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God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses

Slow down, see God, be changed

Busy, busy, busy. That’s how many of us tend to go through our days whether we’re at school, in the workplace, at home, or somewhere else. Even our vacations can sometimes be so full of activities that we feel like we need a vacation once we get home from vacation!

slow down and see God; see God and be changedAs crazy and scary as the past 18 months have been, one benefit for some people has been the realization that life doesn’t always have to be so busy. We saw that we can slow down … take a break … step back a bit … and the world will still keep turning.

What a refreshing reminder for some of us, myself included.

I’m a firm believer that God is all around us in big and small ways every day. After all, Scripture tells us so multiple times. First, we have the obvious example of the creation story in Genesis. A few other references to it include:

  • You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:6)
  • Thus says the Lord,the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hand? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” (Isaiah 45:11-12)
  • For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

We can forget to notice those daily reminders as we rush through our days. What’s playing on our radio or in our earbuds drowns out the bird’s song. Our morning routine keeps us from noticing the sunrise. We’re checking things on our phone while waiting in a restaurant so miss the smile from the baby at the next table.

I’m not pointing fingers here; I’m just as guilty as anyone else. But I’m trying to do better. Why?

Because when we slow down, we see God.

And when we see God, we can’t help but be changed.

After all, how can we not be changed and be in complete awe of God once we see Him for ourselves?

That’s the kind of change I want to have in my life. But how do we do make it happen?

The best way I’ve found is to ask God to open my eyes and ears so that I’ll see or hear Him around me that day. When I do this, it’s amazing how many ways I notice Him. It’s as if He’s just waiting for the opportunity to show off. 😊

I also try to write down some of the things I see or experience. Then on those days when I’m struggling or questioning or doubting, I can look back and see how many ways God has reminded me of His presence.

Sometimes I see Him in big, obvious ways like the pillars of cloud and fire that God used to guide the Israelites while they were in the desert (Exodus 13:21-22). Other times it’s in subtle ways that are easy to overlook, like when God spoke to Elijah in the still, small whisper instead of the earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:9-13).

Either way, it’s God. He’s in the biggest of the big and the smallest of the small because He created it all. He wants — and deserves — our praise for every bit of it, from the tallest mountain or most complex creation to the everyday things in life that feel inconsequential.

As Christians, we’re told to continually praise God. Learning to slow down so we can see Him in everything around us is one way to do that, one way to keep Him as an important part of our day.

It doesn’t become habit overnight and there are plenty of days when I don’t focus on it as well as I could. The world still clatters all around me, pulling my attention in too many directions. But I keep trying and hope you do, too.

We’re all works in progress, no matter how old we are or how long we’ve been following God. How do you set the world aside long enough to see God in your everyday life? Have you found a way to keep track of those moments so you don’t forget them?

Leave a comment to share what you’ve learned and help someone else in their journey. We can all use help along the way.

Be blessed, friends!


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God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Blessed to be me — blessed to be you

Sometimes God shows up in my everyday life in ways I don’t expect, especially when I’m not looking. That happened last Friday night at our nephew’s football scrimmage.

I was sitting by the aisle but wasn’t paying too much attention to the people who walked past. Once when I did look up, it was just in time to see the message filling the back of a man’s t-shirt as he walked down the stairs:

Blessed to be me.

What a powerful perspective in a time when so many people seem to always want more.

We see people with more money, more followers, more friends, more social life, more of all sorts of things that seem bigger or better than what we have — and want it for ourselves. As you read this, please know I’m not just pointing fingers at other people. I fall into the same trap myself.

But the truth is, I’m blessed to be me. And you’re blessed to be you.

We’re blessed to be created in God’s image exactly how He wanted us to be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Blessed to be gifted with abilities that can be used to serve God and help other people.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 14:4-8)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Blessed to be part of a plan that God mapped out specifically for us before we were even created.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Blessed to be part of God’s family and treated as one of His children.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

The way we were made, the opportunities we have, the people whose paths we cross are all for a purpose. The reasons behind it are beyond my comprehension so I need to stop trying to figure it out.

As flawed as we are, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. And that’s worth more than any number of followers or amount in the bank.

I’m blessed to be me. You’re blessed to be you.

How will you remember that this week? Drop a note in the comments so we can encourage each other.


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Living in Faith

Following through on the promises we make

Promises. We’ve all made them, but how well do we keep them? Do we even remember the promises we make long enough to follow through?

That issue has been percolating in the back of my mind for several weeks, thanks to a nameless cupbearer in the Bible.

He’s found in the book of Genesis, buried deep in the story of Joseph — a man whose drama-filled life included everything from family favoritism and abandonment to political maneuvering, accusations of sexual misconduct, and national famine. It’s also a story of God working through every situation in Joseph’s life — good and bad — to all make sense in the end.

In Genesis chapter 39, the wife of Potiphar — one of Pharaoh’s top officials and captain of the guard —  accuses Joseph of taking advantage of her. The truth is that Potiphar’s wife makes advances toward Joseph and is enraged when he won’t play along. Potiphar believes his wife and throws Joseph in prison.

It’s a story I’ve heard since childhood, one that often is told to emphasize the point that God is always with us and that His plan is always in motion, even when we don’t see it and no matter how terrible our circumstances might be.

But the last time I read this part Joseph’s story, a piece of it stood out to me in a new way.

Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker are also thrown in prison during Joseph’s time there (Genesis 40). They both have strange dreams one night and can’t figure out the meaning. Joseph reminds them that interpretations belong to God as ask what they dreamed.

