An interesting friendship concludes the book of Jeremiah - one wicked man being kind to another.
How did this friendship come about? Why would the king care anything about a foreign prisoner?
The answer to these questions is due to something that occurred in the life of Evil-merodach's father, King Nebuchadnezzar. I have to digress, the proper name for Evil-merodach is actually Amelu-Marduk, which means man from Marduk. Marduk was the name of a Bablylonian deity, and the name of a city in which their great temple stood. Some believe that this temple was built on the ruins of the Tower of Babel. So, back to his father.
God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and turned him into an animal. This lasted about seven years during which time Amelu-Marduk reigned in his father's stead. According to Hebrew writers, upon having his sanity restored, Nebuchadnezzar learned that his son mismanaged his kingdom while mocking and rejoicing over his own humbled condition. To punish Amelu-Marduk, Nebuchadnezzar had him thrown in prison, the same prison Jehoichin was held in for thirty-seven years.
When Nebuchadnezzar died, Amelu-Marduk ascended to the throne again. Apparently he made friends with Jehoichin while in the prison because he showed him great favor once in power.
There are about thirty known clay contractual tablets from that time period that bear Amelu-Marduk's name. An interesting fact is that the very first tablet that we have, is dated one day prior to his freeing Jehoichin.
So why was this corrupt Hebrew king spared and showed favor?
It is because he is an ancestor of Jesus. Look at the following verse from Jesus' lineage.
God truly knows the end from the begininning. He knows how to work out the details - well in advance.
Father, thank You for divine provision. May I full understand that You control it all. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I've got friends in High places. Jan
Jeremiah 51 - Lawyer
I've been involved with some litigation recently. Our lawyer seems to do a decent enough job. However, I think that I'd much rather have God as my lawyer. Look what He plans to do to Babylon.
Perhaps that is why God tells us to turn the other cheek, pray for those that despitefully use us, and to leave vengeance to Him. He knows what He's doing.
I don't think I'd want even those that consider themselves my enemies to experience God's wrath on this scale.
Father, please have mercy on those that persecute me and my family. May they come to know You for who You truly are. May they experience Your kindness and love, Your forgiveness. In Jesus' name, Amen.
God's my lawyer. Jan
Jeremiah 50 - Forgiveness
I love the following promise inserted into another litany of doom and gloom.
God will indeed write His law in their hearts.
Father, thank You that Your Holy Spirit has come to enable Your law to live in us. Thank You that Jesus forgives us when we fail. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He forgives. Jan
Jeremiah 49 - Compassion
Every now and then in this book I see glimpses of God's mercy. I've mentioned this in the past, but prophet Jonah actually complained that God is compassionate.
Below, in the midst of proclaiming death and destruction, is an example of that unfailing love.
God did not have to do that. However, He did. He did it to show us His character.
Thank You Father for Your mercy. Without it I'd be lost. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He is good and to be trusted. Jan
Jeremiah 48 - The price of false gods
I read in the next few chapters how the God of Heaven planned to deal with the so called gods of the pagan lands around Israel.
What a lovely parade of ignorance.
Father, please give me wisdom. May I worship only You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He alone is God. Jan
Jeremiah 47 - Ashkelon
I always find references to Ashkelon particularly interesting because my father's twin sister lives there. However, in actuality it is not the same city. The modern city of Ashkelon is a short distance away from the ancient seaport city ruin of the same name.
A couple of fascinating facts about the ancient city is that it boasted walls that were about 150 feet thick and the oldest arched city gate in the world. The gate was about eight feet wide and over twenty feet tall.
The city was one of the "five cities" of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza) and is the oldest and largest seaport in the area, with a population numbering upwards of 15,000 people.
So given that context, think about the following statement by the prophet.
That is a lot of destruction! The human toll and the economic impact of the city's destruction must have been tremendous. It truly is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.
Father, thank You for willingly making peace with me. Thank You that You sought me out. May I live life as Your willing ally. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jeremiah 46 - Tough Love
Amidst the proclamation of coming destruction and doom for Israelite rebels and arrogant foreign nations, there is a passage that stood out to me.
Obviously "Jacob" will suffer as a result of his host nation's destruction. The pain will be part of his discipline. However, the reason he is being disciplined in the first place is because he is God's beloved child.
There is a companion verse in the New Testament that goes into further detail.
I doubt if the Israelites were cheerfully submitting to their discipline, nor did any of us when our father's did it, but the result produced renewed respect and a desire for it to not happen again. Pain is a good teacher.
Also, note in Hebrews that God disciplines "all of his children".
Father, may I submit to Your discipline. May I emerge on the other side living right. But even more desirable is that I don't need the discipline in the first place. Please guide my words and steps. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He disciplines His own. Jan
Jeremiah 45 - Seeking
The last verse of this short chapter spoke to me. Baruch is overwhelmed and doesn't know where to turn or what to do. The Lord responds...
What I got out of it was that I should not seek great things for myself. That is God's job. My job is to rest in His care knowing that He will care for me wherever I go.
Father, may I seek only that which You have for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Seek God. Jan
Jeremiah 44 - Queen of Heaven
I found the following passage interesting. It reminded me of another religious group of our day.
What group do you know that lights candles, burns incense, and seems to worship the Queen of Heaven? What group does not have scriptural basis for this but does have traditions of their ancestors?
