Staying Connected to God

There is a theme running through different words I’ve read the past few days: staying close to the Father. This encouragement from God through Marsha Burns fits perfectly with my last post on 11.23.20

November 24, 2020

SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by MARSHA BURNS

When you are overwhelmed and undone, take the time necessary to commune with Me. Do this regularly for the sake of sanity. Take a breath and release all tension and stress as you rest in My presence. Come to the place that is above and beyond the worries of the day. Be at peace. 

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

https://ft111.com/

Good Stuff

Every once in awhile, something good shows up in my Facebook feed. This is one of those posts:

Me: Okay, God, here’s the thing. I’m scared. I’m trying not to be, but I am.

God: I know. Want to talk about it?

Me: Do we need to? I mean, you already know.

God: Let’s talk about it anyway… We’ve done this before.

Me: I know, I just feel like I should be bigger or stronger or something by now.

God: *waiting patiently, unhurried, undistracted, never annoyed.

Me: Okay. So, I’m afraid I’ll do everything I can to protect my family and it won’t be enough. I’m afraid of someone I love dying. I’m afraid the world won’t go back to what it was before. I’m afraid my life is always going to feel a little bit unsettled.

God: Anything else?

Me: EVERYTHING ELSE.

God: Remember how your son woke up the other night and came running down the hall to your bedroom?

Me: Yes.

God: You were still awake, so when you heard him running, you started calling out to him before he even got to you… remember? Do you remember what you called out to him?

Me: I said, “You’re okay! You’re okay! You’re okay! I’m here.”

God: Why did you call to him? Why didn’t you just wait for him to get to your room?

Me: Because I wanted him to know that I was awake, and I heard him, and he didn’t have to be afraid until he reached the end of the dark hallway.

God: Exactly. I hear you, my child. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There’s an other side to all of this. I’m there already. I’ve seen the end of it. And I want you to know right here as you walk through it all, you’re okay. I haven’t gone to sleep, and I won’t.

Me: *crying. Can we sit together awhile? Can we just sit here a minute before I go back to facing it all?

God: There’s nothing I’d love more.

♥️🙏♥️

Blessing 🥰

Let’s Be Real…It’s Hard

I struggle every day to stay connected to God. So many things rise up to distract me, to infuriate me, to confound me. The thing that has been made abundantly clear is that I cannot do anything apart from God (John 15:5). He wants me to love people I disagree with, that I struggle to not hate. Guarding my own heart and keeping myself transparent before Him, not because He can’t see me, or doesn’t already know my inner thoughts, but so that I do not slip into self deception, has become a way of life.

I think the times we now find ourselves in reveal what is in each of our hearts. You can either face it, confess it & own up to it, or accept the hate, embrace it, perpetuate it and look away from the mirror.

Jesus knows we can do nothing of any righteous consequence apart from Him. He doesn’t turn away in disgust when we come to Him with our ugliness and sin. He knows what it’s like to feel the feelings we experience and He knows what we need to overcome.

Hebrews 4:15-16

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. 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.

He Sees Everything

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:6

To the person alone in your room, in your apartment or in your house…God sees you. Don’t allow the current circumstances to shut your mouth even though we are shut inside for a time. Open your mouth in prayer!

If you don’t know what to pray about, look around & look to the word of God in scripture. Here are just a few things to start you off & direct your prayer path:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of Him.~ 1 John 5:15

Are you feeling anxious, fearful or unsettled? Read God’s direction to you through the Apostle Paul out of Philippians:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Pray for our leaders, even if you don’t like them. God wants to direct their steps. He wants to reveal Himself to them as their most essential need. He is looking for humble men & women who will lead with righteous intentions, with a love for truth, a desire for justice and with an awareness of the great responsibility they have toward God and their fellow man:

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Here is an example of how to speak to God in prayer, using the scriptures as a guide. Fill in the blanks with your concerns or fears and with the names of people who come to your mind:

Holy Father, thank you for the blood of Jesus that was poured out for me on the cross. It cleanses me from every sin and makes me able to come before you in prayer, humbly grateful for all that I have received. Jesus is your gift to us, your love letter of promise. We are acceptable to you when we come through the door you provided.

I confess that I am scared & anxious about __________. You tell me not to worry about ANYTHING but to pray about EVERYTHING, so here are the things occupying my mind___________________________. I need your help to trust you. I desperately want & need your peace. Things are out of control but I choose to believe that you are IN CONTROL. I’m like the father who came to you needing help for his poor son and I cry out “I do believe you, please help my unbelief!”

