Aware of His Presence

I have recently entered the world of Skype. For those of you that don’t know, Skype is a long-distance calling system whereby a person can talk to their contacts and also see them via a web cam while they are conversing! It is such a blessing to be able to have a virtual visit.

A couple nights ago my husband and I talked with my parents while they were sitting in their library and we were in our living room. It was truly like having them here for a visit. My mom asked me, “While we’re talking is there anything new in your house you want to show me?” I took them into Allison’s bedroom so she could show off the curtains she’d made in Home-ec this semester. I also showed her my new slipcover on a chair in the living room. It was such fun!

When I told our daughter, Whitney, about our computer visit she said, “Oh my, now when you answer a call on Skype you have to look good AND your house has to be clean!” It’s true – you never know when someone might call and you could be caught in a mess!

As a believer we have the Holy Spirit living within us. He indwells a person at the moment of salvation. Are we aware enough of His presence that we keep our “house” clean and ourselves in good order? Though I could hide things from Skype callers by simply not putting the camera on a mess, or even hiding my own face because it’s not presentable, nothing can be hidden from the Holy Spirit. How then do we do keep our heart ready for inspection? It’s really just like we do with our homes. When your attention is drawn to something in your house that is dirty you should clean it! When the Holy Spirit turns the light on an area in our lives that needs to be straightened up, we need to confess it and get it right!
I John 1:5-7 tells us the way to stay clean; it says: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Praise the Lord for the conviction of the Holy Spirit so we can make it right! Left untouched it would surface itself so that it is visible to others as well. I often pray that the Lord will make me aware of His constant presence in my life so I will live godly, but sadly there are many times that I’ve forgotten and am living with a mess around me.

If we all had Skype and knew our phone could ring at any moment and those outside our homes would be able to see us in our present condition how would we prepare? If we were all truly aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence would we keep things cleaner? Would we let things get cluttered up in our lives so that we are ashamed? Let’s pray for a keen awareness that the Lord is here and that His dwelling place (our heart) must be found in order.

Braced in the Lord

Several weeks ago my husband experienced severe back pain. He was on steroids and muscle relaxers to help alleviate the discomfort (hello Lala Land!) He was helped some, but was still uncomfortable. After a week or so of suffering, someone gave him a back brace to wear. He was surprised at the relief it brought him. It gave support and strength to his lower back that was so weak.

On this Monday morning I’m thinking back to last week and the “brace” that the Lord gave me during my dad’s illness. During his six day hospital stay he received a defibrillator and had cardiac ablation, helping his heartbeat to beat regular once again.

It was hard, as his daughter, to see my dad have to go through these things, but the brace the Lord gave to support me was Psalm 31:24 – Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that trust in the Lord. Of course, we were asking the Lord to strengthen my dad’s physical heart, but the greatest need for each of us was that He strengthen our spiritual hearts. That happens when we run to the Word and obey it. Our courage was not in the doctors, though we are thankful for the wisdom the Lord gave them. Our courage was not in the fact that we are Christians, for we know that God’s children will experience trials so He can strengthen them. Our courage is stated in the last part of the verse – in the Lord. We knew that we could trust Him to do what was best for my dad. We were reminded that He is sovereign and would do the right thing. I’ve asked the Lord to make me strong and not let me fall apart in times of trial. His Word is my brace. It strengthens the weak places of my fearful heart.

One special thing that has happened as a result of my dad’s illness is that this verse has become special to me as I’ve claimed it. It’s now listed in my Bible memory book under the category “Trust” so I can go back and review it and keep it tucked away for future reference. I know I’ll need it again…my heart will be a good place to keep it. It’s a brace that will help me to stand strong and rest in the Lord.

This week finds me in Kentucky. My father has had heart problems for some time and was hospitalized Sunday to have fluid removed from his body. That difficulty prompted the doctors to change his pacemaker to a defibrillator. The surgery took place this afternoon. He is doing well at this point, thank the Lord.