Joseph says the cupbearer’s dream of a budding vine that becomes wine in Pharaoh’s cup means that he will be restored to his position in Pharaoh’s household in three days. He says that the baker’s dream of birds eating bread from baskets on top of his head means that he will die in three days

When Joseph’s interpretations of the dreams come true, he asks that the cupbearer remember him when he returns to Pharaoh’s service, that he plead Joseph’s innocence and ask Pharoah to free Joseph from prison.

Of course, the cupbearer promises to do as Joseph asks. And then he promptly forgets.

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:23 NIV)

The cupbearer goes right back to his earlier job serving Pharaoh and doesn’t think of Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh himself has a troubling dream that he wants to understand. Pharaoh sends for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt, but none can interpret the dream.

That’s when the cupbearer remembers Joseph.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” (Genesis 41:9-13)

Pharoah brings Joseph to him. Joseph interprets the dream, which leads to Pharoah releasing Joseph from prison and Joseph becoming Pharoah’s righthand man.

There are many lessons we can learn through Joseph’s story about relationships and patience and trusting God. But, as I said, the cupbearer is the person whose role struck me in a new way the last time I read the story.

People knew that Joseph was wrongly accused and shouldn’t be in prison. They knew he was a good man and that Pharoah’s wife was the one making sexual advances, not the other way around (because Joseph wasn’t the first man she tried to sway). They knew he shouldn’t be in prison.

The cupbearer forgot all of this when he was released from prison. He was thrilled to be free, thrilled to be alive and restored to his previous position.

Two years went by before Pharoah’s distress at not being able to interpret a dream triggered the cupbearer’s memory of Joseph. And his promise to speak well on Joseph’s behalf.

How often do I do the same thing?

How often am I caught up in my own life, in my own “things,” and forget about the people around me? Forget about the promises I’ve made to them?

If I’m honest, I have to say it happens more often than I’d like. And probably more often than I realize.

Ouch.

So where do we go from here? I’ve been asking God to help me remember the promises I’ve made and to do better with following through on them. But I’m not just talking about the times I forget to pick up shampoo at the store.

I’m talking about when I say I’ll read some extra chapters for someone in my critique group, but then let their email get buried in my in-box. Or say I’ll pray for someone and their situation but don’t take it to God as often or as fervently as I could. Or, like the cupbearer, say I’ll speak or do something on someone’s behalf and give it little thought once the moment passes.

Yes, the cupbearer fulfills his promise to Joseph in the end, and everything works out according to God’s plan. But a two-year lag time before remembering that promise seems much less than ideal in our minds. I wonder if he felt guilty once he realized how much time had passed.

I don’t know the answer for the cupbearer, but I know the answer for me: yes. Big, fat, resounding yes.

I do feel bad when I realize I haven’t kept my word as I should have. That’s good as long as it helps motivate me to do better next time. It’s bad if I keep beating myself up over my shortcomings and never move forward.

It can be hard to draw the line between the two extremes, but I’m trying. Asking God to keep reminding me of the promises I’ve made can help, but I’m sure there are other ways to help me follow through. What tactics have you found that help in these situations? Leave a comment below and we can all grow together.


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Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Showing God to the world: 12 Bible verses to remember

When my employer directed us to begin working from home in March 2020, we had no idea how long it would last or what would happen along the way. There have been struggles and frustrations during this time at home and at work, but there have been lots of positive things, too. I have loved this time at home with family, have loved not dealing with my usual commute, and have loved getting back to some things that had fallen by the wayside — like writing.

12 Bible verses about showing God to the worldBut my department will start going back to the office in a few weeks, and I’ve been in a bit of a funk because of it. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy my job and I work with great people. But I’ve gotten spoiled by the relaxed world of working from home in t-shirts and no makeup.

God reminded me a few days ago that even though I might not look forward to some aspects of returning to the office, I still have plenty to be thankful for. Things like:

  • Having a job to return to (and that didn’t change during this crazy time)
  • Still being able to work from home routinely, probably two days a week (which wasn’t the case before 2020)
  • Building memories with my family while we’ve been home together so much
  • Growing in my faith and trying to trust God more when things felt so uncertain

And then God reminded me of one big reason why I don’t need to always work from home and be mostly  surrounded by my church friends:

I need to be out in the world if the world is going to see God in me.

And isn’t that part of the point?

Our job as Christians is to show God to everyone around us through what we say, what we do — and what we don’t say or do. That means each day I go into the office, I have the chance to show God to my coworkers whether they realize it or not. And as fabulous as technology might be, it’s not a substitute for working side-by-side with someone and getting to know who they are and what they represent.

With that in mind, here are 12 Bible verses that help us remember that we’re not meant to keep God to ourselves. We’re meant to show others what it means to have Him in our lives.

12 verses about telling people about God

  1. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:10)
  2. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. (Psalm 71:15-16)
  3. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matthew 5:13)
  4. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
  5. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
  6. “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39)
  7. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
  8. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
  9. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
  10. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)
  11. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
  12. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
  13. We constantly face changes at home, at work, and everywhere we go. But wherever we are and whatever is happening around us, we can show what it means to love and follow God.

Share with us: How do you share God with the people around you every day? If you’ve returned to work or school after being at home for months, what made that shift easier? Or, do you have other favorite verses about sharing God with the world? Leave a comment to encourage the rest of us!

PS: On a writing-related note, I was the guest devotion writer this week at Inkspirations Online, a website for Christian writers. Here’s where you can read “Growing through critique.”


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