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Archive for the tag “Listening”

Foundational Truths

My Sundays are usually pretty quiet ones. I have my quiet time in the morning, followed by one of the gatherings of my local body of believers (called “church” round these parts), and then I will listen to North Point Online (Andy Stanley’s teachings or one of the other pastors). Then hopefully I will listen to God as I reflect on what I have heard. Sometimes I don’t listen very well. Or I don’t take the opportunity to reflect; I get busy doing other things. Then the word (as the Word says) is snatched away. I don’t remember what was taught; I forget the message by the time I hit the front doors or turn off the TV. I don’t reflect on the message and how it should affect my life. The word evaporates like water on a hot day.

This past Sunday, I did a better job at listening – maybe it was because I was ready for a fresh word – a fresh perspective. You see, I need a miracle. I need God to show up big. I am praying for a fresh revelation of Him. I have determined that I can ask my heavenly Father for anything. My pastor reminded me through his message about this one truth: God loves me (and you). It’s unconditional. I read on Saturday morning during my quiet time, that I am chosen by God before the foundation of the world. I was chosen to be His daughter (this was not revelation to me – but sometimes I need to be reminded). We all are chosen as His children. Some of us have responded to the invitation from Jesus to join the family of God by receiving the gift of salvation. But not only receiving the gift, but acknowledging Jesus’ work and our shortcomings (sins) and seeking the forgiveness from the Father through Jesus, who is our bridge between God and us.

I have a child’s perspective of the parent/child love relationship. I don’t have the bond of a mother/child love since I do not have children. The child side is different from the mother side (or father side). The parent always has a greater love for the child than the child has for the parent. Sometimes, I don’t think I truly understand the depths of God’s love since I haven’t experienced the deeper love of parenthood. I know in theory, but struggle with the concept in reality. To get past this problem, I have to believe based on the truth of God’s word. There is a depth of love that is wider, deeper and greater than any chasm that can be crossed by human efforts. There is a depth of love that was crossed over by divine nature through Jesus. He became the bridge over the chasm. God sent Him for us. Jesus chose to come for us.

I can imagine the conversation in Heaven before the first spoken word to form the heavens and the earth. They must have decided that it was still worth setting the world on its foundation. God knew the ways of man before man took the first breath. Right then – He chose each and every one of us to be here at this time and place. Nothing is by accident. My breath is taken away each and every time I contemplate the vastness of what was done even when God knew it all from the beginning. He still chose to do the things He did in the beginning. And then, God said it all was very good. Why would He do such a thing when He knew it all from the beginning? Because of Love.

The second truth spoken on Sunday was: God is in control. Nothing is a surprise to God. There is nothing that comes to us – blessings or trials – that first doesn’t come through Him. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional this morning that “as believers, we’re assured that no adversity comes our way unless He can use it for our benefit and His good purpose.” The one thing we faced in our lives that was impossible was becoming His child. Sin broke the relationship with God when man (and woman) first sinned. But this wasn’t impossible either, for God made a way where there was no way. Because of that truth, everything we face is possible with God. The miracle has already happened. I am here – you are here, because of Jesus. The relationship with God has been restored when we become His. Because of Jesus, we can ask our Heavenly Father for what we need. He knows the best for you and me. We must trust Him to answer as He sees fit. And know that when we receive the answer, it is for our good regardless of what the answer may be. His love wins every time.

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:6, 18-19 (NLT)

Silence Isn’t Golden

Over the last couple of months, I have been very distracted. You might have noticed my blog postings haven’t been very inspired – mainly because I haven’t been very inspired. I have been too distracted by my circumstances. I decided I needed to find employment. Writing doesn’t pay much! So my focus has been looking for that elusive job. I found an opportunity as I mentioned in a previous post. I am trying to get into a new routine, and it’s left me feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to get it all done now in a short amount of time. My morning time with Jesus has been shortened due to time restraints before work. (I miss my routines that I had established over the last four years.) My thoughts have been scrambled these last few weeks. But this last week, I felt like I am in a better space. I started listening again. I am more focused.

There are two things that have been put before me this week. The first thing was the need to speak. Satan would love to keep us silent. Believers in Jesus are not persecuted for staying silent. Persecution happens when we speak the name of Jesus. Satan’s goal is to keep us silent. We in America do a good job for Satan. We don’t like to offend anyone so we don’t tell them the message of Jesus. We have a powerful message that needs to be shared. The Holy Spirit lives in us to provide the words and opens our eyes to the opportunity. He gives us boldness to proclaim the Good News – Jesus is Lord – He died and rose again so that we might have LIFE! Praise the LORD! But I am the worst for sharing this news. Beth Moore said that if Satan could speak two words to us, these two words would be SHUT UP!

