Friday, August 3, 2007

Jeremiah, Week 1, Chapters 1-10

Jeremiah Study

Jeremiah…not one of those commonly studied books. You’ve probably never been to a Bible Study at church on Jeremiah. You may have read one verse out of the book, the popular “I know the plans I have for you…” (Jer. 29:11) A good one, but even better within the context of this story. You may have never read the whole book. (It’s pretty long.) It’s one of those “doomsday” type Old Testament books. Not very relevant to us today, right? Wrong. The great thing about God’s Word is that it is relevant to us. It’s a treasure that we can forever dig for more wisdom that applies to our lives. I found that Jeremiah was a jackpot of wisdom.
This book is for you if you are ever rebellious against the Lord. This book is for you even if you think you’re not rebellious against the Lord. (Because you are.) This book was written when we were operating under the Old Covenant. It will make you grateful for the New Covenant, marked with Jesus’ blood, and built on grace. If you’ve ever wondered where we’d be without grace, Jeremiah will show you. But God is the same. He hasn’t changed. His feelings about sin and rebellion are the same. His grace was shown in a different way in the Old Testament. His patience with their sin and rebellion would go on for generations sometimes before he took action. His desires for his treasured possession, Israel and Judah, are the same for us today. And Israel and Judah’s brazen attitude, indifference toward a Holy God, and love for their sin will remind you too much of America today.
The themes we will cover as we go through Jeremiah, chapter by chapter, are: 1) We don’t obey God, or we persist in rebellion, because we don’t know God. 2) We stubbornly refuse to repent, as we cling to our justifications for sin. 3) God desperately wants our hearts, not our motions. 4) We were created for intimacy with God and for his glory. 5) We can never live in God’s best, forfeiting his blessings, while we are in rebellion to Him. 6) And lastly, it wasn’t easy being Jeremiah.
I’m really excited now, so let’s jump in! Be ready for God to change you, to show you where you are rejecting total obedience to Him, and to draw you into deeper intimacy with Him.



Part 1:

Read Jeremiah 1

Jeremiah’s History
In Jeremiah 1:1-3, it tells us that Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, a priest in the temple. Hilkiah was an important player in the story of King Josiah. Go back for a moment and read 2 Kings 22:8-23:25.

Now we know a little history about where Jeremiah has been. He was there under the rule of King Josiah. He was probably there when the scrolls were found in the Temple. When Josiah restored the kingdom to obedience to the Lord, Jeremiah was there. When he burned every idol and the whole kingdom worshiped Yahweh again, he was there. 2 Kings 23:25 says “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” It was during Josiah’s reign that Jeremiah first received messages from God.


Looking back on your history, what happened to change your life, and bring you from living in sin to obedience to follow the Lord? (If that change has not taken place, you can write that too.)







Jeremiah’s Call 1:4-19

“I knew you before I formed you in the mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” Jeremiah 1:5

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16

Read Luke 1:11-17

I think we forget sometimes that we serve God, the Creator. The God with the very hands who formed us, who foreknows us. He created us with purpose. His purpose from the beginning of time for John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Jesus, pulling on the people’s heart, shifting their gaze toward the Messiah. David knew, in the Psalms, that his life was created with purpose, and that the Father “knit him together in the womb” and every single day was foreknown by Him. God himself tells Jeremiah ‘I already know you. I planned this for you before you even existed.’
Do you know that you have been set apart? Created with purpose? I don’t mean “know it”, like you remember that Sunday School lesson entitled “You are Special”, but I mean know it! What you do with your life, how you serve the Lord, it’s not random. And by the way, your purpose IS to serve the Lord. We are going to see in Jeremiah how God makes it clear that we are created for His glory, and for intimacy with Him.
The task given to Jeremiah was the most honoring, and the most difficult one I might imagine. God said He would literally put HIS words into Jeremiah’s mouth. He would be God’s mouthpiece. And surely Jeremiah knew that people were not going to like what God had to say through him. He would not be made popular for this. But God told him from the very start that He would strengthen him against anything they could throw his way.
“For see, today I have made you immune to their attacks. You are strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. None of the kings, officials, priests, or people of Judah will be able to stand against you. They will try, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you, I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:18-19)

