EVER PRESENT

Do you wonder where God is sometimes?

We see people praying with their heads up, eyes up, arms raised upward, or often with heads bowed in reverence. I know there are times when I forget that God is Omnipresent…that is one of his attributes. Sure, as a child I was taught that God is everywhere, but because that is so far beyond my comprehension I often live life by myself.  Actually, in doing that I am not acknowledging His love for me, and that He wants to be involved in every part of my life.

I recall a time when my brother, Ron, was 2 years old, and we were sitting as a family together in our large home church in Portland, Oregon before the Sunday morning service began.  Ronnie stood up on the chair, looked around and spoke out in a loud child’s voice, “IS GOD HERE YET?  Causing laughter, and being shushed by us, he went on to say, “WELL, I HAVE A LOUD VOICE!!!”  I guess he thought the Pastor was God!

In my study this week, in preparation for the writing of this blog, I read many scriptures and commentaries on the subject of the Omnipresence of Almighty God.  I came across a phrase that affected me profoundly…GOD IS ALWAYS HERE, BUT ALSO ALREADY THERE.  Wow…that hit me with tears and praise.  I couldn’t stop weeping at the revelation of that truth for not only now, but for my future!!!

In Joshua 1:5 we read that God told him he was the new leader of the children of Israel after Moses died; “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you, I will never leave you or forsake you.” And in verse 9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  This promise was just before he led them across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

Psalm 23 reminds us that He will be with us through the valley of the shadow of death.

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”

Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?   If I go up to the heavens you are there; If I rise on the wings of the dawn, If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

In your scripture reading this week I suggest you read Job 38.  This will remind you that God is everywhere taking care of everything…..yesterday, today, and forever the same.  He is in control…and the sooner you give in to that fact the happier you will be.  Knowing that He is HERE, and in control and, you are not, is freeing!!!

You don’t need to be in a church building to experience God’s presence.  Enjoy the fact that God is with you wherever you go.  Talk to Him anytime…He loves YOU!

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EQUALLY Made In God’s Image

The enemy LOVES to distract God’s people. He can accomplish so much this way.

In C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, senior devil Screwtape advises his junior apprentice devil to corrupt people by creating mass distractions that divert attention from the real issues at hand: “The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood.”

How many witch hunts is the “church” currently involved in? Of course I am generalizing here, and picking on those that continue to come to the forefront of the news. But, if you consider the amount of time, money and effort put in to “battle” against what people DO that Christians “don’t like” versus the same sum of efforts put into building others up and showing the UNCONDITIONAL love of Christ, then you’d be hard-pressed not to find a gross imbalance.

Why don’t we focus on WHO people are rather than just WHAT they do? God is the only one who can change a heart or a behavior. It is not our job to try to do those things. Our job is to welcome ALL with open arms and to show the love that Christ has shown us.

If people are validated, unashamed, and feel heard and respected (even if they are not always understood), they are more likely to be good people. We don’t have to agree with another person’s race, politics, beliefs or sexual identity or orientation to show them the love of the One who created them. No race or nationality is superior to another. The fear that seems to steer so many “church people” to be hateful of those who are different is baffling to me. God commanded us not to live in fear. He commanded us to live in love.

We must allow people to be who they are and celebrate their uniqueness. The personal choices someone makes should not keep them from being allowed in the church or to be treated as an equal. (Obvious exclusions would be disruptive or disrespectful behavior, and that should go for everyone equally as well).

People who see the true love of Christ will want it. And, once they accept it, he will work on their behavior from the inside out.

Instead, I see the church creating division rather than welcoming diversity.

Old “Christianese” phrases like, “love the sinner, hate the sin” are overplayed. Anyone who says that to someone struggling in life… BACK AT YA! We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Not one of us is better than another! Jesus came that we ALL might be saved. The end. Each journey with Him is unique and in its own time.

Let’s truly follow Scripture and tame our tongues, shall we?

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9-12 NIV

So, let us beware of our own thoughts and speech. Let us also not remain silent when we hear hateful or degrading speech about others. Let us see one another through God’s eyes – as beautiful, unique and loved.

With all that’s happening in the world with famine, wars, and disasters, let’s stop focusing on what bathrooms people use….let’s focus on lifting up those in need. Let’s focus on the real issues at hand and stop allowing Screwtape to send us scurrying around with fire extinguishers in a flood.

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Are you an orange Christian? Or still a bit green?

I looked at my small orange tree today, and a parable was born in my mind.

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Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The tree is small, but loaded with small green balls that don’t look a thing like oranges, except that they are round.  Here and there, peeking through the green leaves, is an orange, fully developed and bright orange.  In other places on the tree I spot green balls, with a spot of orange.

“HOW LIKE THE CHURCH… THE BRIDE OF CHRIST,” I thought.

Not all are in the same stage of development as Christians.  Some make stupid, worldly mistakes, and we tend to ridicule them and say they don’t belong in the Bride.  But come back to that life, sometimes years later, and it has been blown upon by the Holy Spirit…

Jesus said we are not to judge.   Leave that up to Jesus for the judgment day, and rather, pray.

(This was written by Gladys on October 28, 2005.  I thought it very timely in light of the judgey church people so openly bashing one another these days. ~ Tami)

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