Distracting Others From God

The prophet, Jeremiah, has some incisive words for us which call us back to discernment. His words call us to be present to God who is both near and far. They call us out of hiding, distraction, and forgetfulness. They implore each of us to continue to listen for the voice of God which burns true in our hearts and softens us.

Jeremiah 23:23-29 (NLT)
Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time.

Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD.

“I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?

For Reflection and Prayer:
Listening with the “ear of your heart”, was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Gently repeat the word or phrase, giving it room to settle deeply in your heart.

Reflect on what you heard. Relish the words. You might choose to journal about what you heard.

Respond to what you heard and reflected on in your prayer with God. Is there a prayer of praise, thanksgiving or petition which rises within you?

Rest in God as you simply be with God in the quiet.

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Reckoning With That Which Lasts

Painting a panoramic picture of those who trust in God, Jeremiah asks us to reckon with that which lasts. What are those things in our lives which are like a curse; chaff that is easily blown away? What provides an enduring anchor for our lives that not only gives us meaning but also holds us when life gets hard, ravaged and raw? Sit with these words long enough to allow wisdom and discernment to emerge for this season of your life. These words are not meant to keep us stuck in fear or shame but to guide us into the wisdom and freedom of a life anchored in God.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 TMG

“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.
“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.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a specific word or phrase which was impressed upon your heart or mind as you listened to the text? Reflect on that and bring your reflection in your prayer.

What emotions were stirred in you in this time of listening? Gently notice them, name them, feel them and simply offer them as your prayer to God.

What longing does this passage stir in you? In the quiet, simply be with that longing between you and God.

Journal your prayer that flows out of your meditation and contemplation of this passage.

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Truth To Sink Our Roots Into

These words penned by Jeremiah are like bedrock which can hold our roots of faith. They affirm our identity, sense of belonging and purpose. Give yourself the gift of a slow steep in these phrases. What affirmation do you most long to hear from God today?

Jeremiah 1:4-10 NLT

The LORD gave me this message:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said,
“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up and plant.”

Listening Prayer – An Experience of Lectio Divina

Listen In a comfortable, quiet place, slowly and carefully listen to or read the Bible passage. Notice any words or phrases or images that seem alive to you at the moment. Allow yourself to stop and hold them in your heart before God.

Meditate Repeat the words or phrases slowly to yourself. Or linger with the image. Allow them to interact with your inner world of memories, ideas or concerns. Ask yourself what meaning they may have for you.

Conversation Share what you are discovering with the words and/or images and how they touch your heart with Jesus. Ask Jesus what the Father is saying to you through this prayer time.

Contemplate When words or pictures are no longer needed, allow yourself to rest in God’s tender embrace. Feel the strength and tenderness of the Father’s love for you. Allow it to pour into your heart and fill you up. Linger here, resting in God’s compassionate care for you.

Cooperative Action Ask Jesus to show you what the Father wants to do from this prayerful listening time with you. If you desire it, ask him to cause that change to happen by the Spirit’s power and your cooperative action working together from this point.

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