Tag Archives: God’s presence

Into the Inner Sanctuary

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20, NLT*

The hope this verse mentions is the hope of our salvation, of eternal life in restored relationship with God.

Think about the Temple imagery for a minute: only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. First he offered sacrifices for his own sins, and then, once clean, for the sins of the people.

There were special clothes to wear, special rituals of preparation. I’m told his robes had bells, and he wore a rope around one ankle in case he committed an offense and was struck dead, so the other priests could pull him out.

This was a big deal.

And now, Jesus has gone into this place of most intimate communion with God, once for all to atone for our sins… and once we’ve received this we’re invited through the curtain ourselves.

Into God’s inner sanctuary. Into His presence. With no guilt, no fear of destruction. What a gift is ours!

Holy and righteous God, we could never be worthy to even crawl into Your presence by our own merit, but You have made a way to wash us clean so we can come to You boldly and with confidence—and with reverent fear. Thank You for restoring us, for loving and rescuing us. Let us not neglect the privilege of spending time with You.

Our song is “Because of Your Love,” sung by Paul Baloche, written by Brenton Brown

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Wonder: 4 links + an assignment

It was almost a year ago at Write! Canada that God challenged me to open my eyes and see with wonder–a lesson I too quickly forgot! He’s been reminding me again, and it’s finally time to read my copy of Margaret Feinberg’s Wonderstruck that’s been waiting since Christmas. Part of the reminder came through some blog posts that I encourage you to read if you’re at all in need of a wonder-attitude-enthusiasm infusion.

At Hello God, Welcome to My Classroom, Linden Barrick muses on how rarely we encounter something special that brightens our spirits, when there are special touches in every day. [Read Where is My Enthusiasm]

Jon Rouse encourages us to learn to live each day aware of God’s presence and of the good things around us. [Read Life So Aware]

At Magellan Life Coaching, Reba J. Hoffman looks beyond the “glass half-empty or half-full” and urges us to enjoy the water. [Read Drink What’s There]

And author Grace Fox calls us to see again with childlike wonder. [Read Rediscovering the Wonder of Creation]

Those were the four links. Here’s the assignment:

Take a minute, or two, or three… what do you see in this photo? Really see? Yes, there’s a dandelion, and weed or no, it’s kind of pretty. See the delicate white blossoms on what’s probably another weed? Take a look at the grass (and weed leaves!) How many different types of leaves are there? How many different shades of green?

There is wonder all around us, my friends.  The universe is practically dripping with it. Wonder and the glory of God. May He open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive. Have a wonder-full day!


Isn’t it an evocative word?


After my devotional post this week (Surrounded by Glory), author/illustrator Janis Cox alerted me to a new book and Bible study releasing Christmas Day by Margaret FeinbergWonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God.

The book is described as

A personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. Wonderstruck will help you:

  • Recognize the presence of God in the midst of your routine
  • Unearth extraordinary moments on ordinary days
  • Develop a renewed passion for God
  • Identify what’s holding you back in prayer
  • Discover joy in knowing you’re wildly loved

I don’t know about you, but that tugs at my spirit.

Janis invites us to

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter (#livewonderstruck), Facebook  or her blog.

To read Jan’s full post, click here.

With us is God

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20b, NLT*

Sometimes hearing the familiar re-worded or presented in a different way helps us take a fresh look—or listen.

A devotional in the Names of God Bible translates Immanuel as “with us is God.”

I’m used to “God with us.” It’s familiar. Maybe I take it too much for granted.

“With us is God.”

It has me thinking.

We can be encouraged, be reassured, comforted. Wherever we are, we’re not alone or abandoned. Even if it’s a hard place.

We can also be motivated: don’t slack off, because He’s here. We can’t hide anything. Yes, He understands and forgives, but because we love Him we don’t want to disappoint Him.

God our Maker and our Saviour, ever-present with us, help us remember You are near. Help us take courage, and help us live alert and obediently. Teach us a healthy fear of You, and deliver us from that unhealthy fear that would ruin us. Help us love and serve You, and let others see Your love in us.

A good reminder song is Jeremy Camp’s “Right Here.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Knowing Where God Is

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1-3, NIV*

This is one of those classic comfort passages. I heard it read at a recent meeting, and it started my mornings for the next few days.

