4 Steps to Learning How to Rest Effectively in God

Rest Effectively

Rest for some people comes naturally. For me, however, learning how to rest effectively has been a struggle. God gives rest to the weary. It is a gift I am only just beginning to understand and receive.

My father would often admonish me to slow down, saying, “You always lean into the wind!” Obviously, even as a child I erred toward quick movement and constant action.

How about you? Are you like many people who fall exhausted into bed each night after high pressure days? Do you, like others, rise from a night’s sleep without feeling refreshed? Have you learned how to rest effectively? More importantly, do you know how to rest in God? True rest encompasses spiritual, physical, and emotional elements. Only then will we find the powerful secret of rest.

“It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
Psalm 127:2

Peace and Rest

Step 1 — Discern When to Work and When to Rest

Psalms 127 describes me — overworked and anxious! God instructs us to work. Most people possess a desire to accomplish, to better ourselves and things around us. A good day of productive labor gives a sense of satisfaction, but God knows we need a healthy balance. He instructs us to work for six days, followed by a Sabbath rest.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . “
Exodus 20:8-10

In some seasons of life, this may seem near impossible. How does a young mother not work to care for her children? Shift work or being on continuous call doesn’t afford flexibility to designate a consistent day for sabbath rest each week.

Rest from Work

God created us and remembers we are “made from dust” (Psalm 103:14). He knows continuous work will cause us to implode! Between work shifts and serving in ministry, I, too, struggle to eek out a sabbath rest. Then what?

For people whose employment runs from nine-to-five o’clock five days a week, schedules may require very little adaptation for a sabbath rest. For many others, diligence to prioritize where and how to spend precious time becomes essential. One day a week (Saturday, Sunday, or any other day) to pull away from responsibility and work will increase one’s ability to enjoy refreshing, sustaining rest.

The first step in learning how to rest effectively comes with giving God permission to reset our focus away from work. Through sabbath rest, we give our bodies and minds a break from routine pressures.

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25

Step 2 — Get Away With God

Jesus faced similar pressures when He walked this earth. Many times, He invited His disciples to leave the crowds for time to rest with Him. He understands the unending demands of responsibility.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”
Mark 6:31

For me, just beginning each day fresh with God helps to set my pace and give me perspective. Finishing the day with Him, settles my heart and mind. My “quiet place” with God includes Bible reading and meditation on His Word, prayer, and worship. It also includes being still within to hear His gentle whispers in my heart — sometimes affirming, sometimes convicting, often giving direction.

The “quiet place” of rest might include going for a walk in nature, allowing Him to reset the rhythms of life. God often nudges our thoughts toward Him during these times. He seeks opportunity to simply “be with” us. Every thriving relationship requires uninterrupted time together, including our relationship with God.

Somehow, in the midst of time with Him, we find rest. This simple step helps to train us to rest effectively in Him.

Step 3 — Trust God is Good

Training ourselves to draw away from work and near to God sets the foundation of trusting Him with all the other “burdens” and pressures we pick up and carry. I worry over family, concern myself about the future, and feel anxious over the uncertainty of our times. Trust! Easy to say; hard to do!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

The secret for true rest comes in trusting God — trusting He is always good to me and those I love. Doubting God’s goodness lies at the core of my struggle to rest in Him.

So I work more, try harder, and attempt to control everything possible. I wear out, play out, and burn out. “Get away with me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest,” sounds too good to be true.

Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it!” Instead, I resist Him, going my direction, doing things my way, and expecting Him to watch how I do everything! It usually ends in misguided effort, ultimate failure, and guaranteed fatigue. But as I learn how to trust and rest effectively in God, I walk more with Him, work better beside Him and through Him, while watching closely how He works. How peaceful and easy everything becomes, while trusting His ways and co-operating with the Holy Spirit.

Step 4 — Discovering God’s Grace

As an unaccomplished musician, I remember well the hours upon hours spent leaning over the ivory keys of an upright grand piano. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it sure helps. From childhood into adulthood, hours turned into weeks, and week into years of practice and concentrated effort.

“The unforced rhythms of grace” play a different tune, however. Paint swirled upon a canvas by a skilled artist yields fluently to the flow of the brush. Clay upon the potter’s wheel offers no resistance to the will of trained hands. As we fully rest in God’s plan, we learn to flow freely in the unforced rhythms of His grace and love. Here we find sweet rest. Here we recover abundant life, living freely and lightly.

Artist Painting

In “the unforced rhythms of grace” — where soul, body, and spirit find refuge and rest — guilt holds no sway.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Learning how to rest effectively in God partners with grace. How peaceful the heart becomes when we acknowledge we don’t need all the answers. Success does not depend on our ability, strength, power, resources, or wisdom. It depends on God. As we rest in Him, He works through us all the more.

Learning How to Rest Effectively

Life, for all of us, continuously changes. We no sooner learn the rhythm of one season when suddenly we face another. Sometimes changes shift slowly. Often, they come like violent upheavals. My husband and I are learning again to rest effectively in God. In Him alone, we find rest in transition and change.

Learning suggests an ongoing process — a process of internal change and transformation. Learning also suggests a Teacher faithfully guiding the steps of that journey.

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.”
Psalm 71:17

David, once a shepherd and then a king, wrote,

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, and leads me beside quiet water, he refreshes my soul.”
Psalm 23:1-2

Sheep Resting

Sometimes God, our Shepherd, makes us lie down. Usually, when we have forgotten to rest.

May I invite you to come with me as together we learn how to rest effectively. Let us allow God, our Good Shepherd, to give us times of rest “in green pastures” and “beside quiet waters”. Through rest may we recover our lives, living freely and lightly, and may we experience the “unforced rhythms of grace.”

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The Lightning and Thunder of God

Lightning & Thunder of God

God reveals Himself in innumerable ways. Have you sensed the lightning and thunder of His Presence recently? If so, was it fierce or awe-inspiring?

