Posted by: Brad Beaman | February 19, 2017

Mossy Forest Photo Essay

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My son and I hiked the Mossy Forest of Malaysia.

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We hike a short route but enough to get plenty of mud on us.

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This was the final stretch of the Boy Scout Cameron Highlands camping trip.

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Mossy Forest is located just above the Boh Tea plantation.

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We hike at 2000 meter elevation.

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Posted by: Brad Beaman | February 8, 2017

Let us go with you Zechariah 8:23

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In 1738 John Wesley was struggling with his faith. He asked Moravian Peter Bholer if he should quit preaching faith because he himself struggled with faith. Peter Bholer told John Wesley keep preaching. When Wesley asked him why Bholer responded, “Preach faith until you have faith so you can have faith to preach faith.” This has been an enduring quotation because you just have to jump in their somewhere, regardless of where you are at the moment.

Now I am preaching the power of the Spirit from Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” I am not going to analyze where I am right now but dive in like Peter Bholer admonished to Preach power in the Spirit until you have power in the Spirit, so when you have power in the Spirit you can preach power in the Spirit.

This year I want to major on the minor. Usually we say major on the minor in a negative way, but this time it is a good thing. I mean I plan to  focus on the Minor Prophets. Zechariah is the principal minor prophet. The little Revelation. There is so much throughout the book of future in Christ. This Apocalyptic book is there to offer a future hope. There is the ultimate victory for God’s people and their enemies defeated.

This period of history precedes the “400 silent years.” It was the close of the Old Testament. It has been described not as running out of steam but going out in a blaze of glory. Look at the books of the Bible that focus on this narrow band of history; Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Daniel, Esther and Malachi. The “silence” broken when Zachariah has his tongue loosed when he says the forerunner to the Messiah will be named John.

Look at the Persian Kings period timeline:

When a remnant returned from exile in Babylon the people built the altar and work on the temple progressed for fifteen years. Then those living in the land discouraged the work. The people who returned to build turned inward and built their own houses. Zechariah and prophet Haggai speak to return to the Lord. Haggai tells them their selfish focus is like putting their money in purses with holes.

If we are going to accomplish anything in the spiritual realm that will make an eternal impact then it will require genuine Abiding in our Lord. That has been our Modus operandi and we see how Zechariah knew this was the key for God’s people and calls them to return to God. The governor leading the building of the temple Zerubbabel had a huge work to do. It was going to take more than hard work. It requires the power of God, “by my Spirit” says the Lord.

Return to Me.    Zechariah 1:3

Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.

I heard a message on Zechariah 1:3 that was powerful. It was a buckle your seatbelt exciting message. It was a message that stuck with me for many years later. The illustration for the passage was from the animal kingdom.

Everything returns to the Lord but his people. Migratory birds never miss a year. Sea turtles come back to the same beach. Even Salmon fish don’t forget to return from the sea up the river they were born.

But for the Lord’s people there is spiritual apathy with no sense of urgency for the task at hand. There are priorities on the things of the world. God has not forgotten his people. He calls them to return.

That powerful message that so impacted me to return to God with the illustration from the Salmon and the migratory birds had a spiritual fall that was public and embarrassing. He asked how the Salmon could be smarter than we are. Then he was so far off the path. We all need to be reminded to return to the Lord not just that pastor who fell.

And with the call to return to God guess who shows up. The Lord Christ shows up among the myrtle riding a red horse, pre-incarnate Christ. When John the Baptist arrived on the scene to prepare the way for Jesus, the awaited messiah, John preached repentance.

Zechariah is preaching repentance yes, but return. Return to God. Why because we drift. It is the second law of thermodynamics. Everything goes from a state of order to disorder. When we find ourselves in the spiritual drift the Lord says, return to me. For God’s people there is spiritual apathy. There is no sense of urgency. They have taken on misplaced priorities.

The Lord’s people found themselves in a discouraging place. They drifted from God. When we return to God he returns to us. This is abiding in Christ and bearing fruit that remains.

