The Personal Praise of God’s People (Lamentations, Part 3)

Can you remember a time that you thought was the darkest hour of your life?

Perhaps you had just made a colossal business blunder that had cost you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

Maybe you had just received news that your spouse or child was hopelessly ill.

Or, you might have come home and found your wife or husband had left you for another “lover.”

Maybe you failed a course that you desperately wanted and needed to pass.

It might have been the news that a loved one or dear friend had committed suicide.

Most of us can remember an hour in our lives that seemed all darkness and no light—a time when our heart was broken, our spirit crushed, and our desire to live exhausted. As a pastor, I have suffered a few such times, and I have sat in silence beside scores of men and women whose hearts, figuratively speaking, have been twisted and torn from their breasts. In those times, we can understand something of what Job meant when he said “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)

Though most of us have suffered some great personal losses, probably none of us has suffered in a greater way than did the prophet Jeremiah. He suffered not only as a person but as a prophet.

In his third elegy, Lamentations chapter 3, the shades of the soul of this man of God are pulled up so that we can have an internal view of what he, and others like him, endured when God brought judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. Note here his affliction (3:1-20); his affirmation (3:21-42); his anguish (3:43-54); and, finally, his answer (3:55-66):

(1) The prophet’s Affliction: He suffered physically, relating that his flesh and skin had been made old and his bones had been broken. The trauma had caused him to age prematurely. He had suffered physical abuse at the hands of the enemy.
He suffered emotionally. His innermost being was shot through with pain; it was as though someone loosed the knot that held everything together. Everything fell apart.
He suffered socially. He was mocked, rejected, disbelieved, and “in derision daily.”
He suffered financially. It had been so long since he had enjoyed pleasant days and times, he had forgotten the feeling. (3:17) He suffered mentally. Verses 1-20 of Lamentations 3 are the “grievous soul-suffering of the godly in their cheerless and hopeless misery.”

(2) The prophet’s Affirmation: Jeremiah affirmed God’s mercies, His faithfulness, and His salvation, expressing against the black backdrop of the book to this point that “the Lord is good to them that wait for Him.” (3:25) He affirmed God’s compassion, concluding that God never punishes His own without purpose; that sin brings judgment, and that affliction should cause us to search our hearts, with honest confession being the result.

(3) The prophet’s Anguish: God numbers our hairs, will He not also number our tears? “Little furnaces are for little faith. The greatest compliment God can pay you is to heat the furnace to the utmost.” (Unknown). “He knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

(4) The prophet’s Answer: (a) God heard Jeremiah’s prayer; (b) reassured the prophet of His presence; (c) gave Jeremiah assurance of his salvation; and (d) gave the prophet assurance that He would right the wrong.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee—I only design,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”
(How Firm a Foundation—Rippon’s Selection of Hymns)

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2,3)

Making a Difference

I will call her Amelia though that is not her real name. She was invited to our church in Indianapolis by a friend at her public high school when she was a sophomore. Her life had been rugged, to put it mildly, reared in a “hard” religion household and a life where genuine affection was absent.

That’s when a teenager in our church youth-group invited her to visit our church. She had no time for any kind of church, thinking “religion” was all a sham. But evidently her heart had been prepared by the Holy Spirit, and she accepted the invitation to attend, as a “skeptic.” The mother of the teen who invited Amelia to church was more than happy to provide transportation, as neither her son nor his school friend had a license to drive.

Amelia came, and came back, and could not resist the impact of a church where people took what seemed to be a genuine interest in her as a person. In a matter of a few weeks, the power of the gospel did its wonderful work, and she trusted Christ as her Savior. The change was immediate, visible, and undeniable. She had been inwardly and outwardly converted, and it was evident. She had an appetite for God’s Word, for His Church, and a desire to know more of Christ. She was soon baptized and is now a faithful, committed member of a local, New Testament assembly of believers.

