Posts Tagged ‘God’

Draw Near To God: Day Eight

images-9

Day Eight:  Responding to God

I lift up my eyes to you,

to you whose throne is in heaven.

As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the Lord our God,

till he shows us his mercy.

Psalm 123: 1-2

Sometimes the way to draw close to God comes from serving others. When we feed or give or help or love other people we begin to open our hearts to God’s Love in new ways.

The moment we look up to God (and not over at Him, or down on Him) we are in a posture of servitude.  Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

A person will suffocate if she just keeps breathing in. . .  The Jewish name for the Holy One, literally unspeakable, is “Yahweh” which we now believe was an imitation of the sound of breathing in and breathing out.  It could not be uttered but only breathed.  The sacred name of God is already revealing the deepest pattern of all reality, which is the cycle of taking in and giving back out.  Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water

The music of divine love plays uniquely in each person’s life.  Through individual personalities and personal life events, the goodness of God takes on a melody all its own.  The song of God needs an instrument to give it shape and voice . . . We are called to be instruments through which the melody of God takes shape.  Through our lives God’s love seeks to dance and make music for the world.  Joyce Rupp

A natural response to God’s love is to share that love with others.  How do you serve? Has it made you closer to God?

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day Seven

images-9

Day Seven: Accepting God’s peace

For the sake of my brothers and friends,

I will say, “Peace be with you.”

Psalm 122: 6-7

***

We long for peace, but we don’t find much peace in the world. When we look at nations, political parties, neighbors even family members, peace is hard to find.  Does God offer us something different?

***

The Lord is my peace.  I shall not live in anxiety.  He puts me under his wing of comfort and calms my spirit within me.  He takes all my anxieties on Himself and helps me to focus on Him.  Yes, though I walk through a time of grave uncertainties and fierce anxieties, I will not fret – for You are my peace.  Your Word and Your presence calm me now.  You hold my uncertainties in the palm of Your hand.  You sooth my anxious mind – You smooth my wrinkled brow.  Surely serenity and trust in You shall fill me all the days of my life.  And I shall keep my mind stayed on You forever. Judy Booth

Linda Dillow,  Calm My Anxious Heart

***

“Christian peace is not the absence of troubles. It is a peace that is unshakeable even in the midst of troubles.”

“If we set our hearts on anything but God, we can lose our peace. But if our greatest love is the unchanging God, then our peace can never be taken from us.”  Tim Keller

***

Dear God, Please send to me the spirit of Your peace.

Then send, dear Lord, the spirit of peace from me to all the world. Amen.

Marianne Williamson

***

Where do you find peace?  How can we accept God’s peace?

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day Five

images-9

Day Five: Moving toward the eternal

The Lord will keep you from all harm –

He will watch over your life;

The Lord will watch over your coming and going

Both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121: 7-8

***

Now and forevermore – we see a hint that maybe this world is not all there is.  As we move toward God can we see the bigger picture.  We see that our journey goes beyond the steps we take on this earth.  

The journey to the heart of God is full of the difficult, the unexplained and the unexpected. The reason is that it is God’s journey.  His thoughts and ways are not like our thoughts and ways.  We’re on our way to a heavenly home, and things are done differently in His kingdom. . . The teachings are new to us: love those who hate you. . . do good to those who despitefully use you. . . forgive over and over again. . . walk by faith, not by sight. . .wait. All kingdom teaching is contrary to the way the world instructs us.

People who have chosen to abide by the world’s way of living must still deal with the unexpected, the unexplained, and the difficult.  The difference for us is that God gives strength and grace, and He has an amazing ability to weave together all that happens to us for our good.  Walking by faith provides hope and directs our lives toward all that is eternal.

Cynthia Heald, A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God 

***

A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within the reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence.

 O God,quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things. Open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good.  Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.  Amen

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

***

What difference does it make “now” that there is a “forevermore”?  Would we live life differently if we were sure there was something more? 

