Tag Archives: Anxiety

Three Good Things You Should Embrace (Lamentations 2; Lamentations 3)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 2; Lamentations 3

Our brief study of “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” continues today. While Lamentations 3 will be the primary focus of this devotional, I am suggesting a brief outline of Lamentations 2.

Lamentations 2

Jerusalem is Destroyed (2:1-9)

Jeremiah continued to lament the calamity of Jerusalem and observed how the Lord had “covered the daughter of Zion [Jerusalem] with a cloud in his anger” (2:1). Knowing David pronounced the Temple “the footstool of our God” (1 Chronicles 28:2), the prophet bemoaned the LORD “remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!” (1:1) Though it was Nebuchadnezzar whose army destroyed Jerusalem; Jeremiah left no doubt it was the fierceness of God’s judgment that devoured the people. The rebellion of the people moved the LORD to become the enemy of His wayward people (2:2-5).

All Jerusalem was a scene of destruction as the city and its Temple laid in ruins. Yet, it was the LORD who gave the altar, Temple, and the palaces “into the hand of the enemy” (2:7). As Jeremiah looked upon the city, he observed, “9Her gates are sunk into the ground…Her king and her princes are [captives] among the Gentiles: the law is no more” (2:9).

Lamentations 2:10-14 turned the focus from the city and the king, to the sorrows the people suffered. The leaders of the city sat in silence, as they mourned the deaths and destruction that was about them (2:10). Jeremiah was so overcome with grief, his tears failed, and his heart ached (2:11), as the city he loved was ravaged by famine (2:11-13).

Closing thoughts – Jeremiah then reminded the people how their sins brought them to a state of ruin and sorrow. The prophet declared, “the Lord hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word…He hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, He hath set up the horn [power; strength] of thine adversaries” (2:17). Overcome with grief and hunger, mothers turned to cannibalism, and did “eat their fruit” (2:20). Young and old laid dead in the streets, and there were none to bury them (2:21).

Lamentations 3

Jeremiah’s lamentations took on a very personal tone in Lamentations 3, the longest chapter in this small prophetic book. The prophet had lived to see all he prophesied against Judah come to pass. Left behind with the poor, Jeremiah gazed upon a scene of devastation. The Temple was destroyed, the palaces and homes of the city laid waste, and the walls of Jerusalem were fallen.

Lamentations 3:1-21 is a testimony of the prophet’s afflictions.

Jeremiah’s Afflictions (3:1-19)

In his sorrows, Jeremiah confessed the afflictions he carried for the suffering of His people. He felt alienated from God (3:2), as though the LORD was turned against him (3:2-5). He prayed, but it seemed God did not hear his prayers (3:6-8). He felt trapped, abandoned, and wounded in heart (3:9-13). He was scorned by his people (3:14), and overcome with feelings of helplessness (3:15-18). He despaired of life (3:19) until his focus turned to the LORD (3:20-21).

Hope of Salvation in the Midst of Afflictions (3:21-66)

In the midst of sorrows, Jeremiah expressed his faith in words that inspired the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Jeremiah wrote, It is of the LORD’S [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] mercies [loving-kindness; grace] that we are not consumed, because His compassions [mercies; tender love] fail not [never ends or ceases]. 23  They are [mercy and tender compassions] new every morning: great [sufficient; plenty] is thy faithfulness [steadfastness]” (3:22-23). Remembering the LORD’s mercy and faithfulness, Jeremiah declared, “The LORD isgood [Lit. – pleasant; pleasing; best; joyful] unto them that wait [tarry; patiently wait; hope] for Him [the LORD], to the soul that seeketh [follows; searches; asks] Him” (3:25).

Notice, a believer must meet two conditions to know the goodness of the LORD (3:25). The first, he must “wait for Him” (3:25). Are you willing to wait on the LORD when you hurt?  Will you wait when you are ill?  When you have been mistreated or misunderstood, do you wait on the LORD?  Jeremiah’s counsel to those who are in distress is, “wait” and hope in the LORD (Psalm 27:14; 37:14; Proverbs 20:22).

Also, to trust the LORD’s goodness, you must “seek Him” (3:25b). What does it mean to seek the LORD? It means to seek and obey Him (3:40). You seek the LORD when you read, meditate, and obey Him (3:40;Jeremiah 29:13).

Closing thoughts – In closing, I invite you to consider three things Jeremiah described as “good.”  It is good to “both hope [expectant waiting] and quietly wait [wait and keep silent] for the salvation [help; deliverance] of the LORD” (3:26). Hope is more than an emotional or mental aspiration; it is the practice of a disciplined heart and soul. Hope anticipates that God hears and will answer prayer. We hope in the LORD because He is faithful to His Word and promises. It is also good to “quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (3:26b).  Wait without complaining. Wait for the LORD to answer prayer in His time. Finally, it is good for a son to bear the yoke and burden of manhood (3:27). In the midst of his afflictions, Jeremiah acknowledged it was a good thing for young men bear the yoke of manhood with all of its challenges, trials, and disappointments.

