“God is all around us.”

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

(Psalm 19:1-2, NLT)

I love to look at the sky.  It doesn’t matter where I am, I can always look up at the sky and marvel at the work and creativity of God.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting next to the window on long car rides (and we traveled a LOT), gazing up at the sky.  I loved watching the clouds move with us as we drove along and seeing how the sun would peek in and out.  I especially loved the occasional treat of seeing the sun rays shine through the clouds in a beautiful, heavenly burst of light…almost as if the Son of God Himself could come riding out of the clouds on His white horse at any moment.  What a glorious sight indeed.

I am still just as mesmerized by the sky today, as I was over 30 years ago.  No matter the season, no matter the time of day, no matter what part of the world you are in, it truly is a wondrous vision.  It is indescribable too, because it is ever-changing and moving.  It can go from blue, to pink, to purple, to green…all in one day.  There is no predicting what it will look like, and it can change in an instant.

Maybe you have been struggling lately, wondering, “God, are you even there?”  If you are anything like me, then you sometimes need a visual…something obvious that you can behold.  Even though God will mostly likely not show His literal self to you, if you are willing to stop and take a moment to behold what He has created, He will reveal Himself to you through it.

Today is a beautiful day to give it a try.  Step outside for a moment.  Breathe in some fresh air and take a look at the sky.  Be mindful of your surroundings, and ask The Lord to speak to you in His own way and timing.  Sometimes we just need to take a moment to allow our imaginations to guide us.  Sometimes we simply need to get back to a childlike place in our hearts and minds, and allow that same sense of wonder and amazement to set in and renew our understanding of who God is as our Creator and Lord.

So whether you are gazing at the clouds, watching them move and change shape – whether you are lying in the sun, allowing its warmth to soothe and warm you – whether you are catching a glimpse of the moon and stars, wondering what else is out there – or whether you are watching a storm pass, marveling at its strength and power…allow yourself to stop thinking so much and be open to experiencing God in a new way, through His creation and the majesty of His endless, spectacular sky.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I am so proud and so blessed to serve a Creator who provides everything that I need.  You know my every thought, and You see my individual longing to experience You in every part of my life.  I am so thankful that, through Your word, and through the wonder of Your matchless creation, I am always reminded that You are here.  I can have faith and take comfort in knowing that I am surrounded by You, God.  Amen.

Repair the Altar and Look for Fire

1 Kings 18:20-39- Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves… and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God. And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” … … … And they (the prophets of Baal)… called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us! But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made… … … And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me…” And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down… And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did… And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did… And the water ran around the altar… And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O, Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel… Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God…” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water… And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”

 

It’s hard to turn on the news channels today, isn’t it? There’s so much violence, betrayal, deception, and hatred… It makes a heart break. And nearly every mainstream circuit reports negatively anything relating to Jesus Christ. They rally and march for anything that opposes Him, and petition and mock things He commands. As a Christian, we can sometimes feel lost in a sea of angry, vengeful faces, can’t we?

We’re like a lone Elijah surrounded by 450 prophets of Baal.

Are we responding the way he did, though?

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” – Leo Tolstoy

I’ve noticed so many who claim wholeheartedly to follow Christ become easily swayed by the view of the majority. I’ve watched as their beliefs drowned from the wave of opinions constantly crashing over them. Truths were all of a sudden viewed as preference and faith in Jesus Christ was deemed equal to any other.

It’s so easy to blend into the crowd. Instead of discerning when it’s time to speak up and disciplining ourselves to radiate the spirit of Christ, we just sit back and say short, silent prayers. I’m guilty of taking on this pattern myself. But, I hunger for something more. I yearn to be used in a mighty and purposeful way. We were called to lift Him up and offer hope to this world.

Can we do that if we just hide among the crowd?

Elijah knew his God. He knew His attributes, His abilities, and His Sovereign power. And when a time came for Elijah to proclaim what he knew, he didn’t let it slip by. The strength of his faith was so intense, he was ready to put the glory of his God on display.

As we mentioned before, there were 450 people who claimed to be prophets of Baal… and there were, mingled in the throng, people who simply followed after them. They shouted out for answers all day long… They asked for proof, an act of power, any kind of sign of Baal’s existence… and they received nothing. “…there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.”

Can’t this be said of the world today? People have all these “amazing” ideas that are sure to bring about equality and peace… but are we seeing that? No! There’s more division and violence than ever before. There’s a push to “be true to  yourself,” yet people are changing their affections, their genders, and their appearances on the regular! What’s wrong with this picture?

They’re following after the wrong gods… They’re going about all of this the wrong way.

