There You Don’t Go

“Blood is thicker than water”, “Friends don’t let friends…”, “Until death do us part”, and a small flurry of other ‘no matter what you do’ sayings that define how permanent many relationships are. But, they are faulty; because there is separation, there is division, there is abandonment in this world. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, there is something you will do, or something someone will do to you that will cause you to distance yourself… for good or bad, we all experience ‘conditional love’ and brokenness in our lives. Unfortunately, it sets the stage for distrust toward God, too.

Jesus told us many times He’d never leave us nor forsake us, God even showed the Israelites He always be with them in their Tabernacle while they ‘wandered’. Oddly, we tend to distance ourselves from Him… and Psalms 89:15-16 reminds us; “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. (16) In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” His presence in our lives is much more than some fancy charm, a spiritual/emotional crutch, or even on an ‘as needed’ basis. You may not feel it, may not nurture it, or may not trust Him enough to realize it. You do not have to experience some colossal event to be face-to-face with Him.

He will never let you go. Feeling lonely for Him, or losing that sense of contact, or even just experiencing silence from Him has often caused us to lose interest, or feel rejected (again), and maybe even unworthy (some sin/disobedience in your life). While these ‘things’ have been the cause for others to abandon you or push you away, the Lord is right there ‘under your breath’, right there in your whispered prayers, right there in your heart and soul. Jude 1:24-25 even states; “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.“, which is confirmation just how patient, loving, and accepting His mercy is for your life… you’ll wander, you’ll flounder, but He won’t make you go away!

How to know?
Take Him at His word! Psalms 41:12 iterates it with; “And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.“, which is to say that He is right there for you… nurturing you spirit, challenging your Faith Walk (bigger, better steps), and face-to-face with your journey. While you do ‘go’, you don’t go away from Him. You may hide, you may run, you may even purposely avoid Him, but there you don’t go; away from His forgiveness, His love, His restoration.

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

Sparrows and Ants; Fancy Pants

Not sure how you grew up, but me… I’ll bet I was well into my teens before ‘the future’ really crossed my mind. Sure, I worried about attending an upcoming concert, the weekend camping trip, maybe even a hint of a concern about the weather for a vacation trip. Otherwise, I don’t recall being all too worried about ‘where’ dinner was coming from, let alone who was making it, not to mention where those ingredients were coming from. As I’ve aged… not so much! Retirement, Investment Strategies, Conservation, Vacation or Days Off Planning… and small flurry of other ‘worries’ about a career, these devotionals, my family and their healthy, safety and security… all engulf my heart, mind and soul… challenging my peace, threatening my calm, almost demanding I give them more time and consideration. That’s what adults do, right?

Then, I remember those pesky little ants out there in the yard where the grass won’t grow… or those chirping sparrows nesting all around, flittering and fluttering, their droppings strategically placed on our cars, the lawn furniture, and even on us once in a while! They seem really carefree and unconcerned about the bigger picture of their lives. I don’t envy them aside from the Lord’s promise to us, in Luke 12:22 (click that link to read all four verses) wherein He reminds how they do all things in their lives and God sees to their daily needs; provided for their ‘today’ ON that day!

Well, Deuteronomy 31:6 states; “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.“, which is just what I need to settle my soul and ground me, center me, and calm my fears.

It is so very hard to be ant-like… working hard, diligent, studious, dedicated… and not be somewhat concerned or at least considerate of tomorrow’s potential (bad or good).

I really must be somewhat prepared for each day, responsible for the longer plan of life in this society. We are ‘taught’ to plan, to consider, in many ways, to ‘worry’ about so many things. The marketing barrage of ‘potential doom’ motivates us through our fear, our lack of faith/trust in the Lord, our weakness for Fancy Pants things, gadgets, creature comforts. But, 2 Corinthians 10:5 actually admonishes us with; “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;“, which is actually core to why the sparrows and the ants get along so well; we have a ‘will’ and a higher presence on this planet… but, that has led us to let our minds wander away from trusting Him, from our Faith Walk with Him, from our love and devotion with Him. The sparrows and the ants don’t have ‘fancy pants’… they have God’s devotion, His promise, His faithfulness… and He loves YOU more than they; He cares for YOU more than they; He died for YOU!  So, as your day goes along and you get worried about things…  just remember this; Sparrows and Ants; Fancy Pants!

