June 20, 2015

Today is a summary of Lamentations

Lamentations is a book that not many like to read but it is a very important book for the understanding of the nature of pain, sin and redemption. This book agrees with the theology of Leveticus 26, Deuteronomy 27-30, Joshua-Kings, and Jeremiah in that it affirms that Jerusalem fell because of people’s sin (Lamentations 1:18). They also rejected God’s word sent through the prophets (Lamentations 2:8, 14, 17) and because their leaders led them astray (4:13). God warned (Lamentations 2:17), but the people did not heed the warning (ESV Study Bible notes).

It relates to us today because we live in a time that God has also warned us about:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 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, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 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. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

Israel was warned not to be swayed by the sin of the world yet they ignored God and experienced his wrath. We live in a time when the world is continually becoming harder and we are becoming more tempted to live like the world. Yet, God is clear that whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God and he opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:1-8). Many of us experience suffering because we live in our pride instead of humbly submitting ourselves to God. So my question today is are you drawing nearer to God through humility or are you prepared for suffering because of your pride?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

June 18, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 4

How the gold has lost its luster! Even the finest gold has become dull. The sacred gemstones lie scattered in the streets! (Lamentations‬ 4‬:1‬ NLT)

Let’s get brutally honest for a minute today. We love sin and the “luster” it brings don’t we? We enjoy pride, lust, greed and covetousness. The “treasures” we get and the feelings that follow are exhilarating. I have heard it said that sin would not be tempting if it wasn’t fun. That’s true. If sin didn’t give us the false sense of fulfillment it does, no one would do it. However, it does give us a “reward,” and we like the results of it. At least, the short-term results.
Israel had to have been enjoying themselves as they lived in peace and lived their lives however they wanted, worshipping who or whatever they wanted to. They were living the high life with little regard for God and His laws. Yeah, they may have paid lip service to Him. They showed up at church once in a while, gave a little and even talked a religious game. On the inside, and when others weren’t looking, however, they were amassing “gold”and “sacred gemstones”. So what happened? Well, God sent prophet after prophet with warning after warning that these things would only end up in disaster and now, here we are. The people have been judged, God’s wrath is revealed and all the “gold and sacred gemstones” have been tossed out. They have lost their luster. What once brought Israel security and happiness was now cast in the streets, useless and unwanted.
Now, back to us. What is the “gold” in your life? What are the “sacred gemstones” that you find your comfort in? What is it that you look to for happiness and security? Israel left God to worship idols and wealth. We do too. We all have something that shines for us, something calling to us, fighting to draw us away from God. Please don’t be fooled. These things or these sins will one day bring trouble to you. One day these shiny things will “lie scattered in the streets”. Whatever that is for you, let it go. We should find our hope and peace in God alone. Trust and follow Jesus, not things that only lose their luster over time.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

June 17, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 3

Where To Find Hope…

Sorrow and Brokenness. That is what is involved here. This book is written under the shadow of the destruction of Jerusalem.

But we don’t need to only see this as an account of a nation in despair, we can think about how this book represents the despair of individuals. We can also relate to this hopelessness, ourselves, personally. In times of despair, when God doesn’t feel near, when we feel so overwhelmed with our inadequacies and failures, when we are afraid, or when we just don’t think our situation will ever change, we can turn somewhere to find true hope.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

In our chapter today, verses 1-20 represent despair. Hopelessness. It is a recounting of how the Lord has brought His people to nothing… on purpose. I believe the climax is found in verses 17-18. It represents the entire section, in just one sentence. The ESV says it this way, “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’” There is a clear sense of hopelessness here.

But something happens in verse 21 that changes everything. The writer remembers. He calls truth to mind. And it is the very place he finds hope. After all the despair that is shared in verses 1-20, read what how he starts in verses 21-24;,

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

I don’t know about you, but watching this progression brings deep satisfaction to my soul. It’s like he is saying, “I am beyond despair! I am anxious, afraid, depressed, doubtful, and tired! God seems far away! BUT, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. (sigh of relief) God is faithful. His mercies are new every morning. He will fill me up. I will hope in Him.”

Wow. Let this section speak to your soul.

Are you tired? Are you afraid? Have you made some embarrassing mistakes? Have you been sorrowful and doubtful?

Well, call this to mind, and therefore… find hope…

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

June 16, 2015

Today you should read: Lamentations 2

​When you have grieved over sin, whether it was yours or the brokenness we see from the world, what was your conversations with God like? We know we should lament and grieve over sin because its consequences are deadly and that sin ultimately cost Jesus’ life. However do you truly grieve over it? Sometimes I’ll see students recognize sin in their life or in the world and they dismiss it pretty quickly and easily. We need to view sin the same way that God does and when we repent of it, we need to be honest and transparent to God of our hatred toward it. Lamentations chapter 2 shows a picture of that grief in the author’s heart when reflecting on Israel’s sin and God’s judgment on that sin.
The first 10 verses show the effect of God’s justice as He allowed Israel to be attacked and captured by Babylon. Vs. 11-19 shows the grief that they feel but also we see the author cry out for help from God in the midst of his lamenting.
18 Their heart cried to the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
let tears stream down like a torrent
day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
your eyes no respite!
19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.” –Lamentations 2:18-19

That’s the difference between guilt and depression over one’s sin and true repentance. God will be just and his righteous anger will pour out over sin. It poured out on His innocent Son on the cross. However the purpose behind that lamentation of sin is to bring us to a point to respond with hope that we can be saved by all loving Father through the Gospel. Do you grieve over your sin? Does that cause you to desire God’s restoration? Even in the most depressing book of the Bible, we see glimmers of hope as the prophet point them to a God who will restore them.

Posted by: Erik Koliser