There is Promise in Pain (Week Six)

Week Six Study Overview: Today we will study Job chapters 4-7 and meet Eliphaz.

Key Point of Struggle: How can we be set free from trying to understand the mind of God? How do we find peace when we don’t receive the support we need?

Key Proof of Comfort: Exodus 14:13-14, Galatians 1:10

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 4-7, now would be a great time.

One of my favorite things about reading is visualizing the story. I make a movie in my mind and carefully watch every detail. Today, I want us to take a front row seat and watch the exchange between Job and Eliphaz.

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s three friends to speak. Some say he was probably the oldest of the bunch, which is why he was the first to throw his two cents around. Oh, Eliphaz, why didn’t you keep your big mouth shut?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a very big part of me that identifies with the way Eliphaz overthinks the situation. This can be a trap inside Christianity; we think we know the mind of God. Personally, every time I think I have a grasp on what God might be doing, He throws me a curve ball. He’s mysterious like that, and I’ve learned to love Him for it. If His logic lined up with man’s logic, chances are there wouldn’t be a whole lot of hope in our circumstances. God answers prayers and sees endings we cannot. He shines light in dark places. We are often so worried about trying to figure out why we’re stuck in darkness that we lose faith waiting to see His light.

Eliphaz couldn’t make sense of a righteous man being forced to endure such horrendous calamity, so he went to the only logical explanation he could think of: Job sinned. You see, we get the full story, so we know Job didn’t sin. We have a Bible to read; we’re a little spoiled that way. We know the end, but Eliphaz didn’t. Instead of seeking God himself on behalf of his friend Job, he jumped to judgment. He even claims to have had a vision. Again, I understand Eliphaz. It’s easy to think we hear from God when it’s not actually God at all. Discernment in this area takes time. It also takes lots and lots of prayer followed by confirmation. According to Job 42:7 I don’t believe Eliphaz actually saw a vision at all. I happen to think that’s why God called out his name specifically when reprimanding the three friends. That’s just my opinion. What I am saying, without a doubt, is that Eliphaz was quick to judge his friend thinking he knew the mind of God. In the process, he only added to Job’s suffering.

Eliphaz also showed some arrogance when he said the following:

“But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.”

-Job 5:8

Why do we always think we know what we would do if faced with a certain situation? I realize it’s easy to sometimes put ourselves there, but I’ve really been working on praying for others rather than saying what I would do in the midst of circumstances I don’t understand. Friends, it is way easier to look at somebody’s shoes than it is to put them on and walk in them.

After listening to what Eliphaz has to say, Job goes on the defense.

To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.

-Job 6:14

And everyone who has ever felt let down by someone they love shout’s amen.

Job goes on to defend his ground and put Eliphaz in his place. However, this lack of support was only the beginning. We have two other so called “friends” to hear from.

In chapter 7, Job goes onto explain his physical condition, which is far worse than we can even imagine. This man was suffering deeply both physically and emotionally. The grief from loss was nightmarish, he was facing a breakdown of his marriage, and his friends had turned against him. But the worst thing had to have been feeling as if God also turned against him.

  • Have you ever felt like God was against you? What did you do to try to change your mindset and live by faith? If your mindset hasn’t changed, what can you do now to remind yourself that you serve a God who is for you?

There are so many life-giving nuggets that we could extract from these passages of scripture, but if we did, this would turn into a book rather than an online Bible study. Regardless, I cannot end without quickly recounting a story from Exodus 14.

When the Israelites, led by Moses, were fleeing Egypt, pharaoh’s army was in quick pursuit. The people were full of fear, but Moses held tightly to promise. The Red Sea would split and escape would indeed take place.

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

-Exodus 14:13-14

The Lord will fight for you! Those words live strongly within me today. They shout louder than any evil from grief and hardship ever could. What God promises He makes good on. He will not ever leave His people, and He will never quit fighting for us! There is promise in pain!

When other’s think they understand and are quick to judge, bless their hearts, there is another word spoken from the apostle Paul’s pen to which we can cling.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

In that particular passage, Paul is speaking of not giving into sin just because it’s accepted by the world. The Galatians were quick to accept false teaching. However, I think we can also see those words from Paul as helpful in this circumstance.

It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes people are only trying to help with their words, and there is no malicious intent. When struggling something dark, it’s easy to become upset with those who have good hearts yet choose poor words. We need to keep an open mind and heart. However, regardless of our circumstances, pleasing God must be our goal.

Through the midnight hours, fight to please God. He is fighting for you. Jesus is there with you even when you feel alone. In all honesty, there are moments I feel alone through my grief. I wonder why God is allowing so much pain, but I also know He hasn’t left. Just because I don’t feel Him every moment does not mean He isn’t there. He understands our suffering and He is our Comforter.

  • In Job 6:11 Job asks a question that I want to examine: “What strength do I have that I should hope?” We have Christ who is our strength. In your journal, please answer this question with your own words using scripture to remind yourself of the strength you have in Christ. Whenever you feel discouraged, you can revisit it for encouragement.
  • For next week, consider reading chapters 8-10 as we prepare to meet the next “friend” to speak.

On Friday’s Word of Your Weekend subscriber only content, I’m going to speak about prayer and what I’ve learned to do that has strengthened me during this time of deep grief. It involves using the names of God, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you would like to subscribe and receive the video teaching, just add your email in the subscribe box at the top right of this page. You are just an email address away from deeper study.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Five)

Week Five Study Overview: Today, we will discuss chapter 3 focusing on what Job speaks after seven days of silence.

Key Point of Struggle:  Why does it seem we were born for nothing other than enduring trials?

Key Proof of Comfort: 2 Samuel 22:26-34

If we could time travel and watch Job during this period in his life, we would probably become miserable while waiting for him to speak. God knows our modern day addictions to status updates and Instagram stories would have us pacing in frustration. From what we know, he just stayed put for seven days without a word. Not. One. Word. Through the sound of silence we would witness him scrape boils, suffer fever, infection, and deep pain from head to toe. Could we even stomach it? Would we, like his friends, have thought: what did you do, Job? What curse have you put on yourself?

