My devotions recently led me back to Jeremiah’s call to the prophetic ministry, in Jeremiah 1. I have always considered him to be one of the “giants” of the faith – a man who faithfully proclaimed a message, even though it was not readily received. His was a ministry that impacted the ministry of others, generations later, like Daniel and Ezra. He served with a single-minded focus on God and pleasing Him.
So, I guess I never really gave much thought to the fact that Jeremiah, like other spiritual “giants,” was initially hesitant to take on the task to which God was calling him: “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child,” (Jeremiah 1:6). In fact, an inability to speak seems to be a common excuse given (e.g. Moses – Exodus 4:10).
When God places a call on someone’s life, He will not allow excuses to get in the way. Just as He did in other cases, God faced Jeremiah’s objections head-on, not focusing on why he could NOT fulfill God’s mission but on how God would equip him so that he COULD fulfill His call.
Who has God called you to reach, today? What soul has God impressed upon your heart, with which to share the Gospel? It is easy to come up with excuses – my weakness; my fear; the unpopular nature of the message. But God always has an answer.
July 28, 2020
If you’ve been following along and reading our blog posts since we started several months ago, you may recall around the end of each month I try to share with you some of the verses that I will be meditating on or memorizing for the upcoming month. Up until this point most of those have been from different books scattered throughout Scripture. But for the month of August I want to hone in on a particular passage. And I’ll explain why in just a moment. But the passage that I’m aiming to have at the forefront of my thinking is:
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
What I say and how I say it has always been a struggle for me. This passage in James has been one that over the years has helped me gain victory (most of the time) in this area. Yet, I’ve been convicted lately in regard to social media. More specifically with my response to the things I see and read. As we all know, tensions are high right now, and I desire for my voice, whether spoken or typed to be uplifting and unifying. May the things I say or the things I share build others up and point others to Jesus.
I’d love for you to potentially consider memorizing some of or even all of this passage with me in the month ahead. May God bless you as you look to apply His word to your life.
Digging Down and Growing Up
July 23, 2020"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
When I reflect on my childhood, I do so with great fondness. Names and faces of people, who were influential in my formative years, come flooding back – names like Cheatham, Tuck, Bowden, McKinney, Garthwaite, and Hicks. Some have gone on to Heaven. Others are in the sunset years of their life. There are still others with whom I have lost contact. But there is rarely a day that goes by when I do not think of at least one of them and thank God for the way that He used them in my life.
My early years were not only noted for the people that shaped them, but also the frequent moving. When I was born, my father was training for the Gospel ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. When I was one, our family moved to Dallas, Texas, where he continued his studies for his master’s degree. After graduation, he became the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Lenoir City, Tennessee. All told, in my first fourteen years, I lived in four different houses and attended five different schools. One thing I was not familiar with, in those early years, was putting down roots.
One of my devotional readings, on Wednesday morning, made me think of those early years and how many lives are lived like that today:
“Author David F. Wells wrote, ‘Today, we are neither rooted nor do we have much sense of belonging. We are in fact the uprooted generations, the disconnected, the drifters, the alone. We are being blown around by the windstorms of modernity. Our roots in families, place, and work have all withered or been cut off.’ That may be true of our culture, but it does not have to be true of us.
There may be times when we need to relocate for family or work reasons, and sometimes it is God’s will for people to move. However people frequently drift from one place to the next for less compelling reasons. We need to put down deep roots wherever we are. There needs to be a depth of commitment – to family, to God, to church – that is unable to be shaken by anything that occurs.
Psalm 1:3 promises that a believe who loves and meditates in the Scriptures ‘shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.’ This is the key to a stable and productive life. A fruit tree that is moved every year is not going to be a healthy and productive tree because it has no time to take root. Rather than constantly being driven from place to place by changing ideas and circumstances, we need to make the commitment to stand firm.”
Pastor Paul Chappell
Maybe your childhood was like mine – always moving. But allowing yourself to take root, wherever God places you and for however long, is an important component of your spiritual development. As a brother-in-Christ, I would encourage you, for instance, to really dig your roots into your church family. If it is faithful to the preaching of God’s Word, make it yours (by committed membership), invest in it (by faithful giving and service), and allow it to invest in you (by faithful attendance). That is a major part of God’s plan for your growth.
A Season of Refreshing
July 16, 2020
Most years, the summer months are a flurry of activities unique from the rest of the year. School is out of session. Camps are in full swing. Families are planning vacations, staycations, and day trips. Baseball, featuring all-stars of all ages, is being played on diamonds across the country. In some ways, summertime is almost busier than the other nine months of the year. It is exhausting just thinking about it.
But there is something different about the busy-ness of the summer. There is a different goal. It is not about getting something done – although that long list of projects around the house IS calling your name. It is more about a pursuit of refreshment and renewal – a restoration of energy and drive for the regular activity of the remainder of the year.
The Bible tells us that renewal and refreshing are important for the Christian life, as well. God set the pattern when, after the sixth day of creation, we read that “on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made,” (Genesis 2:2-3).
I realize that this is not like most years. The pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives – even our summer plans. But, have you still taken advantage of the opportunity to slow down so that your mind and spirit could be renewed? Over the next few days, meditate on the following verses that challenge us to renewal and refreshment.
March / April 2020
May / June 2020
July / August 2020