Monday, August 30, 2010

The Worst Real Estate Deal

All my properties went down roughly 30% these last 3 years.
In pretty much every case, that was all of my equity. More than my equity in many cases.
So real estate investing has been rough on us lately.

Here is a deal worse than any I have every made!!

Jeremiah 32
Jeremiah’s Land Purchase

1 "The following message came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah,[a] king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.[b] 2 Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. 3 King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it. 4 King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians[c] and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the Lord. ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’”

6 At that time the Lord sent me a message. He said, 7 “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’”

8 Then, just as the Lord had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the Lord.

9 So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces[d] of silver for it. 10 I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him. 11 Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase, 12 and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse."

So the deal was prompted by God. God obviously had not gone to all the seminars about getting rich quick in real estate!

The terms were "all cash". Seventeen pieces of silver.
Under the laws of the government at that time, Jeremiah had first right of refusal. He had no obligation to buy it, but no one else could buy it until he had decided.

He went ahead and made the purchase, properly executing the "paperwork" and properly recording the purchase with the county.

The result?

Jeremiah lost his equity.

How much? 30%

No 100%.

This property was completely worthless once the empire invaded the land and all property rights were cancelled.

My takeaway?

Sometimes God has a greater purpose in our life than just making money!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already

After all the woes Jeremiah has been speaking, he now delivers some promises from God.

Jeremiah 31
Hope for Restoration


“In that day,” says the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. 2 This is what the Lord says:

“Those who survive the coming destruction
will find blessings even in the barren land,
for I will give rest to the people of Israel.”

3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
4 I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.

ou will again be happy
and dance merrily with your tambourines.
5 Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria
and eat from your own gardens there.
6 The day will come when watchmen will shout
from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem[c]
to worship the Lord our God.’”

7 Now this is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Israel.[d]
Shout for the greatest of nations!
Shout out with praise and joy:
‘Save your people, O Lord,
the remnant of Israel!’
8 For I will bring them from the north
and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
the expectant mothers and women in labor.
A great company will return!
9 Tears of joy will stream down their faces,
and I will lead them home with great care.
They will walk beside quiet streams
and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.
For I am Israel’s father,
and Ephraim is my oldest child.

20 “Is not Israel still my son,
my darling child?” says the Lord.
“I often have to punish him,
but I still love him.
That’s why I long for him
and surely will have mercy on him.
21 Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
return to your towns here.
22 How long will you wander,
my wayward daughter?
For the Lord will cause something new to happen—
Israel will embrace her God.[f]”

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

35 It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day
and the moon and stars to light the night,
and who stirs the sea into roaring waves.
His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
and this is what he says:
36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel
as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“Just as the heavens cannot be measured
and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored,
so I will not consider casting them away
for the evil they have done.
I, the Lord, have spoken!"

As bad as the woes are, the promises are even sweeter!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

God set Iraq up: God pulled Iraq down!


Iraq was in the Bible long before America was even heard of.

In this passage, Jeremiah predicts that Iraq will be set up, and the leader will be doing the bidding of God Almighty.

Then Jeremiah predicts that God would bring Iraq down.
And it was so...

Jeremiah 27

1 This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Zedekiah[c] son of Josiah, king of Judah.

2 This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather thongs. 3 Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem. 4 Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: 5 With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose. 6 Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control. 7 All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon. 8 So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the Lord. I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.

9 “‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.” 10 They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die. 11 But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”

12 Then I repeated this same message to King Zedekiah of Judah. “If you want to live, submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people. 13 Why do you insist on dying—you and your people? Why should you choose war, famine, and disease, which the Lord will bring against every nation that refuses to submit to Babylon’s king? 14 Do not listen to the false prophets who keep telling you, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ They are liars. 15 This is what the Lord says: ‘I have not sent these prophets! They are telling you lies in my name, so I will drive you from this land. You will all die—you and all these prophets, too.’”

16 Then I spoke to the priests and the people and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not listen to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie! 17 Do not listen to them. Surrender to the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this whole city be destroyed? 18 If they really are prophets and speak the Lord’s messages, let them pray to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Let them pray that the articles remaining in the Lord’s Temple and in the king’s palace and in the palaces of Jerusalem will not be carried away to Babylon!’

