When I Hear God’s Voice

The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.  Psalm 50:1-2

Christ’s death on the cross was for everyone.  The call is universal and it is sounded out to all men and women.  Jesus showed us the way to heaven, revealed that He is the door, and announced that He was the light of the world.  But men have always loved darkness rather than light.  Instead of the light being attractive, we are repelled by it.  Christ is just not desirable to us.  His light is too bright and we shield our eyes from it and turn away.

So, who will believe if all people love darkness?  The ones God specifically calls; the ones whose eyes are opened to see His glory.  Ah, this call is personal.  This call came to us by name.

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Whenever God speaks a word, it is effective.

  • God spoke a Word and this dead planet began to pulsate with life.  What once looked like Mars began to grow green.
  • God spoke a Word to a dead man, a decaying man, wrapped up like a mummy, and this man came to life.  His body regenerated.  “Lazarus, come forth!” was the call.  God’s Word produced life out of death.
  • God spoke a Word, called my name, and I was awakened out of spiritual death.  The call prompted me to turn and look into the face of Christ.  I understood His message of salvation and believed.  If He hadn’t spoken to me and opened my eyes, I would have continued on my death march.

Nobody knows whom God will call.  Because of that, my heart reaches out to God in prayer for those who haven’t yet heard their name spoken by God.  Now, Christ is still unattractive to them, even repulsive. Once God calls their name, they will never be the same.

The call is powerful like dynamite.  It transformed a brutal murderer into a zealot.  The Damascus road was the place it happened.  Paul was the man.   I know this transformation, too.  Don’t you?  The longer I live near Jesus and soak in His Words, the more I cease to know the old me.  You’ll never know how many times I read old journals and respond out loud, “What was your problem, Christine?” 

The call is to a new life.  Don’t walk!  Run to Calvary if you are hearing your name whispered in your soul.

Oh, still speak.  I love how You speak to me.  I love the results of Your touch on my life.  Amen

Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love?

The insolent smear me with lies; their heart is unfeeling like fat.  Psalm 119: 69, 70

I often wonder how people can do what they do.  (That includes me when I sin.)   Here, at least in one instance, the answer is given.  The sin ~ someone concocted a series of lies about another person for personal payoff.   The cause ~ their heart was fattened by pleasure over time and ceased to feel remorse over the pain they caused.

Consider a rebellious child who acts out.  Others can give into him to stop the tantrums.  But without discipline, he will repeat the tantrums until they become a way of life.  The pleasure he feels when he gets what he wants will become his drug of choice and he will cease to regret the acts he commits in favor of feeling good.  Without Jesus, there will be no remorse.

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If you’ve suffered at the hands of one who never said “I’m sorry,” you may have asked the question, “How could this person do this to me and not even feel badly that they hurt me?”  This scripture answers the question.  The pleasure they got by sinning against you numbed their conscience. They may have seen your tears, heard your pain expressed, but shrugged their shoulders.  You just couldn’t understand such coldness of heart.

God is our instructor today.  An unfeeling heart develops over time, never overnight.  It belongs to the person who has been fattened by the pleasures of his choices, even choices that have caused pain to someone he claims to love.

Only God can transform the heart of a sinner.  Only God can comfort the victims.  The sinner must love Jesus more than the payoff of self-gratification and the victim must love Jesus more than taking revenge.

Jesus, you knew the hearts of men.  You were not deceived.  Teach me to look beyond their behavior to the spiritual cause.  I need to pray for others’ spiritual disease instead of just asking you to stop their behavior.  Spirit, show me how to pray.  Amen

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When My Day Falls Apart Early

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Sometimes you know by 8:00 a.m. that your day is going to be difficult. Already, things have unraveled and your peace has gone south. Already, your day’s reservoir of patience has been used up.

I thought twice before picking today’s scripture. All too often, it has been used as a rod of correction on anyone who admits they’re struggling. Please, let’s not do that! Scripture is not meant to be a muzzle; an instrument to encourage denial. How many have stopped talking to put on a happy face after someone scolded them with God’s Word?  I’ve done it – just to fit in.

So what in the world can I rejoice over as I assess the mayhem of my morning? Certainly not the events I endured. Certainly not the temper of a family member who lost it at the breakfast table. But most certainly a faithful Father who will excel, once again, at fingering the ragged edges of my soul and mending them together. I rejoice (with a deep joy and comfort) that I didn’t live through it alone. I know that He saw it all and knows what it will take to help me regain my spiritual equilibrium.

