Pursuing God in the Psalms part 2

Again, it is such a privilege to be part of a group of people who are blogging their way through the Bible! We are slowly working our way through, just talking about our thoughts on the book of Psalms. To check out the archives, you can go here.

Today, we will be talking about Psalms 55 and 56. The title in the NKJV says “Trust in God Concerning the Treachery of Friends” As we read this chapter, in typical David style, he bares his heart openly before God. One thing I have always admired about David is that he allows the vulnerability of his heart to be out in the open. Me, I would rather hide it and stuff it down!

David starts chapter 55 with a plea to God to hear his cries. He says he is restless and moans noisily. Why? Because of all the noise and voices he was hearing from the enemy. He even goes as far as to say, if he was a dove, he would fly away! Wow! How many of you can relate to that? David goes on to talk about the evil and wickedness of those he is ranting to God about. Then he says, if this was a regular enemy, as in someone at war with him, he would understand why they were saying all these awful things about him. But they were not his enemies! Verse 13 says these were his companions and acquaintances! These were friends! As the old saying goes, “with friends like that, you need no enemies.”

In the midst of being betrayed by friends and companions though, David says in verse 16:

As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me.

He gives us a wonderful example of how we are to call upon the Lord, focus our attention on God even in the middle of being betrayed. He even goes on to encourage us to cast our burdens on the Lord, and says God will sustain us! Such wonderful promises!

In the next chapter, David was praying for relief from his tormentors. We may not have physical enemies who want to see us destroyed (or maybe some do) but we do battle constantly against the enemies of our mind. Depression, hopelessness, fear, doubt, worry and unbelief among many others. When we cry out to God for relief, He hears us beloved! He cares so deeply about the things we are facing. When we are afraid, we can declare that we will trust in God. We can face the enemies of our mind like David and speak forth the promises of God. We can refuse to fear.

Even in days as we are facing right now, with the Covid-19 Virus, we can resist fear and look to the Lord for relief. David says God puts our tears on a bottle and sees every tear we cry. Several times in this chapter, David says I will not be afraid, I will trust God.

My friend, I encourage you today to trust in Him. He will see us through this. He has never failed us and He never will.

Pursing the Father, a look at a man called Job

I was invited to participate in an awesome group of women who are blogging their way through the Word of God! If you would like to read more about our thoughts about the book of Job, you can find the archives here

The end of the story…

I am picking up the story of Job with the last two chapters (41 and 42). In chapter 41, God continues to ask Job about different animals and ends with Leviathan, which some versions describe as a type of crocodile. In the New Living Translation, it describes it almost like a dragon! But the point was that God was asking Job if he could control this wild animal or if he could rope it up or put a hook in it. Knowing full well that Job could not. But the point God was making to Job was He was God and Job was not, in a nutshell!

Reading the book of Job was not an easy task, we begin with the introduction of Job who was a righteous man and was perfect in his ways. In other words, he was a good man who did things right. The scene opens up with the devil conversating with God about Job. If you have heard the story, you know that God granted permission for satan to basically try to destroy Job by getting him to deny God and turn away from his relationship with God. Job pursued God first and foremost.

The book goes on to tell of how Job lost all he had, his children, his animals, and on and on. His wife and his friends tried to get him to turn away from God, but in the middle of all the difficulties, Job still remained faithful to God. I encourage you to read the book in a few translations so you can get a good understanding of what has transpired to this point.

In the last chapter, Job responds to a question that God had posed to him, and Job admitted that he was giving answers that he really had no clue what he was talking about. Job humbled himself before God and truly recognized that God was God and Job was not. Job repented for trying to have all the right answers.

After the Lord spoke back to Job, He asked Job a peculiar request. I found it peculiar anyway! He asked Job if he would pray for his three friends who tried their best to convince Job that God was against him! Now at this point, I am sure that Job probably felt that these friends were more like enemies! But Job was obedient and God accepted his prayer for his friends, then verse ten says this:

And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:10

So in spite of Job losing all he had, receiving terrible advice from his wife and friends, being afflicted with boils and sickness, he maintained his integrity and his walk with God. He refused to turn away from God and persisted in his pursuit of the Father. God restored to him more children and servants and animals. He restored to Job his position of integrity within his community! He restored all that the enemy had stolen from him!

We don’t understand why Job was tested or why God allowed satan to try to destroy him, but we do know from all of this, that God is God and we are not! We also know that we have the ability within us to continue to remain strong in our connection with the Father, no matter what comes our way. We may never deal with all Job did, but each one of us has gone through things that have made us maybe want to give up.

What are some ways you can cultivate perseverance in your pursuit of the Father?
How do you remind yourself that God is faithful and will never leave or forsake you?
Lord, I lift up each person reading this today. Maybe they too feel that what they are going through is too much for them to bear. I ask that you will strengthen them and protect them today. I ask that you will give them the persistence and patience to get through all the trials and things they are facing. Lord, give them courage to stand for you even in the midst of advice from those around them that may not be the best advice. Let them follow you and keep their heart in right standing before you. AMEN

A big thank you to the Blogging Through The Bible women’s group for inviting me on this journey!

