My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV
I don’t know about you, but I have to be very intentional when it comes to listening. I am not talking about hearing. Listening is much different. It involves a deeper comprehension of what is being said. Listening has an element of learning to it. Simple acknowledgment that something was said does not correlate with taking it to heart. It’s vital to any relationship that both parties develop their skills in the art of listening. That is a key component to any communication. Therefore, it can be said that those of us in relationship with Jesus must also develop our ability to listen to Him, not to merely hear Him.
How often have you read the Bible and the next day or the next week, you couldn’t recall the specifics of what you had read nor the application to your life? I’ve done it. Many times. It feels like a wasted opportunity. I could have grown and matured spiritually. It could have had a tremendous impact of my perceptions for that day or week or even life, and I’ll never know because I let the lessons vanish from my mind. It’s fair and right to say that every time we read the Bible, Jesus speaks. So, isn’t it also fair and right to say that those of us who value a good healthy relationship with Jesus should also be listening?
Those who listen to their spouse, their parents, their kids, or their friends, have an intimate understanding of who they are and what makes them come alive. They know how to interact at a level that breathes life into the relationship. If we are truly listening to Jesus, then we are following Him. We will do the things that please Him. We will love and pursue Him. We will know the value and purpose He has placed on our lives. But we have to really listen. Meditation is not some odd eastern religious practice. It’s Biblical. God has actually asked it of us. Meditation simply means to think deeply or carefully about something. What better to meditate on then what Jesus is speaking into our lives? But are we listening?
Have you ever had those moments when God reached out to you at the perfect time? When He directly spoke to you? Well that happened to me earlier this week.
Driving to work a while back I realized I was a bit overwhelmed. My heart was not at rest. I was tired and my mind my was going in twenty different directions. Then I heard the words, “come to me.” By hear, I don’t mean audibly, but the overwhelming sensation and cognitive awareness that comes from the Holy Spirit moving in the heart and mind of a believer. Jesus was calling me into His presence. And like He usually does, those words were confirmed when I got to work and my desktop devotional was on this verse:
“ Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Isn’t it incredible how He orchestrates things in our lives ahead of time in order to speak to us in our time of need? He was reminding me of the words He spoke so many years ago, recorded here in Matthew chapter 11, and that He’s spoken so many times before to me. I would say that I was feeling very burdened, both physically and mentally. And Jesus found me in that moment (not as though He ever lost me). And His gentle voice whispered that same invitation that He’s extended to me many times before. But that invitation doesn’t just stop with sitting at His feet. Deep breathes and a refocusing are great, but are temporary unless there are lessons being learned.
Rest at His feet:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:38-42 NIV
Jesus said to learn from Him. The purpose of coming to Jesus, is to learn from and take on the character of Jesus. The purpose of faith is to abide in Him and to be transformed by Him. Coming to Jesus can’t be a pitstop on the journey of life. Coming to Jesus is the destination of our life. He is, after all, the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, and the author of our salvation. Each time I come to Him I should be changed. If I’m not growing during my times of rest, then I will eventually fall to the same traps, the same weaknesses, the same burdens, as I did before. It makes no sense to sit like Mary if we are going to get right back up and be a Martha.
Rest in His leading:
“Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
Exodus 33:12-15 NIV
One critical key to finding rest is remaining in the presence of God. His presence isn’t stationary. That’s good news. We don’t have to always be sitting to be at rest. Life doesn’t stand still, but our hearts and minds can be still none the less. After coming to Jesus we need to be lead by Him. We don’t simply go our own way. The mention of His yoke is an image of being steered by Him. As Psalm 23 says, “ “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (23:1-3) He doesn’t always lead us to the easy places but He does refresh us in all the places He leads us.
