Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in verses one through eight of the twenty-third chapter. What is so unique about this particular passage is how it begins in the first verse, and how it concludes with the eighth verse. This passage opens with the Lord of hosts pronouncing a woe upon the pastors of Judah and the pastors of Jerusalem. What’s more, is the Lord doesn’t merely pronounce “woe” upon the pastors of Judah and Jerusalem, but the Lord goes on to reveal the nature, the reason and the cause of that “woe.” “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture” (Jeremiah 23:1). In the seventh and eighth verses of this passage we find these words written by the prophet—“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8). It’s worth noting that in the first verse we read of the pastors as not only destroying, but also scattering the sheep of the Lord’s pasture. The reason this is worth noting is because in the eighth verse we discover the Lord declaring that He drove the seed of the house of Israel into all the countries of the earth. I can’t help but see a strong connection between the pastors destroying and scattering the sheep of the fold and flock of the Lord of hosts, and the Lord driving out the seed of His own people into the countries and nations of the earth. This passage opens up with a powerful description of the pastors destroying and scattering the house of Israel, yet it concludes with the Lord proclaiming a wonderful and powerful promise—a promise that speaks of restoration and returning. While it is true this passage opens with a declaration concerning the pastors destroying and scattering the sheep of the Lord’s pasture, it concludes with the Lord declaring that there would come a day when the testimony of the people of God would change. The Lord—through the prophet Jeremiah—declared that there was coming a day when the testimony of the people of God would be transformed and would experience a powerful transition. WHEN THE TESTIMONY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD IS TRANSFORMED! WHEN THE TESTIMONY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD EXPERIENCES A DRAMATIC TRANSITION! I have written concerning this reality before—the reality that for several centuries the people of God bore the testimony that the Lord had delivered them up out of the land of Egypt. The children of Israel identified and associated themselves with a supernatural miracle which took place in times past, yet they bore no current testimony within their lives. I can’t help but see a tremendous principle in this very reality. There are a number of men and women in this generation who are living in and living according to the testimony and testimonies which took place in the past. There are men and women who spend their days and their time reliving the activity of the Lord which He accomplished and fulfilled in the past, yet they have no new miracles to speak of. WHAT IS GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE NOW? “I know the Lord has worked mightily in your life in the past, but what is God doing in your life now?” I am convinced this question must and should be asked of countless men and women in the pews of our churches, for there are men and women who have absolutely no testimony of what God has done in the present tense. UNDERSTANDING GOD IN THE PRESENT TENSE! KNOWING GOD IN THE PRESENT TENSE! I am reminded of the words which the author to the epistle to the Hebrews wrote in the final chapter of the epistle. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the elder of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:5-8). The author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote and declared that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever, and when speaking to the apostle John on the isle of Patmos, Jesus Christ declared of Himself, saying, “I am the Alpha [the first letter of the Greek alphabet] and Omega [the last letter of the Greek alphabet], the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 12:8). THE GOD OF MY PRESENT.
As I’m sitting here right now I am completely and totally gripped by the reality of how God is more than just the God of our past. There are countless men and women among us within this generation that are living in the reality of God as being the God of their present. These men and women live with the reality and declaration “There’s nothing new to report.” Oh, I am convinced there are men and women among us who are just like journalists who are called to report new and breaking stories and reports, yet there are times when new anchors and news reporters make the declaration that there is nothing to report. They have sought for new developments in breaking stories, yet they have found that there are no new and emerging details that have come forth. Have you ever noticed that within most news networks and news broadcasts, there are sections known as “breaking news”—sections that are designated to bring us face to face with events that have just taken place in the present? Have you ever noticed that there are other segments where news reporters will give “recent developments,” or “breaking developments,” thus indicating and suggesting that there is new information that has been released and disseminated concerning that which has already taken place. One of the most desperate places to be in is that place where there is absolutely nothing new to report. Sure there was at one point a breaking story, yet there have been no recent developments that have emerged concerning that which has occurred. THE GOD OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS! If I am being completely and totally honest, I would emphatically declare that God doesn’t just desire to be the God of breaking news which took place in the past. God—the One whose arm is not short and whose ear is not deaf—desires to be the God of breaking news, and the God of recent developments. There are a great number of men and women who are spending their days, their evenings, their weeks and months living in constant and continual discouragement because they have nothing new to report concerning the Lord of hosts. They may have a testimony of what the Lord did for them in the past, but they have absolutely nothing new to report concerning His activity within their lives. These men and women often sit in corporate gatherings and simply go through the motions because they have nothing new to report. They may want to have breaking news, and they may want to be able to speak of recent developments, yet they simply don’t have that reality manifested within their lives.
