It makes a difference what you believe! It makes a difference how you live! It makes a difference how you do it! Everything we do has consequences! Some are good and some are not! Some have a temporary sting and others can last for a long time! We are faced with choices each day! We are faced with decisions we need to make! Choose wisely! Consider the impact not only on you, but those around you! Remember, it’s not all about you! It may be that you are to be a catalyst for someone else! It might be that you are to be an encouragement to someone else! It might be that you are to be an ear to listen! It might be that you are to be a voice of reason to speak! It might be that you are to be a shoulder to lean on! It might be that you are to be a helping hand to enable someone else to get through some tough times! It might be about you! There might be things that you need to hear, see, or do! There might be things you need to change or implement or create! But to know which you need to be willing to take time to listen! Take time to build a relationship with God! It’s not about rituals, routines, or habits! It’s about building a relationship with God and spending time with Him! How many times does it take you before you hear, listen, and follow thru with the direction(s) you have been given?
Today’s reading starts with a time when God sent a messenger to try and get people’s attention and help them turn back to Him…
Jeremiah Preaches in the Temple1-3The Lord sent me to the gate of the Temple where the people of Judah went in to worship. He told me to stand there and announce what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, had to say to them: “Change the way you are living and the things you are doing, and I will let you go on living here. 4Stop believing those deceitful words, ‘We are safe! This is the Lord’s Temple, this is the Lord’s Temple, this is the Lord’s Temple!’ 5“Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another. 6Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshiping other gods, for that will destroy you. 7If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession. 8“Look, you put your trust in deceitful words. 9You steal, murder, commit adultery, tell lies under oath, offer sacrifices to Baal, and worship gods that you had not known before. 10You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, ‘We are safe!’ 11 Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? I have seen what you are doing. 12 Go to Shiloh, the first place where I chose to be worshiped, and see what I did to it because of the sins of my people Israel. 13You have committed all these sins, and even though I spoke to you over and over again, you refused to listen. You would not answer when I called you. 14And so, what I did to Shiloh I will do to this Temple of mine, in which you trust. Here in this place that I gave to your ancestors and you, I will do the same thing that I did to Shiloh. 15I will drive you out of my sight as I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
The People’s Disobedience16The Lord said, “Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not cry or pray on their behalf; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. 17Don’t you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather firewood, the men build fires, and the women mix dough to bake cakes for the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They also pour out offerings of wine to other gods, in order to hurt me. 19But am I really the one they are hurting? No, they are hurting themselves and bringing shame on themselves. 20And so I, the Sovereign Lord, will pour out my fierce anger on this Temple. I will pour it out on people and animals alike, and even on the trees and the crops. My anger will be like a fire that no one can put out. 21“My people, some sacrifices you burn completely on the altar, and some you are permitted to eat. But what I, the Lord, say is that you might as well eat them all. 22I gave your ancestors no commands about burnt offerings or any other kinds of sacrifices when I brought them out of Egypt. 23But I did command them to obey me, so that I would be their God and they would be my people. And I told them to live the way I had commanded them, so that things would go well for them. 24But they did not obey or pay any attention. Instead, they did whatever their stubborn and evil hearts told them to do, and they became worse instead of better. 25From the day that your ancestors came out of Egypt until this very day I have kept on sending to you my servants, the prophets. 26Yet no one listened or paid any attention. Instead, you became more stubborn and rebellious than your ancestors. 27“So, Jeremiah, you will speak all these words to my people, but they will not listen to you; you will call them, but they will not answer. 28You will tell them that their nation does not obey me, the Lord their God, or learn from their punishment. Faithfulness is dead. No longer is it even talked about.
