Be Still and Seek God

Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It is becoming increasingly difficult to be “still” in our society today. We live in a world that is constantly in motion. We are instantly aware of breaking news in even the most remote part of the world. Our lives are bombarded with noise and lots of information. It becomes a challenge to just sit down and be quiet and still in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us. And for the faithful believer, this much needed “still” time is increasingly important as we try to discern the voice of God among the useless chatter that we are exposed to.

We complain that we don’t ever seem to hear from God. We place the blame on God and fail to share any responsibility on our own part. It’s difficult to “hear” God when the world that we live in is sending us many other messages that we choose to listen to and be drawn into. We promise to turn our attention to God after we have had time to decompress after a long and challenging day at work. We turn on the television, surf the internet, go shopping – we make our lives “busy” and we buy into the lie that these things will somehow give us more peace and lasting satisfaction. And we forget to be still and know that God is present with us, in the midst of our struggles and our overwhelming, frantic life.

This has been a difficult week for me as I have had to deal with some unpleasant duties in my everyday life. I have felt overwhelmed at times and I have had moments when I allowed my mind to forget about God and His promise to always be with me. I have permitted myself to feel overwhelmed with the pressures and responsibilities present in my life. God has been left out of the equation the last few days as I have tried to overcome and deal with my current struggles in life.

 After three long days I have finally given in and become “still” before God. I have acknowledged to God that I can’t control the many challenges that come my way and I certainly can’t handle or overcome them on my own. I need the presence and power of God in my life at all times. I can’t do life on my own – I need to be still and know that God is God and that’s enough for me. God is creator, redeemer, and sustainer and that’s all that I need to get through my daily life.

May the God of peace and mercy be with you and whatever challenges you are facing this week.

 Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

The Flood and God’s Grief

Genesis 6:5-8: The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Most people know the story of Noah and the great flood. In teaching young children about Noah and the ark we focus on cute animals marching into the ark and living comfortably it seems, side by side with Noah and his family. After Noah and his family are spared, God sends a beautiful rainbow as a covenant between God and Noah and all future generations. God promises to never again destroy all living creatures upon the earth.

For many of us however, this story of the flood is a distressing and terrifying account of an angry God wiping out all of creation. But if you read the text carefully, you will find that God was not angry but rather His heart was grieved and full of pain. Humanity had made a mess of the world and it caused God immense grief that there was increasing evil upon the earth. Scripture tells us that “The Lord was grieved…and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). The world that God had created had descended into evil and wickedness and the heart of God was filled with grief, not anger.

Just as God is about to wipe mankind and all creatures from the face of the earth, we are told that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord”. Noah is seems was the kind of person that God was pleased with because he was a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Noah was the kind of being that God intended when he created the world and the first humans. He was not a perfect man but Noah lived the kind of life that God intended for his created beings to live. Noah’s heart was not filled with evil and wickedness; he was a good and upright man who sought fellowship with his creator.

Are human beings today any better off than the people of Noah’s time, before the flood? It would appear that we are not much different than those who were destroyed when water covered the entire earth. We continue to do things our own way instead of allowing God to shape us and give us greater focus on living a good and honest life. We follow the things of this world that only serve to corrupt us and distance us from God. In other words, we continue to cause God much grief and pain today.

Let us pray for our world, for all of creation, that we will not continue to grieve God and that we will learn from our mistakes and strive to be the creation that God truly desired from the beginning. May our faithful and compassionate God forgive us all of our many sins.

 

The god of this age

2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The god (small g) of this age is Satan, the devil, who opposes God and all that is good and pure. Satan is the unseen power that inspires unbelief and ungodliness. The evil one is determined to lure people away from God by “blinding the minds of unbelievers” so that they will become preoccupied with the things of this world. The evil one is resolute in enticing believers into pay less attention to God and to worry and become anxious about events that are unfolding in the world that we live in.

