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Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

How Do We Experience God?

posted by Ruth Graham

H0w do I know personally when God is present with me or that I am personally in the presence of God? Both objectively and subjectively.

I know God’s presence by faith. I don’t always FEEL it. Far from it – sometimes I FEEL as if He is absent and I get angry with Him. I know He is bigger than my anger and questions. I have only to look at Job’s life or Jeremiah’s. Even Jesus’ life. They had questions and anger towards God. But bottom line – they trusted. They are an example for us. I trust His word (the Bible) and His promises.

Sometimes I do not feel God’s presence in my life  but He can silent when I ask for direction. I have faith that answers will come in His time – not mine. And in His way – He will make them known to me. It is faith. He is there whether I feel it or not. God promises that He will never leave me or forsake me. It isn’t about feelings but the fact of His promises. I stand on those facts.

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Not easy. I tend to be impatient but God has taught me a lot about just being still and letting Him be God. (In my life, I made horrible mistakes not waiting on God.)

Others may put it this way, “Things happen as they are supposed to.” I agree but I believe that the hand of God orchestrates it all – even to the last detail. It isn’t fate or karma. It is God’s design for his child who has placed his/her faith in Him. I know He loves me and has good things planned for me so I can quit trying to control things. And when I fail miserably, I know He has the power to take my mistakes and redeem them for His glory.

I have only to look at my own life to know the truth of that.

I think gratitude has a lot to do with sensing His presence.

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I am also aware that God uses real people in my life to make me aware of His presence. Sometimes even animals! It may be a word that hits me at a particular moment, a sermon I feel is just for me, a cat that curls up behind my neck purring when I am about to “lose it”, many different moments and things…

Being in nature…for me it is the beach…you sense God majesty. Some may say that it’s “just beauty”. For a child of God it is more than that. It is a glimpse of God and an experience in His presence.

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What to Do with Storms

posted by Ruth Graham

Oklahoma has been under siege with the terrible storms marching through that state. The storms seem to be taking the same path. Not only the tornadoes but the flooding. Repeated damage, repeated fear, loss of life, unending anxiety…

This morning I was reading Psalm 33:5. It says, “The earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord.” That seemed to mock me in light of all the horrible things happening: fires, floods, storms, earthquakes. How can the Psalmist state with such assurance that the earth is full of God’s loving-kindness? It would appear to be just the opposite. How do we reconcile that? Maybe we can’t.

The Psalmist reconciles it by  focusing on the bigger picture: God is the creator  of the heavens and all those in them. God is the one who controls all the waters of the deep. Then he writes, “Let all the earth fear the Lord”. Is that the missing ingredient? We no longer fear God. And by fear, I am not meaning fear, as to be afraid of, but fear as in awe and reverence. Do we revere God? No. We treat Him casually. We pull Him out when we need Him but most of the time we ignore Him and rarely do we look at our earth and stand in awe of the Creator.

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Our God rides on those storms. He is mightier, more powerful than the storms. He is bigger. The Psalmist tells us that God looks from heaven and sees all of us and understands us. He knows what is going on. He is aware of what is happening. We are told that God is our help, our shield.

We look at devastation and see only despair. Let us lift our eyes to see God. He rides on those storms. We are told, “He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3) If we can turn our focus on to Him we are not going to have everything neat and tidy, questions answered…but we begin to see His greatness, His peace, His strength, His grace, love – even in the midst storms. How many interviews have we heard from folks that are so thankful for their protection and their family is still alive? They see God’s hand. And those that lost their lives….I grieve with them, I pray for them. I have no answers for them only an unshakable faith in the unchanging character of God who is watching, is aware, is loving. And still very much in control.

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You, like me, may never have had a tornado slice through your home or town, you may not have had a Sandy wreck havoc with your community…but no doubt you have had, like me, your own personal tornado and storm that has left you stunned, bewildered, angry, hurt. Your life has been turned upside down, inside out. You are numb with grief and regret. You don’t know where to turn. We, too, can turn to God’s character and trust Him with all that doesn’t make sense. Trust Him with your anger, pain, doubt…He is big enought to handle it. He knows what has happened at your address. He cares. He loves. He will bring you through, stronger and with a far deeper relationsip with Him.

God is still on his throne. It has not been blown away. I am glad for that!

 

 

 

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We Remember

posted by Ruth Graham

I am not sure why people say “Happy Memorial Day”. For those who have an empty place at the table, surely it isn’t  “happy”.

But I pray they will feel the gratitude of a nation that knows their ability to have a “Happy Memorial Day” came at a high cost. Young men and women have stood in harm’s way and paid the ultimate price for us to have our backyard barbecues, our parades…may we never forget their service and sacrifice.

May we never forget!

I for one get tears in my eyes as I see the flag pass by, and my heart swells with pride as I hear the Star Spangled Banner. I am a proud of my nation and the men and women who serve you and me. God bless their memories and the families who loved them so dearly.

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Why the tornado?

posted by Ruth Graham

The scenes from Oklahoma are beyond imagination. It is hard to take it all in. The massive storm, the fear of those fleeing its path, the destruction left behind, the loss of life, the heartache. How does one even begin? I would imagine you’d just want to sit down and quit. Give up. But from what I have seen and heard on the television the folks affected are not quitters…they are looking out for each other and pitching in to do whatever they can to take care of the wounded, comfort the grieving, clean up the debris and begin to rebuild.

Fortunately God gives the grace of shock. Being in shock grants a numbness which allows time so we can slowly absorb what has taken place. It is a mercy. If we had to absorb it all suddenly, it would be much too overwhelming. So God in His mercy gives us “shock absorbers”. Like the dawn that arrives slowly so that we can adjust to the brightness of the sun, we are given time to adjust to what has happened.

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I think at a time like this we always ask , “Why?” I know I do.  For me there is always in the back of my mind that God is withdrawing His Spirit from our land because of our godless ways. (No, God is not specifically targeting Oklahoma or the people there but it is part of living in a fallen world that is rejecting God and He is slowly withdrawing.)

But we do live in a fallen world – terrible things happen everyday. But the terrible news brings us to more questions. Couldn’t God have prevented this? Couldn’t He have intervened? Couldn’t He have protected those children? All those questions can be answered with a “Yes.”  He could have prevented it. He could have intervened. And He could have protected the children. To live fully is to live in double reality – to know our pain and loss but also to know His love. Where was He during the storm? Where He always is – right in the midst of the destruction and pain, comforting, grieving with us, strengthening us.

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It is difficult. We cannot understand. And sometimes there are no answers. We just have to live with unanswered questions. That’s where faith comes in. Faith is not easy. It is courageous. It looks at the hard stuff and stands up to say, “I will believe.”

As we see all that has changed, all the destruction…that’s when we can look to the unchanging character of God. He is almighty, bigger than the storm, compassionate, deliverer, enough, faithful, gracious, our hope and help…He does not change. We can rest in His eternal character.

As Job did. Job must have experienced a tornado-like event. “A great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died.” He lost all his children and his livelihood in one day. He struggled to understand why but he stood firm in knowing God was sovereign and could be trusted even though Job did not understand.

We too, are given an opportunity to trust God. Let’s not waste the opportunity.

 

 

 

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