Encouragement Blog

Welcome to my encouragement blog. My name is Jan Whitmore

Jan 429873 Author picture Janice Whitmore

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. NKJV 

 

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  1. Making the ascent to Jerusalem, “the City of God” is truly thrilling. The city is just as the Bible describes, a city compact together, set on a hill. Right here, in this city, the last days will be played out, and Jesus will return, planting His feet on the Mount of Olives. God engages with Jerusalem – it is His city – the Bible says so! With the lands of the north colluding, the nations and natural earth reeling, and lawlessness breaking out throughout the earth, watch and pray - Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled. We bow our knee before God in awe and reverence. How close is it to the Lord’s return?

    Spiritual battle is a daily reality in Israel. Of necessity, every believer has to learn how to battle, donning the armour of God. It is a natural war zone, but it is also a spiritual warzone, because Israel remains at the heart of God’s end-time plans. We hear wonderful testimonies of God revealing Himself to Jew and Arab. However, the “spirit of the age” rules and the culture are far from holy – sadly lawlessness reigns. In taking a car on the road, you soon find out how every lane, line, light and law of the road is tested, challenged or abused. The land is indeed holy – because God is holy, but the people are far from holy - “separated unto God” – much like our own nations. You can feel abused every day stepping out into their world of dust, dirt, aggression, shouting, push and shove and selfishness. This is the reality in Israel. Pray for Israel – pray for God’s chosen people – pray for the peace of Jerusalem. How lovely that the Holy Spirit always leads in a counter cultural way – with peace, gentleness, joy and self-control. 

    Once again, we have had special encounters with the Lord and His people, the Jews. It seems that God has particularly purposed for us to “bump into” British Jews. Needing a B&B in the Galilee to make some pastoral visits, we booked at Ma’ale Gamla on the Golan Heights. Later we found out they are British Jews! On another occasion we took Mintie’s little doggie, Tikva for a walk around the village of Poria – high above the Sea of Galilee. A couple in a golf cart stopped to greet the dog! They are British Jews who made Aliyah 12 months ago and are struggling to settle in Israel. God used us to encourage them. God is bringing His people home to the Land of Promise.

    The precious Holy Spirit has helped us be in the right place at the right time to bring comfort, consolation and encouragement to Saints working hard here in Jerusalem and the Galilee. Their work centres on caring for Holocaust survivors, medical ministry and supplying the needs of Russian, E European and Ethiopian Jews who have returned to Israel with very few belongings - mercy ministries. We are here to give support to the workers – nearly all of whom are deeply weary. Sometimes the needs overwhelm - but we know to keep our eyes fixed on the glorious One who can break shackles, pierce darkness and set captives free. You have been praying for an anointing upon us and for a “word in season” for each – God has been answering your prayers. Although we feel utterly inadequate for the task and things people share are way beyond our experience or spiritual ability, in the midst of it all, we hear His voice - His counsel - and it always satisfies and answers the situation in hand. The weekly meetings in our apartment on a Thursday evening are an oasis of blessing. We cook a meal, share a special devotion from the Word and pray together. Thank you for praying in all this regard – God is hearing and answering your prayers. Our safe place is His “secret place” - and He has covered us there with His hand! Psalm 91:1

    Continue to pray for our health. We are well now – but Jan has had a chest infection and Mintie food poisoning. It is a battle – but again one in which we are promised victory. Tikva has had to play nurse! Thank you for your prayers. Each day we know God’s grace and mercy. Back in the UK 29 December 2016. Much love from Jerusalem! Jan & Mintie

  2. Mintie and MarithaPhoto: Maritha Esterhuizen with Mintie Nel

    I live in a quiet suburb in Hermanus, South Africa. Through serving our local homeless community, I met a precious lady, about my age (60ish). A low-key friendship developed between us over the past two years. She started sharing some personal issues and lately she asked if I would pray for her. I realised that a regular meeting time around the Word would certainly encourage her and be of great benefit, but I didn't feel free to just suggest it - so I prayed about it! I felt the Lord say that He was already busy and that I needed to wait! Exciting, isn't it!! I didn't have long to wait ...

    About two months ago she invited me for a coffee date. We had hardly sat down when she popped the question: would I be willing to lead a Bible study with her and some friends? She was the surprised one when I immediately said "YES" with a broad smile! She was quite overcome when I told her how the Lord had already put the desire in my heart and that He had put the desire in her heart and so we were both sure that we were in the Lord's will with this venture!! Awesome, isn't it!!

    As I prayed about it I know the Lord put Jan Whitmore's book "Sow what!" on my heart as the book to use for this Bible study meeting. I was so excited and especially when the books arrived the day before our first meeting. Isn't God just precious in all His ways! Such a testimony of His leading us! We have had the first three meetings already - what an incredible blessing!!

    The Lord is using the material in Jan's book with such powerful effect! Many questions and issues come to light and can be spoken about around the topic of learning to be aware of and train our SPIRITUAL senses and to understand that it is the Word taking root in our hearts that will bring the change. The Lord has already brought so many things to the surface shedding new light and deeper understanding with life-changing effect on them! It's such a humbling exciting joy to watch the Lord at work through this book!

