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August 23rd, 2010

DAILY BIBLE READING

 Aug 23: Jer 49-50
Aug 24:
Jer 51-52
Aug 25:
Lam 1:1-3:36
Aug 26:
Lam 3:37-5:22
Aug 27:
Ezek 1-4
Aug 28:
Ezek 5-8
Aug 29:
Ezek 9-12
Aug 30:
Ezek 13-15

 

NOTES ON THE READINGS

·         Lamentations is a collection of five poems of lament.  (See devotions below.)  Tradition ascribes the book to Jeremiah, and in some Bibles the book is actually part of Jeremiah.  But the book itself does not name an author, and there are some problems with attributing it to Jeremiah.

·         The first Hebrew word in the book is “Ekah” (How) – and the emphasis is on how much the people have suffered by their captivity.  The poems were probably written for the exiled community to express their grief.

·         The highlight of Lamentations is 3:19-24, smack in the middle of the book, which is the basis for the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  In the midst of despair and sorrow, the writer still finds his hope in God.

·         Ezekiel is a highly organized book, in contrast to Jeremiah.  One example of his organization is that he dates his visions.  You can actually track the progress from the first vision (1:2) 5th year after the exile to the last vision (40:1) in the 25th year.  There are eleven other dated visions in the book.  In modern dating terms, he began his ministry in 593 B.C.  Although the first Jews were exiled that year, the fall of Jerusalem was in 586, so Ezekiel is another of the prophets who stands on both sides of that climactic event.

·         Another mark of organization is its outline – chs. 1-26 before the exile, chs. 27-32 denouncing the nations, and chs. 33-48 future restoration. 

·         The key theme of the book, oft-repeated, is that God’s people would know “that I am the LORD”.  Observe as you read the gradual movement of “the glory of the LORD” from inside the temple away.

·         If you like Revelation, you’ll like Ezekiel!  If heavy symbolism makes for difficult reading, this might be tough.  Resist the extremes  of confident overinterpretation of the symbols and willful ignorance of them.

 

DEVOTIONS

Are you the “best in class”?  An “A Player”?

My brother David recently recommended a book called Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, by Bradford D. Smart.

The book is for the business world, primarily.  It’s specifically for Human Resources managers – a handbook for how to find, keep, and redeploy the best talent.  David thought it might be helpful to our “Job Seekers” to know what HR people are looking for.  One entire section of the book talks about how becoming an “A Player.”

I thought about the book in connection with Jeremiah’s appeal during the darkest moments of Israel’s history.  “Lamentations” is an entire collection of, well, laments – poems of mourning.  It is, for the most part, a very sad book.

But in the midst of those bleak days, Jeremiah appeals to his countrymen, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” (3:40).

The willingness to “examine our ways and test them” is a mark of “A Players” – business, professional, and Christian.  There are a lot of “B Players” and “C Players” who are sloppy and inconsistent in church attendance, community life, ministry, sacrificial service and giving, prayer and devotional life, witness, and holiness.  Our current sermon series is about “refusing to be ordinary” as a Christian.

Being an “A Player” in my walk with God is my top priority.  Even a small band of “A Players” in a congregation give it life and strength and passion.  Will you be one of them?

 

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