Friday, July 13, 2018

Listening to God

This is another reposted entry with some additional thoughts. Also for possible use as I expand my writing ministry to include speaking. 

He who has an ear, let him listen. Revelation 2:6, 11 (ESV)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches Revelation 2:17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22 (ESV)

Do you remember your parents saying, “You are not listening?” I do. It was when I was in trouble and they were trying to talk to me about my misbehaving. Did you ever have to say that to your children? I probably did, also.

I have noticed that in our world today, we have certain people who seem to think they have a say-so in what we believe in our lives. I have felt they were not listening to wise counsel from God. In the Old Testament, we read of many kings “doing what was right in their own eyes.”

One evening, I read God’s letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. I also read scriptures that address an issue that faces us. The next morning, my devotional reading for Sunday school was on the word “Listen.” The scripture the author used was Revelation 3:6, He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches, I got excited. I re-read the letters to the churches.
We studied Pauses for Pentecost written by Trevor Hudson One point Mr. Hudson, makes is that listening and obedience always go together. My take on this whole exercise is that we have to listen to the LORD and do as He directs us. For me, I need to apply this to my dealings with those around me and with my family as well as those to whom I try to assist in their walk with Jesus.

We also have words from James telling us to: Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to speak.
James 1:9 (NRSV)      
The Apostle James gives us wise advice. We need to learn to listen to those in our lives who have greater knowledge about certain issues with which we deal in life.

As a young adult, I heard the adage, “God gave us two ears and one mouth. We are to use them accordingly.” When I felt God had led to make the decision that I needed to learn to be a good listener, I realized I had to truly listen and not talk as much.

I learned these lessons when I applied this scripture to my life as I held a sensitive position in our former church. I became privy to a lot of personal issues different people had in their lives. All I could do was listen and pray for them and the needs they had.

Today, I sometimes hear stories that I believe, due to their sensitive nature, should not be shared. I have to listen but I also know that I should not talk about these circumstances. However, I sometimes fail in this area of listening and have to tell God I am sorry for my behavior.

I have read where our prayer time should be a conversation between us and the LORD. In our daily conversations, we talk and we listen. When we spend time with Him, shouldn’t we listen to what God wants us to hear?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Praising God

This is a reposted entry with additional thoughts. I intend to use this and a few others when I expand my writing ministry into a speaking phase.  

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25 (ESV)

Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison because they had an evil spirit leave a young servant girl. Her master depended on the income she brought to his coffers.

Other prisoners may have been trying to sleep. Paul and Silas were in stocks and, still, they decided to pray and sing hymns to God. His word tells us the other prisoners listened to them.

As I read this passage recently, I wondered what I would do if I were in their place. I texted a couple of friends and asked them the question.

One responded with, “I read in Jesus Calling that we are supposed to thank God for our problems because they are there to make us grow and for God’s purpose.”

The other friend pointed out that praise verses “are not especially for those who are experiencing good times but for those who are downcast and feeling the burden of life on their shoulders.”
 Paul and Silas were unsure of what lay ahead for them. They probably felt discouraged; I know I would have. They may have wanted to feel God’s presence in a special way.
I believe God took control of the circumstance by causing:

•          a great earthquake and opening the doors,
•          the jailer and his household to seek salvation,
•          the jailer’s household to be baptized.

All these events happened as a result of two men praying and singing hymns to God in a time when most would have been fretful and stressed. I see a great lesson here.

 Several times in my adult life, I faced uncertainties. When I learned to praise God for the good things He had given me, our circumstances improved. Our son went through long periods of unemployment. He had to move back home and was with us for several years. 
One morning I awoke and felt really down. I found some scripture that told me to praise God for what He had given me. My list was something like this:
            He saved me from my sins.
            He has given me good Christian friends, both local and online.
            Central heat
            A warm house (this was in the winter.)
            A roof that didn’t leak (we had had some issues with leaks before.)
            General overall health for all three of us. (Some things we could control.)
            Air conditioners (window ones) and fans in the summer.
            We have food we can eat.
            We have clothes to protect us from the elements.

Each of us should review our list of the gifts God has given us and praise Him for each one. When we say grace at mealtimes, I always thank Him for the privilege of having food to eat. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jesus Gives Us Freedom

                The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:3-11 (ESV)

In this story of forgiveness, we see certain issues that we continue to see in our world today. The scribes and the Pharisees tried to set Jesus up. They wanted to hear his answer, not because they were doing what the Law stated because they weren’t. According to the Law of Moses, both parties involved were to be stoned.

Jesus told the men in the crowd that they could only throw those stones if they had no sin in their lives. He then bent down and wrote something in the dirt twice. The men started to leave. He asked her, “where are your accusers? Has anyone called you to task?”

She responded, probably relieved and a bit shocked. “No one, Lord.” Now comes the best part, our LORD told her he didn’t hold it against her, either. He told her she was free to go and told her to not do that stuff again.

When we find ourselves caught up in sin, we actually are in bondage. We can’t get out of that habit or practice on our own.

We do have someone who can free us from the quagmire of sin and lead us to solid ground in Him. His name is Jesus.

He went to the Cross and died for you and for me. He took all our sin upon Himself. H frees us from sin.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...