Category Archives: Jeremiah

1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Psalms 26-27

I have read Romans so many times that I have become somewhat numb to the impact it had on Jews and Gentiles alike.  Romans 4:11 shocked me for the first time; “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them.”

Why did God choose circumcision of all things to represent a condition of the heart? It’s a graphic symbol about a part of the body we don’t discuss in mixed company. Isn’t it just like God to keep me from becoming too spiritual when it comes to faith? Abraham’s faith in God, calls him to place his son on the altar as well as undergoing circumcision. And what did Sarah think about all of this?

Abraham challenges me; I take faith far too lightly. God’s grace is serous business; it holds the knife over the most tender places…places I do my best not to expose.

But the good news of this grace finds me every time I cry out to God, every time I consider His word:

“But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart…” Romans 10:8  and “so faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Romans 8:15.

I have to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to my heart multiple times a day to keep myself off the hamster wheel of works and self righteousness. It’s his grace that saves me, not what I do. What I do is a response to his grace. When it’s not, He is waiting to restore what I broke. He loves me that much, not because I merit it, but because, quite simply, that is who He is. He sees the most vulnerable parts of me— the places hidden from others and even myself, and He never turns away.

Holy Spirit, may your grace and peace settle deep into my soul so that I live in the freedom and joy of your grace. Jesus, thank you for taking my rags and giving me your righteousness to wear. I thank you for the wonder of who you are and the healing and restoration you bring to me. Your love, your sacrifice is my joy.

Kathy

 

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1 Samuel 7,8; Romans 6; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 20,21

Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3 NRSV

If you are like me, a follower of Jesus, then you and I have answered this question of choice and if I am honest – I have to choose everyday and every day I have to choose Jesus.  For me, if I do not, I find myself being okay with certain weaknesses and falling for certain temptations and then declaring them to be in the realm of grace

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? – Romans 6:1 NRSV

The answer is definitely a big NO! So what is my problem, why do I think it is okay?

But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. – Jeremiah 44:5 NRSV

I find my relationship with God falls into a pattern, a grove, a comfortable “method” or “process” and as busy as I am in adoration, confession, thankfulness, and supplication – I miss the most important part of any relationship – listening.  While I have been busy talking, I forget to listen – how does God want to respond to what I have just said or how does He want to engage Himself into my day?  I do not know and maybe I don’t because in some weird moment of time – I might admit that I do not want to know.

I think you know where this is going – throw in some trouble and what do I do? Yes, I call on God. This is where it get’s tricky – I feel that since I did not spend much quality time with Him that I do not deserve to call on Him.  Wow – so simple to get pushed even further away from God.   But I know this – His grace is sufficient and as my Heavenly Father, He cares.  I can always call out His name and He is there.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob protect you! – Psalm 20:1 NRSV

Lord, if I have to forgive others as much as You have forgiven me, that is a whole lot more than 70 x 7!  How thankful I am for your grace, but more thankful that You never allow the Holy Spirit to leave me – I am convicted of my sin and I find my way back to You.  I bless You for Your faithfulness – thank You for Your protection.  I can always count on You.  I pray that my faithfulness will grow as we grow in our relationship together and that I would rather do the things You would like me to do as opposed to the things I want to do for myself.  Thank You for bringing me into Your space and allowing me to be a part of Your family.

evanlaar

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1 Samuel 5&6; Romans 5; Jeremiah 43; Psalms 19

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 NLT

I am a person who likes to avoid a disruption of peace, whether it be conflict or trials. But, God has been teaching me that they are a necessity for my growth. I tend to reflect back on “if only” than _______ wouldn’t have happened. But, I am learning that God is using those times to show me that I’m not in control. Before we left for our family beach vacation, my youngest daughter was hit in the eye with a golf club. Her eye is fine, but it left a bruise that took the whole week to go away. After we stopped for lunch on our drive to the beach, my other daughter threw her retainer away in the trash. Which I than spent an hour searching for and never found. I felt like I could breath a sigh of relief once we arrived. Only to start off the next day with a bike ride with my four kids that ended in scrapes and bruises from two of them colliding. God is showing me that I can’t escape trials. He is using them to refine me. He is testing my character and wants to see how I react. When I am in constant communion with him and in His word, I have more patience and his words come out of my mouth. If I am bound by my own fear and mistrust, I can let anxieties overtake me and be quick to snap and yell.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT

Nothing compares to hearing my child pray before bed to heal him and his sister from their cuts and scrapes. Childlike trust. Knowing that God didn’t cause the pain and he is sovereign.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalms 19:1-8 NLT

But oh, how the ocean’s vastness, compared to my smallness humbles me and puts things into perspective.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good…So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends with God.” Romans 5:6-11 NLT

Father, I pray that I would run to your presence instead of turning away(Jer.43:7). I praise you. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. For pursuing me. I love you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 4, Psalm 18, Jeremiah 42, Romans 4

I own a wellness clinic and our main focus is helping people regain and improve their health through weight loss. We use a very specific program and all our coaches are very knowledgeable in that particular protocol. Each and every day we have people walk through our doors desperately wanting a change. Some are referred by friends because they just can’t stand the way they look, others are referred by their doctor who has threatened more medications, increases in insulin or even bariatric surgery as a final resort. When they begin, their desperation is heard loud and clear and their commitment to the program is 100%. On a scale from 1-10 they are an 11. They want it so bad they will do anything we say to improve their health. We hear, “Just tell me what to do and I will do it!” every day.

Fast forward 6 weeks. The crises and emergency is over. Twenty pounds are gone, blood pressure is improved, doctor is happy and friends are noticing. And even though they haven’t met their target weight, something in their mind begins to change.  They start easing up on the strict protocol. They make exceptions and compromises when they are out to dinner with their family and a few bites here are there at the birthday parties. When they return to our office and jump on the scale, they are disappointed. We give advice, review their food journal and find none of the exceptions recorded but we know from the scale that there were at least a few. They say to us, “Really? Just a few bites messed up my results? I don’t believe it!” or make excuses, “You don’t understand. I was out of the house all day and forgot my supplies so I just stopped picked something up at the store that wasn’t on the protocol. It really should have worked the same. The product was comparable” And then the compensation, “I increased my water intake to flush it all out”. They leave the clinic disappointed and confused to try for another week and can’t understand how their minor deviations could have prevented success. The spiral often continues and leads to missed coaching appointments and eventually they throw in the towel.

After their initial crises is over, it is difficult to stay the course and follow what the “expert” recommends. Even though they are still a long way from their goal, once they begin feeling better it becomes much more difficult to follow the rules. Their flesh wants to follow its desire and even the best advice from their coach seems extreme and restrictive even though it is unchanged from when they started.

As people, we find ourselves in crises throughout the pages of scripture and we cry out to the Lord (and his prophets) for help. We are desperate to hear from the Lord. We will do whatever it takes….

“Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us.Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 42: 2-3, 4-6

When the Lord responds, are we willing to do what he says? Are we prepared to sacrifice our own fleshly desires every step of the way to follow him? Sometimes his word feels restrictive and sometimes it just plain doesn’t make sense to us. But we can trust him. Just as our coaches can see what lies ahead for the client’s that deviate repeatedly (no permanent health change) so too was the information the prophet Jeremiah received from the Lord for his people.

Dear Lord, thank you for the reminder that your word to us is not always easy to accept but you are always in it. You are for us, not against us and even the most restrictive or difficult of circumstances is meant to draw closer to you. Help us to hear you clearly and obey immediately, knowing you are in control. Amen.

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Judges 20; Acts 24; Jeremiah 35; Psalms 5-6

“You yourselves recently repented and did what was right in my sight by proclaiming liberty to one another, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name; but then you turned around and profaned my name when each you took back you male and female slaves whom you had set free according to their desire and brought them again into subjection to be slaves.” Jeremiah 34:15-16.

Like the people of Israel, I am known by God’s name and with that comes boundless grace and incredible responsibility. The words that come out of my mouth and the actions that follow have the opportunity to glorify or profane the name of God. These are strong words.

In contrast to the people of Israel, Paul’s life of obedience reflects the character of God: steadfast and true. He didn’t back down and compromise the truth when he spoke to Drusilla and Felix about “faith in Christ Jesus” Acts 24:24-25. Paul clung to the inconvenient truth and it cost him two more years of sitting in a Caesarean jail.

Lord, grant me Paul’s  lack of duplicity, his doggedness and faith. May I represent your name well no matter whether it is convenient or not. I don’t want to be known as a “good”  or religious person, but as one who lives in your grace and truth. Lord, bring me to repentance so that I turn from  petty self interest to worship You in your beauty and righteousness. Amen.

Kathy

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Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Judges 15; Acts 19; Jeremiah 28; Mark 14

But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes in his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve piled them in heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” When he finished his boasting, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill. Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground of Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named the place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.” Judges 15:14-19 NLT

Samson was relying on his own strength. But once he cried out, the Lord gave him more than enough water to fulfill his thirst. God doesn’t withhold his Spirit from me. All I have to do is ask. Just like the woman pouring the jar of perfume. He pours out his spirit on me.  There can never be too much.

While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard. She broke open the jar and pursed the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked …But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:3-7 NLT

Than, why do I sometimes wait till I am depleted, to ask for something he so readily gives?

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles…So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.” Acts 19:2-20 NLT

The Lord’s spirit gives me freedom. He frees me from a yoke of bondage.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks…Then Hannaniah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.” Jeremiah 28:2&10 NLT

Thank you Father for giving me the power of your Holy Spirit. That you generously lavish your spirit on me when I ask. Forgive me for when I try to do things on my own. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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