Part-way through the first day, an idea came to mind that really helped my outlook, and seeing these verses in print the next day showed me where it came from.

Yes, there is stress here. But God is here too.

God is “ever-present.”

I knew that. I really did.

“Therefore we will not fear…” Whatever may happen in the future.

I knew that too, although it’s a challenge, and I’m pretty good at reminding myself “Jesus will be there.”

But what about the present? Our family is in a moderately stressful season. I tend to over-focus and make it worse than it is (hence all these stress/gratitude posts… they’re what God is saying to me because they’re what I need to hear).

I’ve been hanging onto God, trusting Him to provide a solution. That’s good. But time is passing and I’m still stressed. I want to rest in Him, be at peace and anxiety-free in the waiting.

Intentional, relentless thanksgiving helps. So does praising God for who He is.

Still there are a lot of “moments.” Perhaps accepting that fact is a step on the journey.

I think I’ve been seeing my stress level as a sort of pass/fail in how well I’m trusting God. On one level, it is: am I serene in Christ, or panicking?

But real life is stressful. Noticing that fact isn’t failure. Remembering that God is in it with us is success.

Faithful God who promised to never leave us, God of mercy, love and justice who is mighty to save, teach us to rest in Your character and rely on Your presence. No matter what this moment holds. Or the next. Yes, there is stress. But You are here. Right now. With us. In that will we rest.

Jeremy Camp’s song, “Right Here,” reminds me that’s where God is.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thought Adjustment

Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
1 Corinthians 6:15b, NIV*

Talk about an odd verse for God to use to correct me! This is not exactly on my list of temptations. But I knew what He meant.

I’ve been thinking lately about Oswald Chambers’ challenge to “keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann) and about the challenge to practice the presence of God throughout the day.

I need the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (instead of allowing anxiety to reign); the mind of Christ to rule my thoughts (to make them obedient to Him instead of dwelling where they shouldn’t) and the grace of Christ to be a guard on my lips (to keep errant thoughts from slipping out in irretrievable words). I’ve made it into a prayer of sorts.

On this particular day I was driving to work, listening to a favourite worship CD and remembering the need to stay close to God. The biggest challenge at that moment was in the thought department:  I was tired and a bit on the cranky side.

Zing went the prostitute verse through my thoughts. I hadn’t even read it recently! But God’s message was clear: what about expecting the mind of Christ to unite with the cranky mind? Was that any different?

The surprise factor did in the cranky nature, and the day came into much better focus.

Holy and merciful God, if I want to cultivate a sacred space for the Holy Spirit to work and rule in my life, I can’t expect Him to share it with the offensive things I bring in. Thank You for Your grace and patience to teach me your ways, and please open my ears to hear and my heart to learn.

Refiner’s Fire” makes a good prayer for us all. This is Brian Doerksen’s rendition.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Stillness and Silence

Stillness and silence aren’t natural to most of us… I know they’re not for me, even when I’m sleeping :-p

But they’ve have been catching my attention lately in a way that points to God.

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Judith Lawrence wrote:

Silence is not a familiar place for many of us but as we seek to be with God silence becomes a sought after and familiar venue. (Adventures of the Spiritual Life — click to read the whole post, it’s worth your time)

This little gem from Oswald Chambers really got me thinking:

I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann)

I don’t always “get” brother Oswald’s thoughts, since they’re often elevated above my own, but this sacred place in the conscious life… that resonates with me. A still place, a holy place, in keeping with the idea that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

I can see this sacred inner place being the basis for Frank Laubach‘s call to “keep in constant touch with God,” echoing Brother Lawrence‘s call to “practice the presence of God.” (You can read some of Frank Laubach’s writing here… just scroll through the page until you reach the excerpt from Letters by a Modern Mystic.) Or you can get hold of a copy of Practicing His Presence, edited by Gene Edwards, which contains the writings of Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence. It’s a slim book and one I consider a keeper.

I don’t usually include a song on Fridays, but here’s Brian Doerksen‘s Everything. Let it become our prayer. 

