November 11 - Titus 3, Jeremiah 17-18 and Psalm 127

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Christian Conduct

Titus 3 Remind your people to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey them, and to be ready to do good in every way. 2Tell them not to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and always to show a gentle attitude toward everyone. 3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong. We were slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds. We spent our lives in malice and envy; others hated us and we hated them. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was revealed, 5he saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us. 6God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for. 8This is a true saying.
I want you to give special emphasis to these matters, so that those who believe in God may be concerned with giving their time to doing good deeds, which are good and useful for everyone. 9But avoid stupid arguments, long lists of ancestors, quarrels, and fights about the Law. They are useless and worthless. 10Give at least two warnings to those who cause divisions, and then have nothing more to do with them. 11You know that such people are corrupt, and their sins prove that they are wrong.

Final Instructions

12When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me in Nicopolis, because I have decided to spend the winter there. 13Do your best to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos to get started on their travels, and see to it that they have everything they need. 14Our people must learn to spend their time doing good, in order to provide for real needs; they should not live useless lives.
15All who are with me send you greetings. Give our greetings to our friends in the faith.
God's grace be with you all.


The Sin and Punishment of Judah

Jeremiah 17 The LORD says, "People of Judah, your sin is written with an iron pen; it is engraved on your hearts with a diamond point and carved on the corners of your altars. 2Your people worship at the altars and the symbols that have been set up for the goddess Asherah by every green tree and on the hilltops 3and on the mountains in the open country. I will have your enemies take away your wealth and your treasures because of all the sins you have committed throughout your land. 4You will have to give up the land I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land you know nothing about, because my anger is like a fire, and it will burn forever."

Various Sayings

5The LORD says,
"I will condemn those
who turn away from me
and put their trust in human beings,
in the strength of mortals.
6He is like a bush in the desert,
which grows in the dry wasteland,
on salty ground where nothing else grows.
Nothing good ever happens to him.

7"But I will bless the person
who puts his trust in me.
8He is like a tree growing near a stream
and sending out roots to the water.
It is not afraid when hot weather comes,
because its leaves stay green;
it has no worries when there is no rain;
it keeps on bearing fruit.

9"Who can understand the human heart?
There is nothing else so deceitful;
it is too sick to be healed.
10I, the LORD, search the minds
and test the hearts of people.
I treat each of them according to the way they live,
according to what they do."

11The person who gets money dishonestly
is like a bird that hatches eggs it didn't lay.
In the prime of life he will lose his riches,
and in the end he is nothing but a fool.

12Our Temple is like a glorious throne,
standing on a high mountain from the beginning.

13LORD, you are Israel's hope;
all who abandon you will be put to shame.
They will disappear like names written in the dust,
because they have abandoned you, the LORD,
the spring of fresh water.

Jeremiah Asks the LORD for Help

14LORD, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise!
15The people say to me, "Where are those threats the LORD made against us? Let him carry them out now!"
16But, LORD, I never urged you to bring disaster on them; I did not wish a time of trouble for them. LORD, you know this; you know what I have said. 17Do not be a terror to me; you are my place of safety when trouble comes. 18Bring disgrace on those who persecute me, but spare me, LORD. Fill them with terror, but do not terrify me. Bring disaster on them and break them to pieces.

On Observing the Sabbath

19The LORD said to me, "Jeremiah, go and announce my message at the People's Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city; then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20Tell the kings and all the people of Judah and everyone who lives in Jerusalem and enters these gates, to listen to what I say. 21Tell them that if they love their lives, they must not carry any load on the Sabbath; they must not carry anything in through the gates of Jerusalem 22or carry anything out of their houses on the Sabbath. They must not work on the Sabbath; they must observe it as a sacred day, as I commanded their ancestors. 23Their ancestors did not listen to me or pay any attention. Instead, they became stubborn; they would not obey me or learn from me.
24"Tell these people that they must obey all my commands. They must not carry any load in through the gates of this city on the Sabbath. They must observe the Sabbath as a sacred day and must not do any work at all. 25Then their kings and princes will enter the gates of Jerusalem and have the same royal power that David had. Together with the people of Judah and of Jerusalem, they will ride in chariots and on horses, and the city of Jerusalem will always be filled with people. 26People will come from the towns of Judah and from the villages around Jerusalem; they will come from the territory of Benjamin, from the foothills, from the mountains, and from southern Judah. They will bring to my Temple burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, as well as thank offerings. 27But they must obey me and observe the Sabbath as a sacred day. They must not carry any load through the gates of Jerusalem on that day, for if they do, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. Fire will burn down the palaces of Jerusalem, and no one will be able to put it out."

Jeremiah at the Potter's House

Jeremiah 18 The LORD said to me, 2"Go down to the potter's house, where I will give you my message." 3So I went there and saw the potter working at his wheel. 4Whenever a piece of pottery turned out imperfect, he would take the clay and make it into something else.
5Then the LORD said to me, 6"Don't I have the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter's hands. 7If at any time I say that I am going to uproot, break down, or destroy any nation or kingdom, 8but then that nation turns from its evil, I will not do what I said I would. 9On the other hand, if I say that I am going to plant or build up any nation or kingdom, 10but then that nation disobeys me and does evil, I will not do what I said I would. 11Now then, tell the people of Judah and of Jerusalem that I am making plans against them and getting ready to punish them. Tell them to stop living sinful lives--to change their ways and the things they are doing. 12They will answer, 'No, why should we? We will all be just as stubborn and evil as we want to be.'"

The People Reject the LORD

13The LORD says,
"Ask every nation if such a thing
has ever happened before.
The people of Israel have done a terrible thing!
14Are Lebanon's rocky heights ever without snow?
Do its cool mountain streams ever run dry?
15Yet my people have forgotten me;
they burn incense to idols.
They have stumbled in the way they should go;
they no longer follow the old ways;
they walk on unmarked paths.
16They have made this land a thing of horror,
to be despised forever.
All who pass by will be shocked at what they see;
they will shake their heads in amazement.
17I will scatter my people before their enemies,
like dust blown by the east wind.
I will turn my back on them;
I will not help them when the disaster comes."

A Plot against Jeremiah

18Then the people said, "Let's do something about Jeremiah! There will always be priests to instruct us, the wise to give us counsel, and prophets to proclaim God's message. Let's bring charges against him and stop listening to what he says."
19So I prayed, "LORD, hear what I am saying and listen to what my enemies are saying about me. 20Is evil the payment for good? Yet they have dug a pit for me to fall in. Remember how I came to you and spoke on their behalf, so that you would not deal with them in anger. 21But now, LORD, let their children starve to death; let them be killed in war. Let the women lose their husbands and children; let the men die of disease and the young men be killed in battle. 22Send a mob to plunder their homes without warning; make them cry out in terror. They have dug a pit for me to fall in and have set traps to catch me. 23But, LORD, you know all their plots to kill me. Do not forgive their evil or pardon their sin. Throw them down in defeat and deal with them while you are angry."


In Praise of God's Goodness

Psalm 127 If the LORD does not build the house,
the work of the builders is useless;
if the LORD does not protect the city,
it does no good for the sentries to stand guard.
2It is useless to work so hard for a living,
getting up early and going to bed late.
For the LORD provides for those he loves,
while they are asleep.

3Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a real blessing.
4The sons a man has when he is young
are like arrows in a soldier's hand.
5Happy is the man who has many such arrows.
He will never be defeated
when he meets his enemies in the place of judgment.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.


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