Category Archives: CURRENT EVENTTS

I will not fear – Isaiah 41:10 – Part One

Image result for royalty free picture of gymFear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I AM your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (Isaiah 41:10, AMPC)

“Fear not, there is nothing to fear, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for. . . for. . . “

What was the next phrase? I finished the standing stretches and still could not remember. I walked by two young women doing sit-ups together and a man doing chin-ups.

“Father, please help me memorize. It is getting easier the more we do it but it still takes so many repetitions!”

“Do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for. . . “ I took one mat of the ten or so suspended by two hooks to the wall, walked back to the stretching area, stretched out and leaned over to grab my toes, the smell of the rubber mat strong and slightly unpleasant.

Do You make doing many repetitions necessary so that the Word gets imprinted on my heart? Is many repetitions part of what You mean when You tell us to meditate constantly, like Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1? You know, Lord, if I could memorize faster I would go to the next verse rather than deeply ponder each phrase, wouldn’t I? As always, Lord, You know what is best.

Thank You for the desperation of depression that created this habit. You know that when I began I was not trying to memorize or meditate. At first, I was just repeating a verse over and over because the only thing that stopped fear and negative feelings were verses You had unveiled for me.  Like this one, Lord. Please help me get it imprinted so I have a longer chain of verses to use when I can’t get to a Bible.”

As I turned sideways and reached behind me to stretch the lower back, the elusive phrase bubbled up. “For I am your God! That’s it! Thank You, Father!”  This was the eighth verse I had decided to include in my personal arsenal of Scriptures. Since I had learned the value of diligent Bible study and meditating-with-the-intent to memorize, I had studied many passages about peace and security. As I meditated on each one, God always gave deeper understanding but some verses and passages in particular stirred my soul to such depths that I can still see and feel where I was when God unveiled that part of Truth.

On the morning I am writing about, as I did twenty minutes of stretches and kept meditating, Holy Spirit guided the pondering, and I thought . . . the One who was with me was the One who made and sustains the entire universe, that this One was the One I was living my live for, pouring out my life for as a sacrifice. Just  as idol worshippers in ancient times trusted in their so-called gods to take care of them, I trusted in my God to take care of me but I had the God of all creation, God Himself, God Almighty, the great I AM, this God Who said to Moses:

“I AM WHO I AM and WHAT I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE . . . You shall say this to the Israelites” I AM has sent me to you!” (Exodus 3:14, AMPC).

The understanding that day in the gym, so distinct I could almost touch it, continues today whenever I meditate on this and other blessed truths He has unveiled.

Outline of Part One:

  • The (blessedly) slippery slope of diligent Bible study and diligent meditation
  • Finding the big ideas in a passage of Scripture
  • Historical context of Isaiah
  • Overview of Isaiah
  • Captivity then exile – a frequent topic in the Bible.
  • Threads of thought in Isaiah 40 and 41
  • Isaiah 40
  • Isaiah 41

Image result for public domain picture of slippery slopeThe (blessedly) slippery slope of diligent Bible study and diligent meditation. When I first meditated on–and thus accidentally memorized— this verse, I was just starting down the blessedly slippery slope of diligent Bible study and diligent meditation. Initially, my effort at diligent Bible study consisted of using a concordance to find specific verses about personal needs. God greatly used those first few verses to start renewing my mind as, in proportion to, I kept those verses in my mind all day long. However, Holy Spirit quickly demonstrated the reward of scanning verses before and after the verse under consideration, carefully looking for connecting words and phrases. This led to scanning the chapters before and after and of pondering the message of the entire book.

Now, when I use my spiritual weapon of Isaiah 41:10, I consider all of Isaiah and specifically Isaiah 40 and 41, I think of the big ideas.

Finding the big ideas in a passage of Scripture. For me, part of learning to study the Word diligently was capturing the context and the big ideas in a passage. I urge you to ask God to show you how to make your own outlines of Bible passages.  I do not mean a formal outline necessarily. Just a list of main points can be effective. Summarizing the Word in my own words often reveals thoughts that, though not stated, are the underlying foundation of a passage. And struggling to identify the main ideas makes the mind dig deeper. By “accident” I discovered that printing out verses on sheets of paper presents more text at one glance and makes it easier to circle connecting words, enclose related verses in parentheses, draw arrows, etc. The website www.biblegateway.com makes it easy to print sections of the Word. With printed pages, you can erase mistakes from your first read-through as well make marginal notes.  God will lead you in the study method best for you.

Historical context of Isaiah.  With that said, let’s consider the context of Isaiah and the main ideas in Isaiah 40 and 41.

The name Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah saves.” Commentaries agree that salvation is the main theme of the book. Isaiah prophesied in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The Assyrians had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom, Israel. As Halley’s Bible commentary explains, prophets are “the spiritual conscience of the nation. They are appointed to remind kings, priests, and the people of their obligations to God and people.” (p. 363). Isaiah warned kings and the people that God’s wrath would bring condemnation and tribulation. He urged repentance from sin and returning to God.

For Isaiah’s entire life, the Assyrians threatened Judah’s existence. Isaiah witnessed the destruction the Assyrians inflicted on God’s people, including the captivity and exile of the entire Northern Kingdom, the taking by Sennacherib of 200,000 people of Judah, and the near capture of Jerusalem. Isaiah saw his entire nation ruined by the Assyrians. Throughout his life, Isaiah warned of coming judgement for sin but also gave words of comfort as he spoke of the coming Messiah.

Overview of Isaiah. The 1984 NIV published by Zondervan outlines Isaiah as follows:
Chapters
1-6      Judgement and hope of restoration
7-12    Hope in Assyria or God?
13-23  Prophecies about nations
24-27  Israel’s judgement and deliverance
28-35 Warnings and Zion restored
36-39  King Hezekiah withstands Assyria
40-56  Promises of divine deliverance
57-66  The final kingdom established

“Isaiah repeatedly warned the people that Jerusalem and Judah would be judged because of their wickedness . . . but he also held to the hope that the kingdom would be restored again.

Image result for public domain picture of isaiahBeginning in Isaiah 40 Isaiah offered comfort with these promises from God: 1) the Babylonian exiles would be allowed to return to Jerusalem; 2) a righteous, suffering servant would bring salvation; 3) God would set up a new, righteous kingdom.” (NIV, 1984, page 593).

Captivity then exile – a frequent topic in the Bible. I believe captivity is a picture of our condition when we allow the enemy to capture our will. Then—if we persist in our sin–exile comes when we are carried away from our position in the land of promise, where we walk in blessings that come from total love and obedience to our Master.

I believe we can apply this concept on every scale of time and to many situations. For example, if I yield to fear the entire morning, but then repent of that and return to active dependence and trust in God, I am restored, my Deliverer comes and I am rescued from that which took me captive and separated me from God. Or, I can persist in the sin of doubt and unbelief for days, weeks, seasons or years and remain captive.

Image result for public domain picture of chained handsBesides our own actions taking us captive, our life can be in captivity then exile because of the sin of those with whom we are associated, as happened to the prophet Isaiah. This is similar to what we saw in our study of affliction in Lamentations 3. Yet, though the outer circumstances of our life may be in captivity, inwardly (the only thing that matters eternally) we can be victorious and joyful. And we can be victorious and joyful in all circumstances, no matter how difficult, as we cling to the certain knowledge that God is using us right where we are and that He is still in control of our life and will preserve us until deliverance comes.

Threads of thought in Isaiah 40 and 41.  Isaiah 40 through 66 are “messages of Divine deliverance” from exile. Specifically, Isaiah 40 concerns preparing the way for the Lord and Isaiah 41 speaks of God’s help for Israel (Isaiah Outline (biblehub.com)  Both Isaiah 40 and 41 are essential for understanding Isaiah 41:10.

