Tag Archives: God’s Presence

What Am I Missing? (Joshua 16-18)

The thing that always hits me when I read these chapters is how the Jews allowed the enemy to survive, knowing God specifically said to destroy them completely. They not only allowed the enemy to survive, the enemy was allowed to co-exist with them in the towns God had given the Jews.

I am also struck when I read these chapters, and hear Joseph’s clan demand more land than what they’d been assigned. They said their numbers were too large to fit in that portion of land, so they needed more. Joshua called them out and, in effect, told them the problem wasn’t the amount of land. The problem was that Joseph’s clan was just too lazy, or too fearful to do what needed to be done. They had all the land they’d ever need – if they’d clear it.

Sure, the Canaanites were a formidable foe. But the Canaanites were no match for God’s army. Joseph’s clan just needed to quit whining and go to war.

God uses these chapters to ask me if I have allowed the enemy to co-exist in my life. Is there a sin I’ve gotten used to having around? Have I watched enough TV to be desensitized to the seriousness of sin? Do I turn my head and ignore sin in myself and/or in others close to me?

When I read these chapters God also reminds me there is land to clear. There are battles to be fought in order for me to enjoy the Promised Land of His Presence in my life; in order for me to embrace all of Him and receive everything He has in store for me. God reminds me I need to go to war.

It’s tempting to ask God for more of Himself, more blessings, more opportunity to serve Him, without even trying to defeat the enemy in our lives. People pray, “Heal our land,” when they should be praying, “Heal my heart.” People pray, “Send revival,” when our prayer should be, “Revive me.” The problem isn’t that we live in a sinful world. The problem is that we are sinful, living in this world.

When I read these chapters in the book of Joshua, I wonder what it is I am missing by not trusting God to help me take everything available to me through the blood of Jesus.  What blessings have I forfeited? What opportunities have I squandered? What joy have I missed?

Dear God, I want it all. I want everything a relationship with You can bring. I want to go to war against sin in my life. I want to clear my heart of any remnant of the enemy. Convict me. Break me. Strengthen me to win my battle over the enemy. Oh God, I don’t want to miss a thing.

An Alternative To Grumbling (Numbers 16-17; Psalm 90)

My mother underlined Psalm 90:12,14 in her Bible. As I think about those verses this morning I am blessed by the fact that God knows the number of my days in this flesh and blood body I’m wearing. In fact, He’s already seen my physical death and welcomed me home, because He lives outside of time. I am forced to live this life one sixty second minute at a time. He is not. And knowing my days are in His hands brings me peace and assurance. May I begin every morning, allowing God to satisfy me with His unfailing love, with His joy so that I will sing his praises and be glad all my days.

The Old Testament Jews were always grumbling, always complaining about something. What a miserable way to spend our days. There has to be a better way, an alternative to complaining, doesn’t there?

Moses said something to the complaining Levites that spoke to me today. He asked them, “Isn’t it enough that God has set you apart and brought you near to himself? Isn’t it enough that God has given you the privilege of serving Him today in a way no one else can serve Him?”

The answer is, “Yes, it is enough.” Or at least it should be the answer. In fact, it is more than enough. More than I deserve.

So when I find myself wanting to grumble about something, I pray I learn to number my days, to get alone with God who has drawn me near, and allow Him to satisfy me with His unfailing love and joy. May I read His Word and pray, may I be “in the moment” of His embrace. May I be quick to turn from complaining, to singing His praises.

Oh, I can always find something to grumble about. But there is a better alternative.

 

 

 

The Presence (Exodus 39-40)

The book of Exodus ends with a description of the Presence of the Lord. Moses and the people had done everything God told them to do to make a beautiful dwelling place, fit for the King of Kings. And when it was done, God showed Himself to the people in all His power and glory.

May we do everything God has told us to do to build His Church, the place where He dwells on earth today. And may his Church, you and I, be fit for the Presence of the King of Kings in all His power and glory.

The More You Know (Exodus 33-35)

One of the verses Mom underlined in her Bible is Exodus 33:13. I love this so much about her, and want this to be my prayer, too:

If I have found favor in your eyes, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.

So many times my prayers sound more like, “If I have found favor in your eyes, heal me, or pay my rent, or make me happy.” Moses (and Mom) prayed, “If I have found favor draw me closer to You, let me know You better, Lord.”

Reading that verse makes me ask myself about the focus of my life and my relationship with my Savior. Is it health? Wealth? Happiness? Or is it God Himself, knowing Him, growing in Him, loving Him rather than always focusing on His love for me? I want my focus to be on God alone, about obeying Him and fellowshipping with Him. But sometimes what I want doesn’t translate into what I really do every day. Sometimes I’m more about me.

Mom also underlined 34:6, about what God said about Himself. Moses asked God for the privilege of knowing Him better, and in response God said this about Himself:

The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…

God always answers the prayer, “teach me about you.” He has everything we need to know about Him in the pages of Scripture. Do you know the compassionate God He IS? Have you experienced His grace? Do you know that, although God is a righteous judge who hates sin, He is slow to anger, that He gives chance after chance after chance for us to repent BEFORE he drops the hammer?

The more you know these things about God, the more you want to know, and experience. And God never disappoints.

I go back to 33:14, God’s reply to Moses’ prayer about getting to know Him better:

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

I want to know more about that!

