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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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Stops and Starts

November 23rd, 2011

“Tell the people to move forward.” Exodus 14:15 NIV

“Life requires leadership for the success of your journey.”

My thoughts today are about “stops and starts.”

Life is a journey, and on any journey there is a place from which you begin and a place where you hope to arrive; in between are a sequence of stops and starts along the way. The problem comes when you are stopped when you should be starting, or starting when you should be stopped. Wisdom is to know when you should do which. There is a rhythm to your life that is unique; timing is everything. The right thing at the wrong time isn’t right and the wrong thing at the right time doesn’t work.

Israel seemed to have bad timing. They were stuck in Egypt and Moses, with God’s help, could barely dislodge them. It took a miraculous deliverance to get them started and on their way out of Egypt. Then they were stuck at the Red Sea, with an impassable obstacle ahead and a pursuing army behind them. They wanted to go anywhere, but there seemed no where to run. That’s when God spoke through Moses, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today . . the Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14 NKJV. Stand still? When they were ready to be anywhere except where they were, God said for them to stay put. Ever happened to you? Sometimes God allows life to have you where you are because there is something you need to learn about God in that place and situation.

I find it interesting that the very next instruction from God through Moses was this, “Tell the children to go forward . . (they) shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:15-18 NKJV. Stand still; go forward; it’s confusing. Go forward? How? Obedience in the moment releases the miracle that is just ahead for you. Your willingness to obey even when you do not fully understand allows God to work in ways you could not foresee. See Ephesians 3:20.

How is a person to know what to do and when to do or not do it? Life requires leadership for the success of your journey and that comes from those who have been where you have not yet been and know what you do not yet know – people who care and share – caring about your progress and sharing from life experience. Leaders are not smarter, just more experienced from their mistakes and successes; with the benefit of their experience you can be smarter, exceeding their success and being spared their mistakes while you gain experience and wisdom to share with others who will follow you. Moses had to learn to listen and obey God; Israel had to learn to trust God to speak through Moses. It is my opinion that an individual does not fully develop a sensitivity to hear and obey God well, until learning to recognize the voice of God spoken in the words of others.

The Bible says, “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Proverbs 37:23 NLT. Someone once suggested that both the “steps and the stops” of the Godly are directed by the Lord! I find the latter – the stops – the harder of the two to hear and heed. When God says to stop, it is wise to stop. When God signals you to start, it is a mistake to stay. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. Your best success will always be found in the center of God’s will.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to recognize and follow God’s rhythm for your life.

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