I’ve noticed that I can often handle a crisis much better than an annoyance. It’s amazing what can undo me. The other day, I went to the basement to do some cleaning. One of my chores was to empty used cat litter into a garbage bag and bring it upstairs to put in the trash. It was heavy and as I climbed the stairs, the bag caught on a part of the railing bracket.

Frustrated business woman working with laptop in office

You guessed it ~ litter started running out the bottom through a large hole but I didn’t hear it because the stairs are carpeted. I reached the landing and the litter continued to drain out onto the hall carpets.  Still unaware, I continued on through the house.  It wasn’t until I reached the hardwood floors in our family room that I heard the sound of rain hitting the floor. I turned around to see a very long, and very deep, trail behind me. I was exclaiming out loud to myself ~ “What have you done, Christine? Oh, what have you done?!”  It got the best of me. I put the bag down, went to the piano and played 30 minutes worth of Mozart Sonatas to calm down.  (A childhood coping mechanism.)  Still not able to deal with the mess, I went on to a few other distracting chores before having the calm to start the clean up effort.

I’m embarrassed to admit, really, that something as mundane as that got to me. But it did.  I don’t know about you but I find that I can’t predict what it will be that will nearly undo me.

In ten years, when I’ve long forgotten the events of my morning, God will still be doing what God does ~ watching His children live their lives, engaging His children as they cope with the events, and soothing His children with just the right words. The only One who could possibly know just what to say is the One who knows the mental and emotional pathways that take me to my place of utter frustration and pain.

No matter how your day started, Your Father knows and has something to say that will make your heart feel resilient again.

So I say, “Lord, I am rejoicing in You. You are Lord of my day. In Jesus’ name, Amen

When Parting Is Best

Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.  Psalm 119:115

In David’s courts, there would be men who would flatter him in order to secure their own place in the palace.  There would also be traitors who would try to get David’s ear and steer him in directions that would sabotage his effective leadership.  Discerning those with ulterior motives was as difficult for David as it is for us but the first line of defense is the recognition that such men exist.  Satan makes sure of it and oftentimes, God allows it, so that our spiritual senses can be sharpened and our wisdom increased.

For a seed to grow and develop, it needs good soil.  The toxic soil of bad company fails to give the seeds of faith the nourishment they need to thrive.  The weeds of bad language, bad advice, and a life of compromise lived out in close proximity, threaten growth.  With little refreshing rains, seeds of spiritual life will sprout, then appear sickly.  They will be a muted shade of green, bent over and withered, and fail to ever mature to bear fruit.

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Spend enough time in the company of people who choose to walk with the world instead of Christ, and you will find it difficult to choose Christ. You will say to yourself, “Either I have to part company or my ability to follow Christ and fight for His kingdom will be affected.”

  • If I spend most of my time with someone who hates Jesus, the spiritual friction will drag me down.  Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I will see the vibrant edges of my faith wither.
  • If I spend most of my time with a ‘technical Christian’, one who says they love Jesus but appears neutral by the way they live, my passion will be compromised.
  • If I spend much time with radical, faith-filled, passionate believers, their faith will infect me.  My soil becomes rich as we treasure the Word, share our stories, and cheer each other on to greater ventures for the kingdom.

Whom I allow to have access to my ear, daily, affects me.  It is one thing to love the lost and reach out to the hurting with humility.  It is quite another to make them my confidants.  Many today need to make a critical decision to change their company.  Their spiritual survival depends on it.

Loyalty does not equal perpetuating a destructive affiliation.  Teach your church how to exercise discernment with humility.  Amen

The Effects Of You

Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statues.  Psalm 119:135

When lovers who haven’t seen each other in a a long time walk into the same room, there is a pregnant moment when their faces light up.  Eyes widen, wordless exclamations pour out, and then arms are opened wide to embrace without any thought of restraint.  Sheer happiness causes their faces to shine.

One of the meanings of ‘shine’ in this text is what happens when the sun arises at daybreak.  The dark begins to abate with the glorious entrance of light on the horizon.  It is not just any light; it is a bit orange and golden.  Nothing resembles a sunrise because it has characteristics all its own.  Perhaps David is trying to convey that God is so warmed by His children that His countenance is transformed when He sees us.  It is like the dawning of a sunrise upon the heart.  What a beautiful picture.

