Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence’


February 27th, 2015

“Come to Me . . and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fatigue.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” No one can do their best or be their best when tired. Fatigue negatively impacts everything. Fatigue has been described as, “a shortness of breath in one’s soul.” That kind of describes it for me. When I grow tired, I am more negative, less prone to see solutions than problems. At such times, motivation is difficult to muster. I am less patient with myself and others. Fatigue adversely affects your emotions, attitudes, behavior, decisions, and relationships.

The busyness and unrelenting pace of daily life are exhausting. Everybody knows what it means to just feel tired of being tired. When fatigued, you are affected physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. There is that which exhausts the soul as well as wearies the body. Everything grows more difficult; even things you would otherwise find enjoyable or easy are more taxing when tired. Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

The worst fatigue is beyond physical; it is a deep weariness of soul that only God can heal. Daniel prophesied of a future time which would, “wear out the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:25 KJV. Does that sound a bit like this generation? Keep your objectives clear; remember that reward and satisfaction follows obedience. God’s Word gives clear direction. Isaiah discovered, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest. This is the refreshing . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isaiah 28:12/40:28-31 MSG. Time in God’s presence rejuvenates the soul. The practical exercises of prayer, Bible meditation, worship, singing, thanksgiving, confession, and personal reflection elevate and refresh the spirit of man. Practice those frequently and faithfully.

You were created to be productive, but God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for seasons of rest. “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in the plowing season and in harvest you must rest.” Exodus 34:21 NIV. The busy, demanding times of planting, as well as harvest, would seem unlikely times for rest. Wouldn’t immediacy and importance of task dictate that you persevere? But God cautions that despite the urgency of preparing the soil for planting or when reaping the harvest, you need to follow the Sabbath principle of timely rest. The Sabbath principle is not a suggestion. God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 NIV. You ignore God’s instruction to your own harm.

Many things will deplete your inner resources, until you embrace God’s invitation, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . And you will find rest for your soul.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Rest for your soul is the only cure for weariness of soul, and that rest is found through unhurried time with God. St. Augustine, Christian theologian (354-430 AD), is reported to have written, “My soul is not at peace until it finds its rest in Thee.” Maybe you have been looking in all the wrong places for what can only be found in God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are confident where to find inner rest for your soul.

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Abiding and Abounding

January 6th, 2014

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV.

Providence is the expression of His nature resulting in the supply of your need.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

In recent days, my heart’s desire for our family, and for you and yours, has been for, “a life blessed with God’s abiding presence and overflowing with His abounding providence.” However you would express your desire for God to be gracious, I think our yearnings would be similar. I welcome God to be near not far, active not passive; I embrace God’s gracious care and generous provision.

Imagine your life, “blessed with God’s abiding presence.”God does not come and go at whim; He abides. The Psalmist quoted Moses, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” See Psalm 90:1-2 NKJV. He has always been; He will always be. Theologians correctly speak of God as pre-existent (Genesis 1:1/John 1:1 NKJV) and omnipresent (Acts 17:27-28a NIV). Moses had an interesting exchange when God promised, “’My Presence will go with you’ . . then Moses said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.’” Exodus 33:14-17 NKJV. There is never a reason to continue your journey without God’s company. No one need do so.

The Incarnation of Jesus is the supreme assurance our God is ever present, “Immanuel, which is ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23 NKJV. See John 1:14 NKJV. God’s presence is constant and unchanging, yet you consciously enter into His presence.God does not hide from you; He waits for you. “Come before His presence with singing . . Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:2/4 NKJV. See Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Though God is ever surrounding, you must enter His presence intentionally. God is known through the study of His Word and the devotional practice of thanksgiving and worship.

Imagine your life “overflowing with God’s abounding providence.” Providence is rich in meaning, describing both God Himself, as well as His meticulous care and provision. Providence is defined as, “God, especially when directing the affairs of man with wise benevolence,” or “the foresight, care, and guidance of God for His creation.” Providence is both who God is and what He does.

Paul describes the abundance of God’s ability and attentive purpose to provide. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NKJV. Personalize those words, then read them until conviction of their truth grips your heart, reflecting on the extraordinary description of your Father’s overflowing providence.There is neither hesitancy in His intent nor inadequacy of His supply.

