Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘presence of God’

Can ‘good’ Christians get depressed?

The account of Elijah in I Kings 19 encourages anyone who has ever suffered with discouragement, despair and despondency.  The great prophet reveals to us that no one is exempt from depression. Followers of God—sincere followers of God—still err and still suffer.  Wrong attitudes, misplaced focus and mis-understandings deluge all of us!  May God give us insights as we examine some of this great man’s life. (Please note:  This is one story of depression.  While some work of the enemy is involved in every dis-ease, every story is unique.  This is not a pointing fingers, diagnosis piece on depression.  There is help; there is hope but there is no short-cut.)

His name is a great starting point:  Yahweh is my God.  Elijah lived at the time of history when Baal worship entered into the Nation of Israel.  Often pictured with a belt around his waist, the Truth of the identity of God (Ephesians 6) defines Elijah.  He courageously proclaimed the greatness of God with his words and way of life.  Fed by ravens during a prophesied drought, sustained by miraculous provision to a widow in Zarephath and confirmed by God with fire that devoured a water-logged sacrifice, Elijah knew the power of God.

But he also knew despair that left him begging to die.  What happened?

His crash into despair came after a major battle (and victory) against the prophets of Baal.  Despite the clear testimony of Truth in that battle (1 Kings 18:20-40), Elijah ran for his life at the threatening words of Jezebel, the evil Queen.  Leaving his personal servant, Elijah chose to flee alone.  Both actions are common to those battling depression:  running away and isolating oneself.

What happened? Clearly, Elijah turned his eyes from God and opened his ears to the lies of the enemy.  Fear entered his heart.  Fear is a foe we must recognize—and fight.  

Running leads us to the pit of despair.  We are created for fellowship.  Self-doubt  and self-pity then crushed Elijah’s spirit.  He began to beg God to let him die.  Here we see another common error that darkens our lives:

We forget that it has never been about our power or ability!

Our great and gracious God then revealed his tender care by sending an angel to bake food for Elijah.  Nowhere do we read of God telling Elijah to set out on this headlong rush into the desert:  the plan was all Elijah’s but God did not leave him alone.  He cared for him and nurtured growth in this great prophet even as he failed to trust the One he served.  When Elijah arrives at his self-determined destination of Mount Sinai, God asks Elijah a very important question:

 “What are you doing here?”

It is a question God asks each of us when we wander from trusting Him. It’s not that God doesn’t know where we are; He wants us to recognize it.  Confident he is totally right and filled with faith (he just vanquished the false prophets, didn’t he?), Elijah speaks from the same place we often live:  blindness to his own self-centered perspective.

I worked hard for you.  They have been bad.  I fought for you.  I am alone and in danger.” 

God did not defend His own honor; He did not chastise Elijah. God simply told Elijah to go stand on the mountain.  

Waiting for God is part of the recovery process!  

Elijah obeyed and witnessed the battering wind, the shaking of an earthquake and the devastation of fire.  When all those passed, the presence of the LORD came in the quiet.  Elijah stepped out of his hiding place but not out of his stubbornness.  The holy presence of God left him unmoved from his place of self-pity and pride. Recovery (and repentance) take time.  God is merciful:  he gives us time to figure things out!

The life of faith is not without error and failings…nor is it without mercy & grace!

God did not demand an apology or upbraid Elijah for his struggle. It is in our weakness that God’s strength is perfected.  God is not surprised by our failures; He has us covered!  God simply gave Elijah the instruction, “Go.”  Just as ‘wait’ is part of the recovery process, so is ‘go.’  Pressing forward from the hard times helps us get back to seeing God with clearer focus.

God was not done with Elijah.  He is not done with us!  

Elijah still had work to do.  It was challenging work; work that would bring battering winds and earth-shaking events to the ones who were rebelling against God.  Work that would bring the still small voice of God to those who were listening.

“Go back the way you came,” he told Elijah.

