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Joy
Posted By Nan

I apologise for the gap in blogs. I went on holidays and thought I would be able to load my blogs while away, but that never happened. I am back now and am resuming the blogs.

Psalm 5

This psalm continues the theme of needing help against the harshness and injustice of the world. David speaks of the evil of those who oppose God. Those same people oppose him as a servant of God. The people tell lies against others and seek to destroy them. They scheme to bring David down. This is the tactic of the bully who seeks to rise on the destroyed bodies of their victims.
But God has a solution to this. We can take refuge in Him. That is a source of great joy. When we take refuge in Him, He protects us. He blesses those who love Him and seek to be righteous. He will sustain those who are under attack and give them what they need to continue serving Him. That is a source of great comfort and great joy.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Psalm 4
Many times over the past year I have despaired at the increasing hardness and greed of the world in which I live. I have despaired at politicians who masquerade as Christians but speak ungodly hatred and greed. I have despaired at the lack of justice for the refugee, first nations peoples, those who are homeless, those living in poverty, those struggling to live and feed their children. I have despaired at the harshness of those around me with their harsh judgementalism and their ignorance. I have despaired as innocent men have been found guilty of crimes they did not commit by ignorant juries who ignore the truth and follow instead what is flashy and desirable. I have felt like the Psalmist. To me those injustices feel like foes, like the multitude rising up against me.
On a personal level I have been subjected to attacks from ungodly people who have resorted to lies to try to destroy my reputation and isolate me from others. The personal injustices are as bad as the injustices levelled at others. They have combined and felt overwhelming.
Here is David. He is suffering from a time of great trouble. The Bible does not say what the trouble is, but it is supposed it is a time of great calamity when many of his subjects are turning away from God. The injustice is both personal and general.
David cries out to God and God answers. He sustains David and fills him with courage. God will defend, at the right time. And those whose hardness and greed make this place so unpleasant will always hunger for more. And they will be less than those who are sustained by God.
David vows not to resort to uncontrolled anger that would lead him to sin. Instead he waits silently and searches his heart. He trusts God and feels Joy in the knowledge of God’s presence sustaining and delivering him at the right time. He has joy because he has God’s more than enough (The Message v.7).
So I will wait silently and search my heart. I will trust God and I will feel His Joy.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Job 38:1-7
These verses are at the end of the book of Job and relate God’s response to Job. In it God reminds Job of His creation of all that is. It is a reminder of God’s greatness. In verse 7 God relates how the angels sang for Joy at the wonder of God’s mighty creation. This is a great source of Joy for all of us. It is also a reminder that, unlike the angels, we were not there at the creation and we cannot comprehend all that God is and does. There are many moments in our lives when we wish to understand why bad things have happened to us, but God will not necessarily answer us. If we cannot understand His creation, how can we understand His plans for us?
Joy is a response to God’s greatness. The purity of the Joy given to us a fruit of the Spirit is that response. Do not confuse it with happiness, and do not expect to always feel it. Note that you can feel joy at moments in your life that are not that happy. Because Joy and happiness are different. Joy comes from love and is not dependent on our circumstances. We will not always feel Joy, but it is there as a gift of God at the right time. It is not dependant on us having answers, but is instead dependant on God’s gift.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Job 33:26

This verse summarises a faulty belief about Joy. It is about seeing Joy as a result of finding favour with God. In this verse, the youngest of Job’s friends, Elihu, is speaking on what he thinks is happening to Job and what he feels Job is doing wrong. He is suggesting that Job needs to look to a mediator to stand between him and God. Perhaps this mediator is an angel. He anticipates God will graciously forgive Job and God will then reveal Himself once more to Job so that Job feels great Joy as he is restored to a righteous state.
Elihu is basing his definition of Joy on that idea that we are sinners, bad things happen to bring us to repentance, and we feel Joy as a result of God’s favour resting on us as we are restored to Him. Elihu, in common with many believers, sees God’s favour as being something we must earn, rather than a gift of Grace from God. We will never earn God’s favour. God’s favour is a gracious gift bestowed on us.
The trouble with having that belief about Joy is that you don’t experience Joy as God intended. There is always that striving, that seeking of approval. How can you feel Joy when you never believe God accepts you as you are? When you don’t believe that God loves you as you are? That He will change you as and when He wants to?
In order to experience Joy as a fruit of the Spirit, we must trust that God loves us, that He forgives us and the He honours our genuine desire to follow Him.
 