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Whatever purpose God has placed on your life, He has also given you the ability and supernatural power to do it. Phil. 2:13 says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.” He doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already equipped us for!
That doesn’t mean that it’s within our comfort zone. Do you think it was comfortable to stand in the middle of town and proclaim God’s wrath on everyone for Jeremiah? No way. But God had fully equipped Jeremiah for this job. Just like he has fully equipped you. But how do we know what we are supposed to do?

Read 2 Timothy 3:15-17

What purpose does Paul say scripture serves in our lives, according to verse 16?





According to verse 17, what does that accomplish in us?





We cannot know what we are called to unless we know His Word. If we don’t know what his commands are, what his standards are, what His promises are, then we are just guessing…we are making this up as we go along. And we don’t have to.
Pray that God would reveal to you, as you study His Word, what His purposes are for you. Pray that He would teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. And pray that you would learn to walk in obedience, fully confident that you are already equipped.








Part 2:
Read Chapters 2, 3, and 4 in Jeremiah.

As you read Jeremiah, I want you to pay special attention to the way the Lord speaks of His people…with such intimacy. He calls them His special people, His bride, His beautiful and delicate daughter, the first of His children, loved by Him, His special possession. The list goes on. Every word speaks of the Lord’s broken heart over the people’s rebellion. Before we get anything else from this book, I want us to know that we were created for intimacy with God! He uses the analogy of marriage throughout scripture to make us understand the intimate love relationship with Him He created us for. In chapter 2, verse 32, He says “Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? No! Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.” We are supposed to be the young bride, radiant with excitement for our Groom. But instead He referred to His people over and over again as an unfaithful wife, a prostitute! God used the prophets to paint word pictures for us that we could understand…sometimes vile word pictures. He describes the people in this book as hookers, all painted-up, desperate to turn a trick with anyone, anywhere. Or as in chapter 2, as a camel or donkey in mating season. Like an animal, the people were “unable to restrain their lust.” Not pretty, hu?
In chapter 2, as He makes His case against His people, He also makes it very clear how ridiculous their sin was. God had given them everything, every good gift. He had a great inheritance for them. Chapter 2, verse 13 says it best. “For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me- the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.” The word pictures in scripture often really grab me. So this is what we do when we choose anything over God…when we make an idol out of something that is clearly NOT God. For the Israelites, they would actually create an idol out of raw materials, form it with their own hands, and then bow down and worship it! They would offer it their gifts and affection! This was mere insanity, and God says so over and over! But we do the exact same thing. We take things, people, ambitions…things that we know cannot be God, and give them God’s rightful place in our lives. As believers, we know they do not satisfy. Remember, God is not talking to a people who don’t know Him. He says “For my people…” These were HIS people. He had lavished His love and power on them. For generations, He moved among them and showed Himself to them. He had drawn them into a love relationship with Him. They knew better. God says, ’I am the fountain of living water.’ Water that actually gives Life! Not just water that quenches your physical thirst and then you are thirsty again. Magic water. And he’s a fountain of it. A source that never, ever runs dry. If we have tasted that, why would we choose to turn away from it? He then says “And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.” This is the picture He creates. We have these nasty old pots, with big cracks and holes in them. We are running back and forth to the well to draw water, but it all drains out before we can collect any. It’s a vain exercise. But we keep doing it. Why? I wish I knew. Because we’re dense? Because we’re prideful? Because we love to feed our flesh, even when we know we’ll always be thirsty when doing so? Really, why does He continue to bother with us? I have to wonder, why would he continue to send warnings to stubborn, rebellious people who spit in the face of God, instead of just carrying out His judgment and being done with it?

