~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Jeremiah 1:1-2:30 ~ Philippians 4:1-23
Psalm 75:1-10 ~ Proverbs 24:17-20
Old Testament - Today we begin the book of the prophet Jeremiah! Below is a painting from the year 1630 titled "Jeremiah Laments the Devastation of Jerusalem" by the artist Rembrandt. This painting can be viewed today in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum.
~ Jeremiah ~
Date: Sixth century B.C.
Content: Jeremiah’s life covered the last forty years of Judah’s existence. The burden of his message was for God’s people to accept the judgment of God so that a new beginning could be made. He lived through the invasions by the Babylonian armies, the deportations of his people by the enemy, the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple of God. He warned the people concerning these events, pleading with them to turn from their sins, but to no avail. He received only scorn and persecution. Jeremiah’s life is described in some detail, thus making him the best known of the Old Testament prophets.
Theme: In the crisis days during which Jeremiah lived, he had but one message for the people: Repent and turn to God. All false hopes must be abandoned and God must be given his rightful place in the nation. Nothing can save the people – neither their wealth, their armies, their diplomats, nor even their religion – only God can save. The destruction of Jerusalem stands as a memorial for all time that when a nation rejects God, the inevitable result will be ruin. Jeremiah also has a message of hope. Although Judah had abandoned God, God had not abandoned them and would once again show himself mightily on their behalf. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 13)
A great commentary on the book of Jeremiah by Donald Curtis is at this link. Below is another painting of the prophet Jeremiah. This one is by Michelangelo from the years 1509-1512 and is in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Today in Jeremiah chapter 2 verse 26 we read this sad statement - "Like a thief, Israel feels shame only when she gets caught. Kings, officials, priests, and prophets--all are alike in this." How about us in our lives today? Do we only feel shame when we get caught? Do we realize that God knows exactly what we are doing even if we think we might be doing something in "secret"? Do you realize there are absolutely no secrets with God?
New Testament - Wow... so many great teachings from Paul here today as we close out his letter to the church in Philippi! Paul's letter to the church in Colosse begins in our readings tomorrow! I love Philippians chapter 4 verse 4 today - "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!" How does this verse speak to you? Are you full of joy in the Lord right now? Are you always full of joy in the Lord? Why or why not? Do you think Paul's teaching here is correct - should we always be full of joy in the Lord? Let us rejoice!
Verses 6 & 7 are so very powerful for each of us to truly learn and put into practice in our lives today! "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Do you worry? Why does Paul tell us not to worry about anything? What did Jesus say to us about worrying in the Sermon on the Mount? What does Paul tell us to do instead of worrying? Pray. This is a powerful powerful thought! Think about this the next time you catch yourself worrying. You know that when you worry you are wasting energy and time. So, why not follow Paul's simple instructions here - when you catch yourself worrying, start praying. Really. Don't give one more minute or one more ounce of your energy to worrying. When you find yourself worrying, get down on your knees and pray! Tell God what you need - AND thank him for all he has done. Sure, it may be tough to thank God at your moment of worrying, but you should do so, in addition to telling him what you need. We should always thank God. And then... here's the beauty.... you will experience God's peace! His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Jesus! Let us each stop worrying and start praying! Actually... while I'm already down this path, think about this. Do you think that you spend more time each day worrying or praying? Really, think about this. How many minutes a day would you say that you worry? And how many minutes a day would you say you pray? My hunch is that worrying takes up far more minutes... I know this is the case in my life. Look at how we are wasting precious time on worrying! We don't have that kind of time... Let us pray!
And finally Philippians chapter 4 verses 8 and 9 are so beautiful: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you." What type of things do you think about typically? Do you typically think about what is true and honorable and right? Do you often think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable? Do you think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise? Or are you filling your mind with other thoughts? Thoughts that, like worry, are a complete waste of your precious time here on this earth? Will you instead put into practice Paul's teachings - and the teachings you have received this year from the One Year Bible - and allow the peace of God to be with you? I really like this image below as an overview of our readings in Philippians chapter 4 today:
Bible.org's commentary on our readings today in Philippians chapter 4 verses 1 through 9 titled "Stand Fast, Stand Together" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 75 verse 7 is so powerful and so true... I need to hear this over and over again - "It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall." You and I do not judge. Well, we might try to judge, but it's all in vain if we do. And we risk turning judgment onto ourselves when we do. God alone judges. God alones decides who will rise and who will fall. We do not. God is God. We are not. This is a very good thing to always remember! :) We should also always remember we are so not this man below when it comes to other people's hearts or eternal destinies...
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 24 verses 17 & 18 we read – “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.” This is a powerful Proverb and reminds me that Jesus took this Proverb one step further in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. This Proverb says “do not gloat when your enemy falls.” This in and of itself may be a hard teaching in our lives. Well, let us also recall Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapter 5 verses 44 and 45 – “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Jesus tells us to actually love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! How’s that for a hard teaching? But. . . a beautiful teaching. A True teaching. A teaching we must put into practice in our lives. So, yes, let us not gloat or rejoice when our enemy falls. But more than that, let us love and pray for our enemies. Why? Perhaps through love and prayer they will one day not be enemies, but could actually be brothers and sisters? How are you doing with these teachings in your life? Do you have any enemies in your life? Are you not gloating or rejoicing when they fall? Are you literally praying for and loving your enemies today? Would this be a holy thing to put into practice in your life this very day?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!