Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I mediate on and talk of Your wondrous works. My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to the promises of Your Word.”
Psalm 119: 27, 28
“When I am with Thee and Thou art with me,
Life will be self-forgetting power;
Love, ever conscious, buoyant, clear, and free
Will flame in darkest hour.”
“Everything becomes possible to those who love…We shall be enabled to do so much if only we love. We live by loving, and the more we love the more we live; and therefore, when life feels dull and the spirits are low, turn and love God, love your neighbor, and you will be healed of your wound. Love Christ, the dear Master; look at His face, listen to His words, and love will waken, and you will do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you.”
Henry Scott Holland
“I am your God, I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness.”
Isaiah 41: 10
Today’s Study Text:
“Again the word of the Lord came to me (Jeremiah) saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel; like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) for their good. For I will set my eyes upon them for good; and I will build them up and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know and be acquainted with Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.’”
Jeremiah 24: 4-7
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 16
“For Your Good”
“Do not be content with a static Christian life. Determine rather to grow in faith and love, in knowledge and holiness.”
Has there been an event in my life, which looking back upon, I’m able to say, “It happened for my own good?”
How has God used the varied circumstances of my life to improve and to change me?
“Every disappointment is a trial of our faith…a test that proves the genuineness of your relationship with your God and His Word.”
As Silver Refined
“If your relationship with God is only powerful enough to carry you through sunny days and overflowing bank accounts, it cannot and will not be a beacon of hope to a hopeless and hurting world.”
I’m certain many of you may have had someone – somewhere – sometime in your life say to you, “Well, it’s for your own good.” I heard this statement more times than I could count when I was in high school and my parents refused to allow me to date. It didn’t matter how nice the guy was nor did it matter if my parents knew the young man’s family. They had decided I could not go out on dates until college. Believe me, it stayed that way, no matter how much I protested. And much of the time the, “No!” came along with this line of reasoning, “Kids in high school aren’t mature enough and it’s for your own good.”
I’m thankful that by the time I met Jim I was old enough to be able to go out with him and who knows, it may well have been a blessing that I had simply not met “Mr. Right!” before that time.
Well, in the coming days, we’re going to look at the part of “affliction” that frankly I struggle with at times. It is that portion of affliction which the prophet Jeremiah writes about in Jeremiah 24 where he states that God, no less, said that He sent His children into the land of Babylon and He did it “for their own good!” I’d like to share what the great Bible commentator Matthew Henry had to say about what God did to His children. “Even this disgraceful uncomfortable captivity God intended for their benefit; and we are sure that His intentions are never frustrated: ‘I have sent them into the land of the Chaldeans for their good’. It seemed in every way for their hurt, not only as it was the ruin of their estates, honours, and liberties, separated them from their relations and friends, and put them under the power of their enemies and oppressors, as it sunk their spirits, discouraged their faith, deprived them of the benefit of God’s oracles and ordinances, and exposed them to temptations; yet it was designed for their good.”
As I was going through the above litany of all the things that happened to God’s special children, I thought about God’s children here in Transformation Garden today. I made a list of some of the trials and tragedies so many of you face. If we wrote out a contemporary version of Jeremiah 24, it might go something like this: “I let (your name here) go through a lengthy time of illness; a loss of her home; a financial collapse; the break-down of her only car; a loss of her job; the worst case of the flu she ever had; and she was kidnapped and ended up living in a foreign country for untold years and she never saw her family and friends again. But oh, I forgot to tell you, every incident that happened was for her own good!” It sounds ludicrous. Even crazy! To think that all the trials and tribulations that smack us in the face are meant for our good seems like a bad joke. And yet, this is what God told His friend and prophet, Jeremiah. No wonder Jeremiah was called the “Weeping Prophet.” He lived at a time in the history of God’s children when he had a whole lot to cry about. Jeremiah Chapter 20 is what I call “a dilly” – or what the dictionary defines as “remarkably extraordinary.” Why? Because Jeremiah had enough. And for all of you who feel you have had enough too, let me share the words God’s prophet directed to his Creator:
“Jeremiah said: ‘O Lord, You have deceived me…You are stronger than I am and You have prevailed. I am a laughing stock all the day; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out and complain; I shout, violence and destruction! For the word of the Lord has become to me a reproach and derision and has brought me insult all day long. If I say, I will not make mention of the Lord or speak any more in His name, in my mind and heart it is as if there were a burning fire shut up in my bones. And I am weary of enduring and holding it in. I cannot contain it any longer. For I have heard many whispering and defaming. There is terror on every side. Denounce Him. Let us denounce Him! Say all my familiar friends, they who watch for my fall.”
Jeremiah 20: 7-10
During the times in your life when you feel God has piled your troubles in a massive heap, one upon another and more, I pray you’ll read Jeremiah 20: 7-10 and recognize that our Father in heaven can take our frustration and fury. He let Jeremiah talk to Him as friends would speak to one another, “Why, oh why God are you letting me be mocked? Why did you ask me to be a prophet and then leave me to be battered even by people who referred to me as their friends? People I care about demean and denigrate me. They scoff at me and frankly You as well.” Matthew Henry commenting on this passage observes that, “Here is an account of the temptation Jeremiah was in under this affliction. And this is that which is most to be dreaded in affliction…Jeremiah was tempted to quarrel with God for making him a prophet.” He was ready to give up on God! Has that happened to you? And God didn’t get mad at Him. In fact, God understood! Maybe your trials are so great and so painful that you have considered giving up on what God has called you to do for Him? Hang on a little longer is all I ask for we are going to find out that our Father loves us in ways we can’t imagine, what’s more His purpose for our lives is so fantastic!
Over the coming days, we are going to take a few moments to uncover why our heavenly Father could say, unequivocally, to all His children down through history, “What I am doing is for your good.” No matter how we happen to perceive things at any given time.
Author and teacher Beth Moore, in her terrific series, “Who Do You Trust,” makes this point which relates directly to our study today: “Often times, the challenges in our life drive us to the sufficiency of Christ…Many times we want to escape from the pressure, when the pressure, if we yield to it, can shape Christ-likeness in us.” Indeed, we will find that our gracious and loving Father really knows what is truly for our good.
“We are ‘God’s Workmanship’, and God is good, therefore His workmanship must be good also; and we may securely trust that before He is done with us, He will make out of us something that will be to His glory, no matter how unlike this we may as yet feel ourselves to be.
Hannah Whitall Smith
God of All Comfort
“In You, Lord, I live and move and have my being.”
Based on Acts 17:18
“If every part of my life
is with You
and in You, Lord,
then everything is made good:
even the things I struggle not to resent,
even the draining and hurtful encounters,
Let every moment of my life be Your moment,
whether or not I consciously remember You,
and make me more open
to the pulse of Your life
and the breath of Your love.”
“Shape the landscape of my life after Your will.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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