 
Posted By Nan

As the year draws to a close many people review what has happened during the year and make plans for the new year. Many will view the new year with hope and I am usually one of those. But 2019 has not been a very nice year for me and 2020 does not show signs of being better. In fact, it may well be worse.

At this time of the year there is encouragement in Christian circles to find a word for the new year. It is usually something uplifting and in previous years mine have.

Usually the word for me comes very quickly. But this year I have a list of words:

Love
Hope
Peace
Reconciliation
Trust
Faith
Healing
Stand.

I believe all those words apply this year with healing being the word that underpins all others. That may seem counterintuitive. Doesn’t Love, or Faith, or Trust underpin all others? Not this year, lack of healing blocks the other words.

All my life I have begged God to make things better. To make my parents love me. To stop my father’s abuse. To stop my mother’s constant undermining. To stop the bullying at school. To send me someone I could feel safe with. To stop the damage of the past from constantly triggering me outside my window of tolerance. To send me friends.

It seemed God did not want those things for me. My parents never loved me, nor did my siblings. My father’s abuse never stopped. My mother died still undermining me and looking at me with hatred. The bullying never stopped. I still encounter bullies in adult life. They are more subtle as adults and usually resort to lies told behind my back to people willing to believe them. The bullying has been particularly bad this year. I have not spent much of the year within my window of tolerance.

And I am supposed to help people!

But God did send me my husband to love me. And I do feel safe with him.

And God sent me friends from the first day I started school. I didn’t realise it because my father’s constant abusive rants about what a horrible person I was - So horrible no one would ever love me and I would never have friends – drowned out the truth. And my mother’s constant comments about how unlikeable and unlovely I was led me to believe no one wanted to be my friend. So all I remembered was the friendships my sister destroyed or the friends who inexplicably disappeared. Therefore I believed I was unlikeable. God has shown me over the years that I was never without friends. More recently He has shown me that I lived near a migrant hostel and most of my friends were migrant children whose family would move away to find more permanent accommodation. Thanks to God’s gift of love for others, I was willing to befriend all the newcomers and not stick to exclusive cliques of friends. My friendships didn’t end, they just moved away.

The likeability issue has been prominent this year and I have been very aware that this has been my ‘thorn in the flesh’. It is an area of my life that satan uses to seek to derail me. Other years I have been able to ignore that thorn because things have gone well. But for the last year I have been subjected to bullying by a particularly nasty neighbour. I am not the first she has bullied (but they have all moved away) and I won’t be the last.

I have stood firm in faith. I have prayed for this woman. I have handed over my hurt at other people in our little cul-de-sac believing her and refusing to talk to me. I have cried to God. I have read the Psalms and cried with David at the unfairness of life. But here I am at the end of the year and nothing is better. In fact it is worse.
Her lies and nastiness shouldn’t bother me. I don’t want to be her best buddy. I don’t want to be the other neighbour’s best buddies. I just want to “live and let” my neighbours in peace. I want to be able to wave a hello, not have people turn their backs to avoid saying hello when I walk or drive past. I acknowledge everybody. I love people and feel great compassion for the hurt of others. But this has stumped me.

I actually find myself feeling angry at this woman and those who believe her lies. I find myself wishing them ill. I resist the temptation to say nasty things about them, although I so want to. But the more I am angry and the more I think angry thoughts, the more I block God.

As I prayed and meditated on the word I wanted for the coming year God spoke to me. He said

“Be empty that you may receive my healing and joy.”

As I contemplated that God expanded the words for me:

“Be empty of all rage, malice and anger (because that is not who you are) that you may receive my healing and joy.”

In addition to my personal woes, there have been a lot of bad things happening in the world. So many countries are run by politicians whose only interest is their extremist views, looking after their wealth and not caring about justice or the poor, widow or refugee. That negativity was so bad I absented myself from social media for a few months.

There are also bad things happening individually to people.

This means we have great burdens to carry. We carry a burden of care for our fellow human and we carry a burden of care for ourselves.

God’s message about being empty applies to the world issues as well as the personal ones.

We all need a 2020 filled with love, hope, peace, reconciliation, trust, faith, standing and most of all healing.

In 2020 may we all be empty that we may receive healing and joy.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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