Godspeeed

Renae

Pursuit of a new year!

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN!

Well, here we are again. The end of the year. For many, a time of reflection and memories. For others, maybe a tremendously hard year makes you want to just go ahead and skip forward a few days into 2020.

Like I wrote last year, I am not really into resolutions. You can read my thoughts here. I really don’t set resolutions, because let’s admit it, most of what I resolve to do doesn’t happen lol!

But what can happen no matter what day of the year, is our pursuit of God. We can make up our mind to pursue the Father deeper on a daily basis and that we should do. I am honest with you in saying, I have not done that. There have been days and weeks where I have not pursued a deeper relationship with Him. I have held on to the status quo for me. Yes, reading my bible and praying daily. But to really dig in deeper, I have gone days without doing that. Now that is something I definitely can change!

It doesn’t have to look like a major overall. For me, I want to take my good habits and just go deeper with them.

Let me give you an example. I absolutely love the YouVersion Bible App. With this app, I have finally established a daily habit of reading the Word and reading a devotional. I have been a Christian since I was a young child, but had never developed the discipline of being in the Word consistently- every day- until I started on this Bible App. Now I have gone two years daily in the Word! This is huge for me! BUT…. it would be so easy to stop there. I will continue to be in the Word daily through the app, but this coming year, I want to interact more. I want to look up the verses in my paper Bible. I want to jot down scriptures that stand out to me. You see where I am headed? This will lead me down a deeper path in the Word.

Another example is in prayer. We can be in the habit of praying and sometimes it becomes just another thing to check off our to-do list. I want to change that. My pastor reminded us today of how important it is to pray the scriptures over ourselves. To personalize the scriptures and really take time to declare His Word over ourselves.

Romans 10:17 says:

So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

So I will increase my faith by hearing myself declare the Word of God! Applying God’s Word during my prayer time will ensure that I am praying according to God’s will and plan. It is so easy to get off track when I am praying as far as praying for my list of things that I need God to do. Prayer is a two way communication, so that also means that I need to listen to what He is saying as well.

So taking my Word time and my prayer time deeper are two things that I want to do going forward. I don’t have to wait till January 1st! I can start now!

What are some things that you want to pursue for the new year? In all of your pursuit, make sure your pursuit of the Father is the most important, for that is where the rest of your life will flow from!

May God richly bless and keep you in all your ways.

Chasing God, Renae

Pursuit by Persistence

Having a son in the military, I have learned more about persistence over the last year. As he worked his way through boot camp and AIT, he learned the value of persistence and hard work through his training.

Persistence and perseverance go hand in hand. Dictionary.com defines persistent as:

…enduring tenaciously, persevering in spite of obstacles, opposition, discouragement, continued.

dictionary.com

Persistence is something that is developed and not given. It is a character trait that we must practice and is a twin to patience! So how does persistence pertain to our pursuit of God?

Being persistent in our pursuit in our walk with God means that no matter what, we won’t run from Him, but always run to Him. It means that we make up our mind that there is no turning back. Being persistent in our pursuit means that we have an attitude set in our heart that decides in advance, no matter how hard this gets, I am not letting go of God!

So how do we develop persistence? For me, the first is by making the choice daily. Like I mentioned above, deciding in advance. You can’t wait till things get hard then decide to run to God in the spur of the moment. You may succeed, but most likely something will detour you in that moment. So every day, decree that you are choosing to run to God.

Developing persistence requires practice! It requires discipline! Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. How is fruit grown and matured? In the natural, you have to have good soil, water and sunshine and most of all the seed. Spiritually, having patience as a fruit means you plant the seed of the Word of God in your heart, you water it by continuing in the Word and cultivate it by obeying God. As that fruit grows, it is an outward evidence of these things working together.

What are some things that have helped you develop persistence in your pursuit of God? I would love to hear from you!

Godspeed! Renae

No New Year’s Resolutions!

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Happy New Year everyone!  Whether you had an awesome 2018 or if you are ready for the clock to countdown tonight so you can finally get to 2019,  the end of the year should be a time of reflection. 

I am not one to make New Year’s Resolutions. In the past, I have never discovered that motivation to follow through with them!  Kudos to all of you who can write down your goals for the new year and more importantly following through!  Goals really are a good thing!

With a new year comes new changes. Sometimes change is very difficult! But change can be good!

Scrolling through Facebook the other day,  I read a post from a friend.  With her permission I am including her quote.

“I could change just one area of my life and it would have a trickle down effect on lots of areas. So with that being said, 2019 will find me building up my relationship with God.”  Tara S.

And Tara is right, if we build up our relationship with God first and foremost, we will see a change in every area of our lives.

Yesterday at church, our associate pastor ministered on the “One Thing” we should focus on for 2019. That being, falling in love with Jesus more than we have ever before.

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Loving Jesus with all our hearts should mean that we give Him our all! It means we should pursue Him with our whole hearts.  If my pursuit of Him is my main thing, all the other areas that I need to work on will change. 

