Today our passages are Jeremiah 35:1–36:32; 1 Timothy 5:1-25; Psalm 89:14-37; and Proverbs 25:25-27. 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 35-36:32 (The Message)
Meeting in God's Temple1 The Message that Jeremiah received from God ten years earlier, during the time of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Israel: 2"Go visit the Recabite community. Invite them to meet with you in one of the rooms in God's Temple. And serve them wine." 3-4So I went and got Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, along with all his brothers and sons—the whole community of the Recabites as it turned out—and brought them to God's Temple and to the meeting room of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. It was next to the meeting room of the Temple officials and just over the apartment of Maaseiah son of Shallum, who was in charge of Temple affairs.
5Then I set out chalices and pitchers of wine for the Recabites and said, "A toast! Drink up!"
6-7But they wouldn't do it. "We don't drink wine," they said. "Our ancestor Jonadab son of Recab commanded us, 'You are not to drink wine, you or your children, ever. Neither shall you build houses or settle down, planting fields and gardens and vineyards. Don't own property. Live in tents as nomads so that you will live well and prosper in a wandering life.'
8-10"And we've done it, done everything Jonadab son of Recab commanded. We and our wives, our sons and daughters, drink no wine at all. We don't build houses. We don't have vineyards or fields or gardens. We live in tents as nomads. We've listened to our ancestor Jonadab and we've done everything he commanded us.
11"But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded our land, we said, 'Let's go to Jerusalem and get out of the path of the Chaldean and Aramean armies, find ourselves a safe place.' That's why we're living in Jerusalem right now."
Why Won't You Learn Your Lesson?12-15Then Jeremiah received this Message from God: "God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, wants you to go tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem that I say, 'Why won't you learn your lesson and do what I tell you?' God's Decree. 'The commands of Jonadab son of Recab to his sons have been carried out to the letter. He told them not to drink wine, and they haven't touched a drop to this very day. They honored and obeyed their ancestor's command. But look at you! I have gone to a lot of trouble to get your attention, and you've ignored me. I sent prophet after prophet to you, all of them my servants, to tell you from early morning to late at night to change your life, make a clean break with your evil past and do what is right, to not take up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry of a god that comes down the pike, but settle down and be faithful in this country I gave your ancestors. 15-16"'And what do I get from you? Deaf ears. The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab carried out to the letter what their ancestor commanded them, but this people ignores me.'
17"So here's what is going to happen. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, 'I will bring calamity down on the heads of the people of Judah and Jerusalem—the very calamity I warned you was coming—because you turned a deaf ear when I spoke, turned your backs when I called.'"
18-19Then, turning to the Recabite community, Jeremiah said, "And this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says to you: Because you have done what Jonadab your ancestor told you, obeyed his commands and followed through on his instructions, receive this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: There will always be a descendant of Jonadab son of Recab at my service! Always!'"
Reading God's Message1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah received this Message from God: 2"Get a scroll and write down everything I've told you regarding Israel and Judah and all the other nations from the time I first started speaking to you in Josiah's reign right up to the present day. 3"Maybe the community of Judah will finally get it, finally understand the catastrophe that I'm planning for them, turn back from their bad lives, and let me forgive their perversity and sin."
4So Jeremiah called in Baruch son of Neriah. Jeremiah dictated and Baruch wrote down on a scroll everything that God had said to him.
5-6Then Jeremiah told Baruch, "I'm blacklisted. I can't go into God's Temple, so you'll have to go in my place. Go into the Temple and read everything you've written at my dictation. Wait for a day of fasting when everyone is there to hear you. And make sure that all the people who come from the Judean villages hear you.
7"Maybe, just maybe, they'll start praying and God will hear their prayers. Maybe they'll turn back from their bad lives. This is no light matter. God has certainly let them know how angry he is!"
8Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do. In the Temple of God he read the Message of God from the scroll.
9It came about in December of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah that all the people of Jerusalem, along with all the people from the Judean villages, were there in Jerusalem to observe a fast to God.
10Baruch took the scroll to the Temple and read out publicly the words of Jeremiah. He read from the meeting room of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary of state, which was in the upper court right next to the New Gate of God's Temple. Everyone could hear him.
11-12The moment Micaiah the son of Gemariah heard what was being read from the scroll—God's Message!—he went straight to the palace and to the chambers of the secretary of state where all the government officials were holding a meeting: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other government officials.
13Micaiah reported everything he had heard Baruch read from the scroll as the officials listened.
14Immediately they dispatched Jehudi son of Nethaniah, son of Semaiah, son of Cushi, to Baruch, ordering him, "Take the scroll that you have read to the people and bring it here." So Baruch went and retrieved the scroll.
15The officials told him, "Sit down. Read it to us, please." Baruch read it.
16When they had heard it all, they were upset. They talked it over. "We've got to tell the king all this."
17They asked Baruch, "Tell us, how did you come to write all this? Was it at Jeremiah's dictation?"
18Baruch said, "That's right. Every word right from his own mouth. And I wrote it down, word for word, with pen and ink."
19The government officials told Baruch, "You need to get out of here. Go into hiding, you and Jeremiah. Don't let anyone know where you are!"
20-21The officials went to the court of the palace to report to the king, having put the scroll for safekeeping in the office of Elishama the secretary of state. The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. He brought it from the office of Elishama the secretary. Jehudi then read it to the king and the officials who were in the king's service.
22-23It was December. The king was sitting in his winter quarters in front of a charcoal fire. After Jehudi would read three or four columns, the king would cut them off the scroll with his pocketknife and throw them in the fire. He continued in this way until the entire scroll had been burned up in the fire.
