Pastor Ray Barnett has served in the Amsterdam, NY area for over 25 years. As the founding pastor of the Time For Truth Ministries, his desire is to see a true Biblical New Testament church in our modern days, founded on the love of the brethren, and has labored to that end through times of blessing and adversity.
Tuesday August 19, 2014
INTERESTING FACTS : "Real pain can alone cure us of imaginary ills." - Jonathan Edwards
DAILY READING : Jeremiah 26-29,30-31
TEXT : Jeremiah 29:11-14 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive."
TRUTH FOR TODAY : Purpose In Pain
Jeremiah 29:11 is probably one of the popular and often-quoted verses of the Bible, and with good reason. It's speaks to God's desire to give us good things, and not bad. Not only that, it tell us what God thinks about us, and when we sometimes feel far from God, it's good to know He really is thinking about us.
Isaiah had warned Israel that they needed to repent or else they would become captives of the Babylonians as God's judgment on them. Unlike Nineveh who repented of their sin and averted the judgment of God, Israel refused to turn from their ways and in turn the prophecy of Isaiah came to pass. Israel was now in captivity to Babylon, as we have been reading in the book of Jeremiah.
But God's judgment wasn't just for the sake of punishment, but it was for correction - for correcting Israel's sinful behavior and turning Israel's heart back to God. In chapter 29 of Jeremiah, the prophet is in the city of Jerusalem, writing the words of God to the exiles in Babylon. God tells them, in essence, to get comfortable because they were going to be there for a while. He tells them to marry and build houses, plant gardens and pray for the peace of the city they're living in. God then reminds them again not to listen to the false prophets, and then tells them that after 70 years He will perform His Word to return them to Jerusalem.
Then God says "For"...or..."in light of"...
In light of all the things that have just been said - in light of the fact that Israel was in exile because of their rebellion, and that they were put there by God, and in light of the fact the God had promised to bring them back and would do so after 70 years - in light of all these things God says "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end".
There was a purpose in what Israel was going through in exile. There was an expected end. A planned end. An end that God had in mind and planned out before Israel was even in exile. That planned end was for Israel's good and for their benefit. Even though what Israel was going though was evil, it was uncomfortable and painful, there was a divine purpose in it to bring good and peace to Israel. What was that ultimate good? That they would have their hearts turned back to God. That they would be inclined to seek after God, and in seeking Him, would find Him.
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive."
There was pain in the life of the people of Israel, pain that was put there by God, but that pain had a purpose for the good of Israel.
It's funny how many times we quote these verses and never really consider their full implications when taken in context. Another similar one is 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
But many people don't consider the previous verse when quoting verse 14. Verse 13 reads -
"If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;"
The healing of their land spoken of in verse 14 is needed because of the destruction sent by God in verse 13. But God's destruction and judgment spoken of in verse 13 has a purpose - and that purpose is to humble the people and to turn them back to God in prayer to seek His face.
It's also funny that even though we may not consider the context of these verses when we quote them, more often than not we are quoting them in the midst of hard times. Let's allow the context of these verses to remind us that God has a design in our hard time. That our pain has a purpose that may not be immediately known to us, but God knows the thoughts He has for us, and they are for good, and for peace.