Category Archives: HARD TIMES

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.

 

The comfort of His presence

Image result for Public Domain picture Of Sunrise in Woods. Size: 135 x 100. Source: creativemarket.comThat which goes beyond understanding. Sometimes, whether because of the “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” of this earthly life (John 16:33, AMPC), stumbling with spiritual disciplines or the unavoidable hardship of God’s loving discipline (Hebrews 12), I cannot feel God’s presence. I know—beyond all doubt—that He is always with me but sometimes a cold fog of feelings blinds the eyes of the soul.

Then suddenly, having done nothing but persevere, shafts of light pierce the veil. Like the light of dawn grasping earth by its edges to shake the wickedness of night out of it (Job 38:13, AMPC), the light that comes from awareness of His love shakes distress away. Love Himself pierces the heart afresh from the inside out and, like a mother tenderly brushing away baby tears, He collects our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). And He comforts us.

Friend and fellow pilgrim, I truly doubt human words will ever express how awareness of His love feels any more than words can describe that peace that exceeds human understanding. I pray you know that peace that “garrisons and mounts guard over our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, AMPC). Awareness of His presence, His love, and His peace is His desire for us.

I share the following personal experience, in detail. I pray it enriches your awareness of His constant presence and unfailing love today and whenever trials of this life cloud your own heart, those times of your own high places. May this help us both remember that God lovingly uses hard times to equip us. He makes us “able to stand firmly and make progress on our dangerous heights of testing and trouble” just as He equips the deer with feet able to stand firm and move on high and dangerous mountains.

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 18:33, AMPC)

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! (Habakkuk 3:19, AMPC)

Trying to be grateful, trying to be strong. Oh, Father! Thank You for this couch. You had just the right one, brown and long enough to stretch out on, ready for me. Thank You for our lovely condo. Thank You for helping me find that picture of the path and that mirror. Thank You for helping me learn to be grateful and for teaching me that stopping to thank You for things around me turns my heart to You and away from the hard things of life. Thank You that I know this heaviness will lift. Thank You that. . . “

Seated on the couch, I faced the tiny alcove framing the fireplace I had hidden with a bookcase. Atop the bookcase, perched on a brown and gold set of nesting boxes my grandsons had played with (perched on the boxes because nails would not penetrate the gray tile of the alcove), stood an unframed painting of trees bordering a path leading into bright light. Impressionistic, and using only shades of brown, white and gray, it carried the eye outward, expanding the room. Next to the painting of the path stood a mirror, framed in deep brown wood embellished with ornate scrollwork. A lavish peace lily in a brown pot and an ivy in a white pot stood in front of the mirror, next to the oscillating fan which compensated for the lack of an overhead fan. In front of the bookcase stood a floor lamp, ornate scrollwork adorning its wide base and top. Coffee-colored fringe trimmed its octagonal lamp shade.

In front of the alcove, a luxe pillow sham—its shades of nut brown, buff and black a feast to my eyes as the pattern swirled in mind-relaxing complexity—hung over the white fabric of the rocker. Khaki tassels trimmed the area rug which consisted of squares of brown and gold and beige patterns. Alternating panels of solid cocoa and white embroidered with beige flowers hung from an ornate curtain rod, with the tassel my youngest grandson had loved to play with hanging from the end. The rich, old world look of my front room, in soft and rich browns, with touches of white, had been achieved over a span of more than two years and with thrift store items.

“Thank You, Father, for getting all this together. It is beautiful to my eyes. Father, help me be grateful! I am grateful but the effects of this long summer, being trapped inside much of the day because of the heat and all the stresses lately have done something. Forgive me for feeling frustrated and impatient with all the health problems. I know You are working! Thank You for keeping me moving forward, though it feels like one inch at a time. Oh, Lord! Help my ungrateful heart!

See the source imageNever alone but feeling like it. I had just returned from a 7:30 stress test and echocardiogram. All the way home I had fought a familiar and despised self-pity about one more doctor visit and one more procedure alone. A long-time single, it was hard not to think how comforting it would be to have someone to just go with me or to come home to and talk about it all with. I resisted those thoughts because I knew God was with me. I also knew married people can feel as lonely as singles, sometimes more so. Yet, feelings are feelings, and I wanted just to be with someone. I had stopped at a cafe for tea and a treat, which usually lifted my spirits but today had only accentuated my solitude and now, now I was at home and alone.

And I was trying, I was trying to be grateful.

“Lord, I am so sorry for how I feel. I do thank You for all You have given me, including my wonderful, loving family who live so close. Help me, Father. I know my thoughts are not pleasing. I am complaining just like Israel did when You gave them manna. Oh, Father! Forgive me and help me get my attitude right!”

