Small Group Study: Jeremiah, honoring our purpose and keeping hope

June 1, 2015

Jeremiah 1 5

Jeremiah, called the weeping prophet, exemplified the message “attack you they will, overcome you they can’t”. Let’s get to know more about Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah is empowering, encouraging, and will nourish and speak to your soul. Jeremiah 1 lays a strong foundation for who we are, why we are here, and how we should approach challenges. I love that Jeremiah kicks off with some basic building blocks, we need these to get some solid footing.

You are here for a purpose: The book of Jeremiah starts with the scripture Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). God knows each and every one of us. He knew us before we were born. We were set apart for His plans, and those plans are good.

We have nothing to fear, He is with us: When Jeremiah shares his fear and apprehension with God about the plans for his life God reassures him, as he does each of us, by declaring “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jeremiah 1:8)

He equips us: God equips Jeremiah for his mission, as He does each of us and empowers Jeremiah saying “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before themThey will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

Fear and apprehension are natural reactions to stressful or unknown circumstances. Our body produces adrenaline, our heart races, and the fight or flight instinct kicks in. That reaction of our nervous system is designed by God- it warns us of potentially dangerous situations so we can stay safe.

But that very same reaction is also the crossroads where we will decided whether we will follow God or we will give in to the worldly pressures.  That same pivotal moment, placed in a situation ordained by God that we have been called to for such a time as this, will determine whether we will stand for Him or take the easy way out.

God tells Jeremiah not to be terrified by “them”, “they” will not overtake him, and reminds Jeremiah that He is not alone. When you find yourself in the fight or flight pivot of a Godly situation remember that you have a purpose, no reason to fear, He is with you, and He equips you.

You are radiantly redeemed. You are transformed. You are never alone, El Roi is with you (El Roi, the One who sees you (remember Hagar?). He is your Strong Tower, a fortress when you’re weak.

I encourage you to journal a few things each day in your Bible as you move through Jeremiah. Today consider writing “I have a purpose”, “I have nothing to fear”, “God loves me”, “God is always with me and He will equip me.” Engrave those truths on your heart. And when you see those principles at work in your life write them down in your Bible so that you can read them later and be encouraged again.

We’ll spend the month of June with Jeremiah. At the end of the month we will have read through the book of Jeremiah and replenished our arsenal of faith based responses to stress, fear, anxiety, and apprehension about what the future holds. If you have friends or family members who are struggling with these obstacles please encourage them to join us for June with Jeremiah.

June 2, 2015

Psalm 36 7

The second chapter of Jeremiah is about God’s frustration with us when we try to, as Frank Sinatra crooned about, do things our way. Jeremiah is writing about Israel forsaking God, but it didn’t stop with Israel. In fact when we stack our calendar, plan, try to control things and cajole others we “dig our own cistern”.  He is our fountain of life (Psalm 36:9).

My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

God is our fountain of life (Psalm 36:9). In Him is all the grace and strength that we will ever need and to deny this is to forsake Him. When we scurry around and try to make everything happen a certain way, we don’t rely on His strength and His grace and in doing so we deny Him.

Matthew Henry writes this about the Israelites (from Jeremiah 2): They have cheated themselves, they forsook their own mercies, but it was for lying vanities. They took a great deal of pains to hew themselves out cisterns, to dig pits or pools in the earth or rock which they would carry water to, or which should receive the rain; but they proved broken cisterns, false at the bottom, so that they could hold no water. When they came to quench their thirst there they found nothing but mud and mire, and the filthy sediments of a standing lake.

Take a moment and physically pick up your own plans. What do your plans look like? Maybe it’s the Outlook calendar on your computer, maybe it’s your phone, maybe it’s a calendar or a Daytimer, whatever your plans look like, pick them up. Hold those plans in your hands as you mentally turn them over to God. Ask God to take those plans and bless them, modify them, or totally change them- whatever His will is.

