Reminded

Jeremiah 5-8

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Tuesday, February 28

In chapters 5-6 we see God punishing His people for their sins.  He continues to have their blessings taken from them.  They never thought God would punish them instead they believed he would do nothing (5:12).

All thru 5-6 they receive punishment but not destruction (5:18).  God has promised He will not leave them but He is a good Father who disciples His children.  Are you in the midst of discipline?  Do you need to recognize the wakeup call God is sending?

Homes lost and fields destroyed in Jeremiah might look like relationships damaged and hurt feelings in your life today.  Take inventory of what God is doing in your life.  You might be neglecting Him and He wants to get your attention.

Jeremiah chapters 7 & 8 begins Jeremiah’s first temple sermon (vs.2) (another is found in chapter 26 that I am sure you will hear about later).  God was fed up and starts to name the sins against him (vs. 6,19), especially at His temple becoming a den of thieves (vs.11).  The whole point of this message is that even if they would repent now God would keep the conquerors from coming (3,7).  They must reject the lies such as the false hope that peace is certain, based on the reasoning that the LORD would never bring destruction on His own temple (vs.4).  They must turn from their sins (3,5,9) and end their hypocrisy.

Is their something you are involved in that if you stopped now you could still be okay?  Do you recognize the dangers in continuing in your sins?  The longer you wait the worse it becomes.  Repent today.

-Andy Cisneros

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/07032016/)

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Broken Down

Jeremiah 3-4

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Monday, February 27

In Chapters 3-4  Jeremiah wanted a spiritual turnaround for sinful, wasteful lives.  He pictured this as a plowing of ground, formerly hard and unproductive because of weeds, in order to make it useful for sowing.

 

Chapters 3-4 are a description of God sending enemies to break up and punish the sinful people who are not seeing their sin.

God sent armies that were powerful like lions and took away blessings that they no longer recognized from God.

This is actually mercy from God so that these people will not die in their sin but recognize how far they have turned from God.

 

Do you recognize when God is trying to bring you back?

Are their things that you see as hardships that maybe can be useful to your spiritual life?

– Andy Cisneros

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/jeremiah-3-and-4/)

Called and Committed

Jeremiah 1-3

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Sunday, February 26

Israel started off well with the LORD, but her early devotion puttered as she turned to other gods. In today’s passage the LORD lays a charge against Israel. Despite their hopeful beginnings Israel turned away from Him. The warning for us in this is not to let our early love for God grow cold.

Jeremiah has been called by the LORD at an early age in Chapter 1.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.

What has God called you to do?

 

In chapter 2 he is given the message he must preach.

2 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, This is what the LORD says,

“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

3 Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” (Jer 2.1-3)

‘The devotion of your youth’, ‘Your love as a bride’. The history of the relationship between the LORD and Israel starts off with the pleasant honeymoon period. An early time of following the LORD in the wilderness, perhaps on the way to Sinai.

However with the shift in gender, Israel is addressed as a female to start then male at the end, comes a shift in how their marriage has turned south. A substantial part of the remainder of the passage describes how their relationship soured after a good start.

4 Hear the word of God, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 This is what the LORD says:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went so far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?

6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’

7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.

8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit. (Jer 2.4-8)

 

The message has turned into a series of charges and complaints the LORD has directed at Israel. Israel turned away from God after all the good He had done for them.

They went after the worthless and became worthless themselves. What do you pursue in life?

The LORD keeps stating they did not ask where he was. They did not seek him out even after all he had done for them in leading them through the wilderness, bringing them in to the promised land and providing for them.

All levels of their society had turned away from the LORD. None knew him including the priests, the shepherds and the prophets. They sought other religions.

9 “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the LORD, and with your children’s children I will contend.

10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing.

11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,

13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer 2.9-13)

The LORD promises he will contend with Israel and their children for several generations because of how they have rejected him.

‘Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods?’ The LORD charges Israel with apostasy. They have abandoned him for false gods. The Baals.

