A Holy Place

“I am the Lord; for they shall not be put to shame who wait for, look for, hope for, and expect me.” – Isaiah 49:23b

Do you have a holy place? A place where God seems close? It might be as simple as a familiar chair where you pray every morning or as complex as driving to a church or chapel for an intimate time with him. Wherever it is, do you spend a lot of time hanging out there?

If so, you will understand Joshua. He wasn’t content with a faith delivered through someone else. He wanted to know God personally. So, when Moses went into the tent to meet with God, Joshua waited outside. Then, after Moses went back to the camp, Joshua stayed at the tent, wanting more time in the holy place.

This contrasts with the rest of the people who were afraid of God and asked Moses to represent them and bring messages back so they didn’t have to risk being too close to the all-powerful one. Joshua wanted first-hand experience –  he wanted to know God for himself – even if it was risky (Exodus 33:7-11).

We can know God for ourselves, too! The key may be hanging out a little more often and for longer periods of time in the holy place. The place where he is near and has shown himself in the past. He longs to connect to us. We just need to be ready to receive him.

Lord, I want to be like Joshua – staying in your presence so I can be there when you have something to show me or something to say to me. I don’t want to miss you!

“God will lead you, almost without your knowing it, if you will be faithful to come before him quietly.” – Francois Fenelon

 

#prayer

 

Still Waiting

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” – Psalm 25:4-5

Do you feel like you’re at a standstill right now? No wind in your sails? No sense of direction? Not sure what’s next? There are waiting times for all of us. Times when we are trying to trust God even when He doesn’t seem to be doing anything to give us a sense of His presence or will.

Don’t worry. His silence doesn’t mean He has withdrawn. Most likely He’s waiting for the timing to be right before He acts. The direction He wants to give may be dependent on many threads coming together at the right time – other people, our heart readiness, general conditions around us. His working always includes things we cannot see, so we wait until He is ready to move, to direct us, or to change circumstances.

In the creation account, we read that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. While He hovered, the waters waited in the darkness – maybe for a very long time. Then, when He was ready, God called for creation and the earth and seas exploded with light, life, color, and glory. When the waiting was over, everything changed – radically!

The Spirit hovers over us, too. We need to quiet our souls. Rest. Trust. Allow Him to work where we cannot see, believing He is doing what is best for us, and knowing He will bring about what He desires when the time is right. It will be good!

“I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.” – C. S. Lewis

The Jesus Question

 

"May prayer be made for him continually." - from Psalm 72:15

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

Most people have an opinion or belief about Jesus. Some see Him as a compassionate man who once walked around Galilee and Jerusalem doing good things for people and teaching them to live better lives. Others claim a personal relationship with Him – believing He’s with them, praying to Him, asking Him to guide their lives. For some, opinions are based on hearsay or feelings; for others, they are based on research and reading. There is no doubt that the views of Jesus vary widely.

Here are some things people have said about Him:

  • Some in the biblical crowd: “He is a good man.”
  • Others in same crowd: “He deceives the people.”
  • Roman centurion: “Surely this was the Son of God.”
  • C. S. Lewis: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
  • John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
  • Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • Thomas: “My Lord and my God.”
  • Bertrand Russell: “. . . clearly he was not so wise as some other people have been, and he was certainly not superlatively wise.”
  • People of Nain: “A great prophet has appeared among us.”
  • Temple guards: “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”

If Jesus walked into the room right now, what would you say to Him? About Him? Who is Jesus to you? It’s the most important question you will ever answer.

“The miracle of the gospel is Christ, risen and glorified, who this very moment tracks us, pursues us, abides in us, and offers Himself to us as companion for the journey.” – Brennan Manning

Self-Improvement Plan?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20a

God lives inside us. It is His goal that we simply believe and act on that fact. It is not a “someday”, it is now: He indwells those who have accepted His invitation to follow Him. He is bigger, stronger, and smarter than we are, desiring to overrule our bad decisions and live the God-life through us. If we really believed that, how might things be different?