Don’t forsake His plans for your life for a broken bottle of stale water. Instead turn and embrace the Fountain of life. His plans are good- even when they don’t seem good, when they don’t seem fair, and when they’re not anything like you imagined, remember that they ARE good.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” -Mother Teresa

June 3, 2015

Print

No matter how far we get from God He is with us, waiting to welcome us back. When we’re lost, tired of trying to do things our way, tired of trying to make it on our own, He is there, waiting to wrap us up, carry us, and restore us.  Jeremiah 3 reassures us that God is faithful.

‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will not be angry forever. (Jeremiah 3:12)

The Israelites, the subject of Jeremiah’s writing, turned their backs on God, committed adultery, worshiped idols and still God was seeking them and waiting for their return. They were backsliding to say the least. And look what God promises the Israelites, He promises to cure them of their backsliding. And that promise is every bit ours to claim today.

Return, faithless people;
    I will cure you of backsliding.” (Jeremiah 3:22)

If you feel far from God recognize that He has not moved. He is right next to you waiting for you to turn to Him. His mercies are new every morning. Claim His mercy, rest on His promise, listen for His small still voice.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. – Mother Teresa

June 4, 2015

quiet resting places 2

God not only wants us to turn away from idols. He wants us to turn away from idols and return to Him. In the days of Jeremiah the idols may have been gold statues, or multiple gods of nature, weather, crops etc. An idol is anything that gets between you and God and causes you to move away from His will. Idols don’t have to be golden statues; it could be money, ego, fame, insecurity, drugs, alcohol, shopping.

Today’s verse from Jeremiah is the best advice there is. It applies to ever person, to every situation, over the span of all time. When you feel weak, distracted, confused, upset, angry, sad, lonely, or fearful follow the direction in this verse.

Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Stand at the crossroads and look. When you are at the crossroads of God and the idol stop and look. Don’t rush. Be diligent. Pray for His direction.

Ask for the ancient paths. Ancient paths. Seek advice from those who have walked the path before you. An ancient path may not be easy to see, it may be overgrown with brush, and lost in modern distractions. You have to seek out an ancient path and ask directions from those who traveled it before you.

Job 8:8 says
Ask the former generation
    and find out what their ancestors learned,
 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
    and our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not instruct you and tell you?
    Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?

Ask where the good way is, and walk in it. He is directing you on the good path. He will provide direction and rest for your souls. The pressures from the idols of your past will dissolve. Stay on the good way. His plans are good- even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water [Lyrics from Washed by the Water]

And you will find rest for your souls. Rest. Stop stressing out, stop worrying over things over which you have no control, stop zipping around on overdrive trying to make everyone happy. Just stop. Breath. Let Him guide you along the ancient path. Let the rest of it just go. It isn’t meant for you. If it were meant for you He would have put you there. But He put you HERE, for such a time as this.

June 5, 2015

2 Samuel

No one is like you, Lord;
    you are great,
    and your name is mighty in power. (Jeremiah 10:6)

Whisper His name and be infused by His strength and power. His name is mighty, He is our strength and shield.

God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. (Jeremiah 10:12-13)

His love for us is echoed throughout nature. God knows the end from the beginning and He is woven throughout. Rely on His wisdom and not on the wisdom of the world.

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
    it is not for them to direct their steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Let Him direct your path. He has a plan for your life, you are here for a purpose, and each hurdle along the way is intentional and purposeful. Live above the circumstances. Take the ancient path, the road less traveled.

Isaiah 54 17

June 8, 2015

 Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease? (Jeremiah 12:1)

Jeremiah verbalized what we have thought a time or two in our own lives. Have you watched as someone’s wicked plans against you seem to succeed, watched the enemy appear to prosper, and wondered why God hadn’t zapped them with a lightening bolt?

God tells us not to do that. He says that He will supply all of our needs and empower us. He tells us that “what if” and worry is a sin.

 When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,  for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11)

God tells Jeremiah that if His people will turn from their sinful ways and follow Him, He will restore what they have lost.

But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. (Jeremiah 12:15)

He is a God of forgiveness, restoration, and provision, and He is fighting for you!

God tells Jeremiah what the description of “His people” is in verse 12:16  “And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lordlives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people.”

Set the idols (whatever is getting between you and God; worry, ego, wealth, status, prestige) aside. Take your place in the fold- you are established and you have a place  “among His people“. Walk along the ancient path.

