Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Presence’

Presence

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

~~ Genesis 9:9 (KJV)

Beginning in Genesis, we see God deigning to communicate with man, making promises to man. The passage above is quoted from right after the flood when God promises never to flood the earth again.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~~ Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

And the promise is found again in Jesus’ words to the disciples. He gives them the great commission and then a promise “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

This is not a new concept.

That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.  —  Brother Lawrence

But even before that, before Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, we read…

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.    ~~  Genesis 3:8 (KJV)

It is said so matter-of-factly that we are led to believe this was a common occurrence. That God walked in the garden regularly.

How many of us are constantly aware of the presence of God in our lives? Whether we are sitting in church or scrubbing the toilet, God is present – with us.

Does this thought comfort you or scare you?

In one way, it scares the puddin’ out of me.

God is a witness to everything I do, or think, or say. Therefore I must be very careful of my thoughts, words, and deeds. They must never disgrace the glory of God. They must never reflect badly on the name of Christ.

Every Christian is commissioned to be a witness for Christ.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  ~~ Acts 1:8 (KJV)

That’s not a part time job. It’s 24 – 7 – 365. An awesome responsibility!

But the thought of God present with me at all times comforts me as well.

It comforts me when I am uncertain what to do next. I can simply breathe a prayer for guidance and be led in the right direction or be content to stay still awaiting his nudge.

When things of this world look terribly wrong, it comforts me to know that He is not surprised by this circumstance or happening. He was there before it, and He has a plan to get me through it – no matter how terrible or devastating it may look on the surface.

The presence of God is an awesome thing. It’s reassuring to know that I have His constant companionship. It makes anything the world or the enemy can throw at me of no consequence because my God is bigger than that.

And it’s humbling, too. Why would a God so big He can create with just a word spend time with me, love me as if I were His only child? Amazing!

Neither disease, nor violence, nor natural disaster can make me fear for my life. God knew my last breath before I took the first one. My life is safe in His hands.

So is yours.

Father, God,

Help us to be more aware of Your presence – at all times, in all circumstances. Give us the grace to look to you rather than the happenings of this world. Thank You for loving us as you do. Let us never bring shame to the name of Christ.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

 

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Searching for Peace?

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

Thou anointest my head with oil;

My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
~~  Psalm 23  (KJV)

David’s psalms are beautiful, but this is probably the most familiar. It teaches you a lot of theology by describing God as a shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Notice that He is MY shepherd. He is personal to me. This is a one on one relationship.

“I shall not want.” He is able and willing to fulfill my every need.

Green pastures are areas of abundance and peace. Still waters allow the sheep to drink without the possibility of drowning. Restoration of the soul gives one the ability to rejoice anew.

Heeding and obeying His commandments will keep us from doing evil. No matter where we are, His constant presence reassures us that He is sovereign. When all the world seems to be against us, He provides whatever we need. He adopts us as His children, children of the King.

His presence in our lives is our abundance and provision. Now and always. We are His forever. That is the essence of our peace – not who we are, but whose we are.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace, our total provision at all times and in all circumstances. Grant that we, like sheep, may hear and follow only the Shepherd’s voice.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Anticipation

 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.   ~~  Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)

As we put away the extension table and the good dishes, store the left overs in the freezer, and generally wind down from Thanksgiving, we anticipate the next thing.

Isaiah called forth this prophesy some four hundred years before it came to fruition. In the meantime, the nation languished. Sin and subjugation crushed the spirits of the people. And there was a deafening silence in the scriptures.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy world, among the cares of to-do lists and financial problems, wrestling with relationship failures, we sometimes fail to see that there is hope for a future.

Immanuel – God with us. We need wait no longer. As we pray and study, we can practice the presence of God – here – now – immediate – powerful.

Father, God,

Help us to still our hearts and minds to hear Your words. Grant that we may be ever aware of Your immediate presence. For you are Immanuel – God with us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Walking Forward

In the generations list in Genesis, we read about Enoch. There was only one thing that separated Enoch from the others in the list.

 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Walking with God was not common. It is said of one other man in Genesis.

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:9 (KJV)

Noah was Enoch’s great grandson, but Enoch had left this world before Noah was born. They are both recorded as having “walked with God.” What an epitaph! He walked with God.

But exactly what does that mean? How does one walk with God? Amos says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3 KJV) Agreement simply means that both parties are of one mind as to the destination and the route.

If we want to walk with God, we must agree with God. He never changes. So we must change to fit His plans.

