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READING: Jeremiah 10-11 – Idolotry Ruined Israel – Israel Broke God’s Covenant


VERSES FOR TODAY:

The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens – Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. Therefore, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. (Jeremiah 10:11; 11:10c-11)

DEVOTIONAL:

“O house of Israel thus says the Lord: Don’t learn the way of the nations or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens.” A forest tree is cut down and worked with an ax by an artisan; people added silver and gold; they fastened it with a hammer and nails so it cannot move. It must be carried; it cannot walk. “Don’t fear it, for it can’t do evil or good.”

“None’re like the LORD; You’re great and Your name is great. Among the nations’ wise ones, there’s none like you. Any instruction given by idols is no better than wood.” The LORD is the True, Living God, and the everlasting King. Un-gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth.

But He Who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, stretched out the heavens. “He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth, the lightning for the rain, and brings the wind from His storehouses.” Idols shame their Goldsmiths; they are delusions that will perish.

“The LORD isn’t like them. He formed all things; Israel is His inheritance; LORD of Hosts is His name.”

“Gather up your bundle from the ground, you who live under siege!” I’m going to sling out the inhabitants of the land and will distress them so they’ll feel it. This is the exile of 586 B.C. in Zedekiah’s eleventh year. The LORD is doing what He said He would do in Deuteronomy 28:15-67 if they broke His covenant. Going back to Egypt in ships from Deut. 28:68 occurred in 70 A.D. after Titus destroyed the second Temple.

“Listen! It’s coming – a great commotion from the north to make the cities of Judah a desolation.”

Jeremiah’s reply, “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” Correct me in justice, not in Your anger. Pour Your wrath on the nations that don’t know You, for they’ve devoured Israel.

The Word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Hear My covenant, and speak to the people of Judah. Cursed be anyone who does not heed the words of this covenant, which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, saying, Listen to My voice and do all I command you. So shall you be my people and I will be your God.” Thus I shall perform the oath I swore to give them this land flowing with milk and honey.” Again, God told Jeremiah not to pray for these people, for He would not listen.

When Jeremiah spoke these words to the people, they threatened to kill him. He said: “I was like a lamb led to the slaughter. I didn’t know they said, ‘Let’s cut him off from the land of the living, so his name will not be remembered.”’

Being Jeremiah wasn’t easy.

But who said serving God is easy?

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

FATHER, I pray that my love for You will grow more and more, for I do love and trust You to care for me. When I have issues that disturb me, I fall back on a saying we use; “Let Go and Let God. I pray in the Holy Name of the Prince of Peace, Who keeps me in His Peace, AΜΕΝ!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)T FATHER, I offer this prayer for all who may read these words, that each of us will ponder the task You gave to Jeremiah,  even though he had a time of exhilaration in the days Josiah was king, giving him time to learn his role as a prophet. After Josiah’s death, things got dicey quite quickly. But if we think of how he was treated by his hometown, including his family and wife, we can think also of how we would fare in that situation. This is my prayer, in the Holy Name that is above all names, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 9 – Jeremiah’s Mourning & The Nation’s Judgment


VERSE FOR TODAY:

O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! – Thus says the LORD: “Human corpses shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves behind the reaper, and no one shall gather them.” (Jeremiah 9:1, 22)

DEVOTIONAL:

VERSE FOR TODAY:

O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! – Thus says the LORD: “Human corpses shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves behind the reaper, and no one shall gather them.” (Jeremiah 9:1, 22)

DEVOTIONAL:

Chapter Nine begins with Jeremiah mourning for the poor people of Israel and moves to the people mourning about the LORD’s judgment of the nation. The chapter ends with the LORD having the final words with His judgment of the nation.

Jeremiah’s mourning was about the sinfulness of the nation. He said, “O that I had in the desert a traveler’s lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors.” They are strong in falsehood, and not for truth. They go from evil to evil, and they do not know the LORD.

He continued, with a warning. “Beware of your neighbors, and put no trust in any of your kin; for all your kin are supplanters, and every neighbor goes around like a slanderer.” They all deceive one another, and no one speaks the truth, for they’ve taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. “Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit! They refuse to know Me, says the LORD.”

Jeremiah’s next mourning was for the land itself. “Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste. No one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the animals have fled and are gone.” Jerusalem itself is a heap of ruins and a lair of jackals; and the LORD said, “I will make the towns of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”

Jeremiah asks, “Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, so that they may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through?”

