The summer heat has descended upon our area along with high humidity. As I took a walk, I reminded myself that just a few months ago I would have been walking briskly to stay warm, dressed in a winter coat, hat and gloves. Any complaint about the beach-like weather literally melted away and I thanked God that I wasn’t cold!
Our circumstances so often dictate our reactions to life’s experiences! I have recently had a few stressors make me question God’s presence and promises to help me. How like the Israelites in the desert after escaping slavery I am! God has done so much for me through the years, and yet it is so easy to forget His blessings when my situation seems difficult. I spent several hours searching my Bible for verses talking about God’s peace and help.
Psalm 118: 5-8, 13-14 “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man… You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.”
The stressful and difficult situations haven’t disappeared, but He is still with me IN MY DISTRESS. I have experienced peace and calm at times, and songs of peace comfort me, but I have to constantly remind myself that ‘the LORD is on my side…What can man do to me?’
To be honest, ‘man’ seems to be able to do a lot to disrupt our peace and cause us to fear, but that is not how God wants us to live. My struggle is not over, and neither was David’s when he wrote many of the Psalms. I remember latching on to Psalm 42 when I was in residency: ‘Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me…’ David had many instances of trouble and difficulty, and the Psalms records how often he questioned where God was during his times of need. This encourages me that my faltering trust is pretty human. And God understands. I’m not saying that I’m choosing to not trust Him (that is disbelief and sin)…just that my humanness is showing. So, like David, I feel no peace in my circumstances, but I will ‘hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.’
Are you feeling stress or despair in any part of your life? Spend some time with God and His Word. Remember that Jesus promised us a Comforter, who intercedes for us when we can’t find the words to even ask for help. Hope in God. Don’t give in to the Enemy. Hope in God. I will yet praise Him.
Graduation. New beginnings. Job offers and decision making. Saying good-bye to friends and family. Moving. Meeting new neighbors and making new friends. Learning the ropes. Starting at the bottom and being low on the totem pole. Shopping for groceries. Finding shortcuts to places soon frequented. Alone, but free.
All of these situations are occurring to those finishing high school, college and grad school. There are lots of changes happening, but yet it is an exciting time for venturing out, spreading their wings and flying with all that has been learned over the course of the years (and years…) of schooling. Change happens whether they want it to or not. They are not kids anymore, and often adulthood must be embraced sooner rather than later. The years of ‘training’ for independence are over and they must claim this new freedom as their own. Thrilling, yet scary.
We are ‘in training’ in our spiritual lives as well. There are many types of graduations and changes, but the difference is that we never become truly independent in our spiritual lives – in fact, we become more dependent on God the more we learn. It’s a strange contradiction, but it is necessary in order to experience true freedom. The lessons that are learned each day as we submit to the Lord are strands of a rope that tether us securely to the King of the Universe. That line, which starts as a single cord when we accept salvation, becomes stronger and stronger with each acceptance of dependence on the Father. As we yield to Him, the fight for independence grows less, and our faith is in the One who calms the storms of life and who gave His life for me and the world.
I am seeking to have total dependence on the Lord for the JP Knights Project. Things have not gone as planned or hoped. But God is in charge of this. I don’t necessarily know the next step, and I have made mistakes, but I am assured of this: He who is omnipotent and omniscient is holding my rope. I will wait on Him and pray for His will to accomplish what He has planned. Will you join me? This is HIS project 😊.
Spring! The time of year for renewal and resurrection. The bleak and colorless landscape soon shows little bits of green while crocuses and daffodils begin to peak through the old mulch or even snow (here on the mountain, at least). Easter, the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, is a story of hope for all mankind as we acknowledge our true nature that cannot come close to the holiness of God without Jesus’s sacrifice.
Hope is the main theme of The Harvester Chronicles: JP Knights. I love reflecting on the possibilities that the story brings to life – angels all around us! What could that mean in your day-to-day life? For me, I often imagine angels running with me through the woods on our old lonely farm road, protecting me from wild predators that may venture across my path. Or driving through the State Game Lands to get home, angels shoo deer away from the pavement, keeping them and me safe. What about the ‘prince of the air’ creating discord – I can see angels eliminating that bad influence on my life.
Since writing this book, I have a new insight into what ‘could’ be happening around me in the supernatural world, and it makes me feel blessed that God cares about us that much. He surrounds us with His messengers, His warriors, His soldiers – they bring us comfort, they protect us, they fight for us against the enemy. This knowledge brings great hope to me!
Many of you who have read the book have told me the same, and I thank you for sharing that with me!
What does YOUR world look like when angels are involved?
March snuck up on me again! The short month of February always seems to trick me and March starts before I’m really ready.
THE WORLD is again much in our thoughts with the invasion of Ukraine, Olympic doping drama, and the lingering of Covid variants. I am reminded that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.
God created the world. He destroyed the world in the flood, to start anew after the wickedness of man had grown too great. He saved the world through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. All of this because He loves us – the world. That’s a pretty big word to be a part of - the world. Yet God still loves each of us as an individual – the very hairs of our head are numbered because He cares about us. Take a moment to bask in the knowledge that God loves YOU! He made a way to restore the relationship with Him through Jesus. If you have never received the gift of salvation that God has offered to each of us, I hope you will. A personal interaction with the Creator of the Universe is an awesome thing!
As we consider all that is happening around us lately, it can be overwhelming, but you have to realize that none of this is a surprise to God. As we get to know Him better, we can rest, knowing that He still has everything under control.
Much in the world has changed since I asked God to let me write a book for Him. There was a lot of darkness out there, and I wanted to write something encouraging and full of the Light of God. I still believe that The Harvester Chronicles: JP Knights is going to show the world that God loves them. I am convinced that God does have everything in His control and all I can do is what He asks me to do each and every day. For me, that means praying daily, reading the Bible daily, reading devotionals daily, working in my job for the LORD and not for men – seeking to please Him by doing my best, tithing what He has graciously given me of His blessings, exercising to keep as healthy as possible to do the work of His Kingdom, eating healthy foods. I do struggle with getting enough sleep and not resting when I should, though. I also strive to write what He wants me to write…to follow His leading and listen carefully for His voice. I love to sit down and just let my fingers type on the keyboard while God talks to me or gives me an image of something He wants to show me. I want to cling to that sense of oneness with Him that writing tends to bring to me.
What part of your life does God long to share? Have you ever let yourself feel the oneness with Him? Many of you know that I like to run (well, many would call it a jog, or less, haha) or walk outside. I have found that to be the best time to talk with God. I lose sense of almost everything around me (other than watching the road to avoid tripping), and God often meets me just to hang out. This time with Him grounds me and helps me listen to Him. Lately that has been for Him to say, “Just do what I ask you to do. I will take care of the rest.”
So, that’s this month’s Blog. It doesn’t have a particular theme, and my train of thought led all over the place, but God wanted it said for someone…maybe you!
Rom 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
It is the middle of winter now. Many compare this season not only to the elder years of our lives, but also to our final earthly days. Death. Not a topic any of us want to talk about…but it is an unavoidable part of our lives. Covid has brought this into numerous homes as an unexpected purveyor of distress during a time when isolation and quarantine have been thrust upon us. Normal cultural means of dealing with the death of a loved one are disrupted, and a typically stressful situation at best has become a ‘pit of despair’ to those trying to deal with their grief.
The Harvester Chronicles: JP Knights shows us that God offers us hope in the midst of our grief. Many Bible passages speak of the comfort God gives us. I visualize angels hugging those who are crying.
Isaiah 61: 2-4 says … “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
If you are grieving, I pray for you to be comforted by the God who loves us. He knows the grief of a Father losing his only Son.
God has given us the four seasons to give us hope. The world seems to die each winter, but it is only dormant, awaiting the resurgence of life in spring. Right now, while all around us are shades of white, gray and black, the world seems hopeless and dead. But that is not the case. Soon, the snow will melt and the grass will turn green, trees will branch and bud, flowers will bloom. The seasons have shown us that this ‘circle of life’ comes again and again…happening for thousands of years.
While you are grieving, you are in a season of winter. But God promises that life will once again spring forth! It doesn’t come immediately, but it DOES come! Just as spring most assuredly follows the cold and darkness of winter, comfort comes to those who grieve.
We who know the salvation God has offered through the death of His Son, Jesus, also know that death is only a step into glorious eternity with our loving Father.
A new year is here and not much has changed since January 2021 in many ways. Covid is still a significant issue even though there is a vaccine. Many people are isolated, sad and depressed. We have to look to God for His mercy and grace through all life’s happenings.
The people of Israel had some very depressing times in the centuries before Christ. They had turned away from God and His favor had left them. God even told them what would happen through his prophets. They would be invaded and conquered, with many of them taken to Babylon in exile.
These were trying times for ‘God’s people’. But, in the midst of it all, God sent His prophets to encourage His people.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14.
We have just come through the Christmas celebration and heard the story of Jesus’s birth. It is so reassuring that God gives us hope, not only in our Savior’s birth and life, but in telling us long beforehand that He would be providing this means of restoration for the world.
This hope can bring us through the trials of life.
The Joel Prophecy: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29.
So, take hold of the hope God has given us through His son, Jesus, and through the prophesies given in scripture.
Titus 2:13-14 “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Encourage one another with these words!
The Valley of the Dry Bones and Christmas.
A passage in Ezekiel may seem quite unrelated to the Christmas story, but when two different devotionals happened to refer to this unusual vision on the same day, I took notice.
Ezekiel 37 depicts God taking the prophet Ezekiel to the middle of a valley full of dry bones. God instructs Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, saying, “Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life…Then you will know that I am the LORD.” The story goes on to show that the bones come to life and stand up on their feet – a vast army. God told Ezekiel that the bones represent the people of Israel, whose bones are dried up and their hope is gone. God promised to breathe life back into His people and give them hope!
What a clear picture of the Christmas story! Not only did God’s Spirit breathe a new life to form within the virgin, Mary, but the birth of Jesus also came to bring hope to a lost world.
Do you have a ‘valley of dry bones’?