In our area, we often experience thunderstorms — some severe. People respond to the storms in various ways. Some people run for cover and hunker down until it’s over. Others carry on with life like nothing unusual is occurring around them. Still others, who border on insanity, pursue storms, enjoying the near-death experience of pushing the boundaries of reasonable safety.

Sometimes a soft rumble of thunder offers the only evidence of atmospheric disturbance. More often a sudden flash followed by an intense clap awakens onlookers to take heed. The more experienced may “feel” the storm coming a long way off, sensing it in the air, and feeling it in their bones.

God often speaks through nature, pointing our attention to deeper spiritual concepts. Paul said,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

Storm Clouds

God reveals His “invisible qualities” through His creation. In nature, the flash of lightning produces the sound of thunder. What about in the spiritual? Do we need a similar combination of visible and audible, power and voice, to comprehend God more personally and fully? Perhaps.

Word and Light

The Gospel of John opens with Word and Light, the audible and visible, thunder and lightning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

In the beginning — before created things — the Word, Jesus Christ, was with God and was God. From the beginning, preceding time as we know and understand it, the thunder of God’s Word existed and resonated.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:4-5

Here it is! Lightning and thunder! The Word, above all words, speaking all things into existence! The Light overcoming every darkness!

Lightning flashes and is gone; Jesus came and remains eternal. Thunder roars for a moment; Jesus’ words endure forever.

Storm Coming

Fearful

My mother experienced disabling fear of electric storms. At the slightest hint of danger, she gathered everyone and everything into protection. Quickly she closed and latched windows and doors, pulled curtains shut, and busied herself attempting to occupy her fear-filled mind. Many others react similarly.

When God descended upon Mount Sinai with “thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled (Exodus 19:16). Such an awesome revelation of God certainly would have made my knees shake and heart beat intensely.

” . . . Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
Exodus 20:19

Many people easily relate to the Israelite’s response to God’s Presence, seeing God as fierce, cruel, and judgmental. Moses knew God personally and more fully.

“As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
Exodus 19:19

Storm Over the Ocean

Years later, David wrote these words:

“He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Psalm 103:7-8

The fear of God will either draw us near, like Moses, or cause our hearts to tremble and our feet to run away, like the people of Israel. Knowing God’s attributes and nature dispels negative fears and nurtures positive affection and attraction.

Storm Chasers

For a rare breed of others, the mention of an impending thunderstorm incites excitement, their hearts pound with enthusiasm and anticipation. Just the mention of lightning and thunder to these folks causes a flurry of motion as they leap from lethargy, jumping into their jalopies to go wherever necessary to experience the storm close up. With cameras in hand, they ready themselves to catch the ultimate image. Then they tell their adventurous stories with enthusiasm.

The church contains a few similar enthusiasts, ready on a moment’s notice to fly to the far reaches of the globe to hear their favorite speaker, teacher, revivalist, healer, or evangelist. Their enthusiasm for the things of God is exemplary. Their senses sustain high alert for revival. They, too, zealously tell their stories of close encounters with God’s Presence.

Into the Storm

Though not all fit this category, some people chase God only for the thrill of the experience or for what they hope to receive, rather than to know Him more fully. There have always been a few followers, only seeking fringe benefits.

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
John 6:26

God will eventually confront all selfish seekers who attempt to imitate true God followers. Seeking God for the rush of spiritual lightning and thunder falls far short of leaning close to God, waiting to discover His heart and learn His ways.

Resting

My father labored through many storms while keeping alert to the shifting skies. Wisdom taught him to respect the power of lightning and heed the warning thunder, but he walked confidently through them both. He knew when to stand in awe with appreciation and when to shut the door for protection. We often sat together in a dark room, scanning the horizon for the next lightning flash, giggling, gasping, and glorying in God’s majestic display. Even secure in our home, we felt the fear as the house shook with intensity. It was a fear that drew us close in wonder and amazement.

I think this best illustrates how I approach God’s lightning and thunder — the awareness of His Presence and the sound of His voice. I don’t want to miss the miraculous, but desire to see clearly His movements in my generation. God still speaks. I want to be tuned to listen.

Lightning and Thunder

While multitudes came and went, a few stayed true to Jesus. Peter captured the reason well.

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

To be a Christ-follower isn’t only about rushes and thrills, miracles and encounters, although these are available and important. Being a worshipper of Jesus means knowing there is no other One we want to be with — to see and hear, to believe and to know.

Lightning And Thunder

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to understand, so the thunder of God’s voice creates the greatest impact. The disciples who knew Jesus the best missed most of the essence of what He did and said, until He opened their minds so they could understand” (Luke 24:45).

Everywhere Jesus went, He performed miracles and taught truth. He became incomparable lightning and thunder wrapped in humanity! The Book of Acts records how the apostles followed His example of teaching and doing miracles. Paul speaks to the church in Corinth, saying,

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Lightning And Thunder

Lightning and thunder, miraculous power united with God’s Word, best demonstrate God’s attributes and character. They steer our eyes from Earth to Heaven — our allegiance from human to divine. Today, this combination still evokes various responses.

Like the seasoned, experienced weather trackers of old, may we possess a strong sense of God’s movements and His ways. May we acknowledge His transcending Presence, His unstoppable power, and His overflowing goodness and grace. May we stand in this window of opportunity, delighting in His display, seeing His lightning power, and hearing His thunderous voice. Fear not!

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A Double Portion — Double for the Trouble

Double Portion

The saying “double for the trouble” originated with God. He turns even the most difficult situations for our good and His glory. I grew up hearing this idiom without knowing where or how it began.

Has someone ever stolen something from you? Perhaps money or possessions? Maybe reputation or position? Be encouraged, my friends! If we continue to trust God, putting our hope in Him, He will restore.

“And when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.”
Deuteronomy 30:2-3

God moves beyond simple restoration, however, desiring to give us double for the trouble we go through.