From Jesus Calling: “I am all around you, like a cocoon of Light. My Presence with you is a promise independent of your awareness of Me. Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is worry. My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life. However, worry is a form of unbelief. Who is in charge of your life? If it is you then you have good reason to worry! But since I am in charge, worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something relinquish the situation to Me.”

Instead of worry, wait. “We must continue to pray and “wait for the Lord” (Isaiah 8:17), until we hear the sound of His mighty rain. There is no reason why we should not ask for great things. Without a doubt, we will receive them if we ask in faith, having the courage to wait with patient perseverance for Him and meanwhile doing those things that are within our power to do.”

jeremiah-hope

June 9, 2015

Jeremiah is having a tough go of it, and he is facing some hurdles. The people that he is trying to encourage, share the word of God with, and lead continue to sin. But God encourages Jeremiah, and He tells Jeremiah that He accepts him, He will stand by him, and that Jeremiah will weather the storm. We all need that same reassurance from time to time. Claim His promise that He will deliver you for a good purpose.

Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
    surely I will make your enemies plead with you
    in times of disaster and times of distress.” (Jeremiah 15:11)

Jeremiah 17:7 tells us that we are blessed when we trust in the Lord and have our hope in Him. The verse says that when we do we are like a tree planted by the water, a tree that has everything it needs, with deep roots, and leaves that are always green. I love the image of the tree planted by the water; a visual of nature displaying God’s glory.

When we trust in the Lord and have our hope in Him we know that He will provide whatever we need, He will equip us for the journey, and restore us. When we trust in Him and have our hope in Him we have His peace and we can rest.

potter

June 10, 2015

“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:6)

God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to prepare a sermon. As Jeremiah watched the potter work God whispered to him and Jeremiah heard His words. God uses people, circumstances, illustrations to speak to us- be listening.

What messages did Jeremiah receive at the potter’s house that day? That God is sovereign over us. That God makes us and remakes us as He pleases. That it is all to His glory. Remember these truths when you walk along the ancient path with Him.

From Jesus calling: Seek to live in My Love, which covers a multitude of sins. Rest in Me. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of the day. Remember that you are on a journey with Me. When you peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant companion, who sustains you moment by moment.”

To the cross I look, and to the cross I cling. -Lyrics by Jeremy Riddle

Romans 8 28

June 11, 2015

Jeremiah was mocked, ridiculed, and laughed at. He was on a mission, doing everything that God asked of him, but he was the laughing stock of those he was trying to serve. They beat him, conspired against Jeremiah and plotted against him. Have you ever felt that way?

I wonder how Jeremiah kept going- why he didn’t just pack it all in and head home. But you only need to read further to know why. Jeremiah kept going, in fact singing to the Lord, because he knew that he was called for such a time as this and that his value was not found in those around them, his worth was not measured by what they thought, and his purpose not defined by their actions.

Have you ever felt alone in your fight for the truth? Like you are the only one who can see reason and it seems like those around you are reading from an entirely different script? Jeremiah has been there! Look at his perspective in that situation:

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. (Jeremiah 20:11)

You are not alone. The Lord is with you like a mighty warrior. He is the Cornerstone and He is equipping you, He is fighting for you, and He is walking the ancient path right alongside of you.

Have you ever encountered a situation where people ignore your words, ignore the truth in front of their very eyes, and choose untruth instead? Jeremiah has been there! Look at his advice to us when we face that same challenge:

Sing to the Lord!
    Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
    from the hands of the wicked. (Jeremiah 20:19)

Just keep going. Just keep doing what you know is right and don’t be discouraged by whether worldly measures justify it. Remember that your success is not judged by those measures. You have been called for such a time as this. Even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it doesn’t fit into your plan. Remember that God is in control and that ALL things work for good for those who have been called according to His purpose. All things, all circumstances work for His good. Not some things. Not just happy things. Not just good things. ALL things. Even this.

June 12, 2015

jeremiah-29-11

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses. He knows the plans He has for me- plans to prosper me, not to harm me, plans for hope and a future. Reassuring! Promise!Restoration!

This verse is even more powerful now that we know more about Jeremiah. Jeremiah faced monumental challenges- he wasn’t a prophet on easy street that sort of walked along in a long robe and shared wisdom and this amazing verse. No, Jeremiah had a very different role. His mission was difficult and the people he was trying to reach were resistant at best. He had been beaten, put in the stocks and left there for days, mocked, ridiculed, threatened, and oppressed; but here he is still encouraging, still preaching, and sharing this beautiful verse despite his own challenging circumstances.

Jeremiah shares this verse in a letter he writes to the captives in Babylon. He writes to encourage them and comfort them. And this verse, Jeremiah 29:11, has been encouraging Christians ever since.

And it just keeps getting better. Jeremiah 29:12 says “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” He hears our prayers. When we call on Him and pray to Him, He listens. He has good plans for us and He is listening to our prayers.

Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” We find Him when we give all of our heart. We can’t have one foot in Christianity and the other in idol-mania. Seek Him first. When we give Him our whole heart (hopes, fears, joy, anxiety- the whole thing), then we will find Him, the One who has good plans for us, the One who is listening.

June 15, 2015

psa-51-12

“This is what the Lord says:

“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents
    and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city will be rebuilt on her ruins,
    and the palace will stand in its proper place.” (Jeremiah 30:18)

Jacob’s belongings- home, village, belongs- were wiped out when all who occupied them were carried away as captives. But the calamity is over and God is a God who restores. He said that He will restore the fortunes of Jabob’s tents and He will also restore your fallen tents. He will build beauty on top of devastation.

There is no need to panic; He will provide all that you need. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Don’t look back, at the fallen tents, and long for what was. Look ahead. Watch how God is working, restoring, and building on those ruins.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.(1 Peter 5:10)

June 16, 2015

Proverbs 1 33

We’ll be camping out in Jeremiah 31 for the next few days. This is a chapter overflowing with God’s promises, glistening with gems to strengthen us, reassure us of our intricate purpose in His plan, and reaffirm that we belong in His family. If you have ever wondered where you fit in, this chapter is for you.

“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”

This is what the Lord says:

“The people who survive the sword
    will find favor in the wilderness;
    I will come to give rest to Israel.” (Jeremiah 31:1-3)

Let’s break these verses down.

  • At that time” What time? Jeremiah’s prophesy was about God’s wrath against the wicked. That is the time frame that God refers to in this part of His message. It is every bit as timely today.
  • I will be the God of all the families of Israel” Who are “all the families of Israel“? It includes YOU! Matthew Henry explains this as “not of the two tribes only, but of all the tribes,—not of the house of Aaron only, and the families of Levi, but of all their families; not only their state in general, but their particular families, and the interests of them, shall have the benefit of a special relation to God.” You have the benefit of your special relationship to God. God is talking to you to in this verse.
  • “…and they will be my people” Put your name in this verse because He is talking about YOU. “I will be the God of the [your last name] family, and the [your last name]’s will be My people.”
  • The people who survive the sword” This reference is to the sword of Pharaoh. He is talking about deliverance out of Egypt and God’s narrow path to escape through the Red Sea. Identify the sword that threatened you or your family and acknowledge the escape routes that God has appointed for you and your family.
  • will find favor in the wilderness” Seemingly lost and forgotten, the Israelites are left to wander a strange land, yet they were always in the sight of God, in the grace of God, and under His provision. That’s us! We are never far from His sight, we are always in His grace, and He is always providing for us- giving His favor even in the wilderness.
  • I will come to give rest to Israel” God gives the Israelites much needed rest in Canaan and He gives us much needed rest along our journey on the ancient path too. When you find yourself in a low place, and the difficulties seem to be mounting, acknowledge those who have been in that same spot- the Israelites, and know that just as God gave them rest, He will provide it for you too.

The Israelites show us what to do when we are persecuted, chased by the sword, and seemingly out of room to run: trust. They trusted God and the Red Sea opened and provided them a previously unseen, unknown, and intangible route to cross. They didn’t give up and turn back to voluntarily face a life of slavery, they didn’t try to reason with their oppressors, they simply trusted God, stood firm in their faith, and most importantly-they kept going.

