Who Are You Blaming?

Job 29-31

Job 31 2 NIV

I love the orderly layout for Job’s final 3 chapters of his defense before God and man.

 

In chapter 29 Job longs for his earlier days, “When the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” (Job 29:5).  He isn’t dwelling on all the wonderful material  goods he once enjoyed, though we know they were many.  Rather, he is fondly recalling the interactions he had with others – the respect he felt, the ability he once had to help others: serving as the father to the needy, rescuing the fatherless, and comforting the mourners.  And, then he became the mourner.

 

In chapter 30 Job details his current despair.  Now he is detested by men.  He has lost all former dignity and safety and feels terror instead.  He is physically suffering with gnawing pain; blackened, peeling skin; and fever.  And perhaps worst of all, he feels like God is ignoring his cries for help.

 

In chapter 31 Job affirms his righteousness, denying his friends’ claims that he must now be suffering because of great past sins.  He describes many sins: lust, dishonest business transactions, marital infidelity, injustice, not caring for the poor and fatherless, abusing power, greed, idolatry, rejoicing over one’s enemy’s misfortune, and hiding guilt.  For each sin he says, I didn’t do it.  And for each sin he names a punishment a just God could give to him or anyone else who did that evil.

 

The problem is Job – and his friends we have heard from in the past many chapters – don’t understand that there are multiple reasons why we may be enduring trials.  His friends say trials are a result of God’s punishment.  And they were right – but only partially right.  They were erroneously blaming Job for his current trials because he must have deserved it.  Job says he was righteous (not sinless, but righteous) and thus shouldn’t be experiencing trials if God was just.  But, just who is God?  And why does He allow suffering?  These are still the questions that need answers today.

 

Last month I was delighted to watch the youth of our church develop and share a Youth Sunday based on several “apologetic” questions people ask about God.  Does God exist?  Did He create the world?  Is the Bible accurate and reliable?  Are science and the Bible enemies?  AND the biggie – why does God allow suffering?  Too many times a faithful person can believe all the right things and live the right life (just like Job) – until trouble comes.  And then the blaming and questioning tears them away from what they knew was true and the God that loves them.  It was powerful seeing these young people studying truth (guided by godly mentors) and gaining this understanding which will prepare them for trials to come.

 

I want to share with you a brief outline which youth group members, Kaitlyn and Addie, presented on “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”

  • The Fall (Genesis 3:14-19, Romans 5:12)
  • The Devil Causes Evil (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:8,9)
  • God’s Judgments (Romans 6:23, Genesis 19:13) – this was the one Job’s friends knew about
  • God Uses Suffering for Good (Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4)
  • Sometimes People Don’t Get Healing Because of a Lack of Faith (Matthew 9:22-24, Mark 9:29)
  • Time & Chance (Luke 13:1-5, Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

Many sermons could be written about any of these but I want to say just a few words about the devil, Satan, the accuser, the serpent, or the god of this age…the list goes on.  He goes by many names – perhaps a part of his deception and secret identities.  I find it very interesting that he plays a KEY role in Job 1 & 2 – and yet is not mentioned again by either Job or his friends.  He is the one bringing about these trials (which God is allowing) but everyone is pointing the finger at God rather than at Satan.  It is true that the Old Testament has a very limited number of references to Satan.  They did not yet have a very thorough understanding of many things God would reveal to His people through time – the Messiah, the resurrection, and Satan.

 

When Jesus enters the scene, he works to bring a clearer understanding of all these things.  All 4 gospel writers record Jesus speaking about (and sometimes directly to) the devil/Satan and the power he wields to tempt, deceive and inflict.  Every New Testament writer references the devil or Satan.  I believe we still point the finger at God often times when we ought to be recognizing, and fleeing from, the power of the god of this age.  Perhaps there is something you need to stop blaming God for and give the “credit” to Satan instead.

 

And, that is just ONE of the other Biblical reasons for our trials.  So much to think about in the book of Job!

 

I enjoyed looking into Job with you this week and I greatly look forward to the coming week when we get to hear from Cayce (Ballard) Fletcher as we get into the BEST parts of the book of Job!

 

Keep Reading and Seeking, Growing and Loving
Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+29-31&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 32-34 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Bitter or Better?

