|설교 한 주일||August 21, 2011|
“Brand New Love”
Maybe you remember one movie about one man and woman who fell in love with each other and it happened in Seattle. I know also one movie in theater – a drama – Romeo and Juliet. Long time ago when I was very young like Anna and Hanna, I watched one movie called “Love Story”. What movie in your mind is still very clear and still impacts your sense of passion and love? Well, that is the love that we want to see and experience between man and woman as we are waiting for our best behalf. So today, we can find one love story – brand new love.
(Reading of Lamentations 3: 13-39 NIV)
13 He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust— there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
34 To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land,
35 to deny people their rights before the Most High,
36 to deprive them of justice—would not the Lord see such things?
37 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?
39 Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?
As I said, Before Christ 586, Israel was totally destroyed by the enemy. Israel was divided into two: Judah and north part of Israel. The capital of Judah was Jerusalem while the north was Samaria. I will talk about Israel, the Kingdom of Judah because that time, all totally the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom fell at almost the same time. Today, I would like to talk about what was really happening in that country, in that kingdom – kingdom of David. It was about 400 years, under the mercy and grace of God, that that kingdom was going on whether good or not good, in the society or politically or even in their belief.
Actually, before Judah fell, Jeremiah proclaimed to Jerusalem, “You are guilty!” According to Jeremiah 17:1, it says, “Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool...” Actually, the engraving tool in that time was engraving something on the stone. We call it chisel with hammer, engraves any mark – letters, drawings, whatever. “…inscribed with a flint point…” it says, which means a very thin point. “Judah’s sin has been engraved” which means that Judah’s sin has not possibly been removed, Yahweh said through the mouth of Jeremiah. “You Israelites, the virgin country to God, your sin is now engraved with a very strong iron tool.” Where? It says, “…on the tablets of their hearts…” which means their life were filled by sins. “…and on the horns of their altars.” The people of God committed sin and it has been engraved in their hearts and even on the horns of their altars, when they have altars in their place for worship. Even if somebody who committed sin, he is also about to die, to be punished; but before he or she is punished, if he could possibly touch or hold that horn of the corner of the altar, he may live. But now, you see that even on the horns of that altar, even inside, even their faith is filled by their sin. For example, they believe in Jesus; they come to the church every Sunday but according to Jeremiah in that time, “You, people come to the Lord but then your life is filled by sin.” It cannot be removed even though all kinds of sin are inside the church, inside the temple. So, God decided.
What kind of sins because we know many sins? What kind of sins we can commit even in our church? Even in the temple of God, what kind of sins they might commit? In the very next verse, Jeremiah 17:2, “Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles…” that was the sin. Even their children know what was absolutely against the Lord. How possibly that children knew the other way of belief? Jeremiah is talking not about you. Jeremiah was talking about your children. How possibly your children are committing adultery or all things even in the church. From where and how their children still remember (remember means they engraves in their hearts, engraved in the horns of the altar)? How possibly that children of Israelites knew it? How your children are doing these things? What really God wants to tell to us? He’s talking about the children. Who were their role models? From where they got the sample? Now I believe that Jeremiah is not talking about the children. I believe that Jeremiah is not talking about their parents.
Yes, you can say, “I will sin…hopelessly corrupted. Our country is hopelessly corrupted. The kings, the president, the mayors, the vice-mayors are hopelessly corrupted. The policemen are hopelessly corrupted!” We had some accident a while ago. We just touched one car and then some policeman owned that car. Then he asked me thirty-one thousand pesos by one centimeter of scratch. He was a policeman. It’s less than one centimeter of scratch. He asks me thirty-one thousand pesos. Maybe I’m in the wrong side because I bumped.