Providence is the expression of His nature resulting in the supply of your need. Listen to Paul’s testimony, “I have all and abound, I am full . . And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18-19 NKJV. God’s abounding providence is out of His incomparable, immeasurable “riches in glory.” How can you be sure that God’s generosity extends to you? Paul’s reasoning is brilliant and inarguable, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up [freely] for us all, how will He not also, along with [His Son], graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV. Having freely given Jesus to be your Savior, what would God withhold?

My prayer for you today is that you will be persuaded of the grace and generosity of God.

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Troubled Waters

September 12th, 2012

“Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go . . to the other side.” Matthew 14:22 NIV.

In the midst of troubled waters, you will find God’s presence and protection there.

My thoughts and comments today are about “troubled waters.”

When things aren’t going well, it is easy to panic, afraid you must have done something wrong. And when all is comfortable, you might incorrectly assume it is because of God’s pleasure. Life is not really that simple. Smooth sailing does not mean you are in the will of God; nor do troubled waters mean you are out of the will of God. In the will of God, you may experience either at various times. Trouble is sometimes unrelated to present cause and effect.

James, the brother of Jesus, gave wise counsel when experiencing troubled waters: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! . . you will find you have become men of mature character . .” James 1:2-5 J.B.Philips. Whatever the origin of your storm, you will find God’s presence and protection in its midst. God never promised a life without pain and difficulty.

Matthew relates the most interesting story following the miraculous feeding of the thousands on Galilee’s shore. It begins simply enough, “Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go . . to the other side.” Matthew 14:22 NIV. The problem arose midway across the lake. One of the frequent storms roared down on their small boat until these seasoned fishermen were seriously afraid. Jesus had sent them ahead of Him while He remained ashore and prayed. They were just obeying Jesus’ direct words. As human as are we, they must have assumed nothing could or should happen to them when they were “just following orders.” But storms are no respecter of persons – good or bad. I wish that were not so, but it seems to be.

Obedience doesn’t guarantee calm seas. During the darkest hour, probably at the height of their fear, “At three o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water.” Read Matthew 14:22-34 NLT. Jesus came to them! He always will. And He came with authority over the very thing that threatened them. During the storm, they needed to remember Jesus words on the shore, they were to get in the boat and “go on ahead of Him to the other side.” The other side is your destination. In troubled waters, look for the Savior, not at the storm.

God’s will is found in obeying and trusting His words. Jesus’ intention was not a disastrous journey. His will for them was on the other side; the waters were to take them where He sent them, not to drown along the way. Let me accent my words again, “In the midst of troubled waters, you will find God’s presence and protection there.”

Fearful times neither mean you have done something wrong nor that you are in the wrong place. It just means you are not yet safely where God is bringing you. On the other side, good things are waiting. Read Matthew 14:32-36 NIV. With Jesus alongside, the seas are calmed; a new and greater revelation of Jesus’ person and power is revealed; you are brought where amazing things happen in others’ lives and your own.

My prayer for you today is that you will look for God in even the darkest times.

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A Sense of His Presence

September 2nd, 2011

“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. Zechariah 8:23 NKJV

“They best practice the Presence of God who transform even the secular into all things sacred.”

My thoughts today are about “a sense of His presence.”

A small collection of letters and conversations were gathered after the death of an obscure monk of the Seventeenth century, working in a monastery kitchen in France. He was Nicholas Herman (1605-1691), better known as Brother Lawrence. His letters were compiled in a small book, The Practice of the Presence of God,” ultimately becoming one of the most widely read books.

Brother Lawrence used his tedious and mundane responsibilities and relative obscurity for a lifetime of “a habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God . . to live as if there were none but He and I in the world.” Whether scrubbing pots or serving dishes, he used every moment and simple act of service as his expression of worship and communion with God. His life’s history was shaped by the simple, everyday practice of God’s presence, as well as the hearts and lives of innumerable readers of his personal reflections.

The practical truth of that little book has impacted my life and ministry as well. In 1966, after Gayle’s and my first few years of pastoring in Granite City, Illinois, we returned to Bethany University to finish my senior year. We were serving on the staff of a church in San Jose, California. I well remember one Spring morning toward the latter part of that year. Driving the twenty or so miles of winding, mountain highway early each morning for 8:00 am classes and then back each day at noon to be at the Church office, I found the daily routine of the commute more and more dreaded.

