When my grandson comes back from a trip to the park with grandpa he is so excited to tell me everything they did and saw. He speaks loud, his sentences are broken, his hands move, his face is smiling. He can’t get the words out of his mouth fast enough. I’m not a;ways sure exactly what happened, but I know it was fun.
The same is true when you witness God’s goodness. You may not be able to find the words to describe what you’ve seen or what you’ve felt. To see and to feel the mighty presence of God is awe-invoking, stunning, humbling, exhilarating.
Last night, I stood outside in the dark and sang the Doxology, sending my words of worship into the night sky. Suddenly a breeze went through my backyard, the leaves dancing above me. Sensing God’s presence I said, “it would be super cool, God, if you hit my cheek with a raindrop.” It hasn’t rained here for over a week, so, I’m not even sure why I asked for this? Moments later a raindrop hit my cheek. I let out a joyful cheer. “How fun are you God!” My heart was filled happiness and it’s hard to describe.
Catching rainbows this morning and hearing Jesus say to us: “ I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” Matt 8:20
“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” Exodus 19:5
God calls out to the Israelites. He invites them into an intimate relationship. Setting them apart from all others as His special treasure. They will hold this position in His heart if they obey Him and keep his covenant.
They answer back, “Yes! All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
The story that unfolds after their declaration includes every possible human example of making a promise and trying to keep it. Some will remain devoted, many will struggle with their commitment, some will wander, some will stray and some will rebel in great defiance.
If you, like me, have ever intentionally worked on “keeping your word”, you know what this struggle is like. You’ve agreed to do something for a friend. When the day comes for you to do your part, you may not feel up to it. Maybe the weather is unpleasant, maybe you have received another offer that is better. Decision time. Do you break your commitment or do you do that thing you said you would do – and keep your word? These decision point moments in our journeys create our character and build our relationships with others.
My 58 year old track record includes all possible outcomes. Keeping my commitments, struggling with my commitments and breaking my commitments.
Thankfully, in our relationship with God, He is faithful to His word. He continues to call out to us and has also made a provision of grace that covers us when we fail.
“You will be my treasure,” says God, “when you obey me.”
Moses left the camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, and climbed up into the mountain to talk to God. This was a familiar landscape for Moses. I imagine he headed towards the location of the burning bush, where he first met God. The holy ground where his life changed forever. The place where God assigned him the mission to go back to Egypt and bring the Israelites out of slavery and back to this mountain.
At some point in Moses’s journey up the mountain, God calls out to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” Exodus 19:4
God begins his message with a strong statement of what he has just done for the Israelites. He describes it as having bore them up on Eagle’s wings to bring them back to Himself. He doesn’t mention the tactics and miracles he performed; the 10 plagues, the Passover, or the parting of the Red Sea. Instead, he gets to the heart of the matter. He describes the intention of his actions. He gathered them up and brought them home to Himself.
You are here with me, says God, because I carried you here.
As I write this, I wonder if Jesus will say something similar to each of us.
I bore you up on eagle’s wings and carried you home to me.
When my husband asks me how my day was, I get right to the point and give him my update in a bullet-point fashion. Just the bare facts and the meat of the matter.
Sometimes he stops me mid-bullet and asks me to go back to the beginning and add more context, to set the stage and tell a better story. What happened before the bullet list? Who else was there? What lead up to the moment? What happened after? How were you feeling? What did you see? He wants a more colorful painting of my day. I sigh and try to get my mind to slow down.
I’m at the beginning of my next blogging topic. I noticed that Icame at it in high gear, rushing to the bullet points. My mind, like a laser, reaching for the heart of the matter. To challenge myself, I pushed pause and rewound the tape. Let’s start this journey back a few steps and set the stage.
Early in February, I began thinking about the TenCommandments and wondered what it would be like to study them for the balance of the year. Is there enough content? What do I know about them? What am I curious about? I began reading and re-reading the story, slowing down to appreciate the stage that was so beautifully set by God and Moses as God calls Moses into their next adventure.