Life can be difficult, and even harsh; but a satisfying, rewarding life requires discipline and endurance. What about you? Will you hope, seek, obey, and trust the LORD?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Jeremiah’s Lament: Jerusalem’s Humiliation (Lamentations 1)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 1

Though only five chapters long, the book known as “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” is powerful, poetic, and a devastating portrait of the consequences of sin. As its name suggests, Lamentations is a record of the laments, cries, and groanings of Jeremiah.

Gazing upon the rubble of what was once the beautiful and renown city of David, God’s prophet was overwhelmed with the sorrow and afflictions that had befallen his stubborn people. Jeremiah faithfully served the LORD through the reigns of five successive kings of Judah. He had discharged his sacred duty as God’s prophet, and warned the people what would become of the nation if they did not repent of their sins. Yet, the kings of Judah despised and persecuted him, and the people broke covenant with the LORD rejecting His Laws and Commandments. Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people removed to Babylon. Left behind was Jeremiah and a few poor Jews to work the land and serve Babylon.

Lamentations 1

The opening verses of chapter 1 painted a dismal picture of what became of a bustling city once filled with people, but now figured like a bereaved widow, and a tributary (slave) to Babylon (1:1). Jerusalem’s friends and allies were become her enemies (1:2)

Judah’s Sorrows (1:3-7)

The people of Judah were no longer a free people who enjoyed the blessings of their covenant with the LORD. That nation had become like Israel before her (i.e., the ten northern tribes), a nation in bondage (1:3-4). As is the nature of sinners, only in captivity would the people remember the blessings they had taken for granted (1:7a). They remembered their families, homes, and lands, and the sabbaths their enemies mocked (1:7b).

Jerusalem’s Shame (1:8-12)

The cause for Jerusalem’s demise was summed up in this: “Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore, she is removed” (1:8a). The LORD had chosen Zion for His Temple, and the sanctuary of His presence among His people; nevertheless, the people “turned backward” (1:8b), and found “no comforter” (1:9). Their possessions became spoils for their enemy (1:10), and the heathen entered the sanctuary of the LORD and defiled it (1:10). Suffering famine, the people were impoverished (1:11), and the ruins of the city remained as a testimony to the wrath of God’s judgment (1:12).

Jerusalem’s Suffering (1:13-17)

Consider with me briefly, the consequences of Jerusalem’s wickedness. We find the distress of the city, described figuratively as a consuming fire and a snare (1:13). The sins of the city were a heavy yoke wrapping them like a wreath after the LORD delivered them to their Babylonian masters (1:14). Jerusalem was a defenseless city, for her army was fallen, and her youth crushed (1:15). The joy of music and dance was silenced by sorrow and perpetual tears (1:16). While the people spread their hands toward heaven and called upon the LORD, there was “none to comfort her” (1:17a). To her enemies, Jerusalem was like a “menstruous,” unclean woman (1:17).

Closing thoughts (1:18-22) – Our Scripture reading concludes with Jeremiah calling upon the LORD in a prayer of intercession and confessing the sins of his people. Declaring the righteousness of the LORD, the prophet confessed on Jerusalem’s behalf: “I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity” (1:18).

Jeremiah asked the LORD to see his distress and sorrow, and have compassion upon Jerusalem’s suffering (1:20a). He confessed the sins of His people (1:20b), and asked the LORD to have compassion on those dying (1:20c).

The prophet’s prayer concluded with an imprecatory petition (1:22) as he called upon the LORD to exercise vengeance upon Babylon. Jeremiah prayed, “Let all their wickedness come before thee; And do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: For my sighs are many, and my heart is faint” (1:22).

* A closing note for those who might want to “dig a little deeper;” notice that Lamentations chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 are each twenty-two verses long.  There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet and each of the verses in chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 begin with a word using the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (in other words, like our A-Z in English).  Lamentations 4 is sixty-six verses long and the Hebrew alphabet in that chapter begins couplets that are three verses each.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

An Answer for “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me” (Jeremiah 45)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 45

Having concluded his last prophetic message to the remnant of Judah that fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 44), Jeremiah’s chronological narrative was interrupted for a brief chapter. Jeremiah 45 recalls an earlier discourse between the prophet and Baruch, who served as Jeremiah’s scribe (Jeremiah 36:8). The historical setting of the conversation between the two men came “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah” (45:1). For context, Jehoiakim was the king who cast the prophecies of Jeremiah into a fire (Jeremiah 36:20-26). There were yet two kings who followed Jehoiakim (his successor Jehoiachin, who reigned for three months, and Zedekiah, the last king of Judah).

