Archive for the ‘Evening Devotionals’ Category

Thirsting for God

December 12th, 2016

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

We will from time to time be entrusted by our God with periods in spiritual deserts. We will journey through them and feel the absence of God’s presence and thirst for Him, just as a man traversing a vast wasteland will thirst for water.

We must learn to find nourishment through faith alone, based upon the witness of scripture, for there will be no cool breeze of the Spirit in those places, no refreshing bounty of the Spirit’s outpouring. We must learn to experience God in circumstances that are contrary, yet we must never become accustomed to the spiritual desert. We must live in this world, but we are never to be too comfortable with the world. It is not our home.

David wrote this psalm while in the wilderness of Judah, and he refused to be comforted with anything other than God. God was his God, and he would have no other. He rose early in the day to seek God, and early in the crises he sought God, early in the processes of trying to figure out what he would do, how he would live, how he would survive as Saul continued to seek to have hm killed.

He had sought the face of God as the first Source of strength and help and deliverance, but God gave him only His promises and the remembrance of His past faithfulness. Yet, as we read the entire psalm, we learn that this was enough for David, for he was a man of faith. David longed for the comfort of the sanctuary of God, for the temple that in those days lay in Shiloh - an experience that was lawfully and rightfully his, but he was deprived of it through the treachery of Saul.

Lesser men and women have sought comfort in the world itself, and given into the dryness of godlessness, hoping to find some help to get them through. God can use any part of the world to sustain us, as He sent the ravens to feed Elijah, and we may often be surprised as the manner in which God sends physical relief to His children. Yet we can never be satisfied with what satisfies the lost world.

We immediately want to ask why God would allow any of His children to undergo even a morning without the sense of His presence. The complete answer to questions like this waits until the end of the age when we stand before God and He in His love and mercy wipes all tears from our eyes. But until then we must simply be comforted with the assurance that it suits His purposes to allow us to undergo these trials from time to time.

in the midst of these, however, we seem to gain new understandings of the ways of God and of what should be the priorities of our hearts. David, for example, came out of the wilderness experience with a desire to build a new temple for God, and though God did not allow him to, he did purchase the land for the temple mount and collect materials for its construction. Daniel and John, each experiencing exile in their own ways, received great visions of the future from God during their journeys in the wilderness. And we may trace the path of many in the Bible and many from Christian history and find that in the wilderness they were strengthened, and learned more how to walk by faith and to lean on divine power for the tasks God gave them.

I believe another thing that happens to us when we go through a wilderness or desert experience, is that we learn to separate God from the trappings of religion. We can easily confuse nostalgia for Christian music, for example, for God. And not only music, but church architecture, cushioned pews, the atmosphere of a friendly church, church programs, and even the sights and sounds of church potlucks and other church things. In the wilderness we learn that we are not to thirst for those things alone or mostly, but for God first and last.

I was blessed today in reading a quote from C. H. Spurgeon in Streams in the Desert, that spoke of the commonness of problems and tribulations for Christians. He wrote:

Would you like to be there and see yourself pointed at as the one saint who never knew a sorrow? Oh, no! for you would be an alien in the midst of the sacred brotherhood. We will be content to share the battle, for we shall soon wear the crown and wave the palm.

If God has entrusted to you in these days a desert-like spiritual experience, if, even after you have confessed all sins, you still feel nothing of His presence, then by faith trust in His promises. Let Him achieve His purpose in your heart during your wilderness experience. Keep your eyes focused upon Jesus, “looking unto Him the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He will guide you through it all. Desire Him and Him alone. Remember His faithfulness in the past and rest in Him. The day will come again when suddenly you find yourself in the fullness of His presence.

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The Comfort of His Presence

December 11th, 2016

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

How great is our need to continually live in the presence of the Lord. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, but often it is we who forget His promises. We drift into fits of thoughts as though we are all alone, besieged by doubts, assailed by the enemy, forgotten and cast aside. Yet these thoughts are lies, planted by our enemy, and thy are far from the truth. God is with us even when we do not think He is.

God made our hearts to live continually in the reality of His presence, to draw close to Him in worship, to rest in His eternal love, to not fear the darkness for it is as light to Him, to not fret over things beyond us for there is nothing beyond Him.

I exchanged emails lately with some pastor friends who are going through very painful periods of rejection, where they have been asked by their churches to find another position of service. I have seen them struggle with the entire situation - one is tempted to become bitter, the other is wrestling with the sin of self-pity. But they are good men and I believe they will both pull through these difficult days and emerge victorious.

They have made me think of how much we desire human friendship, comforting conversation, and affirming words. We do need one another - we need love and acceptance, and a hope for our future. We do a service to the body of Christ when we pick one another up off the floor of defeat, and love one another into becoming stronger and better people.

But the best healer of all is the Lord Himself, and it is He who we truly need, for He is the One who is able to prepare a table of blessing in our hearts even in the presence of our enemies. There will be times in our lives when all we have to stand upon is the promise of God that He will never leave us or forsake us, but if we embrace these words with faith we find that they are enough to awaken our souls to life and to a renewed hope.

Tonight if you feel forsaken, trust that it is only a feeling. If you have trusted in Christ for your salvation then God will never forsake you. Rest in Him. He is there.

Peaceful Moments of Worship

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