I believe one of my purposes in this life is to write. In 2009, I went to an integrative nutrition school to learn more about health and wellness. In that school, the instructor told us to “find our voice because there are people who need to hear what we have to say.” That message was life-changing for me. I thought I went to this school to learn how to become a health coach and help others get healthy. I know God has used what I have learned to help others, but I think there was a greater purpose than what I understood at the time. It began my writing passion. We were instructed to start writing a newsletter for our “tribe” (the ones we influence). I was reminded during this past week that I had stopped writing. on nutritional health topics. My newsletter has become more focused on the spiritual and mental health rather than on nutritional health. If my passion is about helping others, I gave up the “outlet” to help others! There were a few personal reasons that I stopped, but fear was the main cause.

The other thing I heard this week was that we are “born for such a time as this.” The message was on Queen Esther. We live in interesting times. There is a call for each of us to fulfill in this place and in this time. God placed us here; where we are, made us who we are to do the things we need to do – for His purpose. His will is to make Jesus known all over the world. If Jesus is Lord of our lives, then we have been called to proclaim Jesus to those in our community where we are right now. We can no longer stay silent. When we are silent, we let Satan have his way. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we are compelled to tell. This is our time to share the Good News. This is what we are reborn to do!

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. Acts 18:9-11 (NLT)

The Meeting

Do you have favorite Scripture that God has used to move you along your journey? One of mine is the passage found in Acts 10. The passage is about the divine connection made between Peter and Cornelius. One morning during my quiet time, I was contemplating this passage. I wondered about the significance of Peter and Cornelius’ meeting. Peter had to be willing to go where he was forbidden by his law to go. In his vision, God spoke to Peter to eat things that Peter considered as “unclean.” God told Peter He had already made those things clean. By God’s hand, He made all things in heaven and on earth. He declared in Genesis 1:31 all that He had made was very good.

Peter had to remove his old thinking and replace it with a new mindset. Peter was contemplating the meaning of his vision when visitors arrived who would take him to Cornelius. Peter took one step out of his comfort zone into a divine encounter. Peter’s vision was about “unclean” food, but God was giving Peter a new understanding that nothing made by God’s hand is unclean – and that includes all human beings. Jews and Gentiles did not meet. It was against their religion to associate with Gentiles. There was a barrier that God created in the beginning in order to separate the wickedness from His chosen people. And the Jews took that to an extreme. God set aside the Jewish people but that didn’t mean that they were any better than their fellow-man. Their thinking needed to be changed.

Cornelius was already on a path that respected God. He was already worshiping God and giving to the poor. He was already doing the things he knew to do, but it was not complete. He needed further information. I have seen this pattern repeated in Scripture such as the encounter found in Acts 18. Apollos was also in need of further information which was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila. When our understanding isn’t complete, God sends someone to tell the rest of the story. There were divine encounters that furthered the Gospel message. Apollos went on to preach the Gospel throughout his world. Paul mentioned Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12 as one of the preachers that believers “followed” along with Paul and Peter. Apollos must have been significant in moving the Gospel forward.

Back to Cornelius. Cornelius was a military man from the Italian regiment, which means he probably went back to Rome at some point. As I am contemplating these divine encounters, I wondered if he was the first messenger to Rome. When Paul wrote to the Romans, there was already a church planted. Who was the first one to take the message to the Romans? Was it Cornelius? Was this his divine connection with Peter that set up the wave of Christians to that part of the world? I would have to believe this is what took place. God gives us a small story that forms the larger context of taking the message throughout the world. I immediately thought of the Ethiopian eunuch that was encountered by Philip in Acts 9. Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to a specific road for the encounter with a man who would take the Gospel to the continent of Africa. It’s the small stories that take on the larger story of getting the message across – God so loved the world that He sent His Son; not to condemn the world but to save it.

We may feel that we have nothing to share, but God can use us for divine encounters for God’s ultimate glory! Peter heard the voice and was obedient to the task. Philip started out as soon as he heard the voice. As I stated previously, God used this same passage to move me to my current city – it’s now been almost sixteen years ago. Why did God call me here? I do believe I needed further information. I didn’t have the complete story. I haven’t had the divine encounter (that I know of) to take the Gospel message to my world, except through this written word. It’s not much, but if I am faithful to what I am called to do, maybe someone along the way will be changed by it. That’s my prayer anyway.

