All posts by Freda Farmer

God is good to those who wait – Part Four

Image result for public domain picture of child waitingThe Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word]. (Lamentations 3:25, AMPC)

Review of Parts One, Two, and Three.  The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope. Remembering all the past troubles made Jeremiah sad BUT recalling God’s mercy and loving kindness gives Jeremiah hope. Because of that hope, Jeremiah’s heart chooses God; THEREFORE, he has hope and he will wait. Life in our present world requires like precious hope. Such hope comes from dwelling on and believing Truth!

Studying Lamentations will impart similar hope and clarity, even in our world’s present troubles and confusion, because Lamentations models a godly attitude toward afflictions. God’s truths in Lamentations apply whether the affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of the people with whom we are connected, or the sin of our nation and our world.

Outline of Part Four

  • The Second Condition of Lamentations 3:25 – seeking in a specific way, because our need gives us a right and His Word has authority.
  • What God means by “seek”.
  • “By right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word”
  • The little word “by”.
  • Our need gives us a right.
  • On the authority of His Word.
  • Praying for specific needs.

Image result for public domain picture of bibleThe Second Condition of Lamentations 3:25 – seeking in a specific way, because our need gives us a right and His Word has authority. “The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word). Lamentations 3:25 tells us that God is good to those who (1) wait with hope and expectation, and (2) who seek Him.  In Part Three we examined the first condition. In Part Four, we will see that we can, like Jeremiah, wait with hope and expectation of God’s goodness if we seek Him as He says to seek Him, which is:

  • Inquiring of and for Him and requiring Him
  • By (through the power of or in accordance with)
  • the right that necessity gives us and
  • on the authority of His Word.

What God means by “seek”. If you are familiar with the AMPC, when you see the word seek (which appears 281 times in the AMPC translation) you are reminded that it speaks of diligent effort. The AMPC shows that in this verse when God says seek He means to “inquire of and for Him and require Him. . . “

  • to inquire OF” — God wants me to “reason together with Him” (Isaiah 1:18), to talk with Him, to inquire of When I inquire of someone, I am seeking information from that person.
  • To inquire FOR” — When I inquire for God, I am asking for God, just as I might go to a receptionist in a large office and inquire for, or ask for, my friend who works there.
  • And REQUIRE Him — God says we are also to require This means we will be satisfied with nothing less than Him. As bread to the body, so must God be for our daily life.

Image result for public domain picture of reportOther Scriptures tell us to specifically seek and require God as our “vital necessity.”  (1 Chronicles 22:19; 28:9; 2 Chronicles 14:4: 2 Chronicles 14:4 to name only a few). God really means it when He says we are to depend on Him, just as much as we lean on a cane when we have a weak leg.  In other words, we rely on God so much that if He does not come through, we fall and fail. When I refuse to omit important details from my report when my boss tells me to, I am depending on God. If He does not come through, I might lose my job.

In Psalm 14:2, God says it is wise to seek Him desperately and that He is looking for those wise ones who seek Him in that way:

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, dealt wisely, and sought after God, inquiring of and for Him and requiring Him [of vital necessity.]

And David, the “man after God’s heart” declares in Psalm 27:8:

“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word.”

And that takes us back to the last phrase of Lamentations 3:25.

By right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word.” The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him BY right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word).” (Emphasis added)  (Lamentations 3:25, AMPC)

Image result for public domain Picture of Dictionary. Size: 201 x 106. Source: www.clipartkey.comThe little word “by”.   Webster’s tells us that “by” means through the power of or in accordance with, or through the effectiveness of or “through the agency or instrumentality of.”  Agency means: a “person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved.” (www.merriam-webster.com)

So, when we seek God—which means to “inquire of and for Him and require Him”–we are to do so because our genuine needs gives us the right to seek Him and the Word is the “thing” through which God’s power is exerted and His ends in our life are achieved. Wow oh wow!

Our need gives us a right. A keyword search in Bible Gateway for “right of necessity” reveals seven results, most of which are linked with “the authority of God’s Word.” Think about it. Whenever we have a genuine need, we have a right, as an obedient child of God, to expect with confidence that God will supply that need. He says so in many Scriptures! For example, Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Psalm 23:1-6, Malachi 3:10 and Hebrews 13:5.

Today, we need protection from the maniacal, demonic evil in our world. On a personal level, we may need help with specific tasks, money to pay bills and buy food, healing, or strength to face another day of a continuing challenge. Or we may need help handling a specific emotion, like frustration or anger. Whether seemingly big or little, genuine need gives us a right to expect God to act on our behalf. He promises to supply all our needs. (Philippians 4:19; Psalm 37:25-27.)

Image result for public domain picture of police On the authority of His Word. We are to seek God for our needs on the authority of His Word. A city policeman or woman (and praise God for our workers in blue!) can arrest a person violating a law if that person is within the city limits. The policeman or woman knows they have the authority to do so. That authority is given to them by the law of their city.

I can pray, with confident expectation, about my needs when I know that the Word gives me authority over that need. For example, we can pray “Lord, I need Your strength to do all that must be done today, and You promised in Deuteronomy 33:25 “As your days, so shall your strength be”, so I am expecting that You will give me strength. How I thank You, Father!”

Praying for specific needs. I can use a concordance, or the computer, and find verses about my needs and I can pray and declare those promises out loud, with confidence. For example, if I need finances, I can pray:

Image result for public domain picture of pAYCHECKFather, in Malachi 3:10 you said ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test Me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’  Well, Father, I obey this command so I am waiting with hope and expectation for you to meet my financial needs because I have a genuine need and Your Word promises blessings for obeying this command, which I do.”

And if I need peace, about anything, I can pray:

“Father, this situation is stressing me out! I need Your help to react in a righteous and holy way. In Hebrews 4:16, You promised we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  You also promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

Thank You, Lord, for that reminder that others struggle with the same things. I am not being troubled any more than other people. And praise You, oh loving Father, for that promise that You will make a way to endure the temptation to doubt You! I trust You, Lord, and I will wait with confident expectation! Praise You for Your goodness and mercy and lovingkindness, Lord! You are altogether good! You never turn Your back on the faithful.

“Oh, loving Father! I know and understand what You are like. I have personally experienced Your mercy, love and kindness, and I trust and rely on You, knowing You will never forsake me, no never! (adapted from Psalm 91:14b, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of child waiting for fathern Part Five, we will see why it is good to readily submit to the Father’s discipline of waiting. God is so kind that He motivates us to wait hopefully and expectantly by promising to help us if we do.

 

 

 

 

 

God is good to those who wait – Part Three

Image result for public domain picture of throne of godThe Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word]. (Lamentations 3:25, AMPC)

A godly attitude toward affliction. Lamentations models a godly attitude toward affliction, whether that affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of the people with whom we are connected, the sin of our nation and our world.

Review of Parts One and Two:  The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope. Remembering all the past troubles made Jeremiah sad BUT recalling God’s mercy and loving kindness gives Jeremiah hope. Because of that hope, Jeremiah’s heart chooses God; THEREFORE, he has hope and he will wait. Life in our present world requires like precious hope. Such hope comes from dwelling on and believing Truth!

Outline of Part Three — The First Condition of Lamentations 3:25 – waiting with hope and expectation

  • The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly
  • Saul did not wait.
  • Samuel reviews God’s faithfulness.
  • Samuel gives them a guarantee!
  • In spite of that, Saul does not wait on God.
  • So what does God mean by “wait
  • How might we disobey like Saul?
  • Worry makes us feel in control.
  • “Wait hopefully and expectantly for Him”

Image result for public domain picture of waitingThe First Condition of Lamentations 3:25 – Waiting with hope and expectation. “The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word).”

Waiting! Ah, waiting!  And not just waiting but waiting with hope and expectation! Difficult, to say the least, for us “vessels of clay”. Per Webster’s 1828 online dictionary, wait means to: “to stay in rest or expectation; to stop or remain stationary, til the arrival of some person or event.”

In thinking about waiting with hope and expectation, as Lamentations 3:25 tells us to, and the fact that Jeremiah (as we are in our world today) is in the midst of dire affliction, another story comes to mind. That is the sad tale of a Biblical character who did not wait—King Saul. A little background here. . .

Saul did not wait. After Samuel anointed Saul as king, “God gave Saul a new heart” and Samuel acclaimed Saul as King before all Israel (I Samuel 10:17-25, NLT).  After the Ammonite king threatened the citizens of Jabesh-Gilead, “Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” (11:6). Saul said anyone who did not join his army would be killed.  God “made the people afraid of Saul’s anger” and Saul mobilized 330,000 men, “launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites and slaughtered them.” What a victory God gave them!