You see, it’s easy to condemn those three friends, but it frightens me to think it’s entirely possible I may have reacted the same way. We will deal with that subject matter in the coming weeks. For now, anticipation builds as we wait for this poor, suffering man’s words to formulate. As the overwhelming silence of seven days comes to a close we quickly learn that, unlike the end of chapter one, there was no falling in worship. In fact, Job seemed to put the focus more on himself than God. He cursed the day he was born.

  • If you’ve not read chapter three, now would be a good time.

As we read, we find that Job started questioning why in the world he was ever born. I’ve been through a lot in life; I’m suffering deep grief at this very moment. In all honesty, if I envision myself standing there with Job at this time, I’m in agreement shouting, “Yeah, God, why?” And Guess what else? My fists might even be raised.

When my son was a teenager he was going through a difficult circumstance. In the middle of it he lied to me about something. I was irate. I found myself so angry that I stood up and lunged at him. (This, by the way, is not my normal temperament. Frustration found me empty and needing control of something I had no control over whatsoever.) Anyway, I went to grab him, but he was quicker and grasped my hands first. He tried to apologize for lying, but I continued yelling. He remained even tempered while repeating “Mom, mom, mom” over and over again. He was standing calmly as I was flailing around fighting against his strength. In that moment, I realized something very quickly. My son was much taller and much, much stronger than I. He protected himself by gently grabbing my hands and holding them in place as I lost my ever-loving mind for about sixty seconds.

Though the situation is much different, when I dare to put my fists to the sky, I picture my Father in Heaven doing the same thing my son did. He gently grabs my fists and speaks, “Daughter, daughter, daughter” until my spiritual sanity returns. As a result, my fists-to-the-sky moments are becoming less and less. Why in the world does our humanity want to fight a God who is already on our side? We often think that just because God is on our side, we shouldn’t have to endure hard trial. The truth is that because God is on our side, He’s gifted us endurance. We, no doubt, will suffer trial. However, we will have the ability to endure that trial. Why?  Because He is who He says He is.

“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; 27 with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. 28 You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. 29 “For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness.30 For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. 31 As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. “For who is God, except the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God? 33 God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. 34 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.

-2 Samuel 22:26-34

God is our strength and power. He’s everything we need to fight the battles we face. I’m learning, especially through this current round with grief, that my fists need to be open palms of surrender lifted humbly before my King. Friend, He’s everything He says He is and so much more. We don’t need to curse the day we were born. We are warriors meant to declare victory through each and every awful trial that comes our way. We are meant to find purpose and promise in every moment. As we continue to study, we will view Job as he comes into full recognition of his purpose. There is promise in pain. Really, there is.

  • Please look up Romans 8:31 and write it in your journal. What does it mean to you in your current circumstances? Write about it.
  • For next week, read Job 4.

For those of you who are following along with the subscriber only Word for Your Weekend content, this week’s video will be surrounding one statement that Job makes in chapter three. I can’t get it out of my head, and if you deal with fear, it might help you in your struggle.

If you aren’t a subscriber and would like to receive this content, just enter your email in the subscriber box on the top right of this page and journey deeper with us in the study of Job.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I recently wrote an exclusive piece for iBelieve on 3 Tips to Help You Cope with Grief. You can read it here.

There is Promise in Pain (Week Three)

Week Three Study Overview: Today we will look at the relentless pursuit of the enemy against Job, and the response from his wife.

Key Point of Struggle: Why must we deal with consistent attacks?

Key Proof of Comfort: Isaiah 41:13

For those of you who are not blog subscribers, I announced something very painful in Friday’s subscriber only Word for Your Weekend content: my brother, who was only thirty-three years of age, died suddenly and tragically Wednesday, July 19th. All the principles I spoke about in the video I must once again put into practice. Grief is all consuming right now. I feel like I’m living out of my body, but I have to continue writing this study. God knew what he was doing when He led me to write about Job. He knew what I didn’t, and I won’t allow what He wants us to learn about Him be interrupted by grief. I’m going to warn my subscribers that I will probably look like a hot mess in Friday’s video content. I am honest, and I will honestly walk with you during this stage of my life as we open the Bible together and study. Please pray for me.

Job chapter 2 opens at the throne of God. Once again, the sons of God are there and the enemy is lurking in the midst. We see a familiar scene play out as God offers Job’s name, but this time He throws in Satan’s face that even though he did not deserve the affliction he was forced to endure the first time, he didn’t turn on Him. Job proved to be faithful. That, of course, wasn’t what the enemy wanted to hear, and so he responds with this retort: “Skin for skin.” Satan wanted to disease Job’s body saying, “Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.” Physical pain is torture, and the enemy thought for sure it would be a pained, sick body that would turn this trusted servant of the Almighty away from Him. God tells Satan he can have Job, but he must spare his life.

I need to digress for a moment and say that today I feel like Job. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced deep loss stacked on top of other loss, stacked on top of more. I keep fighting from my place of victory knowing that even though I must fight battles, Christ already won the war. But, friend, I’m growing weary. Not in the way you might think. I’m not losing faith. I know and believe God is good and only does good. I believe there is promise in pain, and I will die saying it. However, if I’m honest, I’m tired. I’m bone tired of the fight and the tears which have poured from my body freely over the last few days should be the quota cried in a lifetime. I feel like God keeps allowing tragedy and that the enemy of my soul wants to steal everything from me. Mostly, he wants to destroy my willingness to minister and go where God calls. My brother was young and handsome, a soldier in the United States Army. He suffered from P.T.S.D. and fought a hard battle. He also knew Jesus, and I believe God was on a rescue mission when He took him home. But I’m left behind. My mother is left behind. Job was left behind. I’m identifying all over again.

Stepping back into Job’s world, we watch as he’s struck with boils all over his body. The Bible says:

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.”

-Job 2:7-8

I don’t want to dig into the description of what these boils would have looked like and done to him. If I did, you might very well lose your lunch. Let’s just say it was ugly, agony and Job actually needed to grate them from his body. A potsherd is a piece of pottery. This means Job had a broken piece of pottery and was using it as a tool to scrape his body while sitting in the midst of ashes. Job was a tortured man.