Image result for public domain picture of toddler handsStirred memories . . . overwhelmed emotions. The drive to the stress test had been down Lamar Avenue, the urban street that traverses the spine of Austin. Rich memories had been deposited all along its circuitous route. Sixteen years ago, I had first visited Austin when my daughter and son-in-law relocated there. On my visits, we often drove down Lamar to go to Whole Foods. Four years later, when I relocated to Austin, to be a happy grandmother, I had driven the length of Lamar to get to the chiropractor, until I found one on my side of the river. It was along the southern end of Lamar that I had taken my first grandson every week to buy diapers and baby lotion and such at the department store. Eighteen months later, Ben and I had driven the full length of Lamar to pick up some baby equipment for his newborn brother while Papa was with Mama at the hospital. As Ben grew, we still made those weekly diaper runs down Lamar to the department store but he was soon old enough to sit with me in the orange and white booths of the café in the corner after we shopped.  He played with coffee stirrers and cup wrappers as we each had an oatmeal cookie.

Mama and I alternated days with the boys once little brother Ansel was older. One especially memorable day when I had Ansel he and I drove down Lamar to that same supply store to get some more equipment and we stopped for French fries after. When Ansel went with me on the diaper run, he liked to stick coffee stirrers into his crackers and play with the tiny coffee creamer cups I had emptied. Such sweet, sweet companionship with my boys!  It had been wrenching to see them start kindergarten.

For the last five years, I had driven down the south end of Lamar, alone, for school pickup, the highlight of my day. Driving through that stretch of Lamar this morning had reinforced the painful truth that school started next week. The summer, filled with wonderful days with the boys, was ending. I was not ready to see them move up another grade, to grow a little older, a little further away from me. I felt the loss ripping at my heart with each hug, each “I love you, Nana”. Ah love! Such pleasure when experienced and such pain at its loss! The looming separation from my boys had brought the fog of self-pity over my heart.

The miracle of loving. I leaned over and picked up Lily and carried her to the kitchen counter. Speaking softly, I dampened paper towels with warm water and gently wiped her eyes, then her face and ears, our anti-allergy morning routine which had been overlooked in the rush to get out the door.

“My sweet Lily bugs,” I crooned as I picked her up and pressed her close to my chest under my chin. I walked to the couch murmuring “My sweet, sweet baby girl.” I sat down with Lily by my side and began brushing her face and neck, stroking the velvet of her sides and back. As soon as I released her, she jumped to the floor and swiped at the mouse on a string propped against the basket of cat toys.

“Okay, girl. Here we go.” I swished the mouse back and forth, another daily routine. I knew it helped keep her happy and active.

“Father,” I prayed. “Thank You so much for my darling Lily. She is such good company and it helps so much to have someone to take care of and to love on. . . “

That’s when it happened, that overwhelming awareness that God was right there with me, that unexplainable knowing that He understood, and felt, just what I was feeling. My throat tightened. Tears fell.

He feels our feelings. “God, I guess when you give love to someone and take care of them it feels almost like someone is caring for you. That’s why you gave me Lily, and all the other cats through the years, isn’t it, for all the hours alone at home. That’s why you gave me my family, each one of them. I remember how comforting it was to hold my Sharon and take care of her all those years so long ago. Loving my little Lily helps so much, Father. Thank You! I cannot see Your face and I cannot touch Your hand and I cannot hear Your physical voice but I know You are here.”

I sniffed, blinked and continued staring straight ahead. Two Scriptures came to mind.

“The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you; but if you [become indifferent and] forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2, AMPC)

10 And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity]. (Psalm 9:10, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of father whispering to childI paused in my thoughts. The awareness that God was there was something like what you sense when someone comes up behind you but has made no sound or when you sense that someone is watching you. It felt like God was saying to me . . .

  • I love you, My little child.
  • I see you. I always see you, and I am always, always, always with you.
  • I am pleased with your efforts to please me. They are as precious in my sight as the pictures Ben and Ansel draw for you.
  • I adore you just as you are.
  • You need do nothing to earn My love.
  • Just as you adore your grandsons, so I adore and accept you, and far, far more.
  • I know your heart. I understand your struggles with fear and worry and keeping life going as you make your way in this dark world. That is why I touched your mind as you loved Lily. I want you to feel the comfort of My love. I want you to feel My presence.
  • You have not displeased Me. I have not removed Myself from you. I am with you and I will always be with you.
  • Some times and some seasons of feeling separated from Me are necessary. This is just as when you train a child. But see! I have prepared you with all you need through the Word we have together planted and nurtured in your heart! My living Word has sustained you through these last weeks when darkness seemed to cover My face and you do often felt I was not with You.
  • Know this truth, My child: I AM with you always!

Our loving God of all comfort. So, dear friend, I am posting this narrative though it seems a bit too personal. I want you to know that whatever you are feeling today, God is right there with you and He understands and He longs to communicate His love to you. He longs to take care of whatever need you have. He is our perfect Father. If human fathers are moved when seeing their children in need how much more is the Father of our spirits moved by our distress?

God has made a special way of loving you that is for only you and Him, a way that no one else in the world shares. Yes, He is that involved in each detail of your life and He has taken that much care to make the way that He can comfort you and love and guide you. That way is as unique as the pattern of whorls on your fingertips. I sincerely pray that He broaden and deepen that channel of communication between you and Him.

