Daily Readings – April 2017

During 2015, at the evening services, I preached a series of sermons on the early chapters of the prophecy of Jeremiah. At the end of the series, I said that I would complete Jeremiah in these Easterly Bible readings. However, instead of beginning where I left off, I have decided to do the whole of Jeremiah over several months, not least because most people who receive the Easterly do not attend the evening service.

Saturday 1st April
Jeremiah 1:1-3
The call of Jeremiah to the prophetic ministry took place in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah, probably 626BC. It happened in the southern kingdom of Judah which, at that time, was a small nation seemingly at the mercy of several large empires which were struggling for supremacy. We are told that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah, son of Amon, King of Judah, and that he continued his prophetic ministry until the people of Jerusalem went into exile (verse 3). This means that his ministry covered a period of about 40 years, from 626 BC – 587 BC. Thus he prophesied under the last five Kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. It was a momentous period.

Prayer Point
Pray for Dolly Coventry as she begins her well-earned retirement today. Give thanks for all that she did while working in our church office. Pray that she and Steve may enjoy the time and freedom to see their families more often – especially the grandchildren!

Sunday 2nd April
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Jeremiah was no self-appointed prophet. Indeed, he was very reluctant to take on the mantle of responsibility. We’re told that ‘The word of the Lord came to him’. Jeremiah was a man who was taken up by God for a specific purpose. God desired to speak to his people in Judah, and Jeremiah was the chosen voice, or instrument. There was no discussion, no time for consideration, simply a call. God is sovereign. God did not issue an invitation to Jeremiah but a command. Notice, however, that God had not suddenly, out of the blue, decided to call Jeremiah into service, this had been his plan and intention since before Jeremiah was born! Listen to Jeremiah 1:4-5: ‘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.”’ Here, then, is an important message: God has a plan and he ensures that his will and his plan are established.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister taking morning and evening services today and Iain Macdonald taking the Raigmore service.

Monday 3rd April
Jeremiah 1:11-16
Having called Jeremiah, God now tells him that the people are not going to listen to him and that disaster will befall Judah. In these verses, he is given two visions which give a glimpse of the horror and tragedy which would soon come upon Judah as a judgement from God. There is a lesson for us here. God does not promise success to those he calls, he simply promises that he will be with us. He does not call us to be successful, he simply calls us to be obedient. When times are hard in the Christian life, and when the work of the gospel does not seem to be going as well as we would like, there is always a temptation to imagine that God has deserted us but no such conclusion need necessarily be drawn. Jeremiah was told from the beginning that his ministry to the people would be, from a human point of view, a failure (as was Isaiah) but yet this man was faithful and obedient to God. That was all that was expected. Today, that is all God expects of his workers. We don’t build the church, he does.

Prayer Point
Pray for the sick and housebound members and adherents in the congregation. Pray too for their carers and families. Pray that, even when unable to come to church, they might find comfort in the Scriptures and in prayer.

Tuesday 4th April
Jeremiah 1:17-19
God tells Jeremiah to prepare himself and to be ready to stand up against those who would attack him. Courage was required because the prophet’s work would not be easy and he would encounter serious opposition. God emphasises, however, that Jeremiah would not be doing this on his own. God himself would protect Jeremiah from harm and danger. As we read in verses 18-19: ‘“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.’ Whenever we face opposition to the Gospel we must remember that we do not face these battles alone. The Lord is with us.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade and for their annual Display and Awards Night this evening. Give thanks for the faithful service that Susan Mackenzie has given over the years and for Jennifer Morrison and Sheena Fraser as they transition into leadership.

Wednesday 5th April
Jeremiah 2:1-7
Jeremiah was to preach a message of judgement but the word of God which came to him began by reminding Israel of the way things were in earlier, better days, as we see in verses 2-3. These verses point to the faithfulness of God. These were the days when God made a covenant with Israel, when he delivered them from Egypt, when he enabled them to defeat their enemies, when he showed his love for them in so many ways. The reason God reminds them of their past, is to speak to them of the present. In verses 4-5 we can hear the pain as God’s love is spurned by his people. God had not broken faith, indeed his provision was generous. Despite that, they had defiled the land (verses 6-7). Throughout Scripture we see God’s faithfulness contrasted with the unfaithfulness of his people. Have we been unfaithful to God? Have we spurned his love?