Then the LORD speaks to Jeremiah: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accordance with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their ancestors taught them. Therefore, I’m feeding these people with wormwood.” He adds, I will scatter them among nations neither they nor their ancestors have known; “I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

Then the LORD called for the mourning women to come, those skilled women to quickly raise a dirge over the nation,  “so that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids flow with water.” Teach your daughters a dirge and a lament. “Death has come into our palaces to cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the streets.” Dead bodies will fall like dung on the fields like sheaves behind the reaper – and no one will bury them.

Don’t boast of your wisdom, strength, or wealth.

Boast only that you understand and know the LORD, who acts with love, justice, and righteousness.

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

FATHER, I pray for my nation, that has just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who have fallen on foreign soil – and even those who died in our own Civil War, if a war can be called civil. I pray for myself that I may never see war in our nation and that we stay out of foreign wars and even that other nations cease their wars to worship You. I pray in the Holy Name of the Prince of Peace, AΜΕΝ!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

FATHER, I offer this prayer for all who may read these words, that each of us will think more of getting the gospel to this sinful world that it may turn to You than we think of wars that we are in or that we are providing munitions to enable others to fight our wars for us. To share the gospel of peace and Your salvation must become the only war that we have an interest in. Wars that have Christians fighting Christians must be unholy wars – but this is what so many wars are! This is my prayer, in the Holy Name that is above all names, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 8 – Blind Perversity of the Nation of Israel & Jeremiah Mourns


VERSES FOR TODAY:

Thus says the LORD: When people fall, do they not get up again? If they go astray, do they not turn back? Why then have these people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They have held fast to deceit, they refused to turn. (Jeremiah 8:4-5)

DEVOTIONAL:

Israel had turned away from God and refused to return. They turn to their course like a horse plunging into battle. Even storks know their times, as the turtledove, swallow, and crane know and observe the time of their coming; “But My people do not know the ordinance of the LORD.”

How can you say, “We’re wise, and the law of the LORD is with us,” when the false pen of the scribes has made it a lie? The ‘wise’ will be shamed, dismayed, and taken; since they’ve rejected the word of the LORD, “What wisdom is in them?” (cf. 6:13).

“Therefore, I will give their wives and fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest everyone deals falsely.” They’ve treated the wound of My people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” In their shamefulness, they’ve committed abominations; yet they weren’t at all ashamed, they do not know how to blush. “Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall; when I punish them, they’ll be overthrown, says the LORD.”

When the LORD went to gather them, there were no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the tree; even the leaves are withered. “What I gave them has passed away from them.”

The people then ask, “Why do we sit still? Let’s go into the fortified cities and perish there; for the LORD our God has doomed us to perish, and has given us poisoned water to drink because we’ve sinned.” This is not a heartfelt confession, for it was not God who gave them poisoned water to drink; it was in the pursuit of their idols and harlotry that they drank poisoned waters. Listen to Solomon, “Drink water from your cistern, flowing water from your well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, not for sharing with strangers. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:15-18).

Israel looked for peace, “But found no good; for healing, but there is terror instead.” The terror is from the snorting of the invaders’ horses from as far away as Dan in Israel’s north; “at the sound of the neighing of their stallions the whole land quakes; they come and devour the land and all filling it, the city and those who live in it.”

And the weeping prophet weeps; “My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. Hark, the cry of my poor people, ‘Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” The LORD asks, “Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?” A good question, indeed.

Jeremiah continues: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

While fields are white with a harvest, we have time. How will we use it?

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

FATHER, I can understand to a small degree your frustration with Israel. I can never fathom the fullness of their perversity, just as I cannot understand how Jesus must have felt when He was living on earth with all of the sin He encountered then – and for Him to take my sin onto Himself, is amazing almost beyond belief. Yet, He did Your will. I pray that I may learn to do Your desires in my frail way, as He did in His strength. Please help me to do this, is my prayer, though I know I will still disappoint You as I disappoint myself, in His Holy name, AΜΕΝ!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

FATHER, I offer this prayer for all who may read these words, that each of us my think deeply about the last question of the devotion above. How will we use the time we have while the fields are white with a harvest. How, indeed? Will we while away the days and hours? Will we spend more on our frivolities of this age or will we become serious about the untold millions who are yet untold of Your loving kindness and grace? This is a question I cannot answer, but I pray that together with Your Spirit and Grace, we may find ways to become more evangelistic in gospeling this sinful world. This is my prayer, in the Holy Name that is above all names, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 6-7 – Imminence & Horror of Invasion – Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Judgment