19 “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken about the pillars in front of the Temple, the great bronze basin called the Sea, the water carts, and all the other ceremonial articles. 20 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon left them here when he exiled Jehoiachin[d] son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon, along with all the other nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21 Yes, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about the precious things still in the Temple and in the palace of Judah’s king: 22 ‘They will all be carried away to Babylon and will stay there until I send for them,’ says the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back to Jerusalem again.’”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jeremiah complains

Can we pray honestly to God?

Or do we have to sugar coat things? Try to keep from offending Him?

Well, Jeremiah was pretty frank in this passage. He was arrested, beaten and humiliated for preaching the messages he was given. Afterwards he was released, but he complained bitterly to God.

Jeremiah 20
Jeremiah and Pashhur


1 Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. 2 So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.

3 The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’[a] 4 For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. 5 And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. 6 As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”

Jeremiah’s Complaint

7 O Lord, you misled me,
and I allowed myself to be misled.
You are stronger than I am,
and you overpowered me.
Now I am mocked every day;
everyone laughs at me.
8 When I speak, the words burst out.
“Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
have made me a household joke.
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
I can’t do it!
10 I have heard the many rumors about me.
They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”
They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”
Even my old friends are watching me,
waiting for a fatal slip.
“He will trap himself,” they say,
“and then we will get our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior.
Before him my persecutors will stumble.
They cannot defeat me.
They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated.
Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
you test those who are righteous,
and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
13 Sing to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
For though I was poor and needy,
he rescued me from my oppressors.

14 Yet I curse the day I was born!
May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15 I curse the messenger who told my father,
“Good news—you have a son!”
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old
that the Lord overthrew without mercy.
Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17 because he did not kill me at birth.
Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb,
that her body had been my grave!
18 Why was I ever born?
My entire life has been filled
with trouble, sorrow, and shame.

God the Potter can do what He wants with the Clay





We are familiar with the potter's wheel, and the process of making pottery out of clay.
For a while in our area there was a franchise called The Pottery Barn, where you could go and fashion something out of clay, color it, dry it and take it home as your own creation.

God uses the analogy to describe something else about the pottery process.

The potter can get discouraged with what is taking shape, smash it into a lump, and start all over again!

Jeremiah 18
The Potter and the Clay


1 "The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, 8 but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”

12 But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.”

13 So this is what the Lord says:

“Has anyone ever heard of such a thing,
even among the pagan nations?
My virgin daughter Israel
has done something terrible!
14 Does the snow ever disappear from the mountaintops of Lebanon?
Do the cold streams flowing from those distant mountains ever run dry?
15 But my people are not so reliable, for they have deserted me;
they burn incense to worthless idols.
They have stumbled off the ancient highways
and walk in muddy paths.
16 Therefore, their land will become desolate,
a monument to their stupidity.
All who pass by will be astonished
and will shake their heads in amazement.
17 I will scatter my people before their enemies
as the east wind scatters dust.
And in all their trouble I will turn my back on them
and refuse to notice their distress.”

Impending doom is coming.
Can't say God did not faithfully warn them!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

They are like trees planted along a riverbank


Here is a passage with a woe, wonder and woe.

Interesting "sandwich". I was tempted to just show the delightful little piece in the middle, but decided to include the whole sandwich.

The Woe

Jeremiah 17
Judah’s Sin and Punishment


1 “The sin of Judah
is inscribed with an iron chisel—
engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts
and on the corners of their altars.
2 Even their children go to worship
at their pagan altars and Asherah poles,
beneath every green tree
and on every high hill.
3 So I will hand over my holy mountain—
along with all your wealth and treasures
and your pagan shrines—
as plunder to your enemies,
for sin runs rampant in your land.
4 The wonderful possession I have reserved for you
will slip from your hands.
I will tell your enemies to take you
as captives to a foreign land.
For my anger blazes like a fire
that will burn forever.”
5 "This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land."

The Wonder.

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit."

Woe again.

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

In the middle of all this bad news is this delightful promise:

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord...