In Chapter 12, Samuel gave his farewell address to all the people gathered at Gilgal “to renew the kingdom” (11:14). Samuel recalled Israel’s history, reminding them “of all the great things the Lord had done for them and their ancestors” (12:7) through Moses and Aaron, how they “soon forgot about the Lord” but, when handed over to their enemies, turned to God and confessed to God by saying:

We have sinned by turning away from the Lord and worshipping the images of Baal and Ashtoreth. But we will worship you and you alone if you will rescue us from our enemies.” (v 10)

Samuel reviews God’s faithfulness. Samuel continued reviewing Israel’s history, reminding Israel that in response to their plea the Lord had sent Gideon, Bedan, Jephthah, and then Samuel to save them and they had lived in safety.” (v. 12) Samuel recalls that, even after all those deliverances by God, Israel had feared the Ammonites and had asked Samuel for a king “even though the Lord your God was already your king.” (12:12) (This statement merits deep consideration.)

Image result for public domain picture of samuel the prophetSamuel then told them “Here is the king you have chosen” (Saul), and Samuel sternly warned them:

Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. 15 But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors. (I Samuel 12:14-15) ??

Next, to make the people realize what a wicked thing they had done in asking God for a king, Samuel called down thunder and rain at a time it never rained. The people were terrified and asked Samuel “Pray to the Lord your God for us, or we will die! . . . for now we have added to our sins by asking for a king.”

Samuel gives them a guarantee! Then Samuel, ever the teacher and ever reflecting God’s father heart, replies:

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. 21 Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! 22 The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.  (emphasis added)

Samuel promises to pray for them and warns, one more time, that they are “to be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve Him.” They are to “think of all the wonderful things He has done for you.” Samuel concludes with: “But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”

In spite of that, Saul does not wait on God.  It is interesting to notice in Chapter 13 that not only Saul but all the people had just heard the stern warnings in Samuel’s farewell address (in Chapter 12). Samuel had explained to them that God would not abandon His people BECAUSE that would “dishonor His great name.” Samuel was giving them a guarantee that even though they had sinned by asking for a king instead of obeying God and thus recognizing God as their king, God would NOT abandon them.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Cave. Size: 135 x 107. Source: publicdomainpictures.netYet, in spite of this warning from Samuel, in spite of God’s great victory for them over the Ammonites in Chapter 11, and in spite of God’s warning through Samuel, in Chapter 13, Israel again doubted God. When the Philistines had them in a tight spot, the Israelite army panicked and “tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead” (1 Samuel 13:6b, 7, NLT)

Meanwhile, Saul waited “seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away, so Saul panicked and demanded, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings’ and Saul sacrificed the burnt offerings himself.” (1 Samuel 13:7b-9, NLT). And what happened next? “Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done? (13:10-11) Saul whines that because Samuel had not arrived when he said he would and his men were scattering, he “felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

Notice Samuel’s angry response. “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (I Samuel 13:13-14), NLT.

Perhaps you also know the story in 1 Samuel 28 when Saul, again, shows the true nature of his heart and consults the witch of Endor because he is, once again, frantic with fear because of his enemies.

So what does God mean by “wait”? How does Saul’s failure to wait aid our understanding of the word “wait” in Lamentations 3:25? Consider again the simple English definition of wait: “to stay in rest or expectation; to stop or remain stationary, til the arrival of some person or event.”

Image result for public domain picture of waiting dogIf we truly wait on the Lord during times of affliction-whether caused by our sin, God’s loving discipline, our unavoidable connections with other frail humans, or simply living in this world—we will be in a state of rest and expectation. We will not fret or strive. And we will stay that way until God delivers us from the trouble. We will wait and we will wait until He gives us His salvation, His safety and ease, as He promises if we are righteous. (“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 37:19, NIV)

Yes, Samuel did delay and Saul’s disquiet is understandable, from our human perspective. But God had, through His mouthpiece Samuel, given Saul a specific order. Saul disobeyed God’s direct instructions. Not only that, but Saul violated another of God’s specific orders, which was that only the priests were allowed to offer sacrifices.

<<If Saul had set his heart to obey God fully, and if he had (as Samuel had instructed all of Israel) recalled all God’s previous mighty works, fear would not have gained control of him and terrorized him into doing what seemed right “in his own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21).>>

How might we disobey like Saul? We are all susceptible to committing the same sins as Saul. Suppose finances are especially hard so we decide to not pay tithes this month. Like Saul, we have let situations create fear in our hearts because we failed to think about God’s nature, His faithfulness in the past and His promises to provide. That opens us to doubting God’s love and His sovereignty. Because of that, we violate God’s clear command and try to fix our problem by doing what seems right to our own mind, just as Saul did. Had Saul stayed in faith, he would not have given in to fear! When we stay in faith, we do not give place to the devil through fear (Ephesians 4:27).

Image result for public domain clip art of worryThis is a very subtle sin most all of us commit, this sin of giving in to fear. When we let fear get a foothold, worry and fretting soon follow. Even if we do not take sinful actions when we “only” worry and fret, we are still trying to fix our own problems by our own effort. We sin in our thoughts just as much as Saul sinned with his actions.

<<Worry and fretting violate God’s commands to have faith in Him.>>

Worry makes us feel in control. Worrying makes us feel we are doing something about the problem and that we have a measure of control. That is why it is so easy to slip into worry. Worry is not harmless!  We indulge in sin when we let the birds of worry stay in our mind long enough to build a nest. God always warns us away from danger. God knows worry and fretting lead to doubt and unbelief, which if left unchecked, lead to not only wrong thoughts but wrong actions. Therefore, God says ““Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8, NIV)

Meditating daily and constantly on His goodness and faithfulness—as He commands over and over—and expressing our active faith and hope and trust prevents fear and the sin that runaway emotion causes. It also, of course, keeps us in peace, safe from emotional torment. If we submit ourselves to God, and resist the devil, the devil will flee and we will remain at peace, safe under His wings BECAUSE we have said—in our heart and by our words and our actions—“He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and In Him I [confidently] trust. (Psalm 91:1-2)

Image result for public domain picture of hope“Wait hopefully and expectantly for Him” Have we not been reminded, over and over, just as Israel was, of God’s faithfulness and His mighty power on behalf of those of us who believe? Have we not seen it in our personal lives and the lives of others, not to mention the multitude of Biblical stories? We have abundant personal examples to think about and we have a superabundance of Bible truths to keep in mind. God says to not only wait but wait with hope and expectation. Has He not kept all His promises to us just as faithfully as He kept His promise to Noah?

<<Saul did not wait. Saul could not wait. Why? He had lost hope and he was not expecting God to act.>> Saul’s faith was weak. When our hope and our expectation that God will act starts to wane, recalling God’s nature and His previous provisions revives our faith. Then we can lay hold of the hope stored up for us, that sure and invigorating hope described in Hebrews.

18 This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us].

19 [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it—a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil (Hebrews 6:18-19, AMPC)

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Feeding A Baby. Size: 144 x 101. Source: babiesinmind.co.zaHope includes expectation. According to Merriam-Webster.com, hope is “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” A toddler can wait with hope and expectation as he sits in his highchair, waiting for his lunch when he is hungry because experience has taught him that his parents are faithful to provide his needs. Oh, for the faith and heart of a little child!

To sum, up the first condition given in verse 25 is to wait hopefully and expectantly for God. We can do that –even in the turmoil of 2022, if we:

  • recall what God has done, in Biblical as well as current times and our personal life, and
  • guard our hearts by setting our minds to love and obey and serve the Lord our God “with all our heart and soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5 and 26:26) and
  • hope in and expect Him.

Part Four will explore the specific way we are to seek Him and the two things on which our seeking is based. Until then, let us wait patiently for the Lord, so that we can say with David:

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire” (Psalm 40:1-3, NLT)

See the source image

God is good to those who wait – Part Two

Image result for Copyright Free Clip Art of Hope. Size: 88 x 110. Source: clipart-library.comBelow is an outline of Parts One and Two of our examination of Lamentations, which teaches us that we are to wait with hope and expectation when we are in affliction. This blog post will cover Part Two.

Part One:

  • Lamentations – light for the dark affliction of our present world
  • Background and context
  • Topical outline of Lamentations
  • Chapters One and Two
  • Chapter Three – Hoping in a special way
  • Verses 1- 18 – The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope.

Part Two

  • Verses 19-20 – Remembering all the past troubles made Jeremiah sad . . .
  • Verses 21-23 – . . . but recalling God’s mercy and lovingkindness gives Jeremiah hope
  • Verse 24 – Because of that hope, Jeremiah’s heart chooses God; THEREFORE, he has hope and he will wait.
  • Life in our present world requires like precious hope!
  • Hope comes from dwelling on and believing Truth

Image result for copyright free picture of man prayingVerses 19-20: Remembering all the past troubles made Jeremiah sad.

