READ: Lamentations 1-2
THINK: What do you feel as you read Lamentations? Except for the fact that it's not the end of the story, it can be depressing. That's understandable considering it's theme: sin brings sorrow (1:18). People may enjoy the pleasures of sin and immorality for a while, but eventually the consequences become evident. Sooner or later, distress, despair and destruction will come to all who don't turn to God in repentance. Those who know the joy of a relationship with Jesus should grieve over the tragedy of people still enslaved to sin, praying desperately that they'll recognize their hopeless condition and turn to God for mercy, forgiveness and new life.
RESPOND: What city is in ruins, how does Jeremiah personify (i.e., describe with human traits) the city, and what are his emotions at the time? (See 1:1 note.) Where were most of the people of Judah at that time (1:3-4)? Why had all of these things happened to Jerusalem and the nation of Judah? (See 1:5 note.) How is this tragedy a warning to us? (See 1:7 note.) What does the name "Lamentations" imply? (See 1:12 first note.) While considering God's love and forgiveness, what do we also need to keep in mind regarding God's character and attitude toward sin (1:12)? (See 1:12 second note.) In what ways does sin and rebellion toward God bring suffering, distress and torment (1:18-20)? How and why did the Lord become like an enemy to Israel and Judah (2:5), and how is this a warning to us? (See 2:5 note.) What are some risks individuals and churches take if they choose to tolerate or adopt ungodly beliefs and behaviors? (See 2:5 and 2:7 notes.) In what way is Jeremiah's sorrow an example to us? (See 2:11 note.) What did Jeremiah desperately call the people to do, and why? (See 2:18 note.)
PRAY: Praise God for His love, mercy and patience, but also for His perfect justice and righteous judgments. Pray for a supernatural compassion for people who don't know Jesus and are still enslaved to sin.
ACT: Pay attention to the people and conditions around you at school, at work, and in your community, including what you see and hear in the media. Consider people's spiritual condition and the effects of sin that are evident in the world. Try to look at people and situations from God's perspective of sorrow over sin and compassion for those who are spiritually lost. Use words and actions that could help people see Jesus through you.
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