Posts Tagged ‘God’
Bald eagles fascinate me. They’re the picture of strength and majesty, rising on the wind and circling overhead with their wings outspread.
When we lived on Quadra Island, I saw bald eagles on a routine basis. One made its home in a snag near the ferry landing. I recall sitting in the ferry lineup and watching it soar and hearing its familiar cry. Its strength and beauty captivated me.
I’m no longer living on Quadra, but I still enjoy the privilege of seeing bald eagles in my city. Two live in a tall tree several hundred meters from my home. Every so often they fly past my office window. The sight causes me to stop whatever I’m doing and watch them.
Deuteronomy 33:26, 27 says– “There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” I read these words and immediately think of the bald eagle soaring, circling, and diving. And then I visualize God—soaring like that eagle across the heavens to rescue me when I call on Him for help.
Can you picture that with me? Imagine! God rides across the heavens to help us. He rushes across the skies in majestic splendor to rescue us. He sees us from afar, and He rides the wind to save us. He swoops underneath us and catches us on His wings to save us from a freefall.
Do you need His help today? Call on Him, and thank Him in advance for answering you. Here’s what you can say: “Father, I praise You because there is no other God like You. You ride across the heavens to help me. You soar across the skies in majestic splendor. You are my refuge. Your everlasting arms are underneath me. I will trust in You and not be afraid. Thank You, God. Thank You.”
I’ve told you how these Scripture verses conjure images of the bald eagle for me. What visual image do these verses bring to your mind?
Photo courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea…The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God is Israel is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:1,2,7)
Have you ever had an “aha” moment? You know, a time when something suddenly made sense…something that had perhaps puzzled you until then?
This morning I read about Joseph’s “aha” moment and it brought tears to my eyes (Genesis 45:3-9). Imagine how he must have felt when he realized that God Himself had ordained his circumstances in order to fulfill His purposes!
About 20 years had passed since his brothers had thrown him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. Twenty years — that’s a long time to brood and plan revenge. Finally his chance comes to get even, but Joseph refuses to stoop so low. Recognizing God’s sovereignty frees him from any hint of bitterness. It allows him to embrace his brothers and rejoice at being reunited with them.
I had an “aha” moment a couple years ago when I looked back over difficult circumstances and suddenly saw God’s plan in action. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Nepal where he worked as a civil engineer. We lived in a mud and rock hut with a thatch roof, no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. I struggled with isolation and loneliness, culture shock, and language learning. We had our first child while living there, and I had no older women to show me how to care for this new baby. When our second child was born with medical issues that required an immediate return to North America, I struggled with reverse culture shock.
Over the years, I often wondered why God asked us to go through what we did, only to bring us back to NA. And then came the “aha” moment.
Now we’re the directors of International Messengers Canada, and one of our roles is to provide member care for our missionaries. At the first IM conference we attended, I was sharing this testimony with our missionary women in Eastern Europe when these words came from my mouth: “And so, ladies, when you struggle with language learning, I know how you feel. When you struggle with loneliness, I understand. When you go back to your countries and struggle with reverse culture shock, I get it!” That’s when the light came on in my head. Aha!!
God had a plan. He was sovereign over every detail in our lives. He knew exactly what He was doing when He put us into that overseas situation and then took us back to NA. He was preparing us for a ministry that would begin more than 20 years later.
We don’t always get to see God’s plan — in some instances, we’ll have to wait until we reach heaven. But whether we experience an “aha” moment here on earth or beyond the pearly gates, we can rest in the knowledge that God has a plan and is in control. Let’s allow Him to be God — in that way, we can respond as Joseph did, free of bitterness and anger.
Today’s reading in Psalms really blessed me. Right now I’m facing a work load that seems ‘way too big to complete in the amount of time available before I leave the country again, and frankly, I see my inadequacy. And so, several verses popped off the page this morning.
Psalm 18:29 — “In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”
v. 32,33 — “God arms me with strength; he has made my way safe. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.”
v. 34 — “He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.”
When we are weak (and willing to admit it), He is strong. No matter what we’re facing — a heavy workload, the pain of prodigal kids, financial insecurity, health issues, whatever — God is our strength. He enables us to face the demands of life and battles of the soul with victory. Nothing…nothing is beyond His ability. He is fully capable. And as we rest in Him, we are fully able.
Have you ever noticed how the word but makes a massive difference in how a story ends?
Here are a few fictional examples:
* Megan was going to marry Jim but she changed her mind and married Bob instead.
* Leanna was planning to attend university immediately following high school, but she decided to travel overseas instead.
* Jill felt like spreading a juicy lie about the person who gossiped about her at the office but she chose not to.
This morning I read about Laban’s continued deceit towards Jacob. A few chapters ago, he promised his daughter Rachel to Jacob as a wife, but on the wedding night he secretly delivered Leah instead. Later he cheated on a agreement about sheep and goats. He’d not paid fair wages to him even though Jacob had been a faithful employee for 20 years. Jacob had every reason to be ticked off.
One day he tells Rachel and Leah that it’s time to leave Laban’s territory. He explains his reason for this decision by reminding them of Laban’s treachery, and then he says something very insightful: “But the God of my father has been with me” (Gen. 31:5). Even in the midst of being treated so unkindly, Jacob recognizes the sovereignty and presence of God in his life, and he is confident that everything will work out.
This is a great phrase to remember! It makes all the difference in the world. Here’s an example:
* “My marriage is falling apart; I don’t know what my future holds. But God is with me.”
* “I was recently diagnosed with cancer and the thought of chemotherapy terrifies me. But God is with me.”
* “My husband just lost his job and our finances are in trouble. But God is with us.”
Our circumstances can look grim, but God is with us. The word but changes everything, doesn’t it?