Penning the revelation concerning the destruction of Jerusalem a second time (Jeremiah 36:27-32), so overwhelmed Baruch he groaned in his spirit. Discouraged, and visibly shaken by God’s imminent judgment, the scribe found himself serving a prophet who was not only unpopular, but also imprisoned.

Jeremiah 45

The LORD Commanded Jeremiah to Confront Baruch (45:1-3)

Jeremiah 45:1-3 – “1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake [pronounced] unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of [according to] Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; 3 Thou [Baruch] didst say, Woe [cry out] is me now! for the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] hath added[increased] grief [afflictions] to my sorrow [pain; grief; anguish]; I fainted [exhausted; wearied] in my sighing[groaning’s; mourning; distress], and I find no rest [comfort; ease; resting place].”

The scribe’s focus was himself, and the LORD revealed to Jeremiah the spiritual state of his friend (45:1-2). Baruch was discouraged and overwhelmed. Jeremiah 45:3 exposed the spirit of a man whose spiritual zeal had waned because he lost sight of God’s sovereignty. The LORD instructed Jeremiah to be a faithful minister, and to instruct Baruch to not place his hope and affections on temporal, earthly things.

 Jeremiah 45:4 – Thus shalt thou [Jeremiah] say unto him [Baruch], The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I [the LORD] have built [established; construct] will I [the LORD] break down [throw down; pluck down; destroyed], and that which I [the LORD] have planted I [the LORD] will pluck up [destroy; tear away], even this whole land.

Reminded God is sovereign, He had the right and authority to build up or to tear down, and no man should question His will. The LORD had determined that the Temple would be burned, the palaces destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem laid waste. Jeremiah 45:5 may strike you as an unnecessary rebuke of a faithful scribe, until you understand the context.

Jeremiah 45:5 – And seekest [require; beg; strive after] thou [Baruch] great things [high; greater; proud thing] for thyself [Baruch]? seek [require; beg; strive after] them not: for, behold, I [the LORD] will bring [come in; enter; give; advance] evil [bad; adversity; affliction; distress] upon all flesh [person; mankind; bodies], saith the LORD: but thy [Baruch] life [soul; person; heart] will I [the LORD] give [deliver; commit; give up; abandon] unto thee [Baruch] for a prey [spoil; possessions; booty; plunder] in all places whither thou goest [walk; depart; follow].

Jeremiah counseled Baruch not to sacrifice God’s calling for promotion or personal aspirations. As a point of background: Baruch’s brother served as a counselor to king Jehoiakim. While his brother enjoyed a prominent role in the king’s palace, Baruch found himself serving a prophet that was despised, persecuted, and imprisoned.

Closing thoughts – Jeremiah’s rebuke is as relevant to us as it was to Baruch. Is it not easy to fall prey to seeking “great things for thyself?” (45:5a) It is easy to focus upon the immediate cost of serving the LORD, but fail to recognize the greater risk, should we disobey Him. The LORD revealed the king, his advisors (including Baruch’s brother), and all the people would fail. Yet, the LORD promised to give Jeremiah’s scribe that which was greater than fame and promotion—LIFE!

The LORD said, “thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” (45:5). What a wonderful promise! Baruch, don’t seek things for yourself, and I will give you LIFE!

What are you seeking? Riches, possessions, titles and fame perish! In the LORD, LIFE is forever!

Matthew 6:19-21 19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

A Cry for Mercy, and the Fruit of Peace (Psalm 79)

Scripture reading – Psalm 79

The content of Psalm 79 makes a strong case for it to be a song that was contemporary with the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of that great city. This is the second of two devotionals for today, and is taken from Psalm 79.

The psalmist cried to God, for there was no other to whom he could appeal (79:1). Nebuchadnezzar’s army (“the heathen”) had invaded Judah, defiled the Temple, and left the bodies of the dead in the streets (79:1-2). The blood of the slain flowed through the streets like streams of water. There were none to bury the dead and spare their loved ones the indignity of being carrion for birds and beasts (79:3). The psalmist complained, the suffering of Jerusalem gave occasion for the heathen to mock God’s people, who had “become a reproach to [their] neighbors” (79:4).

A Cry for Pity, Mercy, and Vengeance (79:5-12)

The writer did not appeal to the injustice of God’s wrath, however, he asked, “How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire?” (79:5) The sins of Judah, had brought God’s wrath upon the nation. Yet, should the heathen be unpunished for their abuses, and wickedness? (79:6)

The psalmist reminded the LORD how the wicked had “devoured Jacob” [slaughtered Israel and Judah], and “laid waste His dwelling place” (the Temple, 79:7). He begged for the LORD’s mercy (79:8), and appealed to Him to save His people, not because of their merit, but for the sake of His testimony among the nations (79:9). He reasoned, “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God?” (79:10)

Calling for God’s vengeance, he implored the LORD to hear the sigh of the prisoners, and save those “that are appointed to die” (79:11). Reminding the LORD the heathen took pleasure in the travails of His people, he prayed God would exact vengeance “sevenfold” saying, “they have reproached thee, O Lord” (79:12).

Closing thought – What was the basis for the psalmist’s prayer for deliverance? It was the LORD’s covenant with Israel and Judah. He reminded the LORD, “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture” (79:13a; 95:7; 100:3). Confessing his humility on behalf of the nation, the psalmist promised, “we will give thee thanks for ever: We will shew forth thy praise to all generations” (79:13b).

The sorrows and sufferings that befell Jerusalem and Judah was because of their wickedness; yet, the psalmist remembered the LORD’s promises of grace and mercy. He understood the LORD chastened Israel and Judah because they were His people, and whom He loves He chastens (Hebrews 12:6).

A personal invitation – You may be bearing the weight of God’s chastening. Remember, He is gracious and merciful. Like a loving father, who chastens a son, the LORD loves you and He corrects you to the end your life  “yieldeth [bears] the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised [trained; disciplined]thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Sovereignty of God Over Men and Nations (Jeremiah 18; Jeremiah 19)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 18; Jeremiah 19

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to a pivotal time in the ministry of Jeremiah. In both Jeremiah 18, and again in the following chapter, the LORD commanded the prophet to visit “the potter’s house” (18:1-2; 19:1). His first visit to the house of the potter was as a spectator (18:3-4). On his second visit, Jeremiah was a customer, for the LORD had told him to “get a potter’s earthen bottle” (19:1). Our devotional is taken from Jeremiah 18.

Jeremiah 18

The Potter’s House (Jeremiah 18:1-10)

One of the great proofs of the LORD’s longsuffering was evidenced in His dealings with Israel and Judah. Sadly, though the people witnessed God’s judgment on their sister nation, (the northern ten tribes of Israel), Judah continued in wickedness. In fact, that nation’s wickedness was magnified because it was the land of the Lord’s holy Temple.

The Purpose for Visiting the Potter’s House (18:2-4)

God commanded Jeremiah to observe the potter as he fashioned lumps of clay on the potter’s wheel. (A potter’s wheel consisted of two horizontal disks joined by a rod. The potter moved the lower disk with his feet, and on the upper disk he “wrought [fashioned] a work [vessel of clay] on the wheels” (18:3).

The prophet observed the potter fashioning two vessels with his hands.  The first was described as “marred” (18:4), perhaps because a pebble or some other flaw was found present in the clay. Removing the impurity from the clay, the potter then compressed the clay, and began again fashioning the lump into a new vessel that “seemed good” (18:4).

Lesson from the Potter’s House (18:5-6)

For the purpose of interpretation, the potter represented the LORD, the clay, the house of Israel (humanity), and the potter’s wheel the cycle and workings of the providence of God.

For Jeremiah, the work of the potter was a portrait of the LORD who described Himself as having chosen the nation of Israel as a potter chooses clay (18:5-6).  God asked Israel, “cannot I do with you as this potter?” (18:6), thus leaving no doubt the implication of the potter’s work with the clay.

The destiny of a nation is determined by its response to the will and Word of God. (18:6-10)

Like clay in the hands of the potter, nations are the work of God. As surely as a potter foresees the vessel he will fashion from clay, the LORD established Israel (18:6c). Not only Israel and Judah, but all nations are founded by the LORD. He is Sovereign and the nations of the earth are clay in His hands. He has authority to determine the rise and fall of nations, and to “pluck up…pull down…[and] destroy” (18:7).

Though the LORD determined to judge Judah for its sins, He assured Jeremiah how He longed for Judah to repent, and “turn from their evil” (18:8). Reflecting His longsuffering, the LORD declared, “I will repent [forgive] of the evil that I thought to do unto them” (18:8b). Yet, should a nation “do evil…[and] obey not,” the LORD warned, “I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit [bless] them” (18:10).

Judah’s Irrational Decision to Reject the LORD (18:11-12)

The LORD commanded Jeremiah to warn the people, if they continued in their sins, He had determined to judge them (18:10). Rather than fearing the LORD and repenting, the people rejected His invitation saying, “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (18:12). Judah refused to repent, and instead set their hearts to do evil.

The Folly of Rebellious Hearts (18:13-17)

Rejecting the mercy of the LORD was so astounding, even the heathen nations were confounded by Judah’s blatant rejection (18:13a). He had chosen and cherished Israel as a virgin, but the people scorned Him (18:13b). His promises were as perpetual as the snows on the mountain peaks of Lebanon (18:14a), and He sent waters gushing from the rocks in the wilderness (for He was the Rock, 1 Corinthians 10:4), yet, Judah rejected the LORD.