 As a believer and as a father, I am completely appalled by the many images that are being presented on our television screens today. Over the last few weeks I have had to change the television channel so that my children and I would not be subjected to the current topics of “twerking” and “sexting.”  From celebrities to politicians, we are in the midst of a society and a culture that are moving farther away from God. Even our TV ads are many times inappropriate during the early part of the night, when in the past it was safe for younger children to watch. We as believers and followers of Christ must begin to do our part to present another image to the world – “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Satan is not entirely in control of the world because God has set certain boundaries for him. While the evil one can and does attempt to lure away believers from completely following Christ, he has more control over the lives of those who do not believe. Non-believers are under the control of Satan who has “blinded the minds of unbelievers.” The evil one will do everything possible to continue to keep their minds on the material things of this world and away from God. The god of this age seeks to deceive our society by bringing forth ideas, false beliefs, or philosophies that draw people away from God.

The Apostle Paul refers to Satan as, “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). The evil one strives to create conflict throughout the earth and we are certainly seeing evidence of that in our present age. In the book of Job, God asks Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it” (Job 1:7). The evil one is working furiously in this “present age” to continue “blinding the mind of unbelievers” and taking the focus of believers away from God. We can see evidence of Satan’s influence in the political arena, the media, the entertainment industry, and in the current worldly culture where anything goes.

 We as believers must be more vocal and unashamed about our beliefs, but we must do so in a way that brings unbelievers to faith in a loving and forgiving way. When we condemn and judge people we risk losing them to the “god of this age.”  Paul reminds us that “it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5b). As believers, we must share the gift of grace that we have been given, to those who are following the “god of this age.”

 1 Peter 1: 11-12: Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

 My prayer is that this nation will begin to experience a spiritual revival in which we recognize the dangerous path that we as a country are on. We need people who will “stand in the gap” and pray for God to send His Holy Spirit to bring about change in our great nation before it is too late.

 Ezekiel 22:30: “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.

 

Patient in Trials, Constant in Prayer

John 14:1 (NIV): Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.

John 14:27(NIV): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Romans 12:12 (ESV): Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

 I woke up this morning with a lot of things going through my mind. As the morning progressed, I was almost overwhelmed with additional trials/challenges/opportunities that came my way. The day was not off to a good start even though God had already blessed me with the opportunity to wake up and live another day with my loved ones. So I  decided to go outside and catch up on trimming some trees and bushes and pray! I love being outside with no one else around but God and me. That is when I do some of my most intense praying and talking to God.

I began my prayers focusing upon my own needs and prayer requests. There were a lot of things that God and I needed to talk about and so I began to pray and get some much overdue yard work completed. My talk with God was going so well that I began to offer up prayers for others in my family and church family that needed to be mentioned. God seemed to make me aware of even more people that I needed to pray for and before long I noticed that I had cut down several small trees and bushes. It was getting hot and so I began to cut up and haul off the limbs and branches that I had pruned.

My prayer/talk time with God was getting intense and I continued to pray vigorously for some things that I had been struggling with and agonizing about recently. God made me aware of others around me that are going through even more difficult times and he helped me to gain a better perspective with my own worries. I began to pray for those people and to lift up their names in prayer to God. It’s important that we as believers pray for one another because God hears our collective prayers. James 5:16(ESV): Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Originally, I had planned on being outside for about 30-45 minutes but I began to realize that I had been out a little over two hours. I was hot and sweating profusely, but God and I had a good morning as I spent time in prayer and conversation with my heavenly father. For me, I feel a strong and close connection with God in nature, especially in my own backyard. It was time for me to haul off the remaining loads of limbs and branches and end my prayer/conversation with God.

As I finished the last load, I stood back and looked in amazement at the large pile of limbs and branches that I had cut down. For me, each one of these limbs or branches represented someone that I had prayed for this morning. I prayed for people that I work with, older members of our church who are in places other than their homes, friends with health issues and life issues, friends that read my website and write to me or tell me in person how much they enjoy and can relate to what I write, and also for those I encounter who are difficult to love. I prayed and I know for certain that God heard my prayers. He may not answer any of them in the way that I visualize, but God heard those prayers and God knows what’s best for each of those prayers. Ultimately, His will, not mine, will be done.

Take the time to pray for someone today that you know who needs to be lifted up by name to our Father in heaven.