God is Present

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Genesis 28:16, NIV*

This is the Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright and was now fleeing for his life under the guise of visiting extended family to seek a wife. Not exactly abiding in God’s presence at this point in his life, was he?

On the road, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12, NIV*) And he saw God, who spoke to him.

God had been with Jacob all along, and Jacob hadn’t known it. Or lived like it. But when he recognized God, he worshipped.

It’s so easy to worship God in church and daily devotions, but then to go into daily life as if He’s not present. Violet Nesdoly touched on this recently at Other Food: Daily Devos when she quoted Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth: “Sadly, many Christians … give cognitive assent to the great truths of Scripture but they make their practical, day-to-day decisions based only on what they can see, hear, measure, and calculate.”

Violet was talking about choosing to live daily life based on God’s Word, but the principle applies to living with awareness of God. You can read the whole post here: “Word-Directed  Living.”

I’ve seen a few references lately to a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. One of the questions Craig asks on his website is “Do you live your life as if God is in the room, or do you assume He’s not paying attention?

It’s so easy to forget, or to get distracted. If we’re not vigilant, intentional, and reminding ourselves to rely on God, we can act as if we’re on our own.

Promise-Keeping God, You said You’d never leave nor forsake us and yet we sometimes live like you’ve set us loose. Forgive us for being so easily distracted by life, and remind us of Your nearness. Help us learn to live daily in Your presence, confident in You and following Your leading.

Our song is Michael Card’s “Emmanuel.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God is Near

Everybody does stupid things. This spring one of my sons took his turn at it, and in early June he had a meeting to sort out the consequences. My husband and I went with him for moral support.

It meant an early start and a two-hour road trip. I knew people were praying, and I was too. Before we left, I wanted at least a few still moments with the Lord. It had been a busy week. I felt stretched, but not quite to the point of breaking, and at peace with God in the midst of all the activity and the uncertainty of what this day would bring.

With only minutes to spare before heading out the door, I squeezed in a short prayer time and then opened my Bible. The psalm of the day was Psalm 139. To me, that’s this son’s psalm.

His psalm, right before his big meeting. A reminder of God’s presence.

Even though I hadn’t been consciously tense, I felt myself relax in His care, His nearness. His provision.

I believe God is always with me—Jesus promised it—so why is it so hard to really live that way? Why do I still need reminders? Shouldn’t I be able to simply stop, breathe, and know He’s here?

For now I still need reminders, and I’m thankful for this one.

The Goodness of the Lord

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14, NIV*

This verse gave me a lot of comfort during a hard time. I don’t know the translation a friend sent to me, but the wording for verse 13 is “I would have despaired if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (It’s similar to the NASB translation of Psalm 27:13)

I clung to that promise, repeated it over and over, and although that crisis has passed the words are still on my fridge. Things were bad, and I needed help believing there would be good days ahead.

The verse has been going through my head again this week, in the form of a song by Carolyn Arends, “Land of the Living”. Just the chorus:

I would despair
If I did not believe
That I would see again
Your hand in the land of the living.

And I saw something deeper: the promise doesn’t say anything about what this goodness will look like. Doesn’t say the pain will go away, health or wealth be restored, wars and natural disasters cease.

What it says is that we will see the goodness of the Lord.

See the goodness of the Lord.

One of the points I took from Ann Voskamp’s amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, is that sometimes God’s goodness—the grace He gives us—is hard to recognize. It comes disguised as what we call more bad news or hard times.

She also points the way to see it: “praise precedes the miracle”. As we pray, praising God for who He is, asserting our confidence in Him, He helps us recognize His hand even in the hard experiences.

If the circumstances don’t change, or while we’re waiting for the change, don’t we need to recognize—to see—the goodness of the Lord present with us? Don’t we need His goodness to get us through? That’s grace.

Father God, Giver of all good gifts, open our eyes and our spirits to see Your goodness here with us, in the land of the living. We will still pray in trust that You will deliver us from our hard places and heal our hurts, but in the here and the now, help us praise You. Praise You with no strings attached: not if You work things out a certain way, but because of who You are. And we will remember that the praise does precede the miracle, whatever that miracle will turn out to be.


I couldn’t find “Land of the Living” as an audio file, so here’s a video of my first favourite Carolyn Arends song: “Seize the Day.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.