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

Appreciating Anguish

I once knew a man who did not pray for patience… hated the thought/idea of it… strictly because of God’s promise that came along with patience; ‘…that the trying of your faith worketh patience‘. Quality traits in our lives are always good things, but none if them are just ‘there’ in your life, none of them can be purchased, none of them come from just living ‘a good life. Anguish, difficult times, stress-n-strain are all experiences we encounter… it’s how we handle them, how we cope with them, and even how we embrace them that shapes our character, motivates our hearts, and especially separates the sheep from the goats in our spirit.

The devotional today reminds us that our Faith Walk will always include tough choices through our day, challenging struggles in your heart and mind, and even simple tempting and irresistible encounters of life… but, our Lord is tried and true to His word; Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Regardless of your ups-n-downs, He is faithful and true. That solid foundation, that consistent presence, that predictable promise is our anchor, our guide, even our basis of trust in Him. Psalms 102:27 even states; “But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.“, which is to say that His promises and presence in our lives is His commitment to us… that steadfastness can have quite a bolstering impact on your soul! See… as you face anguish, as you experience trials, as you approach (or are in the midst of) overwhelming challenges, we know that He will guide us through, He will empower us to glean from this experience, and He will comfort, nurture, and support us… always. We are NOT out there on our own, or alone… unless we choose to be (see the Peace at Stake, Piece of Cake devotional).

Seriously, once you actually hold the Lord to His word and promises, you can focus your attention and energy to the task at hand. Acts 17:28 reminds us that; “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.“, which is a clear indication that as His child, we have a great support system in place, and His is a reliant one, too.

Like you, I dislike what appears to be a challenge coming on (say, a windy cycle-commute home, facing medical uncertainty, an aggressive task at work), but we can boldly embrace this encounter by His grace and promise, and ultimately learn to Appreciate Anguish!

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

Pleasure Points

Yes… at first glance that does seem like a questionable title for a devotion, but today we are getting encouragement about keeping our contact with the Lord current, consistent, and much more second natural in our lives. The thing about ‘pleasure points’ is that there are countless points through our day when we receive/obtain pleasure, satisfaction, or even just comfort through things we do, things we consume (eat, drink, inhale, etc), and even the interaction we have with others. The amount of the pleasure isn’t the key factor for this devotional… just that we consider that we have them. They are integral to our sense of well-being… our balance… our little gems of rejuvenation, some may say.

See, our tangible lives can really help us understand and grasp some fundamental concepts for our spiritual lives. For example… sipping on a warm beverage on a crisp, cold morning can bring such a soothing calm to your body… watching your favorite show after a bustling work-day can revive your emotions and calm your nerves… chatting with a dear friend or loved one can really center you and leave you with a calm sense of belonging. Much the same way, interaction with the Lord can boost your spirit. Jesus once stated in John 8:29; “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.“, which is to say that being in close fellowship with the Lord is one of those ‘pleasure points’ for you as you go through your day.

Granted… who spends their day on a point-by-point basis acknowledging God, or checking with Him on every little detail? But again, that’s closer to the point here… too often, we stop and acknowledge the Lord ‘once’ something seems too complicated for us, or out of our realm, or just too out-of-reach (spiritual/emotional things). These pleasure points in our lives really manifest themselves for us once we are in more of a ‘second nature’ relationship/fellowship with Him… you know, when He is more naturally part of your thoughts, more consistently in your communication (those quiet prayers during your day), and more thoroughly part of your decision and consideration process.

No… you do not need to ‘act’ spiritual to be closer to the Lord… just use any and every moment you can to discuss your day with Him, to exchange your thoughts, to seek His guidance. These will become your pleasure points in your Faith Walk. So much so, that your spirit will be so in-tune with Him (second nature), you’ll not really realize just how much more fulfilling your life is becoming. Paul the Apostle even once noted in Hebrews 11:5-6; “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Once you find it pleasing in your soul and spirit to ‘purposely’ fellowship with the Lord, His deeper presence in your life will bring back to you a watershed of blessings, peace, and contentment. Psalms 37:4 actually clarifies it with; “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.“, which is confirmation that these little nuggets of time, these little tugs in the hem of His garment (as it were), and these little moments of dedication and devotion to the Lord will ultimately develop in your life as your new-found Pleasure Points.

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

More or Less

Take a few seconds and consider these two points;

  • God doesn’t tear down any barriers we put up between Him and us.
  • God doesn’t set up any barriers between us.

Now, is it just me, but isn’t it odd we aren’t very, very close to God? The only barriers keeping us apart are our own! Sure, physically close is not part of the equation, but it seems like we’d be much more spiritual, much more content, and certainly much more ‘heavenly minded’ than we are as a people, let alone as individuals.