His Greatest Desire
We think that the God of the New Testament is merciful, and that the God of the Old Testament is vengeful, and we are so wrong! Look back at his tender words to these rebellious people. He lists these heinous offenses committed against Him, and then ALWAYS comes back to “Yet I am still calling you back to me.” (3:1) Listen to His words of hope for them.
“O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever. Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against him by worshipping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to follow me. I, the Lord, have spoken! Return home, you wayward children, says the Lord, for I am your husband.” 3:12-14
God’s mercy has always been great! No matter how nasty and rebellious these people were, He still wanted more than anything to restore them to Himself. Why? I don’t know. His love is not a love we can understand. When people offend us more than once, we’re ready to throw them out altogether. We have a strike system. People are lucky if they get three strikes from us, and then we yell, like a big, ugly umpire, “You’re oooouuutt of there!!!!” We expel them from our lives. We carry grudges around like it’s our very right to do so. We feel everyone must measure up to our standard, or they simply don’t qualify for forgiveness or restoration.
What would it be like if that’s how God operated?
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” Lamentations 3:23
He’s so full of mercy and love for us. He never runs out. No matter how we have wronged Him, His greatest desire is to restore us.




Define idol. What idols tend to creep up in your life and usurp God’s place in your heart?





What are the things in your life or heart that rob you of the intimacy with the Father that He created you for?




In what ways in your life have you traded God’s perfect ways, the “fountain of living water”, for your ways, “cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all“? Think long and hard about any area of your life that you have not based 100% on God’s Word and His standards, but on your feelings, the world’s ways, pleasing others or yourself, etc?







Part 3:
Read Jeremiah 5, 6, and 7.

Chapter 5 begins with the Lord asking Jeremiah to search and find just one person who is just and honest. He says there is not even one. “Lord, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to turn from sin. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.” 5:3
Their hearts are hard. They are so hard, they ignore every warning the Lord has given them. They laugh it off. They know what the Lord commands, but they pay absolutely no attention to it…like it doesn’t apply to them, or there are no consequences to their sin.
Isn’t that the way we sometimes carry on? We often times know what is right. We know the good we ought to do. “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 We know we ought to give God the best of our time and affections, putting no idol before him…we know we should be serving as a member of the Body of Christ, but we’re just too busy…we know we should NOT be worrying, gossiping, partnering with non-believers, involved in sexual immorality, the list goes on. But we carry on, with hard hearts, completely unconcerned with the warnings God gives us.
Why were the Israelites so hard-hearted?

22 Do you have no respect for me? Why do you not tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, am the one who defines the ocean's sandy shoreline, an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the bounds I set.

23 "But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned against me and have chosen to practice idolatry. 24 They do not say from the heart, 'Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of plentiful harvests.' 25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. 5:22-25

He says ‘Do you not know who I am? I am GOD. The I AM. The Author of all creation. Everything you see is my doing and under my control. And yet you have no awe of Me.’
They did not know Him.
Note in verse 23, and again in 26, the Lord still refers to them as “my people.” They were chosen to know Him. He had revealed Himself to them. He had provided for them. But they chose NOT to really KNOW Him. He is saying, if you knew Me, you would be living in awe of Me.
There is no awe.
Verse 31 says “And worse yet, my people like it this way.”
Are you starting to feel like He’s talking to America, instead of Israel and Judah?
How much more hard-hearted could our society be?
We are a nation built on Godly ideals. A “Christian nation.” Our currency actually says “In God We Trust.”
Do we?
Our sin is so out of control, I feel like we are just like the Israelites, just a few years later. We have more opportunities to sin than ever before. We corrupt our children’s minds at the earliest possible age. We have TV, and the internet! Do you ever surf through either one, and get the sudden feeling our country is in love with every kind of evil? “Headed to hell in a hand basket”, as our grandparents might say.
We have to ask ourselves, are we like these Israelites? Even a little? Is God warning us again and again, as we sit all comfy in our sin, with this cocky sense of ‘all is well’ and ‘there are no real consequences to our sin.’

