Thursday, December 29, 2011

Call to be Closer


There’s a draw to prayer the last few days. Do you feel it? It's a call to come close to Him, to repent as needed, to agree with Him. Confess. To receive forgiveness and direction.

We can be closer to God. How?

~ Heed the call. When He draws you, go.

~ Follow His directives. Does He want you to act on something? Give? Forgive? Repent? Do it. Restore full fellowship with Him.

~  See His face and His heart, not just what He can do or give. Reminds me of Matthew 6:33—But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

~ Study His Word. Today I pulled out one of my old Bibles. Oh, the highlights and marks. I found Scriptures I’d underlined ten years ago this month. That’s a great feeling. I recommend marking dates in your Bible as you study. It becomes part of your known history. And shows you your own growth chart in God.

~ Pray.

~ Worship. Just adore Him. He’s worthy. And worship sets people free. This season, draw closer to Him. He’s drawing you. Get alone with Him.

There are things He'd like to tell you about the upcoming year, about your life, from His heart. Get close so you can hear Him. Rest your head against His chest, share your heart, and listen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Longing for Him


I can’t see Him from here. Well, not “Him,” Him, the tiny figure of a baby Him in the nativity set. There’s a wise man in the way.

The crèche sits on the stereo cabinet, stable, figurines, and all the other characters of the story (though the wise men were a little early to the party). 

I long to see Him. Not a baby figurine. Him.

His face.

His glory.

I feel like the hungry visitors must have. “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (see John 12:21, KJV)
By coming as a baby, He made it possible for us to “see” Him, to have access to Him—no wise men in the way. Direct access to His teaching, the Holy Spirit, the Father.

From here, if I wanted to see the figurine, I’d have to get up, walk closer, step in front of the cabinet. Physically, we can’t literally see Him. Yet. But, you can “see” Jesus from wherever you are. Look up; He’s there. God is omnipresent. If you’re longing for Him, it’s because He’s drawing you. Oh, how He longs for you.

He’s using the gift of longing to woo you to Him. Cooperate. And remember one day, we will see Him. Face to face.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seasons for Delighting in Him

I love the sights, sounds, and smells of the Christmas season. Pretty lights, frosted sugar cookies, “Carol of the Bells.” Ahhh…

This morning, my thoughts went to the Bridegroom and how we celebrate His birth at Christmastime. In human relationships, there are certain days for celebrating our bonds, like anniversaries. The Christmas season can be such a time in our relationship with Jesus, (along with Easter). A time when we stop and reflect on all He has done for us. 

Our God, by becoming human, made a way for us to know life, love, joy, hope, peace—all the things we associate with Christmas. He intervened.

Our Bridegroom’s sacrifice was premeditated. In the glorious corridors of heaven, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit saw our need. And Jesus agreed to be the sacrifice for the sake of His creation, for the sake of humanity, for the sake of His bride. 

Christmas, when we commemorate Jesus’s incarnation as a human, is key for that plan. We’re celebrating the launching of that plan. We're made aware of the amazing love of God. The awe-inspiring, undoing, redeeming love of a giving, just, perfect, living God.

This month, pause amidst the snowflakes drifting down, or while the carols play, and just breathe in His love. Celebrate Him as The Gift.

Delight in your Bridegroom God.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Close



Close

Loving

Tender

Protective

Faithful

Your heavenly Bridegroom is near, and He will meet all your needs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hunger


What do you do with your hunger?

A few weeks back, I was in my prayer garden, talking with God, communing. What drew me out there? Hunger. I could pray and discuss life with God without interruption. What a gift. And I know God was pouring out His grace because I followed through and met with Him.

While I sat there, rather still except for my busy pen scrawling on my journal page, several small songbirds dropped to the ground below the birdfeeder. Oftentimes birds sit on the birdfeeder and toss seeds as they choose which ones to eat (at least that’s what it looks like to me). So, there’s a nice patch beneath the feeder of a multitude of seeds. This patch is where the little creatures gather. And did it matter that I was less than ten feet away, a human, a threat? Nope. We co-existed in the garden together, all drawn there by hunger and desperate enough to get what we needed no matter what.

Everyone gets hungry. Our appetites keep us alive because they motivate us. Thirsty? Get some water. Hungry? Eat some food. Right? But sometimes we get confused. We think a soul-level hunger can be satisfied with a soulish act—like overindulging in food, entertainment, drugs. And those things may satiate our flesh for a bit, but they can’t satisfy our soul.

We were made to be filled with God’s Spirit.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit
Eph. 5:18 MKJV)

So, how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit?

