November 5 - 2 Timothy 1, Jeremiah 5-6 and Psalm 121

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2 Timothy 1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.
God himself chose me to be an apostle, and he gave me the promised life that Jesus Christ makes possible.
2Timothy, you are like a dear child to me. I pray that God our Father and our Lord Christ Jesus will be kind and merciful to you and will bless you with peace!

Do Not Be Ashamed of the Lord

3Night and day I mention you in my prayers. I am always grateful for you, as I pray to the God my ancestors and I have served with a clear conscience. 4I remember how you cried, and I want to see you, because that will make me truly happy. 5I also remember the genuine faith of your mother Eunice. Your grandmother Lois had the same sort of faith, and I am sure that you have it as well. 6So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well. 7God's Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control.
8Don't be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news.
9God saved us and chose us to be his holy people.
We did nothing to deserve this,
but God planned it because he is so kind.
Even before time began
God planned for Christ Jesus to show kindness to us.

10Now Christ Jesus has come to show us the kindness of God.
Christ our Savior defeated death
and brought us the good news.
It shines like a light and offers life that never ends.
11My work is to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher. 12That's why I am suffering now. But I am not ashamed! I know the one I have faith in, and I am sure that he can guard until the last day what he has trusted me with. 13Now follow the example of the correct teaching I gave you, and let the faith and love of Christ Jesus be your model. 14You have been trusted with a wonderful treasure. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you.
15You know that everyone in Asia has turned against me, especially Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16I pray that the Lord will be kind to the family of Onesiphorus. He often cheered me up and wasn't ashamed of me when I was put in jail. 17Then after he arrived in Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. 18I pray that the Lord Jesus will ask God to show mercy to Onesiphorus on the day of judgment. You know how much he helped me in Ephesus.

Is Anyone Honest and Faithful?

The LORD said to me:
Jeremiah 5 "Search Jerusalem for honest people
who try to be faithful.
If you can find even one, I'll forgive the whole city.
2Everyone breaks promises made in my name."

3I answered, "I know that you look for truth.
You punished your people for their lies,
but in spite of the pain,
they became more stubborn
and refused to turn back to you."
4Then I thought to myself,
"These common people act like fools,
and they have never learned
what the LORD their God demands of them.
5I'll go and talk to the leaders.
They know what God demands."
But even they had decided not to obey the LORD.

6The people have rebelled and rejected the LORD
too many times.
So enemies will attack like lions from the forest
or wolves from the desert.
Those enemies will watch the towns of Judah,
and like leopards they will tear to pieces
whoever goes outside.

Enemies Will Punish Judah

The LORD said:
7People of Judah, how can I forgive you?
I gave you everything, but you abandoned me
and worshiped idols.
You men go to prostitutes and are unfaithful to your wives.
8You are no better than animals, and you always want sex
with someone else's wife.

9Why shouldn't I punish the people of Judah?
10I will tell their enemies, "Go through my vineyard.
Don't destroy the vines, but cut off the branches,
because they are the people who don't belong to me."

11In every way, Judah and Israel have been unfaithful to me.
*12Their prophets lie and say, "The LORD won't punish us.
We will have peace and plenty of food."
13They tell these lies in my name,
so now they will be killed in war
or starve to death.

14I am the LORD God All-Powerful.
Jeremiah, I will tell you exactly what to say.
Your words will be a fire;
Israel and Judah will be the fuel.

15People of Israel, I have made my decision.
An army from a distant country will attack you.
I've chosen an ancient nation,
and you won't understand their language.
16All of them are warriors, and their arrows bring death.
17This nation will eat your crops and livestock;
they will leave no fruit on your vines or trees.
And although you feel safe behind thick walls,
your towns will be destroyed and your children killed.

Israel Refused To Worship the LORD

18The LORD said:
Jeremiah, the enemy army won't kill everyone in Judah. 19And the people who survive will ask, "Why did the LORD our God do such terrible things to us?" Then tell them:
I am the LORD, but you abandoned me
and worshiped other gods in your own land.
Now you will be slaves in a foreign country.
20Tell these things to each other, you people of Judah,
you descendants of Jacob.

21You fools! Why don't you listen when I speak?
Why can't you understand 22that you should worship me
with fear and trembling?
I'm the one who made the shore to hold back the ocean.
Waves may crash on the beach,
but they can come no farther.
23You stubborn people have rebelled
and turned your backs on me.
24You refuse to say, "Let's worship the LORD!
He's the one who sends rain in spring and autumn
and gives us a good harvest."
25That's why I cannot bless you!

