A Good Start to the Week

God has already gone before you and He covers your tracks behind you. With the enemy in hot pursuit to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), God is making sure you’re covered at every angle. The devil might have snipers posted above your path waiting to ambush, but God is higher than them, has a keener eye, and much better aim. The devil may have pick pockets dotted in amongst the crowd, ready to steal your life’s victories but God has X-ray vision and He knows who to avoid. The devil may have liars ready to scream deception, insecurity and failure at you, but God’s tiniest whispers of truth, acceptance and love are louder and more powerful. The devil may try to make you feel surrounded by darkness, but God alone has control over the light-switch and He’s not going to flip it.

Let us hold onto the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful – Hebrews 10:23

God has promised you a hope and a future, without harm (Jeremiah 29:11). He has promised you provision (Philippians 4:19) and favor (Psalm 5:12). He has promised protection over your life (Psalm 27:1-3). Today, pray that He would help you hold onto hope without wavering. Pray that you would not only believe in Him, but that you would believe Him and His faithfulness to keep His promises. Speak against your doubts and your fears with confidence, knowing that He who promised is faithful. He will not let you fall, He will not let you perish.

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

Be encouraged today that God is completely on your side, for you and never against you (Romans 8:31). When trials come your way this week as they inevitably will, remember all these promises about who God is, what He’s done for you and what He’s doing for you right now and live in the light of His faithfulness.

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A Good Start to the Week

God, My God

I wrote this out this morning, and for some reason felt led to post it on my blog. My prayer is that it encourages you to learn more of who God is, and to speak over whatever you’re facing in faith that He will enable you to overcome your obstacles, to claim victory over your battles, to experience freedom from your strongholds and to inspire faith and action in what He’s calling you to do. God is a good God, He won’t let you fall.

God, my God, I KNOW that You are faithful. I KNOW that we are following the plan that You have laid out for us. This is why I KNOW that You will provide for our every need. We will not fall behind on our bills, we will honor our commitments to pay off our debts, we will not be anxious but we will wait in anticipation and with excitement for You to move. I KNOW that You will provide, I KNOW that You will come through for us. I KNOW that Your faithfulness does not depend on my works or on my perfection. I KNOW that You love me despite my weak faith and multiple shortcomings. You are a GOOD GOD and Your promises You will keep. You are the UNMATCHED KING in every area – Your generosity and desire to bless us are vast, Your faithfulness has no expiration date, Your grace and mercy are limitless. You own everything because You created it all. MY GOD, WHO CAN MATCH YOU? You are the UNMATCHED KING and You are for us, not against us. You are on our side and You will not let us fall. You will hold us up. You will sustain us. You are worthy of every praise that is within us and more.

God, My God

Sunday Evening Thoughts

The word of the Lord stands forever. God’s word is perfect, pure, true and everlasting. His promises are sure, reliable, steadfast and durable. Everything that He speaks comes to pass. Everything that He says has life, eternally. His word is alive. His word is guidance, comfort, assurance, and truth in a world of uncertainty, pain, confusion and deception. For all my disobedience, His word assures me of the grace I have found. For all my fears, His word assures me of the safety and protection that surrounds me. For all my loneliness, His word assures me of the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit – the only company actually worth having. God is my shepherd, and His word stands forever.

Sunday Evening Thoughts

Pursuing the Presence of the Lord

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. – Exodus 33:15 (NIV)

I don’t want to make a single move if the presence of God does not go with me. I want to pursue His presence with all that I have, relentlessly. I cannot, and will not, move without knowing that He is with me. As I’m on this pursuit of His presence, I am realizing that it isn’t a matter of begging God to show up – He is already here! It is rather a ‘me’ thing. I need to become more aware of His presence in every moment of my life. I need to cultivate that awareness in my spirit so I don’t forget that I am never alone and that I have access to Him at all times. Genesis 28:16 says ‘Jacob woke from his sleep. He said, “God is in this place – truly. And I didn’t even know it!”. It is possible to ‘miss’ God sometimes but He promises that He is there.

Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” asks the LORD. – Jeremiah 23:24 (NLT)

It’s easy in the midst of everything we’re going through to forget that He’s with us, always. As James 4:8 so beautifully promises us, when we draw near to God He will draw near to us. He’s always accessible and always present, but this relationship is a two-way street – we must draw near to Him in order to get that deeper relationship. Our greatest desire, our only desire should be to dwell in the presence of the Lord, forever.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple. – Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

Psalm 27:8 goes on to say that the psalmist’s heart tells him to “Seek His face!”. I want my heart to be so in tune with that desire for His presence that in times when my brain forgets how close He is, my heart commands me to seek His face.

