Jeremiah 19-20 B

Can you believe followers of Baal sacrificed their children? I can’t wrap my head around that. Israel rejected the Lord for false gods who they were convinced required them to burn their children alive.

Something God claims hadn’t even crossed his mind (19:5).

What sort of things do you put up with out of the idols in your life? What do you allow the false gods in your life to require of you?

Does God require this of you?

-Carly

Jeremiah 17-18 B

As I began reading this chapters today, I sighed. This doomsday book is very long. Fifty-two chapters? Not only that, but there are plenty other books dedicated to prophetic warnings leading up to the exile. I would like to know just how much (percentage wise) of the Old Testament is warnings and pleas to change course.

The patience of the LORD is long. He didn’t strike Israel the moment they stepped out of line, but pleaded with them all the way into child sacrifice and rampant violence oblivion.

It seems we are always vacillating between shock that the LORD disciplined His people in such a way, and awe that His patience and kindness waited so long to do so.

Then I arrive at chapter eighteen and discover a new perspective:

“The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'” (18:4-6)

Sigh again. He has a point. Who are we to sit here and decide if the exile was “not cool”? We get caught up, trying to quantify the goodness of the LORD from our tiny perspectives, and lose sight of the fact that our opinions truly don’t matter. He formed us out of dirt and He does not have to answer to us.

Even so, we see–time and time again–that He is absolutely justified in His actions toward them.

“So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.” ’ But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Ask now among the nations, Who ever heard the like of this? The virgin of Israel Has done a most appalling thing.” (18:11-13‬)

Israel was to be a light among the nations, but at this point, their neighbors are outshining them, and they’re not sorry. We are going to follow our own plans, they say.

How relatable! How often do we side eye the commandments of the LORD and then decide to stick to our own plan? It’s good to stop and think about. Seek out His ways, search for His higher road, discover His plan. How can you pursue His Way today?

-Bethany

Jeremiah 15-16 B

“This is how the Lord responds: ‘If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!’ ” 15:19

It seems odd to try to relate to the book of Jeremiah, or pull out an application from these chapters. It’s a little intense and highlights God’s holiness and how sometimes his perfect love holds consequences. That’s what makes it perfect.

Still, the sentence do not let them influence you struck a chord with me.

Have you ever been in Jeremiah’s shoes? Has God ever given you an important message to deliver, and you find yourself set apart, maybe isolated from those you’re sending the message to?

It takes great discipline to not be influenced by whomever and whatever we’re around. We’re going to be influenced by something, so we need to make an active choice on what it’s going to be.

Reflect on what influenced you today. Maybe it was a person or a desire. What prompted that?

-Carly

Jeremiah 13-14 B

I like how Carly noticed, last time, that God wants to be as close to His people as their underwear.

“This is your lot, the portion measured to you From Me,” declares the LORD, “Because you have forgotten Me And trusted in falsehood. So I Myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, That your shame may be seen.” (13:25-26‬)

We hide how deeply twisted we are. Individually, yes, but I want to focus on the corporate responsibility, as it applies to Israel.

They fancied themselves the most righteous of all nations because they were the LORD’s chosen, but they had become inwardly rotten. The LORD uses a great word picture:

I’m going to pull your shirt over your face.

What a clear way to embarrass someone. You think you’re so beautiful and flawless? You are shameful! And people are about to see it!

I’ve thought how this has applied to our current moment in history. My generation has become disenfranchised with conservative America, scratching their heads to ask, “Wait, has this always been about money? Have we always been this corrupt?” The skirt is up over the face.

This is a necessary realization to reach. Our various assertions of righteousness (apart from Christ) are ticking time bombs.

Have you experienced anything like this lately? Seen the seedy underbelly of something you thought was wholesome? It’s disappointing right? But it’s good for us to see how empty our idols are.

-Bethany

Jeremiah 11-12 B

“Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?” 12:1

I had a similar conversation with the Lord around 2am last night. Reading these chapters today was comforting; I like being reminded that God can handle our doubt and guides us in our limited understanding of his sovereignty.

I thought it was interesting in chapter 11 when he tells Jeremiah to give up and stop praying for Israel. It got me thinking about how often I want a say in what God’s love looks like. Jeremiah is pleading with God to punish the wicked, but advocating for him to keep chasing after Israel? Don’t they fall under the “wicked” category after all they’ve done against the Lord?

Last night won’t be the last time I lose sleep trying to sort through God’s sovereignty. I need to relinquish my desire for control, and choose to trust him every day. Our relationship with God and submission to his holiness is a daily choice, an act.

Do you try to dictate how God love?

Where do you need to let go of control?

-Carly

Jeremiah 9-10 B

“The LORD said, ‘Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice or walked according to it, but they have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them.'” (9:13-14)

Over and over, the LORD pronounced impending judgement on Israel and Judah due to idolatry. Baal is the main attraction of idolatry, and it’s important to remember what Baal represented.

He was the Canaanite god of fertility, weather, rain, wind, lightning, seasons, war, and sailors.

What do you think his modern, American equivalent would be? Fertility is still a major concern in life. The weather still affects farmer’s success, but we could otherwise equate this to financial success.

When we feel threatened in the areas of fertility/family or professional success, who do we call? Do we follow the Laws of the LORD and trust in Him for provision, practicing Biblical business values and generosity? Or do we default to cultural norms, self help fads, or cut corners by corruption?

Israel was to be set apart in every way. Followers of Christ also aspire to be set apart in the ways they obey the LORD over anything else. How does this look in your life? What would the LORD consider a little Baal-ish in your life? Ask Him about it today.

-Bethany

Jeremiah 7-8 B

I was drawn to the same part of these chapters as Bethany was last time, and I loved her reflection on them.

“But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, ‘The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.” 7:5-7

Pay attention: if you are being told that your safety, comfort and finances are God’s ultimate priority, we are being fooled.

If you are told that standing under the umbrella of Christianity gets you a get-of-jail-free card, we are misunderstanding grace.

Do you find yourself hiding under the blanket of religion?

What does your relationship with God prompt you to advocate for?

-Carly