Posture yourself: Pray. Get alone with God. If prayer is hard (i.e. you have difficulty concentrating or connecting with God in a genuine way), play a worship CD.

Read: Be a student of the Word of God and let it change you. Read a chapter or more a day. Set goals. Commit to reading the Bible every day.

Worship: A worshipful atmosphere lends itself to being filled with the Holy Spirit because God dwells in the praises of His people. He is near when we worship Him, and what’s more the enemy of your soul is far away then because he hates the presence of God.

The overall key is to pursue God and let God fill you up when you’re hungry. You can tell the difference. You know when you just need a snack, or when you need the Lord. I’ll give you a hint, if you’re heartsick, you need the Lord.

And the best part? He put that hunger there so you’d come to Him so He could fill you up.

Keep coming. Keep posturing yourself in humility, worship, prayer, and the Word.

He will satisfy you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jesus is Near


I saw a post on FB recently that gave me pause. Here's approximately how it went:

“I’m closer than you dare to believe.” ~Jesus

Do you believe He’s close?

This is a delight for those of us for whom the idea of intimacy with God isn’t intimidating or frightening. I’m comfortable with God knowing my secrets. He gives me hope, and He graces me to change. He never heaps on shame. 

I can lean into Him. The trick is to be aware of His nearness. Just stop everything. Close your eyes. Consider this truth: Jesus is near.

He’s near when we’re struggling.

Do you pray about the little things? I do. I pray about laundry and the weather. I also pray when troubles hit. And Jesus is very near every time.

He’s near when we leave.

Ever had a season of questioning and pain so deep you distanced yourself from God? Guess what? He isn’t put off by our questions. He stays nearer than we’d dare to believe.

He’s near.

No matter what, He’s close.

Dare to believe it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thanks for the Prayers


Recently my good friend sent an email saying she was praying for me as I recovered from an illness. Oh, those words are a soothing balm, aren’t they? Just knowing you’re not alone and someone cares can really help a person feel better. And as I responded with “thanks for the prayers,” it hit me, Jesus appreciates our prayers too.

O My dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the stairs,
Let Me see your face,
Let Me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is beautiful. 
(Song of Songs 2:14 NKJV)

He loves to hear from us. He can’t get enough of us. Right now, as I type this, He’s wooing me to break for devotionals. Just to come and sit quietly with Him, listening to Him, speaking with Him, singing to Him, reading about Him, loving on Him.

Prayer is so much more than bringing petitions by repetition. Prayer is communion—heart to heart with the God who created us, with the Bridegroom who longs for us, with the Friend who loves us, and with the affectionate Father who cares for us.

Prayer is life. Years ago, I prayed God would give me a vital prayer life. I wanted my prayer time to be filled with life and energy. God answered in so many ways. He gave me an energetic, living prayer life, but he also fulfilled another definition of “vital” in my prayer time—necessary for life. I spent hours in prayer and it became something I couldn’t live without. Still can’t. Vital prayer life. I asked, and He was very glad to grant my request for more of Him because God loves when we pray.

Prayer also moves the hand of God. When you have intimacy with someone and you ask for something, they’ll listen. They’ll prioritize you above others. You have special favor in their eyes. Cultivating intimacy with God brings such joy as you delight in Him and such reassurance when you pray. I’m not saying He’ll always answer immediately, and I’m not suggesting we gain some sort of perceived control over the omnipotent God. I’m saying there is joy in delighting in Him. There is freedom and sweet communion. Vital prayer.

So, if Jesus were to leave a comment after you posted your morning devotional thoughts, I think He’d say “thanks for the prayers.” Clicking off to go commune now. All His best to you, dear readers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Loving God From Here


So many times as I learn new lessons in life, shame tries to tag along. Like, why didn’t I know that already? Or why am I still watching God speak to this area or that area of my life? Why don’t I have all these things in line yet? 


But guess what? God doesn’t condemn us for being imperfect. 


Astonishing, I know. 


In fact, even though we’re struggling, He’s got an invitation for us. An invitation to love Him from here. 


Wherever you are, love Him from there. Don’t hold back just because you’re not perfect yet. Don’t let shame come on you as you learn new things or when you fail. Just keep loving God.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. God’s invitation remains to love Him.


Trials or good times, love Him from there.


Never been this way before? Love Him from there.


Feeling far from God? He’s closer than you think. Love Him from there.  


Self-doubts, inferiority, shame, regret? Let go of all that and love God from there. Like setting down a bushel basket so you can hug someone, set everything else aside and love on God.


