Tag Archives: God’s Presence

Quitting Is Not An Option

Psalm 51; 78

I want to quit. I haven’t felt like I have anything worthwhile to post on my blog these days. I have failed to share Jesus when I’ve had the opportunity. I recognize the fact I’m not doing a good job at my children’s ministry responsibilities. My heart is not in playing the organ at church any more. I’ve sat back and been carried along by popular opinion rather than standing up for what I know is true. I’m a hypocrite.

I guess you could say I’m in a funk. And the lower I go, the easier it is to sin in thought and deed, and the further away from God I am. It’s a downward spiral I’m afraid I don’t have the energy to fight.

And that’s right where I need to be.

I read some psalms this morning and was encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. And He has been faithful! I can look back and recognize the many blessings that have come my way through good times and bad, through open doors and closed doors. I can remember times when He answered my prayers, when He showed up in undeniable ways.

As I re-read what I’ve just written, I am convicted at how often I use the word “I.” I am so focused on me and my failures that it’s no wonder I’m in a funk.

I took a break from writing this just now, and spent some time pouring my heart out to God. The truth is, I love having Him in my life. The truth is, He is patient and gracious and forgiving. The truth is, He delights in me as I submit to Him. I know the truth, so why am I falling for Satan’s lies?

So I confessed my sin, I admitted my helplessness, and asked Him to…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-11)

Here’s what I notice about those verses:

  1. The need to confess my sin and allow God to cleanse me whenever He reveals sin in me. Even my feelings of failure can be a sin if they are not from God, but from Satan who wants to discourage me. And if I am focused on myself, I’m focusing in the wrong direction. That’s a sin that needs confessed.
  2. The importance of a steadfast spirit. God never promised lollypops and roses. Life is hard. I will succeed and I will fail. But quitting is never an option when I am determined to follow my Lord.
  3. God’s presence is available. I don’t have to go it alone. God, in all His power and awesomeness WANTS to walk with me today. The Holy Spirit is my guide and protector. The question is, am I paying attention?
  4. Joy isn’t a result of good times, but rather in the fact that God has saved me through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. It’s a joy the world doesn’t understand because it’s a gift from God Himself.
  5. I need to be willing to let God do His thing in me. I need to be willing to submit to Him, to trust Him, and to get out of His way and let Him be in control.

No, quitting is not an option. And right now I am thanking Him for hearing and answering my prayer. I sit here with a clean heart, knowing He’s forgiven me, and my resolve is to serve Him with everything He gives me. I’m not alone. I am not defeated because God has and will continue to give me the victory for His sake and His glory.

Please understand, this is not about the power of positive thinking. This is all about the power of God in me as I submit to Him and allow Him to be everything I need in every situation. There is a huge difference.

It’s Not Forever

Job 42

I wonder how long Job suffered. From the moment he received the terrible news of his losses, to the moment he repented after hearing God speak, was it weeks? Months? Years? I don’t know. And I don’t pretend to know the degree of pain he endured during that time, however long.

But God pointed out something to me today I think some of us need to hear:

Job’s trial didn’t last forever.

Scripture tells us he lived 140 years after the events we read about in the book of Job. The reality is, as awful as it was, Job’s problems were a blip in the span of his lifetime. After God brought him through that period, he enjoyed life for another 140 years.

Are you going through something you feel might break you? You see no way out? No silver lining? If you know Jesus as your Savior, let God assure you this is a “light and momentary affliction.” Do you know who said that? It was the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17. If you know anything about Paul, I don’t think you’d define what he went through as light, or even momentary. The man suffered for the name of Jesus, nearly all of his adult life.

Whatever it is you are facing, God is able to see you through, even if you can’t see how. I’m not minimizing the pain you are feeling. Some of you are going through hard, hard situations right now. And some of you who went through hard times in the past, still carry the burden of loss. I know.

But I think God would have you know there is hope. Do you believe that? Do you trust Him?

Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I’m not going to tell you their story, but if you don’t know let me encourage you to read Daniel 3. It’s worth your time!

As the boys faced the fiery furnace, they declared their total trust in God by telling the king three things:

  1. God can rescue us
  2. We believe He will rescue us
  3. We trust Him alone with however He chooses to do that.

God doesn’t promise to keep us out of difficult situations. In fact, He tells us to expect them. What He does promise to His children is His Presence every step of the way. The king could see God’s Presence with the boys IN the fire!

