May 3 – Devotion Sharing (Jeremiah 16-20)

Submitted by Esther K. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Jeremiah 16-20

I’m struck by God’s heart for the Israelites despite their insistent disobedience and lack of regard for God.  We see that the Israelites forsook God, followed other gods and served and worshipped them.  They were caught up with their own lives.  God is hurt by the Israelites who forsook him and followed other gods and served and worshiped them.  He is grieved that the Israelites are worse than their fathers as they behaved more wickedly than them.  Even though they learned about God’s law, they followed the stubbornness of their evil heart instead of obeying God.  God knows that the days are coming when people won’t be grateful for being brought out of Egypt.  God knows that the heart is deceitful above all things and BEYOND CURE.  However, God’s heart and plan is to RESTORE them to the land that He gave their forefathers.  God knows that we are like that clay that’s marred.  So God is willing to take the marred clay, the heart that is deceitful above all things and reshape the heart as seemed best to him.

It amazes me that God contends with the Israelites trying to communicate that He is the potter and we are the clay, as he has every right to do with the clay as he wishes.  God desires so much for the Israelites to take his warning serious and to repent so that He can form them into another pot without the marring. God has every right to just forget the Israelites because of their disobedience, their stubborn heart.  However, God contends with them and wants them to reform their ways and to repent.

Like the Israelites, I get caught up with my own life, even though I was taught God’s ways. Each time that God points out my idolatrous or wicked heart, I need to agree with God that I’m beyond cure.  I need to be humble and admit that I’m marred.  I have a heart that is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  I can’t fix myself.  I can’t merely engage in behavioral modifications.  I need to surrender my marred life to God, the potter, to reshape me as seems best to him.  I need to allow God to destroy the old me, the marred me in order to create a new thing out of my life.  Oh how much God longs to reshape and remold my life, if I’d just humbly come to him admitting that God is right that my heart is deceitful and I can’t fix myself nor can any other person or thing.  I need to see the best place for my life is to remain still in the potter’s hands.  Oh how much God desires blessings for my life when I heed to God’s warnings and turn from my evil ways – whether it’s to save myself, or to not acknowledge God in my daily life.  I know that there is hope that I can be formed only because of God’s intervention in my life.  Whenever I hear the voice that says “It’s no use” and seek to continue with my own plans and the stubbornness of my evil heart, I need to refute these thoughts with God’s words.  It is possible because God is the one who created me and he can recreate me to something pleasing to him.  God is the potter and is able to form me.

God isn’t interested in merely punishing the Israelites for the sake of punishing them.  God wants to bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness in their lives with the hope and desire to restore the Israelites to the land.  But reality is that God can’t be mocked.  God’s eyes are on all our ways and nothing is hidden before God.  God sees all of our sins and they are not concealed from his eyes.  That’s why God sends Jeremiah to teach them that God’s power and might so that they can KNOW who God is, and be delivered from their backsliding ways.  God wants the nation to take the warning seriously and to repent so that he can relent (17:8).  What God wants the Israelites to repent and to acknowledge God in their lives instead of forgetting him as they worship worthless idols.  Just as God continues to contend with Israelites, I need to see that God is always at work in my life and other’s lives out of love for them.  Therefore, I need to be honest with God about what’s in my heart–my sins, my doubts, my fears. I need to welcome God’s correction, his discipline knowing that God is for me and wants to restore our relationship and place me back in the land of plenty.  I need to welcome the Jeremiah’s in my life to come and speak truth into my life because I easily fool myself that I am okay.   The joys of this world (good job, child, marriage, new gadgets, friends, good food, etc.) are good, but they can also blind me from seeing the true state of my heart and my relationship with God.

Write a prayer in response. 

