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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today?’

Be not silent, O God of my praise! Psalm 109:1

I could not hear it. Since I am housebound and cannot walk witout pain, every Sunday for the past ten months I have tuned into the live stream of my church’s worship service. I bring up the social media link on my phone and then cast it to my TV. Today I had the picture but no sound.

First world problem…modern technology is great…when it works.

Was it my phone? I fiddled with the settings. Nope. I disconnected the stream and tried the connection through my desktop computer. Um, that didn’t work either. My heart sank. My weekly link with the Body of Christ in my little church was broken. I couldn’t hear the hymns, the prayers, or the Bible readings. It was an eerie feeling to see lips move but not be able to understand. I have a renewed empathy for the hard of hearing.

I must admit there are times I feel that way with God. I know He is present, He always is… But I cannot hear Him speaking into my life. Though I call out, my situation remains the same. It is as if my prayers hit the ceiling and then disintegrate into a puff of dust. Have you experienced that?

David in the Bible did. Read Psalm 109. He most likely crouched in a cave, hiding from Saul’s soldiers who sought to kill him so he wouldn’t take the throne. God had anointed him, yet the time for him to reign had yet to happen. Instead of fanfare and celebration of the royal robe wrapping in his shoulders, he now only heard the drips of stalactites and shivered in the coldness of the dark stone. Though he had to remain silent, he begged God not to be so.

I get that.

The Psalm continues with him asking God to smite his enemies. I get that as well. I want action. I want God to swoop down like a superman daddy and fix everything. I want the constant pain to end and be able-bodied again. Wouldn’t I serve you better that way, LORD?

But then, at the end of the psalm, David turns his attitude around.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
     I will praise him in the midst of the throng.

For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
     to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Jesus, in the silent night of Gethsemane, knelt in the silent night as his disciples slept, ignorant of his angst. He wanted his Father to take away the fate that awaited him—dying on the cross so His death would defeat sin and again bridge the gap between humans and their Creator. (see Luke 22:41-43).

But like his ancestor David, Jesus relinquishes his will to God’s. And so must I. It is the best thing to do.

Okay, I realize I am not facing enemies trying to slaughter me or have the eternal fate of humanity resting on my actions. But my health has isolated me. At times the silence is loud. I am tired of reaching out to friends and family who rarely reach back out to me. After all these months, they are living their lives but because I cannot be a part of it, I am not on their radar screen.

Yet in my heart, I know that God never disconnects from me. I might not hear His footsteps across my path but I have the examples of David and Jesus to rely upon. And Paul, and thousands of others who have suffered and yet not lost hope.

I will not be silent in my faith. I will praise the LORD in the midst of my “cave” and the dark silence of the garden even though my friends and family go on with their lives and do not notice my suffering. I know He is listening even though I cannot hear Him. I know in my heart I do not travel this road in solitude, even though it often feels that way.

God is there, and He cares.

So, I bow to His mercy… again and again. And I pray for others who feel alone in silence. Be it in a nursing home, or locked in their bedroom, or seated in a crowded school cafeteria, or cubicled in a noisy workplace. May they feel the hand of God rest on their shoulder. For He is there, standing at the right hand of those who need Him, seeing them, seeking to comfort them through their pain. Even if they cannot hear Him at the moment.

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I have often heard, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” But, once I learned I’ve got to battle some pretty tough times ahead, I grabbed onto my social media friend, Jo Ann Ruth Prevatt’s idea:

She wrote that God’s grace keeps pace with what we face. I like that. God gives us what we need to handle life. In other words, He provides just what we need when we need it.

I recall the monkey bars on my elementary school playground. I had to dangle several feet off the ground and grab the handle in front of me. Once I became sure I had a good grasp, I’d let go of the one behind and swing to grasp the next one. The goal was to make it all the way across to the ladder on the other side.

co wayfair

In life, I don’t always see the ladder at the other end, but I can see the next handle. God doesn’t ask me to “let go” before I grasp the next one. There is security each step of the way, and my faith tells me there will be an end to whatever I am to handle. And if I slip, my LORD is there to grab me, then hoist me up to the next handle. And can almost hear his encouraging whisper, “It’s okay. You’re doing great. Keep going.”