And what I learn from these boys and Job is that if God brings us through our trial and gives us 140 more years to enjoy life on planet Earth, we win. If He chooses us to take us home to be with Him, we win.

Your difficulty right now will not last forever. I don’t know how God will end it, or when, but if you are His through the blood of Jesus, if you trust Him, He’s got this. Do you believe that?

I am praying that you will rest in the confidence that no matter how difficult life is right now, God is with you, God loves you, and there is a blessed solution to the problem.

It’s not going to last forever.

He Has Been With Me

Genesis 35

Obedience isn’t a guarantee everything in life will be easy. Jacob was a changed man. Where before he lied and cheated to get what he wanted, now he is a man who wanted to obey God. He got rid of all the idols and moved to Bethel because that’s what God told him to do. Then he moved from Bethel to Ephrath because that’s what God told him to do.

But on the way his beloved Rachel died. His eldest son Reuben slept with one of Jacob’s wives. Jacob was obedient – and life was still hard.

So if life isn’t easier, if good things don’t always happen for obedient people, why bother? I think Jacob tells us why in Genesis 35:3. Listen to what he says:

We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.

That’s the blessing of obedience – God’s Presence! If you say that’s not enough, you haven’t experienced God’s Presence!

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.

(Psalms 120-125) Walking With God

There is so much in Scripture about walking with God. These psalms remind me of the blessings that come from a right relationship with the Lord. God is with us, protecting us, guiding us, loving us. It is truly a blessing to walk with God.

But these psalms also remind me that there is judgment to come for those who go their own way in this life, those who walk away from God instead of beside Him. They may seem to be enjoying the pleasures of this world. And many are. Their smiles are genuine.

But there is a reality that will bring such pain and agony for them one day. It breaks my heart to think of it.

I am thankful that there is still hope for them while they are alive on this earth. God welcomes every repentant heart, forgives, and blesses each one now and forever. Life might not get easier walking with God. There are still hardships and trials in this life for all of us.

But walking with God is amazing, and will be even more amazing when our walk is with Him in heaven. I pray that each of you who read this post will experience a blessed walk with God.

(Psalm 77) Disappointment, Despair, and Deliverance

Have you ever gone through a time of crisis when you found yourself fighting despair, unable to sleep, not seeing an answer? Do you know that God has provided some direction in His Word for those times? Deliverance is available, and He wants you to know that.

Asaph was experiencing a time of crisis himself. And the 77th Psalm tells us how he went from disappointment and despair to confidence in the loving hand of God. I’m going to use some thoughts from Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful” (David C Cook Publisher, 2004; pp 246-249).

Asaph tells us about the darkness he was experiencing in the first nine verses. Notice that the first thing he does is cry out to God in prayer. He admits that he has refused to be comforted, that even the thought of God makes him groan, that his spirit is weak.

Does that surprise you? Aren’t believers supposed to have it all together? Aren’t we expected to exhibit joy and peace and faith at all times? Why is it so hard for us to admit there are times when we question, and hurt, and don’t have all the answers, when so often God has shown us through His word that yes, even believers have struggles? Friend, if you are hurting, admit it. Don’t hide it. Put into words what you are feeling, and cry out to God. He can take it. And He won’t leave you hanging. Let’s continue looking at Asaph’s example.

After Asaph prays and tells God exactly what he is experiencing, Asaph does something important. He remembers. He allows himself a moment to leave his pain and look back upon the blessings that he’s received in the past, the times God was faithful, the times when his relationship with God brought him joy, music, and blessings.

