Serving You, Lord, doesn’t begin with our choice. It begins with Your call. The initiative is Yours – not ours. Thank You, Lord, that You love us so much. Thank You for saving us – and calling us to be Your servants.
They had turned away from the Lord. They had chosen to go their own way (Jeremiah 2:13). When, Lord, our message isn’t popular, help us to remember that it’s Your message – not ours. You have not called us to preach a superficial message. You’ve called us to preach a searching message. We are to invite our hearers to think about what their wrong choices were doing to them: ‘Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?’ (Jeremiah 2:17). We are to leave them in no doubt about where their wrong choices are leading them – ‘“Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me”, I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken’ (Jeremiah 2:19). This isn’t what people want to hear. It’s what they need to hear. Help us to be faithful to You – even when it’s difficult and discouragement is never very far away from us.
‘Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!’ (Jeremiah 2:28). Teach us, Lord, that man-made ‘gods’ cannot ‘save’. They cannot even begin to compare with You – ‘the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:28). There is no comparison between You, Lord, and the gods – ‘I am God, and there is no other’. For ‘all the makers of idols’, the future holds nothing but ‘shame’ and ‘disgrace’. You’re calling us on to a much better and brighter future. ‘Saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation.’ We thank You, Lord, that this is the great and glorious future which awaits all who obey Your call to salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:15-17,22).
Lord, You call us to ‘return’ to You (Jeremiah 3:14,22). You call us to make our response to You. You invite us to say, ‘Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 3:22). How are we to come to You? We are to come to You, confessing our sins – ‘We have sinned against the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 3:25). We are to come to You, trusting You to save us – ‘Surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel’ (Jeremiah 3:23). We thank You, Lord, for all the blessings that You give to those who return to You. You are ‘merciful’ to us. You do ‘not treat us as our sins deserve’ (Jeremiah 3:12, Psalm 103:10). We become Your children. We call You, ‘Father’ (Jeremiah 3:19; Galatians 4:6). You ‘cure us of our backsliding.’ ‘In Christ’, we become ‘a new creation’ (Jeremiah 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank You, Lord.
‘If you will return, O Israel,… then the nations will be blessed…’ (Jeremiah 4:1-2). Help us, Lord, not only to seek blessing for ourselves. Teach us to pray that others will be blessed also. Your blessing is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared. We are not to be small-minded people – ‘What will I get out of it?’. Help us to remember what Jesus said to His first disciples, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. This is still Your Word to us today. May we never rest content with being an inward-looking Church. Christ has given us a worldwide mission: ‘You will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’. We are not left to face this great task on our own. Christ says, ‘I am with you always’. We thank You, Lord, that we do not take up this great challenge in our own strength. Christ says to us, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
‘One disaster follows another. The whole land is ruined… My people are fools. They don’t know Me… They are experts in doing wrong, and they don’t know how to do good’ (Jeremiah 4:20,22). Lord, we read the daily news. We wonder, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ We ask, ‘Where will it all end?’ Are we to give up hope? No! Teach us, Lord, to look beyond the things that are happening in our world today. Help us to keep on looking to You, Lord – ‘the God of hope’. You say to us, ‘There is hope for your future.’ Sometimes, we feel like things are just going from bad to worse. When we feel like this, help us to remember Your Word: ‘I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope’. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Jeremiah 29:11; Jeremiah 31:17; Romans 15:13).
‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way’ (Jeremiah 5:31)! Sometimes, Lord, people are happy to listen to ‘prophets’ – so long as their preaching isn’t too challenging. They’re happy to attend the services conducted by ‘priests’ – so long as nobody expects them to change their way of life. They don’t want ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ who take Your Word seriously. Help us, Lord, to be serious about preaching Your Word. Help us to be serious about living in obedience to Your Word. This won’t be popular. We won’t be didn’t give people what they want – but we’ll be giving them what they what they need. We’ll be challenging them to ‘get real’ with You, Lord. Help us, Lord to do what You want us to do – not what other people want us to do.
‘Their ears are closed… The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it’ (Jeremiah 6:10). Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re ‘hitting our head off a brick wall’. So few people show any real interest in hearing and obeying Your Word. It seemed like Your Word is ‘going in one ear and out the other.’ It would be so easy for us just to ‘settle down’, to start ‘taking it easy.’ This is what so many people do: ‘They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace”, they say, when there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:13-14). Help us, Lord, to be faithful to You – not to settle for being popular with those whom ‘the Lord has rejected’ (Jeremiah 6:30).
‘Stop believing these deceitful words, “We are safe! This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”’ (Jeremiah 4:4). Help us, Lord, never to allow the place of worship to become more important than the Person we worship. We worship You, Lord. May we not talk a lot about ‘the Church’ – and never speak of Christ! May we not become more concerned about ‘the Church’ looking good than we are about what You, Lord, see when You ‘look at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7)! Deliver us, Lord, from self-centred talk – ‘I love my Church. I never miss my Church. I always support my Church’. Help us to see that there’s a great deal of ‘I’ in this kind of talk – but Christ is conspicuous by His absence! May there be less ‘Look at what I have done for my Church’ and more ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
‘Wise people are put to shame, confused, trapped. They have rejected the Word of the Lord. They don’t really have any wisdom’ (Jeremiah 8:9). Deliver us, Lord, from thinking that we’re smart. Keep us from becoming wise in their own eyes. Deliver us from the ‘know it all’ attitude. May we not have an answer for everything – except the most important question, the question of salvation: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Deliver us from knowing know so much – yet knowing so little about what really matters! ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (Jeremiah 8:20). Keep us, Lord, from becoming so obsessed with getting on in the world that we make no time for You. When, Lord, we’re getting too busy enjoying all the pleasures of this world, help us to remember Jesus’ words: ‘What good will it do you if you gain the whole world – and lose eternal life?’ (Matthew 16:22).
We read, Lord, about those who are ‘circumcised only in the flesh.’ They remain ‘uncircumcised in the heart’ (Jeremiah 9:25-26). Teach us, Lord, that salvation is not a matter of outward conformity to religious rituals. What we need is ‘circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit’ (Romans 2:28-29). Help us to remember Jesus’ words: ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7). Help us to see clearly that even when we’ve been ‘brought up in the Church’, we still need to open our hearts to Christ. Even when we’ve heard Your Word preached many times, we still need to be born again through the power of ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Teach us, Lord, that our religious rituals mean nothing if, in our hearts, we remain unconverted: ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation’ (Galatians 6:15).
‘The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King’ (Jeremiah 10:10). Can there ever be anything more important than worshipping You, Lord? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question! Very often, our lives gives a very different answer. We have taken our eyes off You, Lord. We have forgotten that You are the true and living God. We sing the words, ‘O Lord, Thou art my God and King… Each day I rise, I will Thee bless…’ – but they have a hollow ring about them! Help us, Lord, to make a real commitment of our life to You: ‘Teach me to live, day by day, in Your presence, Lord… Teach me to praise, day by day, in Your Spirit, Lord… Teach me to love, day by day, in Your power, Lord… Teach me to give, day by day, from my wealth, O Lord…’ (Mission Praise, 627).
Lord, You speak Your Word to us. You call us to obedience. You say to us, ‘Obey My voice.’ Often, Lord, the story of our life is summed up in the words: ‘They did not listen or pay attention. They did not obey’ (Jeremiah 11:7-8). Your Word is not just ‘something to think about.’ When You call us to obedience, we’re not to say, ‘I’ll think about that later.’ ‘Now’ is the time for obedience to Your Word: ‘Obey now the voice of the Lord’ (Jeremiah 38:20). Help us, Lord, not to put this off until tomorrow. You’re looking for our obedience today: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7). When, Lord, we’re deeply involved in religious ritual – ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ – , You say to us, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Help us, Lord, to see that obedience involves our whole life – not just ‘never missing a service’!
‘“If any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it”, declares the Lord’ (Jeremiah 12:17). When, Lord, we are challenged by Your Word, help us not to look out to the world and say, ‘That’s what’s happening “out there”’. Teach us to look into our own hearts. Help us to ask, ‘What’s happening “in here”?’ Teach us to pray, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart’ (Psalm 139:23). When the searchlight of Your Word begins to shine on our lives, it becomes clear that ‘all is not as it seems’: ‘They speak well of You with their lips, but their hearts are far from You’ (Jeremiah 12:2). Our situation seems hopeless. We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). We thank You, Lord, that You speak to us Your Word of hope. We can be changed. You can change us: ‘I will give you a new heart’ (Ezekiel 36:26).
‘These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them will be… completely useless’ (Jeremiah 13:10). Lord, Your Word challenges us to think seriously about ourselves: Am I on the way to becoming ‘completely useless’? Each of us must think about what’s been happening in our lives? – ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill.’ Teach us, Lord, for real change – for ‘a closer walk’ with You: ‘Return, O Holy Dove!… The dearest idol I have known… Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee. So shall my walk be close with God…’
In ourselves, Lord, there is sin – ‘O Lord… we have sinned against You’. In You, Lord, there is salvation – ‘O Lord our God… our hope is in You’ (Jeremiah 14:20,22). In You, Lord, there is no sin – ‘You are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). In ourselves , there is no salvation. We are ‘spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins.’ We need to be ‘made alive’. How can this happen? It is not something we can do for ourselves. The new birth can only be received as Your gift. Help us to stop trying to save ourselves. It cannot be done. Salvation cannot be earned. It is Your gift. It must be received by ‘faith’. Teach us to look away from ourselves to Christ. In Christ, we see Your ‘great love for us.’ Through receiving Christ as Saviour, we are ‘born of God’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8; John 1:12-13). Thank You, Lord, for such a great Saviour and such a great salvation.