Maybe you are hopelessly corrupted, people of Malacañang. Well, maybe yes. Maybe we have people in Blue House in Korea (in America it’s White House). Maybe you say, “Pastor, they have problem because they are corrupt. The MMDA are alligators in EDSA…blah…blah…” and you even say everything. Maybe the leaders are corrupt leaders. We can say that but there’s no big deal. That is no big deal if he or she is corrupt! It’s your turn, don’t elect them next time! That’s it, very simple! You say and index, “He’s no good! He did it!” in all the newspaper but then he’s still in the Malacañang, in the mayor’s office. It’s your fault. Do not index them. That’s your fault; you elect them again and again and again.
Corruption is not big deal. You know what is the big deal according to Jeremiah? Just one man – in Sodom, God was looking for ten men who is righteous but for Abraham it’s impossible to find that ten men in Sodom so that Sodom has been destroyed without touching any hand – but now, Jeremiah is not talking about ten person; God is talking about just one man in Israel, in kingdom of God in the worshipping place! In the whole Israel, God was looking for one man but the parents showed how to be against God so that their children were following. God was looking for one man; I’m sorry, there’s no one. Maybe housewife? The housewife is very simple. According to the Bible in the sight of God, not even housewife in that place in Judah… I know one policeman who has one wife officially but unofficially, there are four so total is five. I’m not talking about policeman only but the people in our place. In Star Newspaper Magazine, I read one article that four out of ten children are born out of the marriage in the Philippines last year. I’m talking about you and me. In the street children, four out of ten were born out of the marriage in the Philippines. It’s not my story, it’s what the newspaper said so. How many church we have in the Philippines? How many Christians we have in the Philippines? How many pastors we have in the Philippines? How many missionaries are in the Philippines now? God is looking for one man, one person who is righteous. But Yahweh said, “Even housewife, even mother, even father, the very simple person, they are not righteous anymore…even boy and girl…school girl looking for men for money…even father and mother looking for another party…man looking for man…woman looking for man and woman again and again…even students…” Jeremiah 5:1 says, “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” How many righteous we have in these days? How many righteous we have in our church? We have tendency to index somebody, “Because of him…because of them…” But God is looking for one man, no one, no one there so the Israelites are under his discipline. God never destroyed them. They are people of God so never will destroy His people but He put them into His discipline. Maybe you say, “Why my life is always like this? Why my life is always under the pressure?” Maybe or maybe not; but, I would like to say to just see yourself very carefully; maybe you are under his discipline.
So, what is happening if his is a kind of discipline? When you see Lamentations 3:1-18 – there’s the rod of His wrath, walking in the darkness, when you go your life is like there is no any light – just like these are the discipline of God. That’s how Jeremiah saw and watched the people in that time after they destroy the city of Israel. – All hands then go with him but all hands are against. And then they feel like everyday’s life, he is working like broken age of his bone; all kinds of bitterness and broken relationship in his life, something that even your life is like dwelling in the darkness – that’s how Jeremiah described. It’s not only that, even chained under pressure. Also his prayer in verse 8, Jeremiah said, “That situation now is my prayer, it’s not reached…get there…” Maybe you come to the church, maybe you kneel down, but many cases if your prayer does not get through to heaven, I want you to see yourself very carefully. –There’s no way; your way is always blocked so we have to turn, go long, your way is always so rocky and rounding, rounding and rounding so you are wandering all the time. That is how God is dealing in His discipline for His people. Verse 14 says, ‘laughingstock.’ When people see you, “Oh, my goodness, look at you! You’re a son of God, people of God but look at you! Look at you!” That’s the laughingstock. So you always say, “No, I don’t believe God…” pretending you’re not a Christian. In the school, pretending you’re not Christian. In the restaurant, pretending you have nothing to do with God. In your company, you’re pretending that you do nothing with God. – Trampled in the dust, even it says, all my splendor is gone – that’s how Jeremiah described if God put His people under His discipline.
