Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 31 October 18:
Note: Here is a link to a short video overview of Lamentations: https://youtu.be/p8GDFPdaQZQhttps://youtu.be/p8GDFPdaQZQ
1. Lamentations 1:2, 19, 21 – “Among all her lovers she has none to comfort her” – Many put their hope for comfort, peace, joy, security, etc, in something or someone other than God, though they may not even admit to themselves that they are doing it. However, all substitutes for God will let you down.
2. Lamentations 1:4-10 – When God judges, He puts an end to unacceptable, comprised, half-hearted, self-centered, and misguided worship.
3. Lamentations 1:5 — “Her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper.” Defeat was God’s method for discipline.
4. Lamentations 1:5 — “The Lord has afflicted her.” Sometimes the Lord has to afflict those He loves in order to bring about the good He wants in them and for them.
5. Lamentations 1:8, 9 – “Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns her face away. Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future; therefore, her fall is terrible; she has no comforter. ‘O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!’” Throughout the Bible, God uses vivid word pictures of a woman caught in adultery or prostitution to describe the sin people commit with substitute “idols” against Him. The Bible picture of sin stands in stark contrast with the world’s approach to sin, even the church’s approach to sin which makes light of sin in the name of “grace.”
6. Lamentations 1:11-16 – When the illusion of idols is stripped away, some people remember God and cry out for His help. Contrary to secular humanist teachings, It is not because people need an imaginary, superstitious hope that they turn to God; they turn to God in need because their imaginary hopes have been revealed and removed and, perhaps for the first time, they see the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
7. Lamentations 1:12, 13 – “Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger. From on high he sent fire; into my bones he made it descend; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all the day long.”
– God’s worse punishment was reserved for His people who knew Him yet continued in sin.
– God’s discipline may isolate you and make you feel sorry for yourself until you cry to Him for help.
8. Lamentations 1:19 – “I called to my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, while they sought food to revive their strength.” Religious leaders sometimes forsake people for the sake of their personal needs.
9. Lamentations 1:22 – “Let all their evildoing come before you, and deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my transgressions; for my groans are many, and my heart is faint.” Judgment against you does not mean that you are the only sinner. God will administer appropriate justice, mercy, and grace to all. You need only be concerned about your relationship with God and can trust Him to deal appropriately with everyone else.
10. Lamentations 2:2 – “The Lord has swallowed up without mercy all the habitations of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers.” When God’s people take His grace for granted and accept sin, He must punish them to humble them and bring them back to a right appreciation of His holiness, mercy, grace, and love.
11. Lamentations 2:5 – “The Lord has become like an enemy.” In our sin, we can make God like an enemy.
12. Lamentations 2:6 – “He has laid waste his booth like a garden, laid in ruins his meeting place; the Lord has made Zion forget festival and Sabbath, and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest.” God has the power to replace earthly leaders whenever and however He wants. God has established all political leaders for His purposes. Often God uses bad leaders as an instrument of discipline.
13. Lamentations 2:7 – “The Lord has scorned his altar, disowned his sanctuary.” The Lord rejects religion practiced by the ungodly and disobedient.
14. Lamentations 2:9 – “Her gates have sunk into the ground; he has ruined and broken her bars; her king and princes are among the nations; the law is no more, and her prophets find no vision from the Lord.” An ungodly nation is filled with misguided politicians and powerless spiritual leaders who no longer truly hear from God, although they continue to claim that they do, likely convincing themselves that their fantasies are visions.
15. Lamentations 2:11-13 – “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city. They cry to their mothers, ‘Where is bread and wine?’ as they faint like a wounded man in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom. What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea; who can heal you?” Reflective people weep and are troubled by God’s judgement.
16. Lamentations 2:14 — “Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.”
– One of the factors that led to the destruction of Israel was that the religious leaders did not expose sin but rather told the people what they wanted to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 has this to say: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Today’s introductory chapter of John reveals that John the Baptist, who eventually lost his head for exposing sin, had a far different approach than the prophets condemned in Lamentations. John the Baptist, was “a voice crying in the wilderness,” telling everyone to “Make straight the way for the Lord.” Recognizing that most would reject the Lord, he still cried out to his community in hopes that “all men might believe.” As 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love… always hopes.” John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance (Matt 3:11) – exposing sin, pointing to our need for a Savior, calling the sinner to seek God’s mercy and grace through the Messiah. Matthew 3:8-11 records that the first words of Jesus’ ministry were: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” and then “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Less and less are churches and individual Christians “expos[ing]… sin to ward off… captivity.” The word sin is hardly ever used anymore, much less repentance and surrender. Christians are often caught flat footed when you ask them, “From what have you been saved?” Answer: The wrath of God due to our sin.
17. Lamentations 2:18-22 — Intercessory prayer is part of God’s plan for His people when they endure judgment.
18. Lamentations 2:20 – “Should women eat the fruit of their womb, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?” How bad does it have to get before people lament and repent?
19. Lamentations 2:22 – “You summoned as if to a festival day my terrors on every side, and on the day of the anger of the Lord no one escaped or survived; those whom I held and raised my enemy destroyed.” God’s plan affects all people.
20. Proverbs 31:1-5 – Leaders are characterized as self-disciplined and self-controlled. They are not motivated by passions.
21. Proverbs 31:6-9 – Leaders are strong people who take care of weaker people.
22. Proverbs 31:31 – “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” Honor is something that is earned through honorable behavior.
Note: Here is a link to a short video overview of John chapters 1-12: https://youtu.be/G-2e9mMf7E8
23. John 1:1-5 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
– John begins his story of Jesus by telling you that He is the source of all wisdom and all life. Jesus said of Himself that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Everything that matters to you starts and ends with your relationship with Him.
– Jesus Christ is the center and source of everything, all wisdom, all creation, all peace, all love. If we are pointing to anything else or proclaiming anything else, we are antichrist. There is no hope in governments, people, or programs that don’t acknowledge that Christ is our only hope. The dark message from Satan that goes back to the beginning of His rebellion is that mankind can find salvation through someone or something else.
24. John 1:1, 14 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” How we view, approach, receive, and respond to God’s written word reveals our relationship with the Living Word, Jesus Christ.
25. John 1:7 – “He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.” John was the first Ambassador for Christ who modelled our life mission – bearing witness to Jesus that others might believe in Him, not in “goodness” or vague concepts of “god,” but Jesus Christ.
26. John 1:8 — “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” Your life mission is to bear witness to Jesus. Never point to yourself or to anything else. Always point to Jesus.
27. John 1:9-13 — “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
– What have we done with our right to become “children of God?”
– “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” The religious reject Jesus when they proclaim Him theoretically, but follow idols practically.
– You must be born of the Spirit through Jesus to be truly alive. Those without the Spirit are the real walking dead.
28. John 1:14 — “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When you read the Bible honestly, you cannot help but fellowship with the Living Word of Jesus. The Bible is the thoughts of the One you need to know. Read the Bible to draw closer to Jesus.
29. John 1:19-30 – To accomplish your life purpose and mission, you must know who you are and who Jesus is. Truly understanding this changes everything. Even most Christians don’t understand these basics.
30. John 1:29, 32, 33 – “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’” Your mission involves getting rid of sin and guilt and being Spirit-led.
31. John 1:38-44 – Your mission involves following Jesus and leading others to Him.
32. John 1:39, 46, 50 — “Come and you will see…. You will see greater things than these.” If you are truly willing to follow Jesus, He will show you things you could not possibly imagine.
33. John 1:41 – “He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ).” Mission begins with your own family.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 31 Nov 18: Follow Jesus today and see what happens. (John 1:39, 46, 50)