Archive for the “God’s peace” Category

Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.

Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
Psalm 84:8-9

I love the way the Psalmist throws a prayer into his Psalm. He has been writing (singing, actually) about how wonderful God’s dwelling place is and how He blesses those who walk His path. Then the Psalmist turns and directs a quick prayer to God. I want my life to reflect that. (What I really want is for my life to reflect this entire Psalm.) I want to be one who longs for His presence, who experiences His peace, who ever praises Him, and in the midst of it all, who turns my heart toward Him and whisper a prayer. “Hear my prayer, O Lord. Look upon our strength, O God. Look with favor upon your anointed one.”

The prayer seems to reflect a secret intimacy between the author and God. The Psalmist doesn’t dwell on his request or pray a long flowing prayer. He is in the midst of singing to the Lord about His wonderful fellowship, and He simply pauses to address God directly. It’s that pause and looking at God and asking for His blessing that carries the sense of intimacy for me. I’m reminded of conversations with my husband in which we are talking along about one subject, interrupt ourselves for a quick request, then move back to the original subject. No, my husband and I aren’t typically singing praises to one another (although we’ve been known to do that – try it some time, you’ll like it!), but the passage is reminiscent of a shared intimacy that allows for conversations to be interrupted and continued. Of course, the intimacy factor is ramped up in the Psalm because of the subject matter here.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Psalm 84:10

The Psalmist returns to the theme he started with in verse 1. How lovely is God’s dwelling place! It is so lovely, that the Psalmist would rather spend one day with God than a thousand elsewhere. Lord, if I only have one day, let me spend it with you. Is that your heart’s cry?

Then the Psalmist goes a step further. The word translated “doorkeeper” is only used once in the Old Testament, and that usage is here in this verse. That makes providing a true definition difficult. It comes from a root word that used more commonly, however, and the root word can be translated “threshold.” The Psalmist may be saying that he would rather live one day in the thresholds of God’s courts – notice that’s just outside the temple – just outside, but very near the presence of God – the Psalmist would rather live there than inside the tents of the wicked. Again, it begs the question: Is that your heart’s cry? I so want it to be mine.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Psalm 84:11-12

The Psalmist ends speaking adoration and truth. The Lord is a sun and shield. He will enlighten and protect. He will bestow favor and honor. He will withhold no good thing. Truly, the person who trusts in this Lord is blessed.

Wow! What a Psalm! I said at the beginning of our meditation and I’ll repeat it here – it is a perfect psalm for calming frayed nerves, soothing weary souls, and bolstering waning faith. We live in a rapid-paced world (is that the understatement of the century?) and we have an enemy who seeks to defeat our faith at every opportunity. Psalm 84 is a place we can go to combat both those enemies of our soul. Its twelve verses whisper volumes to my spirit.

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God’s Sweet, Sweet Presence

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

Psalm 84:1

If ever there was a great Psalm for meditation and for calming one’s nerves, heart and soul, it would be Psalm 84. And wanting to write a blog about it, it seems often I can do nothing other than quote or rephrase the Psalm. Yet I feel compelled to write. Let’s see where this leads.

How lovely, how pleasant, how loving, is the place that the Lord dwells — the place He lives, the place He inhabits. Lovely seems like an awfully weak word, yet it also seems perfect. If I were writing the Psalm, I would probably have written how awesome, how WOW, how incredibly WOW is the Lord’s dwelling place. (Not much of a writer, am I?) But in his word “lovely,” the writer of the Psalm has caught the very essence of being in God’s presence – sweet, peace that overrides and carries through everything else. Yes, God’s presence is awesome and full of the WOW factor, but when all is said and done it is the sweet peace of the Lord that remains. How lovely is the place that the Lord inhabits.

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Psalm 84:2

Having tasted that sweetness of the Lord, nothing else satisfies and we long for His presence again. Lord may I experience the sweetness of Your touch, the loveliness of Your presence so regularly that when I stray, I remember it and long to return. Lord, may my heart and flesh cry out for the Living God in the darkest of times and in the brightest of times.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:3

Can you hear the psalmist’s heart? I hear jealousy that even the sparrow and the swallow can dwell near God’s altar, living there when the Psalmist must leave to attend to life. I also hear reverence – a place near God’s altar where she may give birth to and raise her young. What a privilege to do so near the heart of God.

