Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Where to Find God’s Best Work”
Jeremiah 33:10-13 (NIV)
“This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord. 12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. 13 In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the Lord.
In the widely used Experiencing God booklet, the author reminds us of the first spiritual principle in order to live a God-centered life as opposed to a self-centered one: God is always at work around you. And as God works around us, He then invites us to join Him in His work. Naturally, the question rises, “If God is always at work, just where around us is He working right now?” This section of Jeremiah provides us with a clue in how to discover God’s work—one of His best work.
Jeremiah had been placed in confinement in the courtyard of King Zedekiah, because he had been delivering unbearable news that Israel would fall at the hands of the Babylonians. (It was bad enough that Jerusalem was under a siege; the last thing the people needed to hear was the bad news confirming what was inevitable.) But during Jeremiah’s confinement, God comes to bring some hopeful news. He foretells Jeremiah that one day (about 70 years from the fall of Jerusalem), these streets that are “deserted, inhabited, and desolate” will once again hear “sounds of joy and gladness.” Eventually, shepherds will lead their flock in pastures to rest their flocks. These are words filled with renewal and hope, as a city that is dead will one day come to enjoy life.
Life has a way of inviting enough challenges and difficulties that can eventually lead to despair and sometimes even depression. At this stage, we can feel totally alone; not only that, but we can be so tired, that we are tired of being tired. There seems to be absolutely no way that anything will turn our lives around. It is safe to assume that the people of Israel probably felt that they had seen the last days of their once glorious city.
Yet, this is precisely the place where God does His best work—that is, taking what is dead and giving it life. God does His best work when there seems to be no humanly possible solution.
Are you trying to figure out where God is at work around you? Perhaps you can start by looking for people who may have hit rock-bottom, ministries that seem to have hit a dead-end, or circumstances that are beyond human effort and wisdom. Ask God what He’s doing in those situations, and you might hear God share His plans to rebuild and renew. He just might invite you to join Him as well.
Prayer: Lord, show me where You are working around me. Instead of judging others who are struggling or looking at situations with pessimism, help me to see what You might be doing? In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Job 8
Lunch Break Study
Read John 11: 38 – 44 (NIV): Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Questions to Consider
- What does Martha’s response to Jesus’ request to take away the stone reveal about her belief?
- Think about the “they” who took away the stone. What does this action reveal about these unnamed people?
- As Jesus prays to the Father, what “benefit” is Jesus hoping that others might receive?
- Martha notes that Lazarus had been dead for “four” days. In popular Jewish belief the human spirit hovered near the body for three days, then departed as the color of the corpse began to change. Normally death would be irrevocable and all hope abandoned for one buried four days (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 12:6; Leviticus Rabbah 18:1).
- Whether or not they had faith, “they” did as Jesus instructed.
- The benefit is for those who hear Jesus’ prayer to believe in Jesus.
Spend some time praying for someone who might be going through an impossible situation. Ask God to do His best work in that person’s life.