A Heart in Tune With God

When we love someone, we want them to be a part of everything we are. Shouldn’t this apply, above all, to our relationship with God?

If we seek intimacy with God (our Creator; our Lord and Savior), then we shouldn’t give Him a part of our lives. Rather, we should invite Him into everything we do. We should give all of our lives to serve Him.

That means not only when we are shouting for joy on the mountaintop, but also when we’re breaking in the valley.

When we’re unfeeling, and don’t have the strength to pray.

When we’re so excited to tell God about what happened to us today. (He already knows, of course, but don’t you think He wants to hear your elated voice as you stumble over your words, trying to explain every detail to Him?)

In the quiet and in the mundane. On the days just like every other day.

When you’re hurting. When you’re working. When you’re worried.

When your heart feels heavy and you need someone to talk to.

When you have to tell someone about that adorable neighborhood dog you saw. That delicious cup of tea. That breathtaking sunset.

In everything, in every little moment, God wants you to turn to Him. God wants to hear from you.

Isn’t that amazing? It’s difficult enough to find someone who wants to hear about every little thing that goes on in your head; but God, the One who made you and saved you? The One who sees every bit of sin and darkness that you hide so well from others? To know that this same God loves you and wants you…well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

So, if you’re tired of the rut and routine, just start here: invite God into every moment, no matter how small. Talk to Him. Seek Him, even in your darkest moments. Be still.

Because intimacy with God is the most precious thing a human being can strive for. He’s the very breath in our lungs, giving us life. It only makes sense, then, to turn to Him in everything.

Talk to God: about flowers, sunsets, dogs, coffee, and books; smiles, and laughter, and tears.

He wants to hear from you.

Clean

I was afraid to reach out to Him
with bloodstained hands;
fingertips marked with black
like permanent ink.

Yet, He reached out to me
and put His hand in mine.

He said,
“I will
make you
clean.”

And my hands
were clean.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling out to one another:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts;
all the earth is full of His glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said:
Woe is me,
for I am ruined,
because I am a man of unclean lips
dwelling among a people of unclean lips;
for my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of Hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And with it he touched my mouth and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,
your iniquity is removed
and your sin is atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
Whom shall I send?
Who will go for Us?”

And I said:
Here am I. Send me!

Isaiah 6:1-8, BSB

Arms of Grace

So, you can put down the bottle, the blade, or the gun. You can stop running to those lovers, those lusts that only repeatedly shatter you, and instead run to the only One who can satisfy you: the God who made you and died to save you. He is stronger. He is greater.

So, run to Him, again and again. No matter how long it takes, keep running to Him. Let Him enfold you in His arms of grace. He loves you, and He is able to get you through every trial, temptation and storm.

Immanuel (God With Us)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Matthew 1:18-23 NKJV

Do you think we’re missing it?

Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year!”

The pomp.
The cheery music.

The lights. The gifts
The tree. The decorations.

Isn’t it easy to miss?

The holidays can be hectic. Even dreaded.
The cheer accentuates your sadness, doesn’t it?

Slow down. Take a breather,
and rest from the “Christmas burnout.”

Find a reason.

The reason. For what?
The season, yes—and much more.

Our lives.
This world.

Immanuel.
God with us.”

What does that mean for us?
For you?

This season—merry, or lonely—
God is with you.

Among the long lists, the guilt:
God is with you.

Among the glittery lights, the carolers.
In the darkness of the night:
God is with you.

After the cheer, and the silence sets in.
The floors creak, and you watch shadows dance on your wall.
Over your heart.

Among the uncertainty of the coming year.
The wondering, “How will I make it?”
God is with you.

Do you realize the impact—the power—of those words?
Let them settle over your heart, dear child.

GOD.
Yahweh.
The great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

The One Who spoke the world, your heart, into existence.
The One Who saw each day, before it was.

With a breath, He crafted bones, joints, ligaments, DNA.
Trees, oceans, unsearchable galaxies.

Who set each star in place (Isaiah 40:26, Psalm 147:4).
The sun and moon.

Who created laughter, smiles, and tears.
(Chuckles and belly laughs. Laughs that make your stomach ache, and smiles that hurt your dimpled cheeks.
Tears: of sadness, anger, and joy.
Tears that He caught with His own nail-pierced hands: Psalm 56:8.
Each one.)

