November 18 - 1 Peter 1, Jeremiah 31-32 and Psalm 134

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1 Peter 1 From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
To God's people who are scattered like foreigners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
2God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood.
I pray that God will be kind to you and will keep on giving you peace!

A Real Reason for Hope

3Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. 4God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear.
5You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. 6On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. 7Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns.
8You have never seen Jesus, and you don't see him now. But still you love him and have faith in him, and no words can tell how glad and happy 9you are to be saved. That's why you have faith.
10Some prophets told how kind God would be to you, and they searched hard to find out more about the way you would be saved. 11The Spirit of Christ was in them and was telling them how Christ would suffer and would then be given great honor. So they searched to find out exactly who Christ would be and when this would happen. 12But they were told that they were serving you and not themselves. They preached to you by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. And their message was only for you, even though angels would like to know more about it.

Chosen To Live a Holy Life

13Be alert and think straight. Put all your hope in how kind God will be to you when Jesus Christ appears. 14Behave like obedient children. Don't let your lives be controlled by your desires, as they used to be. 15Always live as God's holy people should, because God is the one who chose you, and he is holy. 16That's why the Scriptures say, "I am the holy God, and you must be holy too."
17You say that God is your Father, but God doesn't have favorites! He judges all people by what they do. So you must honor God while you live as strangers here on earth. 18You were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don't last forever. 19You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb. 20Christ was chosen even before the world was created, but because of you, he did not come until these last days. 21And when he did come, it was to lead you to have faith in God, who raised him from death and honored him in a glorious way. That's why you have put your faith and hope in God.
22You obeyed the truth, and your souls were made pure. Now you sincerely love each other. But you must keep on loving with all your heart. 23Do this because God has given you new birth by his message that lives on forever. 24The Scriptures say,
"Humans wither like grass,
and their glory fades like wild flowers.
Grass dries up, and flowers fall to the ground.
25But what the Lord has said will stand forever."
Our good news to you is what the Lord has said.

Israel Will Return to God

Jeremiah 31 The LORD said:
Israel, I promise that someday all your tribes
will again be my people, and I will be your God.
2In the desert I was kind to those who escaped death.
I gave them peace, and when the time is right,
I'll do the same for you.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

The LORD Will Rebuild Israel

3Some time ago, the LORD appeared to me and told me to say:
Israel, I will always love you;
that's why I've been so patient and kind.
4You are precious to me, and so I will rebuild your nation.
Once again you will dance for joy
and play your tambourines.
5You will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria
and enjoy the grapes.
6Someday those who guard the hill country of Ephraim
will shout, "Let's go to Zion
and worship the LORD our God."

Israel Will Return to Its Own Land

7The LORD says:
Celebrate and sing for Israel, the greatest of nations.
Offer praises and shout,
"Come and rescue your people, LORD!
Save what's left of Israel."

8I, the LORD, will bring my people back from Babylonia
and everywhere else on earth.
The blind and the lame will be there.
Expectant mothers and women about to give birth
will come and be part of that great crowd.
9They will weep and pray as I bring them home.
I will lead them to streams of water.
They will walk on a level road and not stumble.
I am a father to Israel, my favorite children.

10Listen to me, you nations nearby or across the sea.
I scattered the people of Israel,
but I will gather them again.
I will protect them like a shepherd guarding a flock;
11I will rescue them from enemies
who could overpower them.
12My people will come to Mount Zion and celebrate;
their faces will glow because of my blessings.
I'll give them grain, grapes, and olive oil,
as well as sheep and cattle.
Israel will be prosperous and grow
like a garden with plenty of water.
13Young women and young men, together with the elderly,
will celebrate and dance,
because I will comfort them and turn their sorrow
into happiness.
14I will bless my people with more food than they need,
and the priests will enjoy the choice cuts of meat.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

The LORD Offers Hope

15In Ramah a voice is heard, crying and weeping loudly.
Rachel mourns for her children
and refuses to be comforted, because they are dead.
*16But I, the LORD, say to dry your tears.
Someday your children will come home
from the enemy's land.
Then all you have done for them will be greatly rewarded.
17So don't lose hope.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

18The people of Israel moan and say to me,
"We were like wild bulls, but you, LORD, broke us,
and we learned to obey.
You are our God-- please let us come home.
19When we were young, we strayed and sinned,
but then we realized what we had done.
We are ashamed and disgraced and want to return to you."

