So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10: 17

Some days seem really noisy; for they are completely filled with surround sound quality words and images. Some of this is of my own choosing; as, I turn on the TV, turn up the car sound system, and read the signs along the road. Some of this is the new version of the natural harmonics of the earth; it is an always with us, fill up our auditory processes level of background noise that can saturate our minds with its persistence.

There is little that we can do about much of this. Sure we can turn off or turn down our own electronics and we can focus on the road ahead rather than the signs along the side, but there will still be all of the rest of it. What we can do is choose which voices and whose words we allow to have access to our minds and to our hearts. God talks to us during as much of the day as we will let Him. He answers questions and He speaks words that are encouraging, words that remind us of His eternal love for us. The challenge for me comes in my selection of input to tune in to and in my willingness to listen. 

God tells us to hear Him, for He does speak. God tells us to listen, for He has words of truth for us. This is where personal choice comes in; for me, this involves reading the bible, to take in truth from an unchanging source; it involves prayer, to engage in conversation with God; and it involves opening up my mind and my heart to let truth sink into the center of my being. Then, it involves the continual process of life-prayer; talking with God and listening to him speak through out the day. The Holy Spirit walks in my skin with me, and Christ speaks continually to me with words of truth, wisdom, and love that are His alone. My part comes in focusing my hearing on God’s voice. My reminder for the day is to listen.

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Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Psalm 90: 17

When a child has completed a craft project or done a job around the house that required some special effort, she will often come to a parent with that special, expectant look on her face and an uneasy sort of anticipatory tension in her body language. The child is waiting for the look of acknowledgement and words of acceptance of the efforts that she has put out. This need to have the work that we have done approved by one who loves us and who we respect never goes away. We all still want to hear and understand that what we have done is good and worthy.

Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to give praise or to even make mention of the efforts of others. There seems to be an unwritten rule among people that says that everyone should just know when they are doing things well and that too much praise causes others to develop inflated egos or to become lazy. However, the Lord doesn’t seem to function that way. He never stops bringing words of encouragement to His children. Sometimes they are expressed in the form of a quiet voice that seems to just exist somewhere inside of me. He also speaks from the pages of His Word straight into my heart. In addition, God uses the expressions of other people as His way of telling me of His praise and approval. Regardless of the method, God is never silent.

During those times when I am questioning my direction, when I am wondering about the validity of my efforts, or when I am hearing disapproving voices, I can just suspend the busy activity of my mind and open my heart to listen to the Father’s voice. These are times when I need to stop and talk with Him, slow down and allow the deeper meaning of His Word a chance to be revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, and quiet my voice so that I can hear the Lord’s words to me. For, as a reminder to myself, God is never absolutely silent and He is always the One who brings praise and encouragement to my soul. 

And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

1 Kings 19: 12

 

Sometimes I expect one thing when another comes along. This is often the case when I come to the way that God shows up in my life, and it certainly applies to the manner and even the method with which He speaks forth His truth and wisdom. Elijah was having a series of extremely bad days. He had taken a forceful stand for the Lord and for His righteousness, and that had caused the powerful people in the land to come after him with all of their might and with the fury of Hell behind the effort. Now Elijah was worn down and weary to the center of his soul. He was out in the desert with no one for companionship or support, and he had no resources to call upon and it seems as if there was no place to go that would be either safe or sympathetic to his need.

 

Yet, he was fed, and he had water to drink. He could find places to take shelter, and that was what he was doing on this fateful day. He had holed up in a cave, but the voice of the Lord came to him and told him to go out of his place of shelter and onto the mountain where he would be very exposed and vulnerable. I think that Elijah was reminded of all that the Lord had done in his presence and for him in the past, for he goes out into the open on that mountain. While he is up on that high place amazing things happen. First a strong wind comes up and tears at the rocks, then an earthquake shakes and shatters the ground, and a fire with its searing devastation follows this. Yet, the Lord was not found in any of these mighty signs. Elijah must have been truly puzzled and left wondering about the method of delivery and the timing of God’s message for him, as God was known to show Himself in all of these naturally occurring phenomena.

 

Then, as Elijah was looking out on the devastation that the wind, earthquake, and fire had surrounded him with and with the acrid smell of the smoke still filling his nose, there comes the voice of the Lord in the form of a quiet and calm whisper. Elijah and I are often taken off guard by the manner and the timing of God’s responses to our needs and wants. He is not predictable and I do not control the outcome of God’s engagement in my life, and I think that this is the point. The Lord is absolutely trustworthy, and He wants me to know this in my mind and live it out from my heart. God is with me in all of the aspects of my journey through this life, and He demonstrates His love, care, wisdom, and provision continually throughout my days. However, He also wants me to understand His presence and use that understanding as a means of growing in my relationship with Him. God is here with me at every moment of this day; so, my question remains, “Am I open to Him, willing to do as He asks, and listening for His voice?”

In the way of your testimonies I delight

as much as in all riches.

Psalm 119: 14

 

The writer of this psalm has used words that are not all that popular in our world, within our culture, and often to ourselves. He speaks of purity, commandments, statutes, and rules, and he also sets out sinlessness as the goal of all of this. Most people struggle with following the direction of another to the degree that we seek to place our lives under their authority and take direction from them in the sort of absolute manner that is stated here. Even when we know Christ and use the term Lord when we speak of and to Him, we don’t truly mean it in an all inclusive, surrendered and yielded way. Too often Lord is a term of honor or just a convenient name for God, but it is not an expression of complete submission and a marker of unwavering obedience.

 

Yet, that is what God desires from us. He wants us to follow Him into life and throughout our daily journeys with absolute trust and out of a faith in Him that is imbedded deeply within our hearts and minds. Although God allows each of us to make our own decisions about the way that we conduct our lives, His will is met and His wishes are fulfilled when we seek out the truth of God’s Word and respond to it without question or deviation. In listening and responding to God’s voice we find life. That is both the eternity of living in the presence of God in Heaven and the joy and peace of dwelling in His presence throughout the remaining days of our current life.

 

We can accept and follow all of what God tells us to do, for His only motivation is love. God wants all people to know deeply the love that gave everything so that we could dwell in His presence fully. Sin is separation from God, and Christ has paid the price for all sin; this means that anyone who accepts Him is present with God. Still, if I wish to live in the fullest possible appreciation of that presence, I need to accept the fact that God has a plan for me and a purpose for my life that is greater than my own. If I wish to be filled with God’s imperishable riches, I must fill my mind and my heart with the treasure of His Word and faithfully live each day by walking along the Lord’s righteous path.

As servants of God we commend ourselves in many ways: … as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

2 Corinthians 6: 4a, 10

 

As we navigate our paths through this life, there are many ways that we can seek to be known, and there are also many things that we will be remembered for. Some of the actions of my life to date have been good and worthwhile and others have been considerably less so. What matters now is the life that I choose to live starting with today. This will be defined by the way that I decide that I want to live out my faith, the impact that I seek to have on other people, and, most importantly, how responsive I will be to God’s voice as He leads me through every day.

 

It seems that it is the personal decision aspect of this relationship with Christ that Paul is talking about in this section of his letter, for how we commend or approve ourselves, from God’s viewpoint, is based on the way that we live, It is especially based on the love that we demonstrate to others and the resultant impact that we have on the lives of others. As Christians we can either give them a living, breathing image of Christ to help them see His unending and total love, or we can leave people with such a bitter taste that they try with all of their might to avoid anything and anyone that is identified with Jesus. This is the choice that we get to make, Christ is the one who will lead, council, and empower the decision, if we open our hearts and minds to Him.

 

For this day I seek to let the Spirit of Christ make me deeply saddened by the pain, suffering, and loss that is found in the lives of the people around me while showing these same people the joy that is found in Christ. So, I desire to live as one who is joyous despite all else. Let me live in a way that empties myself of all ego, self-praise, and glory seeking; and that shares the wealth of the Lord with those around me. Finally, I desire to set aside my position, intellect, and any sign of arrogance; then, I desire to allow Christ to be who and what others see when I speak and act. Each of us has a personal list of the ways that we impede others from seeing the glory of God when they meet us. Also, everyone who knows Christ possesses the great gift of His Spirit to guide and shape our daily journeys. In repentant humility we can allow Christ to work through us to bring His presence to our world.

 

For this is the will of God, that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of foolish people.

1 Peter 2: 15

 

It often seems like our world speaks in loud and continual voices. There is a relentless and all-pervasive level of noise that becomes the background to life. We are pounded and pummeled into a sort of insensitivity, and this state of passive acceptance is one of the primary objectives of the one who is behind all of this auditory clutter.

 

Evil wants us to be bombarded and pounded with half-truths and with misinformation to the degree that we can no longer distinguish what is true from what is false. Then, we can become like soldiers who have been hit by days of artillery fire. We get disoriented, confused, discouraged, and wounded to the degree that we can stop listening to God’s truth and start buying into the destructive message of Satan. His message always contains the need to turn inward in order to protect ourselves, for he tells us to build stout walls around our hearts and to hold on as tightly as possible to everything that we have.

 

God tells us that one of the answers to the clutter and the noise that surround us is to defeat its intent through action, by doing right. I have found that right doing can involve many different types of action. It can be a good thing done for a neighbor, an encouraging note, an unexpected gift given, or engagement in another person’s life. Right actions are found in our work place and in our community. They are accomplished in a moment and over a lifetime. The most fundamental of all right actions is accomplished by getting onto our knees before God. It is amazing how silent the voices of foolishness become when our ears and our hearts are communicating with the Lord. Wisdom has only one source, and listening to God’s voice directs us to living wisely. Acting on the Lord’s direction silences the foolishness that surrounds us.