It sounds to me as though the Lord does not appreciate that type of behavior.
Father, may our worship of You be in accordance with Your word - not the traditions of men. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Worship God - only. Jan
Jeremiah 43 - Pride goes before...
The Bible clearly tells us that pride is a sure way to destruction. It is a shame that Azariah and his band of moron men didn't bother to read the writings of Solomon.
One chapter earlier they'd promised to do whatever Jeremiah told them to do. Now they refuse - big mistake. Destruction and death were the future of those that disobeyed the Lord.
Father, may I have wisdom to follow whatever You want me to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Be humble. Jan
Jeremiah 42 - Prorogue
Afraid for their lives; certain that the might of the Babylonian empire would soon exact vengeance upon them; the remnant of Israel and Judah finally did a wise thing, they asked God's prophet for instruction. Should they flee to Egypt as planned?
Jeremiah agreed to inquire of God on their behalf. However, before he can, the people made a promise - a promise that Jeremiah didn't ask for nor expect.
Jeremiah prayed to the Lord and nothing happened. No answer came. The heavens were silent.
The days ticked by. The people had trouble sleeping at night, thinking of the many cruel ways that Babylon would torture, and then execute them.
More days went by. Still no answer from God. Was He even listening? His prophet was still with them. Surely God would speak to him, wouldn't He?
Ten long agonizing days went by. God probably would have answered them immediately if they had not made their promise. But, they did make it. So God made them wait. Would they follow the examples of their forefathers and quickly resort to their own wisdom, burning incense and sacrifices to pagan gods, or would they wait on the Lord?
Finally, the prorogue ended. God spoke to Jeremiah.
They waited. They were faithful. Or were they? Unfortunately the answer is no. In the next chapter I find that they didn't listen to Jeremiah, they left for Egypt, incurring the Lord's wrath.
Father, may I be willing to immediately do what You ask, whether I like the direction or not. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Don't prorogue. Jan
Jeremiah 41 - No Discernment
The Babylonians had appointed a regent named Gedeliah to rule Israel. Unfortunately for him, he would not listen to wisdom. In fact, he acted quite foolishly when he was warned about a suspected plot against his life.
So now he has heard about this first hand. What does he do a short while later when Ishmael Nethaniahson comes to visit?
He invites Ishmael and his armed men to dinner - fool.
Not only was his life forfeit, but he caused the deaths of many others.
Father, may I listen to counsel. If it sounds suspect, please give me wisdom and others to help me discern truth. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Listen, your life may depend on it. Jan
Jeremiah 40 - God's Hand
What I found interesting in this chapter was that the Babylonians, despite being pagans, recognized that God was the one who caused downfall of the Hebrews.
His mighty acts are known even by those that do not claim Him as their God.
Father, may I , as one who does claim You, do so with integrity. Please help me to serve You wholeheartedly. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jeremiah 39 - Extra-Biblical Proof
On January 15, 588BC the assault on Jerusalem began again. Two and a half years later on July 18 586BC, the city fell.
In about 1870AD in the ancient city of Siphar, about one mile from Baghdad, a clay tablet was unearthed. It measured about 2.13 inches wide. All sorts of cuneiform tablets and fragments were being unearthed, so nobody bothered to read this particular tablet. After all, it was quite small and insignificant looking. That is until this year, specifically in June of 2007. Austrian Assyriologist Michael Jursa was reading one of over 100,000 previously undeciphered tablets when he noticed something extraordinary.
The implication of what was read was astounding. The content recorded a transaction whereby a military officer named Nebo-sarsekim donated a large sum of gold to the temple of Esangila. It was about one and one half pounds worth. While yes, that was a large sum of money; the extraordinary thing is the person doing the donating.
Who you ask? Look again at the section of scripture above. Yes, it is the same Nebo-sarsekim from today's chapter in Jeremiah.
Here is the translated text of the tablet:
Ten years after donating this large gift to the temple, he appears in Jerusalem. Wow! Proof of a person mentioned in the bible, from a source other than the bible.
Father, thank You for amazing things such as this. You truly are God. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He holds all secrets. Jan
Jeremiah 38 - Superhero
What is the definition of a superhero? I really was not certain, so I looked it up. The definition is: A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime.
In today's reading (not a comic book or cartoon, rather the greatest book ever written), I see a superhero - Darkman. He's able to influence even the most powerful of people. He discerns right from wrong instantly, and despite his fears looks out for the welfare of others. Yes, its the dark skinned man from Ethiopia, otherwise known as Ebed-melech, a mild mannered palace official.
You see, Ebed-melech knew something innately that most people don't. He knew that despite his fears, God would take care of him if he did what was right. Look at the result from the next chapter.
Darkman was a hero because he knew where his true power came from.
Lord, may I also do heroic deeds. For I know that You give me the ability. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Be a superhero. Jan
Jeremiah 37 - Uncommon Protection
Sometimes God provides for us in a way that we don't expect. Jeremiah is flogged and imprisoned in a dungeon - left to die. All hope seems lost. Then King Zedekiah asks to speak with him.
It is clear that Zedekiah valued Jeremiah. He ensured that Jeremiah lived and was well cared for. The courtyard of the guard was not only to keep him from spreading the message, but it was also to keep him alive from a population that was slowly starving to death. A population that would have very little compassion for the man that they undoubtedly blamed for their trouble. God provided for his safety in a very unusual manner.
