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Category Archives: Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:10-11

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:10-11

Dear God, it’s that 70 years that is the key. What happens during that 70 years? My first thought was that the people will be refined through the struggle and they will know how to love you better. But that doesn’t take 70 years. In fact, 70 years will likely see their deaths at some point.

No, 70 years will see their children, their children’s children, and even third and fourth generations born and raised up during the struggle. I think what the 70 years will do is create an entirely new society of people from top to bottom who will have known nothing but struggle and, if this first generation does it right, worshiping you through the struggle.

Father, I don’t know which generation I’m in, but it feels like I’m at the beginning of the decline. So help me to, first, be pure before you, worship you, and submit to you and, second, to teach others to do the same. Guide us as a society. Guide us as a world. I’m not saying we haven’t peaked and our stature as a nation in the world might never come back, but you never promised that to us. As much as we might like to think we are, this country is not your chosen people. But I am your chosen child. So help your children to be ambassadors to the world for your glory’s sake. That starts with me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2021 in Jeremiah

 

Jeremiah 17:5-10

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:5-10

Dear God, verse 10 an example of a verse that could easily be taken out of context by a prosperity gospel preacher.

“I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

But this is obviously foolishness. When I look at the verses that precede it, I can see that there is a lot more to this passage than the words of verse 10. This isn’t about me just having good actions, as verse 10 alone would imply. No, in context, this is about being a follower of you, not just a believer (this has been a theme of my prayers to you over the last several months). You examine our hearts and know them better than we know ourselves. You know if we are putting our roots into you or into the things of this world. And then sometimes we will go through heat or long months of drought. You never promise that won’t happen. But you do promise that you’ll be there for us in those times if our roots are tapped into you and your Holy Spirit.

Father, first, please help me to remember to tap into you. Help me to be a follower and not just a believer. And then help me to take that message to others. Help me to communicate to anyone you have given me in my sphere of influence that it isn’t about the droughts in life, but the fact that we are tapped into the source of life. You bring peace. You bring joy. You bring love. You bring patients, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and self control. I can have all of these through the worst of droughts because of you. Please forgive me for the times I’ve suffered and have tried to solve my suffering through worldly means. I am sorry.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2021 in Jeremiah

 

Daniel 9:1-3

It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians. During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the Lord, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.

Daniel 9:1-3

Dear God, I don’t know my Old Testament timelines well enough. I’ve ranted about the modern misinterpretations of Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

But they almost always skip verse 10:

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

There are times when I think I focus too much on trying to see the forest from the trees, but sometimes I think it is important to ignore the forest and just deal with the trees for which you have given responsibility. Help me to be faithful with these trees.

Then there is Daniel’s response, from I can learn as well. Help me to be pained by my country’s sin, and help me to start with my own repentance. I should probably be more burdened for the impact my country’s sin has on the poor and/or vulnerable. What impact it has on children. What impact it has on the elderly. Marriages. Friendships. Isn’t it interesting that our temptation as Americans is to read this passage and find hope. Daniel’s response was to be convicted, heartbroken and repent. Let it convict me as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2021 in Daniel, Jeremiah

 

Jeremiah 29:10-14

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:10-14

Dear God, you know I have a frustrating history with the one verse in this passage that is often taken out of context, but I’m going to put that aside and try to look at the forest for the trees here.

First, the you is not personal. You are not speaking to an individual in this passage because in 70 years no one listening to these words will be alive. No, you are speaking to the nation of Israel. Yes, you care about us as individuals, and I’ve been amazed at the details to which you seemed to have paid attention in my life–especially recently–but the plans you have are for Israel.

Second, we always seem to assume that our country can substitute for Israel in your eyes. And just to make sure, our country has always seen itself as Israel’s defender no matter what. It’s almost like we expect it will curry favor with you if we are good to them. And maybe it does. And maybe that is why we have been so favored. But it’s important to remember that we are not Israel.

At the same time, we are Gentiles who have been invited into your kingdom. Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection provided that path. Thank you.

Third, we have work to do. We will humble ourselves and pray. We will call on you and you will heal our land. What does humbling ourselves look like? I have to say, at this point it feels like the Christian church on a national level has no idea what humbling ourselves looks like. We are striving for power and influence. We are striving for recognition. We are trying to take all of the traditional pathways to power and then let the philosophy of our faith guide our actions. There is nothing humble about it. There is nothing humble before you. There is nothing humble before our neighbors. There is nothing humble before our enemies. There is just self-righteousness, judgment, condemnation, and struggle for our rights. And it’s in me too. I’m very sorry.