“[O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall. (20) My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me.”  (AMPC)

It is instructive to notice that in verse 19, Jeremiah turns from solitary bemoaning of his afflictions and appeals to God to earnestly consider his afflictions. With his mind on his woes, his soul is downcast and bowed down under the load of his thoughts. But rather than remain with his shield of faith lowered and his soul thus susceptible to the enemy’s fiery darts, the prophet starts “reasoning together” with God (Isaiah 1:18). Perhaps Jeremiah sings Psalm 119:49-50 where the psalmist asks God to “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (NIV)

Sidenote: Three popular translations (the NIV, NLT and KJV) do not indicate that Jeremiah has begun speaking to God in verse 19. The NIV says “I remember my affliction. . . “, the NLT says “I will never forget this awful time. . . “ and the KJV says “My soul hath them (meaning his affliction and misery) still in remembrance . . . ‘ (emphasis added.)   Verse 19 in the NASB, on which the AMPC is based, reads “Remember my misery . . .”, thus implying—but not clearly stating as the AMPC does– that Jeremiah is asking God to remember, rather than thinking about his misery alone. The AMPC clearly states that Jeremiah turns from inward musings over his miseries to talking with God. This turning to God is the beginning and foundation of deliverance.

Surely, this example speaks to the wisdom of using more than one translation when engaged in serious Bible study! I contend that doing so is one form of meditating, of turning a thought this way and that, of examining each facet so as to find the truths God has for us. I also contend that in using the AMPC as the main text for Bible study and memory, one is automatically meditating because the AMPC includes additional meanings of words that people in Bible times would have naturally understood but which we in the present day usually do   not. Most believers have a favorite translation; mine is the AMPC but I regularly refer to others as well.

For a fuller explanation, see page 15 of the little book “Diligent Meditation” on the Books and More page of this website.

See the source image21-23: . . . recalling God’s mercy and loving kindnesses gives Jeremiah hope.

“But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.”

Notice that Jeremiah says “but”– in spite of all that he just said in verses 19 and 20–, he remembers something and remembering that something gives him hope and expectation. Jeremiah remembers that God’s “mercy and loving-kindness” prevent He Who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:19; Deuteronomy 4:24 and 9:3) from consuming us. Why? Because His compassions never fail – they are engraved on His heart as surely as compassion for her nursing child is engraved on a mother’s heart (Isaiah 49:15-16).

Perhaps Jeremiah knows that God’s compassions are new every morning because He remembers God’s promise in Deuteronomy 33:25b, that “. . . as your day so shall your strength, your rest and security, be.”  Perhaps Jeremiah recalls that God never changes (Psalm 102:25-27). Perhaps Jeremiah also recalls Deuteronomy 7:9–“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

Verse 24: And because of that hope, Jeremiah’s heart chooses God; THEREFORE, he has hope and he will wait.

“The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore, will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” (AMPC)

Recalling God’s mercy, loving-kindness, and tender compassions (verses 21-23) fortifies Jeremiah’s faith so that he can choose to look only to God and because of that, he can hope and wait—with expectancy–for God.

One purpose of saying something is to express your thoughts or intentions. I believe with the words “The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self)”, Jeremiah is choosing God as his whole life, acknowledging that his whole life depends on God, that God is his inheritance (as the NLT phrases it) or his destiny. He is choosing to acknowledge God as his God and his only God. Notice that it is his inner self speaking. Regardless of feelings, Jeremiah uses his will, his power of choice, to obey the commandment “You shall have no other gods before me”, Exodus 20:3, NIV. Jeremiah is demonstrating that God is indeed his god, the Being on Whom he depends for his very life. In choosing to depend on God, Jeremiah offers a sacrifice of trust to God as surely as the pagan Assyrians worshipped their various gods by their sacrifices.

With this choice, Jeremiah expresses the same stance and intent as the writer of Psalm 91, who said “I will say of the LORD; He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I [confidently] trust.” (Psalm 91:2, AMPC) And we know that the blessings of Psalm 91 depend on our fulfilling the conditions of verses one and two, which are to dwell in the secret place and to say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in Whom I trust.” (NIV)

And what does Jeremiah’s choice to liveImage result for public domain clip art of psalm 91 as God says to live produce? The ability to have hope in the midst of great affliction and to wait with expectation for God. “. . . therefore, will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” Jeremiah has obeyed God’s command to “Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] (Ecclesiastes 12:13a, AMPC) and God responds by giving Jeremiah hope.

<<Hope! Ah, blessed, blessed hope! Who can adequately describe or explain it?
Who can fathom its power?>>

 Hope, faith, trust and belief are synonyms. I do not know of any place where the Bible specifically says hope comes from hearing and understanding the Word, but the Bible does clearly state that “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God, (Romans 10:17, NKJV.” I believe Jeremiah’s faith was stirred when he recalled truth from the Word—that the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness, and tender compassions are abundant and eternal. And recalling those truths gave him hope and the strength to wait with expectation, with strong belief that God would be merciful and faithful.

Life in our present world requires like precious hope!  Today, the enemy is desperately attacking believers because he knows his time is short (I Corinthians 7:29). One of his most-used weapons is lies, which cause fear and discouragement, that in turn can lead to inaction, despair, hopelessness, doubt, unbelief and disobedience. As one well-acquainted with depression, I know the devastation despair brings to one’s spiritual life, but I also know the power of hope, hope that healing and a good life with God are possible.

Image result for public domain picture of hopeHope comes from dwelling on and believing Truth. Despite the dark doings of our present world, I choose to dwell on the truths listed below and others like them in the Word:

  • God is sovereign. – Isaiah 45:7-9
  • He works out everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His design and purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • He has a good plan for us, on earth and in heaven. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He will always make a way for His children. (Isaiah 43:10)
  • He is always with us. (Psalm 16:8)
  • He is supplying and will supply all my need as I live for Him. (Philippians 4:19)
  • The trials of this life are light and temporary in comparison with eternity. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
  • God will enable me to live a holy, joy-filled, on mission life. (Philippians 2:13)
  • God delights in my faith and hope and trust in Him. (Psalm 37:23; Hebrews 11:6)
  • He is with me – always, always, always and will never, no never, no never leave me without help nor forsake me – most assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5)

So, Christian, declare with me:

“The Lord is my portion, or share, says my living being (my inner self);
Therefore
 will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” (Lamentations 3:24, AMPC)

See the source imageIn Part Three, we will explore the blessings of waiting and hoping how God says to wait and hope. May you be richly blessed as you wait for Him, with hope and expectation!

 

God is good to those who wait – Part One

Image result for free picture of waiting for daddy“The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word.]   (Lamentations 3:25, AMPC)

Learning to meditate. “God is good to those who wait on Him, so it is good to wait quietly for the Lord. God is good to those who wait on Him, so it is good to wait quietly for the Lord. God is good to those. . . “

I stood at the counter, unplugging my phone from the charger, glancing at the folded sheet of notebook paper. “God is good to those. . .” I slung my purse over my shoulder, tucked my lunch bag under my arm, walked to the rocker to kiss Barny on his furry head, then stepped out the door and down the stairs. “The Lord is good to. . .? The Lord is good to . . . ? ”

Image result for free picture of copier in officeWhat was that next phrase?” By then I was on the sidewalk and could safely glance at the paper in my hand. “Oh, yes, “to those who wait quietly for Him.” Once in the car, I set the paper on the passenger seat, ready for quick glances at stoplights. By the time I arrived at work, I had it memorized so that in free moments at the copier, walking to the bathroom, and waiting on hold I repeated, “God is good to those who wait on Him, so it is good to wait quietly for the Lord, God is good. . .”  Then back home alone with Barny that evening, the truth of God’s Word continued to silence the now-faint echoes of howling sadness and despair that had tormented heart and mind for so long.

“Washing with water through the Word” (Ephesians 5:26, NIV) Three years ago, I was just learning how to “delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on His law day and night” (Psalm 1:2, NIV) as I climbed out of a three-year pit of depression. Through these last three years, the Living Water of the Word has, through constant meditation and delighting in His law, washed away most of the enemy’s grime and mud (though my dusty, dusty feet require daily, thorough washing, as Jesus said in John 13:10!)  To learn more about the life-changing habit of meditation that healed my heart of life-long recurring depression, see “Diligent Meditation” on the Books and More page of this website.