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

James 4:8

 

Draw Near to God: Day Four

images-9

Day Four: Trusting God to provide and protect

 He will not let your foot slip —

he who watches over you will not slumber;

The Lord watches over you –

The Lord is your shade at your right hand;

The sun will not harm you by day,

Nor the moon by night. 

 Psalm 121: 5-8

 It’s no wonder that the pilgrims sang this song to each other on the road to Jerusalem.  There were dangers everywhere.  They had to combine faith and trust to make the journey.  We are on our way.  We have looked at the world, ourselves and at our Creator. Now comes a new question:  Can we trust Him? The journey to the heart of God requires faith and trust.  But how to we develop them? It all seems a little risky.

***

If I climb out on a strange limb, I choose to risk that the limb will be strong enough to hold me.  This is an act of faith.  If I have been out on the limb before, and it has held me, I will have some trust in it.  I will still need to make the choice of faith that the limb has not weakened since the last time, but I face less of a risk because of my preexisting trust. . . Faith looks to trust and often chooses to rely on it, but it is always a risk.

We learn from experience that God is good because we have risked that God is good. . . For each layer of trust that builds up, another, more challenging risk is offered.  True faith choices therefore always feel like risks; they just go on, involving deeper and deeper levels of our being.

Gerald May, Addiction and Grace

***

 My Lord God,

            I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But, I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

            Amen

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

***

What are risks to drawing close to God?  What are the possible benefits?   It seems confusing.  To develop trust in Him we have to trust Him.  Can we take a step toward Him and see what happens?

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: Day Three

images-9

Day Three: Taking time for the journey

I lift up my eyes to the hills –

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2

The journey begins and we may begin to notice the beauty in the world around us.   A song, a painting, a field of flowers, the bird at the feeder. Can we slow down enough to take it in?  And what does it say about the One who made it?

One bird, a thrush, embroidered the silence with cheery notes, making the solitude familiar and sweet, while the solemn monotone of the stream sifting through the woods seemed like the very voice of God, humanized, terrestrialized, and entering one’s heart as to a home prepared for it.  John Muir

 ***

Traditionally, a journey was a rhythm of three forces: time, self and space.  Now the digital virus has truncated time and space.  Marooned on each instant, we have forfeited the practice of patience. . .The self has become anxious for what the next instant might bring.  The greed for destination obliterates the journey.

But a great journey needs plenty of time.  It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning.  There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are.  You have no time to give yourself to the present experience.  When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin.  Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.

When you take the time to travel with reverence, a richer life unfolds before you.  Moments of beauty begin to brand your days.  When your mind becomes more acquainted with reverence, the light, grace and elegance of beauty find you more frequently.

John O’Donohue,  Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

***

Every time you feel in God’s creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say, “Oh my God, if Thy creatures are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou, Thyself, Creator of all!”  Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

*** 

Slow down.  Take a deep breath.  Open your eyes.  Where do you find beauty?  What can we learn about the Maker of Heaven and Earth from looking at the beauty around us?

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

James 4:8

 

Draw Near to God: Day Two

images-9

Day Two: Redefining Ourselves in Light of the Truth

Too long I have lived

among those who hate peace.

I am a man of peace

Psalm 120: 6-7

We take a baby step toward God, away from the lies of the world. The question surfaces:  If I am not defined by the world then who am I? If the world has told me lies, then what is the Truth?

***

You are my child.

You are written on the palms of my hand.

I have molded you in the secret of the earth.

I have knitted you together in your mother’s womb.

You belong to me.

I am yours.  You are mine.

I have called you from eternity and you are the one who is held safe and embraced in love from eternity to eternity. You belong to me.  And I am holding you safe and I want you to know that whatever happens to you, I will always be there and hold you in my embrace.You are mine. You are my child. You belong to my home.  You belong to my intimate life and I will never let you go.  I will be faithful to you.