What do you glory in? What is your glory?

 

The glory of Israel is the LORD himself.But they have exchanged their glory for worthless images (Rom 1.23). Images and false gods that can do nothing for them. That serve no practical purpose.

14 “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey?

15 The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.

16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head.

17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God, when he led you in the way?

18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?

19 Your evil will mock you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts. (Jer 2.14-19)

Israel, once protected by the LORD, has now became the target of more powerful nations. They brought this upon themselves because they abandoned the LORD.

Sin becomes their own punishment. God hands them over into it.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a harlot.

21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?

22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD.

23 How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done— a restless young camel running here and there,

24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.

25 Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.’ (Jer 2.20-25)

The LORD delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. Now they have turned to other gods and refuse to worship the one true God.

The LORD planted them a ‘choice vine’. But they have become ‘degenerate’ and ‘wild’. The people of Israel try to wash themselves, but their washing is not one of the heart. They are not truly repentant. Consequently the ‘stain of their guilt is still before the LORD’.

How does one become truly clean and free of guilt before the LORD?

 

Some in Israel have attempted to deny God’s charge of going after the Baals. The LORD has seen their lust for the other gods. Wandering around seeking gods other than the LORD.

26 “As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets,

27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’

28 But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah. (Jer 2.26-28)

Israel has been caught out in her apostasy. The LORD has given them birth, he is their true father and creator. But they have turned their backs on him.

The LORD mocks them – ‘But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble.‘

The point is that the gods they have chosen over the LORD can do nothing. They cannot save. Only the LORD can save them and they have abandoned him.

29  “Why do you fight with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the LORD.

30 In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a hungry lion.

31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’?

32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jer 2.29-32)

Despite all this the people ‘contend’ with the LORD and charge him with wrong because they are being besieged by stronger nations. They have no argument. The LORD is righteous and they are guilty.

Israel, the LORD’s bride, has forgotten the husband of her youth for a long time.

33 “How well you direct your course to seek love! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways.

34 Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things

35 you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’

36 How much you go about, changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.

37 From it too you will come away with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them. (Jer 2.33-37)

The LORD lists a number of the other sins. They teach women to be adulteress’ and they spill the blood of the poor. Despite all this they do not acknowledge their guilt. They say they have not sinned.

If you have sin in your life, don’t deny it. Confess it before the LORD and ask for forgiveness.

The LORD predicts they will be put to shame by Egypt and Assyria: their allies they trusted to protect them. Even under their protection they will be conquered and led away with the hands on their heads.

What is God trying to tell you through Jeremiah?  Is their sin that has kept you away from God?  Are you chasing after the wrong things?

God has called you but are you committed?

-Andy Cisneros

Andy Cisneros pastors at Timberland Bible Church in northern Indiana.  A graduate of Atlanta Bible College, he is also very active with missions, The UP Project, FUEL and Family Camp and any way he can serve others.  He loves sharing home and ministry with his lovely wife and their two talented kids.

(Photo Credit: http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Jer%202.13

Rejoice!

Isaiah 64-66

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Saturday, February, 25

These 3 chapters follow a similar theme to the rest of the week. We are not perfect, and we all mess up, that is just in our nature, but there is so much hope for us. 64: 4-5 says, “For from of old men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides You, what God has prepared for him who waits for him. 5 You meet him who rejoices and works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways…” God will meet us who rejoice! He will be with us. That is amazing.

Chapter 65 talks about creating new heavens and a new earth. Not only does this apply to the world, but it applies to us as well- he is making us new, when we ask to be his again. 65:17 says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” God also calls us to rejoice! Verse 18 says, “But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”

Again, chapter 66 talks about rejoicing with Jerusalem, that is such a simple command. Rejoice! God says. We can find something to rejoice about in almost any circumstance, because God is our God, who has not forsaken us, and he loves us. I challenge you to Rejoice!  In all things Rejoice!

