Category Archives: TRUSTING GOD

God is good to those who wait – Part Five

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

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

God wants us to diligently search for Him. He cares about our needs and He has made provision concerning our needs in His Word. Remember that God’s truths in Lamentations apply whether the affliction comes because of God’s loving discipline, our own sin, the sin of the people with whom we are connected, or the sin of our nation and our world.

Outline of Part Five:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An attitude of humility and meekness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

God is good to those who wait – Part Four

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

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

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

Outline of Part Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

God is good to those who wait – Part Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image

God is good to those who wait – Part Two

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

Part One:

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

Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Christian, declare with me:

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

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

 

Freedom from frustration and fretting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen! I hear Him say:

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

See the source image

A tool for your fishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rb.gy/ct2wld

 

Look! The Lord my God is near!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Your love for God pleases Him

Image result for free picture of jesus hugging a childDear friend, one morning Holy Spirit woke me up, with clear ideas for this piece of writing. I knew it was for a dear, dear friend, a precious saint at the Joshua 14:12-15 stage of life. A few days later, I felt it was also for another friend. That is when I saw that it was also for you, and for me, for all of us who whole-heartedly love God and are pressing close to Him with all our heart, and soul and mind and strength. We do not have to be perfect for God to feel this way about us. We just have to love Him with all our heart and do the very best we can to obey Him and stay by His side, hour by hour. We have no way to understand how much He loves us!

I wrote this a month ago but find myself needing this comfort today. I pray these words comfort you. Here is what I wrote for my friend.  .  .

See the source imageI believe the Lord is deeply touched by your love for, your dependence upon, and your trust in Him. I believe He sees you as a sweet little girl, walking along a beautiful garden path with Him, holding on to His hand and looking up at Him with adoring eyes.

It pleases Him greatly that you choose to just be with Him, to stay in His company and to walk close by Him, each day, all day long and through the night.

On your way along the garden path, when you grow tired—or sometimes just because He loves you so very much—He picks you up into His strong arms, gives you a sweet kiss on your cheek and holds you in a warm, tender embrace. You tell Him, “Thank You, my Father!” He looks into your eyes and says “I love you, my precious, my beautiful daughter. You are my delight.”

Image result for free picture of sparrow on handThen, He carries you a while, close to His heart, and He sings a sweet and tender melody over you, softly and slowly. As He walks with you in His arms, He points out a busy little gray squirrel here, a yellow butterfly there, a resplendent gathering of flowers over there, and a tiny, perky sparrow chirping on the swaying branch of a little sapling.  He holds out His hand and the sparrow flits to Him, perching on His finger as He lets you stroke the velvety feathers.

He says to you, “My beautiful child, I watch each moment of the life of every creature I have made, and I care for each of them. And, my beautiful daughter, far more—so very much more than you can imagine—I watch each moment of your life and I care for you. I delight in your devotion to Me, your faithfulness in little and big things, My love that you give to others, and the way you walk with Me, in integrity, in your home. It is My delight that you simply want to be with Me.”

As He continues walking, still with you in His arms, He explains how each flower and each tree grows and just where each little creature finds its food and makes its bed at night. He delights at the delight in your eyes and in your shared pleasure. He enjoys the pleasure of your company as you enjoy His.

Image result for free picture of jesus and little girl

 

 

 

“I love those who love Me,
and those who seek Me early and diligently
will find me.”
Proverbs 8:17, AMPC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diligent Bible study–now! Part Three

Image result for free picture of bible studyReview:
Part One  and Two showed we must study the Bible diligently because  God says to;  we need God’s peace to withstand the evil attacking our nation and our world today; and we must be ready to do our part in the world-wide revival that has already begun.

Guidelines in Part One and Two of “Diligent Bible Study–now!” urged us to
A.  Read the Bible through each year.
B.  But do not just read – STUDY.
C. And do not just study—study FOR YOURSELF.
D. And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED.
E. Let Holy Spirit teach you—DIRECTLY!

Today we will look at one guideline — the importance of getting the context when we do Bible study.

Image result for free picture of fishing with cane pole[F] Use a context net to study the Word, not just a cane pole. If you want just one fish, a cane pole might catch a fish. But what if you want all the fish you can get? What if you hunger and thirst for all the fish in an area? In that case, you would use a cast net.

A cast net is a fishing net with weights on the side that help it sink so as to catch whatever creature is in the netted area. You catch few or no fish if you do not know how to cast the net properly because it will not open up and cover the area you are focusing on. Your net will hit the water in a wadded-up, probably fish-less tangle.  Watch any video on using a cast net. A person knowing the basics of cast netting makes the net unfurl just right and cover the area he wants it to cover.