Job 10-13Job 10 1 NIV

 

After church yesterday I had the opportunity to accompany my pastor father-in-law as we visited a beautiful godly woman in the emergency room who was experiencing painful complications of a 4 year battle with cancer.  Then from there we went to a funeral visitation and hugged a brave new widow with three dear girls.  Just a year ago she had stood in that same spot for the visitations of her all too young son.  Tragedies, pain and suffering surround us daily.  No doubt your prayer list, social media feed and newspaper headlines also speak of many in deep trials.  And perhaps you are there in the midst of one yourself.  Whether we are the family suffering – or just the ones feeling a small fraction of their pain – the book of Job offers some excellent examples of grief and from these we can glean some wise advice for those suffering trials and those who try to offer comfort.

Chapter 10 opens with our suffering servant of God, Job, having some words with his Maker.  He begins:

“I loathe my very life;
therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the plans of the wicked?

Job 10:1-3 (NIV)

Hating his life, complaining, bitterness, questioning, it’s not a pretty picture.  But it is a very real picture.  Job is working his way through some of the stages of grief:  denial, guilt, anger, bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction, acceptance and hope.  He is not yet to the upward turn.  I can easily think, get over it Job, that’s no fun to read, enough with your bitter pity party.  But then I remember how I sometimes lose it over very minor losses or mere inconveniences.  I have been known to get ornery when my cake flops or I hit a snag in my quilting project.    I can feel a bad attitude brewing if the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes or I feel slighted by a loved one.  And here’s a man who has lost 10 children, his wealth, his livelihood and his health, and his wife and friends are adding to his grief.  It’s time I give him some grace.  He needs a hug right now, not a sermon.  It takes time and often some ugliness to get to the upward turn and the beauty of restoration and hope.  (Spoiler alert: keep reading Job – he gets there – and he repents for his previous attitude and misunderstanding of God. If you just can’t help peaking ahead read Job 42.)

The danger lies in not continuing the process.  I remember a sermon years ago from my pastor father-in-law.  It’s important to listen to the sermons BEFORE the crisis hits since we sometimes aren’t ready to listen too well in the middle of the crisis.  One simple phrase he said has stuck with me, “Better, not Bitter”.  We get to choose what we take away from pain and suffering.  We can use any experience, even the most painful, to grow in our relationship to God and others and to become a better version of ourselves.  Or, we can feed the bitterness and distance ourselves further and further from God and those who are trying to help.

It is natural and normal to feel real bitterness in the midst of grief.  It is a stage, but don’t let it become your life. If you ever find yourself feeling the bitterness of Job – do what he did.  Keep talking to God about it.  God can handle it and it will help you walk through that stage of grief.  There is beauty and hope waiting on the other side.

If you are standing beside someone in pain (and God encourages us to put ourselves in that position), allow them time and space to grieve, even if it gets a little ugly.

Whatever you face today – cancer or the death of a loved one, or just an overflowing sink –  how can you practice working towards “Better, not Bitter”?

Marcia Railton

 

Read or listen to today’s passage at – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+10-13&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 14-16.  We are following the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Accepting Adversity

Job Chapters 1-5

job 2 10

Job is considered a book of wisdom literature, and it speaks to us today as much as it did thousands of years ago, bringing us great wisdom in our hardest moments. Job was placed under a pressure test of faith, one which many of us can empathize with. In a test of faith, Job lost his home, his income, his children, and suffered from physical ailments. The only thing that Job had left was a wife who told him to “curse God and die” – hardly a blessing to him. Job goes through a roller-coaster of emotions after this, at some points blessing God for his predicament, and at others, challenging God’s goodness. Job’s “friends” try to assist him and give him an answer for why these things have happened to him, but are not helpful in the slightest.

 

Many of us can relate to Job’s predicament. If you have ever lost a loved one, it is very easy to blame God for “taking” them. Through times of severe illness, one wonders where God is and what He is doing to help me. When someone goes through a time of serious financial crisis, it is difficult to see God’s provision through the struggle. However, as we read through the story of Job, we become encouraged that God hasn’t gone anywhere; sometimes difficult situations are used to test our faith in God, making us stronger than ever.

 

You may be going through a difficult situation right now, for which there may be no answer. If you aren’t going through a situation like this currently, you will go through one eventually. It is important to remember that our situations and struggles do not define us, and they do not define God’s character. God is good all the time, even through the most difficult times of life. We are also still valuable in His sight, and have not gone unnoticed, through our struggles. Jesus encourages us that we are the most valuable creation that God has made, and that “every hair of our head is numbered.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

 

I wish to challenge you today to consider your challenges as a joy, since God is testing your faith in Him, making you stronger (see James 1:2-4). Through every struggle, you will eventually make it through to the other side. God has not abandoned you in your hurt and suffering, but is waiting on you to call out to Him. It is okay to be upset and not understand what is happening, but we must never lose our faith in the Creator. He is perfect, even when we cannot see it.

