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

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

If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life… For I know where I came from and where I am going.

~ John 8: 12.14

We’ve all gone through the shoe break-in process.  For most of us, it takes several weeks of wearing a pair of new shoes before we really feel comfortable in them.  But what about the comfortableness of our own shoes as it relates to our life?  For most of us; getting comfortable in our own shoes takes most of us into early adulthood to accomplish.  None of us have survived our childhood without scars because the people with whom we shared that childhood, including our parents, were imperfect.  School days for a lot of children, whether they care to admit it or not, bordered on a nightmare.  Imperfect teachers didn’t always fill our heads with positive feedback, and the playgrounds crawled with peers who often didn’t treat us as worthwhile.  So, it didn’t take much negativity to imprint our psyches with our perceived failures.

 As we grew, we developed coping mechanisms that still either fight for our self-worth or bury our hurts.  Either way, we have learned to deal with life in healthy and not-so-healthy ways.  We rejoice in those infrequent and brief bouts of confidence, but just when we think we’ve managed to overcome our issues, we end up re-visiting that same old, repackaged junk.

 One of the oldest troubles known to humankind is a crisis of identity.  Ever since Adam and Eve’s first sin we’ve faced this uphill battle against human nature that cripples us and separates us from God.

 But Jesus came to earth to reestablish our identity with his heavenly Father.  Jesus never wasted any energy wondering who he was or whether he was worthwhile, and he doesn’t wonder that about us.  He was entirely comfortable in his own sandals because he knew his Father so well, and he knew the greatness of his Father’s heart.

 When we make the choice to follow Jesus, he leads us to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us.  He lights the path through our confusion about ourselves, and he invites into the wholeness he enjoys with his Father, God.

 God loves you and he has sent his Son to tell you so.  No matter where you’ve come from, no matter what negative things in life you’ve experienced, God offers you a secure future with him.

 You are cherished by your Creator.  Enjoy being his treasure.

Abba, Father, it’s tough to fight the negative thoughts that shout inside us.  Please replace them with your words of love, and help us to move forward with you.  Amen.

Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

I wrapped my cloak around you… and declared my marriage vows.~ Ezekiel 16:8

As the end of July draws closer, I am beginning to count the days until Ellie and I take our annual getaway in mid-August.  Part of that time away will include celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary.  The intimacy of marriage between true soul mates cannot be equaled on earth.   Both souls are laid bare, with nothing hidden from each other, and these two spirits refine one another through life’s joys and sorrows… creating a unity that must be experienced directly and together.  It’s not a love and relationship that can be manufactured or felt secondhand.  It’s a gift from God, and it deserves the utmost care and protection.

 But God offers us something even better.  Long ago he made this covenant with us that humbles even the best of human marriages.  With him, we can experience heights of fulfillment and growth that nothing else can touch.  We also come to know the true meaning of forever as we look forward to eternity with Jesus our heavenly Bridegroom.

 But with any marriage, be it earthly or heavenly, there is this vulnerable side.  Along with such a unity comes a high vulnerability to imperfections and unfaithfulness.  Whether we care to admit it or not; human beings are by nature unfaithful creatures.  Even our best intentions fail at times, and infidelity can devastate even the strongest connections.  When unfaithfulness rips into a marriage, it shreds trust and love.  Its effect is like trying to tear apart two pieces of paper that have been glued together.  To do so is virtually impossible without  leaving pieces of both attached to the two separated sheets (persons).  And while we may do our best to try to patch the torn pieces, too often the damage has run too deep to be repaired.

 Our connection to God needs protection from unfaithfulness also… ours, that is, since God’s faithfulness never comes into question.  We need to protect our heavenly Spouse by guarding our unity with him.  We need to allow nothing to intrude on that relationship… not sin, other attractions or a too busy schedule.  Life is always going to be there, laying its demands on us and threatening to undo our connection with God.  Don’t let it.  What God has joined together, let no man or process put asunder!

Lord Jesus, we want to be faithful to you always.  Please help us to stay true in good times, and bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death brings us together forever!  And Lord, thank you for being the Soul Mate beyond our wildest dreams.  Amen.

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Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. ~1 Corinthians 8:1

One has only to spend a brief amount of time on the Internet to realize that the world is a smorgasbord of information.  Like the ever-expanding universe, our knowledge base never stops increasing.  Every day we are exposed to new ideas and new information.  I marvel at the present day school process.  School children today have their work cut out for them in tackling a curriculum that makes what I learned seem elementary in comparison.  The value we place on knowledge reveals itself in the emphasis we place on test scores, diplomas and degrees.  This drive for knowledge has even managed to infiltrate our entertainment in TV game shows and video games.  We have this un-insatiable thirst for wanting to know a whole lot of stuff, whether it’s useful of not.

So, what value does God place on knowledge?  According to the verse above from First Corinthians, knowledge is most helpful in the Christian faith when it causes us to love more genuinely.  The more we know about what defines love, the smarter we can love.  But knowledge on its own doesn’t equal love, create love, or measure up to love.  Knowledge may be somewhat valuable to God, but it is love that is really precious to him.

Why is that so?  Knowledge is a good and necessary thing, right?  Of course it is.  Knowledge serves many wonderful purposes, and we have every reason to be grateful for our ability to retain facts.  So then, why is it that knowledge is second-rate when compared to love?

Well, let’s start by considering one of our primary motivations for collecting knowledge.  Knowledge makes us feel good.  The more we know the better we feel about ourselves.  But it is love that makes others feel good.  It’s the trade off from self-focus to others-focus that God really prizes.  Very often our craving for knowledge is to better ourselves, but truly loving someone is all about making things better for that person.

When we drive ourselves toward more knowledge we may receive great recognition here on earth, but the person who places love before knowledge is the one God truly recognizes.  Now, based on all we know about God’s view of knowledge, which ambition… love or knowledge… seems to be the smarter goal?

Lord, we love all that you want to teach us.  Please help us to learn love first of all,  Amen.