They were tumultuous times for the disciples.Â Jesus had been betrayed by one of their own.Â They saw Jesus condemned and then crucified among thieves.Â Three days later Jesus rose from the dead and began to make appearances over the next forty days. But after Jesus ascended into heaven, they were alone again as they waited for the Holy Spiritâ€™s power.Â During this time the disciples came to a conclusion that they needed to replace Judas with a new twelfth apostle.Â How did they come to that decision?
The disciples documented the decision with an obscure verse taken from Psalm 109:8, â€œLet his days be few, and let another take his office.â€ At first glance, the verse seems like some random rationalization for their decision, until you read the entire Psalm.Â I imagine one of the disciples reading through the Psalms and being shocked by what he came across in Psalm 109.Â David describes betrayal, â€œIn return for my love they are my accusersâ€ (vs. 4).Â David calls for judgment on the betrayer (vs. 7).Â David describes having a crowd looking at him and shaking their heads (verse 25, Mat. 27:29).Â I wonder if that was when the light went on in the discipleâ€™s head.Â David was talking about what Jesus had been through those last six weeks!Â And then verse 8 stood out, â€œlet another take his officeâ€.Â And with that, the apostles knew they needed to replace Judas.
Beloved, Godâ€™s Word is alive.Â It is able to speak to me and my situation.Â God wants to guide me.Â God wants to answer my questions.Â I just need to pray, read, and listen.
Sometimes we struggle with the concept of worship.Â Why should we worship?Â Why should we take time to give God honor and praise?Â Often we look at the things God has done for us, the ways Heâ€™s answered prayers, or how Heâ€™s blessed us and these become our reasons to worship God.Â But worship also ought to come from something far more basic.Â David wrote, â€œIn His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His handâ€ (Psa 95:4-7 NKJV).
Worship does not just depend upon whether Iâ€™m having a good day.Â Worship does not depend upon whether or not I happen to like the music that the worship band is playing.Â Worship does not depend upon whether God has answered my recent prayers or not.Â Worship ought to come from the fact that God is my Maker and I owe my very existence to Him.
I am not here by chance.Â I am not an accident in the cosmic scheme of things.Â I am a created being.Â I was made for a purpose.Â There is a God in heaven who formed me and who watches over me.Â There is a God who loves me so much that He wants to spend eternity with me.Â There is a God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to die in my place so I could come to know this God in heaven.Â These are reasons for worship that never change.Â Even on my worst day, I can worship the God who made me. Come, let us worship.
Baruch was a friend of the prophet Jeremiah.Â Together they had gone through some of the worst times in the history of the nation.Â Baruch served as a scribe for Jeremiah.Â He even helped preach Jeremiahâ€™s messages in the Temple (Jer. 36) while Jeremiah was in prison.Â Along with Jeremiah, Baruch had watched the destruction of their beloved Jerusalem.Â We know that the prophet Jeremiah went through times of discouragement, but it seems that Baruch shared those feelings as well (Jer. 45:3).Â It was in a time of struggle that God gave Jeremiah a message for his friend:Â “And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the LORD. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” (Jer 45:5 NKJV).
It seems to me that our own desires can be one of the great sources of tension, frustration, and even depression.Â When our minds are caught in a loop of wanting the wrong things, the difficult times become even more difficult.Â James wrote, â€œWhere do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?â€ (James 4:1 NKJV)
I wonder how much of my frustration would go away if I replaced the desire to have â€œgreat thingsâ€ for myself with a desire to do great things for God?Â Peace comes when I learn to take my eyes off of â€œmeâ€ and put them on â€œHimâ€.Â Just like in Baruchâ€™s time, life isnâ€™t always easy.Â But I can endure tough times when I keep my desires aimed at God instead of me.
The people of God had reached a point in their history where they were going to be facing a difficult time of judgment.Â God needed a special man who would speak clearly about Godâ€™s heart and Godâ€™s plans.Â When the people awoke from their complacency, they would need someone who had pointed the way back home.Â And Jeremiah was that man.Â We can look back at the ministry of Jeremiah and see how vital his role was in history.Â But at the time, Jeremiah had a hard time seeing that his life had any value at all.Â Heâ€™d give a serious warning (Jer. 20:3) only to have someone takes his words and use them to mock him (Jer. 20:10).Â Jeremiah was threatened, beaten, and thrown into prison.Â Very few people seemed to understand the seriousness of the nationâ€™s situation.Â
At times, this was simply too much for Jeremiah and he fell into despair.Â He found himself wishing he had never been born (Jer. 20:14).Â How did Jeremiah keep going?Â Jeremiah wrote, â€œBut the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome Oneâ€ (Jer. 20:11).Â He could keep going because he clung to the One who would not let him down.
Sometimes itâ€™s hard for us to see ourselves the way that God sees us.Â Sometimes we think that weâ€™re not that important.Â When life is filled with opposition, we too can entertain the same kinds of thoughts of despair that Jeremiah had.Â But what if God thinks that youâ€™re just the right person for what He wants to do?Â What if youâ€™re exactly what God is looking for?Â Donâ€™t give up.Â Cling to the mighty, awesome One.Â He wonâ€™t let you down.
All through the Scriptures we see the various contrasts between the person who trusts in the Lord and the person who doesnâ€™t.Â Just look at the picture Jeremiah paints,
Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.â€ (Jer 17:5-8 NKJV)
How do I know if Iâ€™m trusting God rather than trusting man?Â I think one of the indicators is found in my prayer life.Â Where do I go first with my needs?Â Do I seek out human help or Godâ€™s help?Â Iâ€™m not saying that Iâ€™ll never need to ask a human being for help.Â Iâ€™m not saying that I canâ€™t be the answers to my own prayers by getting up and taking action. The issue is where I look for help first. Sometimes I justify my lack of trust by shooting up quick little prayers as I try to deal with a problem.Â I try to convince myself that my little â€œhelpâ€ aimed at God means I trust Him. Certainly there are situations that require a quick reaction on my part, but Iâ€™m seeing that most â€œemergencyâ€ situations are things I knew I should have been praying for all along. Consistent prayer.Â Trusting His guidance.Â This is what turns a barren desert into a well-watered, fruitful garden.