Daily Devotional Readings: Year Three – May

1st May: Jeremiah 1:1-19
To understand Jeremiah’s story, we must look ‘behind the scenes’: ‘The Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”‘ (4-5). To understand our own story, we must go even further back – ‘The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight’. We must never forget the words of Jesus: ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last’ (Ephesians 1:3-4; John 15:16). We’re not to be ‘on the surface’ people. We’re to be people who have seen ‘behind the scenes’, people who have caught a glimpse of the eternal God and His eternal purpose for our lives.
2nd May: Jeremiah 2:1-19
Jeremiah’s message was not popular. He spoke to the people about their ‘sins’. They had turned away from the Lord. They had chosen to go their own way (13). He invited them to think about what their wrong choices were doing to them: ‘Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?’ (17). Jeremiah left the people in no doubt about where their wrong choices were leading them – ‘”Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me”, I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken’ (19). This was not what the people wanted to hear. It was what they needed to hear. It’s still what we need to hear today!
3rd May: Jeremiah 2:20-37
‘Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!’ (28). The man-made ‘gods’ cannot ‘save’. They cannot even begin to compare with ‘the Lord’ – ‘the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:28). There is no comparison between God and the gods – ‘I am God, and there is no other’. The outcome of the conflict between God and the gods is never in doubt. For ‘all the makers of idols’, the future holds nothing but ‘shame’ and ‘disgrace’. God calls us to a much better and brighter future. ‘Saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation’ – This is the great and glorious future which awaits all who obey God’s call to salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:15-17,22).
4th May: Jeremiah 3:1-25
God calls us to ‘return’ to Him (14,22). He calls us to make our response to Him. He invites us to say, ‘Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God’ (22). How are we to come to the Lord? We are to come to Him, confessing our sins – ‘We have sinned against the Lord our God’ (25). We are to come to Him, trusting Him to save us – ‘Surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel’ (23). ‘Return’ to the Lord – There is nothing more than important than this. Think of the blessings the Lord gives to those who return to Him – (a) He is ‘merciful’ to us – ‘He does not treat us as our sins deserve’ (12, Psalm 103:10); (b) We become His children, calling Him ‘Father’ (19; Galatians 4:6); (c) He ‘cures us of our backsliding’ – ‘In Christ’, we become ‘a new creation’ (22; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
5th May: Jeremiah 4:1-18
‘If you will return, O Israel,…then the nations will be blessed…’ (1-2). We are not only to seek blessing for ourselves. We are to pray that others will be blessed also. The blessing of God is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared. We are not to be small-minded people – ‘What will I get out of it?’. Jesus said to His first disciples, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. This is still His Word to us today. We cannot rest content with being an inward-looking Church. Christ has given us a worldwide mission: ‘You will be My witnesses…to the ends of the earth’. We are not left to face this great task on our own. Christ says, ‘I am with you always’. We do not take up this great challenge in our own strength. Christ says to us, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
6th May: Jeremiah 4:19-5:9
‘One disaster follows another. The whole land is ruined…My people are fools. They don’t know Me… They are experts in doing wrong, and they don’t know how to good’ (20,22). We read the daily news. We wonder, ‘What’s going to happen next?’. We ask, ‘Where will it all end?’. Are we to give up hope? No! We must learn to look beyond the things that are happening in our world today. We must learn to look to the Lord – ‘the God of hope’. He says to us, ‘There is hope for your future’. Do you feel like things are just going from bad to worse? Remember God’s Word: ‘I know the plans I have for you…to give you a future and a hope’. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (29:11; 31:17; Romans 15:13).
7th May: Hebrews 11:17-12:2
We read about many people who trusted the Lord. Their faith was real. It changed their lives. As you read of so many people who lived ‘by faith’, let God’s Word challenge you. Bring your own weak faith to Him and ask Him to give you a stronger faith: ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). We learn from so many different people. We read about their faith. We are inspired by their faith. We do not, however, make too much of them. We must always be ‘looking to Jesus’ (2). We must learn the lesson of the transfiguration. We look at Moses. We look at Elijah. We learn from them. There comes a point where they – together with all God’s faithful people – must step aside, leaving us to look up and see ‘Jesus only’ (Mark 9:2-8).
8th May: Jeremiah 5:10-6:8
‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way‘ (31)! The people were happy to listen to the ‘prophets’ – so long as their preaching wasn’t too challenging. They were happy to attend the services conducted by the ‘priests’ – so long as nobody expected them to change their way of life. The last thing they wanted was ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ who took God’s Word seriously. Jeremiah was exactly what they didn’t want! He was serious about preaching the Word of God. He was serious about living in obedience to God’s Word. He wasn’t popular. He didn’t give the people what they wanted. Jeremiah was exactly what the people needed – a prophet who would keep on challenging them to ‘get real’ with God.