Prayer Point
Pray for all the young people who have left our church to go and study or work elsewhere. Pray that God would guard and keep them.

Thursday 6th April
Jeremiah 2:8-13
Jeremiah, speaking from God, now speaks of the sins of the religious leaders of Israel, the priests and the prophets. Sadly, even the religious leaders went after Baal. Indeed, Baal had been ‘officially’ recognised since the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16:29-33). When the religious leaders of a nation abandon the truth, many people will follow. That is why it is so important that we call the religious leaders of our nation to account when they depart from the truth of God, expressed in the clear teaching of Scripture. In response to the behaviour of the religious leaders God brings his charges against them. Israel was guilty of two sins: forsaking God, and attempting to replace him with their own ‘gods’. This was idolatry, a breach of the first two Commandments.

Prayer Point
Pray for Fraser and Dawn Jackson and their children James and Ruth, who have now returned from Nigeria. Pray that God would guide them clearly as they consider their next phase of missionary service.

Friday 7th April
Jeremiah 2:14-28
This passage teaches us that every disaster which has befallen Israel has been the result of sin. We see this expressed in verses 14-19. Both before and during the life of Jeremiah, idolatry and disobedience were rife. Israel was being attacked and defeated by other nations because of her sin, and her sin was a result of taking Satan’s side against God. They had rejected God, they had made their own ‘gods’, they were wicked and immoral, they were self-centered and self-righteous. Now all of these are what Satan wants to see in our lives! He is the implacable enemy of God and all that God seeks to do. God’s plan to redeem Judah for himself was under attack! Yet God would have the last word because only he can save. He mocks the people of Judah, asking why the ‘gods’ they have made themselves do not come to their rescue. Without God they were helpless, just as we are when we walk away from him.

Prayer Point
Pray for the trustees of Covenant Fellowship Scotland as they meet this evening and tomorrow morning to prepare for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Saturday 8th April
Jeremiah 2:29 – 3:5
This is the final part of Jeremiah’s great sermon which forms the introduction to his prophecy. The main theme of the verses is that the people of God had completely failed to understand their true condition and the danger they faced from the judgement of God. They seemed completely unaware of impending disaster and were living in a fantasy world. In fact, it was worse than that because they blamed God for their problems! They obviously believed that they had done nothing wrong and did not deserve any of the troubles with which they were faced. These sinners were bringing charges against God! They believed that he was responsible for their condition and ought to put it right. What nerve! The purpose of God’s rebuke was to bring them to their senses and into a condition of obedience but this had failed. Notice, ‘they did not respond to correction.’ Do we respond to God’s fatherly correction? Or do we protest our innocence?

Prayer Point
Pray for all who will preach God’s Word tomorrow, especially in those churches known to us. Pray that God will move by his Spirit across Scotland.

Sunday 9th April
Jeremiah 3:6 – 4:4
If there is one central message to be found in today’s passage of Scripture, it is that when God calls us to repentance, the repentance must be full and whole-hearted. Partial repentance and partial turning to God are simply not enough. This section of Jeremiah’s prophecy was written during the reign of Josiah, where there was indeed some repentance and some turning back to God but it was too little, too late. In verses 6-10, the northern kingdom of Israel (which later became Samaria) and the southern kingdom of Judah (where Jeremiah was prophesying) are compared and contrasted. Israel went into exile in 722BC, having been defeated and captured by the Assyrians. This was around 150 years before Judah went into exile, having been defeated and captured by the Babylonians. God wants Judah to consider carefully what happened to Israel, so that they do not end up in the same situation. The expression ‘I am your husband’ (verse 14) reminds us that God regarded his relationship with his chosen people as like a marriage. This means that when his people went after other gods, he describes it as adultery. As the covenant people of God, we are in a kind of marriage relationship with God. He has chosen us, called us, redeemed us and brought us to himself.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services today, for Derek Morrison as he takes the Raigmore service and for Mr D.A. Maclennan as he takes the Gaelic Service.