In a recent service at church honoring graduates, Amelia gave her testimony about God’s saving grace. She related her experience last summer at the Wilds Christian camp and the exceptional time she had with hundreds of other Christian teens. She said she plans to attend Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis this fall, remaining close to God and to His Church.

The big-hearted evangelist D.L. Moody pictured a scene on a mountain slope when the risen Lord Jesus commissioned His first disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Moody pictures Peter’s wide-eyed wonder as he asks Jesus if they must go to those who drove the nails through His hands. Again, Peter asks if they must go to the man that drove the spear into the Master’s side, and Jesus says, “Yes, tell him there’s a nearer way to My heart than that.” And those early disciples entered into the compassion of their Savior as His Holy Spirit came upon them and broke down all their little human boundary-walls. (Copied)

Amelia’s transformed life—from despair to desire to grow in grace—left some of us listening again to those words of Jude: “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” (Jude 22) We were all thankful that a Christian teen saw another teen that many might have dismissed as hopeless because of those boundary walls, and invited her to attend a church service. An invitation that changed a young girl’s destiny. All because a teen believer had compassion, making a difference in another teen’s life. To God be the glory.

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.” (Matt.14:14)

Congratulations, Graduates!

New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, addressing graduates, once said, “Your future’s bright, even though the future is not what it used to be.”

The poet Martha Snell Nicholson wrote of the future:

“I stood with God on the edge of the world, and my hand was in His hand. I looked down the road of the past as it stretched away in the dim distance, til it was shrouded in the mists of time. And I knew it had no beginning, and a little chill wind of fear blew about my head. God asked, ‘are you afraid?’ And I said, ‘Yes because I cannot understand how there can be no beginning.’

“So God said, ‘Let us turn and face the other way.’ And I looked into glory, and my heart rejoiced with joy unspeakable. And then my mind went ahead a billion, billion years, and I knew there would be no end, and again that little chill wind of fear began to blow.

“And God asked me again, ‘Are you afraid?’ And I answered, ‘A little, because I cannot understand how there can be no end.’

“So God asked me tenderly, ‘Are you afraid now, today, with your hand in Mine?’

“And I looked up at Him and smiled and replied, ‘O my Father, No!’

“And God said, ‘Every day in eternity will be today.’”

Which begs the question, graduate: Is your hand in His? It’s really the only way to face today,  tomorrow, or the future.  Salvation now, in time, is the only sure way to look at the future or eternity. And, salvation is by grace through faith. I hope and pray that you have the assurance that only being saved by His grace can give you. 

Here’s how it happens: “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12) Do you believe? Have you received?  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Believe. Receive.

I would like to share with you some salient advice that I penned for a graduating class a few years ago. Longing for your personal success in whatever you put your hands and heart to, from this day forward, I know that each of these axioms will stand you in good stead. You will need an understanding heart

  • To discern God’s will for your life (vocation, location, education)
  • To avoid the snare of Satan
  • To live peaceably with all men
  • To find the LIFE’S PARTNER God wants you to have
  • To know how God would use you to edify the Body of Christ
  • To know how to possess your vessel in sanctification
  • To protect yourself from the philosophies and vain deceit of the traditions of this world
  • To learn how to master, under God, your spirit
  • To cultivate a proper appreciation for God’s Word, and to make it a life’s companion
  • To be a godly person
  • To be a good parent
  • To be a faithful friend
  • To honor God’s Church by serving Him faithfully in the local church
  • To know how to counsel well your friends who will seek your advice
  • To know how to balance the spiritual, material and social demands of life
  • To know how to handle bitter disappointment and stinging personal defeat
  • To cultivate a wholesome outlook on death
  • To learn how to be a citizen of heaven and at the same time a subject of Caesar
  • To learn how not to take yourself too seriously
  • To learn how to make a living—while at the same time, a life

And, ABOVE ALL, make a point to remember what the wisest of all mortals said in his conclusion to his search for the purpose and meaning of life:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl.12:13)

The Despair of a Disciplined Nation

Chapter 2 of the book of Lamentations might well be titled, “The Purposeful Punishment of God’s People.” It begins with the same word as chapter 1, “How!” It is a word of utter amazement, the only word the prophet could think of as he surveyed the devastation that God had brought upon His people, His beloved nation, Judah.

