Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I am sorely afflicted; renew and quicken me, give me life O Lord, according to Your word!”
“Out of the Heavens come down to me,
O Lord, and hear my earnest prayer;
On life, above the life I see,
Fix Thou my soul, and keep it there.
My richest joys of earth are poor,
The fairest forms are all unfair;
On what is peaceable and pure
Set Thou my heart, and keep it there.
Pride builds her house upon the sand;
Ambition treads the spider’s stair;
On whatsoever things will stand
Set Thou my feet and keep them there.
The past is vanished in the past;
The future doth a shadow wear;
On whatsoever things are fast
Fix Thou mine eyes, and keep them there.
In spite of slander’s tongue, - in spite
Of burdens grievous hard to bear,
To whatsoever things are right
Set Thou my hand, and keep it there.
Life is a troubled breath,
Love but another name for care;
Lord, anchor Thou my hope and faith
In things eternal, - only there.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 3
“The Command to Pray”
“Pray at all times, on every occasion, in every season in the Spirit with all manner of prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all God’s consecrated people.”
Ephesians 6: 18
In times of great trouble in my own life have I turned to God in prayer?
Even when I am afflicted, do I intercede on behalf of others who are also struggling?
In what ways has prayer “gotten me through” times of affliction?
“Prayer is not a last extremity, it’s a first necessity.”
“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered?”
Joel 2: 32
“Why do not I call on His name? Why do I run to this neighbor and that when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down and devise schemes and invent plans? Why not at once roll myself and my burden upon the Lord?...At once call upon the glorious Lord who has made so large a promise…My case is urgent, and I do not see how I am to be delivered; but this is no business of mine. He who makes the promise will find ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsels. I am His servant, not His solicitor. I call upon Him, and He will deliver.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
As we have come to learn, here in Transformation Garden, we do ourselves a great disservice when we choose to pluck a text out of context rather than placing the passage within the Scriptural framework where it is found.
For the next few days, we are going to study, in-depth, the text found in Jeremiah 33: 3. But before we begin to plow the earth in search of the treasure held within the words penned in Jeremiah 33: 3, I want to begin by taking a look at the preceding verses found in Jeremiah 33: 1, 2:
“Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is His name.’”
These two verses contain vital information that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds as we undertake the study of Jeremiah 33: 3. “Why,” you ask? It is because they set the stage for our understanding the perspective of Jeremiah as he transcribed the words from God. As these two passages reveal it was the second time God chose to speak words which sought to provide encouragement to His chosen people. God’s family on earth had been grossly disobedient. And as Matthew Henry points out, when we repeatedly walk in a pathway of rebellious behavior, God may need to be repetitive as He tries to gain our attention, for we “have need of precept upon precept to bring us to our duty.” But God in His gracious mercy also recognizes the fact that when we are” distrustful that we (also) have need of promise upon promise to bring us to our comfort.” God’s reminder of His’ ability to keep His word in the midst of a time of affliction is of critical importance to you and me, and so our Father in heaven may choose to appear redundant because He knows “we are dust” and that means we can be forgetful of His loving care when sorrow floods over us.
So as the Bible tells us, the passages found in Jeremiah 33: 1, 2 were to spur the memory of God’s afflicted children reminding them He would keep His promises. This is the first important piece of information we come away with from Jeremiah 33: 1.
The second piece of information is the fact that it was while imprisoned himself, that Jeremiah wrote God’s encouraging note. I choose to believe that this portion of Scripture wasn’t just inspired by God for the children of Israel as a group. These words were also meant to lift the spirit of one of God’s dearest and most beloved by heaven –the prophet Jeremiah who languished within the boundary created by prison walls. In my Amplified Bible, each book contains a rather detailed explanation regarding the historical background when the book was written as well as a limited biography about the author of the book. The information contained about Jeremiah sheds light on the situation he was in. Under the rulership of King Josiah, the prophet Jeremiah experienced “the golden years of his ministry until Josiah was killed in 609 B.C. During the remaining years of the kingdom’s (Judah) existence, Jeremiah had a difficult time. Once the king’s (Josiah’s) confident and friend, Jeremiah now entered a round of persecution and imprisonment, alternating with brief periods of freedom…Throughout these years Jeremiah was divinely protected to continue as God’s messenger to warn the wicked and of comfort to those who trusted in God. Praise God! He didn’t ignore the fact that His children were suffering. Instead, through one of His most faithful servants, He provided direct encouragement that was like dew from heaven on burdened hearts.
