When do our priorities line up with God’s?
Our lives are getting back to normal again. My whole family just went to our first baseball game and our granddaughter’s horse show and enjoyed being in the crowd. I didn’t even think about catching a virus because I was too busy thinking about the Rangers catching a baseball or me trying to catch the perfect photo of my granddaughter in her cute riding pants and blazer.
How quickly our priorities can change!
IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE PRIORITY . . .
What if someone asked you to name your number one priority? Is that even possible? We might be able to list our top ten, but which would make the list first?
How can we choose a priority when so many things matter so much?
Jeremiah is often described as the weeping prophet, a name I think he would probably hate. Chances are, if you pick up your Bibles for a time of devotion, you are more likely to read from Ephesians than the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was a prophet to the Southern tribes of Israel, or Judah. They were supposed to be the “good guys” of Israel, and were, much of the time. But Jeremiah preached to Judah after the Northern Tribes of Israel had been captured, enslaved, and removed from the land. The Northern Tribes never did return home.
Judah should have learned from their brothers’ mistakes but didn’t. As a nation, Judah became distracted by their enemies, their finances, their families, and their future. As a result, their priorities changed. Jeremiah’s job was to speak for God and warn Judah that the same thing that happened to the Northern Tribes could happen to them as well. And it did.
Daniel and his friends were taken captive, and then came a second and third wave of attack. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and their lands and families were taken away by the Babylonian armies. Some would say they lost everything, but they didn’t.
They never lost God’s word. The prophet Jeremiah and many others kept teaching and preaching what God wanted his people to understand.
Jeremiah preached God’s word almost twenty-five hundred years ago, and I’m still teaching his lessons today. Jeremiah lived during one of the worst times in biblical history. He and the people he loved lost almost everything in their lives. And Jeremiah was tasked with warning the people to repent. He knew how to help, but the people just wouldn’t listen. In fact, they attacked Jeremiah for preaching the truth, and it broke his heart and spirit. That’s why he is called the weeping prophet.
Jeremiah 15 is a conversation between God and Jeremiah. God tells Jeremiah what is going to happen to Judah because of their lack of faith and misguided priorities: God will judge his people and Judah will fall. Jeremiah knows what will happen and knows nothing will stop God from fulfilling his words.
When Jeremiah understands he can’t help Judah, he prays for himself. He asks God to protect him from the coming judgment. Jeremiah offers one defense to God. The prophet asks for God to protect him because he has maintained one important priority.
Jeremiah 15:16 says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (NIV).
Do we share Jeremiah’s godly priority? If so, we can also share in God’s promise.
CHRISTIANS BEAR GOD’S NAME TOO
The first people to be called Christians were in the church of Antioch, the church considered most responsible for supporting Paul and his missionary work. The name Christian literally means “little Christ.” Christians bear the name of the Son of God.
More and more our culture is attacking that name and attacking those who bear it. Is there coming a time when we will pray Jeremiah’s prayers for our nation? And pray Jeremiah’s prayer for himself? Is that time already here?
Jeremiah prayed to God with confidence because he had lived with one powerful priority. The prophet had consumed God’s word. God’s thoughts and ideas were Jeremiah’s joy and his heart’s delight. The prophet understood that his role in life was to bear God’s name everywhere he went.
Like Jeremiah, we bear God’s name too. The question for all of us today is this: Do we also share Jeremiah’s priority?
Do we simply read God’s word, or do we consume it as our joy and our delight? Is God’s word truly our daily bread?
If so, we should listen to and claim Jeremiah’s promise from God.
GOD’S PROMISE TO JEREMIAH
God responded to Jeremiah’s prayer with this promise. God said to Jeremiah and to us, ‘“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:19–20).
There is so much I want to say about the passage above. I know the Lord spoke to me in those words as I read them again and again. I expect the Lord will do that for all of you as well. Let’s consume his words to Jeremiah as food for our own souls. Will you receive God’s teaching with joy? Will you delight to obey?
God needs the people who bear his Son’s name to be that fortified wall of bronze. The people in our culture need to be able to turn to the Holy Spirit in us for God’s love and wisdom. We were never allowed to turn to the culture for our guidance.
It may seem like the culture is winning right now, but that isn’t the biblical truth we should take to heart, with joy. Jesus echoed God’s words to Jeremiah when he told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).
PRAY LIKE JEREMIAH
We can pray like Jeremiah if we share the prophet’s priority. He consumed God’s word as his great joy and delight. Jeremiah bore God’s name.
Jeremiah could have preached his words to our culture and people would have treated him the same way today. The calling for all of us who bear Christ’s name is to share Jeremiah’s priority. It will no doubt cause us some trouble going forward. Thankfully, we also share Jeremiah’s promise. Hear God say to you: “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you.”
God needs his people to be that bronze wall of truth today.
We will be—if we will live with Jeremiah’s priority.