April 30 – Devotion Sharing (Jeremiah 1-5)

Submitted by Lem M. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Jeremiah Chapters 1-5
§ Write about how God spoke to you through today’s passage about his heart, his response to sin, and his hopes and wishes for his people, and for you.

In Jeremiah chapter 1, God gives his call to the prophet. In Jeremiah 1:5 it reads, “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.” What a call! Before Jeremiah was even born God had set him apart to be an incredible prophet. Jeremiah’s response in 1:6 is “…I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah’s response is so honest and tender. He is insecure to the call God has given him and so God reassures Jeremiah that God will be with him and to not be afraid (1:8, 1:19). I always viewed the prophets as people made of superior material. God forged them to be bold and courageous and galvanized their faith to endure any opposition. However Jeremiah’s response reminded me that the prophets are ordinary men God called to an extraordinary task. What makes Jeremiah special is that he trusted in God’s promises to be with him. It’s not explicitly stated but we know that Jeremiah obeyed God’s call to be a prophet of warning to the people–calling people to repentance and to return to the Lord their God. In 1:11-15, there is this intimate moment when God asks Jeremiah what do you see? I am reminded of God’s relationship with Abraham when God promises that he will be the father of many nations. What do you see, Jeremiah? Jeremiah says he sees an almond tree, which is one of the first trees to bloom. It is the first tree to “awaken” or it is a watchful tree. God’s responds in v.12, “…you have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” God is ever watchful that his word is fulfilled. He has a plan to transform this broken world and the campuses we serve with the gospel. God asks me this same question today. What do I see? I see a broken world filled with people who are in misery because they have corrupted hearts enslaved to idols. I see the effects of sin in broken homes, memories of abuse and lives without purpose. I see people who hope in material wealth and comfort and still have experience a gaping hole in their hearts for love. God asks a person what they see before he reveals His prophetic vision. It’s clear that God is calling me to be a prophet to this generation and this is the call for everyone who sees what he sees. My response is filled with fear and anxiety but God says do not be afraid for I will go with you. This is a pattern I see repeated many times through the Bible. God asks me to trust in Him and to trust in His promises. He reminds me of a time when I didn’t give into the fear and I believed in Him fully. In Jeremiah 2:2b it reads, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” This is my testimony. God called me to follow Him out of my personal Egypt of sin fourteen years ago. He led me through an incredible journey of becoming a Christian, serving as a minister and now He calls me to be prophet and voice of truth to this world. The only proper response in light of my testimony is to obey His call and to trust He will be with me.

God’s heart for his people is painfully expressed through the picture of a jilted lover. God provided for His people and protected them from danger. But the people have forsaken God. In Jeremiah 2:11b God says, “But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.” In Jeremiah 3:13 it reads, “Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree and have not obeyed me declares the Lord.” It is painful to read God’s response in Jeremiah chapters 2-5. God bears his heart as a scorned lover who gave everything and proved His love to his people time and time again. His people have rebelled, scorned, despised and forsaken their God. God warns His people that such rebellion cannot go unpunished. However, God appeals for the faithless people to return to a proper relationship with Him (3:14, 3:22). Even after the betrayal God wants to take me back. God is willing to take the first step in forgiving me. There is never a point when I have gone too far and have sinned too greatly that I cannot be restored by God. Repent and Return! This is the message of every prophet. Before I can preach this to the world, I must first experience a restored relationship with God each day. This past Easter I had to repent before God because I sensed a distance growing in my heart from God. My response to God is a personal thing and no one will really know if I cooled in my heart for God’s ministry. I cannot allow any distance to grow in my heart because this is the slippery slope toward self-dependence and idolatry. The message of repent and return is something I need to preach to myself each day. It is only through this daily repentance can a prophet for his generation ever hope to withstand the pressures of ministry of preaching and loving God’s people.