    A significant key was the questions at the end of chapter one. Even though we all felt quite vulnerable about sharing on that level, it really challenged us to take a good hard look at where we really are spiritually and of course what we plan to do about it. The two ladies (we are only three) both declared that they've never experienced something like this before and that they are so very glad that we started the group and that they are looking forward to doing the rest of the book!!

    Thank you, Jan, for your obedience in writing the book!! We are so very grateful for this incredibly powerful tool the Lord has placed in our hands to help us grow spiritually in such a practical way!! May the Lord bless you abundantly, Jan, and I KNOW for sure that anyone who reads this book and/or uses it as Jan intended for a life group, will be amazed at what God can and will do! The Holy Spirit does ALL the work - just be available for Him to work through you!! Much love and blessings in His Name. Maritha Esterhuizen Hermnus, South Africa

  3. Jan and Mintie in prayerIn January 2016, my colleague Mintie Nel and I set aside a day to pray, seeking the Lord for the year ahead. What is in God’s heart for mission service in 2016? What does He require of us? By the end of the day, we had Israel, the Isle of Wight UK, and Holland uppermost in our thinking. now there's an interesting mix! It isn’t the places; it is always about people who need encouragement.

    ISRAEL

    When considering Israel, we knew that we needed to extend our trip to 2 months. It would give quality time with those with whom we would come alongside. That's the nature of the pastoral call God has placed upon our hearts. However exciting it sounded, that length of time raised concern for Tikva, Mintie’s adorable little dog. Could we leave her? No. Could we take her with us? Don't know. In our hearts, there was no way we could leave her behind for 2 months! Therefore, although it looked impossible, we placed our desire to take her before the Lord and asked for financial confirmation. The next day we received a telephone call from a friend. “Jan & Mintie I have a gift for you – for Israel. I just know you are going to Israel. It is a lot of money - £1000”. How could she have known about our prayer time? She didn’t. Our heads were buzzing. Two days later, we deposited a £1000 cheque into our ministry account. God was encouraging us to believe Him and step out in faith, doggy and all.

    With clear confirmation under our belt, Mintie began internet “ferreting”. We needed to explore flights, “dog travel outside the EU” and two women and a dog needed an apartment in Jerusalem for 2 months. It was a tall order. It seemed sensible that we consider "out of season" in November / December 2016 when tenancies would be more readily available. There are plenty of apartments available for rent in Jerusalem, but nearly all are too expensive and state “no pets”. We prayed and searched. Two days later, in the evening, our telephone rang. It was a “Michael from Jerusalem”. Who is "Michael?". We were baffled.

    “Are you interested in my apartment? I see that you have been looking so I’ve just sent details by email.” Michael, who chatted like a friend, was certain he could help us. Immediately the receiver went down, we read the description of his grand apartment in Rechavia, Jerusalem. Beautiful. Five star. Three bedrooms with a lift. Naturally, there was no price on the website – always a bad sign for a missionary budget! We allowed ourselves to dream for a few minutes before Mintie wrote back, thanking Michael for contacting us. We explained that his apartment was way beyond our reach, and it stated “no Pets”. That is that. However, over the next few days, in true Middle Eastern bartering mode, emails flew through cyberspace. The price was halved, but still far too expensive - however, Michael did say we could bring the dog. We liked him!

    I, Jan, went to bed restless and troubled. I kept drwaming of Michael's apartment. Was it the Lord leading? I awoke in the morning to an intense and beautiful sense of the presence of God in my room. It was as if my heavenly Father was sitting on the side of my bed waiting for me to open my eyes.

    “Jan, do you want to lay a fleece before Me about Michael’s apartment?” I answered, “Oh yes Lord, may I? Could You give me another £1000 and I will believe it is for us.” My heavenly Father's smile warmed my heart. “How about if I give you a £20 note before the end of the day from someone who knows nothing about the apartment?” I replied, “Okay. I’ll go along with that.” I told no one, not even Mintie.

    That afternoon we had our weekly discipleship group in our home. The teaching subject happened to be “Jehovah Shalom – the Lord is my peace” – Judges 6:24. As people arrived, one person ushered us into the bedroom to speak privately.

    “I don’t know what this means to you – but for me this is very significant. As I was putting away money for bills this morning the Lord said “..., will you trust me for your bills and give that money in your hand to Jan & Mintie?” She replied to the Lord “I will trust You”.

    Out of her purse she pulled a £20 note! She said, “This is for you”.

    My stomach flipped and tears filled my eyes. Turning to Mintie I said, “I think I should share something”. As the story tumbled out of my mouth, we all rejoiced together with overflowing praise to our loving Father. When a gap arose, Mintie said, “So Jan, can I now send the email that is sitting in the out tray of my computer?” I laughed. Of course, God had spoken to Mintie too about the apartment. She needed no fleece. Her answer was yes long before bedtime! She had written an affirmative email to Michael  but had not sent it – she was just waiting for me to hear the Lord so that we could walk in unity.Jan with Tikva 2104

    So, the apartment is ours for November / December and an Israeli company is helping us with Tikva’s travel – saving us hundreds of pounds in doing so. They are such a blessing. Tikva has her travel box and is ready to go! Isn't that a wonderful story?

