Don’t Quit

Jeremiah 35 & 36

We sure could use a few more Jeremiahs today!  He was quick to follow God’s instructions, and he boldly spoke God’s truth even when it was quite unpopular.  And, he didn’t quit!

At the time of the events of Jeremiah chapter 36 the prophet had already been preaching to his Jewish brothers and sisters for over 20 years – warning them again and again of God’s displeasure and the coming wrath if they don’t repent and turn from their wicked ways.  Over and over again he has urged the people, the kings, the priests to stop sinning and return to God.  But as a nation, they don’t get it.  They revel in their freedom, follow after the gods of their neighbors and fall further and further from what God designed them to be – His chosen people who love Him and follow Him and are blessed by Him.

The 20 plus years of preaching hasn’t turned the hearts of Judah back to their Creator.  Maybe if it was ALL written down – would the people listen then?  God tells Jeremiah to write down all the sermons he has ever preached – every word that God has given him from the very start of his ministry.  God said, “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3 NIV).  Even though God hates the sins of His people He still loves them and wants to give them another chance to come back to Him.  And so a great project begins.  Jeremiah dictates as his scribe Baruch writes it all down.  Perhaps the people will listen.  They spend over a year writing – God has said a lot.  How will the people respond to this book that lays it all out?

Since Jeremiah’s unpopular (but very Godly) message has already had him personally banned from the temple, Baruch is sent to read God’s words through Jeremiah to the people.  One who hears it, Micaiah, realizes the importance of what has been written and he arranges a reading of it with some of the royal officials.  “When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear” (Jeremiah 36:16) and they arrange for the king himself to hear the words on the scroll from Baruch, Jeremiah, and ultimately God.

Here’s the king’s chance.  He can hear God’s word and repent and lead the nation into a time of Godly reformation, thus saving them from God’s wrath at the hands of the Babylonians – just as his father Josiah had done years ago.  But King Jehoiakim thinks he knows better.  His arrogance and hardened heart don’t crack.  Instead, as the scroll is read to him in his chambers, he cuts it apart and burns God’s word, piece by piece.

Can you imagine the anger and defeat and perhaps fear Jeremiah and Baruch may have felt when they heard the fate of their scroll – God’s words?  To know the utter disrespect they (and their God) had received – and how their work was violated and destroyed.  And they didn’t even have a copy saved on their hard drive.  Totally lost.  Over a year’s work, gone.  But, God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).  So, when God tells Jeremiah to write it all down again – with an extra word for Jehoiakim – Jeremiah and Baruch get to work – and the second work is completed, more impressive than the first. And perhaps much of what we read today in the book of Jeremiah comes from this second labor of love and obedience and great persistence.

God’s Words are priceless.  Some will hear and respond and pass it on. Like Jeremiah they are motivated to live by, love and share God’s words in order to save themselves and their hearers  (1 Timothy 4:16).  But others will scoff, show no fear and even seek to destroy it.  It does not change the supreme importance and value of the words – or the God who spoke them.  Nations, kings, priests, people; past, present and future will be judged by how they respond to God and His Word.  The king who brazenly cut apart and burned the scroll paid with his life – and his children and country suffered mightily for it as well.  Jeremiah and Baruch had far from an easy life – but they didn’t give up.  They kept at it – writing, sharing, reading, speaking and living God’s Word.  They persistently worked striving to help save those in danger of experiencing God’s wrath.  Will you stand with them today and be a Jeremiah?

-Marcia Railton

Sorry we were late in sending today’s devotion out.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 35 & 36 and Hebrews 9

A New and Improved Covenant

Jeremiah 33 & 34 and Hebrews 8

Following God and obeying His will does not mean that we will have a life free of problems as we can see from so many of the stories in the Bible. It does mean that God is with us as we go through the hard times. Sometimes life is harder for us when we tell others what God wants them to hear.  As we read Jeremiah 33 & 34, we see that this is true for Jeremiah. Jeremiah is still imprisoned by King Zedekiah and Jeremiah is still obeying and trusting in God and telling them what God has told him to say. In Jeremiah 33:2-3a it says “This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to create it, He whose name is the Lord: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you,‘” Isn’t it amazing that the God who created the universe wants us to call out to Him, and it’s equally amazing that He WILL answer. We all have hard times that we go through, but we can call out to our Father and He will walk with us through the hard times. But He wants us (and the Israelites & Judeans) to know that there is a bright future when all the hardships will be over and we will live in joy and peace.

