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New Year’s Devotion: Entering 2012 With Hope

SIH STSTA ICONIn Jeremiah 29:11, we find a wonderful promise that our Lord gives to His people…

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

The ESV translates this passage with a slightly different phrasing “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Although the Lord originally gave this promise to the believers in the physical nation of Israel… in today’s time this promise applies to all believers (both Jewish and Gentile) who make up His spiritual nation of Israel.  (Gals 6:14-16).  As we begin the New Year, as believers in Christ, let us remind ourselves of this precious promise and the great hope that awaits us in the coming year.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Jeremiah 29:11

 

THE STUDY:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

“know” – to observe, to perceive                      “thoughts” – plot, plan, invention, weave “think” – same as “thoughts”                             “saith” – to reveal, to utter, to proclaim “LORD”- Jehovah                                                 “thoughts” weave, plot, work                “peace” – harmony, health, prosperity              “evil” – adversity, mischief, sorrow, troubles “expected” – expectation, to count on, rely on “end” –  after part, end,

Here we find a clear declaration from our Lord concerning His plans and watch care for our lives.  The Lord makes 3 basic declarations in this verse.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you”. – First of all, the Lord tells us that He personally makes individualized plans for each of our lives. He does not rely on others to plan our lives, nor does He simply allow our lives to go unguided and protected.  He has invented a plan for each of us.  This plan includes….

“thoughts of peace and not of evil” – the purpose of these plans is to bring to us prosperity and good, not sorrow and troubles.  By simply seeking His will for our lives, and then following that will, He will allow our lives to be successful in our endeavors for Him. By following His plans our lives will be spiritually prosperous and in harmony with our Lord.  These plans will not lead us into sin, sorrow or spiritual trouble.

Romans 8:28, reveals this same principle to us… And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

“to give you an expected end” – Third, The Lord tells us what the result of this truth should be for our lives…. An expected end… in other words, a future that we can place our hope and confidence in.  By understanding that the Lord has planned our lives in advance, and knowing that those plans will result in our good and spiritual prosperity, why should we not be hopeful and looking forward to a bright future for each of us?

Lamentations 3:25-26 – The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD

The ability to discern, follow, and patiently do His will for our lives can be a very difficult task.  In Daniel we have the perfect example of a King who rejected God’s will for His own will and had to learn a very difficult lesson.

Daniel 4:29-36

29At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.  30The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?  31While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. 32And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

33The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.

34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from   generation to generation:  35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?  36At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have trusted in Christ.

By patiently seeking the face of the Lord, and doing His will, we can be confident of what the future holds for us.  We can count on the fact that by simply serving Him our future will be filled with hope and spiritual prosperity.

For those who have never trusted in Christ.

The first step towards spiritual peace and prosperity is found by trusting the Lord with our past present and future.  Trust that He died on the cross, paying the price for the sins of His people.  Come to Him in a spirit of remorse with a willingness to turn from our sins and accept Him as the Lord of our life.  From that point forward we can know that He is leading and guiding us and preparing us a wonderful future of peace, and spiritual properity.  And we can know that our future will culminate in having a perfect, eternal habitation that He has prepared for us.

John 14:1-4

1) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.

4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

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My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Little Is Much When God Is In It

SIH STSTA ICONOne great chorus that has been sung in churches for many years is the chorus “Little Is Much When God Is In It”:

1. In the harvest field now ripened, There’s a work for all to do. Hark, the voice of God is calling, To the harvest calling you.

2. Does the place you’re called to labor Seem so small and little known? It is great if God is in it, And He’ll not forget His own.

3. When the conflict here is ended And our race on earth is run, He will say, if we are faithful, “Welcome home, my child, well done.”

CHORUS:
Little is much when God is in it. Labor not for wealth or fame. There’s a crown and you can win it, If you go in Jesus’ name.

If you would like to hear this song being sung you can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDAsDwvDDAc

Is this song Scriptural?  Are there examples in the Bible where God uses the small things to yield great results for Him?  Lets take a look at what the Bible says….

THE SCRIPTURES:

 

Judges 7:1-8, 16-23

THE STUDY:

The Context Of Our Study: Judges 6:…

  1. Vs 1-7 – The Israelites for their sin are oppressed by Midian
  2. Vs 8-10 – A prophet rebukes them
  3. Vs 11-16 – An angel sends Gideon for their deliverance
  4. Vs 17 – 23 – Gideon’s present is consumed with fire – The proof of Gideon’s calling
  5. Vs 24 -27 – Gideon destroys Baal’s altar, and offers a sacrifice upon the altar Jehovah-shalom
  6. Vs 28 -32 – Joash defends his son, Gideon, and calls him Jerubbaal – “Let Baal Plead (Argue) With Him”
  7. Vs 33 –35 – Gideon’s army gathered from Israel

“God Is In It” – Gideon’s fleece proof of victory from the Lord: Judges 6:36-40…

 

 

36) And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

Gideon asks the Lord for a miracle which would prove that Israel will get the victory over the Midianites.  Note the lack of faith on the part of Gideon, but the patience, kindness and grace of Jehovah.  Gideon not totally lacking faith, he had been willing to destroy the idols of Baal, placing his life at risk at the hands of the Baal worshippers.

37) Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; [and] if the dew be on the fleece only, and [it be] dry upon all the earth [beside], then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.

38) And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

Jehovah proceeds to do exactly as Gideon asks…. He places dew on the fleece while keeping the floor dry.  Proof Israel will get the victory.

 

39) And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.

40) And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Notice that Gideon is aware of his lack of faith and the Lord’s patience and grace being shown to him.  Keep in mind, Gideon ALREADY knew God’s will (Jud 6:14-16, 6:36), he was in doubting if the Lord’s promise was true.  This fleece incident is not to DISCERN the Lord’s will, it is to AFFIRM the Lord’s will.

The Lord, once again, acts to ease Gideon’s concerns by working another miracle.  This miracle was the exact opposite as the previous miracle.  Dew was now on the ground while the fleece was dry.

 

“The Little” – Gideon’s 300 men: Judges 7:1-8…

 

1) Then Jerubbaal, who [is] Gideon, and all the people that [were] with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

Gideon is now preparing to go against the Midianites.

2) And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that [are] with thee [are] too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

Why did the Lord desire to decrease the number of Israelites?  So that He might be glorified not the military might of Israel. (Zech 4:6, Psa 20:7)

**Principle #1 – The Lord uses the little things to accomplish great acts of service for Him so that He might be glorified

 

3) Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever [is] fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

**Principle #2 – The Lord uses those of faith to accomplish great things.

4) And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people [are] yet [too] many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, [that] of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

5) So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

6) And the number of them that lapped, [putting] their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

7) And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the [other] people go every man unto his place.

The Lord divides the remaining group into two groups based upon those who lapped and those who bent down to drink water.  We now have 32,000 down to 10,000 down to 300.

Men on knees taking longer drink – concerned about satisfying desires of flesh.

Men lapping taking short drink – ready for war, placing call of God ahead of fleshly satisfaction.

**Principle #3 – The Lord uses those who put Him first and their fleshly desires second to accomplish great things.

What a miracle the Lord was about to perform. He was going to use 300 Israelites to defeat an innumerable army of Midianites and Ammonites (Jud 7:12)

8) So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all [the rest of] Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

Gideon obeys the Lord and takes the 300, leaving the other Israelites in their tent with sustenance.

 

 

“The Much” – A Great Victory Over Midianites: Judg 7:16-23 …

 

16) And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

He now equips his men with a trumpet, a pitcher and a lamp.  Note that there was no military weapons used.  Gideon understood they stood no chance for a military victory.  They would only gain a victory through an absolute miracle from Jehovah.

17) And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be [that], as I do, so shall ye do.

18) When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that [are] with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, [The sword] of the LORD, and of Gideon.

Gideon divides the 300 into 3 groups of 100 each. Gideon’s instructions to His warriors… follow my lead, blow your trumpets and shout “the Sword of the Lord and of Gideon”.

Note: It is not plural “swords” but the Lord’s “sword” being used through Gideon. The desire of the Lord was being fulfilled… the Israelites were understanding that the weapons of this warfare was of God, through His servant.  To Him be the glory.

**Principle #4 – The Lord accomplishes great things by working in and through weak sinful human instruments.  It is the Lord that accomplishes the work.  He simply uses men to do it. Much like a writer uses a pen to place his words on the paper.

 

19) So Gideon, and the hundred men that [were] with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that [were] in their hands.

20) And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow [withal]: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.

Gideon’s plan is put into motion.

Please note that:

1. Gideon placed his plan into action at the beginning of the “middle watch” .  It was a time of confusion with the men just getting into their place for their turn at the watch.

2.  It was very dark.  There were three night watches of equal length.  They ran from 6:00pm to 6:00am.  Therefore, Gideon made his move at approx 10-11 pm.

 

21) And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.

Through the Lord’s intervention, at the sudden sounding of the trumpets, the breaking of the pitchers and the shining of the light terrified the Midianites; they probably thought that there was a great number of invaders surrounding them and ready to pounce upon the Israelites.

22) And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, [and] to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

Their confusion is so great they turn on one another and begin to war within their own ranks. They then flee for their lives.

 

23) And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.

The closest Israelites, then gathered and begin to pursue the defeated Midianites. These would have included those of little faith and those who knelt to drink.

**Principle #5 – Those who are weaker spiritually are strengthen by God when others exhibit faith in their service to Him.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved…

Those who are the smallest and the most unlikely to succeed in their service to Him are the ones most likely to glorify Him through their acts of faithful service to Him.  We all have a special privilege  and opportunity to serve Him in times of weakness.  It is during these times we can glorify Him in the greatest ways.

2Cor 10:2-5

2) But I beseech [you], that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4) (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2Cor 3:4-5

4) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;

2Cor 4:7

7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

1Cor 1:18-24

18) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

20) Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1Cor 2

1) And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

4) And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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