Tag Archives: God’s Presence

Luke 1-3; It Changed The World

It is the birth that changed the world. Luke’s account of that birth and the events surrounding it is the most familiar to us of all the Gospels. As a Gentile, Luke would not have been raised in the Jewish tradition. He would not have studied the Old Testament prophecies from his youth. But Luke was a man of details, and researched those details about the birth of Jesus for himself. What we read is not a fairy-tale.

These things happened to Elizabeth and Mary, to Zechariah and Joseph, Simeon, Anna, and John. The shepherds really did witness the angel’s announcement, really went to see the newborn Jesus, and really spread the news to everyone they knew.

The Messiah has come!

I hope you’ll read these chapters and put yourself in the scene, and allow yourself to feel what it must have been like to be one of the first to realize what was hoped for all your life has finally happened.

Because the truth is, everything you’ve hoped for, all that you’ve longed for, has already happened in the birth of that precious baby so long ago. That baby grew up to die for you, and to give you Himself. It is the birth that changed the world. It’s the birth that changed my world. And it’s the birth that could absolutely change your world, too.

Zechariah 1-3; Responding To God’s Word

I read Zechariah several times today before dragging out the commentaries of people who believe they know the meaning of the visions recorded here. But, honestly, I get weary when they keep saying, “This verse refers to historical facts, this one refers to Jesus, but this one has to do with our future.” So I prayed as always, “God, what do You want me to know about You today? What do You want to say to me about my walk with You?”

Wow. I think God loves answering that prayer. So I’m only going to share what He has laid on my heart in the first three chapters today. There is so much, I didn’t want to try to tackle the whole book in one post. You may find yourself wanting to debate the details of my interpretation if they don’t align with yours. But I’m just going to let you in on my personal encounter with God today. You don’t have to quote me.

This is what God said to me about Himself: He is in all the world, as symbolized by the horses in chapter 1. Nothing happens anywhere on earth that God doesn’t know, nowhere that He isn’t present. That gives me great comfort.

But God also says, He doesn’t much like what He sees out there all the time. There are forces that would destroy God’s people, as I see in the four horns. But take heart, dear one! God has worker bees among us who are His arms and legs in this battle. And we win! That gives me confidence.

I love that the Jerusalem in Zechariah’s vision has no walls. In fact, God IS the walls of protection surrounding His church. And He IS the glory inside the church. Our protector, our joy and hope, the One True God right here with us and in us!

“For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. (2:10b)

And when He came in the person of Jesus, people from many nations joined the believing Jews to become God’s people. We are God’s inheritance, the apple of His eye. That makes me love Him so much!

I love how Zechariah’s vision pictures Jesus’ work on the cross when He removed “the sin of this land in a single day.” Before He died that day, Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Here’s Joshua, a priest guilty of sin, wearing filthy rags, standing before God. Does God turn him away like Satan expects? NO! God removes the filth, and clothes Joshua in rich garments. “If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements,… I will give you a place among these standing here.” (3:7b)

That’s me! I can stand before God absolutely pure – because He has clothed me with His own purity. Jesus paid the price for my sin, God forgives me. And I am washed whiter than snow through my Savior’s precious blood. That makes me want to bow before Him and worship Him like He deserves.

So today, I feel like God is reminding me He’s got this. Yes, there is a battle going on. Yes, it may seem evil is winning. But God wants me to know He is my protector, my Savior, and I am His beloved, the apple of His eye. What is my response? It makes me want to get out there and serve Him.

Lamentations; Great Is Thy Faithfulness

There are some verses in the Bible that have become beacons, or sources of comfort and blessing. They are the go-to verses for most of us like John 3:16. Or the 23rd Psalm. I Corinthians 10:13 has been one of those verses to me, as has Proverbs 3:5-6. I imagine you could quote a few verses that have come to mean a lot to you, too.

Isaiah 40:31 comes to mind.

Lamentations 3:22-23 is a passage that reminds us of God’s love and compassion, His intimate involvement in our daily lives, and His great faithfulness. It inspired one of the world’s most recognizable hymns, loved by millions.

But these verses were penned at a very low period in Israel’s history. They had abandoned God,  and were realizing what devastating consequences come when God abandons His people.

Yet in the middle of this painful time, in the midst of the deepest grief, the writer says these words:

The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.

Oh, that we as individuals would turn from our rebellion and know God’s great faithfulness, experience His lovingkindness and compassion when we repent of sin and run to Him.

Oh that the Church would renew our commitment, would turn from our sin, and worship and serve Him like He deserves. Do we not understand how much God longs to draw us to Himself, protect and bless us?

The hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfuless,” written by Thomas Chisholm, has this powerful verse:

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth. Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine! With then thousand beside.”

May you experience God’s faithfulness as you yield to Him today.

Isaiah 65-66; A Beautiful Church

Isn’t it amazing to be part of the Church Isaiah describes in these chapters? The whole world is blessed because of us, and we who are faithful produce the fruit of eternal souls saved when God’s children allow Him to work through us to reveal Himself to those who need Him.

From the moment the Holy Spirit came upon His people with a mighty wind and tongues of fire, God Himself became available to anyone anywhere; Jews, Gentiles, men, women, young, old, rich, poor. He doesn’t live in a house made my human hands. He lives in all of us, His workmanship through the blood of His precious Son Jesus Christ.