It says in Jeremiah 33:11b “Give thanks to the Lord of armies, for the Lord is good, for His mercy is everlasting,” God is a good God and His mercies are everlasting, and He has a great future in store for His children. God reminds them that a day is coming when His word will be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 33:14-16 we have a prophecy about Jesus and it says; “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch of David sprout; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety; and this is the name by which it will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’

In Chapter 34 God tells Jeremiah to tell King Zedekiah that Babylon will come in and take over and he will meet King Nebuchadnezzar face to face, but he says that the king would not die by the sword but that he would die in peace. As we learn in the rest of the chapter that is exactly what happened.

We have all seen commercials about something that is “New and Improved,” which means that something was not as good as it should have been or there would be no need for improvement. Hebrews 8 is all about a new covenant that has been established through Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, and now our high priest. The reason there had to be a new covenant was because the first one was not faultless, but the new covenant is. Hebrews 8:1 “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, without fault.” Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb, without fault or blemish.  We have read some of these verses already because they were taken from Jeremiah 31:33. Anytime a verse is used in both the Old and New Testament, we should pay attention to what it says. Hebrews 8:10-11.  “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And they will not teach, each one his fellow citizen, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” God is constantly working in our lives because He is a God of love, He loves His children, and He wants to be our God, and for us to be His people.  

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 33-34 and Hebrews 8

Better Days are Coming

Jeremiah 31 & 32 and Hebrews 7

Do you feel like many of us, and you want to hear some good news? I’m thinking that the Judeans may have been feeling this way. Can you remember times that were pure joy? I used to love summers, no school, visits with family, church camps, and family vacations. It was the best time of the year! Looking back we forget the bad times and just remember the good days. The chapters of Jeremiah 30-34 are referred to as the book of encouragement, it was the good news after all the doom and gloom. We get to read about the brighter days that are coming for Israel and Judah together again. There are better days ahead.

The Bible is a book about us having a relationship with God. Jeremiah is about a restored relationship with God. When we have a relationship with someone, we want to spend time with them, we talk to them, we ask them questions because we want to know everything about them. This is the kind of relationship God wants with His children. Jeremiah 31:1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”  And in verse 3 it says “The Lord appeared to him long ago, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you out with kindness.” God loves us, with an everlasting love but he allows us to make the choice if we will return His love. Not only is He a God who loves, but He is also a God who judges. We have to decide if we will return His love, seek Him, and follow Him. Jeremiah 31:33 says, “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” That is His deepest desire, that we be His people. At this time the nation of Israel and Judah were separate, Israel had been in exile for years, and Judah was going to be captured by Babylon in the near future.

In Jeremiah 32 King Zedekiah has had Jeremiah shut up in the palace guard prison because the king wanted Jeremiah to quit prophesying that they would be captured by Babylon. But this is what God told Jeremiah to tell His people and it is exactly what will happen. God tells Jeremiah, the children of Israel and Judah have done evil for years, they have turned their back on me, they have followed other gods, and they have burned their children as sacrifices to Moloch. They have done evil things. But when they call out to God, He will bring them back to their land and verse 38 once again says “And they shall be My people, and I will be their God!” When we call out to God, He always accepts us back.

Hebrews 7 is about a new covenant, in the first covenant the Levites were the priests for Israel. Jesus was not a Levite he was from the line of Judah. He was made our high priest not because of his lineage but because he led a perfect life that made him worthy of being a priest. Hebrews 7: 26-28 “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens; who has no daily need, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because He did this once for all time when He offered up Himself.For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, who has been made perfect forever.” When Jesus, our High Priest, returns to set up the kingdom, our better days will be here to stay. What a glorious day that will be.

