(click on the date above for today's readings)
Lamentations 1:1-2:22 ~ Philemon 1:1-25
Psalm 101:1-8 ~ Proverbs 26:20
Today we start two new books in the One Year Bible! Lamentations & Philemon. Lamentations is a short 5 chapter book. It's essentially a post-script to the book of Jeremiah, and was likely written by the prophet Jeremiah. It is a book that surveys and laments Jerusalem and the temple after the destruction of both by the Babylonians in about 586 B.C. A good overview of Lamentations is at this link. I'd recommend reading this overview if you have a couple of minutes. It's worth it. Another good look at Lamentations is at this link - surf about 2/3rds the way down this page to get a good chapter by chapter overview of Lamentations - and to dive into info on the acrostics, etc.
Lamentations chapter 1 verse 1 sets the tone & stage for this book - "Jerusalem's streets, once bustling with people, are now silent. Like a widow broken with grief, she sits alone in her mourning. Once the queen of nations, she is now a slave." Why is this so? Read Jeremiah and you'll know... :) One thing to keep in mind when reading Lamentations - it provides a glimpse at the devastating affects of unchecked & unrepentant sin. Can our sin change our position in life from being a "queen" to a "slave"?
I think it is important to realize that God did provide so much grace and compassion toward Jerusalem and Judah in the book of Jeremiah before everything got to the devastating point that it is in the book of Lamentations. God send a prophet to warn Judah over and over and over again.... However, there was no repentance of sin and things got worse and worse - until it got to the point that God had not choice but to discipline Judah through Babylon's taking Judah captive. So - in our own lives, please don't stress that some sin will lead your life to what you see in Lamentations - however, unrepentant, unsorrowful, unchecked sin in our lives can lead to sorrowful things happening in our lives. And perhaps, by us hitting a rock bottom like Jerusalem clearly is in here in Lamentations, there will be an opportunity for discipline and ultimate redemption?
Today in Lamentations 1:14 we read: “"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. He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.” Do you believe that sin can become a “yoke” around your neck? Can sin sap your strength? Can sin hand you over to those you cannot withstand? How can you be freed from this yoke? Perhaps these words from Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 will give us some ideas - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If there is a yoke of sin around our necks, can we allow Jesus to remove that yoke? Can we exchange the yoke of sin for the yoke of rest that Christ offers us?
Perhaps Lamentations chapter 2, verses 18 & 19, give us a hint at what we should do if we realize we've hit a rock bottom place in our lives due to unchecked sin - "Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river. Give yourselves no rest from weeping day or night.
Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer." If you are at that place of rock bottom, or nearing it, will you cry to the Lord? Will you pour out your heart to the Lord letting him know that you need him - that you cannot do life without him? Will you pray?
Today we dive into Paul's letter to Philemon. Philemon is a very short book - we'll finish it today! :) A good overview of the book of Philemon is online here.
Verse 4 jumps out to me in Philemon today - "I always thank God when I pray for you, Philemon..." How often do we tell our family or friends that we thank God for them? How often do we tell them that we pray for them? How often do we actually do both of these things?
Psalm 101 is a great Psalm of David today! A portion of verse 2 jumps out at me today - "I will lead a life of integrity in my own home." This is powerful. How often do we have integrity outside of our home - but then Not display integrity within our own home? Think this is healthy? Should we strive for leading a life of integrity within our own home?
Proverbs 26:20 is another excellent reminder to not gossip - and when you stop, the gossip stops. Interesting how that works...
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!