Category Archives: HOPE

God is good to those who wait – Part Four

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

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

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

Outline of Part Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

God is good to those who wait – Part Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image

God is good to those who wait – Part Two

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

Part One:

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

Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Christian, declare with me:

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

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

 

God is good to those who wait – Part One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outline of Part One:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Our light and momentary troubles

Dear friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for royalty free picture of surrounding mountains

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

Blessings and grace to you!

Under His feathers – ALWAYS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ponder these two verses as well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beloved, I say, with new hope:

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image

 

Diligent Meditation – Part Two

Last week we considered points 1 through 3 below. Today, we cover point 4 – why do we meditate?

  1. Meditating on the move.
  2. So, what is meditation?
  3. Meditation can heal your heart and your life
  4. Why do we meditate?
  5. HOW? Start with what you need
  6. HOW? Practice and persist in your practice.
  7. HOW? Diligent study first.
  8. HOW? Then diligent meditation – ???
  9. How does God’s Word renew your mind?
  10. Why memorize
  11. The power of God’s laws

Image result for Free Clip Art of Why. Size: 60 x 110. Source: www.clipartpanda.com[4]       Why do we meditate?  First, God tells us to. That is enough for me!

The second reason is that God promises blessings if we meditate on His Word. Joshua 1:8 gives a succinct summary:

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.  (AMPC) (emphasis added)

So God is saying that talking and thinking about His Word all the time will lead us to obey His laws and then—because we obey His laws–that will make us prosperous, be wise and successful. This same promise is repeated in Psalm 1. Part of the godly life described in Psalm 1:1 is to “desire His law and find delight in it and to “habitually meditate (ponder and study) by day and by night on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God.) (paraphrased)”

Image result for free picture of tree by waterIf we live that godly life in verse Psalm 1:1 and meditate by day and by night—constantly:

  • We will have a constant supply (“like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water”),
  • we will do the right thing at the right time (“ready to bring forth its fruit in its season”);
  • Our “leaf also shall not fade or wither” and
  • we will be successful in all we do (“everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].” (Psalm 1:2, AMPC)

One more benefit of meditation is wisdom. Slowly read Proverbs 1 through 8. See how important wisdom is for the believer! Pondering verses 8:34-36 tells me that seeking and finding wisdom daily leads to life and God’s favor. To miss wisdom, is to hurt ourselves and “court death.”

<<How God feels about meditation.>> For more proof of how strongly God feels about meditation, consider the entire sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. In the opening chapters of Deuteronomy, after they had wandered in the desert forty years because of doubt, unbelief and rebellion against God, the children of Israel were finally about to enter the Promised Land.  At that point, in Chapters 1:6 through 5:34, Moses reviewed the history of God’s goodness to them in spite of their doubt and rebellion and he “expounded the law”.

Image result for free picture of mosesIn his second address, Moses urged the people to follow the decrees and laws of God, repeated the Ten Commandments, again urged the people to obey God so that they and their children could prosper, and then he tells them that for God’s blessings to continue, each must “. . . love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV). Then the very next thing in verse 6 through 9, Moses explains how to do thatby meditating – all day long.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. “(Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NIV).

 <<Meditating is part of loving God.>> The fact that God’s command to meditate comes immediately after His command to love Him with all our heart means to me that keeping His Word constantly in my mind is part of how to love Him with all my heart and soul and strength. Let’s look at God’s commands in these verses in more detail.

“These commands . . . are to be on your hearts.” If something is on my heart, it colors everything I do. When my loved one is sick, he is on my heart, in the forefront of my thoughts, all day long. I am preoccupied with his well-being. I cannot get him off my mind. That is how we are to be about God’s laws. If I have been trained in the laws of good manners, those laws are on my heart, and I will say please and thank you in every situation, all day, every day. It will be natural for me to do so.

