flourishing faith, increasing care

2 Thessalonians

flourishing faith, increasing care

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 (JDV)

2 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy: To the congregation of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:2 Favor to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the care each one of you has for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, we ourselves brag about you among God’s congregations – about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring.

flourishing faith, increasing care

The congregation of believers in Thessalonica were experiencing persecutions and afflictions, but that did not keep them from going in the right direction. Their faith in God was flourishing and their care for each other was increasing.

Lord, no matter what we face today, may it be said of us that our relationship with you continues to flourish, and our care for one another continues to increase.

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bring us back

Lamentations - 1

bring us back

Lamentations 5:21-22 (JDV)

Lamentations 5:21 Yahveh, bring us back to yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times,
Lamentations 5:22 unless you are so intensely angry with us that you have completely rejected us.

bring us back

The Lament ends with a final plea for God to renew his people. When all is said and done, we are totally dependent on God for our restoration and renewal. The only thing we can do is come to him.

That is the gospel. Our repentance does not change us. It is a call on God to regenerate us. It is an admission that we have gotten things so wrong that we need him to intervene. Faith believes that he is willing to do so.

Lord, bring us back to yourself.

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not forgotten

Lamentations - 1

not forgotten

Lamentations 5:19-20 (JDV)

Lamentations 5:19 You, Yahveh, are enthroned forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.
Lamentations 5:20 Why do you continually forget us, abandon us for our entire lives?

not forgotten

The lamenter has no doubt that God is on his throne and that he will stay that way forever. He is omnipotent, and no power in the universe can change that.

But in spite of his theological awareness, the lamenter has a problem. He cannot understand why this almighty king seems to have forgotten the plight of his subjects. His complaint is that God has abandoned his people.

We might respond that God does not do that, and we would be right. But the issue at hand is that the lamenter feels like God has abandoned him. He has come to the throne because he needs to be reassured that his people are not forgotten.

Lord, we seek the same reassurance. Show us that we are not forgotten.

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other sister

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other sister

Ezekiel 23:11-21 (JDV)

Ezekiel 23:11 “Now her sister Oholibah saw this, but she was even more depraved in her lust than Oholah, and made her promiscuous acts worse than those of her sister.
Ezekiel 23:12 She lusted after the Assyrians: rulers and governors, warriors splendidly dressed, horsemen riding on steeds, all of them desirable young men.
Ezekiel 23:13 And I saw that she had defiled herself; both of them had taken the same path.
Ezekiel 23:14 But she increased her obscenity when she saw male figures carved on the wall, images of the Chaldeans, engraved in bright red,
Ezekiel 23:15 wearing belts on their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like officers, a depiction of the Babylonians in Chaldea, their native land.
Ezekiel 23:16 At the sight of them she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.
Ezekiel 23:17 Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and defiled her with their lust. But after she was defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust.
Ezekiel 23:18 When she flaunted her obscenity and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust just as I turned away from her sister.
Ezekiel 23:19 Yet she multiplied her acts of obscenity, remembering the days of her youth when she committed fornication in the land of Egypt
Ezekiel 23:20 and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions.
Ezekiel 23:21 So you revisited the infamy of your youth when the Egyptians caressed your nipples to enjoy your youthful breasts.

other sister

This is another one of those PG passages in Scripture. It describes the judgment upon Jerusalem and the reason for it. Jerusalem lusted after the young studs of Babylon like her sister Samaria had lusted after the young studs of Assyria. She had allowed herself to be used until that was all she was. Like Samaria, it was now Jerusalem’s time to bear the penalty for her sinful idolatry.

LORD, may our desire be for you and your word. Purge from us the lust for other things.

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how civilizations collapse

how civilizations collapse

Lamentations 5:16b-18 (JDV)

Lamentations 5:16b Tragedy to us, because we have failed.
Lamentations 5:17 Because of this, our heart is sick; because of these, our eyes grow dim:
Lamentations 5:18 because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate and has jackals prowling in it.

how civilizations collapse

Look how this texts shows that everything is connected. The failure of the people to obey God lead to their depression, lack of vision, and ultimately the destruction and desolation of the city.

That is how civilizations collapse.

Lord, give us the wisdom to walk in integrity before you, to preserve us from destruction.

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complaint department

Lamentations - 1

complaint department

Lamentations 5:9-16a (JDV)

Lamentations 5:9 We secure our food at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the open country.
Lamentations 5:10 Our skin is as hot as an oven from the ravages of hunger.
Lamentations 5:11 Women have been raped in Zion, virgins in the cities of Judah.
Lamentations 5:12 Princes have been hung up by their hands; elders are shown no respect.
Lamentations 5:13 Young men work at millstones; boys stumble under stacks of wood.
Lamentations 5:14 The elders have left the city gate, the young men, their music.
Lamentations 5:15 Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.
Lamentations 5:16a The crown has fallen from our head.

complaint department

Lamentations tells it like it is, and the truth is not pretty. It is not comforting to know all the atrocities and suffering that happen. Many people today avoid watching or reading the news because they don’t want to be reminded of all the bad news. Some even make it a point to unfriend anyone who complains on social networks.

