God’s Faithfulness


Lamentations (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  “Great is His faithfulness.”

“I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken.”(2:11) Jeremiah cried in anguish over the ruins of Jerusalem in Lamentations, appropriately named.  A lamentation is a song or poem expressing grief or sorrow, and the book of Lamentations is just that, a funeral dirge for the loss of lives, the devastation of war and God’s rejection of rebellious Israel.  God removed His hand of protection from Israel, and the enemy came to destroy it.  Jeremiah was at a funeral, but before we put on our black garb and pass the tissues, we need to continue reading.

After experiencing the devastation of September 11, we have an idea of Jeremiah’s pain and emotions as he looked over the smoldering city.  One of his greatest sorrows was remembering what was – the beautiful palaces and city gates, the children laughing and playing.  And he remembered the temple, the place of holy festivals and Sabbath days, His altar and sanctuary (2:6).

With the many, many churches in each of our cities today, we may not understand the importance and focal point of the Temple in early cultures. Traveling through Europe today and viewing the landscape of old cities, I have noticed that the dominant structure in each one is the church in the heart of the town.  Jeremiah grieved over his broken temple, the focal point of his city, his life.

I understand this heartache when I think of my nation that is broken in so many ways, remembering what was – a nation founded on Biblical principles where God’s blessing and hand of protection were valued and sought after.  Sadly, we have taken God’s role in our nation’s beginning out of our textbooks, our schools and our hearts.  And with Jeremiah, I shout, “Cry aloud before the Lord…let your tears flow like a river day and night.  Give yourselves no rest…rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to Him in prayer, pleading for your children.”(2:18-19)  This can be our only response, turning our hearts back to our God in prayer, not only for us but for our children as well.

The hope of Jeremiah’s Lamentations and of ours is this, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning…For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever…because of the greatness of His unfailing love.” (3:21-23,31-32)  The restoration of Israel has been slow, but Jeremiah’s tears and prayers have reached down through the centuries, along with the prayers of countless others, and Israel is once again a strong nation.  No one can deny that His hand of protection has been on Israel. Great is His faithfulness.

I am challenged today to pray harder than ever before for the restoration of my nation with the understanding that we do not have centuries for it to happen.  If we pray, if we repent, He will respond to our prayers because of His unfailing love – He just can’t help Himself. 

Moving Forward: I am encouraged today by God’s unfailing love and His new mercies for my nation and for me.  With hope I believe and sing, “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God, my Father.  There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not. As thou hast been, thou forever will be.” 

Tomorrow @ Luke 9-10

Psalms 60-62 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He hears our silent confidence as we wait for His help

There are several ways to say something without speaking.  A picture is worth a thousand words. A smile speaks volume.  Body language says it all.  The silent treatment can be deafening.  I knew a little girl who, in response to her mother’s look of disapproval, would cry, “You’re yelling at me,” yet not a word had been spoken.  And yes, as the old saying goes, silence can also be golden. 

@ Psalm 62
“Truly my soul silently waits for God…” (1, NKJV)  God hears our silent confidence with a volume that reverberates throughout heaven.  It says, “My hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.” (5-7)  He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (8) because it shows Him that we consider Him our refuge, our salvation, but even louder than our supplication, is our silent confidence that He is our hope.  It says the trial is over before there is evidence of it.  It says the victory is at hand regardless of the circumstance.

If a child still cries when in a parent’s arms, it’s saying its needs have not been met.  If I’m resting in the arms of the Lord, but I still make much noise, I’m saying my needs have not been met, and perhaps I lack the confidence that they will be met. Yes, we are to “come boldly before the throne of God and make our petitions known,” and ask until we receive.  Absolutely!  However, there is a point in our asking, when the resolve comes to our souls, and we wait in confidence regarding our need.

The silent trust deep within our hearts becomes even louder than our words and says, “I will not be shaken.”  We should not fear that in our silence our needs will be forgotten.  He is the One holding us – how could He forget?  And He faithfully places our needs on the hearts and minds of others when they pray.

David’s psalms touch our hearts because they are expressions straight from his heart.  We see him as very human, walking through the struggles we face.  The giants we slay may not be tangible giants like Goliath, but they are giants nonetheless.  We have known betrayal from those we have trusted, and we understand struggles with temptation.