Friend, I don’t have boils all over my body but let me tell you my heart feels as if it’s covered with them. My tears are hot, they hurt, and they are aiding in the scraping of those boils. Have you ever felt like this? If so, hold on tight because God is our refuge and He will prove to hold us up with His righteous right hand. I know He will.

Next, we meet Job’s wife. We don’t have a name for her. We aren’t privy to anything about her life other than this small passage of scripture.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

-Job 2:9

I feel terrible for Job’s wife. I think she gets a bad rap. Let us, for just one moment, put ourselves in her shoes. Job lost ten children. Who was the mother of those children? Job’s wife. Job’s wife lost her children, her wealth, and now her husband’s health. She didn’t know which way was up, and faced a grief spiral so deep she couldn’t fathom how to crawl out of it. I’ve often identified with her. What about you?

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

-Job 2:10

There’s something we need to look at closely in the above scripture, because the way I see it, two words invite us into the nature of Job’s wife before trauma. I have two words boldly highlighted in Job 2:10. Those words are as one. I believe Job was bringing to her attention that she was speaking as other foolish women, maybe women they knew, and by using those words as one, he was communicating that this was not her normal behavior. In other translations he uses the word like. “You talk like one of the foolish women.”  Job’s wife was grief-ridden, and I think we need to give her a break from judgment.

Job then goes onto speak wisdom that her vision was obviously too grief-clouded to see herself. “Shall we not accept adversity?” I almost always use the New King James Version of the Bible, but I love the way the question is phrased in the New Living Translation: “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

And that is where I am today. I’m asking myself that question. I’ve been through enough grief to know there is no cursing God. I can’t, and I won’t. I love Him too much, and I trust Him with everything. But who wants to accept adversity? We pray for good because it is good things we want and expect from a good God.

I have another question to pose… Who can decipher what is really good or bad when it comes from the hand of God? I told you earlier that I believe God is good and only does good. This means there are things we cannot see happening all around us. God is orchestrating a greater plan. I know that to be true. I have no idea what it is right now, but I believe it.

I’ve done a lot of study over the years, and I know I deserve death and hell. However, Jesus came so that I wouldn’t receive the punishment my evil heart deserves. Mercy triumphs over justice when we call on His name. And let’s not forget the last part of the above scripture “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” I’m standing on Job’s ground right now refusing to sin and committing to trust Jesus further. What about you?

On Friday, in our subscriber only content, I’m going to share about what the Lord is speaking to me through my current grief. We will talk about our definitions verses God’s definitions, and the Righteous right hand holding us. I’m not really sure what emotions will surface when I turn the camera on, so please bear with me.

  • As a faith building exercise, please look up Isaiah 41:13 write it in your journal, and think about what it means for you in your current struggles. Journal about it.
  • For next week, please continue to read the rest of Job 2. We are preparing to meet his friends.

If you are not a subscriber and would like to receive Word for Your Weekend subscriber only content, please enter your email in the box on the top right hand corner of this page. You’re just an email address away from deeper study.

Please pray for me; I need it.

Love,

Jennifer

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week One)

Week one study overview: Today, we will discuss the uncertainty surrounding what we know about Job, and then jump into chapter 1.

Key Point of Struggle: How can a just God allow such unjust circumstances?

Key Proof of Comfort: Romans: 8:18

Have you ever felt like Job? After my stepfather died, suddenly at the age of fifty-eight, I remember having a day where the anxiety from grief was so tortuous I thought I might jump out of my skin. I laced up my tennis shoes, walked out my front door, and took off running. I’m not a runner, so you can only imagine the burn in my lungs mixed with persistent urges to vomit along the way. Grief attached to my soul like super glue and was relentless in the fight of letting go.  I felt a little like Job that day.

Believe it or not, there is a benefit to experiencing grief. It has potential to drive us straight into the arms of Jesus. Through my own experience with grief, I’ve learned that God is for me. As a result, nothing else has a chance against me. I make my residence on victorious ground. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a battle taking place, but it does mean the cross already declared victory. Nothing has the power to steal it from me. And nothing has the power to steal it from you, either.

Job’s struggles were very different from ours. As much as I’ve felt like him at times, and I’m sure you have, too, there is no comparison. Jesus has always existed, but in Job’s time period in history, our Savior hadn’t yet come wearing flesh into the world. The resurrection and ascension hadn’t happened yet. Our Father God is a good Father, a merciful and loving God, so I have no doubt Job knew what it was to be in relationship with his Father. We see that in the text. However, I also know hope doesn’t hold the same definition when the cross is absent. Because of this, Job had it much, much tougher than us.

From the get-go, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty swirling around this man named Job. There is no genealogy at the beginning of his book and the brief mentions found in Genesis, 1 Chronicles, and even James do not give us much insight as to the stock from which he came.  Scholars argue over the true meaning of his name, and there is no conclusive evidence as to where his homeland of Uz was located. In addition to all that, we have no real, sufficient answers as to who wrote the book bearing his name. Job is a bit of a mystery.

Spiritual knowledge tells us the Holy Spirit inspired someone, and that someone wrote a story full of lessons that would teach generation-after-generation to have mighty faith in a God who holds everything together. Job lived through trauma like none other only to come out whole on the other side.

It appears to me that the author, whoever he was, grappled with the idea of a just God allowing unjust circumstances. He couldn’t understand how a man, who was faithful to make atonement not only for his sin, but the sin of his ten children, would have to endure such hardship. And, friend, don’t we all wrestle through seasons with that very same question in mind? Sometimes it seems as if God just stands there and watches us suffer. We beg for intervention only to receive the loudest silence we’ve ever heard. In the weeks ahead we will learn all about suffering, silence, friendship, faith, trust, and hope. We will examine the words God spoke to Job, and hopefully, through His word, we will hear Him speak to us.

Let’s get started.

In the beginning of chapter one, we learn Job was an upright man. The text actually says he was blameless, feared God, and shunned evil. The writer goes on to tell us he had ten children and a very large household including much wealth. But then something peculiar happens in the story; it shifts to the throne of God and those who were present there.