“To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the Lord. They don’t want to listen at all.” 6:10

Are OUR ears closed? Are we like a five-year-old, walking around with our fingers in our ears, going “na, na, na, na, na, na, I can’t hear you!” I would say our culture scorns the word of the Lord. I think even many “Christian” churches scorn the word of the Lord. We want to pick and choose what to heed, and what to throw out. We want to come to church in order to feel good about ourselves, and skip right through anything that deals with our sin. SIN…not a popular topic. Evidently not with the Israelites either.
In chapter 7, the Lord tells Jeremiah to go stand in the entrance of the Temple and preach these warnings. People are coming and going, out of HIS Holy Temple…there to placate the One true God. They had set up their “abominable idols” right there in the Lord’s Temple, where they came to continue to offer their sacrifices to the Lord.

21 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Away with your burnt offerings and sacrifices! Eat them yourselves! 22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: 'Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Only do as I say, and all will be well!' 7:21-23

As always, consistently throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, from the beginning of time, all God has wanted from us was our hearts. Our obedience must come from the heart. God says if we know Him, we will obey Him.

3 And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. 4 If someone says, "I belong to God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5 But those who obey God's word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.
1 John 2:3-6

Heart obedience. That’s what He wants. That’s how we know we belong to Him. If our hearts are His.
Even as much as God hates our sin, and our hard, rebellious hearts grieve Him, He still calls out to us. He knows we are only hurting ourselves. (Jer. 7:19)
He offers restoration, peace, and “rest for our souls.”

“So now the Lord says, “Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” 6:16

Stop right where you are! Whatever sin you are stuck in, climb out, and turn around. God provides everything we need in His Word to know how to walk in obedience to Him. His Word is so complete. He wants your whole heart, and for you to live in awe of Him. He pleaded with the Israelites, who were doing despicable things, like sacrificing their own children to their false gods. God hated it! And yet God still longed for them to come back.
He longs for America to come back.
He longs for His Church to come back.
He longs for you to come back.


What similarities and differences can you honestly assess between you and the Israelites?
List them here.







Read James 4:7-10. If we are harboring sin or any kind of rebellion in our hearts, what needs to happen for us to be restored to fellowship with the Lord?




Memorize Hebrews 12:1-2 this week: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”
Part 4:
Read Jeremiah 8, 9, and 10

4 "Jeremiah, say to the people, 'This is what the LORD says: When people fall down, don't they get up again? When they start down the wrong road and discover their mistake, don't they turn back? 5 Then why do these people keep going along their self-destructive path, refusing to turn back, even though I have warned them? 6 I listen to their conversations, and what do I hear? Is anyone sorry for sin? Does anyone say, "What a terrible thing I have done"? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse rushing into battle! Jeremiah 8:4-6

The Lord asks a great question here…why are we so determined to remain in our sinful ways? Even when we are confronted with conviction for our sins, why is our first instinct to defend our sin? Go to bat for our sin? Drum up supporters for our sin? Is our sin so dear to us? We’re like politicians, holding up signs, making a campaign, trying to convince ourselves and everyone around us that the way we are choosing to live our lives is perfectly okay. Maybe it’s the way we’ve always lived; our parents thought it was okay. All our friends are doing it. It has to be okay! We are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse rushing into battle!
Don’t think you do this?
I certainly have.
What happens when someone challenges your ideas about dating? Let the campaigning begin.
What about your ideas about the role of women, wives, careers, and rights? Pull out your poster boards and markers.
What about our justifications for gossip, sexual sin, alcohol? Don’t worry. If you’re looking for people who will agree with you, you’ll find oodles of them. They’ll pat you on the back and tell you not to worry…you’re good…as you run with warp speed down the path of sin.
And then we can’t figure out why it all turns out to be a mess.
The Israelites asked the same question. Despite God’s warnings about their sin, they still seemed baffled about the consequences. They ask “why is this happening?”

13 The LORD replies, "This has happened because my people have abandoned the instructions I gave them; they have refused to obey my law. 14 Instead, they have stubbornly followed their own desires and worshiped the images of Baal, as their ancestors taught them. 9:13-14

So let’s break this down. How did the Israelites come to this?
They abandoned God’s Word.
They followed their own desires.
They bowed down in worship to idols instead of God.
They did just what their parents had done, and their parents before them.
When we you stop to examine what you think and believe, is it based solely on the Word of God and HIS ways, or are you doing what the world is doing, what the people around you are doing, what makes sense to YOU and is gratifying, what your parents did, and their parents did? The Israelites will hold tightly to the sin of their parents, to the very end of this book, after total destruction has come upon them for it, and they STILL don’t get it!
How tightly do we hold on to “it was good enough for my parents, it’s good enough for me.” Maybe you are not identifying with this yet, so let me give a few examples of what I hear.
“My Mom always worked outside of the home and all of us grew up in daycare. We turned out just fine.”
Or “My parents dated around a lot in college, and then found each other. It worked for them.”
This is very dangerous logic. We don’t know firsthand the consequences of another person’s actions as an outsider looking in, so we must always keep that in mind.
Also, just because the grace of God is great, and He doesn’t give us what we deserve, (the very definition of grace) doesn’t mean we made wise choices…the best choices. Choices that lead to abundant life! The very best God has to offer us.
I dated a LOT before my husband. I went from one serious relationship to the next, really. The end of my story…or beginning of my REAL story…either way you want to look at it…was the most wonderful man I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t even dream-up what God’s best was for me! He SO far exceeds them all. But, I am keenly aware I don’t deserve this man. I knew it then, and I still know it today. I had made one bad dating choice after another. I was a string of bad choices, when it came to dating. (Dating all “believers” by the way.) No matter what the end of my story was, it certainly wasn’t a result of my horrible dating history. It was the grace of God. (If life were like an algebraic equation, and we actually got a result, a + b = c, I shudder to think who I would be married to right now!) And even though my life is not like algebra, and God gave me a husband I didn’t deserve, there were unpleasant consequences to my disobedience. I regret every moment of my dating history. Every, single moment. I was not wiser for it. Obviously! I continued making bad choices. I was status quo for most Christian girls, and the acceptable way to date. No one was really criticizing my choices, or even telling me I was running down the path to sin as “swiftly as a horse rushing into battle.” At the time, I knew it was disastrous, but had to buy into that lie that said ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.’ Where’s that principle in scripture? That’s the very opposite of what the Bible describes as wisdom. But I had to believe that to hold on to my justifications, and steer away from conviction and regret. I look back and feel really, really stupid. I could have spent my time and emotions on so many other things. Like serving the Lord, for example! Oh, I was serving the Lord all the while…with a half heart, really, because I was always distracted by a dating relationship. (1 Cor. 7:35 says Paul wishes for us to “serve the Lord with as few distractions as possible.”) In reality, nothing resulted from it but regret, heartache, sin, idols…good stuff, hu? And yet I still probably would have gone to bat over my ideas about dating for years afterward. Why? (Pure stupidity and pride? I wish it weren’t so.) The Israelites continued to defend their sin, and tell themselves that they were okay. The general consensus was everyone is okay! The only one disagreeing was Jeremiah…the very lonely, unpopular prophet of the Lord.
When people fall down, don't they get up again? When they start down the wrong road and discover their mistake, don't they turn back? 5 Then why do these people keep going along their self-destructive path, refusing to turn back, even though I have warned them?
Let us be wise enough to evaluate what road we are on. Check the map. He has laid out His plans for us. Are we headed in the wrong direction? Quick! Make a U-Turn!