THE GOD OF BREAKING NEWS! THE GOD OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. I can’t help but be reminded of what Rahab the harlot spoke and declared unto the two spies whom she hid from the soldiers of Jericho who sought to kill them. “And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; and she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have and deliver our lives from death” (Joshua 2:9-13). What we read in this passage is a powerful demonstration of how the Lord of hosts desires to be “the God of breaking news,” for Rahab declared unto the two spies that there was a report that had been heard within the land of Canaan concerning the children of Israel. There was a report that was heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Red Sea for them, as well as what they had done to the two kings of the Amorites, that were one the other side of the Jordan. I can’t help but find something utterly and completely profound within the words of Rahab, for Rahab not only spoke of what the Lord had done for the children of Israel, but Rahab also spoke concerning what the children of Israel had done themselves. Notice that Rahab spoke of “how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea,” yet how she spoke of “what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites.” In essence, there were two distinct testimonies and reports that were heard concerning the children of Israel—the report of what the Lord had done for them and on their behalf, and the report of what they had done before, unto and with the strength of the Lord. When speaking of the God of breaking news and the God of recent developments, we must understand that this not only touches that which God has done within our lives—for us and on our behalf—but also what we have done within our lives.
I believe with all my heart that there are many of us who are looking for recent developments and breaking news with the Lord of hosts within our lives, yet the recent development comes not in that which the Lord has done or will do for us. I believe with everything inside me that there are times when instead of the recent development being in what the Lord has done in us, through us and for us, the recent development is found in what we ourselves are called and positioned to do. There are times when we are looking for the breaking news in the wrong place, for the Lord of hosts doesn’t intend on the breaking news taking place in the realm of the supernatural, but in the realm of the natural—in the realm of what we ourselves do. This isn’t to say that the Lord isn’t actively and isn’t intimately involved, but that the God of breaking news and the God of recent developments calls and positions us to bring about the recent development. THE GOD WHO CALL US TO BRING FORTH THE BREAKING NEWS! THE GOD WHO CALLS US TO BE THE BREAKING NEWS! THE GOD WHO CALLS US TO BE THE RECENT DEVELOPMENT! There are many of us who spend all our days looking for and expecting the Lord to bring about the recent developments within their lives, yet they fail to recognize and understand that the Lord doesn’t always bring forth the recent development! SOMETIMES THE LORD CALLS ON YOU TO BRING FORTH THE RECENT DEVELOPMENT! SOMETHINGS THE LORD CALLS YOU TO BE THE RECENT DEVELOPMENT! Rahab spoke of what the Lord had done—how the Lord had parted the water of the Red Sea, thus positioning the children of Israel to continue on in their journey toward Horeb first, and ultimately the land of Canaan. Rahab spoke of what the Lord did to position the children of Israel on their journey into the wilderness, their journey through the wilderness, and their journey into the land of Canaan. However, Rahab went on to speak of what the children of Israel did east of the Jordan to prepare themselves to enter into the land of Canaan. The parting of the waters positioned them for entrance into the wilderness, while the slaying and destroying of the two kings of the Amorites prepared and positioned them to enter into the land of Canaan. When it comes to our entering into the wilderness, it is the Lord who parts the waters and drowns our enemies to position us in the place where we enter into the vast wilderness. When it comes to our entering into the land of Canaan, however, it is not the Lord who drowns our enemies in the waters of the Jordan River, but it is we ourselves who engage and destroy our enemies.