Back to Abraham and his relationship with God. Theirs was an intimate one as evidenced in their conversation about Sodom (Genesis 18) “God, You wouldn’t destroy the city if You found 50 righteous men there, would You? After all, You’re a just God.”
“You’re right,” said God. “I’d save it for their sakes.”
Abraham mustered his courage for round #2. “What if You found 45 righteous men?”
“I’d save the whole place for their sake,” said God.
“If I find 40 righteous men, I’ll spare the city.” And so went the conversation, back and forth, until God agreed to spare the entire city if He could find 10 righteous men.
Verse 27 contains a word that describes Abraham’s approach. It’s the word bold. The dictionary says this word means, “without fear; daring.” Abraham was indeed daring in his prayers. I’m not convinced that he was without fear, however, because the passage sounds like he had to muster his courage before each request. Perhaps he was a little concerned that God might consider him a smart-alek for his approach. I think it was the opposite — it looks like God rather enjoyed the banter, otherwise He might have ended the conversation in disgust. Regardless, Abraham conversed with God in a way that’s possible only between friends.
This story encourages me in my prayer life. It shows me that God enjoys honest communication. He invites me to be daring in my requests and in my approach. That’s reinforced in Hebrews 4:16 — “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
May we all enjoy such intimate relationship with God that our conversations with Him reflect deep friendship!
The beginning of a new year is a good time to ponder what really matters. Life gets so busy that it’s easy to be distracted and miss the mark. That’s not the way I want to live, and you probably feel the same way.
This morning I read about Enoch — the guy lived to be 365 years old. Genesis 5 gives him more attention than the other fellows listed before him, but still, it says only two things: he had a son named Methuselah when he was 65 years old, and he had a vibrant relationship with God.
It’s interesting that the last fact is mentioned not just once, but twice. Enoch had close fellowship with God (v.22) and he enjoyed a close relationship with God all his life (v. 24). Oh yeah, there’s one more thing: he suddenly disappeared because God took him.
The Bible could have listed Enoch’s accomplishments and adventures, but it doesn’t. It simply stresses the fact that he enjoyed a close walk with God.
As I look into the upcoming months, I must admit that I feel a little anxious at times. The life of a writer/speaker isn’t as glamorous as it may appear on the surface — there’s lots of behind-the-scenes hard work and sweat. And judging by what’s on my plate, I’ll be sweating more than a little. But the bottom line is this — the quality of my walk with God.
That relationship must come first. That means carving out time for Him when I’m fresh and alert, not giving Him the leftovers when I’m too tired to recognize His voice. It means saying no to some activities so I’m available for what He wants me to do. It means being willing to do whatever He asks even if it seems illogical or too time-consuming at the moment. If that relationship is in order, the rest of my life will be in order, too.
I’m not going to live to be 365 years old like Enoch. I’ll have 80 or 90 years on earth, maybe. What will people say about me when I’m gone? Will they say, “She had close fellowship with God?” I hope so.
Tomorrow I’ll blog about how I maintain fellowship with God in the midst of a very busy ministry. I’d love to hear your thoughts — struggles and secrets — on this topic.
I read today in Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve sinned against God. Verse 7 stood out to me: “…they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves” after they’d eaten from the forbidden fruit.
Fig leaves around the hips, eh? I can almost see the couple cowering in an orchard, trying desperately to string the greenery before God shows up for their daily walk in the park. Their hands are shaking and sweat beads are forming on the foreheads. They know they’ve done wrong, and they know their actions have built a wall between themselves and God. And so they try to cover up, to pretend that everything’s okay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
God walks onto the scene knowing full well what His kids had been up to. He speaks with them to make sure they understand the seriousness of disobeying Him, He levies the consequences for what they’ve done, and then…I love this part…He provides a cover-up for them.
Big difference between the first and second cover-ups!
The first is flimsy, inadequate, and manmade. The second is crafted by God’s hands and covers the nakedness completely. More importantly, it’s made from animal skins, which require a blood sacrifice. This cover-up is sufficient.
How many times do we sin, and then try to set things right on our own? We string fig leaves together — using flimsy excuses to cover our tracks — but our feeble attempts don’t work. God knows what we’ve done, and, because He loves us and wants nothing to interfere with our fellowship with Him, He has provided the perfect cover-up for us.
Like the animal skins that covered Adam and Eve, this one covers us. It, too, required a blood sacrifice — the blood of Jesus Christ. And it’s sufficient. Nothing else is needed — just our willingness to accept the gift of God’s cover-up for us.
What an amazing proof of God’s love for us!
On my desk sits a perpetual calendar filled with wonderful quotes. Today’s quote is from composer Joseph Haydn. He said, “When I think upon my God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen; and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit.”
Sometimes we allow real-life problems to weigh us down and steal our joy. But Joseph’s words remind us that thinking upon God gives us a cheerful heart. I’ve found that to be true. When I focus on circumstances that are less than desirable, my joy fizzles. My spirit is left feeling like a withered balloon. And what does my countenance reflect? Let’s just say it ain’t a pretty sight. A woman with a positive influence? Forget it.
But when I think upon my God and His control over my circumstances, my heart is once again filled with joy. It’s never a bubbly, giddy feeling. Rather, it’s a deep-settled sense that everything’s under His control and I can rest. I can know that He’s at work in my situation, and I’m at peace. My countenance reflects my heart condition, and a smile is a natural overflow.
The next time we feel empty or discouraged, let’s think upon our God. Guaranteed, those thoughts will fill our hearts with cheer and enable us to serve Him with a cheerful heart. Therein lies the secret to being women of influence.
(Maybe this God-talk sounds foreign to you. Perhaps the only reference to God you’ve known is negative. Let me assure you, that’s not the case. If you want to know more about who God is, drop me a note!)
Know you are loved,