On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on that very day – they came to the desert of Sinai.(Ex 19:1 NIV). They set up a new campsite at the foot of Mount Sinai.
It’s been a while since I’ve been camping and even longer since I was two months and one day into a new journey. A journey where every day felt awkward, exciting, frightening, steeped in uncertainty. I do remember the times where my life journey took an unexpected turn and I was faced with uncertainty, I remember exactly how I felt. I was jumpy, nervous, uneasy and waiting to be surprised. I longed for control, for my comfort zone, for a day I could manage my surroundings and predicthow the day would unfold. I’m guessing some of the Israelites felt this same way.
As they looked up at Mount Sinai, I am sure it was a new type of scenery for most of them. The intimidation of a mountain, majestic and unmovable. I remember feeling powerless when I stood at the base of the Cheyenne Mountain. I stared at it for a long time, sensing its weight and unmovable girth. It felt like a force to be reckoned with.
On the first day of their third month of freedom, I imagine the Israelites were steeped in uncertainty, a little edgy and also excited. They were taking in their new scenery with heightened senses. They were probably hearing every cricket, every howl, every new bird song as they settled in to their tent on that first night.
In this well-known prayer, Saint Francis models for us a posture we can chose when faced with uncertainty. He begins by humbling himself, inviting Jesus to work through him. Submitting his own will to God’s will.
I wonder, how would Jesus use my life today, if I submitted myself to him? How could he reach out, through me, to bring peace. How could he sow love, with my hands, with my words, with my heart, if I simply moved my will out of his way? His will has to be better than all the thoughts I am wrestling with right now.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. In my small territory on this grand planet. In my sphere in these United States of America. Bring your peace through me. Please sow your love. Amen.
My smart phone recently created a slideshow for me using my photos from the last several months. I usually ignore these automated gestures, but this time I watched it. I was surprised at the joy I felt as a collage of smiles from family and friends popped up. Memories of laughter and the beauty of nature, all of these moments captured during this time of great trials in our life’s journey.
It made me stop. Gratitude filled my heart.
I wonder, with great anticipation, what my spiritual photo collage will look like, when I look back to see where Jesus was as He walked with me, and with you, during this time of great trials. I think we’ll see powerful images of his faithfulness and everlasting love for us.
Although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear, because you, Jesus, are with us. 9Psalm 23)
I have a friend who would always pray that we would be made uncomfortable. That God would “mess us up to rebuild us stronger.” One day, I told my friend that I had had enough of that prayer request. Instead, I’d like to pray to be comfortable, settled, easy. He smiled and said something like, “nobody grows their faith when they’re fat and happy”.
Before 2020 it seemed like individual trials came and went. There were some trials that we faced as a larger community, but nothing like today’s trials. We have been bombarded with one event after another. We seek understanding amidst chaos. We try to support one another virtually and at a distance. There are too many odd disturbances to mention, but you all know what I mean.
I am grateful that there is someone we do not have to social distance from. Someone who we can not infect and who can not infect us. Our ever present help in time of need. The one who calls us to trust in Him alone. We are hungry for truth and we are hungry for a shelter we can count on. We trust you Jesus. We wait for your help as we reach out, in creative ways, to help each-other.
Thank you for this day that you have made, we will rejoice an be glad in it.
Many people in my life, including me, are dealing with inner weariness. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard (or said!). “I’m all done”. Tired of navigating the confusion around us. Worried about what “might happened”. Nervous to go out and be around people. Maybe you’ve hit your saturation point as well. You are in good company.
As I have been focussing on exploring our identity in Christ, I have been looking for a remedy to my weariness. John 15:9 caught my attention and caused me to pause and ponder its’ truth.
“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts.”
LET my love nourish your hearts.
We have all we need, when we can stop and LET Jesus nourish our hearts. He gives us what we really need, and what those around us need as well. Love.
To approach the throne of God requires a brave level of humility. To admit we are powerless over sin. To expose our hearts. To bow our heads. To stand still before our God.