Monday 10th April
Jeremiah 4:5-18
Jeremiah prophesies that Judah will be invaded from the north and that this will result in disaster and terrible destruction. The effect that this would have on the nation would be catastrophic. The king and officials would ‘lose heart’ (verse 9), the priests would be horrified, and the prophets would be ‘appalled’. What this says about the prophets is the most serious point: they would be appalled. That is to say, these false prophets were predicting good times and success. Later in this book, Jeremiah receives a message from God about these false prophets (see Jeremiah 23:15-22). The priests and the prophets were guilty on two counts. First, instead of telling the people what God had said, they were saying the things the people wanted to hear. Second, they had no authority from God for what they were saying. Instead of leading the people and directing them towards God, they were following and giving additional support to the decisions the people had already made. They were following the crowd, not directing the crowd. These are constant dangers within the Church of God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Council of Assembly meeting in Edinburgh today. Pray that the Minister and the others will be led by God’s Spirit and advance the cause of the Kingdom.

Tuesday 11th April
Jeremiah 4:19-31
In these verses, we catch a glimpse of Jeremiah’s feelings for his people. Notice that this man of God has a warm heart, a love for his people and a deep desire for their salvation. His preaching springs from love and compassion for the lost. We can think of a number of examples of a man of God showing a deep love and concern for the lost. Think about Abraham in Genesis 18:22-33, pleading for Sodom. Or in Exodus 32:9-14, where Moses pleads for Israel after they foolishly built a Golden Calf. In the New Testament, we might think about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39. Where the Gospel is preached without love and without the heart’s desire for men and women to be saved, it is a cold and lifeless thing. Remember, for example, the mess Jonah got himself into when he became angry with God, when the people of Nineveh were converted. He preached because he had been told to preach, but without love, without compassion. He did not want them to repent and be saved. This applies not only to preachers but to all believers. Do you have a concern for the lost? Does your heart reach out to those heading for a lost eternity? Does that love lead to evangelism?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Church of Scotland. Pray that God will move by his Holy Spirit across the land and bring reformation and renewal to the Church.

Wednesday 12th April
Jeremiah 5:1-17
We have seen already that things were very bad in Judah but the prophet now considers the situation in the capital city of the nation, in Jerusalem itself. It is very often the case that the state of affairs in the capital city has implications for the rest of the nation. If there is sin and corruption at the very heart of government and business, this has an effect on the whole country. Similarly, if the leaders in the capital city are corrupt, then this will affect the whole life of the nation. The malaise was widespread. It was not only the poor and the ignorant who had turned their backs on God but also the leaders of the nation, who should have known better. No wonder, then, that Jeremiah can affirm the justice of the Lord’s case against Judah (verses 6-9). Jeremiah has tried, he has looked for a righteous person and he has failed. He is forced to announce God’s judgement on the nation.

Prayer Point
Give thanks for the attendance at the two prayer meetings each Wednesday and pray that even more may come.

Thursday 13th April
Jeremiah 5:18-19
Despite what we saw yesterday, in the midst of Jeremiah’s word of judgement, there is a glimmer of hope. In verse 18 we’re told that not all would be destroyed. Why did God not destroy them completely? Although there is little evidence of it in this chapter, there were some people who had not followed other gods, a few faithful people in the middle of a nation which had turned its back on God. In chapter 6 we shall see this spelled out in more detail, the story of the faithful remnant. We see this in the great promise of God that, although he was sending the nation into captivity in Babylon, nevertheless, he would bring them back one day to the land. Even in the darkest of days, there is hope. Even as they are about to be invaded and dragged off into captivity, there is the hope and promise that their God has not forgotten them and will bring them back.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch at Raigmore today and pray that the message about the Resurrection will challenge hearts and minds.

Friday 14th April
Jeremiah 5:20-31
In these verses, we have a statements of sins committed, followed by a restatement of the justice of God’s judgement against them. The final two verses of the chapter (30-31) are perhaps the most serious of all, because they describe the condition of the religious leaders of the nation. We have already seen the sin of the ordinary people and the sin of the leaders of the nation. Now he turns to the religious leaders, those whose task it was to witness to God and to declare his Word faithfully to the people. The prophets were prophesying lies. The priests were ruling by their own authority, rather than the authority of God. Worst of all, God says, and ‘…my people love it this way.’ They liked rulers who would not restrain them, religious leaders who would never point out their sins, who would leave their consciences in peace. Many people are like that today. If the preacher speaks in general terms about sin and salvation, no-one is greatly upset but when the preacher mentions specific sins, which strike the conscience and bring guilt, the reaction is quite different. In such circumstances, people close their ears and do not want to listen.

Prayer Point
On this Good Friday, give thanks to God that he loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die on the Cross for us. Pray that the message of the Cross may be heard and understood by many today.

Saturday 15th April
Jeremiah 6:1-9
In the first eight verses of the chapter, the prophet Jeremiah tells the people of Jerusalem that it will be besieged day and night by its enemies from the north. The people were to flee from the city because it was to be destroyed. Trumpets and signals were to be employed to warn others of the great disaster, which was imminent. The disaster and destruction are described graphically but even at this stage God, through the prophet, appeals to Jerusalem to heed the warning, as we see in verse 8. Unfortunately, only a remnant of the people responded to God’s grace and mercy, freely offered. Judah is described in verse 9 as ‘the remnant of Israel’. God had kept a remnant of the people for himself. Throughout the Old Testament, even in the very worst of days, God always had a ‘remnant’ which did not perish. Such is the extent of God’s grace that, even at this late stage, he reaches out in love and mercy. There are many who imagine themselves to be beyond redemption who, if they would but turn to God, would be saved.

Prayer Point
On this Easter Saturday, when Christ was in the tomb, the day of silence between the Cross and the Resurrection, pray that all Christians might take time to contemplate what Christ suffered for us.

Sunday 16th April
Jeremiah 6:10-15
In verses 10-11, we have a cry from the heart of Jeremiah. One commentator puts it like this, ‘Jeremiah expresses his personal reaction to the unbelief of his people. He is identified with God in this crisis, and increasingly it will be clear that since the people have rejected God, they have also rejected Jeremiah.’ Jeremiah is speaking God’s Word to a people who were deaf to its message; indeed they found the Word of God offensive. We often use the expression ‘the message fell on deaf ears’ and what we mean by that is that people didn’t want to hear. Why do people not want to hear God’s Word? Because it is offensive, that is, it challenges them and points to their sin. Nothing has changed since Jeremiah’s day. Even today there are those who listen to the Word of God and those who are deaf to it; those for whom the Word of God is a pleasure, and those who find it offensive. This is what Paul taught us to expect in 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.

Prayer Point
On this Easter Sunday morning, give thanks that Christ has triumphed over death, for us and for our salvation. Pray for the Minister as he takes all three services today.

Monday 17th April
Jeremiah 6:16-23
Here the Lord appeals to his people. Listen to verse 16: ‘This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”’ There are two thoughts here: choosing the right path, and finding rest for our souls. Choosing the right path and finding rest for our souls, that is what God wants us to do. Notice that the one leads on to the other. If we follow closely the right path, then God will bless us and we will indeed find rest for our souls. Jesus spoke about both of these themes. On choosing the right path, read Matthew 7:13-14. On finding rest for our souls, read Matthew 11:28-30. The Gospel was and is the same: to the people of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day, to the disciples of Jesus, and to us today. Choose the narrow road and find rest for your souls in God. Unfortunately, the people in Jeremiah’s day refused this Word. Will you?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Holiday Club at the end of July and for all the work being done now in preparation. Pray for the small team planning the event and for all those who have volunteered to help. Pray that God will use it to sow Gospel seeds in the lives of many children.