His grace keeps pace…

What do you need to grasp onto today to keep from giving up and falling hard? Whatever you need to handle, know that there is Someone who doesn’t want to leave you dangling in midair. He will give you the strength you need to move forward, and handle one “handle” at a time. Keep going. There is an end. You will be victorious.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory (Psalm 73:24).

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Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

I remember it all too well. Dad, grumbling, down on his hands and knees, moving along the wires of Christmas tree lights strewn across the floor. He had to test each one to see which one had burned out, causing the rest to not shine. Rarely did the culprit appear in the first ten or so bulbs. And once he found the burnt-out one, replacing it presented its own challenge. No two red ones next to each other. Heaven forbid! Mom had a strict pattern — red, blue, yellow, green, white. We used to hide the replacements in a small box behind the garland on the mantle just in case …

However, in a way, I think it describes the individualistic attitude that has become so prevalent in our society. We claim to not need each other. We want to do our own thing and if we don’t follow the norm, it’s okay. It is the way we are wired.

Today, the tree lights are individually wired so if one, or two, or ten go out, it doesn’t affect the rest of the strand. Modern technology at work. I am sure many folks appreciate the invention. I have to admit it is a time saver!

There is an old saying that states, “Christ unites, Satan divides.” From the Garden of Eden on down to today, it has been proven to be true. There is a reason believers are called the Body of Christ. We are not supposed to exist independently but are united in His love. It binds us together and flows through us so we can shine brightly into a dark and cold world.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ ... Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (I Corinthians 12:12 & 27, ESV).

When life happens to one of us that makes our light dim, we need the energy of the others to help us shine again. We need that connection of the Holy Spirit flowing through us. Not everyone can be strong and positive all the time. We are not wired that way. We humans need each other, rely upon each other and naturally band together in groups. John Donne had it correct when he wrote over 400 years ago that no one is an island.

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world … (Philippians 2:14-15, ESV)

As long as we live on this broken planet, darkness will linger on the edges, slowly seeping in. This season, be the light of love that points to Jesus the same way the star over the manager pointed people to Him 2000 years ago. May this darkest time of the year (Winter solstice) be the brightest one in your heart and gleam into those around you, be it the widow next door, the frenzied store clerk, the moody teen, or the grouchiest person in the office.

Uphold those who believe, and encourage those who do not. Shine the love of Christ into others’ lives and you might find yourself shining a tad brighter as well.

Now everyone, join hands and sing, “This little light of mine…”

Have a bright, shiny, beautiful Christmas season.

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As I have unpacked and hung pictures on the wall of my new apartment, I smile. Many are sayings that booster my faith, even when I just glance at them. I find God’s love adnpeace in them.

So, I thought I’d share some with you. Perhaps they’ll make you smile as well. We all need something to smile about.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

The Bible is the only book whose author is always present when one reads it.

We cannot change the wind but we can direct our sails.

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the apples in a seed.

From ghouiles and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us. (From an ancient Scottish Litany.)

And the Scriptural ones – perhaps you have these as well:

Every good and perfect gift comes from above. James 1:17

The Lord will watch over your going out and your coming in forever more. Psalm 121:8

The Lord is our refuge and our strength, our very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray….I will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

And above all else may we never forget that….

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One letter can make a huge difference. Mean versus moan. Bad vs bed. Dog vs. dig.

Take the words son and sin. The letters that are different are the letter I and the letter O. But there is so much more to that observation. Hidden in it is a great truth.

 

 

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. I Corinthians 10:24

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

 

When “i” is in the middle of our thoughts, we are self-centered.   S.I.N. = See, I need.

Replace that with “o” and you have changed your focus to others’ needs.  S.O.N = See, others need.

Here’s why.

Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth not for Himself but for others. He died for us so we could have a bridge of reconciliation back to the Father in Heaven who loves us. We, in our sinful nature with our “me first” attitudes, separate ourselves from that love. Christ shows us a better way.

Christ calls us to act the way He lived on earth — to be other-focused. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you “– the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12. Time again He rebuked His listeners for not caring for others first and foremost. John, Paul, and Peter reiterated this many times in their letters to the faithful. They understood what a servitude attitude was all about. They lived it.

