The Story of Jeremiah – Part 1
Written before his death in October 2020 by Sam MacDonald, Today we begin our meditations on the Book of Jeremiah using the late Selwyn Hughes’s booklet ‘Every day with Jesus’ as a guide. Prayer points by Ann MacDonald
Friday 1st January
Jeremiah 1:1–3. The words of Jeremiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Verse 1.
We begin these studies on the book of Jeremiah by finding out when he lived and who was king at that time. The answer is clear in chapter one, ‘for he heard the word of the Lord, in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah,’ which allows historians to tell us the time as some 6oo years before Christ was born. He was called by God to declare the Word of God to the people of Judah, He continued to do so for about 60 years during which time Judah was reigned by 5 kings, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, and these were the kings who reigned during the time when Judah was driven into slavery by the Babylonians. As we pass through our lives and especially when our lives are turned to follow God’s ways, we see that our lives are not haphazard, but can be seen as a narrative or a chapter of history.
Dear God, We thank You that You make all things new. Thank You for all that You have permitted to come into our lives this past year, the good, along with the things which brought us sorrow and heartache. They all reminded us how much we need You and rely on Your presence filling us every single day. We pray that Your Spirit would lead us each step of this New Year. Please guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply yearn for You above all else. As we enter this year will You open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. Help us Lord to wait for Your answer, sometimes ‘yes’,maybe ‘wait’ and also ‘no’ when we pray to You.
Saturday 2nd January.
Jeremiah 1:4–5. The word of the Lord came to me saying, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Verse 4.
The first thing we are told was that God had prepared Jeremiah to do work for Him, for he proclaimed that He knew the prophet before he was born. So God was giving Jeremiah assurance that he was part of His plans to show the people of Judah that unless they changed their ways and returned to true worship, they would be punished by God, and this is what took place when the Babylonians were sent by God to ravage the land and take the people of Judah captive to Babylon. When we are called by God to carry out some work for our Lord, no matter how small, do we obey and follow His call, just as Jeremiah listened as God spoke to him and then told the people what God was going to carry out and in doing so, received unjust beatings from his enemies. Can we pray for the help of God to do His will?
We give special thanks today for those who have cared and guided us through our lives and take time today to say a physical thank you to those still here, but also take time in remembrance of those who are now in God’s nearer presence. We pray for Your wisdom, for Your strength and power to be constantly present within us. We pray You would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. Give us ability beyond what we feel able, let Your gifts flow freely through us, so that You would be honoured by our lives, and through us, others would be drawn to You. We pray that You would keep us away from the snares and traps of temptations. That You would whisper in our ear when we need to run, and whisper in our heart when we need to stand our ground.
Sunday 3rd January.
Jeremiah 1: 6–10. The Lord said to me ‘do not say I am only a child for I will be with you and will rescue you. I will put words into your mouth’. Verses 7 and 9.
We see in these verses that when God told Jeremiah the task He had for him to do, he complained that he was too young, but God told him that he would be given strength and ability to speak by God, and indeed He did put this ability to speak by touching the prophet’s lips, and Jeremiah was given the gift of being able to recite to the people what God would tell him. Other people who we meet in reading our bibles and who equally pleaded that they were not good enough when called by God are, Moses, Gideon, and others but they were outstanding in leading God’s people in the ways He wanted them to go. We must not feel inadequate when God calls us to do a task for Him, because God has called us so that He can qualify us for that task.
Today we give thanks for the measure of health which we do have and try not to concentrate on our aches and pains. We pray for Your protection over our families and friends. We ask for Your hand to cover us and keep us away from the evil intent of Satan; that You would be a barrier to surround us, that we would be safe in Your hands. We pray that You would make us wise beyond our years, to understand Your will, to hear Your voice, and know Your ways. Keep our footsteps firm, on solid ground, helping us to be consistent and faithful. Give us Your help so that we would not be distracted by other things that would seek to call us away from a closer walk with You.
Monday 4th January.
Jeremiah 1:11–19. Today I have made you, Jeremiah, a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. Verse 18.
Jeremiah must have been astonished to be assured that God had developed him to be kept in safety like a fortified city, and to be as strong as an iron pillar and his words from God secure as a wall built in bronze. In order for Jeremiah to be sure that God’s plans for him were sure he was asked questions in 2 separate visions. In the first vision Jeremiah saw the branch of an almond tree, which God assured him that He was always watching that His word would assured to take place as surely as spring comes after winter and bringing at such time as the almond tree blossoms in early spring. The second vision was of a pot of boiling water leaning towards the south which was a warning that God would use the Babylonians to bring His wrath upon His people for disobeying His laws by their worship of false gods.
We give thanks Lord for the loveliness of this time of the year, it is easy to concentrate on the darkness and cold, but let us marvel at the crisp mornings, clear air, and the promise of new life in the bulbs pushing through the hard earth. Forgive us for the times we have worked so hard to be self-sufficient, forgetting our need of You, trying to be independent of Your spirit. Forgive us for letting fear and worry control our minds, and for allowing pride and selfishness to reign. Forgive us for not following Your ways and for living distant from Your presence. We confess our need for You as we start this year. We ask that you make all things new, new hearts, new minds, and new live. Refresh us Lord we pray.