The Bible says in Hebrews 10:31 that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: He is a holy God—an all-knowing, an omni-present, loving God—who invests far too much in His own than to let them self-destruct without purposefully meting out discipline designed to correct their waywardness and restore them to a privileged place of unparalleled blessings.

Sin, unchecked and unconfessed, finally found Judah out. After years of sending messengers and prophets to warn the nation, pleading with her to repent, returning to Him, the longsuffering God at last brought the hammer down, severely judging the nation.  Chapter 2 describes that judgment in stark detail:

(1) A description of the punishment as told by an eye-witness, Jeremiah:

  • The Lord hath covered, v.1
  • The Lord hath cast down, v. 1
  • The Lord hath remembered not, v. 1
  • The Lord swallowed, v. 2
  • The Lord hath not pitied, v. 2
  • The Lord hath brought them down in wrath, v. 2
  • The Lord hath brought them down to the ground, v. 2
  • The Lord hath polluted the kingdom, v. 2
  • The Lord hath cut off, v. 3
  • The Lord hath drawn back, v. 3
  • The Lord hath burned, v. 3
  • The Lord hath bent His bow, v. 4
  • The Lord has stood…as an adversary, v. 4
  • The Lord slew all that were pleasant, v. 4
  • The Lord hath poured out His fury like fire, v. 4
  • The Lord was an enemy, v. 5
  • The Lord hath swallowed up Israel, v. 5
  • The Lord hath swallowed up all her palaces, v. 5
  • The Lord hath destroyed His strong hold, v. 5
  • The Lord hath increased mourning and lamentation, v. 5
  • The Lord hath taken away His tabernacle, v. 6
  • The Lord hath destroyed the places of His assembly, v. 6
  • The Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, v. 6
  • The Lord hath despised the King and Priest, v. 6
  • The Lord hath cast off His altar, v. 7
  • The Lord hath abhorred His sanctuary, v. 7
  • The Lord hath given up into the hand of her enemy the walls of her palaces, v. 7
  • The Lord hath purposed to destroy the walls of the daughters of Zion, v. 8
  • The Lord hath stretched out a line, v. 8
  • The Lord hath not withdrawn His hand from destroying, v. 8
  • The Lord hath made the rampart and wall to lament, v. 8
  • The Lord hath destroyed and broken her bars, v. 9
  • The Lord hath allowed her kings and princes to be scattered among Gentiles, v. 9
  • The Law is no more, v. 9
  • The prophets find no vision from the Lord, v. 9
  • The elders sit upon the ground and keep silent, v. 10
  • The virgins hang down their heads to the ground, v. 10

To refresh one’s memory as to the roots of such severity of judgment, 2 Kings records the words of the Lord: “Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.” (2 Kings 21:15) Heading this list of sins would be, of course, idolatry.

(2) The despair of the divinely disciplined people of God is recorded in Jeremiah 2:11-17. He conveys that the children were hungry, literally starving to death, begging their mothers for food, dying in the streets. He then cites the foolish prophets who were still prophesying lies, giving out false visions and denying that the sword and famine were coming. Jeremiah cried out, “My heart within me is broken because of the prophets.” (Jer. 23:9)

There was despair also because of the fallen city (Lam. 2:15), and because of the jubilant enemies who were taking credit for what God had done and who were rejoicing at what had happened to God’s people. (Lam. 2:16).  Times could not have been bleaker in Jerusalem.

(3) The last section records the utter depth of the lament. It reads like the prophet, the people and God all chiming in with observations. It is a compassionate cry with tears running down like a river, day and night; a pouring out of their hearts like water. (Lam. 2:18) It is also a continual cry, wherein “day and night” they were to “give thyself no rest,” crying out in the night in the beginning of the watches. (Lam.2:19) Finally, it is am. 2:20a)

With pictures of women eating the fruit of their wombs to keep from starving, and both young and old lying on the ground and in the streets waiting for death, the readers and the hearers of Jeremiah’s lament cannot escape the awful reality of sin’s dreadful consequences.