*26A hunter traps birds and puts them in a cage,
but some of you trap humans
and make them your slaves.
27You are evil, and you lie and cheat
to make yourselves rich.
You are powerful 28and prosperous, but you refuse
to help the poor get the justice they deserve.
29You need to be punished, and so I will take revenge.
30Look at the terrible things going on in this country.
I am shocked!
31Prophets give their messages in the name of a false god,
my priests don't want to serve me,
and you--my own people-- like it this way!
But on the day of disaster, where will you turn for help?

A Warning for the People of Jerusalem

The LORD said:
Jeremiah 6 Run for your lives, people of Benjamin.
Get out of Jerusalem.
Sound a trumpet in Tekoa
and light a signal fire in Beth-Haccherem.
Soon you will be struck by disaster from the north.
*2Jerusalem is a lovely pasture,
but shepherds will surround it and divide it up,
3then let their flocks eat all the grass.
4Kings will tell their troops,
"If we reach Jerusalem in the morning,
we'll attack at noon.
But if we arrive later, 5we'll attack after dark
and destroy its fortresses."

6I am the LORD All-Powerful,
and I will command these armies to chop down trees
and build a ramp up to the walls of Jerusalem.

People of Jerusalem, I must punish you
for your injustice.
7Evil pours from your city like water from a spring.
Sounds of violent crimes echo within your walls;
victims are everywhere, wounded and dying.

8Listen to me, you people of Jerusalem and Judah.
I will abandon you,
and your land will become an empty desert.
9I will tell your enemies to leave your nation bare
like a vine stripped of grapes.
I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken.

Jeremiah's Anger

10I have told the people that you, LORD, will punish them,
but they just laugh and refuse to listen.
11Your anger against Judah flames up inside me,
and I can't hold it in much longer.

The LORD's Anger Will Sweep Everyone Away

The LORD answered:
Don't hold back my anger! Let it sweep away everyone--
the children at play and all adults, young and old alike.
12I'll punish the people of Judah and give to others
their houses and fields, as well as their wives.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

13Everyone is greedy and dishonest, whether poor or rich.
Even the prophets and priests cannot be trusted.
14All they ever offer to my deeply wounded people
are empty hopes for peace.
15They should be ashamed of their disgusting sins,
but they don't even blush.
And so, when I punish Judah,
they will end up on the ground,
dead like everyone else.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

The People of Judah Rejected God's Way of Life

16The LORD said:
My people, when you stood at the crossroads,
I told you, "Follow the road your ancestors took,
and you will find peace."
But you refused.
17I also sent prophets to warn you of danger,
but when they sounded the alarm, you paid no attention.
*18So I tell all nations on earth, "Watch what I will do!
19My people ignored me and rejected my laws.
They planned to do evil, and now the evil they planned
will happen to them."

20People of Judah, you bring me incense from Sheba
and spices from distant lands.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds. But why bother?
I hate these gifts of yours!
21So I will put stumbling blocks in your path,
and everyone will die, including parents and children,
neighbors and friends.

An Army from the North

22The LORD said,
"Look toward the north, where a powerful nation
has prepared for war.
23Its well-armed troops are cruel and never show mercy.
Their galloping horses sound like ocean waves
pounding on the shore.
This army will attack you, lovely Jerusalem."
24Then the people said, "Just hearing about them
makes us tremble with fear,
and we twist and turn in pain
like a woman giving birth."
25The LORD said,
"Don't work in your fields or walk along the roads.
It's too dangerous.
The enemy is well armed 26and attacks without warning.
So mourn, my people, as though your only child had died.
Wear clothes made of sackcloth and roll in the ash pile."

The LORD's People Must Be Tested

The LORD said:
27Jeremiah, test my people as though they were metal.
28And you'll find they are hard like bronze and iron.
They are stubborn rebels, always spreading lies.
*29Silver can be purified in a fiery furnace,
30but my people are too wicked to be made pure,
and so I have rejected them.

Psalm 121
[A song for worship.]
The LORD Will Protect His People

1I look to the hills! Where will I find help?
2It will come from the LORD,
who created the heavens and the earth.

3The LORD is your protector,
and he won't go to sleep or let you stumble.
4The protector of Israel doesn't doze or ever get drowsy.

5The LORD is your protector, there at your right side
to shade you from the sun.
6You won't be harmed by the sun during the day
or by the moon at night.

7The LORD will protect you
and keep you safe from all dangers.
8The LORD will protect you
now and always wherever you go.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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