A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Intentional Focus on Listening

There will be times when listening to God will be inconvenient. 1 Samuel 3 reveals: "The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ’Here I am; you called me.’ Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, ’Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place."

Sometimes we are so busy serving … we are distracted from hearing

God often calls us to things that
            1. don’t fit our schedule
            2. don’t fit our agenda
            3. don’t fit our ideas of what should be done

I don’t like to think about doing that… it’s "inconvenient." But, if I’m going to grow up to be like my Father in heaven - I better learn to be inconvenienced.

Proverb 2:1-5 – “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
            turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—
                        indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
And if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
            then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."

The art of listening is intentional focus on what is being said ... you know I love ya, Don

Monday, August 11, 2014

Proximity Matters!!!

In 1 Samuel 3 we read; "The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, ’Here I am.’"

Where was Samuel when God 1st called his name? He was lying down in the Temple of the Lord where the Ark was.

Now, I believe that every word of Scripture is there for a reason. For example, in this passage, God could simply have said: “Samuel was sleeping” BUT God goes into detail. It’s as if God is saying: "I want you to know WHERE Samuel was sleeping."

This might be a Donism…but why would God give us these details? I believe it was because God wanted us to see that when Samuel heard God’s voice he was sleeping NEXT to God. In Other Words: Physical, emotional, logical, and spiritual Proximity is critical: If you’re gonna hear – you’ve gotta be near.

I have a terrible habit of talking to Karen when she is in the other room. She can’t hear what I am saying. She can hear me, but the distance muddles the message and the message doesn’t get received. When we are out in the world, living in the world’s sins, and embracing what the world is throwing our way…the message God is saying is muffled, distorted, and not within proximity for it to be heard.

James 4:8 "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you."

Jesus said in John 8:47, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” – in other words, Jesus is saying those who belong to God…listen to God and in order to listen to have to be in proximity of God.

If you want to hear God speak, you must be close to God. If you’re going to hear God’s voice; if you’re going to know His will - you’ve got to be in the same room as He is. That’s why Church attendance is critical. That’s why Bible Study is essential. Jesus said: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name - there I am in the midst of you."

Another, but no less critical activity that places you "in the same room, is prayer. I’m not just talking arrow prayers or emergency prayers… but a "sit down and spend time with God" type prayers.

Draw close to Him ... You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If you want to be loved, you need to love on others.

Old Testament Ruth demonstrates the love she has found in her new family and her new religion. She was a Moabite. She was welcomed into a Jewish family and discovered a new God, a loving God, and a Gracious God. The story reads like she had very little time with her father-in-law, Brother-in-law, and Husband…but that is an assumption. They had enough time that Ruth learned about love in a family.

Leadership Magazine carried a story about four young men, Bible College students, who were renting a house together. One Saturday morning someone knocked on their door. And when they opened it, there stood this bedraggled-looking old man. His eyes were kind of marble-ized, and he had a silvery stub of whiskers on his face. His clothes were ragged and torn. His shoes didn’t match. In fact, they were both for the same foot. And he carried a wicker basket full of unappealing vegetables that he was trying to sell.

The boys felt sorry for him and bought some of his vegetables just to help him out. Then he went on his way. But from that time on, every Saturday he appeared at their door with his basket of vegetables. As the boys got to know him a little bit better, they began inviting him in to visit a while before continuing on his rounds.

They soon discovered that his eyes looked marble-ized not because of drugs or alcohol, but because of cataracts. They learned that he lived just down the street in an old shack. They also found out that he could play the harmonica, that he loved to play Christian hymns, and that he really loved God. So every Saturday they would invite him in, and he would play his harmonica and they would sing praises together.

They became good friends, and the boys began trying to figure out ways to help him. They finally collected a bunch of clothes and secretly left it all on his doorstep, no note attached or anything. The following Saturday morning, the story says, right in the middle of all their singing and praising, he suddenly said to them, "God is so good!" And they all agreed, "Yes, God is so good." He went on, "You know why he is so good?" They said, "Why?"

He said, "Because yesterday, when I got up and opened my door, there were boxes full of clothes and shoes and coats and gloves. Yes, God is so good!" And the boys smiled at each other and chimed in, "Yes, God is so good."

He went on, "You know why He is so good?" They answered, "You already told us why. What more?" He said, "Because I found a family who could use those things and I gave them all away." Ruth had received love and could only respond by giving love in response.

Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Ruth is known throughout the whole region as a loyal and a loving person … it is her love for her Mother-in-Law that catches Boaz’ attention. A long obedience in the same direction … is loyal and it is loving … Are you known as a loving person? Do people know that you are a disciple of Jesus because you love those around you?

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, August 4, 2014

Loyalty beyond words and put into action!

The book of Ruth is a story of God’s Redemption. From the land of Moab, gleaning in the fields of Boaz and to the threshing floor the story finds its purpose in the kinsman (Gaurdian) redeemer. Ruth stays with her Mother-in-law, but Orpah decides to go home. We have no idea what happens to Orpah. God rewards loyalty and records Ruth’s story for all the ages to learn from and apply to our lives.
One of the most powerful prayers in the midst of suffering I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women. Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis. Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote The Hiding Place, was imprisoned there too. The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says:

“O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”

To be obedient in the same direction is to remain faithful and loyal to God and the purpose to demonstrating His righteousness in our lives. Even when life is hard and circumstances are not according to our plans, it is a believers task to remain submissive to the power and grace of God. Roman 12:10 states; “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – in other words: Listen to your brothers and sisters. Associate with your fellow believers in Jesus. It is to control your tempter and refuse to react, but always respond. Ruth chose to respond. A follower of Jesus is loyal to the church and the word of God in every aspect of their life.

Do the people around you consider you to be loyal? 

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Simple Prayer Request ... "Strengthen Me."

Judges 16 is a chapter full of references to Samson’s strength or lack thereof. Of all the chapters on Samson, chapter 16 has the most (16:5,6,9,15,17,19,28). The term is used many times in the scriptures, but it is not always used with the word "me" following it.

In the context of Judges 16 we understand Samson’s request to be centered upon the return of his physical strength. It was here, at the end of his life that Samson finally fully understood and believed where his great strength originated. Samson was a man indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who granted him power for the work of being a Judge of Israel. Yes, the strength left him when his hair was cut, and after his hair grew back, this is when he asks God for his strength back, but it was not necessarily the hair, it was the Holy Spirit of God at work in this man’s life. 

The hair and the other Nazarite vow signs were outward manifestations of God’s control in that person’s life. We have these today, Communion is an outward manifestation of what God is doing within our hearts. Baptism is another outward manifestation that represents our death to the old man and our resurrection into Jesus Christ. God wanted the person who was a Nazarite to be a living picture of God’s power and control among the people. In this final request, Samson is finally granted the vision of his vow and through his strength plans to show the sovereign power of our God.

Samson needed physical strength, but he really needed the spiritual strength that only the Lord can give. The same is true of our long obedience in the same direction. King David realizes the strength he needs from the Word of God. David in Psalm 119:28 declares where his strength comes from … he sings, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Samson’s new vision understood from where his strength came … I wonder if we know from where our strength comes from?

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, July 28, 2014

A simple prayer request ... "Remember Me."

Some other references in the Word of God where people said the same thing: Samuel (1 Sam. 1:11) Nehemiah (Neh. 13:14,22,31); Jeremiah (Jer. 15:15); Jesus (Luke 23:42); and the Early Christians (Acts 4).

In each of these references the person is praying to God or speaking to Christ and wanting God to recall past things they have done or simply to look upon them and the request they are about to beseech Him for. Except for several times in the epistles of Paul, the words "Remember Me" are used in prayer. It is a natural human desire to be remembered by others and especially God. It is certainly amazing that this man who had forgotten God so often in his life would now come to God and ask God to remember Him. This is so like God’s people today who live in disobedience for years and then want God to remember them when a major test comes along. It is the
humble petitioner who feels like they need to appeal to God to remember them. When we feel distant from God, and are in fact spiritually distant from Him in our daily walk and talk. Our soul yearns to feel God again.

Samson had probably repented of all his wrong doings of the past by this time. He had had plenty of time to reflect upon his past transgressions in the grinder and came to understand that he was in his present plight because of his own doings.

A long obedience in the same direction praises the Lord we can still turn to Him and know that He is willing to hear and answer those who come in faith. God is always willing to remember us.

2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  This passage is often applied to the nations, but it applies to our own hearts as well… Romans confirm that if we confess with out mouths and repent, God will grant a new vision and God will remember.

You know I love ya, Don