Tag Archives: God’s Presence

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.

 

 

August 30; The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Ezekiel 40:28-43:27

There is so much symbolism in the description of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. This temple that represents worship, the church, you and me, and reveals God’s grace is intricate and beautiful. But today the thing that stood out to me is Ezekiel’s description of God.

Ezekiel heard the voice like the roar of rushing water, saw a radiance that lit up the whole land. I love that our Savior Jesus, during His earthly ministry, described Himself as the Living Water, and the Light of the World. Coincidence? I think not!

God’s glory filled the temple and He told Ezekiel, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” Doesn’t that thrill your soul? We, as God’s children here in 2019, are God’s address on this earth. I am overwhelmed!

The Triune God is in these verses. God, who speaks from within the temple, the Spirit who lifted up Ezekiel, and Jesus who stood beside Ezekiel tell me that God lives in me, directs me, and stands with me as I am obedient to Him. I praise Him.

Today I want to just meditate on the fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are here right now in this room where I sit. I want to enjoy His Presence, to be in this moment, to worship Him like He deserves to be worshiped . I want to love Him, and tell Him so.

July 10; Who Failed Who?

Psalms 75, 76, 77, 80

Have you ever felt like God isn’t keeping His promises? The psalmists did. They, like many of us, find ourselves in situations where God is noticeably silent or worse, absent. Didn’t God promise to never leave or forsake us, to be our strength and shield, to give us everything we need? So why does it seem there are times He reneges on His promises?

When the psalmists felt disappointed in God, they often started to remember the many ways God had been faithful in the past. God had proved His faithfulness over and over, fulfilled one promise after another. Then inevitably, they realized it was they, not God who had reneged on their promises to Him.

As I read the Bible I am reminded that God loves to bless His people. God longs to shower His children with love and joy and peace, and to enable us to enjoy His creation designed for our pleasure. But it is we who stand in His way.

The psalmists say, “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them…,” “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago…,” “Restore us O God Almighty; make your face sine upon us, that we may be saved.”

Someone once said that if you feel like God is no longer with you remember, He’s not the one who moved. We move away from Him one sin at a time. One sin, then another, and another, and soon we find ourselves so far from Him it feels like He’s abandoned us. We forget He cannot and will not tolerate sin in any of us. And He won’t stay where sin is present.

The next time you feel like God isn’t paying attention to you, that He has failed to keep His promise to you, consider your heart’s condition before a Holy God and ask yourself this:

Who failed who?

 

 

July 8; What Have I Done To You?

Micah 4-7

When I read what God says through the prophet Micah, and apply it to my life, I am convicted and humbled. I mourn, and I rejoice.

God is once again expressing His frustration with His people (which is me). He can go over the many ways in which I am blessed, the countless times He has been faithful to me, and yet find me unfaithful and disobedient.

He can warn me about the consequences ahead, the severe penalty for sin, yet I tell myself I have plenty of time before I really need to repent.

I hear God ask, “What have I done to you, Connie? Have I burdened you? Answer me.” (6:13). And I am speechless. I have no defense.

The truth of the matter is, God has blessed me. I have everything I need in this life. I have more than I need. I have Jesus Himself! I know the One Michah describes, the Ruler who came from Bethlehem Ephrathah, who is the eternal One, the Good Shepherd. I know Him! I am His and He is mine!

May I remember God’s past faithfulness to me, may I stand with Him to defeat my enemy Satan, may I hear Him, obey Him, love Him like He deserves.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior, my God will hear me. (7:7)

 

July 1; Reaping and Sowing

Hosea 5:8-9:17; 2 Kings 16:10-18, 15:30-31, 7:1-2; 2 Chronicles 28:22-25

God doesn’t mess around with disobedience. And He doesn’t stay where He is not honored. Hosea 5:15 says:

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

That pretty much sums up the history of man. And the history of me.

The Jews entertained worship of pretend gods. Idolatry was often tolerated, and sometimes became the nation’s religion. They knew better. They knew God (or should have). Their ancestors had walked with God. They knew God blesses obedience, and punishes disobedience. Certainly they had heard the stories.

Sometimes the Jews chose disobedience anyway. That disobedience was always met with disaster of one kind or another. But I think the most devastating consequence for disobedience was when God removed Himself from their presence, when He left them to their own devices.

Famines were bad. Plagues were awful. War was brutal. But life without God has to be the worse.

What we see in almost every book of the Bible is people sinning, people going their own way, and God disciplining their disobedience. Sometimes that discipline involved God turning His back on them; but He always did that with one purpose: for them to seek Him in their misery, in order to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible also reveals a loving, faithful God who forgives His children every time they (we) repent.

Galatians 5:7-8 comes to mind:

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

I’ve found all of that true in my own life. I know what it’s like to be totally void of His Presence when I’ve held on to sin, when I reap the fruit of sin. I could put on a Christian front, but my fellowship with God was severed. That, my friend, is the definition of lonely.

I also now what it’s like to fall on my knees and beg God for forgiveness, to feel His Presence one again when I am washed by the blood of Jesus. I know what it’s like to reap the fruit of the Spirit.

So, how does your garden grow? What are you reaping? You will reap what you sow.

June 15; It Keeps Coming

I King’s 17-19

The more I read the Bible the more I realize people haven’t changed all that much since the beginning. Take the widow woman, for example. During the famine God miraculously provided her with flour and oil so she and her son, and the prophet Elijah, could eat. She didn’t do anything to earn God’s provision – except obey. She obeyed, and God kept it coming.

But then her son got sick. What did she do? She blamed Elijah and, in turn, God. “Is that why you’re here?” she asked. “Did you just come so you could kill my son?”

Elijah’s not any different than the widow, really. He asked the same of God (who had just spared his life, too, with the never-ending flour and oil). The son did not die. And the miracle came through Elijah.

Later Elijah, who had demonstrated great faith in God, who watched God do amazing things, unexplainable things, who was protected by God, fed by ravens and angels, had doubts. King Ahab was out to get him, and Elijah felt all alone. It was too much. He wanted to die.

Can you relate? We are so blessed by God. We see evidence of that every day. Some of us have witnessed extraordinary ways God moves. But when tragedy, or hardship comes, the first response of many of us is to blame God. Or question Him. Or at least give Him the cold shoulder for a time. It’s so much easier to recognize God’s blessings in the good times. It’s a bit of a challenge to see those same blessings when we are hurting

But I am reminded today about God’s great love for His children. The flour and oil kept coming for the widow and her son until the famine was over. God encouraged Elijah by assuring him he wasn’t at all alone. In the midst of trouble, God was still keeping His blessings coming.

And that’s His MO still today. I don’t know what life is like for you right now. You may be going through a really hard time. Maybe you, like the widow find yourself striking out at God. Or like Elijah, you might be feeling abandoned by everyone including God. But hear God whisper in your ear, “I’m right here.” Open your eyes to the ways He demonstrates His love for you right now while you are struggling.

Because I know, as evidenced in Scripture and in my own life, even in the darkest nights, God keeps His blessings coming.