Category Archives: DEPRESSION

Compassed about with . . .

Image result for Public Domain Picture of rising FloodwatersFor this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him.” (Psalm 32:6, AMPC, emphasis added.)

“Great waters of trial”.  “Father, You said to cast all our cares on You, so that is what I am doing, Lord. thank You for highlighting I Peter 5:6-10 to me last week. Help me have an attitude that pleases You as I try to just talk with You about what is on my heart, as I cast my cares on You. Lord, oh, please let me not complain or murmur! Help me just talk with You, as I would a human friend.”

I rocked slowly, so as not to spill the mug of chamomile, and watched as the horizon separated into bands of cobalt blue and pigeon gray. I snugged my thin house sweater closer around my shoulders.

“Father, I am so sorry but I feel so alone. I know You are right here with me, and in me and all around me. I know You have everything in my life and in this world in Your complete control. I know You will work everything out for my good, that You have only good plans for me. I know You are always working with those I love and pray for.

I am so grateful for the surgery but Lord I am so tired of dealing with recovery and still feeling so bad, without enough energy to write or do things I did just a few months ago. And I am so, so tired of fighting negative feelings!

Thank You that I know we are to resist the enemy at the onset of his attack on us. I know that helps the negative feelings not get a grip. I confess I have given in to his onslaught so many times these past few months.  And I know that is why I feel so bad now. The stress of those emotions has accumulated. Even though I know better, I surely know better, I have fallen into an emotional pit. Again. My foot has been snared and I am not moving forward with You.”

On the horizon, the orange glow expanded from a thin line to a broad band then fingers reaching out and up. I did not want to start this day. I leaned over and stroked Lily’s soft fur, wishing I could just hug her tight. No, actually wishing I could be hugged by someone big and strong, wishing I could just cry on someone’s shoulder. A long time. Wishing I could hear a deep voice murmuring close to my ear, “Everything will be all right. I have you.”

Seasons of trials. This writing is a little slice of life, my life as a frail and flawed follower of Jesus. You likely know, as I do, that seasons of trials, those unending days, weeks, or months when situations test our endurance, come to all of us.  What are we, as followers of Jesus, to do?  Count it all joy and exercise our faith. That leads to perseverance. And perseverance—when its work is finished—leads to maturity. (James 1:1-4) Yes, but our flesh! Ah, our weak full-of-feeling flesh!! Praise God that He earnestly remembers the weaknesses of our flesh (Psalm 103) and He always, always, always makes a way of escape from the world, the flesh, and the devil. (I Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:19: Isaiah 41:10; and Isaiah 43:16). And that includes emotional pits and snares that halt our progress on the path of maturity.

So, because by grace I have personal experience with these truths, yesterday morning I kept talking to the Lord as I fixed oatmeal, dressed for the day and put a water bottle and book into my gym bag.

Setting my mind. “Lord, I am going to just keep trying. I don’t want to. I just want to turn off my mind and stay on the couch. But I am setting my mind to keep moving forward with faith, to go on with the usual activities of daily life, my daily life, this day. I know You are faithful and loving and kind and merciful. I know You will deliver me from this trial. I know You will restore me to the joy of being aware of Your presence. I will do the things I know to do, like being purposefully grateful for what is in my hands, thinking how to help others, praying for them, and meditating on Your Word as I walk through this day, this day which I know is a gift from You, a true loving gift.”

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Notes on Kitchen CounterI picked up the three sheets of type-written Bible verses lying on the kitchen counter and read them over, once again. Yesterday, I had picked out three of my favorite verses about comfort and typed them all on one piece of paper, trying to keep them in mind all day long even though the dark cloud of emotions lingered still, like a cold, damp unwelcome fog.

“Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.” (Psalm 33:22, AMPC)

“The Lord is my strength and my impenetrable shield; my heart trusts, relies on and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” (Psalm 28:7, AMPC)

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts, relies on and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with lovingkindness.” (Psalm 32:10, AMPC, emphasis added)

Image result for Public Domain Picture of 360 degreesCompassed about. “Oh, Father!  Thank You for this promise! That is what I need right now and all day, to be totally surrounded by Your mercy and lovingkindness, in every area of my life, in every moment today. Compassed about means to be completely encircled 360 degrees. It means to be hidden in You, with mercy and lovingkindness forming a shield around me so that the enemy’s arrows cannot touch me. I am trusting in You, Lord, I am relying on you and I lean on You with confidence because You have never, no never, no never failed me in any regard! Please do cover me with mercy and lovingkindness today.”

I stepped out the door into sunshine, down the stairs, along the sidewalk and into the parking lot. As I turned the ignition, the upbeat music filled the car. “Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on me!”  I smiled, a tight little smile.

“Thank You, Father. That song playing at just this moment is a pat on the head from You. Thank You!”

I listened to the music as I drove, then made that sharp left onto Jones at the bottom of a hill, smiling as I remembered my youngest grandson singing out “Wheeee!” as we made that turn on our way to the gym. My two grandsons were well into elementary school now, no longer with me during the day. How I missed them! But, as was my habit, I thanked God for every day I had been with them, realizing my great fortune as a grandmother who lived close. I also thanked God that my years of office work were done, no more of that frantic pace of life, always struggling to carve out enough time for prayer and Bible study.

