Alone with God

In His public ministry, He never taught without using parables; but afterward when He (Jesus) was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything. (Mark 4:34)

With my apologies to various authors C.S. Lewis, Paul Harvey, maybe others, who have written about how the enemy endangers our relationship with God. When he can’t find something with which to tempt us, he keeps us busy, busy, busy with nonessential activities and needless random thoughts.

God desires our fellowship. He wants us to be part takers of the good things that are found in His word. Although His word never goes out void, just like any relationship, if we only communicated with occasional, random texts, we would not have anywhere near the relationship that we would have by spending time alone with that person.

Through His word and prayer, we can know God intimately. It is where His truth comes alive in our soul.

“When He was alone with His own, He explained everything. “

Safe Space

Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).

 Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.

If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).

Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”

Knowing God

It has been said that the Creator placed within each of us a yearning for Him. After reading a verse in Colossians, I am wondering if He placed more than a yearning, but also a knowledge of Him within each person—from the most primitive to the most sophisticated.

I’d like to examine some of these scriptures then end with one of my favorite stories about Hellen Keller. At least that’s my plan, but I am open to where the Lord leads, so be sure to read to the end.

Romans 1:20 states, for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and deity; so that they are without excuse. To me, this means that everyone should know God or at least, know about Him through the amazing things He created.

Colossians 1:22-23 says, You have been reconciled through Christ’s death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach, so continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. My footnote says that Paul was using a hyperbole (exaggeration), but this same idea of everyone having heard the gospel (Christ’s redemptive death, burial, and resurrection) appears elsewhere.

Titus 2:11 states, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (is revealed) to all men.

I would think that there are indigenous from primitive lands that have not heard the complete gospel message, but I also believe that we have an amazing God who would not leave anyone in the dark. With that lead-in, here’s my Helen Keller story as one example.

Helen was blind and deaf from the age of two. She had basically lived a life of isolation. Years later, after her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had taught her the gift of language, she thought Helen should have some spiritual knowledge as well. I have no idea how Anne explained God to Helen, but Helen’s reply is amazing. “I’ve known Him all along; I just never knew His name.”

Pure in Spirit

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…

Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).

Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.

Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Love and Relationships

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (I Cor13:4-7).

From the “Love Chapter,” this is a very familiar verse to most people who have attended a wedding. Unfortunately, it is usually rattled off with little attention to the meaning of each phrase. Each part is a gem of wisdom, and if we made a determined effort to apply even just one, our relationships would thrive.

One that I especially need to work on is it keeps no record of wrongs. Sometimes I find myself even years later holding ill-feelings toward someone who I felt treated me unfairly. When that happens, we have choices on how to react (after all, to love is a choice). We can attack back—definitely not a relationship builder. We can get even or retaliate on the same level—also not a loving alternative. Or we can rise above and react kindly and respectfully.

If that last choice seems insincere, then we can first try a little exercise in understanding. Maybe their attack had nothing to do with us—we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that person was hurting or confused himself. Our attempt toward understanding can also help with the love is patient, kind and not easily angered phrases too.

I guess second to only Satan, I’m my own worst enemy thinking it’s all about ME. Reflecting on God’s word sure aids in clearing our vision and helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and onto God and others.

Wasted Time

Then I will restore (make-up) to you the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

I love interpreting this verse metaphorically in order to apply it to my own life.

We have all had periods in our lives where we have wasted days, even years on being angry, or timid, or sulky, or fearful, or whiney, or even mentally checking-out. Later we regret those times especially if there is a person involved who is no longer with us.

In many instances a do-over is not possible, but God is able and can somehow compensate. He is so gracious to those who put their faith in Him, and with Him nothing is impossible. After all, it is not God that invades our peace, but it is He who can lead us to still waters and can more than satisfy the ache in our soul.

Amazing Love

And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness…for all who look forward to His appearing (2 Tim 4:8).

The place that Jesus is preparing for believers (John 4:2) includes many rewards. Although we are not told what they are, I can’t begin to imagine if the most spectacular things on earth pale next to what is to come.

I am more than glad that salvation is a free gift; that we do not need to earn it. Not one of us could live a sinless life—not the most pious saint, and certainly not me, but we can achieve rewards. The bible calls them “crowns” which I have seen interpreted as rewards, awards and prizes. Anyway, if it’s a reward from God, it’s got to be more than amazing.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul explained the crown of rejoicing with these questions—Who is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you? Can you think of a better reason for rejoicing, a better reward, than by seeing people who are in Heaven with us because we had some part in their being there?!

Studying God’s word, and discovering even parts of His plans for us, gives us just tiny glimpses of His great and incredible love.