Tuesday 5th January.
Jeremiah 2:1–18. My people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Verse 13.
We are now told of how Jeremiah was led by God to declare to the people of Israel that he was so angry with them, because they had set out to worship false gods, instead of remaining loyal to praising God who had rescued them from slavery in Egypt and led them safely through the burning desert. So, they are accused of ignoring God’s ways and trying to devise ways of their own, to find ways to deal with problems they met along their journeys through life. They are likened to people leaving a good steadfast well and going to dig another which contains stagnant water and does not satisfy. This speaks to us how we like to be self-dependant and we will seek any way that we can, to devise to find a method which will avoid following the ways of our Lord.
We give thanks for all that we have at our disposal to help us learn to know You more, for our Bibles, daily notes, online services of worship and we pray for churches to be safely opened with a genuine welcome to all who would come to worship. Lord we pray that Your Words of truth would be planted deeply within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the steadfastness to be obedient to Your Word for us and help us to listen to You. When the devil reminds us of our shameful past, let us trust in Your voice which speaks louder and stronger, reminding us we are safe with You and Your purposes and plans for us will not fail. We ask that You will always be our defence, our rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing all obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us we pray.
Wednesday 6th January.
Jeremiah 2:19–32. The guilt of your sin is still before me. ‘How can you say, I am not defiled, I have not run after the Baals.’ Verse 23.
The words that Jeremiah has to tell the people of Israel are really shocking, for they speak of how Judah remained unrepentant when they considered their total lack of following the ways and commands of God, because they continued to construct false idols and worship them, thus ignoring the words of the second commandment. They continually wanted to follow evil practices and ignored the good ways which God had led them, and they were now unrepentant of their spiritual condition. This indicates that some of God’s people had developed an interest in earthly matters and were seeking ways of winning from these evil matters their supposed benefits, instead of following the instructions of our Lord. How easy it is to be tempted by Satan and be drawn away from the truths contained in God’s word, but how much surer a way we have of being drawn back to our Lord.
Lord today we give You thanks for those who have faced difficult health, or financial situations during this pandemic and who are beginning to find improvement in their lives. Father, we thank You for Your great love and blessing over our lives. Many of us though, have heavy hearts and shed endless tears for precious folk who have passed away recently. Lord we pray that You would be present, as You promised to heal the broken-hearted. Thank you that Your favour has no end, but it is new every morning. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that You are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that You know what concerns us, and You cover us as with a shield. We ask that today and always we would walk in Your blessing and goodness.
Thursday 7th January.
Jeremiah 3:1–25. Return faithless Israel, declares the Lord, I would frown on you no longer. verse 12.
The unfaithful people of Israel are being compared to one of the laws of God, which did not permit a divorced couple to be reunited in marriage. In other words, if people departed from true worship of God, it would be difficult to find a way back because their minds would be filled with earthly temptations. A comparison is now made between the people of the northern kingdom of Israel who disobeyed God in so many ways and suffered God wrath by being overwhelmed by the Assyrians and taken captive by them for continuing to ignore God’s ways. But the people of the southern kingdom of Judah were equally guilty of sinning but they had only pretended to repent, so they were in danger of being punished for their evil ways. Let us pray that when we stray from God’s ways, we realise that we hurt our Lord, who has created us and guided each step we take.
We give thanks today for the relative peace in our country and ask for perseverance to keep praying for that peace. We bring before you all those who negotiate for peace throughout this troubled world, and those dealing with trade deals, that the abundance of Your earth would be equally shared between the richer and the undeveloped countries. We ask that You would provide for our physical, spiritual, and mental needs, and we pray that Your blessings would cover us, helping us to prosper and fulfil all that You have planned for our lives here. We pray Lord for revival, that Your Word would be taken seriously by all, and that all decisions made would be in line with Your will.
Friday 8th January.
Jeremiah 4:1–4. The Lord says, ‘Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns.’ Verse 3.
As we come to this fourth chapter of this long book, we realise that God is imploring His people to repent of their sinning against God and even being proud of it. He asks that a return to His Holy ways be made, which would be genuine and lasting. He uses the way a farmer uses his plough to break up rocky ground, in the same way that their hearts be reduced from their present hardness, and the seed of repentance sown. For we know it is the word of God, and it may only be sown in well prepared soil, i.e. to those who trust in God. Jeremiah instructs the people to cease from making and worshipping false gods and reliance on their own strengths, instead of asking for guidance from God. Help us when earthly ways take over our lives to call on our loving God to bring us back to true worship
Today we give thanks for those who serve the East in so many ways, some visible, but others very much in the background. We pray that the way forward for our church would be quickly made clear and that, as a congregation, we would place our way in God’s hands and trust Him to lead us as He has through all our changing paths of life, help us to trust and never be afraid. Help us to be known as generous, with our giving but also with our time and talents. Help us Lord to look to the needs of others and not be consumed by our own. May we be lovers of truth, may the fruits of Your spirit be evident in our lives, Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Saturday 9th January.
