Wait Upon God

Over the past few days, my husband and I have been looking back and looking forward. The new year has brought us to ponder our lives and what we see in this world.

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We see more drugs and violence. We see families in trouble where there were once many strong families. We see communities of people helping one another reduced to strangers living next door and children not able to cope.

Yet, we also heard an incredible testimony at church last week. A young man raised in a Christian home had fallen far from God and he was feeling the effects of it. His guilt and shame grew and grew until he could no longer stand it. He came back to Jesus and his incredible joy is truly infectious.

This morning my husband and I began a new devotional, Teach Me to Pray, from the writings of Andrew Murray.

January 1 reads: “Wait upon God – He (Daniel) prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10

“The more I think of and pray about the religious situation in our country, the deeper my conviction becomes that Christians do not realize that the aim of conversion is to bring them into daily fellowship with the Father in heaven.

“For the believer, taking time each day with God’s Word and in prayer is indispensable. Each day we need to wait upon God for His presence and His love to be revealed.

“It is not enough at conversion to accept forgiveness of sins or even to surrender to God. That is only a beginning. We must understand that we have no power on our own to maintain our spiritual life. We need to receive daily new grace from heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus. This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer or a superficial reading of a few verses from God’s Word. We must take time to come into God’s presence, to feel our weakness and our need, and to wait on God through His Holy Spirit to renew our fellowship with Him. Then we may expect to be kept by the power of Christ throughout the day.

“It is my aim to help Christians to see the absolute necessity of spending time with the Lord Jesus. Without this, the joy and power of God’s Holy Spirit in daily life cannot be experienced.”

That is the answer. The answer to the world’s trouble. The answer to our personal, daily walk through this troubled world.

Christ, the Nearness of God

(The devotional Teach Me To Pray is full of wonderful words from Andrew Murray that encourage us in our spiritual lives. Here is one of my favorites.)

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. James 4:8

It has been said that the holiness of God is the union of God’s infinite distance from sinful man with God’s infinite nearness in His redeeming grace. Faith must always seek to realize both the distance and the nearness.

In Christ, God has come very near to man. Now the command comes: If you want God to come still nearer, you must draw nearer to Him. The promised nearness of Christ Jesus expressed in the promise, “And be sure of this: I am with you always” (Matt 28:20), can only be experienced as we draw near to Him.

This mean that at the beginning of each new day, we must yield ourselves to His holy presence. It means a voluntary, intentional, and whole-hearted turning away from the world to wait on God to make Himself known to our souls. It means making time to allow him to reveal Himself. It is impossible to expect the abiding presence of Christ with us through the day without the daily exercise of strong desire and child-like trust in His word.

As you pray, let these words come to you with new meaning each morning: “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” Wait patiently and He will speak in divine power: “I am with you always.”

Remember – Part II

God is Never Late by Billy Graham

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. Psalm 121:5

In order for a tree or any plant to grow and bear fruit, its seed must first be planted in the ground and die. In order for spiritual fruit to appear in our lives, we must first be planted in the Word of God and then die to self. In the face of chastening, adversity, discipline, and affliction, God’s Word nourishes our lives and fruit begins to appear. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience.

Joseph would never have been of use to God had he not been sold into slavery by brothers who hated him, and then wrongly accused by Potiphar, who put him in prison. Even after he had told Pharaoh’s cupbearer he would be restored to the kings’ court and asked him to tell Pharaoh of his unjust imprisonment, Joseph had to wait two more years for release from prison.

As we wait upon the Lord, He may sometimes seem slow in coming to help us, but He never comes too late. His timing is always perfect.

Are you in a season of waiting? Don’t let it be a wasted season. Study God’s Word so that your roots grow deep, and spend time in prayer so that you recognize His voice when it’s time to move.

Written by Billy Graham

Remember – Part I

Everyone is going through a hard time in their life,

            Or they have just come out of a hard time,

                        Or they will soon be in one.

