~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Jeremiah 12:1-14:10 ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8
Psalm 79:1-13 ~ Proverbs 24:30-34
Old Testament - Today's readings are a bit unique in that the Jeremiah chapters relate quite directly to Psalm 79. Psalm 79 being post-destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar et. al. It's interesting to see pre- & post- destruction. The Jeremiah readings today may seem to you a bit tough to read. It is sad to see the coming destruction. As I read through these verses I wonder about Jeremiah. How tough it must have been on him to know what was coming. Though, there were people that wanted to kill him, so perhaps at times he agreed with God on what was coming.
It's also interesting for me to read these chapters in Jeremiah as I recently read Brennan Manning's book, "The Ragamuffin Gospel". (amazing read... please read this if you haven't yet!) The question kind of comes up for me - is this the same God Brennan was writing about? :) And I of course believe so. I think that I see that the life of Jesus on Earth was obviously between the time of Jeremiah and the time of Brennan. And I believe Christ's suffering and death took on our sins - and this act had obviously not taken place in Jeremiah's time. I believe God is very graceful. I can see how reading chapters like these in Jeremiah may bring that in question in some ways. However, keep in mind that God is often saying in these chapters - "come back to me", "repent", "abandon your idols" - and no one listens. I think God was giving chance after chance after chance of repentance...
Jeremiah 12:16 is fascinating for me today: "And if these nations quickly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, `As surely as the Lord lives' (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people." I think that's pretty powerful that God is saying if these foreign nations (i.e. not Israel / Judah) learn to swear by His name that they will be giving a place among His people. That's powerful. It reminds me of Paul's dream & realization in Acts that the Gospel was not just for the Jews but for the Gentiles too.
Today in Jeremiah chapter 13 we read a warning against pride. Verses 15 through 18 tell us - "Listen! Do not be proud, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before it is too late. Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the dark mountains. For then, when you look for light, you will find only terrible darkness. And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears because the LORD's flock will be led away into exile. Say to the king and his mother, "Come down from your thrones and sit in the dust, for your glorious crowns will soon be snatched from your heads."
New Testament - Today we begin Paul's first letter to the church in Thessalonica!
~ First Thessalonians ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 50 or 51
Content: On Paul’s second missionary journey he visited Thessalonica but was forced to flee because of the intense persecutions that arose there (see Acts 17:1-9). After making his way to Athens and finally to Corinth, Paul heard from Timothy, whom he had sent to inquire about the Thessalonians, that they were standing fast in spite of their suffering. Paul wrote this letter to comfort and encourage the young believers in the Lord. He also wrote to confirm their faith in the basic doctrines of the church concerning God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Christian living, but especially concerning Jesus’ second coming. Apparently because some believers had died, the remaining Christians were concerned lest the believing dead miss out on the resurrection. Paul writes to assure them that the dead in Christ rise first.
Theme: Paul comforts the persecuted believers with the assurance that God is with us and has assured us of ultimate victory. The final victory will occur at Jesus’ return, when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven and gather us to himself, ever to be with him. In the light of this we should bear up under persecution, living lives that are godly and above reproach. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 28)
A wonderful commentary on First Thessalonians by J. Hampton Keathley, III, titled “The Birth and Growth of a Church” is at this link - http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1647
Today in First Thessalonians 1:5 we read - "For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message." This is a nice reminder that while we are out and about in the world being salt & light, we're not just out there on our own. The Holy Spirit is doing work concurrently in other people's hearts. And indeed, the Holy Spirit is doing the true work of salvation, not us. I do like that Paul wrote that "the way we lived" was further proof of the truth. Christians are called to be in the world, but not of it. And I do think people pay attention to how we live. How are we living our lives today? Are we loving? Are we compassionate? Are we caring? Are we serving the poor? Or - are we bought into consumerism? Are we selfish? Are we serving ourselves? Does the way we spend our money & time look different from how the culture says we should be spending our money & time? Are we tithing to our church? Are we worshiping God at a church once a week? Are we praying frequently? How are you living your life today? If someone took a look at your life would it be abundantly clear that you are following Jesus?
Psalms - Psalm 78 verse 71 is awesome - "He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob's descendants--God's own people, Israel." It is interesting that the Psalmist refers to David as a shepherd and not king of Israel in this verse. The shepherd analogy seems like it might be foreshadowing Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Here's an image below of a young David as a shepherd - perhaps singing some Psalms? :)
Proverbs - Proverbs 24:30-34 is an interesting Proverb for me today. I guess I'm sleep deprived, because I'm seeing the value in a little more sleep, a little more slumber... :) I obviously get what the Proverb is saying... though, as I read it today for some reason the word "TV" popped in my mind. "A little extra TV and poverty will pounce on you!" :) I guess I see value in sleep... but I do not see the value in watching TV, generally speaking... (yes, for the past 10 years or so I've been a fan of those "Kill your Television!" bumper stickers... :)
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!