness and gloominess, a of clouds and thick darkness? The inspired prophet Jeremiah says (and for that matter all the holy prophets who have spoken since the world began say) and our Lord and His apostles say that man does not know the way; indeed he hardly knows where he should go, to say nothing of the way he should take to get there. The worried Thomas spoke for every man when he asked, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? That is the truth and we had better face it squarely: the way of man is not in himself. However severe the blow to our pride, we would do well to bow our heads and admit our ignorance. For those who know not and know they know not, there may in the mercy of God be hope; for those who think they know there can be only increasing darkness.

Mark Wilkinson purchased a 16-foot boat for fishing and recreation. Apparently he was not superstitious, because he christened his boat Titanic II after the ill-fated luxury ship that hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. Titanic II’s maiden voyage out of a harbor in Dorset, England, went well. But when Wilkinson headed back, the boat started taking on water. Soon he was clinging to a rail waiting for rescue. Wilkinson reportedly said, “It’s all a bit embarrassing, and I got pretty fed up with people asking me if I had hit an iceberg.” This was followed by an eyewitness who said, “It wasn’t a very big boat—I think an ice cube could have sunk it!”

The story of Titanic II is quite ironic. But it also makes me think of the original Titanic and the danger of misplaced trust. The builders of that ocean liner were absolutely confident that their ship was unsinkable. But how wrong they were! Jeremiah reminds us: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord” (Jer. 17:5).

All of us are tempted to seek security in people or things. How often we need to be reminded to forsake these false confidences and turn back to God. Are you putting your trust in something other than Him?

When we put our trust in You, Lord, We’ll be like a tree that’s growing Beside waters that are flowing, Bearing fruit and standing strong. —Sper
Those who put their trust in God will never be disappointed.

The Director of Our Way

Among the many wonders of the Holy Scriptures is their ability frequently to compress into a sentence truth so vast, so complex, as to require a whole shelf of books to expound. Even a single phrase may glow with a light like that of the ancient pillar of fire and its shining may illuminate the intellectual landscape for miles around. An example is found in Jeremiah 10:23. After the Lord had spoken of the vanity of idols and had set in contrast to the gods of the heathen the glory of the living God, the King of Eternity, the prophet responded in an inspired exclamation that very well states the whole problem of humankind: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. The prophet here turns to a figure of speech, one which appears in the Scriptures so frequently that it is not easy to remember that it is but a figure. Man is seen as a traveler making his difficult way from a past he can but imperfectly recollect into a future about which he knows nothing. And he cannot stay, but must each morning strike his moving tent and journey on toward-and there is the heavy problem-toward what?

Perhaps the most painful statement a person can hear is, “I don’t love you anymore.” Those words end relationships, break hearts, and shatter dreams. Often, people who have been betrayed guard themselves against future pain by deciding not to trust anyone’s love again. That settled conviction may even include the love of God.

The remarkable thing about God’s love for us is His promise that it will never end. The prophet Jeremiah experienced devastating circumstances that left him emotionally depleted (Lam. 3:13-20). His own people rejected his repeated calls to respond to God’s love and follow Him. At a low point, Jeremiah said, “My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord” (v.18).

Yet, in his darkest hour Jeremiah considered God’s unfailing love and wrote, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3:22-24). A person may vow to love us forever yet fail to keep that promise, but God’s love remains steadfast and sure. “He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). That’s a love we can trust.

O Love that wilt not let me go I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be. —Matheson
God’s love never fails.

HOW foolish! Jeroboam thought that the old prophet could penetrate the vail that hid the future, but not the disguise in which his wife wished to conceal herself. As we might have expected, the aged prophet’s inner sight read her heart. From God no secrets are hid. Immediately on his accosting her by her name there came the dread announcement of inevitable disaster.

We must not hesitate to unfold all the consequences of sin. As watchmen on the walls, we are bound to tell men of the certain fearful looking for of fiery indignation which shall devour the transgressors. None of us should flinch from declaring the whole counsel of God. We should specially insist on the guilt side of sin. Not only that it is a misfortune, a mistake, an error, a disease, a tyranny; but a crime. The sinner is a criminal, who has incurred the just wrath and anger of a holy God: for which he must suffer a due recompense.

Oh for more tenderness that we may with tears warn men of their doom! We are so self possessed, so stolid ; we need to ask that our eyes, like Jeremiah‘s, should be fountains of tears, that we might weep day and night. If the tidings are heavy, let us first feel their pressure on our own hearts; let us bend over the regions of despair and darkness, and hear the bitter weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and come back to warn our brethren, lest they also come to that place of torment. Though it was with fear and much trembling that Paul preached the Gospel, yet he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. And while we go to men with the good tidings of salvation, we must not withhold the heavy tidings from those who persist in unbelief.