Image result for free picture of using cast netBut suppose you have never seen a cast net properly used. You make toss after toss of your wadded up net, you catch one small fish, and stop. Or, suppose you often catch nothing but you keep casting that net, day after day, because other people say they catch many fish. You grow discouraged and feel something must be wrong with you but you keep trying. And you survive on the occasional fish you catch yourself and the abundance that others share with you from their own fishing.

<<God means for you, too, to be a successful fisher for His truths.
That requires casting a net wide enough
to pull the context of a verse into your thoughts.>>

Are you catching the context? Just reading one verse is like overhearing one single sentence of a ten-minute conversation. To correctly interpret one or two sentences you hear requires hearing the entire conversation, in other words, catching the context.  God wants you to correctly understand His “conversations”, or discussions, in the Bible. So, at bare minimum read verses before and after the one you are studying. Preferably, at least glance over the entire chapter and an outline of the book of the Bible you are studying or a short summary (both of which are often included in the front of each book of the Bible and always in the front of study Bibles).

What is context anyway?  If we think about Webster’s 1828 online dictionary definition, we see that context means the general sense or structure of a discussion, specifically the parts of a discussion coming before or after the sentence quoted,  or “the passages of Scripture which are near the text, either before it or after it.”

Image result for free picture of ancient scrollIf we still read the Bible on scrolls, we would nearly always at least skim the context. Think about it. Back in those times, suppose you were a cruel husband and wanted to justify how you treat your wife. If you heard that Paul’s teaching on marriage was “toward the end of the Ephesians scroll”, you would have to at least skim through many sentences to find the passage. And if you were looking for that specific statement that wives are to submit to their husbands (what we label today as Verse 22 of Chapter 5), you would need to read that entire passage slowly and carefully.  In so doing, you would at least be exposed to the context. And if your heart was right, God would use that entire passage—not just one isolated statement—to guide your conduct.

Do you see how the modern convenience of grouping verses into sections and assigning chapter and verse makes it easier to take God’s Words out of His intended context and misuse them? No, God did not “accidentally” let us put His Word into this format. Using a book format, with section, chapter, and verse designations is helpful but God’s Word—and simple common sense—tell us that studying the Word correctly involves more than plucking a sentence here or there.  Would you approach a college chemistry textbook that way, or a recipe for lasagna, or the instruction manual for assembling playground equipment?

We cannot take one isolated verse here, one there and another fifty pages away and think we have “studied”, for example, what God means by righteousness. If we get the correct context of each of those three verses, and then study them, however, we might have a little bit of a start on understanding righteousness.

Image result for free picture of if thenAnother example. To further illustrate this point, suppose you want to find some verses about safety because you travel often.  You find a list of verses and start with Deuteronomy 28:6: “You will be blessed when you go in and blessed when you go out.” (NIV). It would comfort your soul to rest in that promise but wait. Do you know to whom God is making that promise? This promise and those following apply to those who fulfill the conditions of the first two verses of Chapter 28. Hear verses 1 and 2: IF you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you IF you obey the Lord your God:” (emphasis added)

But suppose you are not really interested in what God thinks about this subject, and you do not take time to reason with Him and see His perspective. No, you only want to get something for yourself., not really study the Bible.   So you do not cast that wide context net and you fail to see what is around that one little blessing you want to grab. Instead, you claim that blessing and go on to the next verse on your list.

What if Holy Spirit is right there, longing to correct you, to convict you of sin, true righteousness and the consequences of disobedience? What if Holy Spirit wants you to remember one instance where you have not fully obeyed Him. What if, for example, you recently stopped tithing because finances are tight and someone you trust said “God will understand”. What if God wants to use this verse to convict you for your good—so that you can correct your behavior and He can bless your finances.

Suppose, that in this same time of Bible study, after claiming Deuteronomy 28:6, you read another verse on the list–Psalm 91:11—where God says He will “command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” but again, you fail to catch the context.

Image result for free picture of child driving carSadly, you do not hear God explain that the astounding promises in Psalm 91 are for those who fulfill the conditions in the first two verses–verse one that requires us to dwell (which means to make our permanent home) in His very presence, and verse two, which requires us to say God is our refuge and our fortress and that we trust in Him. If we have not done that, we sit in a parked car, spinning the wheel and making “Vroom vroom” sounds.