Notice, also, that the Psalmist has begun to make a shift here, from God’s dwelling place to created beings dwelling near God. We’ll see that shift fully materialize in next verse. First, I want to look at the concept of the altar a bit more.

What’s the purpose of an altar? Altars were where the sacrifices were made. We think of an altar as a nice clean kneeling bench or something similar, but it was a place where blood was shed for the temporary forgiveness of sin of the Israelites. It was a bloody, gory place…yet it was lovely to David because He had experienced the forgiveness of sins. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a lovely, sweet, place because it represents the presence of God as the One who forgives sins.

Do you know that mighty presence of God? Do you know that sweet Spirit that follows the “WOW” of God’s awesome presence? Do you know that your sins have been forgiven? Scripture teaches that God is faithful to forgive sins when we ask (1 John 1:9). If you’re unsure, ask today. He will faithfully forgive your sins and you can begin to experience the sweetness of peace with God.

Then spend some time in God’s dwelling place – His presence. Don’t wait for church on Sunday or prayer meeting on Wednesday night or your next small group meeting. Enjoy your own private audience with the Lord today.

The next blog will look at the blessings that come from dwelling with God according to verses 4 through 7.

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I apologize, readers, that over the past month I haven’t come close to achieving my goal of two to three posts each week. A couple of days each week I’ve driven across town to sit with a dying friend through her final days and nights on this earth. What a privilege it has been! I’ve found, though, that my mind and heart were so focused on my friend that writing blogs was difficult. I’ve been reading Scripture quite a bit, and thoroughly enjoying it, but unable to get many thoughts in writing. (I did sometimes write short notes on Facebook – be sure to become a friend of the Apprehending Grace FB page.)

My friend went home to be with the Lord Tuesday morning. Today, I’d like to share some reflections with you. I’m looking over the past month and simply musing on life here on earth and God’s interruptions in it.

  • Life is precious. It is so easy to get bogged down in the trials and challenges, even the minor annoyances, of this life. Don’t let it happen! Each day is a gift from God. Over the past few years I have struggled often waking up not being as joyful and thankful as I want to be. I have committed over and over to say to the Lord “Thank You!” each morning. After a few days I forget. I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what trigger to use to remind myself to be thankful first thing in the morning. During this process, I’ve realized that the first thing I look at each morning is the clock that is next to my pillow and at eye level. I’ve put a simply sign on it that says “Thank You, Lord, for today!”
  • Enjoy moments. Don’t let the challenges of this life be your focus. Even as my friend’s strength was growing weak, we went for a “walk” around the hospice house (she in the wheel chair, I in the driver’s position). I wheeled her up to a glass door to look out. She motioned for me to move her closer. Assuming she couldn’t see out the window, I did so. That wasn’t her intention. She immediately pushed on the crash bar and turned to me motioning for me to join in the fun of her “jail break.” She was determined to have fun in her last days.
  • Remember God’s promises. We talked a lot about the promises of God over the past month. Yesterday, I was reading a book by Philip Yancey called Finding God in Unexpected Places. It’s a great book full of short chapters about finding God in all walks of life. He quotes a former pastor of his as saying this:

As churches grow wealthier and more successful, they’re less likely to sing “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through” and more likely to intone “This is my Father’s world.

God has given us many precious promises, and it seems that the better this world gets, the more we put our hope in it instead of God’s promises. Let’s focus more on God’s promises than what this world may or may not have for us.

