Lamentations 3:21-26

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Um, Hey, it’s good to see you all, uh, happy new year to you. Thank you. This is a, this is amazing. Isn’t it? A time to be together to worship the Lord together? Uh, what a great and awesome privilege it is. And so as we spend time together here, for those of you who are online, uh, it’s, it’s great to be together.

Isn’t it? And we just sang a great, I love that song. How great is our God? Don’t you? I mean, it reminds us so much of who he is and, and today we want to spend a little bit of time looking at that and, and how we can focus on why we want to focus on who he is as we enter this. So w would you join me again?

I know the judge has prayed, but let’s pray one more time. As we begin to go into his word, father, we thank you so much that you are so great. Wow. When we see these songs, sing these songs, lift our hearts to you. We remember who you are. Remember your goodness. We remember your grace, your mercy, and we’re looking at a passage today gone, and what you declare, who you are.

And we want to carry that with us throughout the year. Even in these times that are difficult when we don’t know exactly what’s going on, we know that you do. So I pray that you’ll help us these few minutes together, help us to focus on who you are. Take lots of yourself and burn it deeply into our hearts.

I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

I don’t know if you have ever read the book or seen the movie 33, it that’s a great title, right? 33, but it’s a, it’s a story about some miners in Chile, 33 men who were trapped underground. It was in a, I think in a copper and gold mine, things caved in. It sounds terrifying to me. I don’t like close places anyway and suddenly be there.

Uh, it, it sounds like a horrific thing. And in the book, uh, they described, especially the movie shows it too, but the book especially describes just, uh, the fear that they had in their hearts. And I understand that, and there was a wondering, or what to do. They have a little bit of water. They have very little food.

They have plenty of air at that moment. What are they going to do? And the book describes so well in the movie describes it shows in a good way when suddenly they can hear something coming down to them, they know it’s someone drilling, trying to get to them. And, and the sense of awe and hope when suddenly that little drill pokes down into the cavern in which they find themselves that deep sense of hope, because they know because of that, they, they have plenty of air.

They will be able to be given food. They will be given water. And although they stayed there for a long time before they figured out how to rescue them, that first thing coming through that sense of hope. And today what I want to focus on. It’s just to remember the incredible sense of hope that we have in God, in Christ, because we do don’t wait, now you may have been in some place where you remember, ah, that just brought great hope to my heart.

Great, great hope to my life. I remember this was many years ago. I was on one of our backpack trips in Colorado. Uh, it was, uh, it was a tough situation. We had a kid who was diabetic. Uh, we were about 13,000 feet when all this happened, uh, 13,000 feet above sea level. And, uh, he went off his insulin somehow.

No one knows exactly what happened, but we had to evacuate. And, uh, he was, uh, pretty unresponsive. We, we made a homemade stretcher using, we finally got down to Timberline and we cut a couple of poles. We made a stretcher out of those, uh, poles and some sleeping bags and, and then carried him and carried him, uh, trying to get out.

Cause he desperately needed help. I’d send a couple of campers on a head, uh, to go down the one side to try to get help God intervened in some incredible ways. But it was nighttime by the time we got, we were about a mile from within each pass, which means nothing to you, but it’s a low spot and that’s the direction we were headed.

We we’d still been carrying Dan. We had one flashlight, uh, among all of us and it didn’t work real well. And so we had one person in front shining. Tell us about where rocks were and stumps were. We were tripping. Dan was restless. He would tip off. It was awful. And we went ahead and we had been praying, oh, you can imagine how much we’d been praying.

And I, and I can still envision this so well, we carry him and we break down a little bit and I look up and there right at the head of women each pass a little light

and you talk about hope and joy. And really, cause we knew it was the headlamp of some people who were coming up to help us as we rescue Dan, as we take him on down, the end of the story is Dan survives. God was gracious with that, but I will never forget that sense of hope. That little light brought. Can you imagine that the hope, the joy, the confidence.

That we had even knowing that some help was there, the miners, as they knew that they had been rescued. And we’re going to spend some time together here this morning, uh, looking at a passage of scripture that that really focuses on hope, you know, cause we really don’t know what lies ahead. Dewey. It’s been a crazy year.

We can probably all agree to that. We left one crazy year, a year ago and now we had another crazy year and then other crazy things are happening. We don’t know what’s going on, do we? But, but we shouldn’t let that cause us great despair because we, we focus on who God is. Not our circumstances, not the things around us.