Two Kittens

The Thief

Make no mistake! Jesus warns — a thief lurks among us.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

This thief comes with evil intention to steal everything and anything he can, rushing in like a lion to the kill, destroying fully and completely. But God! Ha! I love those words whenever I read them. But God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us both physical and spiritual life, now and forever. God’s restoration exceeds everything the enemy tries to destroy. God gives back to the full.

“Full” here means superior, superabundant, excessive, and preeminent. When God gives double for the trouble the enemy has caused, it defies explanation or expectation.

Two horses

Double for the Trouble

Elisha became Elijah’s servant and understudy. If you think tagging with this out-spoken miracle-working great prophet was easy, think again! Only Elisha succeeded at the task. Elijah tried to shake him off more than once, but Elisha tracked his master diligently. Finally, Elijah asked,

” . . . ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied.’ ”
2 Kings 2:9

And Elisha received what he asked for!

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, banishing him from home and family. Slavery turned to imprisonment through no fault of his own. Years earlier, God had given Joseph dreams of his divine destiny — dreams that under the circumstance appeared lost and stolen forever. For a season,

“They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true.”
Psalm 105:18

But God! But God proved Himself faithful, elevating Joseph from the prison to a palace, second in rank only to Pharoah. Much later, when Joseph’s descendants inherited the promised land, Joseph received double for the trouble.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘These are the boundaries of the land that you will divide among the twelve tribes of Israel as their inheritance, with two portions for Joseph.”
Ezekiel 47:13

God’s sovereignty exceeds time and circumstances.

Two Birds

More Not Less

Sometimes the losses we experience come through our own mistakes, poor choices. or even sinful actions. Job didn’t fit any of these scenarios. Yet in a single day he lost his work force of oxen and donkeys, his revenue in sheep and shepherds, his means of transportation by camels, and even his closest relationships with family. Refusing to blame God for the extreme tragedy, he acknowledged everything came from God and ultimately belonged to Him.

Even when Satan inflicted what he thought would be a fatal blow, painful sores head to toe, Job maintained his devotion and faithfulness to God.

No matter how many times I hear Job’s story, I marvel. Look at the ending to Job’s story.

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Job 42:10

Double for the trouble! God restored twice the number of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys, many more children, and a hundred and forty more years to his life (Job 42:12-17)

God doesn’t always restore like for like. Hebrews 11, also known as the Bible’s faith chapter, tells us sometimes the full reward isn’t realized until heaven. God will come through for you, though. He always has; He always will.

Two Sheep

Double Portion

I’m not sure what you have been or are facing. May I encourage you today with these words from the prophet Isaiah?

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.”
Isaiah 61:7-8

Does shame feel like your portion? Don’t despair. God is preparing a double portion of His inheritance for you. Have you felt the sting of disgrace? Your story isn’t over yet! God’s grace is greater. His justice final. Because He is faithful, we wait in hope for Him to turn things around and make them right.

Zechariah understood God’s guarantee of double for the trouble. God announced through Zechariah this promise.

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
Zechariah 9:12

Our fortress is none other than God Himself. Let’s return to and stick with our Mighty Fortress! As willing prisoners, we hold with hope to God. God announced to Heaven and Earth His promise to “restore twice as much” as anyone or anything has taken from us.

Restoration is coming! Double for the trouble we have endured! Don’t lose hope, dear ones, hold fast.

Two Fish

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Give Thanks to the Lord, For He is Good

Give Thanks to the Lord

The Bible exhorts us to give thanks to the Lord, because God is good. He demonstrates His unwavering goodness throughout all generations. The truth of God’s goodness resonates through the pages of the Bible. Do you know beyond doubt the goodness of God? Is that knowledge a fixed reality of your faith?

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good his love endures forever.”
Psalm 107:1

When we become discouraged by circumstances, doubt because of unanswered prayer, or become disappointed by outcomes, we may question and even deny God’s goodness. The wounds of life become festering sores into which the deceiver plants his lies regarding God’s enduring goodness. “If God really is good, He wouldn’t allow war, famine, plague, divorce, abuse, bankruptcy, hell, and numerous other maladies ” he rants.

Truthfully though, God’s goodness reaches humanity through both His mercy and His grace.

Father and child

Doubt

Satan’s ploy to lure Adam and Eve away from God’s perfect design sprung from establishing doubt in their minds toward God’s goodness.Every aspect of earth’s degeneration resulted. At the very core of our own questions lie the same seeds of the enemy’s power to deceive us into believing God is not good.

God created humanity to live in eternal, unbroken fellowship and communion with Him. He desires limitless time to express His limitless love to each of us. Despite people’s rebellion, He sent His perfect and holy Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem and restore that relationship.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
‘His love endures forever.’
Let the house of Aaron say:
‘His love endures forever.’
Let those who fear the LORD say:
‘His love endures forever.’ “
Psalm 118:1-4

God created Hell for satan’s eternal confinement, and where rebellious angels will join him. But He created Heaven for unending communion with people, made in His likeness and image, who love and honor Him.

Father and daughter

God leaves the choice of our eternal direction to each of us. Though the option and resulting consequences appear staggering to our human reasoning, God, in His goodness, could do nothing less. Perfect love never forces itself on another; perfect love invites willing participation. With God’s love flows His grace.

“The truth of God’s grace humbles a man without degrading him and exalts a man without inflating him.”
– Kris Vallotton

Grace

God’s goodness and grace interweave like golden strands throughout humanity. Grace is love extended towards the undeserving — including us. By grace, God gives us nothing less than Himself!

We find one of the most encouraging Scriptures about grace in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” The Christian life involves process, the process of being daily changed from what we used to be into what we will one day become — perfect re-presentations of Jesus Christ. Every step in that process involves God’s goodness expressed through grace. Spiritual growth occurs as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say, ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Titus 2:11-12

Father and child walking

“(God) has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
2 Timothy 1:9

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His grace proves sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

Partnered with grace, we find mercy.

