“We all see it!” As a former elementary teacher, I grew weary of all the untrue tattling stories of who did what to whom on the playground or in the classroom. The students misbehave right under your nose thinking the teacher didn’t really see what they just did. Wrong.
As you mature in your teaching and listen to the students, you learn quickly that not all can be trusted. Most students tell you the first thing that pops into mind, off the tops of their heads, in a panic, so they can avoid trouble at all costs. Because I prayed for my students, others teachers, and myself daily, God helped me get to the heart of the matter of what I observed to see the truth of what was really happening. God helped me deal with weird situations, tedious relationships, and challenging circumstances because I asked for His wisdom—hourly at times! If I didn’t ask for God’s help, what I saw and heard was clouded by my own human judgement of assumptions and presumptions which I learned quickly is not reliable—foolish even!
On the “playground” of life, God gets right to the heart of the matter with Judah through Jeremiah, his spokesperson, sounding the fire alarm, making them aware of the outcomes of their sins. Truth is seen. Hearts are examined closely by God. Minds are challenged to take God seriously—but do they?
Jeremiah 17, The Message
The Heart Is Hopelessly Dark and Deceitful
1-2 “Judah’s sin is engraved
with a steel chisel,
A steel chisel with a diamond point—
engraved on their granite hearts,
engraved on the stone corners of their altars.
The evidence against them is plain to see:
sex-and-religion altars and sacred sex shrines
Anywhere there’s a grove of trees,
anywhere there’s an available hill.
3-4 “I’ll use your mountains as roadside stands
for giving away everything you have.
All your ‘things’ will serve as reparations
for your sins all over the country.
You’ll lose your gift of land,
The inheritance I gave you.
I’ll make you slaves of your enemies
in a far-off and strange land.
My anger is hot and blazing and fierce,
and no one will put it out.”
* * *
5-6 God’s Message:
“Cursed is the strong one
who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie,
out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless
in a land where nothing grows.
7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.
* * *
9-10 “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
not as they pretend to be.”
* * *
11 Like a cowbird that cheats by laying its eggs
in another bird’s nest
Is the person who gets rich by cheating.
When the eggs hatch, the deceit is exposed.
What a fool he’ll look like then!
* * *
12-13 From early on your Sanctuary was set high,
a throne of glory, exalted!
O God, you’re the hope of Israel.
All who leave you end up as fools,
Deserters with nothing to show for their lives,
who walk off from God, fountain of living waters—
and wind up dead!
* * *
14-18 God, pick up the pieces.
Put me back together again.
You are my praise!
Listen to how they talk about me:
“So where’s this ‘Word of God’?
We’d like to see something happen!”
But it wasn’t my idea to call for Doomsday.
I never wanted trouble.
You know what I’ve said.
It’s all out in the open before you.
Don’t add to my troubles.
Give me some relief!
Let those who harass me be harassed, not me.
Let them be disgraced, not me.
Bring down upon them the day of doom.
Lower the boom. Boom!
Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
19-20 God’s Message to me: “Go stand in the People’s Gate, the one used by Judah’s kings as they come and go, and then proceed in turn to all the gates of Jerusalem. Tell them, ‘Listen, you kings of Judah, listen to God’s Message—and all you people who go in and out of these gates, you listen!
21-23 “‘This is God’s Message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the Sabbath by turning it into just another workday, lugging stuff here and there. Don’t use the Sabbath to do business as usual. Keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. They never did it, as you know. They paid no attention to what I said and went about their own business, refusing to be guided or instructed by me.
24-26 “‘But now, take seriously what I tell you. Quit desecrating the Sabbath by busily going about your own work, and keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing business as usual. Then kings from the time of David and their officials will continue to ride through these gates on horses or in chariots. The people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem will continue to pass through them, too. Jerusalem will always be filled with people. People will stream in from all over Judah, from the province of Benjamin, from the Jerusalem suburbs, from foothills and mountains and deserts. They’ll come to worship, bringing all kinds of offerings—animals, grains, incense, expressions of thanks—into the Sanctuary of God.
27 “‘But if you won’t listen to me, won’t keep the Sabbath holy, won’t quit using the Sabbath for doing your own work, busily going in and out of the city gates on your self-important business, then I’ll burn the gates down. In fact, I’ll burn the whole city down, palaces and all, with a fire nobody will be able to put out!’”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
We discover God gives us two choices—to be cursed or blessed!
- “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.”
- “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.”
We get to choose. Pray, then choose wisely. Blessed or cursed? Stick with the decision.
God sees our hearts and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the motivation of our hearts. He looks all over the world, seeking those whose hearts are completely His.
Believe, repent of sins, be saved, be blessed. Being blessed by God means He is growing His character traits in you to “bear fresh fruit” for every season of life. The traits, you ask? See Galatians 5. Here is the summary, “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26, NLT)
I choose you and love you with all that is in me because you loved me first and chose me to be your child from the beginning. Thank you for the privilege to be yours with my name written on your hand! Thank you for the assurance that your love never fails and great is your faithfulness to me. I cannot turn away from your gift of grace to me. There is no one like you. Everything else is foolishness. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not giving up on me. Continue to grow and mature me in your love so that I may bear the precious fruits of your character.
In Jesus Name, Amen