Listen for Me

“Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work”
(Proverbs 8:34 MSG)

Reflection:
There are three voices that speak to me at the beginning of every day.

One is my own, telling me of all my needs and wants and fears. The next is the world’s sending a flood of mixed messages – immersing me in the lives, events and traumas around the globe together with an unending stream of advertisements about things that could make my life more worthwhile. And then there is the quiet whisper of the Lord, telling me to slow down as I read His word and to listen for the message that He has for me today.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that the God of the ages, the Lord God Almighty, wishes to talk with this little being, one of the smallest grains of sand on the vast beaches of humanity. At other times it is almost inconceivable that the Saviour who hears the cries of those caught up in the latest natural and man-made tragedies should come to ‘sit awhile with me’ in the quiet stillness of the early hours. And yet He is always ‘there’ – always with me, always listening and attentive, always with a response, even if it is just the special silence of companionship.

Time and again He has something for me, some word of encouragement or direction, some insight or inspiration, some reminder of His great love and provision. And the notebook that is my almost constant companion is filled with these snippets of love and life. Some are words for the day. However others are treasures that have become foundational to the future as well.

Blessed indeed are those who listen for God and to Him – in His Word, in prayer, in creation and through the day. For they will come to know the joy of His voice and presence.

Response:
Don’t fret or strain – practice listening at all times

Prayer:

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” And like Samuel help me Father to hear You as You speak to me and to learn to recognise Your voice more and more. Amen.”

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Come and worship!

2017-02-15

“Where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy”
(Psalm 65:8)

Reflection:
I have loved and still love God’s great gifts of morning and evening, sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk. And I understand fully the translation which proclaims,

“The gates of the morning and evening
sing Your praise.”

I have been fortunate enough to know times when I could sleep next to the ocean with curtains wide. And, as the sun began to show its golden rim above the distant horizon, I have sprung from my bed and gone out to greet the dawn.  There with the surging and whispering sea I have welcomed the morning with wonder and praise. Every part of me has thrilled to the sense of God as He has ushered in another opportunity to know and enjoy His love and life.

At other times I have stood knee-deep in the swirling surf and watched in awe as the sun went down in a sky-wide blaze of glorious colour. And as I gazed in speechless and almost tearful wonder the Artist produced another range of colours from His palette. With gentle hand and loving touch He painted the silent clouds again and again with ever-softening hues – turning often to watch my face and smile.

Eugene Peterson translates it like this.

Dawn and dusk take turns
calling ‘come and worship’

It is a message for all to see and hear – if only we will. For a glorious moment it lifts our eyes and our spirits from the obsessions, the pain and the burdens of the moment. It offers us an injection of cleansing beauty, of enlightening truth and of blessed hope. It’s a space in which to pause and say’, ‘Of course; Thank You,’ and to be still. For silence also is praise to You, our great God of love.

Response:
Make time to look and wonder at the God of creation.

Prayer:

Lord help me to hear the voice of Your creation as it reaches out to me in love and blessing. Amen.

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Listen, He’s singing

2017-01-27

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Reflection:
I remember very clearly God showing me something one day when my granddaughter came to play. Actually she came mainly to sleep, until hunger pains awoke her. She was 8 weeks old and my job was to keep her asleep until it was the right time for her to wake up! I held her in my arms as I mulled what I was doing on the computer, and spent quite a lot of the time watching her face, and the movements of her hands and arms. She stirred at one stage and lay looking at me, so I talked to her and even ‘sang’ softly. She just lay and listened. After a while I played her Susan Boyle’s lovely version of ‘Silent Night’ which is on my computer, and she drifted quietly off again. They were precious moments – almost an hour of them. In a way I was also taking great delight in her, quieting her with my love and rejoicing over her with singing.

We don’t often think of God doing such things with us – treating us as His beloved children – and yet they are both hinted at and referred to in Scripture. The whole Bible is an account of God’s great love, and His continual reaching out for a relationship with the people He formed to be His own. The life and message of Jesus is one of wonderful love, compassion and ministry, and His interaction with people in need is heart-warming.

If I, as a human father and grandfather can enjoy such moments with my daughters and granddaughters then it is an indication of the love and intimacy which our heavenly Father wishes to have with His children. He said to me once, commenting on the actions of my own daughters, “Your children don’t have to ask your permission to sit on your lap, and lean against your heart. They know that is where they belong and it is, therefore, their right. Just so, My children belong on My lap, leaning against My heart and with My arms around them.”

As grown men and women we can look upon such things as childish – and yet so many of us long spiritually for just such moments of love, intimacy and comfort.

  • “Come to Me” says Jesus, “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
  • And God also says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 40:10) – your God and God of all the situations in your life.

Response:
Ponder and pray these three Scriptures, until they become a part of your belief and relationship with our wonderful Father. Trust Him and His breathtaking love.

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to let You love me, to trust Your love and to rest in Your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Turn Around

2016-11-16

“Turn to the Lord and pray to him, now that he is near. Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; he is merciful and quick to forgive.”
(Isaiah 55:6-7 (GNB))

Reflection:
When I was learning the elements of English grammar, I was taught how to quickly analyse what a writer was trying to say, by looking for the key action words which underpinned everything else that was being said. Isaiah was writing at a time of great political uncertainty among the nations. As you read the headlines in today’s newspapers you could be justified in thinking that we need a twenty-first century Isaiah to come and prophesy to the world – not just to the people of Israel who were captive in Babylon!