-Sherry Alcumbrack


Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to here at BibleGateway.com – Jeremiah 31 & 32 and Hebrews 7

Seek and Find

Jeremiah 29 & 30 and Hebrews 6

Have your parents ever planned a big surprise for the family. Maybe a big trip that everyone is excited about and looking forward to. They will do whatever is possible to make it happen. My mother would always say “Lord’s willing” on the off chance that something unforeseen would happen. With God, we don’t have to worry because if he says something will happen, it WILL happen. The Israelites should know this by now, but just like us, sometimes it’s hard to get things through to them.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon. We all know Jeremiah 29:11, it’s on lots of items from shirts to artwork, because it has a great message, but continue to read on, the whole passage is just as meaningful. It’s like a love poem written to His children. It starts in verse 10 when He tell them he will bring them back after 70 years, just like He promised. Jeremiah 29: 11-14 says “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will let Myself be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”

Even after all that happened and the fact that they had followed after other gods, the one true God had not given up on His people and He had good plans ahead for them. They just needed to trust Him. We need to all learn to lean on and trust God during the times when we may feel like we are exiled and in captivity. God has good plans for His children. But we have to do our part, it says that we need to call on Him, seek Him, and search for Him with all of our heart. If we do that, He says “I will let Myself be found by you.” He is going to restore them and bring them back to their promised land. These chapters deal with the future prosperity of Israel that God has promised them. In Jeremiah 30:24b it says “Until He has performed, and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; in the latter days you will understand this.”

We can rest assured that God’s promises will happen, just as He has said, and one of His promises is that He will give us a hope and a future. In Hebrews 6, we learn of better things that are ahead for all believers, we have assurance of our hope of salvation.  It tells us that Abraham waited for the promise of God to be fulfilled just like we must and it tells us to be imitators of those who persevered through faith and patience who will inherit the promises.  Jesus has gone before us as the first fruits of those resurrected to eternal life and is in heaven acting as our high priest. A better day is coming for all of us when Jesus returns to this earth to set up his Father’s kingdom.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 29 & 30 and Hebrews 6

A Tale of Two Prophets

Jeremiah 27 & 28 and Hebrews 5

In Jeremiah 27 & 28 we have a meeting of two prophets. It’s kind of like Good Prophet/Bad Prophet. One prophet, Jeremiah, was sent by God to warn the children of Judah that if they continue along the path they are on, things will not go well with them. In fact, it says that the Lord tells them in chapter 27:5 “I have made the earth, mankind, and the animals which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. And now I have handed all these lands over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have also given him the animals of the field to serve him.” They have had years to make a decision to change and they didn’t so now it’s time to pay the piper. Jeremiah also tells them that the vessels in the temple will be taken away to Babylon and they will remain there until God brings them back. Verse 22 says “They will be brought to Babylon and will be there until the day I visit them,” declares the Lord. “Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.” Now to be clear, Jeremiah is not just making up prophecies on his own. He just tells the people what God has told him to say.

At the same time that Jeremiah is explaining what is going to take place, a false prophet, Hananiah, arises. He is telling them things that are more pleasant for the people to hear. They do not have to change their evil ways, and they do not have to worry because God will not allow the Babylonians to take over and cart off their important vessels. So, Jeremiah and Hananiah have words and Jeremiah tells the people that they will know which prophet was sent from God by what happens.

Then there is a showdown in chapter 28: 15 & 16 “Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah: the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘Behold, I am going to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you spoke falsely against the Lord.’” Hananiah died in the seventh month of that year. God has a way of dealing with people who try to go against his Word and plans. They do not prosper. And in the end everything that Jeremiah prophesied happened.  

Hebrews 5 ties in so well because the writer of Hebrews is writing to the early Christians and explaining how much better they have it now and how Christianity is better than Judaism in so many ways. He explains that the priests were called by God back in the day, and Jesus was also called by God.  Hebrews 5:4-5 “And no one takes the honor for himself, but receives it when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was. So too, Christ did not glorify Himself in becoming a high priest, but it was He who said to Him, ‘You are My Son, Today I have fathered You.'” Jesus did not choose to be the Son of God, he did not ask for this job, in fact, Jesus prayed for God to deliver him from death but he obeyed the will of God and died on the cross. He lived a perfect life so that he could be our sacrifice and we can be forgiven for our sins. And those who accept and follow Jesus will receive eternal life.

Just like those listening to Jeremiah, the early Christians and us today, we become dull of hearing. Hebrews 5:14 sums it all up for us. “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.” We need to constantly be aware that there is good and evil in the world, and we have to practice distinguishing between the two. It may not be popular and what the world wants to hear but as Paul said in Acts, “we have to obey God and not man.”

