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Sermon 2/5/06 - The Lord is Good
Lamentations 3:22-24

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The Lord is Good

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Jeremiah, the author of the Book of Lamentations, has often been called the “weeping prophet,” and for good reason. His ministry, his message which extended from about 626 to 586 BC, was not considered “positive” by his countrymen, and he wept – for them! A generation is a long time for someone to publicly pronounce doom on his people, and he knew it! Centuries later, Jesus revealed HIS heart of love. He cared for us from before time began. In fact, He is the Creator of caring hearts everywhere - it is observed about Him (much like Jeremiah), that “Jesus wept” for His people (John 11:35).

The prophet Jeremiah was little more than a boy when He was called by God to public ministry. God told him, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations,” (Jeremiah 1:5), and the young man, who was probably a teenager at the time, replied, “Lord God! I cannot speak for I am a youth” (Jeremiah 1:6). He recognized that he, (and you and I) really have NOTHING lasting to say, until the Holy Spirit gives us utterance. The Lord responded to him, as He does to us all, “Do not be afraidfor I am with you” (Jeremiah 1:8). Jeremiah’s (God’s) people had fallen into idolatry and it was this young man’s job to warn them of impending judgment on their land, their nation, their families and lives; and this difficult employment would be his for the next forty-years!

Jeremiah loved his people. He cried out to them day and night, faithfully urging them to SURRENDER to the will of God. They must BELIEVE; they must LOVE the Lord! And it’s necessary for you and me as well. His countrymen answered him with opposition, beatings, isolation and imprisonment. He was threatened in his own home town and it became embarrassing, even dangerous to be – Jeremiah! He said, “I have become the ridicule of all my people, and their taunting song all the day” (Lamentations 3:14). The priests and false prophets of Jerusalem, the “notable” people of his day attempted to kill him. He was placed in stocks like a criminal; he was forced to flee. He was publicly humiliated and was thrown down a cistern. He felt ruined.

He knew – depression! And so it has been for many who have faithfully served the Lord. Centuries later, Paul the Apostle would say, in relation to the times when HE was depressed: “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Here’s how Jeremiah put it: “I am the man who has seen affliction, by the rod of His wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light” (Lamentations 3:1-2). He hung on – sometimes just barely!

His observation was that God had “hedged” (walled) him in, so he “could not escape.” He felt like he was weighed down with a “chain” (Lamentations 3:7). Have you ever thought that God doesn’t hear you when you call out to Him in prayer? Jeremiah felt that his prayers bounced back from the ceiling and were not answered. He lamented, “Even when I call out or cry for help, He shuts out my prayer” (Lamentations 3:8). God seemed to him “like a bear lying in wait; like a lion in hiding” to consume him (Lamentations 3:10).

He was an object of ridicule (Lamentations 3:8) and he didn’t like it. He concluded, “My soul still remembers and sinks within me” (NKJV) or as the NIV puts it, “My soul is downcast within me” (Lamentations 3:20). He spoke to a generation in which few turned to the Lord or trusted in Him. Jeremiah felt like a failure. But God was THERE for Jeremiah, just as He is there for you. The Lord had PURPOSE in the suffering of this man, and there is good purpose in your life, also. When Jeremiah reached the bottom of the misery that was his life, he remembered the Lord and His love, and God was there for him.

Jeremiah said, “Yet I call this to mind and therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him…” (Lamentations 3:22-24). He recognized the reality of God’s call on his life. He SAW in his heart that God is real and that His purposes are much higher than ours. He comprehended that the point of his life was not mere earthly gain. And he was comforted.

Jesus Christ is a signpost that warns, “Danger, bridge out ahead!” His words are: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), for it is obvious to us all that the “moth” will destroy, the “rust” of life will ruin, and anything that’s left will be stolen by “thieves” (Matthew 6:19)! Watch out! The point is that NOTHING of this world will last, and our traditional goals are ultimately a waste of time. If you have a family, you SHOULD care for them. If you have a lawn, go ahead and mow it. If you have bills to pay, seek a job and earn a living! But your greater infinite need is to look to the Lord, for when you do, you “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and there thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

Eternal life is not unlike applying for a job. Many of the best ones require the submission of a resume of what you’ve done in the past, which typically includes information about your education, experience and interests. What you’ve done in the past indicates what you’re qualified for in the future. Jesus has a wonderful job for you in eternity, but you must become qualified for the position, which is what He meant by saying, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:21). What we do, think, feel and choose right now, becomes our resume for eternity. Jesus said, “He who receives a prophet… shall receive a prophet’s rewardhe who receives a righteous manshall receive a righteous man’s rewardwhoever givesonly a cup of water in the name of a disciplehe shall by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:41-42). You don’t need to be great on earth, but merely trust the Lord and be willing to “love one another” (John 13:35) to have a “treasure” in eternity.

Jeremiah the prophet understood and could shout to the Lord, “Great is Your faithfulness!” He knew that “the Lord is good to those who wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:23-25), including you! Jesus Christ is your “treasure” in eternity – Will you answer His call?

Lord, it seemed like Jeremiah lost his whole life in responding to You, but now, when it counts, he has everything. Like him, Lord, I answer Your call and trust in You now. I love You, Lord, and praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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