Posts Tagged ‘Lamentations’

Bad Things Happen

May 15, 2014

Bad things happen, even to good Christian people.  How should we respond?

I.  When Bad Things Happen:  Lamentations 3:37-41

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

We need to recognize that everything that happens has been at least allowed to happen by God.  The devil may attack us, but not without God’s permission.  So should we blame God?  I would suggest that we examine our ways.

    A.  One explanation is that we have sinned and God is allowing us to experience difficulty so that we would recognize and repent of our sin.  The Old Testament gives us example after example of people being punished for their sin by God, even as they were being called to repentance.  The first thing that I would encourage people to do is to examine their lives.  If they are living in unrepentant sin, or if they are resisting the direction of God for their lives, then the answer is simple… repent and do what God is calling you to do.

    B.  Sometimes the bad things that happen in our life are the result of our own wrong choices.  If you feel awful all morning at work and things are going badly for you because you can’t seem to focus, it might be because you stayed up until 3am watching something on Netflix.  Go to bed at a decent hour and you will have a better morning.  Now, not everything is quite so simple, but God will give us wisdom if we ask.  We should ask God why something is happening and if there is something we should do differently.

    C.  This is only a test.  Sometimes bad things happen because God is allowing our faith to be stretched and tested.  Satan hopes that these tests will destroy our faith, God is expecting them to strengthen us as we turn to Him for help.

When bad things happen, we should ask God why they happened and what we should do.  If we have sinned, we should repent.  If we have made a mistake, we should learn from our mistake.  If we are being tested, we should remain firm in our faith.

II.  Call Upon the Lord:  Lamentations 3: 55-57

I called on Your name, O Lord,
From the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice:
“Do not hide Your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help.”
57 You drew near on the day I called on You,
And said, “Do not fear!”

When bad things happen we should call upon the Lord.  If we have sinned, we will be forgiven.  If we have made a mistake, God will give us wisdom and strength to do the right thing in the future.  If we are being tested, God will see us through to the end.

III.  God Will Draw Near

We are not alone in this life.  When we call upon the Lord, He hears us.  He will draw near to us.  We can be aware of His presence in our lives.  His presence gives us strength, hope, peace, and even joy in the midst of the troubles of this life.

We do not need to be afraid.  Ever.  God is with us and “greater is He that is in us, than he who is in the world.”

Bad things happen, but we do not need to be afraid. “Mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  God will see us through the times of darkness and a new day is dawning.

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New Every Morning

January 2, 2014

I.)  The Birth of Christ

I never have to wonder what scripture I will start with on Christmas day.  It is always Luke 2:1-20.

 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Most of us have either read, or heard, this passage of scripture many times.  I am reminded about something that I have read about Indian epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge).  They make a distinction between something that is remembered, and something that is happening in that moment.  In this way, hearing it in the moment, it is new, not something remembered.

II.  New Every Morning:  Lamentations 3:22-25

I’m guessing that not many of you have heard a Christmas message with scriptures from Lamentations.  Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah after Jerusalem had been conquered by the Babylonians.  However, I believe these verses will work today.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

The fact that Christ came to earth to be born in Bethlehem is proof of God’s love for us.  “The Lord is my portion” is a wonderful expression of what God should be to us.  We should not find our fulfillment in the things of this world, but in God.  To truly celebrate Christmas, we must celebrate Christ.  To truly celebrate Christ, Christ must be present in our lives.  For Christ to be present in our lives, we must believe in the Christ who came to earth for us.

III.  Peace, Goodwill Towards Men

The peace and goodwill that has been extended to humanity is not meant to be just once in a lifetime, not just once a year.  It is meant to be for every day.

Our relationship with God can be more than a memory of what God did once upon a time.  It can be new every morning.  The Lord is good to those who seek Him.  Seek Him every day.

These are the notes from the message preached 12/25/13.  You are welcome to ask questions or make comments.

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The Lord is Our Portion

February 14, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 2/3/13.

I.  God Protects His People:  Ezekiel 9:1-7

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.  And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

Do not be deceived, God is willing to carry out judgement upon the wicked.  Some emphasize the love of God to the point that people may think that God would never pass judgement with severe penalties.  That would be wrong.

Even in the midst of judgement against evil, God is able to look out for His people.   He does not forget us.

II.  Even in Judgement, God is Faithful: Lamentations 3

A.   Affliction vv1-3:

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.

Jeremiah was a faithful servant of God, yet he was caught up in the judgement that fell on Jerusalem.  He was mistreated by the people to whom he proclaimed the word of the Lord.  He experienced much hardship.

B.  More Hardship vv16-18

He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And covered me with ashes.
17 You have moved my soul far from peace;
I have forgotten prosperity.
18 And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”

Jeremiah experienced great misery.  He did not blame the devil, or people for his suffering,  he rightly recognized that God had allowed those things to happen to him.

C  Hope vv19-21

Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

Even in the midst of his suffering he has hope.  Hope is something that is precious, and God offers to us all a hope that goes beyond our circumstances.

D.  God is Faithful vv22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

God is faithful.  His mercy is new every morning.  God is good to His people.  Most importantly “the Lord is my portion”.  We have the ability to be in a relationship with God.  Our fellowship with Him is not destroyed by difficult circumstances.  God is with us always.  If we were more aware of His presence, the afflictions of this life would be much easier to bear.

III.  There is a Reason  Lamentations 3:37-38

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?

Nothing can affect us without God’s permission.  God is in control even though people are able to exercise their own wills, God is watching over everything and can intervene at any time.  God has a reason for allowing what He allows, He is not being mean, nor arbitrary, nor ineffective.  We just do not have the capacity to understand.  Remember Job “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

God is our portion.  In Him, we are content.  No matter what may happen, we may be secure in Him