The Bible says the “sons of God”, who were angelic beings, were gathered. The interesting part is that among those godly beings, evil lurked. Satan stood in the midst.

We are going to investigate this section of scripture and when we do you’ll see that God asks Satan a question. This is intriguing to me, because God knows all things, which means He already knows the answers before He asks the questions, but He still asks. And that particular characteristic of God doesn’t just show up in the book of Job, we see it all through the Bible. Let’s take a closer look at this conversation.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

-Job 1:6-12

It’s almost as if Satan is taunting God, and God responds with certainty knowing that above all else Job will be faithful. God was proud of the humble and upright man Job was.

This is very difficult to understand because if the Bible says God is for us, then why would He allow a righteous Job to endure such suffering? I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you this: “My Servant” is a title of honor. I believe God wanted the opportunity to brag on Job’s character, letting the enemy know that not everyone falls for his schemes. James the half-brother of Jesus has this to say:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

-James 1:12

The truth is we live in a sin-soaked world, and because of Adam and Eve’s first bites in the garden we will endure affliction. Not because we did anything wrong, but because evil lurks. Whether we realize it or not, we are at war with that same evil every day. The big difference between Job’s life and our lives is that our hope comes from a place of grace. The shed blood of our Savior flows down in the form of grace giving new life and hope to grief-filled places.

In all this, we must recognize that God is God. He gives and He takes, but it’s never for nothing. He doesn’t just stand by and watch us suffer. We will find proof of this as we deepen our study of Job.

I know this is a tough section of verse to comprehend. Because of that, we are going to stop here for today. If you are a subscriber, you know I’m taking what we are learning each week and expanding it in something we call “Word for Your Weekend.” If you want access to this, consider subscribing to the blog. This Friday, I’m going to tell a story about a time in my life where I had to tell myself day-after-day that God was bragging on me. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have made it.

  • As a faith building exercise, please read Romans 8:18 and write it in your journal. Consider committing it to memory as a reminder that whatever it is you are enduring isn’t for nothing. it’s never for nothing, friend! Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:18 helps focus our eyes on the future He has for us.
  • Please finish reading Job chapter 1. Next time we will step into his world and watch what happens as his suffering begins to unfold.

 

Love,

Jennifer

There is Promise in Pain (A New Study Announcement)

Today, I’m thinking about all the things holding us back and hurting our hearts. As I study, I hear a whisper inside – a commencing of conversation. “There is promise in the pain.” “Oh, Lord, can You tell me who wants to sift through piles of ashes to find beauty?” “Oh, Jennifer, Can you tell me who else would have sent their only Son to die so you, and everyone else, have opportunity to find it?” Ouch. Checkmate. “Okay, I’ll get my shovel. I have promise to uncover.”

As I sit here writing and praying, you are on my mind. I picture you alongside me in your own pit of ashes desperately seeking to unearth your promise. And for every one of you who are working with shovels in hand, I see others helplessly sitting with no idea how to begin finding what lies underneath. I’ve been there, too.

For the months of July and August we are going to study Job. At one time or another we’ve probably all felt a little like him, so why not step into his world and learn? Are you with me? Do you need to find promise inside the pain? Do you often feel a lack of certainty in your circumstances?

All of my studies are usually published on Wednesdays, but for the rest of the summer, not only will we have our regular Wednesday study, but we will also have what I’m calling “A Word for Your Weekend.” This portion will be for email subscribers only. The content won’t be found anywhere else.  Friday’s entries will be a mix of short videos and blog posts, maybe even a printable, meant to encourage you in everything we’ve discussed the previous Wednesday. It’s meant for faith building, helping you dig deeper in study.

If you’re not a subscriber to my blog, let me encourage you to sign up. The Studies are sent directly to your email. We also have a lot of changes coming to the blog in the near future. Subscribers will be the first to learn about these changes and participate in what’s coming!

This coming Friday, July 7th, there will be a special introduction into the life of Job. Only subscribers will receive it.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

-Job 1:1

I’m looking forward to trekking through the life of Job with you!

Love,

Jennifer

 

What It Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Three)

If you are new to studying with me, welcome! For some tips to help you gain the most from what we are learning together, click here.

This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God. If you missed week one, or Week two, you can click on the links to take you there.

Week Three Study Overview:

Today, we will look at a powerful prayer from Paul to the Colossians.

Key Point of Struggle:

How can we ever fully please God?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Oh Lord, You have searched me and Known me. Psalm 139:1

“…To ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

– Colossians 1:9-12

Prayer has become a lifeline for me. Not just because I know that God is the only One who can do the impossible in my life, and the lives around me, but because it deeply connects me to Him. I need those conversations in my life. I’ve learned I don’t do well without them.

One of my favorite parts of reading anything from the apostle Paul is that we are essentially peeking into his mail when opening up the Bible to the books he authored. His letters were meant to encourage, instruct, and warn newly established churches. What is even more powerful to me is that in these letters he sometimes speaks of what he is praying over the people.

I believe God gives us words to pray over specific people and situations. When I was praying to become pregnant and we were facing what seemed an impossible circumstance, God put on my heart to pray these words: “Lord, make a way where there is no way.” I faithfully prayed that each day until He made the crooked way straight and left doctors who told me it was practically impossible to conceive, slack jawed in disbelief. He recently gave me a new word over my writing and speaking ministry. I know the power of what He chooses to hide in my heart, and so I’m praying this new word each day. No one can tell me He didn’t do the same for Paul. With my whole heart, I subscribe to the idea that God put the words Paul prayed, over the churches he ministered to, deep inside his heart. It’s no surprise to me that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write those prayers so that we can know the power they hold.

This morning when I awoke I began to pray the anointed, power-filled prayer from Paul to the Colossians over those I know and love.

This prayer speaks what seems impossible for the human condition, “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” I often struggle with the sin of my own heart and wonder if I will ever become who God intended me to be. However, I also know the power of our impossible God, the hope He gives, the mercy He pours, and the blood Jesus shed on the cross to gift me the opportunity of allowing my heart to be read through a filter of grace by the Almighty Himself. We have the power to escape the trap of sin because of forgiveness complimentary of agape love.