    For this is our God, our God forever and ever;

    He will be our guide even to death. Psalm 48:14

  4. n-sinkhole-large570Gordey Eframov was travelling home in his Lada Niva in south eastern Ukraine when he suddenly found the ground vanishing underneath him. He said, “Because of the rain, traffic was going slowly and then when the car in front of me stopped I put on the brakes and slowed down. Then I suddenly got a sinking feeling and before I knew it, I was disappearing into the road. The car tipped onto its side and muddy waters started to flood in through the air vents and door.” Police said the broken drain had been leaking rainwater into the soil underneath the road, washing away the foundations and causing it to collapse when the car paused above. Police spokesperson said, “It was an accident waiting to happen. As long as the cars were moving fast over the top, it bore the weight, but once a motorist stopped, it was too much and it gave way.

    • “What happened there? The ground just gave way under my feet.”
    • “I didn’t see that coming.”

    On the one-hand, Gordey Eframov did not see the sinkhole coming, yet, on the other-hand the choice “not to maintain” the road meant that disaster was simply waiting to happen. The ground opened up, not primarily because of the traffic or external circumstances, but because of the lack of investment in the sub-terrain. The government spent its money elsewhere. Scientists say sinkholes occur when underground resources gradually dry up, causing the surface to lose its underlying support. Everything caves in – forming an ugly pit.

    What a prophetic picture for our time. It calls to mind God’s warning in the book of Jeremiah:

    'For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV).

    God in His great love offers absolutely everything – “everything for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). Amazing love, acceptance, fellowship, friendship, provision, protection, strength, power, wisdom, understanding, ability, nourishment and much more – but we, His people, often prefer to go it alone, by our own ability and resources, with so little prayer-reference to the Lord. Providing for ourselves, we “do life” our way. Sime times we even boast, “I’m independent and that’s the way I want it!” It ends in disaster – sinkholes are being prepared, not by God, but by our own choices. God’s heart weeps for the adultery of His people.

    The Ukraine chose not to invest in vital maintenance to infrastructure, and for a long time they got away with it. The road looked “fit for purpose” and held up. However, one day it collapsed and neglect was exposed.

    What lies in the sub-terrain of our Christian hearts? Paul says,

    “Let each one take heed how he builds. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:9-15 NKJV).

    dsc00640Is there recovery from sinkholes? Yes, there is a recovery fully provided for by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. What love! When disaster strikes, He waits for the invitation to step in to rescue, recover and rebuild our lives, from the inside out. Attentively, He brings us to healing repentance, which marks the beginning of a strong and purposeful recovery. God never abandons, ridicules or laughs at the demise of His people – He is always the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Restorer.

    1. Acknowledge brokenness. God will come swiftly to help.

    Sinkhole-prayers tend to be quite short and desperate: “Help!" or “O God!”

         2.  Acknowledge, without reserve and defence, how and when you have forsaken God.

    Diminishing spiritual vibrancy always leads to spiritual hardening. Truth is we have placed family, friends, pursuits and things ahead of a love-relationship with Jesus. We may kick and scream saying, “I’ve not forsaken God. It was not my fault. I meant no harm. Nobody else was hurt.” However, do not be hasty. What really lies in our hearts is often well hidden, even from us. More often than not, we are far too busy with other things to notice spiritual erosion—the gradual spiritual cooling and seemingly harmless compromise don’t even hit a conscious level.

    1. Take time to assess the damage, letting God and Godly friends provide the insight, wisdom and counsel needed to make the good recovery.

    In moving on too quickly, we miss God’s voice in the crisis. What is He saying? What is His counsel? Diarise time alone with the Lord. Step away from the family, friends and the crowds. Step away from responsibility and enter your “closet”, giving Him time to speak personally. Some other priorities will need to shift to honour Him in this process!

        4.  Be prepared to allow God to dismantle and remove the broken cisterns before rebuilding.

    Come to the place where confession of sin is specific, not merely general. Repentance is deep when we feel the weight and contamination of our sin! First, we have sinned against God – and that is serious. True repentance is soaked in tears, not smiles. What was the cause of the sinkhole? The most common is sexual sin, selfishness, self-sufficiency, self-reliance and self-opinion. God desires dependence upon Him, not independence from Him.

    In rebuilding, He will provide a new “cistern”, or to use another Biblical analogy, “wineskin” (Luke 5: 38) that can store and preserve the pure and living water of God – the Holy Spirit.

       5. Set new priorities and choose your friends carefully.

    Start over, making God top priority. Set a guard on time with Him. Learn to be diligent in seeking the Lord, not casual (Hebrews 11:6). Develop intimacy in worship and prayer (Psalm 95: 6-11). Study the Word of God (Colossians 3:16), letting it shape and govern life. Let His voice be your guiding voice (Psalm 19: 4-11). Carefully choose Christian friends who are both passionate for God and love you enough to speak truth.

    “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV).

    Jan Whitmore

    18 September 2015