July 2 – Back to the Basics – The Bible

Read Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Proverbs 9:10

Many of you reading this have been in some sort of relationship where you wanted to spend every waking hour with someone.  And when you were not together, you would talk on the phone for hours on end.  Some of you may even remember life prior to cell phones and the ancient technique of writing a love letter. Can you remember the joy of opening up that love letter?  You couldn’t wait to hear from your loved one.  You couldn’t wait to learn more about them and fall further in love with them. 

If we claim to love God more than anyone or anything else, then why do we struggle to spend time in His love letter to us, His Word?  Sadly, I’ve heard many friends over the years tell me how they wish they just had the time to get into the Bible. However, they had plenty of time to watch the game, work on their hobby, and binge watch the next show on Netflix. 

And yet you say you love God?  And you don’t want to hear from Him? 

The Bible is the revelation of the character and will of God.  It tells us who He is and how we can live in relationship to Him. Not only does it reveal to us who God is but it also describes who we are, our human existence and why we are here on earth, where we are going and why it matters.

It is not just enough to know things about God but KNOWING Him means everything – the type of intimate knowledge that a husband and wife have for each other. A couple know the likes and dislikes of their spouse.  What they love, what they hate.  And the great thing about the Bible is that it teaches us the attributes of God, the characteristics of God and He never changes.  His Word never changes.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 says:

“This is what the Lord says:

‘The wise person should not boast in his wisdom;

the strong should not boast in his strength;

the wealthy should not boast in his wealth.

But the one who boasts should boast in this:

that he understands and knows me

that I am the Lord, showing faithful love,

justice, and righteousness on the earth,

for I delight in these things.’

This is the Lord’s declaration.”

Proverbs 9:10 says:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

We come to know Him through his Word.

I could go on about Scripture verses that point out the importance of knowing Him.  One of my favorite quotes is from C.H. Spurgeon who said “a Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t”. 

Brush the dust off of your Bible!  Set a time aside to study it daily.  Study it to know Him more and more daily. 

Make it a priority.

If you need a reminder to do it, let me ask you this: what is stealing time away from the Lord?  Is it the TV?  Set your Bible on the remote.  Is it video games?  Set your Bible on your gaming station.  Spending too much time on social media?  Put the Bible app where your social media apps once were. 

How much do you love the Lord?  Do you want to know Him more?  The Bible is a great way to spend time with Him daily.

Nate Mills

June 11 – Wait, who? – Elishama

Read Jeremiah 36:12

One of the greatest opportunities I have ever had was traveling to Israel and “walking where Jesus walked”. This once in a lifetime opportunity came at the culmination of a 10-month period of studying the Bible at the Great Commission Bible Institute out of Sebring, Florida. God used that time in my life to pull me close to Him. God was doing such a work in my life and it was highlighted by seeing the Bible come alive right before my eyes in the landscape of the Middle East.

There were so many “wow” moments that I don’t have the space to describe. Standing on the very rock where Jesus told Peter that He would build His Church and the gates of Hell, which many thought were below our feet, would not overcome. Standing in the ruins of a house at Caesarea by the Sea where we were told that we were likely standing within 50 feet of where Paul appealed to Caesar in Acts 25.

What?!

What does this have to do with our reading today? What even is our reading about?

We are focusing on Elishama who actually isn’t that interesting. He wasn’t a prophet, king or long-lost disciple of Jesus…he was a secretary.

Why is this so important?

What makes this obscure Bible character interesting is the extra-biblical evidence that we have for him – which in turn speaks to the historical reliability of Scripture.

In 1986, outside of Jerusalem, a clay seal was found that says, “Elishama, servant of the king,” proving that he was indeed a scribe in the exact time setting and situation that Scripture describes. This right here is evidence that all of Scripture is God-breathed, even down to the tiniest detail and seemingly insignificant person!

How do we know the Bible is true? Because it is proven to be accurate over and over again.

Second Timothy 3 tells us that all Scripture is God breathed and Galatians 3 proves to us that even every pen stroke is inspired by God and important to His message.

