Category Archives: Coram Deo – Before the Face of God
Don’t you love it when God uses a variety of ways in a short amount of time to get you to focus on a specific thing?
Here’s how God’s been getting my attention, encouraging and challenging me just this week:
- Women’s Bible study we were looking at John 15 – ABIDE, DWELL, REMAIN, STAY in Jesus.
- A devotional spoke of spending intentional time with God through prayer and in His Word; just listening. It had the following quote from Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
- Our pastor has been preaching on being WITH God, based on the book by Skye Jepthani, With. During the Advent season, he is looking at Immanuel, God With Us. (Check out his messages here).
- In working on some other Internet research, I came across this quote by Bill Hybels:
“If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”
Expanding on John 15:1-17: Abiding, remaining, or dwelling is our response to Jesus’ words:
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I appreciate the perspective/reminder of John 15:8:
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
I love the idea of bringing glory to God for all He has done for me. During our time with God (abiding, remaining, dwelling) we may need to submit to God’s pruning knife where He cuts away things that draw us away from Him, so we may remain in Christ even more. When we do this we are able to produce more fruit so we can bring Him even more glory.
It’s December, generally a very busy season. There are school programs, Christmas parties, gatherings with family and friends, Christmas cards and shopping for presents, baking, volunteering and serving others and so many other good things along with our regular daily activities. So, spending extra time just being with God generally is not our primary focus when there are so many other good things that are demanding our attention. I am praying that you can find some time to just BE WITH God. Remain in His presence. Dwell in His love. Abide in His peace. As you do this, you will be blessed with God’s presence in you and you will bring glory to Him. What a perfect gift for you this Christmas.
Praying you are filled with time to abide, remain and dwell with God ~ Faye
Just a word of encouragement to spend time with God in Prayer and Meditation ~ Faye
I love to worship God. I love to see His glory in His creation.
I saw this beautiful clematis. But it wasn’t until I stopped, moved the camera lens in closer, that I saw the incredible detail. Why does God take the time to create such beauty, that we too often miss? God made us to worship and glorify Him. I think God creates incredible beauty for us to find when we slow down and and enjoy the world around us.
I love how some of the other Bible versions tell how to Ascribe Glory to God – Honor, Worship, Give, Praise.
Honor the Lord for the glory of His name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. New Living Translation
Give to the Eternal the glory due His name; worship Him with lavish displays of sacred splendor. The Voice
Praise the Lord for the glory of His name; worship the Lord because He is holy. New Century Version
Take some time to spend before the face of God. It is a great time to walk through the park or the woods. Enjoy the flower gardens. Walk down by the creek or lake and look at the rocks and critters. Our 7-year-old gets this. Whenever she is over, she spends a long time looking at all the rocks under the deck, looking for fossils. She’s found some incredibly tiny ones. She was just at a lake and loved finding tiny shells and snails.
One of the best days to do this is on Sunday. God made the Sabbath for rest, recovery and time to spend enjoying Him. Take some time this coming Sunday to enjoy God’s beautifully unique creation up close and personal.
Praying you can find some time to slow down and enjoy God’s creation ~ Faye
I love how this is paraphrased in The Voice:
You have taken note of my journey through life,
caught each of my tears in Your bottle.
But God, are they not also blots on Your book?
Can you imagine God caring enough about your sadness or joy that He collects and treasures your tears of sorrow and joy? Can you comprehend that He cares so much for you that every one of the things that happens in your life is recorded in His book about just you? I know I struggle to fathom God’s unfailing, incomprehensible love for each and every one of His children.
Praying you understand a glimpse of God’s amazing love! ~ Faye
Today Christians observe Palm Sunday, the day when Christ road into Jerusalem and the people “Hailed Him as King!”. The Jews were looking for an earthly king. We know that Jesus Christ is the KING of Kings.
Praying you see the blessings of God all around you and that you are inspired to shouts of joy and praise to God! ~ Faye
A time for everything – praise, rejoicing, celebrating, loving, crying, sorrow, concern, care, thinking, acting … and so much more. People are dealing with financial struggles, health issues, facing news of terminal illness, marriage or family relationships, job insecurity and so many other trials. But they are also celebrating babies births, marriages, new puppies, spring around the corner with all the new life, blessings of friendships, family, good jobs. Remember for every season of life – God is there and has gone before you preparing the way for you. Just (a very simple word) – JUST TRUST HIM!
Praying you may rest in God’s promises ~ Faye
How amazing is our God? He holds the entire universe in the span of His hands. One of my favorite videos comes from Pastor Louie Giglio – Indescribable. How incredibly INDESCRIBABLE is God’s Amazing care for each one of us. He knows the number of hairs on our head, and yet the earth (our home) is such a tiny blue dot that can’t be seen when compared to the universe we currently know.
God works in amazing ways and He never ceases to amaze me.
Our 7-year-old granddaughter, Claire, asked me the other night how can we hear God talking to us. I tried to explain in a way a second grader would understand, that God speaks to our heart. We don’t necessarily hear God’s voice like people talking to each other, but God uses the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our hearts.
Let me share what happened this past week to show how God has been “talking” to me. Today my husband is going in for his 3rd heart procedure this year, and even though we are trusting in God’s care there are still thoughts of “what if” … Well my devotions this morning started with reading the following:
First I read Sarah Young’s Facebook post:
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like. Do not begin your day determined to make everything go your way. Each day you will bump up against at least one thing that doesn’t yield to your will. It could be as trivial as the reflection you see in the mirror or as massive as a loved one’s serious illness or injury. My purpose for you is not to grant your every wish or to make your life easy. My desire is that you learn to trust Me in all circumstances.” —Jesus Always by Sarah Young
I immediately felt God’s presence because of the encouragement I have received from Psalm 62 many times in the past. It was as if He were reminding me, “I’ve got this – Trust me!”
A little later I read from Jesus Always, for October 22 (I’m a few days behind – which God used for my benefit). The very first paragraph said:
“Don’t be afraid to tell Me how weak and weary – even overwhelmed – you feel at times. I am fully aware of the depth and breadth of your difficulties; nothing is hidden from Me. Although I know everything, I wait to hear from you. Pour out your heart to Me, for I am your Refuge. (Again from Psalm 62:8 – God reminding me of His providential care over my concerns.)
Young goes on to say, “Then you rest in the safety of My Presence, trusting that I understand you perfectly and love you with an everlasting Love. Be still, letting My Presence refresh and renew you. Remember that I never leave your side; I am holding you by your right hand.
