Today our passages are Jeremiah 23:21–25:38; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; Psalm 84:1-12; and Proverbs 25:15. 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 26-27:22 (The Message)
Change the Way You're Living1 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this Message came from God to Jeremiah: 2-3"God's Message: Stand in the court of God's Temple and preach to the people who come from all over Judah to worship in God's Temple. Say everything I tell you to say to them. Don't hold anything back. Just maybe they'll listen and turn back from their bad lives. Then I'll reconsider the disaster that I'm planning to bring on them because of their evil behavior. 4-6"Say to them, 'This is God's Message: If you refuse to listen to me and live by my teaching that I've revealed so plainly to you, and if you continue to refuse to listen to my servants the prophets that I tirelessly keep on sending to you—but you've never listened! Why would you start now?—then I'll make this Temple a pile of ruins like Shiloh, and I'll make this city nothing but a bad joke worldwide.'" 7-9Everybody there—priests, prophets, and people—heard Jeremiah preaching this Message in the Temple of God. When Jeremiah had finished his sermon, saying everything God had commanded him to say, the priests and prophets and people all grabbed him, yelling, "Death! You're going to die for this! How dare you preach—and using God's name!—saying that this Temple will become a heap of rubble like Shiloh and this city be wiped out without a soul left in it!"
All the people mobbed Jeremiah right in the Temple itself.
10Officials from the royal court of Judah were told of this. They left the palace immediately and came to God's Temple to investigate. They held court on the spot, at the New Gate entrance to God's Temple.
11The prophets and priests spoke first, addressing the officials, but also the people: "Death to this man! He deserves nothing less than death! He has preached against this city—you've heard the evidence with your own ears."
12-13Jeremiah spoke next, publicly addressing the officials before the crowd: "God sent me to preach against both this Temple and city everything that's been reported to you. So do something about it! Change the way you're living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God. Maybe God will reconsider the disaster he has threatened.
14-15"As for me, I'm at your mercy—do whatever you think is best. But take warning: If you kill me, you're killing an innocent man, and you and the city and the people in it will be liable. I didn't say any of this on my own. God sent me and told me what to say. You've been listening to God speak, not Jeremiah."
16The court officials, backed by the people, then handed down their ruling to the priests and prophets: "Acquittal. No death sentence for this man. He has spoken to us with the authority of our God."
17-18Then some of the respected leaders stood up and addressed the crowd: "In the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah, Micah of Moresheth preached to the people of Judah this sermon: This is God-of-the-Angel-Armies' Message for you:
"'Because of people like you,
Zion will be turned back into farmland,
Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble,
and instead of the Temple on the mountain,
a few scraggly scrub pines.'
19"Did King Hezekiah or anyone else in Judah kill Micah of Moresheth because of that sermon? Didn't Hezekiah honor him and pray for mercy from God? And then didn't God call off the disaster he had threatened? "Friends, we're at the brink of bringing a terrible calamity upon ourselves."
20-23(At another time there had been a man, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who had preached similarly in the name of God. He preached against this same city and country just as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and his royal court heard his sermon, they determined to kill him. Uriah, afraid for his life, went into hiding in Egypt. King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor with a posse of men after him. They brought him back from Egypt and presented him to the king. And the king had him killed. They dumped his body unceremoniously outside the city.
24But in Jeremiah's case, Ahikam son of Shaphan stepped forward and took his side, preventing the mob from lynching him.)
Harness Yourselves Up to the Yoke1-4 Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah received this Message from God: "Make a harness and a yoke and then harness yourself up. Send a message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. Send it through their ambassadors who have come to Jerusalem to see Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them this charge to take back to their masters: 'This is a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel. Tell your masters: 5-8"'I'm the one who made the earth, man and woman, and all the animals in the world. I did it on my own without asking anyone's help and I hand it out to whomever I will. Here and now I give all these lands over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. I have made even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will be under him, then his son, and then his grandson. Then his country's time will be up and the tables will be turned: Babylon will be the underdog servant. But until then, any nation or kingdom that won't submit to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon must take the yoke of the king of Babylon and harness up. I'll punish that nation with war and starvation and disease until I've got them where I want them.
9-11"'So don't for a minute listen to all your prophets and spiritualists and fortunetellers, who claim to know the future and who tell you not to give in to the king of Babylon. They're handing you a line of lies, barefaced lies, that will end up putting you in exile far from home. I myself will drive you out of your lands, and that'll be the end of you. But the nation that accepts the yoke of the king of Babylon and does what he says, I'll let that nation stay right where it is, minding its own business.'"
12-15Then I gave this same message to Zedekiah king of Judah: "Harness yourself up to the yoke of the king of Babylon. Serve him and his people. Live a long life! Why choose to get killed or starve to death or get sick and die, which is what God has threatened to any nation that won't throw its lot in with Babylon? Don't listen to the prophets who are telling you not to submit to the king of Babylon. They're telling you lies, preaching lies. God's Word on this is, 'I didn't send those prophets, but they keep preaching lies, claiming I sent them. If you listen to them, I'll end up driving you out of here and that will be the end of you, both you and the lying prophets.'"
16-22And finally I spoke to the priests and the people at large: "This is God's Message: Don't listen to the preaching of the prophets who keep telling you, 'Trust us: The furnishings, plundered from God's Temple, are going to be returned from Babylon any day now.' That's a lie. Don't listen to them. Submit to the king of Babylon and live a long life. Why do something that will destroy this city and leave it a heap of rubble? If they are real prophets and have a Message from God, let them come to God-of-the-Angel-Armies in prayer so that the furnishings that are still left in God's Temple, the king's palace, and Jerusalem aren't also lost to Babylon. That's because God-of-the-Angel-Armies has already spoken about the Temple furnishings that remain—the pillars, the great bronze basin, the stands, and all the other bowls and chalices that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon didn't take when he took Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim off to Babylonian exile along with all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. He said that the furnishings left behind in the Temple of God and in the royal palace and in Jerusalem will be taken off to Babylon and stay there until, in God's words, 'I take the matter up again and bring them back where they belong.'"
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18 (The Message)
2 Thessalonians 3
Those Who Are Lazy1-3One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master's Word will simply take off and race through the country to a ground-swell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we'll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I'm finding that not all "believers" are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He'll stick by you and protect you from evil. 4-5Because of the Master, we have great confidence in you. We know you're doing everything we told you and will continue doing it. May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God's love and Christ's endurance.
6-9Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don't permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn't sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn't be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn't because we didn't have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.
10-13Don't you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? "If you don't work, you don't eat." And now we're getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don't slack off in doing your duty.
14-15If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don't let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he'll think twice. But don't treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.
16May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you!
17I, Paul, bid you good-bye in my own handwriting. I do this in all my letters, so examine my signature as proof that the letter is genuine.
18The incredible grace of our Master, Jesus Christ, be with all of you!
Psalm 85:1-13 (The Message)
A Korah Psalm1-3 God, you smiled on your good earth! You brought good times back to Jacob!
You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people,
you put their sins far out of sight.
You took back your sin-provoked threats,
you cooled your hot, righteous anger.
4-7 Help us again, God of our help;
don't hold a grudge against us forever.
You aren't going to keep this up, are you?
scowling and angry, year after year?
Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life?
Then your people will laugh and sing!
Show us how much you love us, God!
Give us the salvation we need!
8-9 I can't wait to hear what he'll say.
God's about to pronounce his people well,
The holy people he loves so much,
so they'll never again live like fools.
See how close his salvation is to those who fear him?
Our country is home base for Glory!
10-13 Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.
Proverbs 25:16 (The Message)
A Person Without Self-Control16-17 When you're given a box of candy, don't gulp it all down;
eat too much chocolate and you'll make yourself sick;
And when you find a friend, don't outwear your welcome;
show up at all hours and he'll soon get fed up.
Verse of the Day
The 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam wrote, “This is my belief: that through difficulties and problems God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes and dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins.”