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To feel the warmth of His smile is to have the best of all gifts today. I can stand in any storm if I know His face is turned toward me.  I can find endless reserves of strength if I know that His face is traced with tenderness.  David did not ask for more power, more wealth, or even more peace.  He asked for God’s smile.  In the radiance of God’s favor, David wants to be taught.  The love of instruction is never greater than when one worships the Teacher.  David  is the star pupil in a class of one.  God is not a distant professor but a warm, engaging, and storytelling Father.

Bring to me the sunrise of your smile, Father.  Then let my face be radiant with all the effects of You.  Amen

Pitching My Tent Toward Home

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Psalm 119:36

To ‘incline my heart’ means I’ve pitched my tent in His direction.

img_9959I’ve chosen to pack a few belongings, leave my home country, and go to the perfect camping spot where I can see the kingdom.  Every morning, the dawn of His love and faithfulness is in view.  I’ve detached myself from the world I’ve left behind.  It no longer consumes me.  I’m a sojourner with minimal stuff.  My focal point has become the  joy of His company.

I am in awe that He longs for a relationship with me.  I am surprised that He doesn’t tire of me after so much time together.  His desire for me only grows, not wanes.  I don’t really understand it because I know that if you spend enough time with just one person here on earth, eventually there’s a rub.  You want your freedom.  You crave alone time.  Not so with God.  When He’s my home, there are no quirks and habits to repel me. I want more of Him, not less.  He wants more of me, not less.

What inspirational thoughts but here’s the catch.  I can’t drive down the stakes of my tent in two worlds and expect to live at peace.  My heart can only have one home.  Unlike those who enjoy a winter home and summer home and divide their time between the two, God says that I must choose or risk being unstable. The two kingdoms, and those who rule them, are incompatible.  How can I be intimate with both rulers, live like a traitor, and enjoy well-being?

So I’ve made my choice.  I’ve pitched my tent toward glory and I realize that I’m on a journey to a new address.  My home will be wherever He is and while I make my way there, His Spirit is with me – guiding me through the minefields of battle – comforting me and healing the wounds I’ve sustained in the many skirmishes.  I know the final victory that is to come but in the heat of battle, His company is enough.  I accept that life will be imperfect until I experience the glory of perfection.

 I drive down the stakes of my tent deeper into the soil of You. Amen

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Impatience and Acting Out

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. Psalm 123:2

Ok, here goes. I don’t function well in disorder. I thrive on order. I don’t like mental cobwebs. I like clarity and persevere until I have it. I don’t like an array of papers on my desk. My goal is to start my weekend with my work finished. How bad is this condition?

My husband, Ron, got up one morning to get a drink and when he got back to the bed, I had made it. He laughed and said, “Guess I’m getting up.” Numerous times, too numerous to count, he left his coffee cup to go do something and when he returned, it was emptied and in the dishwasher. There have been jokes told (mostly true) that when we move into a new home, I want the pictures up by bedtime. My love for order, and closure, is over the top and I’m sure I’m OCD.

bathrobeRon once owned a navy blue plaid bathrobe. He had it many years and I thought it was time for a new one. I suggested ditching it. He protested and said it wasn’t time. A few more years went by and I felt it was surely time by then. Too ratty and faded for even charity, it went in the garbage. On the next garbage pick-up day, the bathrobe was at the curb. Little did I know that this would be a morning Ron would lift the lid on the garbage can for some reason. (Probably to check on what I had thrown out.) There was his bathrobe. I happened to look outside to see him walking up the driveway and, you guessed it, wearing his bathrobe. He rolled his eyes and I was hysterical. Now, when anything is missing, I tell him it’s probably with his bathrobe.

Most people have storage in their basement or garage. We have no storage because we have nothing to store.   I’ve organized and weeded out. If I don’t use something in two years, it’s gone. The only things in our basement are several bins of Christmas decorations.

I think it’s time to look at David’s words. God is not impulsive. God is patient and waits until the perfect time to act in holiness. He is content to let us wait in our messes until we sort them out spiritually. Much of my life has been learning to wait in God’s waiting room. Decades have passed before God has brought salvation to a situation. And I have to say that when it came ~ I knew it was the right time.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, Ron no longer has the bathrobe. He wanted me to tell you.

Lord, Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for teaching me to wait. Help me to feel gratitude in the midst of waiting. For that, I need Your grace. Amen