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His Grand Orchestra

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

The other morning my husband and I were out for an early morning walk.  The clouds were building to the east and I commented that I hoped it would rain.  You see, living in Southern California we don’t see a lot of rain.  And I love the rain.  I love the sound of it hitting the pavement, especially when it wakes me in the middle of the night.  We get up just to watch it rain.  I even love the sound of the water hitting under my car as I drive down the road.  There are so few times when the rain becomes a long, monotonous affair where I live that I never get tired of it.  At my daughter’s house in Missouri, I could sit for hours watching and listening to the thunderous rain come down!  

The sound of rain is just one instrument in God’s beautiful orchestra.  The music of His creation is so glorious!  And that’s what I praise today.  

I’ve been praying the last few days for God’s direction for these last few days of praise.  And on my way to have lunch with my parents – which typically is a difficult visit – my playlist of Christian music came on.  A fun and almost silly song began playing which put me in just the right frame of mind for my impending encounter with my parents.  And I praised God for His music.  And then I praised God for putting this entire line of thought in my head!

When I think of all the beautiful instruments in God’s orchestra what also comes to mind are the voices of some of my closest friends.  Their laughter and warmth.  Their sarcasm and wit.  I told one of them, in preparation for her day at a school office, that no matter what is thrown her way I know the office will be blessed with hearing her joyous giggle.

During the stresses of the last year and a half I started doing a sort of mediation technique to help me rest in God’s peace.  When I’m at our local park with my dog I sit down on the grass and do a centering countdown.   It goes like this:

  1. What 10 different things do I see?
  2. What 9 different things do I hear?
  3. What 8 different trees can I find?
  4. What 7 different smells can I smell?
  5. And so on..

It’s amazing just sitting and listening to the music of God’s creation.  The breeze rustling in the trees.   Birds chirping. Children laughing.  Moms talking on their phones.  Cars driving by.  Airplanes overhead.  Bees buzzing.  My dog panting.   So many sounds, some of which are exactly the same as at the time of creation others unique to this very time and place.

And of course, there’s what we traditionally call “music.”  I marvel that since the beginning of time we humans have been creating new types of music and songs.  When you look at a music book there seems to be a limit to what can be created.   There’s only a certain number of notes to use, right?  And yet day after day,  year after year someone creates a new song or even a new sound!  How else can this happen than by some glorious design by a being who loves music and who loves the sounds of the earth?

Praise God for music that speaks to us when we need it most.  Praise God for the sound of crashing waves.  Praise God for thunder and chickens squawking and the crunching of gravel under my feet.  Praise God for his magnificent orchestra of life!


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Always With You

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 
Isaiah 43:2

Early in our marriage my husband and I started a lifelong habit of calling each other at the end of our workday.  We’d let the other know ahead of time if we would be late or what our ETA was.  When we both worked it served as a way to talk about our dinner plans.  After 32 years of marriage my husband still calls or texts me when he is on his way home.  It was borne out of an incident when he didn’t call me.  My first reaction was to think he’d been in a car accident.  And as the time slipped by my worries grew.  By the time he got home I was in tears from fear of his demise.  He couldn’t understand why I was so upset.  He’d just been out surfing after work with some friends.

So, while the habit of touching base became a good thing it also became a bit of a fear-based obsession with me.  My husband spent many hours driving for his work.  He frequently drove the more than 200 miles to and from Los Angeles.  I worried constantly he would be killed in a car crash.  I lost sleep over it.  I fretted when he didn’t arrive exactly when he thought he would.

I finally realized one day my fears were a result of the fear of being left alone.  I was certain if I lost him no one would ever love me again. 

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. 
Deuteronomy 31:8

We hear the words that God is with us always.  A Christian friend, who was struggling with marriage and family problems, confessed that sometimes we need a real, physical hug.  We need to feel like we are loved and belong.  That we haven’t been orphaned.  Frequently in my prayers for people I ask God to help them feel his hand on their shoulder.  I realize it’s what I really need when I struggle – to feel and know His physical presence in my life.  

Sometimes He will show Himself in the face of a friend.  Sometimes it’s in words from one of my daughters.  He shows Himself in a song that comes on the radio. And sometimes the Holy Spirit will burn inside me.  When needed, I have felt His hand on my shoulder.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
John 14:18

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the women spoke of this need to feel God’s love for them. They knew the scriptures and could easily quote them.  But they acknowledged that just knowing them wouldn’t suffice.  We need to repeat them and truly believe them.  The devil is constantly looking for ways to tear us away from God’s love.  So, when we feel that loneliness, that fear of being forgotten we need to refocus on God.  We may need to cry out to Him.  We may need to sit in quiet mediation to hear Him. 

There’s been a few occasions in the last couple months where I’ve felt rejected by people who should love me.  Thankfully, in my maturing faith, I’ve turned to Jesus more and more to remind me of the one who always loves me, no matter what.  And He has shown up to comfort me.

Here’s some beautiful scripture to remember and soak in today for anyone who might feel alone.  For anyone who might feel as though they have been left behind or forgotten.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
But whoever loves God is known by God. 
1 Corinthians 8:3
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! 
Psalms 66:20
Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. 
Psalms 109:26
No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 
John 16:27
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”  
Psalms 91:14-16
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9
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Eat Up His Words

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
Lord God Almighty.  
Jeremiah 15:16

I visited some friends recently outside Austin, Texas.  One day we were trying to decide where to eat for lunch and I mentioned seeing a place that served Louisana-style shrimp and crab.  My friend exclaimed, “Oooo those are my two favorite foods!”  And off we went!

As our food was placed before us – heaping piles of crab, shrimp, corn and potatoes — I thought I heard my friend moan.  And when she started in, slurping and sucking on her crab I actually did hear her moan!  We started laughing so hard!  That lunch is what came to mind when I read this verse from Jeremiah.  Eating joyously and to our heart’s delight.

Jeremiah was in a pretty tough spot with God and the people of Israel.  He had to tell the people of God’s coming wrath.  You see, God was done being placated by Israel’s rulers.  It was time to pay the piper for their egregious and continuing sins.  But God promised to save Jeremiah after he makes his plea of faithfulness.

Just think if we all devoured God’s word like my friend did her pile of crab and shrimp!  Or like Jeremiah in his plea for rescue!

“The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.”-

A.W. Tozer

Acute desire.  To yearn to read more about God.  To seek with all our heart ways to serve God.  To sit in mediation with anxious expectation to hear from God.  That’s the kind of love God wants from us.  Like lovers that can’t get enough of each other!

My husband and I started out in a long distance relationship.  He lived and went to college in Colorado and I was in California.  We began calling each other every day.  Spending hours on the phone.  We wanted to learn everything we could about each other.  Then our phone bills started arriving!  As poor college students we couldn’t afford to call each other anymore so we took to writing.  Each day I would anxiously await the mail.  And each letter that came was pages long.   I ate up those words with joy and with a happy heart.

The Bible is like those love letters.  It tells us all we need to know about God’s character.  It regales us with stories of how He makes promises and keeps them.  He tells us about how much He sacrificed to show us love.  And He shows us the way to be united with Him again.

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning.

Oswald Chambers

Loving God is not a passive pursuit.  We need to love with abandon.  We need to eat up every word from His lips!  

Then you will call on me and come 
and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 
You will seek me and find me when 
you seek me with all your heart.  
Jeremiah 29:12-13

Friends, the enemy is like that jealous school girl who wants to steal your boyfriend away.  She’d love to see you get a bit complacent with your relationship.  She’ll even find ways to distract you and put a wedge between you.  The difference is, the enemy can only work on one side of this relationship.  God is never distracted.

The presence of passion, faith, and belief in our hearts is a gift.  It’s on loan to our souls. 

Priscilla Shirer, Fervent

In other words, we don’t need to conjure up that passion or desire to eat up God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit is already there, waiting for us to access that burning faith!  We need only to call out to God and say, “I love you, Lord with all my heart!  Teach me everything about you so that I may serve you!”  And He will certainly place a feast before you.