VERSES FOR TODAY:

Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin, from the midst of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, for evil looms out of the north, and great destruction. – Thus says the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let Me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 6:1; 7:3-4)

DEVOTIONAL

Evil came to Judea from the north, even though Chaldea and Babylon were east of Judea because there was a great desert between them; going around the fertile crescent meant danger coming from Chaldea, Babylon, or Persia would take that route and come through Syria south to Judea. That’s why evil came from the north.

“Prepare war against her; let us attack at noon! ‘Woe to us, for the day declines.’ Up, and let us attack by night, and destroy her palaces! Cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.” This is the city that needs to be punished. Nothing but oppression is there.

To whom shall I give warning? “Their ears are closed, they cannot listen. The word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn. But I am full of the wrath of the LORD; I’m weary of holding it in. From the least to the greatest, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They say ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”

Thus says the LORD: “Stand at the crossroads, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies and walk in it. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.”’ The LORD raised sentinels and said, “Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!” But they said, “We will not give heed.” The LORD said, “I’m, going to bring disaster on this people (the fruit of their schemes) because they’ve not given heed to my words, but have rejected My teaching.”

“See, a people is coming from the north, a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.” They’re cruel and have no mercy. They ride horses, equipped like a warrior for battle. In Judea, “anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor.”

As in A.D. 70, Israel thought the temple provided safety. The LORD told Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the temple and say, “Do not trust these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”’ Here you are trusting deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal & murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, offer sacrifice to Baal, and follow other gods, and come stand before me in this house called by my name, and say, “We are safe!” – only to go on doing all these abominations? “Go to Shiloh, where I first tabernacled with Israel, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. I spoke to you persistently; you didn’t listen. I called you, but you didn’t answer. I will cast you out just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, the offspring of Ephraim.”

Then God told Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people; do not intercede for them. I will not listen.”

Judah has done evil in my sight; they set their abominations in the house called by my name, defiling it.

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

Father, I pray that I will never be as stubborn as Judah was with Jeremiah and with You. Your patience with them is admirable, but it was to no avail. For even when Jesus came, they did not believe in Him to their shame. This is my prayer in His Holy name, AMEN!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (AND FOR ME)

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, that each of them (and I) may think carefully about the stubbornness of Judea in rejecting You and refusing to budge. Jeremiah spoke to them as You told him, but they would not listen. What more could You have done than You did? They killed the prophets, and they ended up killing Your Son as well. Fortunately, not all were set against Him. This is my prayer in His name, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 5 – Corruption of God’s People!


VERSE FOR TODAY: Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look around, and take note! Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth – so that I may pardon Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 5:1)

DEVOTIONAL

Judea and Jerusalem were a mess. The LORD challenged Jeremiah to find one person in Jerusalem who acts justly and seeks truth so He could pardon Jerusalem. They, in making an oath, would say, “’ As the Lord Lives,’ yet would swear falsely.” God seeks truth in the heart of man; He wasn’t finding it in Jerusalem at the beginning of the exile. Instead of truth and repentance, “They made their faces harder than rock; they’ve refused to turn back.”

Jeremiah said, “These are the poor, who do not know the way of the LORD. I’ll go to the rich and speak to them.” But they all alike had broken the yoke, they’d burst the bonds (cf. Psalm 2:1-3). “Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them, a leopard is watching against their cities; everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces because their transgressions are many.” When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the house of the prostitutes.

“They were well-fed lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not punish them for these things? Says the LORD.

They’ve spoken falsely of the LORD., saying, “He will do nothing. No evil will come upon us, and we shall not see sword or famine. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Hosts: Because they’ve said this, I am now making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them. The prophets are nothing but wind, for the Word of the LORD is not in them.”

I’ll bring on you a nation from far away, an enduring nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know. All of them are mighty warriors. They shall eat your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; they shall destroy with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust. But even in those days, says the LORD, I will not make a full end of you. When you ask, “Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?” you shall say to them, “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”

Scoundrels are found among you. They take the goods of others. They catch human beings. They are treacherous; therefore they have become great and rich. They’ve grown fat and sleek. “They know no limits of wickedness. Shall I not punish them for these things?”

