Daily intake of the Word nourishes the Spirit. Jeremiah's Menu is an exercise in recognizing God's Word made flesh in and around me. Eating the Word in a way that supplies the spiritual nutrients needed to grow. The Menu is offered with the hope of inspiring you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Bon Appetite!
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Quote Du Jour
Quote du Jour
Christians may differ on a variety of points, but they have all one spiritual appetite; and if we cannot all feel alike, we can all feed alike on the bread of life sent down from heaven. At the table of fellowship with Jesus we are one bread and one cup. As the loving cup goes round we pledge one another heartily therein. Get nearer to Jesus, and you will find yourself linked more and more in spirit to all who are like yourself, supported by the same heavenly manna. ---Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
Lamed, the twelfth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet, has been a challenge to cook up. Translation making things interesting as I mulled over these eight verses that take us into the second half of Psalm 119.
Read Psalm 119:89-96
Lamed is for "to".
A small Hebrew all-purpose preposition begins almost every line of this stanza. Bible scholars translate it primarily by blending it into the sentence... it's not literally seen but the meaning is implied.
"To" is the word that best seems to convey the heart of the psalmist -- a function word indicating the position of one thing to another.
The position of God's Word to time...
Your word, O Lord, is eternal....
God's position to people...
Your faithfulness continues through all generations...
And for our Hebrew friend, his position to God's Word is the most important, placed at the heart of this eight line stanza...
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Psalm 119:92, 93
The psalmist was drawn to God's Word... it was his delight... his salvation. His position to scripture was in it. He examined it so closely, he saw no limit to its perfection...
Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.
Psalm 119:96 (NLT)
Our position to God's Word is one of the most important things we need to consider as followers of Jesus. He is the Word made flesh. The Bible is the only tangible thing God has given us to know Him. It is the one thing we can see, touch, smell, and taste...
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
In the Word we "taste and see" the Lord -- a taste test that is guaranteed to be good -- a generous gift from a generous God. A gift that should not be neglected. An essential part of our daily spiritual diet.
Have you tasted and seen?
Do you hunger for it? Or can you easily skip it, just like breakfast or lunch on a busy day?
Take time to consider your spiritual health... your relationship to God... your heart toward scripture...
What is your position when it comes to God's Word?
This morning, I'm reflecting on an interesting setting I found myself in last night... a place where God led me.
A sanctuary filled by two: a worship leader and a leader of prayer. In that moment we represented the leadership of the church...
Prayer and worship. Worship and prayer.
The basics of a relationship with God.
Without prayer we cannot communicate with God.
Without a heart of worship, God will not communicate with us.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
The Bible is the product of prayer and worship. God gave His story to the faithful -- those seeking and serving Him -- who became part of His story.
Only a heart steeped in prayer and worship can understand the Word. Through prayer we listen for God's voice. A posture of praise brings forth His teaching.
Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Prayers lifted without a heart of worship fall on deaf Ears.
Worship offered without a heart of prayer falls flat on the floor.
Prayer and worship. Worship and prayer.
Both dependent on each other.
The heart of the Church.
The heart of the Believer.
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
What impact can two have?
Back to the truth of the body... a faithful few effect the whole.
What a gracious God to make the way for the irreducible minimum to meet.
The faithfulness of a few can impact the spiritual health of the whole body. A hard concept to swallow when you seem to be one of the few and there is no visibile benefit!
But, we can't see the effects on the heart when our legs walk or run... it's an "invisible" benefit. The legs are part of the same body, so their activity benefits the whole body. It can't not.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts;
and though all its parts are many, they form one body.
So it is with Christ.
Those who faithfully answer God's call with obedience have an effect on the "heart" of the one chruch. Something happens where we can't see. It happens in the only place that really matters -- the spiritual realm -- the place of the eternal.
Through Christ, by way of the Spirit, we are one...
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
The bread and wine are to be intertwined with remembrance.
They are to be eaten without forgetting...
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
1Corinthians 11:23, 24
The broken Bread...
Jesus giving thanks...
His broken body...
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink,
in remembrance of me."
The cup poured out...
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Paul, by grace, received the bread and wine and passed it on.
Proclaiming the death of Christ and all that it implied...
Remember who passed it on to you -- be thankful...
Proclaim His death...
Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
One cup... one loaf... one church...
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Thank You, Lord, for this clear picture of one body partaking of the single broken loaf of the Bread of Life. Do not let me walk away from the table today without fully eating this truth and allowing it to transform the way I live.
Yesterday, at church, I said "hello" to a man walking with his 4 year old daughter. I called him by name.
I then said "hello" to his daughter -- calling her by name.
She looked up at me with a hard expression... one of defiance or perhaps suspiscion ... and asked in a voice that echoed her face: how do you know my name?
Since the day she was born, I knew her name -- I know her parents -- but we had never been formally introduced. She took offense.
To realize that there are people who know your name whom you know nothing about can be intimidating -- a truth that shakes your perception of reality.