In this series of blog posts, we will consider the book of Lamentations, specifically Chapter 3, which is the location of the blessed and well-known truth that:

“It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, AMPC)

Outline of Part One:

  • Lamentations – light for the dark affliction of our present world
  • Background and context
  • Topical outline of Lamentations
  • Chapters One and Two
  • Chapter Three – Hoping in a special way
  • Verses 1- 18 – The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope

Image result for free picture of light on a dark pathLamentations – light for the dark affliction of our present world. I have seldom heard sermons on any portion of Lamentations except the well-known Chapter 3:22-23. Nor do I often hear fellow believers speak of Lamentations. Possibly this is because sorrow gushes forth, as the writer wails, moans and weeps over Zion. Who wants to feel sad? However, the light that comes from the truth in Lamentations pierces the darkness of our present world, showing us what steps to take this moment and illuminating the next few steps along the path, God wants us to take. (“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”, Psalm 119:105, AMPC)

Lamentations models a godly attitude toward affliction, whether that affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of people to whom we are connected, or the sin of our nation and the world. The writer of Lamentations (believed to be Jeremiah) suffered staggering personal afflictions, as did most Old Testament prophets. He lived in the besieged city of Jerusalem, which was eventually destroyed and its inhabitants     taken into exile.

Let’s reflect on Jeremiah’s situation then consider the steps that led him to patient waiting and expectant hope, so that we too may abide in that sheltering place of constant peace under the Shadow of the Almighty whose power no foe can withstand – not covid, not stolen elections, not wicked leaders, not inflation, neither “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6-8)!

Background and context. The last chapter of the book of Jeremiah gives the background for Lamentations. In Jeremiah 52, Jerusalem fell to King Nebuchadnezzar, and the Temple, every important building and all the walls of Jerusalem on every side were destroyed. Only some of the poorest people were left behind “to work the vineyards and fields” (Jeremiah 52:16, NIV). The rest of the people, 4,600 in all, were carried into exile in Babylon. Below is a one-paragraph summary of the book of Lamentations (Halley’s Bible handbook, page 409):

“This short book is Jeremiah’s lament over the city he had done his best to save. Yet, in his sorrow he also expresses his faith that Jerusalem will rise again from its ruins (3:21, 31-32).  Jerusalem did indeed rise and gave its name to the capital of a redeemed world of eternal glory, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2).”

Image result for copyright free picture of scrollHalley comments that the Hebrew Old Testament placed the book of Lamentations “in a group of books called . . . Writings, to which belong the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.” These books were read at different feasts and “to this day, the book of Lamentations is read in synagogues throughout the world, wherever there are Jews, on the ninth day of the fourth month, the day of fasting that commemorates the fall of the temple (Jeremiah 52:6).”

I believe one reason God arranged this was so that His people would hear the message of these books at least once a year. These five books speak of the blazing love of God for His people and the sovereignty of His loving providence for those who love and follow Him. Surely, surely we need these reminders now!

Topical Outline of Lamentations.  The outline below combines headings for the book of Lamentations from the NASB, NLT and AMP translations.

  • Chapter 1 The suffering, ruin, and sorrow of Zion (Jerusalem)
  • Chapter 2 God’s anger at Israel’s sin
  • Chapter 3 Jeremiah, the suffering representative of afflicted Zion, shares Israel’s affliction but hopes for relief in God’s mercy and faithfulness.
  • Chapter 4 God’s anger is satisfied in the horrors of the seige of Zion
  • Chapter 5 Jeremiah pleas for restoration and mercy.

Chapters One and Two. Take time now to prayerfully read Chapters One and Two. A shallow reading will cut a shallow furrow and seeds may or may not sprout in the field of your heart. However, attentive, scrutiny of Israel’s and Jeremiah’s afflictions will stir compassion and likely stir thoughts of your own afflictions. I pray that will compel you, like Jeremiah, to cry aloud for understanding, so that you may, like Jeremiah, find strength to wait and hope with confident expectation for your own needs.

See the source imageIn sum, Chapters One and Two, tell of the time of deep sorrow when “. . . the Lord did just as He planned . . . and fulfilled the promises of disaster He made long ago. . . and destroyed Jerusalem without mercy” (2:17) because of her stubborn refusal to turn from her many sins.

As you read, pause and reflect, briefly, on your own needs and the troubles of our present world, which are afflicting us all. Then, step into the blessed hope shining in Chapter 3.

Chapter Three — Hoping – in a special way. In Chapter Three, Jeremiah, the suffering representative of afflicted Zion, shares Israel’s affliction but hopes for relief in God’s mercy and faithfulness. So must we actively hope for relief in God’s mercy and faithfulness—while in the midst of affliction. And this applies whether affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of people to whom we are connected, or the sin of our nation and the world. The first 24 verses of Lamentations 3 show us that the afflictions Jeremiah saw under the “rod of God’s wrath” (the destruction of Jerusalem) were so terrible that he had become weak and lost all hope. Yet, there was hope of relief in God’s mercy.

As we look at Chapter Three in detail, it will benefit you greatly to read the verses carefully and take time to think about them prayerfully. God’s Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and God uses His Word to minister to us individually.

Read Verses 1-18: The afflictions Jeremiah saw “under the rod of God’s wrath” were so terrible that he was weak and had lost all hope. In verses 1-18, Jeremiah says God has put him into darkness, rejected and shattered him, hemmed him in, and made him desolate. These “arrows of His quiver” have become part of his very heart. People mock him, and God has made his soul suffer as if bereaved (which indeed it was as he witnessed utter destruction of the city and people he loved and to whom he had faithfully, earnestly delivered God’s messages to repent). Peace is far from him, he has “forgotten what goodness and happiness are” and he has no strength. He says, “Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost” (v. 18b, NLT).

Image result for free picture of turning to godI think most of us, we common, fragile “jars of clay” fashioned by God’s own loving hand (2 Corinthians 4:7) reach this point. I have. So, what does the Word tell us to do? Turn to Him!

In Part Two, we will see that remembering all the past troubles makes Jeremiah sad but recalling God’s mercy and lovingkindness gives him hope so that his heart is strengthened to choose God and that, because of that, Jeremiah can wait.

 

 

Freedom from frustration and fretting

Image result for royalty free picture of tow truckA flat tire and frustration. Bang, clang, bang clang! The noise began then intensified as my car drew alongside the big cement mixer.

“Wow”, I thought. “I never saw one make that much noise!”

Then I realized it was my little sedan that was making the noise and was also now shaking, all this at about 65 miles an hour. I said, “Jesus! Help!” slowed, pulled off at the exit ramp only, providentially, a hundred yards ahead, called AAA, witnessed to the tow truck driver (who witnessed right back to me, praise the Lord!), spoke of God’s mercy to the man at the tire store who gave me a good price on four new tires, and was at home in less than two hours. Yet, in spite of God’s great mercy, I felt frustration and, I admit it to my shame, angry. In those two hours between the gym and school pickup, I had planned to finish a blog post and get it on the website. I can only say that it is indeed, because of God’s great and unfailing mercy, loving-kindness and tender compassions that we frail humans are not consumed! (Lamentations 3:22)

Frustration can cause fretting. This morning when icy roads thwarted my plan (notice the “my”) to go to swim class, frustration flared again. Hot on its heels came fretting as I tried repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, to settle down and take advantage of the forced day inside.

Image result for royalty free clip art of couchGod is the only remedy!  Finally, I decided to rest on the couch, pray in tongues, and review some of my basic meditation Scriptures. Then, I decided, I would wait and listen to God, a spiritual discipline I have worked on recently.

I had only prayed in the Spirit a few minutes when thoughts started bubbling up. I stayed still and “listened” (avoiding my tendency to jump up and grab pen and paper), as Holy Spirit showed me a gap in His protective wall around my heart. Specifically, when I am frustrated, I tend to start fretting, which if allowed to continue, leads to sin.

As I remained on the couch, John 16:33 came to mind.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] John 16:33, AMPC)

Surely, I thought, all of us living in February 2022 face constant frustration. We all need to be admonished to handle frustration correctly, rather than letting the enemy use frustration to ensnare us into fretting and further evil.

Fretting leads only to evil. Three passages of Scripture came immediately to mind.

Image result for royalty free clip art of antique bottle of tonic [1] Psalm 37:8, b — “Do not fret—it leads only to evil.” (NIV) Please read all of Psalm 37, which is a protective daily tonic for the world’s present situation. In Psalm 37 God says “Do not fret because of evil men. . . for like green plants they will soon die away.” (v.1) Rather than fretting, we are to actively trust Him and do good BECAUSE

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, BECAUSE they take refuge in Him.” (v. 39)

[2] Isaiah 8:12-14 — This verse speaks clearly to today, when America is being threatened by evil as surely as Israel was threatened by Assyria in the time of Isaiah. The message of God through Isaiah was:

(12) Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy [or hard, or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, nor [make others afraid and] in dread.

