November 17, 2016

Lamentations 3-5 - 
I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger...

Everyone took me for a joke, made me the butt of their mocking ballads...I gave up on life altogether.  I’ve forgotten what the good life is like.  I said to myself, “This is it.  I’m finished.  God is a lost cause.”  I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness...the feeling of hitting bottom.

But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope.  God’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. 

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  It’s a good thing to quietly hope...It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.  

When 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.  Why!  Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.  If he works severely, he also works tenderly.  His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.  He takes no pleasure in making life hard; in throwing roadblocks in the way....

I called out your name, O God, called from the bottom of the pit.  You listened when I called out, “Don’t shut your ears!  Get me out of here!  Save me!”  You came close when I called out.  You said, “It’s going to be all right.”  ....  

Oh, oh, oh....How gold is treated like dirt, the finest gold thrown out with the garbage.  Priceless jewels scattered all over, jewels loose in the gutters.  And the people of Zion, once prized for surpassing their weight in gold, are now treated like cheap pottery, the everyday pots and bowls mass-produced by a potter....

Our parents sinned and are no more, and now we’re paying for the wrong they did....The city gate is empty of wise elders.  Music from the young is heard no more.  All the joy is gone from our hearts...Woe! Woe!  Would that we’d never sinned!.... Bring us back to you, God---we’re ready to come back.  Give us a fresh start.

I Peter 3 -
What matters is not your outer appearance but your inner disposition.  Cultivate inner beauty the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in....i.e. Sarah....Be good husbands to your wives.  Honor them, delight in them...in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals.  Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.

Summing up:  Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.  That goes for all of you, no exceptions.  No retaliation.  No sharp-tongued sarcasm.  Instead, bless--- THAT’S YOUR JOB, TO BLESS.  You will be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do:  Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth...

If with heart & soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped?...Be ready to speak up and tell everyone who asks why you’re living the way you are , and always with the utmost courtesy....

It is better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively; suffered because of others’ sins....