But, Lord…

What a blessing it is to have those times, events and people in our lives that are cause for nothing more than thanksgiving!  However, the reality is, from time to time there are circumstances in life that are more challenging.  And sometimes, in those challenges, our faith weakens or falters, and some people cry out for some kind of sign that God is still there on their side.

Consider the example of faith demonstrated by the Levites carrying the ark of the covenant across the Jordan River.  In Joshua 3:10 Joshua said the sign that God was among them was that when the feet of those Levites rested in the waters of the river, the waters would be cut off.

Of all of that story, consider this one point in comparison to our challenges.  Those Levites had to act in faith first, and then came the sign that God was among them.  God does not have to prove Himself to you or me!  He has already done for us what we needed Him to do.  And now we must act in faith and He will keep His promise of blessing.

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Rest for the Weary

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

This is certainly one of the most comforting passages of Scripture.  Certainly those who are discouraged would qualify as “weary and heavy-laden.”  This is not a passage that is difficult to understand, but, by the same token, it may be so familiar that we overlook certain elements of Jesus’ invitation.

Jesus connects the comfort (rest) He offers to taking His yoke and “learning” from Him and carrying His “burden.”  Jesus also noted that only in “abiding” in His word can we be His disciples, know the truth and be freed by that truth (John 8:31, 32).

Do you want to find relief from the worries and cares of this life?  Then spend time in the word of Christ, learning about Him and what He expects of you.  And then “come” to Him in faithful obedience to what you’ve “learned.”

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

…But I’m Innocent

To hear the “experts” today, what we need to do in order to reach more people for Christ is eliminate negative preaching and just concentrate on encouraging people who don’t feel good about themselves.  You see, people don’t want to hear things that make them feel guilty.

Clearly, Jeremiah preferred to remain faithful to God and continued to tell the people they were guilty of sin and responsible for the judgment that was coming.  And he paid a high price.

In Jeremiah 37:13-21, the prophet found himself arrested on a bogus charge and then secretly used by the king to try to somehow avoid the disaster that was coming.  It was done in secret because the king wanted to keep up the appearance of being in control.  Even when Jeremiah protested his innocence he was kept in prison.  And still he kept the faith and told the truth…the hard truth.

Jeremiah’s example is one that should make us understand that sometimes it’s more important to suffer through what life throws at us and remain faithful to God, rather than to just assuage our offended sensitivities.  God can handle that offense and He will because He loves you.  And I do, too!

Donnie Bates

Terror on Every Side

What a dilemma Jeremiah faced!  His frustration boiling over, he determined he would no longer preach in the name of Jehovah because he was abused every time he did; he even went so far as to say he would not remember Him or speak His name any more (Jeremiah 20:9).  On the other hand, if he remained silent he could not endure the pressure from within of the need to warn of impending judgment.

Some of us have had the experience of friends turning on us and watching for us to fail (20:10).  Perhaps we have even gotten to the point of cursing the day we were born (20:14).  Jeremiah’s case may be more extreme than that of most of us, but still he carried on and persevered.

Why are we discussing Jeremiah so much?  Jeremiah is sometimes called “the weeping prophet” because of the things he suffered.  It’s important to note that he didn’t suffer these things with a happy face all the time.  It was as hard for him as it would have been for us, but he didn’t give up!

When you feel like giving up, remember Jeremiah’s example…and hang in there!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

More Than My Job is Worth

In our last few posts we’ve been discussing how Jeremiah persevered in his mission to preach God’s word to his people, even in the face of pretty determined resistance.  The title I’ve chosen for this post expresses the frustration that even Jeremiah felt at times; however, thanks be to God he did not let that frustration keep him from doing the right thing!

At the end of Jeremiah 19, the prophet reminded the people that judgment was coming because of their stubbornness.  When Pashur the priest heard what Jeremiah was preaching, he had him beaten and put in the stocks that were beside the temple (Jeremiah 20:1, 2).

Can you imagine?  Jeremiah was released the next day, but still…

The prophet dealt with Pashur, informing him that God had a special kind of judgment in store for him (20:3, 4).  However, Jeremiah’s frustration boiled over in verses 7-9.  He was on the verge of quitting!  But he couldn’t!!  His passion for God, God’s word and God’s people was more than he could hold inside.

Jeremiah suffered much, but he did not give up!  We must not give up, either!!  Keep the faith and remember:  God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

In the Face of Deadly Designs

While we never want to stop encouraging the discouraged, there comes a time (and we appear to have reached just that point in our society) when we must put aside our own comfort and make the necessary sacrifices for something more important…the bringing of a nation or society back to God.

Passages we have already noted show that Jeremiah was asked by God to experience loneliness and plots devised against him.  In Jeremiah 18:20-23 he wonders why the good he was doing should be repaid with evil and goes on to acknowledge that “deadly designs” had been devised against him.  And still he continued to faithfully preach God’s word, warning of impending judgment!

Today, we are often told that we must change the gospel because people want to be told that God loves them and accepts them no matter what their behavior is.  Apparently, Jeremiah never attended a “Church Growth” seminar on preaching where this counsel was given.

By every modern standard of “church growth” principles, Jeremiah was a failure; but not by any biblical standard.  Jeremiah loved God, God’s people and God’s word.  And God loved Jeremiah.  He loves you, too, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

All Alone

One of the greatest blessings God has provided man in this life is the opportunity to enjoy the companionship of a loving spouse and raise a family.  In the very beginning, the first thing God looked at and said was “not good” was that man was alone (Genesis 2:18).  By the same token, some of the most grievous pain that can be suffered involves the family, whether it is the injury made by one family member to another, or the lack of family itself, i.e. loneliness.

Jeremiah was told that he could not marry; he could not have children (Jeremiah 16:2).  His mission was to preach to his people the word of God that judgment was coming.

That doesn’t seem fair, does it?  Many people suffer from loneliness.  Barnabas Notes exists to offer comfort to such people, among others.  And yet, God’s message to Jeremiah was to not marry.  Do we think Jeremiah was immune to loneliness?  Nothing suggests that he was.

Rather than using Jeremiah’s example to try and shame someone discouraged by loneliness, let’s use it to help us understand that sometimes, we must make sacrifices to concentrate on what really matters.

No matter what, remember this:  God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates