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When Everything You’ve Hoped for is Lost—Lamentations 3:18-26

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Lamentations 2:1 through Lamentations 4:22

Hope is a powerful force.  When you have hope you can do the physically and mentally impossible, but when hope is gone you turn into an emotionless shell that just exists.

Most of my life I’ve been a person who was full of hope. I love to plan and think about the future.  I’ve never spend a lot of time on the past; I’d rather dream about things to come.

EXCEPT

In a few

DARK and DESPERATE TIMES

When hope was lost

Times

When everything I had dreamed about and everything I thought I was supposed to be, was gone, seemingly forever.  Times when I knew what Solomon meant when he said in Proverbs 13:12 that hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Jeremiah knows how I felt and he knows how you feel:

I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Lamentations 3:18-20

When we reach a place in life where we don’t expect or believe things will get any better…

What do we do?

We do what Jeremiah did; we talk to ourselves.

“Self-talk” is a term psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, coaches and trainers use every day.  Just like most successful life skills, self-talk originated in the Bible.

Self-Talk is our internal dialogue, our thoughts. It is those thoughts, positive or negative, that end up shaping our lives, and results in the decisions we make, personally, professionally and spiritually.

The most important voice we will ever hear other than the voice of God is our own voice.  What we say to ourselves will either cause us to rise above life’s trials and tribulations or fall beneath the weight of them.

Jeremiah spent 20 verses venting, complaining, and laying his feelings on the table; then in verse 21 he grabbed himself by the collar, actually they didn’t have collars then :-), and used one of the great eraser words

Yet

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.   Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26  (emphasis mine)

Friends, we need to fight like Jeremiah to preserve our hope. When everyone says there’s no hope, we must say to ourselves, “No matter what the circumstances look like, I will hope in God!”  This is one of the few things in life that no one can take away from us, but we can give it away, if we’re not careful.

In Psalms 42 and 43, David said to himself three times:

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?

I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Psalms 42:11


Heavenly Father, help us to grasp the importance of our thoughts and our words.  Help us to daily work with you and not against you as we think and speak.  Holy Spirit, show us the thoughts and words that aren’t pleasing to you.  Teach us how use the weapon of self-talk to win the battle for our hope.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:Lamentations 5:1-22; Obadiah 1:1-21; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40:7 through Jeremiah 41:18

Your Dearest Treasure—Ezekiel 24:15-16

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezekiel 24:15 through Ezekiel 25:17; Jeremiah 34:1-22; Jeremiah 21:1-14; Ezekiel 29:1-16; Ezekiel 30:20 through Ezekiel  31:18

What is your dearest treasure?

Ezekiel’s dearest treasure was his wife.  The King James Version calls her “the delight of his eyes.” When I think about Ezekiel’s life as a prophet it’s easy to understand how important his wife was to him.  God had called him to bring difficult messages to the Jewish people while he was held captive in Babylon.  I’m sure many times he felt as though he was completely alone; except for his wife.

This word from the Lord must have felt like a dagger through his heart:

Then this message came to me from the Lord:  “Son of man, with one blow I will take away your dearest treasure. Yet you must not show any sorrow at her death. Do not weep; let there be no tears.  Groan silently, but let there be no wailing at her grave. Do not uncover your head or take off your sandals. Do not perform the usual rituals of mourning or accept any food brought to you by consoling friends.” Ezekiel 24:15-17

My first thought after reading these verses was, “Lord, why would you go to such great length to send Israel a message.”  I’m thinking like a human and seeing this earthly life and earthly love as the most important gifts we have and wondering why in the world would God waste all that to send a message to some rebellious people; but God’s ways are not like our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and this earthly life is just a second in the scope of eternity.

Having his young wife die long before her time must have been an overwhelming thought; asking Ezekiel not to show any sorrow at her death was completely unheard of.  This is totally contrary to Old Testament funeral practices, which featured loud wailings and passionate expressions of grief.   Demonstrative grief and sorrow was expected and seen as a sign of great love of love for the one who had died.

The death of Ezekiel’s wife was a sign designed to portray the loss of God’s blessing for Jerusalem (24:15–24). The “dearest treasure” (24:16) referred to Ezekiel’s wife. The same expression was used in 24:21 to refer to the Jerusalem temple. As Ezekiel was forbidden the customary mourning practices with regard to his wife’s death, the people were not to mourn God’s judgment on Jerusalem, for it was just (24:22–23). (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)

Ezekiel’s level of love and commitment to his God and the office of a prophet is the ultimate love story and God’s example of how the Jewish people were supposed to act when God’s judgment would fall on Jerusalem.

WHY—

Would God ask so much of Ezekiel?

Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold—their joy and glory, their heart’s desire, their dearest treasure—I will also take away their sons and daughters. And on that day a survivor from Jerusalem will come to you in Babylon and tell you what has happened.  And when he arrives, your voice will suddenly return so you can talk to him, and you will be a symbol for these people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.Ezekiel 24:25-27 (Emphasis mine)

Friends, in our lives we’ve all had things happen to us that just don’t make sense.  It’s hard for us to believe our Heavenly Father would allow us to walk through such pain and sorrow.  In these hard times our continued commitment to the Lord may be the greatest testimony of the reality of Christ an unbeliever will ever see.  Your testimony could make a difference between heaven and hell for that person.  Your testimony could be the only thing that gets them through their pain and sorrow.