I knew these words were to continue to encourage me. I’ve been reading Tracie Peterson’s, House of Secrets, which had Isaiah 41:10 & 13 woven through the story –
For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13
In this devotional God was once again reminding me through the words of others and His Word that He is in control of all the details of my life.
The other “funny/amazing” thing is that I’ve had a few people ask me in the past two months when I was going to write for the blog again. I’ve been praying about it, asking God what to write about and God seemed to be leading me to use Psalm 62:8 and Isaiah 41:10,13 but then when I read the last of Young’s devotion for today –
“This gives you courage and confidence to continue your journey. As you go along your path, hear Me saying, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Ps. 46:10
it seemed like God was saying once again – I’ve Got You in the Palm of My Hand! Don’t Fear – Trust Me! I attributed it to trusting God for His Words to guide me in the blog and what to write (and He has once again.)
I didn’t hear God’s words audibly, but I definitely felt the promptings of the Holy Spirit comforting, guiding, and assuring me that He knows everything we are and have been facing. Once again celebrating the abundant blessings of God – Rich’s procedure went well.
Praying you can “hear” God’s promptings and caring in your lives ~ Faye
Sources: © 2016 Sarah Young, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.
These are words many of us need as we go through every day life.
God’s timing is always perfect, and sometimes it is very difficult to wait for Him to show that He is fully in control of a situation. However, as I was reading my devotions this morning, and came across the quote above by Sarah Young, I was reminded how many times God has blessed me to see glimpses of His Glory to give me encouragement and hope.
I have recently been facing another health issue and so have had lots of time to reflect and spend time with God. During that time He has blessed me with His presence often. It may have been “just the right song” at “just the right time”, or a perfectly timed email, card, text or telephone call. It may have been His hands working through someone to bring a meal or a smile as I walk the halls to another doctors appointment wearing my mask. Whatever it was I am so grateful that God shines His abundant glory on us at the perfect time to fill my heart with His hope and love.
Praying God abundantly blesses you ~ Faye
The holidays are over. Times with family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ and the New Year are done for another year. There are so many good memories and many of us are filled with the incredible blessings we have received. However, the holidays can bring unspoken pain too.
In my family the holidays come with mixed blessings. We had a wonderful two weeks with our two granddaughters. We spent time with extended family many of those days. We were abundantly blessed during this time. We played games, had sleepovers, did all types of crafts, baking and had lots of meals together. If you were looking at our family gathering it would appear to be the perfect family.
However, you’d be wrong. This is not easy to share because it is so close to home. It exposes my disappointment, loss, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and lots of questions. We have not heard from one of our family members for two years. Some days the loss is incredibly painful. Crying out to God seems to bring no answers.
This is not news to many who face heartbreak on a daily basis, but it is always harder during the holidays and special celebrations. Whether it is death, divorce, separation across the miles, broken relationships, or health issues, the loss people face in life can be especially difficult during these events. Trying to remain upbeat, filled with joy, hopeful especially during the holidays can be overwhelming.
This year I was very grateful for the blessings of distractions with the remainder of my family, but always in the background is the thought, “Will we finally hear, or better yet, see?”
Pain can be crippling both physically and emotionally, but it can also be paralyzing spiritually. Through experience I have learned that there have been times when I have been so frustrated with this broken relationship that I have pulled away from and ignored God. Last year God filled me with a verse from Psalm 62:5 that I have had on my bathroom mirror for over a year …
When I see that verse I am reminded that my hope is not in the broken relationship, but in the Healer of the broken.
This season when I was struggling to stay focused a devotional caught my attention when it reminded me “God inhabits the praises of His people.” It got me thinking that when I am not living fully in the presence of God and under His authority I miss the ability to glorify God. Instead of looking UP to God, I end up looking in at myself.
Roger Bennett wrote, during 11 years of increasingly difficult health issues, “I am convinced that our enemy [the Devil] stalks us exactly in the way the Bible describes him, a roaring lion. He hides in the bushes waiting for any sign of weakness and then he strikes.” Bennett describes how he felt the Devil had struck even lower than his health issues; he attacked Bennett’s joy, confidence and hope. Bennett was filled with doubt. Then he focused on stories from the Bible – Paul and Silas were in jail – “they didn’t despair; they sang … it became their weapon.” Bennett began singing “one song after another came to my memory, and I sang them to my empty room … It may have been the most powerful blessing I’ve received in my life.” He realized just how true God is to His Word.
God really does inhabit the praises of His people. So when I am struggling with the losses and difficulties in my life, the last thing I feel like is singing. But I have been turning on that praise music, personally I am blessed with the depth of the words from the old hymns, but there are some newer songs that fill me with encouragement and hope. Blessings, 10,000 Reasons, In Christ Alone, Wonderful, Merciful Savior…
Reading a devotional from In Touch magazine, the author encourages us to be careful with our motive for praise.
Praise both magnifies and pleases the Lord, but we actually benefit from the practice as well. First, adoration of God modifies our estimation of “self”—it’s impossible to truly elevate God while clinging to pride. Instead, we come to recognize our sin, weakness, and dependence upon Him. As Scripture tells us, the Lord’s power is manifest when we show genuine humility (2 Cor. 12:10).
Next, praise appropriately humbles us, as it is a reminder of God’s greatness and our dependence upon Him. But at the same time, exalting Him strengthens our sense of assurance, thereby increasing our faith. Then we are able to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to see life from God’s perspective. And consider one additional benefit of praise that involves our physical bodies: when we focus on Jesus’ goodness, tension leaves and we find new strength. All these supernatural effects of exaltation are possible because as we lift His name, God is present—Psalm 22:3 tells us that He inhabits the praise of His people (KJV).
I made a resolution for 2015 to see more of the blessings in my life and not dwell on the losses and difficulties. When I focus on the difficulties, I give the devil a foothold to fill me with doubt and fear. However, when I focus on the blessings in my life and around me, I am filled with joy and hope. I will be challenged to see more of the blessings by lifting my voice in praise to God and exalting Him. This doesn’t mean I won’t be afraid to pour out my heart to God with my concerns, for His word reminds us He wants to know our hearts, he knows everything about our lives. But I am convicted this year to remember – “God inhabits the praises of His people.” Psalm 22:3. (Now to go write that on my mirror …)
May God fill you with His abundant blessings ~ Faye
I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the prairie yesterday and seeing God’s creation all around me from flowers, grasshoppers, bees, butterflies, moths and even the deer I scared up and ran off just as afraid of me. It made me think of how much God takes care of and that He is always watching over each one of us as well as all of His creation.
