Affliction, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Death, Despair, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Grief, Heaven, Mourning, Satan, Scripture

THE ENEMY APPROACHES

MICAH 1:15

“Moreover, I will bring on you the one who takes possession, you inhabitant of Mareshah. The glory of Israel will enter Adullam.”

In times of distress the enemy will attack. I just woke up to discover a dear brother in the ministry lost his sweet, precious wife last night. She died suddenly, leaving a gapping hole in my brother’s chest. We are praying for him, but most especially praying protection over him from the enemy’s attack. We know Satan loves to attack us when we are down.

Assyria was attacking Israel and Judah. “The one who takes possession” refers to the enemy invader. God was allowing the enemy to attack in order to judge His chosen people. He was striving to bring them back to Him, even if it meant severe judgment. But God had not broken His covenant with them. Israel (all 12 tribes) was still His child.

APPLICATION

Our spiritual enemy is powerful and very well armed. He loves to catch us unawares and unprotected. Sudden losses in our lives can shatter us emotionally. When we are in these places, the devil will whisper in our ears that God does not love us, that He does not care about us. Do not believe those lies.

That is why it is so important to cover yourself in God’s Word. Only His Word can get you through those times. This morning, the first passage that came to my mind was 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

My dear brother will be okay. He will get through this. Why? Because I know he loves Jesus and loves His Word which is filled with the promises of God. He knows the Father loves him dearly. He may not understand why He took his bride home now, but he will – eventually. Be on guard my brothers and sisters.

Lord, thank You for Your promises. I know they never fail.

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Advocate, Affection, Bible, Brokenness, Comfort, Compassion, Despair, Grief, Holy Spirit, Mourning

HOW TO MOURN 

MICAH 1:8 

“Because of this I must mourn and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must do mourning like the jackals, and a mourning like the ostriches.” 

I have been to a lot of funerals throughout my ministry. Some of those who were grieving were really upset at the funeral. I have experienced some extreme mournings during those services. I have seen people hold onto the casket of their loved ones and just wail and moan. I have seen others fall on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Everyone mourns differently. 

When I looked at today’s verse in the Hebrew, I discovered something interesting. The four words – mourn, wail, do mourning and mourning – are four different Hebrew words. They each describe the action differently. Look it up yourself. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Micah to use four different words to describe this? I believe it is because one word just can’t express our emotions. Micah is mourning and mourning greatly. 

APPLICATION 

Mourning is an important part of our lives. When we lose a loved one or a pet, we naturally feel empty. I am reminded of a passage from 1 Timothy 4. Verse 13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope.” 

Aren’t you glad our mourning isn’t based on earthly guidelines? God is with us in our deepest grief. He holds us tenderly as we weep and mourn. He understands. He created our tears. When we can’t find the words to pray, the Holy Spirit groans for us. 

I have grieved over the loss of a child, a dad and a mom. Other relatives have gone on to their heavenly reward. With each one I grieved differently. Just as Micah used different words to describe his grief, no one word could explain mine. Those are the times when I just rested in Jesus. Words were not necessary. Rest in Him today. 

Father of compassion and God of all comfort, I praise You for the words You give during our times of grief. 

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Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Grief, Modeling, Mourning

SACKCLOTH

AMOS 8:10

“Then I will turn your festivals into mourning, and all your songs into songs of mourning; and I will put sackcloth around everyone’s waist, and baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, and the end of it will be like a bitter day.”

I remember the old burlap bags I used to bag up potatoes on my grandmother’s farm. We would dig the potatoes, bag them in those bags and carry them to the old farmhouse and pour them out on the floor for storage. Burlap bags can do a number on your knuckles and hands after a day of lugging those things around.

I can’t even imagine wearing those around my loins. That’s what they did during their mourning. The coarseness of the sackcloth (burlap bag) rubbed them reminding them of their fallen state. It was uncomfortable. They didn’t realize changing your clothes doesn’t bring about true repentance.

APPLICATION

Here in the U.S., we are accustomed to wearing black when we are mourning. A widow or widower will dress in black when their spouse passes away. If you think about it, if the loved one who passed was a believer, we should be celebrating. We should wear bright and festive clothes.

I preached a funeral recently where the widow wore a beautiful turquoise jacket. I bet there were some in the crowd who questioned that. No need to. Her husband loved Jesus. We were giving praise to Jesus for his homecoming. I know she was grieving, but she was also celebrating.

How do you face mourning? Are you trusting in the One who truly knows our griefs? He can restore your joy. He can cause you to celebrate. Let Him lead you during those times of mourning and you will come out the other side singing for joy.