Maybe we avoid approaching God’s throne because of how we have been treated by other people. Maybe we were judged harshly by others. Maybe we have been shamed and ridiculed by those we trusted. Why would we go to God, who is more powerful, would we receive harsher treatment?
But when we do find our way to the throne, we are welcomed by grace. We are accepted for who we are. God is not surprised. We can bravely open our hearts to Him, find forgiveness and the help we need.
I believe that the most important transactions of our lives happen here, at the throne of God. When we come as we are. We will find the help that we need. Sin will lose its power. Our broken hearts will be repaired. Our souls will be restored. He will make all things new.
The verse, Roman 8: 1, had a powerful impact on our lives in 2015. In August of that year, our nephew, Jon, was hanging out with us for the day. He was living with the complications of heart failure, struggling to find the right blend of medication to live outside the hospital.
He attended church with us, on and off for many years and we frequently spoke together of Jesus and our Christian walk. On this day, he was expressing the desire to hear from God and wasn’t sure he was hearing anything. We talked through different ways we believe we hear from God and then we put God on the spot. We gave Jon a list of bible verses that outline our identity in Christ. We asked him to read through it to see if one verse popped out at him – as if God was highlighting it for him. He picked Romans 8:1.
My husband grabbed some bibles and together they read through Romans 8, studying the meaning of this verse. Then we prayed it over Jon. Before he left that day,, I wrote the verse on a slip of paper for him and he tucked it in his wallet.
A few weeks later, Jon was back in the hospital. During his stay, a chaplain came to visit him. During their discussion the chaplain said he felt lead to share a verse with Jon. He read Romans 8: 1. Jon smiled and said, “you’re not going to believe this”. He reached into his wallet to retrieve the verse. God was so faithful to continue to emphasize for Jon, in his final days, that he was free from condemnation, in Christ his sins were forgiven. Jon died in November.
We are comforted, through this verse, to know that Jon is with Jesus in heaven today. ❤️
Before entering a gathering of people, my husband often looks at me and says. “Whatever happens in there, we have a better chance of surviving if we stick together.” He loves to quote his favorite movies and I believe this quote comes from Gladiator. I often told my boys to stick together as they were leaving our house. I knew that together they were both clever enough to solve any problem they may face, but apart, they may not be as strong.
As believers we are all given the gift of the Holy Spirt by Jesus. Jesus’s sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit give us direct access to the Father. We are never again alone, never again without the full resources provided in the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is ever present, sticking with us through thick and thin.
I started working when I was 15 because I wanted to earn my own money. I was a car-hop at A&W. A change machine on one hip and a tray of frosted mugs full of root beer on the other. I can still hear the jingle sound of the change machine that rattled as i walked. I learned a lot that summer, root-beer is sticky, there is an art to using an ice cream machine, co-workers are fun people and I loved working and earning. I still do.
In Paul’s letters, he refers to Christ followers as saints. He describes a saint as somebody who is chosen by God and given undeserved grace. As an “earner”, who strives to achieve, it’s hard to fully grasp what it means to be called a saint and to be given undeserved grace. If you’re like me, most of your experiences in receiving something “undeserved” has been mainly negative and painful. Receiving a gift of such magnitude from God is humbling.
My great-grandmother, Florence, sewed several quilts, most of them by hand. All her quilts were made with scraps so there were many colors and patters to enjoy. As she assembled her squares, she would give them names; Snow on the mountain, peas and carrots. sunny skies. As kids. we would try to guess which one was which, and then we’d pick the square we’d want to be and the one we wouldn’t want to be. But, regardless of our opinion, the quilt was a complete work of art, each square adding its own charm.
When I read Paul’s analogy of being part of the body of Christ, I often think of being part of a beautiful quilt. What piece do I want to be? And stepping back to see the beauty and purpose of all the pieces together.
The first memory I have of feeling alone was when I was six. I went for a walk in the woods with my brother and two of our friends. As we headed home, we came to a fork in the path. I was confident that the path home was to the left. The other three thought we should go right. My stubborn self set off alone to the left.