One last thought about God’s love for you. One of my favorite passages about God’s comfort is 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. I found this verse more than forty years ago when I was reading the Bible through for the first time after being saved. Back then, my deepest pain was fear that I could not take good enough care of my daughter alone. God has never once let us down and never ever failed to give comfort when I turned to Him.

Today, I noticed that the NIV clearly shows God’s comfort produces patient endurance of sufferings.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (AMPC, emphasis added)

Then, while reading the AMPC, I noticed that each time the word comfort appears in the text, “consolation and encouragement” follow in the amplifying parenthesis. Consolation means to lessen the grief, sense of loss or trouble” of someone. And encouragement means, of course, to inspire, or to breath, courage and hope into someone.

So, I pray that God, through letting you perceive His presence and through your study of His Word, lessens whatever distress you feel. I pray that He breathes fresh and abundant courage and hope into your soul, and that He works your individual experience out for your good, to produce even greater endurance–with greater awareness of His presence–in the very midst of your trials.

But if we are troubled (afflicted and distressed), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement) and [for your] salvation; and if we are comforted (consoled and encouraged), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement), which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamities) that we also suffer and undergo.

And our hope for you [our joyful and confident expectation of good for you] is ever unwavering (assured and unshaken); for we know that just as you share and are partners in [our] sufferings and calamities, you also share and are partners in [our] comfort (consolation and encouragement). (2 Corinthians 1:6-7, AMPC, emphasis added)

“The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2, AMPC)

Image result for public domain picture of father whispering to child

 

What is happening to our world?

Image result for public domain picture of jesus and the worldGood things ARE happening!  You might not know it, but in the midst of all the evil seeming to take over our nation and our world, God has started the greatest spiritual awakening of all time. Unless you have been hearing truthful and Godly news sources, you likely will not believe that. You likely see no way out of the current darkness and possibly feel Armageddon is fast approaching. I say: take heart!

For about two years, I have listened only to truthful, Godly news sources, like those listed on the “What is God doing?” tab on this website. This is where I learned that God is NOW pouring out His Spirit, with signs and wonders and miracles and hundreds of salvations in big tent meetings, through the ministry of evangelists like Mario Murillo. Grassroots America has begun speaking out against things like our schools blatantly grooming our children for sexual perversion—which is nothing less than outright pedophilia. Believers and patriots are running for local and national offices and winning. Many organizations have obtained documented proof that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump and that proof is even now moving some states toward decertifying the 2022 elections.

God is doing so much for His beloved America! When I first thought of writing this littleImage result for public domain picture of america summary, America still awaited the SCOTUS decision on abortion. Other rulings—like prayer on school grounds–have also supported the U.S. Constitution, which as I hope you know is based on Biblical principles, no matter which twisted way liberals try to rewrite the history of America, the only nation beside Israel which is devoted to God.

I beg you:  Get informed and then get involved! There is much you can do, yes, ordinary you.

Following is a brief overview of what has been happening to America. If you have not been following truthful Godly sources of news, it could take a while before you grasp the big picture. So, I pray this provides a framework into which you can add more knowledge as you start listening. No doubt, I will not get everything exactly accurate and someone who spends full time on telling truth would add much to this outline, but I believe it is a good start if you need a foundational understanding.

See the big picture.  Understand first that there are levels of attack. The topmost leader of the evil we see today is, of course, Satan, who has been scheming against God and His beloved humans since Eden. Under Satan are “rulers, authorities and the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan and his evil horde are pulling the strings of their human puppets.

The next highest level of evil is the deep state. A handful of unbelievably wealthy people have worked for decades to do Satan’s evil bidding and to depopulate the earth. Satan has promised them they will have it all. This includes people like George Soros and Bill Gates.

See the source imageThese people are pushing a globalist socialist, communist agenda. They want to destroy America and other countries and bring in the “New World Order” – a one-world government. Sound like the book of Revelations yet? What do you think mandatory vaccinations are preparations for? In Canada, the wicked despot Trudeau cut off all finances for truckers who protested against the vaccine.

The deep state aims to control the entire world, but especially Israel—the apple of God’s eye—and the United States, which was founded upon and dedicated expressly to God and religious liberty. “America was raised up to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.” (Dutch Sheets, givehim15.com, July 27, 2022).  No wonder Satan is so bent on destroying America.

They have been playing the long game for decades. They are responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (because he was trying to return America to the silver standard for our currency). They are responsible for the stolen 2020 election because they hate President Trump.

Their agenda. ­ They push socialist communism so that they can have control over the world. And they do this through political leaders and other influential, powerful leaders. This is why they are creating such chaos. Chaos makes people desperate for peace and safety. Make a country desperate enough and they will submit to anything.  Their ultimate goal is to wipe out much of the earth’s population so things will be better for them. That’s why the vaccines Bill Gates gave “generously” to a struggling nation made the children sterile. That is why Margaret Sanger, who started Planned Parenthood, openly targeted the black race for abortion and why the vast majority of such death clinics are in black neighborhoods, the easiest, most “productive” target. Their agenda to wipe out much of the human race—especially God’s people–and bring in the “New World Order” is why they used the plandemic to wipe out so many Americans and others.

