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Apart From You, I Shall Do Nothing!

Reading: Jeremiah 23:9 – 35

Scripture

We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab son of Recab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab commanded us. Jeremiah 35:8-10 (NIV)

Observations

Jonadab had commanded his family never to drink wine, and not to settle but instead to live as nomads. “Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.” (Jeremiah 35:7). Since the time that promise was made, “The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab [had continued to carry] out the command their forefather gave them…” (35:16). They believed the promise, held firmly to it, and met the conditions attached to ensure it continued to be fulfilled.

A Promise: A declaration that something will (or will not) be done or given; an express assurance on which expectation is to be based.

God brought this particular family to Jeremiah and held them up as an example of how all the people of the land should have responded to God's promises and the commands that accompanied them.

Application

The promise that comes immediately to mind for me is one that Jesus makes:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

The promise is that I will bear much fruit. But what is the condition? “Remain in me”. The last phrase particularly stands out: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” In other words, anything that I do “apart” from Jesus (separately; without involving him; on my own) will be fruitless, and not worth the time or effort spent on it.

The opposite of 'apart from' is 'together with'. In using the example of a branch connected to a vine, Jesus is describing a continuous and unbroken togetherness. This is the relationship he wants with me, and my fruitfulness is conditional upon it. There is no “apartness” in the equation; instead there is a continual conversation of prayer. In 1Thessalonians 5:17, Paul describes it in two words : “Pray continually.”

I resolve, with the Spirit's help, to bring everything to God in prayer: To bring him every need, to thank him for even the smallest blessings, to make every job whether big or small an offering of service to him, to seek his guidance and be always listening and ready to respond to his voice, and to enjoy the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in me.

Prayer

Jesus, I thank you for this wonderful promise in John 15:5. You say to me, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” And so I ask for your grace as I make this declaration: “Apart from you, I shall do nothing.” May this become a motto for me. Please help me to do my part in developing that continuous and unbroken togetherness you seek, and may everything I do be done in your strength and your grace.

See also Walking in “Promise Land”

 

God’s Provision for Me

Reading: Leviticus 17-25

Scripture

But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years.

When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year. Leviticus 25:20-22 (NLT)

Observations

Under the Law God gave to Moses, every seventh year was to be a “Sabbath Year”, a chance for the ground to have a rest, and the people too. They were to plant no crops, and were to leave their vines unpruned. And to make sure his people could enjoy and make the most of this year of relative ease, God promised that he would give them a bumper crop the year before.

There was a condition: “Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.” Leviticus 17:18-19

Application

God is good. He knows what I need. He knows my physical needs, my emotional needs, and my spiritual needs, and he makes provision for all these things. My part is simply to trust him.

Though I don't live under the Law of Moses but rather by faith in Jesus, the principle of the sabbath is just as applicable now as it always was. To set time aside to honour God and focus my thoughts on him whilst resting and being refreshed – this is a wonderful way to experience fully the goodness of God and his purposes for my life. How can I not have time for this?

He promises…

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3-5).

And Jesus tells me, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Prayer

Lord God, the more I contemplate your purposes for the sabbath, the more I see your love and concern, and the goodness you have for me as I trust you. I don't want to miss out on any of that goodness by doing things my own way, and trusting in my own efforts instead of your grace. You know me completely, and so I look to you for all that I need, that you would bless me and care for me.

I love the way that the Holy Spirit is able to speak to me from the Word of God, even from books like Leviticus! If you are needing some tips and ideas to help you read and enjoy the Bible yourself, you might like to check out the following pages on this blog: The Bible: Where Do I Start? and What is SOAP?

 

Walking in “Promise Land”

Reading: Joshua 14

Scripture

So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. Joshua 14:9 (NIV)

Observations

The land on which Caleb's feet had walked was the very land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants hundreds of years earlier. Twelve men were sent out by Moses to spy out that land – Caleb, Joshua and ten others. Two of them had seen a land of opportunity, “flowing with milk and honey”. But the other ten had seen men like giants living in fortified cities, and their report made the hearts of the people “melt with fear”.

Whereas Joshua and Caleb viewed everything in the light of God's promise, their colleagues' eyes were darkened by fear and doubt. Perhaps they just didn't know God well enough to trust him. Perhaps they hadn't truly yielded themselves to God despite the amazing miracles they had seen him perform.

Nonetheless, the same promise of God was made to them all. Joshua and Caleb took the promise to heart, and prepared to take it in hand. They acted on their wholehearted belief that God was faithful, and their faith was richly rewarded. But the half-hearted were left empty-handed.

Application

What a difference it makes to view the world in the light of God's promises! It changes my perspective completely, like a new pair of glasses, bringing a confidence and hope that draws me out of my comfort zone, out beyond what I can achieve in my own strength, and into all the plans and purposes that God has for my life.

As I write this, I am aware of how quickly I jumped to condemn the ten fearful men, from the comfort of my armchair… Would I have acted differently? How am I responding myself to the promises of God as revealed in his Word? I suspect there is much “promise land” I have yet to walk on. And yet my strong desire is to walk there. Lead me on, Lord!

Prayer

Yes Lord, lead me on! Cut me loose from my fears and insecurity, and help me to live my life on the strength of your promises. Thank you for your written Word the Bible, and for all the promises it contains. Infuse my heart with the truth those promises contain, and may they be fulfilled in my life.

“The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance…”

See also, Confidence and Tumbleweed (If Trees Could Walk)

 

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