July 23, 2017

Where Are You?

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Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:1-9

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We have heard this story over and over; I think we become numb to it…sometimes.  The serpent, the tree, and the apple are all part of a story we have heard if ever  we have walked in the door of a Sunday School classroom.  But as I re-read it tonight, God spoke to me and asked this question,

Where are you?

Remember, God had made every inch of that Garden and He knew exactly where His people were that day.  See, the serpent—the slithering enemy who still spews lies—had just changed the course of the lives of Adam and Eve by tempting them with fruit.  It was fruit off  of a tree that God had specifically told them they must not eat. God didn’t give them a reason (and He really didn’t owe them one).  His Word was enough.  But Adam and Eve took the fruit and they ate it. After they did, their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked and for the first time the word “shame” came to mind.  And then they hid from God.  Can you even imagine what they felt when they heard His voice asking, “Where are you?”

The enemy, that slithering serpent, still lies to us today. Perhaps you might be right in the middle of believing him.  Like Adam and Eve, you might have just realized what you have done…and the word ‘shame’ fits like a glove.  And perhaps you may be hiding from God, too.  But He sees you.  When He asked Adam and Eve that same question, He knew where they were…He just wanted them to know and see for themselves.  They had to admit to Him that they had messed up and they needed Him still.  God may have banished them from the perfect garden but there was still life outside those gates.  He still loved them and longed to spend time with them.  And, He loves you, too, and wants to help you reclaim your life.  But first you have to know where you are.  Because He knows!

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Dear Lord, You are awesome and wonderful.  Your love for us is never-ending and we are so grateful.  Lord, You have given us a garden here on earth, with beautiful sand and oceans and flowers…beautiful places to spend time with You.  Oh Lord, there are times when we are so far away and we struggle to find our way. I pray today for those who have lost their way and the voice of the enemy has been too loud. Silence it today in Your name and may they hear Your voice asking…’Where are you?’  We love You and praise You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Still Rescues

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So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions were brought to him, and he could not sleep.

Daniel 6:16-18

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I love this story!  I have vivid memories of felt lions and four felt men on a board… and sitting in a circle, on the edge of our seats…wondering if they survived the ordeal!  And, yes, they did.  Because God shut the mouths of the lions that were sent to destroy him.  Miraculous?  Oh yes, it was!

See, the king had some  people that were jealous of Daniel and his wisdom. But the king actually trusted Daniel and looked to him for advice and answers to his dreams and visions.  The king had seen with his own eyes that the God Daniel served was the real deal.  But these other servants to the king wanted Daniel to go away.  So they came up with a crazy law that decreed that all were to bow down and worship the king (and only the king).  What did Daniel do when this decree went out?  He went to his home and bowed—to the One true God!

When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. So they approached the king and asked about his edict: “Didn’t you sign an edict that for 30 days any man who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?”  The king answered, “As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable.”  Then they replied to the king, “Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.” As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him.  Then these men went to the king and said to him, “You as king know it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed.”  So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

Daniel 6:10-16

Most of us know the ending to this story, and we know that the next morning, Daniel was still standing.  But I wonder if there is another point to this story, too. Did you notice in the verses above, that Daniel prayed on his knees three times a day…and gave thanks to God.  This was preparing him for what was to come.  He had no idea that he was praying up for a trip to the den of lions, now did he?  Sometimes neither do we, but we pray over time; we are getting suited up for something.

What have you been thrown into today?  Do you need God to shut the mouths of some lions today?  I have no idea the hard that you are walking through, but I do know Who is walking with you!  He will never leave you, ever.  And a bunch of big lions don’t scare Him!  I encourage you to start being intentional about praying to Him.  Make hard stops every day so that you are staying in constant contact with your Creator.  He loves you so very much and He wants to go to battle for you…just let Him have it all.

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Let us pray:  Dear Lord, You are our Father and our Mighty God!  You are the same every day and we thank You for that.  In a hard world that changes so much, we are so grateful that You are constant.  Lord, I pray that when times are hard, that we will turn to You.  When times are stressful, we will turn to You.  And when we are so exhausted and are at the end, that we will turn to You.  Give us victory over the lions and keep us safe!  We love you!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

His Promises For You

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You keep him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on You,

because he trusts in You.

