Tag Archives: Jeremiah

Am I a God who is near?

Am I a God who is near, declared the LORD, and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23.23-34)

There is no place in the universe void of God’s presence. He is not limited by the dimensions that confine us. Therefore, we have the knowledge that wherever we are in whatever situation or circumstance, God is with us. Because we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ, we live daily with the assurances that He cares for us and is concerned about us. Though He is indeed Creator and Master of the Universe, He is also Father and we are His precious children – we belong to Him!

Because we belong to God we are never alone; He is our constant companion. Loneliness is an awful thing. People were made to live in “community,” and that greatest community of all is the one that transcends this world where love, friendship, and companionship are not only present now but throughout all eternity.

Because we belong to God when we are troubled, He is our confidence. Because of Emmanuel, He knows what it is like to be here and to be human. He understands hardship and heartache. He knows about worry and anxiety and says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5.7).

– grace to you all, and peace, Bill

 

“I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 46.9)

Most Western-style democracies guarantee freedom of religion. The Bill of Rights in the American Constitution ensures Americans are free to practice whatever religion they choose (as long as they are not harming anyone). Perhaps because of this liberty, many people assume that all religious beliefs are basically equal and valid, a concept called pluralism. It is a mistaken and false concept.

The God of the Bible insists that He alone is God. There is no other God besides Him (Isaiah 46.9). To modern ears, that may sound intolerant, or even arrogant. It certainly flies in the face of the proponents of pluralism that all beliefs are equally valid. But the LORD leaves no room for disagreement or compromise on this point: there is no god but God. One can either agree with Him or call Him a liar, but there is no middle ground.

Suppose we deny that God alone is God. That doesn’t affect God in the least. He simply says that we are wrong, and reminds us that we are mere mortals who will die. But God also warns us that our perspective is distorted, because we are stubborn-hearted sinners (46.8, 12). Who are we to decide who and/or what is God?

God refuses to be bound by our ideas of Him. That’s why He declares the truth to us: “I am God, and there is no other.”

Am I a God who is near, declared the LORD , and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD . Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD (Jeremiah 23.23-34).

There is no place in the universe void of God’s presence. He is not limited by the dimensions that confine us. Therefore we have the knowledge that wherever we are in whatever situation or circumstance, God is with us. Because we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ, we live daily with the assurances that He cares for us and is concerned about us. Though He is indeed Creator and Master of the Universe, He is also Father and we are His precious children – we belong to Him!

Because we belong to God we are never alone; He is our constant companion. Loneliness is an awful thing. People were made to live in “community,” and that greatest community of all is the one that transcends this world where love, friendship, and companionship are not only present now but throughout all eternity.

Because we belong to God when we are troubled, He is our confidence. Because of Emmanuel, He knows what it is like to be here and to be human. He understands hardship and heartache. He knows about worry and anxiety and says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5.7).

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2.11).

There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.

The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.

Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.

Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18). To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!

 – Bill

“…for you shall go…”

Now the word of the LORD came to [Jeremiah] saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah LORD God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD”    (Jeremiah 1.4-8)

When the prophet speaks, in response to the call of God, his first word is a word of resistance. The one called for divine work immediately senses his limitations for that work. He tries to beg off, listing his inadequacies. Jeremiah was not being modest in saying, “I am only a boy”; he was simply being truthful.

This is quite typical of the call for divine service, and quite beside the point. God tends, it would appear from stories of vocation in Scripture, almost always to call people who are too young, too timid, too old, or too immoral. The story is not about the singular virtues of the one being called. The story is about a risk-taking, bold sort of God who reaches in and calls people for divine service, giving them what they need for that service.

Jeremiah need not work alone. God equips and stands beside those whom He calls. This is the sort of God who says, in effect, “I’m getting ready to change, revolutionize, renovate, and reorient the whole world – and guess who’s going to help Me?”

Too often we also think we are too young or too old, too busy or too under-qualified to do God’s work – or simply that someone else will. Let us not nurse our personal limitations and weaknesses as excuses for ignoring our divine calling.

– from A Year with God

 

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Symbols & Scripture

The Codex Gigas from the 13th century, held at...
The Royal Library, National Library of Sweden

“Bible” is from the Greek word biblios, meaning “a book.” Since the Bible is God’s revealed will to man, it may well be called “The Book” (Hebrews 10.7). It is also called the “Word of God” (Ephesians 6.17; Hebrews 4.11-12), the “Oracles of God” (Romans 3.2; Hebrews 5.12; 1 Peter 4.11), and “the Scriptures” (John 5.39; 2 Timothy 3.16).

In addition to these references to the Bible, numerous symbols define the purpose of the Scriptures: Continue reading Symbols & Scripture

“Go now to…Shiloh” – Jeremiah 7.12-15

Shiloh should have been a sobering reminder for Judah. Once the center of Israel’s religious life and the site of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 1.3), it lay in ruins in Jeremiah’s day and its people carried off into captivity by the Assyrians. Why? Because the northern kingdom had turned away from the LORD to worship and serve idols. Jeremiah warned that the same fate awaited the people of Jerusalem – and for the same reason (Jeremiah 7.8-11).

Jeremiah’s message of judgment must have sounded incredible. After all, Jerusalem was the site of the Temple, the magnificent house of worship that David envisioned and Solomon built. How could God allow His Temple and its city to be destroyed? Yet if anyone doubted the legitimacy of Jeremiah’s warning, all they had to do was take about a 20-mile trip north – to Shiloh.

“Is there no balm in Gilead”? – Jeremiah

When you think about the world and its people and its problems, is there anything that makes you weep? Is there anything that breaks your heart, that tears you apart with either outrage or anguish?

The prophet Jeremiah felt deep affection for his country. That’s why he was heartbroken when he realized the extent of his people’s sin, and anguished as he foresaw the judgment that was about to befall them. His grief is expressed so frequently and poignantly in the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations that he has been called the “weeping prophet.” Anyone who thinks of a prophet as just an angry malcontent railing against society would do well to consider Jeremiah. His righteous anger was largely fueled by passion for his people.

The world still needs Jeremiahs. As you read Jeremiah’s sobering words, consider whether your heart is sensitive enough to God and tender enough toward others, even people you know, to cry out over injustice, immorality, unbelief, apathy and complacency toward God.