Day 298

How God Speaks to You

Wisdom Psalm 119:89-96
New Testament 2 Timothy 3:1-17
Old Testament Jeremiah 50:11-51:14


Fyodor was a wild young man. His life revolved around eating, drinking, talking, music, theatre and the company of women. He dreamt of fame. He was caught up in a movement for political and social reform in Russia during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas I. He was arrested, tried and condemned to be executed.

On a bitterly cold morning, the prisoners were taken out to be shot. The prison guards raised their muskets to their shoulders and took aim. At the last moment, a white flag was raised to announce that the Tsar had commuted their sentence to life imprisonment in Siberia.

On his arrival in Siberia on Christmas Eve 1849, at the age of twenty-eight, two women slipped him a New Testament. When the guard turned away momentarily, they suggested he should search the pages thoroughly. He did.

While in prison, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the great Russian novelist, read the New Testament from cover to cover and learnt much of it by heart. He wrote, ‘I believe that there is no one lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic and more perfect than Jesus. I say to myself with jealous love not only is there no one else like him, but there never could be anyone like him.’ It was through the Bible that he had encountered Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul describes all Scripture as ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is not just inspired in the way that artists, poets, composers and musical performers can be said to be inspired. It actually has God’s breath, his Spirit, in it. Through the Bible, God speaks to you.


Psalm 119:89-96

ל Lamedh

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
   it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
   you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
   for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
   I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
   for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
   I have sought out your precepts.
95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
   but I will ponder your statutes.
96 To all perfection I see a limit,
   but your commands are boundless.


Enjoy reading the Bible

The eighteenth-century philosopher and critic of Christianity, Voltaire, said, ‘Within a hundred years the Bible will be obsolete and will have gone out of circulation altogether.’ A hundred years later the Bible was more popular than ever. When you hear attacks on the Bible, it is good to remember that this is nothing new.

God’s word is ‘eternal’ (v.89). In spite of all the attacks on the Bible it has survived. ‘What you say goes, God, and stays, as permanent as the heavens. Your truth never goes out of fashion; it’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up. Your Word and truth are dependable as ever’ (vv.89–90, MSG).

The Bible is a delight. The psalmist describes the Scriptures he has read as ‘my delight’ (v.92).

It is fitting that this, the longest psalm in the psalter, should be all about the Scriptures.

When you are under attack, meditate on God’s word: ‘The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me, but I’m only concerned with your plans for me. I see the limits to everything human, but the horizons can’t contain your commands!’ (vv.95–96, MSG). God’s commands are there to protect you, and remembering God’s words will help keep you from harm: ‘I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life’ (v.93).


Lord, help me each day to meditate on your eternal words and find delight in reading the Bible.

New Testament

2 Timothy 3:1-17

3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

A Final Charge to Timothy

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


Look for Jesus as you read

The Bible is all about Jesus: ‘There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (v.15, MSG).

Paul was writing to a society not unlike our own. He wrote:

‘There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God’ (vv.1–4, MSG).

Paul describes them as ‘having a form of godliness while denying its power’ (v.5). It describes both a secular world and a kind of nominalism that has a form of godliness (people would say, if asked their religion, that they are Christian), but denying its power. There are also those who go to great lengths to oppose the truth (v.8).

You are called to be different. The pressure of the world is strong. Paul writes, ‘But as for you…’ (v.14). He points to his teaching, his way of life, his purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings (vv.10–11). He warns that ‘anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it’ (v.12, MSG). Do not be surprised by opposition. Take a rock-like stand on the ‘holy Scriptures’ (v.15).

Some books inform, and even reform. The Bible transforms. A man complained to his pastor that he didn’t read his Bible because it interfered with his work. When asked what his work was he replied, ‘I’m a pickpocket’! The Bible was not given simply to increase your knowledge. It was given to change your life.

The Bible’s aim is to point you to Christ. The Scriptures are able to make you ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (v.15). Jesus said, ‘the Scriptures… testify about me’ (John 5:40). As Martin Luther, the great reformer, put it, ‘The Bible is the cradle in which Jesus lies... Every word rings of Christ.’

Like many others, I first encountered Jesus through reading the Bible. It was as if he emerged from the pages of the New Testament.

But it is not just initial faith that comes through the Bible. It is your continuing faith and growth, because ‘every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’ (2 Timothy 3:16–17, MSG). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, Scripture is ‘written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, \[with\] God as \[its\] author’.

