Jeremiah

Steve Arterburn

Jeremiah was called into the prophetic ministry when he was young man.  Humble and eager to serve God, he became a man of prayer and deep spirituality–a man who faced his trials with courage.

During his forty years of ministry, Jeremiah would suffer intense persecution.  He was thrown into a dungeon, beaten, put in stocks, and threatened.  Tradition teaches that he was stoned to death.  Despite the opposition he faced, however, he remained true to the messages God gave him.  He confronted the Jews with their rebellion and called them to confess their sins, accept responsibility, and ask God for forgiveness.  As God directed him, he also spoke words of comfort to a people facing disaster.

Jeremiah was also a man of great compassion.  He openly expressed his grief over the sinfulness of his people.  In fact, he’s known as the weeping prophet.  He shed many tears for the sin of his people and the destructive consequences he knew they’d face.  After Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled, Jeremiah wrote the book Lamentations to express his sorrow over the pain and loss of his people.  There were times when Jeremiah openly and honestly complained to God about the work God had given him.  Yet even in the midst of his sadness, Jeremiah never lost faith in God’s power to judge righteously, to reward liberally, and to restore his broken people.

Jehoshaphat

Steve Arterburn

Although men tend to feel as if they can save themselves, there are times when it’s very clear that we cannot.  These times often come when you’re facing overwhelming pressures with your wife or kids, your job, or your finances.  So what is a man to do?  

Let’s consider a man who went before you and I: King Jehoshaphat.  Jehoshaphat was once under attack by three armies.  Do you ever feel like you’re being attacked from all sides?  You may be tempted to give in and surrender or to muster every human resource you can find.  Neither of these reactions, however, is pleasing to God.  Instead, God desires to use these situations to remind you that you are sustained not by your own cleverness but by his power.  You are delivered not by your ability but by his mercy.  

King Jehoshaphat understood this truth.  His reaction to the threatening armies was to call everyone in Judah to fast.  Instead of merely calling his people to military exercises and preparation, King Jehoshaphat called them to spiritual exercises.  Instead of fattening their bodies, he called them to nourish their souls.  Instead of looking to their own defenses, he called them to trust in God’s protection.

Because we must have food to live, physical hunger is one of the most powerful drives of life.  When you fast, however, you begin to realize that all the food in the world can never satisfy the hunger of your soul.  Only God himself can satisfy this longing.

Bringing Our Hard Questions To God

Steve Arterburn

Life often seems unfair, doesn’t it?  Because of this many men conclude God is unreasonable in his demands.  This is what a man named Job thought.  As you probably remember Job was a man who lost his all of his children, his wealth, his health, and his reputation.  

In the midst of his suffering, Job cried, ‘How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble! Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither.  Like the shadow of passing cloud, we quickly disappear.  Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me?  Who can create purity in one born impure?’ (Job 14:1-4).

That’s a good question’one that most of us have asked in one form or another.  Job persisted in his questioning because deep inside he believed God to be good, even though he was suffering terribly.  He was honest with his emotions and questions, but he never stopped seeking God.

Are you suffering?  Have you lost someone you love?  Have you received bad news from the doctor?  Lost your home or job?  While working through the pain and unfairness of life, you may have to be satisfied with trusting God, even though you simply don’t understand.  But be assured’if you trust God and seek him in the hard times, your good Father will respond with blessing and faith.