Monthly Archives: August 2019

Hope when you fall down


Encouragement from 12 words. The picture in the frame is actually a greeting card I found more than 15 years ago. I framed it then hung it in the graduate students’ office I shared with three other students. The picture next adorned the wall over the desk in my own office where I worked as an educational researcher.  Now it hangs next to baby pictures of my two grandsons.  The card reads “I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”

For me, returning to school in mid life had included hard work, many bumps and many missteps. I needed daily, sometimes hourly, encouragement to persevere! Fortunately, by that stage in life I could find “joy in the journey” so I savored the process of learning, though those years were hard.

“Be strong and courageous”  Potholes and pitfalls also abound on my current path — becoming an established author. I think often of God’s words to Joshua, who faced the challenge of leading the nation of Israel into a land occupied by enemies. God told Joshua “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [the enemies who occupied the land], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, New International Version.

” … hope and a future.”  How wonderful to be reassured that God is with us! How encouraging to remember that He has good plans for our lives, as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  When I remember that God has promised to always be with me, and that He has specific, wonderful plans for my life, I find the strength to get up, brush myself off, and keep enjoying this wonderful life of obeying and trusting God.

In hard times, keep dancing! Though I’ve rarely danced, I adore movies of older times when men and women in elegant attire glided around gilded ballrooms, swaying in flawless synchrony to a lilting waltz. I like to think that, when I get to heaven, I’ll dance with Jesus. And our first dance? A waltz!Image result for free clip art of waltz

Desperately Seeking – Part 1

Image result for free picturwes of towering clouds

Consider the heavens!

Consider the heavens, so far up above, consider and see the height of His love.

In that great truth, what truth I now see: That my Father in Heaven, He loves even me!

Psalm 103, verse 11, kindled the above thoughts. By “great truth” I mean that God’s love for those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens. By the “truth I now see”, I mean that His measureless love includes me.

The heavens declare His glory and His love for us. (Psalm 19:1) Whether I look at the inverted bowl of indigo that is the night-time sky or the majestic clouds that float, like mountains, in the celestial blue of the day-time sky, the distance between me and the Creator of the universe discomposes my soul. How can God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, love me? How can the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob say to me “Behold, I am with you, and will keep (watch over you with care, take notice of) you wherever you may go. . . “ (Genesis 28:15) (AMPC)

He is looking for those who desperately look for Him. Psalm 53:2 tells us “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, who sought (inquired after and desperately required) God.” (AMPC) Note the word “desperately.” How wonderful to think that God is looking for people who desperately seek Him. That includes me!

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These last few months, I have needed awareness of God’s presence more than ever before. I have sought God, needing His strength to calm my emotions, to help me think the right thoughts, and do things I need to do as He and I reclaim the life the enemy tried to steal through months of dark depression. Learning to remain aware of my loving Father’s presence has brought emotional stability. He is always with me, I know, but for far too many months, awareness of His presence was as changeable as waves in the wild wind. So I have been seeking Him–desperately requiring Him–every day.

            “Seek” means to inquire and require God. The Amplified Classic Bible includes words and phrases (set off by parentheses, dashes, commas, and brackets) that speakers of the original language would have implicitly understood as part of the meaning of the words. In Psalm 24:6, the word “seek” is followed by “. . . [inquire of and for Him and of necessity require Him] As I explored how to seek God, I pondered these words in brackets. I saw that seeking God means to inquire of Him, to investigate, or ask for information from God. Seeking God means to ask God for God Himself. And, seeking God means to require, or actually need, Him.

This is what I have been doing in recent months. Because fear and gloomy feelings often seemed so close, I was driven to:

  • Inquire of Him–asking Him questions through exploring His Word,
  • inquire for Him–asking for Him to be with me, and to
  • actually need Him–telling Him I must have His presence as my “greatest need.” (Psalm 22:26)

Ways to find God’s presence. Do I do seek Him perfectly? By no means! Do I still get stuck in feelings sometimes? Yes! However, desperately seeking His presence has provided training in some habits of hand and heart that consistently bring the blessed peace of His presence. It still takes a while sometimes to regain my peace, but He never fails.

I strive to keep these ways of seeking God’s presence sincere and authentic, lest they become mere ritual or tradition. I also strive to keep my heart pure as to why I seek God–because I love Him, need Him, and want to seek Him for the sake of others, not to avoid tasks I know I need to do or to avoid consequences of my actions or failure to act.

Below is a list of some ways to find God’s presence that I have discovered so far. I plan to write more about each of these ways in the coming days.

