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Hope Eternal

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."  Luke 2:14

“Glory to you oh, God, for through you I have hope and peace!  The world cannot give me peace but only unfulfilled desires and longings.  The world relies on the seen and external for their hope but faith is through the unseen and eternal! Today as the world spins out of control I place my peace and hope in you, God. Amen”

I promise myself each day that I won’t check in with the chaos of the world and yet time and again I find my fingers creeping over my keyboard to read the latest news.  As a Christian and a citizen of this world it’s been difficult to find the balance of my responsibility as a “not yet.”  By that I mean I’ve been saved but not yet home with God.  I long for the day to see Jesus’ face and be free of this chaos.  But Jesus clearly wants us doing God’s good works while here on earth.

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

So that means we have a responsibility to be good citizens of our communities.  Spreading God’s Word through deeds and words.  It means we need to know what stresses and pains our world is experiencing so we can be God’s message of hope and therefore glorify Him.  

In the book of Jude he admonishes to take steps to help those who are new believers and not yet believers.  It’s important to note the danger he warns of by getting too close to the fiery chaos of the world.  

“…save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 23

Mixed with fear.  I think sometimes we Christians like to dabble in the world of chaos thinking a little bit is ok.  But each time we turn on the news or start discussing politics we should first give thanks to God for where our eternal hope lies and then proceed with a bit of Jesus’ Teflon surrounding us.  He let the Pharisees ignorance and at times evil ways bounce off Him.  Because He knew who He belonged to.  And He consistently gave glory to God when speaking back into the chaos.

Friends, it’s not wrong to be actively informed or involved with the goings-on of the world.  Jesus and the apostles jumped in with both feet to tell the world about the Father.  They didn’t turn away from the troubles of the world, they came to spread hope and glorify God.  But we must always remember the Kingdom awaiting us. 

 

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Home

The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  Revelation 21:19-20

A few weeks ago, I was so blessed to be able to spend two weeks visiting my daughter and their new baby.  But about a week and a half in I told her, “I love being here but I really miss being home.”  There’s something about home that feels comfortable.  Maybe it’s your own bed and pillows, your comfy chair that’s worn just right, the perfect cutting knife in your drawer, or just the knowledge of where everything is located.  

Whether your house is a home, an apartment, on wheels, or even a Bedouin tent, God instilled in us the idea of “being home.”  Maybe it’s because in this world we who have recognized Jesus as our Lord and Savior know this isn’t our final home.  We long for the day  we can go home to Him.  

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Jeremiah 29:4-14

In his letter to the Israelites living in exile, Jeremiah passes along God’s directives that apply to all of us today.  Settle down, plant roots, make a place for ourselves while being God’s example of holy people.  And I thank God today for not only the home He has helped my husband and I build together but for the longing for our final home in beautiful Eden.

Faith

Night & Day

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5

For about six months one year I barely slept.  I had terrible sinus issues and when I laid down they were exacerbated.  What little sleep I got was sitting up and in short bursts.  Eventually, the lack of sleep caught up to me.  I was so irritable and quick to cry.  After a successful surgery I, thankfully, found myself back in blissful dreamland.  That time  showed me how important God’s structure for us truly is.  

When you think about our lives, we have many structures God created for us.  Besides night and day, we have our years mapped out.  For many, our days are also broken up in going to work or school and coming home, hopefully with a bit of rest in between.  We count our days in school until we graduate then we take a brief rest and head off to college or jobs.  Our gardens are planted for Spring and Summer harvests and take a rest while we plan and prepare for Winter.  Each year we mark the end of 365 days and make a plan for something new in the next.  Our birthdays mark a time to evaluate what we’ve accomplished and dream big for the future.  Today, marks Sunday, the first day of the new week.  It also is a day of rest and time to honor God.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

We’ve heard the saying, “the only thing guaranteed in life is death and  taxes.”  But  that’s not really true.  We know when we lay down our head at night the morning will come.  We know the cold of winter will give way to the beauty of spring.  We know that each day we will get older, not younger.   God’s plan, His structure for us, is like so many of His gifts to us – a comfort.  And it’s a reflection of who He is  —  the  Lord of this marvelous creation that can be counted on to be with us forever and ever. 