A dream that has been put on a back shelf and is gathering dust? A diagnosis that seems to take your breath away? A struggle with addiction that robs you of life? A barrier to success that prevents financial security? Death of a loved one that leaves you alone?
God wants to encourage you that He is ready to breathe life into your valley of dry bones, and give you hope! Jesus has come to give you abundant life! We celebrate His birth this month. The world was full of darkness, discouragement and despair when, on a night long ago, God breathed life into a little baby born in Bethlehem. That breath of life then walked on the earth with men, finally giving up His breath to bring us salvation. Through the centuries, God has breathed life into us - countless ‘dry bones’ - and raised us up to an eternal life full of hope!
Whatever you identify as your ‘dry bones valley’, are you ready for God to breathe life back into it? Let Him do the miraculous!
“Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD…I will put my Spirit in you and you will live…Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.” Ez 37:13-14
The leaves are down from many of the trees around my house now. Some maples and elms still tenaciously hold onto their clothing, but, before long, these too will succumb to the perennial shedding that winter brings. This reminds me of a truth heard in our church sermon this morning: the rain falls, the flood comes, the wind blows and slams against the good and the bad equally. No matter who we are, the seasons come and go, the sun rises and sets, the world turns on its axis…all the same whoever we are.
We also are all sinners, meaning that, no matter who we are, our nature is counter to the perfect goodness of God. He is holy – a concept that even I have trouble understanding. But God gave us a way to bring us back into a relationship with Him through the life and sacrificial death of Jesus. Jesus wants to show all people how God loves them. All people. Not just the good people who already try to know God, but even the people who have no idea that God exists or loves them. Jesus went to all people. It didn’t matter what race, gender, what they had done, or what they were doing.
The woman of Samaria had two things against her knowing God’s love in the society of Jesus’s day. She was the wrong race AND the wrong gender. But Jesus chose to travel through Samaria and encounter her where she lived. Jews went around that region, totally avoiding a group of people who they believed were outcasts and not worthy of God’s love; the Bible even says that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. This person was also a woman and more thought of as property. Jesus treated her with respect and love, and as a result, many OF Samaria believed Jesus’s words of salvation.
Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery in a similar loving manner, asking for those without sin to throw the first stone. All walked away and Jesus led her to a relationship with the loving Father.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He was a traitor among his own people. Jesus called to him specifically to show him God’s love, and the man’s relationship with God was restored.
Jesus was truthful and loving to all of the above people.
I want to see people as Jesus sees them – as all deserving of God’s love. I want to shed prejudices, conscious and unconscious biases. Jesus didn’t have them - He died for ALL people. He encounters each of us right where we are, still with our sins, our prejudices and our biases. He loves me in spite of these things. He loves you, wherever you are and whatever you've done.
Just as the rain may fall on the just and the unjust, God's love and salvation is offered to the good and bad. It is up to us to accept what He has offered. We don't need to get cleaned up first. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, the adulterous woman and the traitorous tax collector, we aren't judged by Jesus when we meet Him. As we take His hand and experience God's love and forgiveness through Jesus, we are changed and become who God meant us to be - His beloved children.
October 2021 STAY POSITIONED
A recent devotional referred to Exodus 33:21 with the title, “Positioned for God’s Blessing”: And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.” The writer encouraged those reading his words to ‘stay positioned for God’s blessing.’
I have had more than the typical number of readings lately telling me to wait on the Lord’s timing, and this attitude adjustment culminated with the admonition to stay positioned for God’s blessing. It has been many years since the birth of The Harvester Chronicles: JP Knights, and it is easy to become discouraged that the project will never come to pass. Yet, God continues to tell me to wait on Him. So I do. When I think about it, God has ‘waited’ even longer than I have to bring this story to the world. He has picked the exact time, place, and yes, even person, through whom to present this tale. He knows when all will work together for the project to bring the most people to Him, and He is setting the stage to act!
When I consider each aspect of birthing the saga of angels interacting with people, I realize that God has this under control. All I need to do is ‘stay positioned’!
How does a person ‘stay positioned,’ you may ask? I believe that trying to know God and His will is the best way to do that. Praying, asking for help, reading the Word, listening to wise pastors and teachers, fasting, and tuning in to the Spirit’s voice all keep a person set for God to act when the time is right. In the meantime, understanding that staying positioned is not a static, nothing-going-on, type of thing is important. It takes balance and alertness constantly so that you don’t fall.
Where are you right now with the promise or vision God has given you? Have you given up? Remember that God planted that desire in your heart, and, like a seed, it needs time to grow and mature. Habakkuk 2:3 reminds us that “the vision is … for an appointed time … though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” What a promise!!!
As for me, I strive to ‘stay positioned’ for the ‘appointed time’! How about you?
For the Lamb…!
Dr. Beth Lambert is a Pediatrician and Medical Director in Pennsylvania. JP Knights is the first film from her books.
Kevin & Lynn McAfee along with Jim and Rachel Gromer met to begin the script writing process for JP KNIGHTS the movie. Thanks for praying for the entire team!
Dr. McAfee and the team of GRP with Stephanie Musser met with city fathers in Pennsylvania at the Holiday Inn to discuss strategies for shooting in Johnstown.