BUY THE FIELD
“From afar Adonai appeared to me.” “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”(Jeremiah 31:3)
What dark days the prophet Jeremiah was living in. He had been called from his youth to be a voice of rebuke and warning to his people and leaders; hoping they would return to the LORD (*Jeremiah 1:4-10). His message of immanent judgment went unheeded. His heart was wrenched with fearsome agony as the days that he had warned the people about were now at hand. Their fearsome enemies, the Chaldeans had breached the wall of the city and would soon bring destruction and carry them away captives to Babylon. And as if that were not enough, for all his faithfulness to deliver God’s Words of warning, he finds himself shut up in prison.
Jeremiah teaches us that our love and obedience to God will not always bring immediate reward. Sometimes it involves our willingness to suffer for God (and with His people), hoping that His chastisement will cause a preferred outcome. The word says, “Judgment begins in the house of God”. His judgments do not come as capricious acts of punishments for evil. But they are sent as correctives to persistent rebellion that has been tolerated among them, willfully straying from the path of His Word and ways. Isaiah declares,” The arm of the LORD is not so short that He cannot save, nor His ear dull that He cannot hear. But, your sin and iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2). Sin separates us from a holy God. Returning to a holy God (repentance) is God’s prescription for our ills, as it were.
COMFORT IN CRISIS
Jeremiah discovers, in suffering imprisonment, he is not forgotten. Nor has the LORD God forsaken His people, utterly. In Jeremiah Chapter 31, under the expression “Behold, the days are coming”(see vs. 27,31, & 38), God announces restoration and redemption. The remnant of His people will return from where they have been scattered; they will be reestablished in their land; the people will no longer look to their idols nor practice their idolatrous ways. They will own their true God-given identity and serve the LORD their God. “This is the Name by which He will be called: Adonai (The LORD) our righteousness”(Jeremiah 33:16b).
BUY THE FIELD
In light of these promises, Jeremiah is instructed to buy a field owned by his nephew. He gets witnesses of two written title deeds, pays the full agreed the price for the field in front of them. One deed is sealed in a jar to preserve the document; the other is left unsealed for all to read. It was a faith declaration to Israel that God would be faithful to keep His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Likewise, He would keep His covenant promise to David that his throne would be eternally secured (*Read Jeremiah 33:10-21). Ultimately, fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Israel (*John 1:49).
This lesson should teach and encourage each of us in dark days. Yes, there is always a cost to our obedient service for the LORD. But God keeps good records. In spite of the darkness, we are not without hope, nor are we abandoned to the trash bin of history. There is hope in returning; He still is faithful even when we have been unfaithful. It is never too late to do the right thing. As we call out unto Him, the clouds of despair give way to the light of hope.
“O, God, Our father, You are still seated upon the throne. We thank you that you remind us that with You are better days. Therefore, we place our hope and trust in you. Turn us in order that we may return to You. Give us a revival in the midst of our bondage. In Your Great Name. Amen”.
© Copyright 2016, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be published free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. All correspondence may be addressed to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
A few years I had gone to see a movie that had really been taunted to be a great new film. Upon arriving at the theatre and finding my seat assignment, I settled in to my chair. I watched and waded through all the adds showing the “up and coming” new movies. Finally, the feature film began to play. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I really was not into the movie that I had so eagerly anticipated. I decided to slip out and see what else was playing that I might watch. Stepping into a show that had begun, I found myself caught up in the action and drama of the movie. The lead character was an Asian detective sent from his country to investigate some mysterious deaths of his fellow agents. It wasn’t long before he realized that there was corruption in the foreign police force at the highest level, which was the cause of their death. And now, he was eye-witness to this high level of violence and corruption and not willing “to go along”, he became an immediate target for elimination. But something unexpected happened…As he was being chased (and had no where to hide from attempts on his life)the storyline flipped. Suddenly, he who had been pursued became the pursuer of those who were after him! And when the pursued became the pursuer what an amazing and different outcome to the story.
Pursued or Pursuing?
I believe there is a message in all this for we who have stepped across the threshold of a New Year. While others may be trying to figure out, “What new goals and resolutions do I want to make (And for most, break)? And realized that we are the object of pursuit and start pursuing the One who is pursuing us. Namely, God. We can either play “Hide and Seek” or declare like David, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirst for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have look for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and glory”(Psalm 63:1-2 NKJV).
God had initiated the chase but He was waiting for the one being pursued to be caught up in His pursuit. It is what Tommy Tenney called “The God Chasers”. God is waiting for those with a heart like David respond and turn His chase after them to no longer run after their dreams but to pursue God for His dreams. The outcome will not only be better but bring peace and satisfaction like nothing ever known. The secret of the LORD is with those who run after Him with reverence and awe, He will make known His secrets. “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him”(Hebrews 11:6). He is hiding in open sight, waiting to be chased until He is found.
