Listening Through the Noise

Listen
In my last post I wrote about seeing through the storms of life with the eyes of faith. And how do we sharpen our eyes of faith? We have to listen to the word of God.

So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. -Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

But, in order for us to hear clearly, our hearing ability should be able to pierce through the noise. Not only the natural noise of the world, but more importantly the noise that distracts our hearts from fully receiving God’s word. This takes several forms.

1. Reason.
Benjamin Franklin said it: “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” This is because faith sees beyond reason. Faith stems from within; reason stems from without. Reason looks for answers; faith says they are already there.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

2. Comfort Zone.
Faith is to venture out onto the purpose of God for our lives. But our comfort zone will make us believe that we don’t have to. Our comfort zone will actually make us deaf to the word of God, making us want to be entertained, intellectually tickled and even deceiving ourselves to believe that we are accomplishing God’s work where he doesn’t want us to be.

Consider Isaiah’s attitude:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8

3. Excuses.
The Gospel of Luke gives us a pointed illustration of this in chapter 9, verses 57-62, where we read of three men who made excuses instead of venturing out in faith to follow Jesus. In this passage, they heard the voice of the Lord, but still made excuses. Add to these excuses the oft-repeated one: “I did not hear from God.” Yet, the reality is, they refuse to listen.

Apparently the noise is far more compelling.

4. Unwholesome Talk.
This includes gossip, backbiting, negative criticisms and the like. We would rather talk about other people’s misfortunes instead of ministering to them. We hide these kinds of talk behind the guise of wanting to pray for them. When we find the downtrodden, we should only mention them to God and no one else unless we’re leading a ministry that seeks to do something good for them.

When someone asks me how to know the will of God, I answer, “Go where the need is greater; there you will find God’s will for you.”

Through the noise we need to build a quietness around us so we can listen to the voice of God that stirs up our faith.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” -Psalm 46:10

Seeing Through the Storm

File:Ocean.pngWhen Jesus walked on the water towards the disciples who were struggling in their boat against a fierce gale, they at first did not recognize him and even thought that Jesus was a ghost.

Jesus had to assure them that it was him and not a ghost.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

What caused the disciples not to recognize Jesus and even think he was a ghost?

It was fear. They were in the middle of the lake and in the midst of a sudden storm. The fear of the boat capsizing and imminent death translated into seeing Jesus as a ghost.

Peter, gathering up courage, then requested to walk on the water to go to Jesus. Yet, as he walked, he was distracted by the force of the wind, which made him fear, and he sank. Jesus had to pull him up and place him in the boat.

The reality in that particular situation was that Jesus, the Son of God, was there and they were safe. The unreality was that the disciples saw different things because of fear. For the disciples, they saw a ghost. For Peter, he saw the wind and the sight overwhelmed him.

So often, fear can play tricks on us in the midst of life’s storms. We begin to see things that are unreal and they can overwhelm us.

Thus, we need to bring the reality of Christ into our storms. We need to see him through the storm and press on to him where there is safety, comfort and wisdom. Jesus always gives an invitation of resting in him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

To rest in him is to trust in him, that he is always there and willing to extend a helping hand.

We cannot see Jesus with the eyes of fear. We can only see him with the eyes of faith.

Between the Boat and Jesus

Boat and Jesus

When Peter walked on the water, we are told that there were other disciples as well in the boat.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. -Matthew 14:22

Yet, it was only Peter who ventured out to go to Jesus.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. -Matthew 14:28-29

We do not know how far the boat was from Jesus. We can surmise, however, that the boat was somewhere in the middle of the lake and, thus, was already in deep water. We are also told that a storm had suddenly descended upon the lake.

So it was with some measure of faith that Peter asked to walk towards Jesus. The other disciples could only cower in fear and watch as Peter stepped out into the deep.

Fear worked in two ways here. One, it immobilized the disciples. The other, it triggered Peter’s faith.

For a few moments Peter was able to walk on the water. But then, as he was distracted by the wind that was sweeping over the lake, immobilizing fear again took over and he began to sink. Jesus’ admonition was apt: “You of little faith,” he said.

It wasn’t faith in Jesus that was little. It was faith that he could walk in water that was wanting. For if it was faith in Jesus that was little, Peter would have tried to swim back to the boat. But he cried out to Jesus to save him and Jesus did.

Peter felt and knew the mighty arm of the Lord.

Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. -Psalm 89:13

Many might think that Peter’s walk on the water was an exercise in futility. It wasn’t. It was a lesson in faith; for many times we need to get out of our “boats” and walk to Jesus. Our “boats” can be our comfort zones and Jesus, the will of God.

The walk of faith may seem stormy and perilous, but the end result is knowing the power of God.

Gaze and Seek

Pixabay Image 220664
King David, the man who was described by God as “a man after his (God’s) own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), had a single life priority and that was to be in God’s house forever.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. -Psalm 27:4

There were two motivations for this priority: one was to gaze on the beauty of the Lord; the other was to seek him in his temple.

The word, “gaze,” has almost a mystical quality to the action, for it means to look in an ecstatic state. There was such a wonderment and love within David for his God.

The other motivation was to seek God or to inquire of him. I liken it to having a fireside chat and asking God all the questions I can ask him.

David was so desiring to spend the rest of eternity being at God’s side. He probably was tired of the travails in the world he constantly endured.

He wanted his eyes to be fixed at pure divinity and not the ugliness of the human soul. He wanted to hear the melodic truth of God’s voice and not the discombobulation of the world.

How noble it would be to share in the desires of David!

And we can when we listen with our hearts to God’s melodic voice when we read his word. We can gaze at God’s beauty when we look at the world with love and offer ourselves in selfless service to our fellowmen.

We don’t need to wait to be in heaven to experience being at God’s side. We only need to abide in Jesus.

Eternity can begin today.

Learning from David’s Anguish

anguish

Imagine the anguish of David, a “man after God’s own heart,” so deep that it became a prophetic utterance spoken years later by Jesus as he was dying on the cross at Calvary.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? –Psalm 22:1

David continues his lament with, My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Many times we might find ourselves in David’s situation and, what’s worse, we feel God isn’t hearing nor answering our prayers. We then begin to despair, lose hope and give up on God.

Yet, although David found himself in a desperate situation, he never gave up on God. Instead, he looked to the sovereignty of God. He knew God was in control.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises ( verse 3).

He didn’t rely on what he thought his situation was; he relied on what he knew about God.

Thus, he submitted himself to the will of God, not that God desired for David to be in anguish. But for David to come to a greater experience of God’s deliverance and goodness.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it (verses 30-31)!

Today’s disappointment may just be leading you to a divine appointment.

The Power of Truth

Let truth prevail

When Absalom rebelled against his father, King David, he was able to bring the populace along with him through lies and deception; so much so that even some of David’s advisors began to talk against him.

David no longer knew whom to trust. And the untruths were bringing him to despair.

So what was David’s reaction? Did he try to drown out the misleading voices with what he knew was the truth? Did he counter the lies with his own lies against Absalom? Did he allow himself to just wither away and disappear?

No. What he did was to affirm one truth he held about God.

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. -Psalm 3:3

Truth belongs to the Lord! And it is powerful against the lies Satan throws at you. Didn’t Jesus battle Satan’s lies with the word of God and triumph?

The Apostle Paul compared God’s word with the sword of the Spirit. So did the writer of the Book of Hebrews.

God’s word cuts deep into the fallacies of the enemy so that truth can prevail and carry us through difficult situations. Truth declares that God is mighty and has abundantly good intentions for us.

You only need to believe. David did and he triumphed.

So will you!

An Expression of Love

“No, you shall never wash my feet.” –Peter the Apostle

The quote above comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 13, verse 8. It was spoken during the Last Supper when Jesus suddenly stood up, wrapped a towel around his waist, took a basin of water and began washing the disciples’ feet. When he got to Peter, this was Peter’s reaction.

In answer to Peter, Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

What was Jesus trying to convey to Peter and the rest of the disciples?

He was both servant and leader. He led with righteousness, he served with humility. He was the Son of God, yet it was not beneath him to wash the feet of his followers.

He then said to everyone, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

It was not just about washing feet. It was about having an attitude of serving one another. It is a Godly thing to do. It is the highest form of spirituality.

Being a part of Jesus is being a part of his love.

Thus, service in the name of the Lord is an indelible expression of love.

The Power of Forgiveness


When Jesus hung on the cross tortured, pained and dying, he could have cried out to God the Father to send twelve legions of angels to descend and help him and even slay the people who crucified and mocked him.

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? -Matthew 26:53

But He didn’t. Instead, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Having legions of angels come to the aid of Jesus would have been a powerful act. But many would have died.

Yet, in His love, Jesus forgave. And because of this act of forgiveness, many even to this day have known the gift of life that God offers to all.

Forgiveness on the cross proved to be more powerful than calling down heaven’s armies.

It’s easy to wish ill upon those who hurt or misjudge us. Vengeance is a real temptation. But there is no power there. There is only emptiness.

True power comes out of forgiveness, for it brings to both the forgiver and the forgiven a touch of Godly love. Godly love is never momentary. It causes eternal ripples of heavenly goodness.

Live a powerful life. Forgive!

Who Are They?

They cackle like hens
under the jealous glare
of the Master of Scorn

Instead of soaring like eagles
under the loving gaze
of the Heavenly Father

They peck and scratch and search
for crumbs of happiness
never knowing

They can feast of joy’s fullness
at the Master’s Table
if only they’d look up

And when the teacher nears
they shy away
scampering here and there

Leaving him hurt and alone
to return to the Savior’s presence
where His angels await

Yet again

A Different Kind of Answered Prayer

At times God answers a prayer with a challenge; not because He wants us to have a difficult time or the answered prayer must be paid for. But because He wants us to know our worth.

Let me explain. Perhaps you’re cash-strapped. So you pray for finances or financial blessings. But God instead sends you a project that you’re paid for to do. The project may seem daunting or challenging. But it’s not because God wants you to struggle or have a difficult time. It’s not also because the project is a payment for the answered prayer. Rather it’s because God wants to reveal your worth.

In other words, God has supplied us with potential we may not even be aware of. He wants us to discover it and use it for His glory. Perhaps the project may even be an open door to other projects or opportunities.

God has created us and given us what we need for a purpose. Thus, he may not give us the answer to our prayers on a silver platter. But he wants us to build on the answered prayer so we may realize the beautiful creation that he made us to be.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -Ephesians 2:10