Mercy

Mercy involves both the withholding of judgment and the provision of compassion, gentleness, and forbearance. According to the Old Testament mercy meant to “stoop in kindness to an inferior, to have pity upon, and to show compassion.” The Bible interchanges the words mercy and lovingkindness for the same word chesed in Hebrew and charis in Greek. Mercy represents “a sure love that will not let go.”

I read recently that the word mercy in English comes from the Greek word, eleos. Eleos originates from the word for olive oil, often used as a soothing agent for bruises and wounds. One poured the oil onto the wound and massaged it in, soothing and comforting the injured part (Fr. Anthony M Coniaris). Mercy demonstrates God’s goodness and compassion toward those who are suffering.

Father and child

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

Too often, we only associate God’s mercy with withheld judgment. Here are but a few Scriptures connecting God’s goodness and mercy:

  • “Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.” Psalm 69:16
  • “The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9
  • “For the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
  • “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6
  • ” . . . The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth . . . “Exodus 34:6

Goodness

The knowledge of God’s unfailing goodness establishes a rock-solid foundation withstanding times of trouble. No one speaks so succinctly as Tozer on how important this understanding is.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us . . . Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God . . . The most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”
– A.W. Tozer
Father fishing with daughter

Does our mental image of God align with His Word? Do we see Him as One who is altogether loving, gracious, merciful and good? If not, we will tremble with the times. David, who experienced more than his fair share of difficulties, said,

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”
Psalm 27:13

Oh, how I know what quivering faith feels and looks like! Nothing short of God’s grace and mercy, entwined in His eternal goodness kept me on track. The sure foundation of the Word holds fast.

“”Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor or your majesty . . . I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works . . . I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Psalm 145:3-7

God’s abundant goodness merits acclaim as much as His mighty acts, glorious splendor, wonderful works, and great deeds.

Give Thanks to the Lord

May we pull aside from our daily struggles and exhausting activities long enough to give thanks to the Lord. May we, even if only for a few moments, ponder God’s goodness, grace, and mercy. As we do, hope will rise, faith will take root, and a calm assurance will wash away doubt. God is eternally good! May we echo the psalmist, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!”

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 107:8-9

We become recipients of whatever we thank God for. As we thank Him for His goodness, He promises to satisfy our longing and fill our hungry souls with His goodness. May you be filled and renewed today, as you think about God’s abundant goodness.

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Where a River Flows — An Increase of Faith

Increase of Faith

The river of God’s divine mercy flows from the high mountains of struggle to the ocean of grace, producing an increase of faith. We find ourselves in such a time and place.

Many people today are experiencing the intense pressure and weariness of rock-hard impasses — immovable, constricting, and looming large. Take courage! God turns such gargantuan opposition to serve divine purposes. Because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), I’m switching up my normal pattern of writing this week to focus entirely on praying the truths of Scripture.

As you read these words, may you experience an increase of faith for whatever trial you are facing. Take heart! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us(Romans 8:31)? “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Fast flowing water

The following prayer originates and finds root in direct Bible verses. As you pray, release God’s power and authority over yourself and your situation.

God of The Impossible

“God, we approach Your throne of grace with confidence (with outspoken frankness, bluntness and assurance), yet also in humility, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16) . . . We are facing what appears impossible for us, but God, with You all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) . . . Jesus, You declared that ‘Everything is possible for (those) who believe’ ” (Mark 9:23).

“Without faith it is impossible to please You, Lord, because anyone who comes to You must believe that You exist and that You reward those who earnestly seek You” (Hebrews 11:6) . . . We believe! We know and proclaim You to be loving and infinitely good. You reward all who choose to seek Your face.

Rushing Water

“Just as Paul spoke of the believers in Rome, may it be said of us. May our faith remain unwavering during this season of pressure, believing Your promises, being strengthened in our faith, and giving constant glory and praise to You, O God. May we be persuaded that You have the power to fulfill everything You promised” (Romans 4:20-21) . . . For no word from You will ever fail! . . .

“God, grant us an increase of faith . . .

Walking by Faith

“We do not belong to those who shrink back, but we move forward courageously in faith. You deliver us from every assault of the enemy (Hebrews 10:39) . . . By your grace, we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) . . .

“We choose today to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11) . . . May our lives produce lasting work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3) . . .

The testing of our faith produces perseverance. When perseverance finishes its work, we become mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:3-4) . . . Lord, may we consider ourselves crucified with Christ, no longer living for ourselves, but recognizing that Christ lives in us. The life we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20) . . .

Rapids

“Lord, in every action, word and deed, may we not be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’ ” (Romans 1:16-17; Habakkuk 2:4) . . .

“You have already given to each one of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Lord, we ask for an increase of faith in each one of our hearts . . .

Warrior Faith

We take up the shield of faith, extinguishing all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16) . . . Everyone born of God overcomes the world. We are Yours! You have named and declared us to be overcomers! . . . This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1John 5:4) . . .

“Thank you, Lord, for the great confidence we have before You. This confidence rests completely in who You are and all You have accomplished . . . ‘Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ ” (Romans 5:1) . . .

“The time is now! Warriors of faith, strap on the weapons of our warfare and take a stand against sickness and disease . . . Heal us, LORD, and we will healed; save us and we will be saved, for You are the one we praise (Jeremiah 17:14). You are the Lord who heals us (Exodus 15:26) . . . Breathe new life into us . . . Pour your soothing oil into the broken-hearted . . .

Prayer of Faith

“Lord, You invite us to ask big, to believe large, and to come expecting the impossible, so increase our faith . . . You said, ‘if we say to the mountainous obstacle, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and do not doubt in our hearts but believe that what we say will happen, it will be done for us. Therefore . . . whatever we ask for in prayer, we believe that we will receive it, and it will be ours!’ ” (Mark 11:22-24) . . .