 

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Peace

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

For many years I was in search mode with my faith.  I kept searching for something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  At first, I thought it was to be accepted.  Then I turned to searching for joy.  I finally landed on the underlying need for all my searching – peace.  I  realized what I wanted each and every day was to wake up with sense of peace, go through my day with peace and lay down my head at night peace-filled.

In a recent Bible study I did by Christian teacher Jackie Hill Perry on the book of Jude, she explained the two different types of Christian peace.  1) Peace with God  and 2) Peace from God.  

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

During the Christmas holidays one of the great misunderstandings or misuses of Bible words are “peace on Earth.”   So many non-Christians (and probably many self-identified Christians) think this means no war, no strife.  But the “peace” we can be so thankful for is the peace we now have WITH God after we repented and entered into a life of submission to Him.  In effect, our relationship, which was fractured, is now repaired.  Secondly, the peace with get FROM God is the knowledge that He is in ultimate control of this world and we know our final place will rest with Him in eternity.  

Although it’d certainly be awesome if this world were to stop being at war with each other, if violence wasn’t an everyday occurrence, I know that the unrepentant man will always act for the passions of the flesh.  

Now that my search is complete, I am working every day to live in God’s gift of peace.  I  can easily fall into the well-worn paths of the world that I created but I’m forging a new road with His help. 

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The Well-Worn Path

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

In the mid-1800s hundreds of thousands of pioneers left the comfort of their eastern homes beyond the Mississippi River and traveled West toward what we now call Oregon.  The result of those courageous pioneers is hundreds of miles of well-worn wagon wheel ruts.  In some places the gouges from the wagons extend four feet deep in the rock.  It became a symbol of being on the right path when your wagon wheels found the ruts for which to follow.  And because they were so deep it meant your wheels would stay true to that path.

And there lies the idea behind “being in a rut.”  A well-worn path that, in some cases, is a good place.  So often, however, the result of creating those paths in our lives leads us down roads we long to escape.  I wonder how many of us Christians find ourselves in a well-worn path that either isn’t to our liking or to God’s?  

The last few weeks we’ve looked at ways Christians are expected to stand apart, be held to a higher standard, and stand resolutely with Christ, not the world.  But for many of us that means climbing out of that four foot deep rut.  The rut of going along to get along.  The rut of living in half-truths such as only expressing love without truth or vice versa.  The rut of an unintentional life.  The rut of sitting in a church where you aren’t convicted or spurred to share the message of eternal life.  The rut of any number of sins.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9-10

The Apostle Paul was in a rut.  He followed half-truths taught by the Pharisees and then he, himself, passed those false truths along with a vengeance.  It wasn’t until Jesus abruptly entered his life and yanked him out of that four foot hole that he realized his state.  And when he did, he took the message in Psalm 91 to heart.  He pressed on and on staying close to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  He trusted that although perils would befall him it would not stop him from his mission.  And thank God.  Because he, like you and I, was just a man.  A regular flesh and blood human.  A person filled with sinful ways.  Without his trust in God, without his life of intentionally following Jesus we wouldn’t have his wise words to guide us.  He was like Jesus in a sense that God wanted us to have a fleshly example to model.  Jesus clothed Himself in skin so he could endure our earthly life.  And endure it with full trust in God.  

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. Psalm 91:14

Because He loves me just as much as He loved Paul, I know that I can live a bold life in the name of Jesus.  I know that even when hands come against me or when words try to hurt me, I will receive the ultimate promised prize.  And when we live a life in worldly ruts – cowering before our accusers, afraid of speaking our faith, staying in the shadows not helping pull our fellow travelers from the flame – we are saying to God, “I really don’t trust you to work all things for my good.”

The ruts we need to seek are the well-worn paths of the saints, not the sinners.  The paths that Jesus has laid out for us are so clearly defined in His Word.  We need to look for them as parents, as spouses, as co-workers, as sisters in Christ, as citizens.  

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:15-16

We can’t do this alone my friends.  Through praying in the Spirit (not the flesh), through Christian fellowship, good teaching, and constantly living with God just ahead of us as our pioneer guide we can accomplish everything He asks of us.  And He will satisfy us with salvation and the glory of heaven.