The Coming Destruction

In America, we have never experienced this.
The overwhelming terror of a mighty military force overrunning the country.
Europe has experienced it many times over the centuries. The middle east, aasia, many parts of the world.

We did it recently to Iraq.

God is predicting that "shock and awe" kind of destruction for His people in Jeremiahs day.

It happened, just as He said it would...

The Coming Destruction

17 "Pack your bags and prepare to leave;
the siege is about to begin.
18 For this is what the Lord says:
“Suddenly, I will fling out
all you who live in this land.
I will pour great troubles upon you,
and at last you will feel my anger.”

19 My wound is severe,
and my grief is great.
My sickness is incurable,
but I must bear it.
20 My home is gone,
and no one is left to help me rebuild it.
My children have been taken away,
and I will never see them again.
21 The shepherds of my people have lost their senses.
They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord.
Therefore, they fail completely,
and their flocks are scattered.
22 Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies
as they roll down from the north.
The towns of Judah will be destroyed
and become a haunt for jackals."

God is in control.

Even when it seems He is not.

God is in control...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

God is God. Everything else mere wood...

Jeremiah is presenting the contrast between God - God almighty, and everything else that consumes our affection and attention...

We are no less idolaters than theses people were. Our idols are wood (houses) steel (cars) cloth (clothes) and vanity.

God is God.


6 "Lord, there is no one like you!
For you are great, and your name is full of power.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
and in all the kingdoms of the world,
there is no one like you.

8 People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
The things they worship are made of wood!
9 They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish
and gold from Uphaz,
and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen
who make their idols.
Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes
made by expert tailors.
10 But the Lord is the only true God.
He is the living God and the everlasting King!
The whole earth trembles at his anger.
The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.

11 Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”[a]

12 But God made the earth by his power,
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
he stretched out the heavens.
13 When he speaks in the thunder,
the heavens roar with rain.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
14 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge!
The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make,
for their carefully shaped works are a fraud.
These idols have no breath or power.
15 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!
On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.
16 But the God of Israel[b] is no idol!
He is the Creator of everything that exists,
including Israel, his own special possession.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ouch!


Ouch!

This is not a message you want to hear from God!

16 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! 19 Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”

20 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”

21 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! 22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. 25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. 26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.

27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the Lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. 29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the Lord has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’"

How does the New Testament put it?

Galatians 6:7 (Today's New International Version)
7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow."

So this is not a message I would want to give.

This is not a message I would want to receive!

Ouch!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world


God is talking to His people through Jeremiah...

Jeremiah 4
1 “O Israel,” says the Lord,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
2 Then when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”


God is calling. Pleading, you could say. He adjures His people.
But there is another side as well.

God is not on His knees like a beggar. He is more like a loving father saying, "If you do this it will go well with you, if you do that it is not going to be pretty!"

Coming Judgment against Judah


3 "This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!
Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4 O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,[a]
or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins."

They didn't.
And He did.

Judgement came, just as God said it would.

Can we learn from the past?

Or do we want the same to happen to us...

Friday, August 13, 2010

O my people, listen!

O my people, listen!

Jeremiah is pleading with the people.
Why did you turn away from God?
Come back, before it is too late.
Come back...

31 “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord!
Have I been like a desert to Israel?
Have I been to them a land of darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God!
We don’t need him anymore!’
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry?
Does a bride hide her wedding dress?
Yet for years on end
my people have forgotten me.

33 “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers.
Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34 Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor,
though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35 And yet you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.
Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely
because you claim you have not sinned.
36 First here, then there—
you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
just as Assyria did before.
37 In despair, you will be led into exile
with your hands on your heads,
for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust.
They will not help you at all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You will stand against the whole land

What do you think of your job.
Hate it?
Love it?

How would you be given a job with this job description...
You will stand against the whole land.

Wow!

I thought MY job was tough!!

11 "Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”

And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”

12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching,[c] and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”

13 Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”

And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”

14 “Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. 15 Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord, have spoken!

“They will set their thrones
at the gates of the city.
They will attack its walls
and all the other towns of Judah.
16 I will pronounce judgment
on my people for all their evil—
for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!