Mountain, Rock, River

“So, we come today laying our petitions before You. We speak to our impossibles in Your precious Name, ‘Be moved!‘ . . . “Give us grace and courage to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous and strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) . . .

“Do it again, Lord! The things we read about in the Book of Acts, we ask You to do again. We ask for an advancement of Your Kingdom in our day and in our time. We ask for multitudes to be drawn into Your family. Lord, raise up a generation of men and women, young and old, with an ever-increasing faith. May they pray confidently and humbly, desiring nothing more than to see Your Name glorified and You exalted in our time . . . May they live fearlessly for Your honor . . .

“Encourage the weary ones. Restore the wounded. Revive the frail. Oh God, come to our aid, we pray. You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

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Immeasurably More Than All We Ask or Imagine

Immeasurably More

How large are your prayers? How imaginative? The Bible tells us that God can and will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. No matter how big we ask or how great our imagination, God offers more. Is this a generic promise for every situation and circumstances, or is there more to the more?

Years ago, a name-it-claim-it faith-movement began asking God for outrageous things. They believed that quoting the right Bible verse would compel God to respond with mansions, Mercedes, and money. I’m not advocating the return of such thinking, but neither do I desire to diminish the Word of God. What God says, He means.

My editor and I discussed the following portion of Scripture in Ephesians, which I’ve quoted in a soon to be published 30-day devotional workbook on prayer.

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!”
Ephesians 3:20-21 TPT

Prayer is a sword

Though many Bible versions word these opening lines as God being able, this translation says, “He will.” When does the “He is able” shift to “He will.” When do we know the prayer initiative, or spiritual battle, is over and the answer forthcoming?

God Who Can

Though some people of faith question God’s ability, most Christians grasp the concept of God’s power to do anything He desires, anyway He wants, any time He chooses. Defining words for God include Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. The prefix “omni” simply means “all, completely all, or universally all.” No one or nothing justifiably lays claim to “omni” — only God. He alone is All Knowing, All Present, and All Powerful. God, being nothing less than God, puts to rest the question of His ability.

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight . . . covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. He created the horizon when he separated the waters; he set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then can comprehend the thunder of his power?”
Job 26:7-14

The same God who created all things by the word of His mouth, a mere “whisper of His power,” lives and reigns supreme today. He always will. Kings come and go, rulers rise and fall, but God endures forever. As believers, we attest to God’s omnipotence! He alone is All Powerful! He does immeasurably more! When the “whisper of His power” rises beyond our comprehension, how much more the “thunder of his power?”

God Who Will

Knowing God can answer our prayer and that God will answer prayer rest almost opposite one another. It is possible to live our entire Christian existence knowing only the God who can — the God who is able.

Armor

A leper bridged the gap between “can” and “will.”

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Matthew 8:2

Notice his choice of words. He knew beyond a doubt God could do immeasurably more than he asked or dreamed. The point of uncertainty lay in Jesus’ willingness. How many of us approach Jesus in prayer the same way? We know He can. Beyond a doubt, we believe He is capable. But faith falters at will He?

God desires that all people confess Jesus as Lord and Savior and enter eternal communion with Him. However, many reject His offer. In that choice, they sentence themselves to eternal separation from God’s Presence — His life, joy and peace. God also desires healing for everyone, yet we witness healing sometimes and not others. The why remains a mystery understood by Him alone.

The same words Jesus spoke to the leper, He speaks to you and me.

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!'”
Matthew 8:3

In an instant, the leper’s faith leaped forward, landing steadfast on Jesus’ words, “I am willing.”

God is God

The essence of prayer rests in relationship. We may come with raised voices, speaking with authority, and demanding our way, but God remains unfazed. God is God; He takes orders from no one. In the place of communion with Him, we gain His ear and hear His heart.

The battle is over

When we approach Him, in reverence and awe, based on access gained only through Jesus Christ, He welcomes us to lean into Him and speak the desires of our hearts. Then as we press close, asking His will and perfect desire on the matter, He will speak. While waiting, seeking, and listening for His sovereign directive, He will make His ways known.

Though I’ve witnessed many miraculous interventions, resulting from God’s response to prayer, I’ve also heard Him say, “Not now, Little One.” At other times, His silent comfort speaks, “No.” At these times, faith digs deep and trust grasps hold of His loving hand. Here in the painful waiting or in prayers answered in ways least desired, the yielded heart knows He accomplishes His “immeasurably more” along paths unfamiliar to us.

“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”
Psalm 145:9

His immeasurably more sails upon the winds of His goodness, grace, and “tender mercies.”

Immeasurably More

As we pray, seeking His will for a situation, we listen — anticipating his whispered, “Yes.” When we hear the utterance, everything shifts. Without visible evidence, the deep knowledge of hearts aligned with the Father’s will, propels lightning force prayers with pin-point accuracy into spiritual domains. No holding back — God whispered, “I am willing!”

Armor and War

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Hebrews 4:16

Boldness rises, pure and submitted, without pride or presumption. When God speaks His, “Yes,” it is only a matter of time before the results become visible. We know with God’s “Yes,” He already released the provision, He already canceled the cancer, He already redeemed the lost, He already restored the relationship, and rebuilt the broken. The tangible only needs to catch up to the spiritual. His mercy and grace pours earthward.

God’s “immeasurably more” abides in the twin realities of His written Word, the Logos or the Bible, and His spoken word, the rhema. I once heard someone compare the Logos to a deep fresh well. Then God gives us the bucket called rhema with which we draw the water.

Ask

It’s not what we know, but Who that makes the difference. Attempting to manipulate Scripture to control God to meet our whims accomplishes nothing. When we know and approach Jesus Christ, our Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient Lord, with humility everything changes. We can trust Him to be continuously working everything for His divine purpose and our eternal good.

