Archive for August, 2012

August 31st, 2012

God’s Word is Sure!

“And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. And he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king according to his daily need, until the day of his death, as long as he lived.” Jeremiah 52:31-34 (ESV)

The Lord never forgets His promises and His promises never fail. Even in the midst of the promised exile, for no explicit reason, the king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, invites the king of Judah, Jehoichin, out from prison to his dining table. Whatever could have caused a foreign king to show mercy and favor to the king of his servants? Undoubtedly, the Lord is at work in this passage, remembering His covenant with David in which He promised him a permanent kingdom resulting in a messiah to fully deliver the people of God.

Even in hard times when we can’t explicitly see the presence of God, may we not forget that He is faithful and His words never fail. Yes, in this chapter we see Him upholding the hard words of judgment but also the beautiful words of redemption. His promises are true and they will always bring about His glory and our good.

Do you know the promises of God? If not, how can you hold on to them when you are sitting in prison as a king? Do you speak the promises of God over times of trouble, taking refuge in His ultimate provision and plan for you and all things? God’s word is sure! Know it and take refuge in it. Further, when you see His promises come true in your life, take a minute and thank Him for His faithfulness.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 236:  Jeremiah 51-52)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, August 31st, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Faithfulness, Jeremiah, Word of God.
Interact No Comments
August 30th, 2012

Their Redeemer is Strong!

“Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.” Jeremiah 50:34 (ESV)

Our redeemer is strong! He pursues us and rescues us, calling us to repentance and dependance as an act of worship to our God, Who alone is worthy of praise! What is He rescuing us from? Why has He redeemed us? Certainly, you and I have no need to be rescued from a foreign national power in order to fulfill a Zionist prophecy in which we will be restored to our land of promise. We are, however, in bondage to sin and subject to this same wrath about which we read in the latter part of Jeremiah. Our offense before the Lord in rejecting His provision and worshiping created things demands His judgment; so, He is saving us from Himself in a way.

How can God be both redeemer and judge? That is the beauty of the character of God. Yes, He is righteous. Yes, He is just. Yes, He is Holy. But He is also merciful. He is also loving. He is also gracious. He is composed of all of these traits in their perfect and balanced form. His character demands justice but it also allows for redemption, but on His terms! Our redeemer is strong in that He alone can break the bondage of sin, having overcome all of its affects in the person and work of Christ. Do not be a slave to sin any longer. Do not let a foreign power, as it were, rule over your life. Run to the Lord, the light of our salvation, and find freedom from that which oppresses you!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 235:  Jeremiah 49-50)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Character of God, Jeremiah, Redemption.
Interact No Comments
August 29th, 2012

The Folly of the Proud

“We have heard of the pride of Moab– he is very proud– of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance, and the haughtiness of his heart. I know his insolence, declares the LORD; his boasts are false, his deeds are false.” Jeremiah 48:29-30 (ESV)

The Lord opposes the proud, recognizing that to represent His character faithfully demands humility. As a result, when His people or even neighboring nations boast in the “might” of other gods and give the praise due our one, true God to graven images, He brings about the required humility of His creation through defeat.

In our case, as those saved by the glorious message of the gospel, we certainly know that we have no reason to boast save in the work of Christ on the cross. Why? For when we deserved God’s righteous wrath because of our rebellion, He gave us grace and mercy by the sacrifice of His beloved Son. We did nothing to deserve this and have nothing of merit to give in return. This act is God’s alone and, therefore, we boast alone in Him. When we forget this truth, the Lord has a way of humbling us, knowing that the aforementioned requirement of humility is as much for us today as it was back then. Every great leader of God in the Bible, save Jesus who did not need it, faced a moment of humility, in which the Lord gently or not so gently reminded them of their complete dependence upon Him to accomplish that to which they had been called.

In your own life, what do you boast in? Do you boast in your own abilities or accomplishments? Or do you simply boast in the cross of Christ, knowing how truly lost you were without it? May we be a people who continually deflect the accomplishments of this life to the glory of the next, reserved in Heaven for a God Who is sovereign over all things. His provision is our blessing, and we find pride only in His work in and through us.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 234:  Jeremiah 46-48)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Jeremiah, Pride.
Interact No Comments
August 28th, 2012

A Source of Wisdom

“Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, ‘Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant–because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us–that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.’ Jeremiah the prophet said to them, ‘I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.’” Jeremiah 42:1-4 (ESV)

Do people within the sphere of your influence run to you in times of trouble for wisdom from the Lord because they know of how closely you walk with Him? Jeremiah was a man who walked closely with the Lord and the leadership of Judah knew it. In a moment of panic after the assassination of Gedaliah, the leadership runs to Jeremiah to have him intercede on their behalf. Jeremiah promises to pray for them and communicate whatever word the Lord gives him to them without reservation. Jeremiah was their connection to the Lord because of his faithfulness in every circumstance.

What about you? Are you known for your faithfulness to the Lord? Do those who are far from the Lord come to you for help and prayer? May we be a people so in-tuned with the Spirit of God that whenever those around us at work, school, or in our neighborhoods have trials and tribulations, they immediately come to us for wisdom and prayer. May the Spirit of God flow from us as we have sought Him continually in prayer and in His word. Become a place of hope for those in need as you radiate the fruit of the Spirit, having been transformed by the gospel.

And as a final thought today, thank the Lord for the Jeremiah’s in your life, whom you run to in times of distress to find wisdom and discernment from the Lord.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 233:  Jeremiah 41-45)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Discernment, Jeremiah, Wisdom & Understanding.
Interact No Comments
August 27th, 2012

God’s Timing is Perfect.

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay ‘Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.’” Habakkuk 2:3-4 (ESV)

Have there been times in your life where you wanted something to happen and you couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t? God, why won’t you give me this job? God, why won’t you give me a husband or a wife? God, why don’t we have children? God, how long will my son or daughter run from You before they realize how pointless life is without You? God, how long will it take for my friends to get the gospel and come to a trusting faith in You?

We have all been there at some point in our life, asking why God’s timing isn’t our timing, and the prophet, Habakkuk, is no exception. The Lord spoke over Habakkuk a promise that His people would see defeat at the hands of the Chaldeans, otherwise known as the Babylonians. Habakkuk couldn’t believe it. Why would God allow this to happen? Why would he allow His own people to suffer? How long would He allow evil to have victory?

The Lord’s answer to Habakkuk regarding his questions is also our answer today. While we may not understand the timing of God, it is certainly no accident. In Habakkuk’s case, God had something He needed to teach His people to insure His plan. Habakkuk’s complaint of evil being victorious was simply nearsighted; God had a much bigger plan. God would vindicate His people and His name but in His timing once His purposes had been fulfilled. In the mean time, the Lord commanded Habakkuk, as a righteous man, to live by faith and trust in the goodness of God.

Whatever question you may have, trust in the goodness of God. The answer to your prayer might not be in the timing you would have preferred, but remember when it does come, its timing is God’s timing and His timing is always perfect.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 232:  Habakkuk)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, August 27th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Habakkuk, Sovereignty, Time.
Interact No Comments
August 26th, 2012

A Futile Rebellion

“In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.” 2 Kings 24:1-4 (ESV)

Jehoiakim sought to rebel against the rule of Nebuchadnezzar over the people of God and bring about freedom by his hand. The problem that Jehoiakim faced, however, was that he was not simply rebelling against the rule of a foreign king; he was rebelling against the prophecy of God Himself. His failure to acknowledge the Lord’s sovereign hand over his people was the problem of the majority of the kings in this time. They rejected the dictate of the prophets and, therefore, rejected the authority of the Lord, which is why they were in danger of falling in the first place. They did not rely upon the Lord to guide their reigns, seeking glory for themselves alone. The wise move for Jehoiakim would simply have been to fall on his face in repentance before the Lord, since only this kind of response would have led his people into freedom.

How do you respond in times of hardship before the Lord? Do you try to take matters into your hands, organizing plans for victory in your own strength and by your own hand? Or do you seek the Lord, asking Him to be your great defender? If it is true that we exist for the glory of God, then we must in every circumstance rely fully upon Him for His deliverance, knowing that when He acts He will receive the full credit. The Lord wants to be the defender of His people; may we seek Him to be and give Him the glory when He shows Himself faithful.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 231:  2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, August 26th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category 2 Kings, Glory, Speech.
Interact No Comments
August 25th, 2012

We Give Thanks Forever!

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” Psalm 79:13 (ESV)

We were created to worship the Lord! Look how He has provided for us as His sheep. Look at the pasture He has laid forth for us. He has satisfied us in every way. He has taken upon Himself the penalty for our sin. He has restored us into life abundant and everlasting. He has made us into a people for His own possession to represent Him to the nations. He has filled us with His Holy Spirit, allowing us to experience its fruit fully. What a blessing it is to have the Lord as our Shepherd, for under His care we truly shall not want.

The difference between the people of God and the enemies of God, according to this psalm, is our praise. The enemies of God question His name and make a mockery of His people. His covenant people, though, by proclaiming this psalm step forth with confidence in their Lord to redeem and protect.

