a monthly devotional journal
Issue No. 83
"Whoever will listen will hear the speaking of Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, `Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10), and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence. It is important that we get still to wait on God.
"If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God." A.W. Tozer
One of the great mysteries of the Christian life is our curious ability to avoid God or, if not literally avoid Him, at least place Him near the bottom of our priority list. Why is it there are times when just about anything else seems more important than time spent with the Lord?
Like most people, I have my morning routine. After my wife has left for the office, I put on a pot of coffee, then go to my desk to check my mail, read The Washington Times, listen to yesterday's Chuck Colson column, and process any new subscribers. If I skip any part of the standard routine, I feel as if a critical piece of the day is missing-- as if I've stepped out of the house without trousers. That missed element remains on my mind, and I don't rest until I find an opportunity to accomplish what was left out earlier.
Yet my approach to prayer is precisely the opposite. Not only has it never made it into my regular morning routine, but I can easily accommodate its absence.
I really do want to read the news every morning; I'll go out of my way to make sure I do. If for some reason that part of my morning routine is left out, I feel deprived, uninformed. Yet the same does not hold true for what should be a morning time of being alone with God--a time of being informed by Him. I may feel some regret over missing something important, but the truth is that I regret missing prayer much less than I regret missing the news.
The troubling mystery is why? Why is it easier to miss the Lord than the morning newspaper or cup of coffee? Why is it harder for me to miss a favorite radio program than it is to miss time in prayer with the Lord?
One explanation for this curious incongruity is the realization that it's easier to listen than to speak. It's always easier to be passive than active.
Every morning when I check my mail, I'm reading correspondence initiated by someone else. When I read the newspaper, I'm reading events that happened to someone else, written about by someone else. When I listen to Chuck Colson I'm, well, listening. All these activities are relatively passive.
But the common perception of prayer is that it is primarily active. What am I going to say? What petitions am I to bring? What words of praise can I offer up? So it becomes easier to put off prayer when the answers to these questions do not come; if I can't think of anything to say, then I won't say it!
Our prayers should indeed contain words of praise and adoration, words of confession and contrition, words of supplication and intercession, words of thanksgiving. But many days begin without our being able to put literal words with those thoughts; we feel illiterate before our God, so, failing the words with which to describe our heart, we decide to not initiate the prayer. Because our idea of prayer is active, requiring more effort than our more passive regimen, it is easier for us to set it aside.
Far too many of us think of prayer as a monologue in which we're the one doing all the talking. Prayer has become an exercise in informing God of our feelings, our thoughts, our longings. Once we have accomplished that valid but ultimately self-centered task, we sign off and go on our way, happy in the knowledge that we've checked in with heaven and done our bit for the day.
Prayer should be, instead, a dialogue in which God does most of the talking. Oh, we are certainly to bring Him our petitions, our praise and our longings; He encourages us to do just that.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philip. 4:4-7
But here is the paradox: When I listen to a favorite columnist or radio speaker every morning, I do so that I might benefit from their wisdom. I acknowledge that in their area at least, they have something worth listening to. But then I turn to the all-wise, all-knowing God--and do all the talking myself, never giving Him the chance to speak to me!
It is easier to give ourselves permission to pray when we admit that what God has to say to us is more important than what we have to say to Him.
Another explanation for the ease with which we demote God in our daily routines is that we are still dwelling in a place where those other things are considered more important. We may be redeemed, but until death or Christ's return our address is still "The Earth," and "Heaven" remains but a future forwarding address.
This is a time and place in which God has become an inconvenient distraction to what most people see as really important. God is someone people make jokes about, and only take seriously when tragedy strikes and the bagpipes are called upon to drone out the ubiquitous Amazing Grace.
So given the climate, is it any wonder that some of this confused attitude will inevitably seep into the believer's life? Even the best-intentioned among us is swimming upstream against the temporal gospel that swirls about our heads, permeating every channel of access to our brain.