Dear heavenly father, thank you so much that you contend with me and do not give me what I desire.  Thank you Lord that you aren’t angry and fed up with me and leave me where I am. Thank you Lord that you persist through the Jeremiah’s of my life, through your word to break through the insanity of my pride and rebelliousness.  Thank you Lord that you’ve blessed my life with the Jeremiah’s of my life so that through their trust in you that I’ve learned to place my trust in you too.  Lord, please continue to search my heart and examine my mind to convict me of any idol or sin in my life so that I won’t go the way of a fool chasing after things that will only destroy me.  Lord, I know that my hearts is still deceitful above all things and I can deceive myself to think that I am righteous.  But Lord, I confess I’m a sinner beyond cure.  I need you to heal me and to save me again and again.  Please give me the humility to accept whatever correction so that I would listen and pay attention to your leading.  Lord, give me the humility to accept that even the people that I’m ministering to that their heart is deceitful beyond cure. Lord, give me the courage to continue to speak your truth to them and find strength knowing that you are with me like a mighty warrior and that you are the one who will reshape them to be the kind of person that they need to be.  For to you I recommit my cause. IJN Amen.

Submitted by Kit N. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Jeremiah 16-20

One theme that impacted me from reading Jeremiah 16 and 17 is God’s emphasis on the heart.  In particular, Jeremiah 17:9 is the famous verse that says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  But what does it mean in the context of this passage?  One way I personally experience how true this verse is what God says in 17:5, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”  Namely, it is the self-delusion going on in my daily life.  When I wake up and step out of my home, it is so easy for me to be deceived into thinking that I have what it takes to fight against temptations—that I have enough resolve, I have set enough boundaries, I have enough strength to follow through with my commitments.  When it comes to work, it is easy to think that I can find that cushy job, put in extra hours, and to think that I can still have enough zeal to serve God while focusing on my career.  Or when it comes to ministry, likewise I can be deceived into thinking that the students like me for who I am, and I can with my words change their life trajectory without much struggle.  I can think of a lot more scenarios, but I see the theme of self-delusion running through my life.  The end result is that I trust myself more and less on God through prayer or help from His people.  Intellectually, I know that these are false, and I can likely point to Bible verses that refute my thoughts mentioned above.

Therefore when I read 17:9, I am reminded once again of how accurate it is of the description of my heart. If I indeed accept that my heart is deceitful beyond cure and that my feelings can change quickly.  Then the logical conclusion is that I cannot trust myself.  When it comes to fighting sins and temptations, or to forge security and identity within anything in this world, I dare not trust myself.  Yet this is at odds with what this world keeps telling me–do you really need to seek accountability over that?  Do you really need to limit internet access to such an extent?  Do you really need to cut down on media consumption?  Can’t you just settle down and focus on your career?  Surely you can still serve God on the side?  The world doesn’t understand these precautions.  It doesn’t understand why I cannot trust that my heart can maintain that zeal and passion while making my life comfortable and secure.  It doesn’t understand how deceitful human hearts can be and how luring the good things in life can be.  Therefore when I recognize how fickle my heart is, I should likewise then take steps to not trust myself so much, but rather trust in the Lord as Jeremiah says in 17:7.  God promises through Jeremiah that those who trust in the Lord and find their confidence in Him will be like a tree that is planted by the water, does not fear when heat comes, has no worries in year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit.  In short, by accepting that my heart is deceitful, and therefore by trusting in God and not in myself, it is going to make my life much more fruitful and secure even when the storms of life hit. This trust in the Lord is the key to protecting myself against the fickleness of my own heart.

Heavenly Father, as I read today’s reading, I am reminded of my fickleness and stubbornness.  I long to have a wholesome heart, a heart that is not fickle because of circumstances or oppositions from this world. I long to feel what I think and know to be true.  I long to be quick to respond and to do what I know to be right.  But as I see how I have fallen short from all these ideals, I am once again recognizing how broken my heart is.  Though on the outside I seem to have everything together, yet inwardly I know that I need Your continual guidance and healing.  Thank you that though I recognize the brokenness of my heart, and admit within me that is only hopelessness, I am not left alone.  Thank you that through today’s devotion passage You have promised abundantly how You will teach me (16:21), and that You will heal me when I cry out (17:14).  I pray that as I face my daily temptations, that I may be quick to cry out instead of trusting in my own strength and resolve.

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