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Discuss the tough questions relating to the Christian Faith. Present the Scripture in an interdenominational fashion demonstrating those things we hold in common and provoking thought whenever possible. Hopefully you will find things here that will encourage you to study more deeply that all of Scripture will be at home in your heart.


Romans 3:5 - The Blame Game 101

Romans 3:5

"Rom 3:1-8 - The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation.  Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favors shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many.  But especially the Scriptures were committed to them.  Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people.  But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect.  He will fulfill his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers.  God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice.  The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin.  Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways.  The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just."  Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary

"But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)" (NASB)

"But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)" (KJV)

"'But,' some might say, 'our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn't it unfair, then, for Him to punish us?' (This is merely a human point of view.)" (NLT)

"But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is he? (I am speaking in human terms.)" (NET)

Paul anticipates the obvious arguments that will be brought by his fellows countrymen and then refutes them.  We see here our fallen propensities expressed!  Let's blame God for our sin!  After all He is using our current state to demonstrate His righteousness isn't He? (speaking with a mind corrupted the recompense of my evil deeds).  The ultimate truth is that all of my flesh is dead and there is no part of it that should be kept.  The Good News is not flip this house but rather new construction.  Why would I want to keep any part of my fallen estate?  Is there some special part of my reprobate mind I would want to bring into glory?  The truth be know then, the only place in my eternal soul that is not defiled is that some preserved by God Himself where my visage was not marred.  That place where His Spirit and mine dwell together (no small miracle here).  What joy there is in seeing the length to which the Savior went to secure my deliverance from death and destruction!  Who was my greatest enemy in the battle for my own soul?  Me!  Who continues to be my own worst enemy?  Me!  Who then remains the Lord of my salvation?  Jesus Christ! His Grace is sufficient for my every need! Where my sin abounds, His Grace super-abounds.

I did not know His love before,
The way I know it now.
I could not see my need for Him,
My pride would not allow.
I had it all, without a care,
The "Self-sufficient" lie.
My path was smooth, my sea was still,
Not a cloud was in my sky.

Wendy Greiner Lefko


Mentors and Mentees, New Testament Style!

I Goggled. ‘mentor and mentoree’ and it returned 44 million results! I also found out that a ‘mentoree’ is also known as a ‘mentee’. I didn’t conduct any analysis to determine which term is used the most. I might apply for a government grant to do a study.

We all probably know what a ‘mentors’ is and ‘mentees’ are; those who have been around awhile, know the business/game/process/subject matter, and are good at it, and the new guys on the block. The business world has caught on to the idea big time. Everybody has a Mentor Program these days, pairing up the old salts with the youngsters just coming up. I just makes good business sense.

It all might sound relatively new, but it’s not. There’s a beautiful picture of a ‘mentor program’ played out in the New Testament that begins in the Book of Acts and is seen in the text of some of the Epistles. The ‘mentor’ is the Apostle Paul, and the ‘mentee’ is Timothy. Here’s a summary of this NT ‘Mentor Program’:

“Apparently, Paul and Timothy met during Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 16:1), which began "some days" (Acts 15:36) after the council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1ff.). This council in Jerusalem probably took place around A.D. 49. So, Paul probably met Timothy in the very early 50's. I suppose it is possible that the two met earlier, such as on Paul's first missionary journey, but Scripture does not us this.

Their relationship seems to have lasted the rest of Paul's life, and to have grown quite close (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2). Timothy was one of Paul's regular companions (Acts 16:1; 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Rom. 16:21; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1,19; Phil. 1:1; 2:19; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 3:2,6; 2 Thess. 1:1; Philem. 1:1). Paul probably wrote his second canonical letter to Timothy shortly before his own death ca. A.D. 65 (A.D. 68 at the latest).”
[i]

I’ve heard it said several times through the years that as believers, we all need a ‘Paul’ and a ‘Timothy’; someone who is a ‘Mentor’ to us, and someone whom we are ‘mentoring’. What a concept! Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does, it’s pretty awesome in terms of spiritual growth, especially when you are the ‘Paul’ and your ‘Timothy’ is hungry for anything and everything he can learn about the Bible.