Lord, some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us – ‘This people will fight against you’ (Jeremiah 15:20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us. There are ‘fightings and fears within’. We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt.’ Help us to tell You all about it – how it really is. ‘Just as I am’ – This is how we must come to You, Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come.’ We do, however, have Your promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you’ (Jeremiah 15:20). We thank You, Lord, that You will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
‘O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, my Refuge in the day of trouble, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth… They will know that My Name is the Lord’ (Jeremiah 16:19,21). Give us, Lord, a faith that is personal – The Lord is my Strength, my Stronghold, my Refuge. Teach us that our faith must not be private. It is not to be kept to ourselves. There is to be no ‘us and them’ attitude. We are not to have a ‘we are the people’ attitude. The Gospel is for the nations. Help us not to say, ‘I’m okay. That’s all that matters.’ The Gospel is to be taken to the ends of the earth. Help us to reach out to others – to share the Gospel with the people we meet. Help us, Lord, to tell people what You have done for us. Help us to tell them what You can do for them. May we let them know how much You love them. May they come to know that our God can be their God too.
‘The Lord’ is ‘the Fountain of living water’ (Jeremiah 17:13). You say to us, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). We can be ‘like a tree planted by water’, a tree that ‘does not cease to bear fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:8; Psalm 1:3). You speak Your Word to us: ‘“Where is the Word of the Lord?” Let it come!’ (Jeremiah 17:15; Psalm 1:2) You bring Your salvation to us: ‘Save me, and I will saved’(Jeremiah 17:14; Psalm 1:6). You give Your blessing to us: ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’ (Jeremiah 17:7: Psalm 1:1). We rejoice in Your ‘eternal love. We drink from ‘the streams of living waters’ – and we discover that ‘grace,… like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age.’ Help us, Lord, to press on to our heavenly and eternal glory: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
‘The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him’ (Jeremiah 18:4). Lord, this is what You’re doing in our lives. You are ‘the Potter’. We are no more than ‘jars of clay’ (Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives are ‘marred’ by sin. Often, we feel like giving up on ourselves. We thank You, Lord, that You never give up on us. You look beyond what we are now. You see what we will become. You are preparing us for ‘eternal glory’. ‘We are being renewed day by day’. ‘We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 2 Corinthians 3:18). ‘Jesus, You are changing me. By Your Spirit, You’re making me like You… You are the Potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way…’ (Mission Praise, 389).
‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stubborn and would not listen to My Word’ (Jeremiah 19:15). Lord, You’re warning Your people. You’re calling us back from the way of sin and disobedience. You’re calling us to return to You. You’re looking for people who will take You seriously. You’re calling us to live in obedience to Your Word. You’re calling us to worship You with the dedication of our lives and not only the words of our lips. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Will Yoour blessing be lost forever? Is there a way of rediscovering Your blessing in our lives?’ ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There’s a door that is open and you may go in. At Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus’ (Mission Praise. 682).
‘Cursed be the day I was born!… Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?’ (Jeremiah 20:14-18). Lord, we read about Jeremiah. We see that he is deeply depressed. He has been preaching Your Word. He’s getting nothing but abuse in return: ‘The Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long’ (Jeremiah 20:8). We thank You, Lord, that he didn’t stop preaching. He kept on going. He felt like giving up: ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name”’. We thank You, that he was driven on by a greater Power – ‘His Word is in my heart like a fire’. No matter how much he tried to keep silent, he could not do it (Jeremiah 20:9). We thank You, Lord, that he moved forward in triumphant faith: ‘The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior’ (Jeremiah 20:11). We thank You that he called upon Your people to worship You: ‘Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord!’ (Jeremiah 20:13). Help us, Lord, to keep on worshipping You and witnessing for You – especially when the going gets tough.
‘Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past…’ (Jeremiah 21:2). Lord, we read about “times past” – and we say, “That was then. What about now?” Help us never to assume that You will always bless us. May we never forget that yesterday’s blessing belong to the past. Teach us not to live in the past. Keep us from saying, ‘He has blessed us in the past. He will keep on blessing us.’ Help us to ask ourselves the searching question, “Do we really want to keep on enjoying Yours blessing? Help us to keep on seeking Your blessing. If, Lord, we do not seek You, there will be no promise of blessing. We will hear a very different Word from You: ‘I have determined to do this city harm and not good… I will punish as your deeds deserve’ (Jeremiah 21:10,14). May we never take Your blessing for granted. May we never forget that we could be ‘in for a rude awakening’ – if we do not start seeking You, Lord. Help us to start seeking You today: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).
