Be Still

stART of Stillness

You may be a Bible study pro, and some are just beginning to test the waters of your faith and exploring God’s word. Wherever you are, God desired for you to be here. God made it very clear to me that all the writing I did that none would go to waste. Much of what I worked on did not make the final cut for the Be Still bible study, but I will be sharing it here. It is my sincere hope and prayer that God will reveal himself more clearly to each one of us and that each one reading here will deepen their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Growing in your faith, and trusting in God not only brings us peace and the ability to be peaceful people, but as we will see all of our efforts will bring honor and glory to Him and Him alone.

God loves us and sent Jesus to bridge the gap that our human sin nature caused. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus allowed believers the honor of close commune with the Father. Christ followers, are not just saved by grace, sealed for eternity in Heaven, but are awarded with the Holy Spirit. His very goodness can fill our weak fleshy bodies. The Holy Spirit gives us the means to experience a full life despite our Earthly circumstances. However, it is only by His power that we can reach a level of fulfillment, joy, hope, and peace this side of eternity. He isn’t just the God of the Old Testament, or the New Testament, but of the current and present age. He is active and alive. He longs to be in relationship with his beloved children. No matter where you are right now, I guarantee He longs for a closer relationship with you. Do you believe that is possible?

Open your Bible to read all of Psalm 46. This is where we will be parked today, so leave it open for easy reference.

Read through a second time and look for all the attributes, names, and descriptions of God. Record what you find here.

possible answers

 

  • refuge (v.1)
  • strength (v.1)
  • holy (v.4)
  • Most High (v.4)
  • Helper (v.5)
  • speaks/has a voice (v.6)
  • Lord Almighy (v.7)
  • fortress (v.7 & v.11)
  • peace (v.9)
  • exalted (v.10)

Verses 1-3 speaks of mountains shaking, landslides, roaring dangerous waters which are all too commonly experienced and even viewed in awe and fear while watching World News programs. On the heels of natural disasters, verse 6  speaks of nations in uproar and unrest. Literally, the forces of politics and government, threats of uneasy relations, and acts of war are also in our current reality. The forces of nature, and the condition of political instability are easily feared by many. The reality is that no matter how democratic a country we may reside, we must remember that at no point in time are natural disasters, or nations’ governments out of God’s control. He is sovereign over all. When we practice the act of submitting ourselves to the Father, and become still, the results are life changing.

Take an in-depth look at what Psalm 46 is calling us to do; it invites us to take some personal inventory, to step back and realistically examine our relationship status with Jesus Christ. By challenging yourself to dig deep into the study of this scripture, the journey can increase your dependence on God. From my personal experience, every moment you are still before The Great I AM will be worth all the time you have sacrificed and set aside for Him. All you do to develop a more intimate personal relationship with the one who loves us enough to die for us will be worth it every time. Unlike our Earthly relationships, God never gives stingily, or with strings attached. There is no manipulation, or withholding of love until you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. He is waiting arms outstretched. Are you ready to spend some quality with the lover of your soul? I sure hope you answered positively. He wants to reveal Himself to us. He wants to deepen your trust and faith. Are you ready to let him prick your skin and get under your skin for some fine tuning of your heart and mind?

Most often, where does your fear reside?

Most believers would agree they desire to live a life of great closeness to Abba Father. However, the actual reality seems to be something not easily realized.

Find some paper, perhaps a sticky note (whatever is closest to you) and write out Psalm 46:10. Feel free to be as artistic as you want. Make an effort to commit to hide these words in your heart.

Look at the words of Psalm 46:10 as your personal invitation to come sit at the Father’s feet. Accept Psalm 46:10 to know Him in a very up close and real way. Each of us have crazy, busy lives and He is calling you to BE STILL. According to this scripture, what should we experience when we are still?

What does Psalm 46:10 say will result with our stillness, and knowing God?

Like the famous question which came first the chicken or the egg, the same can be said of this continuous circle, and process of being still and knowing God. Please do not quickly make the assumption that this study is going to force you to add one more thing your daily “to do” list. The hope is that you would willingly turn to Him, and abide in Him on an regular and consistent basis. By practicing times of stillness with no other agenda other than getting to spend time with the Lord, your knowledge and heart will literally develop beyond your current perception and understanding of the Great I Am. As we increase our spiritual muscle we develop an internal strength to relinquish personal power to Him who is All Powerful. As we become more aware of His control, we can avoid letting circumstances control our responses because our God has it all under control. Unlike us humans, nothing, literally NOTHING (no thing) surprises God. He never acts out of haste, or with unwarranted wrath because He is righteous. It is easy for us to get carried away by emotions, fear, anger, and hurt in a moment of weakness. If we aren’t careful our responses can become unhinged and ungodly to say the least. Can you identify 2-3 triggers that can cause you to fly off the handle in anger, or become depressed, perhaps things you frequently worry about?

By the end of this study, it is my prayer that you will learn the art of remembering the very words of Psalm 46:10 and put your faith to work. It sounds like an oxymoron, but just as God is asking us to practice stillness, it is a call for our active participation with Him. By remembering God’s teachings, we allow Him to remind us to be still, even amid a flurry of activity and imminent turmoil. He calms all of our fears, he offers strength and direction in the moments of stillness. We are assured and can literally feel His presence, and have the courage to move forward. When we are in close communion we will even be able to hear Him speak to us. It seems unreal and unbelievable, perhaps even foolishness to those who have never experienced life in complete oneness with the Father. However, many Christ followers not only have encountered our Savior once or twice, we too are learning to lean in, being still and letting Him grow and groom us to be more like Him with every passing day. If this sounds like something you are yearning for, and you seek to know Him more, you must be learn to be still. By the way, He will get all the praise!

If you haven’t done so already, Write out Psalm 46:10 on a mirror, white board, chalk board, index card, or post-it note somewhere to be displayed so you can submit its truth to memory. Additionally, write out a prayer asking God to help you know Him better. If time is a factor, ask the creator of time to multiply yours. Confess any apprehension you may have to Him now regarding your apprehension to stillness. Remember, nothing you can say to Him will surprise Him.

Take the time to find and listen to the song Open the Eyes of My Heart by Michael W. Smith. 

faith

Faith Story – Part 3

Monday, November 10, 2014 I would see my Uncle for the first time in 5 years. I was prayed up, and thankful that I have my journal to share my exact prayers for that day.

Lord, keep me focused on my Uncle. I will abide by his wishes and do not want him to be disturbed. Give me calm, give me guidance, give me direction as to what I need to know, do, say, and feel. I surrender. I can not effectively (and with a level head) do this on my own.

When I walked in that ICU room that day my uncle met my presence with a question, “What are you doing here?” My earlier prayers were immediately answered because I calmly replied by telling him that, “I loved my grandmother, and she loved me. You sir, are my grandmother’s son. Out of love and honor for her and my Lord, I am here for you.” I also reminded him of her favorite verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

That first week, I was met with some big challenges and realizations. My uncle told me that he was a Buddhist. His best friend from grade school (a married lady) was caught in an uncomfortable position because my Uncle had named her as medical guardian and possible executor of his will. Like never before I realized things/stuff/items don’t really matter. I was reminded of my mother’s inability or unwillingness to behave in a manner in which I desire. God’s timing is perfect. My husband and I attended a marriage retreat that first weekend he was in ICU. I was encouraged to go, and grateful we did because it united our marriage in God, and gave us strength that we would need to draw from in this season. Above all, I learned that God will do amazing things when you follow his plan and keep the most important thing as the priority in your life. God first!

I learned when I have no words, all I have to do is turn to the words of holy scripture. Always with a nod of permission from my uncle, I would sit and read the Bible out loud with great clarity and immodesty. My uncle would be intubated on and off for the next 30 days. He would spend more than a week tethered to a bed with tubes, lines, and alarms at all times. Our normal Thanksgiving trip would not happen, as I would be in an intensive care room, with no turkey, and without hopes of a grand family meal occurring. However, Thanksgiving 2014 was remarkable because I would get to experience first hand God’s saving grace. The entry below is from my journal dated November 27, 2014.

My uncle told me he loves me for the first time in 44 years. Today I know that his ability to love me was a gift from our savior. Paul’s salvation is secure. He feels God’s presence. I needed this Lord. He is a blessing and a miracle in my life. Thank you for blessing me with this time of him being in Houston. He is not a burden. He is a joy. He is my uncle who is now my brother in Christ. Receive him into your loving arms where all his fear and anxiety, frustration and weakness will be replaced with safety, security, comfort, joy, praise, and strength. What a glorious day when heaven comes and floods his eyes.

Just days later, I would have to advocate for his quality of life. Day by day, I would be determined in my approach to learn and seek the best care for my uncle. My prayer life grew, my spiritual eyes were opened wide, I was humble in declaring the work God was doing; not on my strength, but all from the power of Christ in me.

Not every moment was I able to be a rock and a crown wearing sister of sainthood. There were moments where I would get angry at my mom’s attitude, or sad at her lack of help. I would suffer a few times in despair with the red tape of trying to navigate government entities, nursing homes, lawyers, banking, taxes, liens, and bills. There was even a situation where there was a person who stole valuables from my uncle, and refused to leave my uncle’s property. But without fail, the times my emotions went awry I took my eyes off God. I would look at my situation, and not rely fully on the one who holds it all in His hands. Often I was reminded of this scripture in Exodus 14:13-14 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

Over the course of the next 4 months, my uncle and I restored a family legacy of love. There was forgiveness, genuine care, and grace displayed for all to see. A true living testimony of the power of Christ. James 1:2-4“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

It has been two years since my life was forever changed by that season my uncle arrived in Houston. I am blessed to know my uncle’s salvation is secure. I am humbled and blessed beyond measure to be used by God for His purposes. The Lord has awarded me in His perfect timing with an Earthly inheritance as well. Not only would my grandparent’s home be saved from the government entities, and be left to me as rightful heir; I would receive something of even greater value. I was honored in getting to know my uncle’s true friend as my own. She and I became prayer partners, we are friends forever, and I am proud to say she is my sister in Christ. Thank you Lord for all you have done. Let us not forget who we are in you, and may we be obedient to your continued calling in our lives.

 

Armor of God · Prayer

Our Only Weapon

Are you struggling to be in the word? If so, I guarantee your Armor is not at its full power. Do not be surprised by the enemy gaining ground on you. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Stop, do not pass go (remember monopoly?) Go find your Jesus issued uniform. Put on your protective gear, the Armor of God. Return to the word, dig in and cover yourself in truth. Rest in his promises. May this post encourage you to be in prayer, be in the word, and know truth, develop your faith, be at peace, stand firm, and take a posture of victory. James 1:22 “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT) 

 I have been growing in the word for many years now, and the last several I have been walking ever so closely to my Savior. He called me out upon the waters. My faith gained much growth once I started the practice of writing in prayer journals.  Naturally I am not a writer. I have not been trained and I’m sure my style is unorthodox to say the least. Writing just isn’t my thing. Remember, I am a retired science teacher. I love quirky teenagers, sports, and I have a strange sense of humor. I have a difficult time staying still and focused.

Journaling is a discipline that I found really difficult at first, but soon realized it allowed me to stay focused and organized in my thoughts. When I try to pray without writing my mind wanders, and before I know it, I am making a mental list of things to do, and/or finding some pressing household chore that must be done immediately. Even worse, I may fall asleep right in the middle of my conversation with God. How’s that for brutal honesty? Thankfully we have grace. I developed a daily habit of writing. Soon, I found that my time spent with God began to increase. I would have such focused moments that words would flow through my hand with ease and fluidity. This process also helped me remember how faithful God was because I could look back and see how my prayers were answered. At times it felt like he wasn’t listening or acting in my timeframe, but once the scope was widened (time passed) I could see His sovereign fingerprints all over my life. His ways far surpass my limited perception. I have also developed a habit of meditating on his word and writing it in my journal. When I have no words, I pray His words! My quiet time has become my daily bread, my manna.

 Back in December of 2015 I felt a stirring inside of me and began to pray. I asked others to pray for me as well because I felt that a new season was coming. Like many, I have lived the majority of my life making decisions based on feelings, doors that were open, natural advancements, etc. On occasion I would sprinkle prayer in for good measure. More times than not, I would move ahead without any clear answer from the throne. With my faith at an all time high, I felt that I would continue to pray it through and fully trust God. I wish I could say I was consistently patient and quietly waited for the Lord to point me in the right direction. Admittedly there were several times I would circle around my prayer and pick it back up and try to “help God out”. Um, hello, newsflash…God doesn’t need my help. He does need my cooperation though. I would try to figure out ahead of God what “new season” could mean, and I had several “what ifs” that had my brain swirling. In the end, there would be nine full months of praying while the Holy Spirit corrected me in my impatience and my feeble attempts to gain control of the situation. He firmly, consistently, and lovingly reminded me again and again of His will, not my own. Isaiah 55:8 is a verse that continually is on replay in my mind, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

My last big event of the Summer was a family cruise (right before school started and kick off of student ministry season). I had slipped away on a very quiet early morning on a large ship in the middle of the Caribbean to spend time in the word and to pray with my journal and Bible in hand. Very clearly, I was told to step out of student ministry. Who told me? Jesus spoke, and I felt compelled to tell everyone I was with later at breakfast of my clarity. I would have to say “no” to something that was so near and dear to my heart. Working with students had been my love for nearly 20 years.  My new season first had to begin with an end.