The One Who saw everything He made and called it, “good” (Genesis 1:31, 2:1-7, 18-23).
Who made a way through the sea (Exodus 14:1-9, 13-29, Psalm 136:10-26).
Brought down the walls of a fortified city (Joshua 6:1-20).
Rescued His enslaved people.
Multiplied them as the stars in the sky through an elderly couple (Genesis 15:1-8, 12-18, 17:1-8, 15-22, 18:1-19, 21:1-7).
Saved the hardest of hearts (the heart of a persecutor: Acts 9:1-22, 26-31).

This God
took on flesh.

Set aside His glory for a frail tabernacle.
Bled, sweated, and bruised.
Wept, and grew in stature and wisdom (John 11:1-45, Luke 2:52).
Grew tired, hungry, and thirsty.
Was mocked, laughed at, and scorned—by His own brethren, out of His own city (Luke 4:16-30, 8:49-56, 16:14, John 7:1-32, 40-52, Mark 3:21-22).

By His own creation (Isaiah 53:1-7).

Eyes of compassion.
Hands of loving warmth, extended to the outcast.
The forgotten.

The leper: How long had it been since someone had reached for him? What hand had ever touched him with such power and tenderness (Matthew 8:1-3)?

The prostitute, the adulterer: Eyes that looked on her with care. Not hatred, nor intent to use and cast aside.
Not this man (John 8:1-11). He called her “found.” He called her, “daughter” (Mark 5:24-34).

The blind man: Confused and lost. Spit and mud touch his eyes. His vision is blurry.
Are those trees? Or people?

His vision clears. His eyes open.

The first things he sees is God (Mark 8:22-25, John 9:1-21, 24-25, 28-38).

He gasps.
A man, but His eyes told stories of empires falling and rising.
Galaxies forming.
Selfless love.

LOVE.

Wisdom, and sorrow;
as if some unimaginable trek of death lay ahead.

A God—the hands that formed everything we see—
nailed to a cross by the very hands He made.
The ones He watched since they were in the womb.

Who laid aside robes of righteousness
for a tattered,
scarlet robe.

Naked.
Beaten.

Who stepped down from His throne, to be lain in a manger.
To be lain in a tomb.

Greeted by the musty stench of hay and animals as He breathed His first breath (as a man).

Shaky breaths through bruised ribs as He breathed His last.

A God who set aside His crown of gold glory, for thorns digging in His temple.

Stained by His own blood.
Trickling down His forehead, through His beard.

Creator of man. Of iron and wood.
Hung on a cross to die.

A curse.
Our God with us.

Three days of darkness and silence.
Both Heaven and Earth wept.

Was inconsolable.

Hope…died.
God.died.

But this Immanuel?
He is God with us.
Not “God was with us.”
Not the God of the dead, but of the living (Mark 12:26-27, Romans 14:8).

This God,
this Immanuel,
rose (Luke 24:1-12, 36-53)!

Rose again.

Is risen! Now and for all eternity.

Ascended to the Father (John 20:17, Acts 1:6-11, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:18-23, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, Revelation 3:21).
Reclaimed His glory.
Took the deed of death and sin and called it “annulled” (Revelation 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Colossians 2:13-15).
Offered those who killed Him a second, third, fourth chance.
Seventy. Seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). A thousand,
countless chances.

Signed the adoption papers with His own blood (Galatians 4:3-7, 1 Peter 1:14, 17-21).
Sealed by the very Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13).
A heavenly inheritance that will never spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-9).

The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, to die for the world (Revelation 13:8, 1 John 2:2, 2 Corinthians 5:15).

A Lamb without spot or blemish.

The Child Who came (Matthew 1:18-25) and died (John 19:30).

The conquering King (Revelation 5:5).
The returning Lion (Revelation 22:7, 12-13, 17-20).

Coming quickly. Coming soon.
With a roar (Amos 1:1-2, Joel 3:16),
a sword (Revelation 19:1-2, 11-21),
and righteous fury.

Returning for His own.
His children (Hebrews 9:27-28, Titus 2:11-15, Jude 1:17-23, Matthew 25:31-40, John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
A complete restoration (Revelation 21, 2 Peter 3:3-15).

Immanuel.
God with us.

THIS GOD:
He is with us.
Is with us.

Died for us.
Rose for us.
Is coming back for us.

God in the flesh (John 1:1-18).
Alive forevermore.

Not only God with “us.”
But God with you.

God with the sinner. The lost. The outcast.
The addict. The broken. The lonely. The suicidal.

This God is with you.

Will never leave you (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, John 14:15-20).
Is right here (Joshua 1:9, Psalm 139:1-18).

Reaching out.

Do you know Him?

Because one day—
soon and very soon—
He will be GOD WITH US.

Dwelling among us.
Right in our midst.

Our eyes will behold Him (Job 19:26-27, Revelation 7:15-17, 22:1-4).
Our faith will be sight.

Our dwelling place, for all eternity (Deuteronomy 33:27).

This God with us.
This God with you.

Our precious, living, loving;
beautiful and humble
Immanuel.

To our Immanuel be honor and glory for all eternity.

May we dwell with Him together.

Forever.

Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it. So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then he came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne, and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints). They were singing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals
because you were killed,
and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God
persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.
You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands – all of whom were singing in a loud voice:

Worthy is the lamb who was killed
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature – in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them – singing:

To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped.

Revelation 5 NET

Where Is Your Hope?

Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” But he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.

Luke 16:19-31, NASB

What is your hope in?

On what do you rely?

To the world, the rich man was enviable. Not a lack or a need.

To the world, Lazarus was detestable. A man who couldn’t even care for himself.

What about God? The kingdom of God does not value what the world does. A man blessed in life, is cursed in death. A man low in life, now elevated after death.

How can this be? The rich man’s wealth did not condemn him, any more than Lazarus’ lack saved him. Nonetheless, the rich man’s actions reflected his heart. He was a man who, “stored up things for himself, but was not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). He did not have any love towards his brother (1 John 4:7-8, 20-21, 1 John 3:17). The dogs had more compassion on Lazarus than he did.

Finally, death sought them out. What could his riches do for him now?

What did they do for him then? They provided pleasure with no depth.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21, ESV

His master was his wealth.

No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24, BSB

The rich maid said, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” In reality, he was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17, NIV).

Jesus says to all who come to Him:

If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done.

Matthew 16:24-27, BSB

What is the rich man’s response to his condemnation? Does he say, “What did I do wrong? Isn’t this a bit much, God?” Or is he visiting and partying with his friends?

No, he realizes too late that he wasted his life. What he needed wasn’t more riches, but God. Repentance. He wishes to save his brothers from the same fate. All too late.

He insists that if someone were to rise from the dead, that would persuade them! If they saw a sign, they would believe! Have you heard the same?

“Well, if God would prove His existence, wouldn’t more people believe? If He would bend down and write His name in the sand, I would believe. If He would speak aloud to me, I would consider turning to Him.” Would you? Is the problem lack of evidence? Or is it the heart, hardened by sin? Wanting to go its own way?

Hasn’t God already written His name in the stars? Don’t the heavens declare His glory?

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

Psalm 19:12 BSB

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:20-23 NIV

I myself wondered, “God, why don’t you speak like You once did in the Bible? Wouldn’t more people turn to You if You did?” What came to me was Hebrews 1:1-3 (BSB):

On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The truth is, Jesus is enough. To conquer our sin, to conquer death.

Jesus is enough for the lowly, the esteemed. The rich, the poor. The forgotten, the sinner. Look what He says after His interaction with the rich ruler, who also chose riches (Matthew 19:16-22) over eternal life:

Truly I tell you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:23-26, BSB

Jesus is strong enough to save anyone. He died, so that this would be possible. So that His righteousness would cover us, rather than our sins, which condemn us. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 6:23, NLT).

Jesus will never drive away the one who comes to Him. “However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them” (John 6:37, NLT).

But you must make that choice. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t keep putting it off. Is tomorrow promised? If you don’t make that commitment now, do you think you will be more likely to make it then? “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NIV). Or will you keep building on a foundation that is bound to crumble?

Most importantly, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. “Where is the promise of His coming?” they will ask. “Ever since our fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately overlook the fact that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world of that time perished in the flood. And by that same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to conduct yourselves in holiness and godliness as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God, when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, as you anticipate these things, make every effort to be found at peace with Him, without spot or blemish.

2 Peter 3:3-14, BSB

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:15, ESV

Click here to read the ABC’s of salvation.