It is in our nature to question things. Often, we question God’s goodness because of things in the world we don’t like. We wonder if God is fair. We often forget that we actually don’t want God to be fair because we would be in a world of hurt if he was. Today’s Psalm reminds us that God is faithful even when we’re sinful. This is the kind of unfair we can really get behind.
- 12-23 – God makes it clear that any one of the four acts of destroying an unfaithful city would suffice, but he has committed to all four acts against Jerusalem.
- 1-8 – The vine is Jerusalem. God makes it clear that Jerusalem will be completely useless and easy to destroy now that it is separated from God.
- 1-14 – God reminds Jerusalem that it is he who made the city great. It was nothing without him.
- 15-22 – When they refer to Jerusalem “whoring”, it means that Jerusalem would give itself to any available idol worship or other god that presented itself. Jerusalem was not faithful to God.
- 30-34 – God explains that Jerusalem’s actions weren’t even as beneficial as a prostitute’s. Even a prostitute gets some reward for her sins.
- 18-22 – This is a continuation of yesterday’s comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus. This continues to describe Jesus as superior to Melchizedek.
- 28 – God still uses sinful people for his purposes, but we still have to look to Jesus, who was perfect, for salvation.
- 6-12 – This psalm reminds us of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of our failings.
- 5 – Open rebuke gives a person an opportunity to self-correct. Hidden love has good intentions but doesn’t actually help the other out.
It is pretty typical of people in my generation, who have a transformative faith experience as adults to point a finger at the church they grew up in saying, “We never talked about Jesus” or “I never really heard the gospel”, etc. I think this is false. I think it would be better stated from most of these people to say, “I never listened.” Today’s Hebrews reading explains to us that many of us hear the gospel but fail to listen so it has to be repeated over and over until we finally decide to let it sink in.
- 1-13 – God declares a day of wrath and reckoning.
- 14-22 – This section describes the shame and consequences that will fall upon the people during the wrath.
- 1-18 – The Lord, in a vision, takes Ezekiel on a tour of the sinful, idolatrous acts the Israelites were committing in the temple.
- 1-11 – This section is reminiscent of the Passover where you needed a certain sign to be saved. God said that the folks who did not approve of the abominations happening in the temple would receive a mark on their head and be saved while all others would be struck down.
- 7-10 – This may sound like Jesus was, at one point, not perfect. This is not the case. Instead, these verses suggest that Jesus did not have an easy path but still had to live and experience the challenges of human life and gain knowledge and experience.
- 11-14 – This is so true of all of us. We hear and should be moved and changed by the gospel. Often we just hear it and do not allow it to change us. This causes us to need to hear the same soft message over and over.
- This psalm, like several others, implores others to praise God and then reminds them of reasons why they should.
- Empty flattery does no good for anyone.
You know when you watch someone succeed from dishonest gain and it seems so unfair? Babylon was a lot like that. They were committed to idolatry, took on a lot of unfortunate practices, and still seemed to win a lot of battles and gain a lot of ground. But in today’s Jeremiah reading, God offers great imagery explaining how their success will be short-lived.
- 2 – Winnowing was part of harvesting wheat. Winnowers would throw the wheat and chaff (trash) in the air. The wheat would settle into the container while the chaff would blow away. This reference is to say that Babylon is about to be blown away like chaff.
- 7-10 – Though Babylon had seen a lot of success, it’s end was coming. God proclaimed destruction on them.
- 17-19 – The comparison between worshipping God and worshipping manmade idols continues. It is laughable to worship something you can make yourself.
- 34-44 – Babylon’s glory would soon fade. What was once revered would now be a desolate laughing stock.
- 1-8 – Paul’s rules of how various people should act and live were not simply to have rules, but in order to assure no one could have anything to say against the believers.
- 11-14 – God’s grace is given to us for a purpose. It is to cause us to get rid of sinful acts and in order to redeem us and set us up for good works that will bless others.
- 9 – These kinds of verses remind us that we aren’t worshipping just to check a box or because God needs us. God’s holiness is so incredible that it causes us to need to worship.
- When we step into minor quibbles that are not our business it is ultimately harmful and unnecessary.
Today’s proverb warns us not to follow the habits and actions of fools. This seems obvious, but sometimes it’s far too easy. Fools get attention. Fools sometimes find short-term success. Fools seem to skate through life. But foolishness doesn’t honor God and honoring God should be our ultimate desire.
- 1-6 – Jeremiah agrees to seek God for the leaders who seem desperate to know his will.
- 7-22 – Jeremiah instructs the leaders not to go to Egypt or they will die, but he feels certain that they will still go because they haven’t obeyed anything else he’s said.
- 1-7 – Johanan and the other commanders did not believe Jeremiah and took the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah, to Egypt.
- 1-23 – Jeremiah explains that Judah’s destruction was because they worshipped other gods. They argue with him, but he confirms that this was the reason.
2 Timothy 2:1-21:
- 1-7 – Just like every pursuit has its difficulties, following Christ has its own. Paul encourages Timothy to accept these struggles.
- 15 – We will all be held to account one day regarding what we did on earth. Paul encourages Timothy to be able to stand with confidence before the Lord because of what he has done.
- 17-18 – Paul warns Timothy of all those intent on preaching a false gospel. Paul had, and Timothy would, face much opposition.
- 20-21 – Just because you started out dishonorable doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. God can cleanse any of us.
- 1-9 – The psalmist recounts all the ways that the Lord is great and worthy of praise.
- 1-5 – Many of us could stand to revere God more like the psalmists did.
- 3-4 – We are not to mimic the fool or we will have the same fate.
How many times this year has Scripture revisited God rescuing the Israelites from Egypt? It is their constant pillar reminding and assuring them of God’s faithfulness. What is yours? What event or circumstance do you look back on when you struggle to trust? A particular time God provided for you in a specific way? A time when you were rescued from a bad situation? A miracle that can’t be explained in any way but God? Think about that today, particularly if you’re facing a trial.
- 31-34 – God declares a new covenant with the Israelites since the last one was broken and forgotten.
- 1-5 – Zedekiah was the king of Judah appointed by the king of Babylon.
- 6-15 – Jeremiah’s opportunity to buy the field was proof sent from God that he would fulfill his promises of restoration.
- 16-23 – Note how many times God’s rescuing Israel from Egypt is revisited in order to offer hope of God’s faithfulness in the future.
- 26-35 – Judah’s sin had greatly grieved God. They worshipped idols offered sacrifices to other gods just like the foreign nations.
- 36-41 – God’s anger morphs into abiding love as he describes drawing his people back to himself and making them his own again.
1 Timothy 3:1-16:
- 1-7 – Overseers (or leaders in the faith) have higher standards they must live up to.
- 8-13 – Deacons, a different level in church leadership, also had a higher standard to live by. Their wives were also held to an elevated standard.
- 1 – Here, and then again in verse 13, the psalmist declares that he is faithful in prayer despite feeling left and forsaken by God. That kind of commitment can only stem from knowing that God will eventually come through.
- 20 – Know your audience. A heavy heart needs you to mourn with it. Don’t make it worse.
- 21-22 – Kill them with kindness.
Enduring trials and trusting God to take care of you doesn’t mean you have to pretend to enjoy the trial. Trials are hard. They’re not fun. God wants us to be honest with him about our pain and difficulties and then to trust him with the outcome. Jeremiah shows us a good example of this in our reading today. He willingly accepts persecution but is not excited about it. Faithfulness does not equal fake-ful-ness (yes, I made that up myself).
- 1-13 – Jeremiah proclaims the coming destruction of Judah because they have worshipped false gods.
- 1-6 – God told Jeremiah he would be persecuted but that God would ultimately protect him and destroy his enemies. Passhur the priest is the first example of this.
- 7-18 – Jeremiah is confident in God’s protection of him, but is still not excited about the suffering he will endure.
- 2-14 – Jeremiah does not have good news for King Zedekiah and his crew.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-28:
- 9-11 – God created us for a purpose and that purpose is to know and follow him, not to walk towards destruction.
- 12-19 – God calls us to gentleness and humility and Paul gives us good specifics on how to accomplish this.
- Asaph calls for God to take care of his enemies.
Hastiness comes up again as a bad thing. Wisdom definitely falls in line with patience and thinking through things.