Image result for Public Domain picture of Churches. Size: 150 x 225. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netWhat they did to churches.  The church in America has long been rotting, becoming progressively more silent against evil. This is the fault of the church but what put gasoline on the fire of unholiness was the Johnson amendment, which came about because LBJ replaced John F. Kennedy as president. The Johnson amendment gives churches a tax-break but on the condition that churches stay out of politics. Now you know one reason pulpits have been silent about all kinds of evil for so long.

Pastors have chosen to serve the god of money and popularity rather than the Holy One of the Bible. They have not spoken out against the evil things happening in our land because they do not want to lose their tax break and they do not want to “offend” their congregation and lose their church. And they have led their sheep into the same evil path, staying silent about and even affirming all kinds of evil.

Image result for public domain picture of pasttor at pulpitBesides that, the pulpit in America largely stopped preaching the power of the blood and holiness many years ago. Not only that, the church stayed in its four walls and out of the pillars of society. Consequently, the foundations of our society were corrupted and that corruption has, like the contaminating filth it is, spread. Did you know pastors were heavily involved in America’s initial fight for freedom? They were called “The black coat regiment.” Did you hear that on mainstream media?

“But we are not to oppose authorities” you say.   Multitudes of churches and believers are cowering behind Romans 13:1-2 which states: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (NIV) This verse applies to righteous rulers. Verse 3 explains that this applies to “rulers who hold no terror for those who do right, buy for those who do wrong.”  Most of our world’s rulers today support those who do wrong and violently oppose those who do right.

See the source imageWhat did Peter and the apostles do when the authorities persecuted them for preaching Jesus and gave strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus? “Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men?” (Acts 5:29, NIV)

They own the media. The deep state owns mainstream media and seeks to spread its evil agenda and to silence all those who speak for righteousness and truth. This is starting to change as God gives truth a voice through individual believers who speak out and through believers who create platforms that get the truth out.  But this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Mainstream media is still covering up most of the evil currently operating in our world.

The evil you see happening is by design. The covid epidemic—and other evil and destructions we now see, like the invasion of our southern border — was planned. Yes, covid is a real disease but it is a manufactured sickness, a test to see how quickly the deep state could control the world, to see how much we would put up with. What did the world do? We wore masks, forsook church, got vaccinated and believed the lies – like children are in grave danger and must wear masks in school. Did you know that the percentage of children who died from covid is miniscule? You will not hear that on mainstream news.

While they had everyone terrified of covid, they killed millions world-wide, especially among the elderly and those with health issues; did much to start ruining our economy, damaged the lives of a whole generation of children; and trained much of the world to submit to whatever they say to handle the next virus they are waiting to unleash.

This attack by the deep state, incidentally, prepared the way for them to use mail-in ballots as part of their theft of the 2020 election. Don’t believe it was stolen? See the documentary “2,000 mules.” And just wait. God is even now exposing evil, and His arm is lifted high.

Image result for public domain picture of white houseThe jackal sitting unlawfully in our White House is systematically destroying our economy through planned inflation, which he began by shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline immediately upon beginning his charade as our lawfully-elected president.  Besides that,

  • He abandoned American troops and civilians in Afghanistan as well as Afghanis who supported and had fought alongside the U.S.
  • He created and continues to deepen the gas shortage because he sold out to the hyper-radical environmentalists who funded his campaign and so is pushing “green” energy.
  • There are too many horrors to list and they grow daily.
  • All this, plus, the media is no longer covering up his incompetence and the world laughs at the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, God’s nation.

Image result for Cute Elementary ClassroomsWhat Satan wants to do to our children. Because the deep state controls the media, you are not hearing about the sexual perversion being taught in our public schools and the pedophilia teachers are committing using curricula approved by principals and school districts. To further the perverted homosexual agenda, teachers are preparing children to accept homosexuality and transgenderism by teaching them, in detail, about homosexual practices – under the guise of being “inclusive” and “gay rights.” THIS IS PEDOPHILIA! When parents protested at school boards, the jackal’s administration labelled them “domestic terrorists”.

More parents are speaking up and the tide is turning in some states but last week I saw a podcast on Victory News where a teacher explained to other teachers the correct pronouns to use on report cards so that a child who “identifies” as being of the opposite sex while at school can continue to pose as the sex they want and the teachers will not, inadvertently, let the parent know what is going on at school with their own child. Some children have begun sex change treatments which were deliberately hidden from parents.

Image result for public domain picture of school childThis is all part of a planned attack by Satan. Go online and search “We are coming for your children.”  A San Francisco gay men’s choir spells out exactly what the left wants to do with YOUR children and grandchildren. It is disgusting and I hope it infuriates you.

