You Heard & Came Near

Lamentations 2:7-5:22

“I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; You heard my plea, ‘Do not close Your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on You; You said, ‘Do not fear!”” Lamentations 3:55-57

We just celebrated Christmas with the kind of gift giving where a return gift is generally expected. And more often than not, if the return gift isn’t equal or greater than the gift given, feelings tend to get hurt. As humans we attach the givers value of our worth to the price they paid for the gift. It’s not right, but we do it none-the-less. Well let’s take Jesus for a moment then. Christmas is supposed to be all about Him right? At Christmas we focus on the fact that He came and is called “Immanuel” which means, “God with us”. The price that He paid to be “with us” is greater than we could EVER imagine. We aren’t even capable of coming up with the things in heaven that He gave up to come be with us here on earth. But I do know one of the things He gave up, His innocence.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because He is perfect, in every way possible. He knew NO sin, He had none whatsoever. And yet He took our sins, all of them, upon Himself. At the moment we believed in the name of Jesus for our salvation we were covered with our own sins, past, present and future sins, each one appearing as a little garage sale sticker all over our bodies. And in that very same moment of confession, of our belief in Jesus as our Savior, He came and removed each and every one of those stickers and placed them on Himself saying, “This is mine”. The spotless Lamb suddenly covered in our spots leaving us spotless.

The gift He gives is one of taking. Jesus gives the gift of removing our blemishes, the ones we can see and the ones we can’t. And the thing is, He took them from us before we ever committed a single one. Jesus doesn’t forgive us at the time we ask! He forgave us on that cross 2,000 years ago! The moment we ask for His forgiveness is the moment we receive His gift of forgiveness.

I challenge you today; how much of God’s forgiveness are you willing to receive; just enough for today, or ALL OF IT? Jesus paid for this gift with His LIFE so it’s pretty obvious that you mean more to Him than you could ever imagine. His death made you spotless, a new creation worthy to enter into the throne room and sit on the lap of God Almighty and call Him “Daddy”. And all you have to do is tell Him that you accept His gift of eternal Love. And then continue receiving it day after day after day after day after day after……

Psalm 27:1 (HCSB) “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom should I be afraid?”

Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB) “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:13 (HCSB) “For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.”

Isaiah 50:10 (HCSB) “Who among you fears the LORD, listening to the voice of His Servant? Who among you walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of Yahweh; let him lean on his God.”

Categories: 365 Life, Choose: Fear or Faith, Jesus Loves YOU, Lamentations, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

That’s What We Call “Faith”

2 Kings 25:1-30 & Lamentations 1:1-26

“How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” Lamentations 1:1

The party is over, the candles have been blown out, the cake has been eaten, the presents all unwrapped and we’re left with nothing but the mess and a sugar high.

I find it no small coincidence that God has things so perfectly planned out for us that the day after the biggest Christian holiday of the year we start reading Lamentations.

The purpose of Lamentations is to produce in the reader a hope that God’s faithfulness toward them would surpass their own towards Him. And that’s what I would like to investigate more closely today; that idea of hoping in an unseen God for seen results. That’s what we call “faith”.

According to Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Did you catch that? The things that we can see today weren’t made with things that can be seen. The entire universe was created by an unseen God who creates seen things, for our pleasure. (Psalm 115:16) Now if that doesn’t create some hope for the hopeless today, I’m not so sure what will.

We all have something out there that we’re hoping for, something that seems far off, and yet is needed in the here and now. But in what are we placing our hope? In that seen thing, or our unseen God? Although He is unseen by our human eyes, He is more real and more permanent than anything that we can see before us today. He is the life-giver. He is the One who holds our hope in Hs palm. He protects it and guards it and cherishes it, because He knows how precious hope can be.

A single shred of hope can get you through some of the darkest moments of life. Just one single drop of hope can lift your spirits enough to help you through the fires of life. My friend, “the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11) I want you to take a long hard look at that verse. While it doesn’t specify who it is that the LORD loves steadfastly, that is the part that is the most important of all. When you are in a hopeless situation filled with Fear and Doubt, is it more important for you to remember that God is love, or that God loves YOU?

Romans 5:5-8 tells us that “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love FOR [YOU] in that while [you] were still [a] sinner, Christ died for [YOU].”

While still a sinner, Jesus died for YOU. You don’t have to be sinless in order for Jesus to forgive you. And if you think about it, what would the point be then if you were! Often times Satan tries to get us to think that we have to be perfect in order for God to accept us. If that were the truth we’d NEVER make it in! But praise be to God, that a lie straight from the father of lies. The TRUTH is that the LORD is our salvation. Jesus is the price of admission for the poor in spirit. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and EVERYONE can have 24/7 access to the Father through Him! No matter how sinful they are. Now isn’t THAT some good news of great joy that brings hope to the hopeless and faith to the faithless?

What it all boils down to is “Faith, Hope and Love – the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Hope doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:5), a mustard seed of faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20), and yet Love is greater than both of these. How? Because God is Love (1 John 4:8). Love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Love conquers all! Love gives justification as a gift, freely given to those who are completely incapable of repaying or returning that gift to its giver.

Psalm 34:4 HCSB) “I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 112:7-8 “He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD. His heart is assured; he will not fear. In the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”

John 12:15 (HCSB) Fear no more, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming.”

Proverbs 1:33 (HCSB) But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from the fear of danger.”

Categories: 2 Kings, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Lamentations | Leave a comment

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