No matter where you are, what’s happened, or what’s happening, love God from there.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jesus Nourishes Us

 
 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, 
just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:29 NKJV)

As our Bridegroom, Jesus feeds us. What does this look like? I’ll give you an example from my own life.

First, some of the givens. If we pray, He’ll meet us. He may not manifest His presence in a tangible way every time we pray (because He wants us to diligently seek Him), but He will feed us. He will give us something out of His Word to hold onto, to meditate on. He’ll meet us in specific ways. The other day, He directed me to begin reading Matthew and those first two chapters were chock full of applicable things for my life right now. Very specific ways that Jesus nourished me.

Second, we’re talking about how God meets the needs of our souls. We’re often so concerned with earthly things like the woman at the well who wanted fresh drinking water, that we miss that Jesus knows we need spiritual food and drink. He’ll meet that need. That’s what prayer, Bible reading, worship time, and meditation is all about. Getting spiritually fed.

So, to that example. You’re here reading a bridal blog. For many years, I have studied and written and sang about being the Bride of Christ and knowing Him as Bridegroom. So, over the years, God has led me to the feasting table full of various Bible studies, teachings, or worship leaders’ CDs  so I could dive deeper into this study and fall more in love with Him. This week, He’s done it again. I’ve just found another resource to devour. Can’t wait to get started.

There are so many Bible study materials. And you probably have access to a Bible. What do you do to position yourself at His table? How does He meet you and give you good things to “eat?” What themes is He focusing on with you lately? In my life right now, He’s focusing on first love. 

Aren’t you glad He nourishes and cherishes us? Let’s dive into what our personal God is feeding us. This food will change our lives.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Kisses of God



Sunshine and warm temps after months of cool and cloudy weather. 

The gentle sound of wooden wind chimes in the breeze.

The glory of flowers in an inviting garden.

God knowing what I need, and meeting those needs. And beyond that, God knowing my heart’s desires and fulfilling some of those too.

Beauty blesses me. God knows that and surrounds me in His beautiful creation.

Music ministers to me, God meets me in it.

Cool water refreshes me; God offers living water too.

Are you aware of the kisses of God in your life? How does God personally minister to you?

The kisses of God have another aspect. When we read His Word, and His message comes alive, that is another form of kisses from God. We draw close to Him by opening His Word and praying, and He meets us there with something applicable to our lives.

We can kiss God back. How? Through worship. Sincere praise, sincere connection with God in worship is kissing God back. (blessing Him back)

Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth—
      For Your love
is better than wine. (Song of Songs 1:2)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Give In To God's Love


I love the ocean. Recently, our family visited the Pacific coast. Powerful waves rolled in, chasing us up the shore. Saltiness scented the air. The blueness of sky and sea stretched on and on, north to south, and beyond the western horizon. Experiencing the ocean woos me to God.

Our flower garden woos me to God. All I have to do is gaze through the window while I work, and I’m wooed. All those colors. And if I go out there, the fragrances and beauty surround me.

That’s why I love God’s presence. Powerfully He presses His glory on us, breathing His wind over us. He heals. He saves. He delights to redeem situations and people. His presence refreshes.

And though I can experience Him at the ocean or in the garden, it’s not a given. I have to be open to His presence while visiting those places. Now, in a church where folks are praying and as a congregation they’re open to God, you can be immersed in His goodness without much effort. Dive in after the others have begun hosting Him.

I think that’s why it’s challenging to experience powerful prayer on our own. In a group, it’s the combined confidence and faith that encourages our faith. But alone, we’re sometimes more skittish, like a lamb. Unsure. Unstable. Unaware of just how much God wants to overwhelm us with His presence, His goodness, His glory. All we have to do is say “yes.”

I want to remain woo-able. All my life. Every day. So God can use the simple moments to remind me of His presence, His love. So the awe of beauty can chase me back to God, Who created it. So the fragrance of jasmine and roses can cause me to lean on His chest, give in again and again to His love.

Are you open to Him? Are you woo-able? If not, but you want to be, take steps in His direction. Tell Him you want more of Him. Then, give Him opportunities to woo you. Visit a place that blesses you (like the ocean or gardens bless me). Pray there. Open up to Him there. And know this: He’s already wooing you. Remember this promise:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a NKJV)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meet Me



Dear Jesus, meet me in my work today
Meet me in my play
Meet me in the garden
And all throughout the day.

Help me keep my eyes on You,
Heart anchored to Your love.
And help me know You’re very near
Not somewhere far above.

