Saturday, May 03, 2008
Don’t Get Stuck In A Stock Crisis
Jeremiah 18: 18 Then certain ones said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah, for the law will never be lost from the priest, or counsel from the wise, or an oracle from the prophet. Come, let’s denounce him and pay no attention to all his words.”
19 Pay attention to me, Lord. Hear what my opponents are saying! 20 Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember how I stood before You to speak good on their behalf, to turn Your anger from them.
20:1 Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer and chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 So Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks at the Upper Benjamin Gate in the Lord’s temple. 3 The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord does not call you Pashhur, but Magor-missabib, 4 for this is what the Lord says, ‘I am about to make you a terror to both yourself and those you love. They will fall by the sword of their enemies before your very eyes. I will hand Judah over to the king of Babylon, and he will deport them to Babylon and put them to the sword. I will give away all the wealth of this city, all its products and valuables. Indeed, I will hand all the treasures of the kings of Judah over to their enemies. They will plunder them, seize them, and carry them off to Babylon. 6 As for you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house, you will go into captivity. You will go to Babylon. There you will die, and there you will be buried, you and all your friends that you prophesied falsely to.’ ” 7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived. You seized me and prevailed. I am a laughingstock all the time; everyone ridicules me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. 10 For I have heard the gossip of the multitudes, “Terror is on every side! Report [him]; let’s report him!” Everyone I trusted watches for my fall.” Perhaps he will be deceived so that we might prevail against him and take our vengeance on him.” 11 But the Lord is with me like a violent warrior. Therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. Since they have not succeeded, they will be utterly shamed, an everlasting humiliation that will never be forgotten. 12 Lord of Hosts, testing the righteous and seeing the heart and mind, let me see Your vengeance on them, for I have presented my case to You.13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord, for He rescues the life of the needy from the hand of evil people. 14 Cursed be the day on which I was born. The day my mother bore me— let it never be blessed. 15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A male child is born to you,” bringing him great joy. 16 Let that man be like the cities the Lord overthrew without compassion. Let him hear an outcry in the morning and a war cry at noontime 17 because he didn’t kill me in the womb so that my mother might have been my grave, her womb eternally pregnant. 18 Why did I come out of the womb to see [only]struggle and sorrow, to end my life in shame?
How interesting that the name of the felon in this scene of Jeremiah’s life is a Passhur.
For us in Newcastle, a season of flooding and terrific storms resulted in the Pasha Bulker being run aground on Nobby’s beach at Newcastle. The popular and beautiful beach was reduced to an eyesore as the huge huge ship was sitting there on the shore. Every moment it threatened to break up and cause greater damage to our beautiful coastland. Passhur means “Profit”. That Pasha did not profit Newcastle one little bit. This Passhur did not profit Jeremiah one little bit. He was also one of the prophets.
He revealed himself to be a profitless prophet. He stuck Jeremiah in the stocks.
He has been in the stocks. He has been ridiculed. His life is under threat.
The government is truly out to get him. You might be paranoid if you think everyone is out to get you. The truth is, not may really care. But in this case. Everyone WAS out to get Jeremiah.
He was hated. He knew that every word he spoke form God would get him into real trouble. And people were listening to catch him. It was a miserable existence.
There are 4 mood swings here.
There is apprehension. There is anger There is adoration There is aggravation
One of the most terrible things we can experience is the disillusionment and distress that that cuts right to the heart.
Stocks. The term means to twist. And Jeremiah’s heart was in a twist.
You night be in a twist. If you have been betrayed by those closest to you.
You might be in a twist, if every thing you say gets you into deeper and deeper trouble
You might be in a twist, if someone attempts out of shear malice and hatred to get you at any turn they can.
You emotions will fluctuate. What can you do? You won’t feel like praying. You wont feel like praising. You will feal utterly alone. You will feel that everything is completely futile.
You may even express it the way Jeremiah did, Lord you deceived me.. you gave me this job and its an impossible job. You gave me this job to destroy me. Is that fair?
