Lord, please keep "plowing under" us with this past Sunday's sermon, and the text of Jeremiah 7:1-15 this week.
Remove our resistance to Your work--to the way You use Your Word to plow under our false assumptions about what is important in life. Keep us from trusting in ourselves--thinking that we need to behave right to be right with You. At the same time, keep us from hearing Your Word but not doing Your Word.
Instead, please make Your Words our song. Make our hearts beat faster with wonder at the way You show us mercy. Remind us how You have rescued us through Jesus and help us recognize that we, right now, depend on Jesus. Lead us into the works You've prepared for us.
Finally, please give us more stories of how You are working both in us and through us. Give us a burden to join all of the universe in speaking Your greatness--the greatness of our Creator and our Redeemer.
To help us move from Sunday to Monday:
When someone breaks a promise, it hurts. When that promise is to stay faithful to you in a romantic relationship... well, words don't do it justice.
But when God's people spiritually cheat on Him, that doesn't stop God from speaking with the precision of a prosecutor and the grief-filled, angry longing of a spurned lover.
You can see these words for yourself in Jeremiah 2. Here's a sample:
The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord.
“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!
These words are a warning for us to watch out and wake up! Like the generations before us, we tend to remember God in the wilderness but forget God in prosperity.
If you heard this Sunday's sermon, here's a recap of steps forward for this week--steps to "rekindle the romance."
STEPS FORWARD FOR THIS WEEK
1. Ask God to "give us this day my daily repentance." Summing up a call from John Owen: Don't let careless indifference to God and things you can't see lead you to fall out of love with your Creator!
Summing up a call from Thomas Brooks: Even when you don't obey as you should, ask God to help you see that every command of His is sweet because Jesus has fulfilled every command on your behalf. Because of Jesus, you can fight sin without having it get between you and God!
2. Practice "remembering rituals"--rituals that help you remember God in the wilderness.
Preach the Gospel to yourself daily--perhaps by using a tool like the Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent:
Place yourself in front of the plow of God's Word on the lips of God's People by going to Sunday morning services and to small group even when it doesn't feel worth it.
Spend 5-10 minutes each Sunday morning by preparing to be plowed under. Ask God to shine into the hidden recesses of our hearts each Sunday morning before you come. Consider reading that Sunday's preaching text as you pray.
This Fall, we’ll be working our way through the book of Acts. It’s all about the active witness of Jesus working through His people. In a messy and electrifying time, the early believers were seeking to live as a family of refugees on this earth—proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom even in the face of suffering.
In order to prepare for our time in the New Testament book of Acts, we’ll be spending several weeks in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.
Why? That’s the question we explored this past Sunday.
Here are some quotes from the sermon.
“If the book of Acts presents God’s people as an active witness, the book of Jeremiah presents God’s people as a lost witness.”
“We can’t move forward unless we realize where we, as the church in America, are on this spectrum as a witness? Are we lost, or are we active? The answer, I think, is that we are right between these two. We are not an active witness. We are a passive witness. And we are moving toward being a lost witness.”
“My prayer is that we will not leave here hopeless, but that we will leave here hearing.”
If you're like us, you could use a boost to help you move from Sunday to Monday! Here are some quotes from today's sermon, mixed in with the text of Psalm 13 itself--to help us along. Can we convince you to slow down and read a long post?! If not, no worries. You can simply scroll down to the bottom for some next steps.
ON ANXIETY, MEDICINE, AND A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:
"Psalm 13 is not a silver bullet for treating anxiety. Sometimes a doctor or a nutritionist is needed. But if you only treat anxiety horizontally, you'll never truly treat it. A relationship with God needs to be at the core of it."
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS PSALM?
"Here (in Psalm 13), God gives us a particular response to prolonged, chronic anxiety. A prayer for people who are stuck or trapped."
THE TEXT--AND HOW IT HELPS
Here's a breakdown of Psalm 13--including the text itself:
It Helps Me Understand My Anxiety
(God is ready to listen, and He gets us when we feel forgotten, or that He's hiding, or that our plans aren't helping, or that we are losing the battle.)
1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
It Helps Me Pray for My Anxiety
(David doesn't believe his own feelings--that God has turned away. By faith, He pleads with God to hear and answer. He asks for God to help him see that God is winning when He prays, "Light up my eyes.")
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
It Gives Me Hope for My Anxiety
(Even though we may feel like we are tired-out swimmers in the deep waters of a murky lake, we can choose to put our feet down and recognize that the solid ground of God's saving love is actually there at our feet--ready to keep our heads above water. Even though we may not feel hopeful about God making good on His promise, we can express anticipation and count on Him to grow that anticipation in us.)
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Take some time (maybe a 10-20 minute chunk) to read, re-read pray along with Psalm 13. Short passages like this are great for repeat reflection.
Think about how Jesus bore the heavy weight of anxiety. He was forgotten, rejected, full of sorrow, and humiliated. He carried that so that we can one day be free of it.
"Anxiety exposes our utter inability. I will never defeat anxiety this side of heaven. I'll battle it. I will never defeat it. But I belong to the One Who has, and that's enough."
Consider using this spoken-word video to help you reflect on how we are in God's grip even when anxiety feels like it has a never-ending grasp on us.
In our full and oftentimes distracted lives, it can be a major challenge to take what we heard on Sunday and carry it into Monday. Here are some thoughts to help us grab on to what we heard. First, the big thought. Second, some possible ways to respond.
The Big Thought
Many of us believe that God is deeply, actively involved in His creation but it's possible we don't live that way. Psalm 104 invites us to slow down and see God at Work in 4 ways:
- God is present in and over creation. His fingerprints are meant to be noticed!
- God's glory in creation invites our delight. Most of creation is unexplored and exists ONLY to display the weighty beauty of our Creator. The creation we can see is fallen, but it contains hints forward to the New Creation.
- Our Creator is not only pro-life, He's pro-planet. The whole creation is groaning for God to redeem and renew both soils and souls.
- We can meditate on the Creator-Redeemer Connection. Hebrews 1:2-3, Colossians 1:16-17, and Romans 8:19-25 all show how Jesus' creating work is tightly connected to His redeeming work.
Some possible ways to respond:
Slow down and enjoy what God has made!
- Consider taking some friends to visit the Abrams Planetarium at MSU on a Sunday afternoon this Fall--for one of their family shows.
- For a 1 minute pause, check out this classic video on the sheer size of the Great Blue Whale ("it's tongue is the size of an automobile... some of it's blood vessels are big enough to swim through")
Take some time to explore the Creator-Redeemer Connection in Hebrews 1:2-3, Colossians 1:16-17, and Romans 8:19-25.