May 22, 2019

Today you should read: Lamentations 2

Yesterday we read about how Jerusalem lay in ruins while Jeremiah laments the state of the city and the sin of the people. Everything has gone wrong. A city once beautiful and lively is now destitute.

Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations, pens the words of Jerusalem: “The Lord is right, for I rebelled against him” (Lamentations 1:17). They recognized that the Lord was punishing them for their wrongdoing.

In our reading today, we see the details of the punishment from God. The Lord took away any sense of protection that Jerusalem felt. The walls were broken down, the Temple invaded, and the gates destroyed.

The people of Jerusalem were defeated. From false prophets leading them astray to enemies mocking them, they realized their sin had gotten them in a tough situation.

The question is raised, “O Lord, think about this! Should you treat your own people this way?” (v.20). The people of Jerusalem questioned God’s goodness in the midst of sorrow and suffering. This is the wrong way to react to suffering.

“But it is the Lord who did just as he planned” (v.17).

God knew exactly what he was doing. Because God is just, he cannot let sin and rebellion go unpunished. It would be wrong of him to do so.

The good thing for us is that God does not punish his people in this way every time they rebel against him now. God knew that he was punishing his people by the destruction of their city, but he would crush his Son on the Cross, laying the sins of the entire world upon him.

The Cross is where the justice of God (God’s punishment of sin) and the love of God (God’s sacrificial giving of his Son) collide.

Do you ever find yourself questioning God’s goodness? Look to the Cross. See that this world still feels the effects of sin, but see that God loved you enough to send his Son to die in your place. God protected you from ultimate judgment and suffering by sending Jesus, and for that, we should worship and praise the Lord.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

May 21, 2019

Today you should read: Lamentations 1

We’re starting one of the most feared, but important, books of the bible in Lamentations. For some context of the entire book, watch this video below:

Lamentations reveals a specific, catastrophic moment in Jewish history. The first couple of verses reveal Jerusalem’s fall. Verse 1 contrasts from verse 2 where the once great and prominent status of Jerusalem becomes a slave, widowed and deserted in mourning. As indicated in the name of this book, the rest of this chapter is an invitation to how they mourn and grieve over the season God has them in. Three specific words stick out about this chapter regarding the Jews grieving and how we should grieve as God’s people.

  1. Remember (v.7): We must remember the days of old with the Lord and how He is sovereign and still good. Remember the precious things of the Lord in salvation and past victories.
  2. Empathy (v. 16): It was not just Jeremiah doing the weeping, but the collected state of Jerusalem. We must weep with and for those who are going through such suffering and hardships. This should not be experienced alone but in community. Even today, there are hardships and injustice that the church should have more empathy for.
  3. Justice (v. 18, 22): Jeremiah recognized that the Lord was in the right and he asks the righteous lord to deal with the evildoing before him. He doesn’t take himself or God’s people out of that request. Maybe God will deal with such evil with wrath, maybe grace and mercy. But justice is deserved and accomplished in both and in mourning, we must remember we have a just God.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

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