Sin pawns itself off as a lover but proves in the end to be a loser; it presents itself as pretty but one will discover it to be putrefying; it will make one to believe it is beautiful, but it is beastly; its siren sounds allure, but its sudden clutches asphyxiate. It is a master deceiver. Its first triumph was in the Garden on an untested couple who believed its sugar-coated lies; its last triumph will be at the end of the one-thousand-year rule and reign of Jesus Christ, when a mass-deception of humanity will convince peoples of all nations to believe the Devil’s damnable deceits, following him in one final unsuccessful coup against the Christ.

To see sin in its unmasked final, failed consequences, just reread Lamentations 2.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt.23:37)

Encourage Him

Believe it or not, pastors and those who are in “full-time,” vocational ministry sometimes go through discouraging times and need to be encouraged by others. We who preach to others need to hear preaching; and we who exhort others need to be exhorted!

A Church in Mississippi wanted to encourage its pastor by placing a special article in the church newsletter. The author of the paragraph titled it “Boost the Pastor a Bit.” The article was sent to a print shop, and a typesetter went to work on it (in an era BC, before computers). When it appeared in the weekly church paper, however, the headline read, “Boot the Pastor a Bit.” Not the kind of encouragement needed!

Sometimes we journey through valleys and deep waters before coming to the mountain tops and pleasant plains. I have never often been harassed by discouragement, but there was a time when I did come to a place where the shadows had lengthened and the winds were chilly and the terrain over which I was passing was pretty rough. I was not in the throes of discouragement, but I was at least battle fatigued.

At that very time, I received an email from a pastor in another part of the world. I have never met him; I do not know how he received my email address, but for quite some time he regularly would send me brief messages, usually a scripture verse with a brief word of encouragement.

When I was at a pretty low point, here’s a message I received: “I was praying for my friend and feel God will keep on blessing you. God has designed good things for you. Nothing good shall be withheld from you. But I feel you need to read the below verses. Read them carefully and I am sure these are the days that people are turning from sound doctrine. But please verse four which says you are to be watchful in all things. Endure afflictions. When you get afflictions, do not be discouraged but have endurance. Afflictions of any kind please endure. Keep on doing what God called you to do in His ministry always. Ask God to help you fulfill the purpose of your calling. As you read these verse we pray that God continues to keep you in His grace and love.” 2 Tim.4:3-5: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

When I began reading that I was skeptical, anticipating some wild prophecy to come forth with a prosperity pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, depending upon my forwarding the proper account numbers for its deposit. Or, I was waiting for a desperate plea for help, but neither of them ever came. The fact is that on a particularly difficult day it would be hard not to believe that God laid that message of encouragement on the heart of a pastor half-way around the world, someone to my knowledge I had never met, to send to a downcast preacher. (By the way, this incident happened years ago and I still do not know that I have ever met this encourager).

Ten days after I received the above exhortation, I received a follow-up. It read, in part: “You say, ‘it’s impossible.’ God says, ‘All things are possible.’ You say, ‘I’m too tired.’ God says, ‘I will give you rest.’ You say, ‘Nobody really loves me.’ God says, ‘I love you.’ You say, ‘I can’t go on.’ God says, ‘My grace is sufficient.’ You say, ‘I can’t figure things out.’ God says, ‘I will direct your paths.’ You say ‘I can’t do it.’ God says, ‘You can do all things.’ You say, ‘I’m not able.’ God says, ‘l am able.’ You say, ‘It’s not worth it.’ God says, ‘It will be worth it.’ You say, ‘I can’t forgive myself.’ God says, ‘I FORGIVE YOU.’ You say, ‘I can’t manage.’ God says, ‘I will supply all your needs.’ You say, ‘I’m afraid.’ God says, ‘I have not given you the spirit of fear.’ You say, ‘I don’t have enough faith.’ God says, ‘I’ve given everyone a measure of faith.’ You say, ‘I’m not smart enough.’ God says, ‘I give you wisdom.’ You say, ‘I feel all alone.’ God says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’

