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Jeremiah 2:31-4:18; Colossians 1:1-17; Psalm 76; Proverbs 24:21-22 (New Living Translation)

Jeremiah 2:31-4:18

31 “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord!
    Have I been like a desert to Israel?
    Have I been to them a land of darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God!
    We don’t need him anymore!’
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    or a bride her wedding dress?
Yet for years on end
    my people have forgotten me.

33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers.
    Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
    though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35 And yet you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.
    Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely
    because you claim you have not sinned.
36 First here, then there—
    you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
    just as Assyria did before.
37 In despair, you will be led into exile
    with your hands on your heads,
for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust.
    They will not help you at all.

“If a man divorces a woman
    and she goes and marries someone else,
he will not take her back again,
    for that would surely corrupt the land.
But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
    so why are you trying to come back to me?”
    says the Lord.
“Look at the shrines on every hilltop.
    Is there any place you have not been defiled
    by your adultery with other gods?
You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer.
    You sit alone like a nomad in the desert.
You have polluted the land with your prostitution
    and your wickedness.
That’s why even the spring rains have failed.
    For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
Yet you say to me,
    ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
Surely you won’t be angry forever!
    Surely you can forget about it!’
So you talk,
    but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”

Judah Follows Israel’s Example

During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. She saw[a] that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Hope for Wayward Israel

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah! 12 Therefore, go and give this message to Israel.[b] This is what the Lord says:

“O Israel, my faithless people,
    come home to me again,
for I am merciful.
    I will not be angry with you forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt.
    Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and committed adultery against him
    by worshiping idols under every green tree.
Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

14 “Return home, you wayward children,”
    says the Lord,
    “for I am your master.
I will bring you back to the land of Israel[c]
    one from this town and two from that family—
    from wherever you are scattered.
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart,
    who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.

16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the Lord, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark. 17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.

19 “I thought to myself,
    ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’
I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—
    the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’
    and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20 But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel!
    You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.”

21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains,
    the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people.
For they have chosen crooked paths
    and have forgotten the Lord their God.

22 “My wayward children,” says the Lord,
    “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”

“Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply,
    “for you are the Lord our God.
23 Our worship of idols on the hills
    and our religious orgies on the mountains
    are a delusion.
Only in the Lord our God
    will Israel ever find salvation.
24 From childhood we have watched
    as everything our ancestors worked for—
their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—
    was squandered on a delusion.
25 Let us now lie down in shame
    and cover ourselves with dishonor,
for we and our ancestors have sinned
    against the Lord our God.
From our childhood to this day
    we have never obeyed him.”

“O Israel,” says the Lord,
    “if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
    and stray away no more.
Then when you swear by my name, saying,
    ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
    with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
    and all people would come and praise my name.”

Coming Judgment against Judah

This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!
    Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
    surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,[d]
    or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
    because of all your sins.

“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem!
    Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land:
‘Run for your lives!
    Flee to the fortified cities!’
Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem[e]:
    ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’
For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you
    from the north.”

A lion stalks from its den,
    a destroyer of nations.
It has left its lair and is headed your way.
    It’s going to devastate your land!
Your towns will lie in ruins,
    with no one living in them anymore.
So put on clothes of mourning
    and weep with broken hearts,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
    is still upon us.

“In that day,” says the Lord,
    “the king and the officials will tremble in fear.
The priests will be struck with horror,
    and the prophets will be appalled.”

10 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord,
    the people have been deceived by what you said,
for you promised peace for Jerusalem.
    But the sword is held at their throats!”

11 The time is coming when the Lord will say
    to the people of Jerusalem,
“My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert,
    and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12 It is a roaring blast sent by me!
    Now I will pronounce your destruction!”

13 Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds!
    His chariots are like whirlwinds.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
    How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14 O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart
    that you may be saved.
How long will you harbor
    your evil thoughts?
15 Your destruction has been announced
    from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.

16 “Warn the surrounding nations
    and announce this to Jerusalem:
The enemy is coming from a distant land,
    raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17 They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field,
    for my people have rebelled against me,”
    says the Lord.
18 “Your own actions have brought this upon you.
    This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”

Footnotes:

  1. 3:8 As in Dead Sea Scrolls, one Greek manuscript, and Syriac version; Masoretic Text reads I saw.
  2. 3:12 Hebrew toward the north.
  3. 3:14 Hebrew to Zion.
  4. 4:4 Hebrew Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart.
  5. 4:6 Hebrew Zion.
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Colossians 1:1-17

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters[a] in Christ.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.[b] He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[c] 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom[d] and forgave our sins.

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[e]
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:2 Greek faithful brothers.
  2. 1:7 Or he is ministering on your behalf; some manuscripts read he is ministering on our behalf.
  3. 1:11 Or all the patience and endurance you need with joy.
  4. 1:14 Some manuscripts add with his blood.
  5. 1:15 Or He is the firstborn of all creation.
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Psalm 76

Psalm 76

For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph. A song to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

God is honored in Judah;
    his name is great in Israel.
Jerusalem[a] is where he lives;
    Mount Zion is his home.
There he has broken the fiery arrows of the enemy,
    the shields and swords and weapons of war. Interlude

You are glorious and more majestic
    than the everlasting mountains.[b]
Our boldest enemies have been plundered.
    They lie before us in the sleep of death.
    No warrior could lift a hand against us.
At the blast of your breath, O God of Jacob,
    their horses and chariots lay still.

No wonder you are greatly feared!
    Who can stand before you when your anger explodes?
From heaven you sentenced your enemies;
    the earth trembled and stood silent before you.
You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God,
    and to rescue the oppressed of the earth. Interlude
10 Human defiance only enhances your glory,
    for you use it as a weapon.[c]

11 Make vows to the Lord your God, and keep them.
    Let everyone bring tribute to the Awesome One.
12 For he breaks the pride of princes,
    and the kings of the earth fear him.

Footnotes:

  1. 76:2 Hebrew Salem, another name for Jerusalem.
  2. 76:4 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads than mountains filled with beasts of prey.
  3. 76:10 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
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Proverbs 24:21-22

21 My child, fear the Lord and the king.
Don’t associate with rebels,
22     for disaster will hit them suddenly.
Who knows what punishment will come
    from the Lord and the king?

Read More
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


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