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Posts Tagged ‘God speaks’

Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room … 

because the devil doesn’t get lazy around you. (1)

Most Christians only pray when they are desperate.

As Screwtape might say to Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters:

“Never let them think they need to pray.  Let them have enough confidence in themselves and fate that they do not ask Jesus to intervene.  This way they create more space for our tempting ploys.”

Prayer is a bother to us because we have nothing measurable to show for it at the end of the day.  

This is why many pastors rarely pray.

How do you explain to the Church Board that the 3 hours you spent in prayer this morning was productive work, while Mr Jones and Mrs. Smith were at nursing home ailing in loneliness, while Darrin was off being a teenage derelict, and while the homeless at the shelter needed someone to cook them breakfast?

Let’s be honest, what would impress your boss and friends the most?

Tell them you woke up at 6 AM and prayed for 3 hours for the Spirit of God to mold your heart and mind, to send Jones and Smith a friend, to get Darrin on track, and to motivate volunteers to work at the homeless shelter.

Or

Tell them that you woke up at 6 AM to serve breakfast at the homeless shelter, then met with Darrin before he went to school, and visited with Smith and Jones as you passed the nursing home before arriving at the office at 9 AM.

No contest here.  We know who will get the big raise.

Genuine praise, adoration, and glory comes to the man, woman, or child who works for God serving the needy, while pleasing pleasant platitudes are offered for prayers.

At the end of Luke 10, when Martha complained to Jesus that her sister avoided kitchen work to listen to him, Jesus said:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (2)

In Luke 11:1, Jesus is praying and one of his disciples said, “Jesus teach us how to pray!”

We all need more knee time with God.

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  1. I compiled this quote by combining two statements, the first from Oswald Chambers and the latter from Martin Luther.  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).  Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 240). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Luke 10:41–42.
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In Scripture the Lord gives believers enough truth to live responsibly, 

but enough mystery to draw them to Him in believing prayer. (1)

.

In this simple statement John MacArthur explains with absolute clarity why the Bible is a maddening book to read and study. We cannot fully understand it on our own.

I love to read and study books which challenge me.  I enjoy engaging my heart and mind while reading deep and probing texts, whether fiction, science, theology, philosophy, or the Bible.

I pride myself on being able to understand what the author has written, even if it I must slowly read and re-read the text, stopping to sort out what has been written.

However, the Bible is the only book I cannot read and fully understand on my own.  Even when I consult the experts in exegetical studies and biblical theology, there are passages which I never fully grasp.

The Bible is a mystery book which does not satisfactorily answer all my questions.

As a pastor who teaches from The Bible on a regular basis, this is a frustrating experience.  I hate it when the only response I can honestly give to someone’s biblical question is, “I don’t know!”

My ignorance drives me to prayer!

This is a good thing.  Good for me and for you.  It keeps me humble.  It makes me honor the mysteries of God, of heaven and earth, and of His Word.

My ignorance reminds me that I am a creature.  Even the atheist, the evolutionist, and the naturalist has to acknowledge that they are simple creatures, not The Creator.

Despite my best efforts, I will never possess the full wisdom of God.  In some part, I will always be in the dark.  At every moment in life my knowledge will be incomplete.

This is not be a bad thing when it drives me to Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (2)

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  1. John MacArthur, Truth for Today : A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 246.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Proverbs 1:7.

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In this life, we hear the sounds, not the symphony. (1)

We never see the whole picture of life.  Even in this Information Age of digital technology,  scientific discovery, and higher education we only know a fraction of all there is to know.

If you are in the market to buy a new car you can visit on-line and real-time car dealers, research Consumers Report, read on-line reviews, test drive, and crunch all the numbers, but at the end of the day you will never know if you made the best decision.

Buy the Volkswagen and be left wondering if the Ford was the better deal and car, if the VW brought you greater joy, if this and if that … The list of qualifiers goes on and on.  You never know.

JP Morgan lost $2 billion and, according to latest reports, may lose up to $9.6 billion on a specific complex trade of credit swaps, derivatives, economic voodoo.  Instead another trader out-guessed them and took them to the cleaners.

Our biggest mistakes are made in life when we believe we are hearing the full symphony, rather than a collection of sounds.  We listen to a distant drumbeat, add some imaginary notes, compose lyrics, and make a decision.  Then we dance to our music, hoping it leads to life.

The Apostle Paul spoke about our blind leap into life:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face-to-face. (2)

So what should we do when confronted with information over-load in a world where we never see the whole picture.  My counsel is to follow the most trustworthy source.

In my life, I have only found one trustworthy source of information and guidance for living.  That source is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures of the Christian faith.  It provides wisdom sufficient for making any decision you need to make in life.

The Bible is the infallible Word of God.  The Bible will never fail you.  In my own life, when I have faithfully lived according to the truth of the Bible, my life has gone well.  When I have listened to the world’s music or my own, my dance has turned into a limp.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (3)

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 180). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:12.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 119:105.

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Take the Journey!

Whether considering the deep mysteries or the everyday matters of life, we have a tendency to out-think God.

  • Is this God’s plan?
  • Why does God allow this?
  • Is this exactly what scripture means?
  • Where will this lead me?
  • Is God testing me?

Some ponder while others go.  

While I enjoy reflecting, speculating, wondering, and thinking about God’s will and His ways, I recognize that at the end of the day I must act in faith.

Faith is moving forward into the unknown.  