An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule as the prophets direct.

My people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? What happens when God’s patience runs out with Judea?

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

 Abba, Father, I pray that I may never listen to a false prophet, but trust only in You, Your Son Jesus, and Your Holy Spirit, is my prayer, In Jesus’s name, AMEN!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me

Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray that each of us will come to know Your ways so that we may walk in them. Help us to trust You and Your Son, is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 4 – Invasion of Judah Threatened


VERSE FOR TODAY: Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskin on your hearts, O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else my wrath will go forth like fire…. (Jeremiah 4:5a)

DEVOTIONAL

If you return to the LORD and if you remove your abominations from Him, and if you swear, “As the Lord lives” in truth, justice, and uprightness – then nations shall be blessed by the LORD, for Judeah will be fulfilling its vocation of being a Light to the nations.

But Judah is charged to. “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns They were also told to circumcise the foreskin on their hearts or “The LORD’s wrath will go forth like fire, and burn with no one to quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” The LORD offers them pardon, but they must leave their evil ways.

Now Jeremiah is told, “Declare in Judah and say: Blow the trumpet through the land; say ‘Gather together and go into the fortified cities!’ Flee for safety, do not delay, for I am bringing evil from the north and great destruction. A lion has gone up from its thicket, a destroyer of nations has set out.” This ‘lion’ was Nebuchadnezzar, who was set on making all the nations around Judah as far as Egypt waste and ruin. Because of this, “Put on sackcloth, lament and wail; ‘The fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us.”’ In 3:10 the LORD had said, “Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense.” So, the LORD’s anger is still directed at them, which is why He has charged them to break up their fallow ground and to circumcise the foreskins of their hearts.

When the Lion comes, “Courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” The prophets here are false prophets who prophesy through Baal, not the LORD. The advent of Nebuchadnezzar was like a thunderbolt. “Look! He comes up like clouds, his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles – woe to us, for we are ruined! O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness so that you may be saved. How long shall your evil schemes lodge within you?” Proclaim against Jerusalem, “Besiegers come from a distant land; they shout against the cities of Judah. They have closed in around her like watchers of a field because she rebelled against me, says the LORD.” (cf. 1:12 for watchers of a field.)

The siege of Jerusalem was brief. Nebuchadnezzar’s father died, and he hastened back to Chaldea to assume the kingdom. At that time, Daniel along with the three Hebrew youths were picked by the king’s eunuch to be trained in the learning of the Chaldeans so they could serve in the king’s palace. (See Daniel 1:3-4.) This was in 606 b.c., the beginning of the exile.

The weeping prophet wept, “My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! My heart is beating wildly; disaster overtakes disaster; the land is laid waste.”

The LORD says, “The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end.”

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

 Abba, Father, I pray that I may keep close enough to You to be able to trust You with my soul, my life, my all! In Jesus’s name, AMEN!

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray that each of us will find Your ways so that we may walk in them, without all of the idolatry, and sexual immorality that Israel and Judea practiced leading to their exile. Help us to trust you and Your Son, is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 3 – Israel and Judah’s Unfaithfulness


VERSE FOR TODAY: The LORD declares, “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to Me?” (Jeremiah 3:1)

DEVOTIONAL

The Verse for Today above is based on Deuteronomy 24:1-5. “When a man takes a wife if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, he writes her a certificate of divorce, she becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce, or if the latter man dies, then her former husband may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. You shall not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you.” You must not play musical chairs with your wife or wives, for polygamy was practiced, especially among the wealthy. Yet that is what Israel had done and what Judah continued to do.

Look up to the hills! “Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you’ve sat awaiting lovers. You’ve polluted the land with your harlotry.” That’s why the rains have not come, for you have the forehead of a harlot! “Have you not just now called to me, ‘My father, You’re the friend of my youth – will He be angry forever, will He be indignant to the end?’ You’ve spoken, but you’ve done all the evil you could.”

In the days of Josiah, the last good king of Judah, the LORD said to Jeremiah, “Have you seen what Israel did?” This would’ve been a hundred to a hundred-twenty years before the LORD asked Jeremiah if he’d seen what Israel did, “how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot.” The LORD thought she would get it out of her system and come back to Him, “But  she did not return, and Judah saw what Israel had done.” The LORD sent Israel away into Assyrian Captivity with a decree of divorce, yet her sister Judah did not fear but also went and played the harlot.

