Slow Down

Presence: It’s a hot topic in my world. In a previous post a few months ago, I mentioned that this theme was popping up over and over in my quiet time with God. About the same time that this word presence first made its presence, I wrestled with God regarding my addiction to caffeine. It was a tough addiction to shake. Having chronic illnesses that cause an abnormal amount of fatigue, it was easy to justify my coffee consumption. My Dr. was even on board with two cups a day. So, when I felt like God was telling me to lay off of the coffee entirely, I fought doing this. Then, my husband helped me to realize the reason. It clicked. God wanted me to slow down and stop busying myself-to be present in Him because that is what is most important. Caffeine, being a stimulant, made me feel more energized and in turn, more productive. It helped me to do more. But doing isn’t always necessarily the best or right thing. Deepening our relationship with our Savior and relying on Him for our strength, is though. The world will tell us otherwise. And unless our focal point is Him, it can be difficult not to get sucked into the doing and keeping up with the Jones’.

Busyness can be a distraction. It can divert us from what our focus really needs to be on. I was playing Martha, when I needed to be Mary. My priorities were backwards. I was trying so hard to do, that I was not really listening to how He wanted me to do. I was doing in my own strength, when what He wanted for me was to stay in His presence, depending on Him-not caffeine. With today’s technology, it’s too easy to become inundated with the portrayals on TV and social media showing us what life “should” be like. If we aren’t intentional, how quickly our eyes can wander from Him. Wandering eyes, can mean more worldly tasks added to our plates. And if we can’t slow down on our own, God will find ways to slow us down and remind us what really matters-our relationship with and dependence on Him.

He wants us to know Him on a heart level. In order to do this, we must get to know Him better. So, how do we deepen our relationship with Him? We must spend time in his presence. When we set the busyness and distractions aside, instead of our relationship with Him, and we walk with Him in each moment, seeking Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls, all else will fall into place. So, let’s slow down, look up and remember to send prayers and praises to Him throughout each day.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

Rest In His Presence

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” -Exodus 33:14

The word “presence” has “made its presence” (pun intended) in my Bible reading numerous times lately. In fact, I read the Bible on the YouVersion app and I often take screen shots, circling words and verses that stand out to me. Going back through my phone, the words “present” or “presence” appeared at least twenty-five times in my readings in the past few weeks. God’s voice is loud and revealing here. He has been telling me that I need to be in His presence at all times, and now I understand part of the why.

Recently, I’ve noticed my energy dipping during times of stress and anxiety. And in thinking about “presence”, I realized how little time I actually spend in the present. My head is always spinning. Because I’m my own worst critic, I am all too guilty of looking behind me and holding onto the weight of my mistakes. As someone who wrestles with anxiety, I’m also guilty of looking forward-worrying about tomorrow. I find it very difficult to remain in the present, but that is where God is calling me to be.

Presence is the place where joy is found. Being present is being fully alive in each moment. It’s also where the peace is. And, it’s where rest is. It’s where we are right now, not ruminating over our past failures or anticipating what might happen next week. These both are exhausting and empty today of it’s energy and joy. It is the regrets of yesterday and the stresses of tomorrow that take up so much space in my mind, physically and emotionally wearing me out.

God is calling me to be present in Him, present with my loved ones, and present in life in general. When we walk in the presence of God, we are allowing His spirit to guide and shape each moment as we trust Him. We can’t walk in His presence if our thoughts are in the past or on next week. When we are present, we let go of the past and the future, and walk with Him, instead of looking behind or trying to get a sneak peek at tomorrow. Being present in Him, is about trusting and walking with Him through each moment as it comes.

It is when we live in the past or jump to the future that we actually miss out on the “now”-on what’s happening right in front of us. Therefore, let’s give Him yesterday and throw Him our worries about tomorrow so we can live right here, right now in Him. Let’s rest in His presence by fixing our eyes on the One who gives us peace and joy that the world cannot give. And let’s be present for those standing before us in this moment.

Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence. -Psalm 140:13

Be Still

Do you ever get to the point where you are feeling so burnt out? I’m talking really, really tired? Today, the stress didn’t even come knocking. Instead, it slipped right in the front door without me being aware. By the time I realized it, I was drained. I wasn’t walking in the Spirit. Thoughts of daily tasks and chores needing to be completed, along with the extra Christmas planning, were running through my mind. This evening, I took a few minutes to myself and God spoke to my heart. During that time, He told me to be still.

Are you too, needing rest this Christmas season? If so, we need only be still. Be still and soak up His presence, His peace and His love. Let’s draw on the One that will replenish us. Are you weary and carrying heavy burdens tonight? We can lay them all at the feet of Jesus-all the overwhelming thoughts, all those to-do’s that we desperately want crossed off our lists, tomorrow-all of it. Lay it all at His feet and immerse yourself in Him. We can lean on Him and we can lean into Him, we need only be still. Ask Him tonight to help you quiet all those thoughts and to fill you with His peace, then wrap yourselves in His everlasting arms. Resting in Him, He will lead us beside still waters.

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. -Psalms 23:2-3 (AMP)

One Big Package

For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. -Philippians 4:11

Let’s talk about being content. How can we be content when we are in situations or circumstances that make us feel otherwise?

We do it with through Him. In Philippians 4:13, Paul explains that he is able to be content no matter the circumstances through him who gives me strength. When we prayerfully present our requests to God and ask for the strength, He will empower us. He wants us to be content and we can, in His strength.

I recently came across a quote by BJ Thompson that I’ve been pondering: “Until Jesus is enough nothing else will be.” Maybe the reason we aren’t content is because we weren’t created to be content without Him. Without Him, we are restless. Nothing in this world will ever satisfy us like He does. And until we let Him fill us, we will never be wholly content. We must drink from the water, in order to never be thirsty. If we are thirsting, we aren’t replenishing our souls. If we are reaching for earthly distractions to give us pleasure, we aren’t knocking back enough of Jesus. If we are looking for love or other people to meet all of our needs, we aren’t consuming enough of Him. If we are grasping at the next big toy or gadget we think will fulfill us, we aren’t drinking from the Well. Only He can fill us the way that we truly desire. And what is it that we truly desire? To fill that God-shaped hole-that void that only He can.

I was in the Word again tonight, reading Psalm 16 and what spoke to me immediately was in your presence there is fullness of joy. In His presence, there is joy. There’s not a little, there is fullness. He will fill us up to the brim with joy! What an incredible blessing! In His presence, we can be content because He is all we need. When we continually set the Lord before us, and we walk in His presence through every circumstance, we can have that joy. It’s ours and it’s His gift to us. Not only that, but we can know that He is right there with us in every situation and we need not be moved. In fact, Psalm 16 says we shall rest and confidently dwell in safety. We can breathe, and rest assured that He’s got us-no matter what life tosses us. We can be still and know that He is God. And when we remain in His presence, there is joy and contentment waiting there for us. We just need to grab hold of Him and hang onto Him through it all because He will never leave or forsake us.

What else can we do? Luke 12:15 says to watch out and be on guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in abundance of possessions. Truly living life is being in the present, in His presence, wherever we are because our abundance will only be found in Him. It’s not found in possessions. Possessions are of this world and His followers are not.

So this Christmas season, let’s remain in His presence, remembering that He is our present. He is the only One that can fill us with the contentedness we wholeheartedly yearn for. And no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in, we will not be shaken if we have Him by our side. For He is our peace, hope, and joy all wrapped into one big package. He is the ultimate gift.

But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].-1 Timothy 6:6 (AMP)