Tag Archives: God’s presence

Reminders

Sunday morning, I woke up to some dark clouds in the sky, and it was a perfect visual to match my emotional state. Discouragement and doubt clouded my mind right off the bat.
The night before had been filled with love and laughter as my immediate family gathered in our home. Times of togetherness are becoming fewer and farther in-between now that our kids are moving out of the house and on with their independent lives. That evening I went to bed with a full and thankful heart after my husband served up a deliciously grilled supper and we all visited for several hours.
However, the next morning it was as if I had no recollection of the night before. Nagging challenges advanced to the forefront of my mind even before I fully opened my eyes. I dreaded going to church where I was scheduled to be the song leader, because leading a congregation in upbeat songs of praise while feeling down seemed to be a difficult task.
Most mornings, (not all, and I am working on that) I make the effort to have Scripture be the first words I read, before emails or social media. On Sunday, when I opened the Bible app on my iPhone, the first verse to appear was Ephesians 3:20:  “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
I especially appreciate the way the Message version says, “God can do anything, you know…” Why yes, I DO know that. Sometimes, I forget or act as if I don’t know He is bigger than the difficult situations I am facing. Yes, I DO know He can do anything. I just happen to be in need of reminders sometimes.
Was it a coincidence that those words appeared on my phone screen that morning ? Nope. I am convinced that God does not deal in coincidences!  I believe He designed that moment so that those two sentences from His Word would be the first thing I read that morning. He knows exactly what we need, and He knows precisely when we need it.
God sees us when we are hurting. In the midst of our hurt, I believe He wants US to see HIM instead of our hurt. He wants our focus to be the God who “can do anything.” He wants us to focus on the Problem-Solver instead of the problems. To focus on the Burden-Carrier instead of the burdens.
I did lead music in church on Sunday, and I told the congregation about the beginning of my day. A few people thanked me for the reminder that our God knows what we need when we need it. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who orchestrates our days so that those divine reminders come at just the right time? Me too.FullSizeRender

He Is What?

This is my latest contribution to LiftUpYourDay.com. Take a look!

He Is What?
JUNE 15, 2016 ~ GWEN THIELGES
Years ago at a Women of Faith conference, I had one of those moments. Well, a few actually. I was brought to tears as several speaker’s and singer’s words touched my heart.

But the song that had me weeping and wondering why tissue boxes weren’t handed out as you walked in the door was, “I am,”

When Nichole Nordeman spoke about the meaning of the song, she very articulately explained the meaning of God’s name for Himself in Exodus, “I Am.” I’m unable to quote her now, as it has been a number of years…but in essence, she said that God has promised to be all that we need no matter the situation.

Her song moves chronologically through a typical lifetime of events.

From a childhood fall off a bike, to teenage angst, wedding vows, starting a family, and to the time God calls us home, she beautifully expresses through the lyrics that God is the filler of every single void that we have. It is not just what He does…it is Who He is!

Anytime I am reminded of God deeply loving me, His ultimate sacrifice, and the fact that He desires a genuine relationship with me, it brings me to my knees (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) in tearful praise of Him. We are not worthy, but He sure seems to find us worth it.

Before that conference, when I heard the phrase, “I am,” in reference to God, I secretly waited for the rest of the sentence. Finally, I grasped the awesome truth and promise that name contains. The name, “I am,” means He is.

He IS.

Are you hurting? He is Healer. Grieving? He is Comforter. Sinner? He is Savior. Fearful? He is Peace. Lonely? He is Friend. And on, and on, and on to infinity. Any need you throw at the King of Kings will be met in the only way He does things – perfectly.

My tearful-turned-full-out-weepy praise of Him in that moment was caused by finally realizing that God’s presence in every situation is something that He desires. We are not a bother or a burden to our Heavenly Father.

We have a God that seeks us, loves us, and is in it for the long haul with us. He wants to be in it with us. He wants to be our I AM.

Maybe you have a deep need today, and you do not know how it can be met. Bring it to God. God not only knows the way to meet your need, He IS the way to meet your need.

Thank You, God.

 

And here is the tweet from Nichole Nordeman after she read it! This is the complete conversation, including my spelling error! 😉Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.07.07 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Too Weary or Worried to Worship?

Do you ever walk into your church service begrudgingly? Maybe your week didn’t go as planned, or you just received bad news, or you are engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle with a person or condition in your life.

Do you ever choose to stay in bed instead of walking through those sanctuary doors? Maybe avoiding the potential unwelcome greetings or “hey, how are yous” seems more inviting than facing them and having to possibly come up with a phony reply or worse yet, answer honestly!

