READ: Lamentations 3-5
THINK: A lot of people are aware of the fact that God is love (1 John 4:8). Even those who don't have a personal relationship with God tend to emphasize His love and forgiveness, while ignoring other aspects of His character. This includes His perfect justice and His justified anger regarding sin and those who reject His patient call to turn from their own ways and follow him. Thankfully, God exercises tough love to bring people to their spiritual senses. This means He sometimes allows problems and pain for those who rebel against Him in order to humble them and accomplish a positive, purifying purpose in their lives. If they admit their sin, ask God to forgive them and entrust their lives to Him, He's ready to forgive immediately, although He will restore a person's full purpose in His own time.
RESPOND: How is Israel portrayed in chapter 3? (See 3:1 note.) According to 3:8, what's one of the consequences of living in rebellion against God? (See 3:8 note.) According to 3:21-24, what hope did the people still have and why? (See 3:21-23 note.) Why does God allow problems and pain for those who rebel against Him, and how should we respond to such times? (See 3:27-33 and 3:33 notes.) How did Jeremiah identify with his people and what was his hope for them? (See 3:40-41 note.) According to 3:57-58, how did God respond to Jeremiah? What does chapter 4 reveal about things that many individuals and nations value and rely on for satisfaction, strength and status? (See 4:1-12 note.) How bad did conditions get in Jerusalem and what terrible things did some people resort to in order to survive (4:9-10)? (See 4:1-12 note.) What two main categories of sin resulted in Judah's tragic condition? (See 4:13 note.) When would Judah's captivity and punishment end? (See 4:22 note.) How does the book of Lamentations end, what does this teach us to do in the midst of harsh circumstances, and why? (See 5:21-22 note.)
PRAY: Give God thanks for tough times that turn your attention to Him. Thank Him for hope through such times and for the forgiveness that's available to all who humbly confess their sin to Him.
ACT: As 3:40 challenges you, examine your ways to see if there is any persistent or unconfessed sin in your life. Also, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any ways in which you're relying on the wrong things. As He does, admit your sin and ask God to forgive you. Then turn from the sin and follow God wholeheartedly.
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