(13) The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety] and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him].

(14) And He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]; but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:12-14, AMPC)

Notice that verse 13 teaches that we honor God when we consider Him as our only hope of safety and that we offend Him when we fear man and distrust Him. Selah, selah and selah! Consider also Jeremiah 15:19-21.

Image result for royalty free picture of peace and safety[3] Jeremiah 15:19-21 – It is vile to distrust God’s faithfulness.

(19) Therefore thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah]: If you return [and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair], then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety, and you will be My minister; and if you separate the precious from the vile [cleansing your own heart from unworthy and unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness], you shall be My mouthpiece. [But do not yield to them.] Let them return to you—not you to [the people].

(20) And I will make you to this people a fortified, bronze wall; they will fight against you, but they will not prevail over you, for I am with you to save and deliver you, says the Lord.

(21) And I will deliver you out of the hands of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the palms of the terrible and ruthless tyrants.

 Verse 19 warns us that it is a mistake to yield to distrust and despair. Further, it is a vile thing to suspect or doubt the faithfulness of God. Vile means disgusting, dreadful, horrible, offensive, abominable, repulsive. Oh, merciful God! May Your Holy Spirit engrave the truth in Isaiah 8 and Jeremiah 15 on our hearts!

Worry and fretting – disguised forms of fear, which IS sin.  Many of us have said, “I am just a worrier. I cannot help it.” Well, God says fear, which includes worry and fretting, is sin. God commands us not to fear over and over and when we do not follow His commands we sin.

As I ponder this truth, it pierces my heart and motivates me to further study. It also shows me how great the Father’s love is that He takes care to teach how to guard against fretting and worry, the more subtle forms of fear which are tempting to excuse in ourselves.

Freedom from fretting and frustration. I pray we all are warned to cling closely to God when we encounter frustration and are tempted to fret. Here is what I plan to do. I will:

  • Stop what I am doing and set aside time to reconnect with God.
  • Remind myself that:
    • God is SOVEREIGN, (Isaiah 46:9-11)
    • He has every day of my life already planned (Psalm 139:16)
    • He does not make mistakes (Deuteronomy 32:4)
    • When I make mistakes, He makes even them turn out for good because I love Him and am living whole-heartedly for Him (Romans 8:28)

In yielding myself to the truth that God is sovereign and choosing to believe He is directing the details of my life (Psalm 37:23) for my good, I am submitting myself to God and resisting the temptation of the devil to doubt God. And the Word tells me that the devil will then flee from me.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NIV)”

Image result for royalty free picture of shepherd's rodThe loving correction of His Rod. I write these words gratefully! His Rod of loving correction imparted to me a much-needed lesson, as He used the apparent disruption in my plans. He has sharply reminded me to catch the little foxes that spoil the vines (Solomon 2:15) and to:

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8, NLT)

How blessed we are that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is on our side! Let Him roar!  Let His Spirit within us rise up!  Let us stand firm in our positions and hold our ground. God Himself fights for us and He always, always, always wins!!

Listen! I hear Him say:

“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord Who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14, NIV) 

See the source image

Our light and momentary troubles

Dear friend,

“Afflicted by an Itch . . . for My Good!” is more of a short story than the type of blog post I usually write. It is now available on the “Books and More” page of this website. It was first on this website in the form of four blog posts in the early summer of 2020.

Below is an exposition of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, the central truth in this little story. I added this explanation when I compiled the blog posts into one document. I have learned much more about affliction since the summer of 2020 when this story was written. Through it all, God has always, always, always brought good out of it! I pray you have the same view of your own trials.

Such an attitude, I have learned, takes much of the sting out of the “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” Jesus said we would have in this present world but about which He says we can rejoice because He has “overcome the world and deprived it of power to harm” us. (John 16:33, AMPC).

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Pottery jars. Size: 123 x 92. Source: www.istockphoto.com

Comfort in affliction . . .  treasure in jars of clay. The first four chapters of Paul’s second letter to the believers at Corinth show why and how Paul triumphed over afflictions.

2 Corinthians opens with Paul praising God for giving him comfort in his afflictions so that he (Paul) could share that comfort. Paul says it is “our” lot to experience suffering, just as Jesus and His disciples did, but that his (Paul’s) troubles turn out for the Corinthians’ good when the Corinthians “patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamites) that” Paul suffered. (2 Corinthians 1:6, AMPC)

Pressures make us depend on God. Paul wants the believers at Corinth to know that the pressures he endured made him “despair even of life” but that the pressures happened so that he would depend not on himself, but on “God Who raises the dead.” Paul says he joyfully and confidently expects that God will again deliver him, while the Corinthians help him by their prayers.

Paul reminds them of his holiness and sincerity toward them, then he speaks of his love for them, instructs them in the right attitude toward believers who have sinned, and explains that the new covenant, of which he is a minister, gives life and transforms us into the likeness of Christ.

The transforming power of the truth about ourselves. Notice that Paul says we are transformed: [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” (3:18, AMPC.)  It is steadily gazing into the instructive, revelatory mirror of the Word and changing our actions accordingly—as we would wipe away smudges and adjust unruly hair when looking into an actual mirror–that makes us more like Jesus. (James 1:22-25)

No discouragement! Then comes a “therefore” in the first verse of Chapter Four. Paul says that because the Corinthians were all are being made more Christ-like, he engages in his ministry by God’s mercy, without discouragement. He does not become “spiritless and despondent with fear, or become faint with weariness and exhaustion” (4:1b, AMPC) The opportunity to minister to the Corinthians keeps Paul encouraged!

This “therefore” in verse one begins a short discourse the NIV labels “Treasure in Jars of Clay.” In this discourse, Paul explains that even though the gospel is veiled to “those who are perishing” (because Satan has blinded their minds so that they cannot see the “illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ,”), Paul preaches “Jesus Christ as Lord” and he, Paul, their servant for Jesus’ sake. Paul says that that preaching lets the light of God (which God had put into his heart) shine forth and illuminates the truth about God as that truth is revealed in Jesus.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Candle In Darkness. Size: 166 x 110. Source: www.istockphoto.com

The precious treasure of the lifegiving Light of the Gospel. In verse seven, Paul returns to the theme of our inevitable suffering as humans when he says “However, “we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth”. And why? So “that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be of God and not from ourselves”.

Paul next affirms that the pressure and persecutions he endures are revealing the life of Jesus in him. When he is being handed over to all these hardships, to “death” in other words, it is so that the “life of Jesus also may be evidenced through his (Paul’s) flesh which is liable to death.

Paul says all these things are happening for the sake of the Corinthians and also so that more grace may be extended to more people and thus more thanksgiving will increase and will contribute to the glory of God.

Why Paul never gave up. Then, Paul says “Therefore”—because of all I just told you—

“. . . That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

What do I learn from this? I see that if we take the attitude that we are all ministers of the gospel—that we are all called to shine the light of God into our part of this dark world—we can take Paul’s life-giving attitude toward troubles. We can remain encouraged, even in troubles, because we have the chance to work for God.

Paul’s attitude toward troubles was that as we shine in the darkness of our troubles with, by, and through the light and grace of God in us, then the light (the truth) of the Gospel will shine into the darkness.

As we let God shine through our life, we spread the gospel, we help others and we also store up treasures in heaven, which Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 6:19-24.  Oh, that we would all press on until the impenetrable, divinely-ordained armor of this attitude is fully formed within us, surrounding and guarding our hearts even as “the mountains surround Jerusalem” (Psalm 125:2, NIV)!

Image result for royalty free picture of surrounding mountains

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people both now and forevermore. “(Psalm 125:2, NIV)

Blessings and grace to you!

Under His feathers – ALWAYS!

Image result for free picture of eagle soaring over nestSoaring, ah! I stretched from spine out to fingers and toes, like a cat, then curled back up.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Whose power no foe can withstand) . . .

I opened one eye. 5 a.m. I pulled the white thermal blanket over my head.

“I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For then He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. [Then] He will cover you with His pinions and under His wings you will trust and find refuge.” (Psalm 91:1-2, AMPC)

My eyes popped open. My habit for many months has been to start repeating the Bible passages in my basic arsenal of Scriptures as soon as I wake. (See the October 2, 2020, blog “God’s Arsenal for Peace and Security). This morning, though, I heard something new.

