Purposeful Faith

Tag - #grace

From Bothered to Blessed

reconstruction zone

“I don’t like that cross very much, mom! I don’t really want it in my design,” declared my son.

My son was intent on having the perfect design on the Christmas ornament he was decorating online.

Considering his viewpoint, I, too, considered the cross on the screen. I could understand his viewpoint. On face value, there were gaps in each of the horizontal and vertical lines that made up Jesus’ cross. There were odd-shaped lines, protruding weirdly at the end of each bar.

But, at the same time, I knew my son was not grasping the full picture being portrayed. While he saw gaps, I saw something else emerge to make up the cross. And, I knew, what I saw may change his entire view and outlook on how he was seeing his design….

“Son,” I said, “Did you realize that this cross is not weird, but it is actually made up of the nails…. the very nails Jesus took on our behalf? Look closer…”

He did. And then uttered, “Wow, mom.”

He loved that cross, after having his eyes opened to see…

Sometimes, like happened with Michael, we see weirdness, things that look off, situations that appear all wrong, people who handle things incorrectly, time that looks wasted, moves that should have happened by now – but I wonder, if we look just a little bit closer, might we, instead of detesting what we see, come out seeing things we couldn’t see before? God’s goodness may be staring us right in the face, if only we look a little closer.

Just as Michael saw a botched design, I can’t help but think how botched up the people must have considered Jesus’ death on the cross. This is how The King of Kings would end things? This is what it looks like when God comes to earth? Nails and a whip? Death and shame? Embarrassment and ridicule?

But, a third-day view changed everything. Suddenly the one who was killed, the one whose life was considered washed-up, got lifted up, in glory! The one who was ridiculed? Now is ruling, in power from on high.

Jesus proves, there is now 100,000% no impossible situation for resurrection-life power, thanks to the always-working, ever-flowing goodness of the always-effective cross.

Jesus is not weak; Jesus NEVER falls from His throne. Jesus is not out of the office; Jesus never takes a time-out from His rule. Jesus is not absent; He does not become unaware of our heart, prayers and thoughts.

God has all power to raise anything up on the third day! My friends? Gain a hope and a new perspective in anything weighing you down.

Speak life to old dreams. Believe-the-best, rather than expecting the worst. Apply faith rather than walking in fear.

God hasn’t forgotten you; He is preparing you. God isn’t teasing you; He is strengthening you in your wait to trust His nature and character more than your flesh and rash reactions. Why? I believe, it’s so you can withstand any wind or torrent and so you can be as bold as a lion and as strong as a mature believer!

What annoyance can you now see Jesus in? What relationship is God allowing because it is about to bring profound glory to Him? What bummer let-down is really a divine set-up for a God-miracle?

See from fresh eyes. See Him. See the nails. See the cost. Love costs something. See the resurrection-life power about to come as you lay down your life and find His.

I love you very much. I am praying for you now…

Prayer: God, life gets hard. But, God, you are always good. Help us all to not only see your goodness, but to experience your goodness at work in the details of our day. Father? Fill our eyes, with the fullness of your ways, so we experience your resurrection-life power in all our days. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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When People Don’t Listen To You

we all want

Last night, I shared with my daughter, “Sometimes, I speak and you do not answer me at all. Sometimes I share something important and you don’t even listen.”

Frankly, these words I spoke to her were charged with pent-up frustration. You see, I have a short window to share wisdom with these children, and then they’re out in the big world, fending for themselves. I want them to hear what they need to know, before what they see is temptation, they don’t know what to do with.

Is this issue rooted in fear versus faith? Likely.

In any case, it’s been happening a lot in the car. I often get the reply of, “Mommy, I just want to look out the window.” Or, “Mom!!!!” My husband doesn’t speak up for me when it happens. So, I feel unloved, unheard, and unvalued when this happens.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt unheard and unvalued by those you love? Do you have important things to communicate that are overlooked at home or in the marketplace? Does it aggravate you?

It can be uber-frustrating and it can feel very personal when people don’t care what you have to say. I understand.

Do you want to know my daughter’s reply? She said, “Mom? Often, I don’t even hear you.”

Hmph.

Many times, when we’re offended, people are oblivious. Our feelings have no meaning when misunderstanding is involved. To us? We’re furious. To them? Oblivious. Misunderstanding, then, opens an enemy door in the heart of the offended one. The enemy of our soul seeks to make, us, the offended ones – more offended!

The only way out of misunderstanding is — conversations. Clarification. Asking. Understanding. Seeking. Listening.

In my case, my daughter didn’t mean to hurt me; she was just in her own world.

Yet, will there be other times when people don’t listen — and they should? How will I respond? How will I continue forward without harboring unforgiveness or anger? Without opening a door to the enemy who is trying to make me more offended?

This verse is something I can stand on: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro. 15:5-6 NIV)

Even when others don’t hear me, God wants me to hear His ever-flowing encouragement. He also wants to empower me with endurance to win, by the power of love. Through prayer, I am not left without God’s enduing-power to love, anyway. When I look to Him, above them, I get the help I need.

Not only that, but when I look to Him, above them, it prohibits the distraction of them to steal the joy of Him. I stay my mind with God, rather than getting it in the weeds of offense.

This is powerful. I do not fear man; I fear God.

We are powerful when you turn to conversations and intercession. Do not grow weary in prayer and well doing. God’s love for us will not fail, even when it feels that man’s love is failing us. Be encouraged.

Prayer: Father God I pray that you, “the God who gives endurance and encouragement” will give each and every reader the endurance to love and to forgive. I pray that we not walk by the spirit of offense so prevalent in today’s world, but that we walk by the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. I pray that we will have the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ had. Christ laid down His life. God? Help us to lay down our lives too. Help us to love as Jesus loved. Unify your body, Father God. Help us to love with one mind and one voice. In this, we will honor you, Father God, rather than being distracted with quibbles. Help us. We need you. We trust you and we receive today, your enduing endurance power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Never left Alone

take advantage

“You don’t understand.”

We’ve probably all thought this thought one time or another. Someone gives us advice that does not resonate… Another thinks we’re doing something that we’re not even doing… People misinterpret our motives or our words…

They don’t understand. We feel alone and by ourselves.

It certainly has happened to me in marriage. At times, I have said one thing and my husband has heard a whole other thing. I am misunderstood. I am sure that I misunderstand him too, sometimes.

In this case, when I feel all alone, it is easy for me to think, “Who is fighting for me? Who understands me?” It’s easy to sink deep down into a cave of sadness all alone and to believe that I have to: 1. fend for myself 2. make sure I am going to be okay 3. lick my wounds.

Have you ever been there too? Felt unprotected? Undefended?

This verse is encouraging, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

In tough moments, we can gain hope by remembering that God isn’t leaving us, but He is strengthening us. He isn’t unstable and unavailable, He is faithful. God is with us.

When the enemy sets schemes in relationships, even then, God guards us from them.

We are not left alone; we are protected.

When we don’t know what to do, Jesus intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). When we don’t think there’s anyone fending for us we have an advocate in Jesus (1 Jo. 2:1).

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Ro. 8:26)

In tough moments, we can keep our thoughts and our feelings out of dark, isolating and mentally draining places by remembering: we are never alone because God is with us. Not only is God with us, but God is for us, too. He is actively helping us in whatever we are going through.

Prayer: Father God, I need you to fight my battle for me. I give up the fight, so you can fight on my behalf. Forgive me for believing that I am alone. Forgive me for believing that I am left behind by you in any way, shape or form. You are for me. Thank you. Jesus advocates for me. Thank you. You are with me always. Help me to remember these things in tough moments. Help me to put all my trust in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Dust off Hurtful Words + Carry on!

good father

When I walk, I am not scared of bugs. I know I walk above them. When I walk though my front yard, I don’t consider what bugs may be underground; I just walk. I am not afraid, I go! I walk above problems. I walk over scary things. I move, anyway.

To be above what lurks, is a big deal. It means you walk fearlessly.
Do you realize that we sit above the mayhem of the world?

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:6)

“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.”

We are above what issues lurk below. We are above the world that demands constant attention. We are above powers and principalities of the unseen realm because we sit with Jesus.

Even more, we are “even above reproach”. Do you know what “reproach” means?

American Webster Dictionary defines “reproach” as : “To express disapproval of, criticism of, or disappointment in (someone).
Friend, you are above disapproval, criticism, or disappointment.

This is a big deal. It means that people can’t squash you with words. They can’t ruin you with bad actions. The old labels cannot stick any longer. You, my dear one, sit above that. You are over that, with Jesus.

All that cannot hold you back any longer!

Remember where you sit, my friend. Stay all your mind above all that — whether it happened yesterday or today! Give it no claim to yourself. Despise the shame, just like Jesus did (see Heb. 12:2)! You are “before Him in love”.

It means everything to be seated with Jesus! It’s a powerful position.

