What Does Being in His Presence Look Like?

Looking through some previous blogs that I posted and thought I’d update this one today from 2013. I hope it encourages you!

One of my favorite worship songs is “Here in Your Presence” written by New Life’s own, Jon Egan. I’ve attached a link below so you can hear it. At the very opening of the song, I’m immediately drawn into His very presence. I’m reminded of How much He desires me to be with Him, talk to Him, laugh with Him, and even cry with Him. I’m also reminded of how much He loves me, how much He delights in me, and how much He wants to bless me; His creation, His daughter. By the end of the song, I’m completely undone. My heart is swollen, full and overwhelmed that He would create such an awe-inspiring place for me in His presence.

We have all failed at some point in our journey with God. We have left our heart unguarded, or let fear creep in and take root, or yes, even sinned; however, we can still enter into His presence in spite of all that…through earnest and sincere worship. Worship does not just happen on Sunday mornings at church. It should happen every day, throughout the day. Worship can be through prayer, studying His word, an offering of your time and/or money, fellowship with other believers, and retreating to your quiet place alone with Him.

Being in God’s presence:
1. Helps us to please and obey Him
“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13

I know that when I’m in my fleshy, selfish ways that I’m not at my best. I am a much better person when I succumb to His presence.

2. Refreshes us with rest, peace and strength
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. Psalm 23:1-3

There’s nothing like getting in His presence when I’ve experienced loss or grief. I feel enveloped in His arms with an overwhelming peace and strength to get through whatever has caused me pain or heartache.

3. Gives us lasting joy
“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.” Psalm 16:8-9

I am grateful that He reminds me that He is indeed with me at all times, good and bad.

As I reflect on an unbelievably hard week in constant prayer for my loved ones, friends and family, my faith has been strengthened more than I could have ever believed. You see, that’s what being in His presence does for us. I cannot imagine having to go through this life not having the hope and the strength of the Lord to carry us.

May we never take for granted the privilege that is ours to enter directly into the very presence of God. He desires our company. Let’s open the door and let Him in.

L.O.V.E. – More than a Four-Letter Word

1 Corinthians 16: 14 “Do everything in love.” 

Love…it should be evident in the way we talk to others, the way we listen to others, the way we respond to others and the way we care for others. Those are just a few examples of love, but I think they are some of the most important. WHEN WE SPEAK LIFE TO OTHERS, WE SPREAD LOVE TO OTHERS.

Love matters because it matters to God. We are created in God’s image; therefore, we are called to honor others with respect and with words and actions that value them.

I have become more aware now, more than ever, that God is showing me how to be a ‘carrier’ of His love. Sure, it’s easy to love those that love me; but to love those who don’t love me back or to love those who are just so difficult to love is frustrating. For some of us, it can be very painful and disappointing. When we learn to love the unlovable, we have developed the ability to see others as Jesus does. We often are too quick to dislike or dismiss someone, but we must remember that we, too, have qualities that others may find ‘unlovable’.

Some of the best advice that I’ve ever heard is to never let an issue with someone become more important than the relationship. God tells us to work it out in Matthew 18:15-16 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.”

Even in conflict or confrontation, love is vital and must be the most important component in the conversation. I have been a moderator in many meetings where conflicts and confrontations must be resolved. I usually end those meetings with the ones in opposition praying over one another. The outcome may not end with them being best friends, but at least, they do leave the meeting better than when they arrived. J

Love is a self-less act that Jesus portrayed with dignity. As a Christ-follower and one who desires to become more like Him, it must become a self-less act for me, too.

 

The Struggles of Embracing My True Self and How I Overcame Them

For too many years for me to remember, I struggled with comparing myself with others, which produced a mess of insecurity.  I always wanted something other than what the Lord had blessed me with. I thought I was short-changed! Growing up, I was never really into designer clothes or fancy jewelry because heaven forbid that I EVER lose one of those expensive items. What I physically wanted was the long, silky hair or the deep, golden skin. What I longed for most was an outgoing personality and quick wit. My fear was that I was going to say something stupid and I would be humiliated; therefore, I chose to not talk much which led to me being labeled ‘shy’. I hated that word with everything in me! I did NOT embrace my ‘introvertness’ at all.

