Day 308: Boldness (Jeremiah 38-39; Hebrews 1)

As I read through Jeremiah, I see a prophet who was imprisoned, thrown in a well, and persecuted, yet continued to speak the truth God gave him. He never let up, but continued to say what others needed to hear. As I looked ahead into Hebrews 1, it becomes clearer. God used these prophets to explain the mysteries of God and the coming Savior Jesus.

Boldness is not something I often pray for. It’s easy to simply allow others to live their lives and not feel we need to encourage them, or tell them difficult truths. I am not suggesting we come across as judgmental or harsh, however, aren’t there times when we should speak up instead of remaining silent? Aren’t there times when we, like Jeremiah, need to speak out the truth of who God is and what He is doing?

My encouragement to all of you today is to pray for boldness, and then go out and speak  life to others. Whether that is a note of encouragement to someone who seems down, standing up to injustice, or simply reminding a friend that God is there. Let’s be a generation of young women who are dependent enough on the Lord to stand up and speak truth boldly!

Day 304: My Heart’s Anthem (Jeremiah 29-30; Titus 1)

I was at a prayer once a few years ago. I came that evening grudgingly – I wasn’t particularly close to God – bad habits, a busy schedule, distractions and sin kept me at a distance from the Lord. The worst part is that I grew comfortable in my lukewarmness and didn’t want a reminder that my soul had grown cold.

I sat through most of the service with my thoughts wandering to everything but God. I tried to pray. But the words wouldn’t come. Even as the people around me clearly experienced the Lord’s presence, I sat numb and uncomfortable, alternatively wishing the arms on the clock to move faster and jealously wishing that I could feel God’s presence too. I prayed over and over again for the Holy Spirit to touch me…to make me feel something.

I don’t remember what broke me. Maybe it was the preacher who said something that stuck a chord in my heart, but on the last prayer of the service, the walls came crumbling down swiftly and quickly. As I bawled my eyes out and prayed incoherent words, I asked God to lead me… to tell me what He wanted from me. “Jeremiah 29:11,” I heard so audibly, I glanced up to see if someone around me had said it. But everyone was praying around me, not sparing me a glance.

At this point of my life, I didn’t know Scripture very well. I may have grown up in the church and read the Bible occasionally but I did not have Scriptures references memorized (let alone venture into the Prophets or the Old Testament often!). But as I opened my Bible, trying to find where the book of Jeremiah was, I read these words and they became the anthem of my heart for many years:

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I drew comfort, hope and strength from those words for the last decade. They sustained me through college and lead me to law school. They were with me as I was sworn in as an attorney and as I started work at a dream job.

But those words aren’t just for me or Jeremiah. They’re for you too, my friend. God knows the plans He has for you, and they are good plans. Let Him lead you to where trust is without borders. There will be ups and downs, but I promise you will bloom and flourish under His watchful care and guidance.

What verse has been the anthem of your heart lately? 

Day 302: Preach it, sister! (Jeremiah 25-26; 2 Timothy 3)

By the time I watched, the video had over 16 million views:

You can’t survive it…and your kids die too.

It was a clip of a news anchor’s dire warning to stubborn residents in the path of Hurricane Matthew, and people were taken aback at the bluntness of his statement.

Nobody likes a bearer of bad news.  In times of war, delivering it could get a human envoy shot. In ancient Israel, it could cost a prophet his life.

Yet, God instructed Jeremiah to open his mouth: “Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.  Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.” (Jer. 26:2-3)

Nevermind that previous prophets had been murdered.

‘The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord.  But… all the people seized him and said, “You must die!”(Jer 26:7-8)

They heard him, but they weren’t truly listening, and they had refused to – for decades. The opportunity to obtain mercy landed on deaf ears.

As present-day Christians we can relate. Our nation’s ears are prone to clogging too. Still God requires us to be his mouthpiece. To spread the Good News. To uphold standards of righteous living. To call our community and churches to repentance. Even when it causes offense. Even when attempts are met with mockery and insults (hateful bigots, Bible-thumpers, close-minded). Even when being vocal causes certain death: social, political, or literal.

We’re to persist in persecution. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

Which is why Paul advises young Timothy, in advance, of the proper response to these things: “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” (2 Tim 3:14)

Continue.Despite a friend renouncing her faith, root deeper in yours. Despite a professor’s refusal to believe, trust God. Despite a church member persisting in sin, strive for holiness.

We can’t allow ourselves to be swayed by trends and fickle philosophies of this world. We must continue in what we’ve learned. We must remain faithful knowing what is true and – above all – living by that truth.

Day 301: Jeremiah 23-24; 2 Timothy 2

This is a question that is asked by many, but especially by believers: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Some find the answer and grow stronger in their faith, while others lose hope and faith in God completely – walking away bitter and broken.

