May 2 – Devotion Sharing (Jeremiah 11-15)

Submitted by Christine C. from Gracepoint Davis Church 

Through today’s passages on Jeremiah, God showed me that I need to take sin seriously in my life, or else, it will easily cause me to harden my heart and forget my relationship with Him. This is exactly what happened with the Israelites. Chapter 11 starts out with God calling for Jeremiah to go to the Israelites and remind them of the covenant that He had made with their forefathers. In verse 4 God says, “Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey […].” Though the Israelites disobeyed God, and forgotten the covenant that God had made with their forefathers, God’s response to them was to send Jeremiah to remind them of the covenant. I see how God’s heart is for the people to repent of their waywardness and come back into relationship with Him. But the Israelites refused to listen and instead they followed other gods and served them (v.10). In fact, the Israelites had turned their backs on God and worshipped many gods. They have as many gods as they have towns, and as many altars of the shameful god of Baal as they had streets. God had warned them again and again of the consequences of their sins, but they refused to listen. And so, finally in the end God responds by letting them experience the consequences of their sins. After many tries of trying to appeal and warn the Israelites, God finally gives them over to their desires. It gets to the point where the men of Anathoth seek the life of Jeremiah, the one who God sent to speak truth to them. They would rather kill Jeremiah and quiet the Lord, instead of opening up their heart to listen.

Looking at God’s interaction with the Israelites, I see how God cares so much about His relationship with them. He warns them many times, and sends His prophet, Jeremiah in hopes that they may turn from their ways and repent. God even goes to the extent of using a symbolic illustration of a linen belt to show the Israelite how important they are to Him. God says in verse 11, “For as a belt is bound around a man’s waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,[…] to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.” Here God is expressing to the Israelites that He has bound them to Him, and they matter so much to Him. But again, the Israelites are stubborn and they continue to chase after other gods. God eventually warns them that they will become useless like that dirty linen belt hidden behind the rocks. I’m struck that in the same way God loves me like the Israelites. He tries so many different ways to get through to them, even when they don’t respond, God continues to try. I am reminded that God really values His relationship with me, and my sins, can deeply hurt God and cause distance between me and Him. God relates the Israelites’ “chasing after other gods” as adultery and lustful neighing of a prostitute. That means sin is a deep betrayal of my relationship with God. It’s easy for me to not see my sin in that light. I see them as displeasing to God but not as a deep betrayal of trust. I know that my selfishness and fears and anxieties do not please God, but I don’t step back and see that it can deeply hurts God like so. Especially since I’m married, I know that adultery is the worst thing that I could possibly do against my husband. It would result in such betrayal of trust, deep hurt, and a broken relationship. And to know that this is how God views my sin, helps to take my sins a lot more seriously.

I have been lately fighting a lot of my crazy fears especially those surrounding my daughter, Abby. I get worried about her health, and wanting to try my best to protect her. After having Abby, even getting out of the house takes an extra 30 minutes, and the temptation of just wanting to stay home and reserve my time and energy for Abby is very real. But I know if I start to indulge in these temptations, how easily will I spiral down the path of focusing most of my time and energy on Abby. The temptation that I should slow down because I have a child now definitely is there, but in light of this passage, if I do that, I may be forsaking God’s calling for me to be His minister and end up being like that useless dirty linen belt. I think about the people God has placed in my life. Each one has brokenness in their lives because of either their sins or the sins of their family. Because of God’s mercy, He has given me that role to bring these people to Jesus, because He is the only one who could save them. Now if I turn away, it could possibly also be turning my back on these students and their eternities. If I think about my sins in that light, I see how fearful it can really be to allow myself to settle and become complacent with chasing after focusing all my energy on my child.

For the Israelites, they did not respond to God’s warnings because they didn’t listen. I’m not sure if they weren’t interested in listening or if they were too preoccupied in those other gods. I see the danger in this. Even though I could be going to Bible studies, doing DTs, going to prayer meetings, if my heart is bent on listening to the mantra of what I think is right for my life, whether it be allowing my fears and anxieties to overwhelm me or listening to the voices of this world, that I need to save myself. I really see this as a warning for me that each day I need to be openly honest before God’s Word, and allow it to sift my heart. I need to listen and be attentive to how God might be addressing different areas in my life.
Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord that You are a God who is relentless in loving me. Lord, like the Israelites, You have made a covenant with me through Jesus and I have a way back to You. Father, I confess that I so easily gloss over my sins without seeing how my sins deeply hurt You. I don’t think about my sins as adultery against You, but that is the truth. Each time I choose to sin, and turn away from Your ways, I am breaking my relationship with You. Oh Lord I am so sorry for the ways I hurt You, please help me to remember this truth. The Israelites stubbornly chased after other gods and refused to listen. I know Lord, if I am not daily honest with my fears, anxieties, and all the ways I want to protect Abby, I will just end up like the Israelites who so stubbornly insist on their own ways. Thank You God that You do not leave me in my sin, but You give me Your Word and people in my life that speak Your truth to me. Thank you that You give me a way to turn back to You. Help me Lord to understand how You see me as that linen belt which is bound to You. You have given me such meaning and purpose. You have given me the ministry of reconciliation of which I get to bring broken people to Jesus. Please help me to heed your warnings each day and be completely honest with whatever fears or temptations that linger in my heart.

In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Submitted by Linda U from Gracepoint Davis Church
From God’s interaction with the stubbornly rebellious Israelites, one thing that I am reminded of is that God made a covenant with His people and relates to them based on His word and promises.  God had blessed their forefathers by leading them out of Egypt and bringing them into a land flowing with milk and honey, and His command is simple: Obedience leads to blessings and disobedience leads to curses.  Because God is a God of His word, He cannot take back His commands or bend them in order to spare His people from suffering.  He wants to be their God and they are to be His people.  And if God’s people refuse to listen to Him and insist on following after other gods in order to serve them, God cannot be their God in order to bless them.  Their hearts have turned away as they refuse to listen to God and chase after worthless idols.  God cannot and does not force anyone into a relationship with Him.

At first it seems harsh that God would refuse to listen to the prayers of these people who have turned to idols like Baal, and that He would tell Jeremiah NOT to pray for the well-being of these people when they find themselves in distress.  Although they fast, God says he wouldn’t listen to their cry.  Although they make various sacrifices, like burnt offerings and grain offerings, God says he would not accept them.  God says that He would instead destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague.  One lesson that I learn here is that God is not interested in merely any outward religious appearance, and He sees when we are not relating with Him in authenticity but just going through the motions of spiritual or religious activities.  In particular, when we sin and we face the consequences of sin, we are going to be crying out to Him.  I know that in my life, my sins lead to pain both for myself and other people.  Sin has consequences of regret and deep hurt.  And there is genuine desire for a reversal of time, in which I utter myself, “I wish I hadn’t done this or that.”  What God is NOT interested in are prayers for deliverance from the pain, or from the consequences of my sin; nor is He interested in my efforts to become a better person or to try harder in living my spiritual life by doing more outward religious things.  This points to the fact that God does accept a genuine repentance where I turn back to Him with a true recommitment to make Him my God and for all of me to belong to Him completely.

Secondly, God called Jeremiah into a life of obedience (Jeremiah 1) and because of his obedience by being a voice of God to others, he has been feeling like being a lamb led to the slaughter (Jeremiah 11:19).  Moreover, Jeremiah complains in Chapter 12 that the people are not listening to Him, the way of the wicked seems to be prospering, and the faithless seem to live at ease.  The people who are refusing to listen seem to be doing OK even though they are living in sin, so what’s the use for Jeremiah to be speaking of God’s justice when it seems like the people are getting away with sin?

There are times when I feel complaints within my own heart when the life of obedience is not getting the immediate results I am looking for.  While I’m trying to serve God, I run into my sinfulness and character flaws all the time, such that when I look at some of the people around me who do not seem to be having to struggle with their sins all the time, they seem to doing just fine.  I’m trying to love and care for people and I’m wanting to see the people I am ministering to change for the better and experience less bondage to sin, but this isn’t always the case because their strongholds seem too strong.  In response to Jeremiah’s complaints, God tells Him in a sense that He is preparing Him for more difficult situations to come in the future (Jeremiah 12:5), and what I learn from this is that God is also working in my life to mature me as a minister.  Loving people is hard, and people are hard to love, but God has put me on a pathway of growth such that God can cause me to grow as a minister and as a person of love.  In Chapter 15, Jeremiah complains about the curses and persecution he faces as a prophet, along with the pain unending and his sound grievous and incurable.  He starts to doubt God’s faithfulness, to which God says that if Jeremiah repents, He’ll restore him so that he may serve Him and be His spokesman once more.  I, too, have felt similar sentiments when I am struggling to serve God, trying to deny myself, trying to love the people God placed in my life.  Very similarly, this is when God is wanting for me to repent by changing my attitude towards my difficulties in ministry and recommitting myself to my role as a minister, to which God promises to restore me so that I may indeed serve Him more faithfully.  God will make me His spokesperson, someone to represent His heart and values to others.  He will make me a wall to people, a fortified wall of bronze.  Although there will be opposition from the inside (e.g., my voices of insecurity and pride) and outside, they will not overcome me, says God.  God says He is with me to rescue me and to save me.  God will save me from the hands of the wicked and redeem me from the grasp of the cruel.  What is the “wicked” and “cruel” except the sins from within and the sins of others. Yet given these promises, I see that God will help me if I just remain faithful in serving Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

I see from the illustration of the linen belt that you wish to have a personal, intimate relationship with me, that I be a people for Your renown and praise and honor.  You truly want to bless my life if only I obey Your words and not turn away from You.  I know that You want me to obey You by committing myself to live unselfishly and without any self-preservation, but to offer my life to others by loving others and caring for the needs of others.  You want me to obey by praying for the needs of others even though the answers to those prayers are not always immediate and they don’t always seem to be to my favor.  Please forgive me whenever I complain about living the life of love because loving people has been difficult because I am by nature very self-centered and very impatient.  As you promised Jeremiah that if he repents, You would restore him and to make him your spokesman and fortified wall of bronze, and how You would be his rescuer and savior, I pray that as I again make a commitment to live the life of love You have called me into, I will have strength to obey You fully.  May I repent and turn to you not just by mere outward change or by the strength of my self-will, but may there be a real internal shift inside of me to really follow Your lead as God in my life as You are the one directing my life of ministry.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response