Listening To The Voice That Matters

Noise. Confusion. Doubt. Chaos. So much bombards our life making it difficult to know which way to go sometimes. A devotion from Streams in the Desert says we are to be still and listen for God’s clear direction when our path seems uncertain.

“When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.”

This devotion tells us to take our questions to God. It says if we will get alone with God where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach, and wait there silent and expectant, even though all around us insists we make an immediate decision or action, the will of God will be made clear.

The world clamors for our attention in light and shadow. Everyone has an opinion and advice they aren’t afraid to share, whether the sharing is done in a healthy way or not.

The world works hard to pull us away from following closely after Jesus. Voices all around us tell us what we should do and how we should do it, often against what God’s Holy Word tells us we should do. At those times, as the Streams in the Desert devotion writer suggests, we are to shut out the intruders, and calm ourselves in God’s truths.

God doesn’t shout to be heard. He doesn’t rush us toward a decision. He doesn’t keep us so active or agitated we can’t hear from him. He doesn’t frighten or push us. Those are the deceiver’s tactics, not God’s.

Just as the sheep know the shepherd’s voice by being still and listening to it, we can know Jesus’ voice in the same way. But first, we must shut out the imposter’s voice.

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

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And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.” Isaiah 30:21 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Boast in the Name of God

In Kay Arthur’s book, Lord, I Want to Know You, she asks, Where do we run for help? What’s our first instinct? Do we trust and boast in the name of God as our defender, or do we trust and boast in human strength?

I have to admit far too often my first thought when I face an overwhelming problem is to either try and solve it myself, or run to someone I feel can. While there are times when either of these actions may be the prudent thing to do, the problem I see is defaulting to humans before we seek God.

In biblical times chariots were a means of protection and escape. They were a measure of an army’s wealth and power. We don’t need to look further than the exodus account to see how useless Pharaoh’s chariots were against the power of Israel’s Jehovah-nissi when his people reached the Red Sea (Exodus 14).

While we don’t have chariots pulled by horses these days, far too often there may be things or people we trust and boast in perhaps more than we trust and boast in the name of God.

In her book Kay Arthur asks, “Why don’t we take an aggressive stand in the face of fear?” She suggests it is because we don’t trust and boast in the name of our God. She suggests we write down our fears, troubles, insecurities. As we consider our list, she says to ask God to show which of his attributes will meet that need.

Recording God’s attributes and names in a journal as I read through the Book of Psalms helps me see God as so much more than a single faceted divine being. The first attribute I recorded in my journal is filled with fierce fury against those who plot against him.

From there my list includes ruler of all nations, my shield, my only hope. God is the lifter of my head. That’s an attribute and name I boast in often.

God is righteous, the perfect judge, majestic, creator, everlasting, refuge, merciful. He is the helper of the helpless, father to the fatherless, healer, trustworthy, shelter in the time of storm, redeemer, strong and mighty in battle.

And that’s just the beginning.

In our time of trouble and need there is nothing better than to boast in the name of God. When we run to him in full trust, believing he is more than capable to do exceedingly more than we could ever dream, hope, or imagine, we find he alone is worthy to be praised.

I’d love to hear what names of God you boast in.

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Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. Psalm 20:7 (NASB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Have We Grown Complacent?

Complacent. That was a problem with the people of God during the time of the Old Testament prophets. Has complacency become a problem with the people of God today?

According to Dictionary.com’s definition, complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

I’ve gone back to reading the prophets again. Not that they are books of overt comfort, but books of warning. Warning to God’s people to stop being complacent, wake up, take a thorough inspection of our lives to see how we line up with God’s word, and make necessary changes.

The prophet Amos was burdened over the sin of the northern kingdom in the eighth century B.C. He was outraged at the violence God’s people did to the justice and righteousness of God. He felt social justice inseparable from true piety. He believed, based on what the Lord showed him, you can’t have true piety without the social justice and vice versa.

You can’t be complacent.

Previously, I wrote a post taken from the book of Amos titled Fat Cows. This post discussed the women of Bashan. Women who were content with the way things were. They were unconcerned with the events going on around them. As long as their husbands continued to bring them what they wanted, they were fine. Who cared about the oppressed, poor, or needy? Certainly not them.

They were complacent.

Another post from Amos talked about God’s plumb line, saying one day God will take out his plumb line, hold it against the walls of our lives and judge accordingly those who become complacent.

Looking at the book of Amos, we see the Lord roared like a ferocious lion from his Temple on Mount Zion against the sins of his people. God states he will not leave the people unpunished any longer. The Lord asks, how can he and his people talk together with their sins between them?

How indeed.

God tells his people to seek him and live. Stop chasing after idols. He says the evil men make justice a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to them. The Lord says evil men hate honest judges and despise people who tell the truth. They trample the poor and steal their smallest crumb.

The Lord says he hates show and pretense; the hypocrisy of honoring him with solemn gatherings. He will no longer accept hymns of praise because they have become mere noise to his ears.

Instead, God wants to see a mighty flood of justice, a torrent of doing good.

The closing chapters of Amos predict destruction. The final chapter ends with restoration.

As the Lord spoke through his prophet Amos against the complacent sins of his people, I believe he speaks through the same prophets to his people today.

There is much to learn from God’s prophets of the Old Testament. Wouldn’t you agree?

