Peace in His Presence

I shared the following devotional on the e-group we have associated with my church today, for our daily prayer prompt.  I loved this devotional from the moment I first read it, because in my personal life I’m always trying to figure out what God wants me to do, and seldom do I feel comfortable waiting on His answers.  

The following is taken from the devotional, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young.

JCllg

The words of this devotional address Sarah’s sense of what Jesus spoke to her spirit in her prayer and meditation time with Him. Sarah’s intimate style is another way to process the wisdom that comes from Scripture (Scripture references are provided with every entry in her book and I have included those that go along with this devotional, below).

This entry in Sarah’s book was particularly meaningful to me; I hope it blesses you today, as well.  Enjoy!

“When I give you no special guidance, stay where you are.  Concentrate on doing your everyday tasks in awareness of My Presence with you.  The Joy of My Presence will shine on you, as you do everything for Me.  Thus, you invite Me into every aspect of your life. Through collaborating with me in all things, you allow My Life to merge with yours. This is the secret of not only joyful living but of victorious living. I designed you to depend on Me moment by moment, recognizing that apart from Me you can do nothing. 

Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My Face. Although this is an invisible transaction, it speaks volumes in spiritual realms.  Moreover, you are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day.”

Colossians 3:23
John 15:5
Psalm 105:4

Blessings, Lori

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

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Most People Are Good

One line or verse or song can change everything in your life.  Don’t believe me, listen to these one-liners:

“I’m sorry, but we’ve chosen another candidate for the job.”

“No, you cannot use the car!”

“Oh, honey, we don’t have time for that.”

“I hate you, that’s why!”

“I’d choose you again, every time!!”

That last one I say to my husband all the time.  It never fails to make him feel better about us, about him, or about the world in general.  It tells him instantly that I appreciate him and I’m on his side–no small thing in this divisive world, I assure you.  I really would choose him again, too. He’s a great guy, and the perfect chill to my drama.

I started this post the way I did because this past weekend we watched fifteen minutes of the ACM awards.  Stay with me, I promise this will come together in the by and by.  Usually, we don’t watch award shows in our house.  Most of them are boring and when the presenters or winners go off on political tangents, certain individuals in our home take offense. I won’t name names, but I will say it’s not worth it!

luke

Anyway, one of the songs we heard during those few moments we tuned in to the show Sunday night was sung by Luke Bryan. You’ve probably heard it by now: Most People are Good.  Sweet song, and I’d love to share it with all my friends, highlighting it on my Instagram account…tagging it on Facebook, but I just can’t.

I’d like to promote this song and say I love it, but one line ruins my enthusiasm for doing that.

“I believe you love who you love, ain’t nothin’ you should ever be ashamed of…”

Oh, Luke, that sounds a little too open for me. I think you’re supporting alternative lifestyles with those lyrics, buddy, which makes me want to ask you a question or two.  Is this open acceptance of love really something you espouse in your own life?

For instance, do you really feel that…

If your buddy wanted to love on your wife, you’d be okay with that?
If your buddy wanted to love on your mom, would you be okay with that?
If your buddy wanted to love on your baby daughter…again, would you be okay with that?
And finally, if your buddy wanted to love on your grandma (cuz freaky-deakies need love too, right?), would you be okay with that, Luke?

Some folks will say I’m narrow minded, or silly, or hateful when they read this.  They’ll be tempted to think I don’t understand.  They’ll think I hate people who live alternate lifestyles.  They’ll call me bigot. In defense of myself, I will say none of that is true.

Others will say I’m making too big a thing out of fifteen lil’ words, but as I’ve already proven to you, I can punch you in the face and make you bloody in your soul using far fewer words than that.

Maybe it’s time I said that doing whatever you like is not okay with me!

I believe in absolute truth, and standards, and morals, and limits on your lovin’.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think Luke Bryan is a bad guy, and I don’t think his song is terrible or that singing it is going to ruin him for eternity, but I also don’t think he’s okay with anybody loving anybody in any way they want.

I’m not sure whether he sees the hypocrisy of this piece of his life, or whether his song has the potential to teach lies to the next generation?  I’ll let you decide that for yourself. What I will say is that I think Luke is probably pretty protective of his wife, his mom, his daughter, and his gramma.  I think he does have standards, but I think he thinks it’s no big deal, what this song has to say.  I disagree.  It is a big deal. People are listening to these lyrics again and again, and again…day in and day out.  They’re filling their souls with the message Luke is sending out over the airwaves.

Here’s my message…my truth:

Relativism is a joke and a lie.
Everything is not permissible!
Everything is not beneficial.

For me, that one line in Luke’s song says it’s okay to defy God.  It’s not okay with me!

“…if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 NIV

Do you like award shows?  When have you stood up to say “That’s not okay with me.”  

 

 

I am Bankrupt without Love

1 Corinthians 13:3,4 MSG

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly being challenged when it comes to love:

Am I giving enough?
Am I sharing enough?
Am I pointed in the right direction often enough…Spying out the ones who really need it most?
Am I making sure my love meets their needs more than my own?

