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.

Samson

Steve Arterburn

The New Testament describes Samson as a man of faith.  It mentions neither his failures nor his great strength.  Though he possessed great physical strength, he was a moral weakling who followed his own selfish desires and ignored God.  Do you remember his story?  He was the man who foolishly loved Delilah?  

It seems that after the first three episodes of betrayal, Samson would’ve known not to trust Delilah.  But like many of us, Samson thought that giving into manipulation was an expression of love.  He chose to please Delilah and to get what he wanted from her, rather than to obey God and deliver his people.  Delilah chose to use her relationship with Samson for her own gain.  Most of us have experienced the pain of being used, and we have undoubtedly used others.  We’ve also known the searing agony of being betrayed.

It will accomplish nothing to look at Samson and think about what he didn’t accomplish.  Likewise, it does little good for us to become depressed over what might have been.  Samson shows us that as long as we have life, we have hope.  It’s never to late to surrender your life to God and allow him to redeem you and restore what you’ve lost.  In spite of his failures, Samson is listed as a champion of faith in Hebrews 11.  In spite of your failures, you, too, can be a champion of faith as God continues to transform your life.

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.