Father, I don’t know what you will accomplish in this world during my lifetime, but it certainly feels like we are past the apex and in the decline. It feels like we are Rome crumbling. And maybe we are. And that is okay. That is the way of the world. The way of history. My faith is not in the United States government. My faith is not in the Baptist or Catholic Church. My faith is not in the Republican or Democratic parties. My faith is not in the market economy or my bank account. My faith is in you. Help me to worship you and humble myself before you. Help me to humble myself before my neighbors, family, friends, and enemies. Help me to let go of the judgment I feel towards others and offer compassion instead. Do it all for your glory. And I will accept whatever role you have for me to play in this world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2020 in Jeremiah

 

Jeremiah 23:23-24

“Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
“and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:23-24

Dear God, this is one of those passages that gives me hope and demands worship. It gives me hope because it reminds me that you are omnipresent, and you care enough to be omnipresent. You could have the power to be here and not use it because you don’t care, but you are here right now because you do care. Now part of that is the fact that I cannot hide anything from you. There are no secrets from you no matter how hard I try. And yet you still love me. You still care enough to be here and be present. You still care enough about me to know everything about me.

Father, I’m sorry for letting you down so often, but I worship you and I thank you that you are with me anyway. Be with those I love in the same way. Be with our community. Be with our nation. Be with our world. Love richly and give us what we need. And if what we need to be brought to you is some suffering and humility, I humbly submit to whatever path you have for me to get me where you need me to be.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2020 in 2 Thessalonians, Jeremiah

 

Jeremiah 23:21-22

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.
Jeremiah 23:21-22

Dear God, am I a false prophet? Sometimes I get my scripture for the day from Bible Gateway’s verse of the day. Today’s verse was actually verse 24, but when I went back to get the context for it the words in verses 21 and 22 really hit me. Do the things that I do turn people from their evil ways?

It seems like Paul wrestler with how this works with the New Covenant too (Galatians 4 and 5, for example). He would talk about freedom from the law, but then how that didn’t mean we just had a free pass to sin. When it comes to finding that line, I think I heard Andy Stanley put it well recently (I think it was him). He said something to the effect that you aren’t sitting up there giving us these rules to satisfy you, per se. They are for us. They are for our good. The evil we do hurts you because it hurts us and it hurts others. It hurts your creation and that evil/damage is something you can’t abide. Yes, the New Covenant includes an aspect of grace, but there is still damage being done.

Father, I’m a believer in the idea that the more I encourage someone into relationship with you and the more they dive into you the more the Holy Spirit will teach and convict them. I suppose my role is to be willing to call out the damage someone is doing to themselves through sin that I see in their life, but do it through love and concern. “Hey, I see you hurting yourself through this,” and that sort of thing. So give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2019 in Jeremiah

 

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The Most Popular Verses

Dear God, I’m a devoted reader of Fred Smith’s weekly blog, and I enjoyed what I read this morning about The Soil of Partial Truth. In it, he listed the five most popular verses in the Bible. This is the order in which he listed them. I don’t know if it is by popularity or not. I’d be surprised if it was. They were:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – …”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope…”
  • Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, the comfort me.
  • Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
  • John 3:16 – “For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  • Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Instead of looking at the meaning of each verse and going into whether or not they are out of context (for example, the Jeremiah 29:11 is REALLY out of context if you read that verse alone), I want to talk to you about why we are drawn to these specific verses and what it says about what we need from you.

With the Jeremiah verse, I think it means that our psyche needs to know that you are in charge and that things are going to work out well. Now, while you are, indeed, in charge, working out “well” is a relative term and needs the broader context. But our human hearts want to know that our circumstances are going to work out well for us.

The verse from Psalms is about addressing our fears. we need your comfort during the times that we are afraid–especially of death. Whether it is our death or the death of another, we need your comfort when we are afraid. And that’s okay.

Philippians 4:13 is about leaning on you and looking to you for our strength. It’s a good one and a good reminder that we need you. The Isaiah 40:31 about those that wait on you will mount up with wings like eagles is a good one for this sentiment too.

I love the John 3:16 one because it is actually right in the middle of Jesus’ rant to Nicodemus. He’s trying to explain being born again and gets on a roll. I actually enjoy this whole speech more than just this verse. But in the end, Jesus is convincing an unbelieving Pharisee to believe.

And the Romans 8 verse brings us back to the need to know that it’s all going to be okay. I think the danger here is that we know that sometimes those who love you suffer, and we are looking at these verses and hoping that the suffering will happen to someone else and not us.