(C) Copyright 2016, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may br copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not altered or sold. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have been with Me three days and have nothing to eat”(Mark 8:2 NKJV).
Jesus gives His disciples a window into his heart. This window was actually into the heart of His heavenly Father. That which would seem to be a gulf fixed between time and space(heaven and earth) was closed forever when Jesus appeared.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” wrote John, “And we beheld His glory,the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”(John 1:14 NKJV). That glory was manifest in many ways;physical healings, deliverances, demonstrating his authority over the elements of creation as well as power over death itself. But He was never more satisfied than when the crowds gathered to hear the Word of God.
Mark records(As do the other Gospel writers) that Jesus taught the multitudes regarding the Kingdom of heaven. He made it so attractive that there was a season among the common people that it created a mass appeal. Multitudes took time away and apart with him to be spiritually enriched and fed. Their natural burdens of life gave way to the true center and most important part of life, the care of their soul. All of human history is being bent by heaven to cause humanity to decide for that which it is truly craving…False peace and false Messiahs or true peace that only comes from the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The prophet Amos speaks of a time when people will run to and fro, thirsting not merely for natural bread or water but for a living word from the living God. All of human history will converge at the Cross or as Jesus proclaimed, “I tell you…unless you repent you will all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3 NKJV). It is not the will of God for humanity to perish(John 3:16-17). Again, the words of Jesus, regarding why He came to the earth, “”that whosoever believes in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:15 NKJV). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not exclusive but inclusive. God is for you, He is not against you. He makes His mass appeal to the whole world, calling them to return(repent) to Him and be saved.
Jesus’ compassion went beyond the spiritual needs of the crowds that followed him. He took into account their physical needs. He understood that they had stayed with Him for three days (apparently having no provision). Expressing His compassion and concern for them to his disciples that the crowds not faint along the journey back to their homes, He wants to feed them. The disciples are out of their depth to handle the situation. They only are functioning on a natural level and do what natural, carnal thinking does…Start calculating the insufficiency among themselves. In this story “Seven loaves and a few fish”(Luke 8:6-7 NKJV).
God often waits for our “insufficiency” to be acknowledged in order to teach a higher principle than human logic. The natural mind has no entrance into the things of the kingdom of God. Plus you don’t encounter the true God of miracles until you need a miracle! They must look to Him,the all-sufficient One. Jesus taught, “Apart from Me you can do nothing. If you abide in Me and My words abide in you ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you”(John 15). Sustained prayer is the key to unlocking heaven’s vault of riches.
OUT OF AND INTO
Jesus IS the answer to their crisis. Behind every crisis, Christ waits to appear. He has the disciples arrange the multitude in sitting groups;like sheep which lie down if they are to be fed(Psalm 23). He takes what the disciples have from their hands. In other words, the key for the supply to multiply was getting their “little bit” out of their hands and into His. Miracles occur when we can relinquish what we have to Jesus. He will receive our “little bit”, waving it with thanksgiving before the Father,then He blesses it in order for it to multiply. “What You give they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good”(Psalm 104:28 NKJV).
GET IN ON THE ‘OVERFLOW’
The multitude was fed out of the all-sufficient supply of God(As was the children of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness). But God was also mindful of His servants. What they gave in service was multiplied back to them. The lesson being demonstrated…You can never out give God. What you give will be given back to you…in unexpected ways. So be like your heavenly Father in this great Holiday Season. Give back of your time, talent, tithe and treasure. It will be given back to you. Our God keeps good records.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
“If it pleases the king…I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it”(Nehemiah 2:5 NKJV).
Nehemiah was neither a priest nor prophet(nor was he a preacher!). His gifts and God-given abilities lay elsewhere. We read from his own biographical narrative that his background was as “cupbearer” to the foreign king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah’s role was to taste the food and wine prior to it being placed before the king (making sure nothing harmful or deadly had been slipped in). He served as one who was valued and trusted in the king’s court. But as we read his story, we learn that Nehemiah had a much larger portfolio.