Am I making allowances for differences?
Am I being patient in my love?
Am I looking for something in return, or giving freely?
Am I going back to Papa God again and again, and again to refill after I’ve poured out love to others?

Am I being all God asks me to be, a good example of His Son, in all I do and how I love?

It’s a tall order to fill, but Grace makes it possible!

Today think: how deep, wide, long, and high would you say your love is for others?

My pastor mentioned that nasty word again recently: CHANGE! One area where we can always make needed improvements is the area of service to others and the way we love. Let’s make sure we’re on-point with the Master on this one today, because to miss here means we miss everywhere.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

What is your biggest challenge regarding love?  Where do you see areas needing improvement?

Tempted to Doubt

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 

Doubt you doubts before you doubt your faith.  Dieter F Uchtdorf

Young slim woman and chaos in mind

My name may not be Thomas, but honestly, there are days when I’m sure we were cut from the same cloth.

I share the disciple’s skepticism.

I want to be sure.

My need for surety gets in the way of my faith sometimes.

Truth!

Hoping, trusting, waiting…all those uncertain virtues I’m asked to practice—yeah, they make me crazy. I feel much more powerful when I can know, deal, confirm, be sure!

God wants to be our power, our provision and our protector, but our spirits within war against him.

Why do we struggle with doubts?

Why do we want to be sure?

Why do we need the counsel of the Holy Spirit to remind us again and again, and yet again, that Jesus has this—that with Him in charge everything is going to be okay?

The quick answer: There is a spiritual battle waging every minute of every day, and our adversary is doing everything he can to fill us with doubt and pull us away from complete trust in Christ.

We cannot allow that to happen!

Today, we need to fight back against the doubts.  Doubt them, and not our Jesus.  We need to understand our tempter is our source for doubt.

Like the old song says:

Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
That overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

Have you ever thought to doubt your doubts?  What one doubt can you mark “return to sender” today?

Shed Musings

storage shed

Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall in front of his storage shed.  

I had to smile when I read what the Message translation of the Bible had to say about Meshullam, son of Berekiah, and his work to rebuild the wall in front of his storage shed (Nehemiah 3:30 MSG).     

I envisioned this rickety, half burned-out shed that was leaning against a charred wall with its own scars visible and sitting alongside a torn down and trampled piece of Jerusalem rock wall property.  For some reason it seemed funny to me.  Maybe its the thought of what my husband would do in similar circumstances that got me going.

If my husband had to pick between his storage shed and the house, with one of them about to go up in flames, I’m guessing he’d choose to save the storage shed.  It’s his man cave, after all, with all his toys, gadgets, and sparklers inside it that he either can’t or hasn’t yet dragged into the house.  Ha!

I don’t know whether Meshullam spent any amount of valuable time rebuilding his storage shed after the wall around Jerusalem fell, and different translations record details of the reconstruction phase around Jerusalem after Ezra and Nehemiah’s return differently, so maybe, but maybe not.  What I do know and continue to wonder at is how important this rebuilding project was to God and his people, and how many details of the work have been recorded in the Bible.

The Bible is a tried and true record of God’s story and his people.   

Note to my regular readers: I pulled Nehemiah as my next reading assignment, so that is where I’m focusing my Bible reading these days.

This afternoon, I’m praising God that He cares about all the things that matter to us–even storage sheds.

What would you save if your house caught afire?  How does it make you feel that God cares so much for you?

Deal with it!

denial

How we deal with sin matters, doesn’t it?

We can deny it, minimize it, bury it, numb it, redirect it, and maybe one of my personal favorites–avoid any mention of it.

No matter which option we choose to avoid dealing with it, though, sin still remains and we’re still accountable.

“I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

King David was speaking out of guilt when those words were penned.  He’d sinned…big time…and he’d tried to cover it up.  Big Mistake!

Not only had the king sinned, but he’d forced others to join him in his dark secrets.

If you’ll allow me to compare what King David did with another David’s weird and wacky adventure onto the silver screen, Davide pulled those others, willingly or not, into the bog of eternal stench sin creates (ref: Labyrinth).   He’d done everything he could to pretend that he didn’t stink, but God could smell the King.

God can always smell corruption.

Always, wrong doing.

Always, festering sin!

No matter how David tried to mask it, no matter the expensive perfume he tried to pour over it, God smelt the stench of death that clung to him before he confessed.

He sees, He knows, He smells, and God cares! 

Now the good news: Waking up with the sun today means you have the chance to sing a song of redemption.  You have a reprieve!  You’ve been given a second (third, fourth, fifth, sixth), chance to do business with God about that thing you’ve been trying to hide from him.  So have I.

And here’s the really good news about this sin curse: God forgives!  Oh, how wonderfully He forgives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After his confession, David said, “All my guilt is gone.” We can say it too!