Judah was on a ruinous path, for the people did “stumble in their ways from the ancient paths (the Laws and Commandments of God), and followed “in a way not cast up” (18:15; Jeremiah 6:16; Proverbs 22:8).

The judgment of God left the “land desolate,” and the ruins of Judah’s lands and villages a lasting testimony of His judgment (18:16). Other nations would look with wonder upon the calamity that befell Jerusalem (18:16). Foretelling the imminent judgment of God, Jeremiah declared the people would be scattered like the desert winds from the east, and the LORD would turn His face and blessings from them (18:17).

Judah Rejected the Message and Messenger of God, and the Prophet Prayed for Vindication (18:18-23)

Judah refused to heed the warnings of God’s prophet, and planned to silence and slay Jeremiah (18:18). The people, emboldened in their sins, were content with their own priest, wise men, and false prophets (18:18a). Angered by Jeremiah’s boldness, they plotted against him saying, “Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (18:18b).

When Jeremiah received news of the plot to do him evil, he pleaded with the LORD, praying: “Shall evil be recompensed [fulfilled; repaid] for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them” (18:20).

Closing thoughts – Jeremiah accepted the harsh reality how His people had hardened their hearts and resolved to continue in their sin. He prayed the LORD would vindicate Him, and God’s judgment would proceed (18:21-23). Famine, violence, war, sorrows, and deaths would be determined against the prophet’s enemies (18:21), and their households would cry out for God’s judgment (18:22).

Take courage believer, for the LORD is faithful to His promises. His justice will not fail, and He hears and answers the prayers of the righteous.

Matthew 5:18“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Heart is Deceitful (Jeremiah 17)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 17

Our study of Jeremiah brings us to an oft quoted verse, serving as a reminder to the beguiling nature of man’s heart. We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Before I address some observations inspired by that verse, let us first consider the context of that spiritual truth.

Jeremiah 17 – The Sinful Depravity that Lies in the Heart of Man

Chapter 17 opens with the prophet bemoaning the sins of Judah, and declaring the permanent scar sin engraves upon the heart. Leaving no doubt for why God’s judgment would come upon the nation, Jeremiah rebuked the people saying, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron [for engraving upon stone tablets], and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns [corners] of [their] altars” (17:1).

We recall the LORD’s exhortation given to Israel through His servant Moses, when He instructed His words and commandments were to reside in the people’s hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6). Jeremiah’s generation, however, eschewed the Law and had no regard for the word of the LORD. It was the sins of the people, not the word of the LORD, that was “graven” and deeply furrowed in the hearts of the people (17:1).

Generational Sins (17:2)

What a sad, and tragic lesson! Rather than be known for the blessing the Lord’s Commandments bring, Judah was known for being engraved with the ways of the sinful nations that surrounded them. Even more tragic, we read,“their children remember” (17:2). To “remember,” was to follow in the steps of their parents. What did the children remember? They remembered the sins of their forefathers, and the altars where they sacrificed their sons and daughters. They remembered the notorious “groves” that were known for their idolatries and adulteries (17:2).

The Tragic Consequences of a Nation’s Sins (17:3-4)

Jeremiah declared God’s judgment, saying “my mountain in the field I will give” (probably a reference to Mount Zion, upon which the Temple of the LORD was built), and “all thy treasures to the spoil” (17:3). The army of Babylon would raze the Temple, palaces, and the dwellings of Jerusalem (17:3-4).

Cursed is A People Who Trust in Man (17:5-11)

The world is governed predominately by a man-centered philosophy, and is the product of man’s musings apart from God. The LORD, however, would have His people be God-centered, and follow a path clearly defined in His Word, and is antithetical to the natural bent of man’s heart.

What does God’s Word teach concerning a people that look to man for purpose of life and direction? Jeremiah 17:5-11 contrast two philosophies of life: one is cursed and the other blessed.

Jeremiah 17:5-6 declared a man-centered outlook on life is cursed, because it “trusteth in man” (17:5a), and is departed “from the LORD” (17:5). Such a man is like a stunted bush of the desert, and will not thrive (17:6).

Quoting Psalm 1:1-3, the LORD reminded Judah, a man is blessed when he rejects the philosophies of the world and delights in the Word of the LORD. Such a man is blessed and he “shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (17:7-8).

After contrasting the foolish heart of the man that trusts in man, with the blessed heart that trusts in the LORD, Jeremiah warned: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9)

Jeremiah 17:10 is a comfort to the godly, but woe to the sinner who continues in his sin, for the LORD declared: “10I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).

Closing thoughts – There is much more to consider in the balance of today’s Scripture reading (Jeremiah 17:12-27), but our devotional concludes with an invitation for you to ponder Jeremiah 17:11, which reads, “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”

Perhaps this little parable sounds strange, until we ponder the empty, meaningless life of a bird (“partridge”), that spends her life brooding on eggs that remain lifeless, and come to nothing (17:11). The partridge sitting on eggs that “come to nothing” is a waste (17:11a), but not as tragic as the covetous man whose greed drives him to accumulate and sit upon wealth, only to be unprepared for the inevitability of death. His barns may be filled, and overflowing, like the rich fool who failed to plan for eternity (Luke 12:18-21), but “his end shall be a fool” (17:11).

