Posts Tagged ‘God’

Draw Near to God: Day 28

images-9

Day 28: Living in unity

How good and pleasant it is

when brothers live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

We are not alone on the journey. God gives us traveling companions.  It is part of the plan.

So here is Adam, created by God and put into the garden of paradise, and yet his aloneness is “not good.”  The Genesis narrative is implying that our intense relational capacity, created and given to us by God, was not fulfilled completely by our “vertical” relationship with him.  God designed us to need “horizontal” relationships with other human beings.  That is why even in paradise, loneliness is a terrible thing.  We should therefore not be surprised to find that all the money, comforts, and pleasures in the world–our efforts to re-create a paradise for ourselves—are unable to fulfill us like love can.  This is confirmation of our intuition that family and relationships are a greater blessing and provide greater satisfaction than anything money can buy.  Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Community is essential.  Scripture knows nothing of the solitary Christian.  People of faith are always members of a community.  Creation itself was not complete until there was a community.  Adam needed Eve before humanity was whole.  God never works with individuals in isolation, but always with people in community.  Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Who are you walking with as you draw near to God?  We are thankful to have each of you on the journey with us.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 27

images-9

Day 27: Being obedient

I will not enter my house

or go to my bed–

I will allow no sleep to my eyes,

no slumber to my eyelids,

till I find a place for the Lord,

a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.

Psalm 132: 3-5

The word obedience sounds harsh, oppressive, unpleasant. What if we could see obedience to God as a gift–as a way to draw closer and experience His love and peace?

Non-discipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand evil.  In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring–life lived on its highest plane.  Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. . . Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. . .God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you already know.  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Begin where you are.  Obey now.  Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed.  Begin where you are.  Live this present hour as you now sit in your seat, in utter, utter submission and openness toward God.  Thomas Kelly

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 26

images-9

Day 26: Resting in God

But I have stilled and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 131: 2

Rest requires trust.  We don’t rest unless we feel safe.  

We tend to think of surrender as that great thing we do when we want to show God how much we love Him, and how heroically we are willing to sacrifice everything.  But a true surrender to God has nothing to do with such a flattering description as that.  Let me tell you what real surrender is.  It is simply resting in the love of God as a little baby rests in its mother’s arms.  Fenelon, Let Go

Dear Lord,

I know that without Your rest, I will not have strength for the journey, I will not enjoy the journey, and I will not bring You glory.  I want to come to You and receive Your yoke, which enables me to receive Your rest and direction.  I want to come before You in all honesty and say that my heart is not conceited and my eyes are not arrogant or pretentious.  I don’t want to be concerned about things I cannot understand; I want to trust You.  I want to continue to grow so that I can come to You without demanding something in return.  I want to know the joy and peace of Your presence.  I want to be like a weaned child who asks for nothing.  I want Your rest.  Amen  Cynthia Heald, A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God

Can you trust God to care for you?  Can you rest?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 25

images-9

Day 25: Surrendering our pride

My heart is not proud, O Lord,

my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things too wonderful for me.

Psalm 131:1

One of the things that gets in the way as we draw closer to God is our pride. 

Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, or irritable, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing that is done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.  Andrew Murray 

Humility is not a matter of beating ourselves up.  It is not a question of judging ourselves as stupid or sinful, as hopeless or bad.  Who are we to judge these things?  Humility, it seems, is the gentle acceptance of that most tender place inside ourselves that throbs with the pain of separation from the Beloved.  It is that deep knowingness that identification with the false self brings nothing but further separation.  It is an initially reluctant dropping down into the emptiness and an ultimate experience of peace when we stop doing and rediscover simple being. . . when we heed the call to cease creating and remember that we are created.  Mirabai Starr,  Dark Night of the Soul

Can we release the focus on ourselves and shift it to God?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 24

images-9

Day 24: Watching and praying

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen wait for the morning,

more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130: 5-6

When we pray do we really expect God to hear us and to act on our behalf?  

A watchman is an important person, but he doesn’t do very much.  The massive turning of the earth, the immense energies released by the sun—all that goes on apart from him.  He does nothing to influence or control such things; he is a watchman.  He knows the dawn is coming; there are no doubts concerning that. Eugene Peterson,  A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Watchtowers served a variety of purposes in ancient culture—as built-in defense systems in the walls of ancient cities, as built-in pastures so shepherds could protect their flocks from wild animals, and as built-in vineyards for protection from thieves.  Watchmen would climb into their watchtower, station themselves at their guard post, and scan the horizon for enemy armies or trading caravans.  The watchmen were the first to see, and they saw the farthest.  So it is with those who pray.  Intercessors are watchmen and watchwomen.  They see sooner and see farther into the spiritual realm.  Why?  Because prayer gives us a unique vantage point. Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

Are you waiting and watching for God?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 22

images-9

Day 22:  Walking in the dark

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth —

let Israel say —

they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,

but they have not gained victory over me.

Psalm 129: 1-2

Where is God in the dark times?  How do we make sense of the oppression we experience in the world? Can we live in victory?

The city of Brussels is known for its exquisite lace.  In the famous lace shops, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate patterns.  These rooms are altogether dark, except for the light from one tiny window that falls directly upon the pattern. . . Lace is always more delicately woven when the worker himself is in the dark and only his pattern is in the light.