And we begin to settle our hope on who he is that hope that understands the character and nature of. It’s it’s that hope that gives us that confident expectation of who God is. This is not a hope that, you know, like, I hope like my grandkids were saying, I hope it snows on Christmas. It didn’t here. Uh, but it’s a hope that is absolutely steadfast.

It’s a hope that, that, that raises up. It’s that kind of hope. And we’re going to look at a portion of scripture. It’s for me, it’s a very familiar portion. It’s one of the, I honestly, I pray many, many times as I open my heart before God, because this certainly is part of my heart cry is found in Laghman stations of all places, Lamentations 3 21 to 26.

Yeah. And I’ll tell you a little bit more about Lamentations in Jeremiah here in a minute. We’re going to read it here first, but, but I have to be honest, it, laminations is not the place I normally would go to bring all sorts of hope and joy, but here he says this. And if you want to read along with me, it’s a Lamentations three.

I’m going to start with verse 21 lemon. Uh, Jeremiah writes this by the spirit of God yet this I call to mind. And therefore I have hope because the Lord’s great love or mercies. We are not consumed for his compassions, never fail. They are new every morning. Great. Is your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion.

Therefore, I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him to the one who seeks. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. And that is a resounding, uh, writing and, and, uh, expression of great joy. You see, remember what Jeremiah was? Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet.

If you have anything about Jeremiah, he was the one who was called that because he had been given a task to proclaim the truth of God, the direction of God, to Judah. Unfortunately, Judah, at this time, the nation of Judah was really far away from God. They wanted to go their own way. They wanted to do their own thing and they pursued that very much and Jeremiah’s task.

And God told him your tasks is going to be preached the truth. You’re going to preach even the judgment. That’s going to come and to tell you what Jeremiah nobody’s going to listen. That’s not a job. But Jeremiah was faithful and he writes here, he’s called the weeping prophet because he weeps openly. So many times he declares the, the truth of God and, and the sinfulness of the people.

He proclaims that there will be judgment coming and that judgment, by the way, as we look through the old Testament, we realize that judgment is coming. Not because God hates them, but because God loves them and he wants them to come back to him. And eventually they do, but it’s a long process. And Jeremiah, every time he would preach and people would not respond.

In fact, in one time that they were so upset with him, they took him and threw him in the actually an a, well, as a prison. They didn’t want anything to do with him. In fact, later on in, in the book of Lamentations, he even relates that a little bit about how the water’s coming up up to his neck and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

And then he writes this book because now Judah has been taken captive. They have been conquered and there’s a lot of them and taken to Babylon already. And Jeremiah writes five limits in which he pours out his heart to God crying out. God. Why, why it’s heavy reading. It’s not one that you really jump in the new years with, except right in the middle, in the middle of these five laments, Jeremiah.

Suddenly realizes who God is. He remembers in the midst of these things, he understands the mercies and love of God in the middle of all his own personal distress and burdens. He remembers, I think he writes, especially, uh, so the, the people of Judah would, would turn their hearts to God and, and eventually many of them did, but he wants them to remember that God is truly the God of hope.

You want to boil the little book down to this? It’s that Jeremiah saying? I remember my afflictions. I remember the judgments on Judah and my soul is downcast on the bummed out, but then. As he writes those things, God puts on his heart. He says, but I remember this. I remember the things that God who God is, and suddenly I have great hope in spite of everything that’s going on.

I don’t know if he’d been reading in Psalms where the Psalmist says, um, why are you so downcast? Oh my soul. Put your hope in God. I don’t know if he’d been just spending time, reflecting on who God is, but whatever the case is, suddenly he says this. I remember in spite of everything else going on this, I remember that’s who you are.

God. And since that is true, I have great, great, great hope centered on who God is. Not on the circumstances around me, not on the things I have or don’t. But on who God is. And so we’re going to take a look at that three things very simply in which he looks at some of the character of God. He starts out here yet.

This, I called him my mind. And therefore I have hope because of the Lord’s great love or loving kindness or mercy. I’m going to use the word loving kindness here, but it’s all interchange. It’s the word that has said in, in Hebrew. And I’m not a great Hebrew scholar, but I can read that much. And that word is translated either mercy, loving, kindness, love.

He says, first of all, because of the Lord’s great love his mercy to me. I remember this. I mean, God’s love is one of the great characteristics as we remember. When, if I ask you, tell me something about who God is, many of you would say, well, if nothing else he’s loved. That’s what Jeremiah is reminding us here.

