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Thursday, May 23, 2013

God Is Here

Exodus 33:14  "And [God] said, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'"

Moses was leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. By the time they reached the 33rd chapter of Exodus, I think Moses might have wanted to take them back to Egypt. They were a bunch of complaining, idolatrous, ungrateful people that God labeled "stiff-necked". What nerve! Look how blessed they were. Released from slavery. Going to the land of milk and honey. God personally leading them with a visible sign by day and night. I would never do such a thing....and, yet...

How blessed I am everyday. I have been released from spiritual captivity. I am going to a Promised Land greater than the one ever offered to the Israelites. I live in the Land of the Free that all of the world wants to come to, now. I have milk and honey... and meat and potatoes... and a supermarket full of goodness. And I complain. And I am ungrateful. And, yes, I suspect I am even fairly idolatrous at times. I can be so "stiff necked' sometimes, that it literally makes my neck stiff. What nerve!

Moses had to be stressed out. And then God told him to take the people and go, but God wouldn't go with them. I guess He had just had it. But Moses knew what we need to learn. He could handle the stress and deal with the difficult people around him, if only God would go with him. 

He didn't pray for God to punish the people. He prayed for God to forgive them. He didn't ask for riches or material blessings from God. He didn't ask for comfort. He asked for His presence.

At the end of chapter 33, Moses prayed again. He didn't just want to know God's presence. Verse 18 says "Moses said, 'PLEASE show me Your glory.'" And God said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD'." Can you even stand it?

I am on a journey through this life. I will go through seasons. Some will be good and others difficult. Through them all, I want God's presence to go with me. I want God to show me His glory. I want to see His goodness. 

Throughout life, there are times when we overwhelmingly sense God's presence. A wonderful worship service, a moment in nature, milestones like weddings, births, even deaths. But God wants to show us His glory everyday. His presence "never leaves us or forsakes us". What about the ray of sunshine that breaks through the clouds after the rain? The unexpected rainbow? That first time your new grandchild smiles at you? What about the moment we are so hurt it is painful? When we are wound so tight we might break if someone says one. more. word. We have to be aware and watchful. That still, small voice whispers to us constantly, "I am here. I've got you." 

When I am stiff necked from stress, I need to seek Him. I need to rest in His presence. I need to look for His glory all around me - because it is there. 

There is a song by Martha Munizzi and Israel and Maleesa Houghton called "God Is Here". It goes like this:
"There is a sweet anointing in this sanctuary. There is a stillness in the atmosphere. O, come lay down the burdens you have carried, for in this sanctuary, God Is Here."
I am the sanctuary (1 Cor 3:16). Am I still? Have I laid my burdens down? (1 Pet 5:7) Do I feel His presence in MY sanctuary? He is Immanuel...God With Us. He is here. His presence goes with me and He will give me rest.

It's a long song, but worth the watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S27luprE2a8



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Live a Peaceful Life

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for EVERYONE - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants ALL men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  1 Timothy 2:1-4

At 2:40pm, on April 15 of this year, two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon killing several and inflicting catastrophic injury on others. In the hours that followed we learned that two brothers were responsible - Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev. 

At our church, the choir sings a song called 'There's Power in the Name of Jesus'. We were rehearsing it shortly after the bombing and something caught me in the words this time. They go something like this:

"A mother barely twenty out there on her own,
A teenage boy in prison, before he's even grown." 

A teenage boy. In prison. A BOY. Nineteen years old. His face is as familiar to us all now as the faces of our own family. The teenager we love to hate... The media and our legal system will tell us that he is an adult and will be tried as such. But any mother who has ever raised a son will tell you...at nineteen, he is still a boy.

Whether he had died from his injuries or whether he is executed for his crime, his life is over. At nineteen. His brother has already entered eternity with a lost soul. 

Shortly after his capture and arrest, someone asked me how, as a nurse, I would feel about taking care of Dzokhar in the hospital. I admitted it would be difficult but, as a Christian, I hoped that I would be able to demonstrate a measure of compassion. Because here is the kicker: Jesus died for Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, too. He desires that Dzokhar not perish. He is included in the ALL of 1 Timothy 2:4.

When we see and hear of these horrible events, whether they happen on our soil or across the world, we pray for the victims without a second thought. But what about the perpetrators? Who prays for them? Who asks Jesus to change them? 

Paul tells us to pray for EVERYONE. Why? So that we might live peaceful and quiet lives. The answer to violence in our world or acts of terrorism is not tighter security, stricter immigration policies, or a peace treaty. The answer to the lack of peace in this world is the Prince of Peace - Jesus Christ. Only when He enters in will peaceful and quiet lives be found.

The song goes on:
"A nation needing mercy, fighting for her life"        Oh, yes, we are.
"A church that needs revival...."                           Oh, yes, we do.

"BUT in the name of Jesus those chains of bondage fall.
Prayers are heard and answered when God's children call.
There's power in the name of Jesus..."                  Oh, yes, there is!

"There is hope, there is strength, and victory to claim"   Hallelujah!
"There is healing....."                                            Heal us, Lord.

There is victory in the name of Jesus - and healing - and we can know it because He that is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We cannot live in fear. WE HAVE THE POWER. The power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20) The power of His Name is in those of us who are called by His Name and we exercise it when we pray. 

Pray for the Dzokhars of the world. Pray for those in authority. Pray for your neighbors. Exercise your power. Live peacefully.

Click the link to hear the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK0KQgMLfHE