December 21

Lamentaions 3:22-24 (NIV) 22Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

The book of Lamentations is Jeremiah's woeful song about the destruction of Jerusalem. What once was the joy of the whole earth became a smoldering pile of ruin. The roads would no longer be full of joyful pilgrims heading to the appointed feasts of the LORD. The priests would no longer offer the daily sacrifices. Their world had come to an end because of their insistence on idolatry. Even the remnant that remained rejected the warning of Jeremiah and went to Egypt where they offered incense and baked cakes to the Queen of Heaven. They insisted the problem was that they had forsaken her, not Jehovah. Most scholars believe the remnant finally killed Jeremiah in Egypt for constantly warning them about impending judgment.

In the midst of Jeremiah's song of woe, he reminds us that even though all seems lost, it is only because of the LORD's great love that we are not consumed. The creatures are rebelling and insulting the One who made them and who carefully laid out guidelines for their good. It is amazing that He doesn't instantly vaporize them, but His compassions never fail. Every morning His compassion is renewed, hoping that we will turn back and restore our relationship with Him. Could there be a more faithful God? Why would we turn to any other?

Jeremiah declared that His portion, his inheritance, his appointed part in life, was the LORD. He wasn't looking for wealth or power or fame. He just wanted the LORD. Therefore, he determined to wait in expectation (hope) on Him. He wasn't looking for anything in this life as a goal. The LORD was his goal.

Consider: What is your portion?

December 21

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.

Jesus tells us to ask, and promises we will receive. He also said that if we asked anything in His name, He would do it. John captures the essence of asking in His name by saying that we must ask according to His will. To ask in His name is to ask with His authority. That which is in His will has His authority. The Spirit led person prays the will of God into the earth. His heart is united with the heart of the Father. His desires are one with the Father's. David said that if we delight ourselves in God, He gives us the desires of our heart. Because God is our delight, our desires come in line with His.

When we know our prayer is His will, we have perfect confidence that He will bring it to pass in His time. We pray with extraordinary faith. John is specifically referring to praying for a person who has stumbled. We pray for conviction first and then for their repentance and restoration.

From the emphasis of this letter, we might draw the conclusion that there was a great deal of strife within the church. People must have been at odds with one another. That is probably why he emphasized that we cannot hate a brother if we are in Christ. We must love, because God is love. Here is a key to changing our heart attitude. Pray for that person. Realize sin is the deceptive destroyer that is blinding their eyes. Let your animosity and blame be toward the sin and not the one caught in sin's trap. It will change your attitude and help you find God's heart. You will be praying according to God's will, and you can know your prayer will be answered.

Consider: How does God want me to pray for the person I'm upset with? What is God's heart for that person?