Take a look around and consider. Don’t just trust what you see on TV. Don’t just trust what you hear on the radio. Consider what information is available and surfacing.
Search the market place! Search the political space! Search the social place!
Can you find someone who is doing what is right? Can you find someone who is doing what is faithful to God? Can you find someone who really means what they say?
Will getting good things help you realize what is going on? Will getting corrected help you realize what is going on? Will getting instructed help you realize what is going on? How bad would things have to get to wake you up and get your attention? How sensitive are you to what is taking place around you?
Do you see the behavior? Do you know what God requires? Do you realize that God is in charge? Do you realize He has authority? Do you refuse to obey Him? Do you realize the pain and suffering that is taking place because of all of the disobedience? Do you realize the pain and suffering people are causing because of their bad behaviors? Hurting people hurt people!
Will you turn back to God? Will you go back home to God? Will you ask Jesus into your heart? Will you stop rejecting God? Will you stop pushing Him away? Will you stop denying Him? Will you stop trying to be self sufficient? Will you stop trying to go it alone? Will you stop trying to do it all yourself?
Are you apart from God? Why did you leave God? Why haven’t you honored God? Why are you being stubborn? Why have you rebelled against God?
Do you realize there are good and bad people around you? The bad ones looking to trip you up? There is no limit or limits on what they are willing to do. Do you realize how they try to take away the rights of others? Do you realize they don’t provide justice or even equal justice to the oppressed? Do you hear lies from those you are supposed to trust? Do you hear lies from those who are supposed to be leading or in authority?
Today’s reading gets us started in Jeremiah…
The Sin of Jerusalem
1People of Jerusalem, run through your streets!
Look around! See for yourselves!
Search the marketplaces!
Can you find one person
who does what is right
and tries to be faithful to God?
If you can, the Lord will forgive Jerusalem.
2Even though you claim to worship the Lord,
you do not mean what you say.
3Surely the Lord looks for faithfulness.
He struck you, but you paid no attention;
he crushed you, but you refused to learn.
You were stubborn and would not turn from your sins.
4Then I thought, “These are only the poor and ignorant.
They behave foolishly;
they don’t know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.
5I will go to the people in power
and talk with them.
Surely they know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.”
But all of them have rejected the Lord’s authority
and refuse to obey him.
6That is why lions from the forest will kill them;
wolves from the desert will tear them to pieces,
and leopards will prowl through their towns.
If those people go out, they will be torn apart
because their sins are numerous
and time after time they have turned from God.
7The Lord asked, “Why should I forgive the sins of my people?
They have abandoned me
and have worshiped gods that are not real.
I fed my people until they were full,
but they committed adultery
and spent their time with prostitutes.
8They were like well-fed stallions wild with desire,
each lusting for his neighbor’s wife.
9Shouldn’t I punish them for these things
and take revenge on a nation such as this?
10I will send enemies to cut down my people’s vineyards,
but not to destroy them completely.
I will tell them to strip away the branches,
because those branches are not mine.
11The people of Israel and Judah
have betrayed me completely.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
The Lord Rejects Israel
12The Lord’s people have denied him and have said, “He won’t really do anything. We won’t have hard times; we won’t have war or famine.” 13-14They have said that the prophets are nothing but windbags and that they have no message from the Lord. The Lord God Almighty said to me, “Jeremiah, because these people have said such things, I will make my words like a fire in your mouth. The people will be like wood, and the fire will burn them up.”
15People of Israel, the Lord is bringing a nation from far away to attack you. It is a strong and ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know. 16Their archers are mighty soldiers who kill without mercy. 17They will devour your crops and your food; they will kill your sons and your daughters. They will slaughter your flocks and your herds and destroy your vines and fig trees. The fortified cities in which you trust will be destroyed by their army.
18The Lord says, “Yet even in those days I will not completely destroy my people. 19When they ask why I did all these things, tell them, Jeremiah, that just as they turned away from me and served foreign gods in their own land, so they will serve strangers in a land that is not theirs.”
God Warns His People
20The Lord says, “Tell the descendants of Jacob, tell the people of Judah: 21 Pay attention, you foolish and stupid people, who have eyes, but cannot see, and have ears, but cannot hear. 22 I am the Lord; why don’t you fear me? Why don’t you tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary of the sea, a permanent boundary that it cannot cross. The sea may toss, but it cannot go beyond it; the waves may roar, but they cannot break through. 23But you people! You are stubborn and rebellious; you have turned aside and left me. 24You never thought to honor me, even though I send the autumn rains and the spring rains and give you the harvest season each year. 25Instead, your sins have kept these good things from you.
26“Evildoers live among my people; they lie in wait like those who lay nets to catch birds, but they have set their traps to catch people. 27Just as a hunter fills a cage with birds, they have filled their houses with loot. That is why they are powerful and rich, 28why they are fat and well fed. There is no limit to their evil deeds. They do not give orphans their rights or show justice to the oppressed.
29“But I, the Lord, will punish them for these things; I will take revenge on this nation. 30A terrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31prophets speak nothing but lies; priests rule as the prophets command, and my people offer no objections. But what will they do when it all comes to an end?”
–from Jeremiah 5
Do you see what is taking place? Do you see what is going on around you? Can you see beyond the physical realm into the real battle is is underway? Is there any message that would turn people and their hearts back to God? What do you think it would take nowadays?
Jerusalem Is Surrounded by Enemies
1People of Benjamin, run for safety! Escape from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa and build a signal fire in Beth Haccherem. Disaster and destruction are about to come from the north. 2The city of Zion is beautiful, but it will be destroyed; 3kings will camp there with their armies. They will pitch their tents around the city, and each of them will camp wherever they want. 4They will say, “Prepare to attack Jerusalem! Get ready! We’ll attack at noon!” But then they will say, “It’s too late, the day is almost over, and the evening shadows are growing long. 5We’ll attack by night; we’ll destroy the city’s fortresses.”
6The Lord Almighty has ordered these kings to cut down trees and build mounds in order to besiege Jerusalem. He has said, “I will punish this city because it is full of oppression. 7As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. I hear violence and destruction in the city; sickness and wounds are all I see. 8People of Jerusalem, let these troubles be a warning to you, or else I will abandon you; I will turn your city into a desert, a place where no one lives.”
9The Lord Almighty said to me, “Israel will be stripped clean like a vineyard from which every grape has been picked. So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time.”
10I answered, “Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say. 11Your anger against them burns in me too, Lord, and I can’t hold it in any longer.”
Then the Lord said to me, “Pour out my anger on the children in the streets and on the gatherings of the young people. Husbands and wives will be taken away, and even the very old will not be spared. 12Their houses will be given to others, and so will their fields and their wives. I am going to punish the people of this land. 13Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly; even prophets and priests cheat the people. 14 They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 15 Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don’t even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Israel Rejects God’s Way
16The Lord said to his people, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it, and you will live in peace.”
But they said, “No, we will not!” 17Then the Lord appointed sentries to listen for the trumpet’s warning. But they said, “We will not listen.”
18So the Lord said, “Listen, you nations, and learn what is going to happen to my people. 19Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words. 20What do I care about the incense they bring me from Sheba, or the spices from a distant land? I will not accept their offerings or be pleased with their sacrifices. 21And so I will make these people stumble and fall. Parents and children will die, and so will friends and neighbors.”
Invasion from the North
22The Lord says, “People are coming from a country in the north; a mighty nation far away is preparing for war. 23They have taken up their bows and swords; they are cruel and merciless. They sound like the roaring sea, as they ride their horses. They are ready for battle against Jerusalem.”
24“We have heard the news,” say the people of Jerusalem, “and our hands hang limp; we are seized by anguish and pain like a woman in labor. 25We don’t dare go to the countryside or walk on the roads, because our enemies are armed and terror is all around us.”