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“The evidence of Your goodness . . .” As I drove onto the I-70 entrance ramp, I also thanked God, as I did so often, for all the years of His help raising my daughter. And, as always, love and concern for her and my now-expanded immediate family, surged up from the innermost depths. At just that moment, from the radio came “I see the evidence of your goodness all over my life, all over my life!” Tears immediately spilled over, ran down my cheeks and kept flowing.

Against the backdrop of that song, flowed a kaleidoscopic montage of treasured up and cherished memories,

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  • Sharon carrying the Holly Hobby tote bag I made for her crayons and coloring books to use during evening church service (Thank You, Father, that I was saved when she was young so she could learn about You when she was little!);
  • the family with two girls her age at whose house we had attended Friday night Bible study when I was first converted (Thank You for those Christian friends who gave such spiritual and practical help!),
  • countless snapshots of her smiling, laughing face as we did life together—evenings, errands, shared daily routines, inventive special occasions (Thank You, Father, for the friend who advised to “get involved with whatever she does and let other things go.”
  • the anonymous benefactor who paid her tuition at a Christian school for seven years,
  • the two twenties we had found under a box on the closet shelf that time she needed new shoes,
  • the steady merit increases at the civil service job, the pension from which let me retire and relocate to Austin for my grandsons’ preschool years.

So we would know how much God love us. Interwoven with the repeating refrain of “The Evidence of Your Goodness” flowed another song God had so often sent when things were hard. Playing on a parallel track in my mind was “So You Would Know” by Al Hobbs.

“How many times must I prove how much I love you?
How many ways must My love for you I show?
How many times must I rescue you from trouble
for you to know just how much I love you?

Didn’t I wake you up this morning?
Weren’t you clothed in your right mind?
When you walked through that problem
didn’t I step right in on time?
When you got weak along life’s journey
didn’t My angel carry you?
So you would know just how much I love you.

How many days must I be a fence all around you?
How many nights must I wipe your tears away?
How many storms must I bring you safely through
for you to know just how much I love you?

Didn’t I put food on your table?
show up when your bills were due?
When the pains were racking your body
didn’t I send a healing down to you?
When you were lost in sin and sorrow
didn’t I die to set you free
so you would know just how much I love you?
. . . so you would know just how much I love you

Image result for public domain Picture of church Choir I saw a much younger me standing in worship services, hands raised, tears flowing as the choir sang “How many times must I prove how much I love you?” So many, many years of faithfulness, more than forty now and never once letting me down in any way. The scenes kept playing through my mind as I drove and listened and wept

“Thank You, Father, thank You for all those years, all those times! You took such good care of  our physical needs, on my secretary-level salary. You were such a good father to Sharon and a husband for me. And You still are, Father. Help me embrace this beautiful life You have given, in every detail!”

I sat in the gym parking lot a while before the tears stopped. As I worked out, I remembered having written a blog post (December 2, 2021) on “The Wisdom and Safety of Giving Thanks” And I pondered.

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Angry ChildIf anyone is truly wise—the lesson of Psalm 105-Psalm 107.  Psalm 105 commanded Israel to thank God, rely on Him, and remember “the wonders He has done.” Psalm 105:8 through Psalm 106:43 recount countless times God’s people complained, forgot to remember what He had done for them and rebelled against Him. Yet God delivered them over and over when they cried to Him in their troubles. Psalm 107 ends with “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” (NIV)

Though I surely knew better, I had behaved just like Israel, and for how long now? Weeks? I had tried to be grateful but deep inside I had still been complaining – in the very face of Divine provision, just like the Israelites complaining about manna! Oh, how our desperately proud heart blinds us to faults we so easily see in others! Through those two songs and bringing Psalm 105-107 to mind, God had given me the same loving message three times in less than 30 minutes: “I have always provided for your every need and will continue because of how much I love you. You have nothing to fear, My child. I am with You this very moment.”

When my stubborn heart finally let go of self-pity, my ears finally heard what I needed to do and what would restore my soul to that blessed awareness of His presence that my complaining and doubt had hidden so many days. And what was that? Simply trust and obey.

Trust, really trust, and do good. Psalm 37:3 sums up the plan of action that, along with heart-deep gratitude, always gets me moving forward with God, even while still on “the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.” (Psalm 18:32-33)

“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)

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Father Holding ChildRecalling God’s goodness and expressing my gratitude to Him always rekindles trust and confidence in the Lord and makes me want to be about the business of living my life for Him. That, in turn, gets my mind off of self and self’s problems and focused on God and others. In more than 40 years, God has never once failed to reward the simplest of such little acts of obedience. Why, oh why had I been unable to do those simple things? True, prolonged illness then surgery and recovery can weaken anyone’s mental, emotional, and spiritual strength but I knew better! God had trained me how to keep my mind safely on Him and to focus on Kingdom work.

Our loving, forgiving, and exceedingly compassionate Father. God taught much through this latest cycle of trials, falling down, and, by grace, getting up again.

[1] I learned to be less critical of myself because I had ample time during this dry spell to contemplate the fact that we each have our own personal weaknesses. Two of mine are worry and, ug, self-pity. I also pondered how forgiving God is and that He really means it when He says He “earnestly imprints on His heart that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, AMPC)

[2] I also recalled that, while on earth, we will never attain perfection but are always to be pressing on toward maturity (Hebrews 6:1-3).

[3] And, God demonstrated, through my failings, why He said to “put no confidence in the flesh.”  It is a blessing to feel secure and confident that that you can, by grace, guard your heart and keep yourself spiritually and emotionally strong. However, I had, unknowingly, been depending on my ability to guard my thoughts as I reassured myself that I was doing everything God had led me to do. I was leaning on me, not trusting in God. What ugly pride! What danger!