Father, thank You for providing for my safety and that of my family. You are truly wonderful. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He knows what He's doing. Jan
Jeremiah 36 - Mercy Rejected
I love to see the heart of God coming through in this chapter. He is holy, and righteous. The people have sinned against Him. He is bringing judgment because of their unrepentant hearts. But He again hold out hope.
Baruch, a scribe and faithful friend to Jeremiah delivers the message to the priests.
Their response was correct. Unfortunately when they read the scroll to the king, his was not.
The result was tragic. God moved forward with His judgment.
Father, may we not neglet the warnings in Your written word. May we listen and obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Don't reject His mercy. Jan
Jeremiah 35 - Family Legacy
Are there any family traditions that you have? Are any passed on from previous generations?
Recently my pastor was talking about someone praying for their children and their children's children. I was reminded that my great grandmother spent the last years of her life in nearly continual prayer. I know I was the subject of some of them. I know from personal experience that my grandmother prayed for me daily. And my mother does likewise.
As I thought about this, I realized that on my mother's side of the family I have over 600 years of Protestant Christian heritage - over 600 years of people's prayers on my behalf and for the generations that may follow me. And their prayers work; I and my brother are both following the Lord. I pray that my children and their children will do likewise.
In today's reading there is a group of people that have been following their ancestor's directives and customs regarding the Lord for over 200 years. They do it because he told them to. The Lord is pleased.
If you have a legacy like mine, continue it. If not, I pray that you build a family legacy; start with your generation.
Lord, may I hear the words, 'Well done'. When I enter glory. Please give me the heart to persevere. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Build a legacy. Jan
Jeremiah 34 - The Tide
This chapter reminded me of when, as a child, I built sandcastles on the beach. Invariably the tide started coming in and I saw that my magnificent city would soon be overrun.
In response to the unwanted invading force I would build moats and several layers of thick defensive walls and barriers. I was determined to keep out the tide of inevitability.
I would cheer the small victories as a wave would expend itself upon the ramparts. But despite my best efforts, if we stayed long enough, I saw my glorious city swept under the ever increasing tide and reduced to nothing. I had built upon land that belonged to the sea. I had no right to claim it for my little kingdom.
King Zedekiah had attempted to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and formed an alliance with King Hophra (Apries) of Egypt. However, he had no right to do so. God had given the land to the Babylonians. Now, the Babylonian army was coming to reclaim it's property.
Zedekiah's people saw the tide of the Babylonian army advancing, pounding upon the fortifications of the city of Jerusalem.
Zedekiah and the people saw that the Babylonians were settling in for the long haul. They saw their impending doom and started to do what was right.
God, saw a change of heart attitude in the people. He gave them a reprieve.
The Babylonian army left off besieging Jerusalem. The tide seemed to turn. Unfortunately the Israelite's hearts quickly turned again.
What Hezekiah didn't know was that it was his ally, King Hophra of Egypt, that had drawn the Babylonians away. But, his forces in Judea were no match for Nebuchadnezzar. Thoroughly routed, the Egyptians, fled back across the Nile.
God was bringing the tide of inevitability back again.
How often have we made promises, bargains, and deals with God only to instantly forget them when circumstances changed?
May we not build our lives on shifting sands. Our castles will not stand. But if we lay up treasure in heaven, or as the song says "send lumber to heaven", we know we'll have a place that will never crumble.
Father, may we understand our allegiance to You and appreciate it for all it is worth. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rely on the rock. Jan
Jeremiah 33b - All things new
Our holy, just, righteous, almighty God metes out wrath and vengeance against evil doers. However, He also gives grace, mercy, restoration, and blessing to those who turn from their sinful ways. He heals, He delivers, He cleanses, He rebuilds.
I have experienced this in my life. My first marriage ended in failure; partly due to my backsliding. The Lord will not allow one that claims the name of Christ to remain lukewarm. He will turn up the heat. When He does so, one of two things will happen, repentance or hardening.
As long as I held onto my own way, my own desires, my own futile attempts at shape, form and substance I was resisting His hands. Only when I was broken and unable to stand on my own was He able to mold me anew.
My repentance however, came too late. My first wife left me. I was alone. I was broken. Finally, I was in a state that the Master Potter could use to remake into something useful.
Israel sinned so much, for so long, that they needed to be broken - thoroughly and absolutely. Only then could the Master Potter remake them.
Along with prophecies of exile, doom and gloom, Jeremiah also told of a time when Israel would finally yield to the Master's touch. He told of the coming joy.
It was just such a time for me and my new bride.
The following verse was our focus verse at our wedding three years ago. I think you'll see why we chose it. God has indeed made all things as good as new.
Thank You Father for restoration and healing. Thank You for the gift of my family. In Jesus' name, Amen.
The time is now. Jan
Jeremiah 33 - Cleansing and Forgiveness
The price of sin is sometimes very high. There are times that sin does not bear any consequence other than a guilty conscience; however, there are times that sin does have consequences - grave consequences that not only affect the one sinning, but many others.
Sin has a price. The generation that Jeremiah preached to suffered, they had to pay the price. Once paid, there was a promise of hope, of restoration.
