Wednesday, April 15, 2015

God Among Us

1 Samuel 3:1-10 ~

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am. And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I love this story for it is a rich a vivid story that really exemplifies God's love for us and His ultimate patience and willingness to call our name over and over so that we might better learn His voice and be able to respond when He calls us to Himself.

God comes into our lives and calls our name, and then waits. Time and time again, He will do this until we finally figure out, "Hey, that's me He's talking to...Oh! Yeah Lord, I'm right here."

But there is something that stuck out when I read this passage in verse 7, "Samuel did not yet know the Lord."

So here is the obvious question: How do we get to know God?

* Spend time with God. Talk to Him - study His word
 Like in any relationship, you must spend time with the one you love in order for the relationship to grow and become strong. Invest your time . Learn their voice, their likes, dislikes, to the degree that their voice is as familiar to you as your own. God is no different and prayer is how we communicate with Him, studying His word is how we get to know God. Therefore, in order to know God we must spend time with Him so that when He calls our name, we recognize immediately and respond.

* Seek out a godly mentor(s)
Next, if we do not yet know God the way we'd like to, seek out a godly mentor. A godly mentor is simply someone who's a little farther along in their walk with God. It doesn't mean they have all the answers but simply, they may be able to pray with you and point you in the right direction as you grow in your walk with God.

* Join a bible study or a prayer group
When my kids were little I joined MOPS and Moms in Touch, both were Christian groups designed to meet the needs of women in certain stages of their parenting levels. Now that my kids are older, I've joined a women's bible study group. I find I still need accountability and the friendship of women of all ages to pray with over my family and help lend a supportive hand in life's challenging situations when I'm too upset to hear God's voice.

* Keep a journal.
I love to write, so this one's a no-brainer for me.  In fact I keep 2 journals always close at hand. One is my "Gratitude Journal" where I write down all the things that I'm so thankful for each morning. Secondly, I keep a normal writing journal where I vent, pray or take notes of what He shares with me during my prayer time. As Christians wanting to grow in our faith sometimes we lose sight of where we've been, where we are and where we want to go. Journals are a great way to spell out prayer requests and then go back and see how God is working in your life and through other Christians and circumstances to communicate with you.

Above all else, keep in mind that God loves you and wants to talk with you and He will keep calling your name until you respond.

On that note, doesn't it just make your mind reel that the God of the Universe in His infinite love for us, stands among us, calls our name and waits until we respond. AMAZING!

So let today be the day that we hear His voice and respond, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Dear friend please know that I am praying for you today - I am praying that your relationship with God grows stronger and that you will go from being like Samuel who needed help recognizing God's voice to being more like Eli who knew circumstantially God's behavior and responded accordingly.

Until next time,
Blessings and Best Wishes,
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Will of God

This past Sunday as I listened to our pastor talk, he briefly mentioned "the will of God."

Now I've heard those words before but up until that moment I'd not given them much thought.  But as the good Lord would have it, "the will of God" caught my attention and prompted me to do a little research.

I referenced those words on the net and found a list of at least 20 different bible verses that included, "the will of God."

Now when God prompts me to dig a little deeper into His word, I take it seriously and figure He's brought this to my attention for a reason. This time was no different.

For the past few weeks I've been at a crossroads with a few challenges which have left me feeling frustrated, burned out and spiritually depleted.

So when the Spirit prompted me to do this research, little did I know just how much I needed to know, (mind, body and soul) the will of God. As I copied the bible references and began to locate them in the Word, I jotted every verse down into my journal. Now with the first few bible verses I silently agreed, "Yes Lord, I see what You're saying here. Good to know." It was almost as if I was saying to myself, "Yep, see, you knew that, but you'd forgotten it." 

But then I came across this gem: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Now this struck me right between the eyes. Immediately my confusion led to fussin' with God. "Seriously Lord? Right now? You want me, after the last month I've had to be joyous? You're kidding right? And you want me to give thanks? Are you kidding Lord? Remember yesterday? Remember the chat we had on my drive home from work? Ya know that one, with all the tears?

Trust me when I tell you that I fussed something fierce. Now if you're not familiar with fussin', let's just say it's like belly-achin', not really whining or complaining so much as it's more like sharing my point in a grumbling sort of way. 

At any rate, once I stopped the fussin' and refocused on the fact that He led me to this passage at this time despite everything that was upsetting me, I really stopped a moment. It says: Be joyous.

Now how am I to be joyous when most days I'm in survival mode and can't think straight?

I can't. And I told that to God. In fact, I fussed a little more with Him about the fact that His will was something I was struggling with simply because I couldn't. I'm that burned out. I have nothing left emotionally or spiritually to give,  so how could I possibly have the energy to be joyous?  "Sorry Lord, I can't be joyous so You're gonna have to do it for me."

In that second I knew I needed the good Lord's help in everyway. I needed His joy, His efforts, His help and His guidance because I had nothing left to give. If I was going to be anything, it was going to have to be all up to Him.

The only thing I had left in me was the ability to pray so I kept pouring out all of my concerns, my worries and hopes and my disappointments and then added these words, "Lord I need You to help me be joyous today. I need You Lord to help me to give thanks. Help me to find the good in some very difficult situations right now. Lord I'm tapped. I need Your joy today. I need Your help in seeing life differently, the way You would have me see it. And Lord, yes, I thank You for these challenges, because despite the fact that there are some life challenges at the moment, those challenges are pointing me back to You. So thank You Lord."

When I got back into my car later that day to head home it dawned on me that God had in fact, answered my prayers. I was in a much better mood than the one I started with, and I had felt His hand on my life the entire day. Yes it started out bumpy. Yes I felt frazzled and worn down to the point of exhaustion but God saw me through the entire day and by the time I clocked out, I felt good and I knew it was because of His love and strength. And as I made my way back home I recounted all that had transpired that day and I realized joy had been a part of my day in small, tangible ways that refreshed my soul.

God is so good. I am ever so thankful He hears our prayers. And He loves us so very much.

If you're having a tough day, week, month or whatever,  I want to take a moment and encourage you to turn it over to God. He loves you so very much and is waiting for you. And if you need a little extra help, please know that I've already prayed for you too!

Until next time,
Blessings & Best Wishes

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