Tag: hope in God

Religious divisions!

Scripture reading for February 23rd: Acts 23, Psalm 39, Proverbs 8

Acts 23:6-10 “”Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force to the barracks.”

As Paul was brought before the religious Jews who were seeking to kill him, God gave him insight into the division of these leaders. They were divided into sects, Sadducees and Pharisees, according to what they believed about the supernatural world. One group, the Sadducees, were anti-supernatural, doubting in what was not visible. The Pharisees, of which Paul was a part, believed in the resurrection of he dead and angels and spirits. Paul wisely chose to identify with those believing the supernatural. God’s message of grace and mercy towards sinners involved resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Sharp and violent disagreement took place around these issues. This also happens today when the Gospel is preached.

Psalm 39:7-8 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!”

Prayer: Father God, deliver me from religious divisions around traditions of men. Help me to discern, like Paul, how to answer and to rightly and kindly confront those in error. You have promised us Your wisdom and deliverance by faith and trusting in You to help us. Thank You for always being true to Your Word! Help me to wait on You for direction in each circumstance of persecution or misunderstanding.

Proverbs 8:8-9 “All the Words of My mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.”

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New mercies each morning!

Scripture reading for August 18th: Lamentations 1-5

Do you enjoy funerals?  How about mourning and wailing over the dead?   Well, this next short book of Jeremiah is a series of five funeral songs about the death of Jerusalem and the captivity of God’s people.  As a pastor, this book is helpful to gain insight into the process of grief and helping families and individuals deal with death and loss.  Grief takes time and energy to process.  Mourning people go through stages ranging from disbelief and shock, to mourning and wailing,  blaming others or God,  to quiet acceptance and finally readiness to move on.  These stages may take various amounts of time to process and work through.  God understands our grief and sorrows for Jesus was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.  (Isaiah 53:3)

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he had a tender heart of compassion for God’s people. (Lamentations 1:16)   He had warned them faithfully of the coming judgment and destruction of Jerusalem.  He had witnessed this destruction and now was writing to chronicle the grief process going on in his heart.  Jeremiah was a lot like Jesus Christ, who also wept over the city of Jerusalem as He saw prophetically the destruction that was to come upon it for their rejection of Him as their Messiah.  (Matthew 23:37-39)  God values tears so much that the Psalmist said He gathers them up in a bottle and records them on a scroll.  (Psalm 56:8)  Tears are a sign of caring and compassion and they were modeled by Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb and again over Jerusalem.

In Lamentations 3, the prophet is recounting his misery and pain and describes it with images that bring Isaiah 53 and the crucifixion to mind.  In the middle of his rant, he turns his thoughts to hope!  (Lamentation 3:20-21)  The cause of this hope is the thought of God’s steadfast love and great compassion and mercy.  Jeremiah states that this mercy is “new every morning” and that “great is God’s faithfulness”.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)  Because God is Jeremiah’s portion, he will wait for the Lord.  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him and put their hope in Him!  It is truly God’s mercy that gives us hope and leads us to repentance!  (Romans 2:4)    His unfailing love and compassion will come through for those in deep grief!

This funeral lament ends with words of faith and hope and a prayer. God is sovereign and reigns forever.  He will  have compassion and restore them as they pray. Take a moment and offer a prayer of thanksgiving and trust in the Lord and His compassion for you today.  His Son Jesus Christ wept over us and bore our sorrows and tears that we might live in the joy of His love and receive new mercies every morning!

“You, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.  Why do you always forget us?  Why do you forsake us so long?  Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” Lamentations 5:19-22

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