Tag Archives: Practicing the Presence of God

Growing with God

Living in the Spirit
November 9, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

 I do not invest a lot of time wondering what happens after death. My pat answer, when asked about my ideas about life after death, is to say that I believe I will be with God and that is all I need to know. I do strongly believe that my emphasis must be on how I can make a difference now and eternity will take care of itself. As a part of the Body of Christ, I am already with God. I do not see eternity as a reward of some kind so much as a continuation of a long-held relationship under different circumstance. The building of that relationship every day is key. I love the hymn Are Ye Able that describes this growth with God.

“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“to the death we follow thee.”

Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine.
Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
a beacon to God, to love, and lo*

 Prayer: Lord, grow us as people who catch your dream and strive to make it real for all your children so that one day your Kingdom comes and your will is done. Amen.

 *First verse and chorus of Are Ye Able word by Earl Marlett see at http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh530.sht

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Presence of God

Living in the Spirit
October 30, 2017

Scripture Reading: Joshua 3:7-17

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, “When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.” ’ Joshua then said to the Israelites, ‘Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.’ Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.’—Joshua 3:7-13

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels wings.
I see glory on each face.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.*

 I was surprised to see that Lanny Wolfe wrote this song in 1977. I seem to remember singing it all of my life. It is a good song reminding us of whose we are.

We tend to recognize the presence of the Lord in crises and at times of big events like the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land. I think we need to work a little harder at practicing the presence of God in all that we do. I am a strong believer in prevention first. I was a child welfare worker and supervisor. Guiding young people to recognize having children should be a decision, not an accident would be a good starting place. Providing parenting education for all youth as early as junior high would make a difference. Early identification and intervention to help current parents improve their skills would be beneficial.

Most areas of human endeavor could develop a similar listing of ways to prevent bad situations. Joshua prepared the Israelites for the next major step of their journey. He underscored the role of God in each segment of its development. Building and sustaining our relationship with God is the key to living the abundant life God provides for us. Stumbling alone finding our way until we get into trouble rarely turns out well.

Prayer: Lord, be present to us as we make ourselves present to you. Amen.

*Chorus of Surely the Presence by Lanny Wolfe see at https://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/Hymns/Presence-of-the-lord.html

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Newness of Life

Living in the Spirit
June 22, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 6:1b-11

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. –Romans 6:1b-4

The first time I walked after having my left knee replaced nine years ago, I was assisted by a young hospital staffer, I have no idea his job title. My immediate reaction was to say that my leg felt like it was turning inside-out. He patted my shoulder and said, “your leg has not been straight for a long time, you just do not remember what it feels like to walk with a fully functional leg.” He was right.

Life experiences, right or wrong, can change how we think, view others, and establish the belief systems with which we ground our faith. Changing the course of our life from poorly substantiated belief systems is hard whether those systems relate to faith or not. The strong arm of a patient young man enabled me to take one step at a time until I accepted the fact that my stainless steel knee worked.

Paul is telling us in Romans that we can walk in newness of life because Christ rose from the dead. There are libraries full of theology packed in that simple statement. My guess is Paul was very capable of explaining it in depth, but he invites us to accept it on faith. I think he is saying try it and see how it feels and fits. Walking in newness of life for most of us means major change. Learning to love all people no matter what takes time and practice and a large dose of Holy Support. Living justice in all aspects of our lives, including going the extra mile to assure someone else’s justice, constantly challenges us. Resting securely in the love of God should not be difficult but it is. I do not know about you, I am stubborn and keep thinking I got this when I don’t. Practicing the presence of God is fundamental to newness of life.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing us the way to live in harmony with you and the world in which we find ourselves. Be present with us as we struggle to walk in this newness of life. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Care of the Soul

Guiding-principles-for-practicing-Gods-presence-every-day-e1334591845878Living in the Spirit
November 4, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,
   those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
   the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
   and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
   for he gives sleep to his beloved. –Psalm 127

As many will tell you, I was born with a rather independent streak, which results in much consternation when I am dependent on something that is not working. I love automation, am keying this at a computer as I write, but I hate it when it does not work. It most often does not work when I am in a crunch and have limited time to mess with it. I spent almost two hours on the phone with a technician yesterday trying to figure out why my printer will not print cards that it has been printing on a regular basis for over a year. I am on a tight deadline and did not need this intrusion into my plans. I am now in search of another computer having determined that is the best use of my time.

A few years ago, I would not have slept a wink last night because I would have been stewing and fretting about the problem I just described. Actually, I slept well. I slept well because I am learning, although I am a hard nut to crack, that I am never alone when I am striving to do the will of God. Actually, I have learned that I am never alone when I get off that course. God will provide rest for my soul, when I work with God toward that end first. For although my body and mind may be worn out, it is my soul that must hold me all together. This is true, I think, for all of us.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.*

Prayer: Practicing your presence, O Lord, is the most important thing I can do each day. Help me to remember that. Amen.

*First verse of the hymn, It is Well with my Soul by Horatio G. Spafford. See the whole hymn at http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh377.sht

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights