Today our passages are Jeremiah 28:1–29:32; 1 Timothy 1:1-20; Psalm 86:1-17; and Proverbs 25:17. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you missed a day, you can find all the readings at our blog, The Bible in a Year. 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 28-29:32 (The Message)
From a Wooden to an Iron Yoke1-2 Later that same year (it was in the fifth month of King Zedekiah's fourth year) Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, confronted Jeremiah in the Temple of God in front of the priests and all the people who were there. Hananiah said: 2-4"This Message is straight from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: 'I will most certainly break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Before two years are out I'll have all the furnishings of God's Temple back here, all the things that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon plundered and hauled off to Babylon. I'll also bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the exiles who were taken off to Babylon.' God's Decree. 'Yes, I will break the king of Babylon's yoke. You'll no longer be in harness to him.'"
5-9Prophet Jeremiah stood up to prophet Hananiah in front of the priests and all the people who were in God's Temple that day. Prophet Jeremiah said, "Wonderful! Would that it were true—that God would validate your preaching by bringing the Temple furnishings and all the exiles back from Babylon. But listen to me, listen closely. Listen to what I tell both you and all the people here today: The old prophets, the ones before our time, preached judgment against many countries and kingdoms, warning of war and disaster and plague. So any prophet who preaches that everything is just fine and there's nothing to worry about stands out like a sore thumb. We'll wait and see. If it happens, it happens—and then we'll know that God sent him."
10-11At that, Hananiah grabbed the yoke from Jeremiah's shoulders and smashed it. And then he addressed the people: "This is God's Message: In just this way I will smash the yoke of the king of Babylon and get him off the neck of all the nations—and within two years." Jeremiah walked out.
12-14Later, sometime after Hananiah had smashed the yoke from off his shoulders, Jeremiah received this Message from God: "Go back to Hananiah and tell him, 'This is God's Message: You smashed the wooden yoke-bars; now you've got iron yoke-bars. This is a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's own God: I've put an iron yoke on all these nations. They're harnessed to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They'll do just what he tells them. Why, I'm even putting him in charge of the wild animals.'"
15-16So prophet Jeremiah told prophet Hananiah, "Hold it, Hananiah! God never sent you. You've talked the whole country into believing a pack of lies! And so God says, 'You claim to be sent? I'll send you all right—right off the face of the earth! Before the year is out, you'll be dead because you fomented sedition against God.'"
17Prophet Hananiah died that very year, in the seventh month.
Plans to Give You the Future You Hope For1-2 This is the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to what was left of the elders among the exiles, to the priests and prophets and all the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon from Jerusalem, including King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the government leaders, and all the skilled laborers and craftsmen. 3The letter was carried by Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah had sent to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. The letter said:
4This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God, to all the exiles I've taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5"Build houses and make yourselves at home. "Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. 6"Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you'll thrive in that country and not waste away. 7"Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare. "Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you." 8-9Yes. Believe it or not, this is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God: "Don't let all those so-called preachers and know-it-alls who are all over the place there take you in with their lies. Don't pay any attention to the fantasies they keep coming up with to please you. They're a bunch of liars preaching lies—and claiming I sent them! I never sent them, believe me." God's Decree! 10-11This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it. 15-19"But for right now, because you've taken up with these new-fangled prophets who set themselves up as 'Babylonian specialists,' spreading the word 'God sent them just for us!' God is setting the record straight: As for the king still sitting on David's throne and all the people left in Jerusalem who didn't go into exile with you, they're facing bad times. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, 'Watch this! Catastrophe is on the way: war, hunger, disease! They're a barrel of rotten apples. I'll rid the country of them through war and hunger and disease. The whole world is going to hold its nose at the smell, shut its eyes at the horrible sight. They'll end up in slum ghettos because they wouldn't listen to a thing I said when I sent my servant-prophets preaching tirelessly and urgently. No, they wouldn't listen to a word I said.'" God's Decree. 20-23"And you—you exiles whom I sent out of Jerusalem to Babylon —listen to God's Message to you. As far as Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah are concerned, the 'Babylonian specialists' who are preaching lies in my name, I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who will kill them while you watch. The exiles from Judah will take what they see at the execution and use it as a curse: 'God fry you to a crisp like the king of Babylon fried Zedekiah and Ahab in the fire!' Those two men, sex predators and prophet-impostors, got what they deserved. They pulled every woman they got their hands on into bed—their neighbors' wives, no less—and preached lies claiming it was my Message. I never sent those men. I've never had anything to do with them." God's Decree. "They won't get away with a thing. I've witnessed it all." 24-26And this is the Message for Shemaiah the Nehelamite: "God-of-theAngel-Armies, the God of Israel, says: You took it on yourself to send letters to all the people in Jerusalem and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah and the company of priests. In your letter you told Zephaniah that God set you up as priest replacing priest Jehoiadah. He's put you in charge of God's Temple and made you responsible for locking up any crazy fellow off the street who takes it into his head to be a prophet.
27-28"So why haven't you done anything about muzzling Jeremiah of Anathoth, who's going around posing as a prophet? He's gone so far as to write to us in Babylon, 'It's going to be a long exile, so build houses and make yourselves at home. Plant gardens and prepare Babylonian recipes.'"
29The priest Zephaniah read that letter to the prophet Jeremiah.
30-32Then God told Jeremiah, "Send this Message to the exiles. Tell them what God says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Shemaiah is preaching lies to you. I didn't send him. He is seducing you into believing lies. So this is God's verdict: I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his whole family. He's going to end up with nothing and no one. No one from his family will be around to see any of the good that I am going to do for my people because he has preached rebellion against me." God's Decree.
1 Timothy 1:1-20 (The Message)
1 Timothy 11-2I, Paul, am an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope. Under God our Savior's command, I'm writing this to you, Timothy, my son in the faith. All the best from our God and Christ be yours!
Self-Appointed Experts on Life3-4On my way to the province of Macedonia, I advised you to stay in Ephesus. Well, I haven't changed my mind. Stay right there on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience. 5-7The whole point of what we're urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven't the remotest idea of what they're holding forth with such imposing eloquence.
8-11It's true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It's obvious, isn't it, that the law code isn't primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I've been put in charge of by this great God.
12-14I'm so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn't know what I was doing—didn't know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.
15-19Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.
Deep honor and bright glory
to the King of All Time—
One God, Immortal, Invisible,
ever and always. Oh, yes!
I'm passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we're in.
19-20There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming.
Psalm 86:1-17 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-7 Bend an ear, God; answer me. I'm one miserable wretch!
Keep me safe—haven't I lived a good life?
Help your servant—I'm depending on you!
You're my God; have mercy on me.
I count on you from morning to night.
Give your servant a happy life;
I put myself in your hands!
You're well-known as good and forgiving,
bighearted to all who ask for help.
Pay attention, God, to my prayer;
bend down and listen to my cry for help.
Every time I'm in trouble I call on you,
confident that you'll answer.
8-10 There's no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,
and nothing to compare with your works.
All the nations you made are on their way,
ready to give honor to you, O Lord,
Ready to put your beauty on display,
parading your greatness,
And the great things you do—
God, you're the one, there's no one but you!
11-17 Train me, God, to walk straight;
then I'll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
I've never kept secret what you're up to.
You've always been great toward me—what love!
You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
A gang of thugs is after me—
and they don't care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
not easily angered, immense in love,
and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
give your servant the strength to go on,
save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
put me back on my feet.
Proverbs 25:17 (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
Thought for the Day
French novelist and memoirist, Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin/George Sand wrote, “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”