Fortunately for us, Jesus came to offer forgiveness of sins. Without His sacrifice, we would eternally suffer the consequences of our sins. We would have to pay the price, and we can't afford it.
Don't let this grace escape you. Accept the payment of your sin debt and the cleansing and forgiveness that are offered through Christ. Don't delay, the time is short.
Thank You Lord for forgiveness. May I live in a way that shows my gratitude to You and reveals Your offer to others. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He paid the debt. Jan
Jeremiah 32 - Silence the Message
I read with particular interest the following verses.
Rather than throw Jeremiah into a deep dark dank dungeon somewhere, Zedekiah holds him captive in the courtyard of the guard. Why not just do him in?
There can be only one reason, Zedekiah recognized that Jeremiah was indeed a prophet of God and was speaking God's message. Zedekiah didn't want Jeremiah to die, nor did he want to incur his disfavor. Additionally, it is clear that he was allowed some liberty since his cousin was allowed to visit. King Zedekiah was trying to curry Jeremiah's favor. However, he couldn't allow the message to be publicly spread; it was demoralizing to the populous. After all, they were under siege and supplies were running low.
Instead he sought to silence the message and perhaps buy time. He didn't succeed. All he did was temporarily silence the messenger.
Have you tried to push the message God is giving you into some obscure guarded corner of your world? Have you attempted to buy time or curry some sort of favor or broker a deal with God? There are times that I have, and God had to deal with it. Don't make Him go there. Get right, now!
Father, may I submit to Your will, whatever it may be. May I be wholly devoted to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Let the message spread. Jan
Jeremiah 31 - Greatly Ashamed
The following verse sounds all too familiar.
I've been there, you've been there, most of us have been there; hanging our heads in shame. Thank God that Jesus came to give us a hope and a future. My righteousness is as filthy rags. Only because of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus am I acceptable to God, the Holy and Just One.
Thank You Father for the free gift of salvation; regeneration through the blood of Christ Jesus, Your Son. May I live closer to Him every day. In His name, Amen.
Lift up your head. Salvation has come! Jan
Jeremiah 30 - Write it down
God gives Jeremiah an absolutely amazing directive in this chapter. He tells him to write down what God says and has been saying to him.
In and of itself writing things down is nothing special. But God had plans for this message - plans that meant the message needed to be preserved.
If Jeremiah had not recorded God's messages to him, then Daniel would not have been able to read about the coming liberation of his people. God ensured that when the return to Israel happened, just as He said it would, that there would be no doubt that it was His timing and doing.
However, another reason exists which is very similar to the first. It is so that we can see the workings of God; so that we can see His consistency throughout history. He is both a righteous holy disciplinarian, and a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
And yet a third reason exists; that is to give us an example to follow. If God speaks to you, record it. Some day, you or someone else may benefit from it.
Father, thank You for Your preserved word. May I learn it and live by it. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He's the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
Jeremiah 29 - Too Busy
One of the frustrating things about modern day life is the fast pace. I find that I rarely have time to myself that is not planned in advance. I'm too busy. But like most, I see no way out. The shame of it is that often I find that I'm too busy to spend time with God.
I look for Him, but not in earnest. My time, my interest, my attention is constantly divided. I'm beginning to understand the reason some people take lengthy sabbaticals. Pity that the concept is so rare in the American workplace, I could use one.
Father, please give me the wisdom and grace to order my day in a manner that You are my priority. Only then can the remainder make sense. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hit pause. Jan
Jeremiah 28 - Shifting Paradigm
What do you do when confronted with trouble, problems, or lies? Do you immediately react to the situation, or do you take the time to ensure a measured response?
If there is any one thing, besides a love for the Lord, that I want to instill in my children, it is that they respond instead of react. A response is thought out, it is appropriate to the circumstance. A reaction is instinctual and often wrong, only making things worse.
Jeremiah's paradigm is confronted by Hannaniah with something that is clearly different that the truth that God revealed. What does Jeremiah do with this?
He responds, quite correctly, with hope for good and peace. He has no way of knowing if perhaps the Lord did speak to Hannaniah. However, he is also quick to warn Hannaniah that God is not to be trifled with.
He says that if it is from God, we'll know soon enough. Unfortunately for Hannaniah, he was lying. God did not send him to speak peace. Look how Jeremiah responds once God reveals the truth to him.
In a measured response, no yelling, no screaming, no arguing, he simply states the facts. "You lied. God didn't send you. You will die."
Will we respond or react the next time something shifts our paradigm?
Father, may I respond as led by Your Holy Spirit. May I show You and Your ways to all those I meet. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Respond or react, your choice. Jan
Jeremiah 27 - Gifts
I was reminded in this chapter that God loves to give good gifts to His children. We are those children!
The message in the passage above is that God is going to give the greatest gift He can, Himself living in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. However, the principle is that God as a father gives good gifts to His children.
In this chapter of Jeremiah we see God talk about some of what He can give.
Will He give these things to us? The answer is a resounding Yes! Look that the following verse.
We Christ followers are those on the right. We get the kingdom!
Father, thank You for Your generosity. May I live in a manner that reflects my gratitude and acknowledges that You are the source. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Receive with joy. Jan
Jeremiah 26 - Unmarked Graves
Many years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, and I was attending high school, I would occasionally borrow my brother's car to drive to school. The parking lot was horrible, there just was not enough parking for all of the students. If you came even a little late, you were out of luck.