Remember: God is talking in these chapters to Israelites who have been taken captive, most because of their own sin but righteous Israelites have also suffered the same external consequences because they live in the same nation as the idolators and the wicked, just as believers do in our world today.

We can draw strength as we cherish these truths in our hearts, whether our trials are caused by our own sins and weaknesses or whether they are caused by someone else’s (a family member, employer, close friend) or some other thing (our nation, the economy, or the culture).

Isaiah 40—preparing the way for the Lord. Isaiah 40 is located in a passage (chapters 40 to 56) that addresses God’s promise of Divine deliverance. Here are the central thoughts I see in Isaiah 40.

See the source imageIn Isaiah 40, God says “Comfort My people tenderly, telling them help is coming. Tell them that, although man is ‘as frail as grass’, that My Word stands forever. Tell everyone God will deliver.” God pleads tenderly with His children to understand and trust and not fear. God reminds them that He alone—all by Himself—created heaven and earth and that all the nations are like a drop of water, or “small dust”, to Him, so how can we compare anything to God? God says ‘Can’t you tell that idols are mere things made by man? Haven’t you yet (despite all My teaching) understood that I alone rule heaven and earth and that I remove leaders as easily as wind blows away stubble?”

So, therefore (because of those facts), God says how then can we compare anyone to Him? God says “Just look and see how I keep the world in order. So “why, My people” do you think I am not taking care of you? Can you hear the pleading tone in God’s words when He says, “My people!”?

God says: “Hear this: The everlasting God—Who created the ends of the earth–never wearies and is beyond human understanding. He gives power and strength to those who need it. Even strong young men will fall but those who wait, expect, look for and hope in the LORD will be given new strength so that they can draw close to God and run without tiring.

Isaiah 41—God’s help for Israel.  This chapter urges God’s people not to fear because He guides “the destinies of the generations of the nations”. God says to His people “Let’s talk about this point of contention between us about the enemy you fear so much. I, the LORD, raised up Cyrus. The whole world depends on the idols they make but you, My servant Jacob, remember where you came from and Who created you and for what purpose.

God says “You are My chosen servant and I have not cast you off—even though you are exiled. Fear not, for I am with you (Me, not idols). Do not be dismayed (as those who depend on idols are) because I am your God. I will give you strength, harden you to difficulties, and help you. Yes, I will help you. All who come against you will disappear because I will help you and I AM the LORD.

I will make you into a new weapon and you shall destroy your enemies until they are as chaff the wind blows away. I will supply water where there was none for my poor and needy people SO THAT men will see that the Holy One of Israel has done this. Idols made by men can do nothing to show they are gods.

Image result for public domain picture desertThey are nothing and those who worship them are “an abomination [extremely disgusting and shamefully vile in God’s sight]. I have raised up Cyrus, who recognizes that I am giving him his victories. None of the idols predicted this. I, the LORD, announced to Israel that My people the Jews will be restored to their own land through Cyrus. No idol can say one word and their pagan priests and prophets are false, futile and worthless.”

These thunderous declarations are the context of Isaiah 41:10.

God lives in our hope. Fellow pilgrim, fellow captive and exiled one, we all are temporarily not experiencing some of God’s promises because of the sin of our nation and our world. But oh! What richness we have in and through Him—NOW—as we wait on and hope in Him!

God lives in and through (and He is perceptibly present with us because of) our hope, our faith, our trust, our belief in Him. When we have faith and hope in Him, we honor Him. How does a husband feel when his wife shows that she trusts him to take care of her, that she considers him capable, and worthy of her respect? How does he feel when she doubts him? Think about it. Which attitude draws him near? Which attitude deepens his love for her?

Beloved, trust your Maker! Honor Him by walking in faith and keeping your soul in peace as you wait—confidently—for Him!

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMPC)

See the source imagePart Two: In Part Two, we will look in detail at Isaiah 41:10. Until then, ponder Isaiah 40 and 41. Summarize what you hear God saying in these chapters. I pray He speaks comfort and fresh hope and deliverance to you about areas in your life where the enemy of our souls has taken you or those around you “captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26, NIV)

 

Watering works!

Image result for public domain picture of watering can(5) What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. (6) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (7) So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (8) The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will be rewarded according to their own labor (9) for we are co-workers in God’s service . . . (I Corinthians 3:5-9a, AMPC)

Planting, watering, and rejoicing. As I walked beside the pool, my hands full of mail, I waved at Joe walking on the other side.

“Hey,” he said, “thanks for praying for me the other day.”

I smiled, turned the corner and walked toward him.

“So, what’s happening? Do you know when you’ll move yet?”

“Well,” he replied. “I don’t know. There is a social worker helping me but it’s taking a long time. After you prayed the other day I’m feeling better and things are quieter.”

“That’s wonderful!” I replied, as the wind rustled through the trees, a flock of sparrows fluttered from one nearby bush to another, and the heat of the Texas midday sun pressed into my scalp and bare arms.

“Tell me about it.”  So, for the next few minutes, I listened, commiserating about dealing with large government agencies and the frustration of waiting.

The habit of planting and watering. I live in a condominium complex and make it a habit to get to know my neighbors and to work God into our brief conversations whenever I can. I had seen Joe for two years, waving at him and his two buddies every few weeks or months when they sat on the curb by the dumpster, sipping from tall cans tucked into wrinkled brown paper bags.

In early spring, I had seen Joe at a neighborhood drug store, and we had talked while we stood in a long line. I learned a bit about his background and current problems. As the clerk bagged his purchases, he turned back to me and said, “It was good to talk to you.” As I smiled and said “Likewise, Joe!” I remember thinking at the time “Joe may not have anyone to offer a kind and listening ear.” And I had thanked God for letting me offer a bit of friendship and concern from a fellow human being. And I had, of course, prayed for him.

Image result for public domain picture of homeless man drinkingBy God’s grace alone. Like three others in the complex, I knew he had some kind of disability and I took extra care to speak a word of encouragement whenever I saw him in the parking lot or by the mailboxes.

“There but for Your grace, Lord, go I. Help me be Your smile and Your voice.”

Today, as Joe talked, resting one thin arm on the fence by the pool, I was praying the same prayer.

“Let’s pray again,” I said, and I did, briefly thanking God for helping, asking for guidance about making decisions, and asking God to keep Joe in peace.

“Thank you,” Joe said. “You know, I think He listens to you because last time you prayed for me, things got a whole lot better.”

I smiled. “Thank you, Joe. That makes my heart happy! He loves us all so much and He wants to help us. He has taken good care of my daughter and me for many years and has never let us down once.”

We shared a warm smile before we parted and went our separate ways.

Image result for public domain picture of watering sproutsA little more water sprinkled. “Thank You, Lord, for that chance, for being able to sprinkle a little more water on those seeds You’ve planted in Joe’s heart. Thank You for letting me sense what he was ready to hear. Keep him safe, Lord, help him . . . “

As I walked upstairs, I pondered afresh the message of 1 Corinthians 3, that each of us who labor in the kingdom plant seeds and water seeds but it is God alone who makes things grow.

(5) What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. (6) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (7) So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (8) The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will be rewarded according to their own labor (9) for we are co-workers in God’s service . . . (I Corinthians 3:5-9a, AMPC)

I opened the door, walked over to the rocker and sat, staring out the window. This month has been the hardest this year, with one problem after another—all in the stressful atmosphere in which our world is currently bathed. I paid out $800 for a fender bender that was my fault, I fell and got some interesting bruises (but fortunately only bruises), I got scammed, and the air conditioner had to be repaired. All month, handling fallout from those problems had interfered with the writing, which is a source of delight and great peace. Earlier that morning, while waiting on the air conditioner repair man, was the first time I was able to sit down and write for more than a few minutes.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Planting Seeds. Size: 142 x 106. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netLike a tangible pat on the head. I continued staring out the window, into the glare coming off the building ten feet away.