Nehemiah was a man full of deep compassion and concern for his people and city, both languishing in humiliating hardships. Hearing the report from his kinsmen, he agonized,prayed with fasting. Thus, making himself available before the LORD God. He was the right man for the job (Which really was his Call). God chooses whom He uses. There is no recorded history that qualifified him for this role, given graciously by God and granted by a Gentile king. Today, I meet Marketplace people who have the treasure of God deposited inside them; wanting to serve God in some meaningful way. They are frustrated in their congregation or religious community because they feel marginalized,not being called to the “pulpit” or as a traditional “missionary”. And yet, they are acutely aware that they are called to do much more than warm a seat and put a check in the offering basket(or box). They are Marketplace leaders and Kingdom influencers. Like Nehemiah, you will discover the favor of the King, who is waiting to grant permission for your “God-Call”assignment. But how can you become activated in your Marketplace setting?
OWN YOUR IDENTITY
Marketplace leaders must, first,own their God-given identity. They must not base their future destiny on their past history or what others may think about them. The psalmist gives us a great insight as to how you can unlock your gifts and calling by owning your true identity. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”(Read Psalm 139:14-16 NKJV). In other words, no matter the circumstances of your birth…God wanted you here on earth to play a part in His divine plan of redemption. Why not spend some time with Him in prayer and ask, “God, What did you write about me in Your book?” When He made you, with excitement He declared to the angels, “This one is one of a kind!” Celebrate the uniqueness of your life in Him. Thank him that He made you YOU.
TIME BOUNDED FREEDOM
When Nehemiah shared his vision with the king, we read, “So the king said to me…’How long will your journey be? And when will you return?’ So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time”(Nehemiah 2:6 NKJV). A man or woman’s gift makes room for them. This assignment for Nehemiah was time-bounded. In other words, although the task was of utmost importance, it did not require a “lifetime” call or commitment. I find that many initial assignments are brief in order to allow for “a time of discernment” to confirm the direction of the call of God and the work He wants your involvement. So, if a door of opportunity comes your way, step forward in order for the “motion sensor” to pick up your movement. If it opens…go through it. You never know what’s on the other side.
We live in daring times which, like Nehemiah, require prayer, courage and strategic vision. But above all these times require faith and obedience. Paul put it this way,”So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. Don’t be fools,then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do”(Ephesians 15-17 GNB).
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be shared free of charge, provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original content. Please address any correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
When Jesus began his public ministry he seemed to move more intentionally away from the religious community and toward the “common people”. Was he indicating that by finding his first disciples among the local fishermen that these were open to his message of the Kingdom of God? Or was it a case of the non-religious being more easily persuaded of his mission than the avowed religious? Matthew records that this was part of the Biblical prophetic narrative of Messiah’s coming, “Now when Jesus heard that John(the Baptist) had been put in prison He departed to Galilee…He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea,…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet,saying: ‘The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtili, By way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and those who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned”(Matthew 4:12-16 NKJV).
Beyond Matthew’s recording Jesus’ move to Galilee having prophetic significance, he reveals a strategic significance. Among other things, Jesus understood that his public ministry would be limited by his ultimate death (He had about 3-31/2 years public ministry). Therefore, He must seek out his followers not from the recognized religious crowd but from the more common multitude. He was not(Nor did he have time) out to burst “old wineskins”. Rather he must seek for new wineskins which could hold the new,fermenting new wine of the Kingdom of heaven. Hence, we read in Matthew Chapter 4, “And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen….Going from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him”(See Matthew 4:18-22 NKJV).
Apparently, if you are bringing a spiritual revolution into the earth you had better find those who are tired of the status-quo. Jesus saw in these first disciples the potential to be taught and molded into the type of leaders that He knew they would become. Jesus was not looking merely for their ability but their capacity to “get the job done”. In meekness and humility, He always accepted those whom the Father gave Him and patiently, transformed them into who and what they were to become.
Where did He find his disciples? In marketplace settings. Or to coin a phrase from Eugene Peterson, Jesus found his messengers and workers among the “Coins, nets and fishing hooks”. These men were laborers and businessmen. Revolutions are not started(typically) among the status-quo leaders. They like things to remain as things always were (Promising the people “change” which never comes). But history proves that “a body at rest remains at rest”. Real change(Kingdom change) occurs when people say, “Enough is enough!” Jesus called out, after John the Baptist’s imprisonment, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”! The change you have prepared your heart for is here. In other words, If you want change…Be the change you want.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared at no charge provided that it is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Mark is believed to have recorded the apostle Peter’s eye witness account of the Lord Jesus. In Mark Chapter 9, Peter, James and John accompany him up the Mountain, in part, because there would be the need to have a full,verifiable witness. Scripturally, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word must be established. The apostle Peter’s explanation of what occured was no fanciful imagination gone wild. They were not hallucinating , they were eye witnesses. They, personally,saw that while Jesus was praying there on the mountain, heaven drew aside it’s curtain as it were and revealed another view of Jesus. They saw the natural, human side of him give way to the divine mystery of who he was,eternally. What had been a view of OUTSIDE-IN is now made known from an eternal reality, which is INSIDE-OUT.