This morning my devotions from The 30-Day Praise Challenge focused on Our Provider. Philippians 4:19-20 says,
And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The author reminded me not to worry about the state the world is in or health or relationships or … the list goes on and on. You can enter whatever trials you are facing right now. What? Not worry? But then I think I am helping in the situation. No, instead of worry – praise God for being the God Who Provides! If God can provide for the needs of these little creatures – how much more will He provide for our needs whom He created with His breath of life.
When relationships go through difficulties – spouses hurt us, children don’t obey or worse lie to us, friends betray us – praise God for He is in control. He takes care of all the details – big and small. That is so counter to our culture today. We want to micromanage our lives, but we have so much more peace and are filled with greater blessings when we give our lives over to God and lift our hearts in praise to Him.
God is blessed when we praise Him! For this shows Him we are being obedient and trusting Him with our lives. I wonder what life would have been like if Joseph had moped around or paced with fear and dread about what his future would have been like? He had no clue that the bitterness and hatred of his brothers would end up being used as an incredible blessing from God for himself, his brothers and their family as well as the Israelite nation at the time. Joseph would face a real pit, hatred and betrayal from his brothers, the realization of the pain his father must have gone through not knowing about him, prominent positions and then prison, favored and rejected … Yet he was able to say – you meant it for harm but God used it for good.
Gratitude to God opens the door for Him to shower us with His blessings usually in ways we can’t ask for or imagine. May God fill you with His incredible blessings as He provides for your daily needs ~ Faye
Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring about incredible blessings.
I enjoyed watching God at work the other day after a light shower. To see the intricacy of water droplets on the flowers was a study of God’s creation and attention to minute details. If God can so beautifully decorate these flowers with drops of rain, how much more can He pay attention to our needs and desires?
I have recently been enjoying a simple book, The 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling. The author was diagnosed with cancer and begged God for healing. A friend challenged her to spend 20 minutes a day in praise. Becky wasn’t feeling all that thankful, but as she intentionally praised God, she began to experience new joy – and her relationship with God has never been the same.
Recently I have found myself struggling with seeing the negative more than the positive. That’s not usually me, so when I found myself falling deeper into the “poor me” thinking, I decided it was time to put Becky’s 30-Day Praise Challenge to a test. The first ten days were okay, good thoughts to consider, but nothing earth-shattering, or majorly life changing. I found I was struggling even more with negative self-talk. But by days 11 through 15 I realized God was meeting me and speaking to me right where I was wallowing in the pit of my own despair. And I knew I didn’t want to stay there.
So I began to earnestly dig deeper into myself. When thoughts of being excluded, rejected, abandoned, burdened crept in, instead of dwelling on them – I thanked and praised God for the fact that He loved me for who I am. I focused on God’s qualities and characteristics. God loved me enough to send His only Son to die so that I might have eternal life. Even though I didn’t always feel like it, I sang songs of joy and praise to God. I look forward to my time of praise to start off the day with God. I usually take away one or two words that help me refocus throughout the day. These words have been: Chosen, Beloved, Cherished, Valued, Prized, Saved, Forgiven, Provider, Precious and the one I go to most – simply “Jesus”.
Once I say, think, and/or dwell on the word “Jesus”, or any of these other words, they intentionally redirect me back to all that I have been blessed with through God the Father/Creator, God the Son/Jesus/Savior, and God the Holy Spirit/Counselor/Comforter/Guide.
God desires and encourages us to praise Him because He knows that our word declarations can be powerful in the spiritual realm. Declaring God’s praise is more than positive thinking. As we choose to rejoice in who God is and thankfully place our circumstances in His care, something happens.
- His amazing peace comes in and shields our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:4-7).
• Comfort comes as we recall His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b).
• He strengthens and helps us right where we are (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s Word has the power to change broken hearts and lives when we take the time to listen to what God is telling us and to spend time praising Him. In the past week I have seen God blow away black clouds of negative thinking and fill me with praise and joy in Him.
I pray you will be filled with hearts full of praise today ~ Faye
Some days we just need to constantly remind ourselves that God is FAITHFUL – all the time! It is easy on the good days when things are going along smoothly. But what about the days when the kids are more moody than you can handle, the car breaks down, or a friend or family member causes incredible pain?
Speaking from many experiences, I KNOW God is faithful, but I don’t always FEEL it. However, resting and meditating on God’s Word can FILL ME ABUNDANTLY with the assurance of His LOVE and FAITHFULNESS. I may not FEEL it, but deep down I KNOW it.
Having a prodigal child can bring heavy emotions some times. I REST fully in the promise of God’s Covenantal LOVE and GRACE to get me through these difficult times.
Praising God through both the good and difficult times for His LAVISH LOVE and FAITHFULNESS and hope you can as well ~ Faye
I recently spent a few minutes with a precious friend who was nearing the end of her earthly journey and preparing for her heavenly life. It was my pleasure to see her smile when we talked about her running through God’s incredible forests in heaven as she was an avid runner here on earth. Then, as I leaned in closer to her, I said, “God is so good!” She struggled to talk through the pain and medications, but she took every ounce of her energy and repeated back to me, “God — Is — So — Good!” How precious those last words from Sher were to me.
This morning while reading my devotions I was reading from Psalm 104 and came to verse 33 – I was so blessed to know that some of Sher’s last breaths included her praising God. I pray that I will have the same relationship with my Lord and Savior to have praise to Him be on my lips ALL of my days!
Praying you enjoy God’s incredible blessings here on earth as you prepare for eternity with Him ~ Faye
It’s that time of year – Advent. Christians around the world look with longing, expectation, anticipation and hope for the celebration of the coming King of kings. We long to see the glory of God that the angels sang of when they heralded the news of Christ’s birth to the shepherds.