“Thank You, Father, so much. That is a pat on the head I can almost feel.  What a privilege to help draw Joe toward You a bit more! What a privilege to be involved in kingdom work in my own back yard and in the middle of these problems, which I know are much less than what many are enduring.”

I sighed and scratched Lily’s head, then I smiled.

“And it’s an affirmation of the verses in Psalm 37 that I’ve been trying to memorize these many weeks now, especially verse three.”   

“Trust (lean on, rely on and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” (Psalm 37:3, AMPC, emphasis added)

Thank You, Father, for giving me the opportunity to do good today while I, along with millions of others, take my place in the battle for the Kingdom and wait expectantly for Your deliverance in the midst of our present troubles. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Thank You for Who You are, for Your loving kindnesses, Your tender mercies, Your compassion. . . “

Image result for public domain picture of jesus holding the worldLord, although the whole world is greatly afflicted at this present moment, we who know You have hope and expectation because we, as did Jeremiah, recall:

(22) It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. (24) 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.

(25) The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquiring of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of His Word]. (26) It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:22-26, AMPC, emphasis added)

Image result for public domain picture of watering sprouts

STOP the pandemic treaty with WHO

PLEASE do your part to stop this danger to us all! Are you frustrated with the evil things happening in our world? There is one threat which we all need to do something about NOW. The Biden administration is considering signing a treaty with the World Health Organization that would give WHO control over the health care rights of US citizens. This is one more step toward a one-world government.

The vote will take place May 22 through 28, 2022.

Go to www.stopthewho.com. The site is set up so that you can, with a few clicks, send emails to Senators, Congressional Representatives, Governor and State Representatives. You can find details about the treaty at this website.

PLEASE also listen to the May 12, 2022, “We can’t stay silent!” podcast at https://flashpoint.govictory.com

Also, go to www.millionvoices.org, another website that makes it easy for you to contact your government representatives about many issues, such as abortion, election integrity, our borders, education, and many more.

Get informed. And I BEG  you. . . if you are not already, STOP listening to mainstream media and start listening to Christian news so you can hear the truth about what God is revealing and what God is doing.

How long will you stay silent? The following confessional was written in 1946 by Pastor Martin Niemoller, who along with other Germans, stayed silent while the Nazis purged those who did not fit with their evil schemes.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Will you speak out or will you remain silent? The enemy is already coming for believers, deliberately targeting them. Are you doing anything about it?

 

 

God still reigns — right now!!!

“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10, AMPC)

Are you discouraged and fearful?  I pray not! Beloved, no matter what seems to be happening, GOD IS IN CONTROL OF THIS WORLD! And, as you obey and trust Him, He will help you, as He promises in Isaiah 41:10.

If fear torments you, part of the reason could be listening to mainstream media, which is more blatantly than ever opposed to God and more than ever filled with lies. If you still listen to mainstream media, I beg you to stop and start listening to voices that give you the news from God’s perspective, voices like Victory News (govictory.com)  and Flashpoint  (govictory.com) and Give Him 15 (Give Him 15 | GH15 Prayer). Feed yourself with the Word and God’s truth about what is happening and take action against the evil trying to destroy America and the world. How? A good place to start is to implement the suggestions on the “What is God telling you to do?” page on this website.

Make the effort to learn the truth, and then make the effort to get involved. Passivity feeds fear. Taking action feeds faith. I pray you will get informed and get involved. God WILL show you what YOU can do to fight for righteousness.

Following is an updated blog post (published on February 26, 2021) that I pray gives you courage—from God’s Word—to believe that our Most High God has always been, is now, and will always be “. . . sovereign over all the kingdoms on earth.” (Daniel 4:17b, AMPC).  Be confident in God! Get in the fight! God always, always, always wins! He cannot be defeated!

GOD STILL REIGNS!! I sat motionless, eyes closed, feeling the power of Holy Spirit in the thundering crescendo of instruments and voices raised in exultant praise.

He sits high above the mountains, King of kings and Lord is He, and all power is His forever! He still reigns! An empty tomb is there to prove, death could never hold our King. He still reigns, He still reigns!”

I first heard “He Still Reigns!” thirty plus years ago, when still a fairly new Christ follower. Just thinking about the truths in that song has stirred my soul ever since. Thirty or so years ago, the enemy was busy seeking to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) anything and anyone he could. Today, however, his efforts are even more obvious because God is revealing and thwarting the plans of the evil one and those who serve him. Today, I pray this message encourages and strengthens you and brings you the comfort with which God has comforted me (2 Corinthians 1:4), which is that blessed assurance that I am His and He is mine and HE STILL REIGNS!

Consider this:

  • The world, our nation, and many individuals are now in battles where it seems that evil has won.
  • But the battles will last only for a while.
    God will get Himself glory through and because of what is happening.
  • God remains in complete control.
  • God’s plans and purposes will be fulfilled in every way, in the world, our nation, and our individual lives.
  • God will enable us to stand our ground and fight, with confident expectation of victory and with His joy in our hearts.
  • God so often delivers at the last moment.

Three stories of last-moment deliverance by God. Let’s search for understanding in three Bible stories where God delivered His children from seemingly impossible situations, at the last moment. Because of those situations, God got Himself honor and glory and the enemy was made to know that God is the LORD. (Exodus 14:18). These stories are:

  1. Exodus 14 — The parting of the Red Sea
  2. Daniel 3 — Three Hebrews in the fiery furnace
  3. Daniel 6 — Daniel in the den of lions

Image result for free picture of red sea deliveranceExodus 14: The parting of the Red Sea. Read Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:31 to get an overview. Then consider the following observations. (Unless indicated otherwise, quotations are from the NIV.)

Ex. 13:17 God knew the Israelites might return to Egypt if they faced war with the Philistines, so God led them toward the Red Sea. He knew they needed a demonstration of His power on their behalf.

Ex 13:21-22 God led them by day and by night and never stopped leading them for a moment.

Ex 14:2-4 God told Moses, His leader, that Israel was to encamp by the Red Sea so that Pharaoh would think they were wandering around in confusion. God would harden Pharaoh’s heart to pursue them which would result in glory for God so that the Egyptians would know He is God. (Think about it – Egypt did not pursue them again, though Israel traveled in a nearby dessert for 40 years. God did indeed make Egypt learn that He IS God.)

Ex 14:5-12 Israel was at first “marching out boldly” (v. 8) but when Pharaoh approached “they were terrified and cried out to the Lord and turned on Moses (v. 10)

Image result for Free Picture Of American Flag Flying. Size: 157 x 110. Source: www.freestockphotos.bizLet me ask: How many have turned against our President, Donald John Trump–from whom the 2020 election was stolen –and others who are fighting for righteousness because it looks like evil won and is about to destroy our nation?

Fear and believing the threats and lies of the enemy made the Israelites turn on their leader. Looking at the enemy brings fear. Looking to God brings light to your eyes and courage to your heart. 

Ex 14:13 Moses told the people “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see a gain. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Pillar of Cloud. Size: 123 x 206. Source: thescripturesays.orgEx 14: 19- The angel of God moved behind the Israelites, and the pillar of cloud (which means this event began during the day) also moved behind them and “throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.” (Emphasis added)

Notice this: God protects His people while He is preparing their deliverance. I believe this is where our nation and our world is at this moment. Verse 21 says “and all that night, the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”

Notice this: Going through the Red Sea happened at night and all during the process of Israel walking through the divided waters, many of them were still close to the Egyptians, waiting on the dangerous side, with only God’s pillar of cloud and fire keeping them safe. It took a while for deliverance from evil and into freedom to be complete. And during that time, all the Israelites who could not fit into the dry passage through the sea, had to stand still and wait and stay on God’s side. Had they turned back toward Egypt, rather than waiting on God’s process of deliverance to be completed, they would have become captives again.

Notice this also: The deliverance through the Red Sea took most of the night. Verse 24 says “During the last watch of the night” God confused the Egyptian army and took the wheels off their chariots and the Egyptians understood that God was fighting for Israel and against them.

