Lamentations 3:40-66 – Emotional Rollercoaster

Read Lamentations 3:40-66

A rollercoaster of emotions concludes the third lament. I’m sure you can recall a time in your life when you were on that “ride.” The writer wisely suggests the solution is to turn back to God. No matter what we may be going through, the answer is always to invite God into our situation. Yet, the writer’s guilt is clear. He feels unforgiven, unable to imagine God’s mercy.

Is that what stops us from devoting ourselves to God? Do we feel guilty, unworthy of his love? Thankfully, those are feelings we can control. We are indeed guilty of living sinful lives and should acknowledge that. Never forget that despite what we’ve done, we are loved beyond measure by our heavenly Father. Instead of feeling guilty for our blunders in this life, we should focus on how we can do better. For us Christ followers, we need to follow our leader and be more like Jesus!

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Nehemiah 9:4-37 – Prayer of Confession

Read Nehemiah 9:4-37

What a prayer! One of the elements we often forget in our prayer time is to give adoration to God. We do this when we tell him how great he is. The Levite leaders are showing us a fine example of this as their prayer begins! Brilliantly, they recount God’s hand at work in the lives of their ancestors.

At times, I felt like I was reading a sermon and not a prayer of confession. God knows history better than anyone, but it was a good reminder for the people to hear who were praying this prayer with the Levite leaders. They need to hear how their ancestors messed up, mistreated God, and how that all turned around. You never know who in the crowd may not have heard all of the stories passed down from generations or been exposed to God’s words before. We are wise when we can learn from the mistakes of others, namely our ancestors.

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Ezra 10 – A Fresh Start

Read Ezra 10

The book of Ezra closes with a plan of cleansing agreed to by the people. Our last reading identified the problem, and we saw Ezra’s response was to earnestly pray. Today’s reading picks up right there with many other people joining Ezra in his lament.

Were you surprised at how easily the people agreed with Ezra? The plan was put in place to remove the pagan spouses from the land to cleanse the land of foreigners who would not share in the devotion to the LORD, respecting his laws and decrees. The purpose of this cleansing was to remove the “poison” of unbelief from spreading.

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Malachi 4:1-6 – Judgment Day

Read Malachi 4:1-6

This is the last chapter of the Old Testament. That fact alone gives me goosebumps as I write this reflection. There will be a huge gap of time (400 years or so) between this writing and the New Testament. The people would have to wait a long time to see some of these prophecies fulfilled.

This prophecy would have given the faithful hope for the future. Like today, there were those obedient to God and his decrees in Malachi’s day. The unfaithful probably turned the other way and ignored Malachi altogether, in denial of their coming peril. People still refuse to listen to God’s word. This prophecy is no exception.

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Zechariah 1:1-6 – Return to God

Read Zechariah 1:1-6

The book of Zechariah is often viewed in three sections because of stylistic differences. The first includes Chapters 1-8, the second Chapters 9-11, and the third, Chapters 12-14. The latter sections are thought to have been added to this book but not necessarily written by Zechariah. Don’t be surprised when we get to those later chapters and the style and focus changes a bit.

Like Haggai, Zechariah first speaks to the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from their exilic captivity. This was a chance for a new life, and God wanted to make sure they were secure in the hope that only he provides. Have you ever moved to a new city? You know the adjustment period can be challenging.

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