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.