“[Do] you believe that God likes you, is fond of you? What if I were to say that when you walk into a room, God gets excited to see you? As you draw closer to Him, His heart skips a beat. He is so eager to talk with you that He can hardly wait for you to speak with Him. And if you decide to snub Him and simply walk past, His face falls in disappointment.”
The quote from Rob Hensser above changed my life. It changed the entire perspective of my relationship with God. Up to that point I only saw my side of the relationship, my perceived obligation to show up to church, read the Bible and do some daily devotions. This quote helped me to understand how God sees me and that He is pursuing me. He loves me more than I can ever comprehend. For Him it has never been an obligation, but simply a desire to consistently and diligently be devoted to me because I am His beloved. You are His beloved! Say it to yourself right now, “I am His beloved. I am the beloved of God.” Shout it out loud if you need to. Scream it if you need to. Say it to yourself 40 times if you need to. Just let that message sink deep into your soul. God wants a relationship with you. What are you gonna do about that?
I recommend setting aside time for God. I was once told that I should give God 24 hours of focused solitude every month. Maybe you need to break this up day by day, maybe you just need to go off to a quiet place just you and God and peace for a few hours every week, or even better take a day or two to a quiet secluded retreat or nice hotel and connect with the Almighty. Your relationship with Him can only grow if you give Him time. Don’t walk by Him. Stop and talk to God.
The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values.
Throughout my years of elementary, middle and then high school, I learned a lot of facts. My brain was overloaded with all sorts of mathematical equations, periodic table information, dates and times of all sorts of historical events and so much more. But, most of those have long since evaporated from my mind, the things that have lingered are things that touched me more deeply. Things like my friendships, or my love of learning, or the experiences I had laughing and crying. What was of value to me is what has remained with me so many years later. That is not to say that it wasn’t important to go through all those educational aspects, I needed to learn those facts and figures. And some of them do apply to my life today. Yet, the stuff that I hold dear are not the things that I necessarily learned from a textbook, but instead are the things I learned from the people around me and the opportunities afforded me.
There is no more important lesson that I have learned, through experience and living life, than to love God. I did not learn that from a textbook and I didn’t learn it from sitting in a classroom, I learned it from my family, my friends, my experiences, my circumstances and my heart. The Bible says, “So be warned, my child, of anything else that might be said! There is no end to writing books, and excessive study only exhausts the body. And, when all is said and done, here is the last word: worship in reverence the one True God, and keep His commands, for this is what God expects of every person.” Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 (VOICE) This is where we learn our values, by worshiping God and following His commands.
If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.
In this passage, Isaiah is trying to explain to the king the need to stand strong. At that time Israel was being bombarded on several sides, enemies surrounding them, and Isaiah was trying to explain that their faith in God would lead them through the troubling times. It’s a good reminder to us, we all have troubling times.
I look back on 2018 so far and call it the Year of Crap and Upheaval. I feel like the ground underneath me is constantly shifting, the number of attacks on my spiritual, mental and other aspects of life have been substantial. Just since December, so much of my life has changed. If fact, there is very little that is similar. I live in the same house and I work at the same place, although in a completely new position. Even something as insignificant as a change in my vehicle has upset me because it is just another thing to add to the growing list. It's not so much what has been shifting and changing, but that there has been so much. I'm still standing. It is faith that has brought me this far without collapsing under the weight of the stress. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of tears--a lot--and moments of deep depression, as well as other signs of the stress on me mentally, spiritually and physically. My walk with God has remained consistent. A good part of that has been getting to write and reflect on God in these messages. It has forced me to give Him more of my concentration, my time and serious thought. This is only one of many ways that my walk with God holds strong. I must stand firm in my faith, as the scripture says, or I will succumb to the stress and the upheaval and no longer be standing at all.
How do you keep your walk with God strong? Or, more specifically, how is He keeping that walk strong? And are you responding to those invitations that He brings into your life? How often do you speak with God? When was the last time you had communion between just you and Jesus? Do you ever simply sit in the presence of the Holy Spirit and let Him fill you? These are only a few of many ways our relationship with God builds and strengthens and becomes a foundation. Don’t put a whole lot of pressure on yourself, simply take a little time to reflect and let God speak into your life on this subject or whatever is weighing on your heart today. How do you learn to stand firm in faith? By building that foundation with time. Give Him your time.
🎶And turn your eyes upon Jesus
I started noticing a pattern. There are certain words that pop up in most of my messages. I don’t know why, well yes I do...it’s because that is the central message of the Bible. What is that message? Turn to Jesus. Our hope, our joy, our peace all come from Him. Focus on Jesus. Talk to God. The central message of the Bible, the essential purpose of our life is to have a relationship with the Almighty. Considering the fact that it is literally what we are meant to do in this life — it is why we were created — it’s amazing to me how difficult it actually is to live out.
I’m a living, walking, talking testament to that fact. I allow this world to influence me way too often, practically on a moment to moment basis. A 17th century monk named Brother Lawrence wrote about his experience communing with God. For 40 years he washed dishes and talked to God. His goal was to live in constant communication with God. It took time to create the habit of constantly having God at the forefront, making God his everything. Forty years!! He described it as, “a loving turning of his eyes toward God at all times.” That is just beautiful. Some people would say impractical. They need to focus on paying bills and going to work and driving the car, whatever it is that is going on in their lives. But God wants all of us, every moment. I am sitting here on my vacation doing some reading and watching TV...just relaxing, and God wants to be a part of this time. He wants to sit here while I watch TV and hang out with me. He wants to read the book with me. He wants to drive in the car and sing at the top of our lungs to the radio together. He wants to do data entry or talk to customers with me. He wants everything of me. For some selfish reason, I’m sure, I only actually give Him little parts of me, just the quiet moments, just the times I feel like I want to focus on God. How disrespectful can I possibly be? How utterly clueless am I to not see the truth right in front of me? He wants all of me because He loves all of me! One more time Melody: He wants all of me because He loves all of me. I section off pieces of me for my own goals or my own needs for control or to keep distractions around so I don’t have to give up everything. That is not me loving me. He gave up everything for me. Jesus took all of my pain, all of my shame, all of my sins and He bore them so I wouldn’t have to. Why can’t I give Him me? I keep writing these messages about turning to Jesus, focusing on God and finding joy in the Lord because I need that message. Every single day and every single moment I need that message repeated until it finally and truly sinks in and I make Him my all.
What do you do to keep Jesus in your heart? How can you bring Him in to all the aspects of your life? Do you talk to Him when you’re cooking? Do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when you’re playing games with your family? Do you laugh with God when you see a funny meme on Facebook? How can you make these moments happen? Invite Him into your everyday moments by turning your eyes upon Jesus.