And, with every one of those admonitions, my foreign friend gave a list of appropriate scripture verses to look up and read. I simply wrote “Thank You” one time, but we never carried on any further correspondence. He never asked for anything. As I mentioned, that has been probably twelve to fifteen years ago, but the fact that I am writing about it today suggests to me that just maybe God has a special message for some one of His servants who may be reading and needing these very words of encouragement today. You may not even be aware of the depth of your need. I pray God will bless you with the encouraging words of a pastor who may speak another tongue but who honors the same Word of God and serves the same Savior as do we here in America.

But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.” (Deut.1:38)


At some dark corner, life will screech to a halt for just about every one of us, when, like David, we are told that our dearest and best friend or family member has come into the icy clutches of death. It was on the infamous day that Saul and his son, Jonathan, died in battle at the hands of heathen henchmen, the Amalekites, when David received word that his King, and his “blood brother,” Jonathan, were both dead.  David lamented sorely: “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thy high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Sam.1:25,26). Thirty some years later, upon hearing of the gruesome death of his rebellious son, Absalom, David “covered his face and…cried with a loud voice, ‘O my son, Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Sam.19:4)

We have all been blind-sided or broad-sided by the ugly and merciless enemy Death. It never visits at a convenient time, is most always unwelcomed, and leaves behind a path of devastation, destruction and despair.

And with death and loss, there is grief. Grief is normal and grief is necessary and there is therapeutic value in working through the process of grieving. There is no short-cut and there are no easy remedies. It takes time and will produce healing, but there is no way to dress it up and make it look more palatable.

First, it is gut-wrenching. Anger, guilt, despair, doubt and a plethora of emotions run the gamut of your soul. Those, in turn, work on your mind and you might think you are going insane. Darkness rather than light is your outlook. Food has lost its appeal. The world news, which might have been something you took a daily dose of, is of no interest to you. The Bible is a book that, though you love it and have been a daily visitor to its pages, is now something you may have to force yourself to pick up. Friends and their well-meaning words seem so superficial. No loss could compare to your loss. Why should you be living and enjoying life when your loved one had to suffer and surrender life? Guilt sets in big time. You could have, should have done something differently. You could have been there more. You could have shown more compassion and given more of yourself.

A pastor, counseling a sad soul recently who was on this jarring journey, said, “You never get over the grief, you just get through it.”

So, with the passing of every day, month, year – you continue to work your way through the process of grieving. No, you will never get over it! Yes, you will get through it! With His help and the counsel and prayers of your family and friends and especially the Comforter, you will be able to once again enjoy sunlight, food, ice-cream, popcorn, the news and chit-chat. It will never be the same; it will never be better; the edge is gone and you will always miss that, but life will be bearable and life will become once again, through the marvelous and matchless grace of our great God, good!

A dear friend who recently lost to death his wife of a lifetime and best friend said, “You know it’s going to be bad, but you could never imagine how bad. It’s something you could never prepare for.”

So, what I am saying is surely not to prepare anyone for the inevitable. Nor is it to console anyone who is going through the steps of grief. It is simply some observations and thoughts for the “what it’s worth” column from the heart and pen of someone who has walked that lonely road before, not only with my dearest family members, but with hundreds of other families who, on some dreaded day, often without forewarning, were thrust into convulsing, confusing, contorting agonies of death’s dark drama as we left that silent city of the dead.

Life here is not, thank God, our final destination. We’re upward bound. We have an upward look! And, in perspective, we are able to cope with life’s harshest realities, including the end of life here as we have known it in time. It’s all part of His master plan, and though we cannot fully prepare for it or by-pass it or cushion its bruising blows, we can and will get through it! For the many who have recently starred into a casket at a lifeless form of a loved one, know that you are not alone and that life will once again be bearable by His never-failing grace and never fading presence.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Cor.1:3,4)

A Mother’s Heart

“Deep within her breast of clay, filled with love from day to day;

All for you from life’s first start, is your mother’s holy heart.