God will let us have no other gods before Him and that includes the toxic idol of confidence in self effort. To the extent that we depend on our own actions to keep us peaceful and moving forward, we will inevitably fail and fall. God will deal with our pride. He loves us too much to let us carry that lit stick of dynamite around!

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Father Walking with Little Girl One message of Psalm 32. As I ponder Psalm 32, I see the rich blessings of remaining in right standing with God. God instantly forgives when we openly confess our sins and iniquities to Him, including things we deceived ourselves about. If we do that, God keeps our spirit safe, even through great trials. God clearly teaches us how to live if we walk with Him willingly, and He completely encircles us with mercy and loving-kindness. Thus, in every aspect of our lives, His mercy and loving-kindness will be unmistakable.  We will truly be compassed about, completely encircled, with mercy and loving kindness.

“For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him.” (Psalm 32:6, AMPC, emphasis added)

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts, relies on and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with lovingkindness.” (Psalm 32:10, AMPC, emphasis added)

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you who are upright and in right standing with Him]; shout for you, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 AMPC)

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Keeping yourself calm – Part Three

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Tiny Flower. Size: 135 x 100. Source: publicdomainpictures.netEnter His gates with thanksgiving. Something caught my eye as I closed the car door in the parking lot. On the edge of the sidewalk, a Lilliputian flower lifted its tiny face to the sun. As I had done when my grandsons squatted to inspect each roly poly, ladybug and beetle that crossed our path, I leaned close and smiled. One-fourth the size of a dime, the dainty blossom was a miniature daisy. Nearby, nestled among stalks of grass, other closed buds or buds just starting to open perched atop slender stems. Only that one flower fully opened itself, receiving the benefits of facing the sun.

“Thank You, Father, for drawing my eye to this dainty flower. Forgive me for focusing on troubles lately instead of speaking my gratitude all day, each day. Thank You for moving me to stop and praise You and to ponder the wonders of Your creation.”

Have you found, like me, that when you take time during the day not only to thank God but also to praise Him, to verbalize His many marvelous qualities, to admire Him, to adore Him, to pause and ponder all He is doing for you – have you found it brings awareness of His presence? This is the pearl of wisdom in Psalm 100. Verse four tells us to approach Him first by giving thanks and then to enter into His presence by praising Him. We are to admire Him and express our appreciation of Him affectionately and gratefully.  Psalm 22:3 tells us that God lives in the praises of His people. Somehow, I think a fresh part of His love, a living part of God Himself, might actually come down from heaven and merge with the part of His Spirit that lives in our spirit. In our thoughts and feelings of love toward Him we are one with Him.

May God grant us grace to keep our faces, like flowers, turned toward our loving Father, for He is ever looking toward us. He keeps watch over us with care, all day. Wherever we go He takes notice of us. This is our loving Father, our great and glorious but intimate King Who told Jacob:

 “ And behold, I am with you and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you. Genesis 28:15 AMPC).

Oh, what blessings await us when we are mindful that God is with us!

In Parts One and Two, we saw that Psalm 93 and 94 reassure us of God’s sovereignty and tell us that God will give us the power to keep ourselves calm. With confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:

  • When world situations seem to be going badly and
  • When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
  • When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.

Outline of Part Three. Here is what we will cover in Part Three.

  • Psalm 94, The message of Verses 16 through 23
  • Who will stand up for me?
  • God HELPS when we are desperate
  • God promises to make it easier
  • When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped
  • In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers
  • The way the wicked attacks
  • Seek God the way He says to
  • God’s strength
  • And what about the wicked?
  • Pray that God would grant the wicked repentance!
  • As for the godly?

Image result for public domain picture of father with open armsPsalm 94. The message of Verses 16 through 23. The last section of Psalm 94 (verses 16 through 23) shows that—while God is allowing the cup of His wrath to be filled–God stands up for us by offering refuge. His arms are always open toward His children, waiting for us to run into His shelter. Consider verse 22-23. The psalmist says “BUT. . .” –in spite of the attacks of the enemy and his great fear (all he spoke of in verses 1-21), God has become his High Tower and defense and the Rock of his refuge. How did the psalmist reach this place of trusting, strong confidence in God?

He learned to run to God, to let God be his Rock of refuge. In other words, he found the strength of God that comes when we take refuge in or lean on Him. Rock symbolizes strength and in Hebrew “of” can mean of, for, from or to. So, “Rock of refuge” can mean the strength of God that comes from taking refuge in Him.

God’s strength is made complete in our weakness as the strength of a man is made complete when a woman leans on a man. She can limp along the path, and eventually fall, even though he is inches away from her. But if she reaches out and leans on him and uses his strength, she can move forward and with much less effort. The superior physical strength of a man fulfills its purpose when he helps a woman. I do not fully understand it, but I believe the differences between genders is a parallel that models one way to draw on God’s strength. God tells us to lean on and rely on Him over and over and over yet again. It must be important!

Who will stand up for me? Psalm 94:16.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

Verse 16 concerns what had happened in verses 17-19.  In considering how God helped him, the psalmist cries, in amazement, “Who could possibly have stood up for me against the evildoers? I was so very desperate, but God taught me to stay calm and let His ‘comforts cheer and delight’ my soul. Yet I had been truly desperate!”