How do these ‘Paul’ and Timothy’ pairings come about? Sometimes they are arranged via discipleship programs, and sometimes God just sets them up. I attend a weekly lunchtime Bible study where I work, and after a study session one day, a relatively new believer just asked me if we could spend time together. We’ve been meeting once a week since, working through the CMF Discipleship Training Objectives (DTOs). This ‘Timothy’, whose real name is Isaac, is one awesome young Christian! He continuously challenges with really serious questions as he meticulously works through each lesson! As a result, we are both growing!

If you are reading this, I ask you, do you have a ‘Paul’ and/or a ‘Timothy’ walking with you along The Way? If you do, I rejoice with you, and if you don’t I pray with you, that they would both cross your path!


Romans 3:4 - God is true - Every man is a liar

Romans 3:4

"Rom 3:1-8 - The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation.  Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favors shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many.  But especially the Scriptures were committed to them.  Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people.  But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect.  He will fulfill his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers.  God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice.  The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin.  Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways.  The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just."  Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary

"May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, 'THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.'" (NASB)

"God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged." (KJV)

"Of course not!  Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.  As the Scriptures say about Him, 'You will be proved right in what you say, and You will win Your case in court.'" (NLT)

"Rom 3:4 Absolutely not!  Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written: 'so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged.'" (NET)

That Apostle is saying that if any doctrine that calls God a liar is false!  Our fallen state requires that we justify self at any cost.  Do we not judge others and then rationalize our motives to justify our actions?  We are false! The truth is not in us!  But the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is truth.  We can REST in His truth because of His Grace! What a wonderful place to be!

"God forbid, yea, let God be true, but every man a liar,.... Let no such thing ever enter into the minds of any, that the truth of God can be, or will be made of none effect by the want of faith in man; let it be always asserted and abode by; that God is true, faithful to his word, constant in his promises, and will always fulfill his purposes; though "every man is a liar", vain, fallacious, and inconstant: referring to Psalm 116:11;" Dr. John Gill

"Let God be true - Let God be esteemed true and faithful, whatever consequence may follow.  This was a first principle, and should be now, that God should be believed to be a God of truth, whatever consequence it might involve.  How happy would it be, if all people would regard this as a fixed principle, a matter not to be questioned in their hearts, or debated about, that God is true to his word!  How much doubt and anxiety would it save professing Christians; and how much error would it save among sinners!  Amidst all the agitations of the world, all conflicts, debates, and trials, it would be a fixed position where every man might find rest, and which would do more than all other things to allay the tempests and smooth the agitated waves of human life." Dr. Albert Barnes


The Three Most Important Rules for Interpreting the Bible

Wait for it . . . . . .  

Context! Context! Context!

That’s right. All three are one and the same! How does that work, you ask? Here it is, short and oh so sweet!

1. The context around the verse(s).

2. The context of the Chapter in which the verse(s) are found.

3. The context of the Book containing the Chapter.

EXAMPLE:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 Say what? We All know that’s God’s personal promise to each and every believer! Really? Let’s take a look.

 1. The context around the verse.

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (vv. 10-14)

It looks like God is speaking to somebody in Babylon, and after 70 years there, God will pay a visit and bring them back to wherever it is they left from to go to Babylon, because he has some pretty good plans for them.

2. The context of the Chapter in which the verse(s) are found.

Lets go to the beginning of Jeremiah, Chapter 29:

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”

Wow! Only one verse tells us the chapter contains a letter from the prophet Jeremiah to a group of people taken from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon by a fellow named Nebuchadnezzar!

3. The context of the Book (Jeremiah).

The book of Jeremiah is about the prophet Jeremiah. There are five major sections:

    I.      Call of the Prophet (ch. 1)

  II.      Warnings and Exhortations to Judah (chs. 2 - 35)

 III.      Sufferings and Persecutions of the Prophet (chs. 36-38)

 IV.      The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Aftermath (chs. 39-45)

  V.      Judgment against the Nations (chs. 46-51)

So how long did it take for me to put that little ‘context’ study together? About 15 minutes, sitting at a desk in front of my computer screen. For the answers for contexts 1 & 2, I just went to Biblegateway.com and plugged in ‘Jeremiah’ as the search parameter.

For the outline, I went Biblestudytools.com found a great outline. I only posted the major topics here. There’s a lot more to the outline that helps understand the whole story.

How many times have we watched a movie and only remember the scenes that jumped off the screen, when the story and plot were really important?  Reading the Bible is the same way. We lose what’s really important and remember the bits and pieces that most capture our attention.

How many verses do we know that get us excited or make us feel really great, but we know little or nothing about the ‘whole story’? Is it time to change that? Start with Context, Context, Context!

 


Romans 3:3 - God's Faithfulness Challenged?

Romans 3:3

"Rom 3:1-8 - The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation.  Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favors shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many.  But especially the Scriptures were committed to them.  Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people.  But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect.  He will fulfill his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers.  God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice.  The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin.  Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways.  The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just."  Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary

"What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?" (NASB)

"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (KJV)

"True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?" (NLT)

"What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God?" (NET)

Like Israel, does our wickedness nullify the promise of God made to Abraham?  This promise was and everlasting covenant that would bless all the generations to come! Perhaps said another way, will the decrees of Almighty God be thwarted by our conduct?  As we look back through this microsecond of history (compared to eternity) do we not see the blessing of God unfolding? As the science of our day peers though larger and more sophisticated telescopes searching for evidence of life on other worlds, what unfolds before them is an the seemingly endless universe created by an eternal God who is not bound by time and space.  The light from our sun takes about 8 minutes to reach earth traveling at around 186,000 miles per second.  Do you begin to see why James refers to our life as a morning fog? (James 4:14)  We are a mist, a vapor, a wisp of cloud that appears for a short time and then evaporates.  But the faithfulness of God endures forever.  Yet He is opposed to the proud (James 4:6).  That is why Paul here is anticipating all the arguments.  If anything the misconduct of Israel, and those of us who would later benefit from the promise, more fully demonstrates God's faithfulness! How wonderful that the Salvation of Christ is close at hand and that He is patient with us waiting for that day when we would believe.


“Walk Like an Egyptian”?

A recent morning’s OT reading for me was Exodus 9 & 10, which contains some of the plagues God brought upon the Egyptians, and how Pharaoh (The Egyptian in mind) told Moses he would let the people go when one of the plagues stopped but harden it again as soon as things were back to normal.

The song title “Walk Like an Egyptian” (an 80’s #1 hit), pinged in my brain. I was reminded of times that I have “walked like an Egyptian” (Pharoah, not the song). Maybe my case is a long way from the Pharaoh’s, but the principle is the same. Get in a tough spot and call out to God, read the Bible more, go to church/Bible study more, whatever. Get relief and slack off on the spiritual stuff.

Not exactly what the song was about, but it fits. There’s also a huge God lesson here. When plague of hail rained down on all of Egypt except where the Israelites lived, and Pharaoh asked Moses for relief (promising to let the people go…again), Moses said he would stop the hail and Pharaoh would know whose God was REALLY in charge!

Now I have another one of those profitable questions I should ask ‘the man in the mirror’ on occasion:

“Dude, have you been ‘walking like an Egyptian’ again? I might not phrase it quite like that, being 64 and all (Beatles anyone?) but it would do me well to just ask it.

BTW, you can find the song on YouTube. I checked. I didn’t even remember the lyrics when I was engaged in my morning reading.   The story of Moses, the plagues, and the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt can be found in the book of Exodus.  The first twelve chapters will take you to the point where Pharaoh finally ‘let the people go’


Romans 3:2 - The Whole Revelation of God

Romans 3:2

"Rom 3:1-8 - The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation.  Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favors shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many.  But especially the Scriptures were committed to them.  Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people.  But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect.  He will fulfill his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers.  God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice.  The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin.  Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways.  The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just."  Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary

"Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the G3051oracles of God." (NASB)

"Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the G3051oracles of God." (KJV)

"Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the G3051whole revelation of God." (NLT)

