"Sunlight in Sorrows"
Date: 05 June, 2014
Text: Lamentations 3:22-26
Title: Sunlight in Sorrow
Dr. Zodhiates in his study Bible says about this book, "Lamentations was originally part of the Book of Jeremiah. It was later isolated because it was read publicly at one of the feasts of Israel and included in the Five Megilloth (or scrolls) commemorating the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in both 586 B.C. and A.D. 70. The style and content leave no doubt that Jeremiah, the 'weeping prophet,' is the author. The book focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem as observed by an eyewitness. Jeremiah alternates between horrible accounts of the destruction of the city to the confessions of the people's deep sins, and then to his appeals to God for mercy. Each of the five chapters of the book is a separate poem of mourning."
· 1:1-4 The destruction of Jerusalem
· 1:8 "Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed." The Sin of Jerusalem
· 1:5, 21-22; 2:1-8 God brought destruction to Jerusalem. v.2:5"the Lord was as an enemy."
Jeremiah is heartbroken to see this storm of God's wrath unleashed against His disobedient people. And yet in the middle of this book there is a break in the clouds and a bright ray of sunlight shines through. The weeping prophet briefly dries his tears as He remembers the sure mercies of God.
There is hope in the midst of divine adversity. What should we remember when a divine storm is allowed to come into our lives?
I. You don't have what you deserve.
22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed,
exp. Jeremiah knew that God could have annihilated His people and yet He had not.
Hab 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
ill. Israel had a track record of failure. They should have been cut off long ago.
Psalm 78:37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
question: Why are you here today? Answer: Because God is merciful.
note: If you and I had what we deserve we would have been cast into Hell long ago.
Ps 130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
note: God may chasten but in His mercy, He seldom destroys.
app. This morning, we ought to bow in thankfulness to the Lord for His mercy. If we got what we deserve it would be Hell.
II. God has not forgotten his love for you.
because his compassions fail not.
exp. Do you feel like God does not love you? You are wrong. His compassions fail not.
ill. Anni Johnson Flint
After high school, she spent one year in teacher training and had a position offered to her, but felt that she was really needed at home. Later in her second year of teaching, arthritis began to show itself. She grew steadily worse until it became difficult for her to walk at all, and she was soon obliged to give up her work, followed by three years of increasing helplessness. The death of both of her adoptive parents within a few months of each other left Annie and her sister alone again. There was little money in the bank, and the twice-orphaned children had come to a real “Red Sea place” in their lives.
Picture if you can the hopelessness of Annie’s position when she finally received the verdict of the doctors from the Clifton Springs Sanitarium — that henceforth she would be a helpless invalid. Her own parents had been taken from her in childhood, and her foster parents had both passed away. Her one sister was very frail and struggling to meet her own situation bravely. In later years, she always stated that her poems were born of the needs of others and not from her own need; but one knows full well that she never could have written as she did for the comfort and help of thousands of others if she had not had the background of facing those very crises in her own life. - https://www.homecomingmagazine.com/article/he-giveth-more-grace/
He Giveth More Grace - Annie Johnson Flint
1. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
3. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
4. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
App. Annie never forgot the lovingkindness and mercy of God. Have you? "His compassions fail not." The only thing that can fail is your faith and understanding of His love.
III. Every day brings new mercies from God.
23 They are new every morning:
exp. When you got up this morning, God had new mercy and compassion available for you. When you get up tomorrow, God will have more mercies for you. As Annie Flint said, "He giveth and giveth and giveth again."
Romans 5:20 But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
ill. Unshackled Radio Program - Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago
The "UNSHACKLED!" radio program was begun under the leadership of past Superintendent Harry Saulnier. Harry yearned to reach the masses for Christ and earnestly prayed about the possibility of a radio program.
For a short time Harry had a 15 minute program entitled "Doorway to Heaven" on station WAIT in 1945. On this program, Harry often related the true stories of individuals who had been saved at Pacific Garden Mission. This opportunity fueled Harry's desire to continue to share the testimonies of changed lives using the popular radio drama format of the day.
Thus, in 1950, the first recording session was scheduled. The first script was written by John Gillies, who worked at WMBI in Chicago. Clear channel radio giant, WGNagreed to air the program.
Everything was in place except for one detail—a title. A name was desired that would declare to the audience the power of God to change lives. During one titling session, a former Navy man recalled, "In beginning a radio call at sea, we'd say 'shackled' and end with 'unshackled.' Why not "UNSHACKLED!' for a title? Harry exclaimed, "That's it! It's different and yet it suggests just what we want the program itself to say—that Christ can break the fetters of sin and set the sinner free."
The first program was about Billy Sunday, famous Chicago baseball player turned evangelist. Following the success of the first program, Gillies passed the directing and writing duties on to Eugenia Price, a successful and established radio writer.