I trust You in the good times, so I will trust You in the hard times.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Confidence, Mourning, Offering, Rejoicing, Scripture

IN YOUR MIDST

AMOS 5:17

“‘And in all the vineyards there is mourning, because I will pass through the midst of you,’ says the LORD.”

I’m an extrovert. I love to be around people. It fuels me. I simply love being in the midst of people. Right in the center. Not everyone is that way. Others shun crowds and had rather be alone. I love today’s verse, but I must say it confuses me.

The Lord says His presence would bring mourning. You would think His presence would bring rejoicing. But He is passing through to bring judgment. His presence exposed their sins, thus the mourning. And when God exposes sin, consequences fall. There are always consequences for our sins.

APPLICATION

How much better would it be to welcome God’s presence everyday with nothing to fear? When I worked in children’s homes, we would often go through inspections (health, fire, licensing, accreditation). I wanted to ensure that we were ready for any inspection any day.

I had worked in some locations where inspection days meant extra cleaning and extra work before they arrived. Needless to say, this method did not work when we had surprise inspections. The same applies for us. We need to keep our lives so prepared that when the Lord visits us, we are not embarrassed.

I can honestly say today that I have nothing to hide. I am ready. It is my prayer to do that every day, but I do slip up time to time. I don’t want God’s visit in my midst to bring mourning. I want to rejoice and sing. Can you do that today? Is your life ready for His visit?

I welcome You, Lord. Let Your presence bring for rejoicing and not mourning.

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Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Mourning

MOURNING AND MORE MOURNING

AMOS 5:16

“Therefore this is what the LORD God of armies, the Lord says: ‘There is mourning in all the public squares, and in all the streets they say, ‘Oh no! Oh no!’ They also call the farmer to mourning and professional mourners to mourning rites.’”

In the past few months, we have seen a lot of death in our community. I personally have been to several visitations and funerals. And I have observed a lot of mourning. Mourning comes from loss. Mourning comes from grief. How do we, as believers, handle such loss?

Amos tells us the Lord’s words concerning this. He was, of course, talking to Israel, but the words apply to us. When we suffer loss we are driven to mourning. I can recall the days after 9-11. Not only my country, but the whole world mourned. We saw prayer meetings and church services being held all over the world for the loss of life on that day.

APPLICATION

How I mourn is so important. We are told that we do not mourn as those who have no hope. When we have a loved one die who knows the Lord, there is a loss here on earth but there is a gain in heaven. We will see them again. The mourning should be short lived.

But when we lose someone who does not know Jesus as their Savior, that is a deeper loss. May I encourage you today to reach out to all those you love who are in that group? You don’t want to grieve in that way. You don’t want your mourning to be that deep.

Someone told me the other day that we spend so much time getting people to agree to go to heaven and then we are upset when they go. They have won the ultimate victory – the victory over death. They moved from this world to the next and received glory. Hallelujah! Praise His name.

O God, help me mourn with those who mourn. Let me also point all I can to You, who can lessen the mourning and lead us home.

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Advocate, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Hope, Intimacy, Mourning, Scripture

MOURNING

AMOS 5:1

“Hear this word which I am taking up for you as a song of mourning, house of Israel:”

Mourning is hard. If you have ever had a loss of a loved one in your life, you know what I mean. Everyone mourns differently. Some, seemingly, mourn quickly and move on with their life. Others take months, even years, to fully mourn their loss. But everyone feels their mourning, in one way or another.

Israel seemed to be clueless. Amos introduces for the third time in five chapters the reality of mourning. Israel was so full of itself, it totally overlooked its loss. God had removed Himself from them to allow their judgment to fall. They had plenty to mourn, but were too busy to notice – until it was too late.

APPLICATION

Are you aware of your losses? Are you stuck in your mourning? I have good news for you. God is here. He is right where you are, no matter where you are in your mourning cycle. He can soothe the most broken heart. He can comfort us so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

If you are going through a process of mourning right now, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. They haven’t been where you are. Everyone’s loss is different. But there is one who can relate fully and completely. His name is Jesus. Tell Him how you feel. Cry on His shoulder. He will be with you through the entire process.

I have suffered loss in my life (child, parent, sibling, friends). Each loss hit me differently. But through each loss, God’s strength was inside me. He gave me the ability to cope. Without Him I do not know how I would have dealt with each loss. But praise be to God, He knows how. Amen?

Lord, I praise You for the strength You give to Your children during their times of loss. You are truly the balm of Gilead.

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