I am convinced the Spirit of the Lord is speaking to a number of men and women in this generation and declaring unto them that they are looking for the breaking news and the recent developments in the activity of God, when the breaking news and the recent developments are found in the activity of their lives. There are men and women who expect the Lord of hosts to bring about the breaking news within their lives, yet the Lord of hosts is calling them to bring forth and bring about the breaking news within their lives. There are men and women who expect the Lord of hosts to bring about the recent developments within their lives, yet the Lord is calling them to bring forth the recent developments. CALLED TO BRING ABOUT THE BREAKING NEWS! CALLED TO BE THE BREAKING NEWS! CALLED TO BRING ABOUT THE RECENT DEVELOPMENT! CALLED TO BE THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS! It’s absolutely important that we recognize and understand these two realities, for there is a vast difference between the two. There are times when the Lord wants us to bring about the recent development, while there are other times the Lord wants us to be the recent development. There are times when the Lord wants us to bring about the breaking news, while there are other times when the Lord desires us to be the breaking news. DO YOU KNOW YOU CAN BE BREAKING NEWS? DO YOU KNOW YOU CAN BE A RECENT DEVELOPMENT! Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you were breaking news? When was the last time you were a recent development? With these questions in mind, please understand and note that I am not suggesting these realities as something in which we arrogantly boast of in the hearing and presence of others. The Lord has never, nor will we He ever call us to arrogantly boast to others that we are breaking news, or that we are a recent development. What I mean by these realities is that there are times when the Lord calls upon us to be the breaking news we desire and yearn for within our lives. There are times when the Lord calls upon us to be the recent development within our lives. QUIT LOOKING FOR THE BREAKING NEWS IN THE LORD OF HOSTS! QUIT LOOKING FOR THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LORD OF HOSTS! Beloved, please note that I am in no way speaking of and declaring that the Lord will never move or operate within your life ever again. Please don’t think for one moment that I am declaring there may come a point when the Lord no longer desires to do anything within your life. What I am speaking of is those times and moments, and perhaps even those seasons within our lives when it is not the Lord who can and will bring forth the breaking news and the recent developments, but it is we ourselves who are asked to bring forth the breaking news and the recent developments.
I am reminded of the words which David wrote in the eighteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms—words which he wrote “in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth. There went up a smoke out of His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before Him His thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, He sent out His arrows, and scattered them; and He shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also in a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me” (Psalm 18:6-20). In this particular set of verses David speaks of what the Lord did for him within his life and on his behalf. These words speak of the activity of the Lord within David’s life—activity which David was undoubtedly and most certainly thankful and grateful for. What we must recognize and realize when reading this passage is that David didn’t live in a place of the Lord being the only one active within his life. How many of us expect the Lord to be the only active party within our lives, while we are either unwilling or afraid to play our part. Do you know that it is absolutely impossible to live your life with only one participant? Imagine trying to play a game of table tennis with only one person. Imagine trying to play volleyball with only one person. Imagine trying to box with only one person. Imagine trying to wrestle with only one person. Imagine trying to converse with only one person. Imagine trying to be married to only one person (by this I mean only one party, not contrasted with being married to multiple individuals). There are so many of us who expect God to be the only one active within our lives, yet we fail to recognize and understand the truth that the Lord desires us to be an active participant within our lives.
