Today our passages are Jeremiah 1:1–2:30; Philippians 4:1-23; Psalm 75:1-10; and Proverbs 24:17-20. 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 1-2:30 (The Message)
Demolish, and Then Start Over1-4 The Message of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah of the family of priests who lived in Anathoth in the country of Benjamin. God's Message began to come to him during the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amos reigned over Judah. It continued to come to him during the time Jehoiakim son of Josiah reigned over Judah. And it continued to come to him clear down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah over Judah, the year that Jerusalem was taken into exile. This is what God said: 5"Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that's what I had in mind for you."
6But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don't know anything. I'm only a boy!"
7-8God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.'
I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there.
I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it.
Don't be afraid of a soul.
I'll be right there, looking after you."
9-10God reached out, touched my mouth, and said,
"Look! I've just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered!
See what I've done? I've given you a job to do
among nations and governments—a red-letter day!
Your job is to pull up and tear down,
take apart and demolish,
And then start over,
building and planting."
Stand Up and Say Your Piece11-12God's Message came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?"
I said, "A walking stick—that's all."
And God said, "Good eyes! I'm sticking with you.
I'll make every word I give you come true." 13-15God's Message came again: "So what do you see now?"
I said, "I see a boiling pot, tipped down toward us."
Then God told me, "Disaster will pour out of the north
on everyone living in this land.
Watch for this: I'm calling all the kings out of the north."
15-16"They'll come and set up headquarters
facing Jerusalem's gates,
Facing all the city walls,
facing all the villages of Judah.
I'll pronounce my judgment on the people of Judah
for walking out on me—what a terrible thing to do!—
And courting other gods with their offerings,
worshiping as gods sticks they'd carved, stones they'd painted.
17"But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work!
Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say.
Don't pull your punches
or I'll pull you out of the lineup.
18-19"Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work.
I'm making you as impregnable as a castle,
Immovable as a steel post,
solid as a concrete block wall.
You're a one-man defense system
against this culture,
Against Judah's kings and princes,
against the priests and local leaders.
They'll fight you, but they won't
even scratch you.
I'll back you up every inch of the way."
Israel Was God's Holy Choice1-3 God's Message came to me. It went like this: "Get out in the streets and call to Jerusalem,
I remember your youthful loyalty,
our love as newlyweds.
You stayed with me through the wilderness years,
stuck with me through all the hard places.
Israel was God's holy choice,
the pick of the crop.
Anyone who laid a hand on her
would soon wish he hadn't!'"
God's Decree. 4-6Hear God's Message, House of Jacob!
Yes, you—House of Israel!
God's Message: "What did your ancestors find fault with in me
that they drifted so far from me,
Took up with Sir Windbag
and turned into windbags themselves?
It never occurred to them to say, 'Where's God,
the God who got us out of Egypt,
Who took care of us through thick and thin, those rough-and-tumble
wilderness years of parched deserts and death valleys,
A land that no one who enters comes out of,
a cruel, inhospitable land?'
7-8"I brought you to a garden land
where you could eat lush fruit.
But you barged in and polluted my land,
trashed and defiled my dear land.
The priests never thought to ask, 'Where's God?'
The religion experts knew nothing of me.
The rulers defied me.
The prophets preached god Baal
And chased empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.
9-11"Because of all this, I'm bringing charges against you"
"charging you and your children and your grandchildren.
Look around. Have you ever seen anything quite like this?
Sail to the western islands and look.
Travel to the Kedar wilderness and look.
Look closely. Has this ever happened before,
That a nation has traded in its gods
for gods that aren't even close to gods?
But my people have traded my Glory
for empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.
12-13"Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see!
Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can't be!"
"My people have committed a compound sin:
they've walked out on me, the fountain
Of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns—
cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.
14-17"Isn't Israel a valued servant,
born into a family with place and position?
So how did she end up a piece of meat
fought over by snarling and roaring lions?
There's nothing left of her but a few old bones,
her towns trashed and deserted.
Egyptians from the cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have broken your skulls.
And why do you think all this has happened?
Isn't it because you walked out on your God
just as he was beginning to lead you in the right way?
18-19"And now, what do you think you'll get by going off to Egypt?
Maybe a cool drink of Nile River water?
Or what do you think you'll get by going off to Assyria?
