Jeremiah on Trials

I am currently studying through the book of Jeremiah in my personal time with the Lord each day. Last night I read the first part of chapter 29. As I was reading through the verses, a few truths jumped out at me about trials. Before I share those with you, lets look at the context and see what is going on this the first part of chapter 29.

In 597 B.C. many of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) were carried away in exile to Babylon and this starts their 70 years of captivity there. This was part of God’s judgment on them for sin and disobedience. Sometime after this, Jeremiah wrote a letter to them to instruct them on what they should do during this time; chapter 29:1-23 is that letter. As I read this letter, I saw some important truths that we need to remember when we go through a trial. The people who were carried away to Babylon were in nothing short of a hardcore trial. You may not be carried away in exile to a foreign land, but you will go through trials. The things Jeremiah said to them can be applied to us and the trials we are going through. Let’s look at three truths Jeremiah shares about trials:

1. God send His people into trials. In verse 4, God says, “…to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile.” Did you get that? God sent His people into exile! The trial you are going through does not surprise God, He sent you into it! He planned that trial just for you. So when you are going through a trial, remember that God sent you into it for a reason. James 1:2, James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials…” Why should we rejoice and count it all joy when we enter into trials? Read the next few verses in James and you will see that we should rejoice in trials because it makes us better Christians. We get stronger in our faith. The first thing Jeremiah tells us about trials is that God sends us into them.

2. Don’t try to fight your way out of a trial, stay in it until God brings you out of it. After God tells the exiles you sent them into the exile, he speaks through Jeremiah to tell them to settle in at Babylon because they will be there for a while. We know now that they will be there for 70 years! In verses 5-7, they are told to build houses, plant gardens, get married, seek the welfare of the city, and even pray for the city! God was telling them to stay put in this trial. The first thing many of us do when we enter into a trial is try to get out of it as fast as we can. We do everything within our power to try to fix it so we can get out of it. If we do that, we will not grow as Christians and that is the main point of God putting us through trials. It’s in the valley you really learn about trusting God and following Him. If you try to get out of the valley, your trial, and just reach the mountaintop than you may miss all God wants you to learn in the valley. The second things Jeremiah tells us about trials is we must stay in them until God is done doing what He wants to do.

3. Your trial will end and God has a future for you. In verse 10, God tells the exiles when the 70 years is complete, when their trial is over, He will visit them. The next verse could well be the most quotes verse in Jeremiah. Verse 11 says, “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.” One of the things we start to tell ourselves during a trial is that it will never end and that God cannot have a plan for us that involves this mess. See, your trial is all part of the plan God has for you! He tells us in this verse that we have a future and a hope! It may be hard to believe or see this in a trail, but we must remember God has a plan!

I recently heard a song by the band Newsong called “The Same God.” In this song, there is a line that says, “The same God that led you in will lead you out.” Don’t forget the same God that leads us into trials is the same God that will lead us out. I’m in a trial right now and I know many other are as well. Don’t lose hope, trust God, He has a plan!

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3 Leadership Lessons from Jeremiah

One of my favorite things to study and talk about is leadership. That is why part of my blog is dedicated to the category of leadership. As I read through Scripture, I try to look for Biblical leadership principles that I can apply to my own life and share with others. Recently I wrote a blog called “3 Leadership Lessons from Jude” that received great feedback. I recently started studying the book of Jeremiah and right from the start I saw a few leadership lessons I wanted to share.

Before I jump into them let’s talk a little about the person of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet God called to announce judgement on God’s people because of their sin and disobedience. Jeremiah is often called the “weeping prophet” (Jer. 9:1; 13:17). For more than 40 years Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed God’s judgement. Jeremiah was truly a great leader and it would do leaders today to follow his example. With all that being said, here are three leadership lessons from the opening verses of the book of Jeremiah:

1. God has called leaders before they were even born. In verse 5 of chapter 1, it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Before leaders are even born, God has already called them to lead. As a leader, it is encouraging to know God not only has chosen me to be one of His elect, but has chosen me to be a leader! If you are in leadership and you struggle with wondering if your actually called to do what you’re doing, remember God knew you and called you before you were even born into this world!

2. God usually calls younger people to be leaders. I am not suggesting that God does not call older people to lead, but what I am saying is that most great leaders are called at a younger age. We see this in verses 6-7 of Jeremiah 1. God calls Jeremiah and what is Jeremiah’s response? He says, “I am only a youth.” According to the Ryrie Study Bible, Jeremiah was likely in his late teens or early twenties at this time! That should encourage you younger leaders! In the following verse, God tells Jeremiah not to respond that way because He is with him! Throughout the Bible we see that God usually calls younger people to be great leaders. In his book Raising the Bar, Alvin Reid points out two important things that are helpful to mention here. First, Old Testament examples such as Joseph, Samuel, and David show us that God calls and uses younger people to be leaders. Second, Reid points out that Jonathan Edwards, in his treatise called Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, says, “The work has been chiefly amongst the young…” Did you catch that? Edwards clearly says that the First Great Awakening was carried out by mostly the young! Reid says it best, “When God begins a new movement of His Spirit, He often uses young people at the heart if it.” One more example of God calling the young. It is likely that the disciples where just teenagers as they walked with Jesus and went into their ministry of changing the world. There is too much to say about that here, so click here to read a post that will explain why many believe the disciples were just teenagers.

3. God will equip those that He calls. Often leaders don’t feel equipped or qualified to do what God called them to do. It is likely that is what Jeremiah felt when he told God, “I am only a youth.” God responds to that and reminds Jeremiah, and us, that He equips those He calls. In verses 7b-9 we see that God tells Jeremiah He will send him, He will be with him, and He will put His Words in his mouth. See, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! None of us are equipped to do anything for God, but when God calls us He gives us everything we need to carry out what He has called us to do. When I worked at Skyview Ranch the camp director said this, “God will never lead you where He will not sustain you.” Leader, God has called you to lead and He will sustain and equip you to do exactly what He wants you to do!

I hope these lessons are encouraging to you. Leadership is hard and down right discouraging at times, but God has called us to lead for a reason. Allow these lessons from His Word to encourage you today!