Father, I think, at the end of the day, we are just looking for your comfort, your strength, and your reassurance. We need to be reassured that you are there, we have access to you, and that, at least on the other side of death, there is hope. It would probably be good for me to sit down and some point and talk about my favorite scriptures/stories of the Bible. I wonder what looking at that collection of passages would reveal about me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Jeremiah 17:9-10

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Dear God, my first tendency is to read a passage like this and think of it in material terms. When I think of due rewards I think of you giving material things. But material things are such a small part of our existence.

Several years ago, I had a thought about the widow Jesus saw put just a couple of coins into the temple offering. He praised her to the disciples, but that’s where the story stops. As far as we know, she went home and remained as poor as she was when she woke up that morning. She never knew that Jesus had used her as an example. And she didn’t know that some guy would be including her example is his own prayers to you nearly 2,000 years later. I don’t know what kind of reward you had for her, but I’m thinking it included a lot of peace while she was living and a special place in heaven after her death.

Father, I confess that I’m not proud of everything you would find if you searched my heart. There are times when I am selfish, lethargic, and vain. Sometimes I am too easily angered and my fear of man outweighs my fear of you. So I tell you now that I’m sorry. Thank you for the grace you give. I appreciate and worship all that you are.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2018 in Jeremiah

 

“Nothing is Beyond You”

Nothing is Beyond You

Where could I go, where could I run

Even if I found the strength to fly

And if I rose on the wings of the dawn

And crashed through the corner of the sky

If I sailed past the edge of the sea

Even if I made my bed in Hell

Still there You would find me

‘Cause nothing is beyond You

You stand beyond the reach

Of our vain imaginations

Our misguided piety

The heavens stretch to hold You

And deep cries out to deep

Singing that nothing is beyond You

Nothing is beyond You

Time cannot contain You

You fill eternity

Sin can never stain You

Death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me

Except to say that nothing is beyond You

Nothing is beyond You

If I should shrink back from the light

So I can sink into the dark

If I take cover and I close my eyes

Even then You would see my heart

And You’d cut through all my pain and rage

The darkness is not dark to You

And night’s as bright as day

Nothing is beyond You

You stand beyond the reach

Of our vain imaginations

Our misguided piety

The heavens stretch to hold You

And deep cries out to deep

Singing that nothing is beyond You

Nothing is beyond You

And time cannot contain You

You fill eternity

Sin can never stain You

And death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me

Except to say that nothing is beyond You

Nothing is beyond You

Nothing is beyond You

Songwriters: Mitch Mcvicker / Rich Mullins / Tom Booth

Dear God, the verse of the day was Jeremiah 23:24, and it made me think of this song. Nothing is beyond you. Whether it’s the places I might try to hide in my sin or my shame, or it’s your involvement in the problems and challenges I face, nothing is beyond you.

The pastor in church yesterday was talking about Jesus calling the storm on the boat and Jesus challenged the disciples asking them why they were afraid. “Notice he didn’t say there’s nothing to be afraid of,” the pastor said, “but, ‘Why are you afraid?’” I liked that. There’s plenty to fear. From nuclear wars all of the way down to the real challenges I face at work, but there’s no reason to fear.

Father, nothing is beyond you. I have a work problem that has haunted me all weekend and yet I have only prayed about it a little. This deserves much more prayer than that. Everyone involved deserves me to really be throwing myself before you and requesting your help in solving these vexing problems. So please help me. Please help us. Guide us exactly where you want us to go. I will spend more time praying about this today, but let it start here.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2018 in Hymns and Songs, Jeremiah

 

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Dear God, the verses for today were 7 and 8, but I don’t think they are complete without 5 and 6. One of my main jobs is fundraising for the nonprofit where I work. There are times when I remember to pray to you about organization, our work, our funding, etc., but there are also times when I inadvertently put my hope in people because they are the ones who write the checks. It’s a tricky balance. I know that my most powerful experiences have been through seeking your provision and then having something extraordinary happen, but too often I forget that and start looking to others for my provision.

In what other areas of my life does this manifest itself? The first thing that comes to mind is politics. We expect our politicians and judges to fight our battles for us instead of getting our hands dirty ourselves. Instead of looking to your power and asking you what you would have me do (besides throw my weight behind a corrupt politician with whom I have little in common except for my stance on abortion).

Father, I want to be nourished by you so deeply that you just absolutely flow through me in the worst of droughts. I want to be inspired by you and use that inspiration to attract others to you. You are my God. Help me to plant myself in the middle of your living water and not next to someone else just because I think I can get something I want from them. Help me to get next to them for their sake and your glory, not mine.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2018 in Jeremiah