As I grew older, I chose to accept the challenges of my youth and my personality began to blossom. I give much of that credit to performing on my high school’s dance line for 4 yrs. You cannot be reserved when dancing in front of a gym full of people or in the middle of a football field with packed bleachers. 🙂 I also give a lot of credit to my comedic husband who has an unintentional way of drawing that funny side out of me.We tend to ‘feed off’ each other’s comments and have our own little comedy act sometimes.

Through the years as I became more and more confident through studying His word and what He says about me and embracing how He created me; I realized that my early comparisons were simply trivial. If we wake up every morning with that outlook, all of those comparisons seem insignificant. One of my favorite scriptures is

1 Peter 3:3-4

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

I want to be of great worth in His sight, don’t you! Embracing our image created by the Almighty is one of the most powerful stories that we can share to ‘help’ others do the same. Note that I said ‘help’. We live in a world now where the “me” generation seems to be taking all of us hostage! They are not ‘helping’ anyone, in my opinion. It’s rather heartbreaking to see on social media so many children AND adults craving so much attention from not only friends, but complete strangers! Everything does not need to be shared! If we create our own image to please ourselves and others, then we fail. We tell God, “Your image is not good enough. I can do better”, and we completely become this facade, a fake. I was well on my way to becoming this until one day when I looked in the mirror and saw myself not through my eyes, but through His eyes. As I said earlier, it took many years, much prayer, and diving into His word for me to get to that place…I could not do it on my own. My flesh is so weak, but my Spirit is so willing. 

Matthew 26:41

41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The temptation of comparison is real. It’s deceiving. Our enemy knows it and he thrives on destroying us with it; however, we are overcomers by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We do not have to open the door to this stronghold.  God is within us!

As soon as I became comfortable with how God created me, my confidence soared not only in myself but in my God. My faith grew tremendously, my love for Him is like none other and my fear of God is healthy and respectful.

“Be your true self, everyone else is already taken.” 🙂

A Heart of Peace

There is nothing that compares to the peace of God.  At the heart of peace is harmony.  Peace of mind and heart comes from inviting God to live with us, helping us understand the world is only temporary. Only then can we navigate through any chaos because we know that God is ultimately in control.

This is just one example in my life right now, raising two teenagers…who can now drive…requires much peace.  Much more peace than I ever imagined.  You know those words your parents told you back when you were a teenager: “You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.”  Well, I find myself telling MY kids that more often than I thought I ever would.  I don’t think we will ever stop being parents.  Our parents haven’t, and we probably won’t either.  The older we get, the more our prayers for peace increase…especially when our kids leave our home and have a home of their own.  At some point though, we will realize that we have raised our children well and yes, they will make mistakes; but making those mistakes will be perhaps the greatest lessons they could ever learn.  I remember some of the mistakes I made taught me so much about myself than my parents could ever teach me.  It was through those mistakes that I became a better person and my walk with Jesus wasn’t surfaced, but richer and stronger.  Mistakes increased my faith.

Humility before God brings peace because God blesses the humble.

Psalm 37:11 The lowly will possess the land and live in peace and prosperity.

Humility gives us a realistic view of ourselves, balanced by the knowledge of how much God loves us.  This is one characteristic I honor greatly.  I have very few close friends and I value their humbleness immensely.  We never compete with each other. We see each other as equal and work hard at maintaining healthy relationships.

Peace comes from knowing and living according to God’s Word.  His wisdom and direction guide us into safety and lead us out of conflict, compromise and deception.

Psalm 119:165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Peace of mind comes as the Holy Spirit guides us into God’s purpose for our life, giving us eternal perspective. Peace of heart comes as the Holy Spirit guides us into productive living and comforts us in times of trouble.

John 14:27  I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Peace is not the absence of conflict; it’s confident assurance in the midst of conflict.

Matthew 5:19 God blesses those who work for peace.