This is one more reason why you need to start listening to conservative, Christian, patriotic, righteous news and stop listening to and believing the enemy.  Are you mad yet?

Why the deep state supports violence, defunding the police, and taking our guns. If the only people allowed to have guns are criminals, then the only people with guns will be criminals. Then, the evil, totalitarian, socialist progressives and the deep state can control Image result for Public Domain Picture of Police. Size: 180 x 101. Source: www.publicdomainpictures.netus. Then America would be in a situation like Australia, where people were forced into covid camps for not obeying the governments covid rules. The right to bear arms is the second Amendment to our Constitution. Yes, gun violence is horrific beyond words, but the solution is to allow law-abiding citizens to bear arms. Mainstream media has not told you that since the tragedy in Uvalde at least two other potential mass shooters were stopped by citizens using their legally-permitted guns.

Blind justice. The deep state worked years ago to get corrupt judges and prosecutors and legislators into office. That is how Congressman Lee ZeldIn could be attacked with a knife, during a political rally, and his attacker immediately released from jail. Such things are happening all the time. You just do not hear about them on the media that the globalist, communist, socialist deep state owns.

Image result for public domain picture of united states mapBorders. The jackal’s puppets have purposefully moved him to allowed millions of illegal aliens to cross our southern border. And they are being relocated throughout the US. Many of these are sex traffickers, drug traffickers, terrorists and other criminals. Thousands are dying as they are smuggled across the border by the drug cartel. Fentanyl use has exploded as it has flowed like a river across the border. Why does the administration do nothing? They are planning for the illegals to be grateful for being allowed into the US and to vote for them.

January 6 theater. This is a blatant attempt to stop President Trump from running in 2024. I will not give it the dignity of explanation but start listening to conservative news outlets and the truth you hear about this sham will seem unbelievable. And what about the rampant violence in our cities which is not covered in mainstream news and about which the left does nothing?

See the source imageWhat they are doing to our beloved military.  I say “beloved military” because I am deeply, deeply grateful to the men and women and families who have sacrificed and are even now sacrificing so we may live in a free country. Satan is working to weaken and destroy our military. Thousands are being discharged because they refuse to take the vax.  Leaders are spending resources teaching our military how to use the “proper” pronouns lest they offend someone who is deluded into thinking they can change their sex. They have been forced to work alongside homosexuals and do you really think the trouble this perversion causes is reported by mainstream media?

In China the government removed ALL “girlie” boy effeminate movies and tv shows for children, replacing them with media that teaches boys to be men. Communist China is raising up a generation of men who will fight like men. What is our media teaching our young boys, our future soldiers? How to be weak, intimidated, and to tolerate that which is disgusting and vile in God’s sight.

God puts an instinct into males to be men and fight to protect females and children. What will our future soldiers be if that instinct is beaten out of them by years of lies and punishment for following their God-given instincts?

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Distractions! All these and many more distractions are coming now, before the 2022 midterms and who knows what else they have planned? They are already making noises about another plandemic. And look at the hatred unleased against abortion.

Image result for Public Domain Picture Of Ultrasound. Size: 188 x 100. Source: radiationepal.blogspot.comThe curse of abortion over the United States. When our Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning this issue to the states, where it should have always remained because it is not a constitutional “right”, a curse was lifted off our land. Abortion is a blood sacrifice to the god Molech. That is why you see such unbelievable hatred from those who support it. They are demonically controlled and influenced. How else do you account for the violence and hatred? It is demonic control and it is also the flesh. People do not like it when they have to pay the consequences for their sin. They want abortion so they can continue their sexual immorality without the consequence of raising a child. So Satan has brutally murdered millions of babies in the womb. Their blood has cried out to God and He is bringing justice.

Did you know some states were approving abortion up to 30 days AFTER THE BABY WAS OUT OF THE WOMB?

See the source imageIf you vote democrat, you are supporting this abomination. One hundred percent of democrats in the House voted to keep Roe v. Wade intact.   Think about that. If you voted for the jackal now in the White House you voted for abortion and for all the evils now seeming to prevail.

Wake up! You can do something! You can repent of that and start praying for and supporting righteous leaders and righteous endeavors. You can make a difference!

The tide is turning, God is already doing mighty things. Look at the other Supreme Court decisions that defend righteousness. Look at the truths that even mainstream media is starting to proclaim (because they have no choice.)  Just this should convince you.

But if you listen to the prophets, you have been hearing them say, for years that God is doing many things behind the scenes, exposing and destroying evil. Prophets have been saying for months now that the Third Great Awakening has already begun, with signs and wonders and hundreds of salvations happening in tent revivals as in former days. They also predicted the many ways righteousness is starting to flow in our nation.

Image result for public domain picture of niagaraEveryday Americans are waking up and taking action. Grassroots efforts and organizations that oppose evil and promote righteousness are exploding. God is about to unleash a Niagara of justice and righteousness. (Amos 5:24)

Will you get involved? I beg you: will you get involved? You are alive at this time by God’s design. He has things for you, personally, to do in this fight, just as God had things for Esther to do. And He will equip and supply you as you stand and start fighting.