§ Write a prayer in response.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for this reminder in Jeremiah that prophets are not made of superior stuff. They are people who have a love for you and trust that you will be with them in every circumstance. In my prayers Lord you often ask me, “What do I see?” I repent for seeing this world through my own selfish lens of comfort and personal agenda. I now see a broken world with so many hopeless people and it’s obvious you are calling me and every believer to be a prophet for this generation. God help me to daily come to your word with a desire to repent and return. I don’t ever want to tolerate any distance from you Lord. Help me to be faithful to the call of sharing your love and gospel to broken world. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Submitted by Peter K. from Gracepoint Davis
About Calling of Jeremiah:
I want to pause and reflect on Jeremiah’s calling in light of the background of Jeremiah’s life. God told Jeremiah in verse Jeremiah 1:5, “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.” And there he goes out as a prophet of God, proclaiming the message of warning, destruction and God’s heart for 40 years, which was not received well at all. Nobody listened to Jeremiah and the thing that he tried to prevent, which was the destruction of Jerusalem and captivity of Judah by the foreign power, ended up happening before his very eyes. So it seems if his life purpose was a failed mission. To add insult to injury, he was beaten, imprisoned, dumped into a cistern, and disregarded along the way.

God knew Jeremiah and called him to become the prophet to the nations. God did not promise rosy road of success and sense of fulfillment in doing the job. But God did promise His faithfulness, appearing in verse 8 and 19 of chapter 1. V8 “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you. “ V19 “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.” And once again I am reminded that I have received a similar calling from Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is sobering to think about Jeremiah’s calling and what kind of life he led. Jeremiah finished the race, remained faithful through all the downs of his life. I think probably only bright spot he experienced was the sufficiency of God’s faithfulness and His words and that was a fuel to his incredible 40 years of obedience. Jeremiah would be one who can really testify that God was all he had and was enough, the expression from Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” For me, first of all, I haven’t even lived for 40 years yet. But even during that short time of ministry, I had been prone to complain, thinking that things are not working out as well as it should, and I felt a sense of disillusionment. Jeremiah’s life really challenges me to repent of my thoughts and to be faithful to God, praying for the heavenly desires to be planted in me, to have God as my primary source of significance and fulfillment.

About God’s heart:
Jeremiah 2:13 “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.”

God describes the Israelites’ forsaking through different imageries, but one that is very frequent and graphic in chapters 2-5 is the imagery of a prostitute. And the situation is even more appalling as God describes Himself as the husband and the Israel as the unfaithful and divorced wife who lives like a prostitute.

Jeremiah 3:1 says, “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—would you now return to me?”

The situation is really difficult to imagine. If I were the husband, I really don’t know how I would react to the situation. It would definitely be sickened and probably I would try my best to escape from that reality and I might just react in revenge. What’s more, God says in Jeremiah 3:3b, “Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.” What would you do when you face something like this? Severe punishment is deserved.

God uses the imagery of a prostitute to describe the Israelites going after idols. That’s how God feels when I go after idols of this world–things that replace God, the spring of living water. I strive after sense of fulfillment, that I am doing something good and am productive with my life, and that I can make difference and I am counted for something good. If I have those things, I think I will probably be reasonably happy.

Then in chapter 5, Jeremiah talks about people refusing to repent before God’s message. Verse 3, “O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” It is easy for me to judge the Israelites for their refusal to repent and get right with God after hearing from prophets like Jeremiah. But I am sure they went through similar responses as mine. “Hey, it’s not too bad and it is reasonable. What’s up with God having problem with me for this?” In many ways, I am just like those Israelites, still clinging onto my own notion of what’s right and wrong, that I am good, not bad. But through this text, once again I see that I am essentially very selfish and my life is all about me and God is not in the picture of my life. I am proud. That’s the bottom line of sin and I forsake God by saying that I know better.

It is also linked to digging a cistern that cannot hold water. God repeatedly tells the Israelites that they will be punished by their own sin. Jeremiah 2:19 says, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me.” Will those idols hold water for me? God says in Jeremiah 2:36, “You will be disappointed by Egypt as your were by Assyria.” If I hold onto idols in my life, what will end up happening is that these idols will turn their back on me and reduce me to nothing, leaving me hollowed out. That’s the warning here. Yet the Israelites did not listen to God and received the due penalty by their sins. I’d better take a different path. God is real and truthful.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for today’s passage. It is a difficult passage to swallow, to personalize due to my pride. Lord, please forgive me for thinking that I know better. Please help me to humbly seek your ways and surrender everything each day into your care. Lord, indeed, only in you we can find true fulfillment and joy. I affirm to the truth once again and help me to live by it. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Submitted by Sarah Y. from Gracepoint Davis Church
Jeremiah Chapters 1-5
§ Write about how God spoke to you through today’s passage about his heart, his response to sin, and his hopes and wishes for his people, and for you.