17 “Get up and prepare for action.
Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say.
Do not be afraid of them,
or I will make you look foolish in front of them.
18 For see, today I have made you strong
like a fortified city that cannot be captured,
like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land—
the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.
19 They will fight you, but they will fail.
For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

God Spoke to Jeremiah

We are reading the book of Jeremiah now.
Jeremiah heard from God.
Was it an audible voice?

Maybe. Doesn't say.
But Jeremiah clearly heard from God again and again, and he wrote down what he heard. They had entire conversations together, Jeremiah and God...

4 "The Lord gave me this message:

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
and plant.”

Jeremiah heard from God, and he acted upon what he heard.

Heard from God lately?

Friday, August 6, 2010

At last your troubles will be over

After a long passage of woe, comes this little section of hope.

Zephaniah 3

14 "Sing, O daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment
and will disperse the armies of your enemy.
And the Lord himself, the King of Israel,
will live among you!
At last your troubles will be over,
and you will never again fear disaster.
16 On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be,
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!
17 For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.[i]
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

18 “I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals;
you will be disgraced no more.[j]
19 And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you.
I will save the weak and helpless ones;
I will bring together
those who were chased away.
I will give glory and fame to my former exiles,
wherever they have been mocked and shamed.
20 On that day I will gather you together
and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
among all the nations of the earth,
as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

We live so much in the now.
God lives so much in eternity.

Its a big difference.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A river of peace and prosperity

a river of peace and prosperity

That sounds a lot like what the US enjoyed from 1950 to 2007
a river of peace and prosperity
God makes it clear in Isaiah that His ideal for his children is just that...
a river of peace and prosperity

However, there are stern warnings, even in this, the last chapter of the book, for those who are against God...

Isaiah 66

12 This is what the Lord says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
The wealth of the nations will flow to her.
Her children will be nursed at her breasts,
carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem
as a mother comforts her child.”

14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice.
You will flourish like the grass!
Everyone will see the Lord’s hand of blessing on his servants—
and his anger against his enemies.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,
and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind.
He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger
and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke.
16 The Lord will punish the world by fire
and by his sword.
He will judge the earth,
and many will be killed by him.

Blessings?
Curses?

I would rather the former!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here I am! Here I am!

One of my granddaughter's favorite games is Hide-and-Seek.
But it is clear that it is most fun to be found.
If any time goes on at all without anyone finding her, she will begin to make noises.
The most fun is to be found.

Today, God is saying to His people.
"Here I am, Here I am."
But noone is seeking Him.

He says, "You shall seek me, and you shall find me, if you seek me with all your heart."
But no one is seeking Him.

And He wants to be found...

Isaiah 65


1 The Lord says,

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.[d]
2 All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.[e]
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
3 All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.
4 At night they go out among the graves,
worshiping the dead.
They eat the flesh of pigs
and make stews with other forbidden foods.
5 Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Break into loud and joyful song!



Break into loud and joyful song

Does that capture jubilation for you adequately?
God does care.
He does love you.
Break into loud and joyful song

Isaiah 54
Future Glory for Jerusalem


1 “Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband,”
says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3 For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities.

4 “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
5 For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
6 For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
says your God.
7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will take you back.
8 In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.
But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.

9 “Just as I swore in the time of Noah
that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,
so now I swear
that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10 For the mountains may move
and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

11 “O storm-battered city,
troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,
your gates of shining gems,
and your walls of precious stones.
13 I will teach all your children,
and they will enjoy great peace.
14 You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
Your enemies will stay far away.
You will live in peace,
and terror will not come near.
15 If any nation comes to fight you,
it is not because I sent them.
Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.

16 “I have created the blacksmith
who fans the coals beneath the forge
and makes the weapons of destruction.
And I have created the armies that destroy.
17 But in that coming day
no weapon turned against you will succeed.
You will silence every voice
raised up to accuse you.
These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord;
their vindication will come from me.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Does my life mean anything?


Does my life mean anything?
Has my work accomplished anything?
Is there any value to what I have done?

I feel all those questions very deeply these days, as 26 years of work were washed away in 3 years by the Great Obama Depression.

However, it is encouraging (in a perverse, twisted sort of way) to discover that the great prophet Isaiah felt some of the same angst and anxiety and questions.