Sword of the Spirit

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

So when we don’t have answers, we still know Someone who does. When we don’t understand, we know the One who understands everything. In turbulent times of uncertainly, we can be sure of one thing, our God does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. God gave us the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), let us use it wisely.

Let us pray, asking big and imagining large. In the asking and imagining, we trust fully the One Who does immeasurably more — the one who is both able and willing.

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Tenant or Landlord? Do You Know? Remember and Appreciate!

Beachfront Home

Do you rent your home or own it? Are you a tenant or landlord? Though there are benefits of both, the difference between the two becomes increasingly obvious.

Searching for great tenants is a skill developed over time. Try as we might, we don’t always acquire tenants that value our property as much as we hope. We’ve repaired fixtures, removed left-behind garbage and paid bills accumulated by others,

Fortunately, many people consider tenancy a privilege. They view it with respect, thoughtfully taking care of everything. These folks are the gems we usually come to view as friends.

Tenant or Landlord

Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth of this important principle. He admonishes them to consider carefully their position as tenants, because a new Landlord had taken possession of their lives.

Family Dwelling

“Have you forgotten that your body is the sacred temple of the Spirit of holiness, who lives in you. You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary? You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Another version asks, “Do you not know?” Good question! Do I fully comprehend this truth? The word “know” includes “to perceive, be aware of, understand, remember and appreciate.”

Reading these verses again, I gained a new appreciation and understanding of their meaning.

Rights of Ownership

People often declare, “It’s my body! I’ll do what I want with it!”

Such statements verify that we’ve forgotten, failing to appreciate and recognize the complete ownership God has over us — not just the spiritual us, but ALL of us?

“Have you forgotten that your body is the sacred temple of the Spirit of holiness, who lives in you.
1 Corinthians 6:19

Country Cottage

Honestly, I’m no different from the Corinthians believers. I quickly forget that every part of who I am belongs to God. Too often, I stubbornly push for rights of ownership even after I have relinquished the deeds.

Attitude and actions reveal whether I live like a tenant or landlord in God’s house.

God has been challenging me over the last several months to value this body, His temple. Only by grace am I allowed to live in it. God desires that I value it as much as I want tenants to appreciate the home we lease to them.

Practical

For me, this boils down to daily struggles, like taking exercise breaks between writing spurts or ensuring I get adequate rest while juggling a busy schedule and shift work. When the temple of our bodies wear out or break down, God doesn’t provide a substitute. This is it, folks!

I don’t battle addictions or major issues, but God has led me to recognize my sweet cravings and to fast from sugars. I’ve gained increasing awareness of healthy eating choices. Though I might forget, He remembers I am spirit, soul, and body — one complete unit.

You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary?
1 Corinthians 6:19

High-Rise Apartment

When the truth of this verse becomes my living reality, what lifestyle changes will I make? Living with eternity in mind influences my perspective, recognizing that even the “little” things matter.

I hope to be here for the long haul. There is so much more I would like to accomplish for God. Every day of this life is a gift from Him — precious and valuable.

Time and Talents

God always invest wisely! He didn’t consider any of us “junk!” He paid the highest price, an unbelievably enormous price, to purchase us for Himself.

You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God.”
1 Corinthians 6:20

We could never pay Him back for all He has done. Yet, when I experientially “know” and remember His ownership of every aspect of my life, I am able, if in a limited way, to “bring glory to” Him.

Our bodies are His! Treating His body with respect becomes a privilege. Remembering He is in charge helps us pursue His glory and praise with excellence.

Beach House

The things I consume, invest in, absorb or spend time on suddenly contain new purpose. When I know, really know, my Landlord, life holds increased potential and greater fulfillment.

Do I treat God like a tenant or Landlord within me? The answer to that question affects everything!

Set Apart for God

Earlier, Paul wrote,

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We may falsely believe we get away with mistreating these jars of clay behind the priming and pampering, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He calls our bodies “sacred” — set apart for Him alone. We are exclusively His.

There is comfort in being “exclusively His.” The landlord, not the tenant, pays the highest price for mortgage, taxes, upkeep, and improvements. The tenant enjoys the benefit of the landlord’s investment, living securely within.

Mountain Home

If my tenants destroy the building they lease, I have to send them a hefty bill to cover the costs. Why would I think God would do any less with what He values highly?

The choice is mine! Will I consider God a tenant or landlord, recognizing the blessing of relinquished ownership?

It is All His

Rather than being harsh, Paul invites us to discover the peace of resting and knowing that everything belongs to God. If I follow Paul’s example and willingly surrender the keys to God, the worry vanishes. Joy replaces struggle.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100 1-5

Take heart! We have a wonderful Landlord.

Tenant or Landlord

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Setting Priorities: God or Money; Faith or Fortune; Wisdom or Wealth

Setting priorities between eternal and temporary remains a struggle for people of every social and economic strata. Written within the suffering of Job, we find his perspective on wisdom and wealth. Job successfully established his priorities with both God and finances. These are words spoken by someone whose wealth, even in today’s terms, would dwarf most other enterprises.

“People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the  mountains.
They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.”
Job 28:9-10

Job talks about the enormous effort people have exerted to uncover precious metals, like gold and silver, and rare jewels. Deep into the earth they’ve chisel to expose valuable treasures.

Treasure

Setting Priorities

How does the level of exertion while striving for wealth compare with the pursuit of wisdom? Which venture consumes more of our time and energy? More importantly, what do I worry about the most: spiritual hunger for God or the desire for greater financial security.

Recently, God tested where my heart was on the issue. I knew it was God because of the bizarre circumstances: an injury causing unemployment for my spouse with no compensation, unemployment insurance, or disability coverage; an empty rental unit and a mortgage to pay; and my employment closing. For three months, bills came without income to match.