Jeremiah 5:18–31. Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear, should you not fear me, declares the Lord. Verse 21
As we now begin to hear that God will bring about His judgements on both the kingdoms, north and south, because of the way they have rejected worshipping Him and have continually ignored the warnings of His wrath for such obvious breaking of the Commandments as they were given to their leader Moses on Mount Sinai. In the verse 21 we are told that both peoples refused to hear or understand what has been proclaimed to them of impending disaster. Does this not bring to mind what is happening in our world today, followers of Jesus are eager to tell those they meet that His ways are full of blessings and will bring believers to eternal lasting joy with Him, but do they listen- very seldom. How we should be always in prayer that a time of revival would awaken our land to listen, for we are sadly not hearing in these heathen times.
We give thanks for our young people and how they have been so loyal even through days of restriction. We are blessed with so many ways to keep in touch and allow teaching and fun to be shared through technology. We must give our appreciation too for those who use all these media methods to allow God’s Word and purposes to continue to be fulfilled. We pray that we would be always open to use every facility at our disposal to enable the whole world to hear the great Gospel of free salvation. God’s Word says that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23. What a marvellous verse to carry through the day.
Sunday 10th January.
Jeremiah 6:1–15. They dress the wounds of my people as though they were not serious. Verse 14.
It is sad to have to relate that when Jeremiah was telling the priests and everyone in the lands of Israel and Judah of God’s coming wrath, that there was not a sign of repentance from the priests, they were insensitive to what was being proclaimed. In fact, they tried to say that what Jeremiah was saying was not what was going to happen, and all would turn out well. It should have been that when the warnings were made known, these priests should have implored that God would withhold His justice and try to persuade the people to turn from their wicked ways, but they clearly did not do so. Instead they adopted an attitude, like many in these days, that if they pay little attention to a problem it will go away. We would pray that those who lead us in our spiritual battle against sin will lovingly help us to master our efforts to defeat sin by all aspects which are available to us.
We give thanks to all those who work in any capacity in our health service. They have been on the frontline for such a long time and we give thanks for their dedication and for the kindness they have shown to those very ill patients when it was deemed too dangerous for their loved ones to be by their side. We pray too for those who have been separated from loved ones in hospital or in care homes asking that You would make all aware of Your nearer presence and ceaseless comfort. We give thanks for the scientific minds working on vaccines for Coronavirus and the many other deadly diseases which plague our world. Guide them Lord and make them aware that all their knowledge is nothing, it comes from You, the One who knows how many stars are in a universe and how many cells make up our bodies. We stand amazed in Your presence.
Monday 11th January.
Jeremiah 6:16–30. Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths. Verse16.
The verse for today speaks of ancient paths which Jeremiah pleads that the people should seek to find and to follow them. Where are these paths to be found? It is evident that if we look at the truths contained in our bibles, there we will find those ancient paths and they will lead us to that land of great delight, which is our heavenly home and has been promised to those who love Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Now it is evident that these ways which will lead us by these same paths are not being preached in many churches in these days, and many voices declare that we should believe by modern thinking and develop newer ways of interpreting Scripture, thus they ask that the word of the Lord should be set aside and given meanings of their own choice. Let us pray earnestly for leaders in churches and Bible colleges will stay loyal to God’s word in all its fullness.
Prayer points We give thanks for all these faithful people in the Bible who, despite horrific threats to their lives and wellbeing, spoke Your Word in past times. Many, many times, God’s people failed to listen but still they continued, what courage! Lord today we ask that You would shine Your light on us and through us so that we might make a difference in this world, for Your glory and purposes. Let us see Your way before us and let Your plans succeed. Let us be reflections of Your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs Your presence and healing. We praise you for the blessings of new lives born in recent times, for the joy they have brought to new parents and families.
Tuesday 12th January.
Jeremiah 7:1–11. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Verse 8.
It was at the entrance to the Temple in Jerusalem that Jeremiah preached a powerful sermon to condemn the people for their worshipping false gods, He had received from God that they believed that God would never permit His temple to be destroyed, so they gathered there believing it to be a place of safety. How wrong they were, for the temple was one of the first buildings to be totally destroyed when the Babylonians broke the entire kingdom of Judah. Due to their total rejection of the ways of God and disobedience to His word, the Lord had decided that His people were to receive the full punishment of His wrath, yet He was gracious and used His prophet Jeremiah to tell them that if they would return to Him, He would bring them back and heal their land.
Having previously given thanks for those in our health services, today let us recognise the sterling work performed by so many other services who are there in times of danger and distress, the police, armed forces, coastguards, and mountain rescue to name a few. Giving thanks for the selfless way they dedicate themselves to the force or task they undertake. We pray for safety and wisdom for them as they face hazardous situations. Lord we pray for courage in our own lives for whatever we have to face, knowing always that You have a Word to strengthen us ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ Proverbs 3:5-6
Wednesday 13th January.