Heart of passion, peace and prayer; heart of mother’s daily care;

For her children one and all, should they stand or should they fall.

Heart endowed with God’s own love, filled with goodness from above;

Heart that cheers and wishes well, when your life has turned pell-mell.

Blessed heart—that gift from God; heart that softens cruelest rod;

Heart that weeps and heart that prays, all her life-long earthly days.”

(Pastor Anthony Slutz)

“An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” (Spanish Proverb)

“The best academy is a mother’s knee.” (James Russell Lowell)

“A mother understands what a child does not say.” (Jewish Proverb)

“A mother holds her children’s hands for a little while—their hearts forever.” (Unknown)

“Mother never quite leaves her children at home—even when she does not take them along.”

(Margaret Banning)

“All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” A. Lincoln

A gracious woman retaineth honor….” (Proverbs 11:16)

“Get My Mother In”

Dr. Harry Ironside told a story at a conference about a prominent English preacher who, while speaking to a group of fellow-pastors at an association meeting, shared the following incident:

“One evening as he was about to retire, there came a knock at the front door. Upon answering it, he found a poor little girl, drenched with rain. She had come through the storm. As the preacher stood looking into the haggard face, she said, ‘Are you the minister?’

‘Yes, I am’ he replied.

‘Well, won’t you come down and get my mother in?’ she said.

The preacher wisely answered the little inquirer, ‘My dear, it is hardly proper for me to come and get your mother in. If she is drunk a policeman should be summoned. He is dressed for the occasion.’

‘Oh, sir,’ she replied in haste. ‘You don’t understand! My mother isn’t drunk. She’s at home, and she’s afraid to die. She wants to go to heaven, but doesn’t know how. I told her that I would find a minister to get her in. Come quickly, sir, she’s dying!’

The minister could not resist the appeal of the little night caller, so promised to come just as soon as he could get dressed. As he walked with the girl through the night, she led him into the slum district to an old house, up a rickety stairway, along a dark hall, and finally to a lone room where the dying woman lay in a corner.

‘I’ve gotten the preacher for you, Mother. He wasn’t ready to come at first, but he’s here. You just tell him what you want and do what he tells you and he’ll get you in!’

At that, the poor woman raised her feeble voice and asked, ‘Can you do anything for a sinner like me? My life has been lived in sin, and now that I am dying I feel that I am going to Hell, but I don’t want to go there; I want to go to Heaven. What can I do now?’

Upon his own confession the great preacher declared, ‘I stood there looking into that face and thought, what can a tell her? I have been preaching salvation by character, but she hasn’t any. I’ve been proclaiming salvation by culture, but she hasn’t time for that, and, besides, she wouldn’t know what the word meant. Then it came to me. Why not tell her what your mother used to tell you as a lad. She’s dying, and it can’t hurt her even though it does her no good.’

And so bending down beside her, he said, ‘My dear woman, God is very gracious and kind, and in His book, the Bible, He says that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’

‘Oh,’ she exclaimed, ‘does it say that in the Bible? My! That ought to get me in. But sir, my sins, my sins!’

It was amazing the way the verses came back to him. He said, ‘My dear woman, the Bible says that the ‘blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.’

‘All sin, did you say? Does it really say, ALL sin? That ought to get me in.’

‘Yes,’ answered the kneeling pastor, ‘it says ALL sin. The Bible also says that ‘this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘if the chief got in, I can come. Pray for me, sir!’

With that the old preacher bent down still further and prayed with that poor woman, and GOT HER IN, and in the process, ‘while I was getting her in,’ he confessed, ‘I got MYSELF in. We two sinners, the minister and the harlot, were saved together that night in that little room.’”