9th May: Jeremiah 6:9-30
‘Their ears are closed…The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it’ (10). Jeremiah must have felt like he was ‘hitting his head off a brick wall’. So few people showed any real interest in hearing and obeying the Word of the Lord. It seemed like God’s Word was ‘going in one ear and out the other’. It would have been so easy for Jeremiah just to ‘settle down’, to start ‘taking it easy’. This was what so many of the ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ had done: ‘They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace”, they say, “when there is no peace”‘ (13-14). This was what Jeremiah refused to do. Jeremiah made his choice. We must make our choice. Will we choose to be faithful to God or will we settle for being popular with those whom ‘the Lord has rejected’ (30)?
10th May: Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
‘Stop believing these deceitful words, “We are safe! This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”‘ (4). For many, the place of worship has become more important than the Person we worship. They talk a lot about ‘the Church’ – but they never speak of Christ! They love to see ‘the Church’ looking good – but they’re not so concerned about what ‘the Lord sees’ when He ‘looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7)! Their talk is so self-centred – ‘I love my Church. I never miss my Church. I always support my Church’. There is a great deal of ‘I’ in this kind of talk – but Christ is conspicuous by His absence! ‘Look at what I have done for my Church’ – ‘Stop believing these deceitful words’. Let Christ take the place of ‘I’: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
11th May: Jeremiah 8:4-22
‘Wise people are put to shame, confused, trapped. They have rejected the Word of the Lord. They don’t really have any wisdom’ (9). Some people think they’re smart. They’re wise in their own eyes. They ‘know it all’ – so they think! They’ve an answer for everything – except the most important question, the question of salvation: ‘What must I do to be saved?’. They know so much – yet they know so little that really matters! ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved‘ (20) – Some people think they’re smart. They’re getting on in the world. They’ve no time for God. They’re too busy enjoying all the pleasures of this world. When this world is ‘past’ and its pleasures have ‘ended’, where will we be? – ‘What good will it do you if you gain the whole world – and lose eternal life?’ (Matthew 16:22).
12th May: Jeremiah 9:1-26
Jeremiah speaks of those who are ‘circumcised only in the flesh’. They remain ‘uncircumcised in the heart’ (25-26). Paul tells us that ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel’. Salvation is not a matter of outward conformity to religious rituals. What we need is ‘circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit’ (Romans 9:6; 2:28-29). Jesus put it this way: ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7). Many people have been ‘brought up in the Church’, but they’ve never opened their hearts to Christ. They’ve heard the Word of God preached many times, but they haven’t been born again through the power of ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Our religious rituals mean nothing if, in our hearts, we remain unconverted: ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation’ (Galatians 6:15).
13th May: Psalm 104:1-35
‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live‘ (33). Do you feel like giving up? Other things are becoming more important to you. Worshipping the Lord is being pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes are creeping in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping the Lord has gone! Little-by-little, you are drifting away from the Lord. It’s time to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping the Lord – not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!
14th May: Jeremiah 10:1-25
‘The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King’ (10). Can there ever be anything more important than worshipping the Lord? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question! Very often, our lives gives a very different answer. We have taken our eyes off the Lord. We have forgotten that He is the true and living God. We sing the words, ‘O Lord, Thou art my God and King…Each day I rise, I will Thee bless…’ – but they have a hollow ring about them! Here’s a prayer to help you to make a real commitment of your life to the Lord: ‘Teach me to live, day by day, in Your presence, Lord…Teach me to praise, day by day, in Your Spirit, Lord…Teach me to love, day by day, in Your power, Lord…Teach me to give, day by day, from my wealth, O Lord…’ (Church Hymnary, 346; Mission Praise, 627).
15th May: Hebrews 12:3-29
We are to seek ‘the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (14). This is not the ‘holiness’ of the Pharisee: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men…’ (Luke 18:11-12). It is the holiness that grows in the hearts and lives of those who have received ‘the grace of God’, those who have prayed, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (15; Luke 18:13). We do not earn ‘the grace of God’ as a reward for our ‘holiness’. Salvation is ‘not our doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, so that no one can boast’. There is a call to holiness. We are saved ‘for good works’. Before we think about holiness, we must get first things first: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith…for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10). We must answer the call to salvation before we can answer the call to holiness.
