November 29 - Galatians 3.21-4.20, Lamentations 1-2 and Psalm 145

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Slaves and Children

Galatians 3 21Does the Law disagree with God's promises? No, it doesn't! If any law could give life to us, we could become acceptable to God by obeying that law. 22But the Scriptures say that sin controls everyone, so that God's promises will be for anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ.
23The Law controlled us and kept us under its power until the time came when we would have faith. 24In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. 25But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.
26All of you are God's children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. 27And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. 28Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. 29So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham's family, and you will be given what God has promised.
Galatians 4 1Children who are under age are no better off than slaves, even though everything their parents own will someday be theirs. 2This is because children are placed in the care of guardians and teachers until the time their parents have set. 3That is how it was with us. We were like children ruled by the powers of this world.
4But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, 5so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God's children. 6Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And his Spirit tells us that God is our Father. 7You are no longer slaves. You are God's children, and you will be given what he has promised.

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. 9But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. How can you turn back and become the slaves of those weak and pitiful powers? 10You even celebrate certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11I am afraid I have wasted my time working with you.
12My friends, I beg you to be like me, just as I once tried to be like you. Did you mistreat me 13when I first preached to you? No you didn't, even though you knew I had come there because I was sick. 14My illness must have caused you some trouble, but you didn't hate me or turn me away because of it. You welcomed me as though I were one of God's angels or even Christ Jesus himself. 15Where is that good feeling now? I am sure that if it had been possible, you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me. 16Am I now your enemy, just because I told you the truth?
17Those people may be paying you a lot of attention, but it isn't for your good. They only want to keep you away from me, so you will pay them a lot of attention. 18It is always good to give your attention to something worthwhile, even when I am not with you. 19My children, I am in terrible pain until Christ may be seen living in you. 20I wish I were with you now. Then I would not have to talk this way. You really have me puzzled.


Lonely Jerusalem

The Prophet Speaks:
Lamentations 1 Jerusalem, once so crowded, lies deserted and lonely.
This city that was known all over the world
is now like a widow.
This queen of the nations has been made a slave.
2Each night, bitter tears flood her cheeks.
None of her former lovers are there to offer comfort;
her friends have betrayed her and are now her enemies.

3The people of Judah are slaves, suffering in a foreign land,
with no rest from sorrow.
Their enemies captured them and were terribly cruel.
4The roads to Zion mourn because no one travels there
to celebrate the festivals.
The city gates are deserted; priests are weeping.
Young women are raped; Zion is in sorrow!
5Enemies now rule the city and live as they please.
The LORD has punished Jerusalem
because of her awful sins;
he has let her people be dragged away.

6Zion's glory has disappeared.
Her leaders are like deer that cannot find pasture;
they are hunted down till their strength is gone.
7Her people recall the good life that once was theirs;
now they suffer and are scattered.
No one was there to protect them from their enemies
who sneered when their city was taken.

8Jerusalem's horrible sins have made the city a joke.
Those who once admired her now hate her instead--
she has been disgraced; she groans and turns away.

9Her sins had made her filthy,
but she wasn't worried about what could happen.
And when Jerusalem fell, it was so tragic.
No one gave her comfort when she cried out,
"Help! I'm in trouble, LORD! The enemy has won."

10Zion's treasures were stolen.
Jerusalem saw foreigners enter her place of worship,
though the LORD had forbidden them
to belong to his people.
11Everyone in the city groans while searching for food;
they trade their valuables
for barely enough scraps to stay alive.

Jerusalem Speaks:
Jerusalem shouts to the LORD,
"Please look and see how miserable I am!"
12No passerby even cares.
Why doesn't someone notice my terrible sufferings?
You were fiercely angry, LORD,
and you punished me worst of all.
13From heaven you sent a fire that burned in my bones;
you set a trap for my feet and made me turn back.
All day long you leave me in shock from constant pain.
14You have tied my sins around my neck,
and they weigh so heavily that my strength is gone.
You have put me in the power of enemies
too strong for me.

15You, LORD, have turned back my warriors
and crushed my young heroes.
Judah was a woman untouched, but you let her be trampled
like grapes in a wine pit.
16Because of this, I mourn, and tears flood my eyes.
No one is here to comfort or to encourage me;
we have lost the war-- my people are suffering.

The Prophet Speaks:
17Zion reaches out her hands, but no one offers comfort.
The LORD has turned the neighboring nations
against Jacob's descendants.
Jerusalem is merely a filthy rag to her neighbors.

Jerusalem Speaks:
18The LORD was right, but I refused to obey him.
Now I ask all of you to look at my sufferings--
even my young people have been dragged away.
19I called out to my lovers, but they betrayed me.
My priests and my leaders died
while searching the city for scraps of food.

20Won't you look and see how upset I am, our LORD?
My stomach is in knots, and my heart is broken
because I betrayed you.
In the streets and at home, my people are slaughtered.

