Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 ~ Titus 1:1-16 ~ Psalm 97:1-98:9 ~ Proverbs 26:13-16
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Old Testament - We have quite the readings in Jeremiah chapter 49 & 50 today! The prophecies have turned from Judah and Jerusalem and are now directed toward their neighbors and toward their captors, Babylon. The map below will give you a good overview of the Babylonian empire in the 6th century B.C.:
Jeremiah 50 does not bode well for Babylon! It is interesting, in that King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon have played a large role in sacking Jerusalem & Judah - to discipline them for their sins. And now the tide is coming back toward Babylon. Verse 28 really stood out to me today as a clear indication that destroying the Temple in Jerusalem was a really really bad idea for Babylon... "Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon, as they tell in Jerusalem how the Lord our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple." Below is a miniature from the 15th century French artist Fouquet that shows Nebuchadnezzar´s army attacking the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (though this is quite an artistic interpretation of the Temple...)
Chapter 50 does bode well for Israel & Judah - verses 4 & 5 tell us: "Then the people of Israel and Judah will join together," says the LORD, "weeping and seeking the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Jerusalem and will start back home again. They will bind themselves to the LORD with an eternal covenant that will never again be broken." How often do we weep and seek the Lord? Should we ever literally weep and seek God? Can we learn something about the power of weeping from the people of Israel and Judah on how we can bind ourselves to God with an eternal covenant that will never be broken?
New Testament - Today we begin Paul's letter to Titus!
~ Titus ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 64 or 65
Content: Paul addressed this letter to an earlier associate of his whom he had left on the island of Crete to help strengthen the churches there. Titus’ task was to ordain elders and to instruct the believers in the basic doctrines of the faith. It was necessary for Paul to go into some detail regarding the qualifications for the office of elder, and to give instructions for others in the church as well. During the course of these instructions, Paul touches upon the problems that face the servant of God and how these problems may be met.
Theme: The need for proper Christian living in the midst of the evil of the world is stressed by Paul in this letter. Around us we see the hostility and corruption of the world, but we must show by our lives what the grace of God can do. Such a life will have an impact, whereas mere words will do little or nothing. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 30) A wonderful commentary by J. Hampton Keathley, III on Paul’s letter to Titus is at this link. Below is an image for Titus chapter 1 verse 5 today as Paul wrote to Titus: "I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you."
The first two verses of this letter start so wonderfully! "This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began--and he cannot lie." Do you believe everything in these two verses? Does the Truth give us the confidence of eternal life? Is this a promise of God's that you've accepted? Do you believe Paul's teaching here that God cannot lie? Do you know that Jesus cannot lie?
The next few verses are great instructions for whom should be elders in churches. A portion of verse 8 really stands out to me: "He must enjoy having guests in his home." What a great verse! This really shows the importance of hospitality. Do you enjoy having guests in your home? When people invite you to be guests in their home, do you understand how incredible of an invitation this truly is? Do you allow them to share their hospitality with you?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Titus titled "Instruction Concerning Elders in the Church" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 97 verses 10 & 11 are so spiritually powerful & true: "You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on the godly, and joy on those who do right." I do believe that God protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Honestly, I believe that God does this in our lives much more often than we even consciously realize. I am sure there are a few moments in our life when we fully realize we were being protected by God. But, I also have a strong belief that God protects us from unforeseen things that never entered our consciousness. Do bad things still happen to godly people? Yes, of course they do. Why? I can't answer this - I've heard C.S. Lewis' book "The Problem of Pain" gets at this a bit. I need to read it. We are in a fallen world. There is evil and an enemy in this world. Bad things do happen. But, overall, I believe these verses above are so true. I do believe that light shines on the godly and joy on those who do right. Do you believe these verses above to be true? Have you experienced the truth of these verses in your life?
Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 97 titled "The Display of God's Majesty" is at this link.
Proverbs - Proverbs 26:13 today is a powerful teaching: "The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, "I can't go outside because there might be a lion on the road! Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!"" In addition to lazy, I wonder if we can sometimes use the word "worried" or "anxious" in place of lazy in this Proverb? Are we afraid of lions out there? Can we instead rely on the one true "Lion" who will be with us wherever we go? (yes, think C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia here... :)
Worship God: Speaking of the Chronicles of Narnia, below is a great video for the song "Remembering You" by Steven Curtis Chapman from the movie. There are a lot of great clips from the movie in this video. Enjoy!
Are you remembering God? Click here if you have yet to meet Him!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture this week: "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." Psalm 100:1-2 (NIV)
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!