As my companions voices began to fade, I was sure I would beat them home and I began to run. Pretty soon the familiar path became surrounded by unfamiliar trees and sounds that I was sure I had never heard before. I was too afraid to turn back and too unsure to go forward. Where am I? I was lost. I felt so alone. I sat down and cried with fear.
One of my friends came looking for me when he heard me crying, and lead me home. My hero, Todd.
When we belong to Jesus, we are made one with his spirit. He is always with us. He continually leads us towards a better life and towards our forever home with him. Never will he leave us, never will he forsake us. Our truest companion.
Have you ever used the phrase, “let’s start with a clean slate?” Forgetting what has previously happened, we begin again with a new outlook. I have had many “re-dos” in my life. Second chances, another try, a chance to make something better.
We can never really achieve a clean slate here on this earth. It seems that as soon as we clean something up, new problems arise, or a new mistake is made. If you’re like me, every time you decide to start a new effort to lose weight, you catch yourself slipping in a cookie, or two, thinking one slip won’t matter – only to find it happening again. Now what? Do you throw in the towel and say, “I can’t do this”? Or, do you begin again, with a clean slate? I’ve done both in my battle with self-control.
I think this is why it is sometimes hard for me to fathom the fact that we are permanently made clean when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are washed “clean as snow”, made right in our Father’s sight, by our faith. We don’t have to try again, it’s given, it’s eternal.
How will you enjoy your clean slate today? I am enjoying mine with amazement.
I have found friendships in a variety of places. My neighborhood, school, in groups I belonged to, at work, in low and high places, in ministry, through other friends and circumstance. Now and then you just meet someone you “click” with. My best friend in Jr High was a girl i met in my home economics class. Our teacher asked, “are there any birthdays today?” We both stood up and the class sang to us. We thought it was fun to have the same birthday and so our friendship began.
Not all friendships last, some come and go, some are for a season, some are inactive but easily rekindled after years apart, picking up where you left off, as if no time was lost.
Its so amazing to think that Jesus calls us “friend”, and that he feels a “click” with us. To know Jesus as my friend and confidant has been a beautiful journey. Healthy friendships are two way streets, where conversation, affection, respect and trust go both directions. For many years, my friendship with Jesus was a one way street. He was there, trying to talk with me, loving me, reaching out to me, waiting for me. I was busy looking elsewhere for all I needed. When I began to reciprocate and participate in the friendship Jesus offered, i found a friend who understands me, encourages me and teaches me. He knows my history and he knows my future. He will always be with me, guiding me to become the person God created me to be. He offers the same friendship to you.
Thank you Jesus for calling us into friendship with you. Today we say, hello, my friend. ❤️
I have had several conversations lately about the kingdom of God and how it compares to the world that we know. Instead of just settling on the phrase “well, it’s completely different”, I want more specifics. My focus for the next five weeks will be a look at what the bible says about who we are in Christ. How is our identity in Christ different than our identity in the world?
We are children of God.
When I think about what it means to be a child in this world, I think about my experience as a child in the family I grew up in, as well as the experience my own children had with me. Both imperfect because we are imperfect. Its hard for most of us to think of being part of a family free of competition, criticisms, feelings of being lover-looked, misunderstood or unloved at times.
As a child of God, we are fully loved, fully accepted, nothing we do surprises our father, he will never leave us and he will never forsake us. We don’t have to compete with our siblings or wonder if we are loved. It’s a paradigm worth exploring. How can I live my life more aware of being a child of God?
Thank you Jesus for what you’ve done – so that we may be a child of God.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
I’m ending my love series with the powerful promise packed into verse 13. A reminder that our relationship with God begins with His love – and never ends. Love welcomes us, approves of us, and stays with us, now and forever. The perfect shelter for any storm. The ever-present comfort that never wears out.
Focussing of God’s love over the last 25 days has changed me. I tested every verse against my experience of Jesus. Where have these words been true in my life? Kind of like when you test a company’s mission statement against your experience with them. In this exercise, however, I found way more love than I was looking for. My understanding of God’s love has broadened and I have a new degree of freedom to just be me. I am loved.
