Tag Archives: Religion

Jeremiah Preached the Gospel

I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, alternating with Hebrews, as part of my Bible-in-a-year reading schedule. I’m up to chapter 23 of Jeremiah, but I kept thinking about chapter 17. So I went back and re-read chapter 17 the other night. As I read through it, I realized that this passage encompasses the Gospel and that is why I was drawn back to it.

I love when I find the essence of the Gospel of Christ in the Old Testament (it’s all over the place, you know), but I didn’t really expect to find it in Jeremiah. This is a book by a prophet that the Israelites did not like. His gloom and doom predictions for Israel resulted in the priests and “prophets” plotting against him, and he was arrested, whipped, and put in stocks. He spoke on behalf of the Lord to warn the Israelites of God’s anger because they had turned away from Him, and he predicted that many of the Israelites would die at the hand of the Babylonians or from famine, and that others would be exiled to Babylon, if they did not change their ways.

But in the middle of all of the warnings and predictions is this passage that I believe encompasses the Gospel in a nutshell:

Wisdom from the Lord

 5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

 7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NLT).

Verses 5-6 speak of those who trust in their own ability to be righteous and believe they can earn their own way to heaven. When their judgment day comes, they will be cursed because they have trusted in human strength. Even in this life, their spiritual lives are barren and they have no real hope or strength in the face of the trials of this life.

Verses 7-8 speak of those who trust in the Lord Jesus for their salvation and know that they have no hope of righteousness on their own. They are not bothered by the trials of this world because they have the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain their spiritual life. They have the hope of eternity with God.

I love the imagery of this passage of Jeremiah. When trouble comes, and it will come for all of us, the one who trusts in human strength is “like stunted shrubs in the desert.” But the one who trusts in the Lord “like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.” The stunted shrub is the perfect picture of worry and hopelessness. How can such a shrub ever survive? But the tree by the riverbank is the perfect picture of peace and hope. Such a tree will survive the worst drought because it has tapped into the source of life.

In this passage, water is life for the plant. In the New Testament, Jesus promises living water to all who believe in Him.

Jesus Promises Living Water

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) John 7:37-39 (NLT).

The question that faces every human being is whether they will trust in human strength or will put all their trust in their Creator. How about you? Do you seek to earn your own salvation through the strength of your own righteousness? Or have you chosen to trust in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for your sins, recognizing that your strength and righteousness are nothing compared to His? When the drought comes, will you die of thirst because you have no power to create living water? Or will you thrive because you trust in the One who offers an endless supply of living water for all who believe?

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God’s Condo

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday was to write a poem inspired by the art of Danny Gregory. I wrote one yesterday based on a sketch of dogs here. Then this morning getting ready for work I had an idea for another one.

(c) Danny Gregory

(c) Danny Gregory

God’s Condo

Some say God just hangs out
in His high-rise condo
not caring about us down here on the ground

Or that He’s dead
maybe never existed at all

But I’ve seen Him
seen His compassion and caring

At Shepherd’s Door
where He lifts up broken women
and sets them on a path of healing

In Haiti
where He lifts up the poor
and gives them an education, goats, clean water, and more

In India
where He calls His people willingly
into danger so they may care for the out caste

In my heart
where He changes me
to be more loving and forgiving

God may have a high-rise condo
but I suspect it’s getting pretty dusty
because He is never there

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Have You Read What He Said? – A Poem

You think He’s a prophet, a great teacher,
nothing more, nothing less

Seriously?
Have you ever read
the many crazy things He said?

He spoke like a street corner sandwich-board

From that time on Jesus began to preach,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Or a homeless man rambling on
about angels and demons

The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.
The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

He was homeless, with no place to lay His head

No one listens to a crazy man with a sandwich-board
or the homeless man rambling on

You surely don’t call them prophets, or great teachers
just crazy, nothing more

He spoke like a paranoid schizophrenic
certain the ones in power were after Him

We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered
over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and flogged and crucified.

He was plagued by delusions of grandeur
claiming He was God; had always lived and always would
even after He died, He claimed He would rise again

“On the third day I will be raised to life!”
 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

No one would listen to someone who made such claims today
They would lock Him in the loony bin, put Him on meds
until He understood He was just a man

The leaders of His day did even worse
They crucified Him because He claimed He was the Messiah
the Son of God

Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Then the high priest said, “Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.  What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

But He offered some great advice, you say
and spoke of love and forgiveness

That He did, but His advice, His commands
turned many away who thought His teaching too hard

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. . .
And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. . .
And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up on the last day.
For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

Those who followed Him then, those who follow Him now
do so not because He was a great teacher or a prophet
but because He was who He said He was
Immanuel, God with us
nothing more, and certainly nothing less

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The End – A Poem of Hope

What will you hear
When His coming is near
Rumors of war
Earthquakes galore
Widespread famine
Love of mammon

Don’t be alarmed
Your future is charmed
By the gift of life
That overcomes strife
Peace will transcend
When He comes in the end

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The Widow’s Offering – A Pantoum

This poem was inspired by the story of the widow’s offering recorded in Mark 12:41-44. I wrote it for an Advent devotional that my church is putting together. Each daily reading from the devotional will be offered for all to read on the church website at www.cofaith.net beginning on December 1.