 

Talon Paul

 

You can read or listen to today’s passage at  – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+1-5&version=NIV

Most scholars believe the book of Job was written in very early history – so we will pause with our reading of Genesis and spend the next 12 days in Job, and then return to Genesis. You can consult or print the yearly chronological Bible reading plan here 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

James 1 12

Living Fearlessly for the Kingdom – Even in Trials

2 Corinthians 6

2 corinthians 6 3

Hardships. We all go through them! Often times we are left wondering, why why why. I once had a coach tell me that the way that I walked through adversity would truly define my character and who I am as a person. This saying has stuck with me for years as I live each day asking myself whether or not I am reflecting God’s love to those around me. When I am faced with the unknown, when I am knocked down on my back, or even when life is running smoothly, I find the verses in 2 Corinthians 6 to be so important and encourage them to flow over my heart. We have the chance to truly make a difference in the lives of those around us as we love unconditionally and live fearlessly for the Kingdom of God. We know that we serve a good good Father and at the end of the day, when we are beat down/exhausted, we can find rest in His love and His grace. Friends, I encourage you to take a minute to stop and reflect. Ask yourselves, “How am I doing in my walk of faith?” Of course this is no competition or race, but it’s important to evaluate where your heart is and how you can honor God daily. Be encouraged that the Lord is for you! How thankful I am to say that He is our God and that we may be called His people. Let’s put our best forth to live a life pleasing to Him!

 

“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:

  • in great endurance
  • in troubles, hardships and distresses
  • in beatings
  • imprisonments and riots
  • in hard work
  • sleepless nights and hunger
  • in purity
  • understanding
  • patience and kindness
  • in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love
  • in truthful speech
  • in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left
  • through glory and dishonor
  • bad report and good report
  • genuine, yet regarded as impostors
  • known, yet regarded as unknown
  • dying, and yet we live on
  • beaten, and yet not killed
  • sorrowful, yet always rejoicing
  • poor, yet making many rich
  • having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

 

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

 

-Kayla Tullis

 

In Need of Comfort?

2 Corinthians 1

2 Corinthians 1 3 4

A teddy bear, a hug from a friend, macaroni and cheese, a cup of tea – where do you turn to find comfort?  Any of these might work after a tough day when you are looking for a bit of comfort.  But what about if you have had a tough month, or maybe even a difficult season or a year of trials?

Paul is a man who chose to live all out for God, His Son Jesus, the Church, and the Coming Kingdom – and that meant some very difficult seasons and years of trials.  Persecution, being stoned and left for dead, a continuing health problem, jailed multiple times, and much more.  In the opening chapter of his 2nd (preserved) letter to the church in Corinth Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But, this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (vs. 8-9).  Remember that 58 verse Resurrection Chapter in his previous letter to the same church – this is why it is so important to Paul – it is his hope – his comfort – what keeps him going even through a long difficult season – the God who raises the dead.  He is worthy of being relied upon.

I love the list of descriptions Paul gives of God in 2 Corinthians 1:3. God is worthy of our praise.  God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is the Father of compassion.  He is the God of all comfort.

He IS the God of ALL comfort.

If you find yourself in need of some comfort – turn to God.  He is the God of all comfort.

Too many times, instead, God is blamed for tough times and people turn away from Him.  He didn’t heal our loved one.  He didn’t help me get that dream job.  I flunked my math test.  My marriage (or my parents’ marriage) ended in divorce.  He could have stopped it.  He could have fixed it.  But He didn’t and it hurts.  So, I will turn from Him.  And the hurt festers and grows.

How much more comfort is there in turning TO God, even in the hurt.  The Creator God who made us. The God of compassion.  NOT the God of a perfect life filled with sunshine and lollipops.  But the God who is always present, always listening, always strong enough to comfort us in our tears or distress.  The God who loved us enough to let His Son die for our sins so we could draw near to Him.  The God who raises the dead.  The God who will send His Son to Earth again.  The God who is creating a coming kingdom greater than anything we can imagine.  This wise, loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God who reveals Himself in His Word.

If you are in need of comfort – look in His Word to find the God of all comfort.  Not sure where to start – how about with a collection of Bible verses called Father’s Love Letter.  There are video, audio, and printable copies at https://www.fathersloveletter.com/.  But, that’s just a start.  Grab your teddy bear and bowl of mac and cheese or cup of tea and open up His Word and find Him there.

