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Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

                                                         Part Two

                                   SLICING, DICING, AND BURNING

Someone much wiser than me said, “It only takes a generation for a nation to turn away from God.” And the Book of Jeremiah gives the absolute proof certain of this proclamation.

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King Jehoiakim ruled in Judah from 609 B.C. until 597 B.C. He was the son of King Josiah who reigned from 630 B.C. until 609 B.C.

Josiah was a man after God’s own heart, but his son Jehoiakim, was bad-to-the-bone. Josiah cleared the land of idols, destroyed their places of worship, and found God’s word, which had been lost in the temple. (Can you imagine the Word of God being lost in the House of God? Still happens today in some churches, doesn’t it?)

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When Josiah finally heard the Word of God, he tore his clothes and commanded priests and scribes to inquire of the Lord concerning the words of the Book. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35 and is so worth the read if you don’t know about this last good king in the land of Judah. God blessed Judah because of Josiah’s obedience. But generational sin lurked like a shroud of judgment, because Josiah’s father, King Manasseh had been the worst of the worst and that gene pool washed like a tsunami over his grandson Jehoiakim.

God sent Jeremiah the prophet, during the days of good King Josiah to remind the priests, rulers, and people of their refusal to listen and obey His Word. To remind them of the judgments He had pronounced against the granddaddy, and remind them of their urgent need to listen and repent.

When Jehoiakim inherited the throne, Jeremiah’s obedience to do what God called him to be and do, proved to be a perpetual pain in this king’s back-side. And the prophet ended up confined, unable to deliver God’s word to the people. But Jeremiah’s work was far from finished. So, the Lord told Jeremiah to take a scroll and write on it the words God spoke to him. God said, “Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

Even while they were back at their idol worship and evil ways, God was ready to hear and forgive their sins. Just like today, over twenty-six hundred years later, God’s message is still the same. And so is every man, woman, boy and girl—the same. Full of sin without the wisdom to see their great need for salvation through Jesus Christ or the ability to save themselves from God’s judgment.

Well, Jeremiah called Baruch, the scribe, and dictated to him all the words the Lord had spoken to him. We’re not told how long the process took, but remember, God called Jeremiah to be His prophet in 627 B.C. It’s now 606 B.C. That’s a bunch-a-words folks. Written by hand, in pen and ink, on a loooong roll of parchment.

What happened next is worth reading in the 36th Chapter of Jeremiah, verses 10-21. But picture this, the king is sitting in his winter house and there’s a fire burning in the brazier in front of him.

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Jehudi unrolled the scroll and began reading—one column, two, three, and four columns. Imagine the scene, the king is obviously incensed and grabs the scribe’s knife and slices the scroll and pitches it into the fire. Then he sliced and diced the whole scroll containing the Words of God and burned it all in the fire until it was consumed!

“Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:24 NIV).

I’m waitin’ for the lightning and goose-bumps raced across my body as I read this and then again as I’m typing these words to you. Remember his daddy’s reaction when he heard the Word of God? He feared and tore his clothes. Jehoiakim and his crew? Not so much.

I have every Bible I’ve ever owned and if there were a fire at my house, my Bibles would be the first thing I’d race to save. Wouldn’t you? But to cut them apart and watch ’em burn?

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Yet before we cluck our tongues and look down our noses at King Jehoiakim, don’t we reject God’s Word when we leave it in the back of the car from one Sunday ‘til the next. Never thinking about where our copy of the Word is ‘til we leave for church the following week? Or worse yet, we leave it on the end table by our chair, right next to the HD remote. Which gets more use during the week—the Word of God or the remote?

But God didn’t wring His holy hands. No, He told Jeremiah to get another scroll and repeat the process. Which Jeremiah and Baruch did, because we have the words God spoke to Jeremiah in our Bibles today. But listen carefully to the words God spoke concerning King Jehoiakim.

“You will have no one to sit on the throne of David, and your dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and frost of the night. (He wouldn’t receive a proper burial. The birds and beasts would pick his bones.) I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them” (Jeremiah 36:29-31 NIV).

And God’s Words became reality for King Jehoiakim, the priests, and the people when Nebuchadnezzar and his great armies killed, captured and burned Jerusalem, and carried many from Judah captive to Babylon for seventy years. Why? Because they did not listen to the Words of God to obey them!