Your Heavenly Father could be saying to you, “________________, you are a symbol for these people.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Heavenly Father, help us to reflect our trust in You in the good times and the hard times of our lives.  Help others to “know You more” through the testimony of our lives.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller



Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Jeremiah 32:1 through 33:26; Ezekiel 26:1-14

Sometimes We’re Not Supposed to be Strong—Ezekiel 17:14

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Ezekiel 17:1 through Ezekiel 19:14

Our Heavenly Father is the most amazing communicator.  In Ezekiel 17, He explains His anger through a riddle (Ezekiel 17:1-10) with three major players:

  • A first eagle, (Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon) large and powerful, took the top of a cedar tree and carried it to a faraway land.
  • A second eagle (Pharoah, the King of Egypt) then appeared, and the top of the cedar tree turned vine grew toward it instead.
  • The top of the cedar tree (Zedekiah, King of Israel) was planted and its vines grew toward the first eagle, until the second eagle came, then its vines grew toward the second eagle.

God had placed Zedekiah on the throne through Jeremiah (Jer. 27) and told him not to break his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar.  This covenant was God’s plan for protection for Zedekiah and his people. But Zedekiah ignored that sound advice and broke the covenant by allying with Egypt (the second eagle) against Babylon.

This parable illustrates the point that the political arena is not outside the law of God. Zedekiah had sworn a treaty with Nebuchadnezzar in the name of God. Nebuchadnezzar may have been a cruel pagan king, but Zedekiah still had a moral obligation to honor his oath.  God considered Zedekiah’s breaking of the treaty treason against Himself (17:20) (The New Bible Commentary)

The details of today’s reading should give us comfort, confidence and assurance in God’s oversight and ultimate control in the unrest of our world.  God’s explanation of the riddle is a perfect example of how things that don’t look good to us are in perfect alignment with His will and His plan.

Then this message came to me from the Lord:  “Say to these rebels of Israel: Don’t you understand the meaning of this riddle of the eagles? The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took away her king and princes, and brought them to Babylon.  He made a treaty with a member of the royal family and forced him to take an oath of loyalty. He also exiled Israel’s most influential leaders, so Israel would not become strong again and revolt. Only by keeping her treaty with Babylon could Israel survive. Ezekiel 17:11-14 (emphasis mine)

During this season Israel’s weakness was their key to survival.

God has the influential leaders taken captive to Babylon so that they would not rise up against Babylon.

I wonder how many times I have worked against God’s plan and chose to quit or change course because I wasn’t as successful as I thought I should be.

I cannot imagine the Lord saying to me, “Dianne, I had this all worked out, nevertheless i.e. but, you screwed up my plan to protect you because you weren’t a woman of your word so now you will die!”

Heavenly Father, help us to seek Your will every day.  Help us to realize that your ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  Lord, direct our steps.  Help us to work with You, not against You.  Help us to be people of our word.  In Jesus Name.  Amen and Amen!


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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 20:1 through Ezekiel 22:16

What Are You Doing While You’re Waiting? Jeremiah 29:4-7

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Jeremiah 23:33 through Jeremiah 24:10; Jeremiah 29:1 through Jeremiah 31:14

What do you do while you’re waiting for your prayers to be answered?

…Worry

…Complain

…Doubt

…Live in fear

…Try to fix it yourself

…Pray

…Believe God

…Thank God in advance for answering your prayers

In today’s reading the Jews were waiting…

The Israelites from Judah had been carried away to Babylon; uprooted from their homes, their land, their temple and God’s Presence.

They were God’s chosen people; how could this be happening to them?

Then the Lord gave me (Jeremiah) this message: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians.  I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. Jer. 24:4-7

If I had been Jeremiah and received this message from the Lord I would have thought, “this is great news, we’ll just wait it out and they will be home soon; one or two weeks at the most and  life will be back to normal.”

God’s plan wasn’t a week or two of captivity, it was 70 years.

70 YEARS!!!

Friends that’s a lifetime!

I guess the Lord knew this news would paralyze the Israelites so he sent “waiting instructions” through Jeremiah. (Jer.29:4-7)

  • Build homes, and plan to stay
  • Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce
  • Marry and have children
  • Find spouses for your children so you will have many grandchildren
  • Multiply, do not dwindle away
  • Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent your into exile
  • Pray for this city—it’s welfare will determine your welfare

My response would have been–

But that’s not the way I planned it!

God’s response was—

“You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jer. 29:10-14

What prayers are you waiting for God to answer?

I think John Waller’s song, While I’m Waiting could be designated as our official “waiting” song.

YouTube Preview Image

 
 

Heavenly Father, help us to “wait well.” Thank you for the assurance of your good plans for us.  Teach us to trust you while we’re waiting. Help us to wholeheartedly serve you while we’re waiting!  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!


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©2011, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Jeremiah 31:15-40; Jeremiah 49:34 through Jeremiah 51:14

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