Monthly Archives: August 2009

Lamentations 3-5

Scripture:

 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.

 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.

 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
       therefore I will wait for him.”

 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
       to the one who seeks him;

 26 it is good to wait quietly
       for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NIV)

37 Who can speak and have it happen
       if the Lord has not decreed it?

 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
       that both calamities and good things come?

 39 Why should any living man complain
       when punished for his sins?

 40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
       and let us return to the LORD.

Lamentations 3:37-40

Observation:

This was a horrible time for Jerusalem, as everything had been destroyed and Jeremiah was penning what he and his people were going through – an absolute whirlwind of emotions. The horror of the times that he reports is graphic:

The punishment of my people
       is greater than that of Sodom,
       which was overthrown in a moment
       without a hand turned to help her.

 7 Their princes were brighter than snow
       and whiter than milk,
       their bodies more ruddy than rubies,
       their appearance like sapphires. [c]

 8 But now they are blacker than soot;
       they are not recognized in the streets.
       Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
       it has become as dry as a stick.

 9 Those killed by the sword are better off
       than those who die of famine;
       racked with hunger, they waste away
       for lack of food from the field.

 10 With their own hands compassionate women
       have cooked their own children,
       who became their food
       when my people were destroyed.

Lamentations 4:6-10

I cannot even imagine the destitute lives that were being lived at the time. Jerusalem was certainly paying for its collective sin. But it is interesting that Jeremiah offers praise for God and his salvation in Chapter 3, verses 22-26, and acknowledges that Jerusalem has brought this suffering upon itself in verses 37-40. Jeremiah is certainly in touch with God – his salvation, his justice, his love, and his mercy.

Application:

Have you ever felt like you are being punished for your sins? How did it feel? How did you respond? Sometimes I wonder if I am even in touch enough to know if and when I am being punished by God. I wonder how I would really react – would I be mad? Hurt? Sing praises? I am honestly not sure sometimes. To me, it is a hard thing to know if what I am going through is a punishment or is it just the course of life that God is taking me through?

Another thought that comes to mind in reading Lamentations is this: I do wonder if our country is headed down the path of Jerusalem. This country was found on “In God we trust” by Christian people fleeing persecution. God blessed this land for many, many years. We have slowly drifted from God and now it is like a snowball running downhill it seems. It seems we are running from God collectively at breakneck speed. It makes me wonder where the bottom will be. I just hope that I am not around when it hits, because it won’t be pretty.

It seems that history has been littered with great nations who once had a strong belief in God, then drifted away, and then were ruined. It seems that they all lost touch with what had made them great, and they failed to recognize it. I just hope that we all recognize  both individually and collectively when we are sinning against our God, and recognize when he chooses to reprimand us for those sins. I pray that we react the way we need to, by examining our ways and returning to the Lord.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, I pray that I see when you choose to reprimand me for sins that I have committed against you. I pray for our country that we do the same, that we collectively examine our ways and return to you. Lord, our great country has turned from you and I wish that we would recognize that You were what made us great individually and collectively and only You can restore us to greatness. Amen.

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Lamentations 1:1-2

Scripture

“The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command.  Listen, all you peoples;  look upon my suffering.  My young men and maidens have gone into exile”.    (Lamentations 1:18 – NIV)

“My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city”.  (Lamentations 2:11 –  NIV)

Observation

Jerusalem was destroyed and Jeremiah mourned deeply and wept for the city of Jerusalem and her inhabitants.  He wept so hard that his eyes failed from his weeping.  His heart was broken and he was in torment over what had happened.

Jeremiah also questioned God.  Why had the city been destroyed?  Why the destruction of this once great city, now in ruins?  Why did God allow this to happen?

The answer…the people have sinned.  And God not only allowed this to happen, he made it happen!  God is just.  He is righteous.  He must punish sin.  It was God who did this to Jerusalem.  He brought this upon the people of this city because he is righteous.

Application

I must say, this is extremely difficult for me to understand about God.   I struggle greatly with this topic and and I feel quite inadequate when it comes to understanding the perfect justice balanced with the perfect love of God.