As Elijah obeyed, he found Elisha, the one he was to mentor and guide to greatness.  Together, they nurtured many in the school of prophets.  At the end of his earthly walk, God whisked Elijah away in a chariot of fire.  Despair and failure are part of this life.  We don’t need to run in fear.  Walk back, face the things that blinded you to the Truth of God and then go on with life.  Ask God to lead you to the help you need in the process.  Don’t try to go it alone!  We are made for each other.  There is work to be done and glory to receive!

 

 

 

Spending time in the presence of God

The presence of God transforms!  Do you drink it in or wonder where it is?  Is the presence of God a moment-by-moment awareness for you—or an illusionary concept?  Would you be surprised to know His presence is not always in a Church…or that the Living Word can be void of vitality?  In Acts 17, Paul spoke to those who worshiped without life:

“…so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. Of course, he is never far from any one of us. For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children, too.’” (verses 27 and 28)

It is not the heartbeat of God to have lifeless worship.  He longs for you to enjoy His presence because He wants to enjoy yours.  Are you weary of life?  If you are, spend time with LIFE and enjoy the abundance.  Without His presence, life drains the strongest. That is right and good, for God never intended that we would live this life on our own!

His Word and the Church are tools the Spirit uses to help us know what God is like…so that we can recognize His

Toni Verdú Carbó The Passage of Time

Toni Verdú Carbó
The Passage of Time

presence.  Like those in Athens, though, sometimes we mistake the tools for the Truth.  Time in the Word and time with believers are necessities in the life of a Christian…but they are not Life itself.

The echo of hearts crying, “Is this all there is?” beats at the doors of heaven.  “There is so much more!” calls the Father.  “Come, walk in the light.” And to those of us who walk in His light, the great commission still stands:  “Go, make disciples.”   Our grand purpose in life is to live in the Light of the love of the Father and help others do the same.  He longs for us to bring his light to a world covered in shadows so others may know He lives!

Those shadows conceal treasures…treasures of darkness only children of the Light can unearth.  Without the Light, the shadows terrify.  The shadows cause those in the dark to trip and fall prey to the lies of the enemy.  Jesus, the Light of the World, reveals the snares and the beauties shrouded in darkness.  When we spend time in the light, we absorb light and can be a lamp for others.  We are called to be servants!  Let’s take light into the shadows, light that exposes the pits, expels the evil and unearths precious gems!

What shadows will you illuminate today?  Can we stand with you in prayer?

 

If you struggle to enter the presence of God, some thoughts and tips can be found here.

Finding your way into the presence of God

My heart aches to understand that there are those who seldom enjoy time with God; those who feel puzzled when others speak of ‘feeling His touch’ or ‘hearing His voice.’  God is a personal God, desperately desiring to connect with us.  My greatest sadness is not for those who reject God but for those striving to “DO” something to get closer to Him.  Just as Paul said to the crowds in Rome, “He is never far from you.”  Entering into His presence is a possibility any time!

Made in the image of God–body, soul and spirit–seeking Him involves all aspects of us.  Frankly, we are the barrier to enjoying God.  On the physical level, busy-ness is the biggest blockade.  Even if the activities are God-oriented, busyness prevents real interaction the Father.  Vigilance that prioritizes private God-time is critical.  Fellowship with Christians, “church,” is part of the plan of God as well.  We must enjoy His presence individually and corporately.  If your church orchestrates details of every service, make it your personal ambition to enter the presence of God in those details.  He is still there; help others find Him by letting His light flood you!

Other physical world things that can keep from God are seeking pleasures from the world instead of him.  Over-eating is an easy example for many of us.  Stress and fatigue drive me to comfort foods on a regular basis.  God asks to be my Bread of Life.  Each of us will have areas of weakness the Spirit can reveal.  Ask God what in the physical world separates you from Him.  Any physical sin (any sin for that matter) will separate us from God.  They are idolatry; things we prefer to the presence of God.  Refuse to let your body keep you from the Creator!

Then there is that soul part of us:  our mind, will and emotions.  Much of the battle of life takes place in the mind.  We are to renew our minds with the Word.  That is not a dry, wearisome task—even if you never liked reading anything!  Technology gives you amazing options to listen or watch the Word.  Find a way to get Truth from the Word into your mind because that changes everything!  Emotions flow from our thoughts, and actions come out of our emotions.  Spending time in the Word is not optional, nor is it an item to check off from a ‘to do’ list.

Engage your heart and your mind with His words and you will feel His presence—and He will empower you to exercise your will and obey Him.  It is different than just ‘spending time in the Word’; it must be time with God!  For

Lawrence OP Let the Children Come We are all children!

Lawrence OP
Let the Children Come
We are all children!

me, an avid ‘student’—and self-professed geek, enjoying God through reading and writing is easy—it is my design.  Thoughts serve as propulsion jets shooting me toward the Father.  I may pause to gaze in awe at His beauty; I may ask a question for clarification from Him or dig into a word study for more thought jets.  Seek His heart as you read and even if it is not your default design, He will meet you!

Don’t stop there!  Keep seeking.  Find new ways to enter His glory, unique ways based on how He created you!  Find a mentor who can listen to your heart and help you hear the things God is speaking into your life.

Consider using music.  Scripture-based music helps me lay down the ‘soulish’ parts of self and enjoy Him.  It quiets my busy mind and lets me focus on feeling God.  On the other hand, some find their soul so engaged in music, they fail to connect with God.  Make Him the priority.  Continually seek His presence.  Be attentive for Him.  He promises to be found.  Do not give up.  God is not distant but imminently, impressively real!

I’ll leave you with one final tool that works for me when the press of life feels too weighty.  I go for a walk.  It helps me synchronize my overused mind and underused body.  The magnitude of creation, the details and activity of nature quietly working mostly unnoticed by busting humanity resets my spirit.  To my harm and shame, the stuff of life, the cares of this world, easily stifle the still, small voice of my humble, majestic God.  He is ever-present, yet I am blind to Him.  A walk—whether on a street or in the windows—engages me with a world bigger than my own.  It reminds me of my smallness and floods me with thanksgiving for His love and wisdom.

 What works for you to enter the presence of God.  Share here, share with others:  has there been a song, a book or a worship experience that stands out?

 We are to live this life of faith together.  God blesses that we can in turn bless another.

 If you struggle to find or feel God, zap a note.  Let’s talk it through.  He loves you beyond measure.  He is waiting for you to enjoy being with Him.  There is nothing more you need to do to be loved by Him…

Blessing the Battlefield

“But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel.”  Psalm 22:3

It is often said that in this life, one is either in a battle, just coming out of one or soon to be in one.  Battles are part of life.  We have a powerful weapon for victory that is often forgotten.  Praise.  No matter what we face, God has not abandon us to face it alone!  In the presence of God, victory is assured.  Praise puts us in his presence!  Why not read this aloud and let the Spirit minister to your spirit.

Exodus 14:13-14 And Moses said to the people, Do not be afraid. Take your stand and see the salvation of Jehovah, which He will prepare for you today. For as you see the Egyptians today, you shall not continue to see them again forever. (14) Jehovah will fight for you, and you be silent.

Father, let these words be blessing builders in our lives.  We rejoice that you grant us confidence that brings peace:  You are present in our battles…you are working out our victories.  Bless us, Lord, with hearts that can not fear because they are captivated by You.  Might our eyes clearly see you removing enemies and delivering us; might our ears hear your voice telling us to move here, move there, do this, do that.  From tiny things to huge things, Father, let our steps of obedience keep us in the perfect position to see your work.

Father, grant us confidence that every battlefield we encounter is under your direction.  Fill us with peace that any battlefield Gloryholds the potential for great glory for you.  Every situation is managed by you; you will provide all that is needed for total victory.  We praise you for blessing us with faith that pleases you.  We rejoice that walking in faith gives strength to others.

Bless us with eyes that see you intervening, freeing us from difficult circumstance…eyes that see you removing enemies supernaturally.  We praise you for that and rejoice in the opportunity to bring your presence to this tangled world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

For more on reaping the harvest hidden in the fields of trouble, check out Battles Become Blessings.

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