Jeremiah 8:1 – 21. When men fall down, do they not get up? When a man turns away, does he not return? Verse 4.
It is noted that men do not act as they do in natural times when they react in spiritual matters , when we fall we quickly try to rise, if we lose our way on a journey we stop going the wrong way and find the right direction, but when we fall spiritually we don’t like to admit our error and lose our close relationship with God. Let us freely admit our wrongdoing to God and He will forgive us and bring us back to Him with gladness. There is no doubt that our own pride is a major cause in our distorted ideas that we know better than God, and for that we can expect God’s punishment. It is our lack of reliance in the power of God which is the only way we can understand how much God wants us to return to His ways. For it is these wrong ideas of man’s ability that have drawn us away from our Lord.
Lord, at the start of this day, (and every day), help us to recognize You above all else. Open our eyes and our hearts that we might see You and notice how You are at work in our lives. Give us wisdom to make the best choices, fill us with a desire to seek You more than anything else in this world. Let Your Spirit and power breathe in us, through us. I am reminded of the following words from the Paul Baloche praise (Above all powers) Above all powers above all kings, above all nature and all created things, above all wisdom and all the ways of man, You were here before the world began. Crucified laid behind a stone, You lived to die rejected and alone, Like a rose trampled on the ground, You took the fall and thought of me, above all. An amazing Saviour gave up all to suffer and rescue us from all our sins-we are forgiven!
Thursday 14th January.
Jeremiah 9:1–26. Oh that my head was a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears. Verse 1.
The verses chosen for the last few days depict how Jeremiah feels heartbroken at how the nation whom God had chosen to be His own, had now rejected Him and reduced him to tears. He even thought about rejecting these people altogether but because God had selected him as prophet to the nation, he felt that he had to carry on and even repeated the warnings the nation was going to receive for their rebellious attitude towards God. In these days, we look on our world in its lost state and we see our leaders, both in government and in church, in total abandonment of God and His ways, and without a thought of his love and our eventual end. Are we always in prayer that God will bring revival to this wicked world and cause us to rise and speak of your goodness and love to His dear ones.
Today we thank You that You are greater than anything we may face in our day. Thank You that Your presence goes ahead of us, and that Your joy is not dependent on our circumstances, but it is our true and lasting strength, no matter what we are up against. We humbly ask that Your peace lead us, and that it would guard our hearts and minds. We ask that Your grace to cover our lives this day and always. We pray for all those in care homes, those who have recently moved there and given up their own family home, that they would be able to adjust to the new way of life and relax in the help now provided to them. We pray for those in Cameron House and other establishments who care for those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Lord may they be aware of You when memories and recognition fade and Lord grant patience and kindness to those who work in all these places.
Friday 15th January.
Jeremiah 10:1–16. No-one is like you, O Lord, you are great, and your Name is mighty in power. Verse 6.
We are introduced to God’s abhorrence of the sin of idolatry which He pronounced was not to be permitted by His words of the 2nd commandment, ( Exodus 20: 4) where God forbade His people to make anything in the form of an animal or bird or fish, with the purpose of worshipping it instead of giving all their praise and adoration to Him. In addition, He promised that those who disobeyed this commandment would receive his punishment for 3 or 4 generations whilst those who obeyed it would be blessed for time without end. Now , if we think about how silly it was of those who made an idol and put it on a shelf or hung it on a wall and then bowed down to it and asked that it would give them food, or protection from their foes, or a good harvest, when they knew that God had created the earth and all that was in it, and was the only true God, from everlasting to everlasting.
Lord, this first month of 2021 is already half over, and we give you thanks for how You have led us thus far. Lord God help us to find our joy and strength in You today. Help us we pray to walk in love. Help us to set our eyes on You and away from all the struggles and chaos of this world. Assist us in choosing Your peace over worry, kindness over hurry, forgiveness over disunity and resentments and Your Spirit-filled power over relying on our own strength and ability. We pray especially today for the many people in our country whose businesses are struggling following lockdown and government restrictions. We pray too for government ministers, that they would seek Your wisdom and fairness when making decisions and policies.
Saturday 16th January.
Jeremiah 11:1–17. Both the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant I made with their forefathers. Verse 10.
It was sad enough that God’s people had broken the commandments by idolatry, for they had gone after false gods and worshipped them, instead of the one and only true God, but now they had broken the covenant which God had promised through Moses when He handed the 10 commandments to him on Sinai. They were guilty of breaking the promise which God made with the Israelites that if they obeyed the commandments, He would keep true to them. It would be like the promise pledged by couples to one another as they made their marriage vows, but God was feeling the same sadness that a couple would feel if one had broken their marriage vows. God was so hurt by their unfaithfulness that He told Jeremiah to stop offering prayers to God on behalf of the people, and to tell the people that if they prayed to Him, He was no longer hearing their prayers.