Sometimes we focus so much on trying to change ourselves, using our own methods and ideas.  We read self help books and renew our gym memberships. (these are all good things, don’t get me wrong!)  But if our focus will be on loving God with ALL our hearts, ALL of the time, we will most definitely see change in our lives. 

The sin that so easily drags us down can be overcome by loving God with all our heart. For when we love God, we want to obey Him! I am not saying we will see it all at one time, but over time, change will be evident. 

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”  Matthew 22:37

I leave you with this. It’s perfectly fine to have goals and resolutions!  But let’s make our number ONE THING to be to fall in love with God more than we ever have before. Pursue Him and develop intimacy with Him!  I will share more in the future on what that actually looks like! 

Chasing God,

Renae


And Mary said…

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One of my favorite verses from the Christmas story is Luke 1:38

“And Mary said,  Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. and the angel departed from her”

Most of us know the back story. Mary was a young teenager from Nazareth in Galilee who was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter.

Earlier in the chapter, we find that Mary’s cousins Elisabeth and John were expecting a baby which was really amazing since they were both up in years.  The angel Gabriel had appeared to John to make the announcement about their coming son.

It was no coincidence that this same angel,  Gabriel, appeared to Mary to unveil the details of another upcoming birth!  I can’t imagine how she must have felt to be in the presence of Gabriel and then hear the words he spoke to her!

Gabriel started out by saying she was blessed and highly favored by the Lord. That alone was a HUGE blessing! To be singled out by God Himself to be the mother of JESUS, our Savior and King! After encouraging her not to be afraid, he began to spell out the earth-shattering news that Mary would supernaturally conceive by the Holy Spirit.

Now I am positive that Mary wasn’t jumping up and down with joy over this news. She like any normal teen virgin girl would be deeply troubled and very afraid. I am sure her emotions were all over the place.

BUT….

Her next words were the exact reason why God chose this Jewish girl from Nazareth to be the life giving mother of the savior of the world. After trying to absorb what Gabriel had said to her, she replied “Be it unto me according to your word.”   WOW!  In that moment, Mary submitted her will, her reputation, her engagement to Joseph, her relationship with her parents, EVERYTHING- to God’s plan – his mission to bring His only begotten Son into this world, wrapped in an earth suit!

I believe that very moment when Mary uttered “Be it unto me” or in our words, “I am willing, let it be done”, that she conceived Jesus deep within her womb.  She became the catalyst for the world to be changed.

This Christmas, we also have the power to choose to say,  “Be it unto me according to the word of God.”  God sent His best for you.  Will you give your best for Him?

Chasing God

Renae

What if I am not hungry?

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Children often say, “I am not hungry.”  Sometimes it is because they have been snacking on other things so they really aren’t hungry at meal time. Other times, it is because they are having too much fun to stop what they are doing to eat!

For me, I know that I have gone through times of my life when I was not hungry for God. I was not pursuing Him on a daily basis. I was filling myself up on other things! I was distracted by the latest bells and whistles and didn’t acknowledge my hunger.

Just like we should nourish our bodies with good food, we should also nourish our spiritual bodies as well with the Word and things of God.

So what if you are in that season right now where you are not really hungry for Him? You feel blah and maybe you go through the motions, but your heart isn’t engaged in what you are doing.

First, know that it is normal to go through times like this! It doesn’t mean you have failed as a believer. God isn’t mad at you!  When you condemn yourself over a dry season it causes you to pull even further away from God. (God never condemns us! He convicts, which is different! More on that later)

Second, acknowledge this and tell God how you are feeling. It’s ok to tell Him you don’t feel Him close by and you really aren’t pursing Him because you aren’t hungry for Him.  Honestly, He already knows this! 🙂

And just like if you go without natural food for an extended period and you just aren’t hungry, you have to begin to make yourself eat so you will gain strength. So it is in your walk with God.

Here are some ways that I have found to force feed myself when I just wasn’t hungry. 

  • Find a good Bible App that has devotions ( I recommend YouVersion) and commit to reading a devotion every day.
  • Read some verses each day in the Bible. (The gospels are a good place to start!)
  • Share with a trustworthy friend what you are feeling.
  • Find something good to do for someone else.
  • Journal your thoughts. Writing out how you feel helps to release these emotions. Most times, we base not being hungry for God out of our emotions or feelings. We don’t feel God near, etc. So pinpointing how you are feeling and writing them down helps to release them.
  • Most important is to spend some time each day talking to God. Notice I didn’t say you  must spend an hour praying every day. Sometimes we have this idea of praying that seems so formal and difficult. Praying is simply talking to God just as if He was right there beside of you (He really is right beside you!) and then listening for Him to speak back. He speaks in many ways and we will explore that later too.  Even if it is starting out with just a few minutes each day. Tell him, “God, I am just not hungry right now, but I want to be. Help me to desire to pursue you with all of my heart.”

Don’t give up my friend! This dry season will pass if you will on purpose pursue Him even when you don’t feel hungry for Him! 

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section and maybe share some things that have been helpful for you.

Chasing God

Renae