Tuesday 18th April
Jeremiah 6:24-30
This description of what was to happen eventually made an impact on the people. The men of Judah had heard tales of the Babylonians and knew something of their ferocity and so they were terrified. It is sad and very telling, that they were afraid of the enemy but had no fear of God. They worried about what the Babylonians might do to them but had no concept of the judgement of God. They were afraid of temporal suffering but had no notion of eternal suffering. The passage ends with a vivid illustration. God had made Jeremiah a refiner, a purging and cleansing fire, like the fire used to refine and purify metals. Can you see the significance of this? We must allow God to burn away all our sin and purify us, that we might be found holy in his sight. This is true not only of individuals but of the church as a whole. We live in days when the church badly needs to be refined and purified but a day of darkness and trouble can also be a day of opportunity, as it was 500 years ago for Martin Luther.

Prayer Point
Pray for all those who provide various kinds of service to our church, whether flower arranging, cleaning, repairs and maintenance, serving on a duty team or any of the myriad tasks that need to be performed.

Wednesday 19th April
Jeremiah 7:1-8
Jeremiah is told by God to preach a sermon outside the gates of the temple in Jerusalem. And what a sermon it was! Jeremiah points to the hypocrisy of the people. He says that they went through all the motions of religion, but their lives were wicked. The purpose of the sermon was to bring the people to repentance. Jeremiah states the message clearly: the people must trust in God and not in religious observance (verse 4). God is saying to his people, ‘Don’t imagine for one moment that coming to the temple is sufficient to earn the grace and mercy needed for salvation.’ They were stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, burning incense to Baal, going after other gods and then going to the temple in Jerusalem, standing before God, and declaring themselves to be the people of God. I’m sure the hypocrisy of this is clear to all of us, but is the hypocrisy which we see around us equally clear? There are many today who put their trust in religious observance and Sunday worship but whose hearts are not right with God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Annual Stated Meeting of the congregation tonight and give thanks for the work of the treasurer, the fabric convener and the leaders of the various organisations and groups within the congregation.

Thursday 20th April
Jeremiah 7:9-29
The people of Judah had to learn that the primary requirement of the faithful Jew was obedience to God and, if this was absent, all the religious ceremonies in the world would do them no good. Indeed, the sins of the people were so bad that God told Jeremiah not even to pray for them (verse 16). The sad fact was, as we are told in verse 19, they were ultimately harming themselves more than God. Such was the condition of these unrepentant sinners, these persistent unbelievers. They were losing all the blessings of God in this life and would lose all hope of eternal life. Having shown the people that the temple and temple worship would not protect them, God makes it clear in verse 21-26 that their sacrifices and burnt offerings would not help either. Obedience was all that was required, and indeed obedience (even at this stage) would bring great reward, as we see in verse 23. Sadly, the people refused to listen. There is a message here for us too. When we disobey God and turn our back on him, we are hurting ourselves more than God because we are losing the blessings which he wants to shower upon us.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Gathering today and for June McGowan and her team. Pray that those who come might enjoy a time of fellowship over tea and coffee.

Friday 21st April
Jeremiah 7:30 – 8:3
This passage speaks of the judgment which was to come upon Judah for certain detestable practices. The prophet tells the people exactly what is going to happen to them and it is truly a frightening and disastrous vision. The people of Judah were using the valley of Ben Hinnom for child sacrifice. This valley was immediately south of Jerusalem. This cult was introduced by Ahaz and Manasseh. We read about this in 2 Kings 16:2-4 and 2 Kings 21:1-6. This practice was stamped out by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) but unfortunately, the practice had now been revived in Jeremiah’s day, probably under Jehoiakim. These people had forgotten God’s word to them in Genesis 9:6. It is because human beings are in the image of God that we take human life so seriously. It is why we resist abortion, except when a mother’s life is in danger, and it is why we resist assisted suicide and euthanasia. The dignity and preciousness of human life is crucial to being human.

Prayer Point
Pray for Jack Macdonald working as Pastoral Assistant to Colin Sinclair at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh.

Saturday 22nd April
Jeremiah 8:4-12
The prophet here describes the failure of the people to listen to reason and to respond to God. You can hear the amazement in the prophet’s voice. When people fall down what do they do? Well, they get up again of course. If someone gets lost (the meaning of ‘turns away’) what does he do? Well, he goes back to find his way, of course! Why, then, when they have fallen into sin and lost their way through backsliding, do these people not return to God? Do you see the point Jeremiah is making? He is saying, this behaviour is totally irrational. More serious was the fact that they refused to listen to God’s Word. They were deceiving themselves by saying ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord’, when in fact those responsible for the law were ‘handling it falsely’. Just to possess the law is not enough. First it has to be handled properly and second it has to be obeyed. Do we have Bibles but don’t read them or obey God’s teaching?

Prayer Point
Pray for Neil and Rachel Rae in the Philippines as they care for other missionaries. Pray too for the MacDonalds in Lusaka, Zambia and for the boys they have adopted. Pray that God would keep them safe from all harm and danger and would bless their work.

Sunday 23rd April
Jeremiah 8:13-22
As a result of all that we have seen, Jeremiah now speaks of the judgement to come (verse 13). In verses 14-16 we witness a dawning recognition that the nation of Judah is in deep trouble but there is still no repentance. The people of Judah could see that disaster was about to come, in the form of an attack by the Babylonians but they still remained intransigent in their sin. Unfortunately, human sinfulness often leads to this situation. There are many who are utterly mired in sin and can see that their lives are in crisis, yet they fail to take the only course of action which could save them, namely, turning back to God. There are many people in our day and indeed our city who need to hear this message. Perhaps they are nearing the end of their lives and they have not yet come to God for forgiveness and eternal life. Like the people of Judah, time is running out for them. Will they come to Christ?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister taking the morning service today and Alex Stephen taking the evening service. Pray for Jim Fraser and for the Music Group as they lead our worship.

Monday 24th April
Jeremiah 9:1-11
At the beginning of this chapter we find Jeremiah in deep distress. He is grieving over the sin of his people and is so heartbroken that he wants to escape (verses 1-2). I’m sure that some, if not all, of us can identify with Jeremiah in his desire to escape a difficult situation. In the midst of a people where there is little evidence of repentance or conversion, he longs to be away. Even the Lord Jesus himself asked to be delivered from a difficult situation. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked the Father that he might escape from the need to go the way of the Cross. Paul also wanted to escape from the difficulties of this world, as we read in Philippians 1:21-25. The Christian is surely not immune to such trials. Have we ever longed for escape, to be away? In response to Jeremiah’s cry, Matthew Henry wisely says, ‘We must not go out of the world, bad as it is, before our time’.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister taking an Assembly at Raigmore School today. Pray that the children will hear and understand the message and will enjoy the singing.

Tuesday 25th April
Jeremiah 9:12-26
In these verses, we have two themes which are echoed in the New Testament. In verses 23-24, Jeremiah speaks out against boasting over wisdom, strength or riches. Instead, they are to boast in the Lord. This was picked up by Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:8-17. The other theme concerns circumcision of the heart. Here in verses 25-26 Jeremiah gives a word from the Lord that he will circumcise all those who are circumcised ‘only in the flesh’. True circumcision is always circumcision of the heart. We can compare this with Romans 2:25-29; Philippians 3:3 and Colossians 2:11. The message from Jeremiah and from Paul is the same: outward conformity is meaningless if it is not accompanied by a heart commitment. Do we conform outwardly (been baptised, take the Lord’s Supper) while deep down we are not where we should be in relation to God?
Prayer Point
Pray for the Word at One service today. Pray too for the church multimedia team, both in the church and at the Raigmore services. Give thanks for the way in which the members of the team use their technical skills to enhance our worship.