Today, I pray this prayer in Colossians over you. God looks at our hearts, searches, and knows us. He reads us through filters of grace and mercy through the Power of His Holy Spirit, which promises to break chains that nothing else has the power to break.

  • This week, I want to challenge you to write Paul’s prayer to the Colossians in your journal each day. Yes, that’s what I said. Write that prayer each and every day while committing to pray it over yourself and one other person throughout the week.

Love,

Jennifer

What it Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Two)

If you are new to studying with me, welcome! Here are some tips to help you gain the most from what we are learning together:

  • It will be helpful to have a journal alongside your Bible as you study. There will be questions to answer, key verses, and prayers along the way that will be worth writing down throughout the journey. (This isn’t required, only recommended in order to gain the most from the study.)
  • Each week I will give a study overview. This consists of one or two sentences designed to give you a “heads up” on what we will be learning.
  • Every week as we begin the study, you will see a Key Point of Struggle and a Key Proof of Comfort listed. The Key Point of Struggle is a piece of the study that could possibly stir the most angst inside you as you’re working to seek purpose and live it well. The Key Proof of Comfort is a piece of the study that will help calm your soul as we discover truth together.

Week Two Study Overview:

Today we will look at Hannah’s prayer to God in the midst of her distress.

Key Point of Struggle:

What if God doesn’t answer me the way He answered Hannah?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Because of Jesus we can boldly approach the throne, and that gives us hope for God to work the impossible in our lives.

This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God. If you missed week one, you can read it here.

A healthy prayer life didn’t come overnight for me. As a child, I don’t think I ever moved mountains with mighty prayers of faith, but as an adult I pray about everything. It took me a long time to get where I am. Communicating with my Father in heaven has been a process that began in desperation, transitioned to discipline, and became a desire. I’m confident in telling you that at this point in my life I can’t live without prayer. I actually miss God when I don’t talk to Him.

When I think of bold prayers, I think about Hannah. If you know anything about my story then you know why I feel a connection to Hannah, but there’s more to why I love this particular prayer. Let’s take a look at it.

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

-1 Samuel 1:10-14

Before we can fairly view this account of Hannah’s life, we have to put it in cultural context. There’s a bit of a backstory to circumstances surrounding Hannah and there are a few things you’ll need to know to properly understand her. In the Old Testament it was commonplace for a man to have more than one wife. It was also a great honor to have a male child first. This is why Hannah specifically asked for a son. When studying the Bible, we have to look at the way society functioned, historically, to give us insight as to why certain circumstances happened the way they did.

Hannah was barren and to make matters worse she was one of two wives. The other wife had an open womb and an unkind demeanor, to say the least. Her name was Peninnah. She was jealous because their husband, Elkanah, had a love for Hannah that he didn’t share for her. We all know jealousy tends to lead to cruelty, in one way or the other, and this is exactly what happened where these two women were concerned. Elkanah, with all his heart, wanted Hannah to be free of hurt, but pain ran deep and her desire for a baby of her own, deeper still.

One evening, after refusing food and weeping throughout dinner, a broken heart and bitter soul led Hannah to confess everything she felt to God. She begged, pleaded, and pledged a child that didn’t yet exist to a life of service for the Living God, if only He would grant her request.

I would like to highlight one specific point about Hannah’s prayer:

  1. At that moment, Hannah was a hot mess before God.

Desperation often leads to overwhelming transparency. I often wonder why we wait until we feel completely forsaken before arriving in a place of pure honesty. We serve a God who created us. This means He knows everything about us, and yet we often try to hide. Hannah was burdened with misery so profound it uncovered every ounce of pride she may have had. It drove her to a dependence on God she might have otherwise never experienced.

It’s okay to be a hot mess before God. It’s okay to be authentically you before the Almighty. He already knows who you are and expects you to come boldly to His throne.

For any of us who struggle with wondering if God will answer us in desperate moments the way He answered Hannah, I want to say this: All we know about Hannah is a few isolated events recorded in the Bible. We have no idea how many times Hannah had moments just like this one where she pleaded to God for a child with every stitch of her soul. We have no idea how long Hannah waited before this particular prayer changed everything.

Listen, no one wants to be told to wait for God’s plan. We need things from God. Whether it is physical healing, inner healing from brokenness, financial miracles, a baby, or wisdom in a particular decision or relationship, we often feel we don’t have time to wait because the clock is ticking.  Comfort doesn’t usually come in the form of counsel telling us to trust God and wait. Yet, when we choose to listen to that advice we don’t want to hear, hope is produced. In fact, hope actually becomes plentiful.

In WW2 a Jewish person sat in a German concentration camp and scratched three lines on a wall. This is what was written:

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when He is silent”

When we cry out God will meet us. It might not always be the way we expect, but God will give us hope and our faith will rise up. Whoever wrote those three lines had deep faith. I believe they boldly approached the throne and received a hope more powerful than anyone can begin to understand. I see peace woven throughout those words that cannot be explained by anything else except an encounter with the Almighty God.

Friend, you need to know that having an open heart before God and bringing your needs to Him every day will not cause Him to become bored of you. You also need to understand that if your answer doesn’t come the way you expect it that you are not loved any less. Regardless of the outcome, you need to make the decision to approach the throne with boldness. I believe approaching the throne looking like a hot mess counts in the bold before God department!

It is true that we have no choice but to wait and trust, but that doesn’t mean we remain stagnant in the meantime. We need to live our lives communicating with our God. It brings us into deeper relationship and brings hope and peace that we will not tap into any other way.

  • Romans 12:12 says, “Be Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. In your journal, please write this scripture and then list one way having hope brings you joy. After that,  list something you need to be more patient about, and then write a prayer to God thanking Him for His hope while asking for His help during affliction.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

The Kingdom Building Call (Part Six)

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Six Study Overview: Today, we will discuss the widely known scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, and the context it comes from. In the process, we will discover what it means for YOU!

Key Point of Struggle: It’s easy to fall in the trap of feeling there is no future and no hope.

Key Proof of Comfort: The Word of God is solid truth refusing to collapse. We will find comfort in exploring what we can do to stand on the promise of a secure, peaceful future and hope.