God HELPS when we are desperate. Verse 17

17 Unless the Lord had been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land where there is] silence.

The psalmist says that things were so bad he felt like he would have died if God had not helped him. But God was his help. In Isaiah 41:10 God tells His desperate children: 10 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 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.” (AMPC)

God reassures us that He is with us and that, because we have chosen Him as our God, He will BE our God. The enemy may shoot fiery darts at your mind, lies like “you can’t make it. I’m going to win.” But God promises He will help you. A child trying to clean up a spilled box of toys alone soon becomes discouraged, but as soon as the parent stoops to his level and helps, the child brightens. He is no longer alone, and the one who is everything to him and loves him is helping, and that one always takes care of him. Just the presence of the parent helps.  Even so, just being aware of God’s presence helps. And, God will help ease the burden – of everything we turn over to Him.

Image result for public domain picture of parent and child picking up toysGod promises to make it easier. And God promises to “harden you to difficulties”.  After papa or mama help a little child pick up his toys a few times, that child learns it is not so bad. The child has become hardened to the difficulty of having to pick up his toys.  It no longer upsets him so much. After God has gotten me out of emotional turmoil a few times, I am not as upset when it happens again. Why? Because God has strengthened and hardened me to that difficulty. No matter the difficulty God allows, He makes it easier for His child. He is always with us, always close, and very readily found. (Psalm 46:1)

23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. 24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)

God will help! Psalm 37. Reread verse 34 of Psalm 37 again. It says God will help His children who are good, or in right standing with Him. “Right standing” or righteousness does not mean perfect; it just means those who are following Him wholeheartedly. The definition of the simple word “help” encourages me. Help means to give support, to provide something necessary, or to make more pleasant or bearable. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). In the smallest or biggest thing you face today, God, your God, is right there beside you, waiting to help.  And this applies even when you feel you are going under, when you feel yourself wobbling. Part of helping is holding us up even when we feel we have fallen so far as to be beyond help.

When I THOUGHT my foot had slipped. Verse 18.

18 When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.

Notice that the psalmist is talking about how he felt before God comforted him, when he thought his foot was slipping. If we start believing we are falling, we are in true danger because, in so doing, we step into the snare of fear. And fear grows rapidly, like the invasive poisonous weed it is. Fear destroys faith, chokes out all good fruit of the spirit and plants seeds that can grow into sorrow, unrest, hasty actions, and self-centered harshness born of desperation.

Consider Psalm 91. God says that if we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, God promises to keep us stable and fixed because He, Whom no enemy can stand up against, will be hovering right above, overshadowing us.  If we declare “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!” God says that THEN (which means if we do verses 1 and 2), then:

For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of bird snareIn Bible times, fowlers (trappers of wild birds) spread snares on the ground. Once a bird stepped into it, the snare closed and held the bird’s foot captive. If we live according to God’s will the best we can, we will less often step into fear because fear is never God’s desire for us. And, furthermore, when our feet of clay step off the path of light and into a snare, God promises to release our foot from the snare if we lean, rely, and confidently trust in Him (Psalm 91:1-3; Psalm 25:15).

While God is getting us out of snares we step into—whether a passing or lingering mood, a chosen lifestyle or circumstances we did not create—we can calm our soul and “Give thanks to the Lord, FOR He is good. His mercy and love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, NIV). God’s mercy and loving-kindness holds us up.

Keeping our mind fixed on God’s mercy and loving kindness is life-giving. Perhaps that is why God had the writer of Psalm 136 repeat “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever” in each of the 26 verses in Psalm 136.  This favorite temple psalm was chanted responsively, with the people responding “His mercy and loving kindness endures forever!” each time the priest made a statement about God’s mercy, loving kindness, goodness and faithfulness to Israel. I find it strengthening to read Psalm 136 out loud, slowly, pondering how God’s relationship to Israel parallels my own. I ponder how He rules over His beautiful creation into which He has placed me, how He set me free from enslavement to sin, how He led me, and continues leading me, through the process of maturity, how He helps me learn to possess the victorious life He promised, and so many more mercies!

Image result for public domain picture of parent and school childPause and ponder what mercy and loving kindness mean. Mercy can mean lenient or compassionate treatment, a fortunate circumstance or compassionate treatment of those in distress. Kindness means of a sympathetic or helpful nature, gentle, giving pleasure and relief, affectionate and loving. (Websters 1828 online dictionary). A wife can walk through the hard circumstances of her day with peace and strength if she knows her strong, merciful, loving and kind husband will be home at close of day to be with her. So can a child better endure daily trials because he knows he will soon be safe in a loving home, with loving parents and family. In trials of all kinds, we can know that He has promised help and relief, deliverance and His presence—and that is all day long, for He is ever with us when we are with Him.  (2 Chronicles 15:2)

In the midst of great fear, God comforts and cheers.  Verse 19. 

19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

In verse 19, it sounds like the psalmist is still in the snare of fear, with a multitude of anxious thoughts swarming his mind. A seed of fear has multiplied into a multitude of anxious thoughts. As looking into a multitude of anything is visually confusing, so facing a multitude of anxious thoughts breeds confusion. You are carried along with the multitude of negative thoughts and feelings as they swirl and build even as one fish is carried along with the school of other fish. Yet even then, God sends comforts that cheer and delight His tormented child. God’s comforts bring “renewed hope and cheer” ((NLT).

