~ 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 to Psalm 79! Psalm 79 is about the 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 certainly sad to read about the coming destruction. As I read through these chapters I think about Jeremiah and how tough it must have been on him to know what was coming. In fact, Jeremiah gives a passionate prayer for the people of Jerusalem in today's readings in chapter 14 verses 7 through 9. The question that I think sometimes can come up for some as they read chapters like this in the Old Testament is: "Is this the same God we read about in the New Testament?" And I of course believe that absolutely yes this is the same God! The life of Jesus on Earth was obviously in between the time of Jeremiah and the time of you and me today. Jesus' life, ministry, suffering, death on the cross, and His resurrection saved us from our sins - and this graceful life of Jesus' had obviously not taken place in Jeremiah's time. I believe God is very graceful throughout history including all of the Old Testament. Keep in mind that God is often saying in these chapters in Jeremiah: "come back to me", "repent", "abandon your idols" - and no one listens. God was giving chance after chance after chance of repentance... What about us in our lives today? Is God saying to us "come back to me", "repent", "abandon your idols"? And are we listening? Will we repent?
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 Peter's dream & realization in Acts chapter 10 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! What is the best way to spell Thessalonica – with a “k” like this: Thessalonika? Or with a “c” like this: Thessalonica? It is indeed a deep mystery. One we won’t really get to the bottom of in Paul’s two letters to the church in Thessalonica in our readings this week. . . :) But these are 2 great letters of Paul’s nonetheless coming up! Let’s go!
~ 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.
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 giving 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?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Thessalonians chapter 2 titled "A Compelling Example for Ministry" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 79 verse 13 stood out to me today - "Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation." I like that imagery of being sheep in God's pasture. And Jesus, of course, is our Good Shepherd. Are you content with the idea of being a sheep in God's pasture?
Proverbs - Proverbs 24:30-34 is great Proverb today with the lesson coming in verses 33 and 34: "A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber." The interesting thing about this Proverb for me personally is that I honestly am not getting enough sleep these days - I could use a little extra sleep! :) And yet, of course, this Proverb is also so very true. I think we need to basically balance what this Proverb teaches versus what our modern world preaches / teaches. I think our modern world can encourage us to be a workaholic - work 50, 60, 70 hours a week! Sleep 4, 5, 6 hours a night! Go, go, go! And yet, I don't think that is what this Proverb is teaching... Certainly not in context with the rest of the Bible. I think being a workaholic is just as dangerous as being slothful. We need to find the happy middle - which I think only is ultimately achieved with God in our life. Without God we'll either think there's no point to life and be slothful or we'll think life is all about money, success, pride, etc. and be a workaholic. Let us live our lives with God where we know that work is important, but that work is most definitely not a god to be worshiped!
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!