We thank You, Lord, that Jeremiah kept on speaking to people who had given up on worshipping You (Jeremiah 22:9). His message was clear: ‘O land, land, land, hear the Word of the Lord?’ (Jeremiah 22:29). Lord, You’re speaking Your Word to us. Are we listening? You’re looking for people who will listen to You. You want us to pay attention to Your Word. Your Word is like ‘the sound of a trumpet.’ It demands our attention. Many people say, ‘We will not listen.’ Your Word shows us ‘the good way’ and calls us to ‘walk in it.’ Many people say, ‘We will not walk in it.’ What about us, Lord? What do we say to You? What is our response to Your Word? We thank You, Lord, for Your Word of warning: ‘I am bringing disaster on this people… because they have not listened to My Word.’ May we not bring this judgment on ourselves. Help us to listen to Your Word and walk in Your way (Jeremiah 6:16-19).
‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ (Jeremiah 23:1). Help us, Lord, not to be like the false ‘prophets’: ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.’ What were these false ‘prophets’ saying? – ‘They keep saying to those who despise Me, “The Lord says: You will have peace.” To all those who follow the stubbornness of their hearts, they were saying, “No harm will come to you”’ (Jeremiah 23:16-17). Lord, You’re calling us to be faithful. It will not be easy. Often, we will be tempted to ‘take the easy way out.’ We will feel the pull of the world: ‘Just be the same as everybody else.’ When we feel that we are being pulled towards the ‘easy’ option, show us, Lord, that there is something else we must never forget: The ‘easy’ option is also ‘the broad road that leads to destruction.’ Help us to keep on following Christ on ‘the narrow road which leads to life’ (Matthew 7:13-14).
‘I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied’ (Jeremiah 23:21). Before we can speak for You, Lord, we must take time to listen to You. Teach us that we dare not attempt to speak for You if we are not prepared to spend time listening to You. Everything could have been so different – if ‘these prophets’ had taken time to listen to You: ‘If they had stood in My council, they would have proclaimed My words to My people and would have turned them from their evil ways’ (Jeremiah 23:22). Lord, You don’t force us to listen to Your Word. You invite us to listen. The choice is ours. We can allow other things to become more important than spending time with You. Help us, Lord, never to become ‘too busy’ for the ‘one thing’ that is more important than anything else – listening to Your Word (Luke 10:41-42).
Lord, we wonder, “Can our lives be changed?” You say to us, ” Yes! They can be changed. I can change them: ‘I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord.’ This, Lord, is no superficial change. This is real change, change which makes a difference. It’s a change of heart: ‘they shall return to Me with their whole heart’ (Jeremiah 24:7). Lord, we wonder, “How are we changed?” You tell us, ‘I will change you’: ‘I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live’ (Ezekiel 37:14). We become new people – ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:11). This is the great change, the change that makes all the difference. It’s not just a little change here and there. It’s everywhere. No part of our life remains the same. Every part of life is changed. When there’s a real change of heart, everything changes – ‘all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). ‘Change my heart, O God…’ (Mission Praise, 69).
‘I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears My Name’ (Jeremiah 25:29). We thank You, Lord, for the privilege of being Your people. With this great privilege, there is also the great responsibility of living as Your people. We are not to be Your people in name only. We are to live the life of Your people. Help us, Lord, never to think that we can enjoy the privilege of being Your people, if we are not prepared to bear the responsibility of living as Your people. Teach us that privilege and responsibility belong together: ‘You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins’ (Amos 3:2). We cannot say, ‘I belong to You, Lord’ and then live whatever way we like. We have been ‘raised with Christ.’ We have received new life through faith in Him. Help us to keep on living this new life: ‘Set your hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Colossians 3:1-2).
‘He has spoken to us in the Name of the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 26:16). We thank You, Lord, that Jeremiah was Your true servant. We need people like him today. He was faithful. He was unashamed of You. He was unafraid to speak up for You. We see this same faithfulness in Christ’s apostles: ‘Day after day, in the temple and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and preaching the Good News that Jesus is the Christ’ (Acts 5:42). We could do with people like that today, people who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel, people who are eager to win others for Christ. We, Lord, can become people like that. You can make us like that – if we let You! As we hear Your Word in Church, as we read Your Word in our own homes, may we pray that You will give us the strength to share, with others, the Word You have given to us.
‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them. Then I will bring them and restore them to this place’ (Jeremiah 27:22). Lord, You had a great purpose for Your people – but they had to wait for Your time. You have a great purpose for us. Christ is preparing a great ‘place’ for us: ‘In My Father’s House are many mansions… I am going there to prepare a place for you’. We thank You that Christ has promised that He will return to take us to that great ‘place’: ‘I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also’ (John 14:2-3). We rejoice in this: Christ is coming. Help us to wait patiently for Him. Teach us to wait for His time, the time of His Coming, the Day when He comes for us. We thank You, Lord, that You have not forgotten Your promise. He will come ‘to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him’ (Hebrews 9:28).
‘Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie’ (Jeremiah 28:15). Lord, there is such a difference between those who wait on You for Your strength and those who rush ahead in their own strength! Your Word warns us against trying to serve You in our own strength: ‘Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted’. If we are to be true servants of the Lord, we must learn to wait upon the Lord and receive His strength: ‘Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength’. What a difference the strength of the Lord makes – ‘They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:30-31)! Teach us to exchange our weakness for Your strength – then we will truly be ‘sent’ by You and will speak Your truth.
‘I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope’. Lord, this was Your long-term purpose for Your people. It was important that they did not lose sight of this. There would be ‘seventy years’ of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10-11). At times, they must have wondered, ‘Will this ever end? Is there really something better still to come?’ Our life on earth may sometimes seem like the ‘seventy years’ in Babylon: ‘The length of our days is seventy years… yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow’! We wonder, Lord, ‘Is there a glorious future still to come?’ In our times of ‘suffering’ and ‘sorrow’, teach us to draw our ‘strength’ from Your Word. May we look forward to ‘the Day’ when Christ ‘comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be admired in all who believe’ (Psalms 90:10; 119:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5,10).
‘I am with you to save you’. This, Lord, was Your Word to Your people. You assured Your people that their ‘captivity’ in Babylon would not last forever. You gave Your promise to them: ‘I will restore the fortunes of My people… I will bring them back to the land which I gave to their fathers’ (Jeremiah 30:10-11,3). ‘I am with you to save you’. This is still Your Word to us. You tell us that our ‘captivity’ will not last forever. Christ has died to ‘free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’. Help us, Lord, to look beyond our earthly life. Give us a life-changing glimpse of our glorious future – ‘Death’ will be ‘swallowed up in victory’. ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’. Let us ‘be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, our labour is not in vain’ (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54,57-58), admired in all who believe’ (Psalms 90:10; 119:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5,10).
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3). So often, Lord, we have been like ‘the prodigal son’ (Luke 15:11-24). We have walked away from Your House. We have wandered off into ‘the far country’. We feel that we are far from You, yet still You draw near to us. You, Lord, are at work in our hearts. You are bringing us ‘to our senses’. You are reminding us of Your love. You are drawing us back to Yourself. In love, You are calling us home again. You are speaking to our hearts. You are saying to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. As Your love reaches our hearts, ‘the prodigal son’ becomes ‘the returning son’: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. ‘Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God!’ (Jeremiah 31:18).
‘Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take’ (Jeremiah 31:21). Lord, it’s so easy, for us, to take a wrong turning. We lose our sense of direction. We get confused. We’re not sure which way to go. We get lost. We’re getting more and more lost all the time. We can’t find our way back home again. We need someone who knows the way to come and be our guide. We wonder, “Is there someone who can get us on the right road again? Is there someone who can guide us safely home?” We thank You, Lord, that You have answered our question. Your answer is “Yes!” We thank You that Jesus is ‘the Way, the True Way, the Living Way’ (John 14:6). We thank You for Jesus – our Guide and our Saviour.
‘Nothing is too hard for You’ (Jeremiah 32:17). Lord, we face many difficult situations. What are we to do when we feel we can take no more? Help us to remember You. Nothing is too hard for You. Help us to remember Your promise: ‘The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3). May we hear the voice of Jesus, calling us to follow Him. May we hear His word of warning – ‘the way is hard.’ May we also know that He is our loving Saviour. He does not leave us to go it alone. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus gives us His strength – ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 4:19; 7:14; 11:30). We thank You, Lord,
‘I will bring them back to this place’ (Jeremiah 32:37). Lord, You’re bringing us into Your ‘place.’ You’re bringing us close to Yourself: ‘They will be My people, and I will be their God’ (Jeremiah 32:38). You’re bringing us into the ‘place’ of obedience: ‘I will inspire them to fear Me, so that they will never turn away from Me’ (Jeremiah 32:40). You’re leading us to the ‘place’ of blessing: ‘I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them’ (Jeremiah 32:39). Sometimes, Lord, our life seems like ‘a desolate waste.’ Help us never to lose sight of Your purpose: ‘I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all My heart and soul’ (Jeremiah 32:43,41). We thank You, Lord, that You will not leave us in our ‘desolate waste.’ You will lead us to a better ‘place’ – the ‘place’ of obedience and blessing.