  • Leaving this earth is often quite difficult. The dying process is long and arduous for many people. I’ve often wondered at that. One thought I have is that we were made for everlasting life – our bodies resist dying because we weren’t meant to die. Death is a result of sin. Praise God that He has made it possible for us to pass from this life into eternal life – because Jesus died in our place. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  • Family and friends are more important than most other things. Hence, I’ve neglected my blog and to a lesser degree I neglected my business. I also neglected my husband, but he was totally understanding and encouraged me to do so. Now this was an “emergency” situation, but I am sorry I waited for the emergency to get to know my friend better. I’ve called her “friend” throughout this blog because she was. But she was also my cousin and after high school we moved away from each other and barely largely lost contact. About eight years ago we moved to within two hours of each other, but still only saw one another once a twice a year at family gatherings. I so enjoyed getting to know her again and am sorry we didn’t make getting reacquainted a priority sooner.
  • Be forgiving. Among the many conversations we had, my friend made the comment “we need to make room for one another’s craziness.” We’re all a little crazy, and family relationships can make us even crazier. What she was saying, a bit more colorfully perhaps, was “love one another” (John 13:34).
  • God is in control. So many, many times over the past month, I watched God control my schedule to accomplish His purposes. Unfortunately, in my heart I didn’t always respond positively and in faith. Sometimes I grumbled. God is so gracious that He did it anyway and then unfolded His plans before my very eyes.
  • Our enemy, satan, comes to steal, kill & destroy. Christ came so that we might have abundant life. (John 10:10) I hate the cancer that took my friend’s life (and the lives of five other family members in the past five years). Satan is the author of that cancer. God, in His abundant grace and overwhelming love, is the author of life. He created it, sustains it and He makes it possible for it to never end. I choose life! I hope you do to!
  • God is our peace. The circumstances of this world might give us a temporal joy or happiness, but God gives peace. I love the temporal joy and happiness, but I’ll take the abiding peace over it any day. Out of that peace grows an abiding joy and strength. Thank You, God!
  • God is good. When all is said and done, God is good. Period. No question, no doubt. God is good.

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3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4
Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

I woke up in perfect peace this morning. What a wonderful thing! I honestly can’t remember when the last time was that I slept so well and woke up in such peace. Which is a huge God thing because a little more than three weeks ago I had some routine tests that led to some less-than-routine tests that are leading to surgery to rule out some serious medical issues. There’s an 80% chance that I’ll be fine…and a 20% chance that I won’t be so fine.

And the very-cool-very-God-thing is that (for the most part), I have been able to not be anxious about it. No, it goes beyond that – I have had a supernatural peace surrounding me and filling me. Sure, I’ve had my less peaceful moments when I needed my husband to hold me and tell me he had a feeling everything would be all right! But there have been very few of those moments and in between them I have a strong confidence in my God who has promised so many things to me.

I’ve always wondered how to have this kind of peace! I know I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend to have it all together, but I am learning some things through the process that I’d like to share. God has been gracious enough to open my eyes to things I’m doing that help me experience what He’s doing in me – giving me peace beyond my wildest expectations! Maybe some of these things will help you keep the peace.

  • Purpose to pursue God in your situation. I remember as my husband and I were driving somewhere shortly after my second test. I looked at him and said, “I so want to do this well. I want to trust God in a way that I haven’t trusted him in the past.” God saw the desire of my heart and is giving it to me.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart

Psalm 37:4

  • Don’t be so proud – ask others to pray for you. I am absolutely certain that the prayers of faithful friends have a lot to do with my peace. I think it was in the same conversation when I said I wanted to do this well when a few minutes later I said something about not doing so well with all this. That’s when my husband reminded me that when I’m weak others will stand in the gap for me. His comment restored my peace. Share your needs with friends, and don’t ask them to pray just for healing. Ask them to pray for God’s presence to be manifest in your life.
  • Remind yourself of the promises of God. I wrote the blogs on Ephesians 1 shortly after I learned that more testing was needed. I have been so blessed when I meditate on Paul’s words that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms simply because I belong to Christ.
  • Have a rhema Word from God to hold on to. The Bible uses two different words that are translated “word” – logos and rhema. There is not complete agreement on the definition and use of these words: many evangelicals believe there is no difference; many charismatics believe there is a substantive difference. I fall into the camp of the charismatics on this one. Have you ever read the Bible and a specific passage came alive to you and seemed to have supernatural application to your life at that time? That is what would be called a rhema word. A rhema word is a word from God that has immediate and significant, even supernatural impact in your life at that time.

One of the characteristics of a rhema word is that it is life-giving. It is the word used in Matthew 4:4:

But he answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

Guess what! You and I can’t control God (for which I am quite thankful!). That means we can’t demand or manufacture a rhema word from God – He has to reach down and give it. But you can put yourself in a place where you are more likely to receive it. We all hear from God differently, so pursue God diligently in the way you are most likely to hear from Him:

