A Promise for the Future

Bible:

“And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’” Jeremiah 32:9-15 ESV

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

Corrie ten Boom and her father and her sister Betsie lived in Holland. Her father was a watchmaker who fixed watches and clocks, and Corrie helped him, while Betsie kept house for them. But they had a very dangerous secret. World War II was raging in Europe, Holland was occupied by the Nazis, and Jewish people were in terrible danger. Corrie and her family hid Jewish people in their home and helped them get to safety. One day their home was raided by Gestapo agents, and while the people they were sheltering were able to hide in a secret room in their house, Father, Betsie, and Corrie were arrested and taken away. As the police were taking them away from their home, Father paused to wind one of his favorite clocks. “We mustn’t let the clock run down,” he said. Father would die in prison, and never come back to his shop, but he wound his clock because he had hope that God would bring the terrible times to an end and that a peaceful life would return to his home and his country.

Jeremiah might never see his country and the city of Jerusalem restored, and he might never farm the land that he had just bought from his cousin. But God had given him the hope and the promise that someday houses and fields and vineyards would be sold again in the promised land, and that God’s people would come home and start a new life there. To show that hope in God’s promise, the Lord told Jeremiah to take the papers that showed he now owned his cousin’s field, and put them in a clay jar where they would last for a long time. Someday someone would find the papers and know that God had kept his promises to his people.

We also sometimes have to wait in hope that God will keep his promises to us, and our waiting might last for a long time. God’s people waited for many, many years for the promised Savior before God sent Jesus to die for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could come back to our Heavenly Father. Now we are waiting for Jesus to return in glory to take us all home to his heavenly kingdom. Sometimes it’s hard to wait for God’s good promises to come true, and sometimes life on this earth seems very hard and sad. But the Lord is with us always to help us and to give us hope that nothing will separate us from his love, and that all of his promises to us will come true in the end.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your wonderful promises. Please give us hope and patience to wait on your perfect time for them to come true. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Ten Boom, Corrie The Hiding Place Washington Depot, Connecticut: Chosen Books, 1971.

Buying Some Land

Bible:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.

Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 32:1-2, 6-8 ESV

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
 he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! Psalm 57:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard of a white elephant? A white elephant is something a person has that is useless to him or her, something that isn’t needed and perhaps is a bother to take care of. In Haiti there is a fortress called the Citadel La Ferriere. It sits in the mountains on 20 acres of land and has walls that are up to 130 feet high. When it was built it was equipped with a printing shop, garment factories, a hospital, schools, a distillery, a chapel, and military barracks, and it also had 365 cannons and a large supply of cannon balls. The Haitian King Henri started building it in 1805 so that he could defend himself against an invasion from France, but the French never attacked him, and none of the cannons was ever fired. The Citadel La Ferriere still sits on top of its mountain, but now it’s a historic monument. This fortress might be considered a white elephant, something that the people of Haiti didn’t really need and that took a lot of effort and hard labor to build.

When God spoke to Jeremiah about buying a field from his cousin Hanamel, the prophet was being held in prison, and many people hated him because he had told them that the city of Jerusalem was going to fall to the Babylonians. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar were besieging the city, and the whole country was weak and devastated. Jeremiah must have felt as if God were asking him to buy a white elephant. In prison, with a foreign army surrounding Jerusalem, why would he want to buy some land? What could he possibly do with it? But when his cousin came to sell him the field, just as the Lord had said, Jeremiah knew that God must have a purpose in this.

Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s purposes in the things that happen, and it can be hard to obey God’s will when it doesn’t seem to make sense. But the Lord promises that he will always accomplish what he plans to, no matter what happens. When he sent Jesus into the world, it was hard for many people to recognize the promised Savior. He wasn’t a noble prince or a mighty soldier, but a humble and gentle teacher. When he was put on a cross to die, everyone thought that he couldn’t have been the one that God had promised to send. But God’s purposes were working through Jesus’ death to defeat sin and all the forces of evil, and Jesus came out of the grave the first Easter to show his victory over death and the devil. Because of Jesus, we can always be sure that God’s purposes will stand, and that he will always work good for his people.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to always trust in your purposes, and keep us close to you whatever happens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://msu.edu/~williss2/carpentier/part1/citadel.html

 

A Secret Conference

Bible:

When Jeremiah had come to the dungeon cells and remained there many days, King Zedekiah sent for him and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” Jeremiah also said to King Zedekiah, “What wrong have I done to you or your servants or this people, that you have put me in prison? Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’? Now hear, please, O my lord the king: let my humble plea come before you and do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, lest I die there.” So King Zedekiah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard. And a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard. Jeremiah 37:16-21 ESV

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:1-8 ESV

Reflection:

Some years ago a man named Brother Andrew visited people and their churches in countries where Christians were persecuted. Many of them didn’t have Bibles, and his work was to secretly bring Bibles to them. When he visited Macedonia, the churches in the villages met after dark in the evening. People came to church by twos and threes so that they wouldn’t attract too much attention, and they carried their lamps low so that no one could see their faces. They knew that if they were recognized by other people they might be reported to the police. It could be dangerous to be known as a Christian or to be seen going to church, so they kept it as secret as they could.

Zedekiah was the king, but he was only a puppet king put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, and he was afraid of many things. He was afraid of the Babylonian army that was threatening Jerusalem and he was afraid of the powerful people in his little kingdom. He wanted to know what God’s word was in this difficult time, so he called for the prophet Jeremiah, but he kept their conversation a secret. The word from the Lord wasn’t good news for the king, but he knew it was the truth. He was kind to Jeremiah and, even though he kept the prophet as a prisoner, the king put him in a place where he wouldn’t be abused and made sure he was given bread to eat.

Nicodemus was a religious leader who came to Jesus by night because he was afraid that the other religious leaders would get angry with him for talking to Jesus. Jesus talked to him for a long time and taught him about new life in his kingdom. There are many times and places that people are afraid to come to God and hear his word openly, but God is kind and willing to speak to and bless people who come to him in secret, also. He has both bad news and good news for all people. The bad news is that all people deserve God’s punishment for their sins, and the good news is that Jesus came to die so that all our sins could be forgiven. Jesus stood alone against the forces of darkness and defeated them on the cross, and we can be sure that when times of darkness and fear come, we will never stand along. Jesus will always be with us to help us and give us courage in dangerous times.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please be with us and give us courage during difficult times. Amen

Source:

Brother Andrew God’s Smuggler London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1968.

Jeremiah in Jail

Bible:

Now when the Chaldean army had withdrawn from Jerusalem at the approach of Pharaoh’s army, Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to receive his portion there among the people. When he was at the Benjamin Gate, a sentry there named Irijah the son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans.” And Jeremiah said, “It is a lie; I am not deserting to the Chaldeans.” But Irijah would not listen to him, and seized Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. And the officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison. Jeremiah 37:11-15 ESV

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:11-14 ESV

Reflection:

In Chicago in the late 1800s many workers were banding together to form unions. They were working long hours under some terrible conditions, and they wanted safer places to work with fewer hours and better pay. Sometimes things got violent, and that’s what happened one evening when a crowd of union workers gathered in Haymarket Square to hear a speech. The police came, and then someone threw a bomb into the square, and after that a riot started. In the end seven policemen and at least four other people were dead. Who was responsible for this bomb? Eight labor leaders were arrested and convicted of murder. There was no evidence that any of these eight men had thrown the bomb, and only three of them had even been at the rally. But they were convicted anyway, because people were angry and fearful about union activities. Three of them were executed, but later three of them were pardoned and released from prison when the governor of Illinois looked over the notes of their trial and saw that it hadn’t been fair or just.

The same kind of thing happened to Jeremiah. The Babylonian army had come to Jerusalem to attack, but then there was a pause in the fighting when the Egyptians moved their armies toward the city against the Babylonians. While things were quiet for awhile, Jeremiah went to the land owned by his family to receive an inheritance, but a sentry saw him and accused him of being a deserter. He had heard Jeremiah’s warning that God’s judgment was going to fall on his people, and the sentry’s anger and fear made him believe that Jeremiah was going to betray his people and join the Babylonian army. This wasn’t true, and Jeremiah told him it was a lie, but still he was beaten up and thrown in jail.