God knows our name before we know He is...
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:15, 16
Those of us who know Him, do we have a responsibility to formally introduce Him to those who don't?
Would it help pave the way for relationship? Make it less offensive when He does call them by name?
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you,
O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
Psalm 9:10, 11 (ESV)
Who do you need to formally introduce to the One who knows their name?
The Most Holy Place: the dwelling place of God.
In the Old Testament it was found amid the cherubim on the ark, in the inner sanctuary of the temple.
In the New Testament "the Most Holy Place" is found in the heart of Believers -- those with child-like faith and obedience.
It seems like a fragile place for God to live -- inside people.
Not only physically fragile, but emotionally frail, and at times spiritually fickle.
In Ezekiel there is a description of the Old Testament temple.
Walls 9 feet thick.
A fortress surrounded the Most Holy Place.
Hebrews tells us that the earthly sanctuary was only a copy of the real one.
So if God went to the trouble to prepare a significant fortress around His earthly temple, how much more fortified is the heart of the Believer spiritually, where His actual Spirit lives?
Maybe it's not such a fragile place after all... being in that place of child-like trust and obedience...
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Lord, open our eyes to the true nature of the spiritual fortress that surrounds us when we respond to you with the obedience and trust of a child...
There is no real recipe for digging into God's Word's. Prayer is the first and most essential ingredient.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you understanding as you read.
But even then, sometimes it's hard to know what to listen for.
What God wants to feed you personally.
One method I learned was passed down to me from my brother, who learned it from his pastor.
Choose a chapter of the Bible (or ask the Spirit to pick one for you). Read the chapter at least three times.
The first time look for 5 things God wants you to know.
During the second reading find 3 things God wants you to feel.
Then the third time, listen for 1 thing God wants you to do.
Remember, this is a guide and not a recipe. It's personal. You may read the same chapter at different times and get completely different answers.
The results depend on where you are in your life and what God wants to teach you in that moment.
If you use this method of study with a group you will find that a wide variety of things, feelings, and callings rise to the top. No one's wrong, everyone is simply at a different place in the same journey.
Eating God's Word is personal.
Why don't you see what God has to say to you?
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
My current treadmill book is Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus. This morning, I read the story of Dave the UPS man who was invited to a wedding -- the wedding of a gas station attendant on his delivery route, Ron, a man he hardly knew. For weeks he tried to figure out how to say "no" to the invite, but in the end he reluctantly attended.
I began to contemplate the invitations I receive with reluctance...heel's dug in kind of reluctance.
Most come from the one I call Lord: Jesus. My shameful confession: I'm rarely overjoyed by His invitations. He calls me out of my comfort zone, to do and be things I cannot be on my own. Become vulnerable. Risk rejection and failure. Take steps of faith.
Dave discovered at the wedding reception that the groom considered him his best friend. Out of 150 invitations that Ron gave to family, friends, and coworkers, Dave was the only one who came on his behalf.
My heart became convicted. My Lord, my Friend, the One who loves me enough to die for me, invites me and I frantically look for excuses and stall in giving my answer.
"A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. ..." Luke 14:16-18
I no longer want to begrudgingly obey. Change my heart, Lord. Give me new eyes to see Your invitations as a sign of Your love and friendship, not as work or as a test, but as an invitation to the wedding of my Best Friend.
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." --Jesus
In music, a rest calls for a musician, who makes music, to stop and be quiet -- stop playing and rest.
A rest area on the highway marks a place for a traveler to stop traveling -- stop driving and rest.
We rest our head on a pillow -- the head that contains our thoughts, motivates our actions, directs us through our day -- to stop thinking, enter a coma-like state, and rest.
Jesus offers us an invitation to come and He will give us rest.
But He offers us rest by taking up His yoke. A yoke is an instrument of work, a burden. Does this mean there is an exchange to be made? One work for another? One that makes us tired for one that revives? Or is it a change in attitude about our work? How can we gain rest from a yoke?
Another helping of Psalm 119.The last verse of this stanza marks the halfway point of this particular feast. The eleventh Hebrew letter out of twenty-two is Kaf. Pronounced like the English word "cough".
Read Psalm 119:81-88
Kaf is for yearn.
Yearn. Long for. Yet, much more than that. Get in your mind a picture of the adolescent, longing for what she thinks she can't have, crying: I gotta have it or I'll die! Then you'll be close to the full meaning of the Hebrew.
A longing that wears us out.
My soul faints with longing for your salvation...
A hunger. A thirst. Without our desire, we die.
...but I have put my hope in your word.
God's Word promises deliverance from a broken world.
A brokenness that drives us to Scripture for hope.
My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, "When will you comfort me?"
The more time we spend in God's Word the more we see the darkness and depravity -- not only around us but in us! Our longing for His righteousness and salvation is stirred deeper into our hearts.
We cling to His Word... dark corners are exposed... we long for His return... we run to Scripture for hope... A cycle that draws us nearer and nearer to our heavenly Father.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6 (Emphasis added.)