Oh, and when we meet, breathe on me…


Fresh life


Fresh revelation of Your love


Renewed strength


I need you near


Meet me

Friday, July 22, 2011

Anchored


With the release of Husband Material, I’ve just finished a website overhaul. And in the process of reworking my website, I felt it was time I had a tagline. For non-writers, that won’t mean much, but it’s part of the backstory here. J

So, I prayed about it. And here’s what God gave me: Anchored in the King’s Affections

For over a decade, He’s shown me more and more of His heart as the Bridegroom God. He’s unwrapped the bridal paradigm for me, showing me how He sees His people as His bride and what that means. (Hint: it’s why He went to the cross.)

My passion is to share those truths with you, with readers, both on my blogs and in my fiction. Tying that passion with my love of the water is a very fitting representation of me.

So, what does it mean to be anchored in the King’s affections?

~ You pursue deeper understanding of the Love of God. Ask God to reveal His passionate heart to you. Dig into the Scriptures and read the Bible through the lens of love. (i.e. consider God’s love first and foremost as you read)

~ You decide to trust. Life’s not easy, and it’s rarely simply understood. Not only are we complex beings, but we live in an unpredictable, unexplainable world, under an infinite, all-knowing God. God’s the only safe harbor, the only safe foundation, the only safe anchor.

~ You cling to Him. Being anchored is the sense of being tied down to something that won’t change. Wind and waves can come, but you’re not going anywhere. God’s got you. And You’re clinging to Him. Safe.

So, join me, won’t you, in becoming anchored more deeply in the King’s affections.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Husband Material

Releases 7-22-11

Who would know better than God the kind of man who would make good husband material?

I used this idea in my latest writing endeavor—a “dollar download” entitled Husband Material. The short e-book will release this Friday, 7-22-11.

I don’t often bring up my writing life here, but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to share the good news with you, dear readers. My calling is to show people the love of God through writing, both here on this blog, on my other blogs and in my fiction and non-fiction writing.

If you enjoy reading this blog, you may enjoy reading my fiction as well. Check out the summary for the story:

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can't bring himself to break their annual dinner date—that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr.

Lara doesn't have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that's what she tells herself so she doesn't have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara's business is failing, and it just may take a miracle—or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen—to save it.

Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?


Whatever you read, I pray you are edified and that God is glorified.

With warm wishes for all His best in your life,

Annette

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saved the Best Till Last


When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!" (John 2:9-10 MSG)

Jesus is our Bridegroom.

The Bible admonishes us to avoid getting drunk with wine, but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit. (see Eph 5:18) So, the Bible compares the experience of encounter and communion with the Holy Spirit (who brings real joy and fulfillment) with imbibing with alcohol (counterfeit joy).

This is a literal story from John chapter two, but there are some parallels, some symbols for today. Now, peek at the verse again.

The host could be likened to a church leader or a pastor who is in charge of gathering the congregation and meeting their needs (by delegating responsibilities, etc.).

The Holy Spirit is the “wine.” We enjoy Him, drinking deeply of His goodness in the presence of God.

God gives believers a well of living water that flows from the inside out. (see John 4:14) And something happens when we encounter the Holy Spirit that goes beyond the effects of water (which are very good) to the effects of godly intoxication (including true freedom, healing, breaking out of our stuck places, and so much more). 

He brought me to the banqueting house,
      And his banner over me was love.
(Song of Songs 2:4 NKJV)

(banqueting house literally means house of intoxication) 

Jesus is the Bridegroom. He sends the Holy Spirit to us. (See John 16:7) When we commune with God, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit (spiritual “wine”).

And, using Jesus’ description (esp. Matthew 24) and other biblical prophecies as our guide, we can deduce we’re in the final days of the church age. (Though, of course, only God knows the day and the hour of the Rapture—see Matt. 24:36).

Now, read John 2:9-10 again:

When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!” (John 2:9,10 MSG)

I read in that an invitation to go deeper. To commune more sweetly with the Lord these days and that we have an unprecedented opportunity to experience Him like no one else in history. (Consider the principle of  Matt. 13:16-17.) That's partly due to the bridal revelation God is releasing for His people right now. We're the Bride and we can know Jesus as Bridegroom. Ours is the first generation where this truth has been released on a broad scale. Not only has this truth been revealed, but people are receiving it as truth and experiencing God as the Lover of their souls in a new way. (If you haven't yet, ask Him. He'll show you.) And, there is more revelation to come as God reveals God to our hearts, awakening us.

So, let’s draw ever nearer to Him. He is the priority of our days, of our life. Keep Him first. Delight in Him. Get close enough to watch Him move in your circumstances. And drink deeply of the Holy Spirit.