Urgent: You Can Provide Bibles, Food and Shelter for Persecuted Christians

Titus 3; Jeremiah 17; Jeremiah 18; Psalm 127

Titus 3

The Importance of Good Works

1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. 3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. 4 But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, 5 He saved us- not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This [Spirit] He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. 8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

Final Instructions and Closing

12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing. 14 And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful. 15 All those who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.

Jeremiah 17

The Persistent Sin of Judah

1 The sin of Judah is written with an iron stylus. With a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars, 2 while their children remember their altars and their Asherah poles, by the green trees on the high hills- 3 My mountains in the countryside. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give up as plunder because of the sin of your high places within all your borders. 4 You will, of yourself, relinquish your inheritance that I gave you. I will make you serve your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have set My anger on fire; it will burn forever.

Curse and Blessing

5 This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes [human] flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord. 6 He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord. 8 He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn't fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.

The Deceitful Heart

9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick-who can understand it? 10 I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve. 11 He who makes a fortune unjustly is [like] a partridge that hatches eggs it didn't lay. In the middle of his days [his riches] will abandon him, so in the end he will be a fool. 12 A throne of glory on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary, 13 Lord, the hope of Israel, all who abandon You will be put to shame. All who turn away from Me will be written in the dirt, for they have abandoned the fountain of living water, the Lord.

Jeremiah's Plea

14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise. 15 Hear how they keep challenging me, "Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come!" 16 But I have not run away from being Your shepherd, and I have not longed for the fatal day. You know my words were spoken in Your presence. 17 Don't become a terror to me. You are my refuge in the day of disaster. 18 Let my persecutors be put to shame, but don't let me be put to shame. Let them be terrified, but don't let me be terrified. Bring on them the day of disaster; shatter them with total destruction.

Observing the Sabbath

19 This is what the Lord said to me, "Go and stand in the People's Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and leave, and in all the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Announce to them: Hear the word of the Lord, kings of Judah, all Judah, and all the residents of Jerusalem who enter through these gates. 21 This is what the Lord says: Watch yourselves; do not pick up a load and bring it in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 22 You must not carry a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day or do any work, but you must consecrate the Sabbath day, just as I commanded your ancestors. 23 They wouldn't listen or pay attention but became obstinate, not listening or accepting discipline. 24 "However, if you listen to Me, says the Lord, and do not bring loads through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day and consecrate the Sabbath day and do no work on it, 25 kings and princes will enter through the gates of this city. They will sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses with their officials, the men of Judah, and the residents of Jerusalem. This city will be inhabited forever. 26 Then [people] will come from the cities of Judah and from the area around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the Judean foothills, from the hill country and from the Negev bringing burnt offerings and sacrifice, grain offerings and frankincense, and thank offerings to the house of the Lord. 27 If you do not listen to Me to consecrate the Sabbath day by not carrying a load while entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, I will set fire to its gates, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem and not be extinguished."

Jeremiah 18

Parable of the Potter

1 [This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 "Go down at once to the potter's house; there I will reveal My words to you." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, working away at the wheel. 4 But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter's hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do. 5 The word of the Lord came to me: 6 "House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter [treats his clay]?"-[this is] the Lord's declaration. "Just like clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will uproot, tear down, and destroy [it]. 8 However, if that nation I have made an announcement about, turns from its evil, I will not bring the disaster on it I had planned. 9 At [another] time I announce that I will build and plant a nation or a kingdom. 10 However, if it does what is evil in My sight by not listening to My voice, I will not bring the good I had said I would do to it. 11 So now, say to the men of Judah and to the residents of Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I am about to bring harm to you and make plans against you. Turn now, each from your evil way, and correct your ways and your deeds. 12 But they will say: It's hopeless. We will continue to follow our plans, and each of us will continue to act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart."

Deluded Israel

13 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: Ask among the nations, Who has heard [things] like these? Virgin Israel has done a most terrible thing. 14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever leave the highland crags? Or does cold water flowing from a distance ever fail? 15 Yet My people have forgotten Me. They burn incense to false [idols] that make them stumble in their ways- in the ancient roads- to walk on [new] paths, not the highway. 16 They have made their land a horror, a perpetual object of scorn; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and shake his head. 17 I will scatter them before the enemy like the east wind. I will show them [My] back and not [My] face on the day of their calamity.

Plot against Jeremiah

18 Then certain ones said, "Come, let's make plans against Jeremiah, for the law will never be lost from the priest, or counsel from the wise, or an oracle from the prophet. Come, let's denounce him and pay no attention to all his words." 19 Pay attention to me, Lord. Hear what my opponents are saying! 20 Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember how I stood before You to speak good on their behalf, to turn Your anger from them. 21 Therefore, hand their children over to famine, and pour the sword's power on them. Let their wives become childless and widowed, their husbands slain by deadly disease, their young men struck down by the sword in battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses when You suddenly bring raiders against them, for they have dug a pit to capture me and have hidden snares for my feet. 23 But You, Lord, know all their deadly plots against me. Do not wipe out their guilt; do not blot out their sin before You. Let them be forced to stumble before You; deal with them in the time of Your anger.

Psalm 127

The Blessing of the Lord

A Solomonic song of ascents.

1 Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. 2 In vain you get up early and stay up late, eating food earned by hard work; certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves. 3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one's youth. 5 Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame when they speak with [their] enemies at the city gate.
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