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Why is life always so difficult? Our own sin brings many troubles our way. Satan also is a powerful source of life’s disasters. But look closely at what God’s word says. “…to humble and test you in order to know what is in your heart…” (Deut. 8:2 see below)

Why would God do such a thing? God’s word once again says, “to teach you that people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3)

God uses hard times to humble us, to draw us closer to Him and to help us recognize His sovereignty.

If we read carefully, we see that this comes with a promise. “…so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised…” This is not only for the ancient Israelites, but also for us. God has a “land” for us as well.

This promise also comes with responsibility. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…”

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He goes on to say, “Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God,…”

It all boils down to this –

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4)

Which stage are you in right now?

  1. Are you in the midst of difficulties? Then Remember God, Turn to Him, and Trust Him.
  2. Have you just come out of trying times? Then Thank God, Delight in Him.
  3. In between hard times, enjoying some calm and rest in life? Then Follow Him. Be humble. Remember.

Deuteronomy 8

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God,…”

Psalm 37

3Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.


Savor Autumn

A crisp Autumn day walking through the colorful leaves in Black River State Forest in southwest Wisconsin. Praise the Lord, all the earth!

The Castle Mounds Nature Trail is full of intricate sandstone formations and vibrant trees standing side by side.

Nature is dressed up in her finest ensemble of the year.

The sights, sounds and smells of the fall-time forest are not to be missed.

Have you taken time to savor the Autumn? Where are the colors changing in your neck of the woods?

The Choice

What I’m commanding you today is not too hard for you. It isn’t beyond your reach. It isn’t up in heaven. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go up into heaven to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” And it isn’t beyond the ocean. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go across the ocean to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” No, the message isn’t far away at all. In fact, it’s really near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart so that you can obey it.

Today I’m giving you a choice. You can have life and success. Or you can have death and harm. I’m commanding you today to love the Lord your God. I’m commanding you to live exactly as he wants you to live. You must obey his commands, rules and laws. Then you will live. There will be many of you. The Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to take as your own.

Don’t let your hearts turn away from the Lord. Instead, obey him. Don’t let yourselves be drawn away to other gods. And don’t bow down to them and worship them. If you do, I announce to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You are about to go across the Jordan River and take over the land. But you won’t live there very long.

I’m calling for the heavens and the earth to be witnesses against you this very day. I’m offering you the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or curses. But I want you to choose life. Then you and your children will live. And you will love the Lord your God. You will obey him. You will remain true to him. The Lord is your very life.

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NIrV

The choice is not between a list of do this and don’t do that on one hand and freedom on the other hand. The unbelieving world often sees it that way. The truth is; it is a choice between choosing love (life) on one hand and separation from God (death) on the other hand. God is waiting to shower blessings on you and your family. He is waiting for you to make your choice. Talk to Him – He is listening. Listen to Him – He has much to tell you. The Lord is your very life.

God as Creator – the Source of All We Need

Our Needs

Teen-agers turning to drugs. Single mothers floundering in depression. High-ranking business men sneaking out for extra-marital affairs. Lonely people marginalized by society resorting to deadly violence.

We all hurt in one way or another. What is it that we do with that hurt? How can we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps? Where do we go for help?

Reach Out to God

God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Christians readily acknowledge this fact. However, we must come to the realization that God also created all the resources we need. He also created the principles by which we live – healthy principles that benefit everyone. He also created purpose for our lives.

God is the source of Everything.

God is the source of healing and help in every day-to-day situation. He has provided what we need, not only live, but to thrive throughout our life. When we need to be restored, we must go back to God. He is the one who created life in the first place and it is only He who can bring life back into dead circumstances. We cannot do it on our own.

In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all the things we need will be given to us.

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Reach Out to Others

God has also provided the Body of Christ to lift one another up, to encourage one another. We need them: a support group, a Christian counselor, a sincere Bible study group. We need a place where we can share our deepest needs, fears, and temptations. We need someone to meet with regularly as well as someone we can call on at a moment’s notice. Ask God to provide this support for you.

Reach up and reach out. The God of hope will fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

These thoughts come from the wonderful book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend titled How People Grow, What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth.