Today our passages are Jeremiah 22:1–23:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; Psalm 83:1-18; and Proverbs 25:11-14. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
Jeremiah 22-23:20 (The Message)
Walking Out on the Covenant of God1-3 God's orders: "Go to the royal palace and deliver this Message. Say, 'Listen to what God says, O King of Judah, you who sit on David's throne—you and your officials and all the people who go in and out of these palace gates. This is God's Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don't take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering! 4-5"'If you obey these commands, then kings who follow in the line of David will continue to go in and out of these palace gates mounted on horses and riding in chariots—they and their officials and the citizens of Judah. But if you don't obey these commands, then I swear—God's Decree!—this palace will end up a heap of rubble.'"
6-7This is God's verdict on Judah's royal palace:
"I number you among my favorite places—
like the lovely hills of Gilead,
like the soaring peaks of Lebanon.
Yet I swear I'll turn you into a wasteland,
as empty as a ghost town.
I'll hire a demolition crew,
well-equipped with sledgehammers and wrecking bars,
Pound the country to a pulp
and burn it all up.
8-9"Travelers from all over will come through here and say to one another, 'Why would God do such a thing to this wonderful city?' They'll be told, 'Because they walked out on the covenant of their God, took up with other gods and worshiped them.'"
Building a Fine House but Destroying Lives10Don't weep over dead King Josiah.
Don't waste your tears.
Weep for his exiled son:
He's gone for good.
He'll never see home again. 11-12For this is God's Word on Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah: "He's gone from here, gone for good. He'll die in the place they've taken him to. He'll never see home again."
13-17"Doom to him who builds palaces but bullies people,
who makes a fine house but destroys lives,
Who cheats his workers
and won't pay them for their work,
Who says, 'I'll build me an elaborate mansion
with spacious rooms and fancy windows.
I'll bring in rare and expensive woods
and the latest in interior decor.'
So, that makes you a king—
living in a fancy palace?
Your father got along just fine, didn't he?
He did what was right and treated people fairly,
And things went well with him.
He stuck up for the down-and-out,
And things went well for Judah.
Isn't this what it means to know me?"
"But you're blind and brainless.
All you think about is yourself,
Taking advantage of the weak,
bulldozing your way, bullying victims."
18-19This is God's epitaph on Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
"Doom to this man!
Nobody will shed tears over him,
'Poor, poor brother!'
Nobody will shed tears over him,
'Poor, poor master!'
They'll give him a donkey's funeral,
drag him out of the city and dump him.
You've Made a Total Mess of Your Life20-23"People of Jerusalem, climb a Lebanon peak and weep,
climb a Bashan mountain and wail,
Climb the Abarim ridge and cry—
you've made a total mess of your life.
I spoke to you when everything was going your way.
You said, 'I'm not interested.'
You've been that way as long as I've known you,
never listened to a thing I said.
All your leaders will be blown away,
all your friends end up in exile,
And you'll find yourself in the gutter,
disgraced by your evil life.
You big-city people thought you were so important,
thought you were 'king of the mountain'!
You're soon going to be doubled up in pain,
pain worse than the pangs of childbirth. 24-26"As sure as I am the living God"—God's Decree—"even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, I'd pull you off and give you to those who are out to kill you, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, and then throw you, both you and your mother, into a foreign country, far from your place of birth. There you'll both die.
27"You'll be homesick, desperately homesick, but you'll never get home again."
28-30Is Jehoiachin a leaky bucket,
a rusted-out pail good for nothing?
Why else would he be thrown away, he and his children,
thrown away to a foreign place?
O land, land, land,
listen to God's Message!
This is God's verdict:
"Write this man off as if he were childless,
a man who will never amount to anything.
Nothing will ever come of his life.
He's the end of the line, the last of the kings."
An Authentic David-Branch1-4 "Doom to the shepherd-leaders who butcher and scatter my sheep!" God's Decree. "So here is what I, God, Israel's God, say to the shepherd-leaders who misled my people: 'You've scattered my sheep. You've driven them off. You haven't kept your eye on them. Well, let me tell you, I'm keeping my eye on you, keeping track of your criminal behavior. I'll take over and gather what's left of my sheep, gather them in from all the lands where I've driven them. I'll bring them back where they belong, and they'll recover and flourish. I'll set shepherd-leaders over them who will take good care of them. They won't live in fear or panic anymore. All the lost sheep rounded up!' God's Decree." 5-6"Time's coming"—God's Decree—
"when I'll establish a truly righteous David-Branch,
A ruler who knows how to rule justly.
He'll make sure of justice and keep people united.
In his time Judah will be secure again
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name they'll give him:
7-8"So watch for this. The time's coming"—God's Decree—"when no one will say, 'As sure as God lives, the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,' but, 'As sure as God lives, the God who brought the descendants of Israel back from the north country and from the other countries where he'd driven them, so that they can live on their own good earth.'"
The "Everything Will Turn Out Fine" Sermon9My head is reeling,
my limbs are limp,
I'm staggering like a drunk,
seeing double from too much wine—
And all because of God,
because of his holy words. 10-12Now for what God says regarding the lying prophets:
"Can you believe it? A country teeming with adulterers!
faithless, promiscuous idolater-adulterers!
They're a curse on the land.
The land's a wasteland.
is turning the country into a cesspool,
Prophets and priests devoted to desecration.
They have nothing to do with me as their God.
My very own Temple, mind you—
mud-spattered with their crimes." God's Decree.
"But they won't get by with it.
They'll find themselves on a slippery slope,
Careening into the darkness,
somersaulting into the pitch-black dark.
I'll make them pay for their crimes.
It will be the Year of Doom." God's Decree.
13-14"Over in Samaria I saw prophets
acting like silly fools—shocking!
They preached using that no-god Baal for a text,
messing with the minds of my people.
And the Jerusalem prophets are even worse—horrible!—
sex-driven, living a lie,
Subsidizing a culture of wickedness,
and never giving it a second thought.
They're as bad as those wretches in old Sodom,
the degenerates of old Gomorrah."
15So here's the Message to the prophets from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
"I'll cook them a supper of maggoty meat
with after-dinner drinks of strychnine.
The Jerusalem prophets are behind all this.
They're the cause of the godlessness polluting this country."
16-17A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
"Don't listen to the sermons of the prophets.
It's all hot air. Lies, lies, and more lies.
They make it all up.
Not a word they speak comes from me.
They preach their 'Everything Will Turn Out Fine' sermon
to congregations with no taste for God,
Their 'Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen to You' sermon
to people who are set in their own ways.
18-20"Have any of these prophets bothered to meet with me, the true God?
bothered to take in what I have to say?
listened to and then lived out my Word?
Look out! God's hurricane will be let loose—
my hurricane blast,
Spinning the heads of the wicked like tops!
God's raging anger won't let up
Until I've made a clean sweep,
completing the job I began.
When the job's done,
you'll see that it's been well done.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 (The Message)
2 Thessalonians 11-2I, Paul, together with Silas and Timothy, greet the church of the Thessalonian Christians in the name of God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you're to be.
Justice Is on the Way3-4You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it's a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it's only right that we give thanks. We're so proud of you; you're so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you. 5-10All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom. You're suffering now, but justice is on the way. When the Master Jesus appears out of heaven in a blaze of fire with his strong angels, he'll even up the score by settling accounts with those who gave you such a bad time. His coming will be the break we've been waiting for. Those who refuse to know God and refuse to obey the Message will pay for what they've done. Eternal exile from the presence of the Master and his splendid power is their sentence. But on that very same day when he comes, he will be exalted by his followers and celebrated by all who believe—and all because you believed what we told you.
11-12Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.
Psalm 83:1-18 (The Message)
An Asaph Psalm1-5 God, don't shut me out;
don't give me the silent treatment, O God.
Your enemies are out there whooping it up,
the God-haters are living it up;
They're plotting to do your people in,
conspiring to rob you of your precious ones.
"Let's wipe this nation from the face of the earth,"
they say; "scratch Israel's name off the books."
And now they're putting their heads together,
making plans to get rid of you.
6-8 Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia and the Tyrians,
And now Assyria has joined up,
Giving muscle to the gang of Lot.
9-12 Do to them what you did to Midian,
to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Brook;
They came to a bad end at Endor,
nothing but dung for the garden.
Cut down their leaders as you did Oreb and Zeeb,
their princes to nothings like Zebah and Zalmunna,
With their empty brags, "We're grabbing it all,
grabbing God's gardens for ourselves."
13-18 My God! I've had it with them!
Blow them away!
Tumbleweeds in the desert waste,
charred sticks in the burned-over ground.
Knock the breath right out of them, so they're gasping
for breath, gasping, "God."
Bring them to the end of their rope,
and leave them there dangling, helpless.
Then they'll learn your name: "God,"
the one and only High God on earth.
Proverbs 25:11-14 (The Message)
11-12 The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend's timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
13 Reliable friends who do what they say
are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!
14 Like billowing clouds that bring no rain
is the person who talks big but never produces.
Verse of the Day
“I will bless you with a future filled with hope--a future of success, not of suffering.” - Jeremiah 29:11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud wrote, “If youth knew; if age could.”