Many Sundays, I am the worship leader in our church. I am expected to help ‘usher’ the congregants to the throne of the King of the Kings in a time of worship and song. Sometimes I am not ‘feeling it.’ There, I said it. Sometimes I have had a bad week, or I or one of my family members have suffered a huge disappointment. And openly worshipping God is not number one on my priority list. There, I said that too.

I realize that I sound like I sometimes worship God based on my life circumstances instead of basing it on Who He is. That would be true at times. It is also something I am working hard to remedy.

I shared this on my Gwen Thielges Music Facebook page a few months ago:
“Something I’ve experienced through leading music in our church: When things are going ‘right’ in my life, and I go to church with praise on my tongue, it’s easy to be in front and encourage a congregation to lift up the name of Jesus in song. When things are not so much ‘right’ in my life…it’s hard. But it is always, always rewarding. It never fails that God speaks to me through the worship time on those tough mornings and gets my heart prepared for the rest of the service. He reminds me of His faithfulness, His plan, and the fact that He sees me and hears me. And most of all, I’m reminded of His love. If God cares that some insignificant-feeling, middle-aged mama in North Dakota is feeling down…then my friend, He cares about and loves us all! And He wants us to know that we know that we know that we are loved beyond description. I just want to encourage you this morning to sing a song of praise whether you ‘feel’ like it or not. You’ll be blessed. God WILL show up.”

May I encourage you to do better with this than I do? I am not saying we should worship God even when we do not ‘feel’ like it just because He will show up. I am saying we should worship God even when we do not ‘feel’ like it simply because He is worthy of our worship, adoration, and gratefulness no matter what!

He has a master design for our lives – and our disappointments, battles, scars, and sadness all somehow, in only a way that a God that is as awesome as He is can do it, add to the beauty in the tapestry He is weaving in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, “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.” What a promise to remind us that He is working in the lives of those who love Him through all the details. It is a reminder that we can trust Him through the difficult times for results that bring glory to Him. We can trust Him enough to say, “I choose to put my eyes on You, God, rather than my life’s circumstances.” When our eyes are on Him, we can’t help but notice that we are in the presence of a God that deserves enthusiastic, extravagant worship.

May we remember that worshipping our Heavenly Father is an all-the-time opportunity, not just a 20-minute Sunday morning opportunity right before the sermon. Psalm 29:2 says, “Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”

May our lives show Jeremiah 29:13 to be true, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Come, let us seek Him with our whole hearts and worship Him through the weariness and worry. He is worthy. Bonus: He WILL show up!

He’s Still There

IMG_7933The presence of trouble does not mean the absence of God.

When I have come up against something difficult, or when life has not worked out the way I planned, I have been guilty of throwing my arms up in despair and questioning God on His whereabouts, as if He bailed on me.

As if the God of the universe, the God who literally promises to be with us at all times, bailed on me.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
“for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6b

He’s still there. Maybe the problem that’s breaking my heart isn’t getting solved immediately or soon, or anywhere near as quickly as I hoped. Maybe the darkness seems to be getting even darker. However, even if I don’t see Him ‘working on my problem’, He’s still working in my life. He may be sending people into my path with smiles of encouragement, a compliment, or a friendly hello. He may be gently prodding me toward a particular passage in Scripture with words that apply to my current situation. He may be solving another problem and allowing peace to come into my life in a different area. He may be preparing other people in other ways that we have no idea about because there are certain steps that need to take place before the problem gets ‘solved.’

His ways ARE higher than our ways…His way of working in our situation is superior to our idea that we would like Him to implement, no matter how brilliant it may be!

I know in those difficult times when I’ve lost any amount of patience, joy, or peace in my life, there are some profound and lovely things that I’ve gained in the process:
1. compassion for others going through the same types of problems.
2. the blessing of seeing beauty come from ashes, as only God can do.
3. perseverance in my faith, which produces character, and character, which produces hope.
4. a reminder of Who is in control.
and the list could go on and on.

While I’ve never heard God speak in an audible voice…I’ve undoubtedly felt His voice impressed upon my heart. I’ve heard the whisper of His Holy Spirit comforting me, assuring me, “Child, I’m still here.” “It’s going to be okay.” “Hang on.”

This past Easter, I was reminded of a very powerful fact in a very powerful way: Long ago, the world saw the Son of God placed into a tomb; the Light of the World was cruelly taken away. Fast forward just a couple of days…when things were the darkest they had ever been and despair was at an all-time high…the very next moment when Jesus rose again was when the brightest, most brilliant light had ever radiated throughout the world.

He was there.

No matter what you are going through, He is there.

The presence of trouble does not mean the absence of God.