Our destination is eternity with Him. Our route has been laid out for us. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 15:6)

Study of this Book, the Bible, will lead us to a closer walk with God. Making time to be in His presence alone will give us the strength to lean on Him in the trials of the world. As we grow in His grace and favor, He will lead us gently to our destination, no matter if the scenery around us is sometimes wild and terrifying.

Let us determine to carve out personal time for Him in our daily busy-nesses.

Father, God,

Strengthen our resolve to spend time with You alone. Grant us the favor of Your presence in the midst of the chaos of our lives. Reassure us that You have a plan, no matter what the scenery around us looks like.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Is God Near?

Black holes permeate our world, places where the light seems never to penetrate.  We fall into them from time to time. Catastrophes, terrors and wars claim our attention. Circumstances conspire to separate us from the people we love or from our dreams and desires. Our prayers and thoughts seem to rise no further that the ceiling of our rooms. God seems very far away. But is he?

 Jeremiah 23:23,24:  Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

The problem with distance from God is that we have put it there. He did not. We have let our eyes wander from him to gaze at other things.  Our minds are occupied with day to day trivia. We have neglected our attitude of gratitude. We have forgotten that he is with us as immediately as our next breath. We may forget, but God never does.

Isaiah 49:1, 16:  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

He is constantly with us, whether we recognize it or not. So how do we climb out of these black holes? Hebrews has the answer for us.

Hebrews 13:15:  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

There are times when praising the Lord feels like a sacrifice. It isn’t the natural thing to do. When losses overwhelm us, when children stray from the path we have set before them, when co-workers seek to undermine our livelihood, praise is generally the last thing on our minds.

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.
~ Harry Stack Sullivan
If you ever saw the movie The King and I, you saw this principle in use when Anna sings to her son, “when ever I feel afraid, I hold myself erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.”  And later in the lyric it says “The result of this deception is very strange to tell for when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.”
My grandmother used to recite a little rhyme:

Turn the corners of your mouth a little upwards, don’t you know / If you keep a’smilin’ always, discontent ain’t room to grow.

So if we praise the Lord when we least feel like it, we are sacrificing how we feel to what we know we should do.  And as we praise Him, we get closer to him. Well, not really. What we do is become more aware of His constant presence.
 Jesus came to his disciples by walking on the water. Peter got out of the boat to go to meet him. But he got distracted by the wind and waves. When he let his eyes wander from Jesus, he began to sink.
The answer is to keep our eyes on the Lord. He is our salvation, both temporally and eternally.
 Father, God,
Help us to keep our eyes focused on you. Let us not be distracted by the trivialities of life on earth, but keep our hearts attuned to your heavenly purposes.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Garment of Praise

Praise is one key to closeness with God.  In the Psalms we are told that God inhabits the praises of His people.

Psalm 22: 3: But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4: Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5: They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. —(KJV)

How better to draw close to God than to have Him living in your thoughts and speech at all times!

So how can we continually praise and draw close?

One method is to cultivate the habit of close observation. Look at the sunrise, the delicacy of a beta fish, the grandeur of a mountain, the vastness of the prairie or the power of an ocean. When we think about the infinite goodness of God and His precise attention to detail in all His creation, we cannot help seeing his power and generosity.

Today’s Christian is pulled a hundred different directions with the urgency of the “now” world. In our hurry up – go society, time for reflection and solitude is hard to find. But we can train our eyes to notice the small details that God put into this world, especially for our pleasure and edification — and I think, just a little to let us know He’s still here.

Father-God, help us to train our eyes to see You in all the little everyday things that touch our lives. Help us to recognize Your hand in our circumstances. Help us to cultivate the grateful heart that will sing Your praises as we learn to see more clearly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 34:10-12

The death of Moses is the end of an era for the children of Israel. Joshua has been installed as leader by the laying on of hands. But the verses we focus on today are Moses’ epitaph.

Imagine speaking face to face with God. At some point we will see Him face to face, and speak with Him one on one. But Moses did it while he was here. He was used mightily of God and showed God’s awesome and awful power to the Egyptians and Israelites alike.

We can come close to this kind of relationship with God. But it requires that we seek Him above all else, that all our desires and aspirations be laid on the altar of God’s will, that all our relationships be subject to His scrutiny, that all our actions align with His commandments.

Whew! That’s a tall order. And we are incapable of fulfilling it by ourselves. We need Him. We need His Holy Spirit to shine God’s light on our circumstances, so that we can see the world around us as He sees it.

So think about your own epitaph. Will they say of you that you knew God?

Father, God,

Help us to clear our minds and hearts of all the extraneous things that would pull our attention away from You. Grant us the singleness of mind and heart to seek You above all else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.