Judah “Took her harlotry lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.” She didn’t return to the LORD with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD, who told Jeremiah to proclaim toward the north, “Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and haven’t obeyed my voice. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and bring you to Zion.” The LORD is gracious and willing to forgive if you’ll repent.

I will give you shepherds after my own heart who’ll feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Return, O faithless sons; I will heal you. Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the LORD is the salvation of Israel.

PRAY FOR YOURSELF

Father, I pray that I may never live after the flesh as Israel and Judah did. May I continue in faithfulness to you, and that I may grow in grace, knowledge, and faithfulness. This is my prayer in Jesus’s name, AMEN.

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)r Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray that each of us will ponder why Judah and Israel went astray. Even as You offered pardon to Israel in this chapter for today, You said You’d bring one from a city or two from a family to Zion. Truly, Jesus came to His own, and they did not receive Him, but some did, and for this we are grateful. This is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

READING: Jeremiah 1-2 – Jeremiah’s Call & Judah Forsakes the LORD


VERSES FOR TODAY: The word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I knew you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Israel was Holy to the LORD, the first fruits of His harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.  (Jeremiah 1:4-5; 2:3)

DEVOTIONAL

Jeremiah, sometimes called ‘the weeping prophet,’ served as a prophet from the thirteenth year of Josiah, through the eleven years of Josiah’s son Jehoiakim, and to the end of Zedekiah’s (a brother of Josiah) eleven-year reign, more than forty years.

Jeremiah was a prophet to the world. The LORD said to him “See, I’ve set you this day over nations, to pluck up and break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” This was after the LORD touched Jeremiah’s mouth and put His words there.

“And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the LORD said, ‘You’ve seen well, for I’m watching over my word to perform it.”’ (In Hebrew, the words ‘almond’ and ‘watch’ sound alike.)

The LORD again came to Jeremiah, saying, “What do you see?” Jeremiah said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” The LORD said, “Out of the north disaster shall be loosed upon the inhabitants of the land, for I’m calling the kingdoms of the north, and they shall come, and everyone shall set his throne before Jerusalem, against its walls, and all the cities of Judah.”

Judah would be judged by the LORD, for they had forsaken Him and worshiped the works of their hands. “But you, gird up your loins, arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Don’t be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” Then the LORD promised to make Jeremiah “a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, Judah’s kings, officials, priests, and people. They’ll fight you, but will not prevail, for I’m with you.”

The priests didn’t ask “Where is the LORD?” Those handling the law didn’t know Me. The rulers transgressed against Me. The prophets prophesied by Baal. “Therefore, I contend with you declares the LORD. Has any nation changed its gods? My people have committed two evils; they’ve forsaken me, the source of living water, and hewed out broken cisterns that hold no water.”

After Josiah’s death at the hand of Pharaoh Neco, the people put Jehohaz, Josiah’s son, on the throne; he reigned for three months. When Neco came back from that battle, he bound Jehohaz and put his brother, Jehoiakim, on the throne. He reigned for eleven years; in his time, Nebuchadnezzar came and Jehoiakim served him for three years before he died. Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s son, reigned three months before his uncle Zedekiah was put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar.

Judah turned to God, “Arise and save us.” The LORD asks, “But where are your gods you made? Let them save you.” He asked, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.”

Your sword devoured your prophets like a lion.  

In Jesus’s words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to you!”

PRAY FOR YOURSELVES                                                                  

Father, I pray that I may ever remember that Jeremiah was a youth when you called him and that youth can be used by you in marvelous ways. In my youth, I set my course for my life, got sidetracked, but came back to my first love; I pray that others who lose their way may also find their way back. This is my prayer in Jesus’s name, AMEN.

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray that each of us will ponder why Judah and Israel went astray. After You had done so much for them, what made them turn away from You? This is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

READING: Psalms 103-104 – Bless the LORD & Great Is the Creative Power of the LORD


VERSES FOR TODAY: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name. – O LORD my God, You are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty.  (Psalm 103:1; 104:1)

DEVOTIONAL

Psalm 103. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” What benefits are listed in this Psalm? He forgives our iniquity, heals our diseases, redeems lives from ‘the Pit,’ crowns us with love and mercy, and “satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” This last clause calls to mind Isaiah 40:29-31:

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the LORD shall renew the strength; they shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah adds benefits to the Psalm (or is it the other way around?). The added benefit is the strength to endure.