In the Power of the Holy Spirit   Zechariah 4:6

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

We must do the work of the eternal realm in the power of the Spirit of God. If you put an iron poker in the fire it will become as hot as the fire. You take that iron poker out of the fire and it glows red from the heat. If a piece of paper even comes near the heat of that iron poker it would ignite into flames. It has that power because it has been in the fire.

We must abide in the Lord to have the power of the Lord. We must be in the spiritual fire and when someone comes into contact with us the power of God works because the Holy Spirit is working through us.

The first temple of Solomon had massive manpower and finances behind it with King David making preparation for the buildings success. Now this is just a remnant. Building this temple are small things in comparison to Solomon’s Temple.

Don’t despise small things when God is in it. Finishing the task right here with a remnant. Zechariah 4 Vs 10 “Who dares despise the day of small things? It is not the day of small things when you have the power of God.

We can sharpen our methods and prepare our strategies for ministry, but unless the Lord works it is not going to have spiritual power and will be ineffective. Psalm 127 says unless the Lord builds the house, the workman labor in vain. It is vain to rise up early and stay up late eating the bread of anxious toil.

Peter and John said Silver and God I have none, but the power of God. They knew it was not by might or power but by the power of God. May we not say, power of God I have none, but we have a lot of silver and gold. We must abide and know the power of God to accomplish our work in the eternal realm.

Let us go with you   Zechariah 8:23

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’

Zechariah 4:6 is well-known and often quoted and Zechariah 1:3 is familiar to us. But Zechariah 8:23 is the hidden gem. It is one of those verses you read and think why have I not seen this verse before?

If we really apply the Zechariah 1:3 and 4:6 in our lives the results will be what we read in Zechariah 8:23. People will grab us to find out the secret. Where did you get that joy? How is it you have that peace? I want what you have. I want Jesus Christ in my life to have the spiritual experience you have in your relationship with God. They will grab you by the collar and not let go until you share the gospel with them.

You probably have come across someone and you can just sense they know the Lord in a very intimate way. When I was a young man we invited a speaker to address our group on spiritual awakening. It was obvious that he lived everything he was saying about a close powerful walk with the Lord. I wanted to go with him because of the way his life demonstrated the presence of the Lord.

I got my chance a couple of years later. He was leading a morning prayer time every Tuesday that was walking distance from where I lived. I went every Tuesday I could because I wanted to meet with him because I sensed such a powerful presence of the Lord in his life. We can be like that when we return to God and live in the power of the Spirit.

We want to live our lives so returned to God, so full of the power of the Spirit that anyone from atheists to people from other religions would grab us. I want what you have. They would recognize all their religious duty does not bring power of God they see in our lives.

There may be spiritual frauds out there. They only fool people for so long. People seek and find the genuine spiritual authority.  Why did the woman touch the hem of Jesus garment? She knew he had the power of God, she not only heard about it but she could just sense it. She recognized the power of God, she grabbed hold of the hem of his garment and she herself experienced the power of God.

Zechariah saw a day when believers would have this kind of presence of God in their lives. That is why not just Zechariah, but all the prophets longed to trade places with us. We live on this side of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. The kingdom of God is within you. You have the hope of glory. It is no wonder others are attracted to Jesus through your life when you really live close to God.

In my own testimony when I came to Christ it was largely because I met people who I could tell really experienced God in their lives. I want that. I want to grab your shirt and go with you. I want that peace. I want that assurance of eternal live.

When you share the gospel expect people to look into your eyes. Does he really live of the live of grace in Jesus Christ he is talking about? If so then come what may they will die to self and forsake everything they have to obtain that one eternal treasure. They see in you what their own religious leaders long for but do not have.

You can’t buy that kind of presence of the Lord. This kind of spiritual authority comes when you abide in Christ. It comes when you genuinely walk with the Lord. It is a life returned to God in the power of the Spirit.