Warning: The heart of man is naturally self-deceived (17:9), and every man will be rewarded “according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).

How is your heart?

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Jeremiah: A Portrait of a Faithful Servant (Jeremiah 15; Jeremiah 16)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 15; Jeremiah 16

We continue our study of Jeremiah’s prophecies in today’s Scripture reading. I will propose a brief outline and commentary of Jeremiah 15, and an expositional commentary of Jeremiah 16.

Jeremiah 15 – The Inevitability of God’s Judgment

The wickedness of Judah was exceeding during the reign of Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, and the LORD revealed to Jeremiah the certainty of impending judgment. Consider the words which the Lord spoke to Jeremiah regarding His people during this time: “6Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. 7And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways” (15:6-7).

I invite you to consider four major points in my outline of Jeremiah 15.

The Revelation: The Judgment of God was Imminent (15:1-9)

Jeremiah’s Lament (15:10-14)

His preaching had borne little fruit, and so he cried out to the LORD, lamenting the sorrows and rejection he had suffered as God’s prophet. He had been the object of scorn, and pitied the day of his birth (15:10). Yet, the LORD assured Jeremiah He would intercede for him, and even his enemies would eventually come seeking his counsel (15:11). God’s judgment, like iron, would not be broken (15:12), and the nation would be spoiled of its wealth (15:13). The wrath of God for the sins of His people would be expressed in their captivity (15:13-14).

Jeremiah Bemoaned His Loneliness (15:18-21)

He had been an object of scorn and persecution (15:15), and he sought solace in that the LORD would remember him, avenge him, and favor him (15:15).

Where did Jeremiah turn for comfort and hope? He found refuge and hope in God’s promises. The prophet prayed, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (15:16).

He followed the pattern of the “blessed” man of Psalm 1, and had not fellowshipped with the wicked. Jeremiah wrote: “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation” (15:17; Psalm 1:1). Yet, he wondered why there was no end to his sufferings and disappointments (15:18).

The LORD’s Exhortation and Loving Assurances (15:19-21)

Lovingly correcting the attitude and outlook of his prophet (15:19), the LORD assured Jeremiah: “I am with theeto save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 21  And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible” (Jeremiah 15:20-21).

Closing thought – What a blessed promise for those who endure persecution, and put their trust in the LORD! In his letter to believer’s in Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote: ““57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Jeremiah 16 – Jeremiah: A Portrait of Sacrifice, Dedication and Sanctification

Describing the imminence of God’s judgment to be fulfilled when Babylon lay siege to Jerusalem, destroying the Temple and the city, the LORD directed Jeremiah not to participate in three events that were a normal part of Jewish life.

The first, Jeremiah was not to take a wife, less the deaths of a wife, sons and daughters be added to the sorrows he would bear in the midst of God’s judgment (16:1-3).  The second activity Jeremiah was to avoid was he was not to mourn for the dead (16:4) nor attend their funerals (16:5-7).   Thirdly, Jeremiah was to avoid weddings and their celebratory feasts (16:8-9).

Refusing to take a wife as Jeremiah was expected to do, served as a testimony and symbolic act before the people, a sign of the imminence of God’s judgment (16:1-3).

Though not a command, Paul observed somewhat the same in his letter to believers in Corinth when he states the “unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 …the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord…she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

In spite of their wickedness, the LORD instructed Jeremiah that the people would ask, “Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (16:10).  Jeremiah was to tell the people their wickedness had exceeded that of their fathers (16:11-12).

Leaving no doubt concerning the reason of God’s judgment and the destruction that would soon come upon the nation, Jeremiah was to remind the people, because they had turned to worship idols and forsaken the LORD and His law (16:11), they would be removed from their land and taken as captives to another (16:12-13).  Describing the invasion and conquest of Judah fulfilled by the Babylonians, Jeremiah prophesied, “the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth” (16:19).

Finally, the LORD did not leave His prophet or the people hopeless, for Jeremiah was to tell the people that the LORD would not forget His covenant and would one day restore them to their land (16:14-15).

I close with an observation: God is Holy and Just and a man, family, or nation that turns from the LORD and forsakes His Word will bear the consequences of their sin.  Let us love the LORD, study His Word, and walk in His ways (Psalm 1:1-3)!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Seek the LORD, for His Ways are Not Your Ways! (Isaiah 54; Isaiah 55)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 54; Isaiah 55

Following the prophetic portrait of a rejected, suffering, and dying Savior in Isaiah 53, we read a call for Israel to “break forth into singing” in Isaiah 54.

