May 1 – Devotion Sharing (Jeremiah 6-10)

Submitted by Gina H. from Gracepoint Davis Church

  • 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.

The heart of God expressed through Jeremiah in 9:1 says, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people,” captures for me something of God’s anguish and sorrow over sin. The moments when I have glimpsed what my sin has done to others, what it has done to my relationship with God, how it has grieved Him, the tragic consequences that would play out if my sin were to continue unchecked – can only be expressed with these words of the weeping prophet. God just wants to save me from destruction, He just wants to save me from sin.

As my Creator, and the Lord of the heavens and earth, He alone knows how to lead my life. He says in 6:16, “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.” He says in 7:23 “I gave the this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. He does whatever He can to win me to Him, as in 7:25 – “day after day, again and again, I sent you my servants the prophets.” He is the anguished Father, heartbroken at the sin of His children, who only are running away from Him to their own destruction and death. God knows that the consequences of my sin are darkness and destruction, death apart from Him. So He does all He can to woo His people back to Him. “I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen, I called you, but you did not answer (7:13). But instead of heeding God’s warnings, like a rebellious teenager, our response is often to not take God seriously. So offensive – to instead respond with “we will not walk in it,” (6:16), “[I am] safe to do all these detestable things” (7:10), to not listen, not answer, to not pay any attention, but to instead follow the stubborn inclinations of my own heart (7:13, 24).

So what else is God to do? What would I do if I were God? Just let it go? If I knew that my people were headed into eternal separation from everything good and lovely, into a place where there is no presence of God, but only the consequences of sin and wickedness and evil all played out, without any goodness of God to protect them? Would I respond like these priests and prophets that Jeremiah is talking about here, and “dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious, and say “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace? (6:14). Or would I warn them, and take them seriously, and take their sin seriously, out of hopes that it would ultimately cause them to repent and turn back to God? And so, God pours out His words of warning, that they need to face up to their sin, and who they are, and what they have done, so that they can be stopped in their tracks, and have the chance to turn back to following God, “who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth” (9:24). He cries out to them, to show them what is coming if they do not acknowledge God but continue to reject Him. He tells them to mourn over their sin with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come” (6:26). He pleads with them, telling them that they are “harming themselves, to their own shame” (7:19). He just pulls out all the stops, and stops at nothing to show them His heart of anguish for them and the path they are headed down if they don’t wake up and listen to the warnings.

Like a rejected Father, a spurned lover, God is so offended at how His own people are ignoring Him. They are greedy for their own gain, to the point that they just try to make themselves and their hearers think that sin is no big deal (6:13-14). They think that by their deceptive words about their commitments to God, without actually changing any of their self-centered ways, that God will just wink at them and pretend not to see, and they think to themselves, “We are safe – safe to do all these detestable things” (7:4-10). So He is in anguish, and says, “what else can I do because of the sin of my people?” (9:7) What is God to do? If He is a God of truth, He needs to take their sins seriously. Out of that deep heart’s longing for them to repent and come back to Him, and not continue down their path of destruction.

So often, I hear people say, why do we talk about sin so much? They don’t want to face their sin, but think that they are just okay. They don’t like it when things happen to show that they are still weak, still haven’t changed much from their sinful ways, still need to repent for their sin. So often, this is me, when I make a mistake, when I see my failings and weaknesses, when I see how heartless I was and chose convenience over someone’s need, there is that part of me, that says, “Why can’t God just call me “safe” and not deal with these ugly things in me? And just say that I’m okay? Because He is a God of truth, and He wants to show me “where the good way is” so that I can “walk in it” and “find rest for my soul” (6:16). He loves me too much, to just let me continue on in my proud and sinful ways, and live with that false peace that will only lead to me not dealing with God in honesty and truth, that will just lead me to the destructive consequences for my sins. It’s when I call sin what it is in my life, that I can just go to my Heavenly Father, and say I’m so sorry, and weep with the longing of the prophet, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!” over the ways I have grieved the most loving, sacrificial, merciful, compassionate God, who loved me enough to send His Son to die for me – that I can then hear the words of forgiveness, in truth, that yes, my sins deserve death, but because of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for me, I can then receive that “rest for my soul”, the true peace from knowing that I’m a forgiven sinner, and the confidence of knowing that this God “understands and knows me,” that “He is the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness” only because of His mercy to me in Christ Jesus.

  • Write a prayer in response.

Dear Lord, thank you that you take me seriously, that you love me so much, to not leave me alone to just suffer the consequences of my sin on my own. I confess that I cannot bear the consequences for my own sin, and that I need you to save me. Thank you that you would take matters into your own hands, to save me from my sin, and would pour out your heart to me, your anguish over me, so that I could see my sins and repent and turn back to You and not continue down my own destructive paths. Thank you that You are a God of truth, because I know that a life of false peace and pride will only leave me empty, and result in death. I pray that I would always be able to embrace the truth you show me about myself, so that I can quickly repent, and be restored to that place where I am at peace with You.

Submitted by Kevin H. from Gracepoint Davis Church

In reading these chapters, the following themes become repeatedly clear:

  • God’s people’s persistence in sinning;
  • Their absolute refusal to heed God’s word;
  • God’s outrage and call for repentance;
  • God’s prophet’s grief.

If I were to succinctly summarize what was going on, it would be found in these verses:

 13 The LORD said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. 14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.” 15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water. 16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have destroyed them.   (Jeremiah 9:13-16)

I often think that I understand the dark mystery of human sinfulness, but repeatedly I become humbled by the depth and the irrationality of our insistence on sinning against God.  When I reflect on the Israelites’ rebellion and wrong doings against God, I get a glimpse of the breadth of human sinfulness as portrayed in these chapters.  The level of brazenness and self-delusion that I see in what the Israelites did is a stern warning against not dealing with sins in my life lest I become just as blind.  In chapter 7, Jeremiah was told to address the very people that were entering through the gates of the temple to ‘worship the Lord.’  One may think that if these people bothered enough to go to the temple to spend the time and energy worshipping the Lord, that they would have enough conscience to consider their sins and have the desire to be made right before God.  But surprisingly, that was not the case.  These very men, were guilty of doing all kinds of evil like stealing, murdering, committing adultery, and yet they had the brazenness to go to the temple.  The capacity of human heart to be compartmentalized is really shocking – that we could be indulging in really shameful sins, and yet act holy by going to worship God and want to look reverent.  I would like to think that these were the extreme cases found in the Old Testament, but I think the truth is that my heart is just as capable.  And as I deal with other people’s sins at times in ministry, trying to help them see their sins and press upon them the need to repent, I have to admit that this kind of persistence in sinning and yet not wanting to deal with the truth before God happens more often than not.  What is repeatedly described in these chapters is the fact that the Israelites were very persistent in sinning, and how committed they were to continue doing all the evils that God was warning them about.  There is no hesitance, there is no self-doubt, but in increasing boldness and insistence they pursued their desires and did what they wanted in hurting others and violating God’s holy standards.  There is no longer any fear of God, no conscience left to guide their hearts toward what is good.  This is a warning for me in two ways.

One is the fact that such blindness and such level of persistence in sin is very possible.  I cannot assume or think that just because I claim to know God and even go through the motions of worshipping God outwardly on Fridays or Sundays, that I am somehow okay in God’s eyes.  It is scary, but it is very possible that over time, with repeated practice of being selfish and pursuing my own desires and idols, that my heart can be this stuck on doing wrong and not have much problems with it.  And I see this in some of those that I minister as well.  Over time, when they refuse to repent, refuse to feel bad about their sins and want to amend their ways, they become brazen and start asking ‘what’s wrong with it?’  And I see how that’s a very scary place to be, because at that point, even if God were to make it very clear of their sins the truth will not shake them. This is well captured in Chapter 6:15, “No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.”

Going hand in hand with this kind of persistence for sin is the stubborn refusal to hear God’s word, to be deterred by God’s warnings.  Some of the phrases that characterized the Israelites were, “We will not walk in it,’ ‘We will not pay attention,’ ‘as for my law, they have rejected it,’ ‘truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.”  The role of God’s word, the truth, in dealing with our sinful heart is absolutely crucial.  I think when God’s word comes to us as the truth that speaks about what we do, what desires are dictating the action, what moral boundaries are being crossed, etc., we all have to deal with the same set of choices – accept it or reject it. There’s never the middle ground or the grey area even though we are fully capable of fabricating reasons and excuses to ignore or turn the blind eye to what’s really going on in my heart and my life.  But even that is a way of rejecting God’s truth.  What’s really scary, is that over time, after rejecting God’s word from addressing our sins over and over again, it is very possible that we can render God’s word powerless in causing the conviction of sin to happen. This should really serve as a warning for me, that daily I need to go through this exercise of reading God’s word, and humbly let it convict me of my sins, or something that I desire to be wrong.  I need to be willing to let it go, willing to say sorry to God and to those whom I have hurt, be willing to feel bad for what I have done, so that I can properly receive God’s forgiveness.  The efficacy of God’s word in my life is really determined by my willingness to accept it everyday and let it cause me to repent daily.

What’s really amazing though, as difficult to understand, is God’s willingness to be outraged and grieved.  At any point, God could have said no more and be done with it all.  Often, when I’m trying to help a person deal with his sin, I think the biggest temptation is to say, ‘fine – forget it, have it your way,’ and be done with it.  There’s this certain kind of frustration and anguish and anxiety and grief when I see someone that I care for heading the wrong way, down toward destructive path of sin.  Trying to convince a person who refuses to be convinced, is such a difficult thing – the mixture of frustration and worry and even outrage is difficult to bear.  When I think about God’s heart, who deals with my daily rebellion and all the sins of the world, it must feel like the pain on the cross.  There’s the level of relational hurt that even I experience when someone that I care for suddenly turns cold toward God, pushing others that represent God away in relational distance.  All of that paint the picture of Jesus on the cross, full wrath of sin heavily laid upon him.

In thinking about the role of Jeremiah as God’s prophet, I see that grieving over others’ sins, their persistence toward destructive ways and the brazenness in rejecting God’s warning upon warning, is part of what it means to be God’s prophet.  There is nothing easy about the task, because there is nothing light or casual about sin or rejecting of God’ word, although we as sinful beings, casually fall into sin all the time.  I need to really grasp and understand the gravity of sin, that is to say, the hurt and the anguish of God’s heart, and be willing and humble to welcome God’s truth to address my life, my thoughts, my actions each and every day.

 Submitted by Megan C. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Verses God spoke to me about his heart:

6: 10 To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed

so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it. 

I see a picture of God’s heart that anguishes to speak and give warning but no one would listen to him.  We close off their ears and refuse to hear the truth spoken by God to us because we find his word offensive, his words of truth go against what we want and desire for ourselves so we find no pleasure in God’s word but instead we want to remain deluded in hanging onto the lies of this world and of Satan, the prince of this world.

13 “From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.

From this passage I see a picture of God’s heart for us as he sees how we are fatally wounded and dying from what sin does to us, but we are all greedy for gain.  From those who claim to be his followers, we practice deceit because we don’t address how serious sin is with others who don’t know Christ since it’s unpleasant and people don’t want to hear it.  We don’t want to risk emotional discomfort if they reject us or think we are too much.  This happens in how I gloss or ignore the reality that I learn today that about only 1 in 23 students at UCD is a Christian, the startling statistic is that many don’t know the saving grace of Jesus and are literally dying and as one of the minority on this college campus who profess to know Christ, I need to see the grave state each person who doesn’t know Jesus is in. How I can’t just dress their wound by ignoring their fundamental need to come to know their personal Savior and Lord who wants to save them from their sin and give them eternal life with him.

Verses God spoke to me about his response to sin:

7: 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips. 29 Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the LORD has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.

Because God is holy, he cannot tolerate any amount of sin.  He declares that this is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction, which is done out of love as God disciplines those he loves as his children.  But when we chose to not obey God or respond to his correction, then we don’t want to have anything to do with truth.  Truth, then, has perished from our sight and thoughts and has vanished from our lips, not just our lips but it is no longer a part of our lives.  God’s just response to sin is to reject and abandon this generation that is under his wrath.  This is what we rightfully deserve for not wanting to obey our God and respond to his correction made out of his love for us, but on the cross, we see that God doesn’t treat us as we deserve.

Verses God spoke to me about his hopes and wishes for his people:

8:21 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed;
I mourn, and horror grips me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?

These verses show me God’s heart, his hopes and wishes for his people.  As he sees his people crushed, he is crushed and he mourns. Horror grips him because he sees how sin is destroying us.  He longs for us to be healed from the wounds we inflict on ourselves.  This healing doesn’t come from a balm or a physician but it comes from God our Creator who knows us through and through, and our Heavenly Father, who wants only the best for us, to be healed of our sins that plague us.

16 This is what the LORD says:

   “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.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’

18
 Therefore hear, O nations;
observe, O witnesses,
what will happen to them.
19 Hear, O earth:
I am bringing disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
and have rejected my law.
20
 What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;
your sacrifices do not please me.”

7: 13 While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.

As a parent, I realize even more that’s what every parent wants–for their child to listen to them.  And they anguish when the child does not answer when the parent calls out to her.  I have experienced my leaders anguishing over me when I did not listen and I have also personally experience this anguish when I talk to younger sisters in Christ and she would not listen to God calling out to her again and again.

7:22 I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.

God’s hopes and wishes for his people are that they come to know who he is and understand his heart for them, that he wants to be our God and he wants us to be his people.  He doesn’t just give us commands of do’s and don’ts but he wants us to obey and walk in all his ways because He is our God and we should want to follow him.  We know that on our own, we can’t find our own way and get led astray by following the stubborn inclinations of our evil hearts.  God wants us to walk in all the ways he commands us, not because he wants to make us begrudgingly follow him, but because he is our God, he knows what is best for us even when we don’t know and that it may go well with us.  And when I chose to obey and follow God, and deny myself, my rights, my agenda, my schedule to do the loving thing, to think of others and put the needs of others ahead of myself, often I find that I don’t have less  but I find that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.  And I am the blessed person when I choose to not give into my laziness or selfishness or insistence that I am right.  But often the problem is that I am so stuck and stubborn and slow to learn that I cling to the inclinations of my evil heart that is only out for myself so I don’t listen or obey and I find that often that doesn’t go well for me and I make a bigger mess of my life.

Verses God spoke to me about his hopes and wishes for me:

9: 23 This is what the LORD says:

   “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

God’s hopes and wishes for me is that I may not trust in my own delusional idea that I am wise in my own eyes and boast of my wisdom by insisting that I am right and others are wrong, that my ways are better than God’s ways when I don’t listen and obey him.  God doesn’t want me to boast in my material riches that he has graciously blessed me with in the first place, not that I earned or deserved any of it on my own.  But he wants me to boast only in him, that I understand and know him, that he is the Lord, the Lord over me, over history, over the people in my life, over all the earth, and who shows me and everyone his kindness, his justice and his righteousness on earth, this was all displayed on the cross.  Let me boast in nothing in myself because when I am brutally honest, there is nothing worthy to boast about but let me boast in the cross because in the cross, God took what we view as personal shame, humiliation, failure and defeat and he does the great reversal, he turns our despair over our sins into rejoicing over our salvation and new resurrected life in him.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a God who calls out to me again and again, who speaks to me through your word and your prophets to warn me to take my sins seriously and to take you seriously in my life.  Lord, forgive me for all the times I don’t listen or pay attention to your word but instead follow the stubborn inclination of my evil heart.  Lord, for every decision whether small or big, help me to seek you to know what the best way is and to walk in your right path where I can truly find rest for my soul weary from my sins and the burden of the sins of others.  May I come to understand and know you more each day, your heart for me to know you and your heart for other people.  Lord, forbid that I may find myself boasting in my own wisdom, strength or riches that only came from you in the first place.  But may I only boast in knowing you and what you did on the cross for me and for all who would believe in you.

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