Jeremiah 28:1-29:32 ~ 1 Timothy 1:1-20 ~ Psalm 86:1-17 ~ Proverbs 25:17
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Old Testament - In our Jeremiah readings today we get two different declarations of how long the exile to Babylon will last - 2 years versus 70 years! Just a slight difference... Of course we simply need to look at which of the declarations are coming from a false prophet (Hananiah, 2 yrs) versus a true prophet of God's (Jeremiah, 70 yrs). Biblical scholars debate the exact dates of when this 70 years of captivity in Babylon took place: 1) 605 to 538 B.C. would cover the first deportation until the arrival of the first exiles back in Jerusalem. 2) 586 to 516 B.C. would cover the time between the destruction of the temple and its rebuilding. 3) Some believe the number 70 was an approximate number meant to signify a lifetime.
Jeremiah chapter 28 has a good lesson for us in the false prophet Hananiah. I think we need to be careful when we use words like, "God says", or "this is God's will", or "I know God will do x, y, and z." Hananiah was using words like this... and he may have really thought this to be true... but he was wrong big-time. And paid a big price. I'm thinking in our lives it might be better to say, "God-willing, this hopefully will happen..." or "I believe God is leading me this way. I pray I'm right" - and then be prepared to adjust if we realize it wasn't quite the right way. I'm sure most of us are seeking God's will for our lives. We maybe should be cautious on making declarative statements on precisely what God's will is for our lives? Let us instead simply try to follow God's lead in our life each and every day and trust that his lead will take us where he wants us to go.
Jeremiah 29:8-9 today tells us: "The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says, "Do not let the prophets and mediums who are there in Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams because they prophesy lies in my name. I have not sent them," says the Lord." My thought on these verses is that often times I think that we too are tricked by lies that the world is often selling us. "Money, Power, Status, Sex-Appeal, etc. etc. are things to be strived for above all else" are the type of things that I think we often hear. But, are these True? Or are they tricks - are they lies? Will you find emptiness or happiness in what the world is selling you? Where can you find True happiness and peace? I think these questions are answered for us today in verses 11-13: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me." Are you looking for God in earnest? If you've found God, are you following Him alone and not the tricksters of this world? Do you believe that God has a beautiful plan for you and your life? A plan much better than any plan you could dream up on your own?
New Testament - This week we begin Paul’s first and second letters to Timothy! These are very powerful letters to read because Paul wrote them toward the end of his life. Paul’s second letter to Timothy was likely the last letter he ever wrote. Some call this letter Paul’s “last will and testament.” Please pay close attention to Paul’s teachings in these letters this next week. We cannot hear the teachings in these letters often enough!
~ First Timothy ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 64
Content: This letter was written by Paul near the end of his life and he addressed it to his associate Timothy, whom he had left in Ephesus to correct some problems in the church. By this time problems had arisen concerning doctrine, church practice, church government, and various aspects of Christian living. Paul wrote to instruct Timothy concerning these matters so that the church would function properly. He also wrote to encourage Timothy so that he would not become weary in his Christian life, but would live wholly to the glory of God. There are some specific regulations given for the ordination of church officers as well.
Theme: The importance of right belief and right behavior form the theme of this book. Paul stresses that we must know the truth and defend it against the false doctrines that arise. We must also be very careful to live lives that are consistent with the truth so that Satan will not get an advantage over the people of God. The importance of dedicated and pure-hearted men to lead the church is also stressed. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 29) Below is an image of Timothy receiving from a messenger one of Paul's letters to him:
First and Second Timothy and Titus are considered to be "The Pastoral Letters" because they provide instruction about the care of churches. We have some powerful teachings from Paul today in First Timothy chapter 1. One very interesting thing to note is that Paul uses the clause "This is a trustworthy saying" in verse 15. What's interesting about this is that this clause is found nowhere else in the New Testament except for its use 5 times in the Pastoral Letters to identify an important teaching. So, here is the important teaching in verse 15: "This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"" What do you think about this teaching? So simple a teaching at first glance, and yet of course so profound in it's meaning! I like how Paul starts off this letter to Timothy with a lot of humility.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Timothy chapter 1 titled “Critical Concerns for Pastoral Ministry” is at this link.
Psalms - Wow. Today in Psalm 86 we read an amazingly wise prayer of David to God in verse 11 – “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.” How do you think this verse works as a prayer? Can you imagine praying it to God? Do you want God to teach you his way? Do you want to walk in God’s Truth? What does it mean to you to have an undivided heart? It is possible that your heart is now divided in some way? Will you pray to God for an undivided heart? What does it mean to fear God’s name? Why would David pray to fear God’s name? I read an interesting commentary on this verse saying that David is wisely praying for God to save him from his frailty within himself. Oftentimes in the Psalms we will read about David praying for God to deliver him from his enemies. In this verse David is praying for deliverance from what is within. This is a critical point to consider. I think sometimes we always look toward “external” circumstances as the cause of all of our problems. When perhaps we need to look at some “internal” things going on inside of us as causes of some of our problems? And in realizing that there are some internal things that need to be fixed, perhaps we can humbly pray Psalm 86 verse 11 like David did thousands of years ago? “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.”
Proverbs - Proverbs 25:17 is a great one! "Don't visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome." This kind of reminds me of the old adage: "fish and friends go bad after 3 days..." :)
Worship God: The great news of Jeremiah 29:11 reminded me of the great Christian movie called "Facing the Giants." Have you seen this movie yet? My wife and I just watched it for the first time a couple of weeks ago on DVD and loved it. It's made by the same folks that made the movie "Fireproof." Here's a trailer for it, below.
Are you facing the giants in your life? Click here and face the giants!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray in thanksgiving that the Lord knows His plans that He has for you! Pray in thanksgiving that the Lord plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future, through your saving faith as Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
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!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our One Year Bible readings at this link.
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