Jesus, My Advocate

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Why Christmas?

During this Christmas season it is hard not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle the season can bring, but I should stop and remember why I celebrate this season.  Jesus Christ came to earth as a gift from our Father to save us from myself.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.  Jesus became our advocate.  I am remembering this precious gift this week because sometimes smooth road become bumpy and rough.  Sometimes we just need someone to have our back, and this Christmas season reminds me not just of the gift God gave me, but of the friend who has walked in my footsteps so he could understand and advocate for me before God.

My Advocate

Having Christ as my advocate brings peace and comfort to my life in times of confusion that this world brings.  His advocacy also bring joy and love to my life when the road is smooth and life seems easy.  Either way he is teaching me his truths and loving me with grace in order to show me himself in my life.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14.  As I walked through a week of struggles in this Christmas season, I know that Jesus is my advocate and the advocate for my family.  He is teaching and loving me through the ups and downs, so that I might show his love and mercy through my life.  He is standing before God for me.  “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,”  Matthew 10:32

Advocate for Christ

As I move through this Christmas season remembering how Christ has stood by my side, may I advocate for him with others.  I pray that I can stand for him as he stand for me.  May my life be a light, a model, and a source of comfort to those around me.  May I provide for others a way to know Jesus and all things that he has provided for me as my advocate.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.

Closing Verse: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, ”  Isaiah 9:6

Challenge: This is a time to stop and remember why we celebrate Christmas and celebrate Jesus our Advocate.

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy and let the stress of the weeks that lead up that wonderful day that is gone so quickly.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past.  Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is engaging to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One I wish I had thought of is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him anywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! …”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Christmas Lights

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Christmas Lights

The tree is up and the lights are beginning to glisten and shine on homes around the neighborhood.  Homes and business are beginning to show signs of Christmas with lights abundantly shining.  There have been times in my past where this time of year would bring anxiety to my life, as my to do list just seemed to grow and I had no idea what to buy or give as gifts.  A few weeks ago when God first touched me with the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle​​​​​​​I was sitting at a stop light and reading a church sign on the corner.  It seems funny to me that I can’t remember what the sign said because I love church signs, but only the feeling that this would be a season of enjoying and not worrying.  Maybe it was the darkness full of lights around me as I was driving, that made me think of Christmas and the coming season of lights, but I felt an exciting for the coming Christmas season, excitement, and the lights.  The lights were going to be important this year. I stop and enjoy each new one home that lights up.  I become mesmerized in the beauty of the lights which are reminding me this year of Jesus and his words in John 14:6, “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Star

I love the Moravian star.  If I had one I would probably leave it up year round, so this time of year I get to see the star again.  Have you stopped to really look at one and see all the crosses that come together to create this star?   I imagine this is the unusual star in the heavens above the manager.  Matthew 2: 9-10 shares the joy of the wise men when they found Jesus, “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  As I enjoy the stars of Christmas, I realize that the stars we admire in the heavens are creation of God.  Psalms 147:4 reads, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.”  Each star including the one that rose over Jesus’s birth is named by God, the Creator.

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Christmas Season

Let’s all slow down this Christmas season and enjoy the lights of Christmas, find God’s peace, and His blessings in the lights.  Let go of the chaos this time of year can bring and stop and enjoy what is important.  Stop and remember that God brought his only Son as baby to walk in our footsteps without sin.  Jesus knows us and understands our walk.  Stop and walk with him through this season.  I know peace will be found and will be infinitely better than the hustle and bustle.  For as John 1:5 reminds us all, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Closing Verse:  Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Challenge:  Stop and Walk with Jesus through the Christmas Season.

Trust In You

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Trust In You by Lauren Daigle

Another song is lingering on my heart this week that I really feel lead to share.  This one speaks deeply to me, and I realize that what I want and wish for in my life is not what God may want for my life.  I sometimes feel I am drowning.  Life is both good and conflicting all at the same time.  I try to stop and listen to God but I am unsure what He is saying to me these days.  Each day is a different message, but I know somewhere in there is my own confusion, distracting me from God’s will.