<<Like a child engaging in fantasy,
we deceive ourselves into thinking we are going somewhere
but we never activated the engine.>>

I simply cannot read part of an operator’s manual for a complex machine and expect to operate the machine correctly.

How do you know how wide to cast your context net? One way is to look for connecting words and phrases.  Pay attention to connecting words, such as because, for, therefore, whereas, accordingly, etc. Words like these link statements or ideas together where the second statement or idea depends on the first. Connecting words show you the if/then nature of God’s laws and promises. They show what we must do to have the uncountable blessings He has prepared for us. Just as you cannot correctly understand what you read without understanding the context, you also cannot understand how God’s laws and promises work if you only grasp the end of a chain of thought.  You will not see God carefully, lovingly telling you what obeying and disobeying do and what will be the effect of your actions.

Image result for free picture of using cast netVerses 1 through 6 of Psalm 119 start explaining how to live an upright life, a life pleases God. Verse 7 says I will be able to praise God with an upright heart “when I shall have learned [by sanctified experiences] Your righteous judgements [Your decisions for and against particular lines of thought and conduct’]. (AMPC) We learn when we experience consequences for our actions, when we experience God’s judgements for what we think and do, when we see the results or effects of breaking or keeping His laws. If we search out the Word, seeking to understand how God’s laws work, we will see that our action was the cause that led to the effect, or result, we experienced.

As you become more keenly aware of context, you will start going backward and forwards as a habit, seeking to see where the condition for a promise was stated, and you will find yourself reading bigger and bigger segments of Scripture.  Woohoo! Keep going!

<<God’s Word NEVER fails, although
it APPEARS to fail
when WE FAIL to handle the Word correctly.>>

A pause to reflect. You might be saying, “This is getting complicated, and it will take a lot of time!” As for the former, with persistence these things will become as automatic as driving a car. As for the latter, yes, following these suggestions you are reading about requires time and steady, focused effort.

Image result for free picture of pilgrim on pathDear fellow pilgrim, please hear me. I dare not presume to explain exactly how God works, but I can, with trembling and reverence, put forth some Bible truths. (1) God rewards obedience and He loves those who approach Him with sincere, pure motives. So, I believe He rewards any sincere effort at Bible reading and Bible study.  (2) However, God also says—many times in His Word—that we get what we deserve. “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10, NIV). God does just give us many, many things, but He does require us to labor for some things. Would it be fair if I rarely even read my Bible yet received the same deep understanding as someone who reads the Bible daily and studies diligently several times a week?

<<Little effort studying the Word, yields little reward.
Great effort produces great reward. >>

God will teach you how to study better.  And let’s demolish another sinister lie from the enemy that so often provides excuses for not studying the Word. God WILL teach you His Word, if you make the effort, no matter your situation or circumstance. Would God be fair if He withheld the riches of His Word from those of lesser means or education? No! He longs to open the storehouse of His Word to you—if you ask Him to! It does not matter if you “never were a good student” and/or have no formal training in Bible study. If you whole-heartedly ask God to help you, He will—somehow, some way—teach you how He wants you to study better.

God will give you the gift of wanting to do Bible study. Enjoying the act of studying is a great blessing. But whether it comes naturally or not, God will give you great pleasure in studying His Word. He did it for me and millions more. Proverbs 2:11 says “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul (NIV). When we look at the verses before this one–when we unroll the scroll, when we cast that context net–Holy Spirit teaches us that this enjoyment of the Word is but one blessing that comes when we do what He lovingly urges us to do in Verses 1 through 4.

All these guidelines for Bible study require no formal training or costly resources, just a sincere heart, sincere effort, and faith—like a little child–that God WILL teach YOU, directly, through His Word. He wants you to catch lots of truth when you go fishing with Him!

Image result for free picture of using cast net

 

 

Diligent Bible study–now! Part Two

Image result for free picture of bible studyPart One  of this series showed we must study the Bible diligently because  God says to;  we need God’s peace to withstand the evil attacking our nation and our world today; and we must be ready to do our part in the world-wide revival that has already begun.
We saw that it is important to:
A. Do read the Bible through each year.
B.  But do not just read – STUDY.

Part Two: Today, we will look at the following guidelines:
C. And do not just study—study FOR YOURSELF.
D. And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED.
E. Let Holy Spirit teach you—DIRECTLY!