The Bible is our authority in all matters of faith and life. You find out what God says (and what you should, therefore, believe) about suffering, about Jesus, about the cross, and so on. It is also in the Bible that you find out what is wrong in God’s eyes and how you can live a righteous life. Feeding on the Bible is the way to be ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (v.17).


Lord, thank you that you equip me for each day as I study your words, ponder them, meditate on them, and listen to your Spirit. May I grow closer to Jesus and be transformed into his likeness as I spend time in his presence.

Old Testament

Jeremiah 50:11-51:14

11 “Because you rejoice and are glad,
  you who pillage my inheritance,
because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain
  and neigh like stallions,
12 your mother will be greatly ashamed;
  she who gave you birth will be disgraced.
She will be the least of the nations—
  a wilderness, a dry land, a desert.
13 Because of the Lord’s anger she will not be inhabited
  but will be completely desolate.
All who pass Babylon will be appalled;
  they will scoff because of all her wounds.

14 “Take up your positions around Babylon,
  all you who draw the bow.
Shoot at her! Spare no arrows,
  for she has sinned against the Lord.
15 Shout against her on every side!
  She surrenders, her towers fall,
  her walls are torn down.
Since this is the vengeance of the Lord,
  take vengeance on her;
  do to her as she has done to others.
16 Cut off from Babylon the sower,
  and the reaper with his sickle at harvest.
Because of the sword of the oppressor
  let everyone return to their own people,
  let everyone flee to their own land.

17 “Israel is a scattered flock
  that lions have chased away.
The first to devour them
  was the king of Assyria;
the last to crush their bones
  was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”

18 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

“I will punish the king of Babylon and his land
  as I punished the king of Assyria.
19 But I will bring Israel back to their own pasture,
  and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
their appetite will be satisfied
  on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
20 In those days, at that time,”
  declares the Lord,
“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
  but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
  but none will be found,
  for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

21 “Attack the land of Merathaim
  and those who live in Pekod.
Pursue, kill and completely destroy them,”
   declares the Lord.
  “Do everything I have commanded you.
22 The noise of battle is in the land,
  the noise of great destruction!
23 How broken and shattered
  is the hammer of the whole earth!
How desolate is Babylon
  among the nations!
24 I set a trap for you, Babylon,
  and you were caught before you knew it;
you were found and captured
  because you opposed the Lord.
25 The Lord has opened his arsenal
  and brought out the weapons of his wrath,
for the Sovereign Lord Almighty has work to do
  in the land of the Babylonians.
26 Come against her from afar.
  Break open her granaries;
  pile her up like heaps of grain.
Completely destroy her
  and leave her no remnant.
27 Kill all her young bulls;
  let them go down to the slaughter!
Woe to them! For their day has come,
  the time for them to be punished.
28 Listen to the fugitives and refugees from Babylon
  declaring in Zion
how the Lord our God has taken vengeance,
  vengeance for his temple.

29 “Summon archers against Babylon,
  all those who draw the bow.
Encamp all around her;
  let no one escape.
Repay her for her deeds;
  do to her as she has done.
For she has defied the Lord,
  the Holy One of Israel.
30 Therefore, her young men will fall in the streets;
  all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,”
   declares the Lord.
31 “See, I am against you, you arrogant one,”
  declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
“for your day has come,
  the time for you to be punished.
32 The arrogant one will stumble and fall
  and no one will help her up;
I will kindle a fire in her towns
  that will consume all who are around her.”

33 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“The people of Israel are oppressed,
  and the people of Judah as well.
All their captors hold them fast,
  refusing to let them go.
34 Yet their Redeemer is strong;
  the Lord Almighty is his name.
He will vigorously defend their cause
  so that he may bring rest to their land,
  but unrest to those who live in Babylon.

35 “A sword against the Babylonians!”
  declares the Lord—
“against those who live in Babylon
  and against her officials and wise men!
36 A sword against her false prophets!
  They will become fools.
A sword against her warriors!
  They will be filled with terror.
37 A sword against her horses and chariots
  and all the foreigners in her ranks!
  They will become weaklings.
A sword against her treasures!
  They will be plundered.
38 A drought on her waters!
  They will dry up.
For it is a land of idols,
  idols that will go mad with terror.

39 “So desert creatures and hyenas will live there,
  and there the owl will dwell.
It will never again be inhabited
  or lived in from generation to generation.
40 As I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah
  along with their neighboring towns,”
   declares the Lord,
“so no one will live there;
  no people will dwell in it.