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 27 & 28 and Hebrews 5

Enter into My Rest

Jeremiah 25-26 and Hebrews 4

In Chapter 25 & 26 of Jeremiah, he continues prophesying to the people of Judah about what is going to happen to them. It sounds to me like he is getting a little irritated with them. Have you ever heard “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times” from your parents? He says that he has been talking to them for 23 years but they will not listen to him. Not only has he been talking to them but God has sent prophets to them for years and they refuse to listen. He is telling them that they have a choice to make. He says in Chapter 25:5&6 “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” God has always given us a choice, which is to choose good or evil, the choice is ours. But he is hoping that we choose to turn from evil and do good, and if we do, he will always forgive us.  But on the flip side, he says, if the children of Judah refuse to listen they will go through hard times and captivity that will last for years.

The prophet Jeremiah could have lied to the Judean people like the other prophets during that time and told them what they wanted to hear, and his life would have gone easier (perhaps for a time), but he did the hard thing and he obeyed God and told them what God wanted them to hear. The people did not like what they heard and they wanted to kill Jeremiah. He put his trust in God knowing that he might be killed. He trusted God with his life and trusted that what God purposed in his life would happen. He says in 26:14-15 “But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city and its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words so that you hear them.” He knows what Paul tells us in Acts 5:29b “We must obey God rather than men.”

Hebrews 4 seems to go hand in hand with the chapters in Jeremiah. The Israelites before them, and then the children of Judah were not able to enter into God’s rest because of their disobedience. We are invited to live our lives in such a way that we will be allowed to live in God’s rest. The children of Judah needed prophets and priests to help them to have a relationship with God, but we do not have to go to the synagogue to have our sins forgiven or go to the town square to listen to the prophets. It says in Hebrews in verses 14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” God’s rest is a life that is filled with the knowledge that God is in control and we will trust Him no matter what hardships we may go through. If we would like to enter into God’s rest, all we have to do is accept the salvation that God has provided to us through Jesus and we are free to enter into God’s rest for eternity.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 25-26 and Hebrews 4

The United States of Gomorrah

Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3

After all of the doom and gloom we’ve read so far in Jeremiah, in 23: 5-6 we read a promise of the coming messiah,  “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be called:  The Lord our Righteousness.”

This is clearly a promise of Jesus, the heir to David’s throne.  Notice in particular the name attributed to the messiah here, “The Lord our Righteousness.”  This was especially important because the people of Judah were wicked.  They needed some external righteousness, because they weren’t righteous themselves.

In fact, in Jeremiah 23: 14 we read, “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible.  They commit adultery and live a lie.  They strengthen the hands of evildoers so that no one turns from his wickedness.  They are all like Sodom to me, the people of Jerusalem are like Gamorrah.”

The very people who were supposed to be the most righteous, and who were supposed to be pointing others to God, were living a lie.  I don’t know if the adultery was physical adultery or spiritual adultery, but either way, they weren’t living the Godly lives they tried to portray.  They were living a lie.  We would call them hypocrites.  And not only that, they were promoting sin in the land so that the people were as bad as Gomorrah in God’s eyes.

When I look around at churches in our country, I see whole denominations who claim to be Christian, actively promoting wickedness.  As I look at our country as a whole, I can’t help but see many parallels to Judah in Jeremiah’s day.  We seem to be the United States of Gomorrah.  In fact, our wickedness is getting so bad that it seems like God either has to punish our nation or He will need to apologize to Judah for punishing them.  Because it seems like we are just as bad.

Today’s reading in Hebrews ties right in.  In Hebrews 3:12-13, we read, “See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Hebrews 3 goes on to give the example of the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt.  When they rebelled against God, their bodies were strewn across the desert.  (They couldn’t rest on their laurels.)

And this brings us to our application for today.  

Fortunately, we aren’t justified before God because of our own righteousness – because we could never measure up on our own.  It is by grace we are saved, through faith.  Faith in “The Lord, our Righteousness.”  And that faith will produce works.

Just like Jeremiah was grieved by the sin that surrounded him, if we are in tune with God, we will be grieved by the sin that surrounds us.  It is imperative that we turn wholeheartedly to God.  And it is critical that we don’t turn away.  And because we are surrounded by such wickedness, we must actively encourage fellow believers to seek God wholeheartedly too.  And if we have lived a God-centered life so far, we can’t rest on our laurels.

