His Presence First

Days run together and responsibilities appear unending. Life is full, but I long for time to sit at Your feet, Lord, like Mary did. I don’t want to be Martha hurrying and scurrying about busy doing what needs to be done but missing the most important thing–time sitting at Your feet–learning from You–hearing You pour out the heart of Your Father–my Father–God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. You are the embodiment of all that God is in human form. You understand my busyness, my hectic frantic rushing here and there doing Your work–doing good things in Your name–but still like Martha–perhaps missing the main thing. Help me stop the frantic busy pace and sit with You for a wHis Presence Firsthile. Let me drink a cup of coffee and reflect on Your Word and on what You truly want for me–fellowship with You–fullness of joy–life abundant and free from worry–life that overflows with Your love, mercy, and grace–life that knows no limits.
I long to be free from that part of me that compels me to be busy doing Your work. I long to be Mary sitting at Your feet soaking in the very presence of the Son of God–the true essence of the person of God–instead of being busy about Your work in this world. If I don’t sit at Your feet and learn from You, I will never be effective in the things I want to do for you. I love being used by You–being allowed to be a small part of what You are doing in this world today.
Thank You that You loved me enough to set aside all that You knew in heaven to come to earth as a baby, to grow into a man; to offer up Yourself as the sacrifice to cleanse my sin. If I had been the only sinner on earth–Your love for me still would have sent You to the cross on my behalf. I will never fully understand how You could give up so much for me–how Your love for me could be so infinitely wonderful that You chose to die so that I could live.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7

About the Writer:
Anna Schaefer leads the W.E. C.A.R.E. team for the Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a widow, a mom, a grandmother and grateful to the Lord for giving her opportunities to share with other women in several ministries through First Baptist Dallas.

The Presence of God

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there;
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,’
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
Psalm  139:7-12 (NASB)

The Presence of God

When I was a child, I remember waking during the night and being frightened by the shadows dancing on the walls of my bedroom. In the moonlight, what were cheerful and familiar dolls and toys during the day became menacing strangers waiting to wreak havoc in my quiet little room. I would carefully pull the covers up to my chin, and in a quavering voice I would call out, “Daddy!!!” Within seconds, my father would appear in the shadows and suddenly the still dark room seemed a bit lighter. “I’m here! It’s ok. Don’t be afraid,” he would assure me. Just his presence in my little room quieted my racing heart. He would come over and sit on the edge of the bed and ask gently, “What’s the matter? Are you sick?” “No,” I would sheepishly answer him, “I’m scared.” “Did you hear a noise?” he would inquire patiently. “I don’t know, but I don’t think so. I had a bad dream.” I would tell him my childish fears about the shadows on the wall, and worries about monsters hiding in the closet or under the bed. I still remember how kindly he spoke to me, reassuring me that no one had come in since he locked the doors before going to bed.  Just to make sure, he would always look under the bed, and open the closet so I could see everything was as it should be. Leaning over, he’d kiss my forehead, tell me he loved me and before leaving would say a quick prayer, asking God to calm my fears. He’d then tuck the covers in around me. As he stood to go, he would say the words I had come to expect, “Remember, you are never alone. I am just in the next room, and Jesus is always here. He is with you everywhere, all the time. And He never sleeps. He is always watching over you.”

Decades later, when I wake during the night now, and the shadows of my life, filled with worries of the day, dance on the wall of my mind, I call out to my Heavenly Father, and I hear His words, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB) Just His Presence quiets my racing heart, and the shadows are gone.

About the Writer:
Nan Haines is especially thankful for an earthly father who has loved his children in a way that made it easy for her to trust in her Heavenly Father. She has been a pastor’s wife for 34 years, and has four grown kids and a son in love.

He is Here

It is Monday morning and I wake up reluctantly to begin the morning routine. I fight multiple battles every morning. A battle for submission from my strong-willed 5 year old son. A battle of patience with my 4 year old son, determined to assert his independence. I fight a battle within myself, fighting my own desires to crawl back in bed and snuggle my boys for a few more minutes. A battle against my laziness and general lack of motivation.