The fact that Elishama is mentioned in the Bible and we have hard evidence that he not only existed but served as a secretary, proves that the Bible is accurate!

What does this mean to you today?

My encouragement to you is to get plugged into God’s Word continually. If you’re reading this, I hope that you are subscribed to Every Day with God in order to receive daily content that is written with the goal of making you a more devoted follower of Christ!

As you read, allow the Spirit of God to touch your heart. How can you change? In what ways can you grow in your faith?

You can trust the Bible because it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), inspired by God and has the power to change the very landscape of your life and eternity.

How can you soften your heart even more to God’s Word?

Jake Lawson

December 18 – Importance of the Old Testament – Emptiness of Pursuing Anything Other than God

Read Jeremiah 2:9-13

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

It’s like leaving Niagara Falls for a leaky, cracked water tower. Or stepping away from a freshly flowing river to find refreshment in a cracked concrete pool that barely holds a puddle. The Israelites had exchanged the very Source of water for a cracked container full of nothing but nothing.

Having loosened themselves from the only one who could provide what they needed – and that in abundance – God’s people had wandered away from Him in search of other sources of life. They tried to find the water of life in places that only proved to be broken, leaky pits at best.

Can you relate? How many times have you or I pursued what is not God in search of what only He can provide? Have you ever tried to replace the Giver and Sustainer of life with what looked like it might be enough? Maybe it’s work or a certain relationship. Maybe it’s the pursuit of all things comfort or the need for control. It might be something that in and of itself is good, like your family or your ministry. Still, the truth holds strong – pursuing anything but God Himself for real life is pointless. There is only one God. You and I can only have one master.

This is another reason the Old Testament is important. It helps us identify the emptiness of pursuing anything but God.

Nothing is better than the Source itself. Everything the Israelites tried fell short. The same rings true for you and me. Let’s turn to God and let Him be our one true source of life.

Bria Wasson

September 7 – Lament – Crying Isn’t Allowed

Read Jeremiah 1:1–10

You probably remember the words from your own childhood: “Don’t be such a crybaby.” Well-intentioned people can assume that tears are either a sign of weakness or a lack of faith in God. But God doesn’t look at crying like we do.

In fact, He says, “Weeping may endure for a night… “(Psalm 30:5b). It’s a reality of this life. Heartache happens. Pain persists. Grief grips all of us. And weeping is usually the result.

Jesus knew the agony of tears. He stood before the tomb of a dear friend and wept bitterly (John 11:35). Before his arrest, Jesus experienced “agonizing sorrow” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-38).

Throughout Scripture, people of God openly expressed their heartache to the Lord. Jeremiah even wrote a book called, “Lamentations,” that expresses the pain he felt and is the focus of our attention for the next week. In order to appreciate Jeremiah’s heartache, we have to understand his world.

By the time Jeremiah appeared on the scene, Israel had experienced spiritual disaster. God brought judgement on His rebellious people as the United Kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon dissolved into civil war and split into two nations: the northern kingdom called Israel and the southern kingdom called Judah. Over the reign of 19 evil kings and 209 years, the northern kingdom rebelled against God and was eventually conquered by an Assyrian ruler named Shalmanesar. The 10 tribes to the north were then scattered around the earth.

The kingdom of Judah, led by 20 different kings, lasted another century and a half, and, through the influence of some godly leaders, experienced three great revivals. Ultimately, the unfaithfulness of the people led to the conquest of the nation by the famous king, Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed Solomon’s temple, ransacked the city of Jerusalem, and carried away many Jews into captivity in Babylon.

In the years prior to the Babylonian captivity, the priests were unfaithful, the prophets hypocritical, and the politician’s self – serving. Jeremiah’s job was to stand firmly for the Lord and warn the Judeans of impending doom because of their rebellion against God. It was a humanly impossible job.

In spite of the clear call of God to this task, Jeremiah felt inadequate and reluctant (v. 6) because he was only in his late teens or early 20s. But God equipped him and gave him a clear, though difficult, message (vv. 7-9). Jeremiah’s job was to represent the heart of God to a rebellious people.

Do you ever feel inadequate to do what God has called you to do? Do you feel paralyzed at times by your own weaknesses? Have people put you down or failed to take you seriously because of your inexperience?

Remember these great words:

“God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

(1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NLT)

Take heart! Like Jeremiah, if you are doing the work of God, He will stand by you and reward your faithfulness.

Bob Fetterhoff

September 1 – The God Who Comes Through – He Quenches Our Thirst

Read Exodus 15:22-27 (cf. John 4:1-26 and Jeremiah 2:13)

In these verses the people were physically thirsty but didn’t have any water that was fit to drink.  Once again Moses prayed and God supplied their needs by having Moses put a piece of wood into the water to make it drinkable. God took care of their physical thirst.

However, there are more ways people can be thirsty.  There is the physical thirst, but there are also emotional and spiritual thirsts that people don’t often recognize.  There is a thirst to be accepted, to be loved, to be wanted, to be recognized.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talked about people who would hunger and thirst for righteousness. With all of the complaining that the Israelites were doing to Moses, even after experiencing God’s miraculous power, maybe they were thirsty for something other than just water.

The woman at the well who met Jesus was, as the old song title says, “looking for love in all the wrong places”. She had been married 5 times and the man she was living with wasn’t her husband.  Since she was at the well in the afternoon instead of the morning like all the other women in the village would have been, she was probably rejected by them and was thirsty to be accepted. She probably put on a “good face” and pretended that their insults and looks didn’t hurt, but they did. She was emotionally thirsty!

Jesus saw through all of it and offered her living water that would quench her thirst and she would never be thirsty for love and acceptance again.

Just like Moses took the piece of a tree that God had provided out in the desert to make the water sweet again, He supplied a branch off of His own family tree, His son Jesus, to quench her spiritual thirst.

And Jesus is here to quench our thirsts, too, if we will let him.

The Lyrics of the Song Come to the Well by Casting Crowns says it all:

“I have what you need
But you keep on searchin’
I’ve done all the work
But you keep on workin’
When you’re runnin’ on empty
And you can’t find the remedy
Just come to the well

 You can spend your whole life
Chasin’ what’s missing
But that empty inside
It just ain’t gonna listen
When nothing can satisfy
And the world leaves you high and dry
Just come to the well

 And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for
The world will try, but it can never fill
Leave it all behind, and come to the well

So, bring me your heart
No matter how broken
Just come as you are
When your last prayer is spoken
Just rest in my arms a while
You’ll feel the change my child
When you come to the well”

What are you thirsty for? Be honest!  Leave it all behind and just come to the well of living water, take a deep drink and thirst no more!

Pat Arnold

April 13 – Jesse Tree – Sadness

Read Jeremiah 1:1-198:22-9:11

“Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.” Jeremiah 9:1

What are some of the reasons people cry? They cry when they are hurt physically. Maybe you have seen people cry when they are extremely happy. And then, there are people like Jeremiah who cry in disappointment. Jeremiah is so well known for his tears that he is sometimes called “the weeping prophet.” He cried tears of disappointment.

Let’s get to know Jeremiah…and the reason for his tears.

God had selected and called Jeremiah even while he was a young boy. He wanted Jeremiah to serve Him as a prophet. He was going to speak words from God to God’s people, Israel. Even though Jeremiah couldn’t believe that God wanted to use him, the Lord really did! Hopefully, you realize as Jeremiah came to learn: No matter what your age is, God can and wants to use you!

The message that God wanted to communicate to His people through Jeremiah was not one that caused him to smile. Jeremiah reminded the people that they had wandered from God. Instead of worshiping the Lord, they were disobeying Him and following other gods. The one true God was not happy.