Rest in His purposes:
Whether you’re a mom raising kiddos at home, homeschooling, working one or multiple jobs, trying to make your way through new and difficult circumstances, or moving into a new and uncertain phase of life, you can have rest. Not outside of the hectic day to day, but in the middle of it. When we come to Him, have those moments at His feet, when we’re lead by Him, and when the purposes of our life is centered on God’s mission.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalms 127:1-2 NIV
When the busyness of our lives are for self centered reasons, they are feudal. But when they serve His purposes, then they have meaning. In our moments of reflection its good to ask, If God isn’t in it, what’s the point? Why am I wearing myself out? Is it to provide for my family or to buy the nice things? Is my career about making my name great or having an impact to make His name known? For what or for whom are we toiling? Is there eternal value in what I am filling my days with? If your heart isn’t at rest, then something needs to change. Some things may need to cease. Some may simply need to be rethought.
If you’re not at rest today loved ones, the first step is to come to Jesus. Come sit at His feet. Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.
I wanted to share this message from Voice of the Martyrs that really impacted me. Here it is:
The early Christians were spiritual revolutionaries. In a society that worshiped idols and called those who refused “atheists,” Christians were a radical force that threatened Rome’s continuity. They went against the majority rule and so became a perceived threat to the Roman authority. They were hated so much that their deaths were not only numerous, but they were carried out with horrendous flair.
Christians were revolutionaries who proclaimed the last judgment and the coming transformation of the world through Christ’s return so that many could be saved. They promoted Jesus Christ as a higher authority than the Roman emperor. Therefore, Roman emperors sent out decrees stating that any professing to be Christians were sentenced to die with no further legal proceedings. No due process was provided for these “rebels” who dared to challenge the emperor’s rule. Roman imperialism sponsored ten extreme periods of persecution, each worse than the one before it. The revolutionaries became known by the term martyr. It was adopted for those witnesses who bore their testimony before judges and emperors with the steadfastness of well-disciplined soldiers. They were termed martyrs, or confessors, even if they did not die under scrutiny. They simply would not change their minds. Martyrdom signifies being a witness of one’s faith in Christ, despite exacting circumstances. Every witness for Christ is a modern-day revolutionary.
The martyrs in history were, as we are today, soldiers in a spiritual war. This battle began when Jesus routed the powers of evil by dying on the cross. In his death, he disarmed hell and its demons. Martyrs carry on his battle, however, fighting not with physical weapons but spiritual ones. Their confession is their weapon of choice. They march into enemy territory like the restricted nations and fearlessly proclaim Christ’s victory over Satan. Their prized possession is not their lives, but their testimony. This is why they are willing to trade their lives in order to maintain their beliefs. Where will you take up the battle? Are you willing to wield the weapon of your confession?
If this story touched and challenged you, check out more like it at persecution.com.
I don’t normally comment on political issues. At least I haven’t in quite a while. But today I have witnessed one of the greatest attacks on personal liberties during my lifetime here in the United States. COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges, but by no means is this new. This world has witnessed plagues and pandemics in plenty. Several of which in the last 100 years. But for some reason, the government has ceased this pandemic as an opportunity to expand control over the people.
The United States has endured under the principles of liberty since it’s beginning. Which, overtime, has been expanded and granted to more people than have ever enjoyed freedom at any other point in history. But today, the proclaimed leader of this nation lashed out against those liberties. From forced quarantines last year, to mask mandates, it seemed like there was no end to the lengths some in our government would go for the sake of ‘public safety.’
This year has seen a radical media nearly criminalizing and borderline villianizing people who choose to not get a vaccine. Labels such as ‘the unvaccinated surge’ have appeared on websites and broadcast news sources alike. And now, the president is waging a war on unvaccinated people. Step by step he has expanded his mandates. And now, he has not only stepped over the line of constitutional authority, he has sprinted way beyond it. Mr. President, you have no right to tell a single person what they should put in their body. None. Zero. You can’t bully the public to follow your agenda. And neither can any other leader in the free world. These are tactics of fascist regimes, not democratic ones.
