Jeremiah 30:1-31:26 ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-15 ~ Psalm 87:1-7 ~ Proverbs 25:18-19
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Old Testament - Wow. These two chapters in Jeremiah today are the most hopeful we've read yet in the book of Jeremiah! These chapters give so much joy to my heart to read them, as the promises of deliverance and hope of restoration are given by God! In Jeremiah chapter 31 verses 15 through 17 today we read - "This is what the LORD says: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah--mourning and weeping unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted--for her children are dead." But now the LORD says, "Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you. Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future," says the LORD. "Your children will come again to their own land."
Did you notice verse 15 above is also in the New Testament? It is quoted in Matthew chapter 2 verse 18 based on Herod's orders to murder all of the male infants being a fulfillment of this verse. Here's verses 16 through 18 in Matthew chapter 2: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." I almost hesitate to share this image below of the slaughter of "The Holy Innocents" by the Florentine painter and architect Giotto di Bondone from the year 1304, but I think this artwork does capture the full weight of the tragedy of Herod's orders and the horrible manner in which this verse in Jeremiah was fulfilled:
Jeremiah 31:18 gives a great example of the true relationship we can have with God - "I have heard Israel saying, `You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God." Israel was finally beginning to repent and return to God. I know the word "discipline" can maybe be a tough one for us - we've probably all experienced some unjust discipline. I pray that you can see that God's discipline for us is ultimately very loving - training us, turning us, restoring us. If you feel that God is disciplining you in your life right now, will you let him? So that he can train you, turn you, restore you?
I love the last verse in Jeremiah's readings today! 31:26 - "At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet." Very sweet readings in Jeremiah today indeed! When is the last time you've had sweet sleep? Do you think sweet sleep is a gift from God? Speaking of sweet sleep, please take a few minutes to read an AWESOME article by author Lauren Winner about what I call the spiritual discipline of sleep! The article is titled "Sleep Therapy" and you can read it at this link. Think this kitten below is having some sweet sleep? :)
New Testament - 1 Timothy 2 starts of with yet another reminder to pray for others... I love and need this type of reminder in verses 1 and 2... often! "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity." This is powerful. Pray for all people. Make requests for them. Plead God's mercy upon them. Give thanks. Pray for those leading our government. I think these verses are very appropriate during a time of local and national elections coming up. Pray for all of the candidates. Make requests for them. Plead God's mercy upon them. Give thanks. Pray.
The other thing these opening two verses remind me of is to "Pray the News." I think often times we read about all of the bad news in the world and maybe feel a bit helpless or hopeless in the midst of it all. However, I strongly believe that God has blessed us with the ability to "Pray the News." Pray for earthquake victims, the people starving and dying in other parts of the world, the person who was in a car crash in your town, etc. etc. Pray for them. Make requests for them. Plead God's mercy upon them. Give thanks. Will you join me in "Praying the News" each day?
I realize that Paul's instructions for women in today's readings can be controversial. This is one of those days that if you have the Tyndale Publishers One Year Bible Companion to please read the 3 questions & answers for today. All 3 relate to these instructions of Paul's. Basically, the instructions for women in today's readings can either be interpreted as being: 1. historically conditioned - instructions just for the women of the church in Ephesus at that time and place or 2. universal and timeless instructions. Honestly, different Christian denominations interpret these verses different ways - but probably along one of the two lines above for the most part. The One Year Bible Companion does a great job of going down these 2 paths, with some detail placed on why the instructions could be being historically conditioned because of the Ephesian church having a unique case of prevalent false teachings. Overall, know that Paul did not forbid women from ever teaching or being active in church life. Priscilla taught Apollos, a great preacher from Acts. Phoebe worked in the church (see Romans 16:1). Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Eudia and Syntyche were all women who were the Lord's workers in the New Testament as well (see Romans 16:6, 12 and Philippians 4:2). If you want to dive into further study on 1 Timothy 2:15 today: "But women will be saved through childbearing..." please check out an in depth look at this verse on bible.org at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 87 is a celebration of Jerusalem as the City of God, as we read in verse 3 - "O city of God, what glorious things are said of you!" As we continue to read through the One Year Bible this year it is amazing to reflect upon how much focus there is on Jerusalem as the city of God. Truly, so many of the Psalms glorify Jerusalem, often as a foreshadowing of the Heavenly City of God. Indeed, as this verse suggests, many glorious things are said of Jerusalem in the Bible!
Proverbs - Proverbs 25:18 today teaches us of the danger of spreading lies about others! This indeed can indeed be "as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow." How are you doing in your life today of not engaging in telling lies about others? Do you see how this can be as harmful as hitting someone with an ax?
Pray the News: Okay, here's the spot on the blog where I typically post up a five minute video from a contemporary Christian artist. Well, today I hope you don't mind me doing something a lot different, which relates to the Pray the News comments above. I actually just today came across the entire documentary for "Invisible Children" online, which was posted up by the documentary makers. This is an incredibly powerful 55 minute documentary recorded in 2003 about the child abductions / child soldiers in Northern Uganda. I highly encourage you to watch this documentary if you haven't yet!! A brief overview of the documentary is: "In the spring of 2003, three young Americans traveled to Africa in search of a story. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them. A story where children are weapons and children are the victims. The "Invisible Children: rough cut" film exposes the effects of a 20 year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. These children live in fear of abduction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as a part of violent army. See this film, you will be forever changed." There have been some improvements to the situation since 2003. Learn the latest on the Invisible Children's website: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/ (Even with a high speed connection, give this video about 30 seconds to get going once you click play. Once it gets going it should be fine. If not, click on the "Google Video" link in the lower right hand corner and you can watch it directly on the Google site.) Note that the first 10 minutes of the documentary can be a bit slow or silly with the guys, but it really picks up the pace and the story at 10 minutes!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray for rest, in the Lord. Pray for satisfaction, in the Lord. Pray you will not seek rest or satisfaction apart from the Lord.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you from today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Grace, love, peace, and joy!