Today is our last day with Jeremiah.  Over our weeks of study, we saw the unashamed prophet weep throughout his calling. Through the Word, we’ve watched him be abused and locked up. We saw him through prison bars and witnessed the internal struggle of wanting to give up on his calling. And then we learned of the fire deep within his bones that could not be extinguished.

Though our callings and struggles are much different from those of Jeremiah’s, we can feel a kindred spirit with this man and his ministry. Like Jeremiah, we’ve been afraid, contemplated running, and cried out to God with questions. And, through it all, we’ve allowed the burn in our bones to propel us onward.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11

Over the years, I’ve seen Jeremiah 29:11 plastered on social media statuses, posters in churches, t-shirts, and even bumper stickers. I love that we can read a scripture and claim it as our own, but at the same time my heart weeps a little at the lack of knowledge where context is concerned. As Christians, I believe we take the verse of the day, and apply it to our struggle of the day. We don’t read what comes before or after it, and usually have very little knowledge of who wrote it and why.

Listen, I know not everyone likes to sit down and search out the history and author of every book in the Bible. I get it. But friend, a little context goes a long way. It gives us insight and opens up the lines of communication allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us on a deeper level. We often long for God to speak, but we don’t invest time in the relationship and then wonder why we aren’t hearing His voice. And by the way, I’m preaching to myself. I’ll be honest with you: I’m in the word a lot, but I still lack in many, many areas.

Let’s take a few moments to look at the context of this widely known scripture.

As we know from everything we’ve learned in Jeremiah, the kingdom of Judah refused to repent. As a result, there were captives taken. We learn in 2 Kings 24 that Nebuchadnezzar II, the King of Babylon, took the Jews captive. Nebuchadnezzar led his armies for over a year and laid siege against Jerusalem killing many, destroying the temple, and leaving Jerusalem in ruins.

God knew, in light of the people’s rebellion, that this calamity would take place. Jeremiah actually prophesies about it in Jeremiah 29 through a letter to the captives. In verse 10, he predicts seventy years of captivity in Babylon, followed by exile.  This is the backstory of Jeremiah 29:11.

Let’s begin by taking a look at verse 10:

For thus says the Lord: after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

-Jeremiah 29:10

In context:

By way of royal messengers, Jeremiah sent a letter with this information to the captives. Regardless of the people’s sin, after consequence, there would be great mercy given by God. God promised to visit His people again.

Now, let’s apply Jeremiah 29:10 to us:

I believe God pursues each life. There are times we don’t want to listen, or want to go the way He’s directing us. The skin we wear and the flesh we fight have the ability to rise up powerfully without us even recognizing we’re in a mess. When we finally see our spiritual shortcoming, we call out to Jesus. Other times, we are heeding each and every word. We’ve done nothing to deserve the difficulty we’re facing. In those moments, we question God and ask for answers. Regardless of the circumstances, there is a promise: “I will visit you and perform my good word toward you.”

We can take that promise and apply it to our lives. We don’t always feel like He’s with us, but He is. Because of Jesus, we can go a step further from the word visit. He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell with us. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. When we are reading Jeremiah, we are reading history before the cross. Since then, Jesus died for every sin, and because of His work on the cross we have the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit.  God is performing His good word in us every day because of His Holy Spirit living in us. We have more power to overcome than we will ever begin to comprehend.

Next we have Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11

In context:

Jeremiah was writing the words of the Almighty to the captives, letting them know that the Living God had not forgotten about them. He wasn’t finished with them.

Now let’s apply Jeremiah 29:11 to us:

Remember when we started studying Jeremiah 1:5, and talked about God being intentional in His design of us? Well, this proves that God doesn’t forget about anything He creates. We are always on His mind. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or how deep our trouble may be, we are on the mind of God. Always.

Now that we’ve unearthed the context of this verse, it should speak to us more deeply than ever before. Judah had worshipped other Gods, refused to listen to God’s chosen prophet, and forgotten all the works He had done and still…. And still…. Let me say that again, and still God never stopped thinking about them. And friend, He has never stopped thinking of you. This proves it!

Now let’s take a look at Jeremiah 29:12-14 before we wrap our study.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.

-Jeremiah 29:12-14

In context:

God is letting the people know that even after all their sin, the captives will once again have a home. However, He tells them they will look for Him, and when they do, they will find Him.

Now let’s apply Jeremiah 29:12-14 to us:

Regardless of our situations, whether it is self-inflicted sin, or a horrendous circumstance it seems we don’t deserve, God is faithful to deliver us. Way back in chapter one, we studied that God told Jeremiah, “I am with you to deliver you.” We can take those words and connect them to Jeremiah 29:12-14!

  • When we sin, we can repent. He is always with us to deliver us!
  • When we call on Him and pray to Him, He will listen. He is with us to deliver us!
  • When we seek Him, we will find Him. He is with us to deliver us!
  • When we search for Him, He will be found. He is with us to deliver us!
  • From every situation we’ve been held captive, He will provide rescue. He is with us to deliver us.

Friend, what He’s done for generations past, He will do for you.

 However, we must all learn to call upon Him, pray to Him, seek Him, and Search for Him with our whole hearts. The text actually says, “… with all your heart.” Not a little or even most, but ALL.

If there is anything we’ve learned from Jeremiah, it was that he gave his whole heart to the Almighty. He submitted everything, even his right to a family. He gave his entire life up for his Father. When I think about that, I feel a little overwhelmed with conviction. God hasn’t asked nearly as much from me, and yet I often struggle with giving Him all my heart. My flesh tells me it’s much easier to hand it over one piece at a time. But that’s a lie. I’m required with determination to die to myself every day of my life for the cause of Christ. It’s no longer about me and ALL about Him.

Our friend, Jeremiah, gave his life to answer His call and in the process built the kingdom.

