Feeling Close to Jesus

I was talking to a friend yesterday who is about to embark on a journey that will require a lot of faith and courage.  She is about to travel to China to bring  the little boy that they are adopting home.  She will have to go without her husband and her three biological kiddos. She asked me to help her prepare spiritually for this journey, because I have been on a similar one.

This week two years ago, my daughter Sharon and I returned home from Uganda after a three month stay in country to finish her adoption process. After one month, my husband and two biological kids came home, while I stayed there for 2 months chasing paperwork.  If ever I needed to feel close to Jesus, to know he was there, all up in every detail, it was during those three months.  So I know what my sweet friend is going through.  She just wants to know He’s there.  She wants to feel very connected to Jesus before she steps on that plane to go across the world to a foreign land to meet her son without the comfort of her husband and family.

I went to my pile of prayer journals and found the one that I was using when we left for our journey to Africa.  I was reading through the bible chronologically when we left, and I was feeling so connected to Jesus.  Everyday leading up to our departure, he equipped me. ( He is faithful like that).  I wrote down verses from the reading each day, highlighted them, and used them as the base for my prayers of uncertainty for what was about to happen.  I seriously felt so full of faith and courage when we stepped on the plane to go to Africa.

Not because I am super courageous, but because his word his super powerful.  

When you combine his word with prayer, something happens kind of like spiritual dynamite.  You should try it.  Let one verse be the start of your prayer and let the Holy Spirit guide you from there.

I did this yesterday when I was having a moment.  (You know what kind of moment I’m talking about.)  The kind where you just want to lay down in bed and have a Netflix marathon and give up on your to do list.  Thankfully, God whispered the Basking verse of the day to me.

“for she thought, “If I could just TOUCH his robe, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:21-Reach out for me. If she had faith to reach out to me to be healed of her 12 year long sickness, you should have faith to reach for me to choose what is better today.  


So I did.  I reached out.  I put on my running shoes and went and found him in the solitude of a run on the trails.  Of course I found him!  He wants to be found.  He promises to always be there.  All we have to do is have faith enough to REACH.  Like the woman who just knew if she touched his robe, she would be healed.  We have to believe he is our source of hope.  Hope for everything, from physical healing, to faith for a journey across the world, to  energy to serve our families in the daily mundane.That’s what I have for this week.  Reach out for him friends, bask in his presence and goodness.

A pic from my “reach out” run yesterday. Do you see the deer?

Download the free summer Basking devotional here: Basking

 

 

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Living in the Moment with Jesus

 “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Author Unknown

I saw this quote on a plaque in a medical office when I was a teenager, and I have never forgotten it.  I am a word person, so this play on the “present” meant a lot to me.  Can’t you just picture it?  Every morning, God has a gift of another day on earth for you that he has put much loving consideration into. Every detail of it has been throughly thought through and organized.  Even the mundane, even the less than pleasant, and even the sorrowful within the day ahead has been carefully selected before the foundation of the earth.  He has added in room for your own free will so you can play a part in your own story, yet he promises he will work your decisions together for good, as long as you have made the most important one (trusting in Jesus).

The best part about God’s gift of the present is that He is in it.  He is here.  He IS the gift.  

 

 

The greatest tragedy would be missing out on the best part of the present.  It’s like when you are opening a gift bag with lots of tissue paper.  There are several exciting things in there, and the gift giver says, there’s one more thing in the bag, keep looking!  (I love it when that happens!) So you dig a little deeper, and see some tissue wrapped up tight.  You take it out, search for the edge of the paper and open it up. IT IS THE BEST THING IN THE BAG!   This is how it is with experiencing God in the everyday gift of the present.  All the other parts of the gift of the day are easy to see.  But you have to look with purpose to see the best, hidden part of the present: the presence and goodness of GOD.  You have to believe it’s there.

Have you ever looked at the person giving you the gift when they said, “dig deeper, there’s more,” and stopped looking?  NO!  We want the best part of the present!  We have to BELIEVE this is true.  To train our eyes we look to his Word and think on it  all day, (meditate on it).

“Yet I am confident I will SEE the LORD’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.”  Psalm 27:13


Seeing Jesus reflected in the beauty all around us will make us look at our days and our lives differently.  

I’ve stared intently at so many things this week as I have been living this out.

I’ve looked deeply into my little girl’s blue eyes wrapped up in freckles as she has talked and talked relentlessly about everything on her mind.  And seriously, can this mama just say, He outdid himself when he planned that beautiful creation!

I’ve stopped to look at wildflowers and butterflies on every run this week.

I’ve gazed up at the clouds rolling by in the sky and remembered how big he is in comparison to how small everything else is.

This awareness has led to worshipping him more.  More glory to Jesus.  This is what life is all about.  This is what we were created to do, worship him in spirit and in truth.  When we live a life aware of his presence, in awe of who he is, everything else falls into place.  A heart positioned  in worship will see him, hear him, and obey him.

If you embark on this next 5 week journey of BASKING in his goodness and presence, you will greater understand what if means to ABIDE in him.

One definition of abide is “to continue to be present.”

Be present in Him this week as you look with your eyes for him!

This Beautiful World

By Sam Terry, 8 years old

My eyes, my eyes

they’re blind because

I keep complaining

then I miss this beautiful flowers

in the prettiest fields.

I miss the beautiful birds because

I’m too busy thinking about the negative.

I miss this beautiful world that God gives.

Don’t miss out on his beauty!  Join us for this 5 week study, starting here on this Monday, May 30th.  Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to see posts Monday-Friday, and I’ll blog here about it at least once a week (I’ve got to leave time free for BASKING!)

Download the free devotional here:>>>>> Basking<<<<<

Blind-Sighted

   

“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:3

We all have it.  That one thorn in our side, that one impossible character flaw, that one health issue that threatens to steal our joy.  And we have probably all asked God the question:

WHY?

Why do I have to deal with this?  My life would be so much easier if God would just heal it, take away the struggle, change me.  We pray and plead and believe.

And sometimes he decides to heal us.

“6Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!” John 9:6-7

But other times, in his sovereign goodness, he decides to withhold the healing, to let us keep the weakness, the struggle.  He did this when Paul pleaded with him to take away  his struggle.  But, he also gave Paul a reason why he decided not to heal him.  It is the same reason, the same purpose of our struggles today.

WHY?

“”8Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.””  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

So that the power of God can be seen through you.  If life was always easy peasy, would we need his power?  No, instead we would be self-sufficent and bee bop through our days in our own strength and energy.

When we let Jesus meet us in our weaknesses, our blindness, our short-sightedness, he shows up, and he shows off.  He shows that he is powerful.  He shows that we can rely on him.  He shows that he is merciful when we fail him.  But most importantly, he shows you and others the power of a very alive and helpful God.

Rely on him and you will be falling at his feet saying what the blind man said in John chapter 9:

“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. John 9:38

Walk with Life Himself today!

I made a very short video out in the sunshine today to go with chapter 9 below:

More Jesus.


Yesterday I took a break from the world.  Well, social media at least.  And this morning I have a confession to make:

It was AMAZING!

My heart feels so free and light after taking the whole day away to seek Jesus with every free second that I had.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have the day off from the daily grind.  I still homeschooled my kids, trained for my triathlon, did housework, dinner, the whole sha-bang. But the whole time, I was conversing with Him.  I was grabbing my scripture cards and reading one verse at a time instead of picking up my phone for a quick check.

I even got AHEAD on my bible reading plan.  (I listened to John chapter 7 from my bible app while I put clean sheets on our bed.)

Jesus was at the Festival of Shelters, and at the climax, the point in the festival where everyone was hyped up and excited and ready to hear the most important word of the entire festival, on the last day, Jesus stood up in front of the crowd and said this:

 

“If you believe in me, come and drink!  For the scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.”  John 7:38

Drink- to receive into the soul what serves to refresh and strengthen, nourish it into LIFE eternal.

What are you drinking today?  Are you taking in your recommended eight glasses of water a day, but failing to quench the thirst in your soul that can be nourished by Christ alone?

I know many days I am guilty of this.  I will drink in lots of mindless “water” that is not replenishing me in my soul. What is crazy about this, is that if you are a believer in Christ, the living water is right there, inside of you. You don’t have to go anywhere.  Jesus is so good, that he gave us his Holy Spirit to be that perpetual spring inside of us that will never run dry.

Are you thirsty?

More Jesus, less ______________________.

More prayer, less_____________________.

More scripture, less____________________.

Fill in the blank.

Here were mine:

More Jesus, less me.

More prayer, less writing.

More scripture, less phone.

Take the Living Water challenge after you fill in the blanks for ONE DAY.  Just one day.  I promise you will feel so replenished that you will not want to go back!

Walk with Life Himself today!

This post correlates with the ALIVE! Book of John Journey, found here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

Life-Giving Words, Beautiful Gardens

I have never planted flower bulbs in the fall that push through the ground with budding brilliance in the spring.

But I know the drill. The school kids have come by with their fundraiser sheets to purchase the bulbs and I always kindly reply, “Sorry, I don’t garden.” (I can’t even keep a cactus alive). But to be honest, I don’t have the good patience to spend the money and do the work to have to wait until the spring to see the flowers.

I was reminded of this when I read about the Life-giving power of our God in John 5 today:


The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son.” John 5:26

In the amplified bible the phrase “self-existent” is added. How amazing to think about the self-sustaining power of God!
‭‭

The Father freely gave that same life-giving power to Jesus, and then he freely gave the same life-giving power to us, who believe in Him.

My question to you today is:

Are you passing on this life giving power to anyone else? 

Are you speaking the life-giving words of truth to the people closest to you? Those in your own home?

Sometimes at home is where speaking kind, loving, life-giving, graceful words is the hardest. These people we love the most can receive the most life-killing words from us if we aren’t careful. Because we are our real selves at home, the daily frustrations can make life-giving words hard to find.

But these are the people who need to hear them from us the most.

The Lord has convicted me lately about the way I correct my kids.  Jesus brought life-giving conviction, pointing them to himself as the way to eternal life.  This is the kind of correction and judgement I want to speak into my kids’ lives.

I want to correct my kids in a way that points them to life-giving repentance and dependence on Life Himself.  I don’t want them to stay siting in a puddle of sin.  I want them to rise up out of the mud and take hold of the Life-giver.

I want to plant life-giving  seeds of truth in their hearts that will create a beautiful garden of eternal worth later.  

“God sees you and loves you right now.”

“I forgive you, let’s try again.” 

“I have to give you a consequence because I love you.”

<<<And we all know what life-giving words can do in our marriages.  They can move you closer together or farther apart from each other.  >>>>>

For your husband:

“Thank you.” (seed planted)

“I’m sorry.”  (seed watered)

“You are right.”  Ouch, that one hurts sometimes, right?! (seed fertilized)

“You are the best husband ever.”  (sunshine on the seed)

All these words add up to a robust, vibrant garden of new life in the spring time.

I explained it to my girls like this when I heard them arguing in  the backseat on the way home today:

“Girls, you are just tearing up each other’s gardens instead of planting beautiful flowers for each other.  Let’s talk nice.”

Let’s ask the Life Giver to gives us the words to build beautiful gardens for each other, one word at a time.  🙂

If you missed the Alive! Book of John Plan, you can find it here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

My Alive Journal Page: