Sunday, January 29, 2006

Learning to listen

What does it mean to walk with Jesus? Is it primarily about living a "good" life? Is it that we don't drink, or smoke, or cuss? We dont watch TV, or go to movies? Is His main goal to help us clean up our act? Or is there more to it all? What is His purpose in drawing us to Himself? Did He reach down and open the eyes of my heart simply to get me to "behave properly"? I don't think so. He calls us to obey Him, but why? The scripture tells us that God is love. Everything He is and does flows from that reality. I think He has first and foremost called us to be His children and His friends. As we live in those relationships, we will naturally walk in greater and deeper purity, but that is not the main focus. Religion focuses on behavior. Religion focuses on being good, so that God will like us. Relationship wants to know Him more deeply, more intimately because He likes us. Relationship wants to interact with Him on a daily basis. If He is my friend, I want to learn to recognize His presence with me through as much of my day as possible. I want to see what He is doing... and I want to join in. I want to let Him show me what He cares about, and what sorts of things He wants to do together as we go about our way. Jesus went around sharing and showing the love of His Father each day. He wants to do the same today. He wants to do it together with me. And you. What an amazing idea. Usually we think that this is for someone else. The pastor, the missionary, that really spiritual woman we know from church. But not me. I am just... me. God couldn't really be interested in having that sort of relationship with someone like me. I'm ordinary. I am just kind of "getting by" spiritually. I am trying to be good, and hopefully make it to heaven some day. But,in the meantime, I will sort of sit in the bleachers and watch the superstars do the kingdom stuff. What a waste. Every one of us is called to be a unique expression of Jesus in the world. The Spirit of God lives inside of us, if we truly know Him. And He wants every one of us to get to know him more deeply and fully. He wants every one of us to learn what it means to walk through our day listening for His voice and following His lead. Every one of us. We won't all stand up on stages and preach eloquent sermons, but we can all be the voice and hands of the Lord; we can all be the body of Christ. Individually, and all together, He desires for us to be His body. Why does He need a body? What is a body for? Its that thing we walk around and do life in. Its how we get to work and school and home and wherever we go. Its the thing we use to interact with co-workers, and friends and family. He wants us to be His body. He wants us to be the vehicle He uses to express Himself in the world. We can all be used to show His love to the people around us. We just have to ask. We just have to listen. We just have to quiet our hearts and our busy lives, and take time to learn to recognize His voice. If we will do that, He will draw us into a friendship with Him beyond our wildest dreams. He will do things with us and through us that we cant even imagine today. He will make our lives an adventure.

The question is... will we take time to listen?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In His Heart

Eph 1: 3-8
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

I felt impressed to read in Ephesians this morning, and this is as far as I got. God is so good. He has had a plan for ME since before the creation of the world. He has always carried in His heart a picture of Brian as His son. He has envisioned me walking with Him as His friend, sharing in His love, trusting Him as my faithful Father. And all of my life He has been working inside me to reveal His goodness and love in a way that would capture my heart's affections. In my times of deep worship, and my struggles with sin, His love has never changed. For better or for worse, His love has never changed. Before time began, He had a plan for me, and He is determined to bring it to pass.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

The Creator of the universe has set His love on me. The One who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence loves me, and has a purpose in His heart for me. That is unspeakably awesome. I am lost for words. They dont exist. They couldnt. No words could truly capture how wonderful He is. Many years ago I heard a man named Leonard Ravenhill say that the highest form of worship is speechless adoration. Every once in a while, I stumble into a moment when I understand that....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the power of our words

Matt 12:36-37
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

The words we use each day are so incredibly powerful. We don't realize it most of the time. We speak without thinking. Sometimes its just silliness with no great harm. Sometimes we say or write things that have the potential to do great damage to ourselves or others. God's word describes itself as "sharper than any two edged sword," but he also describes our speech as a sword. Proverbs says "There is one who speaks rashly, like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Our words can be like a sword thrust into those around us, with deadly results, or they can do just the opposite and bring strength and healing. "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." This is why Jesus spoke so strongly about our accountability for our speech. He spoke and the worlds were created. While I cant speak an apple into my hand when I am hungry, my words do have creative power. They create attitudes and expectations in my own mind and heart. And, they do the same to others. My words can make you feel loved and valued, or they can make you feel worthless and hopeless. And that is where the accountability enters in. God expects us to use this power of the tongue for good and not evil. He expects us to "speak the truth in love" and "do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." He expects us to love with our words. Its not as easy as it sounds. Much of the time we don't really understand or even consider how our words are affecting those around us. We need to listen to our heart before we speak. We need to be consciously determined to bring life and love when we open our mouths. He will help us to do so.