I’m sure the people of Israel had the same question as they were led into captivity. They were torn away from their homes and for 70 years, lived in exile in Babylon. But get this, when God told Jeremiah about this 20 years before it happened, He said that this would be good for them. As in, the exile was specifically for the “good figs.”

To my human mind that doesn’t make sense. Why would God take “very good figs” and exile them, leaving the rotten figs behind? Thus says the Lord:

“Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, to the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” -Jeremiah 24:4-7

Whoa. Turns out that God acknowledged those “good figs.” The King of the universe noticed them. But He also foresaw the dangers ahead and so for their own good, He purposely sent them into exile so that they could be planted and so that they would return to Him. Because He just wanted their whole heart.

So, if you’re going through a season of suffering, pain or other difficulties, know that God saw something good in you and He is choosing to preserve that so that when you emerge at the end, you’ll return to Him with your whole heart.

 

Day 299: Don’t Follow Your Heart (Jeremiah 17-19; 1 Timothy 6)

The world says: “Follow your heart.”

God says: “Lose your life and follow me.”
For the longest time, the ultimate deciding factor for me was always to follow my heart: my dreams, ambitions and gut feelings. But then, I began to study the Bible and seek Jesus with an open heart and realized that I was wrong all along. Because as Proverbs 28:26 says: “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”
Every day, I fill my heart and mind with all sorts of things: some of it is from God, but so much more seems to be from the world. Whether it’s from a fashion blog, a newspaper article or a discussion in class, my heart often becomes cluttered with mistaken beliefs and selfish thoughts.
“The heart is deceitful above all things.” -Jeremiah 17:9
But God? He is always the true compass – pure and unwavering, His wisdom withstands ages. That should be my guiding voice – what would Jesus do? From the way I treat my body to the way I interact with a cashier at the grocery store.
Not my words, but His wisdom.
Not my dreams, but His will.
Not my fears, but His love.
Not my accomplishments, but His glory.
Not my thoughts, but His wisdom.
Not my life, but HIS.
So simple, yet so magnificently profound!

Day 295: Commands (Jeremiah 7-8; 1 Timothy 2)

“Obey Me, and then I will be your God, and you will be My people. You must walk in every way I command you so that it may go well with you.” -Jeremiah 7:23

So often, we tend to think of God’s commands as a list of rules, a series of do’s and do-not’s that leave us wanting to hide in a corner, away from guilt and shame and pressure to perform. But you know what? That’s just the enemy’s perspective of God’s commands – he wants to confuse us and create doubt in us, just like he did to Eve in that garden. He wants us to believe that God is being overbearing, over-controlling, laying heavy burdens on us that really aren’t fair, or that He’s withholding good things from us. But that couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth.

I once heard Francis Chan put it this way (paraphrase): “We often think, Wow, God’s commands are too strict. Like seriously, He’s harsh. But if we really examine what He commands us to do, it’s things like, Don’t lie or cheat on people. Don’t steal. Don’t hurt people. Gee, what terrible commands – we actually have to treat people nicely!”

The sarcasm in his last sentence really opened my eyes to the wrong perspective I often have of God’s commands. His commands are always intended to bring life to us and to the people around us. They are intended to bless, to benefit, and to help us live beautiful lives.

So Dearest, are you with me? Let’s take back a love and admiration for God’s commands, instead of hiding from them.

// This article was originally written by Kimmy Miller for TirzahMag.com

Day 293: Return to Me (Jeremiah 3-4; 2 Thessalonians 3)

Y’all, reading chapters 3 and 4 of Jeremiah just about breaks my heart. Although the words were written to the people of Judah around 600 B.C., God might as well be speaking directly to me.

As this tale unfolds, we meet two sisters who repeatedly leave their husband to lay with other men. But the story doesn’t end there. Over and over again, God as the husband in the metaphor says: “Return to Me. Return, and even after you’ve done all these things, if you repent and put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved. For I am merciful and I will not remain angry forever.” Anger, distress, and hurt all line this story, but Love is still underneath it all.

We play that harlot often in our lives. Like when an entire day goes by and we couldn’t spare more than a few minutes to spend in the presence of our God, because we had other things vying for our love and attention. Or the way we women run to men to fill that hole in our hearts, pushing the boundaries of our purity and sinking deep into heartbreak every time we end up alone yet again. Or how we fill our lives to the brink with material stuff and worldly concerns – leaving almost no room in our schedules, minds or souls for our heavenly Husband. Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: where have you not lain with distractions, idols and “men”?

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Yet, return to Him. Regardless of where you’ve been or what you’ve done. We’ve talked about it often but it’s an important reminder: you are betrothed to your Creator. He isn’t letting you go this easily. So, repent. Put your abominations out of His sight and return to your Father. Don’t turn away from the true lover of your soul.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to study the harlotry metaphor often used in the Bible to describe the sometimes strenuous relationship between the church and God, then head over to our shop to get a copy of our Proverbs 7 Woman study.