I believe that perhaps the Egyptian army was getting close to the last of the Israelites who were walking to freedom. God could have had the Israelites walk faster or the Egyptians move slower, but maybe He wanted the Israelites to look into the midst of the Red Sea and observe what He was doing to their enemies. Maybe He wanted His children to have a picture to carry in their memory of mighty Pharaoh becoming terrified. Maybe He wanted them to see that even when the enemy was so very close, that He was still in control.

Image result for free picture of red sea deliveranceReturning to the text, in verse 26, God told Moses to again stretch out his hand over the sea and at daybreak, the sea went back into is place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. Not one of them survived.” (emphasis added.) “And Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant. (30b, 31)

Notice this: God planned the entire event. He was in control the entire time. Because of the enemy’s efforts to destroy God’s people, God got Himself glory, and in so doing taught His people to fear Him and trust Him. Because of what happened, God destroyed Egypt’s entire army and put the fear of God into that wicked nation.

Daniel 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Image result for Free Picture of Nebuchadnezzar and idol. Size: 79 x 101. Source: www.pinterest.comDan 3:3-6 During the time when Israel was taken captive into Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to bow down and worship a nine-foot tall idol he had made. He threatened that anyone who did not would be thrown into a burning furnace.

Dan 3:7 Most of the people complied.

Dan 3:8-12 Some men brought malicious accusations against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, reporting to King Nebuchadnezzar that these three did not serve Babylonian gods nor did they comply with his order to worship the idol Nebuchadnezzar had made.

Dan 3:13-15 The king was furious and gave the three a chance to comply, else they would be thrown into the furnace.

Notice this: The enemy was threatening them with what looked like certain death if they did not turn away from God. The enemy of our souls wants the worship that is due God and will do anything he can to turn us away from God.

Dan 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied “If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up!”

Dan 3:19-23 The king was so enraged that he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, had the three tied up and had them thrown into the furnace. It was so hot that the flame killed the strong men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Flying American Flag PoleNotice this:  The enemy threatens and does all in his power to make the situation even worse. Consider our nation and our world this very day. Is not the enemy doing all in his power to destroy everyone who stands for righteousness and truth?

Dan 3:24-26 For a while, the three Hebrews were in the furnace; HOWEVER, when the King looked in, he saw a fourth man with them and they were walking around!

Notice this: The three Hebrews had to actually go into the furnace and stay there for a while. BUT. . . God Himself was with them, in the furnace, and the king saw God.

Image result for Free Picture of Four Men in The Furnace. Size: 184 x 110. Source: fim-carol.blogspot.comDan 3:27 After the king told the three Hebrews to come out of the furnace and the king and all his rulers saw the “the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scored or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them.” (AMPC)

Dan 3:28-30 The king said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who believed in, trusted in, and relied on Him! And they set aside the king’s command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (See also Romans 12:1-3, which instructs us to be living sacrifices and to be transformed by renewing our minds so that we can understand God’s will.) Then the king threatened death to anyone in his kingdom who spoke against the God of the three Hebrews.

Daniel 6: Daniel in the den of lions.

The Bible tells of another time during the Babylonian captivity when God got Himself glory because someone stood strong in the midst of great trial for a while, until God worked deliverance.

Dan 6:1-9 “Daniel so distinguished himself . . .by his exceptional qualities”. . . that King Darius planned to “set him over the whole kingdom”. (Verses in this passage are from the NIV.) The other government officials, realizing they could not find any corruption in Daniel unless it concerned the law of Daniel’s God, persuaded King Darius to decree that no one could pray to any god or man but King Darius for thirty days, else they would be thrown to the lions.

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Notice this: Daniel was highly successful but government officials did all they could to destroy him. Does that not sound like what has happened recently to our true President, Donald John Trump—from whom the 2020 election was stolen? He was doing a superb work as President, but then many powerful people attacked him, seeking to destroy him.

Take heart, friend! God will restore President Donald John Trump to his duly elected and God-appointed seat and God will restore America to righteousness. The Third Great Awaking has already begun. GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH AMERICA!!!

Dan 6:10 Upon hearing the decree, Daniel went home, opened his windows to Jerusalem and prayed, “just as he had done before.” Observe that Daniel continued living the righteous life as had been his habit. We need to develop solid spiritual habits before disaster strikes. If you are not doing so, get busy friend!

Dan 6:11-17 Daniel’s enemies reported Daniel’s actions to King Darius who was “greatly distressed. . . and made every effort . . . to save him.” However, as the enemies of Daniel reminded the king, no decree or edict of the king could be changed, so Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. King Darius said to Daniel, “May your God whom you serve continually rescue you!”

Dan 6:18-21 After a sleepless, tormented night, King Darius “hurried to the lions’ den.”

Notice this: Daniel was in the apparent grasp of the enemy for a while – the entire night. FIor a while, it looked like evil had triumphed. But, in the morning . . . 

King Darius called out to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your Glod, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” The phrase “Whom you serve continually” appears in verses 16 and again here in verse 20, urging us, I believe, to strive to be like Daniel so that everyone knows we serve God continually.

Image result for free picture of daniel in the lions denDan 6:21-23 Observe that, even in this situation, Daniel is respectful. Daniel says, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (NIV). The king was overjoyed and had Daniel set free, and the Scriptures tell us “No wound was found on him, because he had trusted in His God.” (v. 23b)

Dan 6:22-24 The men who had falsely accused Daniel were themselves and their families thrown into the lions’ den and were devoured before they reached the floor of the den. This last piece of information is included, I have heard many pastors state, to show that the lions were starved and would indeed have devoured Daniel but for the angel of God’s protection.

Dan 6:25 God gets Himself glory because of the hard situation in which Daniel was placed for a while. King Darius orders all in his kingdom to “fear and reverence the God of Daniel” for, or BECAUSE, King Darius states ”He is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves; he performs signs and wonder in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (NIV)

Daniel 6:28. “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

These three Bible stories encourage us to stand strong. Reread them and talk them over with God. See what Holy Spirit tells you.

Image result for free picture of the throne of godGod still reigns. God is in the process of getting Himself glory now, in the very midst of what seems hopeless. God delivered the Israelites, the three Hebrews, and Daniel, and He will deliver us! Read I Peter 1:1-12. Notice that verse 5 says ,”And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” (NLT)

Rejoice, fellow believer! We have the hope of eternal life, and we have God protecting us this very moment. Nothing that has happened the last two years has surprised God. I believe He has allowed certain dire things to happen SO THAT evil would be exposed.

The song “He still reigns!I have walked with God for 39 years. Our awesome God has never, no never, no never failed me in any way whatsoever, in any degree, not for one moment! (Hebrews 13:5-6). Our God sits in heaven and laughs at the wicked (Psalm 2), “But what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” (Palm 2:12c) 

Now, today, in my home, I worship God as I listen to “He Still Reigns”, and my spirit and all that is within me rejoices and exults in Him. I feel the power of the One who speaks and mountains move, I hear the sound of the One who roars and lays bare the depths of the ocean, and I am in the presence of the One who created and sustains the universe and all that exists, the One who loves us, our soon-coming King, our King of kings and our Lord of Lords! Find a video of this powerfully anointed song, like the one at the link below, and be strengthened. Give our God the glory due His name! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fESjsMgzYTE

This old world’s in such confusion, hearts are failing everywhere, and sometimes it seems that God just doesn’t care. But don’t you fear! He holds our future. Let all heaven and earth proclaim He still reigns, He still reigns! An empty tomb is there to prove, death could never hold our King. He still reigns, He still reigns!” (Verse 2 from “He Still Reigns!”)

Jesus is coming back and until then–this very day, in the very midst of all that is happening–we are to be busy with our Father’s business, shining like lights and living with peace and confidence in our Most High God, and doing our part in His army!