As God weaves His pattern into the fabric of our lives, sometimes we sit in a “darkened room.” The darkness seems suffocating.  We can’t understand what He’s doing and can’t discover any possible good in the darkness.  Yet, if we fix our focus on our faithful Weaver, we will someday know that the most exquisite work of all our life was done in those days of darkness.  As I look back over my life, my deepest intimacy with Him has come from the dark times. Linda Dillow, Calm My Anxious Heart

The retina of my soul develops macular holes of blackness. . .That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him, to the God whom we earnestly crave.   Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

As we draw near to God and walk with Him, over time we begin to see some of our dark times brought us closer to Him.  Have you experienced dark times? 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 21

images-9

Day 21: Choosing relationships 

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;

your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.

Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.

Psalm 128: 3-4

What does a relationship with God look like? One glimpse of this divine relationship can be seen in marriage.  

Romance is splendid.  There is no doubt about it. To find someone whose sentences you can finish, whose touch makes you dizzy, who looks at you and sees the person you have always hoped you would turn out to be—that is as good as it gets.  Romance is a pure gift, the kind of love you do not have to work at.  It happens, that is all, like a cool shower on a hot summer’s night.  All you have to do is have the good sense to stay out in it, opening your arms and turning your face to the sky.

A covenant, on the other hand, does not just happen.  It is entered into very deliberately—a conscious act by two people who mean to have a life together.  It includes promises and limits.  It binds and it frees.  It may begin with romance but it does not end there. After the shower is over, covenant partners start to plan the garden, disagreeing about where to put the asparagus and whether to spray the tomatoes this year.  . .

When I married eleven years ago, I remember being amused at all the advice I received.  “Never let the sun go down on your anger.” “Don’t wear old t-shirts to bed.” “Always be the first to say you’re sorry.”  The one that puzzled me the most at the time was, “The secret of a happy marriage is for both of you to give one hundred percent.”  Why one hundred? I thought.  Why not fifty? Wouldn’t it work just as well if we both gave fifty? Eleven years later, I understand.  There are times when your grip just fails and the other person has to do all the holding on for both of you.  Then you get a second wind and it is your turn to hold on, while your partner scrambles to get back on board.    Barbara Brown Taylor, Gospel Medicine

Is your relationship with God more of a romance or a marriage?  Even if we let go, God doesn’t lose his grip. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day 13

images-9

Day 13: Joining the singing

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,

we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Psalm 126:1-2

Singing can touch us deeply.  When we sing hymns together we join our hearts with each other and something bigger.  Music touches us somewhere beyond logic and our hearts open to God and to each other. 

Why do Christians sing when they are together?  The reason is, quite simply, because in singing together it is possible for them to speak and pray the same Word at the same time; in other words, because they can unite in the Word. . . The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expressed the fact that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words. . .

God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song.  It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3)  It is the song of the heavenly fellowship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Music can draw us closer to the heart of God. Do you agree? What song or musical piece touches you? 

http://youtu.be/etoUOuFo6pI

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day Eleven

images-9

Day Eleven: Praying for Help

Praise be to the Lord,

who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird

out of the fowler’s snare;

the snare has been broken,

and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124: 6-8

There is danger in the world.  Where can we find help?

Here is the big question.  What is God doing when you are in a bind?  When the lifeboat springs a leak? When the ripcord snaps? When the last penny is gone before the last bill is paid? When the last hope left on the last train?  What is God doing?

I know what we are doing.  Nibbling on nails like corn on the cob.  Pacing floors.  Taking pills.  I know what we do.

But what does God do?  Big question.  Real big.  If God is sleeping, I’m duck soup.  If he is laughing, I’m lost.  If he is crossing his arms and shaking his head, then saw off the limb, Honey, it’s time to crash. . .

So what do you think?  What does God do when you are in a bind?  That question can be answered with one word: fight.  He fights for us.  He steps into the ring and points us to the corner and takes over.  “You need only to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.” (Ex 14:14)

His job is to fight.  Our job is to trust.

Just trust.  Not direct.  Or question.  Or yank the steering wheel out of his hands.  Our job is to pray and wait.  Nothing more is necessary.  Nothing more is needed.

Max Lucado, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus

This season,

May I be reborn

Washed clean

Made new

Forgiven

Spectacularly loved.

Remind me who I am.

Forgive me for my shadow sides,

Please heal my broken wings

That I might fly

With You.

Amen

Marianne Williamson,  Illuminated Prayers

How do you handle difficult situations?  Do you “yank the steering wheel out of His hands?”  Or do you wait and pray?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day Nine

images-9

Day Nine: Asking for Mercy

Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us.

For we are greatly filled with contempt.

Our soul is greatly filled

with the scoffing of those who are at ease,

and with the contempt of the proud.

Psalm 123: 3-4

As we travel farther on our journey we can become irritated with our traveling companions.  Moving toward God often takes us toward others.  Can we see them as He does?

If we would really help those close to us and dear, and If we would learn to live together with our family and “neighbors” in the power of the kingdom, we must abandon the deeply rooted human practice of condemning and blaming.  This is what Jesus means when He says, “Judge not.” He is telling us that we should, and we can, become the kind of person who does not condemn or blame others.  As we do so, the power of God’s kingdom will be more freely available to bless and guide those around us into His ways.  Dallas Willard

What if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus, the one who needs your love the most, the one who you can help the most by loving, the one whom your love would be the most meaningful – what if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus . . . is you?   Carl Jung

In everything, keep trusting that God is with you, that God has given you companions for the journey. Henry Nouwen

Can we love God without loving people?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

1 2 3 4 17