May we all rest in that overwhelming peace at all times, no matter what life brings us.

How do we know if we are held captive by others’ opinions?

This has set me free! Don’t be a slave any longer. Don’t let the enemy push this hot button. You are a child of God! Walk in it!

1. When our thoughts are consumed with others’ thoughts toward us – we are walking in the fear of man.

2.  When our day goes south because we feel slighted by a comment or a cross look – we are walking in the fear of man.

3.  When we feel the need to get others on our side by speaking ill of another – we are walking in the fear of man.

4.  When our goal is more to impress than to bless – we are walking in the fear of man.

Fear of others’ opinions doesn’t just show itself through insecurity, it’s also revealed through pride. There’s no winning the battle of others’ opinions!  It’s a trap, and we will be its slave if we reduce our lives to a series of actions that will please others and give them a momentary favorable opinion of us.

However, when we walk in the fear of the Lord-when we love Him enough to do what He says-we will be safe. Not that others won’t gossip-they will-but when they do, He will be our defense. 🙂

 

~excerpt from Susie Larson’s book The Uncommon Woman…this applies to men, too, though. 😉

Hurts and Disappointments aka Offenses

We all get offended at some point in our life. In fact, Jesus said it is impossible to NOT get offended in Luke 17:1
“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”.
Offenses usually happen when you see, hear, or experience a behavior that is so different from what you expected that it causes shock and/or disappointment. We all have been on the receiving end of offenses and most likely, the source of offenses, whether intentionally or not. Many times our offenses are just a misunderstanding or something that we’ve dreamed up in our mind of what ‘probably’ occurred.

I’ve experienced many offenses throughout my life and have been the source of a few to which I was horribly astonished and apologized profusely. Three years ago a friendship was restored after many years of holding on to offenses each of us weren’t willing to let go and have an honest conversation about. I still thank God every day for redeeming our relationship! Just recently, I was offended at a long-time friend’s decision to make a change in her family’s life, where it seemed to me that my counsel or input was unimportant or insignificant. I cried out to God, “Here we go again, Lord. How many times do I have to go through this? I’m so tired of letting those close to me, hurt me.” And I even questioned the Almighty God, “Is it all worth it?” Immediately, without hesitation, He answered, “Pam, do YOU think I am worth it? Do you think a life with some disappointments and hurt is worth spending eternity with Me? Remember, I did not promise you a life full of sunshine, puppies, kittens and all things that make you happy. Let me help you get through this…again.”

I don’t know why we keep letting others offend us. After all, it is up to US, right? After it happens, we say, “Ok, that is the last time I ever let someone hurt me.” We try so hard to develop thick skin and let the offenses roll off our back. The truth is, we are human, and as humans, we have emotions, we get hurt, and other humans disappoint us. Our response to these feelings is so critical in our walk as followers of Christ. I do not have it all figured out, and believe me, I’m still a work in progress after almost 30 years of following Christ. Through this last offense, I have learned that we must strive to communicate positive messages to one another and about others. Second, we must do everything in our power to bring healing and restoration when these offenses occur. Third, we must bury the offense and make it our goal to obtain peace.

And so, after spending some alone time in serious conversation with my Savior, He restored my soul, healed my broken heart, and gave me peace that was so incomprehensible that when I woke up the next morning, my offense seemed insignificant. I do not know if what I imagined happened, actually really happened. If I find out what I imagined, did truly happen, I know this person well enough to know that it was not intentional and she never meant to hurt me and I must let it go.

I never want to stop learning and growing in my walk with Christ. It’s the heartbeat of who I am and everything I aspire to be…which is more and more like Him. ☺

Guarding Our Heart with Eyes Wide Open

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

 

Our heart determines where we go because it controls our passions and emotions. If we don’t guard our heart with God’s Word and stay focused on the road God wants us to travel, temptations may overcome us.

 

Ephesians 3:17 “Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

 

1 John 5:21 “Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”

 

We should remember to keep God at the center of our heart to prevent anything else from controlling it. Let’s be diligent to call on Him, to study His Word, to praise Him, to serve Him, and to love Him with our whole heart.  He deserves better than our leftovers.