“Lord, I picture You as an eagle, hovering, circling over its nest. So long as we dwell in the secret place of Your Presence, the shadow of Your hovering wings covers and protects us. And, Lord, when our words and actions say, “You are my Refuge and my Fortress, my God and on You I lean and rely and in You I confidently trust” then You deliver us out of the devil’s snares.  But, Lord, for an eagle to cover its eaglets with its wings, the eagle must descend from above and fly down to the nest.

Image result for free picture of eagle soaring over nestWhat a beautiful picture, Father! You carefully watch over us as we live in close communion with You, but when danger comes, You swoop right to where we are and spread Your wings wide—so You can draw us close to Your very heart. When You cover us with Your feathers then we feel the trust and find the refuge we have declared!  Oh, the thought! Nothing, no nothing, no nothing is going to harm an eaglet under an eagle’s pinions!

A prolonged attack. That tender wakeup with the Lord was three weeks ago, when all was well. Then came a prolonged attack and my soaring as an eagle stopped. (Actually, it just felt like it. Keep reading.) What happened?  Each of my family had covid for a week, then, the day I could see them again, I got it. I stayed in victory the week my family was sick and for most of the week I was sick but  gradually slid toward the pit of depression.

Not the pit – again!!! Feelings and thoughts of discouragement, dread, fear, hopelessness and self-criticism descended. I asked friends for prayer as I struggled mightily to do things that had kept me free for nearly three years– talking with God, meditating on the Word, being grateful, praising and worshipping, keeping my mind on God and not the worsening feelings of depression.

Image result for free clip art of pitWell, dear friend and fellow pilgrim, I failed. I could not focus. Prayer and Bible reading turned into staring out the window. Meditating on Bible passages as I did chores spiraled into negative, self-critical thoughts. Oh, woe was me for quite a few miserable days!

Ever faithful, ever true, ever loving! Our Father in heaven is ever faithful, ever true, ever loving and so very mighty to save!  Yet our loving Father again delivered me from the snare of the fowler. How did that happen and what did I learn? On reflection, here is what I learned and re-learned.

Image result for free clip art of stumblingWe all often stumble. “For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.” (James 3:2a, AMPC).  While depressed these last few days, my undercurrent of thought was that it was my fault because I had not meditated or prayed or trusted enough or not done something enough. That lie, of course, bred guilt and shame which remained, subconsciously, until a wise friend reminded me that there is no formula guaranteeing we will not sometimes fall into our own individual weaknesses. I had not been thinking I was perfect but I had, at some level, felt that I could avoid future occurrences of depression. Once again, I learned why Paul warned “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12, NIV)

<< When under severe enough and long enough attack we are all susceptible to stumbling into personal weaknesses. >>

My tendency when under severe attack is to become depressed and fearful whereas others might yield to an addiction, anger, or compulsive spending. My recent, and blessedly brief, plunge into depression reminded me that God does not condemn or blame us for our human frailties. Far from it!

God shares the feeling of our weaknesses. God does NOT condemn our weaknesses or punish us for them. Rather than condemning our weaknesses (which we tend to do to ourselves), God “understands and sympathizes and has a shared feeling with our weaknesses.”  When we lose awareness of God’s presence, it is good to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and ask God if we erred. Sometimes we do feel separated from God because of our sin (Isaiah 64:6-7). However, even then He is always with us! (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5) and there is NO condemnation from Him! After we confess and turn away from our sin, any guilt and shame come from the enemy – NOT God! Resist those lies and arm yourself with the knowledge that:

“As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe]. For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14, AMPC)

Image result for free picture of father walking with toddlerPicture an adoring young father, leaning over, walking carefully, holding the hand of a wobbly toddler. If loving earthly fathers hone in on the needs of their children, how much more does God! Selah!

Ponder these two verses as well:

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. (16) Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hebrews 4:15-16, AMPC)

Read that again. God shares in our feelings and wants us to approach Him boldly and confidently because He has just what we need when we need it!

In those miserable days of depression, I subconsciously felt I had done something wrong, and that God was disappointed in me. Now, I see the lie for what it is but it felt true when darkness atttacked. Our enemy is crafty (Genesis 3;1), which means skillful in the use of subtlety and cunning (www.merriam-webster.com) He is a master of schemes and lies  ((2 Corinthians 2:11; John 8:44).  But, we can rejoice because “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NIV). God did indeed strengthen and protect me. As I simply kept battling in my mind, God lifted me up and out of the pit.

Image result for free clip art of ROMAN SOLDIERThe Battlefield IS INDEED the Mind.  You may have read the excellent book by Joyce Meyer “The Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the War in Your Mind.”  My copy is marked up and tattered from being toted everywhere. I understand and have applied that teaching for years – however – this recent experience sharpened my understanding of the importance of immediately taking every wrong thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) immediately. I plan to review that teaching regularly. Until you get your copy of the book (hint. . .  just google “Battlefield of the Mind verses” and be amazed as you study. With the lies and deception of the last two years, keeping our minds filled with truth is essential.

Is God purposefully strengthening us all? Perhaps God is now deliberately strengthening the entire Body of Christ, as He strengthened me through this latest trial. Why? The greatest awakening and soul harvest of all time has already begun. We must be about our Father’s business, equipped to stand against evil. God knows the coming turnaround will include even harder times. I believe He is providing extra training so we can not only survive but thrive in this next season for America and our world.

Besides God’s concern that we be equipped, God needs strong warriors!  The modern-day prophets whom I have followed for a long time all say that God will soon bring an end to the wickedness attacking our world. I urge you to examine the “What is God doing?” page on this website if “modern-day prophets” sounds strange to you. You will find links to reliable sources providing the truth of what God is doing in our world today. I also urge you to see the February 9 podcast of Flashpoint at www.flashpoint.com.

In these dark times, we must be bold about our faith and be engaged in the world around us. Although God has been patient with sinful America and weak believers for decades, the prophets are saying judgement is coming, to the Body of Christ as well as the world. No more standing on the sidelines. Thomas Jefferson said, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”

I must ask myself, “Am I strong enough to do my part in this battle? Am I embracing the struggles of daily life as God’s loving chance to grow stronger in Him?”

Strengthen your feeble arms, Freda! Take time to read Hebrews 12:1-13. God tells us to consider all Jesus endured so that we “may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in” our minds. (Hebrews 12:3b, AMPC). He explains that discipline is for our good and in verses 12-13 tells us to man up. God says, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (verses 12-13).

See the source imageTo me, this says that if set my heart to live for the Kingdom as Jesus did—if I get my life in order or “make level paths for my feet”—then as I run my appointed race, my “lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured.” (verse 13b, AMPC).

In other words, living for the kingdom, which includes enduring trials with our eyes fixed on the joy set before us as Jesus did, strengthens our weaknesses! As—in proportion to our effort—we trust God and bear up under His training, the very things we thought were too hard will help and heal us! Woo hoo and go God!

This encourages me to purposefully repair any broken walls as I take the words of Nehemiah to heart. I will not be afraid of the enemy. I will, as Nehemiah urges:

“[earnestly remember the Lord and imprint Him [on your minds], great and terrible, and [take from Him courage to] fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14, AMPC)

Notice that we can take our courage from God,  Who is indeed great and terrible. Our God is awesome in battle and mighty to save!  “But the salvation of the [consistently] righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. And the Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 37:39-40, AMPC)

Image result for free picture of eagle on nestAlways under His feathers. As we go forward with our individual race, let us remember that as—in proportion to—we habitually live in the secret place of close fellowship with God, we will remain stable and fixed. He—Whose power no foe can withstand–will hover over us. And as we say, and our actions say, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, on Him I lean and rely and in Him I (confidently) trust!’ THEN—because we have done all that—He WILL deliver us and THEN He will come very near to us, He WILL cover us with His wings and we will be able to trust with all our being and find true refuge. (from Psalm 91, AMPC)

We will all fail at times and we may feel alone—as did many great Bible heroes—but the truth is that God is always, always, always with us. We may not feel like it but if we earnestly seek Him, we ARE snuggled close to His feathers. How loving God is to reassure us of this as we step out and take our part in His great awakening and harvest!

Image result for free clip art of confusion and crazyP.S.  Just to make it more challenging, the very day I began writing on this blog post, Thursday, February 3, came another round of testing and trials. Just as I was feeling better after covid, a four-day stretch of below freezing temps with possibly “wintry mix” was forecasted. Having stocked up and prepared for a four-day isolation, since I do not drive when roadways are icy. I had a great first day alone at home, writing and talking with the Lord all day. But the next day came an episode of tachycardia (which means lying down, with a scary heart beat, and waiting for hours until the medicine takes effect.) Well, that took all of Friday. But I kept my good attitude. Saturday morning I was at  the computer, back in the saddle, enjoying writing and being alone with God when a migraine headache began, which I have not had in many years. Well, that lasted the rest of Saturday and into the late evening.  Sunday I was tired!

But Monday, by God’s grace I resumed work on this blog post, wanting even more desperately to hear what God is saying to me about these trials so that I can find words to encourage you, too

Beloved, I say, with new hope:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV)

Stand, dear friend, stand! Stand with hope, confidence, peace and the very power of God indwelling you! There are countless more with you than are with the enemy! We win! God never, no never, no never fails us in any regard! (Hebrews 13:5).

Image result for Free Clip Art Of News. Size: 212 x 106. Source: clipart-library.comAnd “this slight distress of the passing hour” we all face? Why, we do not become discouraged because this distress is creating something far, far greater for us as we look to the things that are unseen and eternal. Let us look to Jesus, the One Who gives us His strength for all things!

(16). “Therefore we do not  become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

(17) For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

(18) Since we consider and look not to things that are seen but to things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18, AMPC)

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A tool for your fishing

Image result for free Clip Art of Desperation. Size: 100 x 106. Source: www.dreamstime.comThe Remedy for Desperation–Jesus!!! On the Basics of Believing page of this website, the link to a document titled “The Remedy for Desperation” takes you to a conversational style presentation of salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is written so as to answer questions someone who knows nothing about God might ask, so it is more than just talking points. Thus, it is also a good review for staying “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Image result for Free picture of FishingDo not fret – just fish! While writing this, I worried at first that it was too long, but as I kept praying, God led to even more Scriptures.  As I wrote, I finally saw my lack of faith in God as the Greatest Fisher of men and as the Lord of the harvest. I was reminded that our awesome God, Who created and sustains each of us, knows just what each human heart needs to hear when that heart turns toward Him. And our loving Creator is well able to guide each heart.  As a believer, I am commissioned to witness for the Lord as effectively as I can, but it is God Who does the work in human hearts, not me.  (I Corinthians 3:7)

I discerned that the enemy wanted to silence me through fear that the writing was not “good enough”. Ha! Another lie exposed! Another tactic of the enemy trodden underfoot! I will not catch a fish every time I go fishing, but I am certain that each and every time I speak about God I am planting or watering a seed and that my effort is productive for the kingdom (I Corinthians 3:6-8). God’s Word always, always, always has an effect, is useful, accomplishes what He pleases, and achieves the purpose for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11, AMPC)

Use whatever tool God shows you. Regardless of what presentation of the Gospel you decide to have ready on your lips, the point is: be ready to share your faith!  If you do not have a tool of some sort ready, you will stand, unproductive, beside rivers teeming with fish and you will walk, empty-handed, through fields ripe with grain. Beloved, have you prepared yourself to fish? Have you prepared yourself to feed His sheep? Have you placed your all, your best effort, into the Master’s hand?

Encourage yourself – with confident hope and expectation! Be confident and certain that God will guide every step as you prepare yourself. Be equally certain that He delights in what you are doing.

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and] He busies Himself with his every step. (Psalm 37:23, AMPC.)

Image result for free clip art of loaves and fishes and jesusOne last encouraging thought: little is much when we place it in the Master’s hand. Read the lyrics to “Ordinary People” by Mom Winans at the link below and be encouraged!

rb.gy/ct2wld

 

Are you sharing God’s burden?

Image result for free picture of one person harvesting wheat

Below is a sketch of what I believe God wants me to say to you today, dear friend.

  • God uses dreams.
  • A dream about the burden of God.
  • God’s burden – to have equipped laborers.
  • God’s burden – to have laborers aware they are NOW in a ripe harvest field.
  • Are you ready to share your faith?
  • Are you even fishing?
  • How to fish – at every opportunity.
  • Do you know how to catch a fish?
  • Helping someone grow up in Jesus.
  • What the dream did for me
  • God says “The workers are few”.
  • God says the place where you are standing in is a field ripe for harvest.
  • I must ask myself. . .

Image result for Free clip art Of PERSON SLEEPINGGod uses dreams. God gave us many examples of how He communicates with us through dreams. Consider the four well-known dreams of Joseph as recorded in Genesis. Consider Matthew 1:20, when an angel told Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, in a dream, to marry Mary.  Consider Peter’s dream in Acts 10-11 that salvation includes Gentiles. For good examples of how God uses modern-day dreams, listen to some of Dutch Sheets’ “Give Him 15” podcasts. These are excellent 15-minute devotionals available at www.givehim15.com.

Because I rarely remember dreams, any dream I do remember is special, and when I believe God is speaking through that dream – I pay attention. When God gave the dream described below, I got out of bed and wrote it down – right away! Here is the dream.

A dream about the burden of God.   I was in a meeting of the altar workers at my church. The dream was not of a church building I had ever been in, but it was a small and old church. The man who had led the altar workers team had just left the room after announcing he was quitting and moving away. All of us in the small room were sad and shocked. Another member asked me to speak. I do not think I would have spoken had someone not asked me to. I walked to the front and stood at the small, rough-hewn lectern, gripping it as I leaned forward and began to try to speak.

Image result for free pictureof old wodden lecternI could only whisper, though I was trying to yell with all my might because of the intensity of the message. Deeply weeping, in a forced whisper through tears, I said, “After all this time, we still have not been trained in how to lead a soul to Jesus or to the baptism in the Holy Ghost. We still are not equipped to help new believers learn to walk with Jesus.”

Next, the hallway was filled with the buzz of conversation. Someone said, “If you want to hear more, go ask what Freda just said.” But I was still weeping and could not speak when others, besides those on the altar workers team, came into the room and asked me what had happened. Then the dream ended.”

Important background: The day before the dream, I had read in “Born for Battle” by R. Arthur Mathews (an excellent book) that our prayers are so often requests rather than a quest for God and His will, and that we should ask God what is on His heart when we pray. Right then, in my car waiting to pick up my grandsons after school, I was deeply convicted and asked God to start showing me what was on His heart when I prayed. He answered the same night, through this dream.

God’s burden – to have equipped laborers. I believe God is telling me, and you, His burden is to have workers prepared for and working in the harvest field – but they are not. I know this is a call to me, and maybe to you, too. God is asking: Are you ready to lead someone to Christ, and the baptism in the Holy Ghost and on to maturity?

God’s burden – to have laborers aware they are NOW in a ripe harvest field. I believe His burden is also that we be aware the harvest is NOW, that the Third Great Awakening has already begun. The shaking our nation has undergone these last two years has made people desperate. Hearts are ready for Him. Are we aware of that and are we ready to show them the way to Him?

Image result for free picture of hippiesIn the last great awakening in the 1960s, Holy Spirit came upon people so powerfully that they spontaneously began worshipping and praising God in parks, stores, and classrooms. Unfortunately, when these sincere people, many of them hippies, went to churches to find out more about God and what had happened to them, they were turned away because of their appearance.

America cannot make that mistake again! We must be ready to welcome hearts eager for God—no matter the external appearance. And we must be ready to teach them and show them about Jesus. The prophets are saying the biggest harvest of souls in all time is coming soon. The Third Great Awakening has already begun.

Are you ready to share your faith? I think God is weeping that so many of us have never won a soul to Him, that we never intentionally prepared to do so and that so many are scornful of the gift of speaking in tongues, which includes His power to witness and to live a holy life.

So, I have three questions. (1) Are you fishing – for souls? (2) Do you know how to catch a fish – how to lead a soul to Jesus? (3) Do you know how to help that born-again soul start growing up in Jesus? Can you tell them the basics of what they need to know so that they can press on and do not, like so many, pray for salvation and then fall back into their old life and be lost?

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Are you even fishing? You may say “But I am not called to be an evangelist.” Or “I have no training.”  I say an emphatic PHOOEY to both those statements. We are ALL called to witness and to share our faith – and to share our faith at every opportunity, “making the most of the time because the days are evil.”  We are all called to heed Paul’s admonishment:

Be very careful, then how you love—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)

As for the second excuse that you have no training, online resources and books abound on how to lead someone to Jesus.

Opportunities to witness abound all around us – with friends, family, casual acquaintances and with strangers. Strangers? YES, strangers! I believe each of us should plant and water seeds throughout every day. Some of those encounters will be planting and watering spiritual seeds planted by someone else but sometimes we get to reap, too! (I Corinthians 3:7-9)

So, how do we “make the most of every opportunity?” We can work God into nearly all conversations if we pray and practice. How? By drawing fish in the sand.

Image result for Free Picture of Christian Fish Symbol. Size: 234 x 98. Source: clipartmag.comHow to fish – at every opportunity. I whole-heartily attest that if you ask God, He will give you ways to work Him into every conversation you have with friends, family, casual acquaintances and even strangers. And He will guide the conversation as to whether the person is open to hear more about Him or whether you are just to lovingly pour a little water on their thirsty heart. He will help you talk about Him and He will show you when someone is not ready to hear about Him.