God is love. That’s who he is. He shows his love to us, especially now. And, and for things under that loving kindness one is that he’s working goodness for our benefit in his loving kindness, he does work good for us. Doesn’t he, it may not always seem that way, but when you look at the big picture, you will understand God’s been working for you because of his goodness.

I mean, look at the old Testament, look at it. How you worked with people, let’s go all the way back to Adam and Eve. Remember what they did. Sure you do. And they disobeyed God. They turned their back on God. They wanted their own way, but God did not just judge them. He did, he put them out of the garden, but he also provided for them.

He provided a way for them to survive. He provided clothes for them. He didn’t finish their lives. He, he showed goodness to them. Or how about, I was thinking about Jacob for some reason. Remember when Jacob, uh, he was, he was coming back to his home. He had, uh, his family, he had he’d done. He saw his brother some really wrong and he understood the Esau was coming and he thought he saw was coming after him to do battle.

So, uh, sent his family on head. He stayed there or the one place with his servants in order to do the battle. And that night, Jacob wrestles with the angel of the Lord. I mean, he didn’t know that’s who it was at the time wrestled all night, Jacob had a hip hurt. But, you know, the whole thing with that is God provided and showed his goodness in that a lot of people don’t look at it.

Don’t look and see that what’s happening is God to say, look, I am restoring you. I am protecting you. And as it turned out, Esau was not coming to do battle. He saw was coming just to greet him as a brother, God showing great goodness, even to the Israelites as they left Egypt. You remember when they left there, God provided for them.

He helped them escape from the Egyptians. And even, even as they went through the wandering in the wilderness because of some of their own stubbornness, God provided for him, didn’t he, he provided the manner so that they could eat the quail. He provided water for them. He provided protection for them. God continued to provide.

And even to the place where then he provided the land for them, they could call their own. That was the place he was taking them. God does work. Goodness for, I say him in his loving kindness, he works for us. The two words to stand out here to me are, first of all, he just shows us his grace, right? Grace is defined this way, giving us what we don’t deserve.

And God does that far. So many times, doesn’t he, he gives us what we don’t deserve at all. And yet in his goodness, he says, here, take this, use this. And he deals with us in mercy, which defined this way, not giving us what we do. We know what we’re like. I know what I’m like, I know what I deserve. And yet God in his mercy says, no, I’m not doing that.

He did that with people as people all the way through the old Testament and the new Testament. And now he deals with us in his loving kindness. He works good for us. He deals with us in grace and mercy. Secondly, not only is loving kindness showing goodness, I have to use the word love here. It seems like, well, Jim, of course is love.

You’re saying loving kindness, but I want us to remind us about his love. Not only does he work goodness for us, but he really does show us his love. I mean, God genuinely and honestly loves. That’s amazing. And what’s even more amazing. He loves me. That’s incredible. That’s who God is. And, and as Jeremiah writes here, he wants the people to understand, look, God does love you.

And he starts out this with this. I recall to my mind me remember who God is and remember what God has done and, and all the he is. Uh, I think there’s probably a good and healthy thing for us to remember back to recall what God has done for us. Isn’t it. I mean, I could ask you to sit here right now and write down, you know, order some of the things God has done for you even this last year in his love.

And as you begin thinking about it, you would probably recall many things that God has done for you because he loves. And, and when we do that, when we remember those things, it brings us to worship, doesn’t it remembering who he is and what he has done and how he continues to work. He shows us his love.

God genuinely loves his people. He genuinely loves you. And he sinks to bring us to a place of love and worship in our hearts because of who he is, so that we have a true and lasting relationship with him working goodness, for our benefit, showing us love. He continues on with this, this loving kindness, never failed.

He says here, his compassions never fail. Interestingly enough, the word Compassion’s as translated there as actually the same root word for mercy love, loving kindness. He just does it another way. His compassions never fail. God never gives up on loving us. Remember in first Corinthians 13, where Paul writes by the spirit of God, as he talks about the qualities of love and what love looks like at the end, he says, this love never fails.

And that’s what Jeremiah is saying. His compassions, the love, the mercy, the loving kindness of God never fails. God that never gives up on us. God never gives up on loving us.

Now I was thinking about this. I, I can hear people saying, well, that’s all good gym, but you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know what I’m like. You don’t know how I have responded to things. And I don’t, but God does. God understands completely how you’ve responded and what you’ve said and what you thought and what you’ve done.

