Monthly Archives: March 2020

Plans

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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I found the sermon on Jeremiah 29 by C.H. Spurgeon last week [http://www.spurgeongems.org/sermon/chs1965.pdf]. I feel like I stumbled onto something very special.  It was delivered in 1887 but it’s wisdom has stood the test of time.  It’s long and I keep rereading it because it has more ideas than I can absorb in one reading.  “These people in captivity were likely to fear that their God had forgotten them; hence the Lord repeats His words in this place, and speaks of thoughts and thinking three times.”  Plans, plans, plans.

Plans are the tricky part for humans because we trust what we know and we just don’t know it all. So here we are in this time of Coronavirus faced with the conflict of who’s plans to believe and what actions to take.  Consider this second truth from Spurgeon “Unbelief misinterprets the ways of God; hasty judgment jumps at wrong conclusions about them, but the Lord knows His own thoughts.  We are doubtful where we ought to be sure, and we are sure where we have no ground for certainty, thus we are always in the wrong.”  

Pay attention today to the plans for dealing with Coronavirus, take every action based on their limited wisdom and act in an abundance of caution on the knowledge of men you don’t know AND then put your trust and hope in the plans of the God you do…”plans to give you hope and a future.”

Self-Isolation

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare [peace] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

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“I don’t know.”  That’s probably the most consistent thought in many of our minds these days.  We must act on the advice of experts but we are dealing with unknown risk levels.  No matter how much information we consume about mitigating the danger of our exposure to Corona virus it’s not enough to ease our minds completely when the time comes for one of those essential trips out of the safety of the exile of self-isolation.  Jeremiah reminds us God has a plan and Corona virus is not the only danger of our exile.

“A people in such a position as the Jews in Babylon were in danger in two ways: either to be buoyed up with false hopes, and so to fall into foolish expectations; or, to fall into despair, and have no hope at all, and so become a sullen and degraded people, who would be unfit for restoration, and unable to play the part which God ordained for them in the history of mankind.” (Spurgeon 1887).

God knows the plan even if I haven’t a clue what it is.  Exile from the familiarity of daily life has given me a new awareness I need to be equipped to play the part God has set for my restoration.  He’s given me expert advice about the one part of my future and hope I am in charge of.  I can do this one thing to be prepared even in the exile of self-isolation!   “…Call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” 

Life-Saving

Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

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Could there be a more timely message for all of us today?  Harsh and divisive language and behavior have invaded our culture to the point it’s expected, if not accepted.  Recognizing the wisdom of opportunity, words and behavior matter now more than ever.  Most of us are embarrassingly aware there is a distance between our willingness to share the Gospel truth freely and how we live our daily lives.  There’s a reason for that.  It’s reminiscent of the dynamic that happened way-back-when in the Garden of Eden when a clever snake successfully confused those first two messengers by questioning the clarity of God’s truth.  

We are the messengers today and unfortunately we’ve taken a bite out of that apple of deceit.  We are reluctant to “make the most of every opportunity” because that same clever deceit has left us believing consideration and tolerance are in conflict with the broad outreach of the life-saving Gospel: that wisdom and conversation can be “full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  

Guaranteed Replacement Plan

17:1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.” 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.

18:5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

18:32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.” 33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

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These two chapters of 2 Samuel paint a pretty clear picture of exactly what broken hearts look like.  Absalom’s heart trouble is obvious from verse 4 – ”This plan seemed good to Absalmon.”  His heart is “broken” by deceit and willingness to destroy the one person that stands between him and his selfish desire.  David’s heart is broken by recognizing the familiarity of those sins in the heart of his own son, and remembering Nathan’s painful forecast of it’s effect. [2 Samuel 12:7-12] Sin’s natural consequence is its ability to replicate itself from heart to heart, but God offers a guaranteed replacement plan for hearts that are broken:

FYI: Ezekiel 36:2 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:…26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [ESV]

Peace from Colossae

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Whose peace are we called to?  Re-read the verses above, then take a deep breath and give thanks to God that the “peace of Christ” is the gold standard we’re expected to live by, not our own.

We are confronted with novel circumstances in our world right now that impact our lives enough to alert us to remember, that is truth.  And this is reality: all our riches, and peace, dwell “among” [in the company of] “the message of Christ” that lives in our hearts.  Our hearts are where the groundswell of gratitude reveals our understanding of the vast truth of what His peace really means to us.

“In the company” of your hearts and daily lives “the message of Christ” is completed by the simple recognition of this absolutely timeless truth that makes peace possible:  

❤️Christ holds your heart in His own❤️

Familiar?

2 Samuel 15 &16 [AMP]
15:13 Then a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” 14 David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, let us flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom!…30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot [in despair]. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went. 31 David was told, “Ahithophel [your counselor] is among the conspirators with Absalom.” David said, “O Lord, I pray You, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”

16:20 Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give me your advice. What should we do?” 21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left behind to take care of the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened [by your boldness and audacity].” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof [of the king’s palace], and [i]Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

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Reading 2 Samuel feels more like a discipline than a devotion to me.  It’s not easy. I’ve had to learn that I can only get through the sad and sometimes gruesome details with the aid of hindsight.   Hindsight and knowing what’s ahead in the New Testament are reliable markers that tie the experiences of this king to what I know about THE King – Jesus.

David has been forced to flee to the Mount of Olives.  He’s in a familiar spot in any wilderness – the unknown.   Sin has isolated him from his family and  now the nation.  It sounds remarkably like the experience of Jesus at that same spot so much later.  

David is completely dependent on the protection of “foreigners.”  The Kerethites, Pelethites, and Gittites may not have understood David was a man after God’s own heart.  They were gentiles,  but they certainly had foresight in their journey of open loyalty in support of the king.  The benefit of hindsight is to see God already at work to secure a place for other foreigners of his creation just like us.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand why tears were part of Davids journey.  He’s experiencing the betrayal of trust.  Absalom’s final violation of the honor of his father was to stage circumstances on a rooftop that must have pierced David’s heart and memory with another rooftop moment of betrayal from his own past.   He clearly recognizes God at work even in this moment of betrayal.  Sound familiar?

Designer Wardrobe

Colossians 3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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My first thought was Colossians 3:12 sounded like the Designer version of the armor of God.  A new wardrobe filled with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness, wisdom and gratitude.  This is not the armor of medieval times.  It has the same complete coverage as the heavy metal version but it looks quite different.  This wardrobe honors the qualities the Designer Himself has chosen to display what His impenetrable protection looks like.  It covers every vital thing necessary to win over the opposition at the same time it reveals Love is the thrust of outreach that makes this “armor” a thing of beauty that still wins ❤️s.