26The Lord says to his people, “Put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with bitter tears as you would for an only child, because the one who comes to destroy you will suddenly attack. 27Jeremiah, test my people, as you would test metal, and find out what they are like. 28They are all stubborn rebels, hard as bronze and iron. They are all corrupt, going around and spreading gossip. 29The furnace burns fiercely, but the waste metals do not melt and run off. It is useless to go on refining my people, because those who are evil are not taken away. 30They will be called worthless dross, because I, the Lord, have rejected them.”
–from Jeremiah 6
Oh Jesus, give us wisdom for today! Oh Jesus, help us to see beyond our circumstances! Oh Jesus, help to have hope for what is yet to come when we spend eternity with you! Oh Jesus, that you that we have hope beyond our circumstances! Oh Jesus, help us to know what we need to do here and now while we await your return so that in and through it we can give you the praise, the honor, and the glory in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
To Macedonia and Achaia
1After the uproar died down, Paul called together the believers and with words of encouragement said good-bye to them. Then he left and went on to Macedonia. 2He went through those regions and encouraged the people with many messages. Then he came to Achaia, 3where he stayed three months. He was getting ready to go to Syria when he discovered that there were Jews plotting against him; so he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4Sopater son of Pyrrhus, from Berea, went with him; so did Aristarchus and Secundus, from Thessalonica; Gaius, from Derbe; Tychicus and Trophimus, from the province of Asia; and Timothy. 5They went ahead and waited for us in Troas. 6We sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later we joined them in Troas, where we spent a week.
Paul’s Last Visit to Troas
7On Saturday evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal. Paul spoke to the people and kept on speaking until midnight, since he was going to leave the next day. 8Many lamps were burning in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9A young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window, and as Paul kept on talking, Eutychus got sleepier and sleepier, until he finally went sound asleep and fell from the third story to the ground. When they picked him up, he was dead. 10But Paul went down and threw himself on him and hugged him. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he is still alive!” 11Then he went back upstairs, broke bread, and ate. After talking with them for a long time, even until sunrise, Paul left. 12They took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
From Troas to Miletus
13We went on ahead to the ship and sailed off to Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had told us to do this, because he was going there by land. 14When he met us in Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15We sailed from there and arrived off Chios the next day. A day later we came to Samos, and the following day we reached Miletus. 16Paul had decided to sail on by Ephesus, so as not to lose any time in the province of Asia. He was in a hurry to arrive in Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost, if at all possible.
Paul’s Farewell Speech to the Elders of Ephesus
17From Miletus Paul sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. 18When they arrived, he said to them, “You know how I spent the whole time I was with you, from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19With all humility and many tears I did my work as the Lord’s servant during the hard times that came to me because of the plots of some Jews. 20You know that I did not hold back anything that would be of help to you as I preached and taught in public and in your homes. 21To Jews and Gentiles alike I gave solemn warning that they should turn from their sins to God and believe in our Lord Jesus. 22And now, in obedience to the Holy Spirit I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit has warned me that prison and troubles wait for me. 24 But I reckon my own life to be worth nothing to me; I only want to complete my mission and finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do, which is to declare the Good News about the grace of God.
25“I have gone about among all of you, preaching the Kingdom of God. And now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26So I solemnly declare to you this very day: if any of you should be lost, I am not responsible. 27For I have not held back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God. 28So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son. 29I know that after I leave, fierce wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. 30The time will come when some men from your own group will tell lies to lead the believers away after them. 31Watch, then, and remember that with many tears, day and night, I taught every one of you for three years.
32“And now I commend you to the care of God and to the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the blessings God has for all his people. 33I have not wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed. 35I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.’”
36When Paul finished, he knelt down with them and prayed. 37They were all crying as they hugged him and kissed him good-bye. 38They were especially sad because he had said that they would never see him again. And so they went with him to the ship.
— from Acts 20