Are you a ‘doer’ first and a listener second or a ‘listener’ first then a ‘doer’? Are you all about accomplishing tasks throughout the day based on what’s important to you and your priorities? God has a lot to say about those who are not willing to listen to His voice before moving through life with a personal agenda that is void of His influence. He longs to have a voice in your life. He knows that without Him we can’t possible make wise decisions all the time. We don’t have nor ever will have the mind capacity to know everything we need to know when we need to know it. The bible tells us that its foolish to think that we don’t need to listen to God. He is All-Knowing.
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.” (Jeremiah 5:21)
Like a parent assigning a task to a child that runs off without instructions, we tend to charge through life without taking the time ask God for His instructions. If we don’t ask or listen we will always come up short of God’s best for our lives.
Jesus lived His entire life on this earth based on what He heard from God. To the very end it was all about fulfilling God’s will and not His own. He was so in-step with God and His will for His life that He said:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)
Jesus listened and followed God’s instructions for His life. He was fully obedient and surrendered to accomplishing the work that God sent Him to do.
In a similar way we have been called to follow Jesus’ example, to listen and obey, to do the will of God for our lives.
“This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)
Become a listener and you will accomplish what God sent you to do!
“When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers
Image: Healing Gardens
When you find yourself in what seems like ‘the trial of your life’ with personal resources exhausted and it looks like the enemy of your soul is about to throw the crushing blow, how do you respond?
In the days of the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz the King of Judah found himself in such a situation. They were facing the real threat of a crushing blow from the King of Israel who had allied himself with Syria to attack Judah. It goes on to say that “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2)
The Lord instructed Isaiah to go speak to Ahaz a word. He also instructed Isaiah to take his son with him. I love this small detail about his son, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son.” (Isaiah 7:3) Isaiah’s son was a sign from God for Judah that “a remnant shall return.” God was letting the people know that their sin would be judged but with mercy, they would not suffer total loss, that a remnant would be left to rebuild and restore the nation.
What looks like ‘the trial of your life’ may be the refining tool that God has allowed to purge out sinful attitudes and lifestyle choices that hinder and sabotage God’s good plan for your life. The words that God instructed Isaiah to speak to King Ahaz and the people gave them the opportunity to see this trial through His perspective of faith and trust:
“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Isaiah 7:4)
God went on to put the enemy in the proper perspective; “two smoldering stumps” in His eyes and in which we are to see any enemy coming against us. Now that their eyes have been opened by God’s perspective they can see that this is a test of faith and trust in God to not only deliver but to bring them through this trial. They are left with this gentle rebuke from God:
“…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
If you truly desire to glorify God there comes a time when we must decide to stand firm in our faith, trusting in God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, no matter what trial is allowed into our lives. If we refuse to embrace His instruction our destiny in Christ will be plagued with instability, doubt and immaturity, failing to live the abundant life that Christ died to give us.
“…until we all attain…to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13-15)
Be firm in faith!
Photo Credit: LetsGoPlanting.co.uk
A beautiful day just doesn’t happen, it is intentionally driven by our perspective.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is beautiful to one may not be considered beautiful to another. We tend to qualify beauty by that which gives pleasure to the eye, ear or mind that appeals to our own ideals and inspirational delights. God take on beauty is eternally driven and designed to inspire us each day of our journey as we grow in our relationship towards knowing Him.
We must learn to receive each new day as a gift from God.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Finding beauty in our day also begins with looking up to the One who formed us, “…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” (Psalm 27:4).
We must learn to see life through God’s beauty.
Finding beauty in our day accepts that although “man is born to trouble” (Job 5:7) we have a Savior in Jesus Christ who has overcome the world.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We must learn to guard our hearts with peace.
Finding beauty in our day embraces a purpose filled life and the pursuit of fulfilling our unique mission on this earth. This involves submitting ourselves to God’s best route of transforming us into the image of His Son. Outward and inward beauty can seek no other course but the path God has chosen.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
We must learn to submit to God’s word, and trust His word as our guide.
Finally, we find beauty in our day by waiting gracefully for God’s timing to establish us when we have satisfied His heart in the transformation process. He promises to make everything beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7)
We must learn that God will accomplish all His desire towards us.
“He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.” (Psalm 145:19)
May you find God’s beauty today!
Photo Credit: Love-Nature
Have you ever thought about how many times God would have to show up in your life to settle the question of knowing that He is God? Knowing that God is God is a familiar struggle that we can all relate to. And knowing that God gives us His ‘grace space’ to settle our struggle with unbelief once and for all is also comforting, as long as we realize that it is not His will for us to remain in doubt.
The Israelites struggled to believe that God was God in their lives during their 40 year wilderness experience. Even with the parting of the Red Sea, bread from heaven and numerous miraculous deliveries from their enemies many still could not embrace the All-Sufficient One. We see from their example that even God knows when we reach a point that we should know that He is God as when He said to Moses:
“How long will this people despise Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
God was speaking about a people who had experienced His supernatural intervention in their lives for many years and yet still did not believe. God knew that He had provided ample evidence of His presence and they had reached a point of compromising their inheritance in Him. He was ready to strike them with a pestilence and disinherit them from His covenant promises! (Numbers 14:12)
We have another example in the story of the widow and her son of Zarephath in prophet Elijah’s day whom God miraculously kept alive by not allowing her flour and oil to run out, as along as she fed the prophet during a period of severe drought. But it was not until Elijah raised her son from the dead did she believe that the prophet was sent from God.
