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Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah16

This is a fascinating chapter to read. Throughout the Bible we read of God’s promises for the future and we have read of the long time it has taken for those promises to come to fruition.

Jacob’s descendants waited 400 years in Egypt to return to the promised land.

The people waited generation after generation for the promised Messiah.

We have waited 2,000 years for Jesus to return.

But here in Jeremiah is one of the times in the Bible when God’s promised event happens. God tells Jeremiah that this punishment will happen in Jeremiah’s lifetime.

Here we see God carrying out one of His promises. It happens to be a punishment, but it is a punishment the people were warned about time and time again.

In this chapter of Jeremiah the only Joy we see being described is the joy of human making. This joy is empty and nowhere near as wonderful as God’s Joy.

The promised punishment is terrible but it doesn’t stop the people from their merry making and their empty human joy.

To emphasise the emptiness of that joy, God directs Jeremiah to not go to any celebrations.

If any one asks, Jeremiah is directed to tell them this is because of the coming punishment. Not something that future generations will have to face, but something that these people will have to face.

Not a far-off prophesy, but a now prophesy.

The reason God gives for the punishment is the people turning away from God to worship “no-gods”. Everyone does what they want, when they want and refuse to pay attention to God.

It is easy to point fingers at the people around us and note the “no-gods” they worship.

It is easy to point fingers at the people around us and criticise their lives of doing what they want and not paying attention to God.

It is easy to judge others. But we need to be careful to ensure we are not worshipping the “no-gods” of religion and the “no-gods” of complacency. We need to ensure we are actually doing what God wants and paying attention to God.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 15

It is interesting that the joy in this chapter is the joy Jeremiah felt in his faith in God. Whereas the people around him found temporary joy in their hedonistic pleasures, Jeremiah felt joy in God.
Jeremiah’s life was a hard one. God tasked him with sharing his warnings from God about the fate of Judah if the people did not repent and turn back to God. For his pains he was persecuted.
We are often treated badly in life. Sometimes it is because of a message God has directed us to give people. Sometimes it is because of our faith. And sometimes it doesn’t appear to have any reason.
I have struggled for some time with unexplained ill treatment. I have been subjected to lies and ostracism and bullying by a neighbour who has spread her lies about me as far as she can. This week I had had enough. I couldn’t put a brave face on it anymore. I felt shameful and abandoned. God responded with love, as He responded to Jeremiah.
His reminder: “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel” v21 NIV.
All people face judgement. In Jeremiah’s time it was imminent, but in our time when Jesus has gifted us with His salvation, we know judgement will come at the end.
I have sometimes wondered if God cares and wants to help me, or whether He is just leaving me to yet more ill treatment and pain. It is not that I don’t believe God is not a loving caring God, it is just that I didn’t see any evidence that He poured out His love and care on me. It is comforting to see that Jeremiah struggled with this too. As you read through this chapter of Jeremiah you can see God’s promise to Jeremiah was that He was looking after Him and would continue to do as AS LONG as Jeremiah rejected the temptation to regard God as uncaring or unreliable.
In short. Do not allow bad treatment to turn you away from God.
Jeremiah loved God and wished to serve Him faithfully. But sometimes his pain and feeling that God was rejecting him seeped into his words to the people of Judah.
When that happens the Joy of God is hard to find.
But I take comfort from this chapter of Jeremiah. God will save all of us from the wicked and cruel. He will and does look after us. At times when we despair of the load we are carrying, that is when He reminds us of His love.
Then we can experience the Joy of Him.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 7

“‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. (v1-8 NIV)

Jeremiah was sent as a messenger to warn the people, just as Isaiah was. The joy spoken of in both books was very much about joy that was lost because the people did not obey God.

For many Christians, this is what is happening. True joy just isn’t there. Sometimes that is because times are hard and you are struggling just to stay afloat. You lean on God, you trust Him and you rely on Him. For you Joy will come, even if only for brief moments during your struggle.