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Your Name by: Paul Baloche https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7CFr8w9z38

!0,000 Reasons by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM

Blessed Be Your Name by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTpTQ4kBLxA

 

(Photo Credit: https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/1017-isaiah-64/)

Free the Captives

Isaiah 61-63

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Friday, February 24

Again there’s kind of lots that goes on in these three chapters, so I am going to talk about them separately.

Isaiah 61 is talking about God’s grace. Not only does it talk about God’s grace, but it talks about our part in sharing that grace. The author talks about it being his job, or his duty to bind up the broken hearted, and to free the captives, to proclaim of Yahweh’s great grace. Even though this is Isaiah’s call, I feel like that is our job too, as Christians and followers of Christ. We should be binding up the broken hearted, and freeing the captives, we should share all about God’s great love and his grace. This is something God has given to us too!

Isaiah 62 is all about Jerusalem, and its righteousness. Isaiah 62 says that Jerusalem will shine bright, and be a light that shines, and this light is because of its salvation. Jerusalem will no longer be called forsaken, because Yahweh delights in them. My favorite verse in this chapter is verse 12: “They shall call them the holy people. The redeemed of Yahweh: and you shall be called Sought-out, a city not forsaken.” This chapter and especially this verse are applicable to not only Jerusalem, but each of us as well. As far as I know, we are not all perfect, none of us are. I know for sure, that I am absolutely not perfect, yet God seeks us out, we are not forsaken. Just like Jerusalem, we have been given salvation, and that is a light inside of each of us that shines, and we need to share it. We need to be a lamp for others, and show others how God has redeemed us, because he surely has.

Isaiah 63 First this chapter talks about one who walks in with dyed garment and delighting in their own strength. This shows vanity in the one from Edom who relied on their own strength their own wrath and their own vanity to move forward. This is a perfect example of exactly what we should not be. Relying on our own strength will get us nowhere, if we are not following in God’s plan for us. We need to listen and follow God. The latter part of chapter 63 is much more hopeful in my opinion. This part, verses 7 and on, again talk about Yahweh’s great mercy and love for us. In verse 8 it says, “For He said, surely they are My people, the children who will not deal falsely: so He was their saviour.” We are his people, and his children, and this is why he loves us, does not forsake us and has mercy on us.

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Dwelling in Beulah Land: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AxoCssVyHo

This Little Light of Mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKkbIZtqhyQ

Strong God by: Meredith Andrews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAXgKPtAiMA

 

(Photo credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/isaiah-61-and-62/)

Who Do You Do It For?

Isaiah 58-60

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Thursday, February 23

Overall today’s chapters really focus on being genuine as a follower of Christ. This is sometimes really difficult for a lot of people to recognize and to truly understand. If you grew up in a church, or if you have been to church often, or you’re a “New Christian” you might feel like there are rules to follow, whether written or unwritten. Rules like, read your Bible every day, pray before every meal, go to church every single Sunday, go to church camp, talk to all your friends about God all the time, invite a friend to youth group, or Bible study. Some people fast, there are certain rules about when to be baptized, etc. I hope you get the gist, that sometimes it feels like in order to be a “perfect” or even a “good Christian” you have to do these things all the time. All of those things are awesome and great, if you remember to do all those things, I think you are amazing, and you inspire me, because I will be completely honest; I don’t read my Bible every day- I do most days, but sometimes I don’t. I don’t pray before every meal, again, I pray before most meals, but sometimes I am eating while I am walking to class and I forget. Sometimes I miss going to church on Sunday because I slept in, or the snow was really deep (although that would be a pretty poor excuse right now, as there is so snow in February in central Indiana) or I was sick. We are not perfect and these chapters recognize this, but especially in chapter 58. Doing “all the right things” can be important, but not if we are seeking the approval of people. Reading your Bible often is important, and praying often is important, going to church and fellowshipping with other believers is important, but it is not right if we are doing it to “fit in” or to look like a “good christian” to other believers. These chapters call us out- if we choose to fast, it needs to be to focus on our relationship with God, if we choose to read our Bible every single day, it needs to be to deepen our understanding and trust of God. I challenge you today to think about your heart and your attitude. Why are you reading your bible? Is it because you want to please people? Or because you want to please God. -If you do read your Bible every day as you might be if you are following the 2016 FUEL Bible reading plan, I hope you check your “attitude at the door” before you read and really focus on growing closer to God, because that is the point of spending time in his word. Praying is awesome, but again check your heart and do it to talk with our heavenly Father who is amazing and all powerful. Do all good things for God and only for him. Do not do them to gain favor from people, only do them to focus on God and your relationship with him, because we are blessed to be able to have an individual relationship with him. I hope you enjoyed reading today, and I hope you come back tomorrow. Thanks!