20People of Israel, you are my own dear children.
Don't I love you best of all?
Though I often make threats, I want you to be near me,
so I will have mercy on you.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

21With rock piles and signposts, mark the way home,
my dear people.
It is the same road by which you left.
22Will you ever decide to be faithful?
I will make sure that someday things will be different,
as different as a woman protecting a man.

The LORD Will Bring Judah Home

23The LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, said:
I promise to set the people of Judah free and to lead them back to their hometowns. And when I do, they will once again say,
"We pray that the LORD will bless his home,
the sacred hill in Jerusalem where his temple stands."
24The people will live in Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah. Some will be farmers, and others will be shepherds. 25Those who feel tired and worn out will find new life and energy, 26and when they sleep, they will wake up refreshed.
27Someday, Israel and Judah will be my field where my people and their livestock will grow. 28In the past, I took care to uproot them, to tear them down, and to destroy them. But when that day comes, I will take care to plant them and help them grow. 29No longer will anyone go around saying,
"Sour grapes eaten by parents
leave a sour taste in the mouths of their children."
30When that day comes, only those who eat sour grapes will get the sour taste, and only those who sin will be put to death.

The New Agreement with Israel and Judah

31The LORD said:
The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. 32It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement.
33Here is the new agreement that I, the LORD, will make with the people of Israel:
"I will write my laws on their hearts and minds.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34"No longer will they have to teach one another to obey me. I, the LORD, promise that all of them will obey me, ordinary people and rulers alike. I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done."
35I am the LORD All-Powerful. I command the sun
to give light each day,
the moon and stars to shine at night,
and ocean waves to roar.
36I will never forget to give those commands,
and I will never let Israel stop being a nation.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

37Can you measure the heavens?
Can you explore the depths of the earth?
That's how hard it would be for me to reject Israel forever,
even though they have sinned.
I, the LORD, have spoken.

Jerusalem Will Be Rebuilt

38The LORD said:
Someday, Jerusalem will truly belong to me. It will be rebuilt with a boundary line running from Hananel Tower to Corner Gate. 39From there, the boundary will go in a straight line to Gareb Hill, then turn toward Goah. 40Even that disgusting Hinnom Valley will be sacred to me, and so will the eastern slopes that go down from Horse Gate into Kidron Valley. Jerusalem will never again be destroyed.

Jeremiah Buys a Field

Jeremiah 32 The LORD spoke to me in the tenth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia. 2At that time, the Babylonian army had surrounded Jerusalem, and I was in the prison at the courtyard of the palace guards. 3Zedekiah had ordered me to be held there because I told everyone that the LORD had said:
I am the LORD, and I am about to let the king of Babylonia conquer Jerusalem. 4King Zedekiah will be captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who will speak with him face to face. 5Then Zedekiah will be led away to Babylonia, where he will stay until I am finished with him. So, if you people of Judah fight against the Babylonians, you will lose. I, the LORD, have spoken.

6Later, when I was in prison, the LORD said:
7Jeremiah, your cousin Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will visit you. He must sell his field near the town of Anathoth, and because you are his nearest relative, you have the right and the responsibility to buy it and keep it in the family.

