Monthly Archives: August 2009

Jeremiah 41-44

Scripture

“Then they [Judah] said to Jeremiah, ‘May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the LORD our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the LORD our God.’ “ (42:5-6)

Jeremiah prays, God instructs, Judah disregards His commands…

“O remnant of Judah, the LORD has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the LORD your God and said, ‘Pray to the LORD our God for us; tell us everything He says and we will do it.’  I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the LORD your God in all He sent me to tell you. So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.” (42:19-22, NIV)

Observation

Judah instructs Jeremiah to ask “his” God (interesting pronoun selection) for guidance. They even go as far as promising to obey Him even it was “unfavorable.” Jeremiah asks God and receives an answer which is, “Do not go to Egypt.” Jeremiah reprimands Judah for not obeying this instruction, implying that they completely disregarded God’s command and DID go to Egypt. So in a nutshell: Judah begged for guidance, promised to follow it, then completely ignored it.

Application

Beg, promise, ignore. I do that everyday.

I ask for guidance, answers, instruction, help. Most of which has already been given to me through His Word but I choose to under-utilize it.

Then along with asking I make my promises. My conditions. “If You show me, Lord, I’ll follow.” Why does He need my promise tagged on? Is that going to help make up His mind to answer me? “Oh…this time she’ll really follow through because she’s promising. So I’ll grant her request because she’s really sincere this time.” It’s embarrassing how we insult God and His character.

And then there’s the ignore. I receive the answer but blatantly disregard it. Even though it is a clear provision which I begged for in the first place.

We so often ridicule characters in the Bible for their ignorance. We mock the Israelites for their whining and we laugh at the disciples for not seeing what was right under their noses. Yet we are no different. We beg, promise and ignore right along with the best of them.

I am not unlike a child. I don’t know how God has the patience to put up with my stupidity, stubbornness, ignorance and defiance. For the past two weeks God has been clearly speaking concerning a specific calling in my life and I have yet to take action upon it. This passage is the latest in a long thread of clear confirmations. The question is, will I continue to ignore?

Prayer

God, thank You for using the nation of Judah to reveal disobedience in my life. I know that You have given me clear answers that I have chosen to disregard. You have already promised in Your Word to provide for me so I have no-thing to fear. Unlike Judah, I want to move ahead believing You for what lies ahead and trusting, not doubting, that Your plan is best. I need You, Lord, and You’ve already given me all of You so I have all I need. Amen.

simplyspoken

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Passage: Jeremiah 37-40

Scripture:

“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkija, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.  They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern: it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”  Jeremiah 38:6 (NIV)

“‘Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you.  Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.  But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: all the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon.  Those women will say to you: They misled you and overcame you – those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you.’” Jeremiah 38:20-22 (NIV)

Application:

“Running from the Dog”

What a miserable wretch Jeremiah was.  His life was rife with drama and excitement, he was chosen to be “set apart…a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5), but he remained reluctant, insecure and hesitant about much of the work to which he’d been called.  His relationship with the Living God was marked by stinging quarrels and hot-tempered outbursts.  He went so far as to tell God he wished he were dead (Jer. 20:14-18).  Jeremiah was among civilization’s first recorded victims of depression. 

Centuries later, Winston Churchill would also suffer from depression, terming it his “black dog.”  As political conflicts ebbed, Churchill lost himself in his writing and painting to escape these debilitating bouts.  But it seems that for Jeremiah, there was no escaping the black dog.  Indeed, it chased him all the faster as, in this passage, we see him charged with treason and thrown into a well.  God offered no sympathy, but instead reminded the prophet of His promise to stand beside him (Jer. 15:20).  Despite it all, Jeremiah pressed on, and instead of running from the dog, learned in whatever way he could, to run alongside it.  From his own bleak history and days spent wallowing in mud, Jeremiah created a compelling picture for a vacillating King Zedekiah, pointing out that if disobedient, he too would know what it was like to have his feet “sunk in the mud.”

Wretched as he was, I cannot help but read Jeremiah’s book and love him all the more for his superlative example of perseverance.

Observation:

The Bible has much to say about perseverance and the presentation of righteousness.  Take Romans 2:7 for example: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”  But here, in Jeremiah, the struggle is an internal one, and illuminates the challenge of obedience when the greatest impasse to doing what is right is not the public, or a king, or the circumstances, but the very mind itself.