One of God’s richest never-failing comforts is truths from His Word that He brings to mind. The writer of Psalm 119 said “This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. (Psalm 119:50, AMPC)”.   Even though proud and arrogant men were mocking him (verse 51) he says “When I have [earnestly] recalled Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, I have taken comfort.” (verse 52, emphasis added).

Image result for Free Word Art of Calm. Size: 160 x 100. Source: ourlittleescapades.comHow much better if we can keep ourselves calm and refused to be seized with alarm (Freda!)  How much better if we can follow Paul’s example and let God comfort and encourage us “and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)

But when we do fall into the pit of fear or any state of non-calmness, we can declare the Word that we need! The sooner we identify the thing we are fearing and neutralize that fear with Biblical truth, the sooner we will be released from the snare. We can learn to speak declarations, like this one by Amy Duggins, “out loud and with authority!” “Fear, I see you. I refuse to partner with you and I command you to leave right now in the name of Jesus.”

Then we can neutralize that lie with God’s truth “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC).

Amy’s post “Taking thoughts captive” at www.honorGodmindbodysoul.com will help greatly with this. Here is a link to that post.  https://tinyurl.com/yuame7ex

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Darkness. Size: 138 x 106. Source: www.clker.comWhether the condition of non-calm comes because of blatant sin, the weakness of our flesh or an attack from the enemy, it helps to identify the lie. That forces it out of the darkness of the subconscious and into the light of conscious awareness. Then we can see clearly what truths we need to speak and meditate upon. I have found that repenting of past failures with those specific kinds of thoughts, as Amy suggests, is a powerful act of obedience. And God helps us form new habits of hand and heart.

The way the wicked attack. Verses 20-21

20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with You—they who frame and hide their unrighteous doings under [the sacred name of] law? 21 They band themselves together against the life of the [consistently] righteous and condemn the innocent to death.

The vicious, death seeking nature of Satan is the same in attacking us individually and in attacking our world. For a present-day example of verses 20 and 21 working in our world, look no further than daily news. Radical socialist progressive liberals now ruling our country are calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). They call the murder of unborn children, sexual mutilation and perversion of children by teachers, open borders allowing drug and human sex trafficking, and a host of other evils good. They join together and speak a unified message of hatred and they join together in making and administering laws that harm and seek to destroy conservatives, and even more so those who follow God.

For sources that encourage by telling of the things God is doing—which mainstream media does not—see the “What is happening in our world today?” page of this website.

Back to verses 20-21 . . . Notice, though, that despite their boasting, the evil ones currently on the throne of our nation have no likeness with God; they are nothing like him. Their supposed “throne” is nothing like God’s actual throne. Remember the theme of Psalm 93 and 94? God IS sovereign. His vengeance is certain.  Look at the woes in Isaiah 5:20-23. God says woe to them because they have “rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24b, NIV) God’s anger burns against them.  Unbelievers may joke about the wrath of God but in their hearts they have an idea of what great sorrows and distress and tribulations await them.

Image result for public domain picture of ancient fortressSeek God the way He says to.  God longs to be my High Tower and my Defense. He wants me to remain safe in Him, in the place of running to Him, while He wipes out the wicked.

22 But the Lord has become my High Tower and Defense, and my God the Rock of my refuge. 23 And He will turn back upon them their own iniquity and will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.

The psalmist links verses 20-21 with 22-23. He says that the wicked are attacking, BUT the Lord has become his refuge. Although he is being attacked, he is safe because he has run into the High Tower that is the name of the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10, NIV)”

The psalmist is safe because he is depending on God.  He has, after a wilderness experience, learned to lean on his Beloved (Solomon 8:5). His dependence on and obedience to God have led him into the shelter of loving and serving God. He has acquired the strength that comes from turning to God.

As surely as any child ever stands behind his father, trusting him to fight for him, so the believer who is depending on the nature, or name, of God is safe and can be at peace.

Image result for Public Domain picture Of Mountain Goats. Size: 138 x 103. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netGod’s strength. Psalm 18 praises and explains God’s strength for David. It was written after God had delivered him from all his enemies, including Saul. Psalm 18 teaches us that God’s way is perfect, and that we can also become “perfect”, as far as we can in our humanity, by becoming complete.  God makes our way of living complete when we learn to let Him give us his strength by leaning on Him. When we lean on Him, God grants the ability to stand and move forward even during seasons of testing and trouble. He gives us the nimble feet of mountain goats.

 As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him. 31 For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?

33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places. (Psalm 18:30-33, AMPC, emphasis added)

No matter what the enemy says or threatens, God can give us the power to stay calm. This is our heritage from God.

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17, AMPC, emphasis added)

 And what about the wicked? While the righteous trusting ones are safe, trusting in their God, God will turn back upon the wicked their own iniquity and “. . . will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” (Psalm 94:23, AMPC)

God warns us all very clearly. His Word teaches that God is merciful beyond human understanding but He is also just. Galations 6:7 tells us “Do not be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (NLT)

6 For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]: To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [he eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life.

But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath.[And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil . . .   (Romans 2:6-9a, AMPC)

Those who habitually do evil, who reject God’s repeated warnings, will get what they deserve. The evil they inflicted and planned to inflict on others will come upon them. “Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] shall fall into it himself, and he who rolls a stone [up a height to do mischief], it will return upon him. (Proverbs 26:27, AMPC)” The NLT says “If you set a trap for others, you will be caught in it yourself.”

Image result for public domain picture of prayerPray that God would grant the wicked repentance! Far from rejoicing over the soon-coming fate of the wicked, we grieve for them and pray for them, that God may grant them repentance, resulting in salvation.