A few years ago I was blessed by two “old / new” words. They’re old because they are a Hebrew and Greek word, but new to me. I heard them in a message a couple of years ago, and they still follow me and fill me with wonder and awe. A few weeks later I read it in my devotions. This started my reading and studying them. Let me share a glimpse of what has touched me:
Kabod ~ describes glory (Old Testament). The Hebrew word kabod – “heavy in weight”; that which has substance or importance of a uniqueness someone/something possesses-beauty, majesty, splendor. (i.e., Solomon’s wealth, Samson’s strength, gold’s weight shows its worth.) “The glory of someone or something is what sets it apart in a special and inimitable way, in the same way the glory of a Zebra is its stripes; the Cheetah’s, speed; or the peacock’s, plumage.” [Schaeffer]
I’ve been studying the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle established by God when the Israelites were in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. The Ark of the Covenant was the throne of God. (Exodus 25:10-22) It was covered by the mercy seat and two cherubim made of pure gold were placed on top of it facing each other. The glory of the Lord resided between the two cherubim. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and come before the presence and glory of God. The Ark represented God’s holiness, purity and presence among the people. 2 Samuel 6:1-19 shows what happened to Uzzah when he didn’t treat the Ark of the Covenant with the awesome respect God required.
Moses had been speaking with the Lord on several occasions (Read Exodus 33). Moses prayed in Exodus 33:18, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” So the Lord had Moses stand near Him on the rock and as God’s glorious presence passed by, God hid him in the crevice of the rock and covered him with His hand. When God removed His hand Moses could look at God from behind and see His glory and live. Exodus 34:30 indicates Moses’ face was so radiant after being with the Lord, that the people asked him to cover his face.
Doxa ~ describing glory is the other word (New Testament). The Greek word doxa, – “that which is apparent, brilliant, radiant, resplendent”; (i.e., as manifested in the splendor of Solomon in all his glory Matthew 6:29/Luke 12:27). The glory of God’s attributes is made known to the world through the radiant splendor of His creation. We get our word doxology-the song we sing at the end of our worship services, being with God, hearing His word and so we sing our praises to the glory of God for who He is and what He has done for us.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
This time of year when we anticipate celebrating Christ’s coming to earth as a baby to save us from our sins, and even more His second coming, look for reasons to – Glorify Him! Worship Him! Praise Him! The Westminster Catechism describes what man is made for: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. “To ‘give glory to God’ means to speak sincerely and from the heart about the Lord’s amazing nature or deeds in such a way that it seeks to do justice to the reality.” [Schaeffer]
- A fabulous pastor in Hudsonville, Michigan (I don’t remember his name) at Rock Harbor Church I believe in the summer of 2011
- Do All to the Glory of God by David Morsey http://www.harvestermission.org/essays/allglory.html
- Easton Illustrated Dictionary:
Glory, (Heb. kabhod; Gr. doxa). (1.) Abundance, wealth, treasure, and hence honour (Ps. 49:12); glory (Gen. 31:1; Matt. 4:8; Rev. 21:24, 26). (2.) Honour, dignity (1 Kings 3:13; Heb. 2:7 1 Pet. 1:24); of God (Ps. 19: 1; 29:1); of the mind or heart (Gen. 49: 6; Ps. 7:5; Acts 2:46). (3.) Splendour, brightness, majesty (Gen. 45:13; Isa. 4:5; Acts 22:11; 2 Cor.3:7); of Jehovah (Isa. 59:19; 60:1; 2 Thess. 1:9). (4.) The glorious moral attributes, the infinite perfections of God (Isa. 40:5; Acts 7:2; Rom. 1:23; 9:23; Eph. 1:12). Jesus is the “brightness of the Father’s glory” (Heb. 1:3; John 1:14; 2:11). (5.) The bliss of heaven (Rom. 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:1, 10). (6.) The phrase “Give glory to God” (Josh. 7:19; Jer. 13:16) is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “Confess your sins.” The words of the Jews to the blind man, “Give God the praise” (John 9:24), are an adjuration to confess. They are equivalent to, “Confess that you are an impostor,” “Give God the glory by speaking the truth;” for they denied that a miracle had been wrought.
- “Glory” – Dan Schaeffer – In Touch, July 2013
- “Life Principles for Worship from the Tabernacle”, Wayne Barber, Eddie Rasnake, Richard Shepherd
- Ray VanderLaan Faith Living Series http://www.faithlessons.net/
- Westminster Catechism
What incredible beauty there is in God’s creation! In the past month, I’ve gone from enjoying His glory in a sunrise at the lake to walking through the plants at work and seeing the incredible detail on a crisp, frosty morning.
This summer due to a lot of circumstances, I have felt myself drawing away from God. After talking about it with a few precious friends, they each asked if I was getting out with my camera lately. I had to admit I haven’t. Not like I had in the past. I can come up with a list of reasons/excuses why, but really it comes down to enjoying the adrenalin of being busy helping others. When I reflect on that, I realize that I am missing so much of what I was created to do — The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Catechism) I have allowed myself to be so busy at work, in projects, in planning worship services, etc., that I have not had my primary focus be on giving God glory and enjoying/celebrating Him for ALL He has done.
Yesterday our minister preached from Isaiah 52 & 53 on how much our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us. How He endured incredible suffering-mocked, whipped, beaten. Jesus, our Lord, bled and died for our sins. When He paid such an incredibly selfless price for each one of us, why don’t we take time to glorify God in all things? As we all heard the message we realized the depth of God’s love. From the beginning of the worship service to the end there was an incredible transformation in the people’s worship from enjoying singing about God to hearts being lifted up glorifying God in praise for the Power of the Cross.
We have so much to glorify God for from the beauty of creation to His unconditional love and abundant grace.
I grabbed my camera the day after a hard frost. Oh the joy of being blown away, being still in God’s presence and enjoying His glorious creation. When I look at pictures of God’s creation such as these, I often sing the following words, especially the second verse:Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear. In Him no sin is found; we stand on holy ground. Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Be still, for the glory of the LORD is shining all around. He burns with holy fire; with splendor He is crowned. How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light! Be still, for the glory of the LORD
is shining all around. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace. No work too hard for Him; in faith receive from Him. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. ~David Evans © 1986, Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
The morning I took the photo of the sunrise, I was visiting friends. I was blessed to wake up before the sunrise and just wait in the peacefulness of the lake and wait for the sun to appear. There is such an incredible calm that comes during that time of waiting as the sky turns from navy blue/black to light hues of gold and the fog rolls in on the lake. It is incredible just to silently breathe in God’s presence and peace and even without words being said just glorify God for ALL He has done for us. God has blessed us abundantly with His creation, love, mercy and grace. We need to take the time to Be Still and Know that He is God!
Ever wonder WHERE God is in your life? Does He CARE? Does He KNOW what is going on? Prayers go unanswered. People betray and hurt you. Sickness affects loved ones. People die. Does it seem like God is totally absent? I’ve been there recently.
Since I’ve been in such a funk, I’ve begun taking a day away from work and daily responsibilities; a day where I spend several hours just in quiet with God. Peace. Serenity. Calm. I head to a local park. Look out at the lake. I take along my Bible, a journal and pen, and my camera. But most importantly I take an open heart ready to not only talk to God but to just sit still and listen to Him. Where is He prompting me? Guiding Me? Challenging Me? Reminding Me?
A week ago this exercise prompted the following thoughts about being a reflection of God to others through my life. I definitely had NOT been a clear reflection of God since I had been very much wrapped up in my hurts, my worries, my fears, my misery. (Misery does not love company, it just likes to fester and grow all on its own.) As I just sat and talked with God, I felt Him telling me to look closely at the reflection of the lake. A wind had just picked up and the crisp, clear reflection was lightly disturbed by the gentle breeze.
Is this what sin, misery, despair, grief, avoiding God, busyness in my life had done? Do these things disturb my reflection of God in my life? When the storms of life blow into us, where is that peaceful, clear reflection of God? As I watched, a motor boat crossed the reflection and really disturbed the serenity of the mirror image on the shore. The wake fanned out and spread, much like self-pity does. After a while, it took over most of the reflection and it took a long time before the lake returned to the mirror-like image of the shore.
I wondered – where am I in my reflection of God? I realized I had lost the shoreline. I had let every big and little disturbance create choppy waves in my life and God wasn’t being reflected through me. I was letting my worldly cares and concerns disturb God’s peace.
I was letting my feelings and self-centered pity create a disturbance in my reflection of God. I was listening to one of Joyce Meyer’s talks and heard God’s reminder, … don’t care how I FEEL. Remember – I am rooted in God’s love. His love makes me more than a conqueror. He loves me unconditionally. While I was still an enemy of the cross, He died for me and loved me anyway. God will never love me any more than He does right now at this moment.
I am not saying feelings are wrong, but I sure wasn’t remembering the core of my faith from John 3:16-17:
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
God loved me so much – He let His Son die for me to have eternal life. Why am I stuck in self-pity and blaming God for ignoring my life?
My faith had been in a deep battle with the devil, and I had begun to believe his lies instead of resting in God’s truth –
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~Hebrews 11;1
I need to continue to be fully in God’s word and presence. I need to be still and listen for His leading and guiding in my life so that I can be a true reflection of His love in my life and to those around me. I need to put on the armor of God so I can stand against Satan’s lies.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:12 where it says one day we will see everything clearly. In this world, “with devils filled that threatens to undo us,” we can’t fear if we are filled with God’s love, grace and truths. We won’t always understand or “FEEL” that God cares. That’ won’t happen until I am perfectly remade with God. But I do KNOW God knows and loves me always and unconditionally. Praise God!
Stay in God’s Word. Spend time not only talking to God, but taking the time to listen to what He has to say to you. Look for ways God is showing Himself to you – a call from a granddaughter, a monarch or hummingbird being provided for by God’s creation, a sunset, a song …
Praying God will fill your hearts so deeply that all you can do is be a mirror-image of His likeness ~ Faye
Do you ever wonder what else can happen all around you? It’s been a lot like that in my life circle the past month or so with more family and friends health issues than I ever thought possible in such a short period. One aunt died while two others are in hospice care, all within a week’s time. A loved one faces Parkinson’s Disease, another almost three years of chemotherapy to keep cancer in check. Others deal with cataract surgery, hepatitis, ostomy surgery, knee surgery, prostate cancer, prodigal children, financial pressures, breast cancer; the list seems to grow with each new day.
I went to bed early in hopes of catching up on some sleep but my mind just wouldn’t turn off. Different people and their cares kept running through my thoughts. I would pray for them and usually I can relax and fall asleep, but God had other plans – spend time with Him. Tonight, amidst all the concerns and cares that wouldn’t let my brain rest, I kept singing different songs, such as Jesus, Draw Me Close and I Stand in Awe of You. But it wasn’t until the words of this song came to mind, thank you God, that I felt the calm come over me as I prayed and rested in Him with all the cares and trials all around me:
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
As Rich and I were reading devotions before bed, we read these verses from Romans 5:3-5a and James 1:2-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
… when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
My response as Rich read these words was – “Enough with the endurance God. I don’t know what You have planned for us, but my character is stretched as far as it can go. I’ve got to be ‘perfect and complete’ after this past month.” I was kiddingly, but I am having trouble some days “counting it all joy.” There are times I don’t know how others get through each trial without knowing the hope that God holds us tightly in His grasp. Praying that you know the truth of God through the following blessing:
So abundantly blessed because God holds my hand – always! ~ Faye
I had the wonderful time last night to watch some of God’s beautiful handiwork. It started with a wonderful sunset followed a few hours later by an incredible light show just north of us. My husband and I sat on the deck for at least half an hour watching flashes of lightning bounce from cloud to cloud and the cooling summer breezes blew over us following a hot, humid day. As I sat there I wondered what God was thinking, doing during the flashes of lightning. Was He wiggling His fingers in the clouds just to create some enjoyment for us to watch? Was He having fun stirring up the electrical charges that were bubbling out of the clouds? Or were the angels singing His praise and tonight they decided to show it with light? I know those thoughts are trying to reduce God to human terms and there is no way that can ever be done. But as I watched the beauty of the sunset, the majesty of the cloud billowing higher and higher, the sun’s rays streaming toward heaven and then the incredible lightening show, I could only think of the glory of God.
I am reading John Piper’s book Desiring God and this morning he was sharing from Psalm 115:3 – “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” All I could do was think back to the sunset and lightening last night and again ponder God’s greatness, majesty and glory.
This Sunday our pastor will be preaching on the stoning of Stephen from Acts 7-8. We are focusing the opening of worship on Acts 7:55
“Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”
These instances made me ponder whether my life is a reflection of God’s glory. For surely I may not see as clearly as Stephen as he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, but last night I there was no denying that the Creator of the universe was clearly showing off a glimpse of His glory.
Praying God allows us to open our eyes to see more of those glimpses daily. May God abundantly bless you ~ Faye
Quench not the Spirit
It’s the 5 year anniversary of a life-altering event in our lives. In 2008 the small town I live in had 423 homes, all of which were flooded but ten, by the worst flood our area has ever seen. We recovered from the devastation over time. And through it all saw the hand of God providing through the love, generosity and kindness of His people and resources. Looking back I realize the many difficulties we had to deal with and the emotional trauma caused by the devastation. Two weeks ago brought everything back as we prepared for potential flooding that could invade the homes and businesses of people we have come to know and love following the flood. The memories of mud and muck, the sickeningly sweet smell left behind by the flood waters, the mountains of wet, moldy trash on the streets, dinner from the Red Cross and Salvation Army, homes torn down because the damage was so great … I found myself exhausted from the energy of preparation and emotional trauma.