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wondering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior King of the fight
No matter what I face You’re by my side

Then I heard this song.  The words speak to me as we enter this holiday season and the end of another year.  I know that I must lay my life and dreams at His feet.  I am weary from life and I need Him by my side as I continue the fight!  I am David before Goliath.  May my faith in God be strong as I use God’s strength to push forward.  “Then David said to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…” 1 Samuel 17:45.

Truth is You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

I rest in the arms of the Lord and the knowledge that he has counted my days before my days even existed.  “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 16.  I place my trust in him that I can conquer all that he has planned and that his dreams become mine and I will walk in his grace and strength just as Ephesians 6:10 promises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

(chorus)
When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust
I will trust in You
I will trust in You

I sing these words and I know that I must trust as Jeremiah 17:7 reads, ““Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”  I will find my blessings by walking and trusting in the Lord.  The God I know can move mountains from Matthew 17:20, “He said to them, Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  He may choose not to move the mountain or part the sea I want moved or parted.  This realization is sometimes hard to understand but walking his path I know I will find His blessings.

(bridge)
You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

On this Thanksgiving morning as I write and realize how thankful I am for all that God has provided and blessed my life with – may I remember that He is my Rock.  Psalms 95:1 says, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”  May I remember to sing and rejoice in this song that God is my Rock each and everyday.  I find my strength from my Rock and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”, Philippians 4:13.

Closing Verse: “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”  Exodus 15:2

Challenge:    During this holiday season may we find our path and strength from our Rock and sing a song of praise for all God has done.

Publishing: © 2014 CentricSongs (SESAC) / Sony/ATV Timber Publishing (SESAC) / Word Music & Pocket Full of Rocks Publishing (ASCAP)

Writer(s): Words and Music by Lauren Daigle, Paul Mabury and Michael Farren

 

 

Even If…

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Sometimes God really amazes me.  This week it was through music.  Driving to work I heard the song, Even If by MercyMe.  It was a  moment in my week that struck a chord with where I was at that moment in my life.  I needed God.  He might not give me what I thought I wanted, but I knew he would give me what he purposed for me.  Jeremiah 29:11 is this reminder, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Even If

Hey say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now
Right now I’m losing bad

I realized that I am losing control of my life.  I feel it spiraling out of control.  Sometimes I feel like I just can not stop it.  Luke 1:37 reveals, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” The brakes are broken and it is all moving too fast.  Then I stop and pray because that is the only way I can find the brakes because nothing is impossible with God.

I’ve stood on this stage
Night after night
Reminding the broken
It’ll be alright
But right now
Oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now

Sometimes the flames feel like they are swallowing me up.  Sometimes I feel lost in the fire.  Romans 3:23 reads, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  and the flames of life remind me of my sins and I fall on my knees to beg for forgiveness to find relief and love from the flames in God’s arms.

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

The flames of life are sometimes hard to bear.  I pray for God to move in my life and quench the flames, and I must accept how He choses to move in my life.  My hope is in the Lord.  Psalm 31:24, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Good thing
A little faith is all I have right now

But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength
To be able to sing                                                                                                                                  It is well with my soul

I strive to be strong and find peace even in the flames.  I know that I love a God who can perform any miracle.  Yes, he can move mountains – “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 – or he may not.  Either way I will take my little faith and in him find the faith I need to walk through the flames. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

I know the sorrow
I know the hurt
Would all go away
If You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12.  I will live by faith, rejoice in hope, patiently walk through the flames, and bend my knees to pray that may God’s Will be done.

You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

It is well with my soul

I will cling to the cross as 1 Corinthians 1:18 reveals, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  I will be faithful in my walk no matter the outcomes.  I will seek peace in my soul. “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3.

Closing Verse:  “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22

Challenge:  When you walk through the valley of flames find your faith and hope through prayer and know that God is preparing your future in his own time.