October 8: A Clean House Is Not Enough

Luke 7:18-8:3, 11:14-26; Matthew 11:1-19, 12:22-45; Mark 3:20-30

Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, then turned around and committed the same sin again, or ended up doing something much worse than the sin God forgave? Do you constantly ask God to give you victory over a sin, but fail repeatedly to overcome?

I hope you’ll read Jesus’ words today. God is faithful to forgive every sin, every time we repent from broken hearts. But what happens next is crucial in our victory over that sin.

Cleaning house is merely the first step. Allowing God to forgive, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, is necessary – and wonderful! But we’ve got to fill that house, too.

If God forgave your sin as a result of repentance, if you’ve turned away from that sin, what are you turning TO? If we don’t fill our lives with godly endeavors, study of His Word and prayer, if we don’t replace screen-time with time invested in knowing God, we are opening ourselves up to repeating the sin God forgave, even worse than before.

Scripture tells us to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and you don’t do that sitting on a bar stool, or tucked away in a private spot looking at porn. You can ask God to forgive you a dozen times, but until you replace those things with things of the Lord, you will find yourself right back where you started.

Sure, it’s not easy. It might mean changing friendships, giving your passwords to your spouse or children, getting rid of cable TV, whatever. That deep cleaning is often painful. Do it anyway.

I remember looking for a house a few years ago. I’d walk into empty homes, no pictures on walls, no couches or tables or lamps. It would be barren. Clean. But lifeless. It took someone getting in there and replacing that space with life and love.

That’s what God wants to do with a cleansed heart. I pray you will repent of sin, allow Him to get in there and clean house.

Then make a concerted effort to fill your time, your thoughts, your relationships with the sweet Presence of Jesus. Let Him fill your house with Himself.

September 14; The Gold Scepter

Esther 5:1-9:17

Esther went uninvited to the king. People didn’t just do that. It could cost you your life if you went barging into the throne room without the king’s permission. But Esther had a problem, and went to the only one who could help her. Instead of receiving a death sentence, Esther received the King’s acceptance when he pointed the gold scepter toward her.

Our King on the throne of heaven is to be feared much more than anyone feared King Xerxes. Yet it’s nothing for some to go barging into His throne room with complaints and demands as though the King were subject to them. I think the Bible tells us God takes a dim view of that audacity.

Do you pray? I hope so. But have you first accepted the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus’ blood? If you have not, I think you might need to consider who it is you are approaching. Barging into God’s presence is serious business.

As a child of God, I can go into that throne room any time I want to or need to. You see, I am wearing the royal robes of Jesus’ righteousness. My King is my Father my Savior who holds out the gold scepter to me, then gathers me in His arms. He knows me. He loves me.  He wants me to talk with Him.

And when I, as his beloved, have a problem, I can go to Him without fear, without hesitation, fully trusting that the answer I seek is right there in the throne room. In fact Scripture tells me I can go boldly.

And I do.

 

September 11; I Choose God

Psalms 118, 129, 148-150; Ezra 6:19-22; Zechariah 9

I’ve sat here with my Bible open in front of me for some time this morning, wondering what God would say to me through these psalms of praise. These psalms talk about God’s enduring love, His power over the enemy, His goodness and salvation. “This is the day God made, let’s rejoice and be glad.”

But God made September 11, 2001, too. Are we to rejoice and be glad for the day 3000 people were murdered by Muslim terrorists? How do you reconcile that awful scene seared into the memories of all of us who were around that day, with a God of love?

So I started to re-read the psalms, asking God to teach me, and He pointed my attention to 118:4-9:

Let those who fear the Lord say; “His love endures forever.” In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (emphasis mine)

God is good. And this good God DID NOT place in the hearts of those evil men a sinister plan to fly commercial planes full of innocent people into buildings full of innocent people in the name of Allah. God did not do that.

What God did, however, was remove His presence and protection from a nation that had removed ourselves from Him. The psalmist tells us God’s salvation is tied to our position in Him. Do I fear Him? Do I walk with Him? Because if God is with me, I need not fear any man, or terrorist cell, or Satan himself.

But hear this: if I reject God, I have every reason to fear.

I wish I could say we Americans learned our lesson that day eighteen years ago. We said we’d never forget. We’ve not only forgotten, we’ve made the evil of the Muslim religion look peaceable. We’ve elected Muslims into our government. Islam is more revered than Christianity to some in this country. We’ve made Muslims our heroes, and a former president even apologized for the USA inciting them against us.

We didn’t learn to embrace the God of the Bible. We’ve made Him the enemy.

I remember standing in front of a classroom full of sixth graders when I heard the first plane hit one of the towers in NYC. I remember one frightening event after another reported that morning, and looked in horror as the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground, picturing the terror those inside must have felt before they died.

I heard people cry out to God, saw churches filled, flags proudly flown, promises made.

But that was eighteen years ago. Things change.

Dear one, 9/11 is only a glimpse at what can happen when a nation turns from God, when He removes His protection. Are we any closer to Him than we were back then? Are our churches teaching the Truth, our brothers and sisters in Christ rejecting Satan’s lies? Our we praying for our nation, our neighbors, our families to fear God and serve Him?

Do we want God to protect us? Then we had better be running to Him, obeying Him, loving and serving Him on His terms. Otherwise, He’ll let us to our own devices.

Our choice: Ourselves or God?

I choose God.  I pray you say the same.