Friends, what well-worn worldly paths are you living in?  Is it your parenting style?  Or maybe you’ve flipped the script in your marriage.  Are you in too deep with equating your faith with your politics?  Have you forgotten that God sees and knows every word you speak, every emotion that lies in our heart?  Are you taking advantage of God’s promised salvation and disobeying Him without repentance?   It’s time to stop in our tracks and look up to the edge of the rut.  Stick out your hand and ask the Holy Spirit for a leg up.  You can do it, we can do it.  You are not alone.

Join me starting November 1-30 for 30 Days of Thankfulness!

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Sojourners & Exiles

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4

We Christians are sojourners and exiles.  This is not where our ultimate allegiance lies!  

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

We certainly aren’t lacking in opportunities to engage in political discourse these days.  From mask wearing to vaccine mandates and budget crises to abortion laws the world around us is in quite a turmoil.  But when, as Christians, are we to engage?  When are we called to join the fight and stand resolutely in our faith?  These next two posts will look at our life as Christians and the political realm.  First, starting with what role the church, and therefore Christians, play in our common citizenry.

But let’s back up a bit.  For those of us living in the United States we’ve seen a serious deterioration from our Christian-held values over the last 70 years or so.  Not long ago almost all businesses were closed on Sundays and you certainly couldn’t by alcohol on that day.  Now, a business that makes the decision to not be open on Sundays because of their beliefs is vilified.  I’ve heard different arguments about whether or not the United States was a special project by God.  Whatever stance you may take on that we can be certain that every single nation was formed by God.  Every single head of state has been placed in their position by God and therefore is subject to His expectations and final judgment.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

That the United States was founded with God and the idea of His sovereignty at the forefront should not, however, be in dispute.  Besides the federal founding documents, all state constitutions, except one, reference God and His oversight of said government in the beginning of those documents.  It was then left to the citizens, as it has throughout the history of the world, to maintain that stance.

When you get deep in to C.S. Lewis’ great Christian apologetic book, Mere Christianity, you’ll find the concept of a Moral Law.  Through every empire, every phase of human existence we turn to this moral law for guidance.  We know what basically is wrong (ie: killing another human for gain or pleasure) and what is right (ie: helping a widow or orphaned child).  And, as Mr. Lewis argues, no matter your faith or lack thereof those concepts have been placed in our hearts and minds by someone.

But as a society drifts further away from a common faith, as in the case of much of Europe, North America and South America, we create new ways of working around what we know to be right and wrong.  We bend the moral law to fit the desires of our flesh and we seek to be accepted by the world.

You cannot make men good by (man-made)law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And so, as Christians we watch as one of the last bastions of religious freedom, the United States, which also built upon that with many other freedoms, begin to crumble.  And we can so easily misplace our fears on our elected officials and the laws they create. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

At the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Romans ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone that did not submit to their laws was imprisoned, tortured, killed, or pushed out of everyday society.  And Paul reminds not just Timothy but all of us who read this message that we have one commander to whom we must be most concerned – God and His son Jesus Christ.  We are set apart to be holy and live a holy life.

We are reminded that our role in this world is a sort of dual citizenship – to the country we call home and the home that waits for us.  It’s a balancing act that the disciples knew all too well.  We are to obey the laws of our government as good guests yet remembering we have limits based on God’s expectation of our adherence to His moral laws and knowledge of the final judgment.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It may come as a surprise to many Christians in the United States but it isn’t our role to create a “just society.”  It is our role to seek justice for those in need in our communities but we can’t right every wrong.  We need to be comforted that God is in charge and we can, as individuals and corporately do His good works.  But Jesus, time and again, never sought regime change.  He sought heart change. He sought obedience by His followers to God’s expectations.

Being a sojourner did not require isolation from surrounding societies.  Abraham seems to have understood the need to exercise prudential judgment about how, when and with whom to share common activity.  One approach did not fit all cases.

