Jeremiah 25-26

“For the past twenty-three years…the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.” 25:3

Can you imagine telling people the same thing over and over again for 23 years with no response? Maybe you can. Maybe there’s someone in your life you’ve been praying for and sharing the gospel with for years and they’ve never really heard you.

Here’s the crucial part to this: Jeremiah is doing this out of his devotion to God, not devotion to his own agenda. If he just wanted to be right, or win some sort of power struggle, he would never sustain such a task. Of course he has his ups and downs, I’m sure he was worn out and discouraged often. But he is able to continue sharing God’s words because he has committed himself to God.

Are you frustrated by the meager results you’re seeing after all the effort you put in to sharing God’s message? Sort out your intentions. We are not responsible for how someone responds to God. Remember who you are committing yourself to and trust that you are being used for the bigger picture; the plan doesn’t hinge on you alone.

Be encouraged when you read these chapters; we are in good company when we share God’s hard-to-swallow words. 

-Carly

Jeremiah 23-24

The land is full of false prophets, urging people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, if you will. As I read this, something resonated with me: it is hard to discern who to listen to. There are so many opinions, so many interpretations of the times, so many ideologies, theologies and philosophies. How can we know which voice is of the LORD? Who is our Jeremiah? Which prophet can we trust?

Again, it circles back to Scripture. Jeremiah was citing the Torah and reinforcing patterns and characteristics of a steadfast LORD, who does not change and hasn’t back down from His end of the covenant. He still speaks hope, but it’s a deeper hope, maybe even a confusing one:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘the LORD our righteousness’.” (23:5-6)

It’s no wonder Israel was awaiting a military take down and not a meek and mild Jesus. What do you mean He will be called “our righteousness”?

The Bible is both simple and complex. The God of communication made Himself clear and knowable. In moments of confusion, inundated with perspectives and contrary positions, we must remain anchored in the character of God. Know His patterns, promises and perspective. He is both infinite, seeing time and creation from beginning to end, and intimate, sufficient for every detail and moment.

He is consistent. Remembering yesterday’s passage where He says, “isn’t that what it means to know Me?” (22:16) Begs us to pay attention to what’s important to Him. He repeats Himself constantly. “He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) I feel I’m constantly repeating myself in this blog because God is constantly repeating Himself. Humility! Obedience! Justice! Mercy! Kindness! Etc!

What are some characteristics of God that stand out to you? How do they anchor you in truth? What are some false ideologies, theologies and philosophies you may have been sucked into?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 21-22

“But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” 22:15-16

Jehoiakim failed to properly care for the nation and therefore God was not caring for him. A disgrace, mournless death is the ultimate punishment for someone swallowed by pride.

A beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king. A large house does not make a happy family. A busy person does not make a productive person. Being married doesn’t make your life complete. Whatever materialistic version of life that the world has shaped for you is not the answer. But loving the way God loves, stretching out to the poor and working for justice, brings fulfillment and eternal happiness. Can you have these things and still please God? Apparently. It’s noted in the verse above that Josiah was a well-cared for king, but more importantly, he led well, so God was good to him.

We are stepping into the holiday season, soon to be smothered by materialism, over-spending, misdirection and greed.

How can we choose to focus on character in the midst of it all? Don’t miss this: God takes caring for the poor and needy incredibly seriously. He favors them. How can we align ourselves with his heart for them? In a season that will quickly expose our priorities, let’s be marked by our selflessness and not our selfishness.

 

-Carly

 

Jeremiah 19-20

“But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.” (20:9)

No matter the circumstances, God’s message and call remained the center of Jeremiah’s life. He had a very unpopular message, and was even punished for it. His lament at the end of 20 portrays just how much he wishes life was different. It comes as a surprise to me when he suddenly interjects:

“Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers.” (20:13‬)

He has had it, with everyone, but still glories in the Truth of the Goodness of God.

I think one of the reasons Carly and I always circle back around to staying in the Word, is that no matter the circumstance, we need the truth-anchor that is His enduring goodness. We can’t ignore who God is. We can’t sidestep His call. Especially when you’ve tasted and seen His goodness, there’s no going back.

Jeremiah isn’t wishing he could slip into the crowd and “be like everyone else”. He either wants to see God glorified on earth or he would rather not be born.

His 626 BC message was harsh, but would not be held back. Our 2017 AD message is straight up called “Good News” and how often do we keep it in? I know the temptation to keep the Gospel to myself in favor of blending in. It’s a worthwhile challenge to remember this contrast.

What message has God given you today?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 17-18

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” 17:7-8

Take notice that those who trust in the Lord are not exempt from trials or suffering, they are simply cared for and God is with them. The sun still beats down. The drought still exists. I also noticed that this verse tells us it is possible to be healthy within suffering. Circumstances don’t dictate how the godly will act. 

I’ve gone to this verse over the years in the face of hardship. It’s not a bandaid. It’s not a false promise, or fluffy words pulled out of context. It’s a beautiful promise sandwiched in between some hard truth.

Before it, God reprimands those who put all their trust in humanity. And after it, he says that the human heart is the most deceived of all things. Why trust in man alone? I can’t even trust myself.

Godliness does not give you instant gratification. But we are promised that it pays off, that it provides solid ground to stand on and will not be in vain.

The verse above tells us that when we trust in God, we are like trees with deep roots near water, receiving the substance we need in the hard times. Roots take time to develop, to thicken and grip themselves into the earth.

Are we putting in the work to set down roots with God? 

Establish a relationship with him now, instead of scrambling towards him in a storm. Let’s learn from the people of Israel, who rejected God over and over again, ignored his warnings and faced severe consequences. Humanity cannot offer us what we truly need. Settle down and establish a deep relationship with the one who does.

 

-Carly

 

 

Jeremiah 15-16

These chapters are heavy. The destruction described in 15 is hard to imagine. How could the LORD be so ruthless? But this was exactly what He said would happen, in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, if the people rejected Him like this. But, like a loving father, He draws His children in after they’ve been disciplined.

“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.” (16:14-15)

The story which lingers in their history as the LORD’s most powerful display of deliverance will be eclipsed by the way He promises to save them from their consequences. His punishment is not forever.

What’s more, is the beautiful promise He makes next:

“Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD, “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.” (16:16‬)

This brings a whole new depth to understanding what Jesus was doing when He called His disciples to be “Fishers of Men”.

Our Redeemer hunts for us. Just as the Exodus parallels our own salvation from slavery to sin, the return from Exile parallels God’s pursuit to reclaim His lost sheep children. He also uses His people to hunt and fish, with Him, for more.

Remember the day Jesus came for you. What was that like? How do you imagine it? Do you feel like you’re still in Exile? Speak to the LORD about your journey with Him, today.

-Bethany

Jeremiah 13-14

“As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory-an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.” 13:11

God created his people so that he could have an intimate relationship with them. I take this for granted a lot. I don’t know much about other religions or other gods people worship, so it can be lost on me how unique and special this is. As we’ve read in previous chapters, people passed up worshiping God to worship statues that they built with their own hands. Motionless, dead weight that they carried around from place to place. They chose this over the Living God, who loves us and relates to us. Who compares our closeness to him as underwear. Weird, but it gets the point across. God wants to exceed our expectations for relationship with him. He wants to get us out of our comfort zones and trust him.

What area of your life are you keeping God out of? 

If circumstances in your life have impacted how you engage in intimate relationships, seek healing from God. We will not succeed relationally with anyone until we seek out a healthy relationship with him.

 

-Carly