We never lacked. God isn’t a God of lack. Although, we considered carefully every penny spent. God has seen us through many tough seasons, including financially. We have learned,

“The LORD Will Provide.”
Genesis 22:14

At such times,  will I base my decisions not on my financial position, but on faith, giving God my “Yes!” to whatever He asks?

Amethyst

Wisdom maintains faith to put God first. Often a financial crunch shows clearly how we choose to set priorities between God and money.

Wisdom

Job’s observation confirmed most people know more about gaining and maintaining wealth than they do concerning finding wisdom. A quick scan of the bookstore or “Google” reveals almost unlimited advice on creating wealth. His question still applies generations later.

“But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth…”
Job 28:12

Perhaps humanity’s search for wisdom pales in comparison to the feverish pursuit of wealth, because we don’t comprehend the value of wisdom. If we did, setting priorities between God and money wouldn’t be such a challenge.

Gold Jewelry

Job is the oldest writing in the Bible. The teachings of Jesus form some of the newest.

Heaven and Earth

Jesus reminded His listeners that everything we accumulate here will be left behind, so the wise invest in eternity.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and vermin destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is
there heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

Our hearts are intrinsically connected to our investment, whether here “on earth” or there “in heaven.” These storehouses don’t just vie for our hours, energy and focus, they fight for our devotion.

“No one can serve two master.
Either you will hate the one and love the other,
or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.”
Matthew 6:24

Pearl

What is my choice? God or money? Which captures my heart and devotion? Do I view life decisions from the perspective of heaven or earth?

Do I set my strength to break through whatever obstacle presents itself, the flinty rocks of apathy, lethargy, or complacency to seek wisdom and understanding?

God The Source

God is the source of all things. As Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, everything belongs to Him.

For from Him and through Him
and for Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Any level of financial success achieved comes from God because “it is he who gives you the ability to create wealth.” (Deut 8:18) Haggai reminds us.

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,
declares the LORD Almighty.”
Haggai 2:8

Whatever wealth we think we possess remains borrowed goods. It is far too easy to believe our accumulations came from strategic thinking, smart investing, or a solid work ethic. Not that these are wrong, but perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate true motivation!

A Gift

Wisdom endures. Wealth is temporary.  Solomon, the wealthiest man of his day and the wisest man of all time, speaks of wisdom as being a gift —

“For the LORD gives wisdom,
from His mouth come
knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 2:6

Job confirms that “God understands the way to (wisdom).” (28:23)  His circumstances convinced him that wisdom remains the rarest and most precious of any commodity. Job previously knew wealth plus wisdom; God was showing him wisdom, plus wealth. There’s a difference!

Diamonds

How do I know?

“The fear of the Lord —
that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
Job 28:28

Job, stripped bare of all security, comfort and wealth, felt God as distant. It’s the dark seasons, the tough road, the desperate places where God proves Himself near and enough. Setting priorities upon God proves the essence of our faith — the foundation of our trust.

When all else fades, the surpassing value of hidden treasures of wisdom and understanding outweigh all else. God is faithful! He can be trusted! Let’s learn from Job setting priorities sooner rather than later.

It starts with me. Here. Today.

Intimately Close! In Darkness God Does His Greatest Work

Intimately Close

When I don’t sense God’s Presence, He is intimately close; when I don’t see His face, I am known, found and seen by Him. He directs each of our lives with intricate precision.

In some areas, I can already see beauty and purpose coming from burnt-out ashes. Other places of my life still appear unproductive at best, and honestly desolate at other times. I see woven through the years God-given relationships and opportunities that no human could have orchestrated..

Daniel said,

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his . . .
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.”
Daniel 2:20-22

When fear attempts to convince me that things have become so dark and desperate, even God can’t see, I’m reminded that He does His greatest work in the deepest darkness. Light lives within Him and originates from Him.

Deep Darkness

The first words of the Bible give a strong clue to the consistent thread of God’s Presence.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Genesis 1:1

Confusion and foreboding drenched the formless, empty darkness of pre-creation. Right there! Amid that darkness, God was. This darkness preceded and surpassed anything humans have experienced. Nothing we could ever know compares to it.

God Created

Here God performs His first work, speaking all of creation into existence and transforming complete chaos into divine order. Elohim, the first Hebrew word to define God, contains within its context “the God of covenant.” Before we existed, God already reveals Himself as One who is intimately close.

The Paradox

We always find within the magnitude of God a paradox. Light and darkness is one.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you; God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5

And,

” . . . God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light . . . “
1 Timothy 6:15-16

God possesses light, spoke light into existence, lives in light, and is light. And yet . . .

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
Psalm 97:1-2

When God brings about His divine works, He often chooses the cover of darkness. Here the psalmist proclaims God’s redemptive work under the cover of thick darkness. Here, in darkness, God comes intimately close.

Conceived in Darkness

At night

This morning, I read again how God chose a young woman, Mary, to bring forth His Son through a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. She humbly surrendered, though the details were scant and personal cost great.

Who saw that move of the Holy Spirit? No witnesses presided over the occasion of God whooshing through the dark night impregnating a virgin with divine life. Under the cloak of darkness, God became man. Under the cover of darkness, He was born. To humble shepherds, “living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night,” angels came, brightening the starry sky with intense light while declaring the good news.

God came to dwell with man — intimately close.

The Darkest Dark

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) . . . With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Mark 15:33-38

Though it was high noon, suddenly God turned day to night. Once more, in darkness, He moved toward mankind, obliterating all separation between Him and His created ones.

Storm Night

Such intimate closeness is not to be gawked at by ignorant scoffers and mockers.

Conceived in darkness and born in the night, Jesus died alone on a cross in eerie untimely darkness. For me and you! For all! In darkness, Jesus crushed the head of Satan, delivering a mortal wound!

Before Morning Light

For three days He lay breathless surrounded by utter darkness, wrapped in grave clothes, hidden in a cold dank tomb. A handful of women came with spices to pay Him final honor.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
Luke 20:1

Before dawn

“While it was still dark,” He conquered the last and greatest foe. Jesus did it! He rose from the dead and through His resurrection granted the same life to all who would believe.