By humbling ourselves and putting others as our priority, God sees our motive as an act of love for Him and what He created. Serving others, praying for others, and loving others takes our minds, actions, and hearts off ourselves. Then, we begin to realize we have something in common – we all need love. We need each other. We need God.

We are not an island floating in a vast sea alone. We are part of creation as a whole, dependent upon the Creator.

Yes, of course, we should love ourselves…as creations of God. But when that love of self becomes the main focus, then sin sets in and pushes out the Son from our hearts, minds, and soul.

Prayer can reverse the order. It can replace the “i” with the “o”. Ask God to help you be more other-centered. He will send His Holy Spirit to guide you away from self into selflessness. Peace and happiness will flow from you as a result.

 

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She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out. 2 Kings 4:22

She was rich, the Bible says. She would give the prophet Elisha a meal whenever he was in town because she knew he was a holy man of God. It was her way to honor him and the Lord. In fact, she made up a small room for Elisha to stay in so he could rest from his travels. But when her son fell ill and died, she didn’t lay the boy on his bed or even her own as was the custom for mourning visitations before burial. She laid him on Elisha’s guest bed and shut the door.

That, to me is an important difference. It shows faith. She didn’t mourn at all. She knew if anyone could revive her son, it was the man who acted for God, and hopefully, by the power of God, he’d heal the boy.

You see, she had been barren and Elisha prophesized God would give her a son in thanksgiving for her hospitality. So when that happened, she knew it as a gift from God. When her son collapsed in her arms and breathed his last, she sought out Elisha. She went to the source. She wanted the prophet, and only the prophet, to come since it was he who had prophesized she’d have the boy. Elisha saw her tenacious faith, went with her, and revived her son while she waited outside of the door.

The story tells me that when something awful happens to me, I need to respond in faith. Set it down, shut the door, and seek Jesus instead of wallowing in my sorrow or fear or hurt. Not try by my own knowledge or strength to handle it, and not to get angry with God. If I respond in faith, Jesus will respond to me.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

God may not do exactly as I ask, as Elsiha did for the tenacious woman, but He will do what is best in my situation. My response is to trust and pray. Shut the door on my problem and seek His face before anything else. He will know how to handle it as I wait patiently.

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A friend in my Bible study group said, “I keep having these negative thoughts crop up in my mind, and I have to yank them out. It’s like God is bringing them to the surface so I know they are there.”

It made me think about the “grow your own lavender” gift my son gave me. In it was a packet of seeds, which I planted in the provided soil and set out on my patio in a semi-sunny location. But evidently, some weedy seeds got mixed into the soil, probably from the bird feeder. Until they pushed to the surface and began to grow, I wouldn’t have known they had been buried there. Just like my friend’s thoughts.

Jesus told his dsiciples about weeds in a parable in Matthew 13:

2Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

Now in the parable, the man tells the workers to let the weeds grow with the wheat until harvest and at that time they could “weed things out”. Jesus was referring to Judgement Day. There will be good and evil side by side until then.

But the concept is the same. We are sponges. Our brains absorb images and actions in our surroundings, many subconsciously. Try as we may, it is hard to filter all the “bad” out. Through the mercy of the Holy Spirit, we can be guided to know what is good (of God) and what is bad (not of God). As these weeds, which are not of God, grow into our consciousness, we can plunk them out and refuse to let them take deep root. Bitterness, anger, envy, an unforgiving spirit…these are all things that, if left to grow, can choke out the fruit of the Spirit.

So the next time a negative thought floats to my attention like an answer in a Magic Eight Ball, instead of chastising myself, I will do as my friend suggests. Yank it out, give it to God and let Him deal with it. Gone. Then fill the “hole” with Scripture and let that grow instead.

How about you?