Impress them on your children.” Israel was instructed to impress God’s laws on their children. That means to imprint or fix God’s laws in their minds. How to do that? By talking about God’s laws ALL DAY LONG, which means at home and away from home, from getting up to going to bed. Then God says put reminders of His laws on your hands (so that as you reach out to do anything, you will think how God’s law applies to what you are about to do) and on your forehead, symbolizing that your every thought is to be controlled by God’s law.  Furthermore, God said write them on your doors and gates so that you see them when you enter your house and when you come and go from home. That will also be a reminder and witness to your children and others.

Image result for free picture of parents and children talkingChapter Six concludes by telling parents that when their children ask what the laws of God mean, they are to explain how God delivered them from slavery “with a mighty hand” to bring them to the promised land, how He commanded them to obey all His laws and to fear Him so they would “. . . always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.” (V 24)  Parents were to tell their children that “If we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” That way, when the children hear their parents talk about God’s law and when they see the visible reminders, they will also remember that God promises blessings for obeying. God was working to ensure that each succeeding generation would give Him and His Word first place in their hearts.  He put that there for you and me, too.

For the rest of this blog post. . . The rest of this vital topic is posted on the Books and  More page of this website. Please do not feel obligated to pay. This is a long and detailed piece of writing and the rest of it seems to fit best in that format.  Blessings and heart peace to you!

Freda

Diligent Meditation – Part 1

Image result for free clip art of quill penHello – This long piece of writing began as a blog post but grew and grew. Trying something new, I will post the first two sections as blog posts then put the remainder on the Books and More page as a booklet.  Why so many words about this topic? God says it is important! And it totally changed my life. Here is an outline.

  1. Meditating on the move.
  2. So, what is meditation?
  3. Meditation can heal your heart and your life
  4. Why do we meditate?
  5. HOW? Start with what you need
  6. HOW? Practice and persist in your practice.
  7. HOW? Diligent study first.
  8. HOW? Then diligent meditation – ???
  9. How does God’s Word renew your mind?
  10. Why memorize
  11. The power of God’s laws

Meditating on the move. “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So, it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. Lamentations 3:25 and 26. (NLT)”

I looked once more at the half sheet of paper, folded it in half once more so it fit into my purse, then walked out the door, repeating “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So, it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25 and 26. The Lord is good. . .”   As I walked down the stairs, my frayed blue and white paisley gym bag, the one my daughter Sharon had used in high school, banged against my knee.

 “Hmm..” I half moaned as stiff hips complained. “Lord, thank You that I live on the second floor. That gives more exercise for the hips and low back. Help me, Lord, not complain!”

Image result for free picture of flock of sparrowsA slight breeze moved cool morning air over my face as three chestnut brown sparrows flushed into the dense bushes bordering the sidewalk, chirping in chorus as they flitted from sight. I put my gym bag in the back seat, my purse in the front, pulled out my verses and read them again, slowly, before backing the car up.

 “It is making a difference, Lord, it really is. Your Word pops into my mind so often now when the enemy shoots thought arrows of fear and discouragement.”

 “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. . . uh. . . “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. . . uh. . . mmm.”  Up and down the little hills on First Street I struggled to remember the next phrase. Finally, at the stop light, I glanced at my paper. “to those who search for Him. So, it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25 and 26.”

 “Ah! Yes, that was it! ‘The Lord is good. . . ‘” During the five-minute sprint on the interstate, where there were no stoplights, I managed to repeat the whole passage in my mind. During the next hour of stretches, weights and recumbent bicycling, I repeated that passage and talked silently with the Lord about it.

Well, Lord, that says to me that You want me to depend on You and wait for You, with patience, and to keep searching for You. So, how do I depend on You today, right now? If I am depending on You, then I will not worry about . . . “

 That scene happened more than two years ago, on a morning in April 2019. That was the year God dramatically healed my life-long struggle with depression and anxiety. What brought about the healing, when nothing else had worked?

Taking God’s Word like the medicine He says it is healed depression and fear and renewed my mind. (Romans 12:2, Proverbs 4:20-22.)  Since I began diligently meditating God has kept me in His peace, even in these troubling times. Yes, I’ve stumbled a few times but God always gets me back in peace as I get my mind back on Him. If meditating is a daily habit, I rejoice with you! However, many are like I was, far from God’s mark regarding meditation.