There are many of us who absolutely love living in the reality of the words of the apostle Paul in the fifth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthian congregation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” There are many of us who absolutely love living in the reality of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter of his epistle to the Philippian congregation—“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). There are very few, however, who readily acknowledge the reality that the Lord is not the only active participant within our lives. Quit thinking and believing the Lord is the only one who needs and should be participating within your life. Perhaps you haven’t experienced the activity of the Lord within your life because you haven’t been willing to play your part and be active yourself. You keep waiting for God to work and perform within your life, yet you are unwilling to show up and work yourself. Quit looking for hand out after hand out from God when you are unwilling to roll up your sleeves and get in the dirt and do some work. Consider the words of the apostle Paul in the second chapter of the same epistle—“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. FOR IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE” (Philippians 2:12-13). Please don’t miss the words of the apostle when he instructed those to whom he was writing to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” Please don’t miss his declaration that it is God which works in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure. There are many of us who enjoyed the Lord delivering us out of Egypt, who enjoyed the Lord parting the waters of the Red Sea and drowning our enemies in the midst of them, enjoyed the Lord bringing forth manna from heaven and water from rocks, yet there aren’t many who are willing to march up into the land of Canaan, and engage the enemies and adversaries east of the Jordan. Salvation is a free gift from the Father of lights, yet salvation is not just a gift alone, but is actually a responsibility. SALVATION ISN’T A GIFT ALONE; IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY! SALVATION IS A MISSION! SALVATION IS A WORK! Quit thinking and believing that the Lord is the only who needs and should be active within your life. Quit thinking you can stand on the sidelines—whether within your own life, or within the house in which you gather together with other believers. You have not been called to be a bystander or spectator but an active participant. There are so many of us who want to be reporters of God’s activity rather than participants in our own activity. REPORTERS OF GOD’S ACTIVITY OR PARTICIPANTS IN OUR OWN ACTIVITY?
As you continue reading the eighteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms, you will come to the point when you encounter David not speaking of what the Lord had done for him, but what he had done in, through, by and according to the strength the Lord had given him. “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but He answered them not. Then did I bear them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets” (Psalm 18:33-42). If you journey back into the Old Testament book of Joshua, you will encounter this reality expressed even more in the life of Joshua who was chosen and appointed as Moses’ successor. “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took , and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gideon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses. And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debbie, from Arab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained. So Joshua took the while land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war. Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east…and these are the kings of thee country which Joshua and the children of Iasrael smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even unto mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir…all the kings thirty and one.”
THIRTY-ONE KINGS! AND AT THAT TIME CAME JOSHUA! HERE COMES JOSHUA! Insert your name right there. Here comes Joseph! Here comes Susan! Here comes Beth! Here comes Greg! Here comes Darren! Here comes Karen! These two passages—the one in the eighteenth chapter of the book of Psalms, and the other in the eleventh chapter of the book of Joshua—reveal and bring us face to face with the reality that there are times when the Lord calls us to be the breaking news. There are times when the Lord calls us to be the recent development. Rahab didn’t just speak of that which the Lord did on behalf of the children of Israel, but what the children of Israel did to help and further their cause. There are far too many of us who believe the Lord is the only one who is and should be active within our lives, yet they don’t realize the Lord has called, commanded and even instructed them to be the active ones within their lives. In the prophetic book of Jeremiah we notice a powerful transition from the testimony of the Lord who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, to the Lord who brought the children of Israel out of the north country. In both cases, the Lord would do His part, yet it wasn’t just about the Lord opening up the way out of Egypt and the way out of the north country—the children of Israel had to agree to get up, move out and march forward. There are many whom the Lord has opened up the way for them, yet they are deliberately and intentionally choosing to remain where they are rather than getting up and moving out. It is true that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to day, and forever, which means that what He did yesterday He can do today. With that being said, however, the question that must be asked is are we willing to do today what is asked and required of us. We expect the Lord to do today what He did yesterday, yet today it might not be about what the Lord can or is willing to do, but what the Lord is calling us to do. We cannot, we dare not, we should not, we must not expect the Lord to be the only active participant within our lives, for to do so would be to limit the activity of the Lord. Did you know that your inactivity can limit and hinder the activity of the Lord? Did you know that your unwillingness can hinder the willingness of the Lord. The Lord is willing, yet the question is whether or not we are willing. “The spirit is willing, yet the flesh is weak.” The Spirit of God is willing, yet your flesh and my flesh is weak. Oh that we would ask for strength to be the breaking news and the recent development. Oh that we would ask for strength to bring about the breaking news and the recent development. Let us stop asking for handouts, and let us stop living our relationship with the Lord in the shadow of what He can do and what He has done for us, while we neglect and ignore what He is calling and asking us to do.