Ministry is no longer confined to Levites, or priests. All believers have a ministry, we are all to go into all the world and make disciples.

Belief in Jesus makes everything new. The old passes away, the new comes, and we will live forever with our Creator God, our Savior.

These last chapters in the book of Isaiah remind me what a privilege it is to be a part of God’s family, His Church on this earth. And it convicts me to do my part to care for His Church, to help it grow, to show the world how beautiful it really is.

Isaiah 40-43; Hold On To Your Hats

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Reading these chapters today has me praising God, not only for what He does for His children (which is nothing short of amazing), but in the reality of who He is. I hope you’ll read these chapters today for yourself. Be ready to have your socks knocked off!

It starts off with God wanting to comfort us, to assure us His Word will stand forever. It was true back then, it’s true today, and it will be true a thousand years from now. There is something very reassuring about that fact. I don’t have to wonder, or stress, or hope what I believe is right. If it’s in there… it’s true!

Isaiah tells us God is exactly who He says He is. He’s the God above all gods, the Creator, and the Savior. There is no one like Him. Lift up your eyes and look to the Creator who gives strength to us who hope in the Lord. He gives us everything we need to face our day, and in every situation. He upholds his children (me and you) in His right hand. Doesn’t that give you confidence and peace?

I love 41:17-20. We are thirsty, but God doesn’t just give us a drink. He turns our desert into pools of water, flowing rivers, and bubbling springs. And He doesn’t even stop there. He grows shade trees, fragrant trees, and food-producing trees to sustain us.

I think that’s what Paul meant when he honored God as the one “who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) We ask for a sip of water, God opens the flood gates!

Isaiah points us to Jesus who opens blind eyes, and sets captives free. He is God! He loves us, redeems us, forgives our sins and promises to never remember them ever again, and He takes us by the hand to guide us.

Isaiah 43:2 is a treasure you can take to the bank.

Oh dear one, take time to read these words God inspired Isaiah to write. But hold on to your hat. You’re going to be blown away. Then join me in praising God, the One who deserves our praise.

Psalms 2-4; Good Night

Who has never laid awake at night and fretted over a problem? Who has never wakened in the morning and felt beat up instead of rested? And have you ever wondered how someone who is going through hard times can seem so together? What’s up with that?

David had enemies. David hid out in caves for years so Saul wouldn’t find him and kill him. David’s own son wanted him dead. And David never knew from one day to the next whether the people would be for him or against him. How did that man ever sleep?

Psalm 3 is called a morning psalm. Let’s look at how David greeted his day:

Lord, it seems like I can’t get a break. Things were hard yesterday and it looks like they’ll be hard today, too. But You sustain me. You keep me going. You encourage me and hear my prayers. I won’t fear today because You are with me. Take care of my problems, Lord, because I know my deliverance comes from You.

Then, in Psalm 4, an evening psalm, David said this:

God, I’m going to trust You to relieve my stress. Be merciful to me and hear my prayer. Instead of sinning in my anger, I’ll search my own heart, then I’ll be still. I trust You, God. You give me such joy. “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (4:8)

Sounds like the first thoughts David had each day, and the last thoughts before he went to bed were directed toward God. And that sounds like a good example to follow myself.

Someone has said: If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep, talk to the Shepherd.

Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)

I find that turning my problems over to God, and trusting Him to bring about the best solutions, is so much better than me trying to solve things myself. He’s so much better at it than I.

Do you trust Him? Tell Him. Then have a good night, and an even better day.

 

Job 38-42; Final Answer

The whole book of Job is a series of questions and answers. Job had questions: “Why is God doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? Where is God in my suffering?” His friends had answers (or at least what they passed off as answers): “You have done something bad and God is punishing you, Job. You deserve this, admit it.”

So after 37 chapters of this sorry exchange between friends, God is going to finally speak. Job is going to get his answer. But it’s not at all what he expects. Because God never addresses the “why” of anything Job is experiencing. God never tells about His conversation with Satan in chapter one. God never explains His reasoning, or plan to Job and his friends. The answer to Job’s suffering isn’t about the “why” at all.

It’s about the”Who.”

And it’s the same for us. If we are looking for answers to understand our pain, or our circumstances, we are looking in the wrong direction. Looking horizontally prevents us from looking upward.

A Swiss psychologist, Dr. Paul Tournier wrote, “For God’s answer is not an idea, a proposition, like the conclusion of a theorem; it is Himself.” (Guilt and Grace; Harper and Row, p 86)

God doesn’t owe us answers. He Himself is all the answer we need.

Unless you’ve experience His Presence and peace in the middle of a storm, you probably think this is just another example of “church speak,” that it doesn’t hold water when the reality of suffering sets in. And you would be wrong.

Warren Wiersbe (With the Word, p 303) said, “God cannot do much for us as long as we are busy telling Him what to do.” Sometimes we just need to shut our mouths, stop with our demands, and just be still and know that He is God, bowing before Him in complete surrender.

I hope you read these chapters in Job today, and ask yourself how you stack up when compared to God. I know I don’t come close. And it humbles me that the Creator and Sustainer of life wants a relationship with me, wants to spend time with me, wants to be everything I need in good times and in the worst of times.

God.

Final answer.