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But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16

When in comes to the Christan walk, there are three p’s:

Prayer

Power

Purpose

Prayer is the most powerful tool we have for fulfilling God’s purpose. When a car has a wobbly tire, it is hard to steer it straight. It keeps wanting to veer off. Prayer brings our mind, heart, and spirit in alignment with God the way a mechanic aligns the tires. It keeps us going in the right direction. Prayer is a privileged conversation with the Almighty, which requires listening as well as talking. It reminds us of God’s power when we humble ourselves and trust. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)

Power is an elusive thing, except when it comes to God. He has power over everything, yet He grants us the free will to accept it or not. Many people find this to be a stumbling block because they wish to retain power. But once a person experiences the power of God, they soon fall to their knees in awe, and their response is prayer. They discover a new purpose–letting go and letting God. They learn freedom is bliss inside boundaries. They are no longer tethered to the lie that they have to be in total control. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. (Lord’s Prayer)

diego rosa- unsplash

Purpose – most of us at one time or another ask ourselves what our purpose is in life, or if life itself has a purpose. The answer is found in our relationship with God. Job knew this even after he went through more calamities than a person should ever have to experience. He said, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). The Christian has two purposes, which Jesus stated all else rests upon–Love God, love neighbor. (Matthew 27:37-40). Neither is easily accomplished without the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives, giving it purpose.

The initial Scriptural quote from Exodus is concerning Pharoah and his hardened heart. I chose it as an encouragement. God has a purpose for everything and everyone. He used Pharoah to show His power not out of some ego stunt but to show His people, the Hebrews, that He was with them and would not forsake them. It was also to show Pharoah that he was not a god. His power was limited.

Today there is pesecution in ways we have never experienced, and some say it will only get worse. Society will conintue to crumble into chaos, morals will keep declining, and life will be further devaluated.

Fear not. God has the power and a purpose. We can seek that and receive it through prayer, bringing power and purpose to our lives and those of others.

For more information, consider getting P.R.A.Y.I.N.G: Bringing more Power and Purpose to Your Prayers

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“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… Ephesians 4:26

Anger is an emotion. Even Jesus experienced anger (see John 2:14-15). He cursed a barren fig tree and it withered. He called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. But He didn’t chew on his anger, digest it, and let it get inside of Him.

It is difficult to control emotions when they bubble up but we can choose how to respond to them when they do surface. IF your anger leads to malice, or envy, or pre-judgment or gossip or not treating the other person in love (even if it is tough love) then watch out! You may be giving the devil an entrance.

When we put a “d” in front of anger (the devil) is spells DANGER!

When anger bubbles up, be careful of what you think or say. Stop. Give it to the Lord. The old adage of counting slowly to ten before reacting has merit.

Anger can become more than a gut reaction. If we brood, it can lead to digestive issues and an embittered attitude. Righteous anger can lead to positive results if guided by the Holy Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) but anger that has been stirred by the devil rarely makes a good recipe to swallow. It is flavored with self and seasoned with negativity. Add a dash of hurt and you are in a stew!

We are all human, and we can get angry. But it is what we allow to happen next that makes all the difference.

I found God’s message today in adding a the letter d to anger in a word game. Where will you find Him speaking to you in your day? I’d love to hear your answer.

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Two years ago I wrote on hope seeing it as:

H – Holding

O – Onto

P – Promised

E – Eternity

Many people choose a word for the new year, and for the past several years ago I have as well. Last year it was grateful, and through this pandemic, being grateful for my blessings was something I leaned upon a great deal to stay faithful and positive.

This year God placed the word HOPE on my heart. I’ll be honest, that made me a bit nervous. Then I recalled my little formula.

Hope is more than wishing. The dictionary says it is to “expect with confidence.” When you and I hold onto the promises of the eternal, then it produces hope. God keeps His promises. He has in the past and He will continue to do so. As I often say, He is there and He cares.

Whatever happens in 2021, I know this to be true and I can cling to it. This is not my home, and this life is not all there is. There is an eternity waiting for me. An existence basking in the love of God, praising the Lamb for His sacrifice, and never experiencing pain, grief, illness, or rejection again.

A social media post asks if it bothers you that this year is saying “2020-won”? No, because God wins. Each and every time. That is a hope we can cling to.

David wrote , Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24. That is my prayer for you, no matter what this year brings.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews stressed: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we possess, for He who promised is faithful. (10:23).

Join me in holding onto the promises of God in hope – unswerving, steady, expectant confidence that He has got this. As Paul said, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Nothing can snatch us from His hands. Nothing. Not a virus, a secular angry society, an unexpected illness, a job loss, an unfaithful spouse, or the heartbreak of a wayward child.

Amen and amen.

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