It is an internal, daily fight for me which inspires feelings of doubt and not being good enough. Don’t my husband and sons deserve someone better? Don’t my sons deserve a mom that wakes up extra early and cooks them a nutritious breakfast from scratch? I often wish I could be that mom. The kind of mom who packs pinterest inspired lunches, reads to them every night, and keeps the house perfectly clean. Instead, they get the mom who is obviously losing the battle against dishes and laundry. They are stuck with a mom who feeds them frozen waffles for breakfast and barely gets them to school on time. My failures and doubts consume my thoughts and my fear paralyzes me. I allow these thoughts to overwhelm me as I drive the boys to school.

Stop. I stop at the stop sign. It’s not a busy intersection, but rather a pointless three way stop where I rarely see another car. I stop and check the other stop signs, straight ahead and to the left, but there are no other cars in sight. I look to my right and I find myself unable to move. I am amazed at the beauty I see. To my right is a field. The field is surrounded by rusty barbed wire and is an old cow pasture, but now it stands empty. This morning, the field is bathed in soft sunlight as a cloud of fog lingers by the distant tree line. The dew on the grass sparkles. There is an old, leafless tree in the middle. The tree seems tired, broken, and weary, but the morning sun appears to be shining from within its boughs. The tree alone is far from beautiful, but the light brings life to it and makes it breathtakingly beautiful. It makes me stop.Presence of God

“Stop.” God whispers to me. I feel his presence. He created me. He designed my strengths and weaknesses. He created my husband for me to love and be loved by in return. He created our boys, strong-willed, independent, and precious. He has entrusted me with their care. He is here, waiting for me to stop, to look for Him, and to remember who I am in Him. Who am I to doubt and compare my life to others? He brings light to the tired, broken, and weary. He fills me with hope, peace, and joy. He fights my battles with me and for me when all my strength is gone. He takes away my doubts and paralyzing fear. He reminds me that alone, I will never be good enough, but “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Dear Heavenly Father, please take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to you.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

About the Writer:
Meghan is a wife and stay at home mom to two amazing little boys. She has a heart for service and enjoys working on the Oasis Leadership Team at First Dallas.

Radiance of the Father

When I was in my early 20’s I was plagued with cystic acne. Having always enjoyed pristine skin, I had no reason to anticipate these changes that accompanied my early adult years. At first I tried to cover it, then I tried to fix it, then I felt ashamed of it (taking it quite personally), and then I just endured it and avoided mirrors. Of course, I was never happy about it nor did I fail to notice the constant ache it created as the deep-seated nodules put pressure against my facial bones. Looking back, it seems so insignificant and not even worth recalling — if not for the valuable lessons God showed me during and after those uncomfortable, drawn-out years. Eventually my skin cleared up; but, surprisingly, the change did not make me any happier or more confident as a woman.

We all know that external beauty is only skin-deep; but oh how easy it is to let injuries, childbirth, deformities, cancer, physical decline, sickness and scars maime our sense of self-confidence. Praise God for His unconditional love that considers us beautiful and valuable no matter how we feel about ourselves.

When I think about the times that I feel truly radiant, I notice that it has nothing to do with my physical appearance. It is not because I am pleased with my weight, my hair, my face or my outfit. Instead, such moments of true radiance, when I know beauty, are when I gaze upon beauty — not compete with it.

Psalm 34:1-5
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

Continually celebrating and knowing the Lord as the Holy One, the Worthy One, the Magnificent One make the release from any fears or self-consciousness a gracious certainty. As pride seeks to compete for God’s glory, thankfulness and joy come to the ones who turn their eyes to Jesus. Any glory that God has reflected upon us must be turned back to Him. We decrease and He increases (John 3:30). He makes us beautiful because He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:14). He makes us radiant because of His glory and calling (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 5:27). He makes us full because of His fullness (Colossians 2:9-10, John 1:16). He makes us pure because of His precious Son’s blood (1 John 2:12, Revelation 1:5). Having caught His eye, we realize that no greater admiration is equal.

Radiance of the Father

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him…

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.