Anger and fear can make people do terrible things to others, and this is what happened to Jesus. He came to teach the people God’s ways, and he did many good things. He healed the sick and did many other good things, but some people became jealous and afraid of him. They had him arrested and rushed him through a trial that wasn’t just or fair, and he was beaten and whipped and put to death on the cross. But God used this great injustice to bring people back to him. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all the sins of the world, and because of him God forgives us all our sins. We are God people forever, and will someday live with him in his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that won’t ever come to an end.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for suffering anger and injustice for our sake. Please forgive our sins and keep us close to you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.history.com/news/remembering-the-haymarket-riot

A New Covenant

Bible:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:23-29 ESV

Reflection:

Danny’s first parents hadn’t been able to take care of him because of some problems they had when he was a baby, and for several years Danny lived in four different foster homes. Finally the Phillips family adopted him. When they brought him into his new home, they taught him the rules of their house and family right away, but Danny didn’t want to follow their rules. He was always finding ways to disobey his new parents, and it made them sad and angry that they had to discipline him so often. After awhile, Danny ran away from home. He got lost in the city he lived in, and soon he was cold and hungry and scared. His mom and dad called the police for help, but they also went out themselves and looked for him everywhere. When Danny’s parents found him, he was ready to go home with them. They held him and comforted him and fed him, and Danny started to realize that they loved him, and he started to be able to love them back. They didn’t have to remind him of their rules all the time anymore, and he started to obey his parents because he loved them and wanted to please them. Danny started to have a new and happy life with his family because his heart toward his parents had changed.

Jeremiah talked about a similar situation with God’s people. The Lord had made a covenant with them and given them his laws to obey, but the people had rebelled against his laws again and again. God loved his people very much, and he compared his love to the love a husband has for his wife. It made him sad and angry that they were always going their own way and breaking his covenant through their disobedience. But the Lord gave Jeremiah a wonderful promise for their future. He was going to make a new covenant with them. He would give them new hearts, and they would know and understand his laws and want to obey him because they loved him. Most importantly, God would forgive their sins and forget about all the ways they had run away from him in the past.

God sent Jesus to bring about this new covenant. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts and lives. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s anger, or constantly worry about trying to please him by keeping his law. Instead, we are free from God’s judgment and free to love and serve him. God makes us his children when we are baptized, and teaches us his law and his ways. He helps us to follow his will, and forgives us every day for the times we fall short. We love him because he loved us first, and we follow him with love and joy.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for loving us and sending Jesus to die for us. Please forgive us our sins and help us to love you and follow you every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Gladness for Sorrow

Bible:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:10-14 ESV

You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13 ESV

Reflection:

Most cultures around the world have festivals to celebrate the harvest. These happen at different times depending on the cycle of seasons and the crops that they grow. For example, in Ghana the Ewe people celebrate the yam festival in August or September, the end of their rainy season, when their yams start to appear. They celebrate with dancing and parades to show their joy in the harvest. In China and nearby Asian countries a harvest festival called the moon festival is celebrated in September or October at the time of a full moon. People eat special round cakes called moon cakes, and there are family gatherings, public celebrations, and even matchmaking between people who will get married in the future. In Indonesia there is a rice festival in the months of May and June. The people decorate their towns with colored flags, and there are special bull races to enjoy.

Gathering in the crops that will feed people in the months to come is a joyful time. The Lord spoke some beautiful words through the prophet Jeremiah about a different kind of harvest. Instead of gathering crops, God was going to gather his people back to himself and settle them in their own land. It would be a time of celebration and joy and dancing, and the people would be happy because the Lord would once again give them harvests of grain and wine and oil from their land. Their animals would be healthy and have new babies, and most of all, people would no longer be hungry for God’s love and blessing. The Lord would comfort them for all the sadness and hard times they had gone through, and they would be full of his goodness.