Image result for free picture of arrow missing targetSo far from the mark. That morning back in April 2019 God began unveiling this invincible weapon that Satan had hidden for most of my life as a believer. I was ignorant of what God means by meditation and taking his Word like the medicine it is until I was actually doing it.

Some reasons we fail to follow God’s clear commands about meditation are:

  • Meditation does not come naturally. Forming new habits requires discipline and self-control. We may not even know how important it is. How often do you hear about meditation?
  • Our enemy knows how dangerous and powerful the Word in the mouth of a believer is and he sets roadblocks using lies, distractions, and our flesh. How often I said, “I just do not have time” or “I just cannot remember” or “I tried but it will not work for me.”
  • Pride blinds the eyes of the heart. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns us, “So, if you think you are standing, be careful that you don’t fall!” (NIV)
  • Image result for free picture of grand pianoComparisons also blind us to the truth. It is tempting to think we are doing fine because we are “doing more” in some areas of spiritual life than someone else. We are unwise if we compare ourselves with others and use ourselves as the standard of measurement (2 Corinthians 10:12b, NLT). A piano tuner uses a tuning fork, not another piano.
  • I had to confess a very ugly, very bad attitude. I remember thinking that constantly thinking about God’s Word was for people who are “far out” there with God. Wow was I in danger! Fortunately, God convicted me, I confessed and turned away from that attitude, and by His grace, I do the same thing that I, to my great regret, spurned for so long.

 [2] So what is meditation?  To meditate is “to dwell on anything in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.” (www.webstersdictionary1828.com). Synonyms include to ponder, muse, brood, concentrate, be lost in thought, think deeply and carefully upon–and my favorite—to chew the cud! Cows chew their cud up to eight hours a day, chewing each mouthful 40 to 60 times so the grass will be digested properly and absorbed by the body. The cow eats the grass and then, later chews it. We read the Word, and then, later, we think about it until it is digested.

Image result for free clip art of cow chewing cud<<Meditation on the Word changes us from the inside out.>> To meditate means to ponder and think about a verse or passage so long that it becomes part of you. Grass, properly chewed, becomes part of a cow. The Word, properly meditated upon or thoroughly chewed and swallowed, becomes part of who we are. The Word changes our innermost being. It renews our mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Meditation is NOT yoga. When we meditate, we do not repeat a mantra. We are thinking about and talking with the God Who made heaven and earth, the Most High, and His Word to us. We are purposefully thinking, not trying to turn off our thoughts. We are pondering on, contemplating, thinking about God’s law – His instructions to us on how to live.

[3] Meditation can heal your heart and your life. The power of God’s Word will “fix” your heart whether your problem is addiction, anger, self-control, loneliness, depression, or fear. Then, as your heart changes, your life will change. Hebrews 4:12 says God’s Word is alive and full of power, and that it “judges the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (NIV) That phrase means to me that God’s Word in my mind enables me to discern, or to judge, whether thoughts and feelings in my heart are good or bad, true or false, beneficial or detrimental, holy or corrupted, whether they are from God or from the devil, and whether they lead toward life or lead toward death.

<<The light of truth chases the darkness of lies away, just as dawn chases the darkness of night away (Proverbs 4:18).>> While deeply depressed and cowered down by fear, most of my thoughts were negative. The enemy and my own downtrodden heart generated thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and discouragement, day after day. Only when I began studying the Word for myself in my areas of need and then consciously kept those verses in my mind minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, did healing begin.

Image result for free picture of dawn<<As God’s truth increases in your heart, lies and darkness decrease.>> When we meditate on God’s truths, truth begins occupying more space in our thoughts than lies, and truth becomes dominant, or foremost.  You eventually make salt water drinkable if you add enough pure water. Really, it is more like a desalinization plant because the salt, or lie, is actually removed, not just diluted!