“So why not now?” he asks of God. Now we need a disclaimer here. When we question God – which is NOT a sin – we need to prepare ourselves to receive the answers, even if those answers hurt, or are not exactly what we expect them to be. If we ask questions of God, we need to be ready to hear HIS answers. Let’s look at the questions Asaph asked, and to God’s Word to find the answers:

  1. Verse 7 – Will the Lord reject me and never accept me again? The answer is NO! There are many verses in the Bible that reassure you of that, like James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”
  2. Verse 8a – Has the Lord stopped loving me? Again, the answer is NO! The prophet Jeremiah tells us in the second part of 31:3 that God has “loved you with an everlasting love.” When Paul asked the question, “Who can separate us from God’s love,” he answered with: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Verse 8b – Have God’s promises failed? That would be a resounding NO! Listen to what Paul said to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in (Jesus). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
  4. Verse 9a –Has God forgotten to be gracious? Another resounding NO! “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9b)
  5. Verse 9b – Is God too angry to show me some compassion? The answer to that is NO! The psalmist tells us “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5). Another psalm assures us “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (103:8)

Then, after asking God some questions, Asaph comes to a decision. In verses 1-20 he says, “I will” three times. I will remember the Lord’s work, I will remember his wonders, and I will reflect and meditate on his actions.

Asaph turned from thoughts about himself to thoughts of God. Wiersbe, on page 248 says, “When we look at our circumstances, we focus on ourselves and see no hope; but when we look by faith to the Lord, our circumstance many not change, but we do.”

Are you struggling? I’m sorry if you are. I understand life is full of trials and disappointments and struggles. But let me ask you this: Do you love God in spite of your circumstances? I pray that you do.

And if you do, let me leave you with a bit of hope straight from the mouth of the God who loves you enough to die for you:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Yes, even your struggles. I hope you’ll take time to read Psalm 77 today. Find a concordance or Google verses in God’s Word that contain the words, “compassion,” “love,” “grace,” “strength,” “worry,” “anxiety,” or whatever it is that comes to your mind. I think you’ll find tons of verses that speak to your need.

Because God wants to intervene on your behalf. You can trust Him to deliver you.

I’m praying for you.

(2 Samuel 9) Dinner’s On

Mephibosheth ate at King David’s table, was given land and protection, not because of anything he’d done, but because of whose son he was. Mephibosheth did not earn the right to be in the king’s presence by doing good deeds. The king extended grace because he loved Mephibosheth’s father.

Do you see a parallel? I am ushered into the Presence of the King through grace, not of myself, it is a gift of God. I can’t earn a place at the table, but I am blessed because God loves His Son, and I belong to His Son. God extends grace to me because He loves Jesus.

I realize Mephibosheth wasn’t healed. He remained a cripple. And God doesn’t always take away my problems, either. God’s grace doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free life. But I never want my problems to overshadow the blessings of God’s Presence and protection, or the fellowship He extends to me. Mephibosheth was blessed, and so am I.

I love living in God’s Presence. I hear Him say to me, “Pull up a chair, Connie. Dinner’s on.”

And I do.

Without Ceasing (Jude)

Do you pray in the Spirit? What does that even mean? Jude encourages us to build ourselves up in our most holy faith and pray in the Spirit. (Vs 20).

As I was sitting here thinking about this and asking God for insight, I looked at the verse printed at the bottom of the page in my journal:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table with my sister. I’m very aware that she is here. If I have a thought, I can share it and hear her response. Her presence next to me is a comfort, and brings me joy.

I think praying in the Spirit is similar to that. It’s an awareness of the Presence. It’s the natural impulse to share a thought or ask a question, or just to stop and listen. It’s intentional communication with the Spirit who lives in me.

It’s the choice to love God with all my heart, down deep in my soul, not just an emotional feeling of love. It’s loving God with my thoughts, my intellect, my careful reading of His Word.

Paul puts it like this: “Pray continually.” Or in another translation: “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) That is God’s will for you and me.

What a privilege to have the Spirit of God living in me. May I never take that for granted, but always be aware of the Presence. May my thoughts and words include Him, intentionally, lovingly…

Without ceasing.

No “I” (Galatians)

This past year I have been reading through God’s Word using my mother’s Bible. Mom went to live with Jesus in 1996, and I have had her Bible on my bookshelf for all these years. I always love reading God’s Word, but this year has been kind of special as I see what verses my mother underlined. Sometimes I see a verse she underlined and think, “Yeah. That sounds like Mom.” Other times I read something she underlined and wonder what was going on in her life at the time that prompted that particular verse to speak to her.

Mom underlined three passages in the book of Galatians, and I’d like to share them with you today. The first is 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I no longer live.