“. . . in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], 26 And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will. (2 Timothy 2:25b-26, AMPC)

We are obligated to pray for the wicked. 2 Timothy 2:25 tells us to pray for those who oppose us “ that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (NIV). Intercessors for America is an excellent resource for prayer and for people with whom to partner in prayer. Go to www.intercessorsforamerica.org.

As for the godly? God promises to restore what the enemy destroyed and what he stole.

“ Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:7-11, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of jesus and little boyDear friend, whatever storm you are in, whether caused by our present evil world, circumstances of your life or an internal struggle, rest in these truths:

  • God is with you.
  • He adores you.
  • God uses the trials of this life to mature us. He never wastes anything. He IS sovereign. Whatever is happening did not surprise Him.
  • He has already made the way so that you can stay perfectly at peace.
  • He is reaching out his hand, hovering over you in love, this moment.
  • He will treat you fairly – and so so so much more than fairly!
  • He hurts wherever you hurt. He feels with you and for you and He has made the way for you to be comforted in His presence while he deals with the attacks of the enemy. His tender mercies never, no never, no never fail!

May we imprint on our heart that . . .

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].

10 All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your loving ones shall bless You [affectionately and gratefully shall Your saints confess and praise You]! (Psalm 145:8-10, AMPC)

Image result for Quotes About Eagles Soaring

 

Keeping yourself calm – Part Two

Hand On Your Heart Public-Domain“God’s Word is the power of God
in the human heart.”
(Halley, p. 184)

Review of Part One. In Part One we saw that both Psalm 93 and 94 concern the sovereignty of God. Knowing that God is eternally sovereign and that He reigns supreme over all He created inspires awe, which leads to holiness. Holding fast to the truth that God is sovereign helps create a calm heart.

Outline of Part Two. Here is what we will cover in Part Two.

  • The blessings of applying the psalms
  • Psalm 94 – three possible applications
  • Grace and mercy for today
  • Mountaintop overview of Psalm 94
  • Psalm 94, section by section
    • Vengeance belongs to God.
    • Who are “the stupid ones” among us?
    • Whose thoughts are useless?
    • Who are the blessed among us?
    • How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm?
    • Why does God want us to have this power?
    • Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always.
    • God will administer justice.
  • Your particular trials.
  • Deconstruction and reconstruction.
  • Your present circumstance.

Image result for public domain picture of key Key verse:

12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,

13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. (Psalm 94:12-14, AMPC, emphasis added)

As we explore Psalm 94, let’s keep in mind that it is connected with Psalm 93. The theme of both psalms is God’s majesty, the fact that He IS sovereign over all things at all times. These two psalms, I think, could be considered as one.

The blessings of applying the psalms.  As a new believer, I heard someone explain that the truths in the Bible apply to my life, just as they applied to the lives of the writers of Scripture. No matter the trial or tribulation, I can pray the psalms with confidence that my God is fighting for me and will deliver me from all my troubles. What a comfort this has been!

“Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19, AMPC)

Applying this psalm. R. T. Kendall said: “One must not try to make a parable stand evenly on all four legs. That means one must be cautious in trying to make every nuance of a parable have a special meaning.” (p. xxviii, The Midnight Cry.)  All of a passage can apply to the actual situation discussed and at the same time parts of it can apply to other situations, especially the human heart. In Psalm 94, all the verses speak of God’s sure judgement on the wicked and His protection of the righteous during adversities. Most, if not all, the verses, also speak of God’s sovereignty over Satan’s attacks on the lives and hearts of His beloved little ones.

Psalm 94 – three possible applications.  For me, this psalm applies at all levels of life. God’s nature is the same whether He is dealing with the world, a nation, or an individual. Satan’s nature—whom God always defeats!—is also the same whether he attacks the world or individuals.

Image result for public domain picture of double edged sworWith confidence that God will make a way, we can let our swords glint with the truths in this psalm:

  • When world situations seem to be going badly and
  • When external personal situations seem to be going badly, and
  • When our internal world floods with doubt and fear and our grasp on hope weakens.

Even if we feel our grip on hope is slipping, God never, no never, no never relaxes His hold on us – most assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC)

Grace and mercy for today. Whatever the cause of a non-calm soul, Holy Spirit will comfort, counsel, and help us. He is our advocate and our intercessor and He will strengthen us (John 15:26, AMPC).  In Psalm 94 we find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.

I need to hear of God’s compassion for my humanness. I need to hear that He understands just how I feel, and that He does not condemn me for being human, rather that He is touched by and feels what I do. I need to hear that others through the centuries felt as overwhelmed as I do sometimes.

I need to hear God reassure me that His mercy and loving-kindness will hold me up—today, this moment (Psalm 94:18.) I need to be reminded that, as I lean on Him and trust Him, I can say to God: “In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!” (Psalm 94:19). I need to lean on God.  I need the strength and comfort that God put in His Word specifically for you and me, specifically for this very hour, for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14).

Image result for public domain picture of mountain top viewMountaintop overview.  Following is how I see Psalm 94 from a mountaintop perspective.

1-11: The psalmist pleads with God to give the wicked what they deserve.

12-15: I am blessed when God is training me because His training will give me power to keep myself calm in adversity, knowing that God will bring justice for me. So, I will not waste my life fretting or being in fear until that happens.

17-19:  I was defenseless and very anxious in my heart and felt I was slipping, but now You, God, have taught me to stay calm and to let You comfort and cheer and delight me.