Jeremiah echoes the same instruction. Despite being persecuted, mocked, threatened, left in the stocks for days, and feeling like he had failed at his mission, Jeremiah trusted God, stood firm in this faith, and kept going.

In the depths make the decision to follow the same 3 steps the Israelites and Jeremiah followed: trust God, stand firm in your faith, and keep going.

Rest in knowing that you have found favor in the wilderness.

Psalm 30 11

June 17, 2015

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
 I will build you up again,
    and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.                                                                                           Again you will take up your timbrels
    and go out to dance with the joyful.
” (Jeremiah 31 3-4)

God loves us with an everlasting love. Nothing can separate us from that love. It is always with us- during good times, challenging times, and times that seem downright impossible to endure. His is an everlasting love. He loved us before we were created, through thisjourney on the ancient path, and into eternity.

He draws us with unfailing kindness. There is not one moment of our lives when God isn’t paying attention. He hasn’t dropped the ball, forgotten about you, or looked away even for a moment. Unfailing kindness- He isn’t mad at you, disappointed in you, or punishing you. He loves you with an everlasting love and unfailing kindness.

We are His to re-purpose, tear down, and rebuild. He will rebuild us. He will restore and renew us. He will restore our fallen tents.

Our life is filled with different seasons. Ecclesiastes 3 says                                                             “There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  We will experience times that are joyful when we dance and play the timbrel, times of mourning, and times of restoration.

There is a purpose for each of these seasons. They are part of God’s plan for us, and His plans are good. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares theLord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Our verse today, Jeremiah 31:3-4, promises that regardless of where you are right now, God is with you and the time is coming when you will take up your timbrels (tambourine) and go out to dance with the joyful. Cherish that promise and keep your timbrels handy!

joy-comes-in-morning

June 18, 2015

We’re enjoying camping out for a few days in Jeremiah 31. This is a chapter overflowing with God’s promises, glistening with gems to strengthen us, reassure us of our intricate purpose in His plan, and reaffirm that we belong in His family. In the beginning of this chapter of Jeremiah we read about how we have found favor in the wilderness, and yesterday we read that we need to keep our tambourines and dancing shoes ready becausewe WILL dance with the joyful again. Let’s keep reading…

Again you will plant vineyards
    on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
    and enjoy their fruit. (Jeremiah 31:5)

When the farmer plants a vineyard he do it with the harvest in mind. As he plants the vineyard he is looking forward, anticipating the bounty of the grapes, and imagining the flavor of the wine. He waters the plants, nurtures them, protects them, and is excited about enjoying the fruit of their harvest.

It’s the same for us. You will plant a vineyard- maybe not an actual vineyard of grapes, but a vineyard of hopes and dreams and you will enjoy the fruit of the harvest.

God restores our fallen tents. The clouds will break, the sun will shine, and you will experience joy again. When it seems like you’re totally overwhelmed, pray, take a deep breath, get your balance, and keep your perspective because Joy and His mercies are new every morning.

Some days it is a challenge to keep your head up and look forward. Some days it seems like it’s a chin down sort of day. But if you’re looking down at your feet you’ll miss the thousand ways that God tells you that He is with you and that He loves you.

Keep your cymbals handy because you will dance with the joyful, and you will plant and harvest a vineyard.

hebrews12-12-13

June 19, 2015

If we are following God, we have no business concerning ourselves with where he engineers our circumstances.

Set up road signs;
    put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
    the road that you take.” (Jeremiah 31:21)

God is encouraging His people in Babylon for their return to their land from which they have been exiled. He encourages them to prepare themselves for that journey home. The way back home is the same way they went out. He tells them to take note of the road taken so that they are able to get back home.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

It wouldn’t have been surprising if they were afraid of taking the journey- they had been exiled, their homes had been taken from them, and they were retracing those emotional steps. But they weren’t terrified or afraid, they were strong and courageous.