God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever. Neither Jehoiakim nor any of his descendants will be present in the coming kingdom. His choices brought the consequences of separation from God then, now, and forever. No more chances. His doom was sealed and God’s wrath on him was executed by the King of Babylon. Done. Finished. Forever.

But God’s mercy and grace are still available to us. How will the recount of Jehoiakim’s foolish choices and consequences resonate in your life? The words “…but they didn’t listen…” echo in my ears from 606 B.C., through the corridors of time, to today…

Am I listening? Are you listening? What choices will we make? Will we choose rewards or consequences?

“And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (Revelation 21:6-8 NIV).

 

Part Three: Weak, Deceived, Can’t Trust – Jeremiah 37 – 38

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The early spring sky flamed a watercolor wash of late afternoon hues and in the distance my attention riveted on wave after wave of vector lines racing across the sky. Some way, somehow the instinct God placed in each of these creatures whispered, “Time to go!” And the snow geese head north ‘til next Fall.

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I pulled in the driveway, opened the car door, and heard more honking. Again perfect vectors of these beautiful creatures winging their way north bound. What a beautiful sight! Winter is over and Spring is here. A changing of the flock. Robins have made their yearly appearance here in East Texas and the Meadow Larks aren’t far behind. While white pelicans with their flashy orange bills wait their turn to skim into settle on our Texas lakes and ponds.

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As I pondered this mystery of our Creator God, more bands of geese filled the heavens from horizon to horizon. I marveled at the order of their flight. How they all share the responsibility of the journey, and how they care for one another.
How I long to be attentive to every word the Spirit of God whispers to my heart. But I’m afraid I’m more like a homing pigeon than a soaring goose. I cling to my turf, or anything else I deem belongs to me, with tightly clutched fingers arguing mine.
What are you grasping with hand-clenched-vengeance today? Don’t you know, it’s going to hurt when God pulls your fingers off. So we’d be much better to hold everything He gives with open hands.

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Remember when God told Abraham to go to a land He would show him? Abraham obeyed. Remember when God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him “Let My people go?” Moses obeyed. Remember when God told Samuel to anoint Jesse’s youngest son to be King of Israel? Samuel obeyed. All of these commands required faith on the part of the one God gave instructions to and it sometimes meant difficult times when they obeyed. But God’s instructions are always right and best.
Sometime after our daughter died, God called me to become involved with GriefShare, and my first words were: No. I’m grieving enough for everyone. I sure don’t want to be around more grieving people. Absolutely not. Not me.
But God said to me, “Time to go.” Like He said to the geese, “There is a new flock I’m assigning to your care.”

And I grumbled, “I don’t want a new flock. I just want Michelle back.”
God didn’t zap me. He guided me. Patiently.

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Wish I could say I soared like a goose, eager to meet this new challenge, equipped with His wind beneath my wings. But I waddled like a pigeon, clucking and complaining about this new assignment, doubting my ability to do the job He assigned. I languished in longing for the comfort of solitude. Hiding out on the days grief overwhelmed me. But those times were gone. I tried to pretend I could hold onto both worlds, but when God calls you to leave, He means now and forever.

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Fifteen years later, I’m thankful He resettled me with GriefShare. Thankful God removed me from my solitary place of grief and pain and sorrow, so His purposes for me and those I’ve shared these past years with could be accomplished.
Has God recently plucked you up and moved you out of your comfort zone and deposited you in a place requiring painful stretching? A place you don’t much like? And try as you might, you just don’t have the ability or energy to waddle, much less soar.

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Whether the necessary change comes from a job transfer, or job loss, divorce, or failing health, perhaps even death of a loved one, that’s all right, remember, we’re like pigeons and they don’t soar. Not yet! We plod forward, one step at a time, in the path God places in front of us. And day by day, as we follow where He leads, we find He still has a purpose and plan for our lives, regardless of age or station in life.
And as we are faithful to obey, He is always faithful to provide comfort and help and encouragement, so we in turn can comfort and encourage the individuals He places in our new flock.
Remember there is coming a day when we will all shed our pigeon-winged-earth-suits. An appointed day when He will carry us home. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more death. And no more tears!

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And we will rise up with eagle wings to travel with Him along those spectacular high places. Forever.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 28-31 NAS).

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