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God is good to those who wait – Part Seven

Image result for public domain picture of waiting with hopeThe 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 through Six: 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! God promises to e good to us when we search diligently for Him in our times of need. We can know with confidence that our true needs will be met, because the Word says so.

We can, like Jeremiah, wait with hope and expectation of God’s goodness if we seek Him as He says to seek Him and if we know the power of the right of our need and the authority of His Word.  It is good to readily submit to the Father’s discipline because He lays the “yoke of divine disciplinary dealings” upon us for our ultimate good and, though He does cause grief, He will “be moved according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. (Lamentations 3:32, AMPC)

In Part Six, we saw that because God is sovereign, we must not complain but rather examine ourselves and pray. In Lamentations 3, God teaches us 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 or our nation and world.

Outline of Part Seven.  Lamentations 3:49-66 shows us that we can, like Jeremiah in the midst of great affliction, be confident that God will manage our affairs, protect us and our rights and rescue and redeem our life. (Lamentations 3:58)

  • Weeping until God sees
  • Recalling past afflictions
  • Recalling God’s faithfulness
  • The light of seeing what God has done for us
  • God HAS seen the wrongs
  • I know You will answer, O God
  • Am I a channel for God?

Weeping until God sees–verses 49-51.  Jeremiah is weeping and says he will keep weeping until God answers. He says “My eyes overflow continually and will not cease until the Lord looks down and sees from heaven.” (Lamentations 3:50, AMPC)

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God has moved on Jeremiah’s heart to do just what Jesus would teach His followers hundreds of years later. In Luke 11, when Jesus’s disciplines asked Him to teach them to pray, He began with what is now known as the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:2-4). Jesus then continued teaching them how to pray with the parable of the man who at midnight asks a friend for three loaves of bread because he has nothing to give his guest who has just arrived at his house. The friend replies at first, saying “Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you with what you [with anything]” (verse 7). Jesus emphasized that the man in bed would get up and give his friend as much as he needed not because of the friendship, but “because of his shameless persistence and insistence.”

To reinforce this idea, Jesus continues with the well-known ask, seek, and knock passage. The KJV, ESV and NASB use the words ask, seek, and knock, but it is instructive to me that the AMPC and NLT use say keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.

(9) So, I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.

(10) For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking the door shall be opened to you.”

Image result for public domain picture of prayerI think it is an indication that Christ is being formed more fully in us (Galations 4:19) when we pray for more than just ourselves and those we know and when we persist in prayer, as Jesus told His disciples to do and as Jeremiah did. For more about persistence in prayer see Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18, and 1 Chronicles 16:11 – and pray persistently!

Recalling past afflictions–verses 52-54. Halley (p 410) observes that it is difficult to specify the subject of each chapter of Lamentations. “The same ideas, in different wording, run through all the chapters, the horrors of the siege and the desolate ruins, all due to Zion’s sins.” (Halley’s Bible Commentary, p. 410).  After resolving to pray until God hears, Jeremiah’s thoughts seem to turn inward as he recalls the time his enemies tried to destroy him by putting him into a pit.  Read Jeremiah 38:1-13 and see how God delivered him that time.

Recalling God’s faithfulnessverses 55-57. But Jeremiah is not just recalling a time of great personal affliction – he is also recalling how God heard and rescued him during that affliction, when he was literally in a cistern. Jeremiah recalls that when he called on the name of the Lord, God drew near, delivered him, and calmed his fears. Jeremiah says:

(55) “I called upon your name, O Lord, out of the depths [of the mire] of the dungeon.

(56) You heard my voice [then]; [Oh] hide not Your ear [now] at my prayer for relief.

(57) You drew near on the day I called to You; You said, ‘Fear not.

Everyone who fears the Lord and hopes in his unfailing love (Psalm 33:18) can recall similar instances of God’s deliverances, times when He made a way through the Red Sea of impossibility, sent ravens of supply, shut the lion’s mouth of unjust accusation, walked beside us in the fire and illumined dark valleys with the light of His Word and His presence.

Image result for public domain picture of solomons templeWe who walk with God are a blessed people. We can, like the psalmist Asaph enter the sanctuary of praise (Psalm 73:17) and perceive God’s ways and be encouraged that, even though we foolishly get bitter at times, we still belong to God and He holds our hand and guides us (v. 21-24). When we enter the sanctuary of God’s presence, then we can say to God:

“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” (v. 25-26)

The light of seeing what God has done for us– verse 58. When we step back and gain God’s perspective on affliction, when we recall His previous works as Jeremiah did (and as Psalm 105-107 teach us to do), we can see how good God has been. We can say:

“Oh Lord, You have pleaded the causes of my soul [You have managed my affairs and You have protected me person and my rights]; You have rescued and redeemed my life! (Lamentations 3:58, AMPC)

As long as our mind is focused on misery, our own or others, we keep ourselves chained in the darkness of sorrow. But when we do as God says and fix our eyes on Jesus (Colossians 1), when we think on good things (Philippians 4), when we re-affirm and declare out loud our praise for God and our trust in Him–this mighty One Who never, no never, no never forsakes us—then we are free from the darkness.

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When we step into the light of truth, when we enter the house of praise, then we see our life and the circumstances of and surrounding our life accurately. Then we see that, even though previous times were hard, God was there and He was working all things out.  The one who focuses on external things is never satisfied, but “to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7, KJV)

When our heart is right toward God, when we “find wisdom and gain understanding (Proverbs 3) ah! Then we have treasure “more precious than rubies””! We have the treasure of His presence and the treasure of seeing things from the viewpoint of His wisdom. Then, along with Jeremiah, we recall all God has done for us in previous times of affliction. Then, we have strength to continue praying, as Jeremiah did, with confident expectation.

God HAS seen the wrongsverses 59-64.  In verses 59-64 Jeremiah continues his conversation with God. He says to God,

(59) You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord. Be my judge, and prove me right.

(60 You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.

(61) Lord, your have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made.

(62) My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long.

(63) Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.

Jeremiah had been attacked by the evil people of his day, those evil ones in his own country and city, because of his messages from God. Yet, “Through all this God protected Jeremiah so he could continue to warn the wicked and comfort those who trusted in God” (Introduction to Jeremiah, NIV Bible, page 654).

Evil kings and people living in wickedness and rebellion hated the corrections and warnings of coming judgement given by God’s Old Testament prophets.  The Old Testament prophets lived in a period when God’s people had long worshipped idols and, because they refused to heed God’s constant warnings, then reaped what they had sown. They were enslaved by their own sin and taken captive, just as we are enslaved when we choose to obey Satan. The Word clearly says: “Don’t you realize that you become the salve of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave o sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16, NLT)

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Are we not in the same situation in America? And may we not be in places of personal affliction because God is either convicting us or else guiding us to higher, safer ground?

What is our appropriate response? Regarding affliction caused by our sin or God’s guiding, it is of course to repent and turn toward God.  Regarding affliction caused by the sin of our nation and world, it is to pray for our enemies and the enemies of our God, but–if they do not repent—to cry out to God for justice, as Jeremiah did.

I know You will answer, O God!–verses 64-66.  Jeremiah cried to the Lord for justice upon the wicked who opposed God. He said:

(64) Render to them a recompense, O lord, according to the work of their hands.”

(65) You will give them hardness and  blindness of heart; Your curse will be upon them.

(66) You will pursue and afflict them in anger and destroy them from under Your heavens, O Lord.”

Jeremiah pleaded for justice and he expressed his confidence that God would indeed bring justice. Jeremiah had given similar messages his entire life. So had the prophets who preceded him and who lived in the same time period he did.

Am I a channel for God? Let us, like God’s prophets of old, be a channel for God’s mercy and reach out to others by speaking the truth in love, in the hopes that God may, through us “by every possible means, save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) As we do so, let us be aware that it will sometimes mean suffering because of our beliefs. We know that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil doers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13-14, NIV)

Beloved, we are living in the days of the third chapter of 2 Timothy 3. We must be about our Father’s business – all day, every day!