Well, being young and brilliant I hit upon the perfect plan. There was an old cemetery on top of the hill near the school that nobody visited anymore. It had a grassy circular wheel-rut path that ran through the length of it. I found just the perfect spot, a few feet off the path below a canopy of trees. Not only did I have exclusive parking. I had shade! The car wouldn't be hot when I got back to it.
After a full day of school I returned to the car and found a note on the windshield. It was from a police officer. It wasn't a ticket, just a note. It said something to the effect of, "Don't park here again. You are dishonoring those below you." I looked down and discovered that I'd parked across several graves that grass and fallen leaves had partially obscured! I quickly left and never parked there again.
But that cemetery intrigued me. I was fascinated by the ornate monuments, the clever, and sometimes heartbreaking inscriptions. The people represented had long since been forgotten. Or were they?
This man Uriah was doing God's work. Jehoiakim thought that he'd silenced the message. He was quite mistaken. When our glorious resurrection day comes, Uriah will burst forth from his ignoble hole in the ground to a place of honor and praise. He will receive eternal rewards for his faithfulness. Jehoiakim will likewise burst forth. However, he will not be honored, he will, to his horror, be judged and condemned to an eternity in hell.
There are no unmarked graves. God knows every one.
Father, thank You that You know all. You are watching, recording and waiting. Help us to be faithful in what You ask us to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Where do you park? Jan
Jeremiah 25 - Time of Anger
The Lord's anger has burst forth into a conflagration. Pain, sorrow and destruction are coming. Seventy years of exile are decreed.
But that is not the total story. We need to fast forward a few chapters.
Father, thank You that Your anger did not last forever. Thank You for the salvation that was offered to me as a result of the restoration. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jeremiah 24 - Hurt vs. Harm
The book and teaching named Boundaries talks about the difference between hurt vs. harm. The premise is that there are something that may hurt us, however the they not harm us. Conversely there are things that may harm us but do not hurt us.
The authors, Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend, use a dentist as an example. They explain that when you have a cavity, and go to a dentist, the procedure that the dentist does may hurt you. But it is not harming you, it is actually helping you. On the flip side of that is the sugar that caused the cavity. It didn't hurt. However, it did harm.
God sent certain people away into exile. He hurt them. However, it was not harmful. Those that remained behind, they were the ones hurt.
The end result of the pain, the hurt, is hearts that recognize God and return to Him wholeheartedly.
Father, may I receive whatever Your hand gives. I know that whatever it may be is for my good, painful or not. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He doesn't harm His own. Jan
Jeremiah 23 - Omnipresent
I'd always wondered where exactly in scripture a description or explanation of God's omnipresence was located. I mean, I understand the concept, I intellectually ascent to the fact that God, by definition must be everywhere. But where was the explicit reference to that fact? Well, here is one.
Couldn't be plainer. Then why do I act at times as though He's not around? That I can do whatever I want?
Father, may I have a holy reverent awareness of your omnipresence, both in times of trial and temptation. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He's watching. Jan
Jeremiah 22 - Nobility
There are people from the lowest walks of life that conduct themselves in a manner fit for a king or queen. And there are those from "noble" stock that are, to quote a favorite Star Trek line, "a waste of flesh".
I think that God is expressing a similar sentiment in these two verses.
An expensive home and the elegant clothes on the man don't mean a lick if he's a jerk. It is how you behave that reveals what is inside.
Father, please give me the grace to behave outwardly in a fashion that shows I'm one of Yours. May I bring honor to Your name. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Know the Lord. Jan
Jeremiah 21 - A Choice
Everything in life hinges on the choices we make. Choose one job over another, soon a career path develops. Choose one place to live over another, you settle down in a certain area. Choose one person instead of another, joy or heartache may result. Each choice shapes us and our subsequent choices. Turn right and avoid an accident, turn left and life is changed permanently due to disability and pain. A or B? Left or right? To do or not to do? How do you choose?
Stay in Jerusalem during the siege and die, surrender and live. A choice.
Choose the path of life so that your descendents have a hope and a future...
What about us? Our city is not under siege, is it?
Choose one set of friends and walk the path of the wise. Choose another and destruction is inevitable.
God leaves much up to us, so how do we choose? How do we make wise choices?
We simply ask God, and then trust that He will reveal His wisdom to us.
Like Paul, when we ask, God answers. He gives us the words and the understanding to make wise decisions.
God, freely gives us wisdom. He showers it on us. He wants us to choose wisely.
When we do choose wisely, it is demonstrated in all that we do. It shows in the way we live; in the choices that we have made.
Father, may we choose wisely. Please grant me wisdom to choose that which You want me to choose. May I live in a way that I'm directed by You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Choose wisely. Jan
Jeremiah 20 - Mighty Warrior
The following verse got me to thinking, what exactly does the phrase Mighty awesome One or Mighty Warrior mean?
So I looked up the words in the Strong's concordance.
This mighty, undefeated awe-inspiring, terror-striking champion is on Jeremiah's side. And he's on ours.
Like a little child, may I hide behind my father when the bullies come. He won't let me be harmed.