The Psalm is replete with other things that God does for us. He works for righteousness and justice. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love (but He will not hold His anger forever).

As high as the heavens, so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the East is from the West, He removes our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. He remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 104. This is the creation Psalm. The LORD Himself is clothed in light (which is one way there could be light on the first day when the sun was placed in the sky on the fourth day of creation). He set the earth on its foundations so it should never be moved. The earth was covered with water before the mountains and their valleys rose as the LORD set a boundary the water could not pass.

Springs of water flowing between hills give drink to every beast and provide cover for the birds to nest. The rain also falls for the grass and for man’s cultivation of “the earth for food and wine to gladden the heart of man, and oil to make his face shine.”

The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats.

The sunset comes, and it is dark: “All the beasts creep about the forest. The lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.” The sun rises and the animals steal away to their dens. ”Man goes out to his work and labor until the evening.”

The Psalmist exults over the manifold works of God’s creation! “Here is the sea, which teems with innumerable creatures, both great and small.” These also look to God for their food.

When You take away their breath, they die.

When You send Your Spirit, they are created.

PRAY FOR YOURSELF:                                                                              

Father, I pray that I may always remember your benefits to me and that I will always thank you for them daily; this is my prayer in Jesus’s name, AMEN.

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray that each of us will ponder the glory of the good earth You have given us and all of the blessings that make our lives possible. Help all of us to appreciate Your work of creation, something that none of us can do. This is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

READING: Psalms 99-102 – God’s Holiness, We Are His, David’s Integrity, & A Prayer for Help


VERSES FOR TODAY: Holy is He. – Make a joyful noise to the LORD all the earth. – I will not set before my eyes anything that is base. – I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. (Psalm 99:3; 100:1; 101:3; 102:7)

DEVOTIONAL

Psalm 99 praises God for His Holiness. Twice in the nine verses of this Psalm, the Psalmist says “Holy is He,” and closes the Psalm by saying “Extol the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is Holy.” In addition to praising God, this Psalmist writes, “The LORD is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name. Holy is He.” ‘The peoples’ are the Gentile, pagan nations that Israel was supposed to be a light to, to show them a way to live beyond their idolatry. In the Psalm, God’s name and Holiness are displayed to the Nations who are invited to worship Him.

Psalm 100 also invites all the earth to worship the LORD with gladness and singing. We are His because He created us; we “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” Why do this? It is “Because the LORD is good; his steady love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 101, a Psalm of David, provides a pledge from the king of integrity and justice. Many kings, even in Judah and Israel, did not have the integrity David promised his people. He begins, “I will sing about loyalty and justice; to you, O LORD I will sing. I will study the blameless way. When shall I attain it?” David knew he was an imperfect man seeking to be blameless. He said, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.” Did he write this before or after his sin with Bathsheba? If before, he forgot it; if after, maybe he learned from his mistakes.

Psalm 102 is a plea to God from an afflicted one when he was faint and pleading before the LORD. This Psalmist looks to the past times God had lifted Israel out of mess they had gotten themselves into. He prays that He will do it again. He told God what he needed; “You will rise, and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come” The writer expects the LORD to respond to what he asks.

He wants it recorded for future generations to know that God is available to those who ask Him – unless they ask amiss to consume God’s blessing on themselves. Late in the Psalm he writes, “He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. ‘O my God,” I say, “do not take me away at the midpoint of my life, you whose years endure throughout all generations.” He compares the length of his life to God who lives eternally, begging God to be steadfast in answering his prayer for help.

Did God answer this man’s prayer? What do you think?

Have you prayed, desperate for God to answer your prayer, and felt as this man did?

PRAY FOR YOURSELF:                                                                              

Father, Abba, I pray that I may always pray in keeping with Your will, but I know that sometimes I go overboard with foolish prayers for my own sake. Help me learn to pray as You would teach me to pray, and this is my prayer in Jesus’s name, AMEN.

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)

Father in Heaven, my prayer is for all who read these words, including me. I pray all of us who read these words will recognize Your Holiness, know that You are God and that we are Your sheep, always act with integrity and justice, and always pray in ways that bring us close to You and Your wisdom. This is my prayer, in the name of our Savior, AMEN!

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