For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Jesus, Luke 19:10)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

How! (Pt. 2 on the book of Lamentations)

Recently, our local police department dispatched a couple of SWAT teams to the east side of our city after receiving a call from a frantic young woman. She had escaped from a house where a sadistic male had held two young women hostage for several days. A tipster reported that there was a girl chained to the post of a bed.

Indianapolis police surrounded the house, and a couple of hours later the man surrendered. A short time later, the two young women emerged, pale and trembling. A news reporter said that, according to police reports, the man had been living with one of the young women. She had asked him to move out, but he had other plans and took the young women hostage. All three parties involved looked like they had been sifted by Satan, and like they had been run through the wringer of sin! Watching the report, I was reminded again of the awful truth that the end of sin is death; that sin has a bitter end, and it carries an expensive price tag. This is true for individuals and for nations: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.” (Gal.6:7)

The sins of Judah, the nation that God loved and redeemed and sanctified, were three-fold: (1) Idolatry; (2) Rejecting God’s Word; (3) Desecrating God’s sabbaths. For repeated indulgences in these sins, God finally allowed Judah to come under severe judgments at the hands of its enemies. A thousand years earlier, God had warned the nation that for these sins He would bring judgment upon them, and He even spelled out what the judgment would be. (Deut. 28:49ff.) And God brought to pass all that He had promised. Nebuchadnezzar was the King, Babylon was the nation, and 586 B.C. was the year.

Lamentations depicts the awful aftermath of God’s dealings with Judah. Here are His assessments of the pitiful plight of His people:


First, a city full of people became a widow, v.1. Jerusalem, once a beautiful, bountiful, bustling city is now barren! She is dressed in mourning and her song is not salvation, but sorrow.

Second, a princess is now a tributary (vassal!). She was once honored, elevated, rich and powerful, but now she is poor, despised, wretched and a servant of other.

Third, a lover (v.2) is now a loser! Her lovers, Egypt and Edom, have deserted her: “And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair: thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.” (Jer.4:30)


The Reason, vss. 3,5

Affliction (v.5) The Lord afflicted her (Judah) for the multitude of her transgressions.

Servitude (vss.8-11) “…they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see O Lord and consider, for I am become vile.” cmp. Jer.40:11

The Results of: (Lamentations 1:1-22)
She dwelleth among the heathen, v. 3
She findeth no rest, v. 3
Her persecutors overtook her, v. 3
The ways of Zion do mourn, v. 4
None can come to the solemn feasts, v. 4
The gates are desolate, v. 4
Her priests sigh, v. 4
Her virgins are afflicted, v. 4
She is in bitterness, v. 4
Her adversaries are chief, v. 5
Her enemies are prosperous, v. 5
Her beauty is departed, v. 6
Her princes are humiliated, v. 6

The Remembrance, v. 7: (Pleasant things of former days)

The Removal, vs. 8-10
In shame (nakedness and filthiness) vss. 8,9
In wonder, v. 9
In humiliation, v. 10 cf. Jer. 51:51: “Shame hath covered our faces….”
Deut. 23:3: and Gen.19:37,38

The Remorse, vss. 12-22
“See if there be any sorrow like my sorrow” v. 12
“I am not able to rise up” v. 14
“I weep” v. 16
“Behold, my sorrow” v. 18
“I am in distress” v. 20
“There is none to comfort me” v. 21
“My sighs are many and my heart faint” v. 22

It was a pitiful plight that God’s people suffered when God said He had had enough. What happened to the kingdom of Israel (722 B.C.) and the kingdom of Judah (586 B.C.) can happen to individuals who, having tasted of the good things to come and then departing from the blessed way, experience the chastening love of their heavenly Father. 

The book of Hebrews was written to warn first century Jewish converts—who had been enlightened, delivered from the bondage of the law, and saved by the grace of God—not to look back, not to turn back to the beggarly elements of the law. May that be our warning also, and may none reading this lose the lesson of Lamentations. No sin is worth this sorrow! Selah.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebs.10:31)

Day of Prayer!