What shall we boast in?
Jer 9:23-24

23 This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. 24 Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!

I think all of our lives are boasting in something. We are bringing glory to something or someone every day we live. People observe us, and someone gets the credit, good or bad. Boasting sounds like a bad thing…like we should never boast. But do a word study in the scripture on the word boast. It’s used a lot! And it’s used continually in the same manner. Boast in the Lord.
“The person who wishes to boast should boast only in what the Lord has done.” 2 Cor. 10:17
“As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Gal. 6:14
What does that mean? Well, God tells us what NOT to boast in. Let’s re-define boasting as basing your sense of self-esteem in something. The world talks-up this need for self-esteem, but in what? What gives us a sense of pride?
Our intellect? (from God)
Our talent? (from God)
Our material blessings? (from God)
Our looks? (from God)
In fact, the scripture anticipates this…
7 What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own? 1 Cor. 4:7
It is pretty ridiculous when you think about it…bragging about things that we had absolutely nothing to do with.
But the one thing we CAN boast in…knowing the Lord. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things.
We can boast that the God of the universe created us, for his own delight, to know Him, to bring Him glory, and he loves us and counts the hairs on our heads. (Psalm 139) His love for us is unfailing! He wants us to cast all our cares on Him, and carry our load! He sent His OWN SON to pay the price for our sin!
Do we truly know God? Not the God we’ve created in our mind, but the God of the scripture? The Israelites, his own special possession, obviously didn’t, because they had forsaken God to worship hand-made idols. Clearly, there’s no comparing God and an idol. Jer 10:12-16 says:

2 But God made the earth by his power,
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
He has stretched out the heavens
by his understanding.
13 When he speaks, there is thunder in the heavens.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
14 Compared to him, all people are foolish
and have no knowledge at all!
They make idols, but the idols will disgrace their makers,
for they are frauds.
They have no life or power in them.
15 Idols are worthless; they are lies!
The time is coming when they will all be destroyed.
16 But the God of Israel is no idol!
He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including Israel, his own special possession.
The LORD Almighty is his name!

Do you know that God? The Lord Almighty? The Israelites said they did. They had the outward sign of belonging to God, which at that time, was circumcision. This was a God-ordained sign that they were His set apart people. But in the end of chapter nine, God lumps them together with all of the other “pagan nations.” They were “circumcised in body, but not in spirit”, and they had “uncircumcised hearts.” This may sound really strange without reading within the context of the entire Old Testament, knowing the covenant made between God and the father of the Jews, Abraham. But the bottom line is, they claimed to be God’s people. They continued to go through the motions of belonging to Him on the outside. But their hearts were far away. “And so the Lord says ‘these people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away…” Isaiah 29:13 They gave Him lip service, but on the inside they were pagans. And our God has no interest as to what we do on the outside. He has always, always, always wanted our hearts. Our obedience. Our attention, and total devotion.




What are outward signs that we put on in America today that we are Christians? Think specifically.




Is there any chance that you are being disobedient to Him, while giving God lip service?
Search your heart. If so, in what area of your life?






In what might you be boasting, other than what the Lord has done for you?







Write Jeremiah 9:23-24 on a card, and make it your verse to commit to memory for next week.

4 comments:

Isaac, Kim & Landen said...

I stumbled on your blog through a friend. Thank you for your encouragement to dig deep into my own heart as well as difficult scripture. The journey of sanctification is not an easy one. I'm excited to see what the Lord will reveal to me during my perseverance through Jeremiah.

Kinnard Family said...

Don't know if anyone reads this, but I'll write it to solidify it in my own heart & mind.

I've only done Parts 1 & 2 thus far. One thing that I've tried to do as I read Scripture is ask the Lord to reveal to me His character. Often times I go to the Word and am searching for how it can apply to ME, what it means for Me, or looking for a promise for ME. Those are good things, but sometimes I miss the majesty of our God & thus what God is saying to us about Himself.

So...my heart is afloat as I think about the things God shows us about Himself in the first 4 chapters of Jeremiah.

1:12b I am watching over My word to perform it.

Wow! Amen & Amen...He is a God who is FAITHFUL to His Word. All the promises are yes, in Christ. More reasons to praise Him & obey Him. HE will make it come to pass, if it is in His Word. God is SOVEREIGN and FAITHFUL.

3:15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.

God thinks of everything. First, let's remember, if anyone has a heart for Him, HE GAVE them that heart. When people speak truth to us, who should we praise? God! When our hearts are running after God, who should we thank? God! Oh, protect us, o God, for taking credit for the works of your hands. God knows & can direct our hearts!

