Tag Archives: grace

Jeremiah 34-36

Following God doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble.

While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. (Jeremiah 34:1-5a, NIV)

God doesn’t spare us from trouble, but he goes with us through it.

As I read, I see Zedekiah and the people switch gears, and in doing so, change their fate. I read of another leader who hears the words from the Lord and sets them on fire, with blatant disregard–like saying, “I don’t want to hear it, and I don’t want to see it either.”

These chapters highlight pride, sin, integrity, faith, and so much more. Throughout all of it, I see how God, in his love, sends a warning, time and again.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.’” (Jeremiah 35:12-17, NIV, emphasis mine)

There’s a lot going on in these chapters, and a lot of people. I wanted to get clear on who is who, so I searched for “whatever happened to Zedekiah,” not reading ahead. I got the story on him.

Lord, your word is full of real life examples. How often have I been negligent to listen to you? I want to listen well trust you. You give me your word in my hands. You want me to know you and follow you and love you. You’ve always pursued me. You are so faithful. And I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 25-27

“Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.  Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way.  Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.” (26:2b-3)

Grace.  Mercy.  Those probably aren’t the first words that come to your mind when you think of the Hebrew prophets.  Reading about God’s wrath and impending judgment, it’s easy to see God as a heavy-handed judge who is eager to apply the full measure of the law.

But then you run across passages like this.  “Perhaps they will listen,” God says to Jeremiah, so face the angry crowd that wants to kill you, stand up to the false prophets, deliver my message to the people.  It just might be that those that hear you will repent and turn from evil and “then I will relent.”  God is waiting patiently, giving them every chance to repent, because he wants to be merciful, he wants to pour out his grace on his people and not give them the judgment they deserve.

I struggle with grace, particularly when it is applied to others.  God, why do you not punish those that do evil?   They’ve done some really terrible things – how can you overlook that?  I want to be the heavy-handed judge that gets to rain down fire from heaven.  Of course, I struggle less when the grace is applied to me.  I’m happy to receive God’s grace and forgiveness as I come to Him again, confessing a sin that’s plagued me over and over.

I was talking to a friend recently about ways to model God’s grace to our kids.  My friend took the hard line:  “they’ll see God’s grace in your love as you discipline them and teach them.”  Perhaps he’s right, but there’s this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I’d be in trouble if God took the same approach with me.  When God lavishes his grace on me, others that are watching might call it “permissive,” but I call it “amazing.”

Thank you, Father, for your amazing grace.  I am so undeserving of your love, yet you pour out your mercy and forgiveness on me, and you’ve given me a purpose and a hope that goes beyond anything in this world.  Help me to be a conduit of your grace to others; help me to reflect in my words and actions the grace that I have received, and help me to lavish that grace on others in a way that points them to you.

Steve (wordisalive)

From the archives. Originally published August 21, 2009.

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Psalms 78:25-72

Psalm 78 opens with these words–

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done. (Psalm 78:1-4, NIV)

The psalm lists great things the Lord has done. So we will know him and remember who he is. So that we will share it with a next generation.

But what I notice, too, is the psalm lists things man has done.

32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
    in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

It’s a familiar pattern.

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
    they eagerly turned to him again.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock,
    that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
    lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
    they were not faithful to his covenant. (Psalm 78:34-37, NIV)

How often …

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
    they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power— (Psalm 78:40-42a, NIV)

This psalm is just a short glimpse of time, finishing up with David.

In literature, stories sometimes reflect that conditions and state of the world at that time: Take Dickens, Twain, Steinbeck, Angelou, Knowles, and so many others–their stories are a heart’s cry of a generation. And I wonder, if one were to write a psalm today, would it be so very different from this one? There is no doubt to me that God’s goodness and faithfulness will outshine man’s corruption and sin.

39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a passing breeze that does not return. (Psalm 78:39, NIV)

Lord, this life is temporary and brief. I read these words in grateful stillness. When a generation screams, Lord, let me remember you. Let me tell someone of your goodness and faithfulness, to pass it down and pass it on. Help me to keep my focus on you and your kingdom.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 5:17-8:22

My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle. They end without hope. O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again feel happiness. You see me now, but not for long. You will look for me, but I will be gone.” Job 7:6-8 NLT

I can learn a lot from Job’s vulnerability with his emotions towards the Lord. But, his hopelessness made him question God’s goodness. When has my view of God been so limited that I feel like His intentions towards me are not good? I know how easy it is to slip down into that despair.

What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watched of humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When you look for me, I will be gone.” Job 7:17-21 NLT

Job was sure that sin must have been the cause for his suffering. He was trying to figure out what didn’t make sense. Don’t I do the same thing when I say things like, “How could a good God let bad things happen?” I’ve come to realize that some things I will never understand this side of Heaven.

Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right? Your children must have sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved.” Job 9:3 NLT

It seems like Job knew deep down that he hadn’t sinned against God. He was going through such intense suffering that he was trying to figure out why God would ”pick on him.” His friends didn’t help, by making Job question himself. Which caused Job to question God’s heart. I am thankful for a God that can handle my doubts.

Dear Father, thank you that I can cry out to you when I don’t understand. Thank you that you are a God of justice, but your mercy triumphs over judgement. I pray that I would give Godly advice and wisdom that reflects your heart. You are a big God and Your ways are higher than mine. I pray that I would rest in your sovereignty. I trust You Lord, Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1-2; Psalm 43; Romans 9

It sounds like depression. It sounds like grief. It sounds like despair.

Declare me innocent, O God!
    Defend me against these ungodly people.
    Rescue me from these unjust liars.
For you are God, my only safe haven.
    Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies? (Psalm 43:1-2, NLT)

It sounds like hope.

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
    to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
    O God, my God!

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:3-5, NLT)

It reminds me that when times are dark and pressing in and on, when it feels like God has turned his back, that there is light and truth. There is joy. There is hope.

Circumstances and feelings don’t tell the full story. I turn to God’s unchanging word for truth and guidance. I am reminded of who he is and who I am.

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble,
    a rock that makes them fall.
But anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.” (Romans 9:30-33, NLT)

Lord, I am so thankful for your words in my hands. You are timeless and true. Your word is living and active. I sit in this space today, glad for quiet and time to drink in truth. Thank you for wisdom. Thank you for mercy and grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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