Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.Daniel 2:20-21
America has spoken. So has the God who holds America.
Beloved, God alone sets up and removes kings and presidents. And according to His purpose, He has positioned Donald Trump in the White House. Time will reveal whether God intends to bless our nation through this choice.
Yet my heart is filled with hope, because God’s Word rings true.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14
This nation has united in prayer this past year unlike any time I have known. God’s people have answered His call to bend the knee, and now we have an opportunity to see some real change. We must continue to pray with the same fervor.
Donald Trump is not our Savior. The God who got him elected is. And for God’s redemptive purposes to prevail, we must choose to stand united with the God who made us, boldly living His Word and proclaiming His Truth. Love must flow from our hearts instead of judgment. We must unite in the Name that is above every name. Jesus.
The river of life must flow through His people to heal our land. Healing comes through the Healer.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. …
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:1-7, 10
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I imagine you’ve struggled with feeling distant from God. Empty. Lost in a sea of messages insisting the God you set your heart on won’t be found.
Doubt sets in as you grieve the loss of that mountaintop feeling—the one that made you excited to follow Jesus. Now the loneliness of the valley makes you wonder if the feeling you long for came from your imagination rather than your memory.
Today I’m excited to share a post from the teenage daughter of a friend of mine. I pray you will see yourself through her transparency. More than that, I pray you will see your God.
That Real Place
By Alia Dyke
“Be still, and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10
So lately, my heart has been far from where it was created to be. From where it belongs… And when you’re far from where you belong you get homesick and lonely, you crave that place of belonging. I didn’t blame that on anyone but me and I tried and tried to sit down and focus on Jesus. To actually take away something when I read my Bible. To feel something… And I just didn’t. I was far enough away from the place I belong that I didn’t know how to get back.
I am writing this post from that place. That place of being lost. It’s a real place.
Over the time period of my heart trying to stay above the waves of the world that were constantly pulling me right back down, Jesus never stopped pursuing me. He never stopped loving me. He never stopped speaking to me. It’s just that sometimes when someone is speaking to you and you are caught up in yourself, you don’t hear anything they say until after the fact.
Knowing Jesus is there but feeling nothing… That is a real place.
My day to day life was me trying so hard to feel the closeness of Jesus, but being too caught up in my feelings to do that.
One thing Jesus spoke to my heart time and time again is that it isn’t about how I feel. He is still God and He is still good. If I feel happy, sad, lost, confused, loved, lonely… He is still God, and He is still good.
Who knew you could be so caught up in your own feelings to feel Jesus.
When we feel distant from God we try so hard to feel something. We try to connect to a good worship song and feel his nearness. We try to read a verse that we know we like because maybe we will feel the way we did the first time it was read. We try to sit outside with our Bibles in hand and feel his peace. We try to go to church so that hopefully we will hear a message that just relates to our life.
That place where all you do is want is to feel something, that is a real place.
But what if we are trying too hard to feel? What if human nature is all about feelings. And Jesus’ nature is not.
So, I sat down and read Psalm 121 without trying to feel anything. I put on worship music and didn’t listen to it just to feel something. I wanted to be still and know that even when I don’t feel close to God he is still God and he is still good.
That place of sitting and knowing God is good no matter how you feel, that became a real place for me.
And you know what? He met me in that real place. Just like he met me in every other real place. I wasn’t overcome with emotion, I didn’t hear an audible voice, or even feel a change in my heart. I told myself that whether I felt anything or not I would sit knowing that God is good.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from The Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Who am I to doubt God simply because I cannot feel him? He meets you where you are. In every place.
God says be still and know. Not be still and feel.
So I sat and knew that He is good. I didn’t sit trying to feel His goodness. And He met me there. And I felt him.
After sitting and knowing, I felt.
And He said to me, “my daughter, it is only from knowing me that you can feel me.”
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“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
God has this thing about being first.
You can’t blame Him, really. After all, He is the First. And the Last. And He’s everything in between.
“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.Isaiah 48:12-13
The God who IS —who existed before time and created all things—longs for us to recognize His preeminence. And to honor it.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”Psalm 46:10
God created us to live in relationship with Him, fully dependent on Him as our source.
Source of what, you may ask? Of everything.
God gives life and He takes it. He commands the sun and the moon. He spins the earth on its axis. He created and governs time. He is our source of love, joy, peace and security. He gives and maintains health. He causes the rain to fall and the ground to produce so we can have food to eat. He gives us the ability to prosper.
Beloved, God simply asks for us to recognize His role.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 1:16-17 NIV
Every good thing we long for can only come from God. And He longs to bless us with those perfect gifts. But to receive from God, we must acknowledge Him as our source.
This, dear one, is where the deceiver wreaks his havoc among us. He convinces us that we’re responsible for providing our own good. He whispers the same lie he offered Eve in the garden, suggesting we don’t need God. No, we ourselves can be like Him.
So we strive and toil to build the life we desire instead of learning to trust God and receive.
Wise King Solomon had a few things to say about that.
What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
Have you ever noticed that the harder we work, the more miserable we become? And we never seem to attain the goal we seek. We may get close, but satisfaction remains elusive. Because even if we reach the goal, it changes on us like a shifting shadow. Suddenly what we thought we wanted isn’t enough.