Sinful Deeds in Hinnom Valley29“Mourn, people of Jerusalem; cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a funeral song on the hilltops, because I, the Lord, am angry and have rejected my people. 30“The people of Judah have done an evil thing. They have placed their idols, which I hate, in my Temple and have defiled it. 31 In Hinnom Valley they have built an altar called Topheth, so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters in the fire. I did not command them to do this—it did not even enter my mind. 32And so, the time will come when it will no longer be called Topheth or Hinnom Valley, but Slaughter Valley. They will bury people there because there will be nowhere else to bury them. 33The corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals, and there will be no one to scare them off. 34 The land will become a desert. In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the happy sounds of wedding feasts.–from Jeremiah 7
1“At that time the bones of the kings and of the officials of Judah, as well as the bones of the priests, of the prophets, and of the other people who lived in Jerusalem, will be taken out of their graves. 2Instead of being gathered and buried, their bones will be like manure lying on the ground. They will be spread out before the sun, the moon, and the stars, which these people have loved and served, and which they have consulted and worshiped. 3And the people of this evil nation who survive, who live in the places where I have scattered them, will prefer to die rather than to go on living. I, the Lord Almighty, have spoken.”
Sin and Punishment4The Lord told me to say to his people, “When someone falls down, doesn’t he get back up? If someone misses the road, doesn’t he turn back? 5Why then, my people, do you turn away from me without ever turning back? You cling to your idols and refuse to return to me. 6I listened carefully, but you did not speak the truth. Not one of you has been sorry for your wickedness; not one of you has asked, ‘What have I done wrong?’ Each of you keep on going your own way, like a horse rushing into battle. 7Even storks know when it is time to return; doves, swallows, and thrushes know when it is time to migrate. But, my people, you do not know the laws by which I rule you. 8How can you say that you are wise and that you know my laws? Look, the laws have been changed by dishonest scribes. 9Your wise men are put to shame; they are confused and trapped. They have rejected my words; what wisdom do they have now? 10So I will give their fields to new owners and their wives to other men. Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly. Even prophets and priests cheat the people. 11 They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 12 My people, were you ashamed because you did these disgusting things? No, you were not ashamed at all; you don’t even know how to blush! And so you will fall as others have fallen; when I punish you, that will be the end of you. I, the Lord, have spoken. 13“I wanted to gather my people, as a farmer gathers a harvest; but they are like a vine with no grapes, like a fig tree with no figs; even the leaves have withered. Therefore, I have allowed outsiders to take over the land.” 14“Why are we sitting still?” God’s people ask. “Come on, we will run to the fortified cities and die there. The Lord our God has condemned us to die; he has given us poison to drink, because we have sinned against him. 15We hoped for peace and a time of healing, but it was no use; terror came instead. 16Our enemies are already in the city of Dan; we hear the snorting of their horses. The whole land trembles when their horses neigh. Our enemies have come to destroy our land and everything in it, our city and all its people.” 17“Watch out!” the Lord says, “I am sending snakes among you, poisonous snakes that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you.”
Jeremiah’s Sorrow for His People18My sorrow cannot be healed; I am sick at heart. 19Listen! Throughout the land I hear my people crying out, “Is the Lord no longer in Zion? Is Zion’s king no longer there?” The Lord, their king, replies, “Why have you made me angry by worshiping your idols and by bowing down to your useless foreign gods?” 20The people cry out, “The summer is gone, the harvest is over, but we have not been saved.” 21My heart has been crushed because my people are crushed; I mourn; I am completely dismayed. 22Is there no medicine in Gilead? Are there no doctors there? Why, then, have my people not been healed?Jeremiah 8
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. — Prov 16:25
1I wish my head were a well of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I could cry day and night for my people who have been killed. 2I wish I had a place to stay in the desert where I could get away from my people. They are all unfaithful, a mob of traitors. 3They are always ready to tell lies; dishonesty instead of truth rules the land. The Lord says, “My people do one evil thing after another and do not acknowledge me as their God.” 4Everyone must be on guard against their friends, and no one can trust their relatives; for all relatives are as deceitful as Jacob, and everyone slanders their friends. 5-6They all mislead their friends, and no one tells the truth; they have taught their tongues to lie and will not give up their sinning. They do one violent thing after another, and one deceitful act follows another. The Lord says that his people reject him. 7Because of this the Lord Almighty says, “I will refine my people like metal and put them to the test. My people have done evil—what else can I do with them? 8Their tongues are like deadly arrows; they always tell lies. Everyone speaks friendly words to their neighbors, but they are really setting a trap for them. 9Will I not punish them for these things? Will I not take revenge on a nation like this? I, the Lord, have spoken.” 10I said, “I will mourn for the mountains and weep for the pastures, because they have dried up, and no one travels through them. The sound of livestock is no longer heard; birds and wild animals have fled and gone.” 11The Lord says, “I will make Jerusalem a pile of ruins, a place where jackals live; the cities of Judah will become a desert, a place where no one lives.” 12I asked, “Lord, why is the land devastated and dry as a desert, so that no one travels through it? Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom have you explained it so that they can tell others?” 13The Lord answered, “This has happened because my people have abandoned the teaching that I gave them. They have not obeyed me or done what I told them. 14Instead, they have been stubborn and have worshiped the idols of Baal as their ancestors taught them to do. 15So then, listen to what I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, will do: I will give my people bitter plants to eat and poison to drink. 16I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have heard about, and I will send armies against them until I have completely destroyed them.”