8Hanamel came, just as the LORD had promised. And he said, "Please buy my field near Anathoth in the territory of the Benjamin tribe. You have the right to buy it, and if you do, it will stay in our family."
The LORD had told me to buy it 9from Hanamel, and so I did. The price was seventeen pieces of silver, and I weighed out the full amount on a scale. 10-11I had two copies of the bill of sale written out, each containing all the details of our agreement. Some witnesses and I signed the official copy, which was folded and tied, before being sealed shut with hot wax. Then I gave Hanamel the silver. 12And while he, the witnesses, and all the other Jews sitting in the courtyard were still watching, I gave both copies to Baruch son of Neriah.
13-14I told Baruch that the LORD had said:
Take both copies of this bill of sale, one sealed shut and the other open, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15I am the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, and I promise you that people will once again buy and sell houses, farms, and vineyards in this country.

Jeremiah Questions the LORD

16Then I prayed:
17LORD God, you stretched out your mighty arm and made the sky and the earth. You can do anything. 18You show kindness for a thousand generations, but you also punish people for the sins of their parents. You are the LORD All-Powerful. 19With great wisdom you make plans, and with your great power you do all the mighty things you planned. Nothing we do is hidden from your eyes, and you reward or punish us as we deserve.
20You are famous because you worked miracles in Egypt, and you are still working them in Israel and in the rest of the world as well. 21You terrified the Egyptians with your miracles, and you reached out your mighty arm and rescued your people Israel from Egypt. 22Then you gave Israel this land rich with milk and honey, just as you had promised our ancestors.
23But when our ancestors took over the land, they did not obey you. And now you have punished Israel with disaster. 24Jerusalem is under attack, and we suffer from hunger and disease. The Babylonians have already built dirt ramps up to the city walls, and you can see that Jerusalem will be captured just as you said.
25So why did you tell me to get some witnesses and buy a field with my silver, when Jerusalem is about to be captured by the Babylonians?

The LORD Explains about the Field

26The LORD explained:
27Jeremiah, I am the LORD God. I rule the world, and I can do anything!
28It is true that I am going to let King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia capture Jerusalem. 29The Babylonian army is already attacking, and they will capture the city and set it on fire. The people of Jerusalem have made me angry by going up to the flat roofs of their houses and burning incense to Baal and offering wine sacrifices to other gods. Now these houses will be burned to the ground!
30-33The kings and the officials, the priests and the prophets, and everyone else in Israel and Judah have turned from me and made me angry by worshiping idols. Again and again I have tried to teach my people to obey me, but they refuse to be corrected.
I am going to get rid of Jerusalem, because its people have done nothing but evil. 34They have set up disgusting idols in my temple, and now it isn't a fit place to worship me. 35And they led Judah into sin by building places to worship Baal in Hinnom Valley, where they also sacrificed their sons and daughters to the god Molech. I have never even thought of telling them to commit such disgusting sins.
36Jeremiah, what you said is true. The people of Jerusalem are suffering from hunger and disease, and so the king of Babylonia will be able to capture Jerusalem.
37I am angry at the people of Jerusalem, and I will scatter them in foreign countries. But someday I will bring them back here and let them live in safety. 38They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39-41I will make their thoughts and desires pure. Then they will realize that, for their own good and the good of their children, they must worship only me. They will even be afraid to turn away from me. I will make an agreement with them that will never end, and I won't ever stop doing good things for them. With all my heart I promise that they will be planted in this land once again. 42Even though I have brought disaster on the people, I will someday do all these good things for them.
43Jeremiah, when you bought the field, you showed that fields will someday be bought and sold again. You say that this land has been conquered by the Babylonians and has become a desert, emptied of people and animals. 44But someday, people will again spend their silver to buy fields everywhere--in the territory of Benjamin, the region around Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, and in the hill country, the foothills to the west, and the Southern Desert. Buyers and sellers and witnesses will sign and seal the bills of sale for the fields. It will happen, because I will give this land back to my people. I, the LORD, have spoken.

Psalm 134
[A song for worship.]
Praising the LORD at Night

1Everyone who serves the LORD, come and offer praises.
Everyone who has gathered in his temple tonight,
2lift your hands in prayer toward his holy place
and praise the LORD.

3The LORD is the Creator of heaven and earth,
and I pray that the LORD will bless you from Zion.

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

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