.Lives of listeners through the years have been dramatically changed.
One of those people was Jack O'Dell, a professed agnostic and a struggling alcoholic whose drinking habit had nearly destroyed his promising radio career. In 1953, Genie Price hired Jack to play a role in an "UNSHACKLED!" program. After the recording session, Jack began thinking about this "God who can change lives." As he reflected on his own life, he recognized his sin and came before God in repentance. Jack himself was"UNSHACKLED!"
In 1955...Jack Odell assumed leadership of the program. He served as director, writer, and announcer for almost four decades.
app. Do you feel like you've used up all of God's grace and mercy until none is left. You are wrong. God's mercy starts again today and will start yet again tomorrow.
IV. None is so faithful as our God.
great is thy faithfulness.
exp. Israel could have felt like they had been completely abandoned by God. They were in bondage and their city was destroyed. They knew that it was because of their disobedience to God. But, Jeremiah puts hope into this book of sorrow. There was NONE SO FAITHFUL AS THEIR GOD.
ill. Peter knew the faithfulness of God. He had denied Christ with cursing. He had tasted the bitterness of failure.
Lu 22:62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
But, the faithful Lord Jesus Christ - prayed for him ahead of time and restored him afterwards.
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
note: This faithfulness of God is what keeps us from TOO GREAT A TRIAL.
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
app. Whatever you are facing today. You can face it because God is faithful. He will see you through.
V. God alone can meet your need.
24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
def. portion: territory, award, tract, parcel
Note: Israel had lost her land but not her God. She didn't have anthing but with faith in Him she wouldn't lack anything either.
ill. "John Wesley said, “If I die rich, blame me.” Here’s exactly how he put it in 18th century language: “If I leave behind me ten pounds [when I die]… you and all mankind bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” Wesley believed that there was nothing wrong with making money as long as you spent all of it helping the poor after “supplying thy own reasonable wants, together with those of thy family.”
In his sermon “The More Excellent Way,” Wesley explains that all wealth belongs to God and is given to those who have it for the purpose of taking care of others:
You may consider yourself as one in whose hands the Proprietor of heaven and earth and all things therein has lodged a part of his goods, to be disposed of according to his direction. And his direction is, that you should look upon yourself as one of a certain number of indigent persons who are to be provided for out of that portion of His goods wherewith you are entrusted."
"A few hundred years ago the great preacher and evangelist John Wesley showed us another way. Wesley lived in economically uncertain times, yet from humble beginnings he became so well known that his income eventually reached 1400 pounds per year. In 2001 this would be the equivalent of earning around $300,000.
So what did he do with all this wealth? Did he tithe it? No. Wesley went way beyond tithing. He disciplined himself to live on just 30 pounds of the 1400 pounds he earned every year. He gave away 98% of all he earned and lived on just 2%!"
app. John Wesley wasn't worried about where it was going to come from. He knew it would come from God. He was more worried about where it was going. Jeremiah like John Wesley realized that God was His portion and put their confidence in His provision.
VI. God will be good to you if you will turn to Him.
25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
exp. Israel was in the position she was in because she had rebelled against God despite the preaching of Jeremiah. And yet, THE LORD IS GOOD UNTO THEM THAT WAIT FOR HIM, TO THE SOUL THAT SEEKETH HIM.
ill. When Ninevah was told of God's judgment against her, the king understood the mercy of God and cast himself upon that mercy.
5 ¶ So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
exp. God rebuked Jonah declaring His compassion for this people including their children and He responded to their repentance.
app. If you want God's mercy this morning, wait for Him and seek Him.
James 4: 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
VII. You are in a good position to see God deliver you.
26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
exp. We get into a position like Israel, God has us between a rock and a hard place, and we say, "This is bad." Jeremiah says, "This is good."
question: Why would Jeremiah say that? Because maybe now Israel is ready to listen to God. app. Whenever we have something that brings us to great dependence upon God, we ought to thank God for it. The best position we could possible be in this morning is "hop(ing) and queitly wait(ing) for the salvation of the Lord. Have you let God break you to the point of crying out to Him for His abundant mercy and compassion. They are there. But, they are accessed by coming to Him.
conclusion: What a storm has blown over Israel. Their beautiful city is in smoking ruins. They are prisoners. They have gotten into this position through disobedience. Jeremiah doesn't hide the facts. But, he also doesn't hid the hope. Their is a ray of sunlight through the clouds of sorrow. He reminds them and us.....
1.) You don't have what you deserve. 2.) God has not forgotten His love for you. 3.) Every day brings new mercies from God. 4.) None is so faithful as our God. 5.) God alone can meet your needs. 6.) God will be good to you if you will turn to Him. 7.) You are in a good position to see God deliver you.