The People of Jerusalem Cry Out for Help17The Lord Almighty said, “Think about what is happening! Call for the mourners to come, for the women who sing funeral songs.” 18The people said, “Tell them to hurry and sing a funeral song for us, until our eyes fill with tears, and our eyelids are wet from crying.” 19Listen to the sound of crying in Zion: “We are ruined! We are completely disgraced! We must leave our land; our homes have been torn down.” 20I said, “Listen to the Lord, you women, and pay attention to his words. Teach your daughters how to mourn, and your friends how to sing a funeral song. 21Death has come in through our windows and entered our palaces; it has cut down the children in the streets and the young men in the marketplaces. 22Dead bodies are scattered everywhere, like piles of manure on the fields, like grain cut and left behind by the reapers, grain that no one gathers. This is what the Lord has told me to say.” 23The Lord says, “The wise should not boast of their wisdom, nor the strong of their strength, nor the rich of their wealth. 24 If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me, because my love is constant, and I do what is just and right. These are the things that please me. I, the Lord, have spoken.” 25-26The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will punish the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and the desert people, who have their hair cut short. All these people are circumcised, but have not kept the covenant it symbolizes. None of these people and none of the people of Israel have kept my covenant.”–from Jeremiah 9
Idolatry and True Worship1People of Israel, listen to the message that the Lord has for you. 2He says, “Do not follow the ways of other nations; do not be disturbed by unusual sights in the sky, even though other nations are terrified. 3The religion of these people is worthless. A tree is cut down in the forest; it is carved by the tools of the woodworker 4and decorated with silver and gold. It is fastened down with nails to keep it from falling over. 5Such idols are like scarecrows in a field of melons; they cannot speak; they have to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them: they can cause you no harm, and they can do you no good.” 6Lord, there is no one like you; you are mighty, and your name is great and powerful. 7 Who would not honor you, the king of all nations? You deserve to be honored. There is no one like you among all the wise men of the nations or among any of their kings. 8All of them are stupid and foolish. What can they learn from wooden idols? 9Their idols are covered with silver from Spain and with gold from Uphaz, all the work of artists; they are dressed in violet and purple cloth woven by skilled weavers. 10But you, Lord, are the true God, you are the living God and the eternal king. When you are angry, the world trembles; the nations cannot endure your anger. ( 11You people must tell them that the gods who did not make the earth and the sky will be destroyed. They will no longer exist anywhere on earth.)
A Hymn of Praise to God12The Lord made the earth by his power; by his wisdom he created the world and stretched out the heavens. 13At his command the waters above the sky roar; he brings clouds from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning flash in the rain and sends the wind from his storeroom. 14At the sight of this, people feel stupid and senseless; those who make idols are disillusioned, because the gods they make are false and lifeless. 15They are worthless and should be despised; they will be destroyed when the Lord comes to deal with them. 16The God of Jacob is not like them; he is the one who made everything, and he has chosen Israel to be his very own people. The Lord Almighty is his name.
