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Jeremiah 4:19-6:15; Colossians 1:18-2:7; Psalm 77; Proverbs 24:23-25 (New Living Translation)

Jeremiah 4:19-6:15

Jeremiah Weeps for His People

19 My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain!
    My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets
    and the roar of their battle cries.
20 Waves of destruction roll over the land,
    until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed;
    in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21 How long must I see the battle flags
    and hear the trumpets of war?

22 “My people are foolish
    and do not know me,” says the Lord.
“They are stupid children
    who have no understanding.
They are clever enough at doing wrong,
    but they have no idea how to do right!”

Jeremiah’s Vision of Coming Disaster

23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
    I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24 I looked at the mountains and hills,
    and they trembled and shook.
25 I looked, and all the people were gone.
    All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness.
    The towns lay in ruins,
    crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.

27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
    but I will not destroy it completely.
28 The earth will mourn
    and the heavens will be draped in black
because of my decree against my people.
    I have made up my mind and will not change it.”

29 At the noise of charioteers and archers,
    the people flee in terror.
They hide in the bushes
    and run for the mountains.
All the towns have been abandoned—
    not a person remains!
30 What are you doing,
    you who have been plundered?
Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing
    and put on gold jewelry?
Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara?
    Your primping will do you no good!
The allies who were your lovers
    despise you and seek to kill you.

31 I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor,
    the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child.
It is beautiful Jerusalem[a]
    gasping for breath and crying out,
    “Help! I’m being murdered!”

The Sins of Judah

“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the Lord.
    “Look high and low; search throughout the city!
If you can find even one just and honest person,
    I will not destroy the city.
But even when they are under oath,
    saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
    they are still telling lies!”

Lord, you are searching for honesty.
You struck your people,
    but they paid no attention.
You crushed them,
    but they refused to be corrected.
They are determined, with faces set like stone;
    they have refused to repent.

Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor?
    They are ignorant.
They don’t know the ways of the Lord.
    They don’t understand God’s laws.
So I will go and speak to their leaders.
    Surely they know the ways of the Lord
    and understand God’s laws.”
But the leaders, too, as one man,
    had thrown off God’s yoke
    and broken his chains.
So now a lion from the forest will attack them;
    a wolf from the desert will pounce on them.
A leopard will lurk near their towns,
    tearing apart any who dare to venture out.
For their rebellion is great,
    and their sins are many.

“How can I pardon you?
    For even your children have turned from me.
They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!
    I fed my people until they were full.
But they thanked me by committing adultery
    and lining up at the brothels.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?

10 “Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines,
    leaving a scattered few alive.
Strip the branches from the vines,
    for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 The people of Israel and Judah
    are full of treachery against me,”
    says the Lord.
12 “They have lied about the Lord
    and said, ‘He won’t bother us!
No disasters will come upon us.
    There will be no war or famine.
13 God’s prophets are all windbags
    who don’t really speak for him.
    Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”

14 Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies says:

“Because the people are talking like this,
    my messages will flame out of your mouth
    and burn the people like kindling wood.
15 O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,”
    says the Lord.
“It is a mighty nation,
    an ancient nation,
a people whose language you do not know,
    whose speech you cannot understand.
16 Their weapons are deadly;
    their warriors are mighty.
17 They will devour the food of your harvest;
    they will devour your sons and daughters.
They will devour your flocks and herds;
    they will devour your grapes and figs.
And they will destroy your fortified towns,
    which you think are so safe.

18 “Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the Lord. 19 “And when your people ask, ‘Why did the Lord our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’

A Warning for God’s People

20 “Make this announcement to Israel,[b]
    and say this to Judah:
21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
    with eyes that do not see
    and ears that do not hear.
22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
    as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
    but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.

26 “Among my people are wicked men
    who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps
    to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with birds,
    their homes are filled with evil plots.
    And now they are great and rich.
28 They are fat and sleek,
    and there is no limit to their wicked deeds.
They refuse to provide justice to orphans
    and deny the rights of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
30 A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in this land—
31 the prophets give false prophecies,
    and the priests rule with an iron hand.
Worse yet, my people like it that way!
    But what will you do when the end comes?

Jerusalem’s Last Warning

“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin!
    Get out of Jerusalem!
Sound the alarm in Tekoa!
    Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem!
A powerful army is coming from the north,
    coming with disaster and destruction.
O Jerusalem,[c] you are my beautiful and delicate daughter—
    but I will destroy you!
Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city.
    Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
They shout, ‘Prepare for battle!
    Attack at noon!’
‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading,
    and the evening shadows are falling.’
‘Well then, let’s attack at night
    and destroy her palaces!’”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Cut down the trees for battering rams.
    Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem.
This is the city to be punished,
    for she is wicked through and through.
She spouts evil like a fountain.
    Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction.
    I always see her sickness and sores.
Listen to this warning, Jerusalem,
    or I will turn from you in disgust.
Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins,
    a land where no one lives.”

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Even the few who remain in Israel
    will be picked over again,
as when a harvester checks each vine a second time
    to pick the grapes that were missed.”

Judah’s Constant Rebellion

10 To whom can I give warning?
    Who will listen when I speak?
Their ears are closed,
    and they cannot hear.
They scorn the word of the Lord.
    They don’t want to listen at all.
11 So now I am filled with the Lord’s fury.
    Yes, I am tired of holding it in!

“I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets
    and on gatherings of young men,
on husbands and wives
    and on those who are old and gray.
12 Their homes will be turned over to their enemies,
    as will their fields and their wives.
For I will raise my powerful fist
    against the people of this land,”
    says the Lord.
13 “From the least to the greatest,
    their lives are ruled by greed.
From prophets to priests,
    they are all frauds.
14 They offer superficial treatments
    for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
    when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions?
    Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
    They will be brought down when I punish them,”
    says the Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:31 Hebrew the daughter of Zion.
  2. 5:20 Hebrew to the house of Jacob. The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are often interchanged throughout the Old Testament, referring sometimes to the individual patriarch and sometimes to the nation.
  3. 6:2 Hebrew Daughter of Zion.
Read More
Colossians 1:18-2:7

18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[a]
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

Paul’s Work for the Church

24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect[b] in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

Freedom from Rules and New Life in Christ

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:18 Or the firstborn from the dead.
  2. 1:28 Or mature.
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Psalm 77

Psalm 77

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of Asaph.

I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

13 O God, your ways are holy.
    Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
    You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude

16 When the Red Sea[a] saw you, O God,
    its waters looked and trembled!
    The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
    the thunder rumbled in the sky.
    Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
    the lightning lit up the world!
    The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
    with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

Footnotes:

  1. 77:16 Hebrew the waters.
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Proverbs 24:23-25

More Sayings of the Wise

23 Here are some further sayings of the wise:

It is wrong to show favoritism when passing judgment.
24 A judge who says to the wicked, “You are innocent,”
    will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations.
25 But it will go well for those who convict the guilty;
    rich blessings will be showered on them.

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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