Quitting Time

Great is His Faithfulness

By LuAnn Edwards

Have you experienced a place in time when you felt you couldn’t go on? Everything changed. Life took a dramatic turn. Nothing would ever be the same again. Are you there now? Has despair taken over?

My friend Kate is experiencing that place right now. The loss of her young teenage son has devastated her and her family. Life as they knew it came to an end last month.

Pastor Michael M. Cook finished his series, Quitting Time, this past Sunday. Jeremiah, Chapter 32, takes place just before the Babylonian captivity of Israel. The Lord instructs Jeremiah to purchase some land. Jeremiah obeys God but wants to know why. He knows captivity, death and devastation are near; why buy the land? Listen to the podcast here.

God’s response to Jeremiah restores our hope. When we feel like God cannot help us, He says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Verse 27).

The captive situation the children of Israel found themselves in was not the end. Fifty years later the people returned to Israel, and God restored their fortunes. They returned to their homeland and were able once again to purchase land and thrive.

In the dark times of despair we think God cannot help us, but God can do all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Like the story of Jeremiah, where a time of restored hope would again prevail over the people of Israel, Kate and her family will laugh again, hope again and enjoy life again.

Likewise, the situation you may find yourself in today is not the end. If you feel like you can’t go on, don’t give up. Wait. See what God will do. Our God loves us; His compassions never fail. Great is His faithfulness.

Scroll Warning – Listening to God’s Voice

By Karen Polich

Weighed down by the garbage in your life? If you find yourself on a path to an uncomfortable encounter with God, keep going. Don’t quit. What may seem like impending judgment can bring a meeting full of compassion. Fearful? Let fear work in your favor. You were created for more; more than struggles, more than sin! God created each of us for His glory, not to live a life void of His abundance.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon, Scroll Warnings, hit right at the heart of turning your life around when you feel like quitting. Listening to the podcast will take you into the story of Jeremiah and how God’s “judgement” is REDEMPTIVE. (Jeremiah 36) This is one you don’t want to miss as he weaves Jeremiah’s story into our lives. Listen HERE.

There is great danger in a calloused heart, where hard places grow from sin, hurt and exposure that de-sensitives. A hardened heart has stopped listening, hearing and caring. This describes King Jehoiakim.

In scripture we find King Jehoiakim not listening to the words on the scroll. His hardened heart leads him to burn the scrolls. While it is a tragedy for God’s people to not hear His voice, far worse is the defiance of a king, bringing down an entire nation.

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 4:7(b)

Ignoring the truth will not make it go away. – Michael M. Cook

Others will pay the price for a hardened heart. Listen for God’s voice. Throw the garbage out and lean in to hear what He has to say. You may just find the compassion and grace you desperately need.

Melting Down

By Karen Polich

Imagine your worst day; that low point when you find yourself on the brink of a meltdown and your breaking point is staring right at you. It can strike from anywhere. Relationships, finances, work, a long list of to-do’s, setbacks, health and a multitude of other things can set things off. Darkness, desperation and despair sit all around you.

You are not alone! Jeremiah was intimate with the darkness found in low places. Jeremiah experienced what a horrible day looks like, and he was not alone. Called by God, Jeremiah was a prophet who shared what no one wanted to hear. (Read more here, Jeremiah 18-20) He had clear instructions to follow and his obedience put him in a place of despair. He felt humiliated and alone. Crying out to God, he finds himself in a pit, but still expresses trust in his lamentation.

Jeremiah 20: 7-10 (NIV)
7 You deceived[a] me, Lord, and I was deceived[b];
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”

In the midst of his pain, Jeremiah is doing something of great importance. He is talking, feeling and trusting. Numbness and silence are NOT our friends. Emotions cannot be selectively numbed. It is all or none. Shutting out the pain shuts out all of the joy too.

What does it mean to lament? It is responding to God with pain and not being okay with it. It involves feeling and talking. Trust is expressed. It’s saying, “I’m not okay Lord, my heart aches, yet I will seek you”. It’s knowing God will be good to you in your mess.

In the midst of a meltdown, it’s important to see the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt: I MADE a mistake.
Shame: I AM a mistake.

God is with you! Despite any circumstances, He loves you and brings the ultimate hope to any situation. You are never alone.

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Quitting Time, here.

Bound to God

By LuAnn Edwards 

What can we learn from a belt? In Jeremiah Chapter 13, during a time when most of the Children of Israel were worshiping idols, God told Jeremiah to buy a belt (sash) and bind it around his waist. In the same way, God wants us to be bound to Him.

God told Jeremiah to hide the belt in the rocks, and many days later He told him to go back and get the belt. When Jeremiah retrieved the belt, he found it ruined and completely useless.

This tattered belt represented the people who had not listened to God, who were ruined and no longer bound to the Lord. People who once had intimacy with God were now without Him and bound instead by pride to counterfeit gods.

Are we, too, bound to idols and counterfeit gods? Has something or someone taken God’s place in our lives?

“An idol is whatever you look at and say in your heart, ‘If I have that then I will feel like my life has meaning, then I will know I have value, then I will feel significant and secure.’” – Timothy Keller, author

Pastor Cook described three examples of counterfeit gods in our lives: money, another person, and ourselves. Listen to the podcast here.

Money is good for buying necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. However, money can be unreliable. 1 Timothy 6:17 tells us not to put hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put our hope in God who provides us with everything. Money can also cause us to wander from the faith. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

We often elevate another person to the place God should hold. We bind ourselves to our spouse, a friend, or a child. They become the object of our deepest affection, the most important thing in our lives. God desires this place of honor. He wants us to love and enjoy other people, but He should be the one we adore and worship.

It is not difficult to find people consumed with themselves. “I deserve to be happy. It’s all about me and making me feel good. How many likes can I get on my selfie? How important am I to my friends?” We need to be on guard to make sure we do not elevate ourselves to the place where God longs to be.

What is God asking you to live without? Which idol is of greatest value to you? Are you going to place your security in money, another person, yourself, or be bound to God?


God Rescues

By LuAnn Edwards

How do we endure the hard times? What about those seasons in our lives that we would never choose for ourselves? Do we remain faithful, sharing patience and grace?

Pastor Cook began a new series Sunday called, Quitting Time. This series is based on the book of Jeremiah dealing with long-term faithfulness in extremely challenging situations.

Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet at the time of Jerusalem’s exile. Jeremiah was not too excited about the task and came up with a couple of excuses which did not deter God in any way. Jeremiah said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). God’s response should be an encouragement to each of us who feel as inadequate as Jeremiah did to step out in faith and trust the Lord. “…Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you…” (Jeremiah 1:7-8).

God was preparing to send judgment upon His people due to their forsaking Him and their worshiping of idols. He wanted Jeremiah to be prepared for the difficult times ahead and again in verse 19 said, “…for I am with you and will rescue you…”

When faced with life’s challenges it is good for us to speak to God. Tell Him what we are feeling, and ask Him to show us why. Lean upon His strength. He is with us during our times of struggle and major setbacks.

The knowledge of the presence of God in our lives, walking with us, rescues us from defeat and discouragement. –Michael M. Cook

God is with us no matter what the circumstance.

Even if we are currently not going through a challenging life situation, we should always be prepared to share from our heart a message of hope and strength with those who are hurting, “God is with you and will rescue you.”

We will come up against some challenging times in our own lives, but we can count on God and His promises to us. His Word says in Hebrews 13:5, “…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” If you have surrendered your life to Christ, this promise is for you.