Trust in the Lord forever,

for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4

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My mind has not been at rest lately.  In fact, if I am completely honest, I haven’t allowed God to have my anxious thoughts—until today.  Have you ever gotten so tired that you finally gave in?  I wish I could tell you that I had this grand revelation and that I willingly handed it all over.  Honestly, God has been proving over and over and over that He is so capable of taking care of my affairs much more than I am.  See, this season of my life is so different for me in that I have two of my children living away from me now and I truly have to give them over to Him, physically and mentally.  Oh, this is very hard…so I went to His Word and found  many verses on just this.  I thought I would share because I know that, even though we are all in different seasons, we all need to trust in Him.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my Glory, and the One who lifts my head.
Psalm 3:3

He is a shield when the world is coming at us in all directions.  And, when it seems that we are defeated, He lifts our heads out of the shame and into His grace.  He wants us to look up at Him and let His glory shine so bright that it dims all the hard that is around us.

For everyone born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4

Did you read that?  It says “everyone“…that means you, too.  You were born an overcomer.  In Jesus we have victory over the world because He died and overcame it for us!  All we have to do is have faith.

  • faith that He will help you with that marriage that is at the brink of defeat
  • faith that He can heal that illness that you have been battling for so long
  • faith that He can take care of that child that you feel is lost forever

Nothing is too much for Him! We have the victory in Jesus!

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them!
The Lord your God will go ahead of you.
He will neither fail you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

What a comfort to know that, no matter where you or your children go, He goes before you all.  When you are sending those babies back to school…pray that God will go before them, and that He will be at that homeroom before they are, and that He will give them peace.  Or, when you have a meeting that you are really unsure about…ask God to meet you there; even in the parking lot to walk in with you.  He will!

Be strong and have courage to do this life that He has called you to live.  You have nothing and no one to fear when He is with you.  Lastly, remember His promise to never fail you or forsake you.  Oh, how loved we are by our Creator.  I don’t know about you but, after reading these promises, I am full of joy and cannot stop smiling!

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Where are you today, my friend?  What do you need to trust Him with?  I encourage you to pray these verses to your Heavenly Father asking Him to do what you cannot do by yourself.  Perhaps write these verses down on notecards and put them where you can see them daily.  He wants to encourage you and fill you with peace that only He can give you. I pray that you will feel it today!

Let’s pray!
Dear God, You are so awesome and amazing and so full of love for Your children.  Oh Lord, thank You that You never change and that all Your promises are true.  Thank You for all those who went before us—those whose stories are written in the pages of Your Word—to teach us and to prove to us that You will take care of us.  You will provide.  You will never fail us.  You will never leave us. And, Lord, for those today who are having a hard time trusting You, I pray that You show up today in a big way so that they will know beyond any doubt that it is You!!!  We love You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thankful to be in Your Presence

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How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with You.
Psalms 139:17-18

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How awesome is this Truth, oh Lord, that Your thoughts of us are vast…and, really, uncountable!  This Truth humbles us!  And yet it also leads us to draw closer and closer to You, our Faithful God!  May our hearts and our thoughts of You be as the psalmist communicates as we meditate on this passage.   May we recognize the privilege of being in Your presence.  May the thought of Your presence be oh-so-very precious to us.  We love You and adore You, dear God!  We pray these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

I Praise You for You made me

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For You created my inmost being;
    You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:13-16

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Oh, dear Father, we do praise You for the wonderful way You have made us! These words of the psalmist…they speak what is in our hearts, too!  You, our Maker and Creator, have formed and made, knit together and created us, in exact and wonderful ways.  And we do praise You recognizing how awesome You are for this!  Dear God, You alone are the one with the ability to do such wonderful works.  You alone have known us even before we were formed and as we were knit and woven together in our mothers’ wombs.  So awesome…so incredible—that is what You are!  Thank You for caring so much for us and for loving us in such magnificent ways!  We love and adore You, too…and pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

You are with me in the darkness

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 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to You.