Exhaustion is a difficult thing for some to give in to. In the busyness of the urgent one often keeps pushing ahead to get whatever needs to be done done. This is where I found myself two weeks ago. Already tired from several weeks of the Spring rush at work and then faced with the reality of potential flooding and having to give more of myself when I was already tired. We were spared any damaging flooding, but then there was the energy to put things back together after we had pulled it all apart. While I was so tired, I let Satan enter into my thoughts and he wore me down with many destructive thoughts. Soon I found myself wallowing in self-pity, feeling all alone. As many of you know, this is NOT a good thing to do. I oddly found it easier to stay in this depressed state than pick up God’s word and spend time with Him. This went on for about a week and each day I found myself getting more and more depressed and surly. I was not fun to be around. I was moody, tired and complaining. I could have written a Psalm entitled “Woe is me” very easily.
Fortunately I listened to God’s promptings (and a very-wise daughter) saying get back into spending time in God’s word. Every time I sat down I picked up the Bible or a devotional book on Hope, Joy, dealing with difficulties – anything that gave me glimpses of God’s joys and encouragement. I turned off the television and absorbed Christian music. After several days of this I was reminded of the joy I have through Christ’s death and resurrection. I was reminded of the many blessings God has showered my life with. I was encouraged to remember and be filled with JOY all the time, in all circumstances. I saw God’s hand working incredibly around me in how different people crossed my path at just the time I needed them. I intentionally got out of my car before work on Monday and made a decision to be filled with JOY despite any circumstances going on in my life. When asked how I was doing, I responded, “Great, it’s a beautiful day.” I allowed the Holy Spirit to flow to every part of my thinking. And the more I did, the more I felt changed from the inside.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the Spirit.” The New Century Version says, “Don’t hold back the work of the Spirit.” The New International Reader’s Version says, “Don’t put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.” The New Living Translation says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” When I allowed my anxious and depressed thinking to take hold, I didn’t allow the Holy Spirit to be my encourager, guide, comforter, or wisdom. John 14:26 says, …the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your lives, kindle the flame of the Spirit to fill you with all the fullness and joy each day so you may reflect God’s love to others.
My circumstances have not all improved, in fact, some things have gotten worse, but my perspective has thanks to an attitude adjustment from the Holy Spirit helping me refocus on God’s unconditional love, grace and abundant blessings. Praying you see God’s hand at work today in your lives and are incredibly blessed ~ Faye
I’d love to hear you share some ways God has been blessing you.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;He does great things beyond our understanding.He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ [vs 5-6 NIV]Then everyone stops workingso they can watch His power.(I love this image of pausing to look at God’s majesty.)The stormy wind comes from its chamber,and the driving winds bring the cold.God’s breath sends the ice,freezing wide expanses of water.He loads the clouds with moisture,and they flash with His lightning.The clouds churn about at His direction.They do whatever He commands throughout the earth. [ vs 7-12 NLT]
He sends the snow like white wool;He scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.He hurls the hail like stones.Who can stand against His freezing cold?Then, at His command, it all melts.He sends His winds, and the ice thaws.
It is the season of anticipation, expectation, eagerness and HOPE. As Christians we call the four Sundays prior to Christmas as Advent. We are eagerly awaiting Christ’s birth. I started a small Advent Bible study with Good Morning Girls today and was reading through several Bible passages that they provided.
Jeremiah 33:14 says,
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
God tell us in Isaiah 60:19b, “… the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” We won’t need the sun and the moon for our light. When we have God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in the depths of our heart, we will be filled with a light that will never go out. We anticipate that promised light first through the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas, and second for His promised return.
I love the verse in Romans 15:13 that says,
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
But it wasn’t until I started reading about the HOPE we have during the season of Advent that I realized, or at least remembered, that this verse of hope-filled blessing comes after Paul is telling the Romans that Christ came for Jews and Gentiles. Paul reminds them of the promise from Isaiah, “The root of Jesse will come (King David’s father), even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Then Paul reminds those of us not born of Jewish ancestry, that God is the God of hope because He has promised to send The Way of salvation to all people.
As I read all these verses on God’s plan of salvation from the first sin recorded in Genesis throughout the His Word, I was reminded of an article by Patrick Wood, Beyond His Hand. Wood talks about Sacred Remembrances as gifts from God’s Word that help us in our daily walk. The Israelites had countless opportunities to remember the way God provided for them — parting the water, manna and quail from heaven, water from the rock, sandals that never wore out in 40 years, and so much more. These reminders could help shape the Israelites’ faith when they faced the giants in Canaan, but sadly the Israelites didn’t remember how God cared for their needs and answered their prayers.
During Advent we are encouraged to look back on the promises in God’s Word of the promised Savior. We often look at four key words – Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy in the countdown to celebrating Christ’s birth. This week is traditionally the week that focuses on Hope. Hope is defined as: “to cherish a desire with anticipation; or to expect with confidence.” As Christians we have the HOPE of a life forever with God where there is no more weeping, pain, destruction, chronic illnesses, loss of life, and so much more. We expect with confidence the hope of life everlasting through the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Wood encouraged his readers to focus on the Sacred Remembrances from God’s providence in our lives to help us in the tough times, the times when despair and hopelessness take over. We need to remember the time we took off half an hour late only to find ourselves sitting in an hour traffic jam as an accident that happened a little earlier was being cleared off the road. We need to remember God’s provision of medications that help deal with an illness. We need to rejoice in the friends and family that come along side of us to encourage us when we are struggling with loss. Wood even encourages his readers to create a timeline of your life where you definitely saw God’s hand over the years and let those “landmarks” help convince you of the confidence you have deep within from God. These Sacred Remembrances help us see not only what God has done, but who God is – faithful, caring, giving, loving, gentle, gracious, merciful, the Great Physician …
In order for you to have that HOPE that is truly an expectation filled with confidence that Jesus Christ has come and will come again, take time to read God’s Word. Put His truths in your heart. Dwell on the Sacred Remembrances of ALL that God has done for you in your life and in the lives of those you love.