"Actually, there are many advantages. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the G3051oracles of God." (NET)

"Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God's people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai.  And there Moses received G3051life-giving words to pass on to us." (Acts 7:38 NLT)

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about G3051God's word.  You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food." (Hebrews 5:12 NLT)

"Do you have the gift of speaking?  Then speak as though G3051God Himself were speaking through you.  Do you have the gift of helping others?   Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.  Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.  All glory and power to Him forever and ever! Amen." (1 Peter 4:11 NLT)

G3051
λόγιον
logion
Thayer Definition:
1) a brief utterance, a divine oracle (doubtless because oracles were generally brief)
1a) in the NT, the words or utterances of God
1b) of the contents of the Mosaic law

A blessing and a curse! Not unlike a verse from a country song, "standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst." Is not that the way we deceive ourselves? The heavens display the glory of God but we are the descendents of the primordial soup! The rebellion of the diametrically opposed (Father God — Mother Nature). The Bible remains the best seller and least read! Blessed insurance, State Farm is mine, oh what a joy from actuarial divine. Heir of deductible, all is at rest, I keep my adjuster's name in my vest.

"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. " (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

The benefit of the Word of God is that it exposes us for who we really are! When we have seen ourselves in the "light of His Glory" we begin to understand our own depravity. From this humbled state we begin to see the length and breadth and depth of His magnificent Grace. We experience His resurrection power to overcome the sin that so entangles us.

OR

We become arrogant fools deceived by our own sin and live a form of godliness and deny the power thereof.

We are without excuse for we have the "whole revelation of God."


The Sword of The Spirit–A Perspective from Spurgeon
The Sword of The Spirit–A Perspective from Spurgeon

“We have a more sure word of testimony, a rock of truth upon which we rest, for our infallible standard lies in, “It is written. . .” The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but  the Bible is our religion. . . .It is said that it is hard to understand, but it is not so to those who seek the guidance of the Spirit of God. . . . .A babe in grace taught by the Spirit of God may know the mind of the Lord concerning salvation, and find its way to heaven by the guidance of the Word alone. But be it profound or simple; that is not the question; it is the Word of Gods, and is pure, unerring truth. Here is infallibility, and nowhere else. . . .This grand, infallible book. . .is our sole court of appeal. . . .[It is] the sword of the Spirit in the spiritual conflicts which await. . . .The Holy Spirit is the Word, and it is, therefore, living truth. O Christians, be ye sure of this, and because of it make you the Word your chosen weapon of war.”

___________________

Sermon Source: “Infallibility – Where to Find it and How to Use It” , Charles Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol 20 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1874, 698-99, 702.


Romans 3:1 - Home Court Advantage

Romans 3:1

"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?" (NASB)

"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?" (KJV)

"Then what's the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision?" (NLT)

"Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision?" (NET)

 

"Rom 3:1-8 - The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation.  Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favors shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many.  But especially the Scriptures were committed to them.  Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people.  But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect.  He will fulfill his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers.  God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice.  The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin.  Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways.  The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just."  Mathew Henry's Concise Commentary

"Here the apostle answers several objections, which might be made, to clear his way.  No truth so plain and evident but wicked wits and corrupt carnal hearts will have something to say against it; but divine truths must be cleared from cavil."  Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Cavil
CAVIL, v.i.

1. To raise captious and frivolous objections; to find fault without good reason; followed by at.

It is better to reason than to cavil.

2. To advance futile objections, or to frame sophisms, for the sake of victory in an argument.

What value is there in the Excellency of the Christian faith?  There must be value since Noah Webster wrote a book entitled, "Value of the Bible and Excellence of the Christian Religion."  It is the same advantage that is given to the Jew!  The faithfulness of God! So what if everyone of us is unfaithful?  Does that limit the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ?  NO!  Even if we are violators of the covenant, does that make His promises null?  NO!