GROWING IN HIM
For those who are growing in their walk with Jesus the Messiah this is the true order of things, “The natural things proceeds the spiritual things” only as an entry point into eternal reality. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why we, who are followers of Jesus Christ, are not without hope when a loved one in Christ passes this life. We have the blessed hope of seeing our loved ones again. The apostle Paul assures us that, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”(2 Corinthians 5:8).
MOSES AND ELIJAH
Back to the Mountain where Jesus was transfigured. This stunning event was not without guests from heaven. Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus. This startling event frightened the three apostles, causing them to be prostrate on the ground. We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, you don’t just come into the atmosphere of heaven and remain unmoved. We recall how Isaiah, the prophet, cried “Woe is me, I am undone!… I am in the presence of the thrice-holy God”(Isaiah 6). Saving for a Seraph flying with a blood soaked, burning coal from off the altar and touching his lips, he probably would have died on the spot! How casual the presence and the things of God have become today. Is it not a sign of our times? We have substituted ritual for worship, Wine for water in our formalism, head-knowledge for heart knowledge. Far too many of God’s houses know nothing more than “a form of godliness but deny its power” a place in their services, to which the apostle Paul admonishes, “And from such people turn away!”(2 Timothy 3:5).
Why Moses and Elijah? Both were very important in Israel’s history. God gave the Law(Teachings) to Moses to give to His people. It was a Covenantal document between God and His people, Israel. When they strayed away to worship the Baal God, the LORD GOD used Elijah to confront & call His people back to the true and living God(Read Malachi 4:4-6). But God also promised a New Covenant for Israel in which He would no longer write upon tablets of stones. Rather He would “take away the heart of stone…and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people and I will be your God”(C.f. Ezekiel 36:26-28).
Peter astonished at this mountain top experience wants to place Jesus right alongside Moses and Elijah. He feels that he deserves to be in the same category as these two great servants of the LORD God of Israel(Moses representing the Law & Elijah representing the Prophets). And yet…at that moment, a cloud descends, and a voice from His excellent glory is heard, “This is my beloved Son, Hear Him! Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves”(Mark 9:7-8). God had sent, in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, His final Word of salvation and deliverance for His people. His Son, Jesus the Messiah, was and is made available to all that will look to Him, all that would hear his voice, all that would trust and obey him. The apostle John later testified, recording his experience, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”(John 1:14 NKJV). If you hear His voice…Don’t harden your heart.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may to copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Jesus led his disciples Peter, James and John up the Mountain apart from the other disciples and there was transfigured. I’m reminded that the Lord God had once called Moses up to the top of the Mount. There, after six days of waiting in the cloud, he received an invitation to come into God’s presence. There, He received the two tablets of the Law. This should remind us that good things take place in the Lord’s presence, if we are prepared to wait on Him. Isaiah assures us, “They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength”(Isaiah 40:31). The higher we go in God, the more time we need to wait in His presence. What happens while we wait? We learn the secret of exchanging our strength for His. Much weariness comes from “I got this one God” attitudes. We start many things in the arm of the flesh and they result as nothing more than a fleshly, carnal work. But if we will wait on the LORD, He will come to us with newness of LIFE and new perspectives on life as we have known it. The apostle Paul said we should “Seek those things which are above where CHRIST is seated” at the right hand of God(Colossians 3). Our seating changes our seeing.
As we wait in the Lord’s presence, the noise of the crowd dissipates. The sounds and often the many voices that clutter our minds and crowds our soul settle down to a manageable whisper. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nation’s. I will be exalted in the earth”(Psalm 46:10). Recall how Elijah went to Mount Horeb, perhaps expecting God to boom at the fearful thoughts of Jezebel’s threats. But God did not come as he expected(Not in an earthquake, wind or fire). Just the gentile whisper of a still small voice (1 Kings 19). This is one reason why we should always take God’s Word with us into His presence. God will speak through His Word to our troubled heart. “Great peace have they who love your Law. And nothing shall cause them to stumble”(Psalm 119:165).
Finally, as we wait in His presence, we get a new view of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter, James and John got a view of future attractions. All that our Lord Jesus was, eternally and inwardly, began to shine out in a blaze of glory. It radiated out of every pore of His being and changed the very garments which He wore. Peter will later testify that, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty”(2 Peter 1:6). How we need to cry out for a new sense and awareness of His majesty as the King of glory. One view of eternal realities will transform our life forever. The mystery God held is now revealed; “Christ in you, the hope of glory”(Colossians 1:27).
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.