If I had not made the move, I never would have met the people I was supposed to meet to get me where I needed to be. My old thinking had to be changed. Sometimes it takes a move of God to help us see greater things than we could ever imagine. Never discount what God wants to do through our small obedience in these “little” decisions – it could impact a world! Cornelius, Apollos and Philip are good examples of what a little obedience could do for God’s glory!

The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:22-23, 34-35

The Unexpected

Last week I wrote about the warning signs. How ironic as I was considering all the warnings that had occurred for my neighbor, I get one as well. This warning wasn’t in the form she received but from a warning in my own house. My carbon monoxide detector went off in the middle of my dinner one night. I first thought it was a low battery warning. I got the detector in hand, about to remove the battery when I read the fine print of warning messages. The fine print said that four beeps is a real alarm. I began to pay attention to the details. How many beeps am I really hearing? Now, I am truly alarmed! With a quick call to 911, I found myself in the middle of my front yard wondering what happened to my quiet night at home eating my evening meal. It was an unexpected interruption. I kept reminding myself that none of this is a surprise to God. I was interrupted by a warning that I could not control, but God could help me in this time of trouble.

When the firemen had accessed the situation, I found myself homeless for the night. I found the uncertainty of my immediate future but temporary homelessness. This is not to compare to my neighbor’s unexpected homelessness. I slept very little that night running scenarios of “what’s next?” in my head all night. The heating unit was replaced, but the future of “what’s next?” is still uncertain. I have deemed this year the year of change. (Of course, aren’t they all?) But this year will be different. I can’t keep going along the way I have been going. Circumstances will need to change. Sometimes I will have to make the effort to change them. I need to find a job. I need to find the place to do ministry. I need to find the opportunities that God has placed in front of me that I am just not seeing right now!

God brought the unexpected into my life that particular moment. I didn’t see it really coming. I knew the heating unit was very old, and I knew it would need replacing soon. I was hoping for a few more months use. So it was unexpected at this time, but not totally out of the realm of possibilities. I knew as soon as the alarm sounded I had run out of time. I don’t know the future. I just know the one who does hold the future in His hands. God isn’t surprised of our circumstances. I just have to remember when the unexpected happens, God has the expected outcome in hand. He knows what He wants accomplished in our unexpected interruptions.

God was in the details of the right time for the alarm to sound. I wasn’t in a deep sleep. I wasn’t alone in my neighborhood during the day. It was in the early evening when people were coming home from work. One of my neighbors “happened” upon the situation at the time I was contemplating where I needed to go for the night. It was kind of them to offer their extra bed. My friend had already priced a replacement unit for me. I already knew what needed to happen. It was the timing of it all that reminds me that God knows when to give us warnings and knows when the warning needs to be heeded. We have to pay attention to the details. There is a lesson in the unexpected. We just need the wisdom to understand what God is doing in the details of the unexpected.

Interruptions put us in a place of readiness to hear – looking to Him for guidance; realizing we can’t handle things on our own; accepting our own limitations in the middle of the crisis and realizing our God is in control of all circumstances. We can lean on Him when our strength fails us; when our world is turned upside down. When the unexpected comes, it’s time to pay close attention to the details. God has something in mind, but the circumstances might throw us into a temporary tailspin. But it shouldn’t send us into the mindset of great fear. It’s time to focus on our God who has the world in the palm of His hands. Nothing throws God into a tailspin – He’s got this.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Warning Signs

Over the last few months, I have seen a few warnings posted on the door across the street. Each time the warning sign was taken down, but no action was taken (that I could see). Last week, the warnings were not heeded and the Sheriff arrived. My heart hurts for my neighbor. But I am reminded as I sat down to have my quiet time we are given warnings all the time. The Holy Spirit gives us warnings through His promptings. We are given warnings about our health through pains and various symptoms. God warns us about things to come in His word. I am an observant person in most things, but sometimes I just miss the signs. I get distracted by life to really pay attention to what’s going on around me or in me. The only reason I saw the signs going up on my neighbor’s door was because I was outside each time it occurred.

We are told in Scripture to be watchful for the signs that God places around us. Many people I listen to believe we are getting closer to the second coming of Jesus. God says He puts signs in the sky for us to observe. The Holy Spirit helps us and teaches us how to pay attention so that we can learn from these signs. I have been fascinated this past year over “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn. Just the other night, I listened to one of his recent sermons on this coming year – the seventh biblical year. In September, we will be remembering the fourteenth year of 9/11. We as a nation were shaken to our foundations of what we consider our security. We thought we were invincible. We had pride and arrogance that no one could touch us. We were the superpower that no one would dare come against. Soon after it happened, I felt in my spirit that God’s hand had been lifted for that brief time to allow the destruction; to get us to turn to Him. Many did come back to church, but it didn’t “stick.” Life went on. We adjusted to the new normal and moved on.

Since that time almost fourteen years ago, we have fallen away even further. Have we learned from the warning signs of previous years? Will God send another “sign” of His displeasure? This is what Jonathan Cahn is considering in this seventh biblical year of “shemitah” – the shaking, the release of debt year. It’s interesting to hear what he has to say. It’s also interesting to see the signs that are happening in the last few months even. The seventh year began last September. Over the next few months, we will know for sure that God warned us. We could be aware of God’s work by the Holy Spirit. We could pay attention to what’s going on in the world. We could take precautions in our own lives to make sure we have our affairs in order. Or we could just ignore it all and just consider it all hype to sell another book. Time will tell. For me, I don’t want to see signs on my door and do nothing about it. I don’t want the “Sheriff” to come, and I have not been actively preparing the way for Him. I need to be ready for whatever God has in store – good or bad for this coming year. My heart needs repair work done. My life needs to be scrubbed clean of all filth that accumulates over time. And my house needs to be in order. How will you prepare for the coming year? My neighbor got several warnings which were not heeded. Let that not be said of us!

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15

Wasted Time

As I was sitting there watching the “Super” event – football and commercials, I thought what a waste of my time. Did I just spend three hours of my life, watching this for nothing? (Three hours, because I quit watching it after half time.) I feel cheated! I want that time back. Was it really entertaining me? Did the commercials match the hype? Nope. And nope. What could I have done differently? I am sure there are other ways to entertain myself than sitting here night in and night out watching TV. I am sure there are people I could call to encourage them. Or there were people I could visit who are lonely and need a friend. Even spend some more time in the Word and with God. Yet, here I sit every night trying to entertain myself for a couple of hours before I go to bed.

I don’t want to waste my time on things that do not matter. I feel like time is growing short. Maybe it’s just my age affecting my brain since I am well into my middle age years. But there’s got to be more to this life than just entertaining myself. There’s got to be more to do than filling the time with dribble. How would Jesus fill the time? Many times in Scripture, Jesus got alone by himself to pray. He would pray all night long or He would rise early to spend time with His Father. How’s my prayer life? Do I have the same discipline as my Teacher? I fall so short so much of the time. I serve a gracious God though. He knows I am still being developed to be more like Jesus. I have a long way to go.

But He hasn’t given up on me. He still waits patiently as I sit there watching my television; waiting on me to turn it off and turn to Him. One day, I will have the discipline. One day, I will not waste my time on things that do not matter. One day, I will have in mind those things of God. With every day that passes, I am closer to realizing the truth of who Jesus is and who I am in Jesus. With every day that passes, I am one step closer to becoming who I was born to become. I was challenged the day after the “super event” to turn off the TV. I have been successful in turning it off and tuning into God. I am still working on it completely, but I am better at than when I first began the challenge.

I am living the dream. I am living the life that Jesus saved me for. I am just not there completely. But one day, I will be. I am a work in progress! The time is not wasted when I focus on things that are eternal. I should honor Jesus as I focus more on Him and less on me.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17

Wrestling with God

Do you know when you hear a message from God? Do you always like what you hear? I think of Jonah at times when I’ve heard something that I just didn’t like and want to run in the other direction. I think of Jacob when he came face to face with God and wrestled with Him (see Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob wanted a blessing, and Jonah wanted an exit. What do I do when I hear a message or witness God’s presence? Run and hide or run toward Him expecting to see the blessing? Jacob’s name was changed to Israel on the day he wrestled God’s messenger. Israel means “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” And Jacob received the blessing. God always has a blessing for those that overcome. The blessing may be here on earth, or it may wait for us in heaven.

Jonah ran as far as he could from God’s purpose. God wanted to use Jonah as a prophet to a people who Jonah hated. He knew of God’s compassion. If the people repented of their sins, God would forgive them and not destroy them. Jonah would rather have died himself then to do what God had asked of him. But God’s plan is always righteous. His ways are not our ways. He is always seeking people to do what He asks when He asks.

I believe I have my next step in my journey, and I am not thrilled with the prospect of doing it. I will be stepping out into a place I really don’t want to go, much like Jonah. I’m not sure if I’m wrestling with God or with Satan right now. I think if its God then there will be a blessing. But if it’s Satan, there will be nothing good coming from it. I will have procrastinated beyond God’s timing. I want to overcome and not run from God’s plan. It’s time to move forward and not look back.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2-3

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