Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are You Listening?

"He wakens me morning by morning, 
wakens my ear to listen 
like one being taught." 
Isaiah 50:4b

Spring is here and with that comes the early morning sunrise and singing birds outside my window. I am not normally a morning person; actually I am more of a night owl. But in the spring and summer, I find myself waking up earlier and earlier. I don't mind it too much. It's a beautiful, peaceful time of day...the sun peeking up over the mountains; the birds singing in the trees; all the kids are still in bed.
But all too soon, the kids wake up, there are chores to be done, errands to run, and the day takes off. And before I know it, the day is over...and I haven't heard from God.

Was He too busy to talk to me today?
Did I not need any direction today?
Or maybe I didn't listen!

Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know". I don't know about you, but there are a great many things I do not know that I really need to know.

Decisions to make; 
Directions to take; 
Paths to walk;
Words to talk.

The New Century Version of Isaiah 50:4b says "to listen like a student."  A student is there for one learn. And they will do whatever they need to do in order to gain insight and understanding. It requires time, commitment, patience and concentration. And a relationship with the teacher...
God is our teacher.

Each and every day, each one of us will face all kinds of crossroads. Each of us will have a great many questions that need answers. Many of us will face life changing circumstances that need divine direction. He has answers for each one of us. And not just answers to the trials we face everyday, but He has dreams and ideas and thoughts we have not even begun to imagine.

So in the morning as the sun rises over the mountains and the birds begin their early serenade; as you first open your eyes in the morning, stop for a moment and listen. The teacher is waiting for you...and He has great and unsearchable things to tell you.

Are you listening?

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Are You Putting On?

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor,
O Jerusalem, the holy city."
Isaiah 52:1

The Bible is full of scriptures that tell us to "put on" something...righteousness, salvation, zeal and vengeance (Isaiah 59:17),  armor of light (Roman 13:12), the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), love (Colossians 3:14), and the new self...the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10).

Each morning when we get up, we have to put on our clothes. They don't put themselves on us. It takes choice and action on our part. We get to look in our closets and drawers and choose what we are wearing today. We choose to brush our hair and put on makeup, brush our teeth and accessorize at will. But two things happen...

One, we activate our will...we decide what to put one.
Two, we act on our will...we take action. 

No one tells us what to wear.
No one dresses us ... 
We do it ourselves. 

In the same way, we are to decide what we will put on spiritually. Each day when we wake up, we have a choice to make...will we put on light? Or will we walk in darkness? Will we put on hope? Or will we walk in despair? Will we clothe ourselves with the armor of God? Or will we try to fight our battles in our own strength?

After we have decided what to wear, we have to put them on. It doesn't just magically happen. We have to take action. Most of this action comes out of our mouths... "I will bless the Lord. I will speak life. I will encourage others. I will walk in light. I will hope in the Lord". We were created in His image and "..every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it." (Colossians 3:10 msg)

 What did you decide to wear today?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Forecast is.....Storms Ahead!

"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
       but the righteous stand firm forever."

Proverbs 10:25
The other night I was watching the news and the weatherman was forecasting a big storm heading our way. This storm was to be full of rain, hail, strong winds. The reason for giving us all a forewarning was to allow us time to prepare for the storm. To make sure candles are ready, flashlights have batteries, anything that could be blown about by the wind was safely secured.
We could prepare for the storm
I found myself wishing we had those same forecasts for the storms we face in life. Wouldn't it be nice if we could find out a day or two ahead...or even a few hours ahead of the storm, that it was on the way? Wouldn't it be nice if we could know beforehand just how much rain to expect...if hail was strong the wind was going to blow?
We could prepare for the storms of life 
But then I realized, we have been warned. Jesus said in John 16:33  that in this world we will have trouble. So it really should come as no surprise when those storms hit us. While we may not know the nature of the storm, or the time of the storm, or the size of the storm, or the duration of the storm...Jesus has "forecast" that there will be storms.

The question is...are we prepared for the storm? 

So how does one prepare for the storms of life? What do we do when a storms suddenly arises? Sometimes the storms we find ourselves in are our own fault. Disobedience, rebellion, and fear can keep us from doing the things God has called us to do. The end result can be storms that rock our boats. When Jonah was running from God, he got on a boat and headed for Tarshish. A storm arose on the water and the sailors became fearful. In their panic, they began to throw whatever they could overboard, including Jonah! The storm finally abated and Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish...not much better than the storm!
What do we throw overboard?
Relationships, jobs, ministries, money
Sometimes the storms we face are just the result of living in a fallen world.  Stuff happens. One day, the disciples were in the boat on the lake. Jesus was sleeping below deck. A storm arose and they were afraid. I imagine this was an unexpected storm that suddenly arose. Surely they wouldn't have gotten in a boat if there were storm clouds on the horizon. This storm caught them unaware and unprepared. And where was Jesus when they needed Him? They couldn't understand how He could just be sleeping! Doesn't He care? Is He really just going to let this happen?
Don't we ask those same questions? 
They had seen Him do amazing miracles...heal broken and diseased bodies, feed thousands with almost nothing; walk on water! Did anyone think to just go to Him and wake Him up and say, "Master, we got a little problem here. Do You think You could do something?" In their fear, maybe they forgot who He was...what He could do.  Perhaps we do the same. While disappointed in their lack of faith, Jesus simply said, "Be still!" and the storm abated. 
Do we have the faith to ask Him to calm the storm?
Sometimes He calms the storms, but sometimes....He doesn't. However, He has promised  to be our shelter in the storm. 
"I long to dwell in your tent forever and
take refuge in the shelter of your wings."   
Psalm 61:4 
"He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 27:5
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1
And while the storms can be frightening and unpredictable, let's not forget the beauty to be found in the storm. When a storm approaches, the clouds take on different shapes and colors. As the wind howls it not only can "sing" a song, but cause the trees to bend  in a graceful dance. The lightening creates a brilliant light show as it flashes across the sky.

If we look for it, that same beauty can be found in our storms of life. Those friends who stand beside us to encourage and strengthen us come in all shapes and sizes and colors. When the winds come along and we fear that we will be blown away, let the "howling" wind accompany our songs of praise. And with our faith placed firmly upon Jesus, we can sing our songs of praise unto the Lord as we bend and dance in the light of His love.

So, while Jesus has forecast storms ahead, He has not left us unprepared. We avoid some of the storms by walking in obedience to His Word and His calling. However, when those storms arise, we can call on Him in faith to calm the storm or, if we have to endure it, He will shelter us in the midst of the storm.

But when the storm has passed....the righteous will stand firm forever.