‘I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against Me… Then this city will bring Me renown, joy, praise, and honour before all nations on earth…’ (Jeremiah 33:7-9). What great blessing lay ahead of Your people! Lord, You were pointing Your people to the place of blessing: Jesus Christ – ‘the righteous Branch from David’s line’ (Jeremiah 33:15-16). We thank you that ‘in Christ’, we have ‘every spiritual blessing’: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9). We thank You, Lord, that You have so much blessing to give to us. Help us to come to You and receive Your blessing: ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you; I will show you wonderful and marvellous things that you know nothing about’ (Jeremiah 33:3).
We read, Lord about slaves being ‘set free.’ We think, “This is great!” Then, we read about things going wrong – ‘Afterwards they changed their minds and took back the slaves… and enslaved them again’ (Jeremiah 34:8-11). What, Lord, do You have to say about this? – ‘You have turned round and dishonoured Me… You took back the slaves… You forced them into slavery again… You have not obeyed Me’ (Jeremiah 34:16-17). We thank You that Jesus isn’t like these slavemasters! He doesn’t only promise us freedom. He gives us our freedom: ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. He doesn’t come to us with ‘a pack of lies’ – promising this, that and the other, and then breaking every promise. We thank You that He sets us free with His Word of truth – ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:36,32; Psalm 119:45).
‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey My words?’ (Jeremiah 35:13) – ‘Jonadab, son of Rechab, ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept… I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed Me’ (Jeremiah 35:14). Lord, help us not to say, ‘I will follow You’ and then change our mind (Luke 9:57). Help us not to sing, ‘Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee’, and then live a life which contradicts our prayer of commitment to You. Help us to mean what we say – to follow through our words of commitment with a life of obedience, a life that is pleasing to You. We read about the Rechabites. They were obedient to Jonadab’s command – and You blessed them (Jeremiah 35:18-19). Obedient and blessed – That’s what You want us to be. Help us, Lord, to obey You – and look to You for the blessing.
‘The king cut it with the penknife, and threw it into the fire’ (Jeremiah 36:23). Help us, Lord, not to be like this king. He didn’t like Your Word. He thought he could get rid of Your Word. What a fool he was! You saw what was going on. The king’s attempt to silence You was utterly futile. You would not be silenced. You continued to speak Your Word. Soon, the king was hearing another Word from You: ‘You burned that scroll…’ (Jeremiah 36:29)! Lord, You’re still speaking to us today. You’re calling us to listen to You. You’re calling us back from the way of ‘wickedness’, back from the brink of ‘disaster’ (Jeremiah 36:31). You’re calling us back from the way of unbelief, the way that leads to ‘the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.’You’re calling us to be ‘blessed.’Help us to have faith in the Saviour – to receive ‘the Kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world’ (Matthew 25:41,34).
‘Is there any Word from the Lord?’ – ‘Yes! There is a Word from the Lord.’Lord, Your Word wasn’t exactly what the king wanted to hear – ‘You will be handed over to the king of Babylon’ (Jeremiah 37:17). You were going to bless Your people – but they would have to be patient: Things were going to get an awful lot worse before they would get much better! Before their restoration – “I will bring them back and restore them to this place’, Your people faced captivity – ‘They will be taken to Babylon.’There was bad news – a captivity of ‘seventy years.’There was good news – the captivity wouldn’t last forever (Jeremiah 37:27:22; 29:10-11)! Lord, You speak of Your blessing – ‘It will certainly come’, but You also say, ‘Wait for it’ (Habakkuk 2:3). Help us to listen to all that You say to us – and not ‘only hear what we want to hear’!
‘No Surrender’ – Lord, was this the way forward for Your people? ‘No Surrender’ – What would happen if Your people adopted this attitude? Jeremiah speaks Your Word to the people. He calls them to make their choice. They can ‘surrender’ and ‘live’. They can say, ‘No Surrender’ – and face certain death (Jeremiah 38:17-18). Captivity in Babylon would not be easy. They would be heartbroken as they recalled happier times – ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.’It would be so difficult to keep on praising You – ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:1,4). Life in Babylon would be difficult – but ‘it would not be the end of the world’! They could still look forward to the fulfilment of Your ‘gracious promise’: ‘I will come to you and bring you back to this place’ (Jeremiah 29:10).