Psalms 139:11 and 12

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Dear Lord, how grateful we are to know this Truth that even the darkness is not dark to You!  Even before time, when You spoke into being the earth and the stars, there was darkness…but not to You!  Truly You separated the dark from the light and spoke into being day and night!  You are the Almighty, the all-powerful, the Everlasting God.  You and only You could do this!  And we are so awestruck and amazed!  May we hold this Truth in our minds and hearts when we are tempted to think we can be separated from You by the darkness of this world…that darkness is as light to You!  You are our Great God, the Creator…we love You and adore You!  And praise You praying in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Charles Spurgeon penned the following prayer…
“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me.
Dense darkness may oppress me, but it cannot shut me out from thee, or thee from me. Thou seest as well without the light as with it, since thou art not dependent upon light which is thine own creature, for the full exercise of thy perceptions. Moreover, thou art present with me whatever may be the hour; and being present you discover all that I think, or feel, or do. Men are still so foolish as to prefer night and darkness for their evil deeds; but so impossible is it for anything to be hidden from the Lord that they might just as well transgress in broad daylight.

Darkness and light in this agree;
Great God, they’re both alike to thee.
Thine hand can pierce thy foes as soon
Through midnight shades as blazing noon.”

(quoted from Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David)

Take This Cup

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They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”  Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him.  “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”  Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Once more He went away and prayed the same thing.  When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  They did not know what to say to Him.  Returning the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!  The hour has come….

Mark 14:32-42

All He asked them to do was to stay awake and pray with Him.  Jesus, on the night before He was to die, went to the garden to pray.  Actually to speak to His Father…and maybe get a different solution to this saving thing.  Who could blame Him, really.  But as we all know, God did not change His mind.

In this prayer of Jesus’, we see Him totally surrendering Himself to the complete sovereignty of God even though His heart is longing for something different.  Jesus totally trusts in the One Who holds it all in His loving hands. And, ultimately, God’s plan was carried out and it was perfect.  Are you struggling with the same thing—asking God to take this cup from you but, if not, then surrendering to His will?

I know it is hard to look at ourselves and examine our own hearts.  There may be something that God is asking you to do and, with all your heart, you don’t want to.   You find yourself begging Him, pleading with Him, to take this cup from you.  But, if He doesn’t, are you okay  with His answer?  I can tell you from experience that you should be.  Because He loves His children so much that He only wants the very best for us.  Yes, there are sometimes painful things we must do…but when we surrender to Him, and do what He asks, we will be blessed.

But what if you never see the benefit?  You may not on this side of Heaven; but I do know that one day it will all be revealed in His time.  Just pray, seek His face, and trust—that no matter what it is on earth that He is asking—He will not harm you, but will bless you forever.

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Do you know this Jesus that I am telling you about?  If not, I pray that today you will get to know Him and ask Him into your life so that you will be made new!  I ask that You pray this prayer with me…

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I am so tired of doing things my way and hurting.  Today, I surrender.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died on the Cross to save me from sin.  I ask that Jesus come into my heart to live and walk with me through this life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

When God Restores

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After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his prosperity and doubled his previous possessions.  All his brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house.  They sympathized with him and comforted him concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him.  Each one gave him a qesitah and a gold earring.  So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.  He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  He named his first daughter Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.  No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.  Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.  Then Job died, old and full of days.

Job 42:10-17 HCSB

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“You have the patience of Job!” she says to me.  {I don’t really.}  I think of all the things and people that Job lost and I wonder if he ever had a full-blown temper tantrum…I know I have.  And, like Job, God has never left me.  As I watched my baby girl leave today for college, I felt loss, sadness, and despair.  But I know that she is as close as a phone call and only a day trip away in the car.  As parents, it is hard to watch our children leave after so many years of living with us.  I have had people say to me, “At least you have two more at home.”  And, while this is true, the ones that have moved out can never be replaced.  But our lives and homes are restored to a new normal.

Job 42:10 says that after Job had prayed for his friends, that God made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before!  God is a God of restoration!  He doesn’t just replace what we have lost…He wants to restore us.  When we, His children, suffer loss He doesn’t just quickly replace it with something else…that is not His way.  He wants to heal our hearts and minister to us.  He goes straight to our heart and heals it.  Obviously, He did this for Job.  Job’s friends had really done some awful things to him and, if  God had not intervened, Job would have hung on every negative word and action and maybe even blamed them instead of the real enemy.

You know, God could have replaced all his friends with new ones but that wouldn’t have accomplished the healing that God wanted for his child.  And I am pretty sure that the resentment towards the old ones would have still been there, too.  Instead prayer began to heal Job’s heart and he began to pray earnestly for those that had really hurt him.  This is the moment it all changed…Job began to love his enemies.  This is restoration!  And God gave Job a blessing.