The road signs and guideposts that were set up on the road home surely went through obstacles and not around them. In fact the whole journey that these folks took was one giant obstacle, but they followed God and faced the obstacle instead of avoiding it. Hebrews 12 even tells us what posture to hold along the way: lift up your hands, head up, eyes forward.

God says “Lift up you hands” (Hebrews 12:12). March straight through the flood, and the waters will divide, the Red Sea will open, the Jordan will part, and the Lord will lead you through to victory.” Don’t let your feet be turned out of the way. Strengthen your knees. Stand up straight and let your body, spirit, and mind “be healed” and your faith strengthened. Go right ahead and leave no Jericho behind you unconquered and no place where Satan can say he was too much for you.” A.B. Simpson

Jeremiah talks about putting up guideposts. We need to be putting out guideposts as we walk along the ancient path. Guideposts to provide encouragement to ourselves and others on the journey. Joshua 1:7 is a great guidepost: “Only be strong and very courageous“.

Be strong and courageous-21-0A                    Joshua 1-3A9-0A

Jeremiah 29 11 2

June 22, 2015

Jeremiah 31 provides encouragement for the hardships that we face. This chapter shows us:

Let’s finish up Jeremiah 31 and glean the rest of His promises to us.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

The difficulties and hardships are exhausting. We can’t help but feel weary and faint under the pressures. God knows that and He acknowledges it in this verse. He reassures us that He will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Claim that refreshment and satisfaction. Rest knowing that He has promised it to you. The verse does not say that God will remove our hardships, or make the challenges easier, but He does promise to refresh and satisfy us so that we have the energy to face those hardships and challenges. Trust Him, stand firm in your faith, and keep going- He will provide rest and satisfaction.

For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Do not spend one more ounce of energy wondering if God loves you, or if He is mad at you. Seriously, not one more second of worrying about this. This verse sums it all up and leaves nothing open to question. We are forgiven and He remembers our sins no more. Do not let the old tapes drown out the new music. Do not let the past rob the present and the future. Don’t look back- you’ll only strain your neck muscles. God loves you, He forgives you, and He has great plans for you.

Mark these pages, reference them in your journal, take a screenshot- do whatever you can to keep them handy. When the enemy tries to pry your faith, and weasel his way in to your psyche, grip on to the truths of Jeremiah 31. God is talking to each one of us when He says that He knows the plans He has for us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

god-is-listening-dean-paddison

June 23, 2105

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1)

Jeremiah was  only 17 years old when God called him. He was called to be the last prophet that God sent to the crumbling nation of Israel. God sent Jeremiah to preach to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, to tell them to stop worshiping idols and to stop sinning.  Jeremiah was the last warning, the final guidepost- but no one listened.

Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet”. He wept  for the fate of the people who would not listen to him, and he wept out of frustration because no matter how hard Jeremiah tried no one would listen to him.  Have you been there? Have you tried to tell your truth and no matter how hard you tried no one would listen? Have you ever tried to explain a concept so basic and been met with such resistance your efforts seem completely futile? Jeremiah has been there! Jeremiah shared your experience of feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall. But even when it seems like no one is listening, and no one “gets it”, remember that the most important Listener is listening…

Why do you think that the people of Israel refused to listen to Jeremiah? Their hears were so hard, numb from the effects of sin, that they no longer even recognized God. They were so “sin-fluenced” that they could not get out of their own way long enough to recognize the problem or the way out. This is the same reason that many people stop listening and can’t recognize the truth today.

When you’re feeling like you’re speaking to a brick wall, that your words are lost on those hearing them, and that you’re not communicating or explaining your truth, stop and remember Jeremiah. Even Jeremiah, a great prophet called and sent by God, experienced rejection, denial, and discouragement.  And just like Jeremiah realized we should cling to the fact that the faithfulness of God IS listening to our words. When we’re down in the dumps and feel like we can’t get any traction- He is there. When we’re speaking and no one listening- He is there. When we feel like there is no purpose behind our efforts- He is there. He is faithful, He has heard your truth, and He is the reward. Even if it seems like no one is listening- keep telling your truth because the greatest Listener hears you.

romans-5-3-pin-ribbon

June 24, 2015

Jeremiah was mocked, persecuted, misunderstood, and literally thrown into a murky, slimy pit. But despite all of the adversity that Jeremiah faced he kept going, and when Jeremiah was face to face with the people he was sent to minister to he wore the face of Christianity. The face of Christianity is not the fake smile, or pretending that you are in a better place than you are. The face of Christianity is the face of knowing that you are forgiven, saved by grace, loved by your Creator, that He has a plan for you and it is good, that even though you are facing adversity now you aren’t defined by the circumstance, that you will only be strong and courageous, and that you can overcome this circumstance because He overcame it all.