Lord, thank You for Your protection. May I avail myself of it. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He's on our side. Jan
Jeremiah 19 - Monument to Stupidity
We've all heard of the term Pork Barrel Project. It means that money is being wasted on something. Usually that something is not needed, or could have been accomplished in a much less expensive way.
Boston Massachusetts has the Big Dig as it's most famous monument to stupidity. A three and a half mile long section of elevated highway was to be replaced with a tunnel to modernize transportation. This project, began in 1982, it is still under construction. It is finally expected to be completed on December 31st, 2007. The cost is still being tallied. As of 2006 it was over $14.6 billion, yes, that is the word billion! They could have bought every house and building within a several mile radius of the proposed project, leveled them and put in a normal overland highway for that much.
One monument to stupidity received so much bad press that it was actually killed prior to construction. That was the Gravina Island bridge, connecting Ketchikan Alaska, an island, to the mainland. This bridge was to have cost the taxpayers about $400 million dollars. However, the island already has a very efficient ferry service that charges only $5 per person. There are about 500 thousand transits on the ferry per year. That meant that if the bridge was charging $5 per person, it would have taken over 100 years to pay off.
And then there is Jerusalem. God's crown jewel, the place that He Himself came and inhabited. The Jews screwed up the city so badly that God abandoned it.
Do we have a parallel? How about New Orleans?
Build a city on a delta, put in levees, and enormous pumps to keep it from flooding because it is below sea-level. Oh, by the way, it is on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. And it is sinking further below sea-level every year. What a monument to stupidity. People are still gasping at the degree of destruction a hurricane caused.
Father, may I evaluate any potentially lasting things I may build, participate in or do through Your word, through Your Spirit, and through Your people. Only then can I discern what is right and what is not. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Don't be stupid. Jan
Jeremiah 18 - Turn my back on them
I'm sure you've seen it, that defiant stance; arms crossed, back to the one that is being defied. Other times though it is a sign that say, "I can't take any more I will not be a part of this."
God had enough. He was not longer going to be associated with them in any way. They no longer resembled anything of His. He turned His back.
Father, thank You that because of Jesus I can approach Your throne and know that You accept me. That is amazing! Thank You for mercy and grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He is Holy. Jan
Jeremiah 17 - Barren Wilderness
The following verses stuck out to me. So I looked at them in a few different translations.
Verse five in the Rotherham translation is a bit more descriptive I think.
Son of Earth. That is a very good graphic of us. God made the earth, but we pitiful humans put our trust- rely on strength from - human beings instead of God.
I recall reading about barren wilderness in the New Testament.
Like those that live in a place fit for demons are people that put their trust in anything but God. Wow!
Father, may I place my trust in You alone. In Jesus' name, Amen.
In God I trust. Jan
Jeremiah 16 - Don't make me angry
I remember watching the TV series, The Incredible Hulk, starring Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby when I was younger. One memorable line from the show was the following from Dr. Bruce Banner, played by Bill Bixby.
I see God doing pretty much the same thing. He warned, and warned the Hebrews not to make Him angry. Yet they didn't listen.
When Dr. Banner transformed into the Hulk, he exhibited incredible power, and anger. Destruction was his call-sign. However, he never harmed the innocent. He always protected the weak and hurt.
What a parallel to our God. He is kind, loving, compassionate, not wanting any to perish. However, He does have limits. If you get Him angry, He will respond. He will respond with deadly ferocity against the wicked.
Father, thank You that You are indeed Holy. Thank You also that You protect Your own, as you did Jeremiah. May I live my life in a way that is pleasing to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Don't make Him angry. Jan
Jeremiah 15 - Not even if...
In Exodus I read how Moses pleaded for the Hebrews, for God not to wipe them out when they had abandoned Him after only 40 days and had started worshiping a golden calf.
And God listened. He did not destroy them.
I also see how Samuel was begged by the Israelites to plead with God on their behalf, and He did.
Yet now in the book of Jeremiah I see how even these two men who moved God with their passionate prayers; these two men who arguably were the most influential Hebrews that ever lived, even they would not be able to sway God's decision to punish His people.
The level of disgust that God must have felt, the revulsion for their piled up sin must have been beyond belief.
He was ticked. For seventy years God allowed Judah to feel the full weight of their sin.
Father, thank You that You are Holy. And thank You that Jesus made the way for me to come to You. Without Him, I'd be lost. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jeremiah 14 - Who is John Gault?
The question, "Who is John Gault?", is posed numerous times in the book "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand. The phrase is understood to mean, "Who knows why things are the way they are?".
However, there is a back-story to it all. John Gault was a brilliant engineer who decided that he would no longer allow those that scorned or disdained his intellect to benefit from it. He would no longer give to those that did not value him.
In fact, he determined that nobody would benefit from anyone's intellect since they didn't value it properly. He therefore vowed to "Stop the engine of the world." And he did. He assisted the disappearances of men of intelligence and ability from society, forming their own utopian enclave hidden deep in the mountains. Without "Men of the Mind", civilization crumbled.
For their crimes against men of intellect and ability John Gault stopped the engine of the world.
For their sins and for taking Him for granted, God stopped the engine of Israel. God allowed the country to wither. Their businesses ground to a halt.
Father, may we not take You for granted. May we offer You our lives - for You are worthy. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Who is Yahweh? Jan
Jeremiah 13 - Don't wait
He says it well in the following verses.