Father, please have mercy on the leadership of our country, our state, our city and our family. They need wisdom. They need guidance and direction. I pray that they will be humble enough to realize that they need you above all else. Place in them a desire for truth, and for righteousness. That __________ will have wise counselors around them, pointing them in the right direction. Give them ears to hear You. We need people of courage who are more concerned with pleasing You and doing what is right than pleasing people.

(continue to add prayers for family members, people you know, people you don’t know but who are suffering. Pray GOOD things over people)

I ask all these things in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

Now back to the first scripture in this post: Matthew 6:6. God sees you when no one else does. It pleases Him when we come to Him with our needs and with our requests on behalf of others. This is evidence of faith on your part because it shows that you believe God is real. That you believe He hears you. Please know that God wants you to have the rewards of your faith in Him. You WILL see answers to your prayers. The greatest reward will be your deepening relationship with God as you come to know Him through prayer & through His word: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6

Stay healthy & prayerful! Blessings ❤

When God Disciplines You

My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, and do not loathe His rebuke; for the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

Let’s be real. No one likes to be corrected, including me. It’s not fun. Sometimes it’s even painful.

But I would rather be corrected by someone who loves me & is trying to save me from a world of hurt, than live out the consequences of my rash or stupid decisions.

For the purpose of illustration, I’m going to use an exaggerated example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say person A has a quick temper and is prone to violent outbursts. Person A’s friends & family have warned them that they need to deal with their anger and learn to manage it in a more constructive way. Person A ignores their advice, thinking within themselves that their anger is justified and everyone else is just blind to the facts. As time goes by, person A continues to nurse his/her anger, feeding it a steady stream of dark memories as they replay in their mind every slight and insult hurled against them.

One day, person A is in an argument with a complete stranger. This stranger had the nerve to take the space Person A was waiting for in a parking lot. This will be person B. Person B’s problem is that they are inconsiderate and rude. Family & friends have told person B this many times, to the point that person B does not have many friends left. When the unfortunate B leaves their car, person A starts yelling insults. Person B tells the person to deal with it and continues to walk to the store. Person A snaps, and beats person B so badly, that B dies when his head hits the concrete. Now, multiple people’s lives are affected because A & B refused to deal with their personal issues and sins.

The Lord has given us His word on everything we will ever deal with or face. In addition to the scriptures, He has given us the Holy Spirit to live in us, if we have been born again. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, our Helper…the indwelling presence & power of God. (Read John chapters 14 – chapter 17 for the descriptions & characteristics Jesus made about the Holy Spirit)

Using our person A example, let’s look at what the scriptures have to say about anger:

James 1:19-20
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Proverbs 29:11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.

Proverbs 22:24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,

And one more (but there are many more in the Word that deal with anger)

Ephesians 4:26-31
“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

If person A had been a believer, the scenario might have developed along these lines: Person A is confronted about their anger by their spouse or other loved ones. They feel defensive & hurt about the words just spoken to them, but instead of lashing out, Person A seeks time alone with God. Let’s even say Person A realizes that they in fact do have problems with feelings of rage, and prays to the Lord: “Father, I have a BIG problem. I just get so angry! I’m mad all the time and little things set me off. I don’t know why I’m like this and I can’t seem to control it. Please, I’m asking for forgiveness for the people I’ve hurt and frightened. I desperately need your help to overcome this. Please have mercy on me. I’m asking this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Here is an example of someone who acknowledges that they have a problem. They don’t try to minimize it, justify it or ignore it. Person A now sees that his/her actions are not pleasing to God and do not reflect the image of Christ, whom they are supposed to represent. They are humbly sorry for their actions and thoughts and are seeking forgiveness, which God, in His mercy, freely gives:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9

Now Person A has the power of God activated on their behalf. They resist feelings of condemnation & shame because God does not condemn believers. Person A has confessed their sin and God has forgiven them. Not because they necessarily feel forgiven, but because they accept by faith what the truth of God says (1 John 1:9). Whenever feelings of anger or rage start to bubble up, Person A immediately cries out to God for help, and God gives them the strength to keep their mouth shut…or walk away…or to respond in a controlled manner. None of this means that person A won’t struggle against anger for awhile. It does mean that they are learning how to walk through this time of change by leaning on God and relying on His help. A very powerful prayer for anyone dealing with a sin is simply to ask, “Father, lead me AWAY FROM TEMPTATION”.

To wrap this post up, I’m leaving you with an encouraging word from Hebrews 12. It’s encouraging because if God is dealing with you about something, it means you belong to Him, and that’s a GOOD thing:

5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
         “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
         NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
         AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. ~ Hebrews 12:5-11