David set a pattern for us in most of his psalms:  He states the obvious – the problem or the enemy he is facing – but then he turns his attention to the One he knows will help him. David came through unbelievable trials in his life by his hope and confident trust in God.  “Let all that I am wait quietly before God…” (5). All, not just the part that God sees, not just what others see and not just in the mind, but also with our mouths. Sometimes we just need to let our silence do the talking. Shh

Moving Forward:  I will definitely turn up the volume today on my silence.  May my silent confidence be deafening throughout heaven to where the angels must cover their ears.

Tomorrow @ Job 41-42 (The Finale!)

Jeremiah 32-36 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He will not easily let go of us and rewards our commitment to stay

Because I went to a small college and knew my fellow students reasonably well, the first day of each school term was somewhat revealing as to how challenging our classes would be.  After we filed into each of our classes, we would look around the room for the curve wreckers – those students that we knew would ace the tests and raise the grading curve for all the other students.  In our reading, Jeremiah, too, was looking in his day for those who would set the standard high and follow after God. 

@ Jeremiah 33
While Babylon was laying siege to the city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah received these words of promise from the Lord, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come…You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead…Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace…I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.  He will do what is just and right throughout the land…I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant…Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” (3-26)

This message to Jeremiah reveals the heart of our Lord.  He desires that we ask Him when we need direction for our lives.  In our asking, we are humbly saying that we cannot figure this out on our own and that we are dependent on Him for His help, and He responds to our submission to Him. “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” (Matthew 7:7)

The “righteous descendant from King David’s line” is yet another Old Testament prophetic promise about Jesus.  Although Israel would face dark times, God had not given up on His special treasure, and He had a plan to redeem them.  Even still, the Israelites rejected the first coming of Jesus, but these scriptures foretell of His second coming where His throne will be forever established in Jerusalem.

Israel’s existence today is proof that He has not given up on His chosen ones. As adoptees into this family, it is our assurance as well that He will not give up on us.  He will send Jeremiahs into our lives to call us back to Him if we stray, and as with Israel, He will not let us slip away without great effort to keep us.  Oh, how He loves us! 

@ Jeremiah 35
Oh, those Recabites! They were the curve wreckers of their day.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)  For over 200 years, this Nomadic group had followed their ancestor’s special vow of dedication to God to not drink wine, to not buy land and to not plant crops.  Because Israel had trouble keeping a commitment to God for two minutes, much less 200 years, God brought the Recabites before the Israelites as an example of steadfast devotion to Him.  “Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me…Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.” (13,19)  As with the Recabites, I pray that my commitment to the Lord will be so evident that it is imprinted on the hearts of my children and my children’s children.

Today I have learned a lesson about how to obey Him. I am challenged to listen to the Jeremiahs of my generation even though their messages don’t always bring warm fuzzies to my heart.  Their messages from God are given to save me, protect me and keep me so that one day I will worship before God’s very throne in Heaven.  I’m challenged to be a curve wrecker in my generation, setting the bar high and keeping strong my commitment to follow the Lord in obedience.   If I do this, I believe He has promised that I will always have descendants who serve the Lord! 

Moving Forward: I move forward today so very thankful that He has not given up on me.  I pray that I will always have descendants who follow the Lord, and may they be the curve wreckers of their generation! 

Tomorrow @ Luke 1-2

I Corinthians 9-10 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His Word about the past provides protection for our present and our future

When we acquire a new book to read, most of us do not spend a lot of time reading the front matter, as it’s called. These are pages that may include the endorsement page, title half page, the full title page with publisher information, the copyright page, the dedication page, the acknowledgment page, the contents page, the foreword page and the introduction page. Whew! No, we want to get right into the good stuff, the heart of the book, Chapter One.

From the viewpoint of an author, I believe those front pages are relevant and should be read. In many cases, it’s the only opportunity for authors to express their purpose for writing, their gratitude to others and their credentials. As a reader, I appreciate knowing these things. They add validity to what I’m reading and an understanding of what the author intends for me to glean from the book. The pages that follow are their heart and soul, and I don’t want to miss a beat. I think this is somewhat how Paul felt about Israel’s recorded history. The Corinthian Church was living in the here and now, but he desired for them to reread the front pages of their history because they were written down for a purpose by the Author.

@ I Corinthians 10
“These things happened to [the Israelites] as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” (11) The Corinthian Church was struggling in many areas of conduct and dedication to the Lord, and Paul’s purpose for writing this letter was to address these issues. Paul gave a brief summary of Israel’s past blessings from the Lord, but to keep history from repeating itself, he also gave a brief account of Israel’s past mistakes.