Until we meet our Savior face to face we must dwell in a dark and alien land in which our faith and its practices are deemed undesirable. So it only follows that our own priorities may be adversely influenced by the distorted standards of the age.
This makes it all the more critical that we begin each day with God's voice. No matter how we choose to listen, it is important that we begin each day with His perspective.
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.
Go near to listen rather than
to offer the sacrifice of fools,
who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
As a dream comes when there are many cares,
so the speech of a fool when there are many words. Eccles. 5:1-3
The very nature of God and the means by which we are to listen to Him run counter to the ways of a society based on quick and easy gratification. If, as believers, our citizenship lies elsewhere, then so should our methods. Listening to God does not come naturally to children of dust, for what is natural is to not listen at all."If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." C.S. Lewis
The emphasis of our age is on appearances. It doesn't really matter what is in a person's heart, so long as he appears to be compassionate and caring; a person's Spiritual veracity doesn't really matter, so long as his prayer sounds sincere. Solid faith and tenacious compliance to it have become suspect, so the idea of practicing dialogue with God for the purpose of life-altering obedience can be something odd even for the Christian.
The easy road is to display our public righteousness without bothering with the private. But Jesus had a name for people like that: hypocrites.
"Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4
And Jesus applied the same principle to our conversations with God _ even giving us a template prayer which would be well-received by the Father.
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:
`Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'"
The contemporary version of this easy hypocrisy has always been illustrated for me by an episode observed years ago. We were visiting a charismatic church on a Sunday evening to attend a dramatic presentation being staged there, a one-man show on the apostle Paul.
As with Protestant congregations the world over, before the program officially began, the large auditorium was filled with a swarm of loud, boisterous people conducting the mundane business of friends and acquaintances. The two women seated next to me busily swapped tales of soccer practice, new recipes, and diaper rash.
Before the visiting actor began his monologue, the crowd was warmed up with the singing of a few songs. A worship leader mounted the stage and called everyone to join him in singing a praise chorus. The keyboards began the intro and literally within mere seconds the two women next to me switched from diapers to waving their arms, eyes closed--in apparent swoons of heavenly discourse and praise. I was stunned by the instantaneous transformation, and wondered just how authentic could have been their praise.
That's the easy path; it takes little effort to go through the public motions that will convince everyone of our holiness. What is a much greater challenge is to go through the private process that will actually produce in us the public validation of our close relationship to God.
But we must first convince ourselves that the learning of this unnatural habit will be worthwhile.
Before Moses began his service to God, it was required of him to get alone with God, to hear His voice and intentions.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up." When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:1-6
Before the apostle Paul could begin His ministry for Jesus Christ, he had to get away for a period of instruction and preparation.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:15-18
Even Jesus prepared for His own ministry in the solitude and privation of the desert, listening to the Holy Spirit . . .
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry Matthew 4:1-2
. . . and periodically during His earthly ministry it was necessary for Jesus to get alone with God the Father.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:15-16
None of us can hope to sustain an authentic Christian walk without listening on a regular basis to the word of God. We must come to understand and embrace the fact that His counsel is timeless, relevant, and personal.
Timeless ..... Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2
Relevant ..... Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. Psalm 119:89-91
Personal ..... In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:26-27
Once we have confessed this dependency, we can then move into a lifestyle of habitual listening to His voice in whatever form it takes.
People and institutions are queued up, eager to influence the way we think and behave. Television sitcoms, commercials, talk shows on radio and TV, films, magazines and books--including this journal, of course _ are in the business of presenting images and arguments for our life decisions.
"Men and women have always been spiritual beings. But modern culture, in its zeal to eliminate divisive influences and create a self-sufficient, `enlightened' society, has ignored this fundamental truth. Along with denying God, today's social visionaries have denied man's intrinsic need for God." Charles Colson
It isn't that we actually hate God. It's not necessarily animosity we are demonstrating when we disregard the things of God. The reason that we permit the counsel of others before the counsel of the Almighty is that it is easier--and it is easier because we remain people of the dust.
When Christ enters our earthly life, He sends the Holy Spirit to assist us throughout the remainder of our temporal walk. The Spirit takes possession of our eternal components, hooking up, as it were, our permanent umbilical to God.
But our physical self remains earthbound--not unaffected by the Spirit, but also not in His possession. So the inner tension is established, as the apostle Paul so eloquently and ironically describes in his own life:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do _ this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25
So while our eternal soul is in the possession of the Lord, the machinery of our existence remains tied to the dust from whence we came. The pumps and tubes that keep the body alive pump with the same fluids that sustain the unregenerate; the gears and pistons that move us about are the same; and the emotions and yearnings that motivate the body to action can be the same as those who do not know Christ.
We cannot escape the voice of the earth; short of hermitic seclusion in an isolated cave, it is impossible to avoid the siren song of this world. Try as we might, it will find us. Even if we vowed to never again attend a movie, watch television entertainment, or listen to music _ even if we restricted the world's input to the news, we would still be submerged into a toxic bath of our society's value judgements, priorities, passions and enticements.
All the more reason, then, for us to make a point of listening first to the word of God. At a minimum we must counterbalance the "wisdom" of the world with the true wisdom of God. But our goal is Spiritual maturity; our purpose is not an even draw, but real growth in the things of heaven. Our goal is not to simply give equal time, but to gain Christ's perspective on our existence.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul compares the imperfect vision we have now to that which we will enjoy once we have seen the Lord "face to face" in heaven.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Cor. 13:9-12
We could borrow this illustration to describe the improved perspective we gain--even while here on earth--when we develop the habit of listening to God before anything else. Like a person with poor eyesight putting on his glasses, suddenly the intentions of the world become clear when seen through the corrective lens of God's word.
So every day that begins by putting on God's spectacles has the advantage of His vision. Every disappointment, every crisis and trial, is seen not with the myopia of the world, but with the broad sweep of God's peripheral vision. Every moment of happiness and joy, every mountain-top victory as well as every quiet pleasure is seen not as personal triumph, but as one extra moment of reward enjoyed in God's kingdom.
"In driving piles, a machine is used by which a huge weight is lifted up and then made to fall upon the head of the pile. Of course the higher the weight is lifted the more powerful is the blow which it gives when it descends. Now, if we wish to impact our age and society with ponderous blows, we must see to it that we are uplifted as near to God as possible. All our power will depend upon the elevation of our spirits. Prayer, meditation, devotion, communion, are like a windlass to wind us up aloft. It is not lost time which we spend in such sacred exercises, for we are thus accumulating force, so that when we come down to our actual labor for God, we shall descend with an energy unknown to those to whom communion is unknown." Charles H. Spurgeon
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col. 3:15-16 NKJV
The Spiritually-minded person sees God all around, because everything bears His mark--the fingerprints of the creator.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20
We are free to disregard the signs of His influence, but we do so by our own choice--and at our own risk; God has spread Himself around so liberally that we have no excuse not to discover Him.
He is in the breeze that cools us in the midst of summer heat. He is in the soft cooing of the baby, pleasant and content within its mother's arms. He is in the rhythmic lapping of small waves on the shore of the mountain lake, and the burbling song of the stream traveling over and around water-smoothed boulders.
He is found in the chatter and shared intimacies of old friends over a weathered picket fence. He is found in the crushing, incessant noise of the city as well as in the bucolic stillness of the country glen.
God is near us in every tragedy and joy, every sorrow and ecstasy. His life surrounds our own, holding us up, nurturing, coaxing, chastising and encouraging. He is there when we are aware of Him, and He is there when we are not.
More than just a reassuring comfort, His presence actually describes God to us. He has left His fingerprints all about us not just so that we would know that He is there, but that we might come to understand who is there. It is God's nature, His personality, His very essence that is there for the possessing, and we will remain something less than what we could be, until we avail ourselves of that knowledge.