We all have sadness and hard times in our lives, but God is always with us to help us and comfort us. He gives us both times of joy and times of sorrow in this life, but he promises a new life with him in the future when he makes everything new and joyful. He sent our Savior, Jesus, to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could be his people. Because of Jesus, we have strength to live through the difficult things that sometimes happen in this life, and we can look forward to a joyful life in his heavenly kingdom, a celebration that will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you give us in this life, and for the hope of life forever with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/list/5-harvest-festivals-around-the-world

The City Shall Be Rebuilt

Bible:

“Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
Their children shall be as they were of old,
and their congregation shall be established before me,
and I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the Lord.
And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:18-22 ESV

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

In October of 1871 there was a terrible fire in the city of Chicago. Within minutes of getting started the blaze roared out of control, and before it was over about 300 people were dead, and three and a half square miles of city, which included over 17,000 buildings, had been destroyed. But Chicago soon recovered from this terrible fire. They rebuilt their city and did some amazing things. They reversed the flow of the Chicago River so that it flowed out to Lake Michigan instead of in from the lake, and this improved the health of the people of the city. Huge skyscrapers were built in the downtown area of Chicago, full of offices and department stores. Train lines running into and out of the city were improved, and more and more people came to live in Chicago and the surrounding area. By 1890 the city’s population had passed one million, and Chicago became the host of a World’s Fair. The tragedy of fire and destruction was followed by rebuilding and new life.

God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to promise the same thing. Nebuchadnezzar was threatening what was left of the southern kingdom and the city of Jerusalem, and they were soon to see their capital city fall and be destroyed. But the Lord promised that the day would come when the city would be rebuilt and the fortunes of the people would be restored. There would be singing and celebration, and more and more people living in the land. There would be a prince ruling the city who would be one of the people, and this prince would be able to approach the Lord himself on their behalf. They would once more be God’s people, and he would be their God.

When Jesus, the promised Savior came, he was a prince who came from heaven but also was born as one of his people. Jesus approaches the throne of God on behalf of the people he rules, turning his Heavenly Father’s heart toward us in mercy and forgiveness. Jesus won forgiveness for all the people in the world by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and he draws people from all over the world to be part of his kingdom. Because of Jesus, someday we will see the new Jerusalem, a city of perfect glory and joy. We will live there forever in a city where God himself will be with us as our God, wiping away all our tears, and giving us the joy of being with him for always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior, to make us part of your kingdom and give us the hope of being with you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/place/Chicago/Cultural-life#ref321026

A Righteous Branch

Bible:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” Jeremiah 23:1-6 ESV

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:7-15 ESV

Reflection:

Robin Hood was a hero of old England, and there are many stories told about him. Some of the stories say that he and his merry men lived in Sherwood Forest at the time of King Richard the Lionhearted, who was away from his country fighting in the Crusades. While King Richard was gone, England was ruled by his brother, Prince John. Prince John was a bad ruler, and under his rule the poor people suffered terribly. Robin Hood and his men helped the poor by robbing from the rich who rode through Sherwood Forest. They would use the money they took to help poor people who had nothing to live on. Robin Hood and his merry men hoped one day that King Richard would come back to England and set right all the things that were wrong under the rule of Prince John.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s words of judgment against the rulers of the people of the southern kingdom. The Lord said that these rulers, or shepherds, hadn’t cared for their flocks or led them well. Because of this, the people had been driven away and scattered to other countries. But God promised that in time he would gather his flock back together and give them better shepherds who would care about them and protect them. He spoke about a ruler who would come from the line of David and be a righteous branch on David’s family tree. He would be a wise and just king who would take care of God’s people and keep them safe. He would give the Lord’s righteousness to the people and cover their sins with God’s forgiveness.

Jesus is the shepherd and the righteous branch that God promised. He came to gather his people together and to give his life for his sheep. Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, and he gives his righteousness to his people to cover their sins. He died on the cross to win God’s forgiveness for everyone who believes in him. He is our Good Shepherd who will always be with us and protect us from everything that might hurt our life with him. We can trust Jesus to love us and take care of us and keep us safe among his people, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Good Shepherd. Please take care of us and protect us always. Amen.