But what about those who behave like the people of Jeremiah? These people went out and did not follow God’s commands. They saw foreigners as something to despise, ill treat and take advantage of. They saw the orphan and the widow as people to take advantage of or ignore rather than people to care for as God had commanded. They killed the innocent because it was expedient. They allowed people to die because they did not step in to support them when they needed food or shelter. They worshipped money, position, possessions. You name it they pursued it. They even hedged their bets by following other gods. They listened to the lies of the Pharisees and did not follow God’s commands.

So they were no different to us.

We all fall short of God’s commands. But here God’s focus is on His love and concern for all people. Social Justice. It was here that the people were failing the most.

So we are not that different to them.

When we fail to live as God commanded, we struggle to find God. If we struggle to find Him, then we struggle to find His Joy.

It is that simple.

This is a call to all of us to care about the foreigner, the asylum seeker, the child growing up in poverty, the single parent struggling to make ends meet and provide food for their children, the innocent who need our help, the homeless who need food and shelter.

If we do not care for those God has asked us to care for, how can we expect to experience God’s joy?

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Isaiah 66:1-5

This is the last reference to Joy in Isaiah. 
It is a message about those who worship the building, the idea of God, the rituals. The people with uncircumcised hearts. The ones who do not know God. The ones who do not prepare themselves for God. The ones who think they can make a house for God. The ones who think they can make the rules and rituals for God. The ones who think they never have to contact God and ask Him. He ones who don’t stop to listen to God.
They are not what God wants. They are the ones Jesus described as Pharisees.
Sadly there are many of those in the world today. 
They corrupt the word of God.
They corrupt God’s intent for Christian living.
The forget God wants us to follow the way of love.
He wants us to care for the widow, the poor, the fatherless, the foreigner in our midst.
Instead they utter words of hate. Word of harshness. Words of condemnation and judgement.
But God is not looking for people like that.
He wants people who are simple, down to earth, without the embellishments and the fancy words those who wish to impress use. None of this binding and loosing and all the fancy terms. Just simple words.
God wants people who are reverently responsive to what He says.
Those who act like Pharisees put on a semblance of worship and sacrifice and offerings. They are like acts of sin to God. They are like idol worship.
The worship of the Pharisees is carefully planned with the perfect music team who present songs that rise to a climax so people get a feel good. They think it is the anointing of the spirit, but it is not. 
They encourage people to come to their worship services so they can get the buzz. They don’t come for God, they come for themselves.
Behind the scenes there are intrigues and some are excluded. They never ask God. They plan and plot like those who do not believe.
These people are not happy. They don’t feel God’s joy. 
And they can’t understand why.
It never occurs to them to turn to God. To learn to be with Him. To ask Him.
And these people mock those who truly worship God. Who have real lives and feel joy and pain. Who experience the good and bad.
They mock them because they don’t carry the permanently serene look of the Pharisee.
The Pharisees do not understand God. They do not experience life as God intends them to experience it.
Be the one who reverently responds to God. Not the one with fancy words and the right lingo. Not the one who wears their arrogant serenity as a garment.
Be the one who reverently responds to God. Experience the joy and the sadness. Be with God. Be real. Be His child.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Isaiah 65

The joy of this chapter is the joy of the time when Jesus will return and take us to heaven for all eternity. 

This is the true joy. The promised joy. The joy of being in God’s presence. The joy of peace after a lifetime of living in a fallen world.

It is worth noting that those who will not know joy are ones who never turned to God, despite Him being available for them. Those who never looked for God and turned their backs on Him. Those who repeatedly insisted on doing things their way. Those who made religion what suited them, not what God asked of them. Those who preferred to seek guidance from other sources including pseudo Christian sources. Those who are pharisees and those who just don’t believe at all. They are all ones God has condemned.

What is clear from this chapter is that true Joy is a gift of God to those who follow Him and earnestly seek Him.

 

 


 
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Nan
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