Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Our hope is not hung on such an untwisted thread as ‘I imagine so,’ or ‘It is likely;’ but the strong cable of our fastened anchor is the promise and oath of Him who is eternal verity. Our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand and Christ’s own strength to the stronghold of God’s unchanging nature and truthfulness.”
With Whom Is No Variableness
“It fortifies my soul to know,
That, though I perish, Trust is so;
That, howsoever I stray or range,
Whatever I do, Thou dost not change.
I steadier step, when I recall,
That, if I slip, Thou dost not fall.”
Arthur Hugh Clough
Today’s Study Text:
“While Jeremiah was still locked up in jail, a second message from God was given to him: ‘This is God’s message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: Call on Me, and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’”
Jeremiah 33: 1-3
The Message Bible
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 5
“When You Can’t Figure Things Out”
“All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power, and love.”
Is there something taking place in my life right now which I can’t understand?
When God states that He will show me great and mighty things, what would I like for Him to reveal to me?
“Though our private desires are ever so confused, though our private requests are ever so hidden from others, yet God eyes them, records them, and puts them upon the file of heaven, and will one day crown them with glorious answers and returns.”
All that we ask
All that we ask or think
Abundantly above all that
we ask or think
Able to do abundantly above all that we
ask or think
Some Bible verses can be built up into
pyramids, and like Egyptian
pyramids, are for our meditation
The above words are taken from one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Ephesians 3: 20. I happen to especially like the Amplified Bible’s Version which, though wordy, gives me the depth, width and height contained in the Apostle Paul’s exclamation about his heavenly Father’s ability to act in your life and mine.
As Biblical scholars surmise, this letter by Paul was written for a large group of Christians in churches “in the general geographical area of Ephesus.” As with many of the other letters Paul penned himself or had transcribed, Paul’s most likely location at the time of writing was during his 2-year imprisonment in Rome about A.D. 60. And it was Tychicus who was the trusted courier of this letter as Paul himself notes: ‘Now that you may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord and His service, will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may console and cheer and encourage and strengthen your heart’ (Ephesians 6: 21, 22,, Amplified Bible). Here again we find that it was during a time of affliction that God used Paul’s imprisonment as a conduit for not only inspiring the Christians in the region of Ephesus but down to this very day.
Having spent 25 years on the road traveling for our company, I found it very difficult to write adverting copy, which was one of my assigned tasks, especially after a long day running through airports trying to catch planes that were often delayed. Frankly, I could never have undertaken penning “devotionals” as I do now on the schedule I had then. So in order for God to accomplish His plan in my life, I found myself “sidelined” with the painful disabilities that keep me chained up at times. And it has been a tremendous encouragement in my own life to look at the way God used the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul, repeatedly to bless the lives of His children down through time. I doubt the Apostle Paul could have ever fathomed the “exceedingly, abundantly, above all he could ask or think” that God was doing while Paul was languishing within a prison writing letters!
This is where our study text Jeremiah 33: 3, gives us a heavenly revelation for today. As God told the imprisoned prophet Jeremiah, “When you call on Me, I am going to hear you and reply to you – it’s a promise I will keep, without a doubt.” But as our Father in heaven so frequently does, He doesn’t just stop with the incredible news that we are to call on Him first in every situation in our life, no matter how messy and then He unquestionably promises to respond to us, but our Father goes on to surprise us with the news that His answer will include showing us great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden which we don’t know or distinguish and recognize. Things which we don’t have knowledge about or understand” (Jeremiah 33: 3, Amplified Bible).