Lord we give You thanks for our lovely surroundings, for our city and towns, for the rivers, lochs, and the sea on our doorsteps and for the beauty of our hills and mountains. Lord be with those who work on the land, the farmers, crofters, and foresters as they cultivate the soil, plant, harvest, and care for their animals, we ask you for favourable weather for each of their seasons. We pray for wisdom Lord for those in local government, for our council and town planners as they seek to develop our area for the future. May they be sensitive to the natural grandeur of the highlands whilst making the region safe and accessible. Proverbs 11:2 would help them and us, ‘when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.’
Sunday 17th January.
Jeremiah 11: 18–12:4. You are always righteous, O Lord when I bring a case before you, yet I would speak with you about your justice. 12 Verse 1.
As we read this part of the story of Jeremiah, we find that the priests of Anathoth, his home village had decided to have him killed because he was always finding fault with their lack of commitment towards encouraging the people to true worship and dissuading them from the sin of idolatry. This came as a great surprise to Jeremiah and he did the only thing sensible, he sought his Lord in prayer and told God that he was frightened when this threat was relayed to him, for he had been told by God what he had to declare to the people, and it was astonishing they refused to mend their ways and showed their reaction in hatred towards the prophet who had given this warning, who was of course Jeremiah. May we be always keen to bring our fears and doubts to the Lord for His guiding hand to help us.
Almighty God, today we thank You that we do not have to earn our way to heaven, there is nothing we can do, You have done it all, Jesus paid our price. So we thank You for the gift of faith and the promise that, if we simply put our trust in You, You are faithful to forgive and willing to welcome us into Your eternal glory when this life is past. Lord our minds are to small to fully understand what this means but we rely on Your Word and promise. We would pray today for the many in our world who devote themselves to false religions that expect them to work their way to paradise and ask that minds and hearts would be opened and that You would reveal Your glory to all so that every knee on earth would bow before the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Monday 18th January.
Jeremiah 12:1–4. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? Verse 1.
Jeremiah is puzzled as he considers how the people, he has been told to speak to concerning their wicked ways, live in prosperity. Does God allow them this time as a last period of ease before the time of severe punishment or is He giving them some extra time to repent of their evil ways. He feels totally discouraged when the way these people, who are so wicked, is made known that even when he goes to God for answers to what is concerning him, he does not get any answer which helps. Let us look at what is happening in the world today. People are ignoring the Word of God, worshipping false gods, having great enjoyment while carrying out deeds of abuse and cruelty, and when God’s servants say that they should change their ways, they are abused for asking them to ignore the God who created the world and all it contains.
Lord we give thanks today for prayer, for the fact that we can talk directly to You as our heavenly Father and that You hear us every time we speak to You, Sometimes we don’t know how to pray, we don’t know what to ask for, but that does not surprise You, Lord, You have promised to hear and answer us according to Your will, and we ask for acceptance of Your answer. We give thanks that the Holy Spirit understands our weaknesses and that He prays for us according to Your perfect will. We pray for those who cannot pray for themselves, those who feel abandoned, whose without hope, those caught up in dangerous practices and crippling addictions. Lord help them to pray to You with even a sigh and enable those who can pray to do so with increased fervour. Lord encourage us all to pray together in prayer meetings.
Tuesday 19th January.
Jeremiah 12:1–17. Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field, they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. Verse 10.
The shepherds we read about here, are the priests and prophets who were supposed to lead God’s people along right paths. Instead they were proclaiming words which they said they had received from God but were just ideas of their own which they thought might impress the people, in other words by doing so they were leading God’s people astray. Jeremiah’s words from God were denied by these shepherds who said God had declared to them that God would never allow punishment to his own people. Jeremiah now begins to question why God allows wicked men to prosper and received His reply that it is not for Jeremiah to question God, but to trust in Him. So we find that as Jeremiah considers that he should always trust in God and changes his thoughts from argument to action.
Lord we thanks You that You are our provider, called Jehovah-Jireh in scripture. Remind us when we live an easy life then our focus would grow inward. Let us then give thanks for the trials of this life because they draw us close to God and remind me that this to will pass and we have an eternal home to look forward to. We pray for those who are afflicted, struggling with long term health problems, those looking after disabled children or those with terminal prognosis. Give them peace and energy to cope with the day to day stresses in the knowledge that in helping someone who is helpless they are honouring that person. In Isaiah 43:18-19 we are told to ‘remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’ Do we hold onto hurts from the past or dwell on difficulties in the present. God always has a Word for us in His Book.
Wednesday 20th January.
Jeremiah 13:1 –14. For as a belt is bound round a man’s waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and Judah to me, to be my people for renown and honour, but they have not listened. Verse 11.