24-26Neither the king nor any of his officials showed the slightest twinge of conscience as they listened to the messages read. Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah tried to convince the king not to burn the scroll, but he brushed them off. He just plowed ahead and ordered Prince Jerahameel, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Jeremiah the prophet and his secretary Baruch. But God had hidden them away.
27-28After the king had burned the scroll that Baruch had written at Jeremiah's dictation, Jeremiah received this Message from God: "Get another blank scroll and do it all over again. Write out everything that was in that first scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up.
29"And send this personal message to Jehoiakim king of Judah: 'God says, You had the gall to burn this scroll and then the nerve to say, "What kind of nonsense is this written here—that the king of Babylon will come and destroy this land and kill everything in it?"
30-31"'Well, do you want to know what God says about Jehoiakim king of Judah? This: No descendant of his will ever rule from David's throne. His corpse will be thrown in the street and left unburied, exposed to the hot sun and the freezing night. I will punish him and his children and the officials in his government for their blatant sin. I'll let loose on them and everyone in Jerusalem the doomsday disaster of which I warned them but they spit at.'"
32So Jeremiah went and got another scroll and gave it to Baruch son of Neriah, his secretary. At Jeremiah's dictation he again wrote down everything that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. There were also generous additions, but of the same kind of thing.
1 Timothy 5:1-25 (The Message)
1 Timothy 5
The Family of Faith1-2Don't be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters. 3-8Take care of widows who are destitute. If a widow has family members to take care of her, let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received. This pleases God immensely. You can tell a legitimate widow by the way she has put all her hope in God, praying to him constantly for the needs of others as well as her own. But a widow who exploits people's emotions and pocketbooks—well, there's nothing to her. Tell these things to the people so that they will do the right thing in their extended family. Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That's worse than refusing to believe in the first place.
9-10Sign some widows up for the special ministry of offering assistance. They will in turn receive support from the church. They must be over sixty, married only once, and have a reputation for helping out with children, strangers, tired Christians, the hurt and troubled.
11-15Don't put young widows on this list. No sooner will they get on than they'll want to get off, obsessed with wanting to get a husband rather than serving Christ in this way. By breaking their word, they're liable to go from bad to worse, frittering away their days on empty talk, gossip, and trivialities. No, I'd rather the young widows go ahead and get married in the first place, have children, manage their homes, and not give critics any foothold for finding fault. Some of them have already left and gone after Satan.
16Any Christian woman who has widows in her family is responsible for them. They shouldn't be dumped on the church. The church has its hands full already with widows who need help.
17-18Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, "Don't muzzle a working ox" and "A worker deserves his pay."
19Don't listen to a complaint against a leader that isn't backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.
20If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can't get by with it.
21-23God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don't appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don't want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don't worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it's good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.
24-25The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don't show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.
Psalm 89:14-37 (The Message)
5-18 God! Let the cosmos praise your wonderful ways,
the choir of holy angels sing anthems to your faithful ways!
Search high and low, scan skies and land,
you'll find nothing and no one quite like God.
The holy angels are in awe before him;
he looms immense and august over everyone around him.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who is like you,
powerful and faithful from every angle?
You put the arrogant ocean in its place
and calm its waves when they turn unruly.
You gave that old hag Egypt the back of your hand,
you brushed off your enemies with a flick of your wrist.
You own the cosmos—you made everything in it,
everything from atom to archangel.
You positioned the North and South Poles;
the mountains Tabor and Hermon sing duets to you.
With your well-muscled arm and your grip of steel—
nobody trifles with you!
The Right and Justice are the roots of your rule;
Love and Truth are its fruits.
Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise,
who shout on parade in the bright presence of God.
Delighted, they dance all day long; they know
who you are, what you do—they can't keep it quiet!
Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us—
you've been so good to us! We're walking on air!
All we are and have we owe to God,
Holy God of Israel, our King!
19-37 A long time ago you spoke in a vision,
you spoke to your faithful beloved:
"I've crowned a hero,
I chose the best I could find;
I found David, my servant,
poured holy oil on his head,
And I'll keep my hand steadily on him,
yes, I'll stick with him through thick and thin.
No enemy will get the best of him,
no scoundrel will do him in.
I'll weed out all who oppose him,
I'll clean out all who hate him.
I'm with him for good and I'll love him forever;
I've set him on high—he's riding high!
I've put Ocean in his one hand, River in the other;
he'll call out, 'Oh, my Father—my God, my Rock of Salvation!'
Yes, I'm setting him apart as the First of the royal line,
High King over all of earth's kings.
I'll preserve him eternally in my love,
I'll faithfully do all I so solemnly promised.
I'll guarantee his family tree
and underwrite his rule.
If his children refuse to do what I tell them,
if they refuse to walk in the way I show them,
If they spit on the directions I give them
and tear up the rules I post for them—
I'll rub their faces in the dirt of their rebellion
and make them face the music.
But I'll never throw them out,
never abandon or disown them.
Do you think I'd withdraw my holy promise?
or take back words I'd already spoken?
I've given my word, my whole and holy word;
do you think I would lie to David?
His family tree is here for good,
his sovereignty as sure as the sun,
Dependable as the phases of the moon,
inescapable as weather."
Proverbs 25:25-27 (The Message)
25 Like a cool drink of water when you're worn out and weary
is a letter from a long-lost friend.
26 A good person who gives in to a bad person
is a muddied spring, a polluted well.
27 It's not smart to stuff yourself with sweets,
nor is glory piled on glory good for you.
Verse for the Day
“Make me as happy as you did when you saved me; make me want to obey!” - Psalm 51:12
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet, Oscar Wilde wrote, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”