God has created me with a very sensitive heart and I can relate to Jeremiah’s weeping in this passage.  I have wept myself, over many a tragedy in my life.  I remember how I wept on September 11, 2001, when I watched the city that I grew up in and loved all of my life get destroyed by terrorists.  I also remember weeping on April 16, 2007, when a young man entered Norris Hall at Virginia Tech University and brutally murdered 32 innocent college students.  I was involved in the lives of people directly affected by both of these tragedies and it broke my heart to pieces to see these tragedies through the eyes of the people who suffered loss there.  But what about God’s heart during these national tragedies?  Did His heart not break that much more than my own?

I look at Jeremiah’s lament and his sadness and my heart breaks for him.  But two things are revealed by God, in his sadness:  Jerusalem has sinned, yet God loves Jerusalem.    God cannot shut His eyes to evil.  He does what He does because He is a just and righteous God.  He must punish sin even though it breaks His heart.  When Jeremiah is weeping, I see God weeping through him.  Jeremiah is crying not only his own tears, but God’s tears, too.

So, the questions I must ask myself are these:  How do I truly feel about my own sin?  Do I view my sin the way God views it?  Does my heart break for what breaks His?  Is the cross of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings that He endured  for my sin, something I take it for granted way too much?

Someday, when I stand before Him and I am glorified in His presence, perhaps I will understand better the love of God and the righteousness of God.  Just maybe, He will make it clear to me that hell, as awful as it is, exists because He is a God of unfailing love, infinite mercy, and perfect justice.  It is so difficult to understand now.  But while I live in this world, my heart’s desire is to view this world and my own sin through the lens of a merciful, loving, righteous and just God.  My prayer is for God to give me the eyes to see Him as He is, and also the heart that breaks for what breaks His.

Prayer

O God, you are a God whose love is never ending!  It is so perfect and so unfailing.  You are longsuffering, patient, kind, merciful and your covenant of love is forever.  You have loved me before I was even born into this world.  But as perfect and unfailing your love is, your righteousness and your judgment on sin is equally perfect!  Your word clearly reveals that you are a God that hates sin.  You hate sin so much that you can’t even look at it and your perfect judgment demands justice on sin.

Lord, your love and your righteousness has been perfectly displayed to my heart and the world in sending your Son, Your most Holy Child, to this earth so that I may be declared righteous in your sight.  Your love is so high and deep and far and wide, that you would rather suffer a horrible death on a cross than be apart from me.  When I marvel at what you’ve done, my eyes overflow with tears of joy.  You have made a way to forgive me of  my transgressions!  You have torn the veil and your perfect love and perfect justice have been made perfect in me!  Wow!  I am forgiven.  I am able to stand before you and come before you boldly, and spend the rest of my existence being with you and loving you.

Lord, I humbly thank you for what you have done for me and what you continue to do.  My heart loves you so very much Lord, but my heart is also flesh and it tends to wander in the wilderness and I forget who I am in you.  O Lord, forgive me!  May your Holy Spirit saturate my mind, my heart and my life every day I am living!  Teach me Lord, to see this world through your eyes and not my own.  Show me what you want to do with this vessel.  It is all yours anyway!  Teach my heart to break for the things that break your heart.  Teach me to love what you love.  This entire existence that makes up my life is created by you and for you and although I do not understand everything about you, I love and cherish and worship you for you are MY GOD!  I want every second of my life to ascribe praise and love upon you always.   Use me, however you see fit and do not let me waste this time you have given me.

I pray this in Jesus precious Name, with all my love,

John (John7264)

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Jeremiah 51 & 52

Scripture

“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.  ‘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 pay her what she deserves.” Jeremiah 51:5 & 6 NIV

Observation

God has not forgotten His chosen people. The time has come when He will become their deliverer from the evil of Babylon and Babylon will come to ruin.

These chapters are literally dealing with the destruction that was about to come to Babylon, through the Medes, for the punishment of the evil they bestowed on the world.

While reading through chapter 51, it was real easy to see the application for end times and the punishment that will come to the world that has rejected Jesus  Christ.  But even greater still, is the knowledge and hope that we, God’s chosen, have not been forgotten.

Application

We are called to live in the world, a world full of trouble that will one day be destroyed, but not be part of it. How does one do that? I thought of John 16:33, where Jesus tell us: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Then while looking up this verse to type out, I read several of the other verses around it that I had underlined in my Bible, where Jesus is talking to his disciples about living in this world and then a few verses where Jesus is praying for His disciples.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. This is why the world hates you.” John 15:19

“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” John 15:4

“My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not if it. Sanctify them by the truth, Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. ” John 17:15-18

Bottom line: I must stay connected to Him. I must be in the Word. I must remember that I am chosen. Then, I must choose to rely on and trust in the peace and hope of the promises of Jesus.  He has already overcome the world! His strength is readily available to me, if I would but only ask for and receive it.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Sometimes it seems so hard to be in the world, dealing with trouble after trouble, not being able to see any relief from the suffering, wondering if You are really there and care. But all I need to do is open Your Word…the Truth and see You are! You never promised this life would be a walk through a park, but instead You told us that we would have troubles. Through it all, we must stay connected to You. It’s the only way! You are the only way!

Hallelujah, You have overcome!

Amen

– Beckie (look2thehills)

 

 

 

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Jeremiah 49-50

Scripture

“My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their true pasture, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.'” Jeremiah 50:6-7 (NIV)

Observation

Jeremiah speaks of what is in store for a people whose hearts have turned from God. As I read through these messages to Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, Elam and Babylon–my eyes stopped here: their shepherds have led them astray. Was this all the result of a bad example? Poor counsel? I don’t minimize their sin–but it made me stop hard and think what kind of influence am I? Do my actions and words point people to God?

Application

Their shepherds have led them astray. I have more influence in people’s lives than I think. Big influence, my family and close friends. Perhaps even little influences can be of big importance. When I think of all the people I come in contact with in person, by phone or blogging, I wonder: would they know who I follow by my speech? Do my actions and words glorify God?

And who is influencing me? Who are the examples I follow and do I know where they are leading me?

Prayer

Father, I don’t want my careless examples to wound or harden hearts. I pray to be intentional with my thoughts, words and actions to bring you glory. You are my true pasture. I want to live a life that leads people to you. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 45-48

Scripture

7“For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures,
Even you yourself will be captured;
And Chemosh will go off into exile
Together with his priests and his princes.

~Jeremiah 48:7

Observation

God hates sin.

That hit me overwhelmingly in these passages. We think of jealousy and hatred as wrong, but when it comes to God, nothing can infringe on His space, and anything opposed to His holiness deserves nothing short of hatred.

He could never ignore the wickedness that led His people away from Him. He could not leave unpunished those that worshiped other gods with their immoral practices and unholy living. He had to judge them because they would trust in their own talents and wealth.

Trusting in ourselves instead of God will never end anywhere good, just ask Moab.

Application

I need to aggressively protect God’s number one place in my life.

Digging into God’s Word and worshiping and surrendering to Him in prayer has to have a permanent spot on my daily schedule.

Hate sin. I need to gouge it out of my life mercilessly, and not shy away from lovingly confronting those near to me.

Do things God’s way. Not trusting my own achievements or stockpiles, but in Him alone. I need to come empty and let Him write the story.

Prayer

Lord, Help me to trust in You alone. You are the only real strength and sustenance I should ever really rely on. Thank you for patiently growing me even when I continue to harbor sin in my life which You hate so much! Help me to hate the way you hate, and zealously protect Your place of priority in my life. ~Amen

Erin (5intow)

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Jeremiah 41-44

Scripture

“Then they [Judah] said to Jeremiah, ‘May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the LORD our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the LORD our God.’ “ (42:5-6)

Jeremiah prays, God instructs, Judah disregards His commands…

“O remnant of Judah, the LORD has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the LORD your God and said, ‘Pray to the LORD our God for us; tell us everything He says and we will do it.’  I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the LORD your God in all He sent me to tell you. So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.” (42:19-22, NIV)

Observation

Judah instructs Jeremiah to ask “his” God (interesting pronoun selection) for guidance. They even go as far as promising to obey Him even it was “unfavorable.” Jeremiah asks God and receives an answer which is, “Do not go to Egypt.” Jeremiah reprimands Judah for not obeying this instruction, implying that they completely disregarded God’s command and DID go to Egypt. So in a nutshell: Judah begged for guidance, promised to follow it, then completely ignored it.

