HOW TO KNOW GOD. If the world had 1,000

HOW TO KNOW GOD.

If the world had 1,000 people, the number who would live in a slum: 600.
Yet most of the Church’s pursuit in knowing God is centred around the activity of the 400.

JEREMIAH 22

What is the evidence of knowing God?
How can we verify a person’s relationship with God? Is it how much ‘stuff’ he has been blessed with?
Is a Church to be praised for its building and its large staff? Is God there?
Maybe.
But God is not in what we think is so important.
Jeremiah says He is to be known in the place of the poor and needy.
To best illustrate this, please go to youtube and search for the landfill orchestra and be amazed.
A poor community in Paraguay has formed an amazing orchestra that plays instruments created from recycled trash. The young musicians come from the city of Cateura, a slum that’s built on a landfill. They form a small orchestra of miraculously redeemed instruments. a cello made out of an oil can, a flute made from tin cans, a violin made from a battered aluminum salad bowl.
Basil the Great (theologian and bishop in modern-day Turkey, 4th century) wrote, “The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”
Beauty in and from the ashes. Who would have thought you could get such beautiful music from a slum.
So how do we know God?
Jeremiah says to know God is to defend the cause of the poor and the needy.
It is in this mission when we know Him. It is when we pray this mission that we speak His language. It is when we give money to this mission that we bring offerings to Him.
God is in the slum. Let’s go there.

INVISIBLE I’m more than you know I’m mor

INVISIBLE
I’m more than you know
I’m more than you see here
More than you let me be
I’m more than you know
A body in a soul
You don’t see me but you will
I am not invisible

There is no them
There is no them
There’s only us
From ‘Invisible’ by U2.

JEREMIAH 21

Each day, 8,000 girls are robbed of their genitals… That is one girl every eleven seconds. Throughout the world, 140 million women are affected.
An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking
There are over 9 million refugees and internally displaced people because of conflicts throughout Africa.
The number of malnourished people in the world exceeds 800 million people – more than the populations of Canada, and the European Union combined
98% of the world’s starving live in developing countries
Every year around 200,000 Christians are killed for their faith around the world
In North Korea up to 70,000 Christians suffer in labor camps because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
More than 35 million people now live with HIV/AIDS
3.3 million of them are under the age of 15.
INVISIBLE
Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed …v12
The invisible are not irrelevant. Just because you cannot see them does not mean you cannot reach them.
Start today, don’t walk past the visible, don’t ignore the invisible.

THE PERFECT IMPERFECT PLACE Asian Access

THE PERFECT IMPERFECT PLACE

Asian Access (or A2), a Christian missions agency in South Asia, listed a series of questions that some church planters have been asking new believers who are considering baptism. The country is predominantly Hindu, but over the past few decades Christianity has grown in popularity—especially among poor and tribal peoples.
1. Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
2. Are you willing to lose your job?
3. Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them?
4. Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord?
5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith?
6. Are you willing to go to prison?
7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?

JEREMIAH 20

There are times when God allows us to be where He wants us to be but it is not the place of our choosing. The perfect set in the imperfect. Are you willing?

The prophet (he was obedient, faithful, living for God, doing all he should have been doing)
At the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the temple (probably the most popular gate into the city, named after the best-loved son of Jacob at the sacred site of God’s presence)

Here we have Jeremiah centre stage, his whole world watching him at the entrance into the holy presence of his God: the ideal place and scenario for mission, except for the imperfect.

Beaten and put in the stocks (probably whipped 39 times and then the stocks, this was not a restraining implement but a torturous one. It was where the body was placed on a rack, clamping his wrists and painfully contorted his body).

The ideal place and scenario for mission was actually persecution.

We can forgive Jeremiah’s response to the dark night of his soul in blaming God and cursing his birth. Would we have done less? Do we do similar in lesser situations?

Jeremiah did this for God.
Jesus did this for us.
Perfect Imperfect.

How can I say it …? The bridge will be

How can I say it …?

The bridge will be burnt.
The end of the day will come.
It will be over because it is over.
Time will have run out.
When all is said and done will be said and done.
When the fat lady has sung.
When everything has been set in stone.
And the chickens can be counted because they have hatched.
When we have reached the end of the road
And …

JEREMIAH 19

And …
v10 When the jar is broken ….