And our hearts can’t rest.
Solomon saw the answer to this vain struggle.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
Do you see it, dear one? Every good and perfect gift comes from above, even our ability to enjoy our work. You see, joy is a gift. We can’t manufacture it. We must receive it from its source. And God is the only source of everything good.
Just in case we missed it the first time, Solomon repeated the concept in chapter 3.
. . . also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.Ecclesiastes 3:13
God wants us to find pleasure in our work and in our lives, but that pleasure can only come from Him. Otherwise, it will be fleeting, changing and shifting. Never resting.
That’s why He invites us to come close and trust Him. He declares, I AM the First and the Last, and He asks us to live like we believe it. He calls us to put Him first so His blessing can flow into our lives and out on this earth.
Is He first in your life, dear one? Do you run to Him first to share good news? Do you offer your grief to Him before you transfer the burden to one of your loved ones? Is He first in your thoughts when you wake in the morning? Do you recognize He is your only true Healer?
Our enemy would have us believe we can extract our own good from life. If we work hard enough we can prosper ourselves. We can find healing through physicians and medicines.
God may use physicians, but He alone is Healer. Asa, king of Judah, learned that lesson the hard way.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.2 Chronicles 16:12-13
Asa was a man of God. He rid Judah of its idols and won great battles by the Lord’s hand. Yet after so much success, he began to rely on his own strength instead of continuing to depend on God.
It cost him dearly.
Nothing the world offers is an adequate substitute for God. He asks you, dear one. Will you live like you believe it?
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“ . . . And He will be called . . . Everlasting Father . . .” Isaiah 9:6
Happy New Year, dear one! I pray that 2014 brings you closer than ever to Jesus and that you fully experience what He died to give you. I hope to.
We have spent the last couple of weeks peeling away the outer wrappings of some of the gifts God gave us in Jesus. I pray that as you discover afresh the valuable contents, your heart will be drawn to dig even deeper. We have barely scratched the surface! But as you pursue an intimate relationship with the Son of God, His gift of the Wonderful Counselor “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I [Jesus] have said to you” (John 14:26).
One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs as our Counselor is to teach and reveal the deep things of God to each of us. Remember,
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:12
God desires for you to know your inheritance, dear one. He never empties; He fills!
Today we peer at the third name of God associated with Jesus’ birth in Isaiah 9:6. Christ opened the way for us to know and experience God as Everlasting Father. Recall the familiar words of John 14:6:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is our only way to know God as Father. To belong to the Father, we must know and belong to the Son. John 14:7 adds these words, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.”
Beloved, God desires for you to know Him intimately as Father.
Perhaps that thought doesn’t offer you much comfort. The stamp of sin on this broken world leaves many painful relationships in its wake. But regardless of the images the word father may bring to mind, allow yourself to contemplate the ideal dad.
Dear one, God is the Father you’ve always longed for.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
Scripture paints a picture of God as the Father who will never leave, no matter how bad things get. And unlike our earthly fathers, Mighty God is always strong enough to save us from the messes we’ve made. Nothing, however, thrills my heart like the words of that last sentence. “He will take great delight in you.”
Haven’t you longed to be the object of someone’s delight? To know that you, above all else, are their greatest source of pleasure and joy? That’s exactly what Scripture teaches about your heavenly Father. God takes greatdelight in you.
Whether or not we can draw the image from our own childhood experience, we can all conjure up a picture of a doting parent cradling a beloved child, quieting restless cries with loving murmurs and whispered songs. Images of a mother flow more freely, yet the sight of a father assuming that role brings a special tenderness to the heart. Strength choosing to display itself through gentleness moves us.
And that’s exactly how your heavenly Father feels about you.
Picture it, dear one. Has it occurred to you that God desires to hold you in His capable hands and rejoice over you with singing? Longing to quiet you with His love, He yearns to gently lift you into His lap to still your restless heart with tender songs.
Yet many of us squirm and pull away from Him like rebellious toddlers, refusing to allow Him the joy of simply being with us. We have stuff to do, after all. Who has time to merely sit and be held?
Indeed. We have become far too busy scampering after our dreams to spend any time with our Father. And wonder of wonders, the God of the universe has given us the freedom to choose.
But our choice comes at a cost. Our refusal to still ourselves in His presence blocks the flow of His grace. We’ve robbed ourselves of the power we desperately need.
Most of us miss the blessing of God’s commandment in Psalm 46:10,
“Be still and know that I am God.”
We get so busy trying to make things happen in our own lives, we forget that God has asked us to be still, believe, and let Him work on our behalf.
What if you and I chose to alter our thinking as we begin 2014? What if we began to believe that God Himself is our true blessing? What if we sought cherished moments of intimacy with our heavenly Father through Jesus instead of merely seeking the gifts that come from His hands?
God intended to make Jesus the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). If you have put your faith in Jesus and committed your life to follow Him, you also are a child of God and a recipient of every blessing that comes with it.
Take up your inheritance, dear one. Your Father will fight for you. You need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).
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