Joy of the Heart

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts”. Jeremiah 15:16

God’s Word is convicting and provoking, but it can be exciting and encouraging, among other things. Jeremiah described God’s Word as the joy and delight of his heart. However, not everyone feels that way.

When reading or studying the Bible, we sometimes have the experience that all of a sudden we see something we haven’t noticed before, or something that spoke to us at that moment, even though we read that passage a hundred times before. And then, we get so excited – and it can be from the smallest thing – and all we want to do is share what we learned and discovered with others. We are filled with joy and delight at it, but others don’t seem to understand what is so exciting and why we just want to keep talking about it. Has that ever happened to you?

This can be discouraging at times, because we want to keep talking about what we learned, and others just want to move on to subjects unrelated to God’s Word that in comparison, aren’t as exciting.

There is a time for everything, including talking about matters other than God’s Word. In those moments when we want to share what made our hearts joyful and full of delight, it can also feel lonely.

Jeremiah felt that way. The following verses describe his longing for fellowship with God and his desire to be near Him. And God reminds Jeremiah that if he draws near to God, God will be near to him. But He also instructed him to separate the precious from the vile. Then, Jeremiah will be used as God’s mouthpiece, His spokesperson. Wow!

“Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you– Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them” (15:19).

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be God’s mouthpiece, to speak forth? God’s instruction to Jeremiah to separate himself can be applied to us as well. We should make every effort to insure that the precious is kept out and removed from the vile. It won’t take much for us to look into our own lives to see what those things are. When we separate from the vile and keep the precious, we can expect to be used as God’s mouthpiece. This means we need to be careful of the movies we watch, the books we read and the company we keep. Are any of these vile and dishonoring to God? Do we praise God and insult others (Ephesians 5:3-4) or curse others (James 3:9-10) with the same mouth?

Reading God’s Word which is holy and pure can be a delight to our heart. But, we should try to make sure that our ways are pleasing to God. If we are a delight to His heart, He will open our lips and our mouths will declare His praise.
© Hannah Kramer

What’s Your flask of oil?

Many people focus on glamour, might, power and prestige, among other things that this world considers to have value. The more you have, the more you can do. The stronger, more outspoken and assertive you are, the more value they assign to you. I’m sure that most of us related to others in that way at one time or another and unquestionably also know others who have had similar experiences. But, is that the real measure and value of a person, expressed in worldly opinions?

The Bible reveals to us that it is otherwise. A person has eternal value, irrespective of how he looks and how much strength the world thinks he has. The eternal Word of truth is full of examples of people who, from a worldly point of view, were weak, mediocre and of little or no significant value, at least when these “lesser” folks are compared to others.

A classic example is Gideon. Although he came from a wealthy family, he was the youngest in his family, which was the smallest family in their tribe. A widow begged Elisha for help after her husband died – she was dependent on her husband for the family’s livelihood and after his death she and her children fell into debt and she was fearful that the creditor would enslave her sons until they worked off the debt. Her sons would be considered more like property than as people. Ruth, a foreign woman, who came from a nation that was hostile to Israel, unexpectedly assimilated into the nation of Israel and into the line of the Messiah. The list can go on, and some are mentioned in Hebrews 11 as the heroes of faith. But, would we consider them as such if they were not listed there? If we had lived in their times, would we admire their courage, faith and trust in God even though from our perspective they appeared to be of little or no importance or of being unworthy to take on important, life changing, nation changing responsibilities? Would we be able to look beyond what we see with our physical eyes and consider those around us today from the perspective of what God can do with a person whose heart is fully His, even if he does not appear to possess the “leadership qualities” or the popularity we expect a leader to have?

It is so easy to look at what a person wears, what he looks like, where he comes from, who he knows, whether he is shy or quiet, or talkative and outgoing, as criteria for the usefulness of the person in God’s service.

The woman who was widowed cried out to the only one who had ears to hear her. To God. Yes, Elisha was the one whom she physically called out to, but this cry was undoubtedly aimed to God, who was quick to answer. All she had was a flask of oil, a small item that was big enough for God to work a miracle in her life and in the lives of her sons. God used the flask of oil she had. All the widow had to do was trust and obey. So she poured and poured until all the vessels were full. The neighbors could have told her she was crazy, that her thinking was illogical or that what she was asking for was pointless. But she just kept silent and asked for empty vessels. The story does not state whether she explained why she needed them or not, so we are left with an area of speculation. She could have continued pouring if she had had more vessels.

God used the little she had to perform a great miracle. He can do the same for each of us. We don’t have to be great orators, with overpowering charisma or assertiveness to accomplish something for God. He can use each of us where we are with what we have. Like the woman, all we need to do is present ourselves as empty vessels before God for Him to fill.

And guess what? He gets the glory in the end. We need to come as empty vessels in His hands, ready for His use. He will not fill those who are filled with themselves.

© Hannah Kramer