Where Do You Put Your Confidence?

Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 52:12-16

 “Where Do You Put Your Confidence?”

 We have learned through the life of Jeremiah if we want to run with the horses, we must be grounded in our identity as a child of God. We also learn that if we want to run with the horses it will take risk, perseverance, trust, obedience, faithfulness and hope. Our last lesson from Jeremiah will be about confidence, not the confidence we put in our own strength or external circumstances but a confidence that comes from Christ living within us.

Theme: Often we seek confidence from external clarity when what we really need is to find our confidence from internal clarity.

External Clarity – trying to get confidence and assurance from our external circum-stances, the things we can see.

Internal Clarity - described by Eugene Peterson, it is confidence that comes from with-in, from the Holy Spirit in spite of external chaos.

Jeremiah’s story was faithfulness through one disaster after another. Jeremiah never got to see the fruits of his labor. Jeremiah’s confidence did not come from external clarity there was none in his life. His confidence came from the promises of God.

 2 Corinthians 4:18 - because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

 Hebrews 11:1 -Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 Martin Luther - Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a person could stake his life on it.

 Corrie Ten Boom -Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

 Martin Luther King Jr. - Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

We Need an Ebed-melech in Our Life!

Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 37

“We Need an Ebed-melech in Our Life!”

We are created for relationship. We all think we are self-sufficient but the reality is we were not created that way. Needing our neighbor, needing others is essential for our spiritual growth.

 Harvard researcher Daniel Goleman states, "The most fundamental revelation of the discipline of neurobiology is that we are wired to connect with others.”

 Theme: If we want a deep relationship with God, we need deep relationships with each other. We all need people who stand with us and for us.

 Ebed-melech was one of the few friends and supporters of Jeremiah. An alien and slave in Jerusalem, he believed Jeremiah’s prophecies. He aided Jeremiah even though the Israelite rulers and priests rejected Jeremiah and his message.


Jeremiah had God on his side. Jeremiah knew how to pray, obey and persevere but he also needed some friends who were willing to stand with him and for him. God often showers His grace on us through our ordinary day to day relationships. We all need an Ebed-melech in our lives.

 Who is standing with you and for you? Who can you turn to when you feel stuck in the mud?

 As I have shared many times before, so often the seeds for these types of friendships are right in front of us, just waiting to be nurtured. Some of you have gotten to know folks on Sunday morning and all it takes is to ask someone out for coffee and lunch. Some of you Pre-school parents may want to form a prayer group for your kids. The sky is the limit.

 1. Do you have an Ebed-melech in your life, a friend who will stand with you and for you? a group of spiritual friends?

2. Who could be that for you? Think of some names right here, right now. What would it take for you to invite them to coffee or lunch? A turquoise table in the front lawn? Be creative.


Greater Dependence

Running with Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 35

“Greater Dependence”

 Why did Jesus talk about money so much?

There is a fundamental connection between a person’s spiritual life and their actions concerning their treasure. We can either allow our heart to shape how we choose to use our treasure, or we can allow our treasure to shape our heart.

Theme: God calls us to health and obedience in all aspects of our lives, even in regards to how we respond with our money.

Over the last few decades there have been two prevalent perspectives on this issue of faith and possessions.

 Moderate Materialism –

 Asceticism –

 In the Old Testament and the New Testament we see God bless folks with creature comforts. Jesus turned water into wine. God blessed Abraham and Job. Food and celebration was part of Judaism and the early church. God wants us to see the gifts that He gives us and to enjoy life. Yet we also see a warning in Scripture to not allow our possessions to be our treasure. There are many different warnings about our stuff.

 It eventually comes down to trust.

We are not called like the Recabites to sell our houses and live in tents, or to abandon our jobs and roam the desert. But we are called to differentiate our needs and our wants. It is the discipline not to strive for possessions, wealth, and extravagance, rather to live with greater dependence on God.


Power to Change Hearts

Running with Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 36

“Power to Change Hearts”

We are in the middle of our sermon series looking at the key themes of Jeremiah. Today we are going to look at an interesting story of Jeremiah in Chapter 36.

 Josiah a generation earlier heard the scroll of Deuteronomy read and it completely changed his heart. It not only stirred him in his heart it changed the way he lived.
One generation later, his son, Jehoiakim heard the scroll of Jeremiah and rather than it changing his heart he burned it.

Theme: The word of God has the power to change hearts. But it is amazing how often we can disregard it.

In the Old Testament when you hear proverbs, psalms, or other passages directing people to God’s “word” it is often referring to the Torah. The Torah refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Christians, when we refer to God’s word, we talk about the totality of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Bible.

Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of God’s self-disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. They are to be interpreted according to their context and purpose and in obedience to the Lord Who speaks through them in living power. We believe God’s word needs to not only be at the center of our church but the center of all of our lives.

Hebrews 4:12 (NRSV) — Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

John Ortberg states, “strange thing about the Bible; it has a power to it. I think I'm going to read it, and it starts reading me. I think I'm going to judge it, and it starts judging me. I think I'm going to weigh its words, and it's my life that's being weighed.”



Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 25:3-4/ Lamentations 3:22-23


 We have learned from Jeremiah…

· That God has set us aside for purpose and meaning.

· That we should not take God for granted.

· That we should persevere.

· Last week we explored Jeremiah’s prayer life.

 Jeremiah 25:3-4.
3For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. 4And though the Lord persistently sent you all his servants the prophets, you have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear.

Eugene Peterson asks the question, "Where did Jeremiah learn his persistence? What kept him going for God for so long? Where did he get his stamina?” Peterson exclaims, “Jeremiah learned it from God. Jeremiah learned to live persistently toward God because God lived persistently toward him." (Running with the Horses)

Lamentations 3:22-23
22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.




How have you seen God’s persistence in your life?

How have you seen God’s faithfulness?


The Powerful River of Prayer

Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 15

“The Powerful River of Prayer”

Quick review of what we learned from Jeremiah:

· God has set us aside for purpose and meaning.

· We looked at the warning of taking God for granted.

· Last week, we talked about perseverance.

Today we are going to look at Jeremiah’s prayer life.

 In Eugene Peterson’s book, Running with the Horses, he ponders the question what was Jeremiah really like? What did he do when he was alone? We really have no idea, but what we do know is that Jeremiah was a person of prayer.

 Theme: Prayer is the path to Renewal

 Definition of renewal: The state of being made new, fresh, or strong again. (Webster)

Prayer can lead us to renewal in three ways:

 1. “Unceasing Prayer”

 2. “Listening Prayer”

 3. “Prayer of Letting Go”

 If a waterfall represents renewal, then prayer is the powerful river that leads to the new fresh wonder of God in our lives.

 Questions for Reflection:
             1.  What do we learn about prayer from Jeremiah?             
            2.  Describe moments that you have experienced renewal in  your life. What led up to those                              moments?
             3. What are some ways you pray that refresh you?



Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 20


We live in a culture that often promotes short cuts, quick fixes, and the value of being comfortable. Perseverance is an important value that sometimes gets missed these days.

Theme: What we learn from observing the life of Jeremiah is perseverance is a key to living faithfully.

Perseverance: the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.

There are two things we learn about perseverance from the life of Jeremiah.

 1. When we are faithful to God, it does not mean that all will be right on this side of the Kingdom.

2. It is important to wrestle with God in the midst of difficulty.

Jeremiah lived a tough life – from a human perspective. But he persevered, and even in his wrestling with God he developed a deep and profound prayer life. God is saying to you and me, “I have plans for you. I have a purpose for you. It will be tough but no matter what you face I will be with you.” Perseverance is not about success, it is about faithfulness. God will see you through.

Reflection Questions:

1. Why do we still experience difficulty even though we are faithful to God?2. Besides Jeremiah, who else in the Bible faced hardship in the midst of faithfulness?
3. What are some scriptural references about perseverance?
4. Describe a time in your own life you have related to Jeremiah?


Run with the Horses
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 7



We all long to live at our best with purpose and meaning. Jeremiah gives us a window into what it means to risk, trust and pursue wholeness and significance in the hectic day to day of life. God is saying to you and me I have plans for you. I have a purpose for you. It will be tough but no matter what you face I will be with you. My hope is we can all run with the horses.

God is warning Judah through the lips of Jeremiah the danger of hypocrisy, idol worship and disobedience. I believe the warning for all of us is taking God for granted in our lives can be dangerous.

The more we take our eyes off God, the more we convince ourselves that we are in control of our lives, until one day we wake up and realize we are lost. 

· Jeremiah is warning against hypocrisy.

· Jeremiah is warning against idol worship.

· Jeremiah is warning against disobedience.

The more we surrender to follow Jesus with a sense of priority in our life and circumstances, the more we become a Jesus follower as a way of life, the more we will experience the presence of God dwelling with us.


Run with the Horses

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Jeremiah 1:1-10



Today we are starting a ten-week sermon series looking at the key themes of Jeremiah based on Eugene Peterson’s book, Running with the Horses. The premise of the title comes from Jeremiah 12:5. At this moment Jeremiah was worn down by all the opposition and resistance to his message. The story of Jeremiah is one of the greatest underdog stories, a story about perseverance, stamina, and faith in the midst of tragedy. 


Jeremiah’s name means ____________ and was born _____________. During his ministry there was incredible conflict between ___________ and ___________. Jeremiah and the other prophets were about holding in tension the message of ___________ and ___________. 

Jeremiah is called the ____________. 

Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by __________ and Judah was led away in captivity by the __________. 

Theme: My prayer for today is that all of you can leave today realizing that before you were born, God consecrated you. God made you sacred, set you apart for a purpose. God made you uniquely you. 

We all have been set apart, consecrated to the work of the prophetic. We need to stand in the gap against injustice, poverty, pain, and sin in this world. We are called in our everyday lives to be change agents. The simplest definition of being prophetic means bringing people to the presence of God. Some of us will be called to extraordinary challenges but most of us will be called to be prophetic in the ordinary. 

We have been enculturated to see significance and purpose as something we do that is extraordinary, but true significance happens when we start to see the ordinary things we do as extraordinary in the sight of God.