16th May: Jeremiah 11:1-23
God speaks His Word to us. He calls us to obedience. He says to us, ‘Obey My voice’. Sadly, however, the story of our life is often summed up in the words: ‘They did not listen or pay attention. They did not obey’ (7-8). God’s Word is not just ‘something to think about. When God calls us to obedience, we’re not to say, ‘I’ll think about that later’. ‘Now’ is the time for obedience to God’s Word: ‘Obey now the voice of the Lord’ (38:20). We must not put this off until tomorrow. God is looking for our obedience today: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7). To those who were deeply involved in religious ritual – ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ – , God said this, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience involves our whole life – not just ‘never missing a service’!
17th May: Jeremiah 12:1-17
‘”If any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it”, declares the Lord’ (17). We must not look out to the world and say, ‘That’s what’s happening “out there”‘. We must look into our own hearts. We must ask, ‘What’s happening “in here”?’. We are to pray, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart’ (Psalm 139:23). When the searchlight of God’s Word begins to shine on our lives, it becomes clear that ‘all is not as it seems’: ‘They speak well of You with their lips, but their hearts are far from You’ (2). Our situation seems hopeless. We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (13:23). There is a Word of hope. We can be changed by the Lord: ‘I will give you a new heart’ (Ezekiel 36:26).
18th May: Jeremiah 13:1-27
‘These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them will be…completely useless‘ (10). Are you on the way to becoming ‘completely useless’? Each of us must think about what’s been happening in our lives? – ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill’. We need to pray for real change. We need to pray for ‘a closer walk with God’: ‘Return, O Holy Dove!…The dearest idol I have known…Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee. So shall my walk be close with God…’ (Church Hymnary, 663).
19th May: Jeremiah 14:1-22
In ourselves, there is sin – ‘O Lord…we have sinned against You’. In the Lord, there is salvation – ‘O Lord our God…our hope is in You’ (20,22). In the Lord, there is no sin – ‘You are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). In ourselves , there is no salvation. We are ‘spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins’. We need to be ‘made alive’. How can this happen? It is not something we can do for ourselves. The new birth can only be received as a gift from God. We must stop trying to save ourselves. It cannot be done. Salvation cannot be earned. It must be received as a gift from God. It must be received by ‘faith’. We must look away from ourselves to Christ. In Christ, we see ‘God’s great love for us’. Through receiving Christ as Saviour, we are ‘born of God’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8; John 1:12-13).
20th May: Jeremiah 15:1-21
Some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us – ‘This people will fight against you’ (20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us – ‘Put to death what is earthly in you…’ (Colossians 3:5). There are ‘fightings and fears within‘. There are ‘fightings and fears without‘. We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt’. Tell the Lord all about it. Tell Him how it really is. ‘Just as I am’ – This is how we must come to the Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 79). We do, however, have God’s promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you‘ (20). He will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
21st May: Jeremiah 16:1-21
‘O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, my Refuge in the day of trouble, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth…They will know that My Name is the Lord’ (19,21). Faith is to be personal – The Lord is my Strength, my Stronghold, my Refuge. Faith must not be private. It is not to be kept to ourselves. There is to be no ‘us and them’ attitude. We are not to have a ‘we are the people’ attitude. The Gospel is for the nations. We’re not to say, ‘I’m okay. That’s all that matters’. The Gospel is to be taken to the ends of the earth. We are to reach out to others. We must share the Gospel with the people we meet. Tell the people what the Lord has done for you. Tell them what He can do for them. Let them know how much the Lord loves them. Let them know that our God can be their God too.
22nd May: Psalm 105:1-22
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’ (4-5). The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated. He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won. As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape…’ (1 Corinthians 10:13).
23rd May: Psalm 105:23-45
‘He brought His people out with joy‘ (43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’ (118:14-15).
24th May: Jeremiah 17:1-27
‘The Lord’ is ‘the Fountain of living water’ (13). He says to us, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). We can be ‘like a tree planted by water’, a tree that ‘does not cease to bear fruit’ (8; Psalm 1:3). God speaks His Word to us: ‘”Where is the Word of the Lord?” Let it come!’ (15; Psalm 1:2) He brings His salvation to us: ‘Save me, and I will saved'(14; Psalm 1:6). He gives His blessing to us: ‘ Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’ (7: Psalm 1:1). We rejoice in God’s ‘eternal love’, drinking from ‘the streams of living waters’ and discovering that ‘grace,…like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age’ (Church Hymnary, 421). Let us press on to our heavenly and eternal glory: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
25th May: Jeremiah 18:1-23
‘The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him’ (4). This is what the Lord is doing in our lives. He is ‘the Potter’. We are no more than ‘jars of clay’ (6; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives are ‘marred’ by sin. It would be very easy to give up on ourselves. God hasn’t given up on us. He looks beyond what we are now. He sees what we will become. He is preparing us for ‘eternal glory’. ‘We are being renewed day by day’. ‘We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17:3:18). ‘Jesus, You are changing me. By Your Spirit, You’re making me like You…You are the Potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way…’ (Mission Praise, 389).