Lord, thank you for your love. A love like no other. May we all continue to seek you and grow in our understanding of who you are and who we are in you. You are our good good father. Amen
God’s love for us is everlasting. His love for us will never fall-apart or disappear. Human love is often imperfect, the love we receive from others, the love we give to others and the love we have for ourselves. But the love Jesus has for us is perfect. We may never fully grasp this truth, but that does not change the fact – God’s love for us will never fail. He loves you because He loves you.
I have carried this verse with me all weekend. Mulling it over, and looking for its presence in my life. How would i describe this verse – as it lives and swirls around me.
To me it holds a complete description of the unfailing love God has for us – and – a the description of the love we all seem to crave. Does this describe the God-sized hole we all have in our hearts that only God can fill? A love that endures the circumstances we struggle with. A love that carries a banner of hope for us to follow. A love that upholds a faith in us, that we will find our way through the sins we struggle with. A love that never gives up on us. With this ever-present love encircling us – how can we fail? I am so grateful.
“Always” statements make me nervous because if it refers to a good quality – I immediately feel like I’ve failed. Love always protects refers to the kind of love God has for us. The kind of love we can try to emulate, returning it to Him and extending it to the people in our lives. Although we won’t be perfect, He will be. He will weather the storms of our lives with us, loving us through all of them.
Thank you Father God for loving us, believing in us and sticking by us. Amen.
Years ago, I was mediating a conflict between a foreman and a union employee he supervised. The tension had steadily risen for weeks as the foreman held his ground. During our session, the foreman finally spoke the truth and admitted to what he had said to the employee and sincerely apologized. I was struck at how fast the tension left the room once the truth was spoken. We were now able to move forward and soon their relationship was mended. It was a lesson I carry with me today.
Lord, help us speak truth when it’s our turn to share and help us discern when truth is spoken by others. Thank you for being the very best example of truth. Amen
The Vines dictionary describes injustice as – a condition of not being right, whether with God, according to the standard of his holiness and righteousness, or with man, according to the standard of what man knows to be right by his conscience.
This definition has caused me to pause and reflect on recent events. What has happened to the “standard” of what man knows to be right by his conscience?
Lord, without your influence we are lost. I pray that your wisdom will break-through and refresh our sense of right and wrong. May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen
There’s a song by the Superchicks called, We Live. A line in the song is engraved on my heart. “We live, we love, we forgive and never give up.” I think of it when I am tempted to make a record of a wrong someone has done to me, or, when I get tired of carrying a thoroughly written list around with me. Forgiveness erases the negative records in our hearts and frees up space to record our blessings. If it’s true that we will find what we look for, let’s gather blessings and fuel our hearts to love.
Lord, help us clear out the negative records in our hearts by prompting us to forgive, as you have forgiven us. Give us eyes to see the blessings around us. Amen. #jesuschrist #fathergod #holyspirit #dailydevotional #bibleverse #loveis #forgive
Often when I find myself “easily angered” it’s because I am overwhelmed. I have either taken on too many tasks or I have made the achievement of a task vitally important. My focus on my task prevents me from truly seeing the current situation clearly and I may react with anger. If I catch myself and take time to put all matters in their true perspective, I am better able to react in love. The holy spirit is brilliant in this situation and helps me expand my vision and gain a healthy perspective. My prayer today is that we will each learn to hear the holy spirit as he prompts us and eagerly desires to help us be better lovers. ❤️ Amen.
We have all made drastic changes to our daily lives during the pandemic in order to benefit those around us. A perfect example of love. Lord, help us to continue to put others first as we move through the pandemic journey. We will share all of our frustrations with you as you teach us to love. Amen
In my series on love, this is my verse for today. I have been quietly staring at it throughout the morning. There is so much to say and so little to be said. My heart is troubled and sad. The last several weeks have been so painful here in Minneapolis. My prayer is that love will grow up through the ashes. ❤️ Amen.