Bunyan speaks of the torment and twisting of a soul in his book Pilgrim’s Progress when the two travellers on their way to the celestial city are taken captive by Giant Despair, imprisoned in Doubting castle and nearly beaten to death.
Jeremiah must have felt that way. Almost beaten to death.. in the stocks, ridiculed hated. Spoken against by everyone. What hope could he have? None! What joy could he look forward to? When his prophecy came true he would face famine and starvation and turmoil and defeat at the hands of the Babylonians too.
And there were false prophets like Passhur that were a trouble to him. Terror on every side he called Passhur.. it must have been what Jeremiah felt about Passhur’s attitude to him. Not only did the term strike deep and prophetically about what Passhur would experience from the Lord’s hands. It also spoke of what Jeremiah felt: terror on every side.
I have had sleepless nights. Sometimes the stress makes my heart beat with pain. Sometimes there is jealousy and sometimes there is a competitiveness that takes advantage of any situation for personal benefit.
Sometimes I have sympathised with Jeremiah. And sometimes when there is great elation after a minor victory, there is the sudden depression of defeat and disenchantment.
Persecution will come to God’s people (Jeremiah 20:1-2).
John 15:19-21If you were of the world, the world would love [you as]its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me.
John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Acts 14:21-22 After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
This passage from Jeremiah tells us a lot about how crisis can affect us. You don’t need to get stuck in the stocks.
Even though Jeremiah was released from the stocks, he was still stuck in the stocks.
Emotionally he was stuck there.
One minute he is praising God, then the next he is calling down curses on the day of his birth. He curses the fellow who brought news of his birth.
Emotionally he is everywhere.
The Doubt of Perplexity and pain. Doubt like an icy hand when we cannot work out what God is doing in our lives. It’s the doubt that God is good and in control.
There is a profound felt doubt about His wisdom and His arrangements for our lives.
Can God really be good given what is happening. Jeremiah’s anti testimony.
A case study in the dark night of the soul.
Bob Dylan wrote a work called “Blood on the tracks”. Somebody said they enjoyed it. He said I don’t know how any can enjoy that kind of pain.
Funny enough, when you are stuck in the stocks, you may not actually be aware of the stock fluctuations of your emotions.
We can see it clearly here. To Jeremiah he was probably thinking he was responding rationally. He would have considered that he was responding appropriately to the situation. To us, not in the crisis, we can see the extremes this poor guy is going through.
And in many ways we can identify with him. Who hasn’t been to the woodshed and experienced the despair and the delights that these situations lay upon us? Who hasn’t been stretched on the rack till their emotional sinews seemed to cry out for relief?
You can prepare yourself before you get stuck in the stocks.
1. Remember this Crisis Doesn’t define you.
You are more than this. You are more than someone who has to bear the shame of reproach.
You are a child of God.
God has promised to be with you. Your relationship with God is bigger than all this. Jeremiah, God didn’t just make you a prophet to 587 BC Jerusalem. He appointed you a prophet to the nations. A setback here doesn’t define you. Jeremiah, you are in our Bible! Hundreds of millions of people read your words. You are a hero to hundreds of millions of people right now!
You are not your job.
I love the way Malcolm Muggeridge put it. He said,
Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo, the result would not be to make life delectable but to make it too trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the cross signifies and it’s the cross more than anything else that has called me inexorably to Christ.
2. Stick To your Main Tasks.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
Chuck Swindoll wrote: A few sentences in the diary of James Gilmore, pioneer missionary to Mongolia, have stayed with me since the day I first read them. After years of laboring long and hard for the cause of Christ in that desperate land, he wrote, “In the shape of converts I have seen no result. I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian.”
Let me add some further reality to that statement by taking you back to an entry in Gilmore’s journal made in the early days of his ministry. It expressed his dreams and burdens for the people of Mongolia. Handwritten in his journal are these dreams: “Several huts in sight. When shall I be able to speak to the people? O Lord, suggest by the Spirit how I should come among them, and in preparing myself to teach the life and love of Christ Jesus.” That was his hope. He longed to reach the lost of Mongolia with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How different from his entry many years later, “I have not, as far as I am aware, seen anyone who even wanted to be a Christian.” What happened in between? He encountered the jagged edge of an authentic ministry. When I write about succeeding in the work of the Lord, I’m not promising success as we define it in human terms. I’m not saying because you are faithful to proclaim the Word of God your church will be packed or continue to grow larger. Some of God’s most faithful servants are preaching their hearts out in places where the church is not growing. A great temptation for pastors in those difficult settings is to turn to some of the other stuff that holds the promise of more visible results. Don’t go there. Stand tall. God is at work.
If you know the Lord has called you into His work, and you would not be fulfilled doing anything else, then press on and never look back. Even if the results often seem disappointing. Like James Gilmore, stay at it.
3. Don’t make Decisions In The Down Time
Let the Better You Be the Deciding you
Did you notice Jeremiah’s desire to quit? 7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived. You seized me and prevailed. I am a laughingstock all the time; everyone ridicules me. 8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,
He was prepared to quit. Be he realised he couldn’t. Its not a good time to make life changing decisions when your emotions are running hot. Take a break. Give it some time. Don’t make a hasty decision that will put you out of God’s will.
When we experience a great deal of stress, we cannot think clearly and are less able to make reasoned choices. If possible, put off making major decisions until you are free enough from distress to think clearly and rationally and have enough information to make a reasoned choice. Sometimes the peace we feel when we have made a decision is not a guarantee that we may have made a right decision. Sometimes its an emotional reaction that is part of the flight or fight syndrome. It is a consequence of dealing with the stress or distress. At those times, any decision will seem to relieve stress, but it may not be the right decision.
Making a good decision requires patience and careful thought. Following a step-by-step approach can help.
Step 1: Define the Problem.
Step 2: Reevaluate the Situation. (step 1 may have changed your view of the problem!)
Step 3: Gather Information. In order to solve a problem, you should make yourself an "expert" on the subject. What does God’s Word say on this problem? What do other believer’s think?
Step 4: Think of Alternatives. At this stage of the decision-making process, any idea is a good idea
Step 5: Choose an Alternative. Test each alternative carefully, to see how it measures up against the others.
Step 6: Put Your Decision to Work
4. Pray The Promises
7-10. Jermeiah begins his prayer with a lament. He is saying “Its your fault Lord!”
Jer 20:7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived. You seized me and prevailed. I am a laughingstock all the time; everyone ridicules me.
Was he warned? Yes. in Jeremiah 1 the Lord warned Jeremiah of the problems he was going to face 17 “Now, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them. 18 Today, I am the One who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population. 19 They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.” This is] the Lord’s declaration.
But Jeremiah says he was Enticed. Lord you got me into this.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out— I proclaim: Violence and destruction! because the word of the Lord has become for me constant disgrace and derision.
The Word of the Lord had brought him insult and reproach all day long. Perhaps you’ve been mocked for a faithful witness.
9 If I say: I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name, His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail. 10 For I have heard the gossip of the multitudes, “Terror is on every side! Report [him]; let’s report him!” Everyone I trusted watches for my fall.” Perhaps he will be deceived so that we might prevail against him and take our vengeance on him.”
We all get into these times of distress and aggravation. Jeremiah’s prayer of lament is not unlike The Psalmists : Psalm 69:1-4Save me, God, for the water has risen to my neck. 2 I have sunk in deep mud, and there is no footing; I have come into deep waters, and a flood sweeps over me.3 I am weary from my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.4 Those who hate me without cause are more numerous than the hairs of my head; my deceitful enemies, who would destroy me, are powerful. Though I did not steal, I must repay., 7For I have endured insults because of You, and shame has covered my face. 9 because zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me.10 I mourned and fasted, but it brought me insults. 11 I wore sackcloth as my clothing, and I was a joke to them.12 Those who sit at the city gate talk about me, and drunkards make up songs about me.