Several things have stuck out to me today as we were at the hospital:

  1. Our times are in God’s hands – Rest in Him!
  2. God is always enough – Rely on Him!
  3. His Word is adequate – Run to it!
  4. Family is precious – Love them!

I will be updating my blog as time allows.

Higher Ground

On Saturday I had the privilege of hiking five miles to the top of Beauty Spot. It’s a gorgeous bald where you can see for miles and you’re so far away from civilization that the quiet is deafening. The trail began very easily; it was fairly even ground and the trail was relatively flat. However, if you want to go to the top you must go UP! We began our climb. I tried to pace myself at the front of the group, but as the incline continued without any reprieve I had to take an occasional break while my lungs were trying to suck in enough oxygen to keep up!

I made it to the top and it was beautiful. It is well worth the hike. The trip down was a proverbial piece of cake – downhill most of the way. Except for having to watch for the tree roots so I wouldn’t trip, it was much easier than the hike up!

As I was coming down I thought “Isn’t this the kind of path most of us would choose for our lives? Downhill sailing all the way is the preference.” Who wants to strain upward, pant with each breath, and sweat with the work of it? But if we only we went downward we would never have the reward of the climb – the beautiful view!

This morning my dad continues with his heart problems and is lying in the hospital with fluid retention and pneumonia. This is a hard path for him, a hard path for me, his daughter. This is not a downward hike – it is uphill. It’s hard; it’s not what I would choose. I am reminded by the music I’m listening to as I have my devotions today that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in His way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24) I can follow my Guide. Though the journey is difficult I know the strain will be worth it. The view from the top is learned dependence on the Lord, greater trust in His Word, and a drawing nearer to Him. I choose to “press forward on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining every day, still praying as I onward bound, Lord lead me on to higher ground.”

Keeping it "Just Right"

One of the delights of each morning is having a fresh cup of hot coffee. I’ve not acquired the taste for drinking it black – I enjoy a little sweetener and enough cream to make it a caramel color. I even have a system of adding the cream and sweetener – I put them in the cup before I add the coffee, then when the coffee is poured in it turns that perfect caramel color and has these little bubbles on top that make it soooo good! Do I sound a little fanatical about my coffee? I guess I am!

There is a down-side to not drinking black coffee, and that’s when I go to a restaurant and have it with my meal. I’ll add the cream and the sweetener and get it just the way I like it and then while I’m engulfed in conversation with those at my table the waitress will come along and add hot coffee to my cup making my once perfectly flavored coffee diluted into an awful gray! Where did she come from anyway? Sometimes I think they hang from the ceiling and wait for unsuspecting coffee drinkers to set their cup down and then – Splash! Their diluting duty is done! It’s not that I don’t like hot coffee, I do, it’s just that in their attempt to re-warm my cup they ruin the caffeine perfection I was enjoying! Back to the creamer and sweetener I go adding and stirring until the blackness disappears and changes into coffee heaven!

The same kind of diluting can happen in our hearts. We may have gotten up and filled our cup (heart) that morning with the Word, with time in prayer and we were made glad by the Lord’s presence. Now our day is in full gear and everywhere we go there is noise – music blaring in each restaurant and store. Televisions are yelling out at us in the doctor’s waiting areas. Our phones are ring everywhere we go…beeping, texting; it’s constant. Even at home the children may be fussing or just playing, but, whatever they’re doing, it’s not calm! It’s rare to find quietness. Our hearts get diluted. We look in the “cup” and there’s blackness where earlier it was just right! What we need to do is the same thing I do when the waitress dilutes my coffee – we need to go back to where we got the sweetness and add some more. Turn on some heart lifting music. Listen to a CD of a message that will encourage and challenge you as you drive to town. Turn on a radio broadcast like Revive Our Hearts (http://www.reviveourhearts.com/ )Post little notes around your house of things you read that are a blessing – verses, quotes from good books, or a line from a song or message. These are little “shots of cream” that can be added to your heart throughout a busy day. We each fight the dilution of the busyness and noise of the world, but there is a solution – go back to the source of the sweetness and add some more!