 How do you know if you are following God’s will and following the path He is calling you to? PEACE is the answer. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself and my time, but I had peace. I knew all I needed was Him. He got me this far, and I was listening for his direction to where I would go next. I decided I would not move until he said go. God tells his people over and over throughout the Bible to be still, or to wait, or to rest. So here I was in the sit and stay position. 

 Do not buy into the world’s idea of coincidences, or luck. May you fully realize that God is in control, and He has called each one of us here. For me right now that means, opening up and writing for others to read. More importantly, for others to be encouraged to develop faith that can move mountains. God alone holds the power to my words. He alone is my rock, my refuge, and satisfies my every need. I was lost, but now I’m found. Dear Friends, find out what he is calling you to do. If he is pushing you outside of your comfort zone, do not shy away. I pray that God would confirm his next step and direction for you. For me and many followers before me, through a few tears and in much awe and with lots of prayer I hope that you are encouraged by strong Christian friends (wise modern day sages). I pray that your spiritual eyes and ears be open to other timely affirmations regarding your calling. Be bold to submitted fully to truth of the living word of God. 

 Lord, help us all to realize that YOU Lord equip those whom you call so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-10 It is all for your glory!

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Armor of God

The Belt of Truth

You are on my mind today as I sit down to share my reflections on the second week of Shirer’s study The Armor of God. One of my favorite apps on my phone is the Webster’s dictionary. I have learned through the years not to gloss 30dayseph6day22truthover words. Shirer writes truth is God’s opinion on any matter, the ultimate standard. My app’s first definition is as follows: the real facts about something; the things that are true. However, the third definition offered is that truth is a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true. Read over that last definition again slowly. Do you see it? Those last words, an idea that is “accepted as true.” That is not good enough for God. I pray that you humbly submit yourself and give the Holy Spirit reign in your heart, mind, and soul. Father, shine Your light of truth and expose any dark places where we have accepted a lie as truth. I pray that those reading these words be reconciled to you, and for their hearts to be softened and ready to receive your training in righteousness.

I was raised in a non-Christian fairly liberal home, by divorced parents. Born in 1970 maybe it was the culture of the times, but I see the same attitudes and ideologies everywhere today. Have you spent any time contemplating and identifying cultural perceptions (beliefs that do not line up with scripture)? These ideas are so pervasive and so accepted, it requires diligence and a keen awareness to decipher at times. For example, I had just seen a cute little wood plaque for sale that had these words beautifully painted, “Follow your heart wherever it may lead.” Sounds great, right? I could almost hear my mom or dad giving me this advice for life. However, something stirred within me that caused me to pause. That something is the Holy Spirit. Here is what girding my loins with truth does inside my 3 pound finite brain. Shirer used the example of the TSA’s authenticating light, God’s word is the light of truth. His words that were quickly brought to my mind were, “the heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9). TRUTH – “The heart is deceitful” did not align with the thoughts displayed on the plaque. This idea stays on my mind, and I continue to wrestle with the validity of its words. So later I follow up with more truth by taking the time to look up scripture and find in Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” I don’t need to expand upon all the ways following your heart can lead to sin, and destruction. Finally, I surrender and submit myself to God’s lesson and praise him for not allowing me to buy the pretty to be displayed in my home.

O Brother or Sister in Christ, do not be quick to follow your feelings. They are fleeting, they change. If you are thinking the above example is insignificant, I’m here to tell you that is exactly what Satan wants. He has been working endlessly to desensitize your thinking, to paint a pretty little lie as a trap set just for you. Be on alert, bring everything to the throne. I pray that God becomes your filter and lens and you rely solely on real truth which is God’s standard, the Holy Scriptures. I pray that you gird your loins with a modern day Spanx; let it squeeze out the imperfections, smooth your thoughts to align with God. With your loins secure, may you walk more upright, become aware of your enemy, and ready to tuck in your tunic for action to maneuver and avoid the enemies pitfalls. I pray that you take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I challenge you to make every effort to learn to inject God’s truth to your own daily prayer life. O Father, open their spiritual eyes and allow my brothers and sisters to see the importance of the belt of truth.