20-21:  I know evildoers will not stay in power – they are not like You, God, Who truly are Sovereign.

22-23 : I will remain safe when I run to you and thus let You be my Refuge and my Defender. And I know You will wipe out the wicked by means of their own wickedness.

Psalm 94, section by section.
Vengeance belongs to God.

1-2      O Lord God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, O God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud a fit compensation!

Here, the psalmist asks God to give his enemies the punishment they deserve and he acknowledges, twice, that vengeance belongs to God. Possessing the right and power to administer just punishments—vengeance—is part of God’s sovereignty. This is true regarding things happening in our world, in our personal worlds and in our souls.

People tend to remember first and last parts of messages.  The certainty of God’s vengeance for His people is almost the last thing Moses reminded the Israelites of before he blessed each tribe, climbed Mount Nebo and died. On that day, Moses gave a long speech (Deuteronomy 12:1 to 33:29), that ended with his discourse on vengeance and a reminder about living by the Word. After reminding the Israelites of God’s vengeance, Moses reminded them that setting their hearts and minds on all the words he had taught them and teaching them to their children was their very life—not an “empty and worthless trifle.” Rather it was a valuable and precious treasure, a matter of life or death. By that, they would live long in the promised land.  (v. 46-47).

See the source imageTo be victorious, to abide in the promised land today, that condition of life where we see God’s promises fulfilled in our life:

  • We must keep our minds fixed on His sovereignty—which includes His sure vengeance. His vengeance against the enemy’s attacks on our life circumstance and our soul is just as certain as God’s vengeance against what the enemy does in the world.
  • We must be careful to live by His Word and teach it to our children – as if our life and our children’s lives depended on it — because they do. If no children are under our influence, we must help other believers learn to live by His Word – by what we say and how we live.

God’s pending vengeance on the wicked – then and now. The psalmist says to God – look what the wicked are doing, arrogantly boasting of their power and afflicting God’s people and, by neglect, killing those who cannot defend themselves

Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph and exult? They pour out arrogant words, speaking hard things; all the evildoers boast loftily. They crush Your people, O Lord, and afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the transient stranger and murder the unprotected orphan. Yet they say, The Lord does not see, neither does the God of Jacob notice it.

The pride and arrogance of wicked, godless world and national leaders comes from Satan himself. The defeated enemy of our souls is also proud and arrogant when he attacks God’s beloved ones through finances, health, relationships, and work. He is equally as vicious and deceived into believing he will win when he attacks our soul.

Who are “the stupid ones” among us? In verses 8 to 10, the psalmist says such people—all those who think God does not see them–are stupid.

Consider and understand, you stupid ones among the people! And you [self-confident] fools, when will you become wise? He Who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He Who formed the eye, shall He not see? 10 He Who disciplines and instructs the nations, shall He not punish, He Who teaches man knowledge?

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Crown and Robe and Scepter. Size: 150 x 118. Source: digitalcollections.nypl.orgThe psalmist, in wisdom, observes that God, Who made eyes and ears, sees and hears them. And this sovereign God who controls the nations of the world and Who is the source of all that is—this sovereign One will punish evil. And we know He makes even evil things turn out for the good of His children. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (Romans 8:28, AMPC)

God has a specific plan for each of us. And each day of our life is already decided by God before we were ever born. If we believe God is sovereign, this truth is easier to grasp. Ponder Psalm 139:16 –ponder all of Psalm 139! Then do it again!

Whose thoughts are useless?

11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain (empty and futile—only a breath).

This verse seems to conclude God’s statements in verses 8 through 10. This verse says it is not only the thoughts of the obviously wicked that are useless, but the thoughts of all mankind. Truly, without God we are nothing and can do nothing. Just as God hears and sees all we say and do, so He knows all we think and feel.  (Psalm 139:4). Without Him, our thoughts have no power, serve no true purpose and are fleeting as breath. But . . .

Who are the blessed among us?

12 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.

In contrast to the uncomfortable truth in verse 11 that our thoughts are useless, the psalmist then comforts us by explaining that our thoughts can be trained so that they become useful!  God trains our minds and hearts – through discipline and instruction and teaching out of His law—SO THAT He can give us a very useful thing. That useful thing is the power to keep ourselves calm during adversity.

God’s dear children must learn to stay calm in trouble because: (1) Life in this fallen world includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration” (John 16:33) and (2) growing up into who God wants us to be in Christ is also includes “troubles, trials, distress, and frustration.” We are butterflies who must gain strength while struggling against the cocoon. Open the cocoon prematurely, and the butterfly dies. Let the potential butterfly struggle and it becomes a thing of beauty to all who behold it.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Power. Size: 135 x 101. Source: publicdomainpictures.netHow do we get that power? How do we get that power to keep ourselves calm during any adversity? Through letting God discipline and instruct and teach us out of His law. It is a process.

A baby learns to walk through experience with the law of gravity.  She takes a step, falls down, tries again and repeats the experience, acquiring a bit more balance and power with each fall. Babies must actually wobble and fall down. To learn to swim, you must actually be in the water, interacting with the laws of flotation and moving in water. Practicing swim strokes on dry land will not work. Children do not learn to save money until they actually feel the pinch of an empty piggy bank. Learning to keep ourselves calm in adversity, requires being in actual adversity!  Selah, my soul (pause and calmly think of that.) O, selah!

