Tag Archives: God’s Presence

At Home

Ezekiel 40-46

Reading about the Temple courtyard, the thick walls, the gates, and the little rooms surrounding the Sanctuary, I thought I’d like to have lived there had I been alive at the time. To walk out of my door that overlooked the place where God lived on Earth would have been awesome! I honestly had an “at home,” cozy feeling as I read Ezekiel’s vision this morning.

But then I remembered my heart is where God lives on Earth today. My! Heart! And I am overwhelmed with the same “at home,” and cozy feeling I had while reading.

Oh, the privilege of living in the actual presence of God! What comfort, strength, peace, and love envelope me! I don’t have to walk outside my door, or look toward a building to experience God’s Presence. I don’t have to wait for a priest to enter the Holy of Holies. I live there!

Yet I am reminded that not everyone can say the same. Only we who have humbled ourselves before our Holy God, recognized our sin and repented of them, accepted God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy through the blood of Jesus, can experience the Presence of God.

Christ in me, my hope for today and eternity.

Be at home in me today, Lord. Fill this temple called Connie with Your Presence. And may others recognize that this is where God lives on Earth! Then my prayer is that they will want You in their lives, too.

Let Your light shine through me today and point others to Your saving grace. For Jesus’ sake, and for Your glory!

It’s A Miracle Either Way

Psalm 91

My brother-n-law fell off the roof of his house and landed on the concrete driveway this week. The result? He didn’t hit his head, he has no broken bones. He bruised his shoulder and is in pain. It’s a miracle he didn’t die.

It’s a miracle.

I thought about that this morning as I read this psalm. Verses 9-12 say this:

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

When I first heard about what had happened to my borther-in-law, I said angels must have carried him off that roof. I think the psalmist would agree.

My cousin was trimming the limbs at the top of a tree when he lost his balance and fell. He died as a result of that fall. Where were the angels for him?

Both of these men had made the Lord their refuge, accepted Jesus as their Savior, and served him faithfully for decades. So why was Psalm 91 true for one and not the other?

I don’t know. I’m not God.

But I am reminded that God is Spirit, that His kingdom in spiritual. I know that, according to Scripture, my cousin fell from that tree and landed in heaven. The angels didn’t escort him safely to the ground, they escorted him right into the presence of God Himself!

My brother-in-law landed safely on the ground. And he will continue to live on this earth with all its blessings and curses, joys and hardships, health and sickness, laughter and tears. I’m very glad he’ll be around a while longer!

I am also reminded that God is much more invested in our spiritual health than our physical comfort. He has His eye on eternity, even if our eyes are on the 70, 80 short years we are alive on this planet. And what may not be true according to our physical bodies, God’s promises are 100% true for our eternal souls.

When we make God our refuge and take shelter in His spiritual arms, He will take care of us. Satan’s evil has no power over us when we are walking with the Lord. Verses 14-16 say:

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me, I will protect those who trust in my name. When thy call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

And one day, the angels will escort us into the glorious Presence of our Lord and Savior!

So whether we are saved from an accident, are cured from a disease, or leave this world to be with Jesus…

It’s a miracle either way!

Living in the Presence

Psalm 84

The Old Testament Jew had to physically go to the city of Jerusalem in order to be in God’s presence. God dwelt only in the Temple Solomon built. If you wanted to be in His presence, you had to go to Him in Jerusalem.

It couldn’t have been easy for the elderly or sick to travel over desert and mountain. It probably cost more money to make the trip than most people could have afforded.

Some parents today dread a two day road trip to Grandma’s with a few toddlers or teens in tow, even driving 60 MPH in air conditioning, a movie playing in the back seat, on paved roads and a McDonald’s every few miles.

Imagine a road trip on foot with whining kids, on hot, sandy paths with the sun blaring down, and rations of food and water on Daddy’s back. Bed time could have been on mats at the side of the road or perhaps a room in an inn in a town along the way. But if they wanted to be where God was, they had to make the difficult trip to Jerusalem. They had to go where God lived.

The writer of Psalm 84 longs to enter the courts of the Lord. In fact he wanted it so badly he said he was faint with longing. His whole being, body and soul wanted to be able to praise God to His face. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a sparrow that could build its nest right there at the Temple, to live close to God’s presence continually.

The writer of Psalm 84 would be blown away at the privilege we have after the cross.

We no longer need to go to God. HE CAME TO US! We don’t have to go to church, much less Jerusalem, to praise God face to face, to whisper in His ear, to walk with Him who is closer than a brother.

Of course, we know from Scripture, that privilege is reserved only for those who repent of sin, and receive God’s gracious forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. We live in God’s house, our bodies His Temple. I’m not sure we get the entirety of that truth.

Because sometimes we don’t even acknowledge Him, much less praise Him. It’s like that married couple who have been together for so long, they can go to a restaurant, enjoy a meal together, and not speak to each other the whole evening. They love each other. They are used to being in each other’s presence. But the old adage can be true: familiarity breeds contempt. (or at least apathy). The couple has grown comfortable with silence.

Does that describe your relationship with God? Are you so used to having His Spirit indwelling your heart you are comfortable with the silence?

I hope you’ll read Psalm 84, especially verses 10-12 and ask yourself if it describes how you view God’s presence in your life. Are you as passionate about being in the presence of God as the author of the psalm is?

I pray that you, and I, will walk with God today with the excitement of having Him with us. May we speak, think, act, with the blessed knowledge that our Holy God has come to us, to live with and in us in a real, vital, and amazing way.

Go with God today. Live intentionally in His presence. And rejoice for the privilege!

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.