It is my hope that companies all over this nation, who value freedom and the US Constitution, will stand against these criminal acts. The Constitution was written to restrict and restrain the Federal government. If we give way to their power mongering here, where then is the restraint? And we can’t be fooled when they say, “you don’t have to get the vaccine. You just have to be tested every week.” Oh sure. Like forcing people to being subject to be swabbed every week is really that much better. And when does that end? When COVID is gone? What if that never happens?
It is hard to believe that we even need to have this conversation. It’s hard to believe that anyone would be in support of something like this. If people want to get vaccinated, that’s their choice. Just like if they don’t. It’s all about choice. You take that away and the government no longer serves the will of the people.
My friends, brothers and sisters, speak up. This is the time for vaccinated and unvaccinated alike to stand together against tyranny. We are all in this together. May truth and honor prevail!
“And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 27:13 ESV
There is a day coming, where all of God’s children will be gathered together. Even those who have been lost. Rosh Hashanah is a beautiful promise, for all believers, that victory is at hand. The Messiah will return, to gather His sheep, and destroy the ravaging wolf.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV
Not only will we be gathered, we will be made like Him. The greatest of all victories achieved. Death is overcome. Evil will experience the full weight of justice. And our corrupted physical natures will be replaced with glorious ones. Hallelujah!
In the spring, Passover marks the moment Jesus paid our ransom. The feast of Trumpets marks the day He returns for that which He so preciously bought. Come Lord Jesus! Your people are await your glorious return. We long for our eternal home. Until then, we will praise you. May the hearts of your people sing a joyful song.
Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters. He will return!
Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.
Psalm 43:3 HCSB
As believers in Jesus, we pray a lot for wisdom and for guidance. Hopefully we realize that it will always lead us towards God. The direction He wants us to take in life is the place of light and truth that He possess. It’s holy ground. God is both with us and waiting in the place He wants us to go. In whatever guidance we’re looking for we must always seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Many of our questions can be answered by starting there. Seeking a new career? Wanting to know whether or not to ask someone to marry you? Contemplating moving and starting over somewhere new? Should I buy that? Should I give to that? Ask yourself, which of your options will lead you in the pursuit of righteousness? And, could lead others towards righteousness. God’s light will always guide you to the greatest service, to the deepest love, to the purest living, and to highest character.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Psalm 96:8 KJV
This seems like a tall order. First, how do we give glory unto the Lord? Second, how could we possibly hope to give Him all He deserves? Isn’t this the purpose of our very existence? We are made in His image, to bear His name, and to honor Him by the manner of our lives. But how does that look? I think the Bible answers that for us.
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Isaiah 25:1 ESV
Whatever we do, one thing that is paramount is worship. Our praise for God should intertwine the activities we do throughout the day, from the redundant, to the exciting and new. His children should elevate God above and beyond in within all things they do. Praise should be a constant, both privately and publicly. We cannot hesitate to shout His goodness from the mountaintops and tell the world of the great things He’s done for us for others.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 ESV
God deserves our service. He deserves our energies and our resources. Not only should our lips shout the glories of God, but our actions should display them. In our love, we show God. In our character, we show God. In the way we lay our lives down for our neighbors, we show God.
Truth is, God deserves far more than we could ever give. But that should never stop us from devoting each waking moment to sing His praises and to put His love on display. Have a blessed day brothers and sister!
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 5:7 ESV
Recent events in my family’s experiences have reminded me of the immense value of mercy. No one is perfect, therefore everyone messes up. We are all in need of mercy, from one another, and from God. There is no one who doesn’t need forgiveness. When people we know are going astray, don’t abandoned them. For when they return, they will need your open arms to further their healing and recovery.
God makes no room for an unforgiving spirit. That only comes from arrogance and a distorted view of our own “goodness”. It’s easy to look at the choices of others and drift towards judgement. But what God commissions us to is an attitude of compassion and prayer. We need to stop wasting our time with anger and frustration and spend more time pouring out our hearts in prayer for those who are not living the way they should. I have witnessed, time and time again, people’s lives being redirected through God’s goodness. No one is too far gone. Let’s all stop the gossip chains. Let’s stop wasting our voices bashing others. From our lips should come love and truth seasoned with grace and hope. Condemning others never lead to their salvation.