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud… all of them walked through the sea… all of them were baptized as followers of Moses… All of them ate the same spiritual food… and all of them drank the same spiritual water.” (1-4) Obviously, God is an equal-opportunity provider! But here was the glitch, “Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” (5) Help. Provision is not necessarily an endorsement of our behavior.

In response to all this supernatural provision from the Lord, most of the Israelites decided to “crave evil things…worship idols…engage in sexual immorality…put Christ to the test…grumble.” (6-10) And God responded to their sin by sending a plague where 23,000 died in one day, allowing some to die from snakebites and others to be destroyed by the angel of death. “These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did.” (6)

We love the New Testament message of grace, mercy, and blessings, but those front pages, the Old Testament, are vital for us to understand so that history does not repeat itself in our lives. Just as with every author, when the Author wrote the Bible, every word was intentional and carried with it His heart on the matter.

Wise one that he was, Paul added this caution because he understood the hearts of those he ministered to, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (12) In other words, if we think we would never do such a thing – we would never crave evil, worship idols, commit sexual sin, tempt God or live a grumbling lifestyle – watch out because that attitude sets up a fall through temptation.

To this heavy message, Paul added a word of comfort for his readers, “And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (13) New Testament grace through the Holy Spirit for an Old and New Testament challenge! I once read, When you flee from temptation, be sure you do not leave a forwarding address behind. That should cover it.

Moving Forward: Learning from the past, applying to the present, protection for the future. Join me tomorrow for a little Old Testament…

Tomorrow @ Genesis 48-50

Genesis 44-47 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: The guidance of His hand is just, merciful and good

Ah…the sweetness of reconciliation!  Books have been written about it, movies have portrayed its beautiful stories, and most of us have experienced it.  Outside of the amazing, and I do mean amazing, reconciliation with God that takes place when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the story of Joseph and his brothers tops the list for me.   “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place…God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.  So it was God who sent me here, not you!” (45:4-8)

Not only is this a story of reconciliation, but it is a strong and deliberate message about the providence of God, the intervention of the Divine into our lives to bring about His purposes for our good. “So it was God who sent me here, not you!”  When Joseph forgave his brothers and reconciled with them, he partnered with God’s will to bring about God’s Divine plan for a nation. Our obedience to the Word of God has ramifications beyond our imagination.  Had Joseph refused to forgive, God would have sought another vessel to accomplish His good. 

@ Genesis 46
“I am God, the God of your father,’ the voice said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.’” (3-4)  I can only imagine the hesitancy in Jacob’s heart to leave Canaan, the land promised to his grandfather, Abraham, for the heathen land of Egypt.  When we think about it, this move changed the history of Israel.

Settled in their Promised Land, Abraham’s family was growing in size, wealth and power, and it just seems as though carting them off to Egypt for 400 years was somewhat counterproductive to God’s divine plan for His people.  After all, He could have abundantly blessed Jacob in spite of the famine years and brought the nations of the world to him.  In the natural, without the impact of the supernatural, we might wonder about His purpose in this.

Because of the move to Egypt, the Israelites would one day migrate back to Canaan and spend many years in war with the occupants of Canaan who had also grown powerful over the past 400 years.  But this is where we are challenged to trust the hand of God even when we don’t understand it.  Early on when God promised Abraham a son, He foretold of events to come, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years…After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (15:13-16)

God could not yet give Abraham his entire inheritance because He is just.  Abraham’s neighbors in Canaan did not believe in Jehovah, but God gave them 400 years to choose Him over their witchcraft and idols before He allowed Israel to destroy them for their wickedness. In the meantime, the family of Abraham was ever growing in numbers over in Goshen, all their needs were provided, and He was making them ready to step into their destiny.

Sometimes the hand of God in our lives seems to be without purpose and direction in life’s economy.  We may question what the kingdom of God gains through our loss, our dysfunction or our trial?  Well, so often we just don’t know, but through His Word, we understand all that He does is just, merciful and good for us as well as all others who live and breathe on the planet.  As He was with the Israelites in Egypt, so will He be with us in our Egypt.  “I will go with you down to Egypt…” 

Moving Forward:  In my obedience to Him today, I know I can trust His hand to guide me with justice, mercy, and goodness.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts…And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8) 

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 6-10

Job 19-20 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is our Light and our Redeemer

Whether we’re moving through a mountain of laundry or walking through a difficult situation in life, we live for that moment when we see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the tunnel becomes an illusion, and the light becomes our reality.  Of course, there will be the pessimists who see it another way – The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train, or perhaps the quote that has special meaning for us today, “Politicians are people who, when they see the light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.”  Ugh. However, I choose to side with Job who delivered an optimistic statement of hope in our reading today – he saw the light! 