Intimately Close

I have no idea what you are facing today. It may very well seem to be the greatest darkness you have ever encountered. Circumstances beyond your control may have snatched all hope from your future.

Take courage. Just as in the past, God is intimately close today, right now, where you are. Nothing and no one can keep Him away.

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than your own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
A.W. Tozer

Above the Darkness

Though I don’t have opportunity to fly often, it amazes me how above the clouds the sun shines every day and the stars light the sky at night. Storms may rage below, but above the clouds visibility seems endless.

May we all learn to view things from above, rather than below. May we develop a sense of God’s deep moving and grand work amid our darkest times. Later, we will see clearly how intimately close He has always been; now we trust.

Worship in Heaven — No Introverts Allowed! Honest!

Have you thought about what worship in heaven might sound and look like? I find no introverts among the throng! Being a true introvert myself, I’m not sure what to do with that realization.

As much as I enjoy meeting and mingling with people, they drain me. Even my people!

There are twenty-three of us in our immediate family. Our noisy, oft rowdy, and usually action-packed family gatherings fill this Mama’s heart to overflowing. But, I must admit, silence and solitude keep my internal engine running, rejuvenating me for whatever demands may arise.

All you biblical scholars read my heavenly analysis with furrowed brow and deep skepticism. I understand completely! My brows have been doing the same thing! Let me explain, please.

I’ve just finished reading the Book of Revelation. In twenty-two chapters, I find only a half hour of silence. Honest! What’s more, it isn’t even the pleasant, introvert lovers refilling, energizing kind of silence. Rather, it’s more like, “Oh no! This can’t be!” variety.

” After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heart speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ ”
Revelation 4:1

That was my first clue about heaven. A voice like a trumpet! Nothing about a trumpet blast calms my introverted spirit.

Creatures and Elders

The Apostle John witnessed an open vision of Jesus Christ and things yet to come, including spectacles in heaven which my feeble mind can’t imagine. He tries his best to explain the images to us.

John gives us another clue. Around the throne, four heavenly creatures worship God,

“. . . Day and night they never stop saying,
‘ Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was and is and is to come.”
Revelation 4:8

Trumpet Blast

Their worship provokes twenty-four elders to throw their crowns at the Lord’s feet, breaking into their own chorus of worship. Day and night, continuous active, vocal worship!

Angels

Images of angels singing while softly playing harps may not be entirely biblical. Listen to what John actually hears and sees,

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ “
Revelation 5:11-12

But wait! Nothing in my introverted self cringes. Rather than run for seclusion, the magnitude of creatures, elders, and angels all with united “loud voice” giving glory to God stirs me to want to join along. Each spurs the other into extravagant exultation.

No one and nothing remains silent. All of creation bursts into exalted praise of the One on the throne. Every living creature raises its voice in perfect unison.

Can you imagine how noisy, even rowdy, and probably action-packed that gathering became?

Great Multitude

John’s vision continues,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . And they cried out in a loud voice:
‘Salvation belong to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’
Revelation 7:9-10

Introvert Worship

Some cultures naturally celebrate in robust, exuberant expressions of emotion; others tend to be soft spoken and gentle. Some denominations worship with quiet liturgical style; others worship with drums blasting and guitars blaring.

We introverts may have found crafty ways to escape the bustle of earth, but there’s no escaping the worship of heaven. Can you pick out even one introvert in heaven’s mighty throng? I can’t! Worship in heaven flows with unceasing, uncapped, unanimous rhythm.

No one feels inhibited. No one declares cultural exclusion. Everyone worships in heaven with liberality.

Silence

Then it comes! Silence! An eerie silence that holds heaven in awe-filled suspense. Thirty minutes of spine tingling, nerve-wracking silence. How could it be? Why would worship so suddenly cease?

I find myself asking another question, “If I know beyond a doubt that worship in heaven should continue unstopped, why would I tolerate the silence of worship here on earth?”

I have long considered this present life a temporary blink before eternity — a training ground for the things to come. Perhaps, it’s time for me to toss away my preconceived notion of an introvert’s dream come true — a quaint cabin in forested heaven surrounded by flowers, next to a babbling book, fifty miles from the closest neighbor.

A Lions Roars

If this life is a preparation for heaven, I better shake the dust from my feet and get my shouting voice tuned up.

Let’s face the truth; nothing compares to the worship in heaven. God alone merits glorified praise. Throughout Revelation, group after group falls on their faces, sings, shouts, and declares the greatness and worth-ship of our God.

With silence broken, worship resumes; the sound of high praise resonates through the atmospheres.

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 11:15

Worship in Heaven

I’m honestly frustrated by my feeble capacity to give Holy God, anywhere close to to the worship He merits. If I could dance like King David danced, bringing the Ark of God’s Presence into my city, it wouldn’t be enough. If I possessed exceptional musical ability to compose songs of pure adoration, it falls far short. Everything feels insignificant on this side of heaven.

My heart yearns to give Him more.

Someday, unlimited by earth’s tethers, I will exalt the King of all kings and Lord of all lords to full potential. Today, I practice. I pull my introverted self out of the place of comfort and press to co-operate with the anthems of heaven.

Worship in Heaven

One day, I too will cast any crown at His feet and I fall in reverent awe before the Lord of glory. I will with ease join the worship of heaven. On that day, as I behold the One I long to gaze upon, my little voice will join the great multitude with thunderous applause to the One worthy of it all.

This introvert will be introverted no more. I will find refreshing and renewal in the joyously noisy, the exuberantly rowdy, and forever action-packed gatherings of the worship in heaven.

After this I heard what sounded
like the roar of a great multitude
in heaven shouting:
“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power
belong to our God .”
Revelation 19:1

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
‘Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!”
Revelations 19:6-7