Faith never sees the way, it only sees God.

The prophet Habakkuk teaches, The saints live by faith!” (1)

I appreciate his emphasis on LIVE!  Get on with your life!  Trust God even when you do not understand His ways. 

Let actual circumstances be what they may be.  Look to Jesus.  Trust Him and His love for you.  Live knowing that He will bring you safely to shore.  

Jesus will do that!  While He will not keep your life free from trouble and uncertainty, He will remain at the helm with you during the storms and through the night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. 

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore. (2)

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  1. Habakkuk 2:4.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 121:7–8.

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Faith is the heroic effort of your life,

you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God. (1)

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The moment you step out in faith, trusting God, a friend will caution you to be careful and to be reasonable, as he asks, “Have you lost your mind?”

My response has become:  “I have not lost my mind, but I have relinquished my will!”

Losing your mind is easier than releasing your will.

At the age of 73, while scrimping by on a fixed pension and social security, Pat told her husband, Ray, that God recently spoke to her.  Rolling his eyes, Ray asked, “What did He tell you?”

Pat explained that God told her that she and Ray needed to started tithing, giving away 10% of their income to God’s ministry through the church.  Ray laughed, explaining that to do so would be impossibly foolish since they were barely making ends meet while not giving to the church.

Pat thought that with a sacrifice here and there, they could do it.  Ray’s response was, “Do what you wish, but I am not giving up anything, especially my Steelers’ tickets!”

A year later Pat came to Ray and said, “God spoke to me last night.”  As he did the year before Ray rolled his eyes and asked what she heard.

Pat reported, “God wants us to give 15% of our income away this year!”  

Poised to laugh and make fun of such a crazy idea, Ray paused and realized that if God was asking for more this year, then Pat must have given away 10% of their income the year before.

Ray looked at her and said, “You could not have given away 10% last year, I did not notice anything different!  I had everything I wanted.”

Pat smiled and said, “No, you did not make any sacrifices!  Yes, we did give 10% away last year.”

I did not meet Pat till she was 77.  She and Ray were then giving 25% of their annual income to God’s ministry through the church.

Pat’s faith and generous trust in God inspired a church to build a medical clinic for the poor in Africa.  This is something she would have never been able to do.  Her heroic faith inspired others who did.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (2)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Isaiah 12:2.

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My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (1) 

Most of us misread this verse.  We read it as:

The sheep hear me;

The sheep know me;

The sheep follow me.

Read it again:

The sheep hear me;

I know them;

The sheep follow me.

We follow God not because we know Him or because we discern His voice from the crowd, but because God knows us.

God knows us … our needs, wants, desires, longing, hopes, and dreams.

God knows us … how to love us, how to minister to us, and how to speak to us.

We are drawn to God, because He first loved us.  His love is a knowing love, an intimate love, a love which we feel at the core of our being.

This is why we follow Him.

I frequently hear in marriage counseling, “My spouse does not know me!”

We have a longing to be known and to be understood.  We are drawn to those who know and understand us.

I recently counseled a friend and in the process stomped all over him.  I dished out advice before I knew the longings, hurts, and needs of his heart.

After the creation of Eve, Adam cries out in joy: 

“This is at last bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh!”  (2)

Adam was celebrating that finally there was another creature, a helpmate who could understand him.  This was the blessing of Eve for him and the source of his celebration.

David cries out in joy to God saying:   

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! (3)

God knows us so well that His Word become the words which we follow.

There is know greater joy than to be known and to be loved.

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  1. John 10:27
  2. Genesis 2:23
  3. Psalm 139:1

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How often we choose labor when He says “Rest”

There is a blessed resting in lying still, 

in letting His hand mold us. (1)

Selah!

If you read the Psalms regularly, you have seen this word frequently.

Selah!

It is a musical term which means rest, pause, break.

Frequently, either in between sections of a psalm or at the end of a psalm, we are instructed to selah.  It is a time to rest and take a deep breath.

Singers and public speakers know they must take a rest, a deep breath, to refill their lungs, before they can sing or speak further.  The failure to take adequate pauses and a deep breath robs your voice of power and narrows the range of tone.

Selah provides a blessing for the listener as well.

The brief respite from noise, sound, words, or music allows the listener to soak in what they have just heard.  Without pauses the words, notes, and lyrics begin to back-up in the brain like rush hour traffic.  Without pauses, the listener becomes so overwhelmed, he stops listening.

Without pauses we lose our voice and our ears.

In ministry, my life is a marathon from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  However, from Thanksgiving to Easter it is a sprint.  When I get to Noon on Easter Sunday, I am spent.  I need to pause.

If you are a daily reader of my devotionals, you have noticed that I have posted by devotionals later and later each day, instead of them being ready when you rise in the morning.  My internal warning signs have been flashing in front of me Selah, Selah, Selah!

This morning, I finally took the pause I desperately needed.  In fact I plan to Selah the rest of the day, piddling around the house and yard letting my mind and heart wander as I ramble through the day completing inconsequential tasks.

I will be unproductive, while my spirit reproduces.

As I read my morning devotions (I read through 12 each day) over half of them said, SELAH!!  The words were different, but God’s message was clear.

I feel better already.

If the voices and tasks in your life are beginning to look like a train wreck during rush hour, I encourage you to selah!

It’s a “Be still and know I am God day” for me!”

If you need one of these take it, even if you have to play tag-team parenting with your spouse.

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 154). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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