The Widow’s Offering

You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life
Like the widow’s offering to the treasury
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury

Like the widows offering to the treasury
I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new

I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new
And as You forgave me today I will forgive

Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Even if lowly as the widow I may be
And as You forgave me today I will forgive
Praying others will see You when they look at me

Even if lowly as the widow I may be
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Praying others will see You when they look at me
You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life

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He Paved the Way – A Poem

John the Baptist did not care
What people thought of his wild hair

Repent and be baptized his hue and cry
Messiah is coming, His kingdom is nigh

John the Baptist lost his head
But because of Jesus he is not dead

John paved the way for eternal life
Found in the Son who gave His life

Content with his place in history
John showed the Way for you and me

Jesus increased in wisdom and power
John decreased at the proper hour

Jesus now reigns as King of kings
To our Lord and Savior we sing

John is an honored martyred soul
Under God’s altar for his prophetic role

So now we find our identity in Christ
Who gave His life and paid the price

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Worthy to Be Praised – A Psalm of Sorts

When I consider the immensity of my sins
I can scarcely bear the weight of shame
Yet You bore it all, not only mine
but the sins of the whole world
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider the greatness of Your miracles
I can scarcely comprehend the wonder
of all that You have done, not only for me
but for all of Your beloved creation
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider the beauty of Your sacrifice
I can barely grasp the majesty of Your love
Yet deep in my heart I know
Your grace is not only for the world, but for me
You are worthy to be praised

When I consider who I am
When I consider who You are
I am convinced
You are worthy to be praised

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The Cross – A Cinquain

I’ve been struggling to post very often lately, and starting this week I’m taking on another responsibility as a Bible study small group leader. It occurred to me that I could embrace my love of short-form poetry and thereby continue to post with some regularity. And so here is a cinquain for today.

The Cross

The cross
around my neck
Instrument of mercy
The solution to my dismay
My hope

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Savior, then Lord – A Sedoka of Sorts

While I was taking a break from blogging I missed a number of Form For All lessons at dVerse Poets Pub, so I decided yesterday to go check out the lessons I had missed to see if there was a new poetry form I could try. Sam Peralta—one of my favorite dVerse teachers—offered a lesson on the Japanese poetry form called the sedoka that consists of two tercets with lines of 5, 7, and 7 syllables each. Sam wrote, “The poem’s two verses usually provide two perspectives on the theme, with a sharp division after the third line, and a soft turn after line five, before the conclusion.” I decided to give it a try with one of my favorite themes.

Savior, then Lord

He died on the cross
Saving the souls of mankind
A free gift of salvation

We accept His gift
But this is not quite enough
For true change He must be Lord

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Presidential Wisdom – A Poem

Great presidents of these United States
Washington and Lincoln we honor on this day
May their words of wisdom
Bless and keep us on our way

Of all the dispositions and habits
which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are indispensable support.
¹

May we never forget that
It is impossible to rightly
govern the world
without God and the Bible.
¹
In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say,
it is the best gift God has given to man.
All the good the Savior gave to the world
was communicated through this book.
²

As we face violence and economic crisis
remind us, O Lord, that at its core,
It is the eternal struggle between these
two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world.
They are the two principles that have stood
face to face from the beginning of time;
and will ever continue to struggle.
²
Let us raise a standard to which
the wise and honest can repair;
the rest is in the hands of God.
¹

Help us, O Lord, to not forget what history
and the wisdom of experience teach.
Let us with caution indulge the supposition
that morality can be maintained without religion.
Reason and experience both forbid us
to expect that national morality can prevail
in exclusion of religious principle.
¹

Teach us, O Lord, to emulate our forefathers and say,
I have been driven many times upon my knees
by the overwhelming conviction that I had
nowhere else to go.
My own wisdom and that of all about me
seemed insufficient for that day.
²

This “found” poem is based on quotes from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as indicated by the footnotes to italicized words as follows:

¹George Washington
²Abraham Lincoln

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