Having a rough day? You’re in good company. Lamentations is a book recounting the sorrow and difficulty the Israelites felt due to the exile. They felt rejected, lost, and abandoned. Some of us have felt that way before. Note that there is hope in Lamentations. One of the greatest hymns of all times, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” comes directly from Lamentations. No matter what, there is hope.
- Lamentations is believed to have been written by Jeremiah. He is known as the “weeping prophet”. This is written as a response to being exiled and being rejected by God.
- 1-22 – Here the prophet is lamenting or crying out in sorrow at the fate of Israel and Judah as they are exiled and rejected.
- 1-19 – This chapter focuses on the contrast between where the relationship between God and the Israelites was and where it is during the exile. Special aspects of their relationship such as the temple and being set apart are highlighted.
- This letter is from Paul to Philemon and Apphia. It is only one chapter long.
- 8-16 – Paul is writing to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus who, while Paul was imprisoned, formed a special relationship with Paul. Onesimus had been a servant but was now to become a fellow laborer for Christ with Philemon.
- David commits to living faithfully and commits to not tolerating anyone who doesn’t.
- We are all capable of adding fuel to the fire when we gossip and keep angry words flowing. If we choose to stop our words, we can squash arguments.
Just kidding! Do you ever tease someone with something a little bit mean and then cover it up by saying “just kidding”? The thing you said was still mean. And let’s be honest, you at least kind of meant it. Ellen Degeneres says, “if you’re joking, we should both be laughing.” Check out what Proverbs says about it today.
- 54-58 – The Lord declares the total destruction of Babylon.
- 1-11 – This account of Jerusalem’s destruction is actually a recap of the destruction before the exile. This is not another destruction.
- 12-23 – This recounts the destruction of the temple just before exile. This was the most devastating act.
- 24-30 – This is a recap of the people being taken into exile.
- 31-34 – This ending is the same way 2 Kings ended when we see a slight glimmer that there’s hope even in the face of devastating exile.
- 3-7 – A powerful testimony of the transformation brought on by God’s powerful grace.
- 8-11 – Clearly there were people struggling with all these things Titus is being warned against. Genealogies may have been bad because people were relying on their heritage for salvation instead of relying on Christ.
- A beautiful, easy to memorize psalm. This psalm is encouraging and reminds us how much God cares for us and that he is worthy of praise.
- A word of warning to all those who use the guise of joking to say hateful things to others.
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.
Though we’re fine singing along with thousands of others to our school song or favorite band’s number one hit, we often feel weird singing praise to God. Today’s psalm gives us a good reason to though – simply because we are saved. God looked on us and offered salvation and that is reason enough to sing praises to him – even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
- 23-33 – A prophecy against Damascus.
- 1-20 – This prophecy declares that Judah, though unlikely, will eventually overthrow Babylon and Babylon will become a laughing stock.
- 5-9 – These are characteristics required for certain kinds of Christian leadership.
- Psalm 97 paints an incredible picture of God’s power. As you read, try to picture what it’s describing in your mind.
- 1-2 – Regardless of our circumstances, we have reason to praise God with a great new song simply because we have received salvation.
- This sluggard guy sounds awful! It does not sound like someone I want to be.
Do you ever feel like the critics know more about our faith and the Bible than we do? I remember being confronted by an atheist when I was in college. He talked to me about biblical contradictions and I realized he knew more about the Bible than I did. Paul encourages Timothy, in today’s 2 Timothy reading, to always be prepared to defend the gospel because others will always be ready to attack it. I’d encourage all of us to do the same.
- The next two chapters are a pronouncement of judgments on various lands including Moab and Ammon.
2 Timothy 4:1-22:
- 1-5 – Timothy needed to always be ready to share and defend the gospel because the opposition always was.
- 9-18 – Paul deals with practical matters but asserts his certainty that God would protect him no matter what opposed him.
- 6-11 – God’s faithfulness to the Israelites despite their wanderings is reiterated.
- A list of foolish people and how foolish it is to entrust foolish people with anything.
The last couple of verses of today’s 2 Timothy reading are pretty major. We all pick and choose what we want to emphasize in the Bible. There are parts we don’t like so we tend to discount them. There are parts we don’t want to follow so we conveniently forget about them. There are parts we want others to follow so we highlight and bold them. But this passage reminds us that all Scripture is from God and is intended for us to follow.
- 1-5 – God grants Baruch the promise of his life.
- 1-2 – The issue with Babylon destroying Egypt was the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah, was in Egypt.