  • We would recognize Satan’s lies (e.g. worry means love).
  • We wouldn’t be anxious about things that are far in the future.
  • We would be more discerning about people, able to see through to their hearts.
  • We would love more.
  • We would rejoice every time truth triumphs over lies.
  • We would have an eternal perspective.
  • We would serve others with wisdom and grace.
  • Our concerns about appearances would fall away.
  • We would trust Christ’s lordship of this world, doing our part, but  leaving the rest in His hands.
  • We would entrust our children to God, knowing He has a plan for each of them that includes us, but does not center on us.
  • We would learn to listen to our bodies, giving them what they need (e.g. food, exercise, and rest).
  • We would give generously.

We don’t have to adopt another self-improvement plan. We just need to yield to the Christ living within us, intentionally giving up our wills for His and letting His love, power, truth, and peace flow through us. When He lives in us, we become better people and the world becomes a better place!

“God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life fully yielded to Him.” – Andrew Murray

 

 

 

Becoming Prayer

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“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2

When I am rightly tuned in to God, I find myself praying all day long. I ask Him for direction, thank Him for the wonders I see in His world, ask Him to bless the person ahead of me in line at the bank, pray for the people involved in the situation wherever the ambulance is going, receive everything as a gift from Him, and talk to Him as I would a friend if there is something troubling me.

It doesn’t happen every day, but I wish it would. Those days have a sweetness and satisfaction that can’t be rivaled by anything else I know.

When I found this ancient prayer, I realized it expressed my heart’s desire. Praying it seems to reconnect me to my Creator. Maybe it will help you, too.

“Holy Spirit dwell in me,
that I may become prayer.
Whether I sleep or wake,
eat or drink
labor or rest,
may the fragrance of prayer
rise, without effort, in my heart.
Purify my soul and never leave me,
so that the movements of my heart and mind
may, with voices full of sweetness,
sing in secret to God.” St. Isaac the Syrian

 

 

 

Prayer from The Book of a Thousand Prayers, compiled byAngela Ashwin, Zondervan, 1966, p. 19.

Pennies on the Path

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“I cannot cause light. The most I can do is to put myself in the path of its beam.”                                    – Annie Dillard

I had an uncle who lived at the other end of a well-worn path between my Grandmother’s house and his. When he knew the grandchildren were coming to visit, he showed up at Grandma’s door, too. Then he would invite one of us to walk with him on the path to his house. As we walked, we were amazed to find pennies all along the way. Even when I became a young adult and Uncle Walt was gone, I couldn’t resist looking for pennies when I walked that path!

I believe God has taken great delight in putting “pennies” on the path we will walk today. One author calls God’s sometimes unnoticed gifts as “small joys and pieces of beauty”. How many of them do we miss because we are not paying attention? We are watching our feet or worried about the obstacles ahead and missing God’s little gifts along the way.

As we enter this new year, let’s have enough faith in our loving heavenly Father to believe that He has “small joys and pieces of beauty” for us every single day. Then, let’s remember to look for them. If we do, 2016 will be a year filled with surprises, smiles, and praise. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next on the path!

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6a NIV)

I Know He Knows

 

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“My business is to remain in the presence of God.” – Brother Lawrence

As I was approaching God this morning, I was trying to lay down concerns that could be distractions to my time with Him. I gave Him my list of worries – people, commitments, usefulness – all of that. Then, as I sat with Him, in my mind I heard:

“You know that I know and that’s all you need to know – for now.”

Oh, yes! I know that He knows, so I can walk away from meddling. This is God I am talking to – the almighty, all-knowing, always loving God. There is no safer place to leave those I care about, projects I have taken on, or unsolvable problems in the world. He knows! He has power! He is loving. I have full confidence that He will act when the time is right and, in the interim, will walk with me moment-by-moment through conversations, confrontations, decisions, and planning.

Knowing that He knows allows me to let go, to rest in Him, and to live fully the life He has put in front of me today. Knowing that He knows is freedom and joy, even in the waiting time.

Stand still and see the great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.” (1 Samuel 12:16)