I ask you: Do you want to look back and remember that you did your part in God’s fight? Or do you want to remember that fear and disbelief kept you from taking your stand against evil?

How do you think the Holocaust happened? Little by little, one lie at a time.  People believed lies because they were repeated over and over and those who could help the Jews stayed silent. And the Jewish people themselves, these precious souls who are the apple of His eye? What about them?

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The last exhibit in the Holocaust Memorial Museum is the “shoe pile”, a pile of 4,000 shoes of holocaust victims.  May we never forget and may we never cease to pray for Israel and the peace of Israel. What happened to God’s beloved Jewish people is a warning for us. They were deceived, and those who suspected evil was being done and who could do something remained silent.

Socialist and communistic leaders promise people things will be good if they just submit and obey the government. Think about it.

Here is part of an article from the October 12, 2021, Seattle Times.

The 4,000 shoes on display are on loan from the State Museum of Majdanek in Lublin, Poland,” said Steven Luckert, curator of the permanent exhibition. “In general, the shoes are the objects that leave the most profound impression on the visitors. It shows the magnitude of Nazi murder through something so deeply personal.”

Men’s loafers, children’s bootees and women’s two-inch heels are piled in a disordered heap. The women’s shoes, once beautiful, may be the most shocking remnants in the exhibition. They are the reminder that some victims were hopeful, taking their finery and most-feminine footwear on trains that led to this.

“Some of the shoes are very elegant, and the variety gives the sense of the deception at work to fool the victims,” Luckert said. “Jews were told they would be building new lives someplace in the East, not told they were being sent to be killed.”

In the 1930s, the quotation below appeared in many public addresses of the German pastor Martin Niemoller:

“First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews – and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one to speak for me.”

If you are doing something, keep doing it and even more! If not, I must ask: how long will you remain passive and indifferent?

Specific things to do – now:

  1. At home alone, with in-person prayer groups or on-line. Put your boots on the ground and go to places and pray.
  2. Get informed – go to the “What is God doing?” page of this website and start listening regularly to conservative, Christian media. Besides speaking truth, they give ways to get involved in God’s fight for righteousness and justice in our land.
  3. Send letters and emails and call your government representatives, at all levels. millionvoices.org has made this easy. Check it out.
  4. Serve at polling places, run for local offices – yes you!
  5. Go to school board meetings, city councils, legislative sessions – whatever is available to you — and pray and speak as the Lord leads.
  6. Speak up to your pastor. Just writing a respectful, but truthful letter to your pastor can move him or her to start speaking up for righteousness.
  7. Start a prayer meeting for your city, state and nation – just you and one other person can move mountains.
  8. This is just a starter list. As you seek God and get in the fight, He will lead you personally.

Fellow believer, I have been bold and I wish I could be even bolder! We must be about God’s work and do our part to destroy the works of the enemy. (I John 3:8) We cannot remain passive and silent. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30, NIV)

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Watering works!

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

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

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

I smiled, turned the corner and walked toward him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(22) It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. (24) The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore, will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.

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

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A beseechment

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

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

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

Victory News, April 1, 4 pm podcast

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

Flashpoint, March 29, podcast

Here is a description of Flashpoint from their website.

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

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

[1] PRAY!!

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

[2] Contact your representatives.

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

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

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

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

God is good to those who wait – Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outline of Part One:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Waiting, hoping, and expecting – Part 2 of 2

Please note: The “What is God Telling You to Do?” post is available as a printable document on the “Books and More” tab. Please share  it with your friends.  Friends tell each other the truth, even when it hurts – Proverbs 27:6.

Image result for free picture of child waitingPart  One: Last week we began exploring Psalm 27:14 which tells us to “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage, and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait and hope for and expect the Lord.” (AMPC) We saw how the phrase “Wait for and hope for and expect” appears six times in Psalm 25 through 33, and we are to “let our inner selves wait earnestly for the Lord.” This week, we will continue by looking at how God earnestly waits for us.

God waits earnestly to be good to us.

And therefore the Lord [EARNESTLY] waits [EXPECTING, LOOKING, AND LONGING] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [EARNESTLY] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMPC)

God IS just and fair, but He will treat us more than merely fairly. He will be merciful to us and show us lovingkindness if we reciprocate His earnestness by waiting, expecting, looking and longing for “His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship!”

This verse alone contains several sermons! It comes in the middle of Isaiah 30, after God’s people had spent all their resources trying to obtain help from Egypt (the world) rather than from God. God told Israel:

“In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength” (v. 15)

Image result for Free Picture of Resting in God. Size: 204 x 204. Source: quotesgram.comGod told them they would be terrorized when the enemy attacked them and that because of that, He is waiting EARNESTLY His children to return to putting Him first and depending on Him. And why is that? Because “the Lord is a God of justice” (v. 18) and we are blessed if we EARNESTLY wait for Him.” Clearly, “waiting for and hoping for and expecting the Lord” earnestly brings great rewards. Many other verses and passages teach this same cause and effect principle. And what are the benefits?