But there’s one more critical piece of information that is easily skipped over and it is found in Jeremiah 33: 2 where God provides the information on His “I.D. Badge.” He tells all of us Who is speaking and quickly we learn that the upcoming proclamation we read comes directly from the Creator of all things in heaven and earth. As Matthew Henry underscores, “God has all the power in His hands,…He is the Maker of all”. God has designed us for His praise. God formed us…He is our Maker and the “One” who keeps His promises. As Henry writes, “He that has made the promise will make it good; for Jehovah is His name…A great deal of comfort is wrapped up in (this passage) for the relief of the captives, to keep them from sinking into despair.”
What we might ask is this: “How am I to avail myself of this heavenly comfort?” This is where Jeremiah’s words from God take on such an intimate tone toward you and me for in Jeremiah 33: 3 we are told by God, Himself, that we are to “call on Him.” Anytime…Anywhere!
After finding out that God has come a second time to remind His children in their moment of memory loss that He will be with them even when they are imprisoned, and further, after identifying who He is and confirming His power and greatness, God tells His children down through time that they are to call on Him when they need anything.
The fact that Jeremiah, God’s mouthpiece on earth, is in prison should resonate with you and me for today many of God’s precious followers find themselves shackled in a prison called divorce; in a prison bound by financial crisis; in a dark prison called loneliness or in a deep prison of hopelessness. Whatever is the prison that holds you in handcuffs, the promise-keeper, Jehovah says, “Call on Me!”
In one of Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sermons entitled “The Golden Key of Prayer,” he observes that the text in Jeremiah 33: 3 can be found, “all moldy and chill within the prison in which Jeremiah lay, but hath nevertheless a brightness and a beauty about it, which it might never have had if it had not come as a cheering (comforting) word to the prisoner of the Lord, shut up in the court of the prison-house.”
For just a minute walk with me into the darkness of the prison where Jeremiah was held and as the Hebrew word for “call” expands for us the meaning of the word qárá, we hear God’s prophet call, addressing by name, his friend Jehovah, crying out as he attempts to reach his Creator. What Pastor Spurgeon draws to our attention is the fact that the phrase, “call on Me,” is a command. “We are not merely counseled and recommended to pray, but bidden to pray.” We might wonder why God would go to the length of commanding us to pray. I found Pastor Spurgeon’s answer to be one that I could relate to: “God’s own people need or else they would not receive it, a command to pray. How is this? Because, dear friends…we often forget to wrestle with God in prayer, and to spend, as we ought, long periods in consecrated fellowship with our Father…Hours for the world! Moments for Christ!...We give our strength and freshness to the ways of mammon, and our fatigue and languor to the ways of God…’What means thou, oh, sleeper? arise and call upon thy God.’ He understands what heavy hearts we have sometimes…If God commands me, unfit as I may be, I will creep to the footstool of grace…though my words fail me and my heart wander, yet I will stammer out the wishes of my hungering soul and say, ‘O God help me to prevail with Thee.’” In the words of the Apostle James, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4: 8). In one of my favorite quotes about prayer, the evangelist John Wesley said, “Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.” That’s a promise from Jehovah!
What a tremendous opportunity you and I have, when the waves of affliction seek to topple us, to obey the command of Jehovah and to “call on Him.” As John Newton penned:
“Thou art coming to a king,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.”
Prayer Consists of:
P - Petition: ‘Daniel made his petition three times a day’ (Daniel 6: 13).
R – Reverence: ‘Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe’
(Hebrews 12: 28).
A – Adoration: ‘My lips will praise Thee’ (Psalm 63: 3).
Y – Yearning: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’
(Matthew 5: 6).
E – Expectation: ‘Elijah…prayed fervently that it might not rain’( James 5: 17).
R – Requests: ‘Let your requests be made known to God’ (Philippians 4: 6).
“God of the heights and the depths,
we bring to You
those driven into the desert,
those suffering with difficult decisions.
May they choose life.
God of the light and the darkness,
we bring to You
those lost in the mist of drugs or drink,
those dazzled by the use of power.
May they choose life.
God of the wild beast and the ministering angel,
we bring to You
those savaged by others’ greed,
Those exhausted by caring for others.
May they feel Your healing touch.
Christ tempted and triumphant,
we bring ourselves to You,
tired of difficult choices,
anxious about the future,
drained by the loss of a loved one.
May we feel Your healing touch.
May we feel Your healing touch,
Know God’s presence in all things
and receive the crown of life
through the Holy Spirit of compassion.”
“We beseech Thee, Master, to be our helper and protector. Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly; raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly; restore the wanderers of Thy people; feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.”
Clement -1st Century
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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