When it was Elijah’s turn to call on his God, the first thing he did was “repair the altar that had been thrown down.”

Altars are known as a place of prayer, right? Prayer is something that this world has thrown aside, for sure. Yet, even honest Christians admit that it’s lacking in their lives, as well. And it’s the very core of the Christian faith! I firmly believe, (because it’s scriptural), that when we fall back on our faces before the Lord and pray consistently for this world in which we live, we will see wonders. We will see “fire fall from heaven.”

If we want to see miracles- if we want to see change- we have to do things differently than the majority. We can’t hang everything on walks and rallies. Life changing moments can’t be achieved simply by meetings and gatherings. While it’s definitely necessary to put our faith into action, we have to lead our hearts back to prayer.

Elijah didn’t have to do anything elaborate. He didn’t need excessive resources or a support system. He had faith in the One True God, and that was enough! He prayed a short prayer and God moved on his behalf and a whole nation was turned back to Him.

There is so much power in prayer! “Satan tries to limit your prayer, because he knows your prayer will limit him!” It’s so simple, right? So why does it seem nearly impossible to find time to fit it in? Going forward, let’s make time! Let’s repair the altar of the Lord! He is sure to intervene!

 

Prayer: God, thank You for always being readily waiting to hear me. Give me the determination to make time every day to be alone with You, for You are the only Thing that can make an effective difference in this world. I love You, Lord. Amen.

 

“May We Never Lose Our Wonder”

(Psalm 29, The Message)

1-2  Bravo, God, bravo!

         Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”

         In awe before the glory,

         in awe before God’s visible power.

        Stand at attention!

        Dress your best to honor him!

3      God thunders across the waters,

        Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—

        God, across the flood waters.

4     God’s thunder tympanic,

       God’s thunder symphonic.

5     God’s thunder smashes cedars,

       God topples the northern cedars.

6    The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,

       The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.

7-8 God’s thunder spits fire.

      God thunders, the wilderness quakes;

      He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

9   God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing

      A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.

     We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”

10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne

      from which his power flows,

      from which he rules the world.

11  God makes his people strong.

      God gives his people peace.

Wow!  What a beautiful, poetic, and vivid portrayal of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty!  I think sometimes we let it slip from our minds just how powerful He truly is!  In the midst of our adoration of, and our supplications to, God the Father, Jesus our friend, we sometimes lose our sense of wonder and awe at the majesty and dominion of God our King, Creator of the universe. 

But the Lord made the earth by his power,

    and he preserves it by his wisdom.

With his own understanding

    he stretched out the heavens.

When he speaks in the thunder,

    the heavens roar with rain.

He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.

    He sends the lightning with the rain

    and releases the wind from his storehouses.

(Jeremiah 10:12-13)

I am always reminded of God’s might during storms.  Though they can be stressful, causing worry over potential damage and safety concerns, storms  (to me) are thrilling, because there is this always a sense of energy and excitement in the air…a feeling that something so much bigger than humanity is at work.  There is something utterly humbling about the movement and strength of a storm…because we are helpless to it.  Storms remind us that we are only human…small and dependent…at the mercy of God at all times.  Storms remind us that everything can change in an instant.  One mighty gust of wind can leave your home in shambles.  One flash flood can carry away everything you own.  One storm can change your life forever. 

As we go about our lives, we encounter our own figurative storms from time to time.  It’s inevitable.  We sometimes have to face things that send us running for shelter…things that bring us to our knees, searching through the rubble for something that remains in the aftermath.  It is in these situations that we reach out to our “Good, Good Father” for comfort.  We look to Him for support and peace when we feel distraught, as we rightly should, yet if we are not careful, we can get lost in our suffering.  We forget that, above all else, God is sovereign.   

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Seek His comfort, but embrace that peace and move past the pain into a place of victory…because God is so much bigger than the aftermath of the storm you’re facing.  If you trust Him to comfort you, if you trust Him to provide for you and bring you peace, then surely you can trust that He has a purpose and a plan for your need.  Surely your faith is big enough to allow you to trust that He can and will make all things new.

This we know, that the God who called forth out of darkness and void an entire universe, who formed man from mere dust…into whom He breathed His own breath, who shut the mouths of hungry lions, who split an entire sea, who brought dry bones back to life, He is the same God who walks right beside little ole you every step of your life.  He is interested in YOU.  This mighty, sovereign King is your “Good, Good Father” and shepherd.  He is your friend and comforter.  Yet above all else, He is Creator, whose power is unmatched for all eternity.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.” (1 Chronicles 29:11) Amen. 

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