Living in the Fog

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The Fog

Do you ever feel like you are walking through a fog in life?  You just are not living clearly day to day and things just seem blurry.  This has been the week that I have just walked through.  After the the struggles over the past two weeks, this week was to be the beginning of normal again, but then again that is not always how God works in our lives.  One moment of happiness and a sigh of relief and in the next moment chaos and the unknown.  Yet, God was there.

Blessed Struggles

Working through the good and the bad and finding the moments to stop and cherish have been important over the past few weeks in my life.  Although, God knows my struggles he continues to bless me because I know that others are struggling with more than I could bare at this moment and for that I thankful for his grace and mercy.

Searching for Answers

As I walk through the fog, I stop to wonder what I am to learn from this moment from God.  What is he teaching me in this moment?  So I search scripture for answers and once again I am driven back to a favorite reliable verse.  Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  God is in the fog, knows the fog, and will use the fog for good.  Now, I feel the fog lifting and know that God is here and working through all the struggles.

Closing Verse:  Romans 12:9  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

Challenge:  Seek His Word when you find yourself in the Fog.

DARE

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“Dare to live without answers because God gives His hand.” – Author Unknown

I ran across this quote in our camper the other day.  A magnet that I am not sure I had really noticed or read closely before.  Honestly, I am not even sure where it came from, but sudden there it was before me with all its impact and strength.

Faith

Although I try to live by Faith as I shared in my last post,  something moved me when I read this quote.  Something about the word DARE.  Do I DARE to live without answers yet as God would have me live. 2 Corinthians 5:7 reads, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.’  Is my life an example to others around me?  Do others seek what they see in me that is different?  “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” reads   1 Timothy 4:12.    So many questions come to mind when I read this and so many verse prick my heart and cause me to stop and evaluate who I am and what my life and heart says to others.

Prayer

Where do I turn first, to prayer.  God has always called us into relationship with him through prayer. I pray for his guidance in my life, I pray for his hand in my life, and I pray that he shows me the path and life he has prepared for me.  I pray that evil does not interfere with that plan.  Matthew 21:22 reminds me to pray, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”.  I must dare to pray and have faith in God’s love for me to answer prayer by his will and not mine.

God’s Will

Living by God’s will and not my own is even harder,  Do I live for God or myself?  Do others see God or do I just show work for my own glory?  I know that I must seek God and His plan.  I know that only God can shine if I push myself back away and let His glory be what others see.  I know that I have to live by faith in order to live out his plan for my life.  Hebrews 11:6 promises this to me, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

God’s Likeness

I go and seek God and pray for his hand to direct my life in his will.  I pray that he will show me how to live my life to glorify him and not myself before others.  I pray for him to teach me to serve and not boast.  I pray for him to guard my tongue so it guides others and does not gossip about them. I pray to live for God and live by Christ’s example to me.  1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Closing Verse:  Ephesians 4:24 “And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Challenge:  Dare to live by God’s Will through Faith and not your own.

 

Faith

God’s Gift

I woke up this morning to this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”  When I read verses like this, I wonder how some can choose not to believe there is a God because I tend to see his purposeful movements in my life.  Just when I need him near to guide or protect me, he shows himself to me with a verse like this.

Leaning on Faith

I get in the car and drive the hour plus for my father’s surgery.  A surgery where I have to have faith in the doctors and surgical team to preform the tedious operation he needs.  Without my watchful eye to know that all is well, I have been given the gift of this verse.  This verse was what I needed to start my day.  This was his gentle reminder to me that he is in control and I must be strong in faith.

God is in Control

As I sit and wait and wait, my faith is tested.  As my mind wonders to what is happening and what is going on when I should have gotten an update and hour ago.  I have to take a deep breath and realize that my faith is being tested.  God is here and in control and that is what I need when things begin feeling out of control.  Proverbs 16:9, is just one verse that reminds us of how much control God has, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  No matter my plans or my thoughts, God is establishing the future and I must trust no matter what that he knows best.  As Romans 8: 28 firmly reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Good News

Jesus Christ brought the Good News into our lives so many years ago with his teachings and sacrifice for our sins.  John 1:14 reminds us that God sent his Son to walk among us and save us from ourselves, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”    The doctors have brought the good news that all is well and another step in a long journey has been taken toward healing and strength and God is good. Sometimes simple steps can be hard to take, but with God’s strength and guidance these necessary steps are easier with faith.

