Monday, October 29, 2012

Jeremiah's Complaint to God

Lord you always give me justice when I bring a case before you.  So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous?  Why are evil people so happy?”  (Jeremiah 12:1 NLT)
            Jeremiah faced an inner struggle that has puzzled people for centuries.  “Why do bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people?”  Jeremiah wasn’t the only servant of God who has struggled with this theological dilemma.  Righteous Job wrestled with this same problem, “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (Job 21:7 NLT)  Psalmists David and Asaph (Ps. 49 and 73), along with the prophets Habakkuk (Heb. 1:16-17) and Malachi (Mal. 2:17;3:15) grappled with the same problem.  
            Jeremiah saw the land being desolated and innocent people suffering while the leaders who caused the problem prospered and lived in luxury.  In verse 3 of chapter 12, Jeremiah expresses how he thinks God should deal with these evil people, “Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered!  Set them aside to be slaughtered!”  Jeremiah sounded a lot like James and John who wanted Jesus to allow them to “call down fire from heaven to burn up” the Samaritans for not allowing them to pass through their village. (Luke 9:54)
            Jeremiah asked the same question that many of us ask when difficult circumstances arise.  How long do I have to endure this pain?  Why did this happen?  “Why?” and “How long?” are questions that are easy to ask and difficult to answer. 
            God’s reply to Jeremiah wasn’t what he expected to hear.  Instead of focusing his attention upon the wicked, God turned his attention upon Jeremiah.  Three truths are revealed that can also be applied to our lives today. (1) Living a godly life isn’t easy; it’s like running a race (12:5).  We are running a marathon; not a sprint. (2) A servant’s life becomes harder, not easier.  It is not easy when your own family turns against you (12:6). (3) Maturity makes our life of service enjoyable.
            Warren Wiersbe in his commentary “Be Decisive”, page 72 says, “God’s servants don’t live by explanations; they live by promises.”  You may become smarter with explanations, but you build character by trusting in God’s promises.  Instead of asking, “How can I get out of this,” we should ask “What can I get out of this.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Silence is Golden

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words made tempers flare.  The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.  (Proverbs 15:1-2 NLT)

   How quick we are to accuse, defend, criticize, judge, and complain!  Harsh words cut to shreds the dignity and character of the recipient.

   James 3:1-5 likens a person's tongue to a ship driven by ;a hurricane force wind and to a forest fire out of control.  How many marriages end up in the divorce court because unruly tongues?  How many churches split over the issues of unruly tongues, harsh words, lack of cooperation, or ego driven personalities?

   Have you ever wished you had not said something?  I'm sure that is the case for one our senate candidates in Missouri.  Words hastily spoken without considering the ramifications can haunt you for a long time, and cause severe damage.  Let us be diligent in guarding our tongues, and ask the Lord to help us put a positive spin on all our words.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Drawing the Short Straw

Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"  Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You follow me."   (John 21:21-22)

  Have you ever faced a difficult situation and drew the "short straw?"

   Through his own ignorance and impetuosity Peter found himself holding the short straw on more than one occasion.  On the mount of Transfiguration Peter wanted to build three tabernacles: one each for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, but God intervened and said, "This is my beloved son, listen to him."  On another occasion he proclaimed he'd rather die than deny the Lord, and then went into the courtyard and denied Jesus three times.  Finally, the Lord told Peter how he would suffer and die, but Peter wanted to know what would happen to John.  Jesus rebuked him and told him to concentrate his efforts on following the Savior.  It's obvious that Peter felt he had drawn the short straw.

   Comparing our lives to someone else's only leads to discontent.  If we look at other people's skills, abilities, and position in life and compare them to our own, the door is opened to allow jealousy and envy to enter.  This is one of Satan's ploys to take our attention off the true object of our affection -- the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our goal should be to follow the model that Jesus left for us in the gospels.

   Do your feel that you have drawn the short straw?  Stop comparing yourself to others and give your best to the master.  He alone is deserving of our allegiance.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Lord said, "Return to Me"

   It must have been a horrible experience for the prophet Jeremiah to preach sermons that warned of destruction of his people.  In the midst of their rejection and faithlessness, God pleaded with the people to put away their wickedness and "return to Him."  But they just wouldn't listen to the truth.  They continued to spurn his love and disobey his laws.  In fact, he told them, "you don't even have any shame."

   Reading the book of Jeremiah is like reading today's headlines.  Our society is not much different from that of Jeremiah's day.  Governments are doing everything they can to rule God out of our society.  Here's a few things to remind us of what has happened over the past fifty years. First they tried to claim that God was dead. Then prayer and the Bible were eliminated from the local schools, Jesus' name could not be mentioned at graduation ceremonies, the ten commandments couldn't be displayed in public places, and the list goes on and on.  It just seems strange to me that Christians can't exercise their right to pray publicly, but the Muslim followers can pray openly five times a day.

   What's wrong with our culture?  By and large our society has rejected Jesus Christ as Lord.  Humankind refuses to recognize or be responsible for their sins.  They want a god of their own making.  That's exactly what the Israel and Judah wanted and look what happened to them.  Do we want the same thing to happen to our beloved America?  It will unless we humble ourselves and pray asking God to forgive our sins and heal our land.  We have a choice to make and it starts on November 6th.