For the wicked it will be too late.
For those in Christ it will just have begun.

Often called the shortest complete story

Often called the shortest complete story in English, supposedly written by Ernest Hemingway. It is only six words long:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Brokenness. We all know it.

JEREMIAH 18

As a father of 2 university children living away from home I feel at times helpless as all their life I have tried to protect them from being hurt but now I am not watching them. The reality I face is that they will no doubt experience the hurt of life, they will be broken. My prayer is that when that happens they will empty their hurt into the hands of the Potter who recreates beauty from brokenness.

A soldier was wounded in a battle and ordered to the nearest military hospital. Arriving at the entrance, he saw two doors: one marked “For Minor Wounds,” the other “For Serious Wounds.”
He entered the first door and walked down a long hallway. At the end of the hall, he saw two more doors. The first read “For Officers,” the other “For Enlisted Men.” The soldier went through the second door.
Again, he found himself walking down a long hallway with two doors at the end. One read “For Party Members,” the other “For Non-Party Members.” The wounded soldier took the second door and found himself back out on the street.
When he got back to his unit, his buddies asked, “How’d your trip to the hospital go?”
“The people really didn’t help me much,” he said, “but, man, are they organised!”- (Andy Cook)

We can be in control of many things, but brokenness.
Find the Potter today. Fall into His hands, let Him recreate in you beauty.

It will be okay. JEREMIAH 17 Joss Whedon

It will be okay.

JEREMIAH 17

Joss Whedon, screenwriter-producer famous for films like Toy Story on being asked if he had hope that the human race is becoming smarter and better. Whedon said: “What’s going on in this country, and many countries, is beyond depressing. It’s terrifying. Sometimes I have to remember who I’m talking to. I’ll say something about how terrible things are, and meaningless, and the world is headed toward destruction and war and apocalypse. And at one point my daughter goes, “Hey! I’m 8!” She doesn’t want to hear that stuff. But I can’t believe anybody thinks we’re actually going to make it before we destroy the planet. I honestly think it’s inevitable. I have no hope …. I want to be wrong, more than anything. I hate to say it, it’s that line from The Lord of the Rings-“I give hope to men; I keep none for myself.”
Many like Joss have this fatalist impression and prediction for our future.
“Faith is confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and in his power, so that even when his power does not serve my end, my confidence in him remains because of who he is” —Ravi Zacharias,
To those in despair today, it will be okay.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him, v7.

Thomas Smail said: When the prayer made in faith is not answered, and the healing for which many have sought does not come, we are not to look for someone to accuse of failure in faith. Rather we are to remember that besides faith there is hope. Hope has to do with God’s promises that are still future and hidden, just as faith has to do with God’s promises that are here and now. To the person who has believed for today but has not seen the answer come today, there comes the call to hope. Hope says, “Tomorrow also is God’s. Enough has happened already to assure you that the rest is on the way.”

Is God mean? Jeremiah prophesied for 40

Is God mean?

Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years. Can you think of the patience of God for 40 years? God was waiting for one drop of repentance from His people who had ended up living such wicked lives away from Him. It never came.

JEREMIAH 16

Out of context it looks like God is mean. Jeremiah you must not marry.
We are still early into this 40 year ministry and I am sure Jeremiah must have wondered why God was commanding such a thing. God had been saying some strange things, telling Jeremiah not to pray for these people anymore, but now this is very personal. He is already a very lonely, suffering and frustrated prophet, but now God gives another restriction.
Jeremiah will never experience the joy that many have. He will not get married. He will not have children. Some may look at this out of context and interpret that if you are committed to a cause then you have to sacrifice. Jeremiah is single but can give himself more to the ministry. It is out of context. It makes God look mean and it is wrong.
Just keep reading a few verses in from this prohibition and you see the love of God.
God was saying everyone would go through terrible persecution and suffering, no one in the land would be exempt, it will be horrid, death will consume their nation.
Jeremiah would not have to watch the people he loved, his wife and his children go through this. He was being spared additional grief.
God was withholding not because He is mean but because He loves. He knows the future. Jeremiah I am sparing you pain not withholding pleasure for the sake of it.
What do you feel God is withholding from you?
He is not mean. He knows the plan for your life and sometimes that means He has to hold something back from you so as not to bring sadness to you. One day looking back you will see the withholding hand of God was His sparing hand.

