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Joy
Posted By Nan

Lamentations 2

Lamentations is just that. A very sad, despairing lament. This chapter is no exception to that. It is a terribly sad piece about the terrible fate of God’s chosen people. The terrible fate of those who broke the covenant and suffered the consequences.

There have been many times in history when people have been devastated by foreign invaders and all has been destroyed. 

Even today, people find themselves in times of total despair and hopelessness.

Refugees in camps languishing while the world turns its back. Asylum seekers locked in offshore detention or in centres where they never even see the sun. People trapped in poverty living in the slums of cities. People in so called wealthy countries who work hard but do not earn enough money to live on and cannot get health care. Those who are ostracised by others. Those living in situations of abuse.

The list goes on.

Sometimes the joy in life is gone. There is only sadness and pleas to God that go unanswered. The one pleading to God feels He is not even listening.

That is the reality of life for many people.

So how do you find the joy in that situation? 

Maybe you don’t. 

Maybe you just keep laying your fears and distress at the cross and hoping that maybe God really is listening.

No matter how bleak things seem we can see from the Bible that these terrible times come. They don’t go away instantly. But reading through the Bible we can see that at the end, the very end, it all works out for those who believe and follow Jesus. 

When you are in those bad times you must cling to the promise of eventual Joy. Because some day it will come.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 51

This last chapter of Jeremiah contains a prophesy about Babylon.

God has used Babylon to carry out His punishment on his chosen people.

In its day Babylon was like Rome was later to become. It was a terrible nation that devoured lesser nations. The Babylonian armies murdered the people of the lands they invaded. Those that were spared were carried off into exile. 
Babylon did not care who was destroyed. There was no concern about the people of the lands. All Babylon cared about was itself.

Yet in this chapter God speaks of how He used Babylon to punish the tribes of Israel. It is a timely reminder that we see terrible rulers, ones who are ungodly. We see them succeed. We wonder why God allows it. We don’t always know the answer but we do know that God raises up nations and their leaders and He brings them down again. So in the time of Jeremiah Babylon was used to fulfil God’s purpose.

But we all face judgement. And there would come a time when Babylon would be destroyed.

Then, the people could truly feel Joy in God’s deliverance.

We face times in life that are hard. We do not always know why we face those times. But we face them. We are often at the mercy of terrible people. This may be on an individual level with a person who is making your life hell. Or it may be on a national level with a leader who is causing deep harm to the people.

The comfort here, the cause for joy, is that God will punish and bring down the tyrant. It may not be for a long time. It may not be until long after we have moved away from the situation. It may not be in our lifetime. But all face God’s judgement. 

For that we can feel great Joy.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 48

This is the story of Moab. An arrogant people. Looking down at those individuals without money and those nations who are poor. Never lifting a finger to help. Full of sense and self need. Totally lacking in humility.

The people of Moab worship their false gods and place their faith in buildings they build. Their homes, their investment properties, large scale developments, they have faith in them all. 

Sounds familiar.

They worship money. They have never had to struggle against impossible odds to succeed in life. They have never faced terrible trouble. They have never had to flee their homes. They believe they can defeat anyone who comes against them. They have their networks of politicians they make donations to so they will support them. They are comfortable in their power and very, very secure.

Sounds familiar.

The people of Moab are not that unusual. In every generation of this world there have been people like that. 

To a lesser extent we all fall for this trap. 

I work in a building with limited parking and many practitioners. Most of the practitioners take the parking spots for themselves so clients have to struggle to find parking on the streets. Recently a fellow practitioner and I suggested we park on the streets and leave the car parks free for the clients. There was a horrified response and many practitioners came up with excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly do that.

Disheartening as it was, this is how so many of us act and feel.

We live in our comfortable homes that we own, and criticise those who struggle to find a home to rent in an undersupplied market, claiming they aren’t trying hard enough.

We look at those less fortunate than us, and nations less fortunate, and begrudge any money allocated to support them.

We occupy ourselves with buying a home, and maybe an investment property and don’t care what happens to others whose struggle is greater.

We support political parties who do not support those in need and support instead their political donors. Politicians whose god is power. And we don’t speak out against their policies.

What happened to Moab?

God destroyed them.

