Tag Archives: Jeremiah

Call To Me…

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” –Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Last month I had the chance to sit in on one of the adult Sunday School classes here in my new church setting. The discussion was already underway, so I just listened and discovered they were talking about Romans and someone had drawn a comparison to something in Ezekiel. The idea raised was pretty interesting so I decided to look it up later on. But when I actually made it to some alone time that evening, I accidentally opened up to Jeremiah, chapter 33 to be specific. And verse three (quoted above) just captured my heart and mind!

And that quick, I “heard” God offering me that same opportunity he had given to the prophet some six centuries  before Jesus’ birth.

Jeremiah had been arrested and confined in Jerusalem during the time that the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzur had besieged the city. Jeremiah heard God’s calls for the nation to repent, and he faithfully shared those divine messages, but they fell on deaf ears. Furthermore, the leadership of his nation, King Zedekiah, wasn’t listening to sound counsel, nor was he turning to God to repent and do things God’s way. Jeremiah had to have  moments of doubt and wondering and grief and sorrow over what he could see was coming for his beloved land.

Now-a-days we are half-way around the world and over two and a half millenia have passed since Jeremiah’s day. I have days when I wonder what’s going to become of this land I love so much. Nobody seems to want to hear the call to repentance that God still extends to all. The leadership in our political parties and in official government positions seem intent at times to not only reject God’s ways, as laid out in the Bible, to actively promote the violating of any “rule” God might have laid down. Some of us have been wondering where this is all going to end… especially in light of what seems like hopeless choices for the election of various officials throughout our governmental system… or even our church organizations, allegedly “the people of God” and yet seemingly intent on turning our back on anything God has asked of us… at least if it involves repentance from sin.

This verse, as it JUMPED OUT at me that night, reminded me that my first responsibility in those moments of wondering about the future, or my country, or even my church, is not to cry out in frustration or to vow to vote for this one or that one or to try to come up with my own plans to “keep the peace.” Rather, Jeremiah 33:3, reminds me that my PRIMARY responsibility as I look around at all that’s happening is to…

… simply call out to God.

“Call to me and I will answer…”

And that quickly, the anxiety begins to lift a little and Jesus’ inviting words flood back into my memory:

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”   —Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Jeremiah, even though he was facing overwhelming odds and great certainty that everything was falling apart, could call out to God and lay down his burdens before his lord. As I look at the uncertainty of my life, my nation, my health, my church denomination, my wife and children’s futures, my finances, even my own mental health… I can call out to my God and lay out all my burdens before Him… and give those burdens to him! He’ll take on those burdens and give me rest… and hope… and peace… even in a world that seems like its going to pot.

Oh yes, Lord! Remind me again and again that there is NO reason for me to carry all my cares, concerns, and burdens alone. Remind me to CALL to you and then lay these other things down to you as I simply draw closer to You, to learn from you and hear You. And I can then trust You to answer me and show me Your ways… even though I cannot see them from here. AMEN!

 

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Filed under Bible, Church Leadership, Eschatology, Mental Health, Methodist, prayer, Response

All Possible Means

This was my pastor’s letter for the August newsletter from Clarks Mills UMC.n2014-08a

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I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

  — 1 Corinthians 9:23 (NIV)

      The Clarks Mills church has a long history of using creative ways to get God’s message of love out to people.  We’ve held Vacation Bible School’s using themes and dressed up as angels, or island natives, or weird animals. Throughout the years, we’ve used flannel boards, stuffed animals, soloists, special music groups, choirs, instruments, dramas, games, computers, videos, audiobooks, stories, and interactive events like ‘Night in Bethlehem’ and ‘Journey to the Cross.’

Some may wonder “Why?” Why not just preach sermons and teach regular Sunday School classes? Why do we have to do all these other things? Well, we got the idea from the Bible.

We all know the Bible shows people lecturing or preaching pretty often, but the Scriptures are also filled with examples of people using stories and parables to get the message to their listeners. Jeremiah used pottery, Ezekiel acted out the siege of Jerusalem,  Jesus made up stories to illustrate his points (parables), Paul talked of wrestlers and racers, and John describes dragons, beasts, scrolls, and  seals. God even had the prophet Hosea choose a wife based on God’s need to teach the people a lesson using Hosea and Gomer as an example! They used whatever means necessary in order to get the message of God out to people.

No matter how different it might appear, no matter how many times something might have been done before, the prophets and teachers in Scripture assessed what their situation was in their setting and, under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, used the means necessary to proclaim the unchanging truth of God’s word.

At Clarks Mills UMC, we want to get the message out in whatever way we can. Come and join us… you may meet a weird animal, hear the word acted out like a reader’s theater, see a Jewish High Priest (Caiaphas), or hear angelic voices… but you’ll definitely hear the word.

Pastor Dayton

 

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God of Judgment OR God of Mercy

This was my devotional for the September 2010 newsletter from our Reynoldsville church…

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Jeremiah 9:3-9 (New Living Translation) God explaining why Judah ought to be destroyed:
“My people bend their tongues like bows to shoot out lies. They refuse to stand up for the truth. They only go from bad to worse. They do not know me,” says the LORD. “Beware of your neighbor! Don’t even trust your brother! For brother takes advantage of brother, and friend slanders friend. They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning. They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,” says the LORD. Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “See, I will melt them down in a crucible and test them like metal. What else can I do with my people? For their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them. Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD. “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?”

As I write this devotional, the Mix house is in full swing getting ready to head back to school. There are preparations to make and things to buy: new clothes, crayons, pencils, a bookbag, and more. But ultimately, the most needed preparation for school cannot be purchased at a store: an eagerness to learn. As my son begins first grade, there is an abundance of that commodity, so we’re just about set!

This morning though, this idea of being an eager learner came back to me while getting ready to have my own devotions. I try hard to NOT have my own personal devotional reading of the Bible be the same as searching the Bible in preparation for a sermon or a Bible study, so as I poured my coffee and headed to the table I was thinking: “OK God, is there some passage you want to lead me to this morning?” And as I laid my Bible down on the table, it fell open to the ninth chapter of Jeremiah.

I started reading through the chapter and was literally drawn to the short little Hebrew poem in verses 23 and 24:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”

God warns that there isn’t a good enough reason in ourselves to boast to others. The only reason we ever really have to boast is that we know Him! And then He gives us another peak at what He’s truly like: a God of never failing love and mercy who will none-the-less make sure there is justice and righteousness. By our choices and actions, we determine which way He’ll respond to us: mercy & forgiveness for those who have repented of their sin and judgment in order to establish justice for those who do not.

Did you catch that? God WANTS to be known to you and to me as a God of mercy and forgiveness MORE than as a God of judgment!

The phenomenal thing about this little poem about God’s real desires is that it follows a very hard passage (Jeremiah 9:3-9) where He is laying down the law so to speak. It’s like He’s in a courtroom detailing for the jury (which is also Him) why judgment and destruction are appropriate for the people of Judah based on these horrible actions they’ve committed.

THAT’s when He throws in this reminder that even though they may deserve judgment and vengeance, HIS hope is that they will repent, turn their back on their evil intentions, and ask for forgiveness. Because God would rather be gracious and merciful.

And in the midst of this I am reminded it’s not just our school kids that need an eagerness to listen and to learn… it’s ALL of us!

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