@ Job 19
“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me… God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness… His fury burns against me; he counts me as an enemy… My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me.”  And to add insult to injury, “My breath is repulsive to my wife.” (7-17)  Job once again rehearsed his miserable condition, but through his pain in a moment of clarity, he went on to declare, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last.” (25)  Job saw the slight glimmer of light at the end of his agonizing ordeal.

Job was looking for God to be his mediator in Job 9:33, and then his witness in Job 16:19, but now he saw God as his Redeemer, his vindicator, his Savior.  As we read in the Book of Ruth, the redeemer was a relative who paid the debt of those held captive to bring about their freedom, but Job’s family and close friends had deserted him.  His Redeemer would be his God, who, regardless of Job’s miserable circumstance, still lived and would one day stand on the earth.  What a statement of faith!

“And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!  I will see him for myself.  Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.  I am overwhelmed at the thought! (26-27)  In his day with little knowledge of life after death, this was quite a declaration.  David and a few others referred to it in the Old Testament, but Job was the first to answer his own question in Job 14:14, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” Job made it clear that he won’t see God in a vision or dream or represented by someone else, but he would see Him, his Redeemer, with his own eyes.

Through the benefit of time, we can better understand the concept of eternal life and have come to know our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Few have ever experienced all the tragedies of Job, but regardless of what difficulty we may be walking through today, how can we declare anything less than Job’s pronouncement, Job’s light at the end of the tunnel, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives!” 

Moving Forward: Instead of what I see in the present, I look to the future, to my Redeemer, the One who is alive, and to the mighty works He will do on my behalf. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 51-55

Ruth (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He blesses the sacrifices we make

The story of Ruth and Naomi reminds me of the selflessness portrayed in the story of the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry that we often read at Christmas.  It is the story about a desperately poor young couple, Jim and Della, who want to buy gifts for one another at Christmas.  The husband chose to sell his prized gold watch to buy ornate combs for Della’s beautiful long hair. Della cut and sold her beautiful long hair to buy a gold chain for Jim’s prized watch.  Both had sacrificed their most valuable treasure because of the deep love they shared.  Their story reflects the gifts of great value given by the wise men to baby Jesus and God’s most valuable treasure, His Son, that He gave to redeem us.  Out of love, Naomi and Ruth, too, selflessly gave to one another the only gifts of value they possessed. 

@ Ruth 1
“With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.  But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.’ Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.” (7-8)

All three women had lost their husbands.  Widows of that day were often neglected and lived with little provision, especially older widows who could not work.  Naomi gave up her daughters-in-law who could have cared for her in the years ahead, giving them the freedom to marry again in their own land.

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”(16-17) The young woman, Ruth, gave up her freedom to marry again so that she could remain with Naomi and provide care for her in the days ahead.  Not only did Ruth love Naomi, but she had come to serve the God of Naomi.  How could she ever turn her back on Him!

Sometimes circumstances in life ask us to make a personal sacrifice of our own desires and goals to help fulfill the dream or calling of another because of our love and commitment to that individual.  And sometimes God requires us to put aside our own desires to accomplish His higher purposes – His eternal purposes.   When we choose the difficult road of sacrifice, not only are we blessed in the doing of it, but we open the door to future blessings we cannot imagine.

“So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family!  May this child be famous in Israel’…And they named him Obed.  He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David…” (4:13-17)  And from this lineage came Jesus!

Who would have thought that the offspring of this lowly Moabite widow would one day deliver royalty into the world!  Not only did God reward Ruth for her unselfishness when He provided a husband, a wealthy one at that, but He also extended the blessing on her children for generations to come – something beyond her imagination.

We don’t know how God will use the sacrifices we make for Him and for others, but if we do it with the willing heart of Ruth and not grudgingly, He will bless our lives in ways beyond our imaginations. 

Moving Forward: I’m even more grateful today for the supreme sacrifice He gave at Calvary.  It calls me to a willingness to sacrifice all that I am and all that I have to fulfill His eternal purposes. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 27-29

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