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

Jeremiah 11-12

“Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, They have trampled down My field; They have made My pleasant field A desolate wilderness. “It has been made a desolation, Desolate, it mourns before Me; The whole land has been made desolate, Because no man lays it to heart.” (12:10-11‬)

The LORD often refers to His people, Israel, as a vineyard. One He cares for, protects and nurtures, yet doesn’t produce good grapes. Now it’s observed many shepherds have trampled around and ruined everything.

People love important positions, even the task of shepherding, caring for God’s people. But sometimes the task falls by the wayside when pride and lust for power start taking over.

Next thing you know, the people you’re supposed to be loving and nurturing (even when they’re stupid and short sighted like a sheep) are in your way and under your feet.

Praise the LORD, He is not a shepherd like us. He has compassion on His people and restores after He corrects. He never takes His eyes off His sheep, because He has no insecurities to distract Him.

A million different things distract me. I will jump at the chance to remind myself, today, to see who my “sheep” are and re-evaluate how I love and serve them. Also I need constant reminding to look into the eyes of my Good Shepherd and feel just how loved and cared for I am, in Him.

-Bethany

Jeremiah 9-10

“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken.” 9:24

Is there anything else worth boasting about? When I stop and think about the things that I get prideful about, it’s laughable. Anything worth bragging about is because of Jesus in my life. I pray that I am able to pride myself on truly knowing him, and nothing else.

What do you get prideful about? 

Is it a personality trait? A role or position you’re in? Something you own?

“Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!”

Amen to that. Let’s pray for humility that brings us closer in relationship to God and further from self-destruction.

 

-Carly

 

Jeremiah 7-8

The Bible Project has produced a few theme videos and this one about justice helps in understanding the plea God is making here:

“Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” (7:5-7)

Israel seemed to be under the impression that since they were God’s people, keepers of His temple, they were automatically blessed, could do whatever they wanted and get away with murder. It’s easy to recognize this idea, because it’s tempting for those of us, in the New Covenant, to treat grace that way. 

But God says, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” (7:23) Obedience is key.

Now is always the time to stop fooling ourselves. The way we treat each other matters. We are not the children of God so we can feel superior to everyone and do as we please. 

Another reason it matters, is because the world is watching. The LORD is always reminding Israel that He does things for His name sake. Israel was giving the LORD a bad name, and that can’t happen. Now, it seems God has a bad name because of Christians. Not an every place, or circumstance, but it does happen.

Whether we like it or not, people are making decisions about what they think about God based on our actions. What does your life say about God? What does my life say about God?

Someone once told me, “when you compare yourself to others you always lose. You either make yourself out to be more or less and neither is Christ.” Let’s be people who lift others up. Not because we are so cool, and up high, but because they are made in God’s image, just as we are.

– Bethany 

Jeremiah 5-6

“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.” 6:13-14

Mortal wound. I love that metaphor. There was a lot in these chapters to walk through, but this part particularly jumped out to me.

There are hurting people. Being offered bandaids and worthless salve, smoothed on by liars. If you believe in God and he’s changed your life, you have what they really need. The gospel.

How much longer will I say nothing to worn out hearts? To suffering friends? To lost, broken people? Money, possessions, and the false gospel of Americanism will not save them. Or you. Or me. Only Jesus provides us with peace and heals our mortal wound. 

When I read the verse above about lives being ruled by greed, I thought about the most harmful way greed impacts my life. I’m greedy with my comfort. Reaching out to someone with the strong message of the gospel takes work, work I don’t always want to participate in.

Has God been putting someone on your heart to share the gospel with?

Let’s pray that we are responsive to the lost and the hurting.

 

-Carly

Jeremiah 3-4

“At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” (3:17)

When I read passages like this, I let out a sigh of relief. The Old Testament prophets always spoke Hope for the Day God draws all nations to Himself. 

Much of my ministry-related stress is that I can somehow let God down or accidentally foil His plan for the Salvation of humanity. Then I read this and He reassures me, “I didn’t let Israel mess it up for everyone, you don’t have that much power.” He is the One who does it. He is faithful to His promises. He is mighty to save. 

He is full of grace, calling His adulterous people back. Something no human husband would ever tolerate. He is not like us and He is able to heal us at our core. All of us.

He invited us to trust Him, to remove our idols and be devoted. Not because He needs it, but because we need it.

Stubbornness has us flailing and wailing, quite foolishly and unnecessarily. How many times doesn He have to tell me to “Be still and know He is God and He will be exalted in the nations”, before I surrender? 

My idols don’t fix things, my vices don’t soothe, I can’t really replace the God who created the world. Let’s return to Him, in trust and humility, today. 

-Bethany 

Jeremiah 1-2

For an overview of the book of Jeremiah, watch this video.

If you read the book of 2 Kings with us, you might remember when the 8 year old king, Josiah, arrived on the scene in 2 Kings 22. That’s when the book of Jeremiah came together and he delivered a very unpopular message to the people: there are about to be major consequences for your actions.

Chapter 2 is long and pretty heart-wrenching to read. God is telling Jerusalem just how ridiculous it is that they abandoned him after all he’s done and all they’ve been through.

“…my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!” 2:11

Oh, how terribly often we do the exact same thing.

We exchange God’s perfect peace for relentless anxiety. We ignore his pursuing love for meaningless peer approval. We eat rotting, bland scraps instead of feasting on his living bread.

Exam your heart with me today. What are you exchanging God for? It can be moment to moment. Earlier instead of resting in God’s perfect, eternal, before-the-beginning-of-the-earth timing, I gripped on to the manmade concept of time and my agenda for it. This not only fails me, it hurts Him.

He is enough for you.

 

-Carly