JEREMIAH 16:16-18:23 | 1 THESSALONIANS 4:1-5:3 | PSALM 81:1-16 | PROVERBS 25:6-8
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Jeremiah is on a roll, and continues with his prophecies to the children of Israel. If they knew better, they would have paid attention.
Speaking of the contrast between the one who trusts in the Lord, and the one who doesn’t, Jeremiah says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Turning next to our reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonicans, Paul is exhorting them to live a life pleasing to God. Our soul’s are saved from eternal damnation, yes, but that is not to say that we ought to waste away our bodies. We ought to care for our bodies and treat them well, and use them to honor God, not ourselves.
Paul says, 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.
And then Paul goes on to give more advice on how to conduct oneself with dignity.
He says: 9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Is that sufficiently clear, gentle reader?
Next, Paul speaks of the second coming of Jesus, and encourages them to take heart in the hope that we will one day be reunited with those who have gone on before us. Paul gives a brief summary of one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith in these lines.
He says:13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Turning next to our reading of the Psalms, we find Asaph, the Psalmist, speaking of the stubborn streak of his people, the children of Israel, in turning away from the God of their forefathers.
Not unlike Jeremiah who warned and prophesied about the devastation and captivity that was to come, Asaph also speaks of a time when God turned his back on his people. God says:
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
May it be that we are not counted among such as those with stubborn hearts.
Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, is cautioning against the error of rushing to judgment. He says:
What you have seen with your eyes
8 do not bring hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
if your neighbor puts you to shame?
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.