Waiting, hoping, and expecting, confidently and earnestly bring renewed strength and protection from despair. Renewed strength.  Dear friend, I urge you to ponder deeply Isaiah 40. In this magnificent chapter God comforts His people by explaining His infinite power and sovereignty. After teaching us about His infinite nature, God ends the chapter with a promise to change and renew the strength and power of those who wait for Him, who expect, look and long for and hope in Him (verse 31). Carefully consider each phrase of the well-known verse 31.

31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

Who are these who never grow weary? Those whoImage result for free picture of tired runner wait for and hope for and expect the Lord, with confident and earnest hearts. If we ever needed to take these verses seriously, it is surely today!

No more despair or discouragement. Another benefit of waiting for and hoping for and expecting the Lord, confidently and earnestly, is that it encourages us and prevents despair and discouragement. Lamentations 3 shows us that if we bring to our mind God’s mercies and loving kindnesses to us and His tender, never-failing compassions, we will have hope and can wait expectantly for Him. When he was in desperate circumstances, Jeremiah remembered God’s goodness and it strengthened him.

Lamentations is the prophet Jeremiah’s lament over Jerusalem, the city he tried so hard to save. In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah reviews all his troubles and then asks God to earnestly remember his afflictions. (There is that word earnest again.) Jeremiah says that thinking about his afflictions bows down his soul BUT as he remembers God’s mercies and loving kindnesses, he is moved to hope in God and wait expectantly for God. Jeremiah reminds himself that “The Lord is good to those who hopefully and expectantly wait for Him” and he says that “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation—the safety and ease—of the Lord.” (v. 26)

This powerful passage shows me that God understands how discouraged we sometimes become by things that happen but that—in the midst of it all—we are not destroyed because God IS, WAS AND WILL ALWAYS remain merciful, filled with loving-kindness toward us, tenderly compassionate, stable and faithful as we “hopefully and expectantly wait for Him, and as we “seek Him-inquiring of and for Him and requiring Him.”

Verse 25 assures us that God responds with this goodness whenever we have a real need and we rely on His Word.

25 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].

Image result for free picture of bird under waterfallProtection and deliverance from the evil seeking to overtake the world today is a true need! And His Word never, ever, no never fails! I have set my heart to wait for and hope for and expect the Lord, earnestly and with confidence. I am convinced that, as I do my part by praying, declaring His Word, and doing whatever else God shows me, He will deliver me and keep me safely in His peace, right in the middle of whatever happens.

An artist once won a prize from a king for his drawing of peace. Other artists drew calm lakes and other pastoral scenes. The painting the king selected was that of a bird, because, as he said, true peace is being able to remain in the midst of hard things and stay calm in your heart.

Conclusion.  When God says something more than once, especially when His statements about something come close together, I pay careful attention. He urges us to “wait for and hope for and expect” Him several times in Psalm 25 through 34, as we have just seen. Notice that He uses the “wait for and hope for and expect” verbatim in Psalm 27:14 and in Psalm 31:24.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!

In doing that, in waiting and hoping for and expecting the Lord, I am saying “God is my refuge. Words carry power and when I declare God is my refuge, God IS my refuge.

Image result for FREE Picture of Spiritual Armor. Size: 179 x 102. Source: sunrisechapel.churchNotice also the word “let” in “Let your heart take courage.” That shows us it is an action we must take, like putting on our spiritual armor (Ephesian 6:10-18). “Let” means to allow or permit. That says to me that my heart—my inmost being, that place inside me where God Himself dwells—my heart knows the truth about God and if I allow that truth and His spirit within me to operate, I will take courage and I will be strong-hearted and able to endure. So, yes, I will “wait for and hope for and expect the Lord” confidently and expectantly!

Hope for today. In the middle of our world where it seems evil is overtaking everything good and godly, we can remind ourselves that the One who made and sustains everything that exists loves us fiercely, and that He Himself is fighting for us.

With that knowledge, we can wait for and hope for and expect the Lord and take refuge under His outstretched wings. We know that as a mother hen lifts herself up so that she may shelter her little chicks, so the Lord is even now lifting Himself up, eagerly waiting for us to rely–not on the world as His rebellious children did in Isaiah 30—but rather on Him, to save us.

. . . the Lord [EARNESTLY] waits [EXPECTING, LOOKING, AND LONGING] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [EARNESTLY] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMPC) 

Our loving, all-powerful God is ready, eager, to pour out His goodness upon us. He watches over us 24/7/365. “Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers nor sleeps.” (Psalm 121:4, NIV) We never need to fear because the Creator and Sustainer of all that was and is and is to come adores us and watches over us. Let us declare Psalm 27:14:

I will wait for and hope for and expect the Lord; I will be brave and of good courage and I will let my heart be stout and enduring. Yes, I will wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!