As a result, Jeremiah told them that God was going to bring punishment on His beloved people. You have probably experienced that with your parents. Out of love, they disciplined you. Sometimes God does the same. He was going to bring the Babylonians to them. Through the Babylonians, God’s people would suffer and even be carried off. Even though it was Jeremiah’s job to warn the people, that message made him sad.

But God was using even these events to lead up to the coming of Jesus!

Steve Kern

March 9 – Do Not Fear – What We Need to See to Live Unafraid

Read Jeremiah 1

Jeremiah knew all that he needed to know. He had all he needed.

“… say whatever I command you (v8).”

Called to speak God’s message, all Jeremiah needed was communion with Him. All He needed to know was how to listen to God and do what He asked. Speak the words He gave him.

So much of this story deals with Jeremiah’s physical senses. What he saw. What he spoke. And that limited perspective is what fed his fears. Because of what he thought he didn’t know how to do. (See verse 6.)

Jeremiah’s calling was not an easy one by any means. He had to tell his own people about God’s impending judgment. He was commanded to call his own family out on their wicked ways. No easy task from anyone’s perspective this side of heaven. It provided a lot of fodder for afraid.

But God had a plan that involved fear of a completely different kind. God was calling Jeremiah to life. Unafraid. Truly, all he needed to fear was God Almighty.

I think it’s funny that Jeremiah’s first response to God’s call included the words, “Ah, Sovereign LORD.” Because, really, if God is Sovereign, then Jeremiah had nothing to dispute.

How many times do we do the same thing. God calls us to obey Him in a certain way — maybe to speak His truth at work when we know it will only bring ridicule — and we know that He is almighty and sovereign, but our senses don’t agree. So we dispute His plan and argue against His choosing us. Because it’s scary. Because, as far as we can tell, we are not properly equipped and we have every reason to be afraid. Because from our perspective, our co-worker or even our pastor would do a much better job.

But all Jeremiah needed, and all we need, for unafraid was to trust what God could see. To look to Him and Him alone.

To prove His point, God asked what Jeremiah saw. That’s when he said something like, “I shaqad a shaqed.” And the words he spoke sounded like I see seeing. For, the almond tree he saw had a name that sounded just like the Hebrew word for watching.

And when he spoke the words, he knew God was watching, backing up His every word. Every stroke of Jeremiah’s vocal chords.

Trusting God’s watching, His always almond-tree-I-will-stick-with-you-and-will-be-all-you-need-to-fear. Because He was enough for Jeremiah, and He is enough for us. Indeed, trusting and fearing God alone is the only way to really live. Unafraid.

*I’ve written a short e-book on living unafraid. A manifesto, if you will. And I would love for you to read it, to find the challenge to really live. Unafraid. Just click here for the download. Then start living. Unafraid.

Bria Wasson

July 19 – His story : Man’s rescue – Rescue and exile

Read Jeremiah 25:1-38

It was just over a year ago that 33 Chilean miners were rescued from being trapped a half mile under the surface of the earth. After 59 days below ground, the last of them emerged to the joy of family, friends, and the world. Even though the rescuers faced many challenges along the way, they did all they could to continue to make progress in the rescue attempt. They carefully planned so as not to complicate their efforts.

That last sentence is generally true of all human rescue attempts…with the exception of God’s rescue of sinners. Let’s face it, His people in today’s story were in desperate need of rescue. And He as the rescuer loved them more than words can express. But the salvation He provides for people was more and is more than a universal forgiveness of all people without regard for heart attitude. Rather than just reaching in and snatching people out of the desperation of their life situation and sin and immediately into eternity voice of challenges, He calls them to faith, repentance, and godly living. The result? Well, sometimes the rescue attempt seems complicated…maybe even like He is taking one step forward and two back.

God had already called His people, given them a land and promise. He had rescued them from Egypt to that land. He had outlined righteous living in His law. He had enabled them to conquer enemies, sent them help through the judges, and set them on a track towards their future king through David.