You can take the man out of Babylon, but you can’t take Babylon out of the man! We may have never set foot in the ancient city of Babylon, but we know all about the spirit of Babylon! ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt’ (Jeremiah 17:9) – This, Lord, is the spirit of Babylon. It’s ‘the spirit of disobedience’, the spirit which is ‘at work’ in every one of us: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Ephesians 2:2; Romans 3:23). Is there any hope for us? We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). Lord, You can change us. To those who ‘trust’ in Him, You say, ‘I will save you’ (Jeremiah 39:18). You want to bless us. Help us to put our trust in You. May Your blessing flow into our hearts (Jeremiah 17:7).
‘The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; the Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against the Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you’ (Jeremiah 40:3). Lord, we hear a great deal today about ‘the feel good factor.’People need to get a good feeling: ‘Give them a pat on the back. Make them feel good about themselves.’There’s not much of a ‘feel good factor’ in Jeremiah’s preaching! The people must have been wondering, ‘Where did they dig him up from? He has nothing good to say about anyone or anything.’Help us, Lord, to rise above the sarcasm of those who have no time for Your Word. May we ask, ‘Where did Jeremiah’s message really come from?’- and may we hear Your answer: ‘The Word came to Jeremiah from the Lord’ (Jeremiah 40:1).
Terrible things were happening! Things were going from bad to worse. ‘What next?’ – The people were wondering where it would all end. Lord, what are we to do when everything seems to be getting totally out of control? There is one thing we must never forget. It is the most important thing of all. We must ‘pray to the Lord our God.’We must ask You, Lord, to ‘show us the way we should go.’You will ‘show us the thing that we should do’ (Jeremiah 42:2-3). May we learn that it’s time to stop complaining and start praying.
‘Do not go to Egypt’ (Jeremiah 42:19). We may never set foot in the country known as ‘Egypt’ – but the spirit of ‘Egypt’ may be in our hearts: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). ‘Egypt’ is an attitude of the heart. It is an attitude of rebellion against You, Lord. Teach us to say ‘No’ to ‘Egypt.’Teach us to say ‘No’ to the spirit of rebellion against You. For Your people, ‘Egypt’ was a place of slavery, a place from which they needed to be set free by You, Lord (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-10). Each of us must choose how we will live. We can remain in the place of slavery – ‘slaves of sin’ – , or we can be ‘obedient from the heart’, stepping out from that place into the place of freedom, ‘the new life of the Spirit’ – ‘`the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 6:17-18; 7:6; 8:2). Teach us, Lord, to choose Your way – not our own way.
‘The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah’ (Jeremiah 43:8). Lord, You speak Your Word to those who are prepared to make time for listening to You. Help us to come to Your Word, praying that it will be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.’May we come with the prayer, ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Word.’Help us to ‘live according to Your Word’: ‘I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You’ (Psalm 119:105,18,9,11). ‘Speak’ to us, Lord – and teach us to ‘listen’ to what You say to us (1 Samuel 3:10). ‘Say to them, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says…”’ (Jeremiah 43:10). Help us not to keep Your Word to ourselves. Help us to share Your Word. May we not listen to You without also speaking for You. May we always remember that we cannot really speak for You unless we are also listening to You.
‘Egypt’ was to be a place of punishment. Lord, You speak to those who remain in the place of rebellion. You say to them, ‘I will punish you in this place.’This is Your Word of warning. We don’t need to remain in the place of rebellion and punishment. We can ‘return’ to ‘Judah’, the place of obedience and blessing (Jeremiah 44:28-29). This is not about places we will find on a map of the world. It’s a call to look into the secret places of our hearts. Teach us, Lord, to search our hearts. What will You find when You look into our hearts? Will You find rebellion? Will You find obedience? You want us to leave the place of rebellion and punishment. You want us to return to the place of obedience and blessing. ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart!… See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:23-24).
‘Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, “I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants”’ (Jeremiah 46:8). Lord, the spirit of rebellion against You is very powerful. Many lives have been destroyed by the attitude of proud unbelief: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). Help us to take our stand against this attitude. Help us, Lord, to stand up for You. We see the world going from bad to worse. Help us to keep on believing Your Word. When, Lord, we are filled with fear, You come to us with Your Word, ‘Do not fear… Do not be dismayed…’When we feel the spirit of rebellion sweeping over us, You come to us with Your promise: ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place.’ You give us ‘peace and security’ – ‘Do not fear… I am with you’ (Jeremiah 46:27-28).