Jeremiah 1:14-16
14 The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD.
“Their kings will come and set up their thrones
in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem;
they will come against all her surrounding walls
and against all the towns of Judah.
16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people
because of their wickedness in forsaking me,
in burning incense to other gods
and in worshiping what their hands have made.

God takes our sins very seriously and pronounces judgment on our sin. I need to take God’s judgment seriously because media and society make me think that I can get away with a lot of things as long as my actions don’t seem to directly hurt anyone. God created me to be in relationship with him, so it is wickedness when he loves me and is so faithful to me but I choose to forsake him and worship other things. He is God and he has the right to judge. Many times, in my fear of judgment, I want to demand that God be merciful to me but who am I to demand mercy? As a sinner, I need to submit to justice and acknowledge that I deserve the rightful consequences for my sin.

Just because we go to church on Sundays and are actively serving in the church, it’s easy to think that we’re worshiping God while we’re actually worshipping other things–like worshiping our image in front of other people, worshiping our own competence, worshiping ourselves and how we compare with others. I have been guilty again and again of worshiping myself instead of worshiping God and this grieves his heart. It’s tragic how I choose to worship lesser, temporary, created things instead of the greater, eternal, Creator of all things. It’s only our worship of him that really matters in the end.

Jeremiah 2:19
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the LORD your God
and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.

Our wickedness will be punished and our backsliding deserves rebuke. If God is just, he can’t just let our wickedness continue unchecked. A good God will judge sin. I shouldn’t be defensive and shocked when I am rebuked for ways that my heart is backsliding from God. But I think this is how we often respond because we have this incorrect view that God should always be full of grace towards us. However, part of his grace is rebuking us so that we might turn from our backsliding and return to him. From another angle, I need to see how God wants to use me as a voice of truth to others. When I see others who are backsliding in their commitment to God, I can’t just passively stand there and let it happen out of unrealistic optimism that they will just figure things out themselves. I also have a selfish desire to not put my relationship at risk with them. God deserves to be honored and I need to be faithful to him in trying to keep others from backsliding too–sometimes that truth might need to come out strong, but it is always tempered by love. It is my genuine love for God that will gives me the heart to correct and rebuke others who are backsliding.

Jeremiah 2:2
Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the desert,
through a land not sown.

Jeremiah 3:14
“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.”

God’s heart is to relate to us as his bride and he is our husband. He has that kind of loving commitment to us. Today, the picture of marriage is very broken with all the divorce and separation, but God’s love for us is a picture of what marriage was supposed to be like–that deep commitment to one another, for better or for worse. It’s amazing that despite all our sinfulness which God calls adultery because we are breaking our end of the commitment to him and running to other loves, he still wants to be faithful to us and he wants us to return to him. This is the amazing grace that we often sing about in Christian songs.

Jeremiah 2:5-8
5 This is what the LORD says:
“What fault did your fathers find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD,
who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
through a land of deserts and rifts,
a land of drought and darkness,[a]
a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land
to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
and made my inheritance detestable.
8 The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the LORD?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
following worthless idols.

God’s heart is broken that he has done so much for his people–bringing them up out of Egypt, leading them through the barren wilderness with everything they needed against the odds–and yet they still decide to follow after worthless idols and make themselves worthless by doing so. Instead of seeking after the Lord, they went after worthless idols. We still do this today. He is faithful to us in so many ways–giving us life, providing for our needs, giving us the church and these relationships, giving us so many opportunities to hear and respond to the Gospel, giving us meaningful work in loving others and sharing the hope of eternal life with them–but we make ourselves worthless by turning after idols of pleasure, drowning ourselves in media, pampering our bodies and avoiding any kind of hard work, making it our life goal to make a lot of money and buy the latest gadgets, and more. He made us for so much more than this. God has only been good to us but we don’t seek after him. We choose to rebel and follow worthless idols. This is the tragedy of human sinfulness where we are all bent on rebellion.

Write a prayer in response
God, I am so undeserving of your love for me. Thank you for your hopes for me that also translate into your disappointments for the way I treat you which leads to your justice and anger. Despite all your faithfulness to me, I still choose to sin, and this is tragic. This is the sinner that I am. Please forgive me for all the times I don’t take my sins seriously and try to make inadequate excuses for them. Thank you for all the voices of truth you bring into my life to help me get back into a proper relationship with you–sending prophets like Jeremiah to speak the Word of God to me–so that I can repent of my ways and return to you. Please help me to be that voice of truth to others too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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