…Who is in Heaven

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Did you find peace in bringing your prayer concern to “Our Father” last week? Today, let’s take that same concern and give it to our Father “who is in Heaven.” The phrase is my update on “who art in heaven” from the King James, but I love these words too much to omit them as the modern translations do.

“Our Father who“ tells us that father is more than a role, a statement of paternity, or a genealogical designation. It reminds us that our Father is a who—a person—with feelings, thoughts, emotions, hopes, plans, disappointments. At first glance it hardly seems necessary to mention but when we focus on the person-hood of God, we realize that the burdens we bring Him are met with empathy and love. Being made in His image gives us some understanding of His emotional investment in us. The depth of feeling that brought us to prayer is more than matched by our Father who hears that prayer.

This wonderful Person, God the Father, feels our pain, aches with sorrow, receives us with love, listens with patience, and cares more than we imagine. He is more than the God who created this wonderful world for us to inhabit and more than the King in Heaven who will one day welcome us home. The God of our past and future is also the God of our present.

Our Father who is. At times I stop right there and savor the fact that He is. He’s here, He’s real, He’s God. “Lord,” my heart cries, “You are!” I am overwhelmingly grateful. Someone bigger than me sees and cares about this weight in my heart, this confusion in my mind! God is with me—and He is in heaven.

It’s sweet to know there is a place from where He rules over the affairs of earth with unchallenged authority. It’s His home. It’s my home. When I contemplate that, my perspective changes. The concerns that brought me to my knees are quieted in the recognition of heaven’s reality.

Today, let’s be especially grateful for our Father who is in heaven, knowing that He embraces the concerns we bring, He is present in our troubles, and He reigns unopposed from His home in heaven.

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The Best Known Prayer

The Lords prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is familiar even to those who don’t know “our Father in heaven.” For many, it is a prayer to recite during a religious service, funeral, or moment of piety. But Jesus did not give us this prayer as a formal recitation.

The prayer can be viewed it as a menu of topics about which to pray, but it’s  more than that. It’s a pattern.

Jesus gave us a pattern for personal conversation with God and provides us with an outline for each concern we bring to Him. When I apply it, every aspect of the need I’m presenting is covered, even those I hadn’t considered.

As we talk about the parts of the Lord’s Prayer in upcoming posts, I invite you to choose one personal prayer concern and apply Jesus’ pattern to your specific request. I believe you will experience sweet peace.

Our Father

Sometimes I get no further than simply saying, “Our Father.” When my heart is heavy with concern for a loved one, I utter those words and peace invades. It’s not an attempt to convince my Father to listen and intervene, but a confession of faith. He is our Father—mine and the one I am praying for. When I speak those words, I’m acknowledging that God cares more than I do because He is their Father and I’m releasing the one I love to the One who loves greater.

Suddenly the complications that bewildered me, come to rest. My heart stills because my Father, our Father, has it covered. Those two words remind me that He’s in the picture, He’s present, He’s omnipresent.

Our Father is everything we could want an earthly father to be and more. He loves perfectly, provides lavishly, listens patiently. He shows mercy, kindness and grace without reservation. He understands our weaknesses and knows what’s needed to strengthen us.

His Father’s heart responds to me, His child, talking to Him about the needs of another beloved child.

Today, let the words “Our Father” bring peace to your heart as you speak them on behalf of your loved one, your troubling situation, your concerns.

Beneath the Snow

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This morning I made a decision. As I looked out at yet another snowfall blanketing the earth, I decided to look beyond what I saw. I did not conjecture about how many days it will take the snow to melt. I did not grumble that the calendar says spring and even my hoodie isn’t keeping me warm. I did not calculate how many snow (and sick) days this winter held. It’s not that those thoughts didn’t hover, I simply chose to replace them.

  • The sun is shining and the pavement is already clear—a wonderful contrast to yesterday’s gray.
  • Sap is flowing through the bare trees—soon they will sprout green buds with the promise of leafy cover.
  • Beneath the snow crocuses and daffodils are pushing upward—their purple and yellow heads ready to break through and dot the earth with color.
  • The dormant grass appears dead, but it’s rousing and will again grow green and lush.
  • Though they now look like bushes of brown sticks, buds are forming and in weeks cascading azaleas will shower yellow flowers.
  • As spring stubbornly presses forward, sweaters, scarves and socks will be traded for shorts, shirts and sandals.
  • Gentle rains and warm breezes will assuredly replace driving snow and frigid gusts.

My choice of thoughts paid off. I feel refreshed, happy. Sweetness replaced my sour mood. Anticipation traded places with lethargy. I highly recommend thought-replacement therapy!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov. 17:22)

Lord, I always have a choice. When my hopes and dreams are buried beneath blankets of disappointment, remind me that your purposes prevail. Seasons are temporary but you are undaunted. Though I may not see it, you are active beneath the snow.

Behind Me and Before Me

Ps23_6Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…

I can be sure spring will follow winter. I can be sure the sun will rise tomorrow. And I can be sure—absolutely, positively, without a doubt sure—that God’s goodness and love will follow me, tomorrow and every day.

Whenever I turn around, there they are: goodness and love. God’s goodness and love—constant, pure and generous.

Every day, as long as I live, His goodness and love are mine. I may not be attuned to God’s presence; I may not see evidence that He’s there, but He is, following me with His goodness and love.

His goodness is wholesome and right, kind and honest. It makes me more, not less. It blesses my life and adds to it. It’s behind me, pushing me forward, pressing me on, giving me courage, rooting for me.

