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Jeremiah 9; Jeremiah 10; Jeremiah 11; 1 Timothy 6 (The Message)

1 I wish my head were a well of water and my eyes fountains of tears So I could weep day and night for casualties among my dear, dear people. 2 At times I wish I had a wilderness hut, a backwoods cabin, Where I could get away from my people and never see them again. They're a faithless, feckless bunch, a congregation of degenerates. 3 "Their tongues shoot out lies like a bow shoots arrows - A mighty army of liars, the sworn enemies of truth. They advance from one evil to the next, ignorant of me." God's Decree. 4 "Be wary of even longtime neighbors. Don't even trust your grandmother! Brother schemes against brother, like old cheating Jacob. Friend against friend spreads malicious gossip. 5 Neighbors gyp neighbors, never telling the truth. They've trained their tongues to tell lies, and now they can't tell the truth. 6 They pile wrong upon wrong, stack lie upon lie, and refuse to know me." God's Decree. 7 Therefore, God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: "Watch this! I'll melt them down and see what they're made of. What else can I do with a people this wicked? 8 Their tongues are poison arrows! Deadly lies stream from their mouths. Neighbor greets neighbor with a smile, 'Good morning! How're things?' while scheming to do away with him. 9 Do you think I'm going to stand around and do nothing?" God's Decree. "Don't you think I'll take serious measures against a people like this? 10 "I'm lamenting the loss of the mountain pastures. I'm chanting dirges for the old grazing grounds. They've become deserted wastelands too dangerous for travelers. No sounds of sheep bleating or cattle mooing. Birds and wild animals, all gone. Nothing stirring, no sounds of life. 11 I'm going to make Jerusalem a pile of rubble, fit for nothing but stray cats and dogs. I'm going to reduce Judah's towns to piles of ruins where no one lives!" 12 I asked, "Is there anyone around bright enough to tell us what's going on here? Anyone who has the inside story from God and can let us in on it? "Why is the country wasted? "Why no travelers in this desert?" 13 God's answer: "Because they abandoned my plain teaching. They wouldn't listen to anything I said, refused to live the way I told them to. 14 Instead they lived any way they wanted and took up with the Baal gods, who they thought would give them what they wanted - following the example of their parents." 15 And this is the consequence. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so: "I'll feed them with pig slop. "I'll give them poison to drink. 16 "Then I'll scatter them far and wide among godless peoples that neither they nor their parents have ever heard of, and I'll send Death in pursuit until there's nothing left of them." A Life That Is All Outside but No Inside 17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Look over the trouble we're in and call for help. Send for some singers who can help us mourn our loss. 18 Tell them to hurry - to help us express our loss and lament, Help us get our tears flowing, make tearful music of our crying. 19 Listen to it! Listen to that torrent of tears out of Zion: 'We're a ruined people, we're a shamed people! We've been driven from our homes and must leave our land!'" 20 Mourning women! Oh, listen to God's Message! Open your ears. Take in what he says. Teach your daughters songs for the dead and your friends the songs of heartbreak. 21 Death has climbed in through the window, broken into our bedrooms. Children on the playgrounds drop dead, and young men and women collapse at their games. 22 Speak up! "God's Message: "'Dead bodies everywhere, scattered at random like sheep and goat dung in the fields, Like wheat cut down by reapers and left to rot where it falls.'" 23 God's Message: "Don't let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don't let heroes brag of their exploits. Don't let the rich brag of their riches. 24 If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me. I'm God, and I act in loyal love. I do what's right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks." God's Decree. 25 "Stay alert! It won't be long now" - God's Decree! - "when I will personally deal with everyone whose life is all outside but no inside: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab. All these nations are big on performance religion - including Israel, who is no better." The Stick Gods 1 Listen to the Message that God is sending your way, House of Israel. 2 Listen most carefully: "Don't take the godless nations as your models. Don't be impressed by their glamour and glitz, no matter how much they're impressed. 3 The religion of these peoples is nothing but smoke. An idol is nothing but a tree chopped down, then shaped by a woodsman's ax. 4 They trim it with tinsel and balls, use hammer and nails to keep it upright. 5 It's like a scarecrow in a cabbage patch - can't talk! Dead wood that has to be carried - can't walk! Don't be impressed by such stuff. It's useless for either good or evil." 6 All this is nothing compared to you, O God. You're wondrously great, famously great. 7 Who can fail to be impressed by you, King of the nations? It's your very nature to be worshiped! Look far and wide among the elite of the nations. The best they can come up with is nothing compared to you. 8 Stupidly, they line them up - a lineup of sticks, good for nothing but making smoke. 9 Gilded with silver foil from Tarshish, covered with gold from Uphaz, Hung with violet and purple fabrics - no matter how fancy the sticks, they're still sticks. 10 But God is the real thing - the living God, the eternal King. When he's angry, Earth shakes. Yes, and the godless nations quake. 11 "Tell them this: 'The stick gods who made nothing, neither sky nor earth, Will come to nothing on the earth and under the sky.'" 12 But it is God whose power made the earth, whose wisdom gave shape to the world, who crafted the cosmos. 13 He thunders, and rain pours down. He sends the clouds soaring. He embellishes the storm with lightnings, launches wind from his warehouse. 14 Stick-god worshipers looking mighty foolish, god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods! Their gods are frauds - dead sticks, 15 deadwood gods, tasteless jokes. When the fires of judgment come, they'll be ashes. 16 But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing. He put the whole universe together And pays special attention to Israel. His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies! 17 Grab your bags, all you who are under attack. 