Image result for free picture of eagle and baby eaglet in nest

 

Waiting, hoping, and expecting – Part 1 of 2

Image result for free picture of coffee shopWaiting confidently. The sharp scent of coffee mingled with the aroma of fresh bread, pastries, soups and sandwiches. Soft voices hummed, and easy listening music floated above the clink of spoons and forks on stoneware mugs and bowls. I stared through the big window at Thursday morning traffic on William Cannon. “Thank You, Father. You know how I love studying in coffee houses. Thank You for Your presence here and for helping me see more in Psalm 27:14. . . “

I looked up and smiled at my friend as she slid into the booth. “I was just digging into Psalm 27. Do you know it says . . . “  Knowing me well, she indulged my excitement with this  latest discovery in the Word then she explained the unexpected long line that had made her ten minutes late.

“No problem!” I said. “I might not have seen this if you had not been delayed.”

And it truly was no problem because I know my friend, I know she does what she says she will and I could wait, confidently, until she arrived, just like I wait for a doctor’s appointment or in line for groceries.  Waiting is, of course, often a challenge. And no wonder! Waiting is an integral part of being patient.

Wait for and hope for and expect. . . confidently. Psalm 27:14 urges us to “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage, and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait and hope for and expect the Lord.” (AMPC)

Image result for free picture of waitingThe message of Psalm 27. Considering all of Psalm 27 teaches why we can and must wait confidently for the Lord. Read the entire 14 verses for yourself. Notice that David first declares he is not afraid because he is trusting in God and would remain confident, no matter what, because he had obeyed God’s command to seek His presence as his vital need. David declares God would keep Him safe in His presence, he asked for continued teaching in God’s ways, and reflects that his life would have been awful if he had not believed in God’s goodness upon this earth. Then in verse 14 David urges his listeners to Wait for and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage. Let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait and hope for and expect the Lord.” Notice that David seems to pause, consider, and then say to himself “Yes” and then he repeats the phrase “wait for and hope for and expect the Lord” with which he began the verse.

Why to “wait for and hope for and expect” the Lord. Six verses between Psalm 25 and 33 address this idea of trusting in the Lord, of waiting for and hoping for and expecting the Lord, this notion of being confident in the Lord, either in those same words or words very similar.

  • Psalm 25:2             O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You. Let me not be put to shame or [my hope in You] be disappointed; let not my enemies triumph over me.
  • Psalm 27:14  Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.
  • Psalm 28:7              The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.
  • Psalm 31:24  Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!
  • Psalm 32:10  Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with loving-kindness.
  • Psalm 33:21 For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name.

Psalm 34:22 shows the benefits of this waiting for and hoping for and expecting God: God redeems our life and we will not be condemned or held guilty.  “The Lord redeems the lives of His servants, and none of those who take refuge and trust in Him shall be condemned or held guilty.”

Image result for free picture of shelter from rainTrusting in God means taking refuge in Him, which is saying “God is my refuge” (Psalm 46:1-3, 91:2) or “God is my portion.” (Lamentations 3:24, Psalm 73:26)” Waiting for God, with confidence, or trusting God—waiting for and hoping for and expecting God–is a choice we make. It is like we choose to walk under a shelter, to have refuge from rain or noontime heat. We choose to take refuge in Him, knowing He will protect us just as a roof under which we take refuge protects us from pelting rain or blistering heat. I am not truly trusting God as my refuge until I say and act like it, not until, for example, I give tithes, alms and offerings even when it seems the paycheck will not last the month.

This waiting for and hoping for and expecting God also includes being earnest.

How to let our inner selves wait earnestly for God.

Psalm 33:20 “Our inner selves wait EARNESTLY the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For in Him does our heart rejoice BECAUSE we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His holy name.”

Image result for free picture of child waiting for christmasIf we wait for and hope for and expect the Lord, if we trust in Him confidently, we will, like a child on Christmas morning, have an earnest expectancy. The night before Christmas a child exemplifies each aspect of earnestness. He has a longing desire, is warmly engaged, eager, zealous, animated, intent, fixed, and sincere (from Webster’s 1828 online dictionary.) As that child is—effortlessly– zealous in his waiting on Christmas, so we can be— effortlessly–zealous in our waiting for God.

Does a child waiting for Christmas say flippantly, “I am waiting for Christmas.” NO! His eyes will sparkle at just the mention of it, he will strive hard to be nice and not naughty, and he will be sure to set out cookies and milk. The certainty of reward makes the waiting exciting but also more bearable.

The same applies as we wait eagerly and earnestly for God. We will know—to the bottom of our being, our “inner selves”—that God is helping and shielding us, and we will be joyful BECAUSE we have trusted (relied on and been confident) in His character, or His nature, His name. We will be as happy as a child anticipating Christmas because we know He will be good to us.

Verse 22 of this chapter says that God’s mercy and lovingkindness will be “upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping for” Him. That is a loving nudge, telling me to wait and hope for Him earnestly, whole-heartedly, every day, just like a child before Christmas or a bridegroom before his wedding.

And did you know that God says He also waits earnestly? We will look into that next week in Part Two.

 

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