Hideout

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“Where is your Dad?”, I inquired.  “Oh, he is working on his hideout,” replied my daughter.  Yes, it was true. My husband had spent several vacation days working on his new workshop.  He was busy organizing, cleaning, designing and planning how he would hang his tools, store his equipment and how to organize everything efficiently to prevent clutter.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines a hideout as “: a place of refuge, retreat, or concealment.”  I believe that as we embark on a new year, we should spend a little more time in our own “hideouts” planning, organizing and equipping ourselves with God’s word.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

We all need to make time to hideout with God.  The benefits of doing so can be astonishing.  There is no power, no peace, no strength and no love greater than His.  Nothing and no one else can offer us what He has and desires to give us.

I often think about what Jesus did when He walked this earth.   Surely, there is no better example for us to follow. Throughout the gospels we see examples of Jesus slipping away to “hideout” with God.  When Jesus needed to recharge, receive direction, encouragement, strength, or simply enjoy the presence of His Heavenly Father, he would simply slip away, withdraw, or find a quiet spot alone.

One time when Jesus was off praying by himself (Luke 9:18)

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself (Matthew 14:13)

As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer. (Luke 5:14)

Like Jesus, if we take some time to hideout with God we can draw our strength, direction and peace from Him.  Fill your heart and mind with His Word, pray for His direction, discern His voice, watch for Him working in your life and praise His name every moment you get.

But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! Jude 1:20

Contentment

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Our children were earning the privilege of opening an early Christmas present.  It just so happened that our son was able to open his present a day before my daughter.  She was so jealous.  Not just about him getting to open the present early, but also the gift he received.  I heard it all from, “It’s not fair!” to “He gets everything and I never get anything!”   Until she was able to open her gift and saw what she had been given.  Then, the roles reversed and my son was jealous while was daughter was rejoicing.  What a mess!

During my daughter’s wait, I wanted to say so many things.  “How can you say it isn’t fair?  You don’t even know what you are getting?  Just wait!  Be patient, you will see your gift is just as great, if not more!”

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

Ah, patience. . . a virtue I am always working on.  I was reminded of how often we go through this same ritual with God.  Have you ever asked, “Why them and not me? Why me and not them?  God, have you forgotten about me? This isn’t fair.”  While all along God is whispering, be patient and remain in me for I have rewards for you that you can’t even imagine.  He wants to give us the desires of our heart, but we have to be still and trust in Him (Psalm 37:7).

He is with us always and says, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8.  Draw from His strength, love, compassion, grace, and patience.

In Matthew 9:29 Jesus says, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” The closer we are to God the more our faith grows.  The more our faith grows the more God can do for and through us.  Trust Him and trust His timing. Be thankful for who you are and what God has provided for you today.  Find contentment in who you are and at this moment and mind comfort in knowing that God is clearing a path just for you.

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (The Message)

Just that Simple

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“Mommy, do you remember the Great Wolf Lodge?”, my son asked.  “Do you know why it is called that?  Because it is GREAT that’s why!”, he said emphatically.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

Sometimes, it is just that simple.  We don’t need to over analyze, question or guess who our Lord and Savior is or what He promises.  It is all in the name and written out for us in His word.  He is who He says He is.  It is as simple as that if we will trust in Him.

Who is God?

He is Truth, Light, Everlasting, Love, Deliverer, Rock, Gentle Whisper, Almighty, the Great I Am, Prince of Peace, Ancient of Days, Abba, Comforter, King of Kings, Teacher, Alpha & Omega, Counselor, Creator, Judge  .  .  .   I wish I had more room to continue.  I encourage you to research more of the names of God in the bible.  It is interesting, encouraging and important to understand and remember who God is.  Soak it in dear friend because if we don’t cover ourselves in these truths Satan will “come only to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10 those truths from your life, but he has no power over Christ.

“I am the Lord, and there is none else; there is no God beside me” Isaiah 45:5

Just that simple.  No need to question, “For this is what the LORD says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18

Lord, we thank you for all that you are.  Please cover us in your word and help us understand and believe that you are who you say you are.  Amen.

No Coincidence

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You may or may not have experienced it.  A time when you felt a nudge, intuition or persistent thought in the back of your head to send a card to a friend, make a phone call, drop off a meal or just stop in to say hello to a friend, neighbor or church member.

Or maybe a time when someone told you that God had placed you in their path, you said exactly what they needed to hear, you were an angel or an answer to prayer. Don’t deny yourself the truth.  We aren’t that spectacular! We are nothing without God.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  Acts 17:24-25

It wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t your idea, but it WAS God.  Thankfully, you were open and obedient to his nudge so that He could use you to touch the life of another one of His children.  This is something I pray about consistently.  I pray that my heart and mind will be open to Him and his request – no matter how strange it may seem.  I pray that my pride and self interests never interfere with His work and that I stay obedient to His Word.

