Category Archives: Lamentations

Lamentations; Psalm 137; 1 Peter 4

Spiritual Gifts are one of the most mis-understood and least implemented parts of the Christian life. I was with a group of Christians not too long ago. About 25 people and asked them how many of them knew what their gifts were. Only two or three raised their hands. That is a pretty typical response I would say. Yet here we see Peter challenging his readers to steward the gifts they have been given by the Holy Spirit and use them well.

We find the spiritual gifts discussed in the 4’s and 12’s (Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12). Who said the Bible was hard to read or figure you!

So spiritual gifts are given to us at our point of conversion to Christianity. They are given to us to edify the Body of Christ. There are between 19 & 22 depending on your theology (not the place here to discuss that) and each one of have at least one gift.

In this morning’s reading we find the following:

  • Hospitality, v. 9
  • Speaking (most likely teaching), v. 11
  • Serving, v. 11

9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:9-11 [ESV]).

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you using them to serve the Body of Christ? If not read through the 4’s and the 12’s and begin this week.

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1 Samuel 19; 1 Corinthians 1; Lamentations 4; Luke 24

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. God did this so that no one can brag in his presence. Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God. In Christ we are put right with God, and have been made holy, and have been set free from sin. So, as the Scripture says, “If people want to brag, they should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NCV)

As a teenager and young adult, I realized that I did not have any one skill that I highly excelled in; I was never going to be an extraordinary talent. I was never going to be a Charlotte Church or an Andrea Bocelli, though I love to sing. I was never going to be a Beethoven or a YoYo Ma, though I love music. I was never going to be a Picasso, a Shakespeare, or a Meryl Streep, though I love the arts. I was never going to be a Dominique Moceanu, a Dorothy Hamill or a Ray Lewis, though I love athletics. Though I love all things culinary, I was never going to be a Jacques Pépin or a Julia Childs (my personal hero – and yes, I will admit, I grew up pretending I was her when I took my turn to help out in the kitchen).

So my goal was to become a jack-of-all-trades. I wanted to be full of knowledge, to know enough about as much as possible. I wanted to be like Benjamin Franklin who had so much information, so many facts to share with the world. I wanted book smarts, and I wanted ‘street’ smarts as well. I wanted to learn from other people’s proficiencies and I wanted to learn through experiential knowledge too. I wanted wisdom.

I took pleasure in learning, whether from reading a nonfiction book, from watching an educational T.V. program, or from studying someone while they plied their trade, and even from jumping in with both feet to attempt something I had never tried before. I had satisfaction in knowing more than the next person. I took pride in being ‘right’ (even when I was wrong).

Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NCV)

When I began following Christ, He revealed my arrogance and my outlook on wisdom changed. I recognized that my attitude was in the wrong place. My drive for knowledge had stemmed from self-importance, from a desire to be better than other people, to ‘prove’ myself to the world. I had taken a bite of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ fruit, rather than walking with God each day in the cool and quiet of our secret place, trusting Him to reveal true wisdom. I boasted in myself, rather than singing the praises of my Creator, the Author of everything, the Designer who has all knowledge because He is ALL knowledge.

The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 (NCV)

I continue to this day to love to learn as much as I can, and I believe that my Father takes enjoyment in my search for understanding. My quest is set right at the Cross at Calvary, an exploration aligned with His Kingdom. My pursuit is now grounded in Him. He has given me spectacles covered in the blood of Christ, to help me see things through His eyes, giving me new awareness, giving me new insight. He cleanses my heart daily, bathing it in love, changing my perception and allowing for godly discernment.

Christ did not send me to baptize people but to preach the Good News. And he sent me to preach the Good News without using words of human wisdom so that the cross of Christ would not lose its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NCV)

My objective is to investigate and embrace the awesome ‘foolishness’ of the Cross, the breathtaking gift of grace. My intention is to share with everyone I meet the tremendous power of the sacrifice Jesus became at Calvary, offering comprehension of the Truth, the only Truth that sets captives free. My aim is to proclaim His Glory. My purpose is His mission.

Yesappa, I want to be a fool for You, steeped not in worldly intelligence, but drenched in Truth. Help me walk daily in Your wisdom. Help me live immersed in Your understanding. Help me boldly brag about the power of the Cross, Your Good News, Your Gift of Grace with courage no matter how stupid another may think I am. Help me Holy Ghost! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Lamentations, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

I Samuel 16, Romans 14, Lamentations 1, & Luke 21

My world. No, it’s Your world and me in it.  How do I get this confused? You would think after walking so many years in the Light of Christ that the concept of being an alien in this world would be a solid belief, yet I find myself sunk deep in the muck of my desires, permeated with the details of being involved in all that goes on around me.  I could never be a Mother Theresa.  Not because I don’t care for the disenfranchised, but where would I find electricity to plug in my hairdryer; how could I afford makeup, and there would be no need to wear sexy boots.  Don’t get me wrong; I would spend a week or even a month roughing it on a mission trip or helping a friend or family member.  I might even give up a weekend to help a stranger move or feed a crowd.

But I fear there is something missing in my DNA when it comes to full-fledged, sold out, surrendered body, soul, and mind to the things of God.  I worry that I am more like King Saul than his replacement, David.  Saul could not seem to do everything God commanded because he was self-absorbed. God finally told Saul to step aside and let another take his place.

So in my effort to prove I have a heart that beats only for God (so I can be like King David), I have swung the hammer of law to crush the liberty of others.  Just ask my daughter or my ex.  It has seemed more important to be righteous than to be gracious.  Oh, and giving grace can feel soooo very gracious.  Yuck!

Like Jeremiah in Lamentations wrote, “The yoke of my transgressions was bound; they were woven by His hand and thrust upon my neck; He made my strength fail.”  Yet, I thank Him for that.  There is this side of me that longs to be led serenely trusting Christ’s words and revelation. Though I may not have a natural ability to follow the God of my life, I am urged to keep submitting to Him.  Because of this desire, I believe His Holy Spirit spurs me on to love in the midst of external turmoil or the humiliation of internal weakness.  Christ tells us that He is coming again and that we need to rid ourselves of any hindrance to recognizing His appearance. If the destruction of my world is necessary to the salvation of my soul, then so be it.

 

Janet

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Lamentations, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans

Lamentations 1, 2; Hebrews 12

A crumpled mess of her … Jerusalem. Lamentations opens with despair and heartache. Peeling back curtains of time to look through its window–dismal and broken. She sits like a widow and slave, tears down her face, uncomforted, betrayed.  She lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out.

He wove my sins into ropes
to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.
The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies;
I am helpless in their hands. Lamentations 1:14 NLT

God hates sin.

Your prophets have said
so many foolish things, false to the core.
They did not save you from exile
by pointing out your sins.
Instead, they painted false pictures,
filling you with false hope. Lamentations 2:14 NLT

When it gets personal, I think of times I painted lovely excuses around my sin, false hope of my justification. So self-deceived, I mourned and wailed without a clue as to the why of punishment.

A favorite verse whispered to me among the vines, in Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

I read more …

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:1-6

Hebrews 12 is full of great encouragement and caution: be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.

Lord, I chased after the approval of man. Cheap idols I once admired, you crashed and shattered. After enough tears and searching, you showed me my heart and I finally understood, seeing past the colorful cover-up of my own deception. Today I can live free from that sin–because I see it for what it was, those ropes that bound me. I don’t want to live deceived. Lord, may I always listen for your voice.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 18; Romans 16; Lamentations 3; Psalm 34

I have two girls. They bicker. They tattletale, despite years of encouraging them to handle issues between each other first. And their response is always the result of someone else’s action.

“You can’t control what someone else does. You can’t blame them for your response. You are responsible for you,” I remind. Regardless of who starts what. That’s the short version.

That lesson made sense to me, until Saul–and a mood hand-delivered from God.

On a day when everyone celebrated, he was wounded by the frolic-song of women. Words can hurt, especially when intentions are (mis)interpreted by insecurity. I get all this. But I stopped cold at the next line:

The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. 1 Samuel 18:10 (NLT)

The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul … (NIV)

… an ugly mood was sent by God to afflict Saul … (The Message)

Rising above the tease of a sibling vs being overwhelmed by a spirit from God seem two ends of a spectrum, but  regardless of the purpose (which we may never know) or the source (be it from our own interpretation of events or divine intervention) of a trial–aren’t we still responsible for us? Isn’t God still interested in our response whether we are under blessing or affliction?

Reading through Lamentations 3 and Psalm 34, I see the cause and I see the response.

 19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,

   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message)

In Lamentations, peering out from the load dumped down from the verse one and on, I read this:

28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

And in Psalm 34,

8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Lord, in Job I read how you permitted the pain in his life. And in Hannah’s prayer, I am reminded again the earth is yours and you set it in order. All throughout scriptures you reveal, explain and prepare us for trials and troubles … and all throughout scripture is your assurance you are with us, you are good and you love us. Lord, in blessings or in troubles and trials, my hope and desire is to turn to you and bless your name. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lamentations 2; Psalm 33

As I wrestled this past week with a difficult theological concept, I allowed myself to ponder how my life would be different without the hope that is founded in Jesus.   The overwhelming feelings of loss and despair brought on by this consideration cannot be overstated.  Interestingly, these feelings reinforced the fact that the major life choices I have made over the last 15 years or so ARE a direct reflection of my hope in Jesus.  

The contrast between the abundant life I am living and the life I would be living without the hope of Jesus is illustrated in our scripture readings today.  Lamentations 2 paints a bleak picture for the nation of Israel.   In this passage God is alternately portrayed as actively opposing the Israelites:

The Lord is like an enemy;he has swallowed up Israel.  He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. (Lam. 2:5)

 and absent

The Lord has rejected his altar and abandoned his sanctuary. (Lam 2:7)

Either way, clearly he is not providing comfort and reassurance for Israel.  Why?  Did He change or did they?

Contrast the utter despair of the Israelites with Paul’s encouragement to the Romans:

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

That is my prayer!

Lord, you are the God of hope.  Fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in you.  May I overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under Lamentations, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Romans