Prayer: I pray, today, I feel and experience the love of God. I pray that you open the eyes of my heart, Father God, to know the hope of my glorious inheritance and the riches in Christ Jesus. I pray that I gain understanding of where I sit and whom I am seated with. I pray that you give me power to live from that place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Known for Love

It wasn’t what my Nana did; it was how she made me feel.

As the oldest of six kids, I was a like a second mom at home. I took care of my siblings constantly. I handled things, especially keeping everyone in check.

Nana would come and get me, though. She’d rescue me away, picking me up in her long white Cadillac. Along the way to her white country house, she’d pull into a rock drive, straight into my favorite place, Little George’s! It was a small convenience store marked by a huge pig out front!

“Pick out any candy you want, Kelly! It doesn’t matter how big it is,” she’d say.

Nana was like this, always giving (taking me shopping, getting me crabs at her house, finding the best corn for us to eat). Always showing up (making a point to get me). Always wanting to be with me (playing cards, making me clean her house – ha!, giving me ice cream).

Nana certainly was super generous, but — I will tell you — it wasn’t what she gave me that blessed me so much. It was how she made me feel. She was consistently patient, thoughtful and welcoming. She was that way with everyone.

Nana is gone now, but I still want to be like her. She never said a bad word about anyone. I tried to talk ill about her friend, who herself, was “a griper”. Nana stopped me. Ironically, that same day, fire ants went flaming up my leg at the lady’s house. It seemed to remind me that. . . mean words do bite!

Nana didn’t talk love, she showed it.

“Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Cor. 13:4)

I want to be patient and kind in a world that is rushed and panicked. I want to be love, rather than constantly talking about it to my kids. I want to be kind even when things with my husband get tense.

I want people to know me more by how I make them feel, than by the Christianese I profess with my mouth. I’m not sure I’m there yet.

May they know us by our love. Jesus didn’t talk about love 24/7; He IS love. What if we were to love in such a way, people felt it in the fabric of their being?

Prayer: God, only you can help us love more. Help us to experience your love, to show love. Help us to walk in your grace, to release grace. Help us to live by you, to love by you and to walk away from mean words. We don’t want to just be professors of your word, we want to be possessors of it and releasors of it.

You say, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (Jo. 15:4)

Help us remain in you, for then the fruit of love will come easy!

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Get up and walk!

The other morning, I felt led of the Lord to read John 5, so I did. But, what I didn’t know was that within 48 hours, I too, would be unable to walk…

What I read:

“When Jesus saw him (the lame man, at the pool of Bethesda) and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:6-8)

A couple days later…I couldn’t walk. I lay on my bed, immobile. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Let me tell you what happened, from the beginning…

Three pairs of my pants ripped (one of which, ripped: Straight. Down. The. Back.).

This was a sign; I needed to work out. So, I hightailed my growing backside to a gym. At the gym, they told me I should “try a handstand against the wall”. I was hesitant, but I didn’t want to look dumb in front of the group. Needless to say, I tried, but I couldn’t execute it. While going up a wall, my legs fell down, straight down and my big toe hit the ground with all my body-force. Oww!

As a result, on Mothers’ Day, I sat, stuck on my bed, leg iced and lifted. The next day I still couldn’t move. My family waited on me hand-and-foot.

Then, I started up on the internet (a big no-no), which convinced me that I would be immobile for months, if not struggling for years. My mind was spinning. It could be this… It could be that… What if this… What if that…

I continued to lay on my bed; I can’t move.
I tried to hobble on crutches; I am not going to be able to do anything for a long, long time.
I searched more online; I’ll be inside permanently.

My mind settled into the idea – I was crippled.

I wonder, like me, might you also feel crippled? Are there categories of life, in which you have settled into a crippled-thinking? Maybe a habit is crippling you? Or a job? A future? A personality flaw? Where do you feel stuck on a mat, more than able to get up and walk to Jesus? Where have you started to think there is no way forward?

For me?

All this internet searching, made me mostly forget about Jesus.

But, soon, I remembered Jesus’ words – the words I read a couple days before, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.”

Yes! This is it, I realized. I am not an immobile victim; I am someone Jesus wants to help. If He carried the cross, certainly He can carry my cross and me to some sort of victory, even if in my mind.

Something rose up in me. Authority came. I said to myself, “I’m not going to sit around here sulking! I am going to the doctor!”

I got up off my mat using crutches, thanks to Jesus, and headed in.

There, I found out, my foot was not broken and with shoes – I could walk again, even right now!!

Get up off your mat, and walk!

My friend, you have authority.
Jesus can help you walk again.
Jesus can help you do anything.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

Where is a victim mindset keeping you on a self-inflicted mat of defeat? Healing comes to a mind that says, “In this way (in the way God is leading me), with Christ’s strength, I can get up. I will get up. I am going to get up.”

It doesn’t have to look like a huge thing or a huge healing. Just make a move towards Jesus, in faith and see Him move.

There is always hope! Jesus has conquered the world and HE can help us conquer any painful situation we are confronted with, even when the worst pain is in our mind.

Keep the faith – and walk how He’s leading you to walk! He is faithful.

Prayer: Father, we praise your Holy Name. We thank you for your Son, Jesus. Oh, He is amazing. He is miracle-working. He is the One and Only. We ask you to forgive us of our victim mindsets that don’t believe and that keep us stuck. You are able to do anything. Come and meet us, come encounter us, come confront us in any areas where you see us on a mat. Come and help us walk. We want to walk again! Help us up. Some of us may have been stuck on a mat for a long time. I ask for an extra measure of grace for all of us to get up in the ways you want us to. And, Father? I thank you for helping me. Do it again, Father. Do it again, for all my friends and family on this blog. You can do it! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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If He’s Calling you to Wait, Wait.

The football coach proclaimed something like, “You’re out!! You just won’t wait in the pocket, like I want you to!”

The quarterback was afraid of getting hit, so rather than obeying the coach’s command to stay back, he moved out from behind the line to throw or to run, even though the coach’s clear command was — stay put.

The quarterback didn’t want a huge linebacker to pummel him, so he kept fearing and disobeying — by moving out — rather than trusting and waiting to throw the touchdown pass.

Likewise, many of us are afraid of waiting on the Lord. Many times, we fear that in our wait, we will: miss out on something; get hurt by our inaction; miss an opportunity; or be proven a fool. So, we don’t trust God and we move.

Have you ever been there? Maybe God is nudging your heart to wait on Him before applying to new jobs? To sit with Him before speaking out to your spouse? To keep in prayer before putting your house on the market? To rest in Him before moving your mouth?

How are you afraid of getting hit?

In this quarterback’s situation, in the movie, American Underdog, the coach set him up — to repeatedly get hit. Why? So he could learn to courageously wait and overcome.

Bam. I can do this.
Bam. I’m still alive.
Bam. After being hit 20 times, I now know I can take a hit or two.

Friends, I don’t know if you are at all like me, but I’ve been hit a time or two, too. I can’t say that God caused these hits, but I can certainly say my disobedience did. Hits were things like arguments, discouragement, defeat, or bad outcomes. Each hit hurt, but also, each hit taught me: it is a better strategy to trust the Lord than to move out on my time in my way.

“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act…” (Ps. 37:7)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8)

Better is it to stay with God, to wait in His presence, than to go my own way.

Prayer: Father God, if you are calling me to wait, please give me the perseverance and endurance to do so. Please give me strength in the wait. May I feel your nearness and your presence. May I gain a greater understanding of knowing and loving you. May I rest in the fact that you fight for me while I am still. May I trust you more and more, even when I don’t understand or can’t figure out what you are doing. Truly, you are weaving a tapestry of the greatest story ever. Help me to trust your plan. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Addressing the Fear of Loving

God's love

A girlfriend, last night, told me, “Kelly, I know you care for me, because you spend time with me.”

She was right; I care for her. Another girl at the table could have said, “Kelly, you love me, because you serve me.” Yet, another, could have noted, “Kelly, you love me because you give gifts to me.”

Loving is giving (giving: words, time, gifts, time, service, hope)…

“For God so loved the world that He gave…” (Jo. 3:16)

Jesus gave His life, so we could experience death-defying love.

Love accomplishes much and it never fails. It takes bold risk. Many have led the way in love…

One woman gave, at least, a year’s worth of savings (some say it could be her life savings), and poured it out as a perfume-offering, a pre-burial anointing, on Jesus’ feet…

“She stood behind Jesus and cried at his feet. And she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair. She kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Lu. 7:38)

Giving from her heart she gave away her greatest treasure.
Crying, she didn’t care about the Pharisees, who were likely judging.
Letting go, she gave up what she had rights to.
Due to love. Due to honor. Due to someone greater than she.

Another woman, Martha, had her own love-act. She gave up the pressure to please man and to meet societal expectations, by ditching the dinner preparations — to sit at Jesus’ feet. How dare she?!

(But,) Jesus said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lu. 10:42)

She knew love was her highest calling.
She focused on a ministry to God’s heart, first.
She kept first-things, first.

Beyond this, this verse strikes me: “And as He rode along, the people kept spreading their garments on the road.” (Luke 19:36)

Again, love and honor, to the very heart of Christ prevailed.

They laid down what they owned, due to love.
They shed layers, because Jesus was greater.
They likely recognized, God in their midst, and honored Him.

I want to love Jesus this way, don’t you? But, sometimes things hold us back from extravagant, courageous, all-out love. What are they?

For me? If I am honest, it is: fear.

Fear that the time I spend reading the Bible will make me miss out on something else.
Fear that giving will leave me high and dry.
Fear that if I’m with God, I won’t get a chance to do important things for God.
Fear that I’ll be judged.

“The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)
 
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Ro. 8:28)

Love never fails. And, it is the one thing that — endures forever…

“Love never ends.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

Prayer: Father? We want to love more. We want to love Father, Son and Holy Spirit more. We want to give from deep inner reserves. Because all things are from you, to you and through you — will you fill us with love? Will you help us to pay attention and to have great devotion to love? We want to honor you more. You are our greatest ministry. First, we love you! Give us your grace to sit and to talk, to hear and to understand, to minister to your very heart. In Jesus’ All-Powerful, Ever-Saving Name, Amen.

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Perspective on Tough Problems

The mountains were beautiful, idyllic really. Driving, high up, makes you realize huge things can actually — be little. The big mountains in our lives aren’t really as big as we make them. Perspective is everything. To God? From this vantage point, we understand how He can move every mountain. Driving on mountains makes you ponder things like that. . .

Unless, something happens, and jerks you out of your deep thoughts, which is what happened to me…

My husband jerked the car, hard, right.  The decline to the right of us was steep. There was no guardrail, no safety net, just a fall. For a second, he lost control.

But, another One hadn’t.

A second later, my husband declared, “Family? The angels must have just protected us. We should have gone over the side of this road down a mountain, but we didn’t.”

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Ps. 91:11-12)

As a family we took a collective sigh of relief, then my 10-year old son blurted out, “You know, when you realize that God really will protect you, you realize that you really have nothing at all to fear.”

My son was absolutely, unequivocally right: What do we have to be afraid of when we know God will protect us? Help us? Save us?

Miles above us is one greater than us. One who sees before we do. One who knows before we know. One who acts before we even conceptualize there is a problem.

When life feels out of control… When you know you should see a ruined relationship… When you believe you should have made a different choice… When you fear you have messed up parenting… Remember. Remember, God has all control to save us from any and all cliffs — despite us.

Isn’t God amazing? Isn’t His protection astounding?

What are you afraid of today? What if you recognized that you have a saving God that is mightier, taller and bigger than any force coming against you? What if you were to look as the mountain as small and your saving-God as HUGE?

Prayer: Father, than you that you are Father. Thank you that you are Protector. Thank you that you keep us in so many ways, we probably can’t even count them all. We are grateful for your protection and we ask for more of it. We love you. We honor you. Help us to trust you more. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Does God Feel Far or Near?

I remember when I went to college. Suddenly, the nearness of my parents was gone. Because of distance, I did things I would never have done infront of them (drink, etc.). Rather than talk with my mom and dad, I got wisdom from friends. Rather, than seeking help, I acted independently.

When someone is distant, they are hard to reach, out of touch. You don’t consult with them as much, you feel disconnected and, sometimes, even alone. You do what you  normally wouldn’t do if they were infront of you.

When a Father is distant, children go awry: They’re fending for themselves, fixing problems alone, doing what they wouldn’t do at home, finding answers in other places.

Friends, can I admit today? I have allowed Father God to feel distant. But, the truth is — He isn’t..

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.” (Ps. 78:23)

“I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Ps. 16:8)

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps. 145:18)

The truth is — to all who call to be near, they come near. To all who make God they’re refuge, they are right in Him. To all who want Him, they get him.

We can’t let the enemy tell us God is far away. That’s a lie. He is right with us. He cares for us. He sees the path we are on. He has a good plan for us. He is not holding back from us. He wants us, likely, more than we want Him.

He is 100% fully prepared to lead us, guide us, be with us, instruct us and show us our way. God isn’t distant — He’s close and knowing that makes all the difference.

Prayer: Father, I draw near to you and I know, here, you will draw near to me. I want to know your closeness. I want to remain in your love. I want to see you before me in all I do. Pour out all the grace I need today to be near to you, in all my ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.