But if Isaiah did return and prophesy to the nations I don’t think the key action words at the core of his message would be any different from the ones he originally included in our Scripture for today. Turn . . . Leave . . . Change. For these are the words that are not just at the heart of the Christian Gospel message, but are the words that have been at the heart of every message that God has ever spoken to mankind since sin entered the world.

God is merciful and his loving mercy was supremely manifest in the action of His Son. If we truly turn to Him, demonstrate our commitment to Him by leaving those things that have hallmarked the sinfulness of our walk, and change our way of thinking, then He is quick to forgive. Forgiveness is the first stage on the journey of restoration. Forgiveness removes from our lives the eternal consequences of our sin and it opens the door for the healing and restoration of our lives – and, indeed, for the healing and the restoration of nations.

Some of the most profound healings that I have ever experienced have begun by someone taking the action words from today’s Scripture and systematically applying them to their own lives. When we run towards the Lord, the Father comes running to meet us – as was most graphically expressed by Jesus in His story of the prodigal son. This is a day when people and nations need to turn to the Lord and re-discover the mercy and forgiveness of God.

Prayer:

Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have turned away from you and gone my own way. I choose now to turn, leave and change my way of thinking. Thank You, Jesus, for dying that I might live and that I might know your healing and restoration. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Today’s Writer:  Peter Horrobin is the Founding and International Director of Ellel Ministries

(Acknowledgements to Seeds of the Kingdom)

Live it out

2016-09-26png

“Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
 Do what it says”
(James 1:22)

Reflection:
Any serious reading of the Scriptures as God’s Word must lead us to the realisation that it guides us to three great truths. The truth about God, the truth about ourselves and the truth about living Godly lives. It will also show us how these three truths are further revealed in and through Jesus Christ who is Himself the Truth (John 14:6)

James in the first chapter of his letter warns us three times about being deceived. (16, 22, 26). He teaches us that it is by paying close attention to the Word of God that we will be enabled to identify and avoid deception. This is particularly important when we live in an age which seems to recognise opinions and fails to see deceptions, and which places great store on information and not transformation.

The first step is to be attentive in listening to and hearing God speak through His Word. In saying that we should all be quick to listen (v19) he is recognising a very common human failing. Generally speaking people are not good listeners and are inclined to make premature responses – yet listening carefully and respectfully to others is at the heart of good and harmonious relationships. In listening for God and to God we need to listen to all that He says and not only the passages that make us feel good. If we do listen prayerfully we will find that this Word does speak to us and into our current lives and situations in many ways. His voice speaks through His Word.

“Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word”
(Psalm 103:20 NKJV)

This leads us to the second step which is responding in obedience to His Word. As. we read and reflect we will discover that God is showing us who and what we are as well as revealing to us who and what we could and therefore should be with Him. To make this future possible Jesus has dealt with our past on the Cross and God has given us His Spirit to guide, equip and empower us for the journey ahead.

Response:
What is God showing me today?

Prayer:

Lord God please help me to hear Your voice speaking to me through Your Word – and to receive it and respond to it as You love, encourage and guide me forward in Your Way. Amen.

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Speaking Silence

2016.07.11

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.”
(Psalm 19:1-2)

Reflection:
I walked outside one night and looked up. It was a cloudless night and, even in our suburb, enough of the sky was visible to make me pause in awe and wonder. The stars shone out from the dark depths of space like diamonds on the deep blue cloak of God. I stood in stillness and let His glory touch me for those precious moments. How great is our God indeed,

 “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)

It is a mighty and marvellous act of creation – by an almighty, beautiful and loving God. They sing His praises in sounds and words that we cannot hear and reduce us at last to the silence of true worship and adoration. I found myself longing for less of me in my life and more of God – more than I knew I could handle but not more than I could desire. I have a longing sometime to just disappear into His love and glory – like a wave on the beach slips back into the vast and all-embracing ocean.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

How much more precious were those moments and the thoughts and feelings that they prompted, than everything that the world has to offer in terms of pleasure, wisdom and achievement. How much more to hold onto in the times of pain, sin and sorrow.

God speaks to us in so many ways, not least in and through our everyday exposure to His creation. It is a message worth perceiving, believing and receiving. It is worth our deepest response.

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.”

Response:
Look, Listen, Worship

Prayer:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

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Need a Hug

2016.07.07

“The LORD is close to the broken-hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit”

(Psalm 34:18)

Reflection:
One day when my mother was playing bridge with friends they were amazed to see her youngest son run in from outside, ask for a hug and rush out again to join his friends. The hug was all he needed to deal with a sudden hurt. He then went back to the business of living.

There are times in our lives when we also need hugs to help us deal with physical, emotional and spiritual pain and distress. Sometimes the love and compassion of family or friends will be all that is needed. At other times we need something more, something far higher, deeper, stronger, understanding, healing and forgiving. We really need God.

This same son has known times in his adult life when the pain and sorrow have been too great for him to bear –and too great to explain to, or share with, others. Only the arms and accepting love of God have helped. I have turned into Him and let Him hold, comfort and help me. Clearly that has been on the spiritual level and not the physical – but it has been as real and with an even deeper blessing and effect.

To find the Lord like this is more difficult in times of stress if we have not been in the habit of turning to Him and involving Him in our lives at other times. Practising