21Everyone heard my groaning, but no one offered comfort.
My enemies know of the trouble
that you have brought on me,
and it makes them glad.
Hurry and punish them, as you have promised.
22Don't let their evil deeds escape your sight.
Punish them as much as you have punished me
because of my sins.
I never stop groaning-- I've lost all hope!

The LORD Was Like an Enemy

The Prophet Speaks:
Lamentations 2 The Lord was angry! So he disgraced Zion
though it was Israel's pride and his own place of rest.
In his anger he threw Zion down from heaven to earth.
2The LORD had no mercy!
He destroyed the homes of Jacob's descendants.
In his anger he tore down every walled city in Judah;
he toppled the nation together with its leaders,
leaving them in shame.

3The Lord was so furiously angry
that he wiped out the whole army of Israel
by not supporting them when the enemy attacked.
He was like a raging fire
that swallowed up the descendants of Jacob.
4He attacked like an enemy with a bow and arrows,
killing our loved ones.
He has burned to the ground the homes on Mount Zion.

5The Lord was like an enemy! He left Israel in ruins
with its palaces and fortresses destroyed,
and with everyone in Judah moaning and weeping.
6He shattered his temple like a hut in a garden;
he completely wiped out his meeting place,
and did away with festivals and Sabbaths
in the city of Zion.
In his fierce anger he rejected our king and priests.

7The Lord abandoned his altar and his temple;
he let Zion's enemies capture her fortresses.
Noisy shouts were heard from the temple,
as if it were a time of celebration.

8The LORD had decided to tear down the walls of Zion
stone by stone.
So he started destroying and did not stop
until walls and fortresses mourned and trembled.
9Zion's gates have fallen facedown on the ground;
the bars that locked the gates are smashed to pieces.
Her king and royal family are prisoners in foreign lands.
Her priests don't teach,
and her prophets don't have a message from the LORD.

10Zion's leaders are silent. They just sit on the ground,
tossing dirt on their heads and wearing sackcloth.
Her young women can do nothing but stare at the ground.

11My eyes are red from crying, my stomach is in knots,
and I feel sick all over.
My people are being wiped out, and children lie helpless
in the streets of the city.
12A child begs its mother for food and drink,
then blacks out like a wounded soldier lying in the street.
The child slowly dies in its mother's arms.

13Zion, how can I comfort you? How great is your pain?
Lovely city of Jerusalem, how can I heal your wounds,
gaping as wide as the sea?
14Your prophets deceived you with false visions
and lying messages--
they should have warned you to leave your sins
and be saved from disaster.
15Those who pass by shake their heads and sneer
as they make fun and shout,
"What a lovely city you were, the happiest on earth,
but look at you now!"

16Zion, your enemies curse you and snarl like wild animals,
while shouting,
"This is the day we've waited for!
At last, we've got you!"

17The LORD has done everything
that he had planned and threatened long ago.
He destroyed you without mercy and let your enemies boast
about their powerful forces.

18Zion, deep in your heart you cried out to the Lord.
Now let your tears overflow your walls day and night.
Don't ever lose hope or let your tears stop.
19Get up and pray for help all through the night.
Pour out your feelings to the Lord,
as you would pour water out of a jug.
Beg him to save your people,
who are starving to death at every street crossing.

Jerusalem Speaks:
20Think about it, LORD!
Have you ever been this cruel to anyone before?
Is it right for mothers to eat their children,
or for priests and prophets to be killed in your temple?
21My people, both young and old, lie dead in the streets.
Because you were angry,
my young men and women were brutally slaughtered.
22When you were angry, LORD, you invited my enemies
like guests for a party.
No one survived that day; enemies killed my children,
my own little ones.

Psalm 145
[By David for praise.]
The LORD Is Kind and Merciful

1I will praise you, my God and King,
and always honor your name.
2I will praise you each day and always honor your name.
3You are wonderful, LORD, and you deserve all praise,
because you are much greater
than anyone can understand.

4Each generation will announce to the next
your wonderful and powerful deeds.
5I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory
and your mighty miracles.
6Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds,
and I will tell all nations how great you are.
7They will celebrate and sing
about your matchless mercy and your power to save.

8You are merciful, LORD!
You are kind and patient and always loving.
9You are good to everyone,
and you take care of all your creation.

10All creation will thank you,
and your loyal people will praise you.
11They will tell about
your marvelous kingdom and your power.
12Then everyone will know about
the mighty things you do and your glorious kingdom.
13Your kingdom will never end, and you will rule forever.

Our LORD, you keep your word
and do everything you say.
14When someone stumbles or falls,
you give a helping hand.
15Everyone depends on you, and when the time is right,
you provide them with food.
16By your own hand
you satisfy the desires of all who live.

17Our LORD, everything you do is kind and thoughtful,
18and you are near to everyone whose prayers are sincere.
19You satisfy the desires of all your worshipers,
and you come to save them when they ask for help.
20You take care of everyone who loves you,
but you destroy the wicked.

21I will praise you, LORD,
and everyone will respect your holy name forever.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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