And, not just for your own comfort – so that you then can be a comfort to others by sharing the God of comfort with others in distress.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

 

May You Be Comforted,

Marcia Railton

 

The Long Journey to Rome

JPEG image-56512E7E40C1-1

Acts 27

Today it only takes a few hours to travel from the Holy Land to Rome. A non-stop plane ticket costs just a few hundred bucks. For a couple of hundred more, you can get upgraded to first class. That sounds rather nice–flying over the beautiful Mediterranean sea, being waited on hand and foot, heading to the former center of the Roman empire to take in the sights and sounds of this majestic ancient city.
For Paul, though, the journey was not so short…or luxurious. And it certainly wasn’t non-stop. The trek to Rome included a slew of problems for this man from Tarsus and his companions, such as a snakebite, a shipwreck, and a plan to slaughter prisoners. What happened during this voyage would have tested the most experienced seafarer. But throughout the storms and chaos, Paul remained calm and determined. When others had lost hope and were filled with fear, the Apostle took charge and restored order.
Paul was able to remain composed and didn’t cave to fear because of where he placed his trust. He had been informed by the Lord that he would make it to Rome to testify there and he believed this wholeheartedly. God had been faithful thus far and Paul knew this would continue. After all, he did write the words of Romans 8:28.
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (CEV)
God has a plan. From the Bible, we can gain a general understanding of it. We can see how He has worked in history and what He intends to do in the future. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult for us to see where we fit in the grand scheme of things or how God can work in us. God used Paul as an instrument for His glorious plan. It wasn’t because he was special that God chose to employ Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles; he was special only because he was chosen. We don’t have to be special for God to use us either (which is a good thing…because we’re not).
Paul found himself on that arduous adventure because he was doing work for God. If we are going to be active followers of Christ and productive promoters of his Good News, sometimes we’re going to find ourselves in difficult situations as well. But we, like Paul, can have courage knowing the plan God has for the future and confidence because we are doing His will.
-Joel Fletcher

Bee a Good Worker Bee!

James 1 12

An individual honey bee cannot live on its own much like a true Christian cannot live without the body of Christ to sustain it.  A honey bee colony is referred to as a “super organism.” While each individual honey bee is itself an organism, together as a hive of thousands of bees they become something much more extraordinary!  Every bee has a job to do that changes as they get older. They start by staying in the hive doing jobs like undertaker, food storage, cleaning, nurse and taking care of the queen. Then as they grow they take a test flight outside the safety of the hive.  Then one day they are ready for foraging for food. Foraging is a dangerous yet necessary part of the super organism’s function. Without this foraging the bees would have no nectar to feed upon and no pollen for protein.

Luke 13:6-9 NIV  – Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

It is essential as a Christian to bear good fruit and to be a good tree that will not be removed from the earth – to be like a good worker bee who helps to feed the hive and sustain the Super organism that is the body of Christ.  When bees leave the hive they leave security; they do not have a protector in heaven just the cruel world crouching at the entrance of the hive.  Some of the trials bees face when they leave the hive are birds, dragonflies, cars, flying up to two miles away and navigating back to the correct hive.  Regardless of what they face bees will move forward even to the point of death against overwhelming odds. As Christians we need to work to put fertilizer around our roots so that we can grow to the point of bearing fruit.  Like bees who take test flights Christians need to be willing to do things that are not in their comfort zone.

James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Sometimes our venture away from the security of Church camps or the fellowship with our brothers and sisters does not go well.  Stepping out of our comfort zone can leave us feeling anxious or scared. If the bees retreated and refused to persevere through all the dangers they face the hive would have no choice but to begin eating their honey that is stored up.  If there is still no nectar coming in they begin to cannibalize the young pupae who require food. Let’s hope our churches never get to that point! If there is still no nectar coming in and they have gone through their stores they will either abscond or starve.  As Christians we cannot simply hangout in our comfortable zone.  Eventually it’s time to feel uncomfortable and to face trials. It builds our endurance when we face trials and overcome them, allowing us to move past a test flight and become a forager and bear good fruit.    

When bees find a good foraging location they do a dance to point others in the right direction.  To spread the good news they wiggle and wag and somehow that translates to a distance and a direction.  I cannot communicate to you where the fruit is that you need to forage for the Lord through a dance like honey bees but I can encourage you to step out of your comfort zone.  Take a flight away for your warm, safe hive and you will begin to produce more fruit. It could be increasing something you are doing now, doing something you haven’t done before, working on the fundamentals, doing good works, or it could be you try and fail and have to redirect your energy.  You have a wonderful Protector in heaven who loves you. It’s time to show him the same love he shows us.

