Friday, 20 October 2017

Whether they listen or not

You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. – Ezekiel 2.7

This is a tough challenge. God tells Ezekiel that he is to go and speak to the people and share his word. God also tells him that they are rebellious. And God says ‘you speak whether they listen or not.’

It is too easy to base our evangelism on who is going to listen. If we think folks aren’t going to listen it is easy to just forget about them.

We have been in Ireland a long time. One thing I have learned is that most people here choose not to listen. Our friends and associates and co-workers are wonderful people, but very few want to hear what we have to share.

So I can get discouraged and wonder if it is worth the bother to speak or should I just love them and be a good friend or neighbour. But ‘how will they hear without a preacher.’  Israel were a rebellious people. A world which rejects Christ is a rebellious world.

All their rebellion aside – nothing changes our responsibility to speak God’s words to those around us.

I can’t use ‘they just won’t listen’ as an excuse. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The yoke of youth

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust— There may yet be hope.  – Lamentations 3.27-29

Willie Nelson has a song called ‘I Wish I Was Eighteen Again.’ Part of it goes like this:

Time turns the pages and life goes so fast
The years turn the black hair all grey
I talk to some young folks but they don't understand
The words this old man got to say
Oh I wish I was eighteen again...
Oh I wish I was eighteen again

I like the sound of the song. I kind of like Willis Nelson’s music. I am not yet old, I guess. Like the old man I will never turn the heads of young ladies again (of course I never did) and don’t feel like all I do is stand and pretend. But I don’t wish I was eighteen again.

First of all I was a real nerd at eighteen. I did all kinds of stupid stuff. I made some very unwise decisions. Those years of youth are tough. I regret a lot of what I did in those years. I am happy enough to leave those years behind and move on.

But those years do truly mould us and make us. All those tough days of mistakes and embarrassment and messing are part of who we are today. It is good to go through all the trials of youth – but I wouldn’t want to do it again. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

It is good to wait

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. – Lamentations 3.25-26

Jeremiah could hardly bear the loss of Jerusalem as he stood in the empty streets of the city that was once a shining light on a hill. He had been lamenting the state of the city and weeping over how long it would be until the city was restored.

But then we called to mind that they were protected by God’s mercy. That His compassion would not fail. That God’s love and His mercy were new every morning. He remembered the greatness of God’s faithfulness.

And then he called to mind that in times like this it was good to wait on the Lord.

I often wonder about that because I don’t like to wait. Why is waiting such a great thing. James gives us a hint when he says that trials produce patience and patience brings us to maturity. ‘Let patience do its work in you’ he writes, 'and you will grow to maturity.' 

I think the key here is that when we patiently wait we are putting our faith in God to sort things out. It means that we have done all that we can do and now we have to sit back and trust Him. It means that I don’t rush ahead ignoring God in my quest to get it done. It means I don’t gripe when I can’t do anything more. Instead I trust Him and grow though my waiting.  

God will deliver and His deliverance is best. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Lord is my portion

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" – Lamentations 3.24

What is my lot in life? The lots fall out in all kinds of ways. The lot of some is to be rich and powerful and famous. The lot of others is to carry on one day at a time. The lot of some is to live paycheque to paycheque. Sometimes our lot is joy and sometimes it is hardships.

What all is just part of life. That’s the way life goes.

We however can live above all of that because the Lord is our portion no matter what else happens. I may not have much in this world. I may never have fame or fortune. My lot in this life may be to quietly labour away in my little corner of the world doing what little God allows me to do.


But I still have the Lord as my lot in life and because He is I will hope in Him. Others may have all kinds of things, but I know that I have Christ and that gives me hope no matter what crosses my path or comes my way. I can only be content when I realise that the Lord has said ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ My eternity is secure in Him and having Him as my lot in life it will be worth it all when I finally see Him. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Great it Your faithfulness

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3.22-23

Last week I spent a day at a Christian workers conference in Kilkenny. It was a much needed day of edification and encouragement and blessing. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is the singing. One of the songs we sang last week was ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ by Thomas Chisholm. I could hardly do better than in capturing the essence than Chisholm did.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
 “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!’

Here is what Chisholm said about the song late in his life – “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

We have that assurance as well. No matter what our health issues, no matter what our economic woes, no matter what comes our way today we can dig down and rely on the fact that God is faithful today, His love will not fail today, and His mercies will be poured out again today. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Lord's mercies

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3.22-23

Now we get to the things that Jeremiah called to mind to encourage himself in the Lord. Though he must have felt nearly consumed He still was able to dig deep enough to find what he needed. What he needed was to remind himself that it is only the mercies of God that keep him and us from being consumed. Mercy, of course, is another way of saying ‘kindness.’ That mercy, that kindness, of God is what keeps us going.

Where would we be without the mercy of God? Where would we be without the compassions that do not fail? When I look at this world that sometimes can seem as much a train wreck as Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day I can’t imagine living here without the knowledge that God’s mercy is with me. At the end of the day I know that He loves me because Him compassions do not fail. Mercy and love are new every morning.

Because of this I can sing ‘every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.’ I don’t need to worry that He won’t be there tomorrow. I can wake up in full assurance tomorrow that God’s mercies will still be there and His compassion will not let me down. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

This I called to mind

And I said, "My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD." Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers And sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.  – Jeremiah 3.18-21

Lamentations is called that for a reason. It might have been called 2 Jeremiah, but the title really reflects the book. Jeremiah wrote that whole long book of warning and imploring God’s people and begging them to return to Him, but they had ignored Him and now he writes ‘How lonely sits the city That was full of people! How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces Has become a slave! She weeps bitterly in the night, Her tears are on her cheeks; Among all her lovers She has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.’

That is just the start of his lamenting. By the time he gets to chapter 3 he has lost hope.  ‘My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord. When I think about this I sink in despair.’

Something had to happen here. Jeremiah chose the right path and said ‘this I recall to mind.’

We will get into what he called to mind a little later. For now it is enough to look at the fact that Jeremiah chose to move along out of his despair and see another perspective.

There are times that we all need to do just that. There are times when we need to choose to recall that God is involved and get our eyes off of our circumstances. Jeremiah had to stop looking at what he could see and remember and focus on the things he could not see.

And that’s where we are today. When things get dark, and they will, we need to call back to mind the great Bible truths that we know and hold dear and turn our attention there.