Wait…and Listen

Insight for Living publishes a Daily Devotional. The following is their devotional for Sunday, March 22, 2012, yesterday. It touched me deeply so I wanted to share it with you. They also have a large Broadcast Library from which you can choose from Hundreds of broadcasts.

During the three days of waiting, there is a “white space” when nothing is happening—at least nothing visible. You could easily tell yourself at the time, “I’m waiting in vain. Nothing’s going to change.” That’s what the adversary wants you to think: “Waiting’s a waste.” Don’t you believe it! When the enemy’s message roams into your mind, you need to kick it out. Reject it. Look at another verse in Isaiah, just a few verses after the “eagle” verse.

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:1013)

It’s those kinds of thoughts that surely strengthened Esther while she was waiting, praying, and fasting for those three days. Mordecai did the same, as Esther had commanded. But now their roles were reversed. He was no longer in charge; she was. Or, better still, the Lord was. And as the Lord gripped her heart, she became unafraid of what she faced.

This may be one of those “white spaces” in your own life. Maybe it’s time for you to pray and fast and to call upon a few close friends to fast and pray with you. Maybe it’s time for you to say, “I’m not going to rush into this unpredictable and unprecedented situation. I can’t find the path to walk. So I’m going to wait. In the meantime, I’m going to give it to God. I’m going to listen with a sensitive ear and watch the Lord’s leading with a sensitive eye.”

God counsels us with His eye. The eye makes no sound when it moves. It requires a sensitive, earthly eye to watch the movement of the eye of God—God’s directions. All He may do is turn your attention in another direction. But that may be all you need. As you wait, listen. Pore over a favorite passage in His Word. Quietly give attention to His presence, and He gives you direction.”

The website is: https://www.insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/wait-.-.-.-and-listen1

Wait Upon God

Over the past few days, my husband and I have been looking back and looking forward. The new year has brought us to ponder our lives and what we see in this world.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

We see more drugs and violence. We see families in trouble where there were once many strong families. We see communities of people helping one another reduced to strangers living next door and children not able to cope.

Yet, we also heard an incredible testimony at church last week. A young man raised in a Christian home had fallen far from God and he was feeling the effects of it. His guilt and shame grew and grew until he could no longer stand it. He came back to Jesus and his incredible joy is truly infectious.

This morning my husband and I began a new devotional, Teach Me to Pray, from the writings of Andrew Murray.

January 1 reads: “Wait upon God – He (Daniel) prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10

“The more I think of and pray about the religious situation in our country, the deeper my conviction becomes that Christians do not realize that the aim of conversion is to bring them into daily fellowship with the Father in heaven.

“For the believer, taking time each day with God’s Word and in prayer is indispensable. Each day we need to wait upon God for His presence and His love to be revealed.

“It is not enough at conversion to accept forgiveness of sins or even to surrender to God. That is only a beginning. We must understand that we have no power on our own to maintain our spiritual life. We need to receive daily new grace from heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus. This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer or a superficial reading of a few verses from God’s Word. We must take time to come into God’s presence, to feel our weakness and our need, and to wait on God through His Holy Spirit to renew our fellowship with Him. Then we may expect to be kept by the power of Christ throughout the day.

“It is my aim to help Christians to see the absolute necessity of spending time with the Lord Jesus. Without this, the joy and power of God’s Holy Spirit in daily life cannot be experienced.”

That is the answer. The answer to the world’s trouble. The answer to our personal, daily walk through this troubled world.

Shame/Fear/Self-Doubt

“You can’t do it.”

“Half the people will laugh at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”

Image from: lifehack.org

These voices -and many others just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.

I am working on a large project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings return?

What exactly am I feeling?

Shame? Self-doubt? Fear? Timidity? Yes, I think so.

Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (either real or perceived)

Self-doubt = lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.

Fear = of disgrace, embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.

Timidity = a lack of courage or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.