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Let us cry out that our loved ones, our neighbors, our churches, and our nation will repent and learn to “hate evil, love good; (and) maintain justice in the courts.” (Amos 5:15)  And we must intercede for the Body of Christ and our world. Intercessors for America is a rich source of information on how and what to pray for.  See https://ifapray.org.

Father, while we wait in time of affliction, be it personal, national or world-wide, may we be in the company of those who “know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy]” so that we may lean on and confidently put our trust in You, for we know that “You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You on the authority of Your word and the right that our necessity gives us. (Psalm 9:10, AMPC)

 We see, Lord, how you are exposing evil everywhere and we rejoice that revival is even now breaking out across America and Your world. We say, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of niAGARABeloved, our Mighty Father, the God of angel armies, has already released a niagara of justice on the evil of our world. Stand firm in your faith and be confident in the God Who created you and Who loves you with unfathomable, undying passion. You will see the salvation your God is bringing about for you! (Exodus 14:13)

 

 

 

 

God is good to those who wait – Part Six

Image result for public domain picture of hopeThe 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 through Five. 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! God promises to be good to us when we search diligently for Him in our times of need. We can know with confidence that our true needs will be met, because the Word says so.

In Part Five, we saw that it is good to hope and wait quietly with confident expectation for God’s salvation, for His safety and ease, and it is also good to readily and meekly submit to God’s discipline BECAUSE God will not abandon us forever BECAUSE even though He does cause grief yet He will be compassionate without measure BECAUSE He does not enjoy hurting people or sending sorrow. In Part Six, Lamentations 3:37-48 remind us of God’s sovereignty.

Outline of Part Six.

  • God is THE Supreme Power.
  • Is God really in control? of everything?
  • God IS sovereign – verses 37-39
  • Let us examine ourselves
  • Let us pray
  • HE STILL REIGNS!!!

Image result for public domain picture of crownGod is THE Supreme Power.  Take time now to read Lamentations3:37-48 and listen to what God says to you.

Verses 37-48 tell me that, because God is sovereign, when we are in affliction we must examine ourselves and submit to Him. God sends evil as well as good and man must not get discouraged or complain when our own sin is punished or the sins of others or the world.  Rather, we must examine ourself and pray and return to God. We should pray to God, on our own behalf when we have sinned or, like Jeremiah, on the behalf of others, saying:

We have transgressed and rebelled and You have not pardoned. You have covered Yourself with wrath and pursued and afflicted us; You have slain without pity. (verse 42-43)

The love of God in Jeremiah moved him to feel compassion for Israel and to identify with sinful Israel. God moved through Jeremiah’s love to give correction and encouragement to His people. He can do the same through us today. We can intercede for others, and God may give us a message for them. The gifts of Holy Spirit are in operation today!

Image result for Public Domain Coffee Cup and Bible. Size: 158 x 105. Source: pixabay.comIs God really in control? of everything? I carefully carried my coffee from the kitchen to the bedroom and placed the chipped mug at the back corner of the desk, the same desk I had used as a child and which my parents had given me after the divorce. After glancing out the window at my daughter and her friend playing in the sheltered center of our apartment complex, I resumed reading the book of Job where I had stopped yesterday. A new believer, I was working my way through reading the Bible, carving out thirty minutes each evening while my daughter played in the long afternoon hours of early autumn in Florida. Every other waking moment was spent working or else focused on her, except for the hour or so before she woke when I had Bible study and prayer.

My eyes stayed wide open as I read the first two Chapters of Job. “Wow, Father!” I remember thinking. “You say clearly that You really are in absolute control of Satan! What a relief!” That question, which had arisen in Sunday School the previous week, had troubled me for days. But the truth of God’s Word planted in my heart that long ago evening, sitting alone with God, bore the fruit of peace immediately and has done so ever since, for more than four decades.

I pray that if you doubt this truth you will take time to study and meditate on God’s truths about His sovereignty until it is engraved on your heart. Certainty that God is sovereign and that He is working all things out for our good will keep us in His peace, even in the midst of dark afflictions, trials and distresses like Jeremiah speaks of in Lamentations.

God IS sovereign–verses 37-39. Reread verses 37 and 39 of Lamentations 3. With his questions, Jeremiah is stressing that God is the king of Kings and lord of Lords (Revelations 19:6). Jeremiah says “Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? (NLT) May we, like Jeremiah, keep in mind that God is sovereign in all affairs of men. Both Old and New Testaments verses clearly proclaim that God is Ruler of “all that was and is and is to come” as John declares in his prologue to Revelations. Just read Job 1:1 to 2:7, as I did years ago, and be grateful that God lets us see the truth of the matter. And consider Colossians 1:16-17.

“For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rules or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

In the NLT, the little word “then” connects Lamentations 3: 38 with verse 39. After proclaiming that God is sovereign, Jeremiah says “Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?” There again is that attitude of appropriate humility before God.

The amplifying phrases in the AMPC show that sometimes our afflictions are part of God’s loving discipline and sometimes they are punishment for our sin.

“Why does a living man sigh [one who is still in this life’s school of discipline]? [And why does] a man complain for the punishment of his sins?” (AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of thinkingLet us examine ourselves–verses 40-41. Instead of complaining, Jeremiah urges us to examine ourselves and turn back to God. Notice the implication that if we have been complaining, we have turned from God.  God lovingly instructs His children to examine themselves in Psalm 119:59-60, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and James 1:22-24. We are to test ourselves, or ask ourselves questions about, our walk with God. Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Helper, and He will speak to us and teach us (John 14.) God says we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Let us pray—verses 42-48. Read verses 42 through 48. Sounds like the last two years does it not?  And how is Jeremiah affected as he thinks about his beloved people and city? Jeremiah is deeply moved, and in verse 48 he says “My eyes overflow with streams of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.” We, too, must be moved to deep compassion because of the affliction of others, our nation and our world, not only because of our own afflictions.

In poetic language, Jeremiah says “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands [and then with them mount up in prayer] to God in heaven.” (verse 41, AMPC) Prayer is one of the most, if not the most, uplifting activities available to man. We have one heart and one mind. We can either let our soul and spirit stay mired in the clay of this earth or we can, like the eagle, mount up with spiritual wings to our Most High and awesome God.

And how are we who are in the midst of affliction to pray? We are to pour out our hearts about the situation, being honest because we are talking to our Best Friend and our loving and perfect Father. God despises complaining and made complaining, unbelieving Israel wander in the desert for forty years until all those who doubted and complained had died. However, God urges us over and over to talk with Him, to reason with Him, to pour out our hearts to Him.  I know clearly when I am complaining and when I am casting my cares on Him. I feel separated from God when I complain but when I just talk with Him, sharing my thoughts about my life and talking things over with Him, ah!

HE STILL REIGNS!!! We are indeed to be people of compassionate, prevailing prayer but it is essential, in times of affliction, to read about and ponder the magnificence of God. This helps keep us in peace. I still remember, from all those long years ago, the thrill I felt when I first read the last few chapters of Job, where God teaches about His wonders in nature. Job 36:24-26a says, let us “remember to extol His work, which men have praised in song. All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar. How great is God—beyond our understanding!

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Sunrise. Size: 165 x 100. Source: christianzennaro.blogspot.comThe last chapters of Job show us that God commands clouds, storms and lightning, He laid the foundations of the earth, gives orders to the morning, sets the borders of the sea, stores up snow and hail, leads out the constellations in their season, watches when mountain goats and the deer give birth, gives the horse his strength, tells the eagles when to soar and controls the great creatures of the deep. Read these chapters and know with me that:

The One who commands the eagles to soar
love you forever, forevermore.
Therefore, take heart! Be strong in your trust,
for the One Who has made you
is mindful you’re dust.