Jer 3:22 Return, o faithless sons, I will heal your faithfulness

Praise God for the gift of faith! Romans 12:3b says God has allotted to each a measure of faith. HE can increase our faith! There are times we will have weaker faith so that we may be encouraged & strengthened by our brothers & sisters. Other times, our faith will be strong & WE are the encouragement. God is the giver of faith. Let us BEG Him for a greater faith!

Finally throughout chapters 3-4, we see beautiful pictures of our God, as Jenn pointed out. HE is our source of living water. David says in Psalm 36:8-9 "They drink their fill of the ABUNDANCE of Your house; and You give them to drink of the RIVER OF YOUR DELIGHTS. For with YOU is the FOUNTAIN OF LIFE; In Your light we see light." God illuminates our lives...HE IS light, HE IS our water, HE IS our abundance.

We also see His faithfulness (Yet I am still calling you back to me, 3:1). He is our husband. He shows us His mercy & compassion. Because of our sin, He has the right to destroy us at any moment. Instead, He is patient...His kindness leads us to repentance. Why? I think it is all for His name's sake. The Israelites were a people called by Him & they represented the name of the Lord in a dark land. God will always be faithful to His name, His promise, Himself. Just like true Believers today... He saves us, sanctifies us, and KEEPS us for Himself. For OUR GOOD and for HIS GLORY.

We serve and amazing God. I'll get on my face now & worship!
Amen & amen!

Oh yeah...the idol in my heart?? What people think of me...the fear of man. That encompasses a lot...but shows you what I have to battle day in and day out. Thank you Lord, that I can put to death the deeds of the fless BY THE SPIRIT. Again, I praise Him for the victory!

Jennifer Bacak said...

Kim, I'm so glad you are joining us in our study of Jeremiah! Keep us posted!

Ashley,
Could you write me a Bible Study? I am so blessed by your thoughts. That's exactly why I need women like you going through these with me, and then I just need you in my life reminding me of God's Truth when my faith decreases.
I love Romans 12, by the way. One of my absolute favorite chapters.
Ashley, I love you! Thanks for taking the time to not only do this, but share with me what God is showing you!
You're wonderful!
jenn

Kinnard Family said...

Part 3 & 4
As we ponder the idols we've set up in our own lives & the sin we don't want to let go of...I think we can glean something really important from Heb 12:1-2.

The NAS says "...let us lay aside every encumbrance AND the sin which so easily entangles..." There is a distinction. All our encumbrances (that keep us from running hard after Jesus) aren't all sin - so we are to lay aside MORE than just our sin. Wow. The verse is SO challenging to me b/c I know if I sought the Lord, He would show me plenty in my life that isn't necessarily sin, but keeps me from running after Him. We often ask the question (of ourselves & others) - is it sin? Instead, I think we should be asking the question: does this (habit, friend, behavior, pasttime, leisure, etc) help you know Jesus better?

There are so many things in this world that the enemy can use to keep us distracted...maybe there isn't anything WRONG with that thing by itself, but it is an encumbrance.

What is an encumbrance to me, may not be an encumbrance to you. Asking the Lord to show us sin is sometimes easier than asking Him to show us areas that we think are "neutral" but are hindering our run (notice - our run with Christ...not walk).

Using the example Jenn gave at how we support our sin by making posters (like politicians) -- I think we would fight a lot harder to hold on to our encumbrances...after all we can justify them really easy by saying, "well, it isn't sin."

On another note, as we look at how the pagans in Jeremiah's day sacrificed their children to idols...I wonder how different that is from today. From abortion (sacrificing the life of the child b/c of the idol of self), to training your kids in the ways of the world (idol of status or being a man-pleaser).

I am so thankful that in Jeremiah 9:23-24, the first word (in the NAS) the Lord uses to describe HIS work is lovingkindness. Praise Him for his mercy...

Thanks, Jenn. I've enjoyed (in an introspective way) thinking about this this week. :-)