Posted by: Brad Beaman | August 11, 2016

Clan Jetties Penang Photo Essay

The Clan Jetties formed by Chinese immigrants on the waterfront of Georgetown Penang. This visit is on a cloudy rainy season afternoon.

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Posted by: Brad Beaman | May 4, 2016

A Reckless Path

Judean wilderness

The story of Balaam is a fascinating one. What you might think of first with Balaam is that he was the prophet whose donkey spoke to him. It was incredible and there is nothing else quite like it in the Bible.

Balaam is significant in Old Testament history and for the New Testament church. There are seven books of the Bible that mention Balaam. There are four Old Testament books and three New Testament books. Except what we have here in this account in Numbers and a reference in 2 Peter 2:15 the other five books that mention Balaam don’t even bring up the talking Donkey. There is something more important going on than the talking donkey aspect of this story. We need to understand the reckless path Balaam walked.

The New Testament helps us understand that Balaam is a person that needs to be remembered. His life and death are significant for the church. At the closing days of Exodus wondering forty years in the wilderness Moses days are drawing to a close. Moses has just finished mourning the death of his brother Aaron. Now only Moses, Joshua and Caleb were adults when Israel accepted the minority report resulting in forty years of wilderness wondering.

Before Joshua takes command Moses leads Israel to victories east of the Jordan. They had just defeated the Amorites when they had refused to let Israel pass through their land. The Israelites traveled to Moab, The King of Moab, Balak and his people are terrified.

Balak sent for Balaam the prophet because he was a religious man. Balak knew who Balaam blessed was blessed and who Balaam cursed was cursed. (Numbers 22:6) Balaam was from Haran where Abraham was called from and from where Isaac got his wife. The knowledge of the true God would have been possible in this place.

We need to determine if Balaam was a true prophet of Jehovah God. He is in line with God as we will see from his prophesies. There was even a prophesy Balaam makes about the coming Messiah. Reading Numbers chapter 23 and 24 Balaam seems to be solid. He appears to be a man of conviction. If there were only these two chapters I could expect to read Balaam’s name in Hebrews 11 chapter of faith.

The other books that speak of Balaam tell something different. He was closer to an Old Testament Judas than to a hero of the faith. In 22:8 He sounds so noble when he says rather than receive money he needs to seek an answer from the Lord. Rather than receive the money he seeks an answer from the Lord.”

But in Numbers 22:12 God said do not go and do not put a curse on Israel they are blessed. Balaam sent them back. The Lord has refused to let me go he said. It sounds great, but something is wrong. He said no but he must have been looking straight at the money they were offering him with glazed over eyes.

Balak sent more princes and more money (vs 16 &17). His talk again was also so good in Numbers 22:18 saying, “Even for a place filled with silver or gold I could do nothing beyond the command of the Lord my God.” He is not for sale for any price. But………stay here let me ask the Lord again. We begin to see the cracks in his armor.

When God has spoken clearly then it is not spiritual to ask God about it. In vs 20 God said go ahead, the permissive will of God. There are people in a clearly sinful relationship who claim they have asked God about it. There is a lustful self-deception in Balaam. His fame, prestige and wealth could be greatly enhanced. God has given him a gift but not to serve himself with it. God is not pleased. In verse 22:22 He is angry at Balaam. He sent an angel to oppose him. This is the most famous part of God dealing with Balaam, the talking donkey.

The donkey is considered dumb and the most stubborn animal. This donkey is more sensitive than Balaam. We need to be careful we don’t want something so bad we deceive ourselves to think it is right. The angel of the Lord (Vs 23) stands with a drawn sword.

First Balaam’s donkey turns into a field. Then the donkey pressed against a wall and crushed Balaam’s leg. Third the donkey lay down under Balaam.