Starbucks anyone?

Stay, Don’t Stray!

I had the sweet privilege yesterday of talking with a young woman about some hard things that she is experiencing in her life. Most of the difficulty she is facing is from choices she’s made outside of the will of God. There has been a straying from the Lord that has taken her down a tough path. I had the opportunity to open the Word of God and share with her the way back to the Lord. My heart truly aches for her and I’m praying she will take the counsel given and return to the Savior who so desires that she return to Him.

I went to prayer meeting last night with the burden of this dear woman on my mind. As the service began we opened our songbooks and sang “Come Thou Fount.” As we sang the words in the third verse my heart cried to the Lord, “Yes, Lord, this is me!” They are as follows:

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

As I sang I thought about the young woman I had counseled in the afternoon and how her heart had wandered, but I also thought about how my own heart is indeed prone to do the same thing. I am prone to leave the God I love! It is crucial that I understand my hearts’ propensity to lead me away from the God that saved me. Without that understanding I could very easily ignore the warning signs of straying and wake up far from Him. This does not happen overnight, it happens little bit by little bit.

What are some warning signs that we’re straying from God?

· Not reading the Bible and a lack of desire for reading His Word
· No desire to pray
· No desire to be in God’s house
· No burden for the lost
· Doing things we know are disobedient to the Word of God, and excusing it
· No desire for Christian fellowship

Just like a physical is crucial to my physical well-being, a daily spiritual check-up is necessary in my life so I don’t follow my wayward heart. How thankful I am that He loves us no matter how far we may stray. However, there is daily grace available to keep us from straying. May each of our hearts cry out daily, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above!”

Ignoring Directions

I don’t know who invented the GPS, but I think it’s just about the most brilliant piece of equipment ever! On the pamphlet that came with mine it says, “personal travel assistant.” It’s like have my husband on the phone guiding me each step of the way (that was our pattern in the past!). It gives such clear directions, both spoken and drawn on the screen before me. I know when a turn is coming up, when I need to change lanes on the interstate, where the exits are, and when I’m nearing my destination. It also tells me when I’ve made a wrong turn.

There have been times that I’ve put in my destination, and then along the way have had to make a stop for lunch or a restroom break that wasn’t put into the instructions. My “personal travel assistant” tells me to make a U turn. Of course I ignore it because I need to go another way, just for a little bit. I had every intention of getting back on the the route they’ve mapped out for me – I just need to make a little detour!

This morning as I was reading in Mark 12 I read about the chief priests, scribes and elders coming to Jesus to question Him about what authority He did His miracles. Jesus wisely answers them, then gives a parable that in essence reminds these men that they were not accepting the Savior that God sent into the world to save them from their sin. The scribes were angry and the Scripture says “they wanted to lay hold on him, but they feared the people,” so “they left him, and went their way.” I realize that this is saying that they decided to leave and go away, but in reality they also went their own way. They did not like hearing the Truth that Christ spoke. It pricked their hearts and rather than listen to Him, they ignored the instruction and took a detour. They had NO intention of getting back on the route Christ mapped out for them.

As a Christian, it’s my responsibility to follow the route God has laid out in His Word. It’s not always what I want to do; sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it goes against my flesh. But if I’m to get to the desired end (Christlikeness) I must stay on the path. As a pastor’s wife I’ve had many opportunities to speak with women that are going through a trial and have come to me for counsel. Sometimes this dear lady will follow the counsel from the Scriptures, and what a joy that is! Other times I’ve seen a lady hear the Truth, but ignore it. She wants to go her own way. She’s going to take a detour because she doesn’t like the instructions she heard. Spite the fact that she needs to make a major U turn she keeps going the direction she’s mapped out instead of the one her Personal travel assistant (the Holy Spirit) has given her.

If we’re to get to our destination of being like Christ we must listen and stay on the path! We may not like the scenery along the way, but we can trust God. He knows how to guide us better than we can guide ourselves! Let’s not ignore his directions.