The warning is out there. It applies to us too. Lay down pride, acknowledge sin, repent, give glory to God.
Father, may we all be willing. May I be willing. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Do it now. Jan
Jeremiah 12 - Given a place
In the last part of this chapter is a verse that speaks directly to us.
We are the alien nation that did not know God. Through the adoption offered because of Jesus we have now been given a place among His people.
Thank You Father for adopting me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Jeremiah 11 - No Fear
A company created in 1989 by several persons goes by the name of No Fear. They market sports wear, shirts, hats, glasses, etc. They want people to go all-out when living their adventure.
Jeremiah was promised by God, in chapter one of this book, that he would protect him. Now a plot to kill Jeremiah comes to his attention. God responds.
The punishment pronounced is severe, death to them and to their families. God does not mess around. He protects those He sends on a mission.
Father, may I not fear those that can merely harm my body. You alone are to be feared. In Jesus' name, Amen.
No fear. Jan
Jeremiah 10 - Big Bang
If you ask an evolutionist how the universe came into existence they'll tell you that it was the result of the Big Bang. I love the following sentence from Wikipedia regarding the Big Bang.
In layman's terms: By measuring how fast the universe is expanding, you can measure backwards to determine when it started. And by measuring what things (planets, stars, solar-systems, galaxies, etc.) must fit into that single point in space and time (a singularity), you get a point of infinite density and temperature.
So this singularity of infinite density and temperature exploded and the universe whooshed outward, stretching to its present expanding form. Um, where did something of infinite density and temperature come from?
A verse I read today explains it.
God is the one that stretched out the universe. It was His purposeful doing (by his understanding). It was no accident. He alone is infinite. He is God.
Thank You Father for the Big Bang. Thank You for tidbits like this in Your word. In Jesus' name, Amen.
God spoke, and bang... Jan
Jeremiah 9 - Boasting
Ah, a ray of hope in this dismal chapter.
Everything that exists or ever will exist does so because of God. All knowledge, all power, all resource, all creativity; it all comes from Him. What right do we have to boast? It would be like a sheet of paper boasting that it has a page from a best seller written upon it. The paper had nothing to do with it.
What should be boast in? That we intimately know God who delights in justice, righteousness and unfailing love.
Father, may I boast in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He is worthy! Jan
Jeremiah 8 - Twisted
I won't belabor this point too much. However, something from today's reading struck me as very familiar.
I know a lady whose former husband twists the word of the Lord into a hammer and uses it to pound anyone that disagrees with him. He thinks that he is so wise. Why then do most people view him as a fool? He argued, raged in anger, and demanded everyone agree with his interpretation of scripture for so long, that he eventually reaped the consequence of his anger. He no longer has a wife, his children want nothing to do with him, he lost everything.
The great shame of it is that, like the scribes, the teachers, described in the verses above, he has amazing knowledge of God's word. However, it is abused.
Father, please give me wisdom and grace so that I interpret Your word according to Your will. May I rightly divide Your word. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Keep it straight. Jan
Jeremiah 7 - Situational Ethics
I remember learning about Situational Ethics while growing up, going to public school. This school of thought espouses that traditional laws about what is moral and just can be suspended if the ends justifies the means. To put it more simply, to do a little evil to achieve a greater good. Sadly, many of us have bought into this. We believe that it is possible to be holy and still endorse some evil. I think God has a different standard.
Even sadder is the fact that this school of thought came about in the 1960's as the result of an Episcopal Priest named Joseph Flecher. He believed that any law could be broken if doing so would result in an expression of love greater than the evil committed or allowed.
In theory it is good, but in practice it means that you decide for yourself what laws apply. Truth is no longer truth. Absolutes become fuzzy. Judah had this problem.
Our nation is tottering on the edge of being unteachable, of wholeheartedly embracing relative-truth. We are on the precipice. The direction we take is in our hands.
Father, please give us wisdom. Give us courage. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Defend truth, never stop learning. Jan
Jeremiah 6 - Watchmen
In one memorable scene from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King movie, Pippin climbs the beacon Amon Din. It is located atop the tower of Echthelion, in the city of Minas Tirith.
Once atop the pyre he dumps oil upon the wood and lights it. It quickly bursts into flame.
The tower is one in a long series of beacons strategically placed so that they are all within sight of each other. One after another, like dominoes, the beacons come to life with flame, calling out into the distance. First Amon Din, then, Eilenach, Nardol, Erelas, Minrimmon, Calenhad and finally Halifirien. A distance of three day's ride has been covered in minutes.
The message is seen. The response is decisive.
The amazing thing about this scene is the sight of some of the towers, they are located in inhospitable places, some high on mountains covered with snow. Yet they are manned and ready despite standing idle for perhaps centuries. Several generations of watchmen faithfully endured hardships and stood at their posts, passing their mission on to those that came after them. They knew their purpose, they did it. They were there when needed.
God set watchmen to protect his bride Judah, but unlike King Theoden, they would not heed the call. They allowed the evil in; no, they embraced it. And as a result they reaped the consequences.
Father, may I watch for Your signal. May my eyes not grow weary. May I stand my post and fulfill my purpose. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Stand your post, keep watching. Jan
Jeremiah 5 - A Serotinous Life
Lodgepole and Jack pine trees require fire for survival. Their cones, which contain the seeds, are known as serotinous; they need heat or fire to open and disperse the seeds. It is the test, the trial, which allows new life to develop. If the heat of a fire is not applied then new life does not happen for these fire-dependent species.