41 “Look! An army is coming from the north;
  a great nation and many kings
  are being stirred up from the ends of the earth.
42 They are armed with bows and spears;
  they are cruel and without mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
  as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
  to attack you, Daughter Babylon.
43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about them,
  and his hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped him,
  pain like that of a woman in labour.
44 Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets
  to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant.
  Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
  And what shepherd can stand against me?”

45 Therefore, hear what the Lord has planned against Babylon,
  what he has purposed against the land of the Babylonians:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
  their pasture will be appalled at their fate.
46 At the sound of Babylon’s capture the earth will tremble;
  its cry will resound among the nations.

51 This is what the Lord says:

“See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
  against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.
2 I will send foreigners to Babylon
  to winnow her and to devastate her land;
they will oppose her on every side
  in the day of her disaster.
3 Let not the archer string his bow,
  nor let him put on his armour.
Do not spare her young men;
  completely destroy her army.
4 They will fall down slain in Babylon,
  fatally wounded in her streets.
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
  by their God, the Lord Almighty,
though their land is full of guilt
  before the Holy One of Israel.

6 “Flee from Babylon!
  Run for your lives!
Do not be destroyed because of her sins.
  It is time for the Lord’s vengeance;
  he will repay her what she deserves.
7 Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand;
  she made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
  therefore they have now gone mad.
8 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.
  Wail over her!
Get balm for her pain;
  perhaps she can be healed.

9 “‘We would have healed Babylon,
  but she cannot be healed;
let us leave her and each go to our own land,
  for her judgment reaches to the skies,
  it rises as high as the heavens.’

10 “‘The Lord has vindicated us;
  come, let us tell in Zion
  what the Lord our God has done.’

11 “Sharpen the arrows,
  take up the shields!
The Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
  because his purpose is to destroy Babylon.
The Lord will take vengeance,
  vengeance for his temple.
12 Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon!
  Reinforce the guard,
station the watchmen,
  prepare an ambush!
The Lord will carry out his purpose,
  his decree against the people of Babylon.
13 You who live by many waters
  and are rich in treasures,
your end has come,
  the time for you to be destroyed.
14 The Lord Almighty has sworn by himself:
  I will surely fill you with troops, as with a swarm of locusts,
  and they will shout in triumph over you.


Hear God’s words and put them into practice

We all put our trust and security somewhere. The temptation is to place your trust and security in your money, education, job, health, family or friends. There is nothing wrong with these things, but ultimately there is only one absolutely secure place in which to put your trust, and that is in the Lord.

Throughout these closing chapters of Jeremiah, we have seen how all the nations had put their security and trust in things that could not ultimately deliver. Today we read how Babylon trusted in its rivers and its wealth: ‘You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures…’ (51:13). One by one, Jeremiah dismantles these false hopes.

Again and again, Jeremiah calls on his readers to listen to the words and promises of God rather than the things of the world. Two phrases that are repeated continuously are: ‘this is what the Lord Almighty says’ (50:18,33; 51:1), and ‘declares the Lord’ (50:21,30,40).

We are encouraged to listen to his words, to ‘do what I tell you’ (v.21, MSG), and to ‘tell the good news’ (51:10, MSG). You can build your life on the promises of his word. You are to hear God’s words and put them into practice (see Matthew 7:24–27).

There are two great things that the Lord promises to those who hear his words, put their trust in him and put his words into practice.

First, he promises satisfaction. Your spiritual appetite can only be satisfied by a relationship with God (Jeremiah 50:19), which Jesus came to make possible.

Second, he promises complete forgiveness of your sins and removal of your guilt: ‘They’ll look high and low for a sign of Israel’s guilt – nothing; search nook and cranny for a trace of Judah’s sin – nothing. These people that I’ve saved will start out with a clean slate’ (v.20, MSG). What God promised to Israel and Judah was fulfilled through Jesus on the cross. However careful a search is made, no one will be able to find any sin or guilt in you because of what Jesus has done.


Lord, I put my trust in you. Help me each day to listen to your words, put them into practice and find satisfaction in your presence and your love.

Pippa adds

2 Timothy 3:15 says:

‘... from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise...’

It is so important to start reading the Bible from as young an age as possible. It is never too early to start, even if at first, like our grandson did, they just eat the pages!



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Letter to Mme. N. D. Fonvisin (1854), as published in Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to His Family and Friends (1914), tr. Ethel Golburn Mayne, Letter XXI, p.71.

Martin Luther, E. Theodore Bachmann (ed.), Luther's Works, Volume 35: Word and Sacrament I (Fortress Press, 1960) p.236.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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