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Beautiful Things by: Gungor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls

Come As You Are by: Crowder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zhf2mqEMI

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/isaiah-59-and-60/)

Awesome God!

Isaiah 54-57

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Wednesday, February 22

Today’s chapters make it pretty clear that our God is an Awesome God! He is all powerful and reigns over the whole universe, yet he loves you and me, and every person individually. That is just amazing to me. These chapters also highlight some of God’s promises again, and how merciful he is. Since I mentioned his promises a couple days ago, I want to talk a little bit about what is asked of us in these chapters. (His promises are still going to be mentioned, because they are pretty amazing.)

Chapter 54 talks specifically about the promises that God has made, and because he is perfect in all of his ways, and is true to those promises, we should know that he will keep them. At the very end of chapter 54 in verse 17 God says, “…This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of Me..” All God is asking is that we be his servants, and that we listen to him and follow him and dedicate our lives to him. If we do this, then God will have “mercy on us with everlasting loving kindness” (verse 8 paraphrased). He also says in verse 10 “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed.” God is saying that if we will be his servant, he will FOREVER be merciful to us with everlasting loving kindness. After everything that God has given us, it’s pretty small thing to ask of us.

Chapter 55 goes a little bit deeper into God’s mercy. God reminds us in verse 8 That, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, says Yahweh. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. “ God knows that we mess up sometimes, he acknowledges that we can’t think exactly like him and we don’t do things like he would, but we need to trust that his ways are better, because they are. His is merciful and great and loves each of us so much, that he takes care in instructing us to recognize that we are not him and that his ways are different and better than our own.

Chapter 56 – This chapter again talks about how accepting God is. God is telling us that even “Faithful Gentiles” will be accepted. We are Gentiles, because we are not Jews. God says in this chapter that his house of prayer is for ALL peoples. Our faith, and trust in God is not just for us, it is for everyone. God’s love and mercy is not just for us, it is for everyone! (We should share it, because this is an awesome gift!)

Chapter 57 is all about idols again. We should not let idols distract us from our walk with God- and idols are not just little figurines of some mythological creature. Idols are anything that can be a major distraction. This might a “friend” group that you have that maybe isn’t the greatest for you to have influence you. This might be technology-maybe it is distracting you from being in the moment and letting God speak to you. ( I am not saying that all technology is bad, sometimes it can actually be really helpful in connecting with other believers, finding resources, Christian music and the Bible) These are just some examples. I encourage you to examine your own lives and see if there are any idols hiding in the corner that are a distraction. This chapter finishes out with a hope of how to overcome these idols. It says in verse 14 “He will say, Cast up, cast up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.” God doesn’t want you to stumble and he does want to help you! It might be difficult, but asking God for help might be a life changing step. If this is you in any way and you want to to talk to someone about it, I encourage you to reach out to a parent, or a friend, or a pastor because they will want to help you as well.

Some songs for today:

Always by: Kristian Stanfill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7ltcijkLKs

Dancing Generation by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2A1VUZYss

Unchanging by: Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS2Z4Aa8mNM

Devotion by Jana Swanson
(Photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/book/Isaiah/37)