  • Today, in your journal, write Jeremiah 29:10-14. Underneath it, please answer the following questions.
  1. What do the words, “I will visit you and perform My good word toward you,” mean specifically in your life right now?
  2. How does understanding that God is intentional and never stops thinking about you, change how you feel about your future and hope?
  3. We learned that God listens to us when we call on Him. Does knowing that change how you communicate with Him and how frequently you pray to Him?
  4. God tells us He will be found by us when we seek Him with ALL our hearts. Have you given God your whole heart?
  • I recognize that giving God our entire heart is a daily struggle for each of us. In your journal, consider writing a prayer asking God to help break down the barriers preventing you from giving Him everything.

It’s been a pleasure studying kingdom building through the life of Jeremiah with you! If we were to study more often together, who would you want to learn about next? I would love suggestions.

Love,

Jennifer

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The Kingdom Building Call (Part Four)

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Four Study Overview: Today we will deal with the inside ache, turned fire in our bones, when we hear from God and are trying to decipher if it’s really Him, or our own desires, speaking.

Key Point of Struggle: We aren’t always sure if we are hearing the whisper of God or our own desires, and we don’t always want to do what we are called to do.

Key Proof of Comfort:  And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” – Philippians 1:6

Last time we were with Jeremiah, we witnessed an honest conversation between himself and God. We then took that conversation and translated it into our own lives. What I love about Jeremiah is that he’s brutally honest. We can read his heart and emotions because he wasn’t afraid to share his story with us. We can learn from him because he cracked open his heart and allowed it to pour out over pages that we can still read to this day. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because of his honest emotion and outward lament. Thank God for the real ones: the folks who let it all out and confess their struggles. They make me feel less crazy in my own search for purpose.

At the beginning of our study, I mentioned that the book of Jeremiah is not written in chronological order, and that we would be jumping to a few significant moments in his life. Today, I want to look at chapters 19 and 20, but before we get there, I want to talk about the call on our lives.

We learned from Jeremiah 1:5 that we are all called, set apart, and given purpose. We each have a mandate on our life to kingdom build while living abundantly within the call. However, we also learned from Jeremiah’s conversation with God that sometimes we are called to do hard things: tasks we would much rather tell God we’ll pass on and wait for the next job He has in mind. And then there are those of us who love the idea of our calling.  We think that because we’ve been called that every path will be covered with favor and blessing. However, the longer we wait without gaining the ground we think we should, we become weary. We are shocked by the amount of battles we’re called to fight. Translating battles into blessings is harder work than we can begin to imagine.

  • Has God ever called you to a hard task that you weren’t interested in accomplishing?
  • Have you ever been excited about the call God placed on your life, but after dealing with extreme challenges questioned if you really heard His voice?

Jeremiah was called to tell the nation of Judah to repent and turn from their sin. Otherwise, there would be judgment. He was a true prophet among many false prophets and priests. God had a plan that Jeremiah had to follow and it usually led him into harm’s way.

In Jeremiah 19 God told Jeremiah this:

“Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words I will tell you.”

-Jeremiah 19:1-2

Jeremiah went and did exactly as God called him to do. What happens next is really difficult to swallow, especially now that we are invested in the life of Jeremiah. It pains me to watch this unfold in my mind as I read the words in the beginning of chapter 20.

Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet. And put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.

-Jeremiah 20:1-2

God told Jeremiah to speak, he obeyed, and as a result he was beat and locked up. This is so painful because though there are very few of us who can identify with this type of persecution regarding obedience to God, we all face some sort of difficulty while trying to live out our callings.

Doors we think will be opened are locked tightly, friends who we think will support us forget and abandon us without even so much as a prayer, people will get jealous, we will be judged, people will read our hearts wrongly and mistake us for something we aren’t, rejection will come, attacks of the enemy will be strong, and we will ultimately toy with the idea of abandoning our calling.

In case you are dealing with this right now, let me tell you that there’s a danger in giving up. People everywhere depend on your calling because it’s eternal. They need you doing only what you can do. Listen, anyone can start but few finish. We have to set our minds on finishing regardless of how difficult the road.

Jeremiah didn’t take this encounter very well. He, in the honesty we love, tells God exactly what He thinks…

O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily.
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

-Jeremiah 20:7-9

Jeremiah was persuaded by the call of God and followed it, even though it was painful both emotionally and physically. He came to a place where he wanted to quit, but he couldn’t because there was a fire shut up in his bones.

Have you ever thought that maybe you missed God and weren’t supposed to keep following your ministry gifts/callings/dreams? However, you just couldn’t stop thinking about it because of the inner hunger keeping you on the path? Does this sound familiar? Friend, I feel like this a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years of pursuing my purpose: if I can’t stop thinking about it, if I keep on going even when I want to stop, if little-by-little people encourage me in the moments I need it most when I haven’t told anyone I’ve been struggling, then it is the Holy Spirit inside beckoning me to keep going when I’d much rather quit.

You see, I want to finish my life strong! I want to do what God has designed for only me to do! I want the call of God on my life to persuade me powerfully, because it’s the only persuasion with power enough to make me whole. And I know that if He began this work inside of me, then He will complete it. And He will do the same for you!

  • Do you feel a fire shut up in your bones?

The fire in our bones doesn’t always feel good, but it will always be for good.

There is so much more to talk about concerning this. Next week, we are going to continue studying this passage in a different light.

  • Today in your journal, I would like you to write about the fire in your bones.
  1. What is it that you cannot stop thinking about, and pursuing, even though it has proven to be much more difficult than you originally anticipated?
  2. Have you considered pulling away from your call?
  3. What has kept you on the path of purpose through difficulty?
  • Notice in Jeremiah 20:9 it says, “… but His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones…” We most likely won’t hear the audible voice of God like Jeremiah. We have the Bible, which means we have an entire book of promises meant to fill our hearts with truth. It is the number one way God speaks to us. Do you have a word from the Bible that you hide in your heart? If you do, write it in your journal. Mine is Joshua 1:9.

Sometimes we need to revisit the calling that burns like a fire in our bones. It helps us to stay on track when we remember that God chose us for something very specific. Like Jeremiah, you have purpose!

Love,

Jennifer

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The Kingdom Building Call (Part Three)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

The Winner of the You Are Free book by Rebekah Lyons is Margie Mitcheltree! Congratulations, Margie!!! I will be contacting you via email for your address!

