Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Closer Look at Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

This verse is one of the most known and quoted verses in the Bible.  It has been used many times to bring encouragement to people facing difficult times...and rightly so!  It shows the heart of our Father God who takes pleasure in blessing His children!  I recently came upon this verse because God laid another verse a few verses later on my mind, and I was on a quest to find out where that verse was in the Bible.

One recent morning before the sun rose, God woke me up to pray and intercede for someone. When I asked God how I was to pray for this person, I heard in my spirit, "That he would seek Me and find Me when he seeks for Me with His whole heart." I did not remember where that verse was found, so I got up and looked for it. I found it in Jeremiah 29:13.  I immediately recognized that it was just past Jeremiah 29:11 that everyone quotes for encouragement.  I thought about how so many people quote what God does for us, giving us a hope for a great future, but how often do we emphasize what He asks us to do?  Let's look at the two verses immediately following Jeremiah 29:11:
12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Many quote Jeremiah 29:11 when they are going through hard times, but how many quote the next two verses? How many make a decision to call on the Lord in prayer, knowing He will listen? How many seek Him with their whole heart during a time when their hearts are so broken?  That's what God is calling us to do! In fact, it is during those times of "captivity" that He asks us to do just that.

I went back and read the beginning of the chapter and found out that this was a letter written by Jeremiah in Jerusalem to those Jews who were in Babylon--away from their home land and in captivity No matter why they were in captivity, God tells them in verse seven to pray for peace in the place where they were:

And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

I find it interesting that God said He was the one who caused them to be taken captive. That messes with a lot of people's theology, so we'll just let it sit! At any rate, God tells them to pray for the peace of the place where they are in bondage and they will have peace there.  How many of us complain about the people around us that seem to be holding us captive instead of praying for them?  This is a different perspective: Pray for those who do you harm to have peace, and then you, too, will have peace! It makes sense if you think about it, but it sure does not come naturally when someone hurts you.  That's why we have to seek God and let Him do it through us. Like another verse says, "He is our peace, who has broken down every wall!" (See Ephesians 2:14).

It is not until the next chapter that God promises to bring His children in Babylon to their promised land.  Praise God for the hope He gives us during the midst of our trials! Thanks be to the Lord for hearing us when we cry out to Him and drawing us to seek Him when we are faced with adversities in life! His gift of peace in our land of captivity never ceases to amaze me! What a joy to know that He promises to bring us through these times to our "promised land"....that being the calling on our life for ministry on earth AND the ultimate gift of eternal life in Heaven!  Enjoy the journey, friends!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm Back!

It's been a while, but I am ready to return to blogging! I stopped for a while while I was back in school (after 27 years) to get my Masters Degree. I am happy to say that I now have graduated from Liberty University with my degree in Professional Counseling! I remember reading in Henry Blackaby's book, Experiencing God, that when you see God at work it is your invitation to join Him. For years people would come to me for counsel, so I decided to be professionally trained.

It was not easy getting my nose back in college texts, studying for tests, and writing many long graduate-level papers.  I would much rather write posts on this blog! However, I am so glad I followed through. I learned so much, especially during my year as an intern. Here are some of my lessons:
  • You know that saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."? Well, that is true! Successful therapeutic relationships are built on rapport between client and counselor. 
  • Counseling is NOT giving advice! It's more about coming along side someone and encouraging them in their journey to their own revelation.
  • It is important to listen and ponder what you hear before responding. Reflective listening is the best. People appreciate when you listen and reflect back showing you care about them and what they just said. Too many people spend the time the other one speaks to think about what they want to say instead of truly listening.
  • Stop and think about what you are thinking about. (You are probably doing that right now!)
  • Self-care for the helper is a needed priority. You will not be help to anyone if you are burned out.
  • Let go of stereotypes! If you don't, you might miss out on a rather fulfilling relationship.
  • Prayer is imperative! Even if the client is not open to prayer, silent prayers can still happen. I've had many instances in a session when I did not know what to do. God answered my silent prayers and guided as only He can do! Sometimes those prayers answered were about giving me guidance, and sometimes they were about softening the client's heart to be able to receive.
I thank God for teaching me these lessons. I also thank God for all that has taken place these three years. I am experiencing the start of the next season of my life leading to an empty nest as my oldest daughter graduated from high school and is now in her second year of college as a Music Ed. major. Another mile marker in my life is that I had my ordination transferred to Harvest Network at their annual conference in Minnesota this past June. I felt right at home as soon as I walked in the door! It is such a great feeling to know you are walking in God's will for your life!