Let not the nations question where our allegiance lies. May we as God’s people proclaim boldly the affection we have for our Great Satisfier, and may we further remember that this is only the beginning! As God’s children, our eternity will be a beautiful continuation of our faithful obedience here to ascribe worth to our worthy creator.

Give thanks to the Lord, today, for He is good! Perhaps take a moment and write down the many ways you have experienced His provision personally and take a moment today to tell someone about it as a witness to His goodness.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 230:  Jeremiah 38-40; Psalms 74,79)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, August 25th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Praise, Psalms, Satisfaction.
Interact No Comments
August 24th, 2012

The Word of the Lord Stands Forever.

“Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” Jeremiah 36:2-3 (ESV)

Once again we see the prophet, Jeremiah, coming against an ungodly king with the word of the Lord. In this particular instance, the Lord commands Jeremiah to write down all that He has revealed concerning His people and present the document to the king. Upon hearing the prophetic word, the king commands the seizure of both Jeremiah and his secretary, Baruch, and burns the word of the Lord. In response to this rash act of the king, the Lord simply instructs Jeremiah to recreate the scroll and speak over Jehoiakim a vision of wrath.

The word of God stands forever and cannot be destroyed. God has given us His revealed word to display His glorious nature and direct our steps as His creation. The words written by Jeremiah were not simply Jeremiah’s words or ideas regarding God’s people; they were inspired by God Himself and, therefore, carry His authority. Jehoiakim missed the point. Instead of seeing the scroll as God’s way of allowing him to repent, the king responded in anger, attempting to destroy that which he did not like. God’s word, though, is eternal and will stand against any attempt to destroy it.

May you and I both marvel at and respect the eternal word of God! God has spoken over mankind His will for all of creation, and we must choose to respond faithfully rather than reject that truth in anger simply because we don’t like it. Treasure God’s word for in it you will find blessing and hope as you obey its commands.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 229:  Jeremiah 36-37)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Jeremiah, Word of God.
Interact No Comments
August 23rd, 2012

The Price of Truth

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah. For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, ‘Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it;”” Jeremiah 32:1-3 (ESV)

Occasionally, speaking truth can have consequences attached to it. In this case, the Lord had spoken through His prophet a word about the future of Judah and, thus, its king. Needless to say, the king was not happy about what Jeremiah had spoken over his kingdom and imprisoned him as a result. Jeremiah’s obedience to speak the truth cost him his freedom and put his life in danger.

We are charged today to speak forth the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and while certainly the gospel is good news, it is also offensive. Inherent in our message is that people are bad, sinful, lost, and in need of a savior. We must point out the flaws of men in order to show them their need for a savior. Sometimes people respond negatively to this, and while they may not have the power to imprison you or threaten your life, they can be hurtful in their rejection. The question you must ask yourself, though, is whether or not this temporary rejection is worth their eternal good. Certainly for Jeremiah he thought the message of impending judgment was worth the risk because he loved his people.

Are you willing to risk your freedom in order to proclaim God’s truth? Are you willing to love someone enough to let them reject you in order to tell them about their great need and Christ’s glorious provision? What are you willing to sacrifice to spread the good news?

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 228:  Jeremiah 32-34)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Jeremiah, Truth.
Interact No Comments
August 22nd, 2012

God’s Everlasting Love

“Thus says the LORD: ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.’” Jeremiah 31:2-3 (ESV)

The presence of discipline does not indicate a lack of love; rather, discipline when given by the Lord is always motivated by love for the good of His children. As we have seen throughout the prophets, the people of God had wandered from the Lord and had begun to turn to other things to find satisfaction. The Lord calls them back to Himself in discipline, knowing that if His people continue to pursue the favor of idols or satisfaction in the world, they will come up empty. The best thing He can give His people is Himself. They have no need to turn elsewhere, if they remember that He truly is the perfect solution to every need they have. The discipline the Lord gives, then, is not only given out of anger, although there is a since in which the Lord is rightly offended by their sin. This discipline is ultimately given out of love for His glory and their good.

God’s everlasting love for you has an inherent long-range perspective that allows for discipline in the present to protect you in the future. Parents surely understand this relational dynamic, knowing they must discipline their children in order to help them know how to act appropriately for their future success.

When discipline comes, don’t become resentful toward the Lord; rather, seek out the truth behind the discipline, knowing God simply desires to root out ungodliness for His glory and your good.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: (Day 227:  Jeremiah 30-31)

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Associate Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 am
Category Discipline, Jeremiah, Love.
Interact No Comments