A dead person has no goals, no plans or desires, no ego. Can I honestly say that describes me? Have I been crucified with Christ so that Connie no longer lives? That goes so contrary to the popular theme of the day, that “I” deserve, “I” need, “I” can, “I” am…

A dead man has no “I.” Do “I?”

Paul, understanding that there was still life in his body, explained how he could be a dead man walking: but Christ lives in me.

Jesus filled Paul’s body with HIS goals, plans, and desires, and Paul gladly offered his body to accomplish those things on Jesus’ heart. Paul had no ego. His life was no longer his, but Christ’s.

Paul also understood that life in this body comes with challenges. It is a constant battle with Satan. Paul explained in another verse my mother underlined, 5:16, how he could resist the temptations Satan threw his way:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Paul didn’t say there wouldn’t be desires of the sinful nature. We are all tempted in some way or another. (think of the “I” mentality I spoke about earlier. The pull to gratify sinful desires is real.) But Paul knew that if the Spirit was directing him, the ability to resist those desires would be his as well.

The third passage Mom underlined was 5:24-26.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with the passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Crucifying that sinful nature can be a battle for me. Sometimes I feel like Paul in I Corinthians 15:31 because I, too, have to die daily. But I notice in this passage in Galatians, Paul gives me the key: keep in step with the Spirit. How? By spending time in God’s Word every day, praying for understanding and discernment, growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus, then I am able to keep in step with the Spirit who fills me.

These passages in Galatians highlight five things to me this morning:

  1. Crucified with Christ (is that true of me?)
  2. Christ in me (not just emptying myself, but replacing the “I” with Jesus)
  3. Live by the Spirit (being aware of His presence, making choices that He prompts me to make, spending time in God’s Word and in prayer every day)
  4. Belong to Christ (wow! I am His, and He is mine! Never alone. His precious child)
  5. Keep in step with the Spirit (I’m not emptied, then filled just to sit here and enjoy the ride. This part of these passages that spoke to my mother tells me the Spirit is on the move, and I better keep up!)

I’ve learned some things about my mother this year as I’ve read her Bible. But more importantly, I’ve learned some things about myself and my relationship with the Savior she loved.

My prayer is that today, I will not live. I pray that I will be a dead woman walking around with Jesus inside, my fingers touching the things He wants to touch, my feet going where He wants to go, my voice saying the things He wants to say. I pray that for you, too.

Choose Me (Ezekiel 42-43)

He was so willing. God would have forgiven Israel for every evil thing they ever did or even thought. “Here I am,” He said. “Here is my throne and a place for the soles of my feet. I’m not going anywhere.” They just needed to turn from their sin, put away their idols, and He would live among them forever.

Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple… its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. (43:10b-11)

He was so willing. But they couldn’t do it. And neither can we.

Sometimes connecting with God’s heart breaks mine. This morning as I read these chapters I could hear His longing, and could almost feel His pain. “Choose me!” He pleads.

He’s done all the work. That altar and its regulations were fulfilled perfectly when God sacrificed Himself on the cross. “Just choose me,” He cries.

I pray that you have, at some point in your life, chosen God, that you have repented from sin, turned from your idols, and turned to the Savior. But I hope that isn’t the only time you’ve dealt with sin in your life.

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin. He tells us He made a conscious decision to “die” every day, to put aside self and sin, and choose God. Every. Day. “To live is Christ,” he said.

Choosing God isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. Choosing God comes with sacrifice, hardship, selflessness. Choosing God means getting out of our comfort zones, going to battle, loving people who don’t agree with us, and praying for them. Choosing God goes against everything we’ve come to believe is true; that we should be wealthy and healthy, that we deserve to be happy, that as “children of the king” we should live the high life.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew the world would hate us for choosing Him, because they hated Him first.

But choosing God is the most amazingly wonderful choice you will ever make. Choosing God is choosing something better than anything this world offers. Better than money, or fame, or a home on Easy Street. Choosing God is choosing love and forgiveness, help and encouragement, purpose and fellowship, and eternity more wonderful than any of us can imagine.

“Choose me,” God is saying to you. “Choose me today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Choose me this hour, this minute. Choose me and I promise I will never leave you, I’ll plant the soles of my feet in your heart and bless you with Myself.”

I choose God today. I’m praying you’ll do the same.