The Day is coming when all things will be set right.
Our God is faithful. He cannot lie. He is true to His promises and has the power to back them up.
So do not lose your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Hebrews 10: 35, 36
Time spent in God's Word assures that you will be filled. The more you are in it, the more you desire it, the closer you come to God, the more you will be ready for the Day.
Eat it up. Get hungry for more. Be blessed. Be filled.
I usally spend several days meditating on a passage of Scripture before I offer it up on Jeremiah's Menu. It's a prayerful process of reading, re-reading, studying. Looking up words in dictionaries, both English and original language. Checking the occassional commentary. Listening for the Spirit to direct me. It takes time and there is no recipe.
The challenge for Psalm 119 is to continue the pattern of Aleph is for happy... Bet is for how... Gimmel is for stranger... etc.
Why, you may ask, is this a challenge?
Because of translation. When translating there is not always an English word that directly relates to the word you are trying to translate. That is why when you read the same verse in several different versions of the Bible you find multiple words with variances of the same meaning or even a phrase is used rather than trying to fix on one inadequate English word.
That is where I find myself today. One Hebrew word that conveys an abstract idea for which English has no single word to compare. Hmmm... which word do I choose? Or is it a phrase...
On top of the trouble of translating language, there is the dilemma of putting into words spiritual truths and ideas for which there are no words in any language.
So I confess, the kitchen is a little messy today... the words won't gel... but I will wait. It will stew and the Spirit will reveal.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth...
John 16:13 ESV
Don't eat alone. Invite the Holy Spirit to the table whenever you linger over God's Word or anything anyone has written regarding God's Word. He is the ultimate Translator.
Weird. Radical. Crazy.
The various authors chose these words to describe living a biblical life.
They are challenging books to say the least. I must confess, the times I follow through on things I believe God has asked me to do I generally think or say out loud or profess to others involved... I know this is weird but...
What is it that makes the things of God seem weird, radical, and crazy? And I'm not just talking about the secular world. Even in church when people step out in faith living a biblical life they are labled as weird, radical, or crazy. Why?
Are we out of touch with God's Word?
Have we let the wisdom of the world seep into the church?
Do we see the Bible as words to live by or a playground for philosophical thought to entertain our brain?
I think God means for us to live by what He says. To eat His Words and to make them the center of our lives.
What about you?
What do you consider weird, radical, or crazy?
What did the world think about Jesus when He walked its surface?
What do you think about living His way today?
You might want to think about it...
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
This blog is a work in progress and a spiritual discipline of sorts as I work out the gift of writing that God has been working into me for the past several years.
My goal when I began this particular blog (an earlier one completely failed and never got past the title) was to write a post that delved into the Word of God -- the entrees of Jeremiah's Menu -- at least once a week.... well that hasn't happened.
I try to listen to God and develop this blog His way. The same way I try to live my days. Sometimes my voice gets in the way of His and my imagination seems louder than the Spirit's. Goals I set will not be met because they are mine and not His.
I have been challenged by the work of another blogger, Ann Voskamp, and her incredible site to try to post something everyday except Sunday. She does this as a spiritual discipline even though she has six children she home schools and lives on a working farm.
Yesterday, it struck me that our dinner table is very quiet. We are lacking conversation as we eat the portions of God's Word sitting before us. So today begins a challenge for me...I hope it's God's idea and not mine...time will tell.
Dinner Conversation will be daily: Monday thru Saturday.
In between the serving of each course the conversation will drift to what is stirring in my heart. It may or may not have anything to do with what's on the table -- conversation is organic and unpredictable. At this point I'm not sure what it will look like. Maybe a question to consider or random thoughts about God, life and His Word.
I hope that each day our conversations will be Christ-centered and fill our hearts with a longing to live likewise. Increasing our hunger for God and His Word.
I hope that you will be quick to add your comments, questions or random thoughts to the conversation.
Moving on through the ode to God's Word we come to the tenth portion of Psalm 119: Yod (rhymes with "mode").
Read Psalm 119: 73-80
Yod is for "hand".
Your hands made me and formed me...
Hands. They create and destroy. They caress and claw.
They can portray victory and defeat; need and plenty.
They symbolize the source of blessing or cursing...from his hand...
They symbolize control ...it's in your hands...
or the lack thereof... it's out of my hands...
They reveal innocence... he has clean hands...
and guilt... he has blood on his hands...
Hands. It all depends on whose they are.
Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
The hands of God: Creator, Judge, King of kings, Lord of lords, the Almighty. The Holy One whose compassions never fail, whose faithfulness is great, whose love is unfailing.
Lord, I want to understand Your precepts. I came from Your hands. You alone know what's best for me. You alone know my purpose. Whatever comes from Your hands is trustworthy, it is counted as good. Affliction and comfort. Your law is my delight because it comes from Your hands.
Hands. The hands of God are trustworthy and good. Therefore, I sing with the psalmist...