As I sit by the pond and listen to the sounds of nature, I wonder why it is so much easier for me to find God here than in the city. I wonder why these sounds more readily point me to God than others.
I've lived in the city and I've lived in the woods. I've lived where one is awakened by the sounds of a police raid being conducted across the street, and I've lived where one is awakened by the sounds of a wren inviting a mate to his newly-made nest. I've lived where from my own bed I could hear the telephone conversations of someone in the house next door, and I've lived where I haven't heard another human voice for a week.
Why is God so much more present in the sounds of the birds, the croaking of the frogs, the bleating snort of the deer? Why do I hear God more in silence itself?
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
When a man-made sound happens to waft by from some distant source--say from the limestone quarry, or a passing jet or helicopter--I don't find myself being drawn toward God by those sounds. When I step onto the busy city streets, dodging the noisy cars and belching delivery trucks, hear the scream of tires and the tiresome arguments of passing pedestrians, I am not lifted by them into the throne room of God.
While the quietude of nature draws us one step closer to the presence of God, the sounds manufactured by civilization most often insulate us from Him. They represent society's bent away from God, and as such, work against the indwelling Spirit's bent toward God.
We all need a quiet place where we can commune with God. It may not always be a forested glen. We can commune with Him in the arid solitude of the desert; on the shoreline, with its pounding breakers to mask the sounds of everything else; in the privacy of our car, while on the freeway; or in a quiet, inner room of the house.
Wherever it may be, we must find and use often that personal place where it is easier for us to find God's holy presence. We must find and frequent that place where His voice is not masked by the invasive cacophony of the world.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:6-12 5
But while God is, indeed, all around us--there for the having--that is not to say that all means by which we listen to God are equal. There is a danger in listening for His voice on the wind before one can accurately isolate His voice from the rest. Popular culture can paint glowing portraits of God that are grossly inaccurate, and voices have been assigned to the Lord which, in truth, have been manufactured in the bowels of hell.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Cor. 11:13-14
If Satan can dress himself in rags of righteousness to fool those unschooled in the ways of the true Light, then we must use caution when listening for God's voice in the instruments of this world. He is there, but so that we know that we are hearing only Him, we must first familiarize ourselves with the true sound of His voice.
Today God's authoritative voice is found only in Scripture. Here is where the seeker comes to learn His personality, His ways, His motivations and methods. The Bible is where we hear His anger over sin and disobedience, and His deep compassionate love for those who call upon His name. The Bible is where we learn what happened to those who followed God, and what happened to those who turned Him away. God's character is painted with strokes both broad and finely detailed on the pages of Scripture, so here is where we must turn to learn of Him.
It may seem more romantic in this age of "feelings" to listen for God's voice on the whisperings of the wind, but without a keen familiarity with the true God of Scripture, it may not be His voice at all that is being heard in the sounds of this world.
A few years back an acquaintance sat in our living room bemoaning his present unemployed status. He had had a good job, but because of circumstances outside his control, had been recently laid off.
It was clear that this gentleman was troubled over the situation, but was trying to remain positive and dependent on his faith. As he described to me his efforts to gain employment elsewhere he said confidently, "You know what the Bible says: `The Lord helps those who help themselves.'"
Perhaps it was wrong of me; considering his downtrodden condition, I didn't say anything at the time. Actually the Bible doesn't say anything like that. But this man had heard it said so many times in popular culture--possibly even from the pulpit--that he believed it was there.
Because he was not personally familiar with Scripture, he didn't know that the true God of the Bible would never say anything like that.
We must begin with what we know, and what we know of God is in His written word. This is where we must turn for the authoritative picture of who He really is.