Do you share your emotions with someone? Do you share your emotions with God in prayer? It’s so important that we do this. Everything pours out of Jeremiah in pairs in this lament. Sometimes in the very midst of prayers of the heart, when I’m feeling discouraged and disillusioned and dismissed by my enemies or defeated by my problems, sometimes that’s the very moment that in spite of all these things I remember that I can still trust God, and, in fact, he’s my only hope.
That’s what happens to Jeremiah. In the midst of all this lament, look at verse 11. He stops and he says,
But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed.
Verse 12: O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.
I remember sitting with a couple as she was dying of pancreatic cancer. He said “I get so mad at God because he doesn’t heal you. Why aren’t you mad at him?” Maybe she does get mad at God, I don’t know, but in this conversation, he said, “Why aren’t you mad at him?” And his wife thought about it and she said, “Yes, it’s hard but if I turn away from God then who is left for me to depend upon?” And that’s really the bottom line. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1
“For yourself, concentrate on winning God’s approval …” 2 Timothy 2:15 (Ph)
5. Don’t Say Things you’ll Regret later
Jeremiah is singing “Unhappy birthday to me”. But there are things he says he should not say.
Jeremiah 20:14 Cursed be the day on which I was born. The day my mother bore me— let it never be blessed. 15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A male child is born to you,” bringing him great joy. 16 Let that man be like the cities the Lord overthrew without compassion.
Man that guy copped it didn’t he? I wonder if Jeremiah had ever met that man or his wife or his family.
He spoke a little hastily. And Baruch it seems recorded it! When you are in the stocks emotionally you will say stuff you shouldn’t. Get in the habit of not saying that stuff.
The words said at this time produce either life or death (Proverbs 18:21 Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
The words I speak reveal the condition of my heart (Matthew 12:34-35 Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. 35 A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good,and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.
They will serve as evidence at the judgment (Matthew 12:36-37 I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
You never can tell when you send a word Like an arrow shot from a bow
By an archer blind be he cruel or kind, Just where it will chance to go.
It may pierce the heart of your dearest friend Tipped with poison or balm;
To a stranger’s heart in life’s great mart May carry its pain or its calm.
Proverbs 21:23, He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. I don't know if you have realized this or not, but you cannot put your foot in your mouth when your mouth is closed. In Proverbs 17:28 it says, Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent. Our problem seems to be that we do not know when to talk and when to listen. We are in the age of communication. Most of us do not know how to communicate constructively. Why do you think we need to learn to constrain our mouths? James seeks to help us understand why. In James 1:19 we find a good formula, Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
The world is taking your picture, And the likeness is faithful and true.
For good or for ill, men will gaze at it still Long after your life work is through.
Every secret desire every impulse your thought safely locked in your breast
Every love every hate, every small hidden trait, In the picture will show with the rest.
The world is taking your picture, Oh strive at your best to appear
For you never can know how far it will go Or its power to harm or to cheer
Some friends you have almost forgotten, Some strangers you do not recall
May change at the sight to the wrong or the right, As it hangs on eternity’s wall.
6. Exercise Some Of Those Feelings With Hope.
Pro 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Pro 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Pro 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Pro 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Pro 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me."
Psalm 138:7 (NASB)
Troubled soul, why are you in anguish and distress this day? Yes, you are surrounded by that which seeks to destroy you, however, God has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell you. He has promised to take you through the days of death and to resurrect you to stand in His presence forever. Everlasting life will be yours and you can rest in this promise and stand in His power.
Pray God will strengthen you in body and mind to face the enemy.
Pray Jesus will make Himself known to you in order to assure your spirit that He is sufficient for your every need.
Pray the Holy Spirit will breathe new life into your ravaged soul so that you can stand on the ramparts and overwhelm the enemy that is trying to destroy you.