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”

-Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3

Battlefield of the Mind

Jeremiah 21-22 and Hebrews 2

Going to God is easy when it’s something good. It’s easy when it’s something you are proud of, but what about those times when you are going through something hard or you did something wrong? Why is it so hard to go to Him then? We shouldn’t feel scared or ashamed to admit when something bad happens, we should feel comfortable telling God all, the good and the bad.

In Hebrews 2:7-8, it says, “You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” These two verses specifically talk about how God created humans just a little lower than his angels. He created us with glory and honor. That glory and honor doesn’t go away because we made a mistake.

Jeremiah 21 is all about God rejecting Zedekiah’s requests. Just because God rejects a request doesn’t mean he thinks you are a horrible person. Going along with telling God all, people aren’t built for guilt. God didn’t create humans to be guilty; he expects us to tell him everything. And when I say not feel guilty I mean he knows we aren’t going to be perfect human beings. Failure is normal. A lot of the greats in the Bible failed but God still held them to a high power. An example of this is David who committed a lot of sins and God still said he was a good man. Peter denied Jesus 3 times but he’s one of the greatest apostles. The reason being was they still came to God in their bad situations. Many of the people in the Bible did bad, but they came to God and did more right by him. People aren’t wicked just because they did one thing wrong. It’s okay to be weak as long as you admit to it and repent.  Turn from your sin and return to God. God was still giving Zedekiah another chance to turn from his sin before judgment came. Will he take it? Will he choose life or death? Remember that the devil can get to you easily, it’s the battlefield of the mind. 

-Genesis Dylewski

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 21-22 and Hebrews 2

Some NOT NICE things to say

Jeremiah 19-20

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” It’s a nice way to remind elementary students to stop calling each other names and using insults and put-downs to hurt others. Perhaps putting this common saying into practice could lead to a more peaceful classroom or sibling relationship. I am sure I have used it more than a time or two for those purposes.

But, it is not an effective rule for a prophet of God speaking God’s truth to a wayward, stubborn, forgetful, corrupt, sinful nation. Jeremiah has been given the task of speaking some very hard and difficult and “NOT NICE” things. He must confront the people with their many sins that have gotten them into trouble, very disturbing things like killing the innocent and burning their children in the fire as sacrifices to fake and foreign gods. And, he must show the people the terror of their coming destruction which God would send because of their wretched sins, awful things like death by the sword, human remains being left for the birds and wild animals to ravage, and starvation so severe they eat their own children’s flesh.

Jeremiah’s assignment from God was to speak and write these horrific things to his friends, neighbors, co-workers, countrymen, and perhaps even some family members, as well as the king and government officials and the priests and religious leaders. And the people didn’t like hearing it at all. I’m guessing he was probably not a real popular guy to have around and likely wasn’t invited to many parties. They would much rather listen to the prophets who prophesied lies – that all is well with the world, that God is not angry (I saw that on a church sign once), that God’s mercy will always triumph and there will be no judgment, that all will be whisked away to play harps in heaven with no fear of the Almighty.

In today’s chapter 20, those who should have been listening tried to silence him with a beating and a night in the stocks. It is much easier for us to read it, than if we were to endure it ourselves. Adding to the pain of Jeremiah’s trouble and torture – it was the priest of the temple who had ordered his punishment! This was the man who should have been on Jeremiah’s side. He should have been in tune with God and should have seen the sins for what they were and should have been speaking against the sinful people, not against the brave lone prophet of God.

I love Jeremiah’s heart after this painful experience.

“I am ridiculed all day long;
    everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
    proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
    insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
    “Terror on every side!
    Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
    are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
    then we will prevail over him
   and take our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior…”

Jeremiah 20:7b-11a NIV

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior! He was tired of the ridicule and insults (and physical pain) he received from speaking for God. It seemed so easy and tempting to walk away from it all or just start saying nice things the people wanted to hear. But, he couldn’t. God’s truth was bubbling up inside him and he couldn’t and wouldn’t hold it in. So, regardless of what people would think of him or do to him, he would speak for God, even when it wasn’t nice things to say. And he would have the confidence that God was with him like a mighty warrior!