‘The day has come to destroy all the Philistines… The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines… Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh are destroyed’ (Jeremiah 47:4). That seems like ancient history – nothing to do with us! What about this? – ‘A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!’ (Jeremiah 48:17). Lord, Your Word was written many centuries ago – but it still has a great deal to do with us! We miss the point if we read the Bible as no more than a book of ancient history. Lord, You’re still speaking to us through your Word. You’re still calling us to sit up and take notice. You’re still demanding our attention. Help us not to be lazy in Your work. Teach us to be Your faithful servants. ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
‘Afterwards I will restore the fortunes…’ (Jeremiah 49:6). Sometimes, Lord, when we’re going through a particularly difficult time, we wonder, ‘Will this ever end?’You, Lord, speak to us Your Word of encouragement. There will be an ‘afterwards.’There will be a ‘restoration of our fortunes.’’The Lord will not cast us off for ever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion according to His steadfast love. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone’ (Lamentations 3:31-33). May there come a time when we will be able to look back at our most distressing circumstances and say from the heart, ‘God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20). In our most testing and trying times, Lord, You’re teaching us to say, with confidence in You, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28).
‘I will restore the fortunes… in days to come’ (Jeremiah 49:39). Lord, You’re calling us on to Your future, a glorious future, a future full of heavenly and eternal glory. We look ahead to ‘days to come.’We look ahead to the greatest Day of all – the Day of Christ’s Return. It will be a glorious Day – ‘the Day He comes to be glorified… in all who have believed.’What a glorious Day it will be – the Day of ‘the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’: ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven… We will be with the Lord for ever.’Help us, Lord, to get ready for Christ’s Return. May we not be like those who ‘perish.’They ‘do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.’They ‘refuse to love the truth and be saved.’May we have ‘faith’ in Christ and be ‘saved’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2:1,10,13-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
‘The people… will go in tears to seek the Lord their God… They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten’ (Jeremiah 50:4-5). Lord, You’re calling us to come to You. You’re calling us to commit ourselves to You. We’re to come to You Lord with ‘tears’: ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Our commitment to You is not to be a half-hearted thing. It is to be a whole-hearted dedication of our lives to You. You love us. You have blessed us so much. You have drawn us to Yourself. You have heard and answered our prayer for salvation. How are we to respond to Your love? Teach us, Lord, to give ourselves to You as ‘a living sacrifice.’This is our ‘spiritual worship.’It is ‘holy and pleasing’ to You, Lord (Romans 12:1).
‘The arrogant one will stumble and fall’ (Jeremiah 50:32). Lord, Your Word warns us – ‘Pride goes before… a fall’, ‘Arrogance will bring your downfall’ (Proverbs 16:18; 29:23). Help us not to trust in ourselves. Help us to put our trust in You, Lord – Our ‘Redeemer is strong. The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (Jeremiah 50:34). Help us not to boast of ourselves. Salvation is ‘not our own doing.’Teach us to ‘boast’ of You, Lord.’Salvation is ‘the gift of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). When we are tempted to take pride in ourselves – ‘Lord, I thank You that I am not like other men…’ (Luke 18:11-12), teach us to come to the Cross of Christ, praying the sinner’s prayer – ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13) – and boasting only of You, our Lord and Saviour – ‘God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
‘Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations!’ (Jeremiah 51:27). Lord, You call us to be Your witnesses. If we are growing in our fellowship with You, we will want others to know what they’re missing. We will want them to know how much blessing they could know – if they put their faith in Christ and began to walk with Him day-by-day. Help us to give our testimony: ‘The Lord is my Banner’, ‘His banner over me is love’ (Exodus 17:15; Song of Solomon 2:4). Help us to make sure that our ‘trumpet’ gives out ‘a clear call’, calling people to come to Christ. May we point them to Christ, calling them to trust Him as Saviour and obey Him as Lord. Teach us, Lord, to show them the way to true happiness: ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760).
‘When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud’ (Jeremiah 51:61). Lord, Your Word is not to be kept within the place of worship. We are to take Your Word to ‘Babylon.’Help us to speak Your Word in the places where You are not worshipped. May we call people to turn from their sinful ways. May we call them to return to You, Lord. This will not be an easy message to speak. Many people won’t want to hear it. Help us, Lord, to Your faithful messengers, warning people that they must not neglect Your salvation and put themselves in danger of Your judgment. Help us to speak of the Day, when every one of us must ‘answer’ to You concerning the way we have lived our lives (Hebrews 2:3; 4:13). Teach us to call on people to ‘believe in the Lord Jesus’ and ‘be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
We need ‘a portion for each day… all the days of our life’ (Jeremiah 52:34). When, Lord. we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, teach us to look beyond our physical need for food. May we remember our spiritual need for ‘the Bread of life’: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God’ (Matthew 6:11; John 6:35; Luke 4:4). Teach us, day-by day, to pray for spiritual feeding: ‘Break Thou the Bread of life, dear Lord to me, as Thou didst break the bread beside the sea. Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit longs for Thee, Thou living Word! Thou art the Bread of life, O Lord, to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me. Give me to eat and live with Thee above. Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.’