And His love? Well, when I love people I bless them, think about them, want to make them happy and be with them. I believe in them, think highly of them, encourage and support them. God’s love is greater and purer than that—and it follows me around.

…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If what’s behind me is wonderful, look at what’s before me, in my forever after. I will dwell—reside, make my home and be at home in the house of the Lord. I will be in His presence, at His side, under His shelter, forever feasting on His goodness and love. No longer catching mere glimpses but enjoying full disclosure with ever new revelations of His person and greatness, His beauty and wonder.

Lord, I scarce can take in your goodness and love, following me today and awaiting me in my tomorrows—so generous, so undeserved, so pure, so You!

Fed, Anointed, Blessed

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Psalm 23:5

I think of a prepared table as one that’s been given special consideration, set beautifully and bountifully. It stands ready for friends or family who will relax and laugh as they enjoy good food and conversation. But that isn’t the venue for the table described in Psalm 23.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

My enemies are threatening, taunting, tormenting me and in the midst of my affliction, the Lord prepares a table for me. It’s obvious these enemies are of no consequence to my Shepherd. It is also obvious that He expects me to maintain nourishment and refreshment even in the presence of my personal demons – unforgiveness, pity, pride, accusations, doubt, anger, jealousy, bitterness. They are pressing in on me and, still, the Lord prepares a table for me that will satisfy my soul with everything good, lovely and nourishing. And there’s more.

You anoint my head with oil…

Really, Lord? Amid enemy harassment, you anoint my head? Even when my defenses are compromised and I feel depleted, you claim me as yours? You set me apart as honored and destined for a purpose? I am not like those un-anointed. I am marked as yours, selected, blessed, and anointed for service.

My cup overflows.

Yes, it does. I am fed, refreshed, rested, guided, protected, secure, and anointed. I am never hidden from the watch care of my loving Shepherd. My life runs over with His blessings and grace.

Lord, I cannot comprehend the fullness of your love for me. Thank you that you are undaunted. Whether I’m resting in green pastures or bloodied on the battlefield, you are feeding, protecting, and loving me.

To Want, or not to Want

QuietWatersPsalm 23:1-3a

The psalmist makes a bold claim when he says, “I shall not be in want.” Although I aspire to make that claim my own, I haven’t mastered it. Confidence to pronounce “I shall not be in want” only comes when I am mindful of what makes that statement possible—the Lord is my shepherd. Because He sees to my needs, I shall not be in want.

“He makes me lie down.” Sometimes I just need rest. I need to stop running, holding things together, and checking off lists. I need to still my heart, mind and soul. I may deny it, fight it or argue that there’s no time for it, but He always knows my needs better than I do. He lets me, He causes me to lie down. When I yield to the Spirit’s nudging, He alone provides the rest that can refresh my soul, my spirit and my body.

“Lie down in green pastures.” Sheep will not lie down when they’re hungry. Is it any wonder then that He leads me to green pastures for a resting place? It is where I am fed and nourished by the Word (my green pasture). The assurance of the Word calms my soul and gives me peace—the rest I desperately need.

“He leads me beside quiet waters.” The Shepherd quenches my thirst and allows me to refresh myself with clear, cool water. He knows that sheep will not drink from rushing water—they cannot take it in—so He leads me to quiet, palatable water that I can easily ingest. The satisfaction I could not find elsewhere is found at the quiet waters provided by the Spirit.

“He restores my soul.” My restoration—renewal, wholeness, completeness, satisfaction, functionality, energy, fervor—does not come from ordinary rest, food and water, but from my Shepherd’s provision. It is His leading, His nearness and His protection (as we’ll see next time in v4). Restoration full and deep comes from Him alone.

The Shepherd satisfies my needs—I shall not want.

I am restored—made new, useful, secure, not wanting, ready, capable, as good or better than before.

Lord, thank you for causing me to lie down, for satisfying my hunger and thirst, for refreshing me and restoring me. You are my good Shepherd and I praise you.

*For meditations on the first five words of Psalm 23, scroll down past the last two posts.

Oops! I Forgot (Again)

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One thing that frustrated me when my children were young was the need to repeat myself, constantly. I mean, how many times can a mother be expected to say, “Wipe your feet,” “Close the door,” “Say please,” or “Move back from the TV?” Why can’t they remember these simple instructions? Since this is now in my distant past I can assure you, it may be when they enter college, but eventually they get it.

I’m not only frustrated when others forget but I get irritated with myself when I’m unable to remember names, story details, birthdays, recipes, or book titles. But, more significantly, why can’t I remember the big things? Like…

  • Fear not
  • Judge not
  • Forgive
  • Get rid of bitterness
  • Speak words that build up
  • Be still
  • Give thanks
  • Trust God

Although I forget—often, God never says, “How many times do I have to tell you?” Or, “I’m not going to say it again…” Or, “I said it once in Isaiah 43:1—look it up!”

In every changing circumstance, personal failure, and life challenge, God sees my distress. He knows I’ve forgotten (again) and rather than reprimand me, He gently reminds me with consoling words:

  • Don’t be afraid, I’m aware of every detail, down to the number of hairs on your head.[1]
  • You won’t drown, I am with you.[2]
  • Cast those cares on me—I’ll carry them.[3]
  • You’re not forgotten. See, you’re engraved here, on the palms of my hands.[4]

[1] Matthew 10:30-31, [2] Isaiah 43:2, [3] Psalm 55:22, [4] Isaiah 49:16

Photo compliments of zeenews.india.com

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