Application

Beg, promise, ignore. I do that everyday.

I ask for guidance, answers, instruction, help. Most of which has already been given to me through His Word but I choose to under-utilize it.

Then along with asking I make my promises. My conditions. “If You show me, Lord, I’ll follow.” Why does He need my promise tagged on? Is that going to help make up His mind to answer me? “Oh…this time she’ll really follow through because she’s promising. So I’ll grant her request because she’s really sincere this time.” It’s embarrassing how we insult God and His character.

And then there’s the ignore. I receive the answer but blatantly disregard it. Even though it is a clear provision which I begged for in the first place.

We so often ridicule characters in the Bible for their ignorance. We mock the Israelites for their whining and we laugh at the disciples for not seeing what was right under their noses. Yet we are no different. We beg, promise and ignore right along with the best of them.

I am not unlike a child. I don’t know how God has the patience to put up with my stupidity, stubbornness, ignorance and defiance. For the past two weeks God has been clearly speaking concerning a specific calling in my life and I have yet to take action upon it. This passage is the latest in a long thread of clear confirmations. The question is, will I continue to ignore?

Prayer

God, thank You for using the nation of Judah to reveal disobedience in my life. I know that You have given me clear answers that I have chosen to disregard. You have already promised in Your Word to provide for me so I have no-thing to fear. Unlike Judah, I want to move ahead believing You for what lies ahead and trusting, not doubting, that Your plan is best. I need You, Lord, and You’ve already given me all of You so I have all I need. Amen.

simplyspoken

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Passage: Jeremiah 37-40

Scripture:

“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkija, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.  They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern: it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”  Jeremiah 38:6 (NIV)

“‘Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you.  Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.  But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: all the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon.  Those women will say to you: They misled you and overcame you – those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you.’” Jeremiah 38:20-22 (NIV)

Application:

“Running from the Dog”

What a miserable wretch Jeremiah was.  His life was rife with drama and excitement, he was chosen to be “set apart…a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5), but he remained reluctant, insecure and hesitant about much of the work to which he’d been called.  His relationship with the Living God was marked by stinging quarrels and hot-tempered outbursts.  He went so far as to tell God he wished he were dead (Jer. 20:14-18).  Jeremiah was among civilization’s first recorded victims of depression. 

Centuries later, Winston Churchill would also suffer from depression, terming it his “black dog.”  As political conflicts ebbed, Churchill lost himself in his writing and painting to escape these debilitating bouts.  But it seems that for Jeremiah, there was no escaping the black dog.  Indeed, it chased him all the faster as, in this passage, we see him charged with treason and thrown into a well.  God offered no sympathy, but instead reminded the prophet of His promise to stand beside him (Jer. 15:20).  Despite it all, Jeremiah pressed on, and instead of running from the dog, learned in whatever way he could, to run alongside it.  From his own bleak history and days spent wallowing in mud, Jeremiah created a compelling picture for a vacillating King Zedekiah, pointing out that if disobedient, he too would know what it was like to have his feet “sunk in the mud.”

Wretched as he was, I cannot help but read Jeremiah’s book and love him all the more for his superlative example of perseverance.

Observation:

The Bible has much to say about perseverance and the presentation of righteousness.  Take Romans 2:7 for example: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”  But here, in Jeremiah, the struggle is an internal one, and illuminates the challenge of obedience when the greatest impasse to doing what is right is not the public, or a king, or the circumstances, but the very mind itself.

I hear myself in Jeremiah’s wails.  When the strength to rise every morning feels beyond my capacity, the path of righteousness seems less straight-and-narrow, and more edge-of-cliff while blindfolded.  But I strive still for obedience, because I know my God requires it, no matter the dogs that pursue me.  For he may yet use their dark barking for His glory.   

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, obedience is hardest for me when I’ve convinced myself it’s impossible and the voice of doubt harangues me in the night.  But You’ve provided no caveat for compliance.  Your Word is as clear to me as it was to Jeremiah, and your promises of deliverance are older than the ages.  I can do it, Lord, but I need your help.  Because though the black dog is fast, You are faster still.  Amen.

Sarah

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