GOD IS WITH US! (. . . and deserves introduction)

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . . .” – Matthew 11:29

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” – Psalm 55:22

“. . . To those who have no might He increases strength.” – Isaiah 40:24

“. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

God is with us always! One of the many phrases I live by is ‘Head Up, Pride Down,’ which I use to remind me to keep my eyes ahead, focused on God and away from myself, and to always remember that my success is not my own. But there’s a part of this that’s missing. It doesn’t recognize the fact that our God is not only a god of guidance, but also a god of counsel.

Basically, I’ve added onto my life-phrase. I’ve recognized that God is with us always – not only ahead, but also beside! I have recognized that no struggle will be overcome in solitude. I’ve recognized He is forever beside us, and one end of our burden can be placed on His shoulder. Not only does our God lead us into battle, He fights with us in the trenches!

Look ahead as He leads, and beside as He loves.

With Him beside, our entire life should be affected – including our interaction with others. We must get to the point where we can feel the presence of God so strongly in our lives that our natural instinct becomes to introduce Him to those who may not feel His presence in the same way. I haven’t gotten to that point yet – or I haven’t yet fully realized God’s presence at all times. We, including myself, need to always remember that not only is God ahead of us leading the way, but is also beside us, showing His love. Realize that God is beside you in everything you do, and as your realization of this improves, the need to introduce Him to those around you will become second nature.

God, I pray that You let us feel Your presence in all we do, and constantly give us an awareness of Your presence, so our natural instinct is to introduce you to those who don’t know you.

This post was inspired in part by Oswald Chambers and his book, “My Utmost for His Highest. I’d like to share what I read.

“Jesus asks us to get beside Him and take one end of the yoke, so that we can pull together. The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us, and to learn from Him.”

“Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think they have no burdens at all to bear. But we must see! The fact that God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lies, and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine, and not the burden.

No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of god living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.” – Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, April 14)

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WORDS FROM HOME*

*This is an entry written between Day 2 and Day 3 in Terence’s journal. It serves as a way of showing you the support Terence received from his church family, and his thoughts as this whole experience continued to sink in.

Patrick, the children of God have responded. Your brothers and sisters are praying for you and eagerly expect your arrival.

Allie was the first. She’s praying for me and for Jesus to work through me in your life. She found some verses in the Bible on color – I never thought about it that way – perhaps the colors you don’t see are symbolic? We’re praying for you to see blue – the symbol of the deity (God and The Trinity). The Father loves to see you laugh and smile, Patrick, and Allie will make that happen. She is such a joyful person, filled with life in the Spirit.

Kevin was the next brother to be moved. HE is excited for you and will pray for you Patrick. I met Kevin at FRESH camp, and he’s an amazing guy – very gentle and honest.

Nathan prophesies Isaiah 33:5-6* over your life Patrick. He’s encouraged and excited for what God is doing. You can speak to him and talk about the words from God he has for your life. I owe a lot of my courage and boldness in Christ to this man. The first of our peers to be fearless in the marketplace, I’m honored to fight alongside Nathan.

Pik proclaims Matthew 5:3-10* over your life Patrick. Blessings are yours in abundance. I laugh to myself as I think of this woman of God. I can feel her excitement and anticipation bursting at the seams of her heart. Similar to how I feel really.

Lizzie would like to partner in prayer for you Patrick. She’s praying till the day you come home. Lizzie is out there on the battlefield on the front lines. Amazing things are happening in her life! She prayed for a man named Jimmy the other day. He’s depressed and stressed. Maybe you two will meet one day Patrick.

I can’t wait for you to meet these saints, Patrick! There will be more in this journal as the days go by – you can be sure of that!

Terence

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Notes:

*Isaiah 33:5-6

5 Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven,
he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
6 In that day he will be your sure foundation,
providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

*Matthew 5:3-10 : The Beatitudes

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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This is a bit of an aside, and I have no idea how it will sound in the morning, but after reflecting on it all day I actually think it fits well with Terence’s story, especially since this post basically shows us the hearts of the community Terence is involved in in Adelaide.

As I went through my quiet time today, I found myself reading the book of Jude, and was especially struck by verses 22 and 23, which say

22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others,but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

As I reflected and prayed on this verse, I found myself asking how we go about showing mercy to others, while simultaneously “hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Basically, I found myself reflecting on how we can go about living the oft-used Christian mantra “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

I’m sure I’ll write about this idea later, but for now I just want to point out the love that the people Terence mentions in this post show towards a man they haven’t met. When I reflect on this entry, I can relate to this experience. I’ve prayed for people I haven’t met often, unaware of why, but simply because someone asked me to. I’ve actually prayed for Terence and Patrick in this way, before I knew what this story entailed. It’s quite easy, really, to feel  a sense of love towards someone you haven’t met – someone whose sins haven’t been made aware to you. Basically, it’s easy to pray for strangers without judgement.

Yet I find myself asking one question: If I did know the strangers I prayed for – all of the sins that ‘contaminate their lives’ – how would my prayer for them, and my heart towards them, change?

Ask yourself this question. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself, and maybe you won’t. For now, it’s just something to think about.

Forever being taught,

Joel