I hear myself in Jeremiah’s wails.  When the strength to rise every morning feels beyond my capacity, the path of righteousness seems less straight-and-narrow, and more edge-of-cliff while blindfolded.  But I strive still for obedience, because I know my God requires it, no matter the dogs that pursue me.  For he may yet use their dark barking for His glory.   

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, obedience is hardest for me when I’ve convinced myself it’s impossible and the voice of doubt harangues me in the night.  But You’ve provided no caveat for compliance.  Your Word is as clear to me as it was to Jeremiah, and your promises of deliverance are older than the ages.  I can do it, Lord, but I need your help.  Because though the black dog is fast, You are faster still.  Amen.

Sarah

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Jeremiah 34-36

Scripture

“Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.” (Jeremiah 36:23, NIV)

Observation

Jeremiah and Baruch proclaimed God’s word, but King Jehoiakim rejected it completely. The king was punished for his wickedness, but Jeremiah and Baruch faithfully obeyed. They rewrote the message that Jehoiakim had burned.

Application

Our job is to declare God’s truth, whether or not it is accepted. It’s easy to quit, when no one seems to listen. It’s tempting to water down the truth, when people refuse to heed. And yet, we are charged to “preach the word…correct, rebuke and encourage” (2 Timothy 4:2), and to “hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). To be faithful “sowers”, regardless of the condition of the “soil”. (Matthew 13)

Prayer

God, give us the courage of Jeremiah and Baruch, so that we will proclaim Your word. Will You show us when to speak, and what to say? Open the ears of those who hear, too, so that they can accept Your truth. We love You, Lord, and we want to be faithful to You. Amen.

amystorms

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Jeremiah 32-33

Scripture

‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time.” ‘For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” ’

Jeremiah 32: 14-15 (NASB)

Observation

For Israel, the promises of God are inextricably connected to the land. The land promised to Abraham as an inheritance and a place for the people of God. In Jeremiah the people are about to suffer the greatest punishment possible – being removed from the land. Because of the great sin of Israel in following after other gods they were to be visited with a physical manifestation of separation from the promises of God. They would be humiliated and carried off into exile and the land would be laid waste. But even in the midst of their worst nightmare God is still a God of hope and promise. Even though they deserve everything they are getting for their adultery against God, He still provides a promise of hope. “Houses and fields and vineyards will be bought in this land.” God would bring them back. To reinforce this promise He had Jeremiah buy land right before the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah who had preached that Judah was doomed, also offered hope that although Israel had broken their covenant with God, God could not break His covenant with Abraham. After all God swore by Himself to do it.

Application

There are so many amazing things in this passage. I think that there is great application here. Even though the church is not Israel, we can still draw great confidence from these passages which remind us that God is faithful in spite of our sin. Even in our worst of sins and in the ugliness of our hearts, God is bigger. In our biggest failure and in the areas in our life left desolate and ruined, God says “Houses and fields, and vineyards will again be bought and sold in this land.” God will take what is desecrated, and defiled, and laid waste, and He will bring it back to life. Over and over again we see in the Bible the great work of our God, taking what was dead and from that death bringing new and greater life. What a great God we serve.

Prayer

Father thank you that you love to take what is dead and reclaim it to bring abundant life. Everywhere we look we can see reminders of your great work. From filthy waste you cause beautiful and life-giving plants to grow. From ruined nations entrenched in dead religiosity you bring forth the One who would bring life for all. From ruined lives you restore years that locusts have eaten. We are all your reclamation projects Lord and it is truly awesome to behold your work in your people. Your work us beyond comprehension and Your greatness beyond imagination.

Amen.

Mike

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Jeremiah 29-31

Scripture

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV

 Observation

  • God’s thoughts toward us are peaceful and wants to give us hope.
  • When we call on God He listens to us.
  • If we seek God with all our heart we will find Him.
  • God is accessible to anyone who seeks him

 Application

These are incredible verses; God is so clear about His thoughts toward His people.  It is so reassuring to know that the God of the universe is personally concerned and cares about each of us.  He wants the best for us and we can be our best by depending on Him.  I’m humbled by the love from God in this passage.  We serve a passionate and dependable God. 

Prayer

Lord God I’m so grateful and honored to be your son.  Help me to live in the reality of these verses and remember daily that you want the best for my life.  Thank you for loving me and all your children with incredible passion. Amen.

 Jon

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