Discipline is not the way of killing people. Discipline means to make His people more like Him. I discipline my children. God is always disciplining His people to be more Him-like. Verse 20, now the mood has been changed, Jeremiah sees all the situation – those kinds of trials, darkness and all splendor is gone. “It seems like my hope has disappeared…” but in verse 20, Jeremiah said, “I well remember all kind of trials…because it is always going on not even yesterday, today, but maybe tomorrow also. There is no way to exit, to out. It’s a long, dark tunnel when we are under His discipline because of the sin.
Verse 21 says, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” this is how Jeremiah expressed his mind in his faith. “…I just think about over and over all my situation why these are happening to me in these days. And then, what is good? Therefore, I have hope…” It’s kind of paradox – such a great trials, temptations and bitterness covered his life yet inside of that life, Jeremiah had a hope. Brothers and sisters, that is the faith. Faith means looking for God, waiting for God. Faith is not looking to yourself. Faith is not seeking for any solution from other people. You and I today, even we see all these things in our country or maybe in our lives or maybe your family; yet, brothers and sisters just like how Jeremiah did – I remember, this is happening in my life…this is very heavy…things, occasions and circumstances always depress me…I know…even though…even inside of darkness just like the watchmen waiting for the dawn or morning. – Jeremiah in his soul still had the hope. Why? Jeremiah knew God. “These trials and heavy things I shall think over in my heart therefore will I hope…”
Brothers and sisters do not see yourself; let’s don’t see our circumstances. But, when you kneel down and think about yourself there’s hope because you still remember that God is working in your life so every moments of hardship and every single corner of your way and path I want you to find hope, not hopeless. Verse 22 says, “Because of the great love…” Can you say great love against all the circumstances we have? Jeremiah did. Can you say the great love against all kinds of problems you have? Job did. Can you say the great love of God with all kinds of problems in your life? Yes, you would because of great love of God, because of His compassion never fail. He remember that two things – great love, His love. He never saw anything but he remembers again and again in his heart His love. “He is love; he is good. He put me here because he loves me. He brought me here because he loves me. Never mind that things are happening. I remember God is good. I remember He sees me through Jesus Christ. I know he has that compassion that never fails to me so I do have hope.”
Jeremiah 30:11 says, “’I am with you and will save you,' declares the LORD. 'Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you,’” this is how God says, can you remember? He continued, “…I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you…” so about seventy years God put Israelites into His discipline in Babylonia.
I want to give you one final action plan in our lives in the trials, hard time and bitterness. Number one, his love and his compassion never fail so they are new every morning which means you have a meeting every morning with God. You have to present yourself in the meeting place. “Hey, where is David?” “Sir, absent.” What kind of people can sing this: His faithfulness is new every morning. You seek and look for that faithfulness every morning. Are you used to being very busy so you haven’t got any chance anytime to talk to God. Number two, verse 24, another compassion and belief Jeremiah had – the Lord is my portion – not one lot, not one house – God himself is my portion. I like Him; I like something from Him. I love Him more because I know His goodness and faithfulness and His compassion. I love Him; He is my portion. The second action plan is ‘God is my portion’. Last, it says in verse 25, “God is good to those who wait for Him…” God is good when God gives you rain. God is good when God gives you air to breath for everybody. But God is really good when we prepare something good in every morning for all those who are waiting for Him. He is my portion. I’m waiting just like you wait somebody in every train that stops…just like you’re waiting for somebody in every bus stop. Even you passed the last trip of bus but you still have hope, “I believe another special trip of bus is coming for me…” That is how you wait. He is good when He has special thing. That special thing cannot be gotten by the other people. When you wait for the Him, “God is my portion. Where He is? What is His thinking? What is that He wants me to do? In the morning, sometimes the meeting place with God, maybe in secret place or high place, I have to ask what He likes. He likes this…He likes this…He likes this…” do you ever think about it?
Brothers and sisters, God is good even we are under His discipline, still God is good. God loves us. God has special gift for you when you wait for Him and when you seek Him.
Rev. David Bang