Sunday, 5th May 2020 – 10:00 (BST)

Todays Reading:

Hebrews 11

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

(ESV)

Lamentations 3:25–5:13

25   The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26   It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the LORD.
27   It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.
28   Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
29   let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30   let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.
31   For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32   but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33   for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.
34   To crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the earth,
35   to deny a man justice
    in the presence of the Most High,
36   to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
    the Lord does not approve.
37   Who has spoken and it came to pass,
    unless the Lord has commanded it?
38   Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that good and bad come?
39   Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?
40   Let us test and examine our ways,
    and return to the LORD!
41   Let us lift up our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven:
42   “We have transgressed and rebelled,
    and you have not forgiven.
43   “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
    killing without pity;
44   you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can pass through.
45   You have made us scum and garbage
    among the peoples.
46   “All our enemies
    open their mouths against us;
47   panic and pitfall have come upon us,
    devastation and destruction;
48   my eyes flow with rivers of tears
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
49   “My eyes will flow without ceasing,
    without respite,
50   until the LORD from heaven
    looks down and sees;
51   my eyes cause me grief
    at the fate of all the daughters of my city.
52   “I have been hunted like a bird
    by those who were my enemies without cause;
53   they flung me alive into the pit
    and cast stones on me;
54   water closed over my head;
    I said, ‘I am lost.’
55   “I called on your name, O LORD,
    from the depths of the pit;
56   you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
57   You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’
58   “You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.
59   You have seen the wrong done to me, O LORD;
    judge my cause.
60   You have seen all their vengeance,
    all their plots against me.
61   “You have heard their taunts, O LORD,
    all their plots against me.
62   The lips and thoughts of my assailants
    are against me all the day long.
63   Behold their sitting and their rising;
    I am the object of their taunts.
64   “You will repay them, O LORD,
    according to the work of their hands.
65   You will give them dullness of heart;
    your curse will be on them.
66   You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under your heavens, O LORD.”

4:1   How the gold has grown dim,
    how the pure gold is changed!
  The holy stones lie scattered
    at the head of every street.
  The precious sons of Zion,
    worth their weight in fine gold,
  how they are regarded as earthen pots,
    the work of a potter's hands!
  Even jackals offer the breast;
    they nurse their young;
  but the daughter of my people has become cruel,
    like the ostriches in the wilderness.
  The tongue of the nursing infant sticks
    to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
  the children beg for food,
    but no one gives to them.
  Those who once feasted on delicacies
    perish in the streets;
  those who were brought up in purple
    embrace ash heaps.
  For the chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater
    than the punishment of Sodom,
  which was overthrown in a moment,
    and no hands were wrung for her.
  Her princes were purer than snow,
    whiter than milk;
  their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
    the beauty of their form was like sapphire.
  Now their face is blacker than soot;
    they are not recognized in the streets;
  their skin has shriveled on their bones;
    it has become as dry as wood.
  Happier were the victims of the sword
    than the victims of hunger,
  who wasted away, pierced
    by lack of the fruits of the field.
10   The hands of compassionate women
    have boiled their own children;
  they became their food
    during the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11   The LORD gave full vent to his wrath;
    he poured out his hot anger,
  and he kindled a fire in Zion
    that consumed its foundations.
12   The kings of the earth did not believe,
    nor any of the inhabitants of the world,
  that foe or enemy could enter
    the gates of Jerusalem.
13   This was for the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
  who shed in the midst of her
    the blood of the righteous.
14   They wandered, blind, through the streets;
    they were so defiled with blood
  that no one was able to touch
    their garments.
15   “Away! Unclean!” people cried at them.
    “Away! Away! Do not touch!”
  So they became fugitives and wanderers;
    people said among the nations,
    “They shall stay with us no longer.”
16   The LORD himself has scattered them;
    he will regard them no more;
  no honor was shown to the priests,
    no favor to the elders.
17   Our eyes failed, ever watching
    vainly for help;
  in our watching we watched
    for a nation which could not save.
18   They dogged our steps
    so that we could not walk in our streets;
  our end drew near; our days were numbered,
    for our end had come.
19   Our pursuers were swifter
    than the eagles in the heavens;
  they chased us on the mountains;
    they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20   The breath of our nostrils, the LORD's anointed,
    was captured in their pits,
  of whom we said, “Under his shadow
    we shall live among the nations.”
21   Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
    you who dwell in the land of Uz;
  but to you also the cup shall pass;
    you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22   The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished;
    he will keep you in exile no longer;
  but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish;
    he will uncover your sins.

5:1   Remember, O LORD, what has befallen us;
    look, and see our disgrace!
  Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
    our homes to foreigners.
  We have become orphans, fatherless;
    our mothers are like widows.
  We must pay for the water we drink;
    the wood we get must be bought.
  Our pursuers are at our necks;
    we are weary; we are given no rest.
  We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria,
    to get bread enough.
  Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
    and we bear their iniquities.
  Slaves rule over us;
    there is none to deliver us from their hand.
  We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
    because of the sword in the wilderness.
10   Our skin is hot as an oven
    with the burning heat of famine.
11   Women are raped in Zion,
    young women in the towns of Judah.
12   Princes are hung up by their hands;
    no respect is shown to the elders.
13   Young men are compelled to grind at the mill,
    and boys stagger under loads of wood.

(ESV)