I encourage you to take the challenge I will take for myself this week. Go to your Bible or http://www.biblegateway.com and search the many passages that have the word HOPE in them.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
It’s that time of year where we walk around the property and clean up the shrubs and gardens that are done producing. It means pulling up the frost-bit tomatoes and the browned sweet potatoes. It means reshaping my evergreen before winter so the Christmas lights will look nice on it.
I love God’s incredible timing because I’m just reading through a daily devotional a page or two at a time and I started midyear, so I’m not on the correct date in my reading. However, that seems to let God bless me more in very intentional words needed at just the right time. In Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie, she looks at the Bible verses in the photo. Then she shares how God knows how to specifically nurture me into a faithful branch in God’s vineyard. Working in the garden center, I’ve watched how some of the staff has learned over the years to read the individual plants. They know which ones need more water or less, who needs to be repotted because it has become pot-bound and is no longer taking in the nourishment needed. And they know when and what plants need fertilizer and which ones don’t. When I compare that to Guthrie’s comments, I am stunned at how closely God pays attention to the details that surround me. If I need time with Him, He may cause a slow-me-down (often one that I’m not willing to take the time to deal with, but so necessary in hindsight). He may have to prune me to shape me into what He wants me to be now and in my heavenly home. He knows what activities are sapping my energy and He will trim it away.
One of Guthrie’s comments rang very true, “God may cut out some of the activities you enjoy so that in the stillness you can hear My voice.” I cannot tell you how true this is, but many who face chronic illnesses definitely know the truth of these words. For me, that was the enjoyment I had in working with teens in youth group – teaching, encouraging, worshiping, fooling around with, attending activities … it was what seemed to be the one way God allowed me to worship and serve Him. God changed that and told me it was time to step down after about a year of dealing with RA. It was hard. I argued with God and struggled with the let down. But God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to grow during the period after working with teens. He had a lot to teach me about BEING with Him. And the more I am with Him, the more I realize I want to be with Him even more. But I struggle with “finding” – no really with “making” time for Him. I know that if I don’t He’ll have another slow-me-down to help prune me and shape me into what He wants me to be.
Pruning and cutting hurt. Sometimes pruning is a simple snip from a clippers, other times it is a hard snap from a loppers or sometime it takes a hacksaw to cut away the dead growth. Whatever it takes, I need to remember that God’s pruning is with purpose, it is never careless or just because. He has learned to read me like a book and knows whether I need water, fertilizer or pruning.
By the way, again in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, I’m working with young people in a totally different perspective by helping them as they learn how to lead others in worship. I get to spend good time with them, hearing how life is going and encouraging them in their relationship with God.
Incredibly blessed by God’s incredible timing and careful pruning ~ Faye
I don’t have any profound thoughts to share. I’ve just been enjoying being in God’s presence and worshiping Him through His creation the past week and thought I’d share the photos that brought to mind the words from Psalm 148:
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
2 Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
3 Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
4 Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
6 He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
8 fire and hail, snow and clouds,[a]
wind and weather that obey him,
9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
11 kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
12 young men and young women,
old men and children.
13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
14 He has made his people strong,
honoring his faithful ones—
the people of Israel who are close to him.
I just finished rewatching Indescribable by Louie Giglio.
I am so awestruck at the depth of God’s love for us and the vastness of His glory. If you haven’t watched it, you really should make time to. It just blows you away at how completely indescribable God is. Giglio takes a look at our universe – The Milky Way Galaxy – and then goes out billions of years thanks to NASA’s explorations and photographs. What he shares is utterly amazing, mind-boggling, yes – even indescribable. He gave this talk during Chris Tomlin’s Indescribable tour.
Indescribable – performed by Chris Tomlin Songwriters: Story, Laura; Reeves, Jesse; From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea Creation’s revealing Your majesty From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring Every creature unique in the song that it sings All exclaiming Indescribable, uncontainable You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name You are amazing, God All powerful, untamable Awestruck we fall to our knees As we humbly proclaim You are amazing, God Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light Yet, conceals it to bring us the coolness of night None can fathom Indescribable, uncontainable You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name You are amazing, God All powerful, untamable Awestruck we fall to our knees As we humbly proclaim You are amazing, God You are amazing, God Indescribable, uncontainable You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name You are amazing God All powerful, untamable Awestruck we fall to our knees As we humbly proclaim You are amazing God Indescribable, uncontainable You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name You are amazing, God Incomparable, unchangeable You see the depths of my heart And You love me the same You are amazing, God You are amazing, God
What struck me was a quote from Isaiah 40:12:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?
Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure
or weighed the mountains in a balance
and the hills in the scales?
I like the New Living Translation and The Message since we don’t talk about the “span” of a hand too often. (A span is the distance between the thumb and the pinkie.)
Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
Who has scooped up the ocean
in his two hands,
or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger,
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?
After watching photos that go out farther and farther into the universe – to the universe we know of at this time – then to read Isaiah 40:12 – GOD MEASURES THE HEAVENS BETWEEN HIS THUMB AND LITTLE FINGER – I’m speechless. Hold out your hand and LOOK at the span your hand encompasses. It might span a piece of paper, a book, a stapler, or a pencil. God’s HAND spans the UNIVERSE! The photo at the top is JUST of the Milky Way Galaxy where we live. It doesn’t include the entire universe as we know it today. How incredible is our God!
Enjoying the blessing of being abundantly awed at the magnitude of our God ~ Faye
The photos are from the Hubble website. Giglio goes into so much more detail in several of his “Passion Talks”. If you don’t want to watch the videos, his talks have been outlined at this website http://www.slcf4christ.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/awesomegoddocument.pdf.
It’s been an incredibly busy 2 weeks since I posted last. I was going to write more about Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton right away, but God seemed to have other plans. I wanted to share about Elijah’s life, but I was coming at it from the incredibly spiritual high he had just had by seeing God’s power displayed miraculously with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18) I couldn’t quite understand how going from that incredible experience Elijah decided to throw himself a huge pity-party and in that state of mind begged God to end his life because he was all alone. Didn’t he have the memories of God’s miraculous acts of starting fire on a water-doused altar to encourage him?
Then God had a talk with me. He reminded me of the spiritual highs, the closeness I’ve enjoyed with Him on many occasions (some even while writing for God’s Abundant Blessings). There are days I get into the mentality of “poor me”. “No one really cares about me.” “Everyone else has their own little groups.” Maybe you know the script. I hope not, because it isn’t an uplifting one. Anyway, I was in this blue funk about a month ago, and when reminded of the Elijah story, even looked at comparing myself to Elijah. But I didn’t have the incredible mountain-top experience … or did I?