 

Proverbs 23:19 “Listen and be wise. Keep your heart on the right course.”

 

As Christ followers, we must be alert to everything that is happening around us.  We must have God-vision to see the darts the devil throws at us to trip us up.  Don’t be blind-sided.  We have the full-armor of God to protect us and guard our heart.  If we use the armor wisely, we cannot be defeated! Stand firm; stay strong with eyes wide open.

 

A Quest to Save Childhood

I do not believe there is a loving parent out there who does not want their children to have good things in life.  As much as we want that for them, lavishing them with too many of those good things can be compared to letting them gorge on sweetsdamaging their health, hindering their appetite for wholesome things, and leading to a hunger for risky, harmful ones.

As loving parents, we must set healthy limits in all areas of our children’s lives by creating appropriate stages and boundaries. 

For example:

·      Put age limits on behaviors that rush our children out of childhood, like

1.             wearing makeup

2.             having a cell phone

3.             having a Facebook page

4.             playing certain video games

5.             watching certain TV programs or movies

6.             dating

7.             getting a job

I do not know what those ages are for your children, but my husband and I have an idea what those ages are for our children.  You know your children best and as you train them up, you know what they can handle or not handle at that particular stage in their life; however, we simply cannot push them into those stages too early in their life. When we delay these activities until an appropriate age, we get to ‘celebrate’ them as rites of passage toward a healthy adulthood.

We give our children something to look forward to when we are intentional about setting up these stages and boundaries. We teach them that it’s OK to wait for something. The world is shouting at them, “You can have it all now. You don’t need to wait! Go for it!” As parents though, we know that instant gratification often leads to long-term problems like massive debt, destroyed relationships and wounded emotions.

Our children are a blessing from God. Let’s give them our time; lots of time, and let’s steward that time into helping them make good, long-term, healthy choices now. Maturity is a process and is not something that happens automatically when they turn 18.

 

* Some excerpts taken from Focus on the Family website.

The Peace of God

Rick Renner, author of Sparkling Gems from the Greek, expounds on this popular verse with such fervor and clarity: 

         Philippians 4:7 ”And the peace of God – a peace so wonderful that it cannot be compared to any other type of peace; a peace that stands in a category by itself and rises far above and goes beyond anything the human mind could ever think, reason, imagine, or produce by itself –will stand at the entrance of your heart and mind, working like a guard to control, monitor, and screen everything that tries to access your mind, heart and emotions.”

The devil is great about bringing up old news, right? Unpleasant stories, past regrets, or failures can often cloud our mind to where we no longer look ahead with hope and expectation of a better tomorrow, much less a better future.  He is very crafty at knowing exactly what will set us off and send us into fear and isolation. 

As a child of God, we can refuse to allow the devil to cause panic and anxiety in us. We can refuse to allow the devil to push our buttons.  When the peace of God is standing guard at the entrance of our heart and mind, the devil has lost his access to our thought life and our emotions!

This peace of God cannot be understood within ourselves; however, in my own simple mind when I think of the word peace, I see a vast ocean with subtle waves; I see a content, precious baby in the arms of his mom or dad; I see a grateful parent praying over their beloved child at bedtime; and I see a loving God holding his hand out to His beautiful creation – you and me.  So, you see, when I dwell on those thoughts instead of allowing my mind be filled with fear, or guilt, or hate, or regret; the peace of God, which is far greater and more spectacular than I imagine in my simple mind, transforms my mind to His thoughts – love, forgiveness, and hope.

Nothing compares to this powerful, protective, guarding peace that God has positioned to stand at the entrance of our heart and mind. When this peace operates in us, it dominates our life. Peace rises up and disables the devil’s ability to disturb us by preventing his attacks from creeping into our mind; therefore, destroying it from our thoughts and emotions.

Yes! Our God loves us that much and so much more to give us a peace that surpasses all understanding!

Your Perception of You

I wrote this note back in October 2009 and felt that I should re-post it to my blog site. I hope you, too, find a new perception of yourself.

