Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

Let me know your ways, so that I may understand you more fully. ~ Exodus 33:13

God loves to hear from us.  He loves to hear the sound of our voice.  He loves to hear us calling out to him, inviting him into our lives.  God loves to hear our prayers, our praises, our problems, our joys and our requests.  But of all the requests we offer up to him, God loves to hear those that ask for more of him.  Everything he does, all his answers to our prayers are his way of showing us his character.  God loves a heartfelt request for more of him instead of for more “stuff” on our behalf.  Would you want to be appreciated as the one who doles out perks and provisions more than for being who you are?  You’d probably end up feeling used, wouldn’t you?  So why should it be any different when it comes to God in our lives?

 Throughout the course of the Exodus, God promised to grant Moses’ request for his presence with the people because Moses acknowledged the people’s primary need for God himself to be with them.  The rescue from Egypt and the manna God provided were wonderful gifts, without question, but the people first needed to know the wonder of who their God was and is… his characteristics as mighty Lord, yet intimate Savior.

 The gift of God’s presence is so precious because he doesn’t ever owe or have to give us the time of day, yet he wants nothing more than to spend time with us.  God continues to woo us with his love, his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy, and his many other qualities that invite us to love him in return.  It is when he shows himself uniquely to us, that we are able to get a glimpse of eternity.

 God’s presence is the greatest gift we could ever hope for, the greatest one he can make available to us.  Just as he promised Moses, God’s going to tuck us into a safe place and keep u covered by his presence… “And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of a rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”  Today and every day, enjoy the presence of God, and enjoy being safe in his hands.

 Perhaps it was Cleland McCafee who phrased it most appropriately in his words that make up one my favorite hymns…

There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.

A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God,

There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God.

A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.

 

Lord, sometimes I think we begin to understand how precious your gift of you is.  But God, please awaken us to even more of you today.  Amen.

Be Still and Know… by Gus Keiser

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Well, we’ve made it!

More than likely by the time you read this it will be, or at least close to, New Year’s Day and another year will have passed, another year of growing older and, hopefully, just a bit wiser.  Hopefully also it has been another year during which you’ve created some more history with your Lord and Savior.  I don’t know how your relationship began with him this year, perhaps somewhat distant, maybe not even close, or with a confidence that you and he were close until something unusual happened and you discovered that you really weren’t as close as you thought.

 Well, by Wednesday of this week, that year will be behind you, the end of something, and, God willing, the beginning of some new things.  One of God’s amazing qualities is his habit of always having something new in store… more newness beyond your greatest success, more than the sum of even your costliest weaknesses, more than your hugest hurts, and more than the deadliest penalties for your sins.  The God we serve is the God of more, yet, his is a love that is profoundly simple and pure in its newness.

 As you continue your relationship with him into this new year, commit to discover what more his new means in regard to your life.  And remember, you can always count on his thoughts to outshine even your own dreams.

 But keep in mind that this new may include some heartaches; because heartaches often serve as catalysts for new growth in Jesus’ grace, new understanding of his heart, and new and healthy habits.  And as this new year dawns, don’t waste time doubting that new also means fresh reasons for joy and unprecedented depths of peace as long as you remain close to him.

 Learn from the past, but then put away the past so that you don’t trip over it as you keep in step with Jesus throughout the coming year.  End this one well by committing to begin the next one even better.  By doing so, you just may find that it may be the year that God sends his Son into your life once again, bringing his message of hope and promise to you.  Carry the encouragement of that possibility into each moment, trusting that God’s newness will last into eternity.

HAVE A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!

Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2: 10-11

Quite a few years ago someone recorded a song with the title “Happiness Is.”  The lyrics to that song listed a variety of things that make people happy.  People are continually searching for whatever will make them happy.  What has caused me to think about that feeling of happiness is a sign I saw recently at a restaurant here in the area.  The sign in that restaurant window read: We Sell Happiness.  I know the owners of that restaurant were using the message as a way of encouraging people to come in and eat there, but as I thought about that message, it occurred to me just how many people in our world, especially during this holiday gift buying time, are convinced that it is possible for happiness to be bought and sold.  Happiness (joy) is not some commodity to be bought, sold or traded; it is a feeling from within.

 Christmas is that special time of the year during which we celebrate the coming of the one who has brought us that joy: Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  This is the greatest birth announcement of all time, an announcement filled with joy.

 Just think of all the excitement that goes into preparing for Christmas.  But yet for a lot of people, underneath all that glitter and glamour, not all is happy and joyful.  Families and individuals are dealing with economic problems, illnesses and deaths.  We try to masque them with colorfully wrapped packages and bows and outward feelings of happiness.  But true happiness can’t be packaged, found in sentiments on a Christmas card, or at festive holiday gatherings.  Beneath them all still lay the hurts and sufferings.

 But there is a joy we can have, a joy within that completely satisfies.

 This is the message of joy that God sent to the shepherds that night.  “For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!”  Real joy comes from knowing Jesus Christ.  God’s message is a very personal one.  The angel said, “I bring YOU’.  God’s message is a universal one… “Which shall be to ALL people.”

 God’s joy comes from within; the worlds from without.  God’s joy has deep roots in himself; the world’s only on the surface.  God’s joy is unending; the world’s soon fades away.  God’s joy fills us completely; the world’s is only on the outside.  God’s joy satisfies; the world’s cannot.

May God’s joy fill your hearts and your lives at this Christmas time.  May his peace and love sustain you and prosper you during this coming year.  Merry Christmas and Amen. 

Be Still and Know by Gus Keiser

“Anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:33

 In the concluding verses of the fourteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel, we find Jesus in a very familiar position, surrounded by a large crowd.  But unlike what you or I might have been tempted to do, Jesus never plays to his audience.  He isn’t the least bit concerned about his popularity or his ratings.  H’s not running for some political office nor is he interested in trying to attract the biggest crowd in town.  He knows full well that when some in the crowd hear his message, they are going to lose interest in his words, his movement and in him.  But that doesn’t keep him from preaching the truth.

 As Jesus looks out over that crowd of would-be disciples, he says to them in effect, “If you want to follow me, then you need to understand what’s involved.”  He’s not speaking in sweeping generalities; rather, he identifies specific issues that must be surrendered by those who call themselves his followers… things like relationships, their physical bodies, their rights and possessions…  “Yes, and even your own life, because whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

 It’s one thing to have an emotional experience at some Christian gathering or even during a Sunday morning worship service where you’re inspired and challenged to yield control of your entire life to God.  But it’s another matter to live out that surrender once the emotional high has passed… when you get home from the experience and back into the real world, when you suddenly lose a job, the relentless onslaught of bills continues, or when you’re faced with an unexpected, threatening health crisis

 It is at these times when the extent and the fortitude of your discipleship will be determined in the
“laboratory of life”, through daily, moment-by-moment choices and responses that reveal how “surrendered” you really are in following Christ.

 It’s in the commitment… It’s in the following… It’s in the surrendering. As the old gospel song asks… Am I willing to surrender all?

Lord, I surrender every part of my being to you afresh today.  Please work out that surrender in my life every day, in every matter, from now until I bow to you in eternity.  Amen.