Tag Archives: God’s Presence

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.

What God Wants You To Know (Psalm 94)

God’s Word is alive. Whenever I prayerfully read it, God always – always – speaks to me about something that applies to my life at that very moment. It might be a verse I’ve read many times before, but when I am going through something and need a word from God, that same verse brings on new meaning at just the right time. Oh, what a treasure I forfeit when I don’t spend time reading God’s love letter to me every day.

I’d like to share something Mom had underlined in her Bible, a couple verses that spoke to me from this psalm this morning. I think it might be something God wants us all to hear Him say as our world slowly opens up after the forced separation surrounding the virus.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (verses 18-19)

My prayer is that all of us will rest in the supporting love of our Lord. I pray that any anxiety we might feel will be replaced with joy that only God can give as we allow Him to console us.

Dear one, I would ask all of us to stop listening to the media tell us how scared we should be. Stop allowing Satan to cause us anxiety and hopelessness.

Listen instead to God, read His Word instead of the newspaper, and hear Him say that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); He wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Then, may we all go through this day, and tomorrow, and the next day with the confidence of God’s support, the joy that is ours through our relationship with the Creator. This is the day the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it, May 29, 2020, virus and all.

I think that’s what God wants us to know today.

Gatekeeping (I Chronicles 9)

Reading about the men who were assigned the position of gatekeepers for the Tabernacle, God’s house, convicts me. These men protected every inch, inside and out, day and night. No side or entrance was without someone making sure no unauthorized person had access. The treasures of God housed within those canvas walls were cherished and diligently covered with protection at all times. The Presence of God was guarded carefully.

Which makes me wonder how diligent I am about guarding God’s dwelling place in 2020. And according to I Corinthians 6:19, I am God’s dwelling place, His temple in the twenty-first century. Sadly, my gatekeepers aren’t always on the job.

Sometimes my heart isn’t protected from the enemy, or from unauthorized influence. I know there have been times when I’ve left a door unguarded, and allowed a thought, or a philosophy, or action enter because it looks harmless enough. Or maybe because I just wasn’t paying attention, the evil gets a free pass. Have there been times I’ve given the enemy access to God’s temple called Connie because others seem to think it’s ok and have given the enemy access to their hearts first?

Then, knowing God’s Church today is made up of individual temples like me, I have to ask myself how diligent I am about protecting her. Do I stand up for the truth of Scripture, do I hold my teachers and pastors accountable? Do I boldly stand up for what God has expressly stated as right, and just as emphatically reject what He says is wrong? Am I doing the job of gatekeeper over the treasures of Holy God, His Son Jesus, and the gift of grace?

Or am I a slacker? May God give me courage to be the gatekeeper He deserves. May I guard my heart, and the doors of my church with a boldness that honors Him and keeps His dwelling place pure.

I’m Not Feeling It (Psalm 88)

I was bothered by this psalm this morning. Heman the Ezrathite was in a bad way. I understand some scholars believe he was foretelling what Jesus experienced in the events surrounding the cross, and I can see some similarities for sure. But I read this psalm as from a man who was in despair himself at that moment. He is at the lowest point in his life, drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and friendless. In fact, the psalm ends with him saying that darkness is his closest friend.

Then to top it off, he feels abandoned by God. The psalm left me feeling uneasy. But I continued with my reading plan, reading other psalms that were uplifting and hopeful. I just could’t shake the feeling I’d gotten from Psalm 88.

So I went back to look at it again. “What is it You want me to see, Lord?” I prayed. I didn’t have to look very hard.

O, Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. (verses 1-2)

Heman didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy toward God. It wasn’t one of those times when the Presence of the Lord made him joyful, calm, and confident. It was one of those times when he couldn’t even feel the Presence of God at all.

But Heman KNEW God was his Savior. He KNEW God was present, even if it didn’t feel like it. And Heman was determined to continue to pray to the God he trusted.

God is asking me if I only want a relationship with Him when the circumstances of life are going in my favor, or do I trust Him in those times when I feel like I’m drowning, suffering, overwhelmed, and alone? Do I pray expecting God to snap to it like a bellboy at a five star hotel, and grant me my wish as demanded? Do I give Him the silent treatment when I don’t think He’s paying attention?

Heman prayed to “the God who saves me.” Not to the God who makes me feel good. Not even to the God who loves me. And Heman didn’t pray to the God who CAN save me. I love Heman’s confidence in God in the midst of his trouble. The God who saves me! Period.

So when my life seems out of control, I like Heman, can know that as His child, God is the God who saves ME. He doesn’t depend on my feelings. But I can depend on His faithfulness. Even when things are hard. Even when I’m lost and alone.

Even when I’m not feeling it. God is the God who saves me!

Dumb As An Ox (Psalm 73)

In our economy, we have come to believe that good should be rewarded, and bad should be punished. Even in some Christian circles, it’s believed that obedience should result in material blessings and disobedience should result in suffering. Sounds logical.

Even David struggled with his own sense of fair-play. When David looked at the success of people who had rejected God, he went as far as to say:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vs 13)

The old pity party raises its ugly head. Been there. Done that.

But David comes to his senses and said something that made me not only laugh out loud, it got me thinking. Look at what he says in verses 21-22:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yes, God, when I find myself jealous of the prosperity of people who don’t give you a thought, I’m being ridiculous. I’m as dumb as an ox, as silly as a goose.

The truth is, those people who reject God, yet seem to have it all, are on a slippery slope, heading for destruction, and they don’t even know it. What looks like success and happiness is, at best, temporary. And probably, most likely, it is a smoke screen for what is going on within. Money, and things, are not what we were created for.

On the other hand, I have God Himself! It is God who holds me, gives me direction, and blesses me in ways the world cannot understand. And I am heading toward eternity with God in a place too wonderful for words.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (vv 25-26)

 

 

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.