Mostly, one of the key things that keeps us from being closer and having a more consistent fellowship with him is actually life itself! I mean, we fuss over our lives so much, we even lose track that He can/does actually want to guide us through this life and struggle to do it on our own. In fact, Philippians 4:19 reminds us; “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I know, it is SO hard to rest in that, to settle our souls down and trust Him for our latter life, let alone our now life.

Still, He doesn’t ever force Himself on us. We can take More or Less of Him, More or Less of His grace, His guidance, His gentle guiding hands in our lives. In Philippians 4:12, Paul the Apostle stated; “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.“, which is really important to consider… he understood that he could be content with more or less, because he tore down those barriers between himself and God. Once you get a more open fellowship with God, you are setting the stage in your life to remain content, fulfilled, satisfied, as well as empowered and protected by God; More or Less!

Again, Paul made a grand statement to that affect in Romans 8:38-39 , which reads; “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Therefore, regardless of your more or less life, there are NO barriers between you and God!

Easier said than done?
No… remember, He hasn’t put any barriers up. So you can be as close to Him as you want… more or less… wherever and whenever you are, He will be right there with you. Way back in Genesis 28:15, He told the people then; “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.“, which is certainly assurance that He’s not putting any barriers in your way… it all up to you if you want a relationship with God; More or Less.

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

Peace at Stake; Piece of Cake

It is very, very simple to choose peace. It is quite a whole other thing to apply that choice! Consider the last time you had a gut-wrenching decision to make… many times, that quickening from our Lord IS the path He wants you on, but too often we choose something safer, something less ridiculous appearing (to those around us), and maybe even something not quite so challenging for our lives. His peace is at stake, so just how do you chose that path, and stick with it?

Our devotional today reminds us that His presence in our lives is a perpetual and consistent sounding board of His love in our lives. See, Exodus 33:14 clearly points out; “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest“, which is integral to a peaceful and sustainable fellowship with the Lord… remaining close with Him through you day… not just ‘when’ something is bigger than you, not just when you need Him, and certainly not just when you have ‘tried all else’.

God has promised that your faith in Him will make your path firm, your footing in Him strong, and your stride straight and true. Deuteronomy 33:25 clarifies this with; “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”, which is to say that your feet are going to be equipped to handle the path set before you! That’s a promise and a challenge, huh! See… God doesn’t goad us into ‘trying our best’, He equips us and asks us to trust Him for the rest. Fear NOT as you face the challenges upcoming… as He told you, “…so shall thy strength be“.

Piece of Cake, eh!

Sure… with that level of promise (and the power to back it up, too), you are poised to live in His peace… right in the face of ‘all odds against you’; just as all reasonable hope for peace is gone. Never forget how the psalmist put it in Psalms 29:11, which reads; “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

It is not really a ‘piece of cake’ for you or for me… alone… when we are apart from His grace in our lives, apart from His presence, and certainly apart from His guiding Spirit. However, Hebrews 13:20-21 conveys it best as it states; “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” So, just as you think or feel that your peace is at stake, stop and consider that in Him; piece of cake!

cropped-vocalbillity_logo_est.png G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr.  MDiv

VocalBillity Devotionals

Synchronize Your Spirit

I know, the typical phrase is, “synchronize your watch”, so pardon me as I make a spiritual reference to that well established phrase. Way too many times through my day, through my week, through my life I have gotten my spirit sort of out-of-sync. Something of a disjointed feeling, or ‘pending doom’, or maybe even just an unsettled and restless feeling of anguish, fear, and/uncertainty… and I finally hear ‘that still small voice’, and get linked back up with the Lord, and sort of Synchronize My Spirit. Something of a ‘balance of life’ occurs, and my soul is rested and comforted again.

See, Philippians 3:7-8 states; “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”, which may seem all ‘special’, magical, or even spiritually pompous. But remember, we live in a tangibly distracting world and can so easily get our spirits out of sync with the Holy Spirit… so-much-so, that even doing the wrong thing seems right! I tweeted that many months ago, now (Doing the Wrong Thing), in fact.

Sure, you can go through your Faith Walk with the Lord in this on/off or up/down way, but the variations in your life are really hard on you, not to mention your witness/presence to those around you. Keeping a ‘steady keel’, as it were, is essential to your growth and depth in the Lord. Colossians 4:2 encourages us with; “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”, which is actually ‘why’ we (I) tend to drift or get out of sync with the Lord… we lose track with the concept that though He is omni-present, we still need to keep our attention, focus, and heart on Him. Therein, He’ll definitely Synchronize Your Spirit!