- 14-24 – God declares that powerful Egypt will soon fall to what has been a lesser power.
- 6-7 – Though they want God’s destruction to end, they know it won’t until he completes his purposes.
2 Timothy 2:22-3:17:
- 22-26 – Paul continues to teach godliness and gives the caveat that God does forgive wrongdoing while leading his followers back into holiness.
- 1-9 – Paul warns that there will be immoral opposition to the gospel.
- 16-17 – This is convicting when we think deeply about it.
- 1-11 – The Lord created us and knows what we’re up to – good or bad.
- Teaching wisdom to those determined to be foolish is a waste.
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.
The destruction and terror Jeremiah has been preaching for so long is now impending. This would be terrifying! But God promised to protect Jeremiah and those who had been good to him. So does he? Yes! Of course! Even when things look terrifying, we can trust that God will stay true to his promises. If he’s promised protection, he’ll protect us. If he’s promised healing, we’ll receive healing. We can trust that his promises are true. We see it over and over in Scripture.
- 1-10 – The impending destruction of Jerusalem has finally come. The Babylonians, as prophesied, overtake the Israelites.
- 11-18 – Amidst the destruction, God still takes care of Jeremiah and has King Nebuchadnezzar protect him. God also promises to protect Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern.
- 1-6 – Jeremiah is given the option of where he wants to be. He chooses to stay in Judah.
- 1-10 – Ishmael, a member of the royal house of Judah, kills Gedaliah, the governor Babylon had placed over all that remained in Judah. This was a very dangerous act by Ishmael.
2 Timothy 1:1-18:
- 1-2 – Timothy was a protégé of Paul’s.
- 6-7 – Faith can be taught to us, like it was to Timothy, but we still have to claim it for ourselves, as Paul is encouraging Timothy to do.
- 8-14 – Paul teaches Timothy to cherish the faith and testimony he’s been given and to be willing to suffer for it.
- 12-17 – Having already established the power of God, the psalmist asks God to provide for and sustain him and to bless the work that he does.
- 1-16 – The psalmist encourages others that God will protect them. Even when it looks hopeless and when others around them are being killed, God is in control.
- 2 – If a curse is cast but has no cause, it will not come to fruition.
We are still hanging out in Jeremiah but will finish it up at the end of this week. Jeremiah is, in some ways, similar to Isaiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who initially fought his calling. He was called to preach destruction and eventual restoration to the Israelites. And he faced opposition as he pursued faithfulness.
One thing to pay close attention to as we read through the prophets is: there is nothing God can’t restore us from. We can so easily get caught up in our pasts and focus on how unworthy we are of God’s grace and redemption. I’ve even heard people say, and mean, that they would get struck by lightening upon entering a church.
The prophets make it abundantly clear, and open the door for Jesus to make it even clearer, that no one is irredeemable.
This week, as you read Jeremiah, hear God’s voice calling you as he explains how he will draw the Israelites out of exile and back to himself.
We often don’t like it when people talk about money in church. We often think they want our money or they’re going to tell us to give away our money. Too often, we hold onto our money so tightly that we can’t grab hold of anything else. But, money is not the root of the problem. The problem comes when we allow money to become more important to us than God. Today’s 1 Timothy reading touches on righteous living versus greed and the place in our lives that money should occupy.
- 11-21 – King Zedekiah didn’t like what Jeremiah said about being taken over so he imprisoned him.
- 1-6 – The officials wanted to kill Jeremiah so they put him in a cistern. This is normally a deep hole, which is used to hold water. This one was empty.
- 7-13 – Ebed-melech, who was a servant, rescued Jeremiah from the cistern so he wouldn’t starve to death in there.
- 14-28 – King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to tell him the truth. Jeremiah tells Zedekiah he has to surrender to the Babylonians or all his wives and kids will be given over to the Babylonians for them to do what they like.
1 Timothy 6:1-21:
- 6-8 – Godliness and contentment together are a powerful combo. We don’t want anything but what we’ve been given and we act as righteously as possible.
- 9-10 – Greed and covetousness are dangerous because we begin to do things we know are wrong to achieve what we want.
- 17-19 – Being rich isn’t the problem. The problem comes when we rely on and hope in our riches.
- 38-45 – The portion of this psalm we read yesterday speaks of how God was planning to exalt David. This portion is explaining that David’s family has now been forgotten and rejected. We know through Isaiah and Jeremiah that David’s line was given over to exile in Babylon because of their lack of obedience.
- Self-control is what protects us from temptation and sin, just like walls protect a city from attack.