The spiritual life starts at the place where you can hear God’s voice.  Where somehow you can claim that long before your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your school, your church touched you, loved you, and wounded you – long before that you were held safe in an eternal embrace.  You were seen with eyes of perfect love long before you entered into the dark valley of life . . . The spiritual life starts at the moment you can go beyond all of the wounds and claim that there was a love that was perfect and unlimited, long before that perfect long became reflected in the imperfect and limited love of people.  The spiritual life starts when you dare to claim your first love.

Henry Nouwen, Our First Love

Take a moment to ask God to show you who you are.   How would you fill in the blank:  I am a man of __________________.  I am a woman of ____________________.  Seeing ourselves through God’s eyes can give us the courage to take the next step of the journey.

 

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: A Decision to Reach Out

images-9

O Lord, Almighty,

Blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Psalm 43:12

At some point in life there is a decision to be made.  Should I  reach out to God and find out if He is reaching back?  This takes courage.  We’ve all been there.  He is reaching.  Come and draw near with us.

The Father spoke:

Are you ready, my child?

Yes, but I have nothing to bring except myself.

You are all I need.

Surely I must bring something; I do not feel prepared to travel.

Do not concern yourself with preparations.  Your journey has already begun.

But I am fearful.

There is no need to fear; I will always be with you.

Will you give me what I need?

I will provide for you.

What will you provide?

All that is essential for your journey.

And what is essential?

I will show you along the way.  For now you have what is necessary; the desire to draw close to My heart.

Cynthia Heald,  A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

Join us here as we share  some of our favorite readings to explore the Psalms of Ascent.

Betsy and Laurie

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: A Call to Go Deeper

images-9

Deep calls to deep

in the roar of our waterfalls;

all your waves and breaker have swept over me.

Psalm 42:7

Deep things are intriguing.  Deep jungles.  Deep waters.  Deep caves and canyons.  Deep thoughts and conversations.

There is nothing like depth to make us dissatisfied with superficial, shallow things.  Once we have delved below the surface and had a taste of the marvels and mysteries of the deep, we realize the value to taking time and going to the trouble of plumbing the depths.

This is especially true of the spiritual realm.  God invites us to go deeper rather than to be content with surface matters. . .

Patiently and graciously He waits to reveal insights and dimensions of truth to those who care enough to probe, to examine, to ponder.

Charles Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

30 Readings on The Psalms of Ascent

Let’s draw near to God together.

Betsy and Laurie

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

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: A Hunger for God

images-9

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they will be filled.

Matthew: 5:6

 There is a hunger abroad in our time, haunting lives and hearts.  Like an empty stomach aching beneath the sleek coat of a seemingly well-fed creature, it reveals that something is missing from the diet of our rational, secular, and affluent culture.

 Our spiritual hunger is evidence of the timeless human need for a real and abiding relationship with God.  God is the one who calls us into relationship, and God does everything possible to restore us when we have wriggled out of the mutual demands of this relationship.  God’s love lies at the root of our hunger for God.  Love is God’s hunger for relationship with us.  Has it ever occurred to us that God is starved for our companionship?

 Is our God a lover blinded by grief, calling out through the ache of hunger – calling us to come home and be nourished with real life once again?  Can we begin to see our hunger as a response – feeble, fitful, and fretful, but a response nonetheless?  It is a response to God’s anguished hunger for the creatures fashioned by divine hands for relationship with the divine heart.

Marjorie Thompson,  Soul Feast.

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

30 Readings on The Psalms of Ascent

Let’s draw near to God together.

Betsy and Laurie

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

James 4:8

 

 

 

Draw Near to God: A Thirst for God

images-9

As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for you, O God.

Psalm 42:1

A.W. Tozer reveals his great thirst for God in his classic, The Pursuit of God. Desperate to hear the words of God, he wrote the book on his knees. Men and women before us have taken extraordinary steps to draw close to God.  What steps can we take?

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.  They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night in season and out, and when they found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long sacrifice. – A.W. Tozer,  The Pursuit of God

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, any love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A.W. Tozer,  The Pursuit of God

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

Join us here as we share  some of our favorite readings to explore the Psalms of Ascent.

Betsy and Laurie

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

James 4:8

1 2 3 4 5 17