Where does God stand on that issue? Does he call on us to only come to him with the positive and encouraging in our lives? Nope. He even dedicated an entire book in his Scripture (this one) to the expression of grief and outrage of those who are suffering. His complaint department is open for business.

Thank you Lord, for opening your heart and listening to our complaints.

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lost inheritance

Lamentations - 1

lost inheritance

Lamentations 5:1-8 (JDV)

Lamentations 5:1 Yahveh, remember what has happened to us. Look, and see our disgrace!
Lamentations 5:2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our houses to foreigners.
Lamentations 5:3 We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are widows.
Lamentations 5:4 We have to pay for the water we drink; our wood comes at a price.
Lamentations 5:5 We are closely followed; we are tired, and no one offers us rest.
Lamentations 5:6 We made a treaty with Egypt and with Assyria, to get enough food.
Lamentations 5:7 Our fathers sinned; they exist no longer, but we are bearing their punishment.
Lamentations 5:8 Slaves rule over us; no one rescues us from them.

lost inheritance

The Lamenter describes the disgrace of his nation at losing their inheritance to foreigners. He says it is because the fathers sinned, and the children are bearing their punishment. It would be that way until the nation repented, and came back to the covenant the fathers had broken.

The New Testament describes life in the flesh as a spiritual slavery. All of us are born into such a life. The good news is that there is an inheritance for all of us in Christ. We can choose to stay in slavery — even blaming God or our environment or our ancestors. But we can also choose to return to God in faith.

Lord, we choose repentance and restoration.

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welcome us back

Lamentations - 1

welcome us back

Lamentations 4:21-22 (JDV)

Lamentations 4:21 So rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you resident of the land of Uz! Yet the cup will pass to you as well; you will get drunk and expose yourself.
Lamentations 4:22 Daughter Zion, your punishment will be finished; he will not lengthen your exile. But he will punish your iniquity, Daughter Edom, and will expose your sins.

welcome us back

Two nations are described as delinquent daughters. Our heavenly father will punish both for their sins, exposing the world to their shame. But there will be a difference. The exile which Zion experiences will not be lengthened, which means the Father will welcome the repentant Zion back.

Lord, welcome us back. We feel the shame of our exile from you. We long for your approving presence again.

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the captured king

Lamentations - 1

the captured king

Lamentations 4:18-20 (JDV)

Lamentations 4:18 Our steps were closely followed so that we could not walk in our streets. Our end approached; our time ran out. Our end had come!
Lamentations 4:19 Those who chased us were swifter than eagles in the sky; they relentlessly pursued us over the mountains and ambushed us in the wilderness.
Lamentations 4:20 Yahveh’s anointed, the breath of our nostrils, was captured in their traps. We had said about him, “We will live under his protection among the nations.”

the captured king

The Lamenter describes the day the unthinkable happened. God’s anointed king was captured. No one could imagine such a thing. After all, God’s king is untouchable — right? But God allowed his anointed king to be captured by the enemy. He was “the breath of our nostrils.” But God’s judgment upon his people for their sin falls on even him.

Such words remind me of the faithfulness of God to his own word. For a long time, God’s prophets warned his people of coming judgment. But they thought they were protected.

Lord, we come to you today, realizing afresh that we need your kingdom and righteousness in truth. We seek your protection by faith. We do not assume it.

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we watched from our towers

Lamentations - 1

we watched from our towers

Lamentations 4:14-17 (JDV)

Lamentations 4:14 Blind, they stumbled in the streets, defiled by this blood, so that no one dared to touch their clothes.
Lamentations 4:15 “Stay away! Unclean!” people shouted at them. “Away, away! Don’t touch us!” So they wandered aimlessly. It was said among the nations, “They can stay here no longer.”
Lamentations 4:16 Yahveh’s face has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are not respected; the elders find no favor.
Lamentations 4:17 All the while our eyes were failing as we looked in vain for help; we watched from our towers for a nation that would not save us.

we watched from our towers

In one of the Lord of the Rings movies, Pippin sneaks into the beacon at Minis Tirith and lights it, calling for help from neighboring regions. The steward of Minis Tirith had refused to light the beacons, believing that nothing could help.

The Lamenter recalls his people watching from their towers, but to no avail. In this case, there really was no nation to come to their aid.

Lord, forgive us and restore us. There is no one else.

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