Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.
But aren’t his children always in his presence? Yes and no. Yes in two senses: First, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.
And second, yes, he is always present with his children in the sense of his covenant commitment to always stand by us and work for us and turn everything for our good. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
I threw my body onto the floor, desperately flattening myself against the rough carpet. I listened intently but only heard my own pounding heartbeat. After a moment of quiet, I cautiously peered out the window, peeking one eye over the ledge just enough to see the street below. Instantly, I recoiled to my hiding spot. She was still there!
No, I wasn’t a soldier in wartime hiding from a dangerous enemy, nor was my house being robbed. The figure on the front porch was merely a kind neighbor who brought over a bread basket for my mom.
We all have things we’re believing for, dreams to come to pass, problems to turn around. We have the promise in our heart. We’ve prayed, we’ve believed, but we don’t see any sign of things improving. It’s easy to get discouraged and think it’s never going to work out. But most of the time God doesn’t do things instantly. There will be a waiting period. Just because you don’t see it changing doesn’t mean that God is not working. As you keep believing, keep praising, keep doing the right thing, you’re going to see things begin to change. Many times, the miracle is in the process. It happens when you keep being obedient. What you’re believing for is on the way.
Each year around the Thanksgiving season, a small group of friends on social media repeat a tradition to share each day, over 30 days, something they’re thankful for. I’ve joined in some years, and it’s a wonderful practice! One of the things I love about seeing all of my friends posting what they’re thankful for is that I know some of these people are facing hard things. So behind the smiles and thanks are also tears and heartache. The Bible has a lot to say about “giving thanks.” A common phrase in the book of Psalms is “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 100:4) As we dive deeper into this idea of “entering His gates…” let’s remember one truth: We can give thanks in any circumstance.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. The blind man said, “I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:46-52)
The question is a powerful tool. It requires an answer. It promotes reflection. It engages the hearer asking for accountability. It shows respect and interest in the hearer. It offers a place for the hearer to give their thoughts and opinions. It prompts subsequent questions and is an invitation for the hearer to ask a question. A question invites relationship.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27). The gospel writers make it clear that one of the outstanding features of Jesus’ ministry was that he freely and naturally exercised this authority. People sensed that they were under the immediate influence of God. Jesus’ words struck at the heart; they were clear, strong, unequivocal, simple, and mysterious.
A year after settling into our new home, we had the idea to have a little, informal block party and invite the neighbors around us whom we knew — about 15 or 20 people.
At the time, I had no grandiose visions of what God could do with that small step; I just thought it would be fun to get some neighbors together.
Small Steps Can Lead to Big Changes
His heart is to bless. Blessings are not just nice words. They are powerful for conveying the love of God to the people of this world. What is blessing? To express good wishes or to offer prayer to God for someone’s welfare and benefit. What a wonderful thing—to ask for good to happen in another’s life. God’s intention is to bless—and we are the conveyors of His blessing. We are His image to the world desperately needing Him. We reflect what He is like. God sent us out to reveal Himself. The verse above expresses our God’s love and care for us…
To understand the concept of the banner let’s go to the first place in scripture where God is identified as “Jehovah Nissi,” which means, “The LORD is my banner.” The children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness on their way to the promised land when the Amalekites attacked (Exodus 17:8). Moses sent Joshua to lead the army into battle but told him that he would stand on the top of the hill overlooking the battle with his arms raised to the Lord. As long as Moses kept his arms raised in worship, the Israelites were winning. If Moses’s arms started to drop, the Israelites started to lose the battle. When Aaron, Moses’s brother, noticed this trend, he and Hurr climbed the hill and put a rock under Moses to sit on. Aaron and Hurr then stood on either side of Moses holding up his arms.
More than half of the states in the U.S. have what is known as “stand your ground” laws, which allows individuals to defend or protect themselves by use of force, rather than just running away. God has given us a “stand your ground” law, too (See Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1, 10:19; Ephesians 6:11; just to name a few). We have a list of promises—guaranteed blessings—that belong to us. But we have to stand against our enemy to take them and receive them. To stand your ground means to refuse to change position—to refuse to move from one place to another—to refuse to retreat or lose your advantage in the face of opposition.