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The Still Small Voice

November 15th, 2016

toby-mac

The noisiness of your surroundings and the busyness of your schedule will impair your ability to hear the still small voice of God.

“The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a Voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV). Only then did the Lord commission Elijah to anoint a king over Syria, a king over Israel, and to anoint Elisha as a prophet in Israel.

God has a purpose for your life and you will only discover His purpose when you make time and priority to listening for the voice of God, and obeying what He says. God can and will speak whenever He chooses, and whatever your circumstance, and wherever you may be. You and I have to come to a place where we can and will best listen for His voice.

God’s admonition remains, “Be still and know that I am God . . In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Draw aside and alone, and listen with your heart. You will hear God and know His voice.

I pray for you to draw aside today to be alone and attentive before God where you will quiet your heart to listen. God has the answers you seek. He has the wisdom you need. He has the direction you lack.

Christian Communications 2016

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Stress and Stillness

July 15th, 2014

“Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV.

The pace of schedules and noise of surroundings generate stress.

My thoughts and comments today are about “stress and stillness.”

Stress is your body’s reaction to challenges, the impulse of “fight or flight.” Hurry, worry and weariness will leave you vulnerable to stress. Its negative and debilitating effects are cumulative, diminishing your joy and optimism and even damaging health. Stress can result from concerns about health, relationships, pressures, finances, past mistakes, or future fears.

In daily life, stress is heightened by the frantic pace of our schedules and the deafening noise of our surroundings. Prolonged, those are wearying to body, soul, and spirit. The effects manifest interpersonally in relationships, marriages, or families, as well as intrapersonally, affecting yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and most importantly, spiritually. Your spiritual life and personal relationship with God is diminished and less satisfying.

Isaiah discovered, “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength . . they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not became weary.” Read Isaiah 40:28-31 NAS. There is so much that you miss when you fail to take the necessary time to be quiet before God. Job, in the midst of the whirlwind of experiences and the confusion he felt, received wise counsel, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV. Life makes better sense when you place God at the center of it all.

There are two concerns that I have. First, the pace of your schedule compromises the priority of God’s voice. See Exodus 3:1-10 NKJV. You will not hear the voice of God in your heart without quieting your spirit to wait and listen. Secondly, the noise of your surroundings competes with the clarity of God’s voice. See 1 Samuel 3:1-11 NKJV. Any time but especially when life is unclear and uncertain, spend time with God’s Word, quietly in His presence.

The Psalmist David was deliberate, I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2 NLT. At all times, you need to learn this truth, “Be still and know that I am God.” Read Psalm 46. Be intentional; it is important.

Some years ago, a book, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion (Gordon MacDonald, author) influenced my spiritual disciplines. MacDonald named three things essential to recovering passion when experiencing lost purpose, clouded vision, or confused direction: an address book with the names of “special friends who encourage you to obey God,” a map indicating the location of “safe places where you rediscover who God is,” and a calendar marking “still times when you hear what God says.” Respectively, each corresponds to three vital, Biblical principles of Fellowship, Sanctuary, and Sabbath.

For your personal study, I suggest consideration of events in the lives of Elijah, Jehoshaphat, and Moses. (1) “Be still when you need to hear a word from God.” Read 1 Kings 19:7-16 KJV. (2) “Be still when you need to know the plans of God.” Read 2 Chronicles 20:10-22 NKJV. (3) “Be still when you need to see the power of God.” Exodus 14:10-16/30-31 NKJV.

Today, my prayer for you is to truly know God in a deep and personal way.

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Stillness

January 25th, 2013

There is a quality of spiritual life that is found only in solitude and stillness.

“Stand still first . . to hear the Word of God.” 1 Samuel 9:27 Amplified Bible.

While young Saul unsuccessfully searched for his father’s lost donkeys, God spoke to Samuel of Saul’s coming and of God’s purpose for him. Read 1 Samuel 9. Little did Saul know that Samuel’s intention was to anoint a king for Israel, and Saul was to be the one. As Saul prepared to continue on his quest, Samuel interrupted him, “Stand still first, that I may cause you to hear the Word of God.” 1 Samuel 9:27 Amplified Bible. God’s Word to Saul would direct his success, provide sustenance on his journey, offer assuring confirmation, and divine empowering for his calling. “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you . . and you will be turned into another man . . God gave [Saul] another heart.” 1 Samuel 10:6/9 NKJV. A different man with a new heart because he took time to listen to the word of God! Like Saul, you cannot afford moments when busyness would otherwise engage you. Maybe today you need to hear someone remind you to “stand still . . to hear the Word of God.”