18 God has given notice: "Attention! I'm evicting Everyone who lives here, And right now - yes, right now! I'm going to press them to the limit, squeeze the life right out of them." 19 But it's a black day for me! Hopelessly wounded, I said, "Why, oh why did I think I could bear it?" 20 My house is ruined - the roof caved in. Our children are gone - we'll never see them again. No one left to help in rebuilding, no one to make a new start! 21 It's because our leaders are stupid. They never asked God for counsel, And so nothing worked right. The people are scattered all over. 22 But listen! Something's coming! A big commotion from the northern borders! Judah's towns about to be smashed, left to all the stray dogs and cats! 23 I know, God, that mere mortals can't run their own lives, That men and women don't have what it takes to take charge of life. 24 So correct us, God, as you see best. Don't lose your temper. That would be the end of us. 25 Vent your anger on the godless nations, who refuse to acknowledge you, And on the people who won't pray to you - The very ones who've made hash out of Jacob, yes, made hash And devoured him whole, people and pastures alike. 1 The Message that came to Jeremiah from God: 2 "Preach to the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem. 3 Tell them this: 'This is God's Message, the Message of Israel's God to you. Anyone who does not keep the terms of this covenant is cursed. 4 The terms are clear. I made them plain to your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt, out of the iron furnace of suffering. 5 This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that's what I did.'" "Yes, God," I replied. "That's true." 6 God continued: "Preach all this in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. Say, 'Listen to the terms of this covenant and carry them out! 7 I warned your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt and I've kept up the warnings. I haven't quit warning them for a moment. I warned them from morning to night: "Obey me or else!" 8 But they didn't obey. They paid no attention to me. They did whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it, until finally I stepped in and ordered the punishments set out in the covenant, which, despite all my warnings, they had ignored.'" 9 Then God said, "There's a conspiracy among the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. 10 They've plotted to reenact the sins of their ancestors - the ones who disobeyed me and decided to go after other gods and worship them. Israel and Judah are in this together, mindlessly breaking the covenant I made with their ancestors." 11 "Well, your God has something to say about this: Watch out! I'm about to visit doom on you, and no one will get out of it. You're going to cry for help but I won't listen. 12 Then all the people in Judah and Jerusalem will start praying to the gods you've been sacrificing to all these years, but it won't do a bit of good. 13 You've got as many gods as you have villages, Judah! And you've got enough altars for sacrifices to that impotent sex god Baal to put one on every street corner in Jerusalem!" 14 "And as for you, Jeremiah, I don't want you praying for this people. Nothing! Not a word of petition. Indeed, I'm not going to listen to a single syllable of their crisis-prayers." Promises and Pious Programs 15 "What business do the ones I love have figuring out how to get off the hook? And right in the house of worship! Do you think making promises and devising pious programs will save you from doom? Do you think you can get out of this by becoming more religious? 16 A mighty oak tree, majestic and glorious - that's how I once described you. But it will only take a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning to leave you a shattered wreck. 17 "I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who planted you - yes, I have pronounced doom on you. Why? Because of the disastrous life you've lived, Israel and Judah alike, goading me to anger with your continuous worship and offerings to that sorry god Baal." 18 God told me what was going on. That's how I knew. You, God, opened my eyes to their evil scheming. 19 I had no idea what was going on - naive as a lamb being led to slaughter! I didn't know they had it in for me, didn't know of their behind-the-scenes plots: "Let's get rid of the preacher. That will stop the sermons! Let's get rid of him for good. He won't be remembered for long." 20 Then I said, "God-of-the-Angel-Armies, you're a fair judge. You examine and cross-examine human actions and motives. I want to see these people shown up and put down! I'm an open book before you. Clear my name." 21 That sent a signal to God, who spoke up: "Here's what I'll do to the men of Anathoth who are trying to murder you, the men who say, 'Don't preach to us in God's name or we'll kill you.' 22 Yes, it's God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking. Indeed! I'll call them to account: Their young people will die in battle, their children will die of starvation, 23 and there will be no one left at all, none. I'm visiting the men of Anathoth with doom. Doomsday!" 1 Whoever is a slave must make the best of it, giving respect to his master so that outsiders don't blame God and our teaching for his behavior. 2 Slaves with Christian masters all the more so - their masters are really their beloved brothers! 3 If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, 4 tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. 5 Eventually there's an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. 6 A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. 7 Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, 8 if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough. 9 But if it's only money these leaders are after, they'll self-destruct in no time. 10 Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. 11 But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life - a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. 12 Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. 13 I'm charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn't give an inch: 14 Keep this command to the letter, and don't slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. 15 He'll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. 16 He's the only one death can't touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He's never been seen by human eyes - human eyes can't take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes. 17 Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage - 18 to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. 19 If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. 20 And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. 21 People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith. Overwhelming grace keep you!
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