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I am the Lord, and I know your terrible sins. You cheat honest people and take bribes; you rob the poor of justice. Times are so evil that anyone with good sense will keep quiet. If you really want to live, you must stop doing wrong and start doing right. I, the Lord God All-Powerful, will then be on your side, just as you claim I am.  Choose good instead of evil! See that justice is done. Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful, will be kind to what’s left of your people. Amos 5:12-15 (CEV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Guest Post – I Am Barabbas

Today’s guest post, I Am Barabbas,written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

I am Barabbas.

I do not use the name Barabbas. I have never used the name Barabbas. All of my identifying documents have no reference to this name. Any correspondence whether by old school snail mail, current standard messenger apps or business appropriate email ever suggested that I am Barabbas but I must insist, I am Barabbas. Before you contact anyone on my behalf, before you seek mental health assistance under the assumption that I am experiencing some type of mental health issue, let me remind you that you too are Barabbas.

It is a small part of the story.

Jesus had been accused of many things most of which wouldn’t even get Him arrested nowadays. The mob mentality had taken over and the people in the crowd had become easily influenced. Pilate was stuck. He had an innocent man hated by the religious leaders and a guilty man, guilty not of a petty crime but of murder. One of which would get to go free and one who would be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The religious leaders whipped the crowd into a frenzy so that they demanded a free pass for a killer and a crucifixion for the one that had done no wrong. I am Barabbas and you are too.

The imagery couldn’t be more clear.

If you were to write a fictional account of selflessness, of dying so someone else could live and you really wanted the reader to identify with the one whose life was spared, this would be the story you would write. If you were to dream up a way to say, “hey reader, if you really want to experience the moral of the story imagine yourself as this character,” having a character like Barabbas would be the way to achieve your goal. Anyone who read the story would find themselves saying, “I am Barabbas and you are too.”

This isn’t fiction but still, the imagery couldn’t be more clear.

Often we read the biblical account of Jesus’ trial and death and see how unfair it was for the one who knew no sin to die for those who are sinful by nature. We understand that it should be us losing our lives because it is us that have committed the acts of disobedience against God. We read about Barabbas being released and it just adds to the drama around the injustice surrounding the ordered crucifixion of the son of God. It is unfair, wrong, unjust, corrupt and many other adjectives but the descriptive word we often miss is imagery. I am Barabbas and you are too.

We have been let off the hook.

We deserve to die not Jesus. That is where the biblical account ends but I wonder, did Barabbas keep his granted clemency in the forefront of his thoughts? Did he live as a man deserving death but allowed to live? Was he changed because someone else took his place? We will never know this side of eternity although, if it still matters once I am in heaven, I would love to know what happened to Barabbas. I guess the only question that you and I can answer is, do we live with our granted clemency in the forefront of our thoughts? Do we live as a people deserving death but allowed to live? Are we changed because someone else took our place? I am Barabbas and you are too.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:12-14 (NIV)

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Are We Living In Laodicea?

In the beginning of the book of Revelation, the apostle John records Christ’s words regarding Christ’s letters to seven churches. In Chapter 3, Christ’s letter is to the church at Laodicea.  This city, about forty miles east of Ephesus, has been called the “city of compromise.” The Laodiceans tried to be neutral regarding their faith, giving no real commitment to following Christ.

Laodicea was a place of great wealth with a prosperous center of banking. It manufactured clothing made from the wool of black sheep raised in the area. It was a major center of commerce situated on trade routes.

It was a place of science and literature. It boasted in having an excellent medical school. In fact, the Laodiceans developed a salve using Phrygian powder which cured eye diseases.

Although the Laodiceans boasted in their wealth, fine black wool garments, and salve to cure eye diseases, Jesus condemned them. He said they were really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

They were spiritually poor in the midst of their worldly wealth.

Jesus suggested they buy from him gold made pure in fire so they could be truly rich. Buy from him white clothes so they could be clothed and cover their shameful nakedness. Buy from him medicine to put on their eyes so they could truly see.

The Laodiceans built an aqueduct which brought cold water from the mountains. By the time it reached them, the water was lukewarm. Likewise, in a valley nearby were hot springs. As boiling water was brought to the city, it cooled on the way and was only moderately warm.

Neither hot nor cold.

I like ice cold tea. I don’t like it once the ice melts in my glass. I also like hot tea. I do not enjoy it once it cools and grows lukewarm. Perhaps you can say the same about food or drinks you enjoy. We want them one way or the other. Not something straddling the middle.

So I wonder. Are we living In Laodicea? Are we walking around like we’ve got it all together? Saying we’re rich. We don’t need anyone’s help, including God’s.

As was true with those living in Laodicea, it is true with us today. A life of compromise and lack of commitment to Christ does not appeal to Jesus. It makes him want to spit.

Neither hot nor cold.

Unaware of spiritual poverty and blindness.

Clothed in darkness, not light.

I don’t believe any of us want Jesus to spit us out because we’ve let the fire that once burned bright for him grow dim. Perhaps we need to get rid of lukewarm attitudes and turn up the heat in our commitment and relationship with Jesus, so our eyes can truly see how he desires us to live.

And then live it.

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 I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold!  But because you are lukewarm—neither hot, nor cold—I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich, and I have become wealthy and do not need anything.’ But you do not know that you are really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  I advise you to buy from me gold made pure in fire so you can be truly rich. Buy from me white clothes so you can be clothed and so you can cover your shameful nakedness. Buy from me medicine to put on your eyes so you can truly see.

 “I correct and punish those whom I love. So be eager to do right, and change your hearts and lives. Revelation 3:15-19 (NCV)

 

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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