In a busy and noisy world, lives are hurried and listening is impaired. The problems are these: temporal busyness can distract from things and times of eternal importance, and without respite, noise drowns out God’s hushed voice to the heart. The psalmist writes of natural calamities, nations in conflict, and civil unrest but concludes with God’s assuring instruction, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NKJV. There is truth you cannot know in your desperate situations unless you silence questions and complaints, and settle your heart quiet and still before Him. There and then, in your storm and struggle Jesus will say with indisputable authority, “’Peace, be still!’ and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 NKJV.

The prophet Elijah panicked, running from angry, wicked Jezebel until exhausted, where in fear and fatigue he met God. Read 1 Kings 19:11-21. The prophet faced a howling wind, then a ground-rattling earthquake, and afterward a consuming fire, but the Lord was not present in any of those. “And after the fire a still small voice . . and the Lord said unto him . .” There was a new assignment, and a divine commission to accomplish it. Drama and activity are not where you find God. In your rush for God to “fix it,” you can refuse to see how God is already working. While you once again tell God every detail about your need, you are not listening to His gentle wisdom and direction for the path ahead. A content heart and quiet spirit hear God’s voice and understand His will best. Consider God’s explanation of how life works best, “In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 NIV.

There is both physical and spiritual stillness. I think the latter necessitates the first, and the latter is the more important. There is a quality of spiritual life that is only found in solitude and stillness. David understood the importance of such moments; “I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother . . [so] is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1-2 NLT. But sometimes the occasion and situation do not seem to allow that. What do you do then? Again, David discovered God in the context of dark times, fearful evil, and surrounding enemies, “He leads me beside the still[ed] waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will take time to listen for God with your heart.

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Knowing God

November 2nd, 2012

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV.

Knowing anyone requires significant investments of your heart and time.

My thoughts and comments today are about “knowing God.”

How do you actually get to know someone, really know them? There have been times I thought I knew a person, only to be surprised to find how little I knew them and how little they knew me. Acquaintances are many; friends are few. Facebook reinforces our fuzzy concept of friends. But it takes more than clicking “Confirm” to become a friend.  Friendships are the product of significant investments of heart and time with one another.  Sufficient time and shared experiences are essential to truly know and trust one another and by those, enduring friendships are formed. Relationship is the process of welcoming and sharing life with others.

But my thoughts today are about a relationship unlike any other – a lifelong pursuit of knowing God personally and intimately. Knowing God is so much more than having intellectual knowledge about God. The Bible advises, “Acquaint yourself with [God] and be at peace. Thereby good will come to you.” Job 22:21 NKJV. Knowing God requires time and meaningful interaction; it is more about your heart than your head. There are many who know about God; you can truly know God in life-changing ways. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NKJV.

In fact, you cannot really know God without willingness for life-change to occur. From personal experience Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun. All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did . . for God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NLT.

God invites you to know Him, “Be still and know that I am God.“ Psalm 46:10 NIV. Time and attention are essential elements for knowing God. God says, “Be still.” See also Psalm 131:1-2 NLT. But our lives are anything but still. The business and busyness of your world competes with the inner poise necessary for knowing God. Knowing God requires slowing your pace deliberately, and hearing God demands the practiced discipline of listening with your heart. Isaiah’s prophetic words are clear, “The Sovereign Lord says, ‘Only in returning to Me and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.’” Read Isaiah 30:15-18 NLT.

In college, my life verse and heart’s cry was and remains, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. I don’t claim to have achieved that, but I know my heart still yearns to know Him. I want to know God, and I want you to know Him in a real and personal way. See Daniel 11:32 NKJV. Do not be as those Paul describes, “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.” Titus 1:16 NLT. Know God and let the evidence be “to walk just as [Jesus] walked.” See 1 John 2:3-6/4:8 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will invest your heart and time to know God a little more every day.

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