Message from the Book Of Lamentations

People often make the mistake of thinking that the Old Testament is just a dry, boring history that has no meaning or purpose for our lives today. That is a mistake, for there is much we can learn from the Old Testament. In fact, it is impossible to fully understand the New Testament without it. It has been said, very truly, that the New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. Today we are going to see the message the book of Lamentations has for us.

"The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading." (Lam. 2:14)

Far too often, we don't want to hear anything that makes us feel uncomfortable. We don't want a preacher who steps on our toes a little bit, by preaching something that makes us feel the convicting power of the Holy Ghost. We certainly don't want a preacher who exposes our sin, even if it is to ward off our captivity. In fact, we get downright huffy about that. We'll just find us another church to go to if they're going to be preaching like that!

We'd far rather hear nice little "feel good" messages, or uplifting "you are so special" messages. We like those "peace and prosperity" messages, that assure us we can have both, if we only ask in Jesus' name. We don't understand that the messages they give us are often false and misleading.

Those preachers who preach on the power of positive attitudes and positive thinking are great motivational speakers. They can certainly help us in many areas of life. But they aren't truly preachers. Preachers are those who teach us God's will and God's ways.

Are these "peace and prosperity" messages Biblically accurate? Well, let's look at what Jesus himself had to say:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)

We can be sure, from what Jesus taught us, that we WILL have troubles in this world. It is unreasonable to ignore that part of His teachings. We need to beware of only wanting to hear messages that make us feel good. The apostle Paul warned Timothy of just such an attitude:

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 unto fables. (II Timothy 4:3-4)

We must be careful to take heed of every single part of God's holy Word, not just the parts that promise us something or make us feel good. Every single portion of Scripture has meaning and revelence for us today, as much as when it was written. Paul tells us:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

While it is always great to hear an encouraging, uplifting message, we need to realize that we need to hear the entire Word of God, not just the "good" parts. We need to hear the things that make us uncomfortable, that step on our toes, that cause us to feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We need to hear the things that bring us to an attitude of repentence and obediance. The only thing that leads to a life of Godliness is not a positive attitude, or a belief in "name it and claim it" promises. The key to a life of receiving God's blessings is an attitude of repentance and obedience!

Our lack of repentence and continuing in our sins will result in a yoke of slavery or bondage. The results of unconfessed sin are cumulative; they build upon one another, and multiply greatly. Lamentations 1:14 tells us:

My sins have been bound into a yoke; by His hands they were woven together. They have come upon my neck, and the Lord has sapped my strength.

Never think that the Almighty God just ignores or overlooks our sins. If we continue in our sins without repenting, our sins will multiply, and God Himself will weave them together into a yoke of bondage that will weigh us down and sap our strength,(and our desire to continue to rebel against Him!)

What's that you say? You don't believe that our loving Father would do such a thing? Look at Lamentations 3:38-39:

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?"

Have you ever felt the weight of your sins just weighing you down and sapping your strength? Why do you think God would allow such a thing? Why would He not only allow it, but actually cause our sins to become a yoke of slavery that weighs us down?

It's important to understand that God does not want to cause us affliction. He is not happy about punishing us, even though we certainly deserve it. He takes no pleasure in disciplining us, any more than we, as loving parents, take pleasure in disciplining our own children when they've done wrong and broken our rules. Yet we, even as imperfect human parents, will lovingly correct our child, to teach them a better way. That is exactly how God deals with us. He doesn't punish us just for the fun of it, or just to prove who's the boss; He corrects us out of love, just as we correct our children.

Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring grief or affliction to the children of men." (Lam. 3:32-33)

It is so important to understand this: that anything God does, He does out of His unfailing love. God is love, the Bible tells us. Love is not just something He DOES, it is what He IS. Love is the very essence of His being. He does not take pleasure in disciplining or chastising His children, but He knows, as any loving parent knows, it is sometimes necessary for the child's own good.

Thus, God allows us to be burdened by our sins to turn our hearts toward Him. He allows our sins to weigh us down and sap our strength so that we will repent and confess our sins. It is sad, but true: we never seek God so desperately as when we are terribly burdened by the weight of our own sin and guilt; that is what makes us cry out to Him. And He is always right there, waiting to answer us, when we turn to Him in repentence.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some men count slackness, but is patient {long-suffering} toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence. (II Peter 3:9)

"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" declares the Sovereign Lord. "Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?"

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone." declares the Sovereign Lord. "Repent and live!" (Eze. 18:23, 32)

Yes, God will cause our unrepented sins to weigh us down and sap our strength, but even in the midst of our slavery, there is hope. Lamentations 3:21-25 says:

Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion", therefore I must wait upon Him.

This is our hope, just as it was Jeremiah's hope: That even when the weight of our sins are sapping our strength and keeping us enslaved, all we have to do is turn to Him in repentence and obedience. The Lord is our portion, or our inheritance, and our hope, our only hope, is in Him. And we know that He is faithful, compassionate, and merciful.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Motivational speakers are great, and we have a need for them. Uplifting, "feel good" messages are an important part of our Christian growth. But let's never forget, we need to hear the whole word of God, not just the parts that make us feel good. As we close, let us take to heart the advice of the prophet in Lamentations 3:40:

Let us examine our ways, test them, and let us return to the Lord.

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