Yes, He knows your frame,
knows just how you’re made,
and He longs that you know
your price has  been paid.

Image result for public domain picture of soaring eagleThrough Jesus, we have power to live a joyful life of peace even in the midst of affliction. Ponder the power of God and worship Him with reverence and awe. Let His presence fill you with His peace, yes, even in the midst of the furnace of affliction! He is the Fourth man in the furnace – yesterday, today, and forever! He does not change!

In Part Seven, we will see that Jeremiah is moved to pray without ceasing until God “looks down and sees from heaven.” (v. 50)

 

A beseechment

Image result for public domain Picture of Dictionary. Size: 136 x 204. Source: www.pinterest.com.mxDear reader and friend, did “beseechment” get your attention? I hope so! “Beseech”, according to Webster’s 18288 online dictionary, means “to beg for urgently or anxiously, to request earnestly or to implore.” I am beseeching you to get informed about what God is doing if you are not already.

I beg you – The two podcasts listed below will shock you if you have not been listening to Christian news that, besides covering current events, shows you what God is doing and the evil He is exposing.  It has become a cliché that “so much is happening in our world.” We all need to be aware of the world around us – but we need news about current events from God’s viewpoint and we need to hear what God is doing, things the lying regular media do not cover. These two podcasts are typical of what you will hear.

I urge you – take 30 minutes each day to listen to Victory News for God’s view of our world. Take one hour on Tuesday and Thursday for Flashpoint to hear explanations of what God is doing. You will be informed and you will be encouraged. Here are two podcasts that will shock you, in a needful way.

Victory News, April 1, 4 pm podcast

Pay close attention to what guest David Barton says about ESG and “gender affirming care” and to what guest Gene Bailey says about endangered parental rights.

Flashpoint, March 29, podcast

Here is a description of Flashpoint from their website.

“Watch FlashPoint to discover how prophecy and current events are aligning to usher in the greatest awakening the world has ever known. Host Gene Bailey, along with regular contributors Mario Murillo, Hank Kunneman and Lance Wallnau, are joined by special guests that include prominent prophetic voices in the Church today, as well as political, governmental, business and church leaders. FlashPoint focuses on pertinent issues currently facing America and delivers news and commentary under the anointing—encouraging evidence and hope that God is indeed working to bring about His plans and purposes during these turbulent times. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Computer. Size: 188 x 110. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.net What can you do? Staying informed will keep you from being deceived and will give you courage to stand strong in your faith. Seeing what God is doing stops fear. You will also be motivated to take action.

[1] PRAY!!

One thing you can do is join others in prayer. www.givehim15.com “calls believers to give fifteen minutes a day in prayer as our continual “appeal to heaven.”

[2] Contact your representatives.

Government, at all levels, works for US and they do pay attention to phone calls, letters and emails.  You can contact your governmental representatives at all levels urging support for God’s solutions to the evils the radical left is doing, such as allowing thousands of illegal immigrants into our southern borders and seeking to destroy parental rights. Did you know the current administration supports “gender affirming care” that recruits even our kindergartner children for perversion through a curriculum pushing homosexuality and transgenderism? Some schools have already adopted this curriculum.

Image result for public domain picture of email

www.millionvoices.org  – This organization has made it super easy to send emails to your elected representatives on today’s issues. Just click on the “Use Your Voice” button, select your issue, complete the form and they will send an email to your representatives. You will make your voice heard. Also, take time to write a letter—yes, an actual snail-mail letter. Million Voices has this statement on the website: “Elected representatives have told us the impact of a mailed note from a single constituent in their district is equivalent to representing hundreds of voters back home.” Won’t you take time, along with me, to send a letter or two or three? And sign up for monthly updates on your issues.

Intercessors for America  –  www.ifapray.org  – IFA is another great resource for believers who want to stay informed and who want to join in prayer.  At the website you can join in prayer as well as find ways to use their template for emails to your legislators supporting, for example, parental rights.

Image result for public domain picture of biblesBeyond words. I have no words for how important it is that you know what God is doing. But God has plenty of words that say how much He wants you to stay in peace. One way to do that is to hear, from fellow believers, what He is doing in our world today. I earnestly pray that you will join His mighty army!

God is good to those who wait – Part Five

Image result for public domain picture of 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 through Four. 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!

God wants us to diligently search for Him. He cares about our needs and He has made provision concerning our needs in His Word. Remember that 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 Five:

  • It is good to hope in and wait quietly for God.
  • The appropriate attitude during affliction.
  • “The yoke of divine disciplinary dealings.”
  • A real-time example
  • An attitude of humility and meekness
  • Our compassionate, tenderly merciful Father
    • God will not let affliction last forever
    • Our God will be compassionate
    • It is not His desire to afflict us
  • God’s promises encourage His people
  • Weeping and praying.
  • Our world today

Verses 26-30. It is good to hope in and wait quietly for God. Keeping in mind what we learned in Parts One through Four (verses 1 through 25), take time now to read verses 26-30.

Did you see that verses 26 through 36 seem to be all one thought? Verses 1-25 assured us that God is merciful and kind and that His compassions toward us never fail.  Verse 26 tells us that for that reason alone, while we are in a place of affliction we can hope in Him and wait quietly. “It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (safety and ease) of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26, AMPC”

Verse 27-36 explain that it is good to hope in and wait quietly for God because God is using the discipline of affliction for our benefit. These verses tell us to endure affliction humbly, knowing that God “does not willingly or from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men.”

The appropriate attitude during affliction. Verse 27 demonstrates what our attitude is to be during affliction.

“It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke [of divine disciplinary dealings] in his youth.”

While we wait and hope, we are to “bear the yoke of divine disciplinary dealings” and, furthermore, to bear it meekly.  And the sooner we do that, the better. “It is good to submit at an early age the yoke of His discipline” (NLT).

Image result for public domain picture of yokeGod uses this metaphor of a yoke to demonstrate an appropriate attitude during affliction.  We are to bear the yoke of affliction as a humble beast of burden.  The humble ox submits to its master– who is the source of its life– with no questions, just blind trust and obedience. So are we to submit to our Master, the One who is the source of our life, knowing that—although life in this world is hard and filled with “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” (John 16:33, AMPC)–our Master will always feed and care for us just as the master of the ox feeds and cares for it. As an ox must be trained to bear the yoke, so must we learn obedience through what we suffer, even as Christ did. Consider Hebrews 5:1-10, especially verses 8 and 9.

(8) Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered. (9) And, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him.

Where else but in the discipline of God’s stripping away the external do we learn to value the unseen but eternal and the “little” things in life?  The school of affliction, regardless of the causes of it, teaches lessons learned nowhere else.

“The yoke of divine disciplinary dealings.” Verse 28 says clearly that “the yoke of Divine disciplinary dealings” is for our benefit.

“Let him sit alone uncomplaining and keeping silent [in hope], because [God] has laid [the yoke] upon him [for his benefit].

Divine disciplinary dealings are indeed a yoke. They require us to carry the load our Master wants us to carry and to go where our Master wants us to go. As an ox must be yoked in order for its power to serve its Master’s purpose, so must there be a means for the power of God in our lives to be used for the Master’s purpose.

<<<The yoke is the connection and the controlling force between the power of the ox and the load to be moved. Discipline is the connection, the means, by which God’s power through us moves us to a new place spiritually and achieves His desired work in us and our area of influence.>>

See the source imageThe horse pulls the plow that tills the ground so its master can plant seed for hay that will feed the horse. Even so, as we submit to our Master’s yoke, He guides us so that our work turns out for our own benefit.

A real-time example.  Today, my recent yoke of affliction (breathing problems and fatigue) forced me to the couch, where I just rested and prayed and thought about this verse. In five minutes, God gave deeper understanding of this verse, understanding I would not have seen had I not been forced—by my yoke of the affliction of breathing difficulties and fatigue—to go where my Master wanted. God apparently wanted me to take more time to ponder this verse than I would have been had I been sitting at the computer. The yoke of His discipline is for our good.

