Watching Over His Word

christ-crushing-the-head-of-satanJeremiah was called and set apart by God even before he was born to be a prophet to the nations. It’s not easy being a proclaimer of God’s truth in a world hostile to God. How would you like the be the bearer of bad news to a kingdom that had set itself against God and His ways?

It would be discouraging and overwhelming if Jeremiah didn’t believe that God was sovereign over all things. God had told Jeremiah, “I am watching over My word to perform it.” In other words, whatever God says He will do. It will come to fruition. There is never a time when God says, “Well, that didn’t go as I planned.”

When you think about all that God told Jeremiah to tell a disobedient and obstinate people, it’s no wonder that God began with a promise that He would do what He said He would do. Jeremiah wasn’t going to be liked for what he would say. He would be despised, rejected, and fought against. That’s why God gave Him a second promise: “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

They will fight against you, but they won’t win because I will rescue you. I will make sure that what I say comes true.

That truth isn’t just for Jeremiah, that’s for us as well. Everyday we face an enemy who fights against us, one who is not clothed in flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). But God’s promise is that we prevail because He has prevailed. We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. The enemy, however, tries to convince us otherwise. To often we tend to live defeated lives when God has declared that, in Christ, we have won. His Word is our reminder and strong promise. His Spirit in us is actively at work to perform His word in us.

So today, as you face an enemy who assaults you with thoughts that are not of God, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and rest in His grace that reminds you that God is for you and will deliver you. When you stumble, remember that you don’t have to live in defeat but that God has prevailed and that as you confess to Him your sin you can rest in His forgiveness.

How Long?

How long O Lord?

The thing I love about the psalms that David wrote is that we can relate to them. When I read what he’s written, I’m like, “I get you, bro.” For me, it’s refreshing and encouraging that this former shepherd boy turned King of Israel had real life struggles, and that he felt as though he could ask honest questions and have honest dialogue with God.

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” (Psalm 13:1-4)

Maybe you’ve had questions and conversations like that with God; I know I have.

What’s even more encouraging, though, is David’s trust in God, even when life didn’t make sense. Even in his honest questioning, David would come back to the truth about God. His feelings didn’t inform his faith, but rather his faith was the guardrails for his feelings.

“But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Even in David’s difficult and raw moments of his life, he came back to this truth: God’s love is steadfast. Regardless of how long we have to wait, or endure suffering, or in the times we feel forgotten as though God has hidden His face from us, the truth is God is very near. His love is steadfast. That kind of love never leaves, because God never leaves. Rather than letting his emotions get the best of him, David rehearsed the gospel to himself. He could rejoice because no matter how he felt, he knew that God’s salvation was certain and that His grace was more than sufficient.

So here’s the takeaway for me: In those moments where I feel forgotten by God, or wonder how long I have to endure the difficulties of life that stir my emotions, I can trust and rest in the truth of knowing that His love for me is steadfast, and that His saving grace gives me reason to rejoice.

Sitting in His Seat

Dallas Stars

If you love sports and like an action-packed and fast paced game then hockey is a sport you need to see live. When I lived in Dallas there was a sweet elderly lady who worked all the Dallas Mavericks and Stars games. She was responsible for verifying and directing season ticket holders to their exclusive seats, which just happened to be the best seats in the arena. She had told me, though, that when I came to a game, if I would check with her after the first period of the game she would allow me to sit where there was one available. In essence, she would upgrade my seat to one that was paid for by someone else. So, the next game I was able to attend, I took her up on her offer. Sure enough she upgraded my seat to the lower level, center ice. It was the best seat I had ever had. The second period had just started, the crowd was into the game, and I was set … until someone tapped me on the shoulder and nicely said to me, “Excuse me, but your sitting in my seat.” Somewhat embarrassed, I grabbed my souvenir cup and program and went back to my assigned seat which just happened to be just below the ceiling of the arena. I really didn’t have a right to be mad because it wasn’t my seat. I had not paid for it even though I was sitting in it as though I had.

Often I have found myself sitting in a seat that isn’t mine–the throne of my heart, and I’m sure you have found yourself doing the same with the throne of your heart. Our tendency is to want to have the best seat when it comes to our life. We want to sit on the throne. We want to wear the crown. We want to rule and reign over our lives. And we do so as though we have the right to that seat. But the truth is, we don’t. We were never meant to rule and reign over our lives. We were never meant to sit on the throne of our heart. And if that isn’t enough, we certainly didn’t pay the price for that seat.

When we make decisions without submitting to the lordship of Jesus, or live in disobedience to His ways, overruling Him as though we have the right and the authority to do so, we take a seat that isn’t ours.

Sometimes we give that seat to someone or something else that we really do have the authority to do either. We tell greed to take the seat; we tell possessions to take the throne; we allow our children, our career, our distorted passions, and so many other things to sit in a place that isn’t intended for them to be.

When we allow someone or something to sit on the throne of our life, chaos always follows. There is only One who was meant to reign and rule our lives and it’s not us, and it isn’t anything or anyone we place there. Jesus is the rightful ruler, and when He is on the throne there is peace.

Smoldering Wicks

smoldering wickSeveral years ago, Max Lucado wrote a book entitled HE STILL MOVES STONES. Within that book, he mentioned Matthew 12:20, “ … a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench …” In that text Matthew is quoting the prophet Isaiah who is speaking of the Messiah, Jesus. The essence of that verse is simple: Jesus redeems and restores those who are bruised, battered, and bewildered by the trials of life, and breathes fresh wind to fan the dimming flame of those whose hearts are barely ignited and on the verge of losing hope, passion, and the joy of life.

Max Lucado writes, “And the smoldering wick on the candle. Is there anything closer to death than a smoldering wick? Once aflame, now flickering and failing. Still warm from yesterday’s passion, but no fire. Not yet cold but far from hot. Was it that long ago you blazed with faith? Remember how you illuminated the path? Then came the wind … the cold wind, the harsh wind. They said your ideas were foolish. They told you your dreams were too lofty. The scolded you for challenging the time-tested. The constant wind wore down upon you. Oh, you stood strong for a moment (or maybe a lifetime), but the endless blast whipped your flickering flame, leaving you one pinch away from darkness.” (He Still Moves Stones, p.16-17)

Maybe you are reading this and you’re saying to yourself, perhaps even screaming inside, “That’s me! That’s exactly how I feel.” Yet you wonder how you don’t become the wick that no longer burns. You want the flickering light at the end of a smoldering wick to be fanned into a strong and vibrant flame again.

The great news is that God loves to breath new life into that which is fading. He is the one who gives dreams and ignites vision in the heart of one who trusts Him and is willing to be used by Him. One thing that I’ve learned is that a smoldering wick can either be the result of the “cold, harsh wind” that Max writes about, or it could be due to a lack of oxygen that feeds the flame. It may just be that you’ve not been allowing God to breath new life into your dying dreams, or passions, or vision. Only in His presence will your smoldering wick be fueled by the oxygen of His grace; the grace you need to dream again and believe that He has something more for you that will burn for His glory and your good.

So to those of you who feel as though you are a smoldering wick, God is not done with you. Quite the contrary. You are in the perfect place for God to breath new life into you because “a smoldering wick He will not quench.”