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Month: October 2015

Don’t Be Afraid to Listen to the Voice of Love

Listen to the Voice of Love-3

Don’t Be Afraid to Listen to the Voice of Love

Have you ever been afraid to listen to what Abba Father wants to say to you? Without even knowing what He’s going to say, do you shrink back in fear? That’s kind of like getting called to the principal’s office when you were a child. Or being called to your supervisor’s office at work. Can you sense the anxiety? We don’t usually expect to hear good things from authority figures.

So what might we do when God wants to speak to us?

We listen to people.

We listen to sermons.

We read the Bible and pray.

We busy ourselves with Christian activities.

Family keeps us occupied.

Friends and work take time.

Add on the distractions of TV, movies, social media, music and books.

Don’t get me wrong. All of these things can be good. And we may hear God speak to us through them.  They might even draw us closer to Him. They might also be healthy fun and recreation.

They also might distract us from hearing the voice of our Father.

Stop for a minute and let this question search your heart:

Are you afraid to listen to what Abba Father wants to say to you?

Does the thought of hearing God speak to you bring up feelings of delight or anxiety?

Holy awe or cowering dread?

Do you run to God or away from Him?

If the thought of God speaking to you brings feelings of anxiety and fear, unconsciously you might be using the above list of possible distractions to avoid hearing God’s voice.

Do I mean that you can actually read and study the Bible and avoid hearing God speak at the same time? That’s exactly what I mean.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day searched the Scriptures. They knew the Word. But what did Jesus say to them?

“ You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:40, ESV).

Why didn’t the Pharisees come to Jesus? They didn’t believe Him. They thought they had the right theology. They were religious and self-righteous. They would not humble themselves and turn to Jesus. The sad truth is:

The Pharisees missed the heart of God in their Bible study.

They created an image of a graceless, judgmental god and became like that image themselves.  

As a young Christian, I searched for answers to my problems in the Scriptures and in books. But I missed the heart of God toward me. I also believed in a graceless, judgmental god though I would have told you that God loves you and me.  I wanted to fix myself so that I would be acceptable.  The truth that I was already acceptable by what Jesus did on the Cross had not yet captivated my heart. I was especially graceless and judgmental toward myself. Shame and guilt tormented me.

I began to realize that what I believed was a lie. Abba Father revealed His love and grace to me through the Word and people and by the Spirit. This was a long process. Quite honestly, the learning and growth continue. I need to be reminded of who God really is. I must remember that He loves me as I am right now.

Without a true understanding of who Abba Father is, I am afraid to listen to His voice. I avoid real “quiet” times. He might speak words that trigger the pain of shame and guilt. He could condemn my attitudes or behavior. He might tell me to do something that I don’t want to do. These thoughts are based on a false image of God.

Oh, how utterly essential it is to know Abba Father as He really is! Then we can become like that image of Him. Then we will want to hear His voice, the Voice of Love.

Here is an experience I had just this weekend:

Friday night I was feeling tired after a week of work. I felt discouraged and a bit depressed. I was overwhelmed with all I needed to do on a project. I wondered if all the effort was worth it. I began questioning myself. Did I miss what God really wanted me to do?

I needed to hear the voice of my Father.

Saturday morning I read from a devotional app on my phone. The reading was from Luke 13:1-9. Jesus told a parable about a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit. The owner of the vineyard wanted to cut it down. After all, the tree had three years to bear fruit and had failed. The gardener instead wanted another year to dig around it and add manure (verse 8).

The Lord spoke to me through the reading and the reflection that followed. I was on the right track and needed to be patient and continue working. Hearing the Voice of Love inspired and empowered me. I was energized and ready to get up and continue. His words gave me hope and joy.

That interaction with the Lord took about 5 minutes but totally changed my perspective and attitude.

Abba Father wants to speak with you, too. He knows your needs, your questions and your pain. His words of Love and Life will bring peace to your soul.

Simply turn to Jesus in your heart. Come into His presence. Then listen for His voice, the Voice of Love. Read the Word as a window into the heart of God.

 God's Heart

Abba Father, reveal the glory of Your grace and love to our hearts.

 

Duck on a Lake Photo credit: Welcomia via Canva

The Life Jesus Died to Give You

The work is finished.-2

The Life Jesus Died to Give You

Ever wonder why your life is not working out how you thought it would? Are you struggling and wondering where the abundant life is that Jesus promised to give you?

Do you have needs that aren’t being met? Financial or physical needs? Unhappy marriage? Maybe you’re single and struggle with loneliness. Or you want to have children but can’t. Do you need physical healing or emotional healing?

Where is the abundant life, the life of joy, peace and love? You may have wondered about this like I have. I had a plan for my life. I believed this was also God’s plan for my life.

Have you heard the following expression? “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Our plans are what we believe will be the path to a life of significance, meaning, purpose and fulfillment. What we envision for our lives may be God’s plan or maybe not.

Our plans might also be a temporary part of God’s plan like my missionary career of 17 years. I thought I would be serving in Japan for the rest of my working life. God had other plans. Losing that missionary role and identity was very difficult for me. Now I see how God’s plan was the best. Amazing, isn’t it?! Father does know best!

Today I want to get you thinking about this topic:

What is the life Jesus died to give you?

Jesus said He came to give you life, abundant life (John 10:10). What does that mean? What is this life? The very next verse says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).  He laid down His life so we could have life. What is this life?

Before we answer that question, I have a gold nugget of truth for you. I dug this gem out of the ground of painful life experiences that didn’t make sense at the time. (Not that they make total sense even now!)

Here it is:

The life experiences that wounded our hearts set us on the path to true Life. The losses, disappointments and sorrow are the strong hands that guide us to abundant life.

When we experience the abundant life, we look back over those tough times. We are grateful for those “grace gifts” of pain that opened our hearts to seek Life and not settle for anything less.

After years and years of struggling with those “grace gifts,” I can honestly say that I am grateful that my Lord used them to bring me to Life.

The abundant life is for now, not life after we get to heaven. Oh, the joy and love that can be ours in the present!

The life Jesus died to give you is far greater than any other life you could plan for yourself.

I invite you to think about 2 things.

  1. What are the “grace gifts” in your life that the Lord is using to lead you to the abundant life that He promised to give you?

The Lord used shattered dreams to lead me to Life.

  1. What is this abundant life? 

Listen to Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17:3:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The abundant life is knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son through the Holy Spirit. The life Jesus died to give you is an intimate love relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Meditate on these verses that tell us what Life is:

Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, ESV)

 

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4, ESV).

 

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ 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” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).

Come alive in the Lord who gave Himself for you! He is your Life! May you be transformed as your mind is renewed by the truth of your identity in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Have Been Given Glory!

You have been given glory.Look for the glory in the people you meet today

You Have Been Given Glory!

 

You have been given the same glory that the Father gave the Son! (see John 17:22)

What is this glory? What glory did the Father give the Son? And now what glory have you been given?

Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus then stated some amazing truths:

The Father who dwells in me does his works.”

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

The Father gave Himself to the Son. He lived in the Son. The glory is the very essence of the Father living in the Son, the presence of the Father in the Son.

Then Jesus gave the ultimate in jaw-dropping truth:

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

(See John 14 for the above verses.)

Jesus gave Himself to us. He is the Glory!

Look at John 17:21-23:

The Father in me and I in them. (verse 21)

The glory that you have given me I have given to them. (verse 22)

I in them and you in me. (verse 23)

Twice Jesus stated the truth that the Father indwells him and that Jesus is in the believer. And in the middle of these amazing truths Jesus says that He gave us the glory that the Father gave Him.

The glory that Jesus has given us is His very life in us.

What glory do you see in Jesus?

He is loving, full of grace and truth, compassionate, humble, kind, merciful and He loved His own to the extent of dying for them on a cross.

What glory do you see in your brothers and sisters?

My default has been to see the sin and the weakness. What is your default when looking at people?

On a missions trip to Nicaragua some years ago, the Lord so clearly pointed out the glory in my team members. I saw a servant’s heart in one brother. A sister expressed the love of Christ to the children and adults we met. The joy and the humility of the Lord were made visible through my brothers and sisters serving one another and the people we met in Nicaragua.

If I intentionally looked for the glory, I saw it.

That was an eye-opening experience. Seeing God’s glory in others caused me to love and appreciate them more. God’s glory creates oneness with others and a desire to worship the Lord. That joyful experience of seeing Jesus in others still amazes and thrills me.

Sometimes the glory seems to be hidden from sight. But when we are suffering and in pain, feeling broken, the light of His presence shines even brighter.

I encourage you to look for the glory. Then share what you see. Draw out the glory by using your words to build up and give grace (Ephesian 4:29).

Others will see the glory of the Lord in you!

Describe the glory that you see in your brothers and sisters in the Lord.