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

So does this mean we shouldn’t try and affect our government’s choices or laws?  No, it’s just remembering who we serve first, resolutely.  It’s remembering the difference between violently protesting a wrong and speaking out within the framework of how God wants us to act.  It’s figuring out where God and the church stands on an issue (ie: abortion) and where something may not be biblical at all (ie: the federal budget).  It’s making sure our heart and mind set firmly with God, not the world.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with these issues a lot.   I’ve stood on street corners waving my country’s flag and promoting a candidate.  I’ve stood up to politicians who have demonstrated a lack of moral character. Neither of which are wrong for a Christian.  I vote in every single election. Which is, in a way, expected as a Christian. But as my faith progresses, I’m taking a new view of my place on this big blue planet.  When I firmly set King Jesus as my authority, as my hope, as the Lord and Savior not just of my world but of every single human that has existed and will exist, my perspectives change.

As Christians we cannot continue to say we trust God, we know God will judge in the final conflict and still scream in outrage at people who disagree with our political opinion.  That message speaks loud and clear to non-believers that we don’t trust God.  That we haven’t set Him as our authority. That we have no concern for eternity. 

It’s time, fellow sojourners, to pull out our passports and remind ourselves of our future travel plans.  To stand resolutely with the one King that will judge everyone for all ungodly acts.  He has not appointed us commissioners of that judgment.  Yet, we are also not called to be passive in our worldly citizenry — sitting back and watching the world fall around us. He has appointed us as soldiers to exhort others to follow Him before it is too late.

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Walking The Talk

The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness. Isaiah 38:19

I have a confession to make.  I wasn’t an intentional Christian parent.  Church was often relegated to the backseat during softball season (which pretty much lasts 9 months).  I didn’t make sure my kids were involved in Christian youth groups.  When we did pray at dinner we prayed the same prayer each time until it became almost meaningless.  We didn’t talk about the Bible, we didn’t talk about our faith.  I don’t think I’m alone in this confession.  And I’m sure I’m not alone in saying there was a price paid for our “Christian-lite” stance.

I am thankful that, when my younger daughter went off to college, she was drawn to a Christian athlete organization and then a local church.  Through that program she learned what we had failed to teach – the truth about our Savior and how much God loves us.   My older daughter?  She’s probably like a lot of our twenty-somethings.  She believes in God but beyond that it gets murky.  

“The single most important factor of shaping children’s religious lives is their parents – not society, not youth leaders, but their parents.”

Christian Smith, Handing Down the Faith

In other words, if you model faithfulness, if you live out what you say you believe on Sunday, the chances of your child being a devoted follower of Christ is increased exponentially.  And if, like I did, you lead a lukewarm faith life you’ll most likely create the same fruit. Even worse, if you act or speak hypocritically you may get no fruit at all.

A few weeks ago, our pastor taught on Genesis 18:16-19:29.  An overarching theme in these verses is the concept of being or having an advocate.  Someone who will hold us up and speak for us to God.  Abraham wrangled with God to save just a few people from the sin-filled cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  In the end, his pleas saved his nephew, Lot, and Lot’s daughters.  It’s a beautiful foreshadowing of the ultimate Advocate – Jesus.  As you can see in these two verses.

Then he (Abraham) said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”  He (God) answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  Genesis 18:32
Jesus: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John 17:15

How many of us, as parents or grandparents or even aunts and uncles, see ourselves as “advocates” for our children?  See being in that role as possibly one of the most important ones we will ever have?  How many of us have prioritized our faith over the sparkling lights of “after school activities?” Their very souls are what we are talking about here.  I’ve heard so many parents grieve their adult children’s faith.  And so we pray as their advocate.  How about we also live as one too?

Abraham was able to plead directly with God.  A back and forth conversation.  How?  From the beginning of his relationship with God, Abraham obeyed and worked to be a faithful servant – with a few hiccups along the way.  What does that look like as modern parents today?  How can we be resolute in not compromising our children’s eternity?

In my next post I’ll talk about opening our eyes as parents to our everyday decisions.  Are they of the world of the flesh or of God’s will?  I recently listened to author Christian Smith about the research he has done in the area of youth and faith.  His current book is titled, Handing Down the Faith.  Here’s few great nuggets from the book.

