Jeremiah 29:1-14, Countdown # 2: Jeremiah 29:11 (7/6/12)
The Jews were in exile in Babylon, and apparently some of the pseudoprophets were encouraging the Jews not to benefit the Babylonians, or telling them God had deserted them, or something. We don’t know exactly what they were saying. We do know that the true prophet Jeremiah wrote them a letter containing true prophecy (an unusual method of delivery, but one that also works). Through Jeremiah, God said, “Grow where I planted you! Work for the benefit of the place I put you! When you’ve learned your lesson, I’ll take you back home.”
A long time ago, my pastor began nearly every worship service with a triumphant announcement: “God has a plan for your life!” Jeremiah, that gloomiest of prophets, phrased God’s message even more beautifully, in our countdown verse Countdown #2 – the second most-searched-for verse on BibleGateway.com. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope!”
1 Corinthians 12:27 – 13:7, Countdown # 1b: 1 Corinthians 13 – Part 1 (6/14/12)
In our countdown, we’re reading the “Top 100 + 2.” The first of our +2 is 1 Corinthians 13. BibleGateway.com
’s introduction to their Top 100 says that if they had done a straight popularity list, this whole chapter would have been one of the 5 passages that crowded everything else off the list. Certainly we’ve all heard and read Paul’s description of love hundreds of times, and normally we read the whole chapter.
I want to start back in Chapter 12. Why does Paul go to such great length talking about love? The answer – which in my opinion is critical to Paul’s argument and ought to be the first verse of Ch. 13 – is in 12:31: “I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way.” Better than what? Better than all the gifts
, like working miracles, prophecy, teaching, etc. The Corinthians were arguing about who had the most impressive gift, so Paul tells them two things. First, all
gifts are necessary and important. Second, no
gift is as necessary or as important as love. You can’t fully understand Ch. 13 with reading Ch. 12.
1 Corinthians 13:8-13, Countdown # 1b: 1 Corinthians 13 – Part 2 (6/15/12)
The greatest Christian virtue is love. Paul is in favor of preaching, prophecy, teaching, evangelism, and all the other gifts that Christians have; nevertheless, in the end, those won’t last. Only love will last. If we Christians loved our neighbors as we should, there wouldn’t be enough pews in all the churches in the all world to hold the people who wanted to get in. God has enough love for all of them. Do we?
Psalms 23:1-6, Countdown # 1a: Psalms 23 – Part 1 (7/9/12)
The Twenty-third Psalm didn’t make BibleGateway.com’s top-100 list. That probably strikes you as extremely strange, since it is one of the most popular passages in the world. You’re right: they explain that their list is for searches of three or fewer verses. If their search had been a straight popularity contest, they say, Psalm 23 would have been in the top five.
We’re going to read the psalm twice. Today we’ll read from the Bible in Basic English, and tomorrow from the King James Version. Notice the differences between the two translations. BBE says, “The Lord takes care of me as his sheep,” which is a good explanation, but boring (in my opinion) and not exactly what the Hebrew says. KJV says, “The Lord is my shepherd,” which is both literal and poetic, but may not mean much to those of us who have never tended a sheep.
There’s the rub – Psalm 23 is a song, and the words are lyrics, and it’s tough to translate lyrics and simultaneously keep both the meaning and the poetic feeling. I think the King James Version does a great job, but you might have trouble with words like “restoreth.” You may need two
new translations: one for prose and one for poetry.
Bible in Basic English (BBE):
Psalms 23:1-6, Countdown # 1a: Psalms 23 – Part 2 (7/10/12)
1 A Psalm. Of David. The Lord takes care of me as his sheep; I will not be without any good thing.
2 He makes a resting-place for me in the green fields: he is my guide by the quiet waters.
3 He gives new life to my soul: he is my guide in the ways of righteousness because of his name.
4 Yes, though I go through the valley of deep shade, I will have no fear of evil; for you are with me, your rod and your support are my comfort.
5 You make ready a table for me in front of my haters: you put oil on my head; my cup is overflowing.
6 Truly, blessing and mercy will be with me all the days of my life; and I will have a place in the house of the Lord all my days.
Fellow-reader Ginger J. was a little taken aback yesterday by the BBE’s translation “valley of deep shade.” Me, too. So I looked up the Hebrew word (it’s all one word), and it comes from “shadow” and “death.” So the KJV is not only a more literal translation here, but also makes more sense. I mean, really... “a valley of deep shade” sounds very attractive with the hot weather we’ve been having, so why would I fear evil while I was in that valley? Why would I need the protection of my shepherd’s rod and staff?
Read more than one translation! For my money, you can’t beat the KJV for the book of Psalms, but if you have difficulty with thees, thous, and restoreths, the KJV is not for you. You should find a translation that you will read regularly and buy that one.
For insights into this psalm particularly, fellow-reader Barbara F. recommends “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” by Phillip W. Keller. I’ve found that with a scripture that I’ve read many times, a commentary is likely to give me a fresh look and new ideas.
Today’s main tip: read the psalm very slowly and see how that changes your view of it.
King James Version (KJV):
More of The BibleGateway.com’s Top 100+2
is coming soon.
1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Countdown Verses #100 - #95
Countdown Verses #91 - #82
Countdown Verses #75 - #70
Countdown Verses #69 - #63
Countdown Verses #60 - #53
Countdown Verses #50 - #44
Countdown Verses #43 - #39
Countdown Verses #38 - #33
Countdown Verses #32 - #23
Countdown Verses #21 - #15
Countdown Verses #14 - #8
Countdown Verses #6 - #3
Countdown Verses #2 - #1a
Countdown Verse #1
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
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St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
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are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
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