There will come a time when you and me will need mercy to be extended to us. I need it fairly often. I needed it in a big way just a few months ago. I am extremely grateful for those who have shown me grace, and that gratitude should punctuate and attitude of mercy in my own heart. A good thing to remember is that no one could ever hurt us as much as we’ve hurt God. Our sin rendered us underserving. It’s Christ’s sacrifice that opens the door for each of us to find mercy. Our sin gave Him lashes and drove the nails through His wrists and feet every bit as much as those who have hurt us. We too have broken the heart of God, and have received His mercy. If that doesn’t propel us to show grace then nothing will, and we will then be the most pitiable of all.
That might seem like an odd question. It assumes the position that everyone is an abomination. Which is exactly the point I wish to make. Every single one of us is an abomination to someone. I know that sounds bleak, but it’s none the less true. According to the dictionary, an abomination is something or someone who causes disgust, hatred, or aversion. I am not saying that we are all hated and awful people. This is not a rant about humanity. The truth is, the life you choose to live will inevitably cause others to want to avoid you or disgust you. The only exception to this are those who are fake. They blend into crowds. They mold themselves to fit who they are with. They never stand for anything because to do so will result in someone being offended. For the rest of us, whatever we choose to stand for will place us in opposition to someone else.
An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
Proverbs 29:27 ESV
Even the godly, and maybe especially the godly, are detested by some in society. As culture degrades, those who hold true to moral certainties and biblical truths, are seen as enemies of the majority. Think about all of those who hold to the value of every human being, born and unborn. They are labeled as sexist and disciminatory towards women’s rights. People who promote and cherish the way people are born are charged for discriminating against people who want to change their gender. Even promoting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one women is seen as so appalling and hateful and homophobic. Many in society will say that to claim Jesus as Lord and Savior and the only way to heaven is intolerant and closed-minded. To challenge the notion of moral relativism will make you a bigot in the eyes of some. The life of a godly person is a conviction for those who are not. Even for the person who does not behave “holier than thou”. To make the choice to try and live a holy life and pursue Jesus will make you an abomination to many. But what kind of an abomination do you want to be? Do you want to be detestable to the ungodly or to the godly.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you
John 15:18 ESV
Jesus Himself warned His followers that it would mean the world would shun them. The world’s standards are not God’s standards. Holiness and righteousness are foreign and rejected by most. So if we truly follow Jesus, there will be people who do not want anything to do with us, or worse, hate us. It’s happening in the United States, and it is certainly happening around the world.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Luke 6:22 ESV
Take heart brothers and sisters. To be like Jesus is to be counter cultural. To be like Jesus is to challenge the norms and the popular beliefs. To be like Jesus is to be different. And the world struggles with different. But that should not keep us from being heavenly minded and pursuing godliness. While you may get ostracized by some, you’ll win the hearts of others to the Lord. Our love will be an abomination. Our grace and truth will be despised. Our forgiveness and mercy will be hated. But the world needs us to be an abomination. For the light of Jesus shines in the darkness!
Be strong my fellow Christians! Shalom and may the peace of Christ be in your hearts.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Oswald Chambers once wrote that, “When becoming Christ’s my individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.”
Far earlier the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
And finally, the great pastor Charles Spurgeon is noted saying, “Christ first, me last, nothing but love in between.”
Devotion in the Christian’s life certainly plays out in different ways, but one common element should be evident in us all: that we are His, wholeheartedly, and our lives should show it. The Lord promised to make us springs of living water that overflow to those around us. He said the world would know us by our love. He said we are the light of the world. Lord Jesus, turn up the light in us. Give us undivided hearts and undivided lives. Be alive in us like never before.