After a raging forest fire all appears to be dead. However, add some water and time and soon new life begins to sprout.
We Christians are a fire-dependent species. We were birthed in the fire of adversity. We were spread due to the heat of persecution. And it is with the heat of the refining fire that we are developed into what we are meant to be.
Sometimes the adversity is a result of our own making. Due to their sin, God brought judgment upon the Israelites. He cut many of them off.
Their sins brought about the breaking off of the dead and the refining fire of adversity.
Paul wrote about this too. But now, this act of destruction against Israel is revealed for what it truly was, the method of our salvation.
God made room, if you will, on the Olive tree for us. He cut away the dead wood, burned it up, and grafted us in. However, His refining fire still burns. He wants us to be pure, to be holy.
It is with this refining fire that new life, beauty can be unveiled.
Yes, God will put His people through the fire, because He desires all to repent. He needs us to spread His message. If we won't, He'll mercifully put us in the fire again, knowing that we Christians tend to forget our purpose. We are serotinous. We need fire to spread His seeds.
The seeds of new life are watered with baptism. The new growth, when ready, develops seeds that are then scattered and germinated with the fire that the Holy Spirit brings. It is the cycle of life - the Christian life. A serotinous life.
Father, may I be willing to endure whatever fires You bring. May I do all that is necessary to fulfill Your purpose in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I smell smoke... Jan
Jeremiah 4 - Dead Flesh
Yesterday, while doing repair work with my brother and my son Sam on my mother's house, I cut my index finger.
I was attempting to get a soffit segment into place. It moved faster than my finger, which was in the way. Ouch! My finger survived. However, there is a small triangular section of skin on it that is turning funny colors and will either eventually lose feeling, due to having the nerve severed, or it will hang lifeless - dead flesh.
The Israelites had a heart problem. They had dead flesh surrounding their hearts, encasing it with stone hard cladding.
Prior to salvation, we had the same problem. The word of the Lord was not received. We could not feel it, dead flesh surrounded our heart.
The answer for Israel is the same as it is for us.
Paul restated this in the New Testament when he declared the following.
Christ came and died on the cross to remove the dead things of our lives, those things that kept us from feeling or perceiving the things of God.
Yes, the blood of Christ can heal, can remove dead flesh, but we must allow it. The Great Physician will not act unless we let Him.
Father, may I be willing to let You cut away whatever You determine should go. Please give me a willing heart, a circumcised heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He still makes house calls. Jan
Jeremiah 3 - Is Divorce a Sin?
Too many people in our society are held bondage to the belief that they are somehow "tainted goods" due to a divorce. Let me state this as equivocally as I can, divorce is not sin. It cannot be, otherwise God sinned.
The speaker in the verse above is God. He divorced Israel.
Let that sink in for a moment.
God is a divorcee. How's that grab you?
Divorce is not sin. Sin leads to divorce, however divorce is merely a declaration of what has already occurred. It is akin to a death-certificate. That piece of paper doesn't make someone dead. It is merely the legal document that lets the world know that the person is indeed dead.
All marriages end as a result of sin.
When God made us we were never meant to die. Thus marriage was never meant to end. This is part of the reason that Jesus said, the following.
When Adam and Eve sinned, death came into the world. The joining-together that Jesus spoke of came to an abrupt end when one spouse died.
There are only two ways a marriage can end, death or divorce. The ultimate root cause of both is sin, but they in and of themselves are not sin.
Father, thank You for Your word. I am grateful that You understand the pain that I went through. Thank You also for the healing You brought me in Pam. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He gives freedom. Jan
Jeremiah 2 - Shame
You've seen them. I know you have. People that have no shame. They have no remorse over the immoral, wicked, evil things that they do. The only time they show remorse is when they are caught. They feign shame.
How do they get that way? Is it learned or innate somehow? I suspect that a little of both.
If we are a Christian we have a sin nature that wars against our spirit. (If we are not, then there is no war and sin rules.) However, depending upon how long we have indulged in sin, the war may be quite protracted due to the extreme effort required extricate the entrenched evil.
Lord, let my battles be swift and decisive. May I feel true shame and remorse at my sins and thereby allow You to deal with them. In Jesus' name, Amen.
God wins. Jan
Jeremiah 1 - Defense
During WWII there were some Japanese held islands that were so well defended, so entrenched that the allies decided to entirely bypass them. They were not able to be taken. Only when Japan as a nation surrendered did these island fortresses surrender.
Jeremiah was promised virtual immunity from attacks if he would obey the Lord's commands. Wow!
Father, whether You promise immunity or not, may I obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.
He is my defense. Jan
Who am I?
I am a Christian man in his mid 40's. Like many men, I struggle with daily life issues. I know that my wife and children deserve to have a man of integrity, a man of courage, a man of passion, in short - a warrior for God, as head of our home.
Therefore, one of the things I have resolved to do is to chronicle my bible readings as the Lord Jesus gives me strength and ability. I am doing so with several other men that God has placed in my life. It is a concept that you can find on www.dbrag.org. I encourage you to follow suit.
Remember, if you are in Christ, you are blessed!
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