Isaiah 54

Once again, the portrait of a husband and wife was given – the barren wife being Israel, and the LORD, the loving husband. In the immediate, the setting was Israel’s future restoration to the land after the Babylonian captivity. Yet, there are also elements in this chapter that will only be fulfilled when Christ returns to reign in His Millennial Kingdom (54:11-17).

The LORD of Salvation (54:2-3)

With her years of captivity fulfilled, Israel would be invited by the LORD to return to Him, and be restored to their land. Isaiah prophesied the blessings of the LORD would be so great, the people would have to enlarge their tents, and make room for an exploding population (54:2-3). Some Gentiles, coming by faith, would be numbered among the nation as believers.

The Sustaining God (54:4-10)

With the assuring exhortation, “Fear not” (54:4), Isaiah prophesied Israel would put her captivity and years of humiliation behind her, and that nation would have no cause for fear, and no reason for shame (54:4).

Why such confidence that all would be forgiven? Isaiah reminded the people who their God was: “Thy Maker[Creator] is thine husband; The Lord of hosts is his name [He is the God of War]; And thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The [Sovereign] God of the whole earth shall he be called” (54:5).

The LORD assured Israel of His unconditional love (54:6-10). Though the nation had forsaken Him, God promised He would never forsake His people (54:6-8). Like a loving father (Hebrews 12:5-11), the LORD had chastened Israel for a season, but Isaiah assured them He would restore them to their land. As certainly as He kept His promise to never again destroy the earth with flood waters, the LORD would keep His covenant with Israel. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills moved out of their places, the LORD’s kindness and mercies toward Israel would never be removed (54:10).

The Promise of a Glorious Future: The Millennial Kingdom (54:11-17)

Israel was promised that the nation would be restored to her homeland, and the city of Jerusalem be rebuilt (54:11-12). Yet, the city described here, whose foundations the LORD would lay is, in my opinion, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-21 describes the beauty of that heavenly city).

In the Millennial Kingdom, the people will come and “be taught of the Lord; And great shall be the peace of thy children” (54:13). They will walk in righteousness, and there will be nothing to fear (54:14). The LORD will be the protector of His people, and any who might oppose them will fail (54:15).

Closing thoughts – The LORD created men who engineer and make weapons of war, and He has used their war machines to execute His judgment upon nations (54:16).

Isaiah 55

Isaiah 55 began with a glorious invitation: “Ho [Listen], every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, And he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (55:1).

The spiritually thirsty and poor were invited to come to the LORD, but not with money. The LORD’s invitation was to come, and submit to His offer of salvation, executed by His grace. The salvation offered by the LORD is offered to all by God’s grace and loving favor (Romans 3:23-24; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What did the LORD promise to those who would come with a spiritual thirst? He promised life (eternal life), “an everlasting covenant[security], and “mercy” (55:3).

Isaiah 55:6-13 is one of the great invitations in the Scriptures: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near” (55:6). Repent, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD” (55:7).

The LORD promised mercy and forgiveness to all who repent, but warned: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord (55:8-9).

Closing thoughts – Consider with me the emphasis on the preeminence of the Word of God.

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word [truth; revelation] be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void [ineffectual; empty; i.e. having no effect], but it shall accomplish [do; make] that which I please [take pleasure or delight in], and it shall prosper [succeed] in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s Word convicts, and brings forth the fruit of repentance and redemption. The LORD promises, His Word will fulfill its purpose. Whether you are a preacher, teacher, or student of the Bible, take heart: God has promised His Word is powerful, and it will accomplish His purpose!

Hebrews 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Be Still; the LORD is Our Refuge (Psalm 46; Psalm 80)

Scripture reading – Psalm 46; Psalm 80

Two psalms are the focus of today’s Scripture reading, and both are certainly pertinent and instructive to believers of the 21st century.

Psalm 46

Since the fall of man, the world has been filled with troubles, sorrows, and wars. The mass media of our day, and the reach of the internet has given us a view of events while they are unfolding. Sadly, there is little good news, and the proliferation of wickedness and violence, coupled with inept leadership, has brought the world to the precipice of anarchy.

What are we to do in the midst of our trials and troubles? Psalm 46 gives us the answer.

God is Our Refuge (46:1-3)

Our God has power over nature, and He is the place (and person) to whom we can flee in troubled times (46:1). He is our Refuge (shelter; strong rock), and Strength (our security, and place of safety). All who flee to the LORD have no cause for worry or fear (46:2). Whether the mountains are moved out of their places by an earthquake, or the seas are troubled (“seas” can be literal, or a symbol of human society), we can be confident God is steadfast and unshaken (46:2-3). “Selah,” pause and ponder that promise!