“And the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.'” (1 Kings 17:24)
Are you still within God’s ‘grace space’ of wavering in unbelief? If so, it’s not because God has not shown up in your circumstances a time or two, it is because of unbelief. Don’t waiver so long in unbelief that you forfeit your covenant promises from God. Believing God is just a prayer away.
Before Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit, his earthly father gives us a glimpse of his struggle with unbelief when he asks Jesus:
“…But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:22, 23)
And the father of the child cried out – “I believe; help my unbelief!” And the boy was healed.
“Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20)
(Photo by Goodfon-su)
Arriving into the land of promise is often preceded by a clearly defined path laced with life instruction and spiritual maturity along the way. Maintaining the promise land lifestyle is often far more difficult.
The land of promise showcases God’s blessings. He promises abundance and multiplication far beyond what we can produce through our own efforts. Blessing our households, our offspring and all the work of our hands.
“The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And He will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 28:8)
He promises to give us favor with mankind by placing us in positions of leadership and will make us prosperous in what He has called us to do and to become with only one condition…to faithfully obey His voice, being careful to do all His commandments. (Deut. 8:1) Herein lies the dilemma of maintaining the land of promise.
It is one thing to arrive into the land of promise, it’s another thing to maintain it. And God knew our tendency to wander into disobedience and provided a way back before we had to ask.
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey His voice in all that I command you today, will all your heart and with all your soul…” (Deut. 30:1,2)
According to this passage we can know that obedience keeps us in the presence of God’s blessings and disobedience drives us away from God’s blessings. But thank God that His mercies are new every morning. His hand is always extended with new tender mercies calling us back to Him but it must be with all our heart and soul. On this condition He is eager to restore us again to the land of promise.
“…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.” (Deut. 30:3)
When we decide to walk in obedience to God out of love for all that He has done for us, with all our heart and soul, He promises life in His blessed presence. The way into His presence is through Jesus, His Son.
“For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as He took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments…when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 30:9,10)
Choose to maintain your land of promise in obedience to God who loves you and desires the best for your life.
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At a very young age I became aware of my mother’s inner strength and wisdom in navigating the deep valleys of life. Her challenges as a mother of eight children with the added burden of a difficult marriage would either ‘break’ or ‘make’ her as a wife and mother.
Her dilemma must have caused deep soul-searching and the tension of daily choices that would shape and mold her world and ours forever. She was and still is a mother of influence. Her life and relationship choices were filled with love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that rested in the hands of her God for all outcomes. She exhibited a rarity that is hard to find today, a life of integrity, an unwavering faith and trust in God who brought her and her children through the turbulent waters of life.
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
My mother’s wisdom and influence shine brightly in my life and the family that God has blessed me with. May you and I follow in her footsteps, passing down to our children love for family, a servant’s heart, self-sacrifice, humility and patience that the brightness of God would continue on.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31)
A spiritual giant of a man that we’ve all heard of at one time or another once said “When the heart sees what God wants, the body must be willing to spend and be spent for that cause alone.” Oswald Chambers was a man completely abandoned to God, he understood what it meant to be a true follower.
A true follower accepts the authority of another and obeys by placing himself in submission to the instruction or orders given. As a Christian we have been asked by God to:
“…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
In other words, I must offer up my life, give it away as a living sacrifice in order to truly fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I have been made holy and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. This is my spiritual worship, a reasonable response to God’s amazing grace deposited into my life.
How does this look in my daily walk and growing relationship with my Heavenly Father? And how will I know that I am fulfilling His purpose and will in my life? We are to follow by setting ourselves apart from this world by renewing our mind with His Word, accepting the tests that come our way that God will use to give us wisdom and discernment to know His will. All this by living in the world and yet apart from it.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Only then can the heart begin to see what it was created to be spent for.
Life is the culmination of new beginnings, seasons of growth and change. As God put it, while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)
But there is more to life than just existing on this earth from birth to death. There is a divine purpose to our existence that God desires to fulfill and it begins with acknowledging the source of true life. Moses told the people of Israel to look forward to a future prophet that God would raise up like him, one that they should be careful to listen to.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to Him you shall listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
For all those who looked toward the fulfillment of this promise, this prophet, who like Moses would lead the people and the world into new beginnings of eternal life through Him, would take center stage in the world as we know it.
“…behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.'” (Matthew 17:5)
Today presents an opportunity for new beginnings. There is more to life on this earth than merely existing aimlessly, void of purpose and a life left wanting. Jesus said that those who believe in Him would have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) His desire is for us to know Him, not only in His death on the cross (seedtime) but in the power of His resurrection (harvest) in newness of life. (Philippians 3:10)
“I am the good shepherd, I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father;and I lay down My life for the sheep…and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, One shepherd.” (John 10:14,15)
New beginnings begin with listening to Jesus!
Bold, Italics are mine.