Image from: https://dailybreadforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/shame.jpg?w=798&h=600&crop=1

I push the thoughts back into the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.

Where do these thoughts come from?

My mother was very much this way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed. Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.

Yet – I am an adult now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.

Insight for Living has a devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our Weaknesses.

With a big, hearty smile, Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.

Really? What a relief it would be!

Instead of pushing back those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.

Yes, it is true. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be.

I will do my best. I will ask for help.

I will take everything to God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!

Now! Time to get back to work on this project. It will be great!

Desiring God

Several months ago, I stumbled across an amazing website: desiringgod.org.

Daily articles are written by solid, mature and wise Christians. The articles range from practical everyday topics to deep devotionals that touch our hearts. Some examples of recent articles are:

Oct. 4 – Do You Pray Against Temptation?

Oct. 3 – The Most Repeated Verse in the Bible

Oct. 2 – What Will Make Our Children Happy?

Oct. 1 – What Does Prophecy Look Like Today?

Dec. 21, 2016 – What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas (Okay, so it’s not recent but you must agree, it is essential.)

Besides articles desiringgod.org has a myriad of resources for everyone, from the business person to the stay-at-home parent, from students to ministry leaders. In their own words, here is their mission:

Most people in the world have no experience of deep and abiding joy.

Even though it is something we all desperately long for, the assurance that true happiness can be known — fully and forever — is a hope that billions of people live every day without. This is a tragedy.

Desiring God is on a mission to change that.

We aim to help people everywhere embrace a profound truth that changes everything about life and eternity:

You were created for something greater than yourself. You were formed for something awesome and magnificent.

You were made to know glory — God’s glory. And the deepest longings of the human heart can be fully satisfied by pursuing that glory. In fact, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Thank you to all the staff who put so much time and work into encouraging us in our daily walk!

What is your favorite Christian website?

 

close up of tree against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going to Egypt

Jeremiah 39 – 43

Locked in chains, he was pulled along with the other prisoners. They were filthy and starving. The smell alone was enough to make him wretch. They stumbled down the broken streets. Jerusalem, his home, had just fallen to the Babylonians. It was 586 BC and the prophesied fall of Judah had finally come. Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

The captain of the guard rode his horse up and down the columns of captives being marched to Babylon. He shouted orders to his guards, first in one direction, then in another. His eyes fell on Jeremiah the prophet. “This is all God’s work.” He told Jeremiah. “The disobedience of your people has brought the justice of God. But today I will free you from the chains on your wrists. You may choose anywhere to live. Don’t worry, you will be taken care of wherever you decide to go.”

Jeremiah, along with the others who had been left behind, settled under the newly appointed governor, Gedaliah (GEH-dah-li-uh). He promised peace and security. The few remaining people moved into the empty towns. They worked the vineyards and the orchards. The wine and fruit they harvested overflowed.

A top officer for the deposed king, Ishmael had eluded the Babylonian army.  He returned to meet with the new governor, to talk of the country and the people, to share a meal. Between the second and third courses Ishmael and his men rose, drew their swords and struck down Gedaliah.

News of the murder spread like wildfire. The people could talk of nothing else. “Why did he do it? Surely the Babylonians will make us pay! They will come and burn the fields and vineyards. They will carry us off to exile along with the others! We should run away. Quick, we can get half way to Egypt before they get here.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Ask Jeremiah the Prophet what we should do!”

They went as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“Please, Jeremiah. Pray that God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. We will do everything God says. Whether we like it or not, we promise to obey.”

Jeremiah locked himself into his prayer closet, fasting and praying.

One day. Two days. Three days…Ten days. Then Jeremiah heard from God.

He spoke to them as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“This is what God says to you. ‘If you stay, I will bless you greatly, your enemy will have compassion on you. If you disobey and run off to Egypt, your enemy will overtake you and you will never see your land again. Do not go to Egypt.’”

The arrogant men stepped forward. “Jeremiah, you are lying! This is a trick. We are going to Egypt.”

 

How often do we pray for God’s will and direction in our lives? How often do we rationalize away our obedience? God’s judgement came on Judah because of their disobedience and when the people ran away to Egypt they took their disobedience with them. God promised them that if they went to Egypt, they would never see their homeland again. The Babylonians did indeed invade Egypt in 568-567 BC.

Lesson From Jeremiah

  1. Commit time to prayer. Jeremiah did not hear instantly from God. He spent days praying and listening. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. Never stop praying. Luke 18:1-8
  2. Listen for God’s voice. Prayer is conversation. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we listen. Still your busy thoughts and turn your attention to God, wait expectantly for His answer. Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:1
  3. Obey. Instead of looking at your own circumstances, worried and fretting, take God’s hand and walk in obedience. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. John 14:23

 

Bullets of Satan

Why is it that accusatory thoughts repeatedly float through my mind?

Laying in bed in the early morning, just waking up, the room gradually growing light. The thoughts begin their work.

Remember when the kids were small, how you over punished them that one day? That was terrible. You were a terrible mother.

            Remember when you were in college, there was that one study group with that girl you didn’t like? You sure told her off, that was so unchristian like. She will always remember you as the mean one.

Remember how you were so demanding of your ex-husband? No wonder he couldn’t put up with you. You ruined that marriage.

If I let myself begin my day after this barrage, I find that I take out my hurt feelings on my family and friends. Yes, I have made mistakes in my life, I do have regrets. But no, I was not a terrible mother, I did not ruin my marriage. Those are lies that Satan builds out of our humanness. Those bullets of Satan change me into a demanding and unforgiving person.

When I refuse to accept those lies, turn to Scripture and ask for God’s help—everything changes. Christ fills me with a love for others, and myself. I turn my thoughts to the new creation that God has made in me.

Remember last week when you gave groceries to that single mother and her kids? You were a godly friend.

Remember the forgiveness you have received through Christ and in turn forgave that harsh word that flew out of your friend’s mouth.

Remember when you taught Sunday School and the kids were amazed at the story of Gideon? You passed on the Word and the Love.

Laying in bed at night, just before I fall asleep, the bullets of Satan also begin their work. No! I refuse to listen. And you can too.

I pull out my Bible and read. Satan’s bullets disappear.

Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

 

Excerpt from: Conversations with Mother Teresa, A Personal Portrait of the Saint, Her Mission, and Her Great Love For God  by Renzo Allegri

 

“You should come visit us in Calcutta,” she said. “You could better understand the real spirit of our community and understand the profound significance of the work Jesus has called us to do.”

“I would like to visit Calcutta,” I said. “I should definitely come. If you give me your address and phone number there, I will write to you and come for a visit.”

Mother Teresa took the notebook that I had nearby, which I carry to jot down my thoughts. She opened it to a blank page and wrote her address. Then, smiling, she told me; “One day in America, I met an important person who was very rich. He gave me his business card and asked for mine. ‘I don’t have one,’ I told him. ‘What?’ he exclaimed, surprised. ‘A famous woman like you should have business cards. In America the people who count pay close attention to those. I advise you to get some as soon as possible, and you will see that they are very useful.’

“I listened to that man and had some cards made. But I did not put my title and credentials on them since I do not have any. I am less than nothing. Instead, I wrote a few sentences that represent the principles I live by.”

Mother Teresa rummaged through the pockets of her sari and took out one of the cards and gave it to me. It was a dull blue rectangle of poor-quality paper with words in English:

 

The fruit of SILENCE is Prayer.

The fruit of PRAYER is Faith.

The fruit of FAITH is Love.

The fruit of LOVE is Service.

The fruit of SERVICE is Peace.

 

On the left side of the card, there were two hands folded in prayer.

“This card,” she explained, “allows me to follow the custom of important people whom I often encounter. They give me their card, and I give them mine. That way I can share a good thought, a good message. Who knows if someone reading these lines might not reflect on the importance and significance? I can do some good in this way too.”