  1. Teens are actually paying attention to you.  That might come as a shock to many.  He found that even into their 20s our kids are actively noticing how we live and what we “preach.”
  2. Just saying you are a Christian (Buddhist, Jew, etc) isn’t enough.  Kids are learning both positive and negative faith examples.
  3. We aren’t just counteracting world views but some church ones as well.  Many Christian youth programs teach what he termed, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – act morally, be a nice person, and don’t judge.   That’s great when life is easy.  But as our kids age and the world comes crashing down it causes them to fall away.
  4. Be authoritative – demand expectations, standards, with an abundance of warmth and support.  Note: not “authoritarian.”
  5. Talk routinely about religion.  While your faith doesn’t need to be the subject of each discussion your faith should be woven in and used for handling conflict and decision making.
  6. Walk the talk.  If you live a life of service, humility, forgiveness and worship your kids will have the best example they will ever need.
  7. Channel “internalization.”  Or in other words place your child in situations where they will be influenced positively in your faith by others such as youth groups, religious schools, etc.
  8. Know the Word.  A good teacher is only as good as how well they know their topic!
  9. Play the long game.  None of us are wholly responsible for anyone’s faith and salvation.  But the building blocks you instill are certainly a great cornerstone!
  10. Pray.  And pray some more.  Pray for knowledge, pray for discernment, pray for your children and your spouse. Pray for doors to open for conversations and then walk through them!

I may have missed the opportunity when my kids were younger to instill Jesus into their lives.  But to be fair, He wasn’t deeply rooted in mine either.  Thankfully, how I’ve allowed Jesus to change me and use me is also a great lesson for my adult children.  Until this Age of Grace is over, it is never too late for God to work in our familys’ lives.  As a changed follower I’m asking for His help, so that I can stand resolutely and faithfully in being my kids’ advocate.  

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The Closing Door

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

It’s a strange conflict we humans live out – we all know that everything will die but we live as though we will never die.  As though the ones we love will never perish.  As Christians, when we don’t acknowledge this full truth, we can trick ourselves into thinking we have time to finally obey God or to have that salvation talk with our son or daughter.

Having recently completed a study on Revelation it’s become clearer to me how I am living that half-truth.  I have people in my life that I really want to be with in eternity.  People that I love and don’t want them to be prey to Babylon’s vices.  

I’m praising God today for time and for our continuance of living in the age of Grace.  I heard the evangelist Joyce Meyer say on a number of occasions that we don’t know when the events recorded in Revelation will take place but we are certainly one more day closer.  And once those events unfold the Age of Grace will become the Age of Judgment.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.  Revelation 22:17

The study of Revelation was difficult to hear at times.  Until you get to the last couple of chapters.  Then you see the overwhelming beauty of the new Eden unfold.  And you can’t help but say “I want that.  I want that for myself and the ones I love!”  You certainly don’t want what takes place in the previous chapters!  Even in those chapters, fraught with despair and destruction however, God adds His Holy pauses.  He gives us more chances to turn to him.  He gives us more time, more grace.  More than what any of us deserve.

I’ve read that God will only prolong our trials until we finally “get it.”  Until we finally just trust Him and obey.  It’s like He really doesn’t want to pull the final trigger.  The door is ever so slowly closing while He beckons more of us in.  But it is closing to be sure.  

Until that door is closed and we are gathered up into the heavens, into the new Eden, I want to use this God-given time wisely.  I want to take advantage of this Age of Grace and help squeeze the people I love through that door.  


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The Everlasting God

Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

I don’t know about you but as a “baby Christian” I would go entire days if not weeks without thinking about God.  Without making any decision based on what God wanted of me.  As my journey has progressed that “forgetting about God” can be counted in minutes and hours.  And with that I have seen so many changes in my life.

The verse today takes place as the end times draw near.  Creatures in heaven praising God “day and night” simply because of his everlasting holiness. As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve seen so often how God wants a close relationship with us.  Here in this verse the creatures never forget about God.  But you’ll notice that God is also a constant.  He was and is and is to come. 

Since the 1970s, one group or another has played “chicken little” screaming from the rooftops about the world ending due to either overpopulation, nuclear war, economic collapse, global warming, etc.  At one point a politician even posted a countdown to Earth’s destruction — which ran out about 8 years ago.  And according to a current politician we have about 10 years left before the Earth implodes apparently.  

But here’s the thing, when you study the Book of Revelation it’s not the Earth or God that is destroyed, it’s sin.  God is the Alpha and Omega.  He created the beginning and will be with us throughout eternity.