That morning before leaving the drive of our apartment, I prayed, ”Lord, be with me today . .“ Interrupted before I could say a single word more, I felt God’s whisper in my heart, “I have been with you every morning; you just haven’t noticed.” I sat in my car alone, stunned and quietly weeping for my spiritual insensitivity to His loving presence. As I write today, tears again fill my eyes for the times God has been with me though I was distracted and oblivious to the privilege of His company. I feel as Jacob, “Surely, the Lord was in this place and I was not aware.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

In tears, I asked forgiveness for my unawareness and pledged myself to recognize and prize God’s presence in both duty and opportunity. Then I did something that would have seemed strange if anyone were looking on. I walked around to the passenger side of that maroon, ’66 Buick, opened the door and invited Jesus to be with me. I cannot describe the sheer joy of that morning’s commute, and each morning thereafter.

Each day, I would again walk to the other side of my car, open the door and consciously, even verbally, invite Jesus to be with me. That car became my personal place of daily prayer and worship. I do not recall a season of my life when I have known the joyous fellowship of the Lord more.

I have sought to make “the practice of the Presence of God” a spiritual discipline, and I am the richer for it. Though Jesus is always there, the heart-shaping experience of His nearness is reserved for those who invite Him into the most common activities and moments of daily life. Psalm 16:11 NKJV. You best practice the Presence of God when you transform even the secular into all things sacred. In doing so, you practice for Heaven. The Presence of God is to be treated as the highest and holiest of privileges, never regarded as common nor taken for granted. Read Psalm 139:1-12 NLT.

My prayer for you today is: sense the Lord near, and let others be drawn to His Presence.

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Divine Interrruptions

September 17th, 2009

“I will now turn aside to see this.” Exodus 3:3 NKJV

“Welcome any interruption where God reveals Himself to you.”

My thoughts today are about “divine interruptions.”

Life can be a dizzying rush of routines and responsibilities too much of the time. I find myself in a hurry a lot more than could possibly be healthy. I am not a disorganized person. I like to do what I am expected to do; I like to be where I am supposed to be; and I like to be on time. If I were not careful, life could become a blur, and when that happens who knows what I might have missed along the way. And along the way is really where everyday life has to be lived.

Moses was working his day job, a shepherd in the middle of nowhere tending his father-in-law’s sheep. Now what could seem a more thankless or dead end job than that? Suddenly, unexpectedly, something a bit bizarre happened. Oh, it wasn’t just a bush burning. In that dry, hot, and arid land such a thing likely had happened before. But this was different, it burned without being consumed – and much more importantly, God’s presence was in this bush. “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses as a blazing fire in a bush.” Exodus 3:2 NLT.

God will take whatever form required to gain your attention and audience. I wonder how many times God was in the path of my busy, daily schedule, and I was too focused on the natural stuff to be aware of the “anything but natural” presence of God. I fear there may well have been too many times when I have been too busy to notice God’s interruptions. “When all kinds of trials crowd into your life, don’t resent them as interruptions, but welcome them as friends.” J.B. Phillips Paraphrase.

Now, isn’t that sad – if you reject and resent your burning bush moment? When the predictable obscures the unpredictable – when the natural crowds out the supernatural – you are in danger of missing God. When that happens you could miss the most important moment of a heavenly agenda that is meant to direct and impact the rest of your life.

How much trouble is God having to get you to stop, look, and listen to Him? When your life is allowed to become too busy and too noisy, you are likely missing God, and whatever He has for you. “And when God saw that Moses turned aside to see, God called to him . .” Exodus 3:4 KJV. I love this part of the story when Moses lets his life become God’s story. God interrupts your routine and then waits to see your response before He goes further. Moses turned aside to see. If not, he would have missed God.

Read this next progression of verses. God lets Moses know that God knew where he was and who he is, by calling him by name. God reminds Moses who He is, the God of Moses’ history and heritage. God tells Moses what is of concern to Him, the plight and cries of His people. God tells Moses what He has come to do, to deliver Israel (the very thing Moses attempted to do on his own and failed, before running for his life!). God informs Moses where he fits into God’s scheme of things. And finally, God assures Moses that he will not be alone; the Almighty God will be with Him. (Read Exodus 2-12).

Do you need direction for your life? Have you been looking for purpose and meaning? There’s only one way you will find that – only one place – only from one Source. Welcome any interruption where God reveals Himself to you, however inconvenient or uncomfortable for the moment.

My prayer for you is to never be too busy to watch for, and listen to, God.

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