Wednesday 26th April
Jeremiah 10:1-11
This chapter concerns the worship of idols. In verses 3-5, Jeremiah points out the stupidity of idol worship. Later on in the chapter, Jeremiah points out that the one who makes the idols should be covered in shame at what they are doing (verses 14-15). If we ask why the people of Judah worshipped idols, we find that it is an age-old problem: they wanted to be like everyone else. As we see in verse 2, they were learning the ways of the nations around them. This is a constant danger for the people of God in every generation. The people of God are called to be different from the other nations. Even to this day, God calls us to look to him and not to the ways of those around us. What we see, however, is the church more and more trying to be like those around, sharing their values and beliefs. When that happens, the church is in great danger, as it was here in Jeremiah’s day.

Prayer Point
Pray for the work of the Scottish Bible Society, for the Gideons and for others who distribute God’s Word.

Thursday 27th April
Jeremiah 10:12-16
In these verses, Jeremiah goes on to compare the worthless idols we discussed yesterday with the living God. In verses 12-13 he begins the comparison, then in verse 16 he says: ‘He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance – the LORD Almighty is his name.’ These images and idols will perish but God is not like them. This is the same message we find in Acts 17:24-25: ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.’ God cannot be compared to worthless idols which human beings make for themselves. They worship the things they have made, whereas we are called to worship the one who made us.

Prayer Point
Pray for the elders of Inverness East Church, as they meet tonight. Pray that they will guide and direct the affairs of the Church and that they might be faithful visitors and pastors of the congregation.

Friday 28th April
Jeremiah 10:17-25
In verses 17-25 we read of the judgement to come. Even in the midst of this promise to remove the sinful people of Judah from their land, we learn two important things. First, the religious leaders of the people had failed to listen to the Lord and, as a result, the sheep are scattered (verse 21). This is an important point. If the shepherds of the Lord’s people, those who are appointed to care for them, if they do not listen to the Lord it demonstrates their stupidity and it leads only to disaster. The second point is found in verse 23, where Jeremiah says, ‘I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.’ Notice what this verse is teaching us:
The truth that we are not our own. The truth that we do not direct our own steps. The people of Judah had chosen to worship idols rather than the living God. This was a bad choice and one which would have catastrophic consequences. Given a choice between hand-made wooden or stone idols and the living God, there is no choice. Do we make bad choices and worship things other than God?

Prayer Point
Pray for Open Doors today and for the team on duty, led by Bob Matheson. Pray that many people will come through the doors and that they will experience the warmth and friendship of the church and hear about Christ.

Saturday 29th April
Jeremiah 11:1-17
The chapter begins with God reminding the people of the covenant he had made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. The Exodus from Egypt was the most significant event in the history of God’s chosen people. After 400 years of slavery, they are liberated, under the leadership of Moses. After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites were about to enter into the land God had promised them, so there was a need to structure the life and worship of the nation. In this covenant with Moses, God told them how and where to worship, he gave them his moral law (the Ten Commandments) and he gave them structures for authority and leadership. This was all founded on the earlier covenant with Abraham, when he promised to be their God and took them as his people. Yet when God made a covenant with his people through Moses, the covenant had attached to it both blessings and curses. These blessings and curses are described in Deuteronomy 28. As Jeremiah points out, the people had broken the covenant and so were now under judgement.

Prayer Point
Pray for Inverness City Centre and for the great need among many, especially those living in hostels. Pray for the work of Street Pastors and others who reach out a caring hand in Christ’s name.

Sunday 30th April
Jeremiah 11:18-23
The second part of our chapter concerns Jeremiah himself. There is quite a bit of personal information in the prophesy and this helps us to build up quite a picture of him. Here, however, the information is concerned with a plot on his life. Their anger against Jeremiah is described in verses 19-20. His enemies said to him: ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD or you will die by our hands’. The Lord told Jeremiah of the plot (verse 18) and the Lord judges them for their plot (verses 22-23). Once again we have here the lesson which has been very clearly demonstrated to us in the course of these studies, that when God’s Word is preached faithfully and directly, with no fear or favour, then hatred and opposition will arise.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today and for Bill Flett as he takes the Raigmore service. Pray that God would receive our worship, bless our fellowship and teach us through his Word.