I pray we may have that same courage, that same convicting knowledge of the sin in and around us that can’t be ignored, that clear vision of God’s mercy and judgment, that same willingness and unstoppable desire to speak God’s words that can’t be held back, and that same confidence that we have a mighty warrior God standing by our side.

Speak His Words,

Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 19-20 and Hebrews 1

Forgetfulness that Leads to Death

Psalm 106 and Jeremiah 17 & 18

Forgetfulness is a common ailment. We all forget. We forget where we put the keys. We forget to send the birthday card, forget to get milk at the store and forget to pay the bill or finish the homework or return the library books. We climb in bed after a long day of remembering lots of things and realize we forgot to exercise and read our Bible and call mom. I have done it all. I am pretty much an expert forgetter.

Much of the time our forgetfulness is just inconvenient or unfortunate. It means we have to make an extra stop at the store tomorrow, pay the late fee on our bill, or receive a lower grade. Maybe one day we will learn there are consequences to our forgetfulness and it will help us remember to do what we had planned to do all along – until we forgot.

But sometimes a poor memory will actually lead to death. Tragic cases can occasionally be read in the news. Forgetting to take children out of their car seats and into safety. Forgetting to latch and lock the pool gate. Forgetting the once familiar route home. There can be dreadful, heartbreaking consequences for yourself or others which can lead to death when one simply forgets.

You can also read about the devastating effects of forgetfulness in the Bible. In fact, in both of today’s passages we find instances of forgetful people, with various results. In our Psalm for the day (106), we continue the history lesson of God’s people. In today’s lesson the Israelites are exiting Egypt and traveling through the dessert. Maybe the heat is getting to them because they seem to be having a hard time remembering some pretty big and important events that happened not so long ago.

Psalm 106:7 — When our ancestors were in Egypt,
    they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
    and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.

Psalm 106:13 — But they soon forgot what he had done
    and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Psalm 106:19-21 — At Horeb they made a calf
    and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God
    for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them,
    who had done great things in Egypt

Sometimes the forgetful people are met with God’s mercy and yet another miracle they will also forget further down the road. Sometimes it’s more serious, and even fatal. Poisonous snakes, deadly disease, and the ground swallowing up those who forgot to remember God. What else could God do to help them remember?

Many generations later we see the same tragic forgetfulness recorded in the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 18:15 — Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. 

They had forgotten the MOST important thing of all – the One who gave them life, the One who provided for all their needs, the One who had laid out blessings for those who follow, the One who had laid out curses for those who went their own stubborn way. They forgot God. And because of their repeated forgetfulness God was preparing the curses promised in his covenant: destruction, invasion, death.

It is easy to get so caught up in living our own busy lives, going our own stubborn ways, before we know it, we have forgotten our Life-Giving Teacher and all the lessons He was trying to teach us. And, instead, we face death and destruction.

Thankfully, there are ways to remember. With effort we can fight off this deadly tendency to forget. Here’s some ideas to build your memory.

How to Remember

Keep a thankful journal. Write down at least 3 things each day to thank God for. The act of writing helps you remember, and you will have the written journal to return to when your brain gets fuzzy on the details of how God has provided and cared for you – every day.

Clear an overly busy schedule. Trying to do too many other things that really don’t matter doesn’t leave time and space in your overbooked brain and calendar to remember God and do what is most important. You may even find some of those “extras” in your life that were getting too much of your time and memories were approaching, or at, idol status. Clear ’em out.

Get to church, Sunday school, Bible study, youth group, the church mens or ladies group, church camp, etc… Surround yourself regularly with those who are helpful for jogging your spiritual memory. When left alone brain connections can diminish leading to difficulty recalling. Instead, get to church. It’s a great place to overcome your own memory deficiencies – and it’s a great place where you can even help someone else remember God, His greatness and all He has done.

Add visual or auditory cues. What “tricks” will help you remember to keep God first. The Israelites were told to write it on their doorposts – maybe you need some Bible verses on your wall, mirror and refrigerator. Satan uses many schemes to erase God from people’s memory. Jesus found great power against Satan’s schemes by using God’s scriptures which he had committed to memory. Take out that Bible, the Sword of the Spirit, and use it daily to slash away cobwebs forming in your brain. Time and study and a love for God’s eternal word is the best cure I know for forgetfulness that leads to death.

Remember God and what He has done, is doing and will do!

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 106 and Jeremiah 17-18