Do you say horrible things about yourself? Do you speak well of yourself or are you hyper-critical of your appearance, your weight, your intelligence, your talents, your skills, and every other aspect of who you are as a person?

I’m a huge fan of Rick Renner and his book Sparkling Gems from the Greek. He states in one of his enlightening devotions that he used to be so hyper-critical of himself that once the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “How dare you continually talk so badly about yourself after the good work I’ve done inside you. Don’t you know how marvelously I created you to be in Jesus Christ? Quit speaking so negatively of yourself, and start acknowledging every good thing that is in you.”

Most people don’t even realize how negatively they talk about themselves. When the Holy Spirit brings it to your attention, you’ll find out just how bad it is and how often you do it. Our own mouth can become our greatest enemy!

That’s what happened to me back in September of 2006. I went on a personal HeartQuest with 15 other ladies and a leadership team from TX. During my 6 day quest, I found out a lot about myself that I didn’t even know was there. The Lord spoke to me so profoundly and directly about this one issue. He brought to my attention the negative things I would think about myself and even sometimes say to close friends. After that revelation, He assured me that I was created in His image and He has never created a ‘mistake’. His creations are intentional and for a purpose. I have purpose and He has deposited good things in me. With His help I have grown by leaps and bounds and will continue to walk in that purpose for the rest of my life.

In Philemon 1:6 Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” So, even though God has done great things in us, it is up to us to activate His blessings in our life! The word ‘effectual’ is the Greek word energo. It’s where we get the word energy. In this verse, the word energo means to become energized or activated. So Paul’s words could be translated as “That the communication of your faith may become energized and activated…”

So let’s apply this to ourselves. Paul said that “every good thing” has been placed in you by Jesus Christ. Think about it – He saved you, He healed you, He redeemed you, He protected you, He has given you a sound mind, He has given you the mind of Christ, He has imparted gifts and talents to you, and He has planned a future for your life that is simply glorious! You are loaded with phenomenal potential that is just waiting to be activated!

Renner compares this to a car filled with gasoline but won’t go anywhere until we get in and turn the key and push the gas pedal. You may ‘feel’ like you’re worthless, you’re defeated, you have nothing to offer; but remember that you have potential, though you can’t see it until you ‘activate’ it.

So how do we ‘turn the key in the ignition’ so that the great work God has done inside us is activated and released? Paul said, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” The word “acknowledging” is the answer to the question. The Greek word is epignosis which describes a well-instructed, intensive, deep knowledge of the facts. No one becomes this knowledgeable accidentally. It requires study, meditation, digging deep into truth and applying oneself to know the facts inside and out. The result of this hard work is a thorough knowledge of the facts that a person has a strong confidence in what he/she says.

We are to confess the truth about ourselves, but before we can do that, we must know the truth. We must possess:

•A knowledge of exactly who we are in Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of what Jesus has purchased in our redemption.
•A knowledge of every good thing that God has placed in us by Jesus Christ.
•A knowledge of all these truths that is so concrete and so unshakable that we are immovable in what we think and believe.

The truth in our life is no good unless it is spoken. The moment we open our mouth and start confessing the good things that are in us by Jesus Christ, a supernatural connection is made between our faith and all that Jesus has deposited in us. At that moment, the gifts and treasures God has placed in us become supernaturally activated. The confession by our mouth – our acknowledgement of the truth – is what sparks these spiritual blessings and causes them to become operative, activated, and manifested realities.

Let’s review how to make these truths real in our life:
1.Thoroughly know the truths through diligent study.
2.Put the key in the ignition switch.
The key is the Word of God
The ignition is our mouth
3.Turn the ignition by opening our mouth and speaking the truth.
Good things in us are activated the moment we start confessing the truth.

The recognition of these spiritual treasures that reside within you will pick you up, lift you high, and carry you over into the realm of victory you desire!

Now…take another look in the mirror and speak out/confess all of the good things that are in you by Jesus Christ. Let’s live victoriously!!

(Excerpts taken from Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems from the Greek)

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