One of the amazing things about this prophet is that when he is in the public eye, he is as fearless as a lion. He speaks to kings and murderers and captains who hurl enraged threats against him, and he is utterly fearless. He looks them right in the eye and delivers the message of God that speaks of their own destruction. But when he is by himself, all alone with God, he is filled with discouragement and depression and resentment and bitterness, and it all comes flooding out. -Ray C. Steadman

What grace it requires when we are misunderstood yet handle it correctly, or when we are judged unkindly yet receive it i the holy sweetness! Nothing tests our character as a Christian more than having something evil said about us. This kind of grinding test is what exposes whether we are solid gold or simply gold-plated metal. If we could only see the blessings that lie hidden in our trials, we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse…It may be that the Lord will…restore me to his covenant blessing instead of this curse today.” (2 Samuel 16:11-12) -Excerpt from Streams in the Desert

When you feel like you’re in the murky pit take a page from Jeremiah and just keep going. When you feel that you are wandering alone in the wilderness, remember that you have found favor in the wilderness. When you feel like you have lost everything, remember that you serve a God who restores fallen tents. Stay along the ancient path, wait for God to refresh and restore you, and keep your tambourines handy because you WILL dance with the joyful again.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:19)

2 Corinthians 4 8

June 25, 2015

God wants to hear our prayers. Even while His people were in captivity, God told them that He wanted a relationship with them and that He wanted them to pray.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment brings. Collaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all your troubles. Awareness of My Presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities. -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

From the earliest days of his ministry, Jeremiah faced threats on his life for his unpopular preaching. After a while, he found himself in and out of jail. Even the king wanted him silenced. But by the grace of God, he survived all their attempts. If you take a stand, you have to be ready to pay a price. God will help you.  -Adapted from Ken Raggio, 150 lessons from the Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah 37:21 – “Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers’ street.”

Psalm 118 21

June 26, 2015

God will answer your objections. As you are running from God, saying over your shoulder that you’re not going to Ninevah, as Jonah did, but be prepared for God to answer your objections. Recognize your Ninevah.

God had a very dramatic, very dangerous role for Jeremiah to play as prophet to the nations. Jeremiah voiced strong objections. The LORD answered, “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee.” (Jeremiah 1:8). God will not only answer you, He will embolden, enable and encourage you, too. -Adapted from Ken Raggio, Lessons from Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:9-10 – “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”

God will make our obstacles serve His purposes. We all have mountains in our lives, and often they are people and things that threaten to block the progress of our spiritual life. The obstacles may be untruths told about us; a difficult occupation; “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7); or our daily cross. And often we pray for their removal, for we tend to thing that if only these were removed, we would live a more tender, pure and holy life.

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe…!” (Luke 24:25) These are the very conditions we need for achievement, and they have been put in our lives as the means of producing the gifts and qualities for which we have been praying for so long. We pray for patience for many years, and when something begins to test us beyond our endurance, we run from it. We try to avoid it, we see it as some insurmountable obstacle to our desired goal, and we believe that if it was removed, we would experience deliverance and victory.

This is not true! The only way genuine patience can be acquired is by enduring the very trials that seem so unbearable today.

Turn from your running and submit. Claim by faith to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus and face your trials in Him. There is nothing in your life that distresses or concerns you that cannot become submissive to the highest purpose. Remember, these are God’s mountains. He puts them there for a reason, and we know He will never fail to keep his promise. -From Christ in Isaiah, by F.B. Meyer [click to read in PDF]

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