Our compassionate Father teaches and trains us although the painful parts of training hurt His heart more than a human parent’s heart. He does that because He longs to bring us to maturity, to the point where we, like Israel, no longer depend on idols but rather on Him and Him alone. We must learn to say:

I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1b, 2, NLT)

Why does God want us to have this power? God does not want us to suffer unnecessarily. Also, it takes time for the cup of God’s wrath to be filled. Finally, adversity usually affects our heart, “out of which flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). God says to guard our heart “above all else” and with all diligence. He wants us to stay calm in His arms while He carries us through life. Whether we feel it or not, He does carry us close to His heart – from birth to old age.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.  (Isaiah 46:3-4, NLT)

See the source imagePause now and fix in your mind a picture of a small child carried close against his father’s chest. What do you see on that child’s face? Peace. Contentment. Safety. Security. Love. That is what God wants you to feel, no matter if He is carrying you over a raging river, across a dry dessert, through a pounding thunderstorm, or into a peaceful valley. You are safe in His arms. Oh, for the faith of a little child, that we may enter and dwell in the Kingdom.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Mark 10:14b-15, NIV.)

Though you may feel alone, you are never alone. He is with you always. (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6). We can find countless reassurances and examples of this truth in His Word. If we engrave His Word on our hearts, His Word will shield and fight for us when we are troubled. God does carry us, close to His heart, and He will work justice for us.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Scales Of Justice. Size: 150 x 150. Source: cliparts.coGod WILL administer justice. Verse 14-15. We can be calm because we know God is fair and just and loving and He will bring about good for us.  He is sovereign, He never forsakes us, and He will work justice.

14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. 15 For justice will return to the [uncompromisingly] righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

The more we know about God’s character, the calmer we can be. We can ponder the fact that just as much as vengeance belongs to the Lord, so do mercy and loving-kindness.  We can ponder that, as the pit is inevitable for the wicked, even so is a loving result for those whom God is disciplining and instructing.

When facing adversity and affliction, we can rest in the truth that we are blessed because God will not leave us, and we will be treated fairly. Four facts seem to be part of the same thought in God’s mind. I believe He wants all four facts in our minds when we think about adversity.

  • We are blessed, even in trials, because God will use every situation to train us. . .
  • . . . because He wants us to have power to keep ourselves calm.
  • He will never leave us and
  • He will treat us fairly (much, much more than fairly!)

Your particular trials. The current world situation has led to exploding levels of depression and anxiety. Dealing with our world is the point of struggle for many. For others, the point of struggle involves what God is doing in our life and heart.

We all experience unsettled emotions throughout life. And the process of training—failing, falling and rising again—is the same regardless of whether we become unsettled because of the world at large, our personal external world or the world within that is our heart. We all go through the process of struggling against the weight of the world and sin outlined in Hebrews 12:1-12. Think about it.

God used world situations to develop character in those living during World War II, just as He used the enslavement in Egypt, the journey to the Promised Land, and the Roman persecution. He determines when we are born, and it is no accident you and I are living today. He will use every aspect of life in 2022 to train us.

See the source imageDeconstruction and reconstruction. After forty plus years of gratefully walking with our loving Father, I have repeatedly experienced seasons of being deconstructed then reconstructed, those times when you think you have this Christian life going pretty well and then a wheel falls off. I can sit on the ground, crying over my scraped knee, feeling mad at God and my tricycle. I can sit and do nothing and let hope ebb out even faster than the blood running down my knee and thus open my mind to the lies of the enemy.

Or I can lift up my shield of faith, pick up my sword of truth and reach up to my tender and merciful Father. I can let Him comfort me and clean me up and do needed repairs on that wobbly wheel and axle. Then together, we can move forward on that special path of life He has prepared for me. Together, we can “make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.”  (Psalm 18, especially verses 30-33, AMPC)

Friend, no matter what causes one of your wheels to fall off—a behavior or addiction you thought was defeated, sickness of a loved one, loss of your job, or things in this crazy world–God will use it for your good. Ponder the life of Job, of Joseph, of David and of Paul. “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 12:11, NIV)

Image result for public domain picture of stone chiselYour present circumstance. I once read:

“The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you, is the best-shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Do not push away the instrument, lest you lose its work.” Anonymous.

Like that loving and wise mother watching her son struggle with his tricycle, God lets us endure what we must so we can be equipped to prosper in this world. And He feels each physical strain and pain, He knows each fearful thought. He keeps each and every tear in a bottle.  (Psalm 56:8). Every tear? That is what God says.

God WILL bless us! Fellow struggling saint, we can rest assured that, no matter the source of our adversity, God will bless us if we fear and revere and worship Him. And He will be our sweet, oh so sweet, Companion.

Who is the man who reverently fears and worships the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that he should choose. 13 He himself shall dwell at ease, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. (Psalm 25:12-14, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of god holding childThe love God feels for us is unutterably tender. It is unutterably powerful. He Who holds the world in His hands holds us. He Who watches over every sparrow watches over us and never sleeps. This sovereign, compassionate, merciful and loving One Who IS love, loves us with an undying love. Oh, how He loves you and me!

In Part Three, we will finish Psalm 94. The last section of Psalm 94 lets us see how holding to the truth of God’s sovereignty calms our heart, no matter the adversity.

 

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)

 

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)

See the source image

God is good to those who wait – Part Two

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

Part One:

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

Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Christian, declare with me:

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

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

 

Under His feathers – ALWAYS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ponder these two verses as well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beloved, I say, with new hope:

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image