I believe that is one reason God tells us, many times, to think about His Word all day long. As we keep His Word in our mind, hour by hour, day by day, we begin to think about life and situations like God thinks about because we have more of Truth about life and those situations in our hearts. We start to walk in truth, to live in truth, to think like God and to act in more godly ways.

As we keep diligently studying the Word, treasuring up truths in the storehouse of our mind, we grow spiritually, we step into Satan’s snares less often, and strongholds constructed of his lies crumble.

To be continued. . .

When the enemy has wearied us

Image result for free picture of a winding pathJust keep going. Dear friend, I want to encourage you to just keep going forward with God, just keep waiting in active faith and expectation, no matter what your current circumstance. Yes, life is hard at any time but especially in these turbulent days when evil is being called good and good is being called evil (Isaiah 5:20-21), these times when Satan is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy us in many ways, including just plain “wearying us out.” (Daniel 7:25). He is vicious in the world, and he is vicious in our individual lives. Although you may face giant-size problems, like David, you can run to the battle, confident in your God, and see the giants in your life fall.

A word of caution about this blog post.  Today, a fellow believer requested prayer because—having been ill all week—she was feeling weak, tired, fragile, anxious and teary. I have so often felt the same way. As I prayed, I felt led to write down some Scriptures for her and also to write what I believed God might want to say to her.  What I wrote follows. I pray it comforts and strengthens you as you continue to “Fight the good fight of faith” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Image result for Free Picture Of Checklist. Size: 139 x 204. Source: pixabay.comPlease hear me: I wrote this for someone whom I know is pursuing God with all her heart and obeying everything God shows her to do. If that is you, then I believe God might say the words below to you.

However, if that does not describe your relationship with Almighty God, I know He would still be loving and tender and compassionate with you, because that is part of His unchanging nature (as He clearly tells us in Psalm 103 and countless other Bible passages.)  But if you are not seeking Him with your whole heart and obeying Him in everything you know to do, I know He would also have words of loving correction (Hebrews 12) because He loves you. “A father disciplines the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

So, I urge you to carefully and prayerfully examine yourself, as Paul admonishes us to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5 before you read the words below and take them as applying to you.

Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? (2 Corinthians 13:5, AMPC)

He will guide your steps. If you are sincere and approach Him with reverence and awe and a heart sincerely seeking Him–as is our only reasonable way to approach God–He will guide your steps (Proverbs 3, especially verses 1-8.) If you need correction, He will supply it. Regardless! Call on Him and He WILL answer, as Psalm 145 tells us.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry for help and save them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love Him, But He will destroy all the wicked. (Psalm 145:18, NASB)

What I believe God might say when the enemy has sought to “weary us out”. So dear friend and fellow pilgrim, the following is what I believe God might be saying to those who pursue Him whole-heartedly and have become weary.

See the source image“Come, come to Me, My little child. Feel My strong arms of love around you. Let Me comfort your heart and calm your worried soul.

Do not think MY child, that because you are suffering that I am displeased with you or that I have abandoned you in any way. I will never, no never, no never forsake-not for a moment—those who fear and revere and obey Me as you do.

Yes, My precious little one, My sweet child, you are in a mighty trial but know—keep in your conscious mind—that I AM in it with you and when it is done, you will shine forth as gold, stronger, and better equipped for the battle and able to stay closer to Me than ever.

Tell Me, little one, is this—this greater closeness, this greater equipping—is this not that for which you have beseeched Me? I give good gifts to those who seek Me out of a pure heart and true devotion.

This present circumstance that has brought you so low in heart is for your good. Though you cannot see this fact with the eye of flesh, believe that I AM with you and that I AM even now delivering you, for I deliver the righteous from all their troubles, though their troubles in his world be many.

Image result for free picture of the heartI AM with you. Behold, My darling child, listen to Me and be strengthened in your inner man—that secret place where we dwell together—behold

  • as I was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
  • as I was with Joseph in all his trials and with Moses at the Red Sea and all through the wilderness,
  • as I was with David, Daniel, the three Hebrew boys, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all my faithful prophet,
  • as I was with My only begotten Son and the Twelve,
  • as I was with Peter, James, John and Paul as they established My church – even so, My child, I AM and I WILL BE with you.
  • I AM and I WILL BE your Healer, Provider, Protector, Comforter, Savior, Deliverer, and your best friend.