-Elleigh Dylewski

When Our Plan is Failing

Jer 29 11

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.”

We all have times when it feels like nothing is going right. School is hard, and you think maybe you should take a break. Your job is going nowhere, and it seems like your boss doesn’t like you. We’ve all been there! These are difficult times to trust God has a plan for all of us and even those times we feel like all our plans are for nothing. Take some time to reflect on the people you have contact with, could they be the people you need to share the message of Jesus and the salvation He offers. Sometimes when our plans seem to be failing, it is really God’s plan coming together!

-Susan Johnson

We Have a Purpose

Rom 8 28

Life can become difficult. It may seem that you are facing battles everyday that you think you cannot overcome. You may be experiencing pain, loss, or suffering. Each day seems like nothing is getting better. We all have been in a situation similar and thoughts run through our minds making us question our life’s purpose.

I have proof that we all have a purpose!

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” -1 Peter 2:9

“For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” -Colossians 1:16

“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.” Romans 8:28

Throughout the Bible, God’s Holy Word, we can see and understand that we have a purpose. Time and time again it is shared that God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. We were created through God and for Him. We are a chosen people. He has called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light. God wants good for all who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

When life becomes difficult, pray and God will help you through the tough times. God never says that our lives will be perfect or that we will be happy all of the time. He does say that He will always be there for us. Keep strong faith in God and He will do wonders in your life.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

If you’re going through a rough time, remember that you have a purpose and God will always be with you.

Today I encourage you to embrace your purpose or if you are unsure, seek and pray and God will deliver.

-Brenan Dominguez

The God Hug

2 chron 7_14b

Hugs convey so many emotions – there’s the “hey, I haven’t seen you in a while” hug, the “wish you well on your journey” hug, the “so sorry for your loss” hug, the “I’m so happy for you” hug, the “I can’t believe we just did that” hug, the “I love you anyways” hug, the “it’s great to be alive” hug, the “you must be having a bad day” hug, and “you look like you haven’t been hugged in a while” hug.  Putting your arms around another human being brings about some sort of connection we simply cannot attain on our own – I mean, have you ever tried to hug yourself (or are you trying now that you read that)? It just doesn’t work. Your mind knows that you cannot fulfill this need for embrace, connection, and sense of belonging on your own. The great irony of hugs is we often need them in the midst of the the most lonely and terrible things.  When we feel no one can know. When we feel no one understands. When we feel we are not worthy of love. When we are ashamed of what we become. When we are running away.

 

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” – I Chronicles 7:13-16

 

These words were spoken by God to Solomon concerning Israel after the consecration of the temple.  These people have a condition and a promise not unlike our own. When things get bad, where are we going to turn?  When we are lonely, scared, hurt, or struggling to understand, who will we seek? The thing is, we have someone who understands.  We have someone who calls us worthy. We have a proud Father. We have someone to run to in the middle of the deepest, darkest storms of our life. He is God Almighty, and his arms have been reaching towards you and I since the beginning of our existence, ready, waiting, watching, and listening.  Once He hugs, he does not let go because His name is forever written on our hearts, his newly establish temple.

 

There are two conditions to God’s hug.  The first is submission. The actual physical posture of a hug is one of the most vulnerable positions you can put yourself in.  Your arms and hands are no longer protecting your body. You are giving up the rationally safe position to experience greater joy. This same predicament comes with turning to God.  Giving up safety means airing out your junk to him and others. It means putting trust in His hands. We do not seek to know why the rain falls on the just, but we seek to know Him, that He is a Good Father, who is for us, not against us – this is what brings us joy when we don’t understand.  I know – IT IS SO HARD in the midst of famine, frustrations, and fury, but God is faithful to us, so we must seek and trust.

Additionally, the second condition is invitation.  God was invited into Solomon’s temple and He shows up big time (2 Chronicles 5:14).  That same invitation and power is available to us. Submitting to God’s will begins the removal of junk that crowds the space where His Spirit is to dwell, and His Spirit is our Comforter, our spiritual hugger, constantly filling and surrounding us with the presence of God.  It is available to us when the clouds are shut and when we celebrate the rain. Try this – actually physically verbalize this invitation and outstretch your arms – I know sounds weird. Submit. Invite. As you worship, as you pray, as you walk throughout your day. God presence is what follows, telling us that we are His children and we can cry out “Abba, Father, I need a hug!” because we are never left or forsaken by our Father.

-Aaron Winner