Maybe a long drink of Euphrates River water?
Your evil ways will get you a sound thrashing, that's what you'll get.
You'll pay dearly for your disloyal ways.
Take a long, hard look at what you've done and its bitter results.
Was it worth it to have walked out on your God?"
God's Decree, Master God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Addicted to Alien Gods20-22"A long time ago you broke out of the harness.
You shook off all restraints.
You said, 'I will not serve!'
and off you went,
Visiting every sex-and-religion shrine on the way,
like a common whore.
You were a select vine when I planted you
from completely reliable stock.
And look how you've turned out—
a tangle of rancid growth, a poor excuse for a vine.
Scrub, using the strongest soaps.
Scour your skin raw.
The sin-grease won't come out. I can't stand to even look at you!"
God's Decree, the Master's Decree. 23-24"How dare you tell me, 'I'm not stained by sin.
I've never chased after the Baal sex gods'!
Well, look at the tracks you've left behind in the valley.
How do you account for what is written in the desert dust—
Tracks of a camel in heat, running this way and that,
tracks of a wild donkey in rut,
Sniffing the wind for the slightest scent of sex.
Who could possibly corral her!
On the hunt for sex, sex, and more sex—
insatiable, indiscriminate, promiscuous.
25"Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry?
Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?
But you say, 'I can't help it.
I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.'
26-28"Just as a thief is chagrined, but only when caught,
so the people of Israel are chagrined,
Caught along with their kings and princes,
their priests and prophets.
They walk up to a tree and say, 'My father!'
They pick up a stone and say, 'My mother! You bore me!'
All I ever see of them is their backsides.
They never look me in the face.
But when things go badly, they don't hesitate to come running,
calling out, 'Get a move on! Save us!'
Why not go to your handcrafted gods you're so fond of?
Rouse them. Let them save you from your bad times.
You've got more gods, Judah,
than you know what to do with.
Trying Out Another Sin-Project29-30"What do you have against me,
running off to assert your 'independence'?"
"I've wasted my time trying to train your children.
They've paid no attention to me, ignored my discipline.
And you've gotten rid of your God-messengers,
treating them like dirt and sweeping them away.
Philippians 4:1-23 (The Message)
Philippians 41 My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don't waver. Stay on track, steady in God.
Pray About Everything2I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn't want his children holding grudges. 3And, oh, yes, Syzygus, since you're right there to help them work things out, do your best with them. These women worked for the Message hand in hand with Clement and me, and with the other veterans—worked as hard as any of us. Remember, their names are also in the Book of Life.
4-5Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Content Whatever the Circumstances10-14I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. 15-17You Philippians well know, and you can be sure I'll never forget it, that when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice. Not that I'm looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity.
18-20And now I have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.
21-22Give our regards to every follower of Jesus you meet. Our friends here say hello. All the Christians here, especially the believers who work in the palace of Caesar, want to be remembered to you.
23Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.
Psalm 75:1-10 (The Message)
An Asaph Psalm1 We thank you, God, we thank you— your Name is our favorite word;
your mighty works are all we talk about.
2-4 You say, "I'm calling this meeting to order,
I'm ready to set things right.
When the earth goes topsy-turvy
And nobody knows which end is up,
I nail it all down,
I put everything in place again.
I say to the smart alecks, 'That's enough,'
to the bullies, 'Not so fast.'"
5-6 Don't raise your fist against High God.
Don't raise your voice against Rock of Ages.
He's the One from east to west;
from desert to mountains, he's the One.
7-8 God rules: he brings this one down to his knees,
pulls that one up on her feet.
God has a cup in his hand,
a bowl of wine, full to the brim.
He draws from it and pours;
it's drained to the dregs.
Earth's wicked ones drink it all,
drink it down to the last bitter drop!
9-10 And I'm telling the story of God Eternal,
singing the praises of Jacob's God.
The fists of the wicked
are bloody stumps,
The arms of the righteous
are lofty green branches.
Proverbs 24:17-20 (The Message)
2817-18 Don't laugh when your enemy falls;
don't crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
and then take pity on his plight.
2919-20 Don't bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
Those people have no future at all;
they're headed down a dead-end street.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
Leading Yiddish author and playwright, Sholom Aleichem wrote, “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.”