“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!” Psalms 113:3 (ESV)
“The height and depth of His love are beyond measure and comprehension. He will go to any measure to have you for Himself… The Creator of the angels and everything else, is pursuing you. The question is: how are you going to respond to His pursuit of you?”
“When we respond to His pursuit, it awakens love for Him in our hearts. Our ability to experience the holiness, magnificence, love, and the glory of God increases. I urge you to go to Him and respond to His pursuit. He will lavish you with love, forgiveness, and joy, and He will completely fulfill you. We are the objects of His tender affections and goodwill. Above all, His goal is intimacy with His people, forever and ever!”
— Antonio Baldovinos, “Relentless Pursuit”, Kindle locations 182-185
Guest post by Ron Lease
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Th 5:11, 16-18 ESV)
School is now back in full swing. Some of us have kids who are still in elementary, middle, or high school. We get to deal with spelling bees, science fair projects, mandatory readings, and other joys / tribulations. Some parents and students view these assignments with dread, while others look forward to what a new year of learning will bring.
Some of us have kids (adults!) who left for college, whether for the first time or the fourth. While we used to dread the cornucopia of math worksheets and other campfire fodder, we now yearn for those days. Instead of hugs and kisses every night, we get text messages and FaceTime, Skype, and text messages.
Yet others of us have watched our kids complete their education. Perhaps they have families of their own. Perhaps our kids have kids of their own! We get to relive the high points of primary and secondary education without having to deal with the negative aspects. Grandparents don’t want to hear when the little dear skipped an assignment.
Regardless, all God-fearing parents share one thing: they pray without ceasing! First day of kindergarten? Pray for the parents and the students. First day of middle school? You bet there’s some praying! First day of driving? Ooooooooh boy. Parents will pray more during this time than many others. First day in college and not at home? Prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer!
Now, whether dealing with fear and anxiety of offspring being away from home, or excitement about what our children are learning, we must stay connected with God through all of this. When Moses was speaking to Joshua, he gave these encouraging words. “‘It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed [emphasis added]'” (Deut 31:8 ESV). Couple this with God’s message to Israel in Isaiah 41:10 (NIV), “‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'” God wants us to trust Him, not live in fear.
“That’s the kind of promise you made when you launched your marriage. It was built into your wedding vows. You promised to love and cherish your mate ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.’ That was your first married promise, it was not conditional. It had no term limits or expiration date. It was meant to remain in effect from that moment until one or both of you leave this earth for the kingdom of heaven. That promise was meant to provide a solid base of security for your marriage. Whatever happens, you have promised to love your husband or your wife. It doesn’t matter whether you get upset with each other. It doesn’t matter if you get bored with the routine. It doesn’t matter if the money you expected is not there. It doesn’t matter if either of you loses your attractiveness, turns grumpy, sour, or uncommunicative, gets a debilitating illness, or falls into deep depression. You will love him. You will cherish her. You promised. And that promise gives your marriage security.”
Gary Smalley, “I Promise”, Kindle location 278
Passionate Love of “No human word is even remotely adequate to convey the mysterious and furious longing of Jesus for you and me to live in His smile and hang on His words. But union comes close, very close; it is a word pregnant with a reality that surpasses understanding, the only reality worth yearning for with love and patience, the only reality before which we should stay very quiet.”
— Brennan Manning, “Furious Longing of God”, Kindle location 735
This is a guest post by my friend Ron Lease, aka Ron Stoppable
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Starting in Exodus chapter 3, God engaged in dialog with Moses. God begins telling Moses of His plan to free the Israelites from bondage. Moses keeps asking “w” questions: “who” (Ex 3:11) and “what” (Ex 3:13, 4:1). God responded by saying “I will be with you.” (Ex 3:12 NIV)
Exodus 4 and 5 show Moses and his brother, Aaron, returning to Pharaoh asking him to let the Israelites go and hold a festival to the God of Israel. Pharaoh refuses and punishes the Israelites. Then God promises deliverance.
One of the names that God uses to reveal himself is El Shaddai, or God Almighty. Imagine Moses’ reaction when he not only heard the voice of God, but heard God introduce himself as almighty, all-powerful, omnipotent. In Exodus 6:3, Moses heard God say that though he appeared to Abraham (Gen 17:1), Isaac, and Jacob (Gen 35:11), he did not make himself fully known to them. Even without this complete revelation, God and Abraham (and his descendants) entered into a covenant. This covenant, as one would expect, turned out to be a pretty big deal! While we don’t necessarily know of God revealing himself as El Shaddai between Jacob and Moses, we do know that God was not silent or inactive during this time, especially when considering the life of Joseph (starting in Gen 37). Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms His child. However, after hearing the cries of the persecuted Israelites, God reached out to Moses.
“Jesus Christ loves the world and He loves the church, but there’s a special bread He feeds those who love Him in private. There’s a divine manna He reserves for those who extravagantly waste themselves in His presence. How do you waste your life on Jesus? Easy. It’s no secret. Make the decision in your mind, and your heart will catch up. Get in His presence. Reject sin. Cry out to Him in prayer. Lift your soul to Him in worship. Read and meditate on the Word until your heart is filled with the things that fill God’s heart. Utterly abandon yourself to Him, for intimacy with God takes time, and there is no substitute for waiting in His presence.”
— Mike Bickle, “Loving God”, Kindle location 918