One of the best ways to become acquainted with God is to read through the Bible from beginning to end. This is the best way to understand the flow of history, the passage of His mercy and justice through all the myriad people who have called upon His name; it is the best way to see the relationship the New Testament has with the Old--the relationship Christ has with the Law; and it is the best way to be inspired by the stories of those who have lived imperfectly under His condescending grace.
A popular method of reading through the Bible is to use one of the many systems by which it is broken down into daily installments for reading through its entirety in a year. My favorite for doing this is the New International Version published by Tyndale in which each day's reading includes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Faithfully using this system will take the reader through the entire Bible (they don't tell you, but this system actually includes the Psalms twice) in 365 days.
But there's no magical formula in reading through the Bible in one year; it is more important to be there, than to accomplish it in a prescribed time frame. A daily, leisurely listening to the God of Scripture in small bites is of much greater value than cramming down several pages to ensure you complete the project on schedule. It doesn't really matter how long it takes.
By daily listening to the historical, authoritative voice of God from the pages of His Book, we are then prepared to meet the day equipped with the knowledge of our Lord and--even more valuable for each day His perspective on everything that will come our way.
"The mother of a family was married to an unbeliever who made fun of religion in the presence of his own children; yet she succeeded in bringing them all up in the fear of the Lord. I asked her one day how she preserved them from the influence of a father whose sentiments were so opposed to her own. This was her answer:
'Because to the authority of a father I do not oppose the authority of a mother, but that of God. From their earliest years my children have always seen the Bible on my table, and the holy book constituted their entire religious instruction. I was silent that I might allow it to speak. If they asked a question, evidenced a fault, or performed a good action, I opened the Bible, and the Bible answered, reproved, or encouraged them. The constant reading of the Scriptures has accomplished that which surprises you.'" Adolph Monod
"The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--" John 10:2-5,14
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Our heavenly Father is a creative, imaginative God. He has but one voice, yet that crystalline sound is manifested in myriad ways. No one can say that His voice cannot be heard, since He's given us so many different ways to hear Him.
Learning of God through His word--learning of His personality and ways from the one dependable authority--is like discovering a golden key that unlocks every treasure house there is. Once we have found Him there, we suddenly find Him everywhere...
Lift your gaze into the glorious sky of a dying day, to the clouds painted in radiant pinks and purples and blazing reds, and you will hear His voice.
Linger in the sylvan quiet of the forest, and you will hear His voice in the gentle rustle of the leaves, the wind as it whistles through the pine needles, the chatter of the busy squirrel.
Listen to the chorus of the blue jay scolding the robin, the wren calling for a new mate, the chirping of the cardinal to his wife _ listen to the creatures He has created and you will hear God's voice.
Stand in awe of His might as the thunder rolls and quakes across as the land, as the lightning slices apart the night sky, and the heavens send forth their life-giving rain. Listen; it is His voice you hear.--
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25
Most of all, in the stillness and privacy of your prayer closet empty your mind and heart of every distraction, every consideration of self, and let your spirit rise above this temporal plane to the higher plane on which the Lord God dwells. Let all your senses absorb His communion, His gentle condescension to your spirit.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
Remove all arrogance and pride, and in humility approach your God. In reverence bow before His throne, and once you have confessed, once you have declared His worthiness, once you have expressed your gratitude _ quiet yourself. Speak no more. And listen. Listen.
Issue No. 83
[1.] The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, Inc., 1982) p80ff. (return to footnote 1)
[2.] Samuel Stennett. (return to footnote 2)
[3.] Mere Christianity, book 4, chapter 2. (return to footnote 3)
[4.]Kingdoms in Conflict (Morrow/Zondervan, 1987), p49. (return to footnote 4)
[5.]May 22, 1996 Reflections by the Pond, a weekly e-mail column by David S. Lampel. To subscribe send your e-mail request to email@example.com.
[6.] The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:9-10 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (return to footnote 6)
[7.]The One Year Bible, New International Version (Tyndale House Publishers, 1986). This book is available in a handy paperback edition. (return to footnote 7)
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