Sounds Of Joy And Gladness

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 7:07 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “I Will Lift My Eyes” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Jeremiah 33:1-16 (NIV):

While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: ‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.

“‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’

“This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying,

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
for the Lord is good;
his love endures forever.”

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the Lord.

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’

Everlasting Love

Jeremiah was a prophet of God. That meant that he spoke the very words of God to the people. The people of God were steeped in sin – rebellion, idolatry, and spiritual and physical adultery. They had stopped up their ears and they refused to hear the words of the Lord. Many were listening to the lying prophets, instead, who were promising them peace and safety. God had sent them many messages, confronting them with their sins, and calling upon them to repent, but they refused. So, he had Jeremiah prophesy judgments to come against them if they did not repent. Yet, he also prophesied much hope and healing for the penitent.

God told his people (see Jer. 31) how he loved them with an everlasting love, and he reminded them of how he drew them to himself with loving kindness. Yet, since they rebelled against him, and they refused to repent time and time again, he would have to send his judgments upon them in order to bring them back to himself. He promised if they repented that he would restore his people, and that he would build them up again. He would turn their mourning into gladness and give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow (cf. Is. 61:1-3). He told them that there would be hope for their future. He also told them that, even though presently he often had to speak against them because of their many sins, his heart yearned for them and he was filled with compassion for them. This is true love.

Health and Healing

God had to hide his face from his people, and the city in which they dwelled, because of all their wickedness, yet he vowed to bring health and healing to them and to their city. God’s purposes in the judgment of his people are not to be mean and hateful. He is like a loving dad who must correct a wayward and rebellious child who refuses the father’s instructions. The dad does not enjoy this. He gets no pleasure out of such discipline. Yet, in love, he must do so to bring the child back to where he or she ought to be. This is called “tough love,” but it is still love, and the most difficult kind of all. It breaks the heart of the father to see his children living in rebellion, and it breaks his heart that he must come against them in correction and discipline, yet he does so in the hope that the child or children will turn from their sinful ways and will learn the peace and joy that comes through submission.

God’s goal is always to bring us back from captivity to sin and living for self to trusting in him and submitting to his plans and purposes for our lives. He is our creator. He knows what is best for us. He knows how much sin destroys lives, but surrender to God and to his will brings peace, joy and safety. If this is speaking of those who know Jesus but who have fallen into the trap of willful sin once again, his goal in divine discipline is to get us back on the right path so he can rebuild us into what he intended for us from the beginning. He will forgive and he will cleanse us from all our sins, and then we will live such lives among the people of this world that our lives will bring God Almighty much honor, praise and joy before all the nations of the world, and then many will flock to Jesus Christ and to his salvation.

Our Righteous Savior

Jesus Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, i.e. the promised Messiah to the people of Israel has come. He came over 2,000 years ago. He was born as a baby, yet he is the Son of God. When he walked the face of this earth, he was fully God and fully man. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in all the ways we are tempted, yet without sin. He was falsely accused, arrested, beaten, mocked, spat upon, betrayed, denied, forsaken and rejected of men before they hung him on a cross to die as a common criminal, although he had done no wrong. Yet, when he died, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins died with him. They were buried with him, but when he rose from the grave, our sins remained buried, for he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin.

Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we can be set free from captivity to sin and we can walk in freedom and victory over sin, self and Satan. We can have wonderful fellowship with our Lord God. We can sit at his feet and learn from him daily what he has for us, and out of love for him we can walk in obedience to his commands and we can surrender to his plans and purposes for our lives because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins so we could go free!

Yet, each one of us must individually receive Jesus Christ as Lord (master) and Savior of our lives, by God’s grace in providing salvation for us, and through faith (repentance and obedience). Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his fleshly will and appetites), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey and submit to) Jesus Christ. He said if we choose to hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self that we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly lay down our lives for the sake of his name and for the sake of the gospel, that we will gain eternal life with God forever (see Luke 9:23-25; cf. Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6; 1 John; Gal. 2:20). This is the working of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts in transforming us, in purifying us from sin, and in regeneration (new birth) in Christ Jesus, as we cooperate fully with that work.

Jesus paid the penalty of our sin so we can go free from slavery to sin, and so we can be free from having to spend eternity in hell, and so we can be free to love, honor, worship, obey, surrender to and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the rest of our days. So, when we turn from our sins and we turn to God, committing ourselves to be faithful, submissive, obedient servants and children of Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ, God restores us to a right relationship with him, he heals our broken hearts that were broken because of sin, he comforts us with his love and forgiveness, and he fills us with his peace and joy, and promises spiritual protection from the enemy of our souls; that he will be with us all our days, that he will teach us his ways so we can walk in them, that he will comfort us in our sorrows, and that he will provide all the strength and hope we need to live each and every day for him in his strength and power within us. This is awesome!

Should we sin

Jesus does not promise that we will never be tempted by sin or that we will never sin again once we come to him in faith. Yet, he does ask that when we do sin that we come to him humbly with contrite hearts, that we confess our sins and choose again to turn away from them and toward him in faithful obedience. When we do, he is always there to restore us, to revive us, to heal our wounds, to heal our broken hearts, and to set us on the right paths again, because he is a loving and forgiving God, and because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin so that we can go free. He will always seek after us to bring us back.

Yet, should we stray to the point to where we refuse to repent any longer, even after he sends us message after message calling us to repent, I believe scripture teaches that he will send us a dose of divine discipline and correction like a loving dad in order to get us to return, so that he can restore us and build us up again and make us whole in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

So, if you want to be free from the traps of sin, turn from sin and get rid of all that hinders your walk with the Lord and that leads you into sin, and choose today to walk in faithful obedience to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – to bring him honor, praise and joy among the people of this world so that many others may also know the joy of our salvation.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes
To my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him,
Who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and
He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and
Your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes
To my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him,
Who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes
To my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord.
My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us,
He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior,
He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes
To my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord.
My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
My home now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord,
Who is on our side.
Our help found in Him.
He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken.
God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us.
He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord,
Who is on our side.
Our help found in Him.
He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.