Today I praise the everlasting God.  We cannot destroy God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  We can only, through our sin-filled, unrepentant lives destroy ourselves.  My earthly goal is to serve God as best I can with Jesus as my guidebook and the Holy Spirit as my tour guide.  That way I can join with the creatures in heaven continuously praising His name.


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Listen Up!

Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 
John 5:25

Today’s Fresh Fire is our last in this series.  It’s been a great adventure finding and studying verses that have helped me bolster my faith.  I hope these verses have helped your faith journey as well!

The idea of hearing the voice of God makes me think of my dog, Tucker.  When he was just a puppy, I made a commitment to train him much differently than our previous dog.  When my other dog was a puppy, I also had two small children to train.  And the dog was the last to get my attention!  So, with Tucker I’ve made it a point to make him into a good walking dog.  At this point in his training, he walks with a e-collar rather than a leash.

There were a few training goals which my husband poo-poo’d at the time.  One, that Tucker be trained to only chase rabbits when I allowed it.  And two, to only cross the street when he received our approval.  When my friends walk with me and Tucker they know that at each street corner we must stop, look both ways and proceed.  Tucker, even while walking slightly ahead of me, will sit at each corner and wait for me.  A training feat accomplished!

But what does this have to do with the voice of God?  You see, my real goal with Tucker was to help him not get hit by a car if say, he were to be in the front yard with me while off leash.  So, when we approached a corner and a car was passing by, even if it was going parallel to us, I made him wait.  I associated not only the changing texture of the surface he was on but also the sound of cars with his need to wait.

And I can almost swear he now looks both ways, looking and listening for cars.  He has learned to listen to something outside his little doggie mind before he can proceed safely.

Isn’t that what God wants from us?  To be so well trained to listen for Him that we don’t proceed until we hear what He wants of us?

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
Ezekiel 3:1

Throughout this series through verse after verse we have heard that to stay close to God we must pray, read His Word and listen through silent mediation.  And the Bible shows us so many ways which God will speak to us – dreams, visions (like with Ezekiel), burning bushes, through others, signs, and the written word.  If we aren’t listening to all His ways then how can we ever expect to cross the street safely?  To move forward in our lives along His preferred path?

When Jesus made the statement in our verse today, He is telling us to listen up!  To pay close attention!  He tells us that a time is coming where when we hear His voice again it’s resurrection time.  For those who hear His Word and turn to Him for the first time, that resurrection might mean tomorrow.  Their dead souls come to live in new life.  For others it will be when the believers are raised from the dead and enter into God’s glorious eternity.  While still others will be resurrected and judged harshly.

But if we aren’t listening for Him, what will we miss out on?  We miss the opportunity to be made righteous.  We miss the opportunities to enjoy peace and grace and forgiveness right now.

This thing I know, that when I have neither heard nor read, I have yet felt the voice of God within me, and the Spirit has, himself, revealed some dark mystery, opened some secret, guided me into some truth, given me some direction, led me in some path, or in some other way has immediately spoken to me himself; and I believe it is so with every man at conversion;

Charles Spurgeon, The Majestic Voice

I was at my first women’s Bible retreat and we were challenged to go find a quiet place to talk with God.  I found myself at a rustic, outdoor chapel of sorts.  As I sat in prayer, I laid my heavy heart out for God.  My constant prayer at the time was to help me find peace and a lightness of spirit.  I felt so heavy with burdens.  As I finished my prayer a flock of tiny birds flew directly in front of me from one side of the chapel to another.  As they raced each other along their path they chirped loudly at each other – a flock of children laughing and squealing in some unseen game.  The landed in a tree just above me and kept up their heavenly laughter.  And I laughed along with them.

I realized immediately it was God snapping His fingers at me to say, “Wake up! There is joy to be had all around you! You see, even my tiny birds, who have only themselves, this tree and this moment are filled with laughter.  You have so much more that I have given you!”

The voice of God is everywhere.  It’s in us.  He fills our dreams.  He thunders with each storm and crashing wave.  He gently rocks us to sleep with the croaking frogs.  He loves us with the cooing of a baby.  He runs laughing with us while getting that kite up in the air.  To truly hear Him, to listen to what He has to say today, we just need a bit of practice and some well-planned training.  The next time you find yourself needing to cross a proverbial street in your life take a moment to listen. He will guide you safely across.