In the meantime, other kings had come and gone. The one nation of Israel had divided into two separate entities. And Judah, the southern kingdom, had been anything but faithful. They had wandered from Him and worshiped other gods. As a result, the Rescuer Himself plotted a course for them that included exile. Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar would invade their holy city and destroy it. He would cart off people like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego along with thousands of others. They would have seventy years to consider their ways and turn back to God.

He desires sincere devotion from those He rescues. Does He have it from you? If not, He may take some extreme measures to acquire it!

Steve Kern

December 22 – Behind the Christmas Card – Non Nuclear Family

Read Jeremiah 1:5

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday! I love the crisp winter air that comes with the season, the music and the spirit of joy and smiles that seem to surround the atmosphere. However, when growing up, Christmas wasn’t always a joyous holiday.

Just after my 6th birthday and before Christmas, my parents divorced and everything changed. My world flipped on its axis and I was labeled “different” by my friends. A one-time happy season turned into a chaotic discussion of how and where we were to spend our holiday.

To my parent’s credit, they tried to make it an adventure and an exciting time as “we got two Christmases’” but it didn’t change the chaos of emotions that came at every Christmas because we were, and still are, a non-nuclear family; we were, in a sense, torn apart. My favorite holiday was marked with tears of sadness. As an adult, I love the lessons that came with being a non-nuclear family; it made me the strong woman I am today. One of those lessons is that of Jeremiah 1:5.

I love what God reminds Jeremiah before his work begins. He reminds him that He formed Jeremiah, that He knew Jeremiah and consecrated him. He reminds Jeremiah, at the beginning of his call as a Prophet, that He prepared him for what is to come. God formed and shaped Jeremiah exactly for this life of his. God formed us, shaped us, and prepared us (and continues to do so) exactly for this life and what is to come. He is the true gift that Christmas reminds us of. This gift is THE answer to our chaos of emotions as we deal with changes in our family. He is the strength to cling to when things aren’t as we wished they would be. His spirit is within us to access when we can’t see anything but our own perspective.

So, bottom line; no matter what your family may look like this Christmas season, no matter who shows up to Christmas dinner, no matter who walks into Christmas Eve service with you, know that Christ has formed you and He has instilled in you the ability to walk and see life as He sees it. You just have to look.

Your family may be “different”; you may compare your family to others, but, if Christmas means anything or reminds us of anything, it is that the gift of Jesus helps us get through a rough season, even at Christmas.

Focus on Him.

Kelly Lawson

September 23: Open Letters – Dear Emotions

Read Jeremiah 1 and Lamentations 3

To all of the emotions,

I should start by proclaiming powerful words from a friend as a declaration to begin this letter;

”We are friends. Not because I longed for you or loved you, but because I love a Lover so great that He would not allow me to be named by anything other than His Love. We are friends because I am at peace with the state of my brokenness in this broken world, because I know the One who was broken for me and it is His brokenness that sets me free to be whole…”

This isn’t where our story began. I used to be so confused at how powerful you were within me. I used to believe, that,  because you were so strong, something was wrong with me. Like the first time my therapist told me that I make something that is dime-sized into a train wreck within my mind. The deep overthinking that resulted in so many of you coming to the surface. I didn’t know how to contain you, suppress or even express you. All I knew was to hold you in, until you bubbled over and I turned into someone who belonged in a white room with pads everywhere (Here I go again… dramatic at best).

My heart was not to allow you to take up more space in my life, but, the harder I tried to work on that, the worse it became. Then I read the Psalms and Lamentations, and I realized I wasn’t the first created with this deepness of emotion. I looked at David’s and Jeremiah’s lives and, what I saw, was a realness I never suspected I would have and therefore a path to work through them WITH my God. I learned that my emotions will never dictate who or whose I am.

I didn’t see this deep feeling or deep thinking as a gift. However, that is what my Creator calls it. He gave me the ability to feel so deeply and think so heavily, that I was able to see Him differently. It was only then, that I understood you were good, created with a purpose within me, and we became friends.

As Jeremiah once said “Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope, The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease.  For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness. The Lord is my portion…” Lamentations 3:19-24a.

Kelly Lawson