Jeremiah 40 to 42 After the siege ended, Nebuchadnezzar had left a small contingent in the land to care for it. They came to Jeremiah, the prophet, seeking God’s counsel about what they should do. Standing before him, they said: “Please pray to the Lord “your” God that He will tell us where we should go and what we should do. We promise that whatever He says, we will do.” After ten days, Jeremiah emerges from his prayer closet with God’s counsel, which is resoundingly rejected. Jeremiah’s words and their promise to do whatever he said don’t match what they wanted to hear. How often do we make promises, but become impatient and decide to do what “we want” not what God says?
Instead of believing Jeremiah, they said: “God did not send you to tell us to stay here.” Out of the mouth, the heart speaketh. Their false piety is nothing more than hypocrisy. They said, we will not stay here because “our” God said for us to go. How like Saul when Samuel confronted him and like him, this contingent quickly forgot their promise because it didn’t fit with their plans. Now it is not “your” God but, “our” God and, “our” God said; go to Egypt.
Jeremiah reminded them and he is reminding us:
God would not send confusing messagesbecause He not a God of confusion
Are we wanting God’s permission to do what we have already decided OR do we wait and listen for His voice to say: “You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” [Is 30:21]
Jeremiah 11/12 Is there ever a time when you stop praying for a person? We answer, no, but then we read Jeremiah and hear God say: “Do not pray for these people. Do not cry out to me or petition me on their behalf. Do not plead with me to save them. I will not listen to them…” [Jer 7:16]
How do you react to these words? We must remember that context is king, and Jeremiah had a particular message for specific people. Like Jeremiah, we ask “why” but behind the “why,” there is always a “because.” For Judah, the “why” is Judah’s national sin. The “because” is that God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are higher and have purposes we may not always understand. God could see the hearts, and these had no intention of turning back. How about us? Are we to stop praying? Remember, we don’t have the heart or the wisdom to know; therefore, we are to pray without ceasing. Who knows, but our prayers may be the very link to restoration.
God wanted Jeremiah to present this truth to his people: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us.” [Deut 29:29]
We are to be like Jeremiah and Habakkuk:
stand firm, present the gospel, pray and leave the results to God.
Jeremiah 40 to 43 In the NT, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites meaning one who has the form of godliness without the power. But these religious leaders were not the first; Jeremiah meets them in our reading today. They came to Jeremiah feigning piety seeking God’s counsel about the next step.
Standing before him, they said: please pray to the Lord “your” God that He will tell us where we should go. We promise that whatever he says we will do. Ten days later Jeremiah emerges from his prayer closet with God’s counsel and it is resoundingly rejected. Those who were so pious showed their true heart when they said the Lord “our” God did not send you to tell us to stay here. How quickly they changed from ‘your’ God to ‘our’ God.
Setting piety aside they said, we are going to Egypt and guess what, you are going with us. How often are we like these people? We ask others to pray but when the answer comes we say no way did God say that. That is the height of hypocrisy!
God demands that we listen and obey. Proverbs 3 says ‘trust in the Lord’ with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. We say the first phrase but omit the second. God is not pleased.
Jeremiah 29 Mail call has to be the very best time in a college student or a service man’s life. It is sweet to get that snail mail that has been lovingly sent with thoughts of news of home and family. Parents and friends want us to remember that whether life is good or bad, these two important principles must be on your mind always: “don’t forget who you are and don’t forget whose you are.” Don’t bring shame upon the family name and on the name of Jehovah. Remain faithful to both.
Jeremiah was trying to instill those principles in the lives of the Judahites in Jerusalem but his words fell on deaf ears. Even hundreds of miles away the exiles were hearing—don’t worry, it will end soon. Our wealth will be returned to the Temple and our kings will rise again. Instead, life dragged on day after day after day. Lovingly, God sent them Ezekiel to explain it all and then out of the blue, the exiles received this love letter from Jeremiah.
The news here is the same; King Zedekiah is stubborn. But you can know this; you are loved. So, don’t listen to the false reports of this ending! They are not from me! I want you to remain faithful. and live as if you were in Jerusalem. The Lord told me that He has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. [He has] plans to give you a future filled with hope.” God will take care of you each day.
Loving you, Jeremiah.
PS don’t forget to pray for the Babylonians.
PPS: Don’t forget who you are; you are an Isaac, or a Joshua or a Rahab.
Don’t forget whose you are, you are a child of the Most High God.
What would you do with that letter; save it or toss it?
Jeremiah 15 “Jeremiah’s Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”
Alexander is a storybook character where nothing goes right in his world. Mother assures him that no matter where you are there will always be such days. That is where we find Jeremiah. He is having an Alexander Day and it is terrible, no good and very bad.
“I wish I never was born; Lord you know how I suffer; everyone treats me with contempt. I am all alone and have not one friend. Oh, woe is me!” Can you hear his whining? It was just at that moment God came and said: ‘You must repent of such words and thoughts!’ We might say it like this: “stuff it, or get over it!”
Jeremiah then took time from his pouting and went to God’s Word. His “words came to me, I drank them in and they filled my heart with joy and happiness.” God provides experiences to make us strong as a wall to whatever comes our way. The enemy will not be able to overcome us; He will be with us to rescue and deliver us.
God was his encourager and he lifted him from the miry clay of despair.
We all at times have an Alexander/Jeremiah day. If you can relate, God has heard your plea and He is saying return to Me. Repent of such words! Get over it! Remember, I am your joy and I will be your deliverer.
One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped where contestants are given sundry food items from which they are to craft a dish in a prescribed time frame. Then the taste test begins and with each round the judges “chop” one contestant until there is only one left. To that person goes the “bragging rights” along with a financial reward.