 

Surrender or Die!

Bible:

“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’” Jeremiah 21:8-10 ESV

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

Reflection:

Genghis Khan was a Mongolian conqueror and ruler who unified the tribes of Mongolia and then extended his rule all across Asia. He strictly disciplined his soldiers and ruled his empire as a military state, and people were very afraid of him and his armies. He could be cruel and ruthless in attacking cities and settlements, and he often gave them one choice: “Surrender or die.” If a group of people surrendered to him, they would usually be brought peacefully under his rule, but if they tried to fight him, they would be slaughtered as a lesson to others. The terror he brought caused many people to surrender to him without a fight.

When the Babylonians surrounded Jerusalem, God told the people of the city the same thing, “Surrender or die!” The Lord had said that he was going to fight for the Babylonians, and to resist them was to resist God himself. If the people were wise, they would leave the city and give themselves up to the Babylonian army. If they did that, they would save their lives, but if they resisted and tried to defend their city, they would die. God had decided that Jerusalem would be set on fire and burned down, and that anyone who didn’t flee the city would die by famine or disease or in battle. The people’s chance to save themselves was to listen to the Lord’s warning through Jeremiah and surrender.

We also were under the power of sin and death, and part of the enemy forces against God. But the Lord wanted to save us and make us become part of his people and join his side. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. Our sinful hearts want to cling to our own ways and fight against God, but Jesus calls us to follow him away from the enemies that hurt us. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust him and follow him. He helps us give up on doing things our own way and on trying to win God’s favor through our own efforts. Instead we surrender and let go of ourselves and let Jesus forgive us and help us to follow his ways, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life so that our sins could be forgiven. Help us to surrender to you and follow you always. Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Genghis-Khan

I Will Fight against You

Bible:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchiah and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, saying, “Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”

Then Jeremiah said to them: “Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls. And I will bring them together into the midst of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence. Afterward, declares the Lord, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people in this city who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword. He shall not pity them or spare them or have compassion.’” Jeremiah 21:1-7 ESV

But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. Deuteronomy 28:15, 20-21-25 ESV

Reflection:

The ancient Greeks and Romans told many stories about the Trojan War, in which the Greeks fought against the people of Troy. This war lasted for many years in their stories, and one reason for that is that the gods and goddesses all had their favorites that they helped in the war, some on one side and some on the other. For example, Neptune, the god of the sea, was on the Greeks’ side. One time a Greek warrior named Aeneas was battling against a Trojan named Achilles, and Aeneas picked up a huge stone to throw at Achilles. Achilles was ready with his sword to attack Aeneas when Neptune decided to get involved in the battle. Neptune spread a thick cloud between Aeneas and Achilles so that they couldn’t see each other, then he lifted Aeneas up into the sky and carried him to the back of the battle where Achilles couldn’t find him. Achilles wasn’t able to hurt Aeneas because Neptune had fought for Aeneas and the Greeks.

While Daniel and Ezekiel were in Babylon with the exiles, the prophet Jeremiah had remained in Israel with the people who were left behind. King Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t finished with the little southern kingdom of Judah. His armies were around the walls of the city of Jerusalem, holding it under siege and threatening to attack. The puppet king Zedekiah was worried, and he sent some messengers to Jeremiah to ask if God would help his people and fight for them in their battles. But Jeremiah had bad news for Zedekiah. God’s judgment was coming to Judah because of their sins, and the Lord was going to fight against them and help their enemies so that the people of Judah would suffer famine and disease and be defeated in the war.

We all were once God’s enemies because we rebelled against him and fought his purposes. We were on the side of sin and death and all the forces of the devil, but God came to us in Jesus and rescued us from these evil forces. He won us over to his side when he defeated sin and death by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Because of Jesus, God is on our side, and he fights for us against everything that could hurt our life with him. We can’t win the struggle against sin and evil on our own, but in Jesus we have help in our battles every day, and victory now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for fighting and winning for us by your death and resurrection. Please stay with us and help us every day. Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/bulf/bulf26.htm