In this passage God tells His prophet Jeremiah, to buy a linen belt, or a loincloth by some translations, and wear it for some time and then before it was washed, to bury it in the earth and many days later to dig it up again, only to find that it had become ruined and useless. Jeremiah used this event to shew that the wickedness which the peoples of Israel and Judah had adopted and by their continuing these evil works by adding more and more idolatrous ways into their daily living, they were bringing God’s wrath nearer and His promised punishment even more certain. By telling them that they should fill their wineskins with wine, Jeremiah warns them that they will be like men who stagger in a drunken stupor, if they ignore what God is instructing them as to their future behaviour.
Let us pause for a few minutes today to say thank You for the simple wonders of God’s creation, Did you see a golden sunrise filling the morning sky, or watch a busy robin in the garden, can you gaze across the firth or towards the hills and not utter praise to the Maker of all good things? The old hymn quotes it as, I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder and then proclaim, my God how great Thou art. We give You thanks for our senses, eyes to behold all that You have created, ears to hear birdsong, wonderful music and the voices of our loved ones, voices to sing God’s praise and tell a dear one that we love them, we have much to be thankful for. We pray for the many ways that those who have impaired senses can be helped to function like cochlear implants, and pioneering eye surgery and we pray for those organisations who treat such 3rd world patients on mercy ships.
Thursday 21st January.
Jeremiah 13:15–27. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots. Verse 23.
In yesterday’s reading, we had 2 references of the prophets warnings to the peoples of Israel and Judah and in today’s we are told that he used another 3 warnings to bring God’s clear message to make sure to these people that God was going to lose patience with them, and would exact severe retribution on them, if they did not repent of their sinful ways. In the first the people were likened to travellers caught by darkness before they reached their destination, the second told the king that he should abdicate since he had refused to answer the warnings sent by God and the third told how they were like a flock of sheep who had gone astray because the shepherds who were supposed to watch over them had led then along false paths. Does this not remind us of how we are invited by false teachers in our day.
Lord we give thanks to those who have been willing to serve on church committees and bring their abilities to help in the upkeep and future of the church. We pray for the Kirk Session, the Deacons court, Finance committee, Fabric committee and Nominating committee and ask that God would be close to guide them all in the difficult decisions they must make in the days going forward. We pray for local presbytery leaders and the Church of Scotland that they would seek God’s desire for His church in Inverness and in Scotland. We pray that You would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm because of Your goodness and love. Give us hearts of wisdom to hear Your voice and make us strong by Your huge support and grace.
Friday 22nd January.
Jeremiah 14:1–21. Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day, without ceasing, for my people have suffered a grievous wound. Verse 17.
Is there anything more harmful to a country than years of drought and famine? As each year is followed by another year when no rain is seen, the people who survive are left weaker, to face the next disaster, This is how Jeremiah imagines the peoples of God slipping further and further away from the shelter of the Almighty, and although he prays earnestly that they would repent from their evil ways, he is told by God to cease his prayers on their behalf, for God had made up His mind to punish these people by sending them into captivity under their foes, the Babylonians. How does God view this calamity, which is going to come over His chosen people, is revealed in verse 17 of our passage for today, which tells us that He is heartbroken as He sees the waywardness and obstinacy of His people.
Lord we give thanks for many couples who have started their lives together in these last few years and we pray that as they face good and difficult times, that they would be aware of God’s connection in their joy and guidance through their challenges. We are blessed to call You ‘Abba Father,’ and know that Your love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not seeking its own, and keeping no record of wrongs, Lord we feel helpless often but we know that You are love and that You can show Your love through us and that brings us hope. We pray for many whose relationships have ended in hurt, anger, and hardship and ask that You, the great Healer would sooth broken hearts and mend family connections.
Saturday 23rd January.
Jeremiah 14:22 and 15:1–4. Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to these people. Verse 15:1.
Knowing that terrible disasters are going to come on both the Israelites and people of Judah, Jeremiah again prays that God will intercede to protect them. He is told by God not to pray for these wicked people and lets Jeremiah know that even if Moses or Samuel, 2 of His great leaders were to approach Him to plead for them, He would not change His mind. It was not the prayers of the saints which matters but the attitude of the people, and the people in Jeremiah’s time did not have any idea that they should repent and turn from their evil ways. Does the attitudes which we see as prevalent in our world today, not show the same ignorance of God’s laws, and the love of material possessions and money, which is idolatry, exhibit that we have ignored our Lord for too long, and we must turn our eyes on Jesus who is our Saviour.
Dear Lord we thank you that Your Word provides us with hope, with encouragement and sometimes with correction when we have turned our backs on You and decided that our own way is better. Often people ask how a good God would allow His helpless children to endure great hardships and faithful saints to be persecuted? All this is difficult for us as humans to answer but we pray that You would always give us words to say in such circumstances. Most of the time the answers are in Your Word Lord, and so we pray that we would have a heart to study for what You would have us say. In 1 Peter2:22 we read that Jesus was crucified even although He had never sinned and in 2 Timothy 1:8 we see Paul suffering for the Gospel in the belief that God would work is all for His good purpose. We pray for those who are suffering cruel persecution and abominable abuse because they stand up for Christ.
Sunday 24th January.
