There is something about the quietness and stillness of a morning when no one else is up and not a sound is heard besides nature itself. It is in those times that the Lord seems to speak to my heart most often. While sitting by the lake recently listening to the sounds of nature, doing my devotions, Psalm 63 got my attention and I had to stop and meditate on what God was saying. It was in the first verse already that my heart was humbled. For it says.
“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 NKJV
The God of the universe is my God. He created the beauty of nature and He created me too. I really enjoy sunrises and sunsets. While camping with my fellow students and GFA staff recently, I was able to experience both for a few days. Having my devotion early in the morning when all was still and quiet brought peace to my heart. I have not experienced that in a long time. There was something that stood out to me in the second phrase, “early will I seek you.” Something inside me wanted to get up and see the sunrise and when I read that chapter I knew it was God placing the desire in my heart to meet with Him. By getting up early to spend time with the Lord, it allowed my heart to eagerly seek Him at the same time. I’ve noticed other times when I’ve found rest and peace in my heart it was God meeting me in His word, like when I’m by a lake with a sunrise or sunset. It is like God draws me to Himself through whatever I am reading by His Holy Spirit. That morning when I was enjoying being in His presence by the lake, He again brought peace to my heart. My heart was truly thirsting for more of Him and He alone has the water to satisfy our thirsty souls.
Having my quiet times with the Lord and reading the word is bringing me closer to God and deepening my relationship with Him. My heart has been able to see and experience so many rich benefits from getting up early and spending the first part of my day with the Lord and in His word. Having been at Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship now for almost six months I have come to really enjoy my quiet times with the Lord. Spending time with the Lord first thing in the morning is so worth missing sleep for. My body will always be able to make up for the sleep it has lost; but my soul and spirit cannot make up for the times I could have spent in reading and praying.
My desire is to say with the Psalmist. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3 KJV. I know it will take time to grow in getting up early and spending time with the Lord; but the Lord wants to grant us our hearts desire. And this is one desire that I know He will grant because there are not too many people that love getting up early for any reason. This desire comes from God.
Psalm 37:4 KJV Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
—School of Discipleship student
School of Discipleship CA
Is there a place where one can encounter the presence of God more than in another place?
This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago. We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm, the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.
Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into weekly routine. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone. It was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.
Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?
Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.
Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)
I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change, and that is my expectation. On the camping trip I had high expectations, partly coming from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded them. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, and everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.
I may not have a choice as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” –Psalm 62:5 KJV
—School of Discipleship student
School of Discipleship CA
Look around at creation. Think about it. Really try and think about it. Try to comprehend.You can’t. It’s impossible. I look at the sun, the bright blue sky. I feel the breeze, I hear it lightly rustling the leaves. I breath in and taste fresh, crisp, cool air. Where did all this come from? What is it made of? Why is it here? Why so complex? Why so beautiful? How can you not believe in someone who created it all. I don’t have enough faith to believe it was an accident. What utter, absurd, foolishness to explain reality, life and nature, without God. It is a vain and impossible endeavor. All things have their beginning and their end in Him. There is no other logical conclusion.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made….
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Creation tells us much about God. All we have to do is look. I see creativity. Creativity so great that all the creativity mankind has ever mustered to bring us to where we are today is only an iota of a fraction of all the creativity God contains.
I see power and ability as such that the wielder should be feared and worshiped without hesitation. Such ability and power that SPOKE the galaxies, stars, space, sky, water, air, plants, people, cells, materials, dirt, spirits, time into existence. There was nothing then God declared there was and it was there. “What is man that you are mindful of him?”
I see wisdom. Our smartest minds admit that they don’t understand the cell, or DNA, or atoms and molecules. They admit that we have hardly begun to think about scratching the surface of what exists both microscopically and macroscopically. We are such a tiny, minuscule part in this universe that extends forever in all directions around us, in so vast an expanse that we don’t even know how to think about it properly. God is wisdom. He has FULL knowledge and understanding of all that was, is and ever will be in existence.
I am overwhelmed. I can do nothing but worship. There is no other thinkable or imaginable action. My one and only response should be complete, immediate and unrestrained worship. Look at creation, it will knock you flat on your face before the Creator.
I Love Mockingbirds. They are just happy all of the time, and it seems like to me that they are free to sing whatever they want; they can chirp, squeak, trill, peep…you get the picture. Any way I love them, and yesterday I was sitting at my desk thinking to myself, “I haven’t seen a mockingbird in forever!” (they usually are all over down here in Texas). I really wanted to see, and hear a mockingbird (did I mention they are AWESOME!).
But I wrote it off because one, it’s not spring, and two, it was cold and if I were a bird I would want to be where it is warm right now. So that was me, depressed and sitting at my desk because there were no mockingbirds in Texas.
This morning I awoke from my very restful sleep, I sleepily got dressed and went outside for my morning prayer/walking time, but as I closed the door of my apartment guess what I heard! A MOCKINGBIRD! Needless to say I thought it was cool, but not much more than that until I started praying.
“That bird is for you” said a still small voice, “What!? No way! Are you serious God? You care enough about me to put a single mockingbird on the roof of an apartment complex, in the middle of Carrollton, in the state of Texas, in the center of America, in the country of the United States, on a tiny planet called earth, in a tiny solar system (comparatively), in a huge galaxy, in the unending expanse of space? It’s not possible!”
Or is it? In John 17:23 says “…Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Emphasis mine). Friends God loves us as much as he loves Jesus Christ! It blows my mind the vastness of His affection for us. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I didn’t even pray for that Mockingbird, but God still put it there for me, and the reality probably is that He does stuff like that for us all the time!
I will stop saying things now and let scripture speak for itself:
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air (Strangely appropriate); they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
When I was growing up in Michigan, I loved the changing seasons. I loved summer’s vibrant blues and greens, fall’s leaf-strewn paths, winter’s snow shimmering in the moonlight and the freshness of spring.
Now I’m living on the other side of the world and have gained another season – the monsoon. This is the bring-your-umbrella-everywhere time of year. It can be inconvenient at times, but I do like the fact that I can break out into “I’m Singing in the Rain” as I slosh through the puddles.
Life is full of seasons. Some are fun and some are challenging; some are encouraging and some are hard to understand. But one thing never changes. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” His mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness is great. In the midst of shifting seasons, He is constant.
Let’s look to Him no matter what season we’re in. And even if it’s a dreary day full of puddles – just twirl that umbrella and sing!
The more I’m involved in ministry and other people’s lives, the more I am desperate for time with the Lord. I was told “KISS” is an acronym used in the military: “Keep it simple, stupid.”
When I was younger, I had to live vicariously by playing “pretend” because I wasn’t old enough to do the cool stuff. But now that I’m older I’m not limited to my own backyard. This world is full of new things and the majority of it is marketed at our age group. That isn’t bad on its own, but I’ve found that if I don’t guard my time it’s wasted on something trivial, and I easily become overloaded and unable to function.
I have always been enamored with God’s simple, majestic beauty in nature. It’s one avenue for me to escape the city, pressure, and constancy of the world. I find it refreshing and freeing to re-center on God’s heart and calling on my life.
Clear your schedule. Leave your iPod and cell phone behind. Grab your Bible and a notepad, or just take a walk and talk to God. Let’s blaze a trail into the awesome depths of His love and promise for our lives.