Here is the dialogue between Balaam and the donkey:

 

28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam,

“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

 

Then Balaam’s eyes were opened. The angel of the Lord asks Balaam why he has beaten his donkey. The angel of the Lord tells Balaam he is on a reckless path. (vs 32) In verse 35 Balaam gets his new instructions to go with the men but to speak only what the angel of the Lord tells him.

 

For two chapters Numbers 23 & 24 Balaam seems to be really doing a prophets duty of speaking truth even when unpopular. He is speaking only what God says. He even says I must speak only what God puts in my heart (Num 22:38) If Balaam could have stuck by those words we might find him listed in Hebrews chapter 11.

 

Numbers Chapters 23 & 24

 

Balaam is on a high mountain where he can look down and see Israel encamped. Each time Balaam speaks a word from the Lord then King Balak gets madder each time. Balaam even speaks a messianic prophecy. (Num 24:17-19). It is not now and not near. A scepter will rise out of Israel.

“I see him, but not now;     I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob;     a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab,  the skulls of all the people of Sheth. 18 Edom will be conquered;    Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,  but Israel will grow strong. 19 A ruler will come out of Jacob     and destroy the survivors of the city.”

A star will come out of Jacob. This is the only Messianic prophecy associating a star with the Messiah. The wise men saw his star Matthew 2:2. These wise men probably were from the same area as Balaam. This star identified the Messiah.

Then Balaam gets up and returns home (24:25) apparently victorious and apparently doing only what he said speaking only what God told him. He seems to be unmoved by all the gold and silver of the palace. But it didn’t turn out that way.

Chapter 25 has a different setting. This time not on the mountain with God refusing to let him speak a curse but instead a blessing. This time Balaam is in the valley. Israel is committing sexual immorality with Moabite women and worshipping Baal. God’s anger burned with 24,000 dying in a plague.

We have to look at other scripture to find out what happened when Balaam came back. In the Judgement against Moab Balaam died by the Israelite sword. (Num 31:8). And what was Balaam doing there? (Num 31:16) Balaam was giving Moab the advice on how to seduce Israel and draw them into self-destruction.

So now when we read of Balaam in Deuteronomy 23:3-5, Joshua 13:22, Micah 6:5, Nehemiah 13:2, Jude 1:11, 2 Peter 2:15 and Revelation 2:14 we can keep this background in mind. We remember the error of this prophet who took the reckless path and caused great ruin to Israel.

In Revelation 2:14 Balaam is a warning to the church. An insider causing the destruction. Beware of someone on the reckless path causing the church to compromise from within. Balaam represents those who know the truth, speak for God, then follow the reckless path for worldly pleasures. It is the ultimate sell-out.

Posted by: Brad Beaman | February 27, 2017

Garo Hills Photo Essay

Garo Hills of Northeast India

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Garo Hills are part of  Meghalaya State. 

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Unique art work of Garo Hillsimg_0237-1024x768

These are the local Garo artistsimg_0326-1024x767

Carved from a single tree stump

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Praying man carved rock

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The hills

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Beautiful abundant land

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Posted by: Brad Beaman | December 21, 2016

Penang Sunrise

This morning on the Penang Malaysia bike ride

Posted by: Brad Beaman | August 6, 2016

Penang Cycling Photo Essay

I am almost two weeks in Penang now. I bought a bicycle and rode a few of the most popular rides around Penang.

This was from this morning’s ride Gurney Plaza to the Fruit farm. I could smell the Durian as I rode through the Durian estates.

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This was the ride route this morning.

 

Last Saturday I rode (and pushed my bike) up Penang Hill.

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Great view from Penang Hill

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I wanted to get a back view of the Dalat School on an weekday bike ride.

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Made a couple visits to Staights Quay to eat when I wasn’t riding.

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Posted by: Brad Beaman | May 3, 2016

Contrast of Testimonies

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3rd John

Don’t you like the old western cowboy movies when you knew who was the good guy  and who was the bad guy. You can pick them out easily in those old movies because the good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat.

This letter makes it obvious who the good guy is and who is the bad guy. Diotrephes wore a black hat and Demetrius wore a white hat. You can easily pick up who is the good guy and who was the bad guy.

The apostle John has written much about believing in Jesus. John told us he wrote his Gospel that you might believe. In his letter 1 John is about assurance of salvation for those who have believed. Now in the letter we know as 3 John he is writing about the believer’s testimony in the church.

John was old when he wrote this letter. It is addressed to Gaius his trusted ministry partner or mentee. John is writing Gaius about a troublemaker in the church. John is not just writing Gaius about this situation. John is himself embroiled in this church controversy.

Can you picture a contrast of testimonies in your mind? A situation where there was a believer with a good testimony and one with a bad testimony. John outlines two church members and mentions their testimonies that are a complete contrast.

We have to deal with all kinds of people in life. Even in the church there are those who do what is evil (that is how john put it) and those who do what is good. Do you want your church to be a New Testament church? Well we have a New Testament church right here in this letter 3rd John. But this NT church had a self-seeking, gossiping manipulator in the center of activities. It is a reminder that the New Testament churches had plenty of problems. Much of the New Testament are letters dealing with the problems.

Poor Gaius found himself in a very difficult situation. But probably there is an important reason this letter is given to us in the Bible. I suspect it is because we will often find ourselves in this kind of situation.

John 13:34-35 John says people will know you are disciples that you love one another. That does not mean we should be getting friendly with self-seeking malicious gossips like Diotrephes. John has such an issue with this trouble maker. He is not telling Gaius to love him but watch out for him.

The background seems to be that John had sent some itinerant speaker to the church and Diotrephes who loves to be first (vs 9-11) Will have nothing to do with John or the brothers John was sending to the church. Diotrephes was gossiping maliciously about John. This guy Diotrephes stops anyone who welcomes who John send and puts them out of the church. Yep, Diotrephes is the bad guy.

The good guy is Demetrius. He has a wonderful testimony. He is well spoken of by everyone, and by the truth and by John.

Now Gaius has to navigate the clash of testimonies. John guides Gaius in this. Do not imitate was it evil but what is good. Gaius may have some tough choices in navigating the relationships in the church, but they are clear. Gaius needs to stand with Demetrius and stand up to Diotrephes.

One application that comes from this brief letter is watch your testimony. By all means be the Demetrius that is well spoken of. Do not become the self-seeking malicious gossip. Gaius was sure on the right path and John could say that others were speaking of Gaius as a man of love and hospitality.

Another application is to be very careful in your relationships. Stand with the believers who are well-spoken of in the fellowship. This is going to take discernment because you won’t find people wearing white hats and black hats, but this letter can help us navigate the road to our fruitful relationships.

 

Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 17, 2016

Confidence in Christ

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Confidence in Christ 1 John 5:11-13

John is the apostle we know as the “beloved disciple” who was close to Jesus for his three years of public ministry. He was right there with Jesus up to His death on the cross, his burial and resurrection. When John was told the tomb was empty he raced as fast as he could to the tomb to see for himself that the stone was rolled away and the grave clothes were folded and laid aside. John later met the resurrected Jesus. John saw it first-hand and he wrote his gospel that we might believe in Jesus.

That is why John wrote his Gospel to help people believe in Jesus. He wrote for his readers to put their faith in Christ. John 20:31  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

If there was ever a fork in the road of your life this is it. Which road will you take? One direction is eternal life the other direction is not. John writes his gospel because he wants us on the right path of eternal life. To believe in Jesus Christ is eternal life.

John had a related but different purpose in writing the letter of 1 John. John explicitly tells us why he wrote his gospel and why he wrote this letter of 1 John. In fact John the beloved disciple of Jesus says he wrote the Gospel of John so that believers in Christ might have confidence in their eternal life found in Jesus. John states his purpose explicitly in 1 John 5: 13: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

In the gospel witnessing program Evangelism Explosion there is a question they are well known for asking about assurance of salvation. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?

Look at this passage and see that John wants us of to have confidence to answer this question. He wants us to know we have eternal life.

1 John 5:11-15

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John’s letter is important because the vast majority of people do not have this assurance of salvation. If you ask someone if they know they will go to heaven when they die the common answer they give is, “well I hope so”.

Why is it that believers in Jesus can have this confidence that they will go to heaven when they die and others are not sure, only hopping so? John clarifies this that it is not our good works. It is not that our good outweighs our bad on a judgement scale.

 

It is because when we believe in Jesus our sins our paid by His death on the cross. Jesus lived a sinless life. The Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that God is Holy and even one sin will keep us out of heaven just as one sin caused Adam and Eve to be banished from the Garden of Eden.

The sin in our life that separates us from God does not have to be a heinous crime that would send us to prison. It could be making a promise and breaking that promise. It can be a matter that others may think is minor but God is Holy and there is no fellowship with righteousness and unrighteousness.

That is why Jesus came. That is what the prophets wrote about in a coming Messiah. That is why when Jesus was born in Bethlehem the angels announced good news of exceeding great joy a savior is born for all mankind. Jesus was the only one who lived a sinless life. He never made a promise and broke that promise. Jesus was righteous and he died the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God that we might have eternal life.

John wants us to know we have eternal life when we believe in Jesus. There is no need to believe in Jesus and hope that we have eternal life. John wrote this that you may know you have eternal life.

How do you feel when you start out on a trip without a confirmed air tickets reservations? I remember changing my plans at a meeting and leaving early. I went to the ticket agent and they said they could get me on my next flight, but to reach my final destination there were two more flights. I was on standby for both of them. My trip was full of anxiety because during my flight I never knew if I would get on my next journey and if not what was going to happen.

But I feel confident when I have a confirmed ticket. My next flight I already reserved for my family is confirmed. On the invoice it says no need to reconfirm, this flight is already confirmed. Of course this is an airline and there is limited assurance, but still there is an assurance.

We have complete confidence in the Bible. John wrote this that we may know we have eternal life. There is not a “well I hope so” eternal life. If we are in Christ we have a confidence. We know if we were to die tonight we will be in heaven with God. Our confidence is in Jesus Christ. His death on the cross counts for us when we believe in him.

I was doing a role play about how to share with a new believer he has eternal life. I asked for a volunteer in the group to role play a person who did not have assurance. The volunteer really did not have assurance. He believed in Christ but did not know he could be sure of eternal life. I showed him this verse and he started to cry. I did not realize until then he was not just role playing. He did not know he could have assurance. Vs 13 brought him to tears, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The blood of Jesus purifies us from sin. He who has the Son has the life. It is the right road to follow. Believing in Jesus is the road to life. It is not always the easiest road to walk. It is even referred to as the narrow road. The road of life is narrow and the road of destruction is a broad road. John’s epistle here is for the people who already have chosen the road of life.

Bill Bright’s last book is titled The Journey Home and is about his trusting Christ despite his terminal illness, Pulmonary fibrosis. He said how does he handle the news of this gripping disease? He meets it with the good news of life in Jesus Christ, the Lord of all and all time. As for death he promised that anyone believing in Jesus would never die eternally although the flesh would wither and pass away.

He called the experience of terminal illness “heading home.” His confidence came from knowing that we have eternal life right now. John writes in his Gospel so you will believe. He writes for those who believe to know they have eternal life.

For those who have truly believed in Jesus there is reason to be sure of your eternal life. This is something unique in Christ. There are many religions, but do they know they have eternal life after death? The common answer is only, “I hope so.” But John is talking about faith in Jesus Christ. This is more than hoping the good outweighs the bad. He has been clear that Jesus died on the cross for our sins the just for the unjust. Our standing is in Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

 

 

Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 4, 2016

Faith, Hope, Love and ….Anguish

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Lamentations 3:22-27

To understand Lamentations 3:22-27 we should at least try to grasp the despair of Jeremiah when he wrote this. The greatest artists have given us a visual picture of what the Lament of Jeremiah must have looked like. Michelangelo painted Jeremiah in his anguish on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

 

For me Rembrandt’s painting of Jeremiah helps to best put Lamentations 3:22-27 in perspective. If you can just look at the painting for a moment click here

In this painting you see very clearly the anguish on Jeremiah’s face. But faded in the background is the burning Jerusalem city and the suffering King Zedekiah. Read these seven verses (Jeremiah 39:1-7) about the unthinkable events at the fall of Jerusalem.

 

If you looked at that paining of Jeremiah’s face and read the events in Jeremiah chapter 39 then I think you have the context of Lamentations 3:22-27. If I just say there is hope in the darkness then I have not really told you about the whole picture. The faith, hope and love of God is there for sure, but you have to really sift through pages of Jeremiah’s lament to find this buried in the middle of the book.

Lamentations 3:22-27

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,     for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly   for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke  while he is young. 

People comment on these verses, the most well-known verses of Lamentations as if Jeremiah is all victorious and joyful with God’s love. They say Jeremiah did not let the circumstances get him down. Jeremiah was down and he was depressed. To only see the faith, hope and compassion of God glosses over the rest of the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah was down but he did not lose sight of the great love and faithfulness of God.

These verses are about acknowledging the love of God in direst of times. If it were not for the love of God Jeremiah would be consumed. He was beaten and thrown in prison for faithfully speaking the truth. (Jeremiah 37: 16). In this horrible prison situation Jeremiah watched the unfolding of the royal line to the throne cut. The promise of the righteous king of the line of David has just been dashed to pieces. Jeremiah had nothing else to hold on to but the love and faithfulness of God. Every morning the love and compassion of God is renewed even in the worst unbearable situation.

It is amazing that all the difficulties did not blind Jeremiah to the great faithfulness of God. He trusted in God and for the salvation of the Lord. Even John the Baptist had to ask for reassurance that Jesus really was the Christ when John faced the pressure of being in prison. That Jeremiah can keep his perspective in God in the circumstances he experienced is amazing.

There was something else good happening as a result of the great faithfulness of God, but Jeremiah would not have been aware of it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been recently carried off to Babylon along with Daniel. Jeremiah wrote “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (verse 27). These young men were bearing the yoke and standing for God. The four of them resolved not to defile themselves come what may. Jeremiah could see a lot of things from his prison cell writing this book but he could not see that. But still he knew God is faithful.

The picture at the top of this study is of Jeremiah’s Grotto. I took the picture when I went to visit the place of the skull, Golgotha the site of Jesus crucifixion. Almost in passing the guide said do you see that building to the right. He said, that is Jeremiah’s Grotto where Jeremiah was held in a prison cell and wrote the book of Lamentations when the city was in siege.

There are all kinds of thoughts that flood through my mind of Jeremiah looking at Golgotha, Calvary the place Jesus would be crucified when he wrote this lamentation. OK I am very aware that we cannot be sure of the exact locations of so many of the Bible sites including exactly where Jeremiah was in prison when he wrote lamentations.

But even though it is not sure this was the spot I am going to hang on to this one. It is just too cool if Jeremiah who wrote brilliant prophesies about the coming Messiah had a prison cell with a Calvary view. Even if he could not really see the place of the skull from his cell we do know for sure he had a prophet’s view of Calvary in his heart while he was in the cell. Jeremiah had the vision of the messianic hope.

The purported sight of Jeremiah’s prison cell is also thought to be the site where Stephen was martyred. It would be another very cool parallel, but that is a Faith, Hope, Love and ….Anguish study for another time.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. New every morning. Great is thy faithfulness Oh Lord. Great is thy faithfulness. *

*Lyrics of Lamentations 3:22-23 The Steadfast Love of the Lord by Dave Hunt

 

 

 

 

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