[Guideline C] And do not just study–Study for yourself! It is vital that you study for yourself, not just what other people have labored to unearth. I read many, many excellent books by sound Bible teachers about handling emotions, and I took part in Bible studies, but God did not heal me until I dug deeply into the Word for myself. Be warned especially if the study materials you rely on are strings of single verses, lacking the context of those verses and failing to show how those verses fit into God’s laws—His causes and effects, His conditional promises. If you are in a Bible study group or working through a Bible teaching book – good and very good! But you also need—as much as you need oxygen—to study for yourself!

Image result for free picture of DO NOT LIKE STUDYINGBut what if you just do not like studying, what if you do not have training in how to study the Bible, what if you cannot afford or do not know how to use computer programs or cell phone apps that provide commentary and exposition of Greek and Hebrew words? What if you are decades away from the classroom?

SO WHAT!!!! Are you going to believe that God can do anything (Job 42:2) or not? Are you going to let the devil or fear or laziness rob you of constant peace and of the strength to overcome temptation? Will you let self-doubt rob you of the wise counsel of the LORD, of knowing the deep, inner meaning of His covenant, as He promises in Psalm 25:14? Will you let Satan steal the healing God has for you? Will you refuse God’s call to prepare yourself to share the Bread of Life with starving souls He wants you to nurture? Certainly not!

<<The key point here is— I must do my own
digging–just me, my Bible and Holy Spirit.
Further, I must dig for what I, as an individual, need. >>

[D]  And do not just study for yourself—study IN YOUR AREAS OF NEED. You will never find wheat in the apple orchard. If you need potatoes, you do not go to the cornfield! If I wander around through acres and acres and acres of rich farming country, I will  perhaps find the specific fruit or vegetable, nut or berry that I need, but it will take a looong time! And I will likely give up and just eat what is convenient, although I really need something else.

Image result for free picture of tailor taking measurementsWe all must understand the basics of our faith and then keep learning—all of the Bible. It is wonderful to follow a planned curriculum that will cover the entire Bible but it could take years before that curriculum followed by your church focuses on conquering fear, anger, depression, lust, or whatever you most need. Even then, that curriculum will not be personalized for you, as Holy Spirit will personalize it. Nor will books specifically devoted to those subjects be personalized for you. Some books are good starting places but they are just that – a point from which to start your own study with God as your teacher.

So, how do you study strategically, in your area of personal need? Here are four steps.
[1]        Identify what you need God’s help with.
[2]        Use a concordance to find verses about that subject.
[3]        Study those verses.
[4]        Meditate on those verses constantly.

[Study for yourself-Step 1]  Identify what you need God’s help with. You likely already know what your greatest struggle is. If not, ask God to show you. How will He do that? If I lose my temper in traffic and an obscenity pops out of my mouth. Hmmm. I need to study self-control. What if I see a romance novel, but I see the cover indicates the book is really pornography. Hmmm. God says to study temptation and purity.

[Study for yourself-Step 2]  Use a concordance. Most Bibles have at least a small concordance in the back. You can start there or use another concordance. I suggest saving for later the exhaustive concordances—which list every time a word appears in the Bible. Smaller, compact concordances and those in the backs of Bibles list just the most important occurrences in the most common verses.

Do not get bogged down trying to decide which concordance to use—just start! Holy Spirit is right there with you and He will guide you.  If you are humbly seeking God, God will “guide you in what is right and teach you His way.” (Psalm 25:9) Yes, YOU!

Image result for free picture of marked up bible[Study for yourself-Step 3] Study those verses! Later sections will cover more about studying but, briefly, at a bare minimum, please, read the verses before and after and preferably the entire chapter. Read the verses slowly, phrase by phrase, thinking about what the words mean. Rewrite the verse by hand, adding underlines and arrows, using all capitals or circling the words and phrases as Holy Spirit emphasizes—for you—what He meant when He moved on people to write His words.

<<Sit there a while. Just look at the verse. Think about it.
Give yourself time to hear what God wants to tell you.>>

 Consider this: does a good classroom teacher rattle off rapid-fire explanations of complicated concepts? Does she yell her most important points at students zipping up backpacks, eager to go on to the next thing? No! She waits for the full attention of the class and then speaks slowly and clearly. And she is entirely willing to answer questions.

 So, take your time. Rewrite the verse in your own words. Look up other verses in your list and see if they help you understand better. If you vaguely remember a verse that seems relevant but cannot recall where it is in the Bible, skim the rest of your list for that verse, but if you cannot find it, return to the verse you are studying. God will arrange for you to find that verse later. Yes, He will! Just try Him and see.

Image result for free picture of cow chewing cud[Study for yourself-Step 4]  Meditate on those verses constantly. To meditate is to roll something over and over in your mind so as to understand it. A cow chews cud to render the food digestible. We are commanded to meditate constantly and promised tremendous blessings if we obey. It is NOT an option! We must meditate, taking time to think deeply, while we are studying, and we must also keep thinking about God’s Word all day.  Because this is vital, detailed suggestions are provided in Guideline G on how to make that a habit, but for now, let’s look at another key to diligent Bible study—letting Holy Spirit Himself teach you.

[Guideline E] Let Holy Spirit teach you – directly! In looking up verses about Holy Spirit as teacher, I found an excellent writing by R. A. Torrey, world-renowned pastor, evangelist, educator and writer. Pastor Torrey referenced I John 2:27:

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

Amen, Pastor Torrey! Amen! Pastor Torrey eloquently states that the humblest believer has the privilege of being taught by God directly. And, although we do learn from others who have been taught by Holy Spirit, we “never truly know the truth” until we are taught directly by Holy Spirit. Further, he says that those who are taught by Holy Spirit will have better understanding of the Word than those who know Greek and Hebrew thoroughly and have studied diligently but without being taught by Holy Spirit. (See https://freeurlshortener.net/BDx).

Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:13 that God’s Holy Spirit reveals the deep things of God to us “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught word” (NIV).

I cannot urge you strongly enough:

<<Let Holy Spirit–Himself!–teach you directly,
in your areas of need,
as you sit alone with just Him and His Word.>>

In March 2019, depression and fear made me desperate enough to finally take advice I had heard repeatedly from Bible teacher Joyce Meyer: to study the Bible, for myself, in my personal areas of need. Having made growing with God my priority for 38 years and loving Bible study, I thought I was doing okay, hearing sermons each week, reading the Bible, doing Bible studies and reading Christian books. No! No! No! I was trying to hear God second-hand.

I cannot explain why anointed, root deep understanding that changes hearts, was withheld until I came to God as my Teacher directly—rather than second-hand. But I unintentionally proved that to myself through personal experience. Perhaps it is like trying to experience a hug using someone else as a go-between, or your beloved pouring out his heart to a mutual friend who then writes a love letter to you.

Would the words that mutual friend chose hit the mark as well as those of your beloved? And would the actual presence of that mutual friend be as satisfying as that of your beloved? Could you discuss a problem as well with that mutual friend as you could with your beloved, who knows all your past, who knows how you feel, who knows how you think, and who knows just what to say and when and how to say it? Could you trust that mutual friend as deeply as you trust your beloved?

<<Would you want to hear whispered words of love
through a mutual friend, or from your beloved?>>

Image result for free picture of COUPLE EMBRACINGWould it not be better—and the desire of the Lover of your soul—that the actual sound of His very own words fall on your ears? What if, dear friend, what if that mutual friend and your beloved were both in the room with you. Would you not wound your beloved deeply if you turned away from His outstretched arms and embraced the mutual friend instead?

From the moment I turned my heart to the Lover of my soul directly, from that first morning when I prayed, then sat at my desk, one Bible opened to the concordance in the back, looking up verses on peace in my copy of the Amplified Classic Bible, and taking notes on a clean stack of paper, Holy Spirit–Himself!–began teaching me what the Word meant for me. And He started with what I needed most which was how to find and stay in His peace that He describes in Isaiah 26:3-4.

No, I did not hear an audible voice but I read those verses, over and over, copied them in long-hand, and I kept looking at them, asking God “Lord, I believe You will teach me. Please show me how Your Word can heal this depression and fear. I believe Your Word is true. Help me see how to have this constant peace You promise . . . “

As I studied, I also paused often to look out the window and pray in the Spirit, which means to pray in tongues. I do not understand it-and do not have to!—but many times as I pray in tongues, God puts fresh, just-what-I-need thoughts in my mind. This will be the subject of a future writing, soon

Image result for free picture of HOLY SPIRITAnd He did teach, on that morning and countless times since. God revealed, directly, yes, to little insignificant me, the deep truths of those verses. Using just the plain Word and His Spirit—–no commentaries, no fancy Bible app, no human Bible teacher–He gave understandings that I had never heard taught before, understandings that gave the first measure of true peace I had experienced in years, peace that has settled a velvety blanket over my soul every single day since.

<<Holy Spirit longs for you to ask Him
to teach you – personally>>

Next week — The next segment of this writing starts with Recommendation D – Cast a big net.