26th May: Jeremiah 19:1-20:6
‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stubborn and would not listen to My Word’ (15). God is warning the people. He is calling them back from the way of sin and disobedience. He is calling them to return to Him. He is looking for people who will take Him seriously. He calls us to live in obedience to His Word. He calls us to worship Him with the dedication of our lives and not only the words of our lips. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Will God’s blessing be lost forever? Is there a way of rediscovering His blessing in our lives?’. ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There’s a door that is open and you may go in. At Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus’ (Mission Praise. 682).
27th May: Jeremiah 20:7-18
Jeremiah is deeply depressed – ‘Cursed be the day I was born!…Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?’ (14-18). He has been preaching God’s Word. He’s getting nothing but abuse in return: ‘The Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long’ (8). Does he stop preaching ? No! He keeps on going. He feels like giving up: ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name”‘. There is, however, a greater Power which drives him on – ‘His Word is in my heart like a fire’. No matter how much Jeremiah tries to keep silent, he ‘cannot’ do it (9). He moves forward in triumphant faith: ‘The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior’ (11). He calls on the people to worship the Lord: ‘Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord!’ (13).
28th May: Hebrews 13:1-25
‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers’ (1). If the love of Christ is to flow freely among us, there can be no place for ‘us and them’ thinking – ‘He’s not one of us. They’re not our kind of people. They’re strangers – they don’t belong here’. This kind of attitude is a contradiction of the love of Christ. We must remember: ‘Strangers are only friends we’ve never met’. We sing, ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 746). Do we show His friendship to strangers? We must never underestimate the importance of a ‘friendly welcome’ (11:31). If there is no ‘friendly welcome’, word will soon get around – ‘They’re not very friendly’! This is not just a matter of saying the ‘right words’. It’s about being the right kind of people – people who care enough to be friendly!
29th May: Jeremiah 21:1-14
‘Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past…’ (2). That was then. What about now? We must not assume that God will always bless us. Yesterday’s blessing belongs to the past. We must not live in the past. We must not say, ‘He has blessed us in the past. He will keep on blessing us’. Do you want to keep on enjoying God’s blessing? Keep on seeking His blessing. If we do not seek the Lord, there will be no promise of blessing. We will hear a very different Word from the Lord: ‘I have determined to do this city harm and not good…I will punish as your deeds deserve’ (10,14). Don’t take God’s blessing for granted. You could be ‘in for a rude awakening’ – if you do not start seeking the Lord. Start seeking Him today: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart’ (29:13).
30th May: Jeremiah 22:1-30
Jeremiah was speaking to people who had given up on worshipping the Lord (9). His message was clear: ‘O land, land, land, hear the Word of the Lord?’ (29). God is speaking His Word. Are we listening? God is looking for people who will listen to Him. He wants us to pay attention to His Word. God’s Word is like ‘the sound of a trumpet’. It demands our attention. Many people say, ‘We will not listen’. God’s Word shows us ‘the good way’ and calls us to ‘walk in it’. Many people say, ‘We will not walk in it’. What about you? What do you say? What is your response to the Word of the Lord? God is warning us: ‘I am bringing disaster on this people…because they have not listened to My Word’. Don’t bring this judgment on yourself. Listen to God’s Word. Walk in His way (6:16-19).
31st May: Jeremiah 23:1-20
‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ (1). We are not to be like the false ‘prophets’: ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord’. What were the false ‘prophets’ saying? – ‘They keep saying to those who despise Me, “The Lord says: You will have peace”. To all those who follow the stubbornness of their hearts, they say, “No harm will come to you”‘ (16-17). God is calling us to be faithful. It will not be easy. Often, we will be tempted to ‘take the easy way out’. We will feel the pull of the world: ‘Just be the same as everybody else’. This may seem to be the ‘easy’ option. There is something else we must remember: It is also ‘the broad road that leads to destruction’. Let us follow Christ on ‘the narrow road which leads to life’ (Matthew 7:13-14).
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