Jeremiah 15:1–18. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable. Verse 18.
This is a prayer by Jeremiah asking why his complaint of feeling hurt, at how people have not listened when he tries to help them is not been heard, and he is left feeling lonely and scared because now not even God is prepared to hear his prayers. When we offer our true feelings to God in earnest prayer, we should never think that God has ignored our pleas, for He is our prayer hearing and answering God and we should always be sure that if we ask, it will be heard by our loving Father. Don’t hide the way we feel by not mentioning in our prayers to God all that is troubling us, and we can be sure that He will send a fresh view of our thinking, or even a helpful and Christian friend with wise advice. Remember that God is all knowing, so He knows our every thought, good or bad.
I was looking today for something to be thankful for and came across this rather bizarre tale. A man went to the holy man in his village and complained that life was unbearable, there are nine of us living in one house. The holy man told the complainer to take his goat into the house also for a week and then come back to him. The man brought the filthy, smelly goat into the house and the situation became insufferable. The holy man then said to banish the goat. Everyone in the house was filled with happiness because the goat was gone and there were only nine in the house. Do we grumble over situations that could be so much worse. Lord we give thanks for the abundance You have given us and ask that You would give us generous hearts to share with those who have very little.
Monday 25th January.
Jeremiah 15:19–21. If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me. Verse 19
This was the message that Jeremiah was telling the people and which he told them that he had received from God but Jeremiah also was guilty of failing to rely on what God had said to him, right at the final verse of chapter 1 of this book,’ I will be with you and will rescue you.’ It is clear that even as Jeremiah was pleading that the people would repent and turn back to God, that God was earnestly asking the prophet to stop feeling sorry for his feelings of hurt, that no one was heeding what he was saying. If we ever have in mind that God does not change and neither does His word, and therefore it is we, who change our views, we must admit our sins and repent so that we be brought back to God’s ways which will lead us towards our heavenly home with Him.
Today Lord we give thanks for work, and especially for teachers and classroom assistants. We pray that they would be able to teach safely and efficiently and we give thanks for their dedication and ability to adapt to online and face to face learning sessions. We pray for many who have had to adapt to the discipline of working from home without colleagues readily available to share ideas and problems with. We pray that slowing down, as this crisis has forces us all to do, will be a blessing in allowing us to take time in the day to read Your Word and be mindful of others, phoning to ensure friends are coping and doing shopping etc. We pray that every society would realise that our culture of consumerism where everything has a price, but few things have value is wrong, and we ask forgiveness for our greed.
Tuesday 26th January.
Jeremiah 15:19–21. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. Verse 19
There is another message that is worthy of comment before we finish considering chapter 15, and it is found in the same verse. God is telling Jeremiah that he is a faithful preacher, declaring what God had told him to tell the people and trusted that they would repent and turn back God’s ways but warning that he must be careful that he would not be influenced by their evil way of life. It has been translated elsewhere as follows, ‘Let your words change them, don’t change your words to suit them.’ It is so easy when trying to persuade stubborn folk, to consider a better way of thinking deeply about a change in direction regarding our worship of God, to accept that even a small part of their contra-argument might be valid. We must try to be compassionate when we seek to guide others.
Lord today we give thanks for faithful people in our lives and in public. Those who have kept on going on in the face of opposition. We pray for Queen Elizabeth and give thanks for the wise way she has led the country over many years and how she has continued to promote Christianity in her Christmas messages. We pray for our politicians in London and in the devolved parliaments that they would seek Your will and wisdom as they seek to find ways out of the pandemic, through Brexit negotiations, and national changes these initiate. We pray for all those who have been affected by Covid-19 that those who have been ill will recover, and that those who have sadly lost loved ones would be comforted. We pray especially that our media would be controlled and constrained to publish truth without the intention of causing alarm and enormous harm.
Wednesday 27th January.
Jeremiah 16:1–21. You must not marry or have sons or daughters in this place. Verse 2.
What a terrible thing has been proclaimed as to Jeremiah’s future life. He was not to marry or have children and since his brothers had disagreed with his views, he would have no heirs or someone to keep his name from disappearing. This was quite against the customs of peoples in the time of Jeremiah. It would seem that God was intent to save the prophet from losing his family when the destruction, promised by God would take place. It might also be that in depriving Jeremiah of company would mean that he would concentrate better on doing the work that God had asked him to do. Remember that all we have and all we own is from our God, and we must not be unwilling to help Him when He calls for aid of any kind, and the surest way is to pray without ceasing.
Today Lord we would thank You for those who have faithfully proclaimed Your Word to us Sunday by Sunday over many years and especially recently in the period of vacancy. We thank You for their willingness to use new methods of communication like YouTube to keep us together in worship. We pray Lord, that You would open our eyes to see the power in Your Word, open our ears to know what You are saying through Your Word, and fill us with your Holy Spirit to draw us close into Your presence every day. Speak to us and show us Your ways, Lord, and help us to know Your voice above all the clamour of this busy world.
Thursday 28th January.