I can safely say that most of us have experienced loss.  Some more painful than others, but pain is still pain.  And God is still the God of restoration.  He wants to begin a new thing in our lives. He wants to replace bitterness and heal our hearts so that we, too, can pray for those who have wronged us or taken something from us.  Let’s begin today!  Just wait and see what your Father is going to do…

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Let us pray: Dear God, You are a loving Father and You care so much for each one of us.  You cry over each loss we endure.  Lord, I ask that You take away any bitterness and anger that we are holding onto and replace it with joy that only You can give.  Thank You for loving us so much that You want to not only give us more than we lost, but You want to heal and restore us to a new person though this.  Help us to forgive those who have wronged us and teach us to pray for them.  Thank You for Jesus, Who took all our sins with Him on the Cross and left them there to die.  We love You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Don’t Miss His Majesty

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Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.  After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  When evening came, He was there alone.  But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.  Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear.  

Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  
“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”  
“Come!” He said.

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

Matthew 14:22-31 HCSB

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Sometimes I question if I am in God’s will…especially when storms seem to linger.  You know, those weeks and months when nothing goes the right way, (or, should I say, the way that is most comfortable!) and it feels like you just might be one of those Israelites stuck in the desert?  It is so tempting to say to God, “Please, can’t You just do something to stop all this?!?”  Of course, the answer if yes…He can.  But what if He doesn’t choose to stop it just yet?  Will you still have peace?  Or is yours a superficial peace that you only have if your checkbook is positive, or that job you wanted so badly is yours, or your husband is really being his nicest?  Hard questions, I know…because He has really been working on me lately with this.

Look at the Scripture passage above.  The disciples had just been with Jesus while He fed the 5000.  They had been with Him as He spoke and they probably were on a spiritual high.  And Jesus had actually made them get into the boat and go ahead of Him so they were exactly where He told them to be…and a storm still came.  I’m sure this was no surprise to Jesus.  And neither is the one that you’re in right now.  Sometimes these ‘waves’ happen just to rock our boat.  Not all are a result of sin or disobedience in your life! But know this: If Jesus has appointed us a place in the storm—you can be absolutely sure that it’s for a purpose and He will show up.  But we must be looking beyond our own boat to actually see Him.

One of the biggest storms for me happened when Kyle couldn’t find work a few years back.  Yet I knew that we were exactly where He wanted us.  I heard the words spiritual warfare a few times because that seems to be the easiest answer to understand…but I knew this wasn’t the case.  I knew that God had a purpose, and that this was His doing, and we were to learn how to totally depend on Him for our joy and peace.  We had a lot of healing to do and this was when God worked the hardest.  Looking back on that painful time, I can actually smile because I have never felt so close to God as I did then.

Jesus calls us to walk by faith as we try to make our way through the rough storms.  Don’t you think we owe Him that?  Especially when He does way more than that…He walks on water during the storms.  See, God the Father put all things under Jesus feet, even the waves that seem to wash over us constantly. He is there and He is in control.  He doesn’t want you to miss the important lesson of this story, my friend:

Jesus walked on the water before He calmed the storm.

If He had just stopped the storm, the disciples would have missed seeing His majesty…and isn’t that the best part?  So don’t hurry Him to stop the waves and calm the storms….look for Him in the midst of it first!

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Let us pray: Dearest Lord, You are the calmer of storms, the Lover of our souls.  You are so worthy of praise and honor.  We thank You for being so intentional in each one of our lives.  And that You have a plan that is so detailed and so full of You!  We pray to trust You.  Lord, I know that there are many going through different storms right now and I ask that they can see You walking toward them.  Comfort Your children today and let them know that You are there and in control.  Thank You, again, for loving us and for giving us grace and mercy for each new day.  In Jesus name, amen.

You Are Familiar with ALL our ways

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You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Psalms 139:1-3

Oh, dear Father…to be known by You!  You—the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the One Who hung the moon and each and every star and planet!  You—the Designer of all life here on this Earth—the animals, the birds, the fish, every type of plant and tree!  You—Who made the sun to give light to the daytime and the moon to give light to the night-time!  What a wondrous (and true!) thought that ‘You are familiar with all my ways!’  Oh, we also know about our ways…and some of them are not so good, Lord.  But You love us in spite of our faults and failures, our sins, our idiosyncracies.  Lord, today may we recognize the great privilege of this.  You are so good to us!  We praise and thank You in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  <3