This year my husband has had two heart procedures that have been slowly showing signs of improving his lifestyle, and if nothing else, at least he is still here with me. Last year my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer – and she is still alive and doing very well today. Through the blessing of new medicine, my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia that once caused severe pain when I lifted the bed sheets or turned a car key to having a physically active lifestyle and minor discomfort. After two years with no job, God blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine with a seemingly perfect job for me at this stage of my life. When the hospital bills have rolled in, we celebrate God’s faithfulness for good medical insurance. The list goes on and on … I’ve been blessed by God’s presence in my life in wonderful ways this year – both big and small (seeing 5 deer this morning on my foggy walk down by the river).
So why did I find myself about a month ago crying, “Poor me”? I think Satan likes to keep us in the pits of despair so we lose our focus on all that God has blessed us with and we come complaining to God. What parent would rather hear, “I love you Mommy,” than once more hear, “Why?” or the whiny “I don’t want to do that …” I can only imagine what God thinks of me when I start my pity-party once again, instead of praising Him. What He must go through when I whine and complain instead of worship and thank Him for all He has done for me.
In Elijah’s despair, God didn’t leave him alone. He sent an angel to minister to him with food and then sent him to Horeb, the mountain of God. He went into a cave to spend the night. And God appeared to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah goes on to tell all he has done for God and then begins to whine about his troubles. But the all-knowing God knew Elijah needed to understand who God really was. He told Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Elijah had to take that step of faith and go outside of the cave. When he did, there was a severe wind that split mountains and broke rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake and the fire, but God was not in either of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah heard it, pulled his cloak over his face in respect and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. God wasn’t in the chaos of the wind, earthquake or fire. God wasn’t in all the chaos that surrounded Elijah. When God moved Elijah out of the cave – with his whole self – the good, the bad and the ugly (Barton) – and go out and stand on the mountain and WAIT for the presence of the Lord to pass by. Once again God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Barton encourages us to ask ourselves, “What are you doing here, Faye [your name]?” in this time in your life? Because it wasn’t until Elijah was most vulnerable and risked exposing himself to whatever God had to show him next, that the Lord’s presence passed by. I’m not sure I’d have been willing to leave the security of the cave after seeing mountains split, rocks break, earthquake and fire. I’m glad Elijah had the faith to step out and WAIT for what God had for him. If he hadn’t taken the risk, he would have missed what God had planned for him.
For several days after my blue-funk, I spent a fair amount of time in solitude and silence (those that know me know that the silence is actually the bigger challenge) with God. When I began to ask myself the question, “What are you doing here, Faye?” I realized I was learning to intentionally refocus on God and allowing Him to fill me more than any one person – anyone else ever can. I’m grateful He took me through those days earlier this month because this weekend we had the blessing and privilege of celebrating 40 years of God’s faithfulness to our little church. From my perspective as a worship leader looking out over the congregation and seeing all the different families that came back, I reflected on God’s abundant blessings in their lives – suicide; miscarriage; loss of a spouse, parent or child; abortion; cancer; heart-disease; chronic illness or pain; job loss; financial struggles; abuse … the list goes on. But through it all, I saw and was blessed by the hearts lifted up toward God in worship. Many of these people have been on the mountain-top and the depths of despair, but they’ve learned to continue to walk with God and see where He is leading them.
These seem to be some disjointed and random thoughts, but just praying and encouraging you to take the time to let God ask you, “What are you doing here, _______?” so that you can give Him an honest answer. And praying that in that next phase, God will bless you with things you can hardly understand, things too great for you to comprehend ~ Faye
Years ago I took piano lessons. I hated doing scales and wanted to just sit down and play the songs I enjoyed. Of course, those who play piano realize that practicing those arpeggios is what helps to make the fingers move with greater dexterity over the keyboard. My mom would set the timer, set it on the piano and I would begin practicing. I know there were many times I moved the timer a minute, and the next day two minutes faster, and so on. I HATED to practice, I just wanted to PLAY.
I was reading the July/August Worship Leader magazine, and a few things caught my attention.
Spontaneity often comes from practice being made perfect. Seems like an irony, but listen to this quote from Ben Patterson on the honing of our skills and spontaneity in our worship: “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all of that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain and more drills. Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous – gardens are not; disciplined – gardens are.” (go.wlmag.com/wlpatterson)
In an article by Rick Lee James, titled Billy Joel Taught Me How to Pray, James tells how Joel shared his routine for writing songs. He would sit at his piano for at least one hour a day. He’d play scales, familiar tunes, or anything that came to mind. Sometimes that period of time would drag on when no creativity surfaced, but other times one hour turned to many more as he showed up at the piano, got involved and waited for something to happen. Joel noted that “If I hadn’t been there, I would have missed it.” James likens this to spending time with God. How often does God want to shower us with His blessings, encourage us with His words, or enfold us in His love but we are too busy running. Some of the things we are so busy with are good things like taking kids to their next practice or leading worship a worship service. But we’ve allowed the busyness to encroach on our personal time with God. Just spending time with Him. Meditating on who God is. Being filled with Him.
Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we don’t take the time to just BE WITH GOD.
At times it is very frustrating to continue bringing the same requests for a loved one to God in prayer when it seems like the prayers are never answered. In reality, those requests are not unheard. They are shaping, preparing and posturing us in our relationship with God. So many times during the quiet periods from God where it seems like He isn’t listening we grow frustrated and want to quit spending time with Him. When in reality if we keep “showing up” for time with God He surprises us in ways very unexpected and often more meaningful.
Our church is encouraging each other to share the gospel message of God’s salvation plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This can happen off the cuff in conversations, but more often than not, the conversation flows much easier when we’ve spent time with God. For me sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit still with NO distractions and just BE in God’s presence. However, when I “practice” it on a regular basis – it becomes more precious and incredibly spontaneous, personal worship occurs.
Due to some personal challenges recently, I’ve had to lean on God a lot, and yet I have felt so drained because I let the busyness of the circumstances steal my focus on just BEING before the face of God. I need to get back to my Billy Joel teaching – “If I hadn’t been there – I would have missed it.” I need to spend much needed time with God, for when I do – He blesses me in ways that are too wonderful for me to comprehend. One of those was standing at church yesterday talking with two precious friends and receiving their reminders of God’s love and grace through the difficult times and the blessing of just BEING with God.
Celebrating the abundant blessing of God’s encouragement to “Practice, practice, practice!” ~ Faye