As believers we are not in a contest nor do we have to fear being “chopped” but do we have bragging rights? Jeremiah says unequivocally no! We have no bragging rights to ‘our” wisdom, power or wealth. We may be wise, but it is only partial for God knows all. Power or strength is temporary or someone else will prove stronger than us. Wealth ebbs and flows with the market and it cannot buy love joy or peace and even wise people die and leave their wealth to others.
What then can we “brag” or boast about? It is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence” [1Cor 1] To have a personal relationship with the living God is something we can boast about. God says boast that we know and understand the attributes of God of faithfulness, fairness, and justice.
We haven’t been “chopped.” Go and brag about God each and every day giving Him the glory He deserves.
Do you like to dream about what will happen in the future? Jabez did, David did and we do…sometimes. But how big are our dreams?
1Chron 17 David had a dream to build a house for God. God wanted to build a dynasty with David as its beginning. Although David at first may have felt like his dream was shattered and that is our feeling sometimes too when God says no. Yet when Nathan shared God’s dream David was overwhelmed and he went in and sat before the Lord. What do you do when God says your dream is just not big enough? God sometimes says I have greater plans, plans you cannot even imagine. Jeremiah wanted the Israelite captives to know what God had in mind for them at the end of their captivity which was just what he had told David. “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord.”
God said: I have planned, I have plans, I have plans.
Did you grab that? God is a future thinker! Are you, am I?
For David, as a former shepherd, it was mind-boggling to think that God wanted to bless him. As David listened he was overcome with praise. He sat before the Lord and poured out his praises.
What do you do when God reveals His plans for you and your family? Do you stop to adore him and praise Him with a humble overflowing heart? Is your dream too small? Why not dream like God does?
We know that Facebook users love, love, love pictures. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words. And Why do people love to switch churches? They don’t want to be told: you are a sinner! They want their ears tickled so they feel good when they leave church. People don’t like a preacher or a Facebook post talking about sin but if we don’t talk about sin and its consequences then we are failing to bring the Good News and Good News begins with the bad.
God’s message to Israel and to lost sinners is this: “you will be uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted.” We all must go through the bad before we can experience the good. And that is why many who are unsaved reject the gospel message. Yet, the truth is this: unsaved people are broken. God wants to restore them to wholeness.
God prepared Jeremiah, and us as well, to be His chosen vessels and it comes at a very hot price—God’s kiln. But, that is not all; God has commissioned Jeremiah, and now us, to carry His message that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. [Rom 3] Israel had forsaken God; people had then and now exchanged the truth of God for a lie. “Tough Love” words are needed because tough times call for a tough message. You can’t know God’s “compassion, graciousness, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness” character until you face the bad news of who you really are before God.
And this is why God chooses to use the ordinary to present His extraordinary message of repentance and restoration. God is pleading, “come back to me” [Jer 3] Will you be God’s spokesperson?
In chapter 18 of Jeremiah we read that the Master Potter forms and uses the clay to form perfect vessels, of whom we are. You are God’s chosen vessel. God is a promise keeper to equip us for the task. But, like Jeremiah and Moses (see Exodus 4) we come up with all kinds of excuses to not obey God’s call.
Remember Moses first excuse and now Jeremiah. “I can’t speak eloquently.” Beloved remember this, God doesn’t bless the silver tongued orator but the tongue that has been touched by the coals of the fire of His kiln. He has been forging His kiln to cleanse you, perfect you and prepare you as we said yesterday “for such a time as this.” This is the first of the many “deadly d’s” to keep us from obedience.
Second excuse is that “I am inadequate.” I am young or I am too old. “our Lord Jesus Christ equip you with every good thing to do His will.” If God calls He will spiritually enable you to do His work (2Tim 3:17). “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.”
Third excuse is “fear of the unknown or fear of failure.” Beloved remember this truth: we haven’t been given a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. “I will be with you to protect you.”
Fourth excuse; it’s a dangerous world out there. Is this world more dangerous or is Hell waiting for the lost a more powerful reason to step out into the world? This world is filled with the women at the well who are seeking to alleviate their thirst.
Fifth reason; do I have to do it now? The answer is “YES!”
So what is your excuse? You might go and read the account of Moses whom God called. God finally in His mercy allowed Aaron to assist him. If you read the accounts in Numbers you will find that this was not the best choice. Aaron may have been Moses helpmate but he was “flaky” and truly not committed to the task of leadership. God used him but it was not God’s first choice. Will you be God’s first choice?
Jesus gave us a mandate: “GO and MAKE Disciples.” To teach us what he meant and the “how to” He went to the little town in Samaria and there he shared Himself as “Living Water.” He met made a new disciple; simply known as the Woman at the Well. She not only became a disciple but she began the discipling process by telling others about her experience with Christ. She told the villagers “come and see….”
Listen to the villager’s words after she shared the change in her life: “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.” And that is what a discipler is to do today as they meet new people who are unchurched or churched but do not know. She was the presenter of the words of life but they made a decision for themselves.
Don’t you wonder what happened after Jesus stayed there for three days? Where did the words of life go as they and other disciples of Christ shared their life altering experiences that came to them as they accepted Christ as their personal savior? They were sent around the world and you and I are the recipients. Jesus said “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” and that is the premise where we must begin. We are the “now” generation to go and tell, to say “come and see…” in order that we may be fulfilling the “go and make disciples” command.
As you begin with your new disciple you must, as Matthew recorded; have a hunger and a thirst for God’s Word just as Jeremiah. “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;” As we begin our journey with a new disciple we first say: “Come and See.” He told me everything I ever did. We want our new disciple to come and see the Christ and from there to plant a hunger in the hearts of those to whom we are sent. Our prayer and our desire is that they too find God’s Word a joy and a delight.
The how to is simple but must be determined by you. Next time we will discuss training the disciple One2One.