All their cities, their homes and investment portfolios. They were all destroyed. The politicians were destroyed. Their economy was destroyed. 

Instead of thriving, wealthy cities, there were instead ghost towns of destroyed buildings. Piles of rubble for future inhabitants to raid in order to build their own buildings. Building their new cities on the rubble of Moab’s bricks and mortar. 

Moab’s selfishness and greed, their easy lives and arrogance, were destroyed. In their place was a struggle to survive, a place where their wealth was worthless, where the easy life was extinguished. Instead of an easy, hedonistic, Me, Me life there was struggle and hard labour simply to survive. All joy ceased.

For the people, the land was covered in salt so nothing would grow. I don’t know if you have ever seen the impact salt has on the ground. In my western side yard there are only weeds. Nothing grows due to the heat and narrowness of the yard. So I use salt to kill the weeds. It is amazing to watch these plants shrivel as the salt is sprinkled on the ground. Nothing survives salt. 

We can take an important lesson from the people of Moab. Our turn to face this judgement will come. It may not come in our generation, but it will come.

You may not care about what happens to future generations. One thing to remember though. God punished all Moab. Sometimes He punishes nations. Sometimes He punishes individuals.

In your lifetime He may not punish your nation. He may punish you. And never forget. You will stand in front of God to be judged, either in life or in death. Be grateful if it happens in life and you have the opportunity to repent and change. Because if it happens in death there is no opportunity to make good.

God punishes. But God also restores, once the lesson has been learned.

It is time we stopped thinking about our own comfortable, self concerned lives and started asking God if this is how He wants us to lead our lives.

 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 33

So far in this study of Joy, I have spoken of the different aspects of joy we feel. The conclusion has largely been that Joy comes from God. That is true joy. It is a gift from God and the response of being in God’s presence.

But this chapter mentions another aspect of Joy. That of God’s Joy. The Joy He feels when He blesses His children and sees us living life the way He intends.

As a child I wanted to serve God well so He would be pleased. As an adult, I still want that. There is an element of wanting to do that to get His approval. And some of that comes from my own difficult childhood with a narcissistic mother who constantly raised the bar of approval higher and was never satisfied.

But God is not a dysfunctional person. He is God. He loves us anyway and we do not have to earn His love. In truth, we never could be that good.

God loves us because He is God. It is part of His nature to love us, even those who don’t believe in Him are loved.

God love us and wants the best for us. He wants to see us able to join Him in heaven. That causes Him great Joy.

How wonderful to think that although God always loves us, He feels Joy at our imperfect human efforts to serve Him faithfully.

That knowledge is a source of great Joy for us too.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 31

If you read the Bible from Genesis onwards, you will see many times when God judged the people. It started with Noah and the destruction of all but those on the ark with Noah, it continued with the tower of Babel and throughout the history of the Israelites. This chapter of Jeremiah continues God’s punishment. For the people of Jeremiah’s day, this was a warning of God’s impending judgment on them. The destruction of their beloved city of Jerusalem, including the temple where they came to worship God. The removal into exile of the people.
70 years would be the time of their judgement. Then they would return and rebuild their country. 
God promised the time of judgement would have an end point.
He promised that he would make a new covenant with the people.
Of course that covenant was the one made by Jesus when he died on the cross, was resurrected and ascended to heaven. That covenant still stands.
The people sinned and the judgement came on their children. But the new covenant would place punishment onto the person who sinned, not their descendants.
That is the difference with the new covenant.
God promised the people that their joy would turn to sorrow, but there would come a time when their joy would be restored and they would be able to rejoice in God’s presence. 
In that time, the people would not need teachers to teach them about God, He would write His words on their hearts. He would instruct them Himself.
We don’t need teachers anymore. We can learn about God directly from God. Because He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us.
We can receive instruction from others, but we must always remember that we need to learn directly from God, not through intermediaries. God directs us to run everything we are taught through the Bible. We must learn directly from God.
An important message from this chapter is that all bad times have their end points, but those end points may be a long way away. 
Just as God encouraged the people to not lose faith in their eventual restoration, God encourages us to not lose faith and our hard times.
Joy is there as a gift. We experience it more in the good times, but should not think we can’t feel it in the hard times as well.

 

 


 
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Nan
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