TEN MISSIONARY AWARDS It seems that ever

TEN MISSIONARY AWARDS

It seems that every month we are able to watch some awards ceremony for different achievements.
However there are many unsung heroes. Missionaries, disciples of Christ, scattered around the globe who every day face life with spiritual and moral courage. You may be one of them. Yet no one notices you. You just do the same thing every day, in an environment which is at times very challenging.
Isaiah prophesied judgment and exile but Jeremiah saw it happen.

JEREMIAH 15

Jeremiah experienced great discouragement as a prophet, no one was listening! They were about to come under judgment for many reasons none less than the sin of Manasseh, sacrificing his own sons, reintroducing idol worship and God’s people followed! From this chapter I would like to hold an award ceremony for the faithful.
The ten missionary awards will be given:
1) For those who feel forgotten, v15.
2) For those who are persecuted, v15.
3) For those needing vengeance from God, v15.
4) For those who because of the struggles have lost the joy they once had, v16.
5) For those who look back at the excitement of their call, v16.
6) For those who are not the most popular in the neighbourhood, v17.
7) For those who experience pain, whether physical, emotional or mental wounds, v18.
8) For those who in their doubts of God pray to God, v18.
9) For those who choose to return to their calling, to their belief, to their God, v19.
10) For those who have been strengthened in the circumstance not rescued from it, 20.
Of course there isn’t such a ceremony, but one day there will be. That day the award will go not to us, but to Jesus, the victor. We will gladly lay our crowns down before Him. He takes all the awards.

HOPE South African Archbishop Desmond Tu

HOPE

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, author of “Made for Goodness” was answering readers questions in the TIME magazine.
Q: After all you’ve seen and endured, are you really as optimistic as your book, ‘Made for Goodness’, says you are?
Tutu: I’m not optimistic, no. I’m quite different. I’m hopeful. I am a prisoner of hope. In the world, you have very bad people—Hitler, Idi Amin—and they look like they are going to win. All of them—all of them—have bitten the dust.

JEREMIAH 14

In the midst of the betrayal of God’s people and the impending judgment that was coming, Jeremiah prays earnestly, “O Hope of Israel ….” v8-9.

Hope is more than optimism. There may not be any hopeful aspects of a situation which optimism clings to. But hope is found not in a situation but in a Saviour.

Hope is more than being positive. There may be no moving forward, no direction and no increase. But hope is found not in progress but in a Person.

O Hope of Israel, its Saviour in times of distress …

How can we say this today?
In the situation that you may be in, how is that possible?

…. You are among us, O Lord … v9.

In his book ‘Deserted by God?’,Sinclair Ferguson shares the following story:
“The first physician to die of the AIDS virus in the UK was a young Christian. He had contracted it while doing medical research in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the last days of his life, his power of communication failed. He struggled with increasing difficulty to express his thoughts to his wife. On one occasion she simply could not understand his message. He wrote on a note pad the letter J. She ran through her medical dictionary, saying various words beginning with J. None was right. Then she said, “Jesus?”
That was the right word. He was with them. That was all either of them needed to know”.

So we can pray today:
O Hope of my life
Saviour in times of trouble
You are with me now.

Boots on! JEREMIAH 13 1. Buy a belt and

Boots on!

JEREMIAH 13

1. Buy a belt and put it round your waist.
2. Then go on a journey which will be approximately 400 miles and will take you 6 weeks to get there and hide the belt.
(Once he had done that he came back to resume his real work.)
3. Now repeat the whole process: walk back another 400 miles to rescue the belt and find it is useless.
Then come home.
A 1600 mile walk!
Have you ever found yourself doing something that you didn’t think you were called to do or didn’t make any sense?!
Well how about we word it in a different way?
1. The prophet’s belt would symbolise God’s authority on his message as with Elijah and John the Baptist.
2. Hiding the belt so far away will get Jeremiah away from the death plots.
3. The authority of Jeremiah’s message was rendered useless and so was the people rendered useless because they had not listened to him. This was God’s message after a 1600 mile walk!
Did it really need 1600 miles?
We are often in the place of not knowing what God is actually doing with our lives.
He is either protecting us or promoting His message through us or both!

Maybe it is time for those walking boots to be brought out!
Just do what He is asking even if you don’t have all the details.