Jeremiah 17:19–27. Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, as I commanded your forefathers. Verse 22.
The theme of this chapter is the sin of breaking the commandments of God as laid down to Moses on Mount Sinai, and it seems the first commandment to be broken is the 4th, ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy’. Even in these days when people drift away from God, the keeping of the Sabbath day is the first commandment to be flouted. We must keep in mind that the Sabbath is a gift from God and gives us time to focus on Him and to worship Him, because he is our creator. Do we give God the honour He is due, especially on His Sabbath? Do we enjoy meeting in fellowship with others who also love and seek to serve Him? The modern world has devised activities to occupy our time, and those who lead us have permitted pubs to open all day, sports to be played attracting crowds away from worship etc, and all to our shame.
We give thanks today for those who care for patients at the end of their lives, those in palliative care and in the Hospice. We give thanks for the Maggie’s centre and all those who raise funds to help keep these facilities running. We praise you for the many advances in medical care and for medication available to control pain. Lord sustain those who are faced with their imminent mortality that, if they have not already put their trust in You, that this would be the time and the hour. Lord we confess our need of You today. We all need Your healing and Your grace. We need to have our hope restored. Help us to be reminded that You work on behalf of those You love, constantly, powerfully, completely.
Friday 29th January.
Jeremiah 18:1–12. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so Jeremiah the potter formed it into another pot shaping it as seemed best to him. Verse 4.
In this intriguing tale the prophet is told by God to go to the potter’s house to watch him as he worked to take a lump of clay and place it on his wheel to form it into a lovely pot. As he neared the completion of the pot, it developed a flaw and the potter was forced to smash his nearly completed pot and make a new one out of the same lump of clay. Now it is clear that God wants to show to Jeremiah, that He will be patient when dealing with these stubborn people, just as the potter had not lost patience when the flaw came to light as the pot was nearing completion, so it will be when we sin against God. He does not lose patience with our wrongdoing. He remodels us and if we are willing, we become better than we would ever imagine, or even hope to be.
I read this helpful quote some time ago, it is from Teddy Roosevelt who said. ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ don’t focus on what you don’t have and don’t focus on what your friends do have.’ It made me consider on how we view our lives. Do we dwell on the things we do not have, the things we maybe missed out on in life and concentrate on how good things appear to be for others? Lord please help us to count our blessings. We thank You for Your amazing power at work in our lives, for Your goodness and blessings over us. Thank You that You are able to bring hope through even the toughest of times.
Saturday 30th January.
Jeremiah 19:1–15. I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed. Verse 11.
Jeremiah was sure that if he could convince the religious leaders and those who led worship there, to be shown that way that the nation was following was evil and totally against the laws of God, so he gathered them to discuss what their thoughts were on this matter, but the place where he called them to meet with him was the valley of Hinnon, the city’s rubbish dump and where the people sacrificed their children to false gods. If his message was to get through to the people it must be routed via their priests, but as their previous receptions of Jeremiah’s warnings was an indication of their unwillingness to repent, Jeremiah, who was carrying a jar he had brought from his visit to the potter, smashed it on the floor to indicate that it was now beyond repair, just as the nation was now beyond redemption.
We thank you for the many freedoms we enjoy in this land and remember, there are millions of people who would love to do what we do every day even if to us that seems mundane and uninteresting. We pray that we would find satisfaction in whatever we do from day to day, We thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You have promised never to leave us or forsake us. We praise You for Christ’s incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and eternal life. Please forgive us for when we do not say thank You enough, for Who You are, for all that You do, for all that You have given us.
Sunday 31st January.
Jeremiah 20:1–13. When the chief priest heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had him beaten and put in the stocks. Verse 1.
When Jeremiah met with the priests, he roundly condemned their evil ways and predicted that both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were to be destroyed by the northern kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon and Jerusalem the great city where the temple was situated, would be burnt and it’s walls broken down, because of their wicked disobedience of God’s laws. This incurred the wrath of the chief priest who ordered that Jeremiah be flogged and tied in the stocks. Jeremiah feels that all that he has done and said as God had told him, have been a great discouragement to him until he recalls that God had promised that He would care and protect His young prophet as this story began. Let us remember that when we are discouraged, we have only to bring our troubles to the Lord, for He knows the way we should take and the path we should follow.
Lord as we end this first month of a New Year, we give thanks for Your help each day. We give thanks for Sheila who so faithfully and patiently gathers all the articles for the Easterly, prints it, and prepares it for distribution. Lord we thank You for helping us to make it through 2020, a difficult year. For the way You have carried us through the uncertainty of deep waters, through the flames of trials, and through the pain of hard losses. Make us every aware of how much we need You, Your grace, Your strength, and Your power to work in, and through us even in the toughest days. Please help us to keep our focus first on You this year. Please forgive us when we give attention to other things and look for answers from other people first instead of coming to You. Give praise and thanks for faithful dad’s who supported us through the years (especially my own dad who even at the age of 90 composed these Bible notes). Amen.