So how do we train ourselves to be more aware of His presence in our lives?

We must become familiar with the attributes of God and the ways in which He works for the good of those who love Him. God is so multi-faceted, we will never get to the end of Him – there will always be more to discover and more to love. I find that the more I learn about the nature of God and all that He’s done for me, the deeper I love Him and the more I praise Him. When we’re in that place of knowing His characteristics in our hearts we can become more aware of the ways in which He is working in our lives and more aware of His presence. If you believe that the Bible is God-breathed and true in its entirety, then you must scour the pages for more of Him. The more you learn about Him, the more you will love Him and the more you love Him the deeper your relationship with Him.

Colossians 3:1-2 says that because we have been raised with Christ, we must set our hearts on things above and not on earthly things. Hand in hand with that, we must keep our eyes on the prize at the end of this crazy race called life. Our reward is in heaven and our hope on earth is the promise of eternal life with Him where we won’t have any of the distractions and we’ll be in His physical presence – a promise that is too great for me to even imagine. If we bear these promises in mind during our struggles and even the good times, we’re drawing near to Him.

Another practical way to pursue His presence everyday is to recognize that EVERY good thing comes from God (James 1:17) and to take a second to thank Him. When I look into my baby’s eyes, I thank Him. When my husband texts me to say that he loves me, I thank the Lord. When the special parking space for mothers with children is free at the grocery store and I can park right outside the doors, I thank Him. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s good it came from God and He deserves every ‘thank you’ that we have to offer plus more. Recognizing that God is working for us every second of every day forces our souls to draw near to Him. I don’t know about you, but when I thank the Lord for something, no matter how small, a beautiful peace settles on me and I immediately feel Him near.

This pursuit of His presence is something that we’re told to do in the word and it’s something that will enrich your life ten-fold. Will you pursue His presence?

Pursuing the Presence of the Lord

Unity in God’s Great Church

Let me be united with all who fear you, with those who know your laws. – Psalm 119:79 (NLT)

As Christians we are called to be ONE CHURCH. Although we may meet in several different buildings in several different locations and learn from several different teachers and preachers, we are supposed to be one church. If we are called children of God, then we are siblings – brothers and sisters in Christ. Aside from the Lord, there is nothing more powerful than a family united in Him. Unfortunately the ‘church’ today seems to have misconstrued this concept somewhat (I am aware that this is a very general statement). Chris and I just had the privilege of taking a group of our college students to the Passion 2013 conference in Atlanta, Georgia. There were so many wonderful teachings and speakers but the one I want to remind myself of at this moment is the powerful message we heard from Judah Smith on community. He spoke about how our God, by His very nature, is based on community – he is three persons, Father, Spirit and Son. Singular in character and in nature but plural in person. Distinguishable but indivisible. Since we are called to reflect His image, we are called to be just that: distinguishable but indivisible. Judah said that without community, our world will not see God. We are called to love the church because we love God. That does not mean love OUR church – it means love THE church. The church was designed to be united – as human beings we have distorted this into a church that looks and often acts divided. When we are divided, we are vulnerable. Judah used a great illustration from a show he had seen during ‘Shark Week’ on the Discovery Channel – they did an experiment to see if sharks went to a lone seal more readily and more confidently than a pack of close-knit seal. You can guess what the outcome was – they obviously went for the isolated seal and destroyed it in a matter of seconds. This can so easily happen in the church. If we become competitive, territorial, defensive, pushing other churches away because we’re doing our ‘own thing’ we can destroy what God so lovingly designed for us – a unified church. When Jesus returns it will be to ONE Bride, not many! So what does that mean for us on a practical level? Does it mean we instate membership at several different churches and hop between them, not able to commit to actively serving at any one? No, of course not! But it does mean that we can decide to love the church as a whole, to steer conversations that could easily turn critical into positive ones, to encourage those around us to build up their own local churches instead of constantly networking people to join ours. A verse that I’ve been pondering as a result of Judah’s message is 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13. The verses before hand talk about how nothing in this world is stable and everything is beginning to be shaken up. As Christians we will need to be alert and awake while others are sleeping because we do not belong to the night or the darkness. Then verses 11-13 say this:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 (HCSB)

To me, these verses just scream unity in the church – encourage, build up, give recognition, regard them highly in love, be at peace. There are so many things we can do but it has to start in the heart – if this is something that you struggle with, pray that God would change your heart to love THE church and not just YOUR church. If we are not unified, we are totally vulnerable to the devil creeping in and destroying the pure and beautiful vision for Jesus’ Bride.

Unity in God’s Great Church