Saturday, March 9, 2013

Where do you live?

Jeremiah 17 presents an interesting and capturing contrast. Here we read: 
Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:5-8 ESV)

The contrast is between those who trust in man, and those who trust in the Lord. Those who trust in man are like shrubs in a desert, while those who trust in the Lord are like trees planted by streams of water. Picture the sun beating down on this shrub in the desert. All of us have the sun, or pressures of our circumstances, beating down on us. Our soil is our heart. For the unsaved, they can be nothing more than a shrub in the desert. As much as lies within our power, we should seek to help them see how the gospel can change them and address their biggest problem. For the believer, they are trees. Some are trees with rather sparse foliage and fruit, and our goal is to show them how the gospel can move them forward to bearing greater fruit and flourishing, such as this tree in Jer. 17 and Ps. 1.

Where are you at? Are you a shrub in the desert? Or perhaps you are a tree, but feel as if you aren't very fruitful. The gospel is for both of you.


  1. Blessed vs Cursed...that's a strong word picture! Furthermore this picture reminds me that all I have to do is stay connected to the stream and my fruitfulness will come. Many times I get anxious when relating to people, hoping to say the right thing, wanting to be liked by kids and respected by adults. I walk into the mission field timidly. Then I remember Isaiah 26:3-You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he TRUSTS in you.

    Is it my connectedness to the stream that puts me in a place where I trust Jesus. Also, the picture of "not anxious in a year of drought" is what i long for. I long to not be anxious about things, fully trusting in the "stream" to bring life and fruitfulness.

  2. Way to jump right in Josh!

    I know Psalm 1 is right up Will's alley. I'm pretty sure the first and last sermon I heard him preach was on, or involved, Psalm 1.

    If you want strength, I love 2 Tim. 1:7: God hasn't given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. And I think self-discipline could include the determination to walk by faith rather than by sight, as well as obedience, which I understand to be the meaning of 'abide' in John 15.

    To me, your passage is a great picture of being connected to the omnipotent source of life. If He is for us, who - ultimately - can be against us. Yet, even as Christians, especially Christian men, we can naturally default to relying on our strength.

    As an aside, I understand the 2 Tim. verse to be applied to all believers in general; however, the context is Paul speaking to Timothy - specifically about the gift that God gave Timothy through the laying on of hands by Paul. So I have 2 questions: 1) are there verses in the bible that we sometimes apply generally when they were intended for a specific audience, such as the only the disciples? 2) Is this some kind of unique situation where one believer is able to confer a spiritual gift through the laying on of hands?

    Normally, I understand all gifts of the Holy Spirit being conferred at the time of salvation. Though I guess they could come at any time post-salvation.

    1. In answer to your first question, yes. We need to consider the original audience first, and to who the statement or command was directed to. There are plenty of implications to us (as future christians) so that these passages do have meaning for us as well, but some commands were only for the disciples/apostles.

      In the second question, I see the laying on of hands in reference to Timothy's ordination, rather than giving a spiritual gift. In the NT passages that mention the gifts, these are given by the Holy Spirit, so I don't see anything that would suggest we could "give" such a gift to another. the laying on of hands in important in the NT, and not to be done hastily. In summary, I would say the laying on of hands publicly recognizes the gifting of a Christian (whose gifts are from the Holy Spirit).

  3. By Tozer

    It is good for us to remember how strong He is — and how weak we are. I settled this issue a long time ago. I tell you I have talked to God more than I have talked to anyone else. I have reasoned more with God and had longer conferences with God than with anybody else.

    And what did I tell Him? Among other things, I told Him, "Now, Lord, if I do the things I know I should do, and if I say what I know in my heart I should say, I will be in trouble with people and with groups — there is no other way!

    "Not only will I be in trouble for taking my stand in faith and honesty, but I will certainly be in a situation where I will be seriously tempted of the devil!"

    Then, after praying more and talking to the Lord, I have said, "Almighty Lord, I accept this with my eyes open! I know the facts and I know what may happen, but I accept it. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not crawl under a rug. I will dare to stand up and fight because I am on your side — and I know that when I am weak, then I am strong"