You will find God’s presence in:

  1. Meeting His requirements. Have clean hands and a pure heart, do not worship idols (be sure God is first in your life), and never tell lies (Psalm 24:4, NLT) Such people, Psalm 24:6 tells us such people may seek God and worship in His presence. We have to meet God’s first requirement first, before we seek His presence.
  2. Trusting, obeying, and doing good. Psalm 37:3 in the NLT says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” Our work, as a Christ-follower, is to actively trust God and to do good. Regarding trust, God teaches us about trust over and over in His Word. Regarding doing good, no matter the limitations of our life, there is always some good we can do for others if we will ask God to show us. And as I have heard so often and found to be so very true, doing good for others helps me because it gets my mind off myself. When I focus on doing something good for someone else, I am living like Jesus and that pleases God.
  3. Asking for His presence. Ask Him for awareness of His presence. 2 Chronicles 15:2 says, “. . . the Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring of and for Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you . . . “
  4. Absorbing His Word. Devour God’s Word and think about His Word all day long. (Psalm 119:97) Read all of Psalm 119 to see some of the benefits of loving the Bible and keeping God’s truth in the forefront of our minds all day long. Psalm 1 promises if we “. . .delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. . . “ we will be like “trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. God says our “leaves will never wither”, and we will prosper in all that we do. Some effective ways to get God’s Word into your heart are to read the Bible, STUDY the Bible, listen to sound teaching and preaching, ponder it as you go about your daily life, memorize as much as you can, and talk with God about His Word.
  5. Talking to Him. Just talk to Him—all day long! Perhaps you have heard of the classic book “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence? Written in the 17th century, this small book shows us how to be aware of God’s presence throughout the day. A big part of that is simply by talking to God as we go about our everyday tasks of life.
  6. Thanking Him!. Give God the thanks He deserves! Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” When I remember to thank God, for even the tiniest things, it gets my mind on Him and reminds me of His love for me and of His indescribable power. My attitude always improves, no matter what the situation might be when I sincerely look for ways to tell my loving Father thank you.
  7. Praising Him! Psalm 100:4 tells us “Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Go into His courts with praise (NLT).” And Psalm 22:3 tells us that God lives in the praises of His people. Praising is saying good things about what a person does or is. Praising God is expressing our love for God and our awareness of His flawless character.
  8. Worshipping Him! Praising and worshipping God are both essential. Praising is to love God with our words. Worship, however, is to love God with our life, to love Him so much that we are devoted to Him. You have likely heard “He worships the ground she walks on,” or vice versa. That is how we are to feel about God—passionately, crazily, head-over-heels in love with Him.
  9. Music, ah, music! God touches the human soul through music. Ephesians 5:19 tells us to “Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voice [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord.” Listening to and singing along with music affects our emotions. I recommend listening to music often during the day and singing along, with all your heart! I have found that singing and humming to the Lord makes me happy. Though I am by no means a gifted singer, I know God delights to hear my voice, as a parent delights in the sound of a child’s voice.
  10. Enjoying nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) Few words are necessary about this topic. We all respond to the beauty of earth, sky, sea, and God’s creatures. Connect often with nature, in whatever form it is available to you, even if it is just sitting on your apartment steps and gazing at the stars in a sliver of sky or pausing to observe a black-capped sparrow chirping in the bushes outside your office building. Ask and God will reveal  tokens of His beauty and His love revealed in creation no matter where you are. Image result for Free Picture of Sparrow in Bush
  11. Taking care of your health the best you can. I have learned, the hard and painful way, that when I neglect to care for my body, including getting adequate rest, I have a hard time being aware of God’s presence. That is also when it is difficult to lift up my shield of faith against the flaming arrows of the enemy. When I neglect my body, which is God’s earthly dwelling place, I dishonor and disobey God. And surely it must make Him sad. Have you seen small children frantically resisting the nap they desperately need? God, the perfect parent, longs to take you in His loving arms and give you rest—for your body, mind, soul and spirit. And He wants you to follow a healthy lifestyle.
  12. Pressing on in your personal spiritual growth. This last is related to the first item in this list: keep God first in your life. I have found that in doing things God has shown are important, I feel His presence. If I neglect those things, a downward spiral starts and it becomes harder to find His peace until I go back where I disobeyed, repent, and start over. Hebrews 12 tells us that God trains us for our good, that we may “share in His holiness.” (Romans 12:10b, NIV)

God will help us! In 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT), God tells us “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him . . .” To me, that means that no matter where you are on this earth, if your heart is fully committed to Him, God is searching for you, to strengthen you. What a comfort! Image result for free clipart of child in father's arms

As we explore these ways to draw near to God, we can know He will strengthen us and help us. What a loving heavenly Father we have! I say with the psalmist in Psalm 34:1 (NIV) “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips!”