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Three Study Overview: Today we will deal with Jeremiah’s response to God’s call, and talk about how we can claim the same promise God gave Jeremiah.

Key Point of Struggle: Oftentimes, we don’t feel confident responding to God’s call because we are insecure in our gifts.

Key Proof of Comfort: Even when we are afraid and everything seems to be falling apart, God says, “I am with you to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:8

Some historians claim Jeremiah could have been as young as fourteen years of age when God called him to his purpose as a prophet. We can’t be certain of his age, but we do know he was young. He tells us so in his own words. Let’s step back in time and spy on the conversation that started it all.

God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6

God: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…” Jeremiah 1: 7-8

I realize this conversation is hard for us to grasp, because chances are we aren’t going to find ourselves in an audible conversation with God. It’s not that God doesn’t speak to us, or that we can’t hear what He says, but it takes a lot more faith when our ears are left out of the equation leaving our hearts responsible to pick up the sound.

God spoke out loud to Jeremiah. This means Jeremiah actually heard the voice of the living God. Wow! You would think a person who has this type of encounter would do exactly as they were told without question, but not our Jeremiah. He needed time to process. You see, he had a lack of confidence and he used this moment to make sure God understood his age and abilities, or lack thereof, before responding to the call.

I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, but I have discerned His whisper in my heart. I know how it feels to walk into a task I wasn’t sure I had the power to accomplish. But, that’s just it; it’s never about my power. Separate from Jesus, I have none.  It’s all in His power.

I want to look at the end of Jeremiah 1:8 for a moment. Notice these words voiced by God, “For I am with you to deliver you.”  There is an unbelievable amount of power in those words. God told Jeremiah specifically why He would stay with him: to deliver him. He assured Jeremiah that He would be there, and then explained the purpose of his staying: to deliver him.

We talked last week about God designing us with intention. We looked closely at the word before in Jeremiah 1:5, and pointed out that God knew each of us before He formed us in the womb. He set us apart for specific purpose. This week, we learn that when He assigns purpose He makes a commitment to stay with us so that leaning on our own abilities is never an option. And, not only does He commit to staying with us, He commits to delivering us. He won’t give us a task and then standby doing nothing. He is always active. I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but it’s true.  In the midst of what seems like our greatest fears, storms, and darkest moments He is there in all His glorious strength ready to deliver us.

Next in the chapter, Jeremiah is given his assignment as prophet; it’s anything but easy:

“… See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down,
to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

– Jeremiah 1:10

Father God is explaining to Jeremiah the sinfulness of a nation and the calamity coming upon Judah. He makes it clear that it’s Jeremiah’s job to warn the people with commands God will speak through him. The Lord even gives Jeremiah a “heads up” as to what the people’s response will be:

“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.”

-Jeremiah 1:19

God speaks that phrase once again: “For I am with you to deliver you.”  I’m absolutely sure it was because Jeremiah needed to know with all certainty that he wasn’t alone. God wanted to make clear his promise to Jeremiah, so he said it twice.

Listen, in what I do as I writer, equipping women to activate purpose through the power of scripture, I often feel alone, like nobody understands what it is I’m doing. Many years ago, the Lord began giving me the ability to discern situations. I carry people’s stories with me like baggage. They weigh heavy on my heart.  Brokenness is on my mind as I write. I talk a lot about purpose because it took me forever to realize I had one that was worth something. Because of that, I feel a fire in my bones to help other women recognize they have worth, not because of anything they can accomplish on their own, but because of the power of Christ in their lives.

Friend, I know life isn’t easy and that Christianity, and the calling attached to it, probably hasn’t owned up to the definition of freedom you thought it might. We are free. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us we can unlock chains and live with brand new breath in our lungs, but the price is high. We will face suffering through a multitude of afflictions. We are not immune from the pain of this world. Why?  …Because sin runs rampant inside this place from the Garden of Eden until now. But take heart, Jesus has overcome; this place is not our home!

Hope lives inside the voice of God. It lived there when Jeremiah was breathing the breath of this earth, and it still lives there today. When we can take the words God spoke to Jeremiah and cling to them, accepting those principles for ourselves, freedom begins to settle in. Truth sets us free.

Hold fast! God is with you to deliver you!

  • Today in your journal, I want you to rewrite the same conversation we read above, between God and Jeremiah, inserting yourself inside it. Let’s break it down together and I’ll explain what I mean by showing you my examples.
  • First, I’m going to add my name to the beginning of Jeremiah 1:5. I often do this when I’m studying, because it helps me to remember that God speaks most powerfully to me through His word. I’ll include the verse as it looks in the Bible and then include my own:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s my example:

Jennifer, before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…”

  • For the end of the same verse, I’ve decided to list two gifts He’s given me as tools to accomplish my purpose according to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. I’ve chosen to list these particular gifts, because I have the most insecurity in these areas. (In case you missed the explanation of redefining purpose according to the Great Commission, click here, back to week one, for a recap.) Remember, God told Jeremiah, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Here’s what I wrote:

“I ordained you a writer and speaker.”

  • For the second piece of the conversation, fill in whatever you fear, and your reason for that fear. Jeremiah told God he couldn’t speak because he was a youth: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. ” I’m going to fill in the blanks and give you my own examples.

“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot write/speak, for I am unsure of my gift and don’t always feel adequate to do what you’ve called me to do.”

  • Lastly, let’s look at what the Lord responded to Jeremiah and then rewrite it filling in our own gifts one more time to hit the point home. Here’s a refresher on what God said, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

Here’s my example:

“Do not say, I cannot write/speak, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall write/speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”

  • When you’re finished, go back and read your conversation out loud. I believe when we can insert ourselves into the words, a new understanding will form. We will recognize He has given us each purpose as well as unique gifts we need to help us accomplish that purpose.

Next week, we will discuss how we can be sure it is God who has called us to a particular task.

  • If you would like to go deeper in study this week, I recommend reading and memorizing Philippians 1:6. It will help prepare you for next week’s study.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Use the Hashtag #KingdomBuildingSisters on Instagram showing a photo of what daily kingdom building looks like to you, tag me, and your name will be entered in a fun surprise giveaway!

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