Death is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time for a lot of us. “Who done its” are all over television and yet, when faced with death, many of us experience crippling fear. This is nothing new. Paul, in today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, addresses the Thessalonians’ fear of and/or questions about death.
- 19-4 – Jeremiah continues to harp on how ridiculous and wrong it is for people to worship idols that people can make.
- 5-13 – Jeremiah contrasts the idiocy of trusting in a person with the wisdom of trusting in God. He also lists the consequences.
- 14-18 – This portion is very reminiscent of a psalm asking for protection and also for destruction of his enemies.
- 19-27 – Jerusalem had a choice to be faithful and flourish or to be unfaithful and face destruction.
- 18 – Like God told Jeremiah, he started facing persecution from his own people.
- 19-23 – Jeremiah hopes for the destruction of his enemies. Unlike Jesus who wanted God to forgive his enemies, Jeremiah wants them to be punished for what they’ve done.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3:
- 2-8 – A theme throughout Paul’s letters is a call to holy living. Sexual morality and giving oneself to substances, and anger/self control are standard topics addressed.
- 13-18 – Those who “are asleep” are people who have died. The Thessalonians must have been concerned about what happened when people died and what could be expected after death.
- 6-10 – God asks Israel to remember the good things he has done for them so they will follow him.
- 11-16 – The people did not obey and God lets them know what they’re missing out on.
- Jesus gives similar advice on choosing where to sit at a banquet. Choose humbly and be pleasantly surprised if you’re honored.
One point Jeremiah touches on today and will continue to hammer home, is the ridiculousness of idolatry. Why would you worship something you can make and then can make again if something happens to that one. In other words, why would you worship something less powerful than you?
- 1-25 – This chapter states how ridiculous it is to follow and worship idols. With the power of God, why would anyone want to worship anything else?
- 1-23 – God knew the Israelites, though they had given themselves to a slew of idols, would cry out to him in times of trouble. He assures them that he will not hear their cries.
- 19-22 – Paul gives the Colossians a model for how to keep households operating in a loving and functional way.
- 23-24 – We often choose not to work hard or we try to take our frustrations out on our boss or company. Instead, we must remember that we are ultimately working to please God. We should remain faithful in our work because of this.
- 14 – This is the same Luke who wrote Luke and Acts.
- The psalm continues to speak of Israel, their unfaithfulness, and the consequences. This section ends with the hope of David coming as their faithful king to shepherd the people.
- This proverb simply teaches us to be trustworthy and not to seek revenge.
This week we have a bit of a dichotomy in our reading. Paul praises the Thessalonians for their faithfulness to Christ. Jeremiah preaches destruction to the Israelites for their lack of faithfulness.
One major point for why the Thessalonians were faithful and the ancient Israelites were unfaithful is attached to their willingness (or lack there of) to endure difficulties for their faith.
Over and over Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for their faith and their diligence in sharing the gospel. On the other side, Jeremiah explains that the Israelites continually seek out idols and, when given the opportunity, turn towards the sinful practices of other nations.
What do we tend to fall back on when times are tough? Faithfulness or anything else?
What have been the most formative times of your life? For me and for many I know, formation, and especially transformation, often comes during times of trial. Though God does not send us trials for this purpose, he does use the trials to bring about his purposes. In Isaiah, God explains that the Israelites have been refined through the significant trial of exile.
- 11-25 – The Lord establishes that he is God and there are no other gods above or beside him.
- 1-13 – God points out the ridiculousness of worshipping something you’ve created yourself. He lists off a few reasons that these gods clearly have no power. Humans created them. They can’t even control themselves.
- 1-15 – God chastises the Babylonians for mistreating the Israelites when they were in captivity and explains that they will be punished.
- 1-11 – The Lord explains that he was refining the Israelites through their trials. This is often a painful process but is necessary for our growth and faithfulness.
- 1-7 – Paul urges the Ephesians to be of one mind and heart. He reminds them that they were all saved by the same means and should use this as a bond.
- 11-16 – God had equipped the Ephesian believers through a variety of helpers so they could mature in their faith and not be swayed so easily by false prophets or temptations.
- 27 – Saul, the first king of Israel, was from the tribe of Benjamin, which would put that tribe in the lead.
- The psalmist calls on God to protect and prosper the Israelites and rounds everything out with praise for God’s abilities.