    • If you most often hear from God through His Word, be especially diligent to study God’s Word.
    • If you hear from God most clearly during worship, add times of worship to your week. Listen to worship music, attend your church’s worship team’s practice session.
    • If you experience God most often while serving others, serve wholeheartedly.
    • In all these things, ask God for a word or promise to hold on to. God will speak to you.
  • Stay connected with the Body of Christ, particularly those people who tend to hear from God prophetically (or those who are prophetically gifted). My pastor prayed for me last Sunday and during the prayer he spoke prophetically that God was going to show me His goodness and grace in the coming months in a way that I haven’t known in the past. WOW! Does that mean my diagnosis will be the one I don’t want but He’ll walk through it with me, or does it mean I’ll be in the 80%, which would be showing wonderful goodness and grace to me? I don’t know. But I know He’s going to show me His goodness and grace beyond what I have known in the past and that’s a promise that fills me with hope and peace. It is a promise that makes me look forward to whatever God has for me in the coming months.
  • Limit yourself when it comes to learning about what might happen in the future. I’ve talked with doctors and they are very careful to only give you enough information to get you to the next test. The Internet, on the other hand is happy to let you spend hours reading about all the what-ifs that might come into your life. The doctors know what they’re doing in this regard. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m approaching that tipping point where information is about to rob me of my peace, joy and faith, and I back away from the edge. I’m not deceiving myself or not facing the truth. I am just acknowledging that dwelling on the details can quickly overwhelm me so I back off and run to my storm shelter. I know the truth about my situation and choose to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty instead of staring down the barrel of possibilities that may never materialize. To do the latter is to invite the enemy to wreak havoc with my peace.
  • Limit yourself when it comes to talking about your situation negatively. This is very similar to the point above. I process things verbally, so the temptation for me is to talk, talk, talk about it. Anytime someone says “how’s it going?” or “what’s new?” my mind immediately jumps to these tests which occupy the major portion of a couple of days each week. It doesn’t take many sentences, though, before I can hear the strain in my voice. There’s that tipping point again. Back away from the edge – most people don’t want that much detail anyway.
  • Throughout the day when my mind wants to dwell on the what ifs, I return to the rhema Word, other promises God has given me, and the goodness of the God who loves me and blesses me beyond my ability to comprehend.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

I’m reading a book about grace. In it, I read that Charles Spurgeon, the famous British pastor, once described faith as:

“believing Christ is who He said He was and that He’ll do what He promised to do – and then living accordingly.”*

I want to live in such a way that people see that I serve a God I trust. Otherwise, why would they want to meet Him?

* Captured by Grace, No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God by Dr. David Jeremiah, Thomas Nelson, © 2006, page 36.

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I love the Lord! This is a super crazy week! A super crazy week. Long, long work hours. It will probably be our busiest week of the year at work. Our community is engaged in a 24/7 prayer watch with community worship every evening. I’m involved in planning a ladies’ retreat that will be this Friday and Saturday. I didn’t get my grocery shopping done last week so we have no milk, bread, bananas (a staple in our house) and a long list of other things. My husband has been fighting a cold and I have felt the fatigue from it, although thankfully not the sinus and chest congestion. It is a super crazy week! And I’ve wondered how I would be able to write a blog (or two!). Writing blogs on a regular basis is a priority for me…but so are lots of other things!

So mostly, I’ve committed to not worrying (the theme of our retreat, coincidentally) and to do my best to sit back and watch God work it all out…all the while moving with what feels like warp speed from one task to the next. Are those two things possible in the same moment? Can I sit back and watch God work while I’m working and moving at a high rate of speed? Well, watch this space for more on that. There’s bound to be a future blog about it.

But back to loving the Lord. Now that you know the back story, let me tell you how the Lord is surprising me with joy. Sunday was the last day for signing up for our ladies’ retreat. There were at least 50% more people signed up than we expected! Praise God! (Right?) Well, we had planned a retreat that was going to be small and intimate in nature – one in which we sat together and shared what God was teaching us. One with lots of time for laughter and tears. No lecture format. There’s a point at which that format doesn’t work, though, and I’m afraid we’ve passed that point in attendance, so I’ve been wondering how to deal with it. It’s the top item on our prayer list for our next and last retreat planning meeting (which begins in less than two hours).

Yesterday as I mused about the situation (notice I am specifically not using the word “worry” because I am refusing to do so – I was simply wondering what God might do and I was beginning to pray for creativity) – anyway, yesterday as I mused about the situation, God made me laugh! He impressed upon me what His perspective must be of all the little plans we make. We’re almost like children playing grown-up – like the little girl playing “mommy” or the little boy playing “daddy.” He’s not deriding our efforts, in fact, I believe He is blessed and honored by our best efforts to bring Him glory. But we are His children, and I think sometimes He watches us in amusement as we “play” grownup. I’m OK with that. In fact, I am happy to bring my Savior amusement!

