~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Jeremiah 19:1-21:14 ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28
Psalm 82:1-8 ~ Proverbs 25:9-10
Old Testament - I read Jeremiah chapter 19 today and am reminded again of how tough it can be to be a prophet! Wow. Can you imagine receiving these words from God to deliver to a nation? It's tough duty - getting to the point of Jeremiah being whipped and put in stocks in chapter 20, verse 2. Below is an image of Jeremiah prophesying the doom of Pashur from verse 6 -
Jeremiah does get to complaining about his lifestyle as a prophet in chapter 20:7-18. In verse 9 he bursts out with: "And I can't stop! If I say I'll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It's like a fire in my bones!" I really like this - "his word burns in my heart like a fire"! Does God's word burn in your heart like a fire? Should it? Could it? Will you let it?
In Jeremiah 21 we're getting close to the point of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. as King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon are getting close. The prophecies Jeremiah has been preaching in the past 20 chapters are coming to fruition. A verse that encapsulates all of this is 21:10 - "For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be captured by the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.'" Do remember that in our readings in the past few days that God does intend to bring the Israelites back to Jerusalem eventually. There is hope! Even though Nebuchadnezzar (pictured below) is soon to come into Jerusalem... there is still hope in the midst of the despair... there is still redemption to come...
New Testament - Today we wrap up Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians! The second letter begins tomorrow! There is a lot of good letter-closing advice in these verses. To make sure this advice gets heard throughout the church in Thessalonica Paul commands in verse 27: "I command you in the name of the Lord to read this letter to all the brothers and sisters." Think this letter got read to everyone? :)
There are a lot of great verses in today's Thessalonians readings. A few that jump out for me include verses 12 & 13: "Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work. They work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because of their work." Did you know that October is Clergy Appreciation Month? I don't know who started this trend, but I like it! Hopefully this month you can take 10 or so minutes to write a letter or send a card of encouragement to your pastor or clergy? I encourage you to encourage your pastor this month! :) And please try to remember to do this in October of each year. More details about how you can participate in clergy appreciation month are on this website: http://parsonage.org/cam/index.cfm
More verses from today's readings that stood out -
Verse 16 - "Always be joyful." How's joy doing in your life these days?
Verse 17- "Keep on praying." And prayer?
Verse 11 - "So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." I like this. It reminds me that we have the opportunity to encourage people that we come in contact with each day. Spread some love. How are you doing on being encouraging to others each day?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Thessalonians chapter 5 titled "The Conduct of the Assembly" is at this link.
Psalms - I love Psalm 82 verses 3 & 4 - ""Give fair judgment to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people." I realize these verses were spoken to Israel's judges. But, I think they can speak to you and I today as well. Particularly, "rescue the poor and helpless" stands out to me today. What are some ways you are rescuing the poor and helpless in your life today? How are you delivering them from the grasp of evil people? This actually reminds me of a couple of friends of mine who are so passionate about rescuing young girls from the sex slave industry in some Asian countries - I think Thailand is where they do most of their work. Clearly, young girls that have to sell their bodies in this type of situation are under the grasp of evil people. And I am so humbled by my friends' work toward delivering girls from this grasp. My friends are only able to do this really well because of their relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the true rescuer - first of my friends and now through my friends to these young girls. But, wow, it makes me wonder if I am truly allowing Jesus to rescue the poor and helpless through me? How about you?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 25 verses 9 & 10 is a strong teaching - "So discuss the matter with them privately. Don't tell anyone else, or others may accuse you of gossip. Then you will never regain your good reputation." This Proverb stands out to me for when we see someone who perhaps sins. Maybe a brother or sister in Christ has a moral failing. And then the big question is this - will we discuss the matter directly with that person, to correct them. OR - will we discuss the matter with others and be a gossip? Don't get me wrong - there may be a time and a place to discuss the matter with others, such as a pastor, to get advice on how to discuss the matter with the person who stumbled. But, we absolutely should not resort to simply being a gossip about someone else. That's seeing one sin of someone else's and then creating another one of your own! (note that even though this image below shows two women, men can gossip just as much as anyone else!)
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!