So, what is this drawing a fish? In New Testament times, believers were persecuted for their faith in Jesus and many were killed. Believers would sometimes trace a fish in the sand when talking with people they did not know. If the other person also drew a fish, it indicated that person might also believe in Jesus.

Ask God and He will show you how to, like early believers, make casual mention of Him in your interactions with people. He will enable you to give a clear sign to each stranger you meet that you are a believer. If they are one also, they will respond with positive comments about God. If they are not yet a believer but are open to hearing about God, they will listen and you will have planted or watered spiritual seed and, sometimes, even more.

I estimate that more than three-fourths of people for whom I “draw a fish”—at        work, the gym, repair shop or wherever—respond positively.  Less than a fourth say nothing or abruptly change the subject (at which point I follow their conversational lead). In more than 40 years of consistently drawing fish every chance I get, only one person has voiced anger (although I pray many were deeply convicted inside).

Image result for Free Clip Art of Groceries. Size: 104 x 137. Source: clipart-library.comHere are two examples. As I walked to the dumpster yesterday, I saw a man standing beside a plumber’s van. I said “This is a beautiful day! Do you like this cooler weather?” He smiled and said “I sure do!”. I replied, “Me, too! I am glad God gave us such a nice day.” And today at the grocery checkout, I asked “How has your day been?” The young man said, “Real good. How about you?” I replied, “Mine has been good, too. God gave me a wonderful time of Bible study and now I am doing errands before I get my grandsons.”

It has been far, far too long since such an interaction led to salvation but I am praying about that. And quite often these casual mentions of God lead to quick conversations that encourage fellow believers.

Do you know how to catch a fish? Have you prepared yourself to share your faith and lead another soul to God? If not, do so – now! As I said earlier, books and internet resources on evangelism abound. Study and then practice in front of a mirror. For an excellent brief teaching on how to share your faith, search for the “Go and Tell” podcast from November 1, 2021, on the www.givehim15.com website. Or use this link November 1, 2021 (givehim15.com)

Image result for free clip art of index cards with notesYou need to memorize the basic Bible truths necessary for salvation so that you can lead someone to Jesus even if you do not have notes with you. You can, of course, easily find “The Roman Road” plan of salvation using your phone to browse the web. However, if the Roman Road or another plan of salvation is in your memory, you can answer questions as those questions come up naturally in conversation. Rest assured, however, that “just” reading the plan of salvation also works! God will use your efforts, no matter how inexpert you feel.

Until you have the five short verses of the Roman Road or another plan memorized, they fit easily on an index card in your wallet.

Image result for Free Picture of Child and Adult. Size: 221 x 108. Source: confidenceandjoy.comHelping someone grow up in Jesus. When God gives you the gift of leading someone to Him, can you tell them the next steps? You may not feel like it, but your knowledge of God is far greater than someone who just received Jesus. They are newly born spiritually. They need you to take their hand or at a minimum, point out the way to them.  Can you briefly explain Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, witnessing, and praying in the Spirit? The baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues gives power to witness and power to live a holy life. More writings on this vital topic will follow soon.

What the dream did for me: I believe God used this dream to urge me to:

[1] Refresh my knowledge of how to share salvation and speak about the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

[2] Pray, earnestly, for Him to send souls to me who are ready for harvest. To my shame and regret, I had stopped doing this somewhere along my selfish, self-focused life.

[3] Put other writings on hold while I finish what He urged me to write for this website several weeks ago – the plan of salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

(By the way, this is a good example of why more of us are not winning more souls. It takes effort to get and keep ourselves prepared and to be focused on witnessing. It is easier to do other work for God instead of the detailed Bible study and practice necessary to get and stay equipped to win souls. I am deeply grieved that I neglected this focus so long but eternally grateful for God’s loving conviction and correction.)

God also used the dream to tell me to be more bold about sharing His burden to have His laborers equipped and alert. That is why I am sharing this writing with you. I earnestly pray that you hear-and heed—what I believe the Lord of the harvest is now saying.

Image result for free picture of one person harvesting wheatGod says “The workers are few”. Mathew 9 describes miracles of healing that Jesus did as He went from one place to another, “through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35, NIV) But listen to what Matthew says next:

“36 When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd.

37 Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.

38 So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38, AMPC)

Just as much now as then, God is moved with pity and sympathy for the masses of people TODAY who are “bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, AMPC) I pray God forces us all out of our comfort zones and thrusts us, as His anointed, zealous laborers, into His harvest.

God says the place where you are standing in is a field ripe for harvest. In John 4, even though He was weary, Jesus took time to give the Samaritan woman the gift of “Living Water.” When His disciples returned and offered Him some of the food they had gone away to purchase, Jesus said:

“My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work. Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest comes?  Jesus told His disciples “Look! I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.” John 4:34-35, AMPC

Jesus was telling His disciples two things that I believe He says to us today: (1) doing God’s will, sharing the good news of salvation, nourishes us. (2) The very place each of us are standing in—the world we interact with every day—is filled with souls ripe for harvest.

I must ask myself. . . I must ask myself—am I equipped to share God’s burden? Am I working in my harvest field?

Image result for free picture of one person harvesting wheat

Update and praise report!!!  I began writing this November 24th, the day after the dream and prayed about when to post it. With two days until 2022, I think God said today.  Will you add “fishing more” to your 2022 plans?

I have studied and written the plan of salvation in my own words so I could put it on this website. I wanted to have something ready for people to review, when God put me in the path of someone ready to give their heart to Jesus. (That little booklet “The Remedy for Desperation”, will be posted soon.)

And, I am so blessed to tell you that in His very great love and kindness and mercy, God sent me a soul to pray with for salvation! Words cannot express the joy I felt and still feel.

God needs His laborers! Pray, prepare diligently and reverently, and watch, with faith! Woohoo and go God!

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Look! The Lord my God is near!

Image result for free picture of hark the herald angelsLook! The Lord my God is near! He will keep me safe from fear.
Though the enemy roar, God is king forevermore!
I submit to God’s great hand. He will lift me up to stand.
Casting all my care on Him, on His love I can depend.
Look! The Lord my God is near! He will keep me safe from fear!

Desperate about His Word. The short poem above, and the three stanzas below, can be sung to the tune of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” while you go about your daily life this Christmas season. I wrote this poem two years ago, in the Christmas 2019 season. It is one of several poems singable to Christmas carol tunes, which you can find in the booklet entitled “Carols for Consecration” on the Books and More page of this website. They were all written as I was pondering Scripture.

Two years ago, I was learning how to maintain healing from life-controlling depression and fear, a healing God began in March of that year. What brought healing? Diligent, daily meditation on God’s Word. Two years ago, I desperately needed the constant reassurance this poem describes. Fortunately, that desperation led me to meditate on comforting Bible verses hour after hour, all day long, during every free minute, every day, week after week, month after month. God’s Word healed my heart after all else failed.

God has maintained the healing and helped me grow. How? By His grace moving me to continue delighting in His law and diligently meditating “on His law day and night.” (Psalm 1:2, NIV).

Still desperate about His Word. I am still desperate about His Word because I have learned I can do nothing without Him but that “I can do everything through Christ Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT) By His grace I can now say to my loving, gracious Father:

“I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts. (Psalm 119:45, AMPC)”

Image result for Free picture of Tree By Water. Size: 143 x 100. Source: pixabay.comI pray this and the other poems in “Carols for Consecration” move you to diligently meditate more and more on His truths, so that you may “have a constant supply of Living Water, that you may bear your fruit in season, that your leaf may not wither, and that all you do will prosper.” (Adapted from Psalm 1:3). To learn more about “Diligent Meditation”, see the booklet by that title on the Books and More page.

Below are the other stanzas of “Look! The Lord my God is near!”

[2] I can keep my heart controlled. God Himself indwells my soul!
I’m alert, and I watch out, for the devil prowls about.
I resist him, I stand strong, though the trial might feel long.
In my weakness, He gives grace, so I rise and run my race!
I can keep myself controlled. God Himself indwells my soul!

[3] My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!
He will keep me in His rest as I think on what is best.
In my weakness, He is strong. He will keep me from all wrong.
I will walk with Him in love. I will keep my mind above.
My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!

Image result for Free Picture of Earth in God's Hand. Size: 188 x 104. Source: concordpastor.blogspot.com[4] God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!
He will give me grace to fight. We will win o’er darkest night!
Nothing that attacks me stands, for He holds me in His hand!
God is faithful. He will save!  This the banner that I wave!
God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!