Have you ever heard the phrase, “the promises of God,” and wondered what those promises were? Well, I know what one of them is. It is that God will send His Holy Spirit to dwell in His people. Not only with them, but in them (John 14:16-17). When I think about all of the day-to-day challenges that come up in our lives, or the small details we ask God to be a part of, I sometimes wonder if He wants to be a part of those things. Does He want us to pray for the courage to speak up in a meeting, or for safety while driving to work? I would say that because He has sent His Spirit to dwell so closely to us (in our hearts), that He does want to be involved in every intimate detail of our lives (and by default, He will be, which is comforting :)). It is not only a promise, but a blessing. Which leads to another promise. That we are never alone.
The horizon seemed to speak
to tell me that the line
I saw drawn at it’s edge
was only to remind
That as sea continues on
stretching from that spot
and places teem with life
that eye would claim, did not
So, life continues still
for those we can’t behold
and take our place, we will
among that bless-ed fold
Something meant for all
when turn to Him, we do
An all-inclusive call
not for a chosen few
He said that he did send
His Son not to condemn
but save through Him, He would
an estranged world of men
So call to Him at night
need Him in the dark
tell Him where you stand
with faint or solid heart
He hears each voice that sounds
the whisper and the scream
the shout that fills the air
the fright that fills our dreams
So, know that there is peace
and life beyond this shore
We take His hand, and with each step
renew our hope once more
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17
“Scripture does more than give us permission to express our sadness; it considers grieving
losses as central to our spiritual growth… To deny sadness is like trying to deny an arm or a leg;
it is to amputate a vital and necessary part of ourselves.” – Geri Scazzero
“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.” – Deuteronomy 11:18-20, 22
These verses from Deuteronomy give us a good indication of what pleases God. Although God was speaking to the Israelites, it is clear to me that He desires these same things from us today. He wants us to remember His words and to keep them so close that they sit just above our eyes, on our foreheads, and at the front of our minds. He wants us to teach them to others, and to speak of them so often that they flow from our lips at home, as well as when we are riding on a plane, getting our coffee, or waiting for a bus. When we are tired and scooping our feet off the floor at night, and when we awaken in the morning and lift ourselves from bed, He wants us to be speaking of His ways. He wants His words displayed for others to see, on our gates and on our doorposts. He wants us to walk in His ways and to hold onto Him tightly. He asks us to stay close, to cling to Him, and to remember His words.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” – Psalm 51:10
Every day we battle thoughts that aren’t so kind about our neighbor, or we realize that our motives aren’t always completely honorable. As someone who loves Christ, God has ensured me that His Holy Spirit lives in me and that He has given me a new heart. Even though this is the case, I still battle the old habits within me, and sometimes neglect loving my neighbor as I should. Deficiencies like this lead me to pray the Bible verse above. It is a reminder that God is the One who creates a clean heart within me. When unkind thoughts plague us, it can be easy to go down the path of self-condemnation, but when we turn to God and ask Him to work on our hearts, we can’t go wrong. Maybe we don’t always feel freedom from those thoughts right away, but at least we know that we have put them in the right Hands.
When Jesus approached the disciples in the boat, and was walking on water, Peter asked Him if he could join Him. Jesus answered affirmatively, and Peter jumped out the side of the boat. Things started out okay, but as Peter continued to walk his fear got the best of him, and he began to sink. Peter shouted to the Lord to save him, and Jesus “immediately reached out and grabbed him.” (Matthew 14:31) This made me think more about how being in a relationship with God does not exclude us from moments of sinking. But when that happens, we can follow Peter’s example and cry out to God. After the sinking incident, Jesus asked Peter why he had doubted Him. This would indicate that Jesus considered Peter’s fear, while in Jesus’ presence, to be doubt. I think that is key, that because Jesus was present, Peter did not need to worry. I know that Jesus is present in my own life because I have asked Him to be, and the next time I am fearful I will think of Jesus’ words to Peter.
Lord, I pray that You will help me to remember that You are present with me the next time I become fearful. I pray that You will give me the strength, through Your Spirit, to trust in You and Your care for me. Amen.
My Friend lived a sacrificial life. He defended outcasts and made sure that those who came to Him for help got what they needed. He traveled far distances to let people know that God was near. He didn’t always tell people what they wanted to hear, but He told them what they needed to hear, and He always told the truth. He was compassionate. He was forgiving. He spent a lot of time in prayer. He was a good Friend. That’s why I feel the need to say that He is Easter. Although I am an animal lover and appreciate rabbits for the simple fact that they are God’s creatures, they are not Easter. They are cute. They are fun. I myself buy Easter cards with bunnies on them, and I always enjoy receiving those same kinds of cards, but they are not Easter. Easter is the news that Jesus is still alive. It is the news that He is in heaven. It is the news that death could not keep Him in the grave. It is the news that we can all have life through Him; that we can all approach God the Father through Him. It is the news that God loves us. It is this…
“Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ the angels asked her. ‘Because they have taken away my Lord,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’ She thought he was the gardner. ‘Sir,’ she said, ‘if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’ ‘Mary!’ Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’).” – John 20:11-16
Sometimes, when I have felt anger, I have believed it was creating a divide between God and me. But, when I think about it, if every time I experience negative emotions, God turns away, it doesn’t give us a chance to build a real relationship. How many people in your life do you consider true friends with whom you only share the more pleasant aspects of your personality; only your best and cheeriest self? The people I consider my closest friends have seen me at my worst, and loved me anyway. I think the key to dealing with anger and other unpleasant emotions is to take them to God and to be completely honest with Him about what we’re feeling. It means talking to Him about even the things we feel almost too ashamed to say out loud. It means spilling our guts so that He can begin to fill us with something new.
“For he loves us with unfailing love; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 117:2
“There Abram called on the name of the Lord.” – Genesis 13:4
Abram (also known as Abraham) is known as one of THE men of faith in the Bible. He is known as the man whom God credited with righteousness because he believed what God told him. He took God at His word. So it’s helpful for me to look at Abram’s life for other examples of ways to honor God. Recently, I found another. When reading about Abram, it struck me that at different times along the journey from his homeland to Canaan (the land God was calling him to), he made a point to stop and as the Bible puts it, he “called on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 12:8, 13:4) It seems like a simple thing, and perhaps a statement I might have brushed over when reading the same passages in times past, but they spoke loudly to me this time. That’s all He asks of us, isn’t it? That we call on the name of the Lord throughout our journey.
“Search high and low, scan skies and land, you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God.” – Psalm 89:6
There is no one like You, God. When I look around and see what the world has to offer, I know that none of it will last and that one day I will be face to face with You, my Maker. I am reminded of a time in my life that brought me to a place of wondering about my future, and at that time it hit me that at the end of my life it would come down to just You and me. The people I love, and those who love me – they do not know my deepest fears. Only You know all of my thoughts. One of the things I struggle with is the fact that we all need to say goodbye, at least for a time, to the people we love. There isn’t any getting around it. When that happens, You will be the One taking my hand. No one else can do that. When I go home, it will be You I am going home to.
“I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going.” – Psalm 139:1-5