Then this morning…Late night, early morning, but I sat at my desk, bowl of oatmeal/12 grain hot cereal in front of me and water at my side, ready to greet the day. I took a deep breath and opened my Bible. I took a deep breath to help me resist the cry of all that was to be done and decided to continue my reading in Isaiah. I made it nine verses. Isaiah 19:9 struck me:

Those who work with combed flax will despair,
the weavers of fine linen will lose hope.”

Improbable verse to be struck by, right? Well, what struck me was not some deep spiritual significance or detailed meaning of any of the words…well maybe some of the latter…what struck me was that I read the first line as “those who work with com-bed flax will despair.” What in the world is com-bed flax? What is com-bed? Is it some different kind of flax? (That would be the two syllable kind of flax – you know the com-bed flax!) I must have blinked then because as I was scrunching my brow try to figure out what the word com-bed meant, I finally saw that it was the word “combed” – as in comb your hair which is something I barely did this morning! It made me laugh out loud.

Thank You, Lord, for laughter in the midst of deadlines. Thank You for helping us see that life is not so serious and important that there’s no time or room for expecting  joy and laughter.

Now I’m going to go greet the day with a smile on my face. How about you?

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While considering the issue of stopping the misfires of my brain when I’m trying to read God’s Word or enter His presence, God brought to mind several interactions I’ve had with children and young adults over the past few years. I’d like to share them with you.

From the Mouths of Babes…
One young friend came up to me recently and stood looking at me expectantly. When I asked how she was doing, she launched into a long, animated (in my mind, anxiety-producing) discourse about how busy she was. She didn’t say anything wrong, per se, but remembering the conversation hits me like a slap in the face. As I re-hear her words and remember her demeanor I realize that she was reciting her crowded schedule (which included being too busy for breakfast) to impress me and win my approval.

She is not alone. God brought to my mind other interactions in which teens have recited their busy schedules in an attempt to seem more grown-up or to impress the adults in the room. In each case, the things they were doing were good things, but what has come clearly into focus for me is the very high value that has been placed on having a busy schedule, rather than placing the high value on the activities themselves or even lack of activities so that we can spend more time face to face with the eternal God.

…Come the Values of the Adults
Children learn to value what the adults around them value. Our children are learning that busy-ness carries a high value. I wonder if they also see that quietness is a high value. I wonder if they see that sitting at the feet of God is a high value. I think in many cases they do not, because they see the adults around them willing to overload their schedules and adjust their time with God to do any of a number of things, most of which do not rise to the level of interrupting our time with God.

As I recall these conversations, I’m convicted about the part I’ve played in reinforcing the value of a busy schedule for these young followers of God. I’ve reinforced it by the way I’ve responded to them and by the example that I’ve set. I’ve communicated that having a busy schedule carries a high value. Perhaps more to the point, I’m convicted about what my over-busy schedule says about me.

What Does Your Over-Busy Schedule Say About You?
Our over-busy schedules may say a variety of things about us:

  • We need to be busy and involved in many things to feel important.
  • We need to fill every moment of every day so that we don’t have time to deal with the hurt that’s inside.
  • We don’t know how to identify those things God has called us to so we jump into everything without first attempting to discern how God wants us to spend our time.
  • We know what God has called us to, but we don’t know how to say “no” to those things He hasn’t put on our plate.
  • We have a large appetite for activity – we enjoy many things – but we haven’t disciplined ourselves to make only the best choices.
  • We are unwilling to trust the results to anyone else, including God.

The list surely isn’t comprehensive, but I get stuck on that last one.

Is God All Sufficient or Isn’t He?
An over-busy schedule sometimes denies the sufficiency of God. Too often I realize that my schedule becomes over-busy because I feel like I have to do it all myself. If I don’t do this, who will? If I don’t work on Sunday, who will put food on the table or how will everything else get done? If I don’t plan this church event, who will? If I don’t take the kids to this ball game, how will they get there? The answers may very well be:

  • God will provide it or maybe I need to do with less food, things, or activities!
  • Someone will step up or the event won’t take place (and that’s OK)! (If no one wants to plan the event, perhaps it’s just another activity that increases our over-busy schedules instead of bringing us closer to the peace of God.)
  • Another child’s mom or dad will take the kids to the event or maybe they shouldn’t go! (We begin teaching our children about wise schedule choices when we choose wisely between activities, not attend all events.)

