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Oh, come on. Christmas, 2019

Here's what you said about being in God's presence ~ podcast: Call me crazy, but I am caught up by the responsive . . .when readers let me know that they are encouraged or challenged by thoughts imparted. In the last Morning Briefing, I posited that God's presence can be known and felt, and you, readers around the world, wanted more.  Somehow we are warmed, somehow we are comforted by the very notion that we can not only be in the presence of God, but also feel his presence. Let me take you to the shadow verses of Jeremiah 29.  There is the 'go to' hope-filled verse of Jeremiah 29.11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I mean, no one takes objection to having a hope and a future, but then we have this promise of God, "...when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." Unlike other religions where the devoted are constantly seeking to be good enough, daily hoping to have enough righteousness to make it to Paradise, but never really knowing for sure . . . the devoted of Jesus Christ are not subjected to a shell game.  Not only are believers assured of eternal life, but in this life, we are never alone.  'But I cannot feel him.  Can I be honest? I don't just want what you describe, but I need it . . . I truly do; I just can't seem to grab ahold of it.  While I want to feel God's presence in me and around me, I really don't.' From the outset - let me establish this:  

whether or not you feel God in your life, if you are a child of God -                                                                    if you have chosen - by a dint of your will to follow Jesus Christ              

because you believe he is the Son of God - then he is with you!               So whether or not you feel God's presence in your life,                               he is nonetheless with you.  That is his promise to you. Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.2  That is serious talk.  It is real talk. How is that possible - to never be outside the presence of God?  Go with me back to that Upper Room in Jerusalem -where the Holy Spirit of God came as he was promised by Jesus just before he was arrested and went to the Cross.  I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.3 Even if you know it, some of this bears repeating because there are those who are struggling right now.        ~Some are wondering where God is in their pain            ~Some are miserably grieving a death                ~Some are feeling rejected by loved ones                    ~Some are worried, fearful of the future, etc. Remember with me that just 10 days after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the young believers were wondering what was to become of them, asking     "Where is God in our pain?         "How can I go on living since Jesus is gone?"             "How can we manage the rejection of loved ones, the shunning?"                  "What will the future hold?" And then, he came.  The Holy Spirit came as Jesus said the Comforter would, though none could have predicted what his coming would be like.  "...they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit..."4   Your attention, please - this is not part of a religion, it is not due to some legalistic adherence or practice . . .       ~being filled with the Holy Spirit of God is the gift of God  to individuals who put their trust in him, according to the Word of God.   It is the reason believers are never alone, never left to their own devices.   Just a few minutes ago, I prayed with someone on the phone about what appears to be an absolutely dire situation. Confidently, I prayed that God would stir the Holy Spirit in him, grant him courage and the faith to believe what Paul said, that 'God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or think'... that God would come and move in his life and situation.'5    Only God. As a mother of four mostly-grown children, I know how desperately I want to fix things when they go terribly wrong in their lives.  Now how much more then does our Heavenly Father want to bring order where there is chaos in our lives, comfort where there is pain, solace where deep grief and relief where there is a desperate situation.     Hence, the reason Jesus said we are to ask, to seek, to knock so that he can open the door, and answer our prayers.  Why?  Because we have a good Father who hears and answers our prayers . . . a God who will never leave or abandon us.   Go on now. Be still and feel the nearness of God.  Run to him.  He is present.  He promised and he just doesn't break his promises. Christine 1 - Jeremiah 29.12-13 2 - Hebrews 13.5 3 - John 14.16-17 4 - Acts 2.1-4, in part 5 - Ephesians 3.20

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