Thursday, March 20, 2014

Taking a Small Break

For a little over a month, I have been struggling with migraines and poor sleep.  While I finally found myself headache free last week after a three week bout with daily migraines, I then jumped into a new phase of not sleeping well.  Needless to say, this has created a little difficulty for me to have time to write in the morning because I've been slow to get up.  I am planning to take a little break this week and next week just to get better.  I would encourage you to continue reading in the Bible each day.  If you don't know what to read, go to Biblegateway.com and read the verse of the day; you can even subscribe to have them send the verse of the day to your email.  The more you spend time in the Bible, the more you will crave your time in the the Bible.  Here is the verse of the day for today:

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."  1 Peter 2:2-3.  Keep craving our amazing God!  As we have been learning, when we seek God with all our heart, we will find Him.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Comfort From Grace

I know several people who are going through difficulties this week.  Some are mourning the anniversary of a great loss, others are just experiencing a loss, and others have found themselves hurting for a loved one.  It is hard to understand why we have to go through loss and difficulty; however, we are given the promise of comfort when we seek God.  Earlier this week, I learned that a word used in the Greek for comfort can also mean to call to one's side, to speak to, to encourage, and to exhort.  I keep coming back to the fact that comfort is a word that means so much - some seems unrelated.  But, perhaps the idea of experiencing God's comfort is because we answer His call.  It is through following Him that we are able to experience comfort when we are in pain.

This promise for comfort doesn't mean that God will take away the difficulty we are facing, but we are given what we need to face it.  When you think about it, when we listen to God we will hear exactly what we need to hear.  When we come to Him when He calls, He will strengthen and encourage us.  I think some of this is because He speaks words of grace to our hearts.  We are reminded of His great love for us and it helps us to face what lies ahead.  Love - God's love - it is our greatest comfort.

"I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace." 1 Peter 5:12 (NLT)

God's grace - we are told to stand firm in His grace.  By the way, the word in this verse translated as encourage is also the same word that means comfort.  We receive comfort when we stand firm in God's grace.

Are you standing firm in God's grace?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seek Comfort

What does the word, comfort, mean to you?  We use that word in many different contexts.  We have "comfort food," which signifies food that that not only tastes good but also holds a sort of sentimental value in making us feel comfortable.  We look for comfortable seating and choose the chair that fits us best.  We have the choice of so many different models of cars that advertise their comfort.  But there are other forms of comfort we don't always want to admit that we seek.  Earlier this week I mentioned in my Community Group that I am uncomfortable with conflict and I would prefer to avoid it if possible.  Obviously, there are situations where that just isn't realistic and I have to forego my personal comfort to do what is right.  When we go to serve the people who are oppressed, hungry, homeless, and hurting we are stepping outside of our personal comfort.  But when we seek God and His direction, we are guaranteed that we will be called out of our personal comfort and into suffering but we are also told that we will receive a different type of comfort.  Please use the link and read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

We see in these verses that we can seek comfort from God.  When we follow Him and call on Him our comfort comes from Him - even in the midst of our suffering.  But there is an interesting thing about the word translated as comfort in these verses.  The Greek word is parakaleĊ which has a few different meanings.  It can mean to call someone to you, and it can also mean to address or speak to someone.  But then it also means to encourage, exhort or comfort.  It can even mean to strengthen or to teach.  I find it very interesting that the word that means to call to one's side  or to speak to someone can also mean to comfort.  I know in some of my biggest struggles it is when I hear from God that I am encouraged and comforted in my situation.

"For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:5, NLT).  I love that promise!  There is so much wrapped around that word comfort because we can see just by the meaning of the word that comfort can come in many forms.  We can receive it through His encouragement, but we can also receive it through His strength.  We can receive His comfort through the lessons He walks us through.  No matter what, when we are following God and experience difficulty or even suffering, we also know that God will give us what we need to experience a different kind of comfort.

Do you seek your comfort from the materials things around you, or do you seek a better comfort that comes from God?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Trust Grows When We Seek God

Yesterday, I likened a baby's separation anxiety to how we feel when we don't immediately experience God where we are used to experiencing Him.  The thing that helps a baby go through that developmental stage is playing games like peek-a-boo or a simplified version of hide and seek.  The baby eventually learns that just because he/she cannot see you immediately doesn't mean you are missing.  The baby learns that there is more to presence than what is in their line of vision.  They learn to look in other places.  They also learn to trust their parents and they know that even when their parents leave they will come back.  Our "separation anxiety" with God is similar.  The only difference is that God never leaves even for a moment like parents do when they go out on a date.  I think when we spend time seeking God and finding Him in new experiences, the more our trust in Him grows.  We realize more and more that His love for us is great and He will never abandon us.  Please use the link and read what Paul wrote about what happens when we realize God's love for us in Ephesians 3:16-19.

Yesterday we saw in Philippians that we can take all things to God and not have to carry worry and anxiety.  I feel like these verses go right along with Philippians because as we grow and realize how great God's love is for us, we learn to trust Him more.  There is a wonderful thing that happens when we learn to trust Him; we experience peace!  Watchman Nee wrote in "Sit, Walk, Stand" that when we trust God we actually find ourselves in a rested position.  He likened it to driving a car.  We must sit in the car, but we do not move the car.  The car moves us.  When we trust God, it is a similar experience.  We learn that when we can quit controlling our environment and trust in the Holy Spirit to empower us and take us to where we need to be.

I guess the thing that I have learned overall this week is that no matter where we are in our walk with God we should always be seeking Him.  This can range from the person wondering if He even exists to the person who has known Him all their life.  We are constantly faced with new experiences that requires us to seek God in a different place.  He is always there - He just wants us to seek Him.  He promises that when we seek Him we will find Him.  The more we seek and find, the more we trust.  This is a huge part of our growth in Him.

Where are you in your walk with God?  Are you actively seeking Him?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Separation Anxiety

If you have ever been a parent, you were thrown into the wonderful world of child development.  Whether or not you realize it, you have become a full time specialist in parenting your children.  As part of my studies in college, I took some child development courses and I have to admit that when we were going over infancy I wasn't all that engaged.  I learned what I needed to learn; however, when I became a parent all that information began to resurface and I understood first hand how interesting babies really are.  Babies love having interaction with other babies, children, and adults.  In fact, they really do believe the world centers around them.  They are interested in their environment, but it is in relation to how their environment affects them.  Because of their stage of development this also means that if it is out of sight, it is out of mind.  If they don't see it, it doesn't exist in that moment.  This is what eventually develops into separation anxiety.  If they cannot see mom or dad, the baby immediately thinks they are gone.  Mom or dad could even be in the same room, but if the baby didn't look in their direction their immediate instinct is to believe they are gone.  Playing games like "peek-a-boo" helps develop understanding that something still is present even if it is out of our view.

I think we can be a like an infant in our spiritual development, too.  I think that when we are used to experiencing God in a certain way and finding Him in a certain place we experience separation anxiety.  We can assume that God abandoned us right when we needed Him.  However, God doesn't want us to stay infants in our walk with Him.  He wants us to grow and thrive and become the person He created us to be.  So we need to seek Him when we don't find Him where we usually experience Him.  He wants us to experience Him in new places and be aware of His presence everywhere.  When we remember that He is near and always cares, we can have peace - even on the days when we just don't seem to find Him.  Just because we didn't find Him doesn't mean He isn't there.

Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV) says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  We can trust Him with everything; He is near even if we don't see or feel Him.  The Lord is near and we can give Him everything...everything. 

Do you trust the Lord is near?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wherever You Go

As I continue to spend a few weeks looking at seeking God, I want to spend this week exploring the truth that God is near.  Yesterday, I looked at the urgency to seek God while we can in this life because God is near.  Eternity is after this physical life on earth and reminds us that the eternal life is far more important than this physical life, so we need to seek the eternal and unseen God in this life.  We may not see Him, but we are given promises in the Bible that He is near.  Today, I want to look at how seeking after our amazing God and Creator also helps us to do the work God has given us.  Please use the link and read Joshua 1:1-9.

Looking at the history of the Israelites, we see that Joshua was one of the men who believed God.  He didn't just believe in God, he believed that God was in control and trusted that God would always be with them.  This faith resulted in Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses died.  In these verses, we see God's call on Joshua's life to lead the Israelites.  When I read these verses, it is such a wonderful reminder to me that when God asks us to do something, He is with us.  He doesn't give us something to do and expect us to do it on our own.  In fact, I think He gives us things that seem bigger than ourselves because He wants us to remember that we are not doing it on our own, but we are doing it with God.  God is doing His amazing work through us.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9, NIV.  These are the words God spoke to Joshua as He gave him the call to lead the Israelites.  We are going to face situations that seem scary or discouraging to us; however, when we can remember that God is with us no matter what is happening, we can be encouraged.  We can be encouraged that it is exactly in those moments when we will get to witness God's power at work.  We just need to continually seek God and follow Him.

Do you seek God and trust Him even when the work gets difficult?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, March 3, 2014

While He Is Near

There are certain prayers that I pray every morning before I write my blog posts.  I pray that it is all about God - that it is His words on the page, not mine.  I really don't want my thoughts out on this post because I will, without doubt, mess it up.  But I pray that God is speaking to the readers and the Holy Spirit directs my thoughts.  I pray that as I write, I am learning and growing in my faith and becoming more aware of what God wants me to do.  I pray for everyone who reads the post that they will hear what God wants them to hear.  I pray that everyone who finds their way on my blog would experience the life-changing forgiveness God has for those who turn to Him.  And since my topic over the next few weeks is about seeking God, I pray that we will all see how we can be seeking Him in areas of our lives that we haven't sought after Him before.  I want to live my life in a way that I realize that I need Him to be a part of every minute moment of my life, and I pray that will be your desire as well.  I want to be aware of my need for Him always.  One reason I read the Bible every morning is that it helps point out the fact that I need Him.  Please use the link and read Isaiah 55:6-12.

We are told to seek God while He is near.  Does that give you a sense that this is not something that we can practice the art of procrastination?  This isn't the time to say, "I can pray later."  In all that we do, we should seek Him now because He is near.  We also shouldn't wait because we will get caught up in all our "stuff" and eventually forget to come to Him.  We also shouldn't wait because life here on earth is just to short to depend on another day.  Eternity is forever, so why would we weigh this life as more important?  If we wait until this life is over, it will be too late and God will not be near us.  If we seek Him now, He will always be near - now and for eternity.

There are also some truths that God gives us about what He says.  We are told that it is never wasted.  Whatever God wants to happen with what He says will happen.  He is in control and always will be in control of this world.  So, when we are truly seeking God and spending time in the Bible, we can know that God will produce the fruit He wants to produce in our lives.  We just need to let go of our own control and trust that what God wants is what is best.

Two incredible truths to see in these verses:  if we are truly seeking God, we will find Him and God's Word will always produce His desired results.  If we know that God is in control, why wouldn't we seek after Him?

What are you seeking?