And God’s love does not fail. He didn’t stop loving you. And I know some of you have said, I feel like I’m so far from God right now. I mean, because you know, because of the things in the world, because things in my life, because of things I’m facing, I just, I just feel like I’m so far from God. And I want to remind you.

The God’s love. Doesn’t fail. If you feel a long way from him, I understand that I’ve been there, but I also want you to understand when God’s not the one who moved when you’re feeling distant from God and take a look at your own heart because you see God’s love, never fails. His compassions don’t fail.

He’s a, this is what I recall to my mind, the loving kindness of God in his working goodness and his love, it never fails. And he says this, they are new every morning. It’s fresh. Most of us like fresh food compared to other things, um, the last several years. And, and I, my wife and I have been empty nesters.

That means the kids are not at the house anymore. They come over and that’s great. We love. But w we found out then as just the two of us, we don’t cook as much, but we still have leftovers. Right. And most of us like leftovers. Okay. It’s good bank Turkey, you know, Thanksgiving, you got to have leftovers, but other times they’re still leftovers.

And sometimes you forget that they’re there. Do you? Oh yeah. But I asked Anna, if I could say this, she said, okay, this week she was cleaning out our freezer as she does. And as she’s pulling things out, suddenly she pulls out a bag of something and says, what is this? We had forgotten to label it. We didn’t know if it was some sort of dog food that we’d made.

We didn’t know what it was. Turns out. It was some apple fritters and they’re good, but not fresh. God’s loving kindness is Frank. He says it’s new every morning. It’s like fresh flowers on the table every morning. They don’t grow stale. You get that. This love that he’s talking about that he’s recalling to his mind.

He says this, I need to know it’s fresh. It never is old. It’s new every morning. I don’t know what that conjures up in your mind. What it does for me is what an amazing sense of love God has. You may have had a hard year. I know some of you have, some of us have been sick. Some of us have lost, loved ones, and some of us have gone through economic things that we weren’t.

I just got a letter from my friend, Tim, good missionary in Poland. I think it was three days ago now they woke up and they went to their big auditorium. This is where they’ve just built the whole new camp and found totally flooded. Yeah, it was awful. He sent some pictures and I just sat there with my mouth open and what had happened, a pipe had burst and it was where they didn’t expect it to be.

And before they found it and it’s gonna take probably weeks to dry the place out and to fix it. I mean, that’s not fun. Some of us have had things like that. Some of us have had a good year. Some of us have done well in our business and we’re thankful for it. Some of us have had new babies. What a great joy, you know, it doesn’t matter so much as a what kind of year we’ve had as, as what Jeremiah is saying.

Remember this, recall this to your mind. This is your reason for hope. First reason for hope here is God’s loving kindness. His love his mercy is being poured out on you all the time. And that should make us want to just embrace God with all that we have. There’s two more here. We’ll go a little bit more quickly on these.

Uh, the second thing he says here, not only the loving kindness of God, but also the faithfulness of God, he says, great. Is your faithfulness talking about recalling all the God has this faithfulness. He’s the one on whom we can depend. He is the one who is. Growing up on the ranch, you can Colorado. One thing we had to do, we had to build a lot of fences.

My dad was one who believed in very firm’s stout fences. And when we, especially when we had the corner posts, if you know anything about a fence, that’s when you tie everything to, he wanted to make sure it was solid. And he was a big guy and he would go up and he would just lean against that post after we put it in there.

And if it moved, we had to do it over. It didn’t move. It was all good. That’s the word faithfulness. It means steady from unshaken and that’s who God is in his faithfulness. He is not shaken. He has never let us down. That’s his faithfulness to us, even when we don’t understand what things are going on, I guarantee you by the script.

That God has never let you down. He is absolutely faithful in all that he has done. He is never false with us. That is he doesn’t play games with us. He doesn’t pretend one thing and then do another. He is absolutely faithful. He holds us up. I remember the one time in, uh, the Israelites were, they were wandering in the wilderness.

There was a big battle and Moses was instructed, go and stand on the mountain with his hands up. Do you remember that? And as long as he held his hands up, the battle went well for the Israelites. Have you ever tried to hold your hands up for a long period of time? Pretty soon they start getting heavy.

Right? Pretty soon they start dropping. And what happened with Moses as his hands began to drop the battle, went against the Israelites. Now this was not any magical thing. I believe the whole thing was, was about obedience to. But you know what happened, Aaron and her two men came and they propped up Moses’s arms.