There is nothing more humbling than to realize the Creator of the Universe has intervened and used you as a vessel to touch the life of one of His children.  I am fortunate to have been the recipient of such encounters.  I have also been blessed to have had the opportunity to be used by God to reach out to someone who has sought Him and His presence in their life.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17

I pray you will receive this message with an accepting heart, open eyes and responsive soul to the  requests God is whispering to you.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

Not So Bad

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“I wish it was Christmas all year-round,” exclaimed one friend.  “I can’t believe they already have Christmas decorations up and Halloween is barely over,” said another.  We have heard it all before.  Everyone has an opinion about how commercialized Christmas has become.

I wish he’d show you how wisdom looks from the inside, for true wisdom is mostly ‘inside.’ Job 11:6 (The Message)

Personally, I love Christmas!  The earlier the retailers bring out the lights, decorations and Christmas music the better.  Think about it. . . it’s the one time of year we are reminded of Jesus everywhere we go.  Christ is even on the mind of those who only attend church twice a year (Christmas and Easter).  We hear Christmas carols and smell the fragrances that remind us of a birth that happened many years ago, but brought love and forgiveness to our lives that is real even today.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

This isn’t to say everyone feels this way.  If you don’t have a relationship with Christ it would be very easy to miss Him in this materialistic and commercialized world.  I urge you to look past those things and use this time of year to see, hear, feel and smell the reminders of our Savior’s birth. Savor the kindness, generosity, messages of encouragement and love that are so prevalent during this special season.

For me, I keep up a Nativity scene all year-round as a reminder of what God sent to us.  His son.  His only son.  He sent Him to live among us, feel our pain, be tempted by sin and see the world through human eyes and a human heart so that with all the other gifts he gives us – He can also offer understanding. True understanding.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:11

All that said, I don’t think it’s so bad that we get a little longer to savor the Christmas season.  Merry Christmas!

His Presence

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I can probably count on one hand the times in my life when I have truly felt the presence of the Lord.  Emotionally, I feel His presence often, but physically is very rare for me.  One particular time stands out the most.  In fact, I can always take myself there in my mind and relive it because it was so real.

When our daughter was 4 years old she had some medical issues arise.  It all turned out fine, but it was a very difficult and scary time for us because we were unsure at the time what the outcome would be.  I had gone out early one morning to take our dog out.  It was unusually cool that fall morning.  I was enjoying a quiet moment when a gentle breeze swept up from behind and engulfed me.  The breath of heaven blew in and wrapped around me. Tears began to swell up in my eyes as I embraced and accepted this tremendous hug from the heavens. What an amazing reminder that God is with us in everything we do (Genesis 21:22).

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire. Hebrews 1:7

Oh, how I wish I could experience this everyday.  His physical presence brought an overwhelming sense peace, love, satisfaction and stillness to my soul.  I look forward to the day He offers Himself to me again in this way.  I pray that my heart, mind and soul stay ready to receive it.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there;  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

I love soaking in His presence.  I crave it, seek it, and desire it.  Do you crave His presence in your life?  What inspires His presence?  Is it a song, prayer, a beautiful setting, meditation, reading His word, taking a quiet walk or something else?  Stop now and pray for God to reveal Himself to you in a way He never has.  I trust you will be greatly rewarded.

He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. Psalm 147:18

All the pieces

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My Dad recently lost his dog & best friend.  So, we had been talking a lot about life, death, God and heaven even more than usual on this particular weekend.  I was getting my son ready for bed that evening and he said, “Mommy, I am going to give you all the pieces of my life.”  “Really?!,” I said.  “What should I do with them?”  With confidence and trust he replied, “What ever you want to.”  Their sweet little thoughts continuously amaze me.

O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 2 Samuel 7:28

Can you imagine if we were able to sit at the feet of our Lord and Savior and say, “Father, I give you all the pieces of my life.”  Can we say that to him and really mean it with all the faith and confidence in the world?  We can’t give him just a piece we have to trust Him with all the pieces.

Every time I think I have done this successfully, I find another piece of my life that I am holding on to and trying to navigate alone.  When I find myself struggling to find peace or an answer I pause and realize that it is because I have not given it to God.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

Today, take time to reflect on what pieces of your life you are still holding onto.  Is it your job, marriage, work, family, or some other challenge that you always have in the back of your mind? Locate it and hand it over today.  Trust God to handle it.  As my children say, “God knows everything!”

But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.’ ” Jeremiah 39:17-18