I like most of the things in my schedule. They are there because they have value. But sometimes the value of God is eclipsed by the clutter in my life. And when my highest value is blocked by the clutter, my life gets scrambled and the misfires in my brain increase exponentially.

God Has a Solution
God woke me up early one day last week while and I found myself with a whole extra hour and a half before I had to leave the house. I spent it with Him. It changed the course of my day. I confess that when I got out of bed, I was afraid that getting up so early would cause me to collapse before the day was over, but I consciously trusted God to carry me through the day. I was fine all day. God is speaking to me and demonstrating to me the value of an uncluttered life. It allows me to REST in His sufficiency. It allows me to walk in peace through stressful situations because the responsibility isn’t really on my shoulders.

I’m certain this is the beginning of many blogs about de-cluttering our lives and trusting God with what we can’t do –because we can’t do it all and still keep an uncluttered life. Peace eludes us when we rush franticly from one activity to the next. At least it eludes me. You can’t chase after peace, you must wait for it.

I invite you to join me in this journey toward God’s peace. I’m not sure where it’s leading, but I know that God has grace to carry us through.

And an Assignment
De-clutter assignment for this week: Pick a day during which you will purposefully set aside everything that screams to be done and everything else that you want to do, and sit before the Lord for longer than you would typically spend in devotions. Be sure it’s a place and time that is quiet. Trust God to handle all that needs to be done while you rest with Him for awhile. Read a little more Scripture than you normally would. Listen to the quiet. Breathe in the quiet. Whisper prayers to God. Seek His peace. If you like, play soft worship music in the background (that puts me to sleep, so I don’t do it). Don’t come with a long prayer list. Don’t spend the whole time reading Scripture. Just rest with God. This is a time for you to be restored and refreshed by the peacefulness of God’s presence. Resist the temptation to leave God’s presence too soon. Your goal (for those goal-setters out there) is to experience the peace God can bring into a cluttered life if you push away the clutter to focus on Him.

You might not accomplish your goal! If you’re new at pushing away the clutter, it might be difficult for you to rest in quiet with the Lord. That’s OK. Try it again next week. Spiritual formation is a process. You will get better at it if you commit to it. You will begin to experience the peace God can bring and that peace will do two things:

  1. Enable you to face the cluttered life with more purpose and peace.
  2. Cause you to desire a less-cluttered life so that you can more easily find God’s peace regularly.

Those are things I want in my life. They outshine the having a brain that misfires because it’s going in too many directions at once. They come with a price – a weeding out of the clutter in our lives. Is it worth the price? You bet!

Grace & peace, friends.

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I was talking to an appliance last night when God decided to enter the conversation. It was a short conversation, but I thought blog-worthy.It was late, I was tired, and the appliance wasn’t cooperating. I had taken some of the gadgets off and was trying to put them back on so I could put it away. Like I said, it wasn’t cooperating. That was when I started talking to it. To my credit, I suppose, I only said something like “Come on….I don’t have the patience for this.” And God decided to respond for the appliance. It was a simple sentence. “That’s when you need patience,” He spoke into my head.That’s all. “That’s when you need patience.” It had several affects on me.

First, it relieved my stress immediately. I had been a bit harried, wanting to be done with the day so I could relax a little before I needed to go to bed. His simple act of speaking to me said as much as His words. “Chill out; relax,” was the impact that His words had. It reminded me that He was there and that He was in control.

Then, of course, there was the content of His words. I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit. Yes, it was a simple sentence, but you don’t want to gloss over it when God speaks to you.

It didn’t take long (I was still sitting with the disassembled appliance) for me to realize that you don’t need patience when you don’t need patience. Duh! And you don’t learn patience when you have all that you need. Actually, in my having-just-been-spoken-to-by-God state, I was kind of awed by this. Maybe I’m just easily impressed when I’m tired, but it’s pretty fundamental that the only way to grow in patience is to be taken beyond the point where we are comfortably patient. Fundamental, yes…but so easily forgotten. I don’t usually go through life with that perspective in the front of my mind. Even when I read those great passages about patience, they seem to have such a “supernatural” perspective to them. Like God will just bestow me with supernatural patience. Well, He might, at times when supernatural patience is required. But most of the time, learning patience is a process of regularly being taken beyond the level of patience I have so that I learn to have more.