That’s the picture of faithfulness coming and holding up, giving us what we need his faithfulness. We can depend on him. Absolutely. Remember this. According to the scriptures, God is for you. He won’t fail you whatever your year has been. Like, I can promise you that God did not abandon you. He is faithful and this coming year or whatever is happening.

And I hear the news the same as you. I hear the things same as you. I will say this. According to the scriptures, God is absolutely faithful and will continue to be that way this year, that. Is a reason for hope. Isn’t it reason for hope God’s faithfulness unending steadiness toward us is greater than anything we can imagine.

Hold on to that faithfulness and the last characteristic he is good. Verse 25. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him to the one who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord very quickly, just here. One of the great characteristics of God, one is a great character.

Qualities is he is good. You read that all the way through, through the songs, uh, through the old Testament, through the new Testament, God is good. Absolutely. He’s good of old friend of mine said, God is good all the time. And he is, and here he especially relates his goodness to salvage. He says the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him too.

The one who seeks him, it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Now there, he might be talking in terms of the whole context. He might be using the term salvation in terms of deliverance. That is the God is going to deliver his people from the bondage of Babylonian captivity. And that certainly is probably one of the things in his mind.

He’s looking forward to that, but more than that in a much broader sense, he is talking about being delivered from sin. The scriptures declare that we have all fallen short of God’s glory. We are all sinners. The Bible says that’s no news to us. We know ourselves. We know what we’re like, God says. That he is our salvation.

Now salvation that deliver as us from sin, from the, from the penalty of sin, even from the power of sin, we don’t have to serve it anymore, even to the place of the presence of sin when we’re in glory. And that’s what, that’s what God has done for us. And it’s through the person of his son, Jesus Christ.

That’s where our hope is. Especially remember he says this, that as many as received him, that’s Jesus to them. He gave the right to become children of God. Even to those that believe on his name, that’s who he is. That’s what he’s done for us. He’s made a way for us to have eternal salvation. He’s made a way for us to have a relationship with God, absolutely forever.

He’s made a way for us to have our sins absolutely forgiven to the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is.

He also says here in the context very quickly, he also says the goodness has shown in, in sustaining us in this. The Lord is my portion. He just talking about that, that old Testament picture of how the Levi’s and priests were cared for people would come and bring offerings. And that’s how the priests and Levites were cared for.

They didn’t have pieces of land, like the rest of the tribes of Israel. They had a little place for garden and that’s that’s it. But God provided for them through the offerings of his people. And that was their portion as they reached in and they got what they needed, God provided. And he is saying here, remember this as well.

And the goodness of God, he has provided salvation for you through Jesus Christ. And he has provided for you what you need. We always, probably wish we had more. We probably always wished there was something else, but the truth is God does sustain them. Yeah, many of you know that I just got back from Guatemala on a, on a trip there.

And it was a great trip. God used his word in amazing ways, but when you’re in a country like that, you realize how much you have here. God sustains those people down there though, as well as he still sustains us. He says, I am your portion. The reason for hope here in this and the goodness of God that God is good.

And one way he shows his goodness is providing salvation for us, sustaining us with what we need. So Jeremiah writes in all this lament in this hard time. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope because of who God is. Hope is powerful. How Lindsay wrote in his little book, man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.

I think he’s right. Randy Alcorn wrote this, the gospel infuses hope and joy into our current circumstances by acknowledging God’s greatness over any crisis we’ll face. So whatever we faced with this year, whatever has gone on before, remember that our hope is in God, our eternal hope is in the God of the universe and his son, Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for us, that we might have life.

And since we have that sort of. We can endure. We can continue to move on ahead rather than give up or just bury ourselves. We can move ahead. Jeremiah knew this. Jeremiah knew it. He wrote his laments. He had gray, sorrow and distress over all that was happening. He also remembered the greatness of God and the hope that was in him.

So you’re saying, remember, put your hope in God, full of loving kindness, full of faithfulness, full of goodness, not in the circumstances around you, but in the eternal God who loves you hope has come. Hope is what God gives for us.

Father, we thank you for remembering, helping us to remember who you are there. Our hope is in you and the things we hear on news things. We see things are facing us. God help us to put our mind on you and have great hope in you because you are the one that is eternal. You are the one who loves us. You are the one who is faithful.

You are the one who is good. And so God help us to trust you above all things in Christ’s name. Amen. Now go and love the Lord and serve him. Thank you.