I’d like to give you my personal take on Jeremiah 33: 3 with a focus on the phrase, “shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Four days after our car accident, when I opened my eyes, lying flat on my back with a multitude of tubes going into and coming out of my body, unable to move anything but my right hand; I was so confused that to say I couldn’t figure out anything would be an understatement. If you had asked me, “What lies ahead,” I would have thought you were out of your mind for how was I to know. Maybe right now your back is up against a wall as you experience the worst financial crisis you have ever faced and you can’t even see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. If I was to say to you, “What do you think will happen in the future to you?” I would not blame you if you retorted, “How am I to know!” Or if you were just informed by your spouse that they found someone new and they didn’t love you anymore, if I was to say, “Do you think you will ever love another person” you might want to punch me in the nose, so to speak. And who could fault you. For when our path ahead is so dark, so confusing and yes, so unexplainable, it is at that moment of ultimate terror that God comes through with His words from His friend Jeremiah who is in prison and says, “I know whatever God does He will truly shew you (your name here) exceedingly high and inaccessible things which because of height or fortification are isolated and withheld and can’t be comprehended or discerned without God’s power.” This is how the Hebrew translation describes our study passage, “great and mighty things thou knowest not.” Interestingly, in the Hebrew language, the words “great and mighty” also refer to “grapes.” When I read that in my Strong’s Concordance, BOOM! I thought back to the Old Testament book of Numbers where God instructed Moses to send a troop of spies into Canaan to check out the land. When the spies returned, we are told that “they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff” (Numbers 13: 23, K.J.V.). We need to picture in our minds that this was ONE cluster of grapes. It was so huge that two people had to carry it. This was something completely unseen and unheard of by any of God’s children. Yet, this was what was in the land God had promised them. It should have blown everybody away. But sadly, the grumblers grumbled! And only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua saw the amazing! What happened was that God used Joshua to take His children into Canaan for he could see the “great and mighty things” of God. And as for Caleb, this 85 year-old giant for God, upon arriving in Canaan permanently, asked for the most difficult task. He said “therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake…for the Lord will be with me” (Joshua 14: 6-15, K.J.V.)
When God’s children follow God’s command, as God instructs, and they call upon Him, He will hear and respond and then He will do great and mighty things and show them His power at work in ways they could never have imagined. No matter the trial that is overwhelming you, God has “great and mighty things” on His mind for you. Oh, and one other thing, both the imprisoned prophet Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul chose to say that what God does is “exceedingly” high and above anything you or I could come up with. Our dreams just aren’t large enough to encompass the thoughts and plans our Father has for us. In the words of Martin Luther, “God can give only according to His might: therefore He always gives more than we ask.” No wonder it was this leader of the Reformation who wrote the words to the famed hymn, “A Mighty Fortress”:
“A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.”
To Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask and all we think. What a great and mighty God who will shew us things we could never dream. Praise God!
“What a wonderful experience mine has been during these thirty-nine years! What inexhaustible supplies have been vouchsafed to the work in my hands. How amazing to mere unaided human reason have been the answers to prayer, even when faith has almost failed and our timidity has begotten distrust instead of love and hope! And God has not failed us once!”
(Founder of the Barnardo Homes where over 60,000 poor and forgotten children were rescued and given opportunities to reach their God-given potential)
“A Prayer of the Afflicted: when they are overwhelmed and faint and pour out their complaint to God.”
“Here my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. Hide not Your face from me in the day when I am in distress! Incline Your ear to me; in the day when I call answer me speedily…He will regard the plea of the destitute and will not despise their prayer…You (God) shall remain and endure; yes, all of them shall wear out and become old like a garment…But You remain the same, and Your years shall have no end…Your servants shall dwell safely and continue, and their descendants shall be established before You.”
Based on Psalm 102
“Lord, hear my prayer when trouble glooms,
Let sorrow find a way,
and when the day of trouble comes,
Turn not thy face away:
My bones like hearthstones burn away,
My life like vapory smoke decays.
My heart is smitten like the grass,
That withered lies and dead,
And I, so lost to what I was,
Forget to eat my bread.
My voice is groaning all the day,
My bones prick through this skin of clay.
The wilderness’ pelican,
The desert’s lonely owl –
I am their like, a desert man
In ways as lone and foul.
As sparrows on the cottagetop
I wait till I with fainting drop.
I hear my enemies reproach,
All silently I mourn:
They on my private peace encroach,
Against me they are sworn.
Ashes as bread my trouble shares,
And mix my food with weeping cares.
Yet not for them is sorrow’s toil,
I fear no mortal’s frowns –
But thou has held me up awhile
And thou has cast me down.
My days like shadows waste from view,
I mourn like withered grass in dew.
But thou , Lord, shalt endure for ever,
All generations through.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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