Isaiah? The fearless man of God?

Yes. Isaiah. Read on...

Isaiah 49
The Lord’s Servant Commissioned


1 "Listen to me, all you in distant lands!
Pay attention, you who are far away!
The Lord called me before my birth;
from within the womb he called me by name.
2 He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword.
He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.
I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel,
and you will bring me glory.”

4 I replied, “But my work seems so useless!
I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
I will trust God for my reward.”

5 And now the Lord speaks—
the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant,
who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.
The Lord has honored me,
and my God has given me strength.
6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.
I will make you a light to the Gentiles,
and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

7 The Lord, the Redeemer
and Holy One of Israel,
says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations,
to the one who is the servant of rulers:
“Kings will stand at attention when you pass by.
Princes will also bow low
because of the Lord, the faithful one,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Are you questioning?
Forlorn?
Depressed?
Wondering if your work, your very life, has any value?

Join the club.
The Isaiah club.
You are in good company...


Psalm 46
For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.[a]


1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!Interlude

4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6 The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel[b] is our fortress.Interlude

8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.Interlude

Destruction!

Isaiah has been calling out to his people.
God has been rebuking them and calling them to repentance.
The message fell on deaf ears.
Today we read about the consequences...

2 Kings 18
"9 During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked the city of Samaria and began a siege against it. 10 Three years later, during the sixth year of King Hezekiah’s reign and the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, Samaria fell. 11 At that time the king of Assyria exiled the Israelites to Assyria and placed them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 12 For they refused to listen to the Lord their God and obey him. Instead, they violated his covenant—all the laws that Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded them to obey."

Same thing happened to the southern kindom of Judah...

Assyria Invades Judah


13 "In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,[a] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. 14 King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.[b] 15 To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the Lord and in the palace treasury. 16 Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the Lord’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.

17 Nevertheless, the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his chief of staff[c] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.[d] 18 They summoned King Hezekiah, but the king sent these officials to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian."

God is patient, but if we do not leave our sinful ways and follow Him, there will always be consequences...

The Foolishness of Idols


We are built to worship.
It is part of our nature, our fabric as a human being.
The athiest worships his own laughable intellect.
The pagan worships his idols of wood and stone
The materialist (all north americans) worships things - toys, objects of pleasure or status.
(I have included one of my idols for your viewing pleasure)

Worshipping ANYTHING other than God is foolishness.

The Foolishness of Idols


6 This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:

“I am the First and the Last;
there is no other God.
7 Who is like me?
Let him step forward and prove to you his power.
Let him do as I have done since ancient times
when I established a people and explained its future.
8 Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

9 How foolish are those who manufacture idols.
These prized objects are really worthless.
The people who worship idols don’t know this,
so they are all put to shame.
10 Who but a fool would make his own god—
an idol that cannot help him one bit?
11 All who worship idols will be disgraced
along with all these craftsmen—mere humans—
who claim they can make a god.
They may all stand together,
but they will stand in terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool,
pounding and shaping it with all his might.
His work makes him hungry and weak.
It makes him thirsty and faint.
13 Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood
and draws a pattern on it.
He works with chisel and plane
and carves it into a human figure.
He gives it human beauty
and puts it in a little shrine.
14 He cuts down cedars;
he selects the cypress and the oak;
he plants the pine in the forest
to be nourished by the rain.
15 Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire.
With it he warms himself and bakes his bread.
Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it
and makes himself a god to worship!
He makes an idol
and bows down in front of it!
16 He burns part of the tree to roast his meat
and to keep himself warm.
He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
17 Then he takes what’s left
and makes his god: a carved idol!
He falls down in front of it,
worshiping and praying to it.
“Rescue me!” he says.
“You are my god!”

18 Such stupidity and ignorance!
Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see.
Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
“Why, it’s just a block of wood!
I burned half of it for heat
and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
He trusts something that can’t help him at all.
Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
“Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”

It seems obvious when we are talking about a sculpture that people bow down to.

Not at all so obvious when it is our own personal idol - whether a boat, clothes, a vacation, or even the person we love.

Any worship of any idol is foolishness.