Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lend A Hand

“But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that he was not given into the hands of the people to put him to death” (Jeremiah 26:24).

Jeremiah had already endured much in his efforts to share the message of God with his rebellious countrymen. He had been beaten and put in stocks. He had become a laughingstock and a mockery. Even his friends and relatives had turned against him. But now the opposition had turned deadly. The false priests and prophets of Judah pronounced a death sentence upon God’s prophet and incited a lynch mob to support their cause. Some officials of the king arrive on the scene as the crowd encircles Jeremiah. They hold an impromptu hearing in hopes of getting to the facts of the case. The leaders of Judah continue to call for the death of God’s prophet. Jeremiah refuses to back down in the face of their threats. The elders of Judah try to inject some sanity into the proceedings with a historical perspective. You could cut the tension with a knife.

But then, a single, courageous individual stood by Jeremiah in his darkest hour. The rest of the Scriptures tell us precious little about Ahikam. But this one act on his part speaks volumes about the kind of person he was. He was willing to put himself at risk by taking the side of someone in desperate need of a friend. Who’s to say that the crowd wouldn’t turn on him as well? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to just stay out of the way and not get involved? Not for Ahikam!

Is there someone you know who could use some help standing firm in the face of life’s struggles? Lord, please help me to have the courage to lend my hand to those in desperate circumstances. Please help me to have the conviction to stand with others who are struggling to stand on their own. May I resist being swayed by the fickle court of public opinion.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The headline in the sports section of the Columbus Dispatch revealed the bad news in large font: “Trail Blazers 111, Cavaliers 105: Futility mark belongs to Cavs.” On February 5, the Cleveland Cavaliers earned the dubious distinction of setting the NBA record for consecutive losses in a single season. Their loss to the Portland Trailblazers marked their 24th consecutive loss in a row, vaulting them past the 1997\98 Denver Nuggets. Apparently, the post-Lebron James era for the Cavs has been, to put it mildly, difficult. The opening sentences in the previously-mentioned article were painfully blunt: “The losing streak has been long, painful and embarrassing. It's now historic. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the NBA's record for futility all to themselves.”

The even-worse news is that the human race can sympathize with the Cavaliers. We have our own long, painful, and embarrassing record of futility. Ever since the failure of Adam and Eve, we have been amassing an unbreakable record of consecutive defeats. We’ve earned every bit of the negative press we have received. One “reporter” put it this way: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). How do I know all this? Because I have contributed my own fair share of sinful defeats to the losing streak.

The good news is that we don’t have to be known as losers forever. We can become part of a winning team. The Son of God has a winning streak that surpasses our losing streak. In fact, He has never been defeated. Mercifully, God has provided a way for humanity’s embarrassing record of futility to be removed from the record books. By God’s grace and through my faith in Him, I am on a winning team. I am a child of God. Even though I still fail, don’t call me a loser! I am a winner in Jesus!

God loves you!


“How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream my relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:26-28).

We need dreamers in our world – visionary men and women who are not afraid to think “outside of the box.” We are all beneficiaries of advances made in numerous fields because someone dared to do what others believed was too difficult or even impossible. We have cures for diseases today because someone dreamed of the possibilities and did countless experiments and tests until a breakthrough was made. We have technology that allows us to instantly communicate with each other at any point on earth because someone dreamed of the possibilities and kept working to make it a reality. Thank God for the dreamers among us!

Dreamers are also valuable in the kingdom of God. We need those who can see beyond our human weaknesses and help us to look with eyes of faith at the possibilities before us. But a caution is called for at this point. It is possible that our dreams for God’s people may not be God’s dreams for His people. That was one of the problems in Judah in Jeremiah’s day. False prophets were sharing their own dreams instead of God’s word. Remember – just because someone claims his dream comes from God doesn’t necessarily make it so.

There is a clear difference between our dreams and a “Thus saith the Lord.” It’s like comparing straw with wheat. That doesn’t mean that God is against our dreams. God isn’t opposed to visionaries. You and I can share our dreams for the people of God. Just don’t baptize them with divine authority.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do I Know God?

“Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house with spacious upper rooms, and cut out its windows, paneling it with cedar and painting it red.’ Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 22:15-16).

Surely King Jehoiakim of Judah knew the Lord, didn’t he? Is it possible to be king of the people of God without knowing the God of the people? According to God, the answer is “Yes.” Sadly, it is common for human rulers to build their empires on the over-burdened backs of those they are leading. Jehoiakim was no exception. What makes it worse is that he had convinced himself that “competing in cedar” (i.e. accumulating material wealth at the expense of others) was the mark of godly leadership. God wastes no time dispelling such a wicked notion. He reminds Jehoiakim that his father, King Josiah, made a name for himself in a different way. Sure, he also enjoyed the privileges that come with being a king, but he was also careful to give attention to issues that matter to God. Issues like justice and righteousness. Issues like standing up for the afflicted and needy. Truly knowing God is evidenced by a life that seeks to honor His standards for godly living in every area of life.

That is a powerful lesson which we would all do well to learn. It is so tempting to claim to know God but live in ways that ignore Him. Jesus continues to ask us a penetrating question: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Fair question, isn’t it?

God loves you!