“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”              1 Corinthians 10:31

The news from our mechanic threatened to scuttle our plans. A suspicious rattling noise prompted me to take our clunker of a car to the shop a day before we were scheduled to drive through the night to Florida for our family vacation. The mechanic informed me that the rattling noise was our transmission’s farewell song, and that we were going to have to replace it—a time-consuming and expensive repair.

Seriously discouraged, I made my way back to the church office. I was considering how I would break the news to my family, when the phone rang. On the other end of the line, one of our church members said, “Hey, Pastor, I hear that you’re going to Florida on vacation. You know, my wife and I are worried about you taking your family to Florida in that little car. Our cars belong to God, and we would like you to take one of them on your vacation. Your choice!”

Wow! I knew that his cars were beauties—so either one would have been incredible.

With vacation plans intact and with a heart of gratitude for God’s provision, my family made our way to Florida in our friend’s beautiful car. I’ve got to be honest: I loved driving that car. I loved the stares we got at stoplights; and I felt pretty proud as I pulled up to a gas station. As I was pumping gas into the car (it had a huge appetite for fuel!), a guy walked out of the gas station and said, “Hey, that’s a beautiful car. How do you like your car?”

This was a big moment for me. Do you think I wanted to tell him it wasn’t my car? No way! A spiritual battle raged in my heart for what seemed like an hour (but was probably only 10 seconds). Truth finally won out, and I said, “Well, it’s not my car, but I like it a lot!”

Through the course of life, we all have opportunities to take the credit for ourselves when we shouldn’t. In the spotlight of some success, it’s tempting to keep the applause focused on “me.” But when you think about it, we would have no success in our lives at all if God did not see fit to give us the opportunities to succeed, the brainpower, the education, the temperament and gifts to accomplish praiseworthy things. Even so, when people notice that we have something good going, an internal spiritual battle occurs: Do we keep the glory for ourselves, or do we turn the spotlight back to God where it belongs?

Paul had it right in Philippians 3:1-11 when he encouraged us to stop bragging about ourselves and to start rejoicing in the Lord. He put together an impressive list of his own accomplishments and then said they were like “dung” compared to the glorious reality of Christ in His life. Jeremiah said, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

It’s not that we can’t enjoy our moment in the sun. Pleasure in good things is a gift that God has given us. It’s just that it’s important to give the credit for all we have and are to the appropriate person: God, the giver of all good things (1 Timothy 6:17).


  • Think back on some areas of accomplishment in your life. How were those moments (or how could they have been) used to bring God glory? What can you do in the future to tactfully give God the credit?
  • Think about some of the activities, hobbies, or pursuits that bring you genuine joy in life. Thank God for the opportunity to use the body and talents that He has given you to enjoy these things! Read Acts 12:20-23, a sobering thought about stealing the glory from God.
  • Corollary verses: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Philippians 3:1-11

On the day of the LORD’s sacrifice I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all those clad in foreign clothes” — Zephaniah 1:8

The prophet Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and shared the vision of pending doom. The kingdom of Israel was corrupt, and the people would eventually be exiled from the land of Israel. Zephaniah’s job was to warn them and to encourage them to repent. We do find a wave of reform during Zephaniah’s time – King Josiah makes many changes for the good – but the people eventually return to their evil ways and Zephaniah’s prophecies, unfortunately, come true.

Among the terrible events that Zephaniah describes is the punishment that will come to those “clad in foreign clothes.” Who are these people, and since when does God care where our clothing is made?

The Sages explain that the term “foreign clothes” means that their clothing was foreign to their souls. In other words, their clothing did not match who they were. These were people who dressed a certain way that made them appear pious, but on the inside, they were evil. God doesn’t stand for hypocrisy, and while these people may have been able to fool their fellow men, there is no fooling God. As we learn in the book of Samuel, “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

When God instructs the children of Israel to construct the holy ark, He commands them to cover it with gold: “Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out” (Exodus 25:11). We can understand why the outside should be covered in gold. It is only appropriate that such a holy vessel look majestic and regal. But why cover the inside too? No one would ever see it!

The Talmud explains that the purpose of the gold was to teach us a lesson. We, God’s holy creations, are to mirror the holy ark. Our insides should be exactly the same as our outside. Our character off stage should be exactly the same as when everyone is looking. Our outer actions should match our inner souls.

Everyone wants to look good. But there is no substitute for being good. When we look good, others think highly of us. When we do good, then our actions reflect our inner character. In the end, that is what matters most to God.