These present trials. These present trials have not touched the spirit within you. Though you cannot see it, simply in standing fast and waiting with hope, you are moving forward. I AM with you and I delight in your trust. I rejoice over you with singing.

This will not harm you. It will turn out for your good. Wait, I say, wait on ME! Expect, look and long for Me for I AM delivering you.

I AM delivering you. I AM helping you, training you, in loving discipline, “as a father disciplines the son he loves.” I am training you SO THAT you can better perceive your weaknesses and, because of that, learn to lean more on Me and not your own strength, or that of any other.

Image result for free picture of pruningYou have done well My child, and I am training you so that you can learn—even better–the habit of exercising, of using, your faith. I AM pruning away branches that bear no fruit and the branches that do bear fruit, I am pruning in order that you may be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-17) I call you friend, My child, because you do what I command. I “chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. “

Your own heart determines what you feel. Yet, even though you are safe in My arms and carried close to My very heart, it is your own heart that determines what you feel. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Though it cost everything you have, learn—in the midst of trial–to fix your mind on me and my truth and wait with confident expectation, because:

  • I AM your deliverer, I AM your Healer, I AM delivering you NOW, I AM healing you NOW.
  • I have seen your faith and I AM rewarding your faith because you have believed that I exist and that I reward those who diligently seek Me. (Hebrews 11:6)
  • As the man who believed yet asked for help to believe, so you have prayed and I AM answering.

The way IS narrow. Your way, My beloved child, is indeed narrow but in this narrow path–precisely because the narrowness forces you to look to ME—I am giving you greater ability to make progress upon the dangerous heights of testing and trouble (Psalm 18:33).  I AM, even now, giving you hinds feet, in order that, having ascended your mountain, your feet may be beautiful as you and I descend the other side, bringing good tidings to others. (Isaiah 52:7)

Image result for free picture of eagle soaring over mountainsI am training you how to renew Your strength in me as the eagle’s strength is renewed, in order that you may be able to mount up with wings like the eagle and soar on high, and with your eyes as an eagle, detect your food from afar (Job 39:27-30). You will soar on high, and from those heights, be enabled to search for and find food for your soul—fresh, living food, food that has the blood of life, the breath of life in it.

As eaglets in the nest feed for a time upon the flesh its parents bring, and are nourished by it–though that flesh be unclean, lacking as it does the living blood of life– so you have been nourished. But even as the eagle stirs up its nest and leads its young to soar, so I am stirring you up. Why? Because I love you, and I have called you to feed on that Living Water that bubbles up from within and that precious Bread of Life I have given for you. (John 6)

Image result for Free Picture of Two Doves. Size: 127 x 100. Source: clipart-library.comCome to Me! So come, come, My precious child! Come to Me. I AM your delight! I AM your reward!  I AM all you need!

 “My beloved speaks and says to me. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing [of birds] has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-13, AMPC)

Verses for meditation. Below are just a couple of verses for when you feel weak, fatigued, fragile, and teary. Emphasis has been added using all capitals or underlines.

Strength for weakness

Isaiah 41:10   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.

Isaiah 40:31  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.

Refreshing for fatigue

Matthew 11:28-29   28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I WILL cause you to rest. [I WILL ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you WILL find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

Compassion as a father for our fragility

All of Psalm 103, especially 8-14

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.

He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.

10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].

14 For He knows our frame, He [EARNSTLY] remembers and IMPRINTS [ON HIS HEART] that we are dust.

He sees and feels each tear

 All of Psalm 56, especially verse 8 – You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle—are they not in Your book?

Hope and expectation

He will give hope and expectation as we recall His mercies in the past and choose to hope in and wait for Him, even though we feel like verse 17.  Lamentations 3:17-26

My prayer for you is that –

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 NASB 1995)”

 

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