TEXT:  Lamentations 3:22-33      
THEME:
  In spite of every difficulty, God is in control and  will deliver His people . . . He is faithful!  
TITLE: "The Hope of the Hopeless"             

Series B
S
ixth Sunday aft. Pentecost
Fountain of Life Luth. Ch.

Tucson, Arizona
July 3, 1994

         INTRODUCTION

 

(U.S. 65...Clayton, Louisiana to Albert Lea, Minnesota...America as it used to be...)

 

I.  AS WE LOOK AT OUR PAST, WE ARE TEMPTED TO WISH FOR A RETURN TO THE

    "GOOD OLD DAYS".

 

            A.  We want a return to the "Good Old Days" with respect to our country.

                        1.  Let us remember, that not everything that occurred in the past was that good.

                                    a.  Racial bigotry and injustice ran rampant in our past.

                                    b.  Unwed mothers were summarily tossed out of high school while the

                                         biological fathers were not.

                        2.  In Judah many longed for the "Good Old Days" of Moses and David, but

                             they too forgot the bad part of the "Good Old Days".

                                    a.  They forgot the suffering and wandering in the wilderness.

                                    b.  They forgot the tragic results of unfaithful Kings whose leadership

                                             brought disaster on the people of God.

 

            B.  Still, while recognizing the flaws of the past, we cannot but remember them without

                 a certain sense of loss:

                        1.  I remember growing up in Thousand Oaks, California in a racially mixed

                             school without drugs . . . that was reserved for some fringe elements of

                             society living in Venice, California.

                        2.  I remember growing up in a high school where premarital sex was seen by

                             the vast majority of students as wrong and in which morality was in style.

                        3.  I remember a society in which prayers were routinely seen said around the

                            dinner table on TV shows and at public high school graduation ceremonies

                            without controversy.

                        4.  I remember Mrs. Esther Rorig, my 5th grade teacher at Santa Rosa

                             Elementary School in 1956 holding her student's feet to the fire in insisting

                             that we perform to high academic standards.

                        5.  I remember a day when churches and their leaders were considered to be

                             respected and positive influences on a community and the center of many

                             a family's life.

 

            C.  Today's moral free-fall, lack of common understanding on basic issues of right and

                  wrong and the inability of our society to seek wisdom beyond ourselves bodes badly

                  for our future.

 

 

II.  SURELY SOME REGRETS WERE CONTEMPLATED BY GOD'S PROPHET JEREMIAH AS  

     HE PENNED THE WORDS OF THE BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS.

 

            A.  What was the cause of Jeremiah's lament?

                        1.  The corruption of the religious and moral values of the people of Judah.

                                    a.  (Jer. 5:1-3)  It was a turning away from God which precipitated all the

                                         moral decay that became a corrupted Judah.

                                    b.   Jeremiah had watched as Judah's religious life had become

                                          involved in the worship of false gods, the empty formalism of

                                          the priests of God and the willingness of the people to follow

                                          false leaders.

                        2.  The military destruction of Jerusalem.

                                    a.  In 588 BC the Babylonian army surrounded the city of Jerusalem and

                                         laid siege to that city/state for 19 terrible months.

                                   

                                    b.  Famine gripped the city and mothers killed and ate their own

                                         children.

                                    c.  Religious paranoia gripped the population . . . instead of turning to

                                         true God, people tried praying to all the gods in a vain attempt to

                                         cover their bases.

                                    d.  Finally on July 18, 586 BC the walls were breached and the

                                         Babylonians poured into the city enslaving King Zedekiah and the

                                         people...removing to exile all the brightest and best of Judah.

                        3.  ILLUS:  East Berlin 20 years after the end of WWII...

 

            B.  What of our regrets?  What lies in our future?  Will we yet listen to the voice of God?

                        1.  Our nation is not exempt from the cycles of cause and effect.

                        2.  Six major civilizations have risen and fallen each sharing the same pattern of

                             decay.

                                    a.  Each began with the clear and common understanding of a high

                                         moral standard.

                                    b.  Each became involved in a turning away from this civil morality in

                                         harmony with the will of God to a moral free-fall resulting in

                                         corruption and finally ending in the fall of that nation.]

 

III.  YET, IN THE MIDST OF THIS TERRIBLE DESTRUCTION AND THE LOSS OF

      EVERYTHING, JEREMIAH SPEAKS WORDS OF HOPE.

 

            A.  Jeremiah concludes that in the midst of everything, God is still faithful.  (vv. 22-24)

                        1.  The destruction of everything gave him a new perspective . . . "The Lord is all

                             I have and so in Him I will put my hope."

                                    a.  That was true when Judah had everything!

                                    b.  It is true for our nation today as well.

                                    c.  It is true no matter what success or failure you are personally

                                         experiencing today . . . God is faithful!

                        2.  Perhaps God has permitted difficulty to enter your life.

                                    a.  Listen to the words of Jeremiah as he now tells how he intends to

                                         cope with the devastation he is experiencing:  (vv. 28-30)

                                    b.  He is saying that God is using this experience to teach him more

                                         about the goodness and mercy of God.

 

            B.  Faithfulness is what the Scriptures are all about.

                        1.  From the very beginning, God's response to man's faithlessness has been

                             to remain faithful.

                                    a.  Faithful to provide a means by which we might receive forgiveness

                                         for our unfaithfulness.

                                    b.  Faithful to provide a solution to life's terrible experiences of His

                                         choosing.

                                    c.  Faithful to mold us through the experiences of life into the people

                                         which are a reflection of His heart.

 

            C.  What is required for stay of execution for our nation?  The same thing as for a stay

                  of execution for us as individuals . . . faithfulness, a gift from God.

                        1.  As a nation, it is time to bring about a spiritual renewal.

                                    a.  It is the job description of the Church to do so . . . make disciples.

                                    b.  It is the critical need for all people to know God in Jesus Christ.

                        2.  As individuals a return to faithfulness is essential to our own personal

                             renewal.

                                    a.  God only offers His people the very best of life . . . choose life!

                                    b.  God is faithful to us and will restore us at last!


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