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?  Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.")  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD's anger.  He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light.  He has turned His hand against me again and again, all day long.  He has made my skin and flesh grow old.  He has broken my bones.  He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress.  He has buried me in a dark place, like those long dead.  He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains.  And though I cry and shout, He has shut out my prayers.  He has blocked my way with a high stone wall; He has made my road crooked.  He has hidden like a bear or a lion, waiting to attack me.  He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated.  He has drawn His bow and made me the target for His arrows.  He shot His arrows deep into my heart.  My own people laugh at me.  All day long they sing their mocking songs.  He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.  He has made me chew on gravel.  He has rolled me in the dust.  Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.  I cry out, "My splendor is gone!  Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!"  The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!"  The LORD is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.  So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.  And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of His discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the LORD's demands.  Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last.  Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.  For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He also shows compassion because of the greatness of His unfailing love.  For He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.  If people crush underfoot all the prisoners of the land, if they deprive others of their rights in defiance of the Most High, if they twist justice in the courts—doesn't the Lord see all these things?  Who can command things to happen without the Lord's permission?  Does not the Most High send both calamity and good?  Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?  Instead, let us test and examine our ways.  Let us turn back to the LORD.  Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, "We have sinned and rebelled, and You have not forgiven us.  "You have engulfed us with Your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy.  You have hidden Yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach You.  You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations.  "All our enemies have spoken out against us.  We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined."  Tears stream from my eyes because of the destruction of my people! My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.  My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.  My enemies, whom I have never harmed, hunted me down like a bird.  They threw me into a pit and dropped stones on me.  The water rose over my head, and I cried out, "This is the end!"  But I called on Your name, LORD, from deep within the pit.  You heard me when I cried, "Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!"  Yes, You came when I called; You told me, "Do not fear."  Lord, You are my lawyer!  Plead my case!  For You have redeemed my life.  You have seen the wrong they have done to me, LORD.  Be my judge, and prove me right.  You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.  LORD, You have heard the vile names they call me.  You know all about the plans they have made.  My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long.  Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.  Pay them back, LORD, for all the evil they have done.  Give them hard and stubborn hearts, and then let Your curse fall on them! Chase them down in Your anger, destroying them beneath the LORD's heavens.  (Lamentations 3:1-66 NLT)


Jesus’ Divine Mission

Since we are entering the Christmas season, it seems appropriate to provide a reminder of Jesus’ Divine calling and mission. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, we tend to think of all sorts of things and neglect the fact that God sent His Son to us for a very specific reason that was revealed to Joseph:

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." – Matthew 1:19-20

John Gill expressed it well:

He shall save – This expresses the same as the name, and on this account the name was given to him. He saves people by dying to redeem them; by giving the Holy Spirit to renew them Joh_16:7-8; by His power in enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, in defending them from danger, in guiding them in the path of duty, in sustaining them in trials and in death; and He will raise them up at the last day, and exalt them to a world of purity and love.

His people – Those whom the Father has given to him. The Jews were called the people of God because he had chosen them to himself, and regarded them as His special and beloved people, separate from all the nations of the earth. Christians are called the people of Christ because it was the purpose of the Father to give them to him Isa_53:11; Joh_6:37; and because in due time he came to redeem them to himself, Tit_2:14; 1Pe_1:2.

From their sins – This was the great business of Jesus in coming and dying. It was not to save people in their sins, but from their sins. Sinners could not be happy in heaven. It would be a place of wretchedness to the guilty. The design of Jesus was, therefore, to save them from sin; and from this we may learn:

1. That Jesus had a design in coming into the world. He came to save his people; and that design will surely be accomplished. It is impossible that in any part of it he should fail.

2. We have no evidence that we are his people unless we are saved from the power and dominion of sin. A mere profession of being His people will not answer. Unless we give up our sins; unless we renounce the pride, pomp, and pleasure of the world, we have no evidence that we are the children of God. It is impossible that we should be Christians if we indulge in sin and live in the practice of any known iniquity. See 1Jo_3:7-8.

3. That all professing Christians should feel that there is no salvation unless it is from sin, and that they can never be admitted to a holy heaven hereafter unless they are made pure, by the blood of Jesus, here.

This year, as we buy gifts, decorate trees, sing carols, and gather with our families, let us not forget the reason for the season.


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