The Coming Exile17People of Jerusalem, you are under siege! Gather up your belongings. 18The Lord is going to throw you out of this land; he is going to crush you until not one of you is left. The Lord has spoken. 19The people of Jerusalem cried out, “How badly we are hurt! Our wounds will not heal. And we thought this was something we could endure! 20Our tents are ruined; the ropes that held them have broken. Our children have all gone away; there is no one left to put up our tents again; there is no one to hang their curtains.” 21I answered, “Our leaders are stupid; they do not ask the Lord for guidance. This is why they have failed, and our people have been scattered. 22Listen! News has come! There is a great commotion in a nation to the north; its army will turn the cities of Judah into a desert, a place where jackals live.” 23Lord, I know that none of us are in charge of our own destiny; none of us have control over our own life. 24Correct your people, Lord, but do not be too hard on us or punish us when you are angry; that would be the end of us. 25Turn your anger on the nations that do not worship you and on the people who reject you. They have killed your people; they have destroyed us completely and left our country in ruins.–from Jeremiah 10
Jeremiah and the Covenant1The Lord said to me, 2“Listen to the terms of the covenant. Tell the people of Judah and of Jerusalem 3that I, the Lord God of Israel, have placed a curse on everyone who does not obey the terms of this covenant. 4It is the covenant I made with their ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, the land that was like a blazing furnace to them. I told them to obey me and to do everything that I had commanded. I told them that if they obeyed, they would be my people and I would be their God. 5Then I would keep the promise I made to their ancestors that I would give them the rich and fertile land which they now have.” I said, “Yes, Lord.” 6Then the Lord said to me, “Go to the cities of Judah and to the streets of Jerusalem. Proclaim my message there and tell the people to listen to the terms of the covenant and to obey them. 7When I brought their ancestors out of Egypt, I solemnly warned them to obey me, and I have kept on warning the people until this day. 8But they did not listen or obey. Instead, everyone continued to be as stubborn and evil as ever. I had commanded them to keep the covenant, but they refused. So I brought on them all the punishments described in it.” 9Then the Lord said to me, “The people of Judah and of Jerusalem are plotting against me. 10They have gone back to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to do what I said; they have worshiped other gods. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant that I made with their ancestors. 11So now I, the Lord, warn them that I am going to bring destruction on them, and they will not escape. And when they cry out to me for help, I will not listen to them. 12Then the people of Judah and of Jerusalem will go to the gods to whom they offer sacrifices and will cry out to them for help. But those gods will not be able to save them when this destruction comes. 13The people of Judah have as many gods as they have cities, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem have set up as many altars for sacrifices to that disgusting god Baal as there are streets in the city. 14Jeremiah, don’t pray to me or plead with me on behalf of these people. When they are in trouble and call to me for help, I will not listen to them.” 15The Lord says, “The people I love are doing evil things. What right do they have to be in my Temple? Do they think they can prevent disaster by making promises and by offering animal sacrifices? Will they then rejoice? 16I once called them a leafy olive tree, full of beautiful fruit; but now, with a roar like thunder I will set its leaves on fire and break its branches. 17“I, the Lord Almighty, planted Israel and Judah; but now I threaten them with disaster. They have brought this on themselves because they have done wrong; they have made me angry by offering sacrifices to Baal.”
A Plot against Jeremiah’s Life18The Lord informed me of the plots that my enemies were making against me. 19I was like a trusting lamb taken out to be killed, and I did not know that it was against me that they were planning evil things. They were saying, “Let’s chop down the tree while it is still healthy; let’s kill him so that no one will remember him any more.” 20 Then I prayed, “Almighty Lord, you are a just judge; you test people’s thoughts and feelings. I have placed my cause in your hands; so let me watch you take revenge on these people.” 21The people of Anathoth wanted me killed, and they told me that they would kill me if I kept on proclaiming the Lord’s message. 22So the Lord Almighty said, “I will punish them! Their young men will be killed in war; their children will die of starvation. 23I have set a time for bringing disaster on the people of Anathoth, and when that time comes, none of them will survive.”–from Jeremiah 11