God is Our River of Life, and Source of Grace (46:4-7)

Jerusalem was the city where the LORD established His Temple, and it was an outward symbol of His presence in the midst of His people (46:4). God had covenanted with Israel to be a perpetual blessing to His people, but the children of Israel had failed to keep covenant with Him.

The LORD was “in the midst” of His people, and though the “heathen raged” (46:6a), the very sound of His voice would cause the nations to tremble (46:6b). The psalmist assured His people, “7The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (46:7).

God Will Be Exalted in the Earth (46:8-11)

The third stanza of Psalm 46 declared God’s judgment, and reminded Judah though the armies of their adversaries were fierce, it was the LORD who has power and authority over nature and the nations. God alone can bring peace, for “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire” (46:9).

Closing thoughts – We close being reminded when troubles and trials assail, people of faith look to the LORD. He would have us to, “Be still,” and rest in the knowledge He is sovereign. He is greater than our trials (46:19), and His purpose will “be exalted among the heathen [and] in the earth” (46:10).

No matter the trial, affliction or enemy, remember: “The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (46:11).

Psalm 80

The setting of Psalm 80 is thought to be after the fall of Israel to Assyria, and was a petition to the LORD to intervene for the Northern Kingdom. It was a song and cry for compassion, and salvation (80:1-7).

As a nation, Israel was described as a grape vine transplanted out of Egypt (80:8-9), a bough that flourished under God’s blessings spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (80:10-12), and a land devastated by enemies portrayed as ferocious as a wild boar (80:13a) and wild beasts (i.e. lions, bears, wolves, 80:13b).

Psalm 80 concluded with the psalmist crying to the LORD to intervene, and save His people (80:14-15). Describing the desolations, Israel had suffered (consumed by fire and cut down, 80:16), the psalmist pens for the third time: “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, Cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (80:3, 7, 19).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Dilemma of a Backslidden Missionary (Jonah 2)

Scripture reading – Jonah 2

Returning to our study of the Book of Jonah, we find the prophet where his disobedience had taken him… facing death “in the belly of the fish” (1:17). Jonah had disobeyed the LORD because he feared He would spare Nineveh from judgment if the people repented of their sins (Jonah 4:1-2). Refusing to obey the LORD, he set sail on a ship going in the opposite direction of God’s will. Pursuing His disobedient prophet across the sea, the LORD sent a storm against Jonah’s ship, and when the sailors understood his presence was the cause of the storm, they cast him overboard, saving their lives and the ship (1:11-12). The LORD saved His unfaithful servant from drowning, by sending a great fish to swallow Jonah when he was cast into the deep (1:17).

Jonah’s Appeal (2:1-2)

Now, the heathen sailors had “cried every man unto his god” (1:5), but to no avail. Jonah, however, had not prayed to God until he found himself in the bowels of the great fish (2:1). We read, “Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God” (2:1), not out of sorrow for his sin, but because of his “affliction” (literally, his trouble, adversity, and sorrow, 2:2a). Without the LORD’S help, the prophet knew he was a dead man, for his circumstances were like “the belly of hell,” and the abode of the dead (2:2b). What a blessed hope we are given when we read when Jonah cried for help, the LORD heard his prayer (2:2c).

Jonah’s Agony (2:3-6a)

Humbled, and broken, Jonah acknowledged the LORD had chastened him for his disobedience, and all he had was because of his sin (2:3). He did not blame the sailors who cast him overboard, but accepted that God chastens His children like an earthly father chastens a disobedient child (2:3; Psalm 119:67; Hebrews 12:6). Jonah was troubled, for he realized his disobedience had resulted in his being “cast out of [the Lord’s] sight” (2:4a). He was a prisoner in a watery dungeon, and the belly of the fish had become his grave (2:5-6a).

Take a moment and consider what God revealed to Jonah concerning the ocean and its depths. We read, “I went down [descended] to the bottoms [base] of the mountains [mountain ranges underwater]” (2:6a). Thousands of years before the submarines of our time, God revealed to Jonah there were mountain ranges in the sea!

Jonah’s Affirmation (2:6b-10)

Reflecting on the LORD, and His faithfulness, Jonah declared, “they that observe [keep; guard; watch] lying [deceit]vanities [meaningless; purposeless] forsake [relinquish; refuse] their own mercy [lovingkindness; grace]” (2:8).  Jonah began his journey supposing he might flee from the LORD, but in the belly of the great fish he acknowledged he had forsaken God’s mercy and favor. He acknowledged that death awaits all who reject the LORD’S mercies.

Closing thoughts – From the belly of the great fish, the LORD heard Jonah’s promise to offer sacrifices as an expression of his gratitude, to give God His due, and faith that “salvation is of the LORD” (2:9). Then, “the Lordspake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (2:10).

If you are running from the LORD, and your sins have taken you far from Him, remember He is only one prayer away. God hears and answers the prayer of those who confess their sin, repent, and turn to him.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith