Ministry Comments

An Example Both For Inspiration & Encouragement

Because of the sins of Judah, the prophet Jeremiah continually warned  the nation God would send the Babylonian Empire to punish them and take most of them into captivity.  This in fact did happen, and Jeremiah was left in Judah with certain members of the royal family that he was to escort to the new land where Judah’s royalty would be replanted.  For his efforts Jeremiah was constantly persecuted by the King of Judah and by those who despised him for the messages he brought from God.

             Throughout these events Jeremiah was not alone.  He had a very loyal friend and scribe in the man called Baruch.  Baruch was not a commoner.  He was  known by the royalty of Judah in that he was the grandson of the governor of Jerusalem and a nephew to a high official in King Zedekiah’s court.  He was well-educated and probably wrote most of the book of Jeremiah by quoting word for word the prophecies given to Jeremiah and relating  events as they occurred.  For his loyalty to Jeremiah Baruch also suffered personal hardship and was shunned by the people who ruled the country. 

            Chapter 45 of Jeremiah is a short chapter that focuses on Baruch.  It takes place in Egypt.  God had warned the few people left in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar not to leave Judah and seek protection in Egypt.  Jeremiah’s prophecy stated specifically that Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt and defeat the Egyptian empire, and those who fled to Egypt would be punished for seeking Egypt’s protection (Jeremiah 43).  This did not apply to the young members of the royal family who were given to Jeremiah for the replanting of the throne in Ireland.  Jeremiah, Baruch, and this group of royals were forced to go to Egypt with those who disobeyed God’s instructions to stay in Israel, but God was with them.  Therefore, they were not subject to this prophesied punishment.   Baruch later accompanied Jeremiah and certain members of the royal family to Ireland where ancient Irish history records their arrival.

            His involvement as scribe to Jeremiah did not keep Baruch from desiring personal prosperity and well being however.  The events Jeremiah prophesied about unfolded over a period of years.  And even though Baruch was privy to God’s intentions, he did not live his life without desire for prosperity and fulfillment of goals.  Chapter 45 recounts Baruch’s complaints that he was not experiencing the fulfilling life he had desired for himself in spite of the evils surrounding him.  To him his service to God and Jeremiah was costing him dearly.  His complaints can seem to us to be somewhat comprehensible.  Much like us today he was living in a time of national turmoil and moral and cultural decline, which undoubtedly had negative impact on every personal interest he had.  We can have the same sinking feelings Baruch had about our goals and personal lives in light of what is taking place in our nation at this time.

            Official corruption, moral collapse, and worldwide economic depression can make the future seem impossible.  As part of God’s church we are swimming  upstream against the decline of our society.  It is not easy to live our lives in witness against what is going on all around us.  Like Baruch, our resistance to the downward spiral can separate us from those with whom we would naturally involve ourselves.  Our personal goals are being constantly thwarted, and our efforts to prosper are being drained by the sins of society.  God has not yet, however, separated his people from those who are caught up in the evils of this world; and just as the Israelites in Egypt suffered from many of the first plagues, we also feel the impact of God’s punishing hand on this world today.  That is why we can, if not careful, empathize with Baruch and his grief.  Let’s read the five scriptures that make up the 45th chapter of Jeremiah, and see what God’s response was to Baruch’s plaintive cries:

Jeremiah 45

1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch;
3 Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.
4 Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land.
5 And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prize in all places whither thou goest.

             God gave Baruch protection and saved his life.  Later, Baruch’s life, as it was spent traveling across new lands to plant the royalty of Judea in Ireland, proved to be more exciting than anything he probably could have imagined for himself.  He witnessed great events in history and the development of God’s plan.  He experienced being an instrument in God’s hand as he assisted Jeremiah in his great commission.  No human inspired achievement could compare to his experiences.  He is written into the Bible as an example both for inspiration and encouragement to all those who have ever sacrificed their personal lives with all that means to serve God. 

             In a few short weeks we will be celebrating the Feast of Trumpets, which is the opening day of the Fall Feasts.  These Feasts force us to focus on our lives as lived in the context of the Kingdom of God.  It is very important that we now take considerable time in our prayers to ask God’s blessing on those Feasts, specifically asking him for the inspiration we need to continue in faithfulness to Him through the difficult time ahead.  We need spiritual rejuvenation and strengthened impetus to rededicate our lives to the calling we have received.  Like Baruch we may be forced to give up all that we have in this life, abandoning it all; but God does promise us protection and a life far more fulfilling than anything we could achieve in this sin laden world. We need to be prepared to walk away.

At this time I believe it is also important that you take time to look closely at the reports of what sin is bringing on this world.  The evils are becoming so great one can hardly do anything else besides cry to God, begging him to bring his Kingdom.  While these things are difficult to read about, it is important we understand, — to what ever degree we can bear — why this world is about to meet its maker in a most horrific way.  Pray continually you will be found worthy to escape, as Baruch did, what is about to break out upon this fetid world.


Surviving Your Trial

There is the well-known quip that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Don’t believe it!  For a Christian there is a third inescapable thing—trials. Therefore, it only makes sense to study and understand how to survive trials.

Every Christian’s trials are unique because we all are unique; but there are ways of coping with any trial that help us learn and grow from the experience. Below is a brief list of scriptural teachings that are of value when going through a trial.

1.  Consider:  You have come out of this world and are struggling to understand and live God’s ways. Your past sins are forgiven; but does that mean there is nothing more for you to do?  Of course not.  In the Old Testament the word “test” or “prove” is used in different ways. One of its meanings is to try you with the expectation of strengthening and educating you so that you can be approved.  For example, if you are in the process of being prepared for great responsibility, would you not expect to be educated for the position and have your abilities tested before being put into office? So, knowing you are being prepared for responsibility in the Kingdom, don’t be shocked and overwhelmed (Psalms 104:13) when trials come:

I Peter 4:12-13: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Summary: Know that trials will come, and know their purpose.

2.  I have never known a trial that I enjoyed. The Apostle Paul went through many fiery trials, and you can tell by his writings that he did not enjoy the process. He was as human as you and I. He wrote in Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”   KJV

The old English style of writing sounds like he is saying, Don’t Compare; but he actually is saying DO COMPARE.  In like manner we can ask:  Are the opportunities in a world that is wasting away comparable to the opportunities in the kingdom—the power to assist in building a global economy that provides meaningful employment for all; the ability to stop the starvation of children in places like Africa—really stop it along with ending ravaging diseases; the ability to teach the value of infants in the womb so they will no longer be dismembered and thrown in the trash.

Summary: Compare the trial to the opportunities in the kingdom.

3.  A really disappointing end to a trial is when no lessons are learned. Some may simply hunker down and try to white-knuckle their way through their trial, enduring but never learning.  It is true there are times when we don’t fully understand what it is we are to be learning. It may be years before the full understanding of the trial is revealed.  Then again, we may never fully understand it in this life.  But we can respond while in our trials by learning many lessons from God as He works with us during the trial.  

One of the biggest roadblocks to learning in a trial is to continuously ask, “why”.  The better question is, “What can I learn?”  Obsessing over “why” is really asking, “Why is God doing this to me?”  As with Job, God may not be doing anything to you.  Asking “why” can become an accusation against the One who will deliver you. Our antagonist is not God; it is tri-fold:  Satan, this world, and most of all, our human nature.  Rather than being like Job who blamed his troubles on God; ask, instead, for growth from the trial.  Ask God to open your mind to the things you need to learn:

Hebrews 5:8-9 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”  KJV

1 Peter 1:6-7:  “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”  KJV

James 1:4-6: “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”  KJV

Summary: Learn from the trial—it is a terrible thing to waste.

Sometimes God wards us off from trials; sometimes God delivers us from the trial; and sometimes God delivers us in the trial.  However God chooses to deliver us, we know all things involved in our trials will be to our good (Romans 8:28).

David O’Malley