An attitude of humility and meekness

(29) “Let him put his mouth in the dust [in abject recognition of his unworthiness]—there may yet be hope. (30) Let him give his cheek to the One Who smites him [even through His human agents]; let him be filled (full) with [men’s] reproach [in meekness].

Verse 29 pictures one falling down on one’s face. This recognition of our unworthiness is the attitude Jesus addresses in Luke 17:7-10. Jesus said that when we obey God, we should not expect thanks or praise for doing what God tells us to do. Rather, when we obey God, our heart should say “We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.” (Luke 17:10, NLT). That, I think, is one part of true humility.

Image result for public domain picture of the crossAnother part of humility is to bear insults meekly. To be slapped on the cheek is a humiliating insult that provokes the flesh toward retaliation. Yet, what did Jesus do? Jesus was no doubt aware that the Father was smiting Him through “His human agents”. Perhaps our Lord had this verse in mind in those cruel hours of His mock trial and torture before the cross. Jesus trusted His Heavenly Father during the horrors of His affliction because He knew His Father. He was One with His Father. And Jesus has given us the privilege of being one with Him if we love Him and obey Him.  “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20, NIV)

And Scripture certainly suggests, in my opinion, that during His afflictions Jesus had the truth of Lamentations 3: 31 in mind – for the Lord will not cast off forever! Jesus knew the ultimate end of His suffering. (Hebrews 12:2)

Our compassionate, tenderly merciful Father. Verses 31 through 36 explain why we can wait quietly with hope during afflictions – because God will not let it last forever (31), He will be compassionate (32) and it is not His desire to afflict us (33-36). Let’s look at those three statements.

God will not let affliction last forever—verse 31.  To cast off means to throw something away. The NLT says “For no one is abandoned forever.”  To cast off or abandon (a modern term for forsake) means “to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in.” It also means “to withdraw protection, support, or help from” (Webster’s 1828 online dictionary.) God promises in Hebrews 13:5, that He will never, no never, no never, in any degree—and most assuredly not!—forsake us.

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] [Hebrews 13:5a, AMPC]

In the midst of affliction, it is easy to feel abandoned or rejected by God and others as well. But if we meditate upon God’s promises, God’s truth will shine the light of hope into the darkness of our affliction, no matter how dark. He guides our steps through the dark valleys (Psalm 23) as well as on the dangerous heights.

“The Lord GOD is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet. And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].” Habakkuk 3:19, AMPC

See the source imageOur God will be compassionate-verse 32.  This verse shows clearly that sometimes God does “cause grief” but the word “yet” is an essential part of the truth in this verse. “Yet” can mean at a later time, in addition to what has been said” or “in spite of that” (www.merriam-webster.com)

“But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy.”

God is telling us that even though He sometimes does cause distress, He will also show great compassion on us and that compassion will be according to, or consistent with, the great number of His loving-kindnesses and tender mercies. God reminds us here that He shares our distress and wants to relieve us of it. And the ways He can relieve it are boundless. We may feel compassion for the homeless and give according to the finances we have, but a wealthy person, with the same degree of compassion, can give much more material help.

It is not His desire to afflict us–verse 33-36. And why will God be moved to such compassion? The NLT says “He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” On the contrary, God wants to do good for us; He is our good, good, good Father!  In Matthew 7:8-11, Jesus urges us to ask for what we need and reassures us He will give us good things.

Image result for public domain picture of father feeding child(7) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (9) Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? (11) If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to you children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (NIV)

In Jeremiah 29, God speaks through Jeremiah to the Israelites who had been carried from Jerusalem into captivity in Babylon. God tells His people to settle down and live good, righteous lives right where they are because in 70 years, He will fulfill His promise to bring them back home.  Then comes the well-known verse 11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

God’s promises encourage His people. God continues with these promises that His rebellious, wicked people do not deserve any more than we do. God says:

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.” (12-14a)

Image result for public domain picture of father listening to childThe attitude of God’s heart is never to hurt us. God does not crush us completely and does not deprive us of justice or twist justice, as He is often accused of. God does not approve of these evils described in Verses 34-36 because He is altogether good. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving kindness” (Psalm 145:8, AMPC) If something or someone is full, that means there is no room for anything else. If a basket is full of wheat, there is no room for grass, hay or anything else. Our God is completely good and He overflows with mercy and tender, benevolent affection toward His children.

Weeping and praying. Halley’s Bible Handbook (p.409) says “the last chapter of Jeremiah should be read as an introduction to Lamentations.” Jeremiah is weeping over the city he tried to save but Jeremiah also “expresses his faith that Jerusalem will rise again.” Jeremiah wept over the great afflictions of his beloved city of Jerusalem and he delivered God’s directive to the people regarding how they were to live while under the affliction of captivity. In this case, the people were being disciplined by God for their repeated, willful sins. Jeremiah shared their affliction although he did not share their sin.

Pause and reflect. Are not we in America now suffering much affliction because the church in America for decades watered down the gospel, failed to preach Jesus and Him crucified, forsook holiness and embraced the wickedness of secular culture instead of working with God to redeem it?

Our world today. We, like Israel, are being led toward captivity by evil leaders who pass laws allowing the murder of babies and teaching our children that homosexuality and trying to change one’s gender are good. The entire world is reaping the consequences of sin.

When affliction comes because of our own sin, or when God is training us, let us examine ourselves, repent and/or refine our walk and obey God with greater purity of heart. When affliction comes because someone with whom we are connected sins or when God is using us to demonstrate His love to that person, we must hear from God and perhaps bear it silently or perhaps “speak the truth in love” but in any case we are live toward that person as Jesus would.

Image result for public domain picture of the worldHowever, in affliction that comes because of the sin of our nation and the world, we are to be doing our part to fulfill the purpose of Jesus in coming to earth. In “Vessels of Fire and Glory” Mario Murillo says:

“Jesus is the one with a purpose and we have an assignment within that purpose.”

“What is Christ’s purpose on earth? First John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Your assignment in the army of God is your individual expression and extension of Christ’s destruction of the works of the devil. You are a destroyer of the works of the devil. God will give you a way to do it that is all your own.

Until that gets through to you—until you admit and agree to those terms—God will remain silent about your assignment.” (p. 116-117)

I urge you to read this book. It will put fresh fire in your life.

And how might we, as individuals, work to “destroy the works of the devil?”  Get and stay informed about what God is doing today and seek God for concrete action to take. You can start getting informed by listening to news from a Christian perspective. Resources are listed on the “What is God doing?” page of this website. God will certainly lead you o pray and may lead you to help in a political campaign of a righteous person, speak at your school board or run for a local office yourself.

May we, like Jeremiah, be moved to action and to compassionate prayer for our world, our nation and people we know who are undergoing affliction.

Image result for public domain picture of hANDS LIFTED IN PR AYEROh, our loving Father in heaven! Thank You for Your tender mercies and compassion that prevent You from consuming us when we sin. Open the eyes of our heart so that we may purge our sin and walk in holiness before you. Oh, Lord! Have mercy on our nation, our world and those who persist in doing evil. Shine the light of Your truth into every dark situation and turn hearts toward You and Your holiness.

Help us, Lord, have a humble and meek attitude toward whatever troubles we now face. We know You are working all things together for good. Help us wait quietly and with hope for Your safety and ease but also show us where to do our part to “destroy the works of the devil.”

We know and are deeply confident that You will yet be “moved to compassion according to the multitude of Your loving-kindness and tender mercy.” (Lamentations 3) Amen and so be it!

Part Six. In Part Six, we will examine what Jeremiah says about the sovereignty of our loving Father and why that gives comfort to those who follow Him whole-heartedly.

 

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)

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