There was one other thing about God’s communication. It made me realize (again) that God uses the everyday things and people in our lives to help us to become more like Jesus. That’s blog-worthy and praise-worthy.

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The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
          Psalm 25:14 (NIV)

How cool is that? The Lord confides in those who fear (honor, revere) Him. God has been whispering to my husband and I lately. Many of you know that my husband, Phil, had a heart attack last week. It was a very serious one, but it appears that he will fully recover from it. I’m not ready to blog a lot about the experience, but in today’s reading I read Psalm 25:14. And I want to express to all of you my incredible thankfulness to a wonderful God of mercy, grace and power, who confides in those who fear Him.

During and since the heart attack God has spoken to us  – through other people, through His Word, through strong impressions in our heart, and through dreams. All have been consistent messages – Phil will be fine. Coupled with that was often a reminder of God’s promise of salvation  – the covenant He has with us  – that He will be with us always and that when this life is over, we will be with Him forever.

For today’s blog, let me just be one of those people who reminds you of the Covenant God has with you. If you have made Jesus the leader and Lord of your life, He promises that He will be with you through the most difficult times, that He will be there at the end of those times when you walk back into the sunlight of “normal” living, and that He will be with you when those times are ultimately over and your true life begins in heaven. In the midst of those difficult times you can experience peace. In the midst of those difficult times, and in between the difficult times of life, you can experience joy.

God will confide in you. What a wonderful promise. There’s another verse like it that often amazes me…

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
       Amos 3:7 (NIV)

God wants to speak to us. What a wonderful, personal God we serve! Stay close to Him and listen.

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On this, the morning after the election, I imagine that at least 46% of you are unhappy at the outcome of our national elections. Some are even afraid. Let me encourage you.

  • You know that God is not the author of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
  • You know that God remains firmly seated on His throne in heaven.
  • You know that He remains sovereign over all things.

Remember the summary from Sunday’s blog. I wrote it without thinking about the outcome of elections in just a few days, but it seems appropriate today. Let me reiterate it here:

David’s Secret
David’s secret, is that his focus was on the Lord, not on his trials…The words of David in Psalm 16 confirm that David’s joy came from focusing on the Lord instead of his own situation:

8      I have set the LORD always before me.
       Because he is at my right hand,
       I will not be shaken. 
9      Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
       my body also will rest secure, 
10    because you will not abandon me to the grave,
       nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 
11    You have made known to me the path of life;
       you will fill me with joy in your presence,
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

David’s joy came from his confidence in a God who held David firmly in His hand and who transcended time and space to enjoy being “present” with David during David’s life and through eternity.

Did you catch all three of those things? Let me reiterate them in the first person:

  1. God holds me firmly in His hand – I need not be shaken!
  2. God transcends time and space to come down to my level so that I can enjoy His presence – and what unspeakable joy those encounters bring!
  3. God transcends time and space to take me to His presence after my life on this earth is over – eternal pleasures!

(For the whole blog, click here.)

It doesn’t matter who the president is! God is still in charge. Put your hope in Him. I’m reminded of the words of an old hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

The hymn was written about 1834 by a man named Edward Mote. Here’s the history of the hymn. 

Be blessed, friend. God is good. He is faithful. He is strong. All the time.

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 Sometimes the simplest verse strikes me and brings me peace. I was reading my Bible tonight. I read the last couple of chapters of Esther and wanted to continue to read. I am slowly reading through Psalms, so I turned to Psalm 143, where my bookmark was. Verse 10 struck me:

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

David, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, describes God’s Spirit as gracious – full of grace. The Holy Spirit isn’t angry or critical or cruel. He is full of grace. He’s gracious. The word that’s used also means good, beautiful, kindly, and pleasant. That’s God’s Holy Spirit. That’s who I want leading me! That’s who I can trust to lead me forward (forward! That means my life isn’t stagnant or going backwards. Praise God, because sometimes it doesn’t feel that way) on a firm footing (I won’t stumble – thank You, Lord).

That’s the kind of God I want to make my own. Teach me to do Your will, Lord, for you are my God!

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