I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. — Psalm 32:5 NLT

What sin have you been hiding from God, afraid to confess it because of the consequences?  What consequences could be worse than the wall the sin builds in order to separate you from Love?

 

In Our Troubles

We never know when this day could be our last day.  This past week, a too-young woman was killed in a car accident in our home town.  We are rocked.  It was sudden.  I know her family.  It seems tragic, and far too soon.  We weren’t ready. Can you ever be ready for that?  She has small children. A husband…now required to go on alone.  At twenty-seven, we find it hard to find the words to describe our feelings about her passing.  The conflicting emotions want out, but how? How do we express the sorrow?  I write. It’s what I do.

I wrote.

This is what I found within. Please pray for the family.  God knows who they are.  ljh

In Our Troubles

“What do I see? They are terrified, they are retreating, their warriors are defeated. They flee in haste without looking back, and there is terror on every side,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 46:5

The message came to Camille when she was walking through the mall. On her left was a small group of geriatrics, shuffling with the assistance of canes and walkers into the Bonton; this being the first of the month, and they, hot to spend their SSI checks. She didn’t think the message could possibly be referring to them. To her right she saw a manager chewing out her tattooed and heavily pierced employee. No, that didn’t seem right, either. She kept walking.

“What do I see?”

Camille looked around. All she saw was store fronts and passersby, strolling with their children in hand or their lovers at their sides. They had purses and bags full of sundry goods. No one looked terrified, and no one was retreating in the formal sense. There were people entering and exiting stores, but no one was in a hurry to do it. No one was running.

“More than a few of them look like their defeated, but it’s the same everywhere,” Camille thought. This is a hard-knocks town, so yeah, we’re all looking defeated now and again, given the day.”

Camille kept walking.

Mommas with baby strollers passed by, no one seemed terrified. An old man left the coffee shop. Retreating, yes, but not terrified. A trainer with her companion pup sat at the center court and gave reassurances as she watched for the golden retriever’s reaction to multiple stimuli. She certainly didn’t look defeated and she wasn’t making any hasty moves.

“They are terrified, they are retreating, they are…defeated.” She heard it again.

A shriek rang out and Camille commanded her hurdler’s legs into action. Within moments, she was able to see what everyone else had flocked near the escalator could see. A teen boy, fourteen maybe, standing on the railings above the three-story drop. He was balancing on the balls of his feet. Now perching there. Now closing his eyes. Now falling…

“They flee in haste, without looking back, and there is terror on every side.”

Another soul had lost his battle with depression. Camille hung her head and sobbed as everyone, save mall security, backed away and abandoned the broken and bloody body lying on the mall floor. Sirens could be heard in the distance, as a shopper unknown to Camille dropped heavy bags and ran screaming toward the body. She took his brokenness into her arms and cradles him there until the EMT’s forced her to back away. She collapsed, a heap of spent flesh on the tile floor.  Camille lay down beside her.

“I’m going to hold you now,” Camille said. “I’m going to stay right here and hold you now.” She wrapped her arms around the woman, shielding her as well as she was able until some compassionate soul ran for a blanket from the trunk of their car and covered them both. He stayed nearby, his back turned to them, but his presence preventing anyone from drawing near.

The woman whimpered something. Camille replied, “I’m not going anywhere.”

The voice within spoke to Camille in that moment of personal sacrifice, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

 

 

 

Copyright, Lori Hoose April 5, 2018

…dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”  These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  Jude 1: 17-23

love letter

I follow Sharon Glasgow on Instagram.  She’s one of the Proverbs 31 Women. Sharon is a victorious woman of God with an amazing testimony of the Lord’s power to transform lives and raise people from dire circumstances to glorious grace.

Recently, Sharon posted a love note that her granddaughter wrote to the Holy Spirit. It was a song, written with teeny hands and in crooked script, but full of power and adoration and it pretty much said one thing: I love you, Holy Spirit. I love you, Holy Spirit.  I love you, Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, I love you!

This song, written by innocence inspired me and it made me question how many times in my life I’ve written a love letter to the Holy Spirit.

Umm, zero.

I’ve always directed my writing to the topics of God, church, Jesus, my personal experiences with the faith, and life unfolding, as we do it together, not necessarily in that order.

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love… (vs 20-21a).

When I read the love letter Sharon’s granddaughter wrote, I thought long and hard about the type or parenting (or grand-ing), that went in to preparing a small girl to write with such eloquence and innocence to her triune Savior.  It was a vulnerable song. It was a powerful song. It was a song for the ages.  It was a song I needed to write.

As I approach my God today, the Christian Master of Ceremonies in my life, I’m taking time to think on my Holy Spirit.  Mine. I’m taking time to adore Him.  I’m showering Him with praise.  I’m telling Him how much I appreciate the ministry he does in my life: reminding me of all that Jesus did and bidding me to do the same.

Today, I’m giving it up for our Amazing Holy Spirit. He is worthy, wouldn’t you agree?

When did you pen your last love letter to the Holy Spirit?  When did you last praise him in the marketplace of life?