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Monday, January 2, 2017

God is Faithful

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.

-- Lamentations 3:22-24 KJVB

The Book of Lamentations tells of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which took place over 587 and 586 BC when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar overran the city. The surviving inhabitants either fled to other countries, were carried away to Babylon as slaves or remained under the brutal rule of an occupying force.

Lamentations is a collection of five poems. It does not name its author, but it is generally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. For many years, Jeremiah had warned the people and their leaders about their unfaithfulness to God. Jeremiah knew that being chosen by God did not translate to a free pass. He knew that actions had consequences. If God's people were not faithful to God's instructions, bad things would happen.

But even when surrounded by death and destruction, Jeremiah still had hope. He knew that even if the people were not faithful in their commitment to God, God would still be faithful in His promises to them.

The third poem, Chapter 3, speaks of hope for God’s people. In verse 22 the writer speaks of God's "loving kindnesses" and "compassion." The first term is the Hebrew word transliterate as checed (pronounced "KHEH-sed"), meaning "favor," "good deed," "kindly," "loving-kindness," "merciful kindness," "mercy," or "pity." The second word, racham ("RAKH-am"), meaning "tender love," "tender mercy" or "pity." Both words tell of God's faithfulness to express His kindness, His love and His mercy toward His people even when they do not deserve it or return it.

Then, in verse 23, the writer observes that God’s love, kindness and mercy are new every morning. The writer uses the Hebrew chadash (“khaw_DAWSH”), which means “fresh” or “a new thing,” and he uses the Hebrew boqer (“BO-ker”), meaning “day,” “early,” “morning,” or “morrow.” Here Jeremiah recognizes that with each new day, God’s love, mercy and kindness are brand new; that God never tires in his faithfulness. God’s captive people were first-hand witnesses to His faithfulness a few decades later, with the overthrow of Babylon by Persia in 538 BC, the return of the people to Judah, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Beyond those events, God’s people would ultimately witness His faithfulness in the coming of His Messiah, Jesus.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Song

O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory.

The LORD hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
-- Psalm 98:1-3 KJVB

This passage is an excerpt of one of the Royal Psalms (Psalms 93 through 99), which God is praised as the King of His people. In this song of praise, “victory” and “salvation” allude to the same thing. The word translated as “victory” in verse one is the Hebrew word transliterated as “yasha” and meaning “to save” or “to deliver.” The word “salvation” in verses two and three are the Hebrew word transliterated as “yeshuah” and meaning “salvation” or “deliverance.” And so the passage is a song of salvation.

For the Christian, the work of God’s redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ is a work of wonder. Consider all of the steps, from before the beginning of time through its consummation, and beyond. It is God’s doing and it is truly marvelous!

Consider, too, the difficulties appointed for and overcome by Jesus, God in human form. Consider His setting aside of power, His service, His discouragement, His suffering, and His death. Let us praise Him for fulfilling the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament. God gave Jesus, His Son, to be not only a Light to the Gentiles, but the glory of His people Israel.

Let us put away our old, vain and petty songs for new songs of joy and thanksgiving. Let our lives celebrate and praise Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

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