Closing Verse: “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17

Challenge: Find Christ and Find Your Faith.

 

Life’s Failures

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Moment In Time

That moment in time when I know something is wrong, something in my gut.   I can’t control what I feel, why am I feeling it.   I don’t feel like jealousy but is it jealousy.  I find myself on my knees begging for God to open my eyes and teach me.

Jealousy is an ugly beast that can raise its head every once in a while.   Why are we jealous of what other have, the lives others lead, the “things” that they have, the things that they do.  I am soul searching for whether it is jealousy or something deeper.  What am I missing from God?

Maybe it’s not…

Maybe it is not jealousy at all. Maybe at that moment I see something missing in myself.  Maybe I really am identifying my own shortcomings, but it is easier to thrust that painful knowledge somewhere else.  Maybe what appears as jealousy is really just looking closer at what I have failed to be or who I have failed to love.  I yearn for the words in Psalms 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  In a split moment I realize the pain of not caring for relationships.  Maybe the pain needs to be somewhere else all of a sudden to save me from the realization of my deeper failure as a person..

Failure and Pain

Maybe there is just too much pain.  Everything in life seems to be full of pain all of sudden.  It is overwhelming and the little things become areas to redirect and place this pain.  Maybe it is not jealousy at all maybe it is just a place for the pain because all of a sudden the pain of life and those people I have failed to love fully just all collide in one moment and what seems like jealousy that I  know should not be there is really just my failure to love, failure to hold, failure to be the person I  know I should be for those I love.

Maybe it is not an incident, person, or things but just that it represents so much failure in my life.  I believe that failure can be a learning moment, a challenge to move forward and even though at this moment it does not feel like I will move forward, I know that God will bless in this moment.  I know that he will bring the good from this moment.  He will make it better because I believe.

Learning From Failure

Learning from failure means realizing the pain that I have brought to others, the responsibility I have given others in my own suffering.  Suffering and loss that is not theirs to own or bear, but where I placed it because I could not carry it myself. Placing this on others is not where it should be placed but in the hands of my Father who wants to carry the burdens for me.  Matthew 11:28-30 lightens my heart, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Give him the burden and the pain and just love those fully that he has given as a gift.

Closing Verse:   “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Challenge:  Give your failures to the Lord and you will be forgiven.  Only he can truly wipe the tears away.

When God is Quiet

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Why is He Quiet?

Walking through this week, I God has been quiet.  I have struggled to listen for him, hear him, but he has remained silent.  I pray Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”  I know that he is near, but just now speaking to me right now.  I stop to pray and ask for his guidance, his blessing, for him to be near my family and I know that he is, but yet the question still remains – Why is he quiet?

Scripture Says…

Searching scripture not just for the Why but hear what he trying to tell me this week has left me curious and wondering.  Many times when God has been silent in scripture, he is allowing those he love to wallow in their sin of not putting him first.  Just as Isaiah 57: 11 reads, “Of whom were you worried and fearful When you lied, and did not remember Me Nor give Me a thought? Was I not silent even for a long time So you do not fear Me?”  Should I be concerned?  Maybe he is just silently holding me through this week.  Quietly showing me the way to walk this week.  Allowing me to find him in the “little things” where it has seemed so much pain might actually be.  Maybe he is loving me a different way this week.

Feeling His Quiet Love

That must be it!  In the midst of pain and darkness came a small victory.  Even though, I was seeking him – I know now that he was near.  He was allowing me to feel the pain, but preparing me for the small victories.  The little things that brought tears with more joy than sadness.   Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” is a verse that I celebrate this week.  I know his love was quiet but his quietness has brought rejoicing to my life.  

Closing Verse:  ” O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” Psalm 83:1

Challenge:  God we know that you will sometimes be quiet, but may we constantly seek you to know even at those times you are working in our lives.  My prayer is that God is not silent or still in your life.