Like every first Thursday of May since 1952, today is the National Day of Prayer. And, Paul exhorted Timothy to pray for “kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (I Tim. 2:1) So, I invite and encourage you to join me and many others in offering up “supplications, prayers and giving of thanks…for all men…for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (I Tim. 2:1,3)

Prayer is a powerful weapon in our arsenal as we do battle with evil forces daily. It is a precious privilege as we commune with our heavenly Father, every hour of every day, in praise and in petition for our needs and for the needs of family and friends.

Just think back on the past seven days and you’ll be able to call to mind many instances where prayer was the best, if not the only, resource available to you. When I challenged some saints a few years ago to do this, I shared that a call from a woman whose brother was going into a life-threatening emergency surgery was an example of such, as well as a call from a senior saint distraught over slander that had been directed toward her; plus an email from a missionary about a grandbaby in a local hospital undergoing surgery to save its life—all of these and more in just a seven-day period.  That is pretty typical, though, of just about any seven-day period, is it not?

How could we live without prayer? Through prayer we have access to the very presence of the Creator God of the universe! The Holy Spirit, our prayer partner, takes our feeble words, translates them into the language of heaven, and bears them up to our Intercessor, Jesus, who in turn gives them to our heavenly Father. The prayer of faith shall save the sick. The prayer of the destitute shall be heard by the Person who flung the stars into their heavenly courses.

Prayer is personal. Prayer is powerful. Prayer is productive. The only reason we do not have answers from God is that we do not ask. If we ask in faith, believing, He has promised to hear and to help.

What’s your greatest need today? He has all that it will take to meet that need! What’s your greatest fear? Go to Him and give your fear to God, and you’ll have courage that will dispel your fear. What’s your greatest burden? Through prayer, He will ease your burden and carry it with or for you. What’s your greatest dilemma? He has the solution, and you can realize it by going to Him and asking for help through prayer.

The only thing that will hinder prayer in your life from being answered is either not praying or not praying with a clean heart in faith. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, we cannot expect answers to our prayers; we can go through the motions of praying, but we cannot commune with God unless we are in fellowship with Him.

So, prayer is a lifeline for the believer. It is not just important, it is imperative. We will be swallowed up by the world and by life, but for the help from above that is ours through prayer. Prayer is not simply an act; it is an attitude. It is not a process or performance; it is the spiritual inhaling and exhaling of the believer. We cannot live long without it.

Counties and continents have been shaken, spiritually, through the power of prayer. Cities have experienced revivals, born of prayer, that have closed saloons and dens of iniquity. Hardened criminals have fallen before God in repentance because a mother’s prayers were ceaseless and her steel-like determination would not give up to Satan. Proud, arrogant blasphemers have cried out to God for mercy, because prayer touches the heart of God that moves the hand that holds the world. Parched lands have been moistened with the dew of heaven because a person or a community has prevailed in prayer. Discouraged, defeated servants of God—on the verge of hoisting up the flag of surrender—have been salvaged for good and for God because, 10,000 miles away, an unsung saint of God made regular visits to a closet where prayer was wont to be made.

And, it’s all because “there is an eye that never sleeps…an arm that never tires, an ear that never shuts and a love that is ‘throned on high’” in the presence of our mediator and intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, every day—and yet in a special way on this special Day of Prayer—let us recommit ourselves to our family, our friends, our churches, our missionaries, pastors and evangelists and to His Body, the Church, in powerful, personal prayer: we can do great things for our great God after we have prayed; but we can do nothing that matters for Him and for His cause unless and until we have prayed. So, “Let’s pray!”

I know not by what methods rare, but this I know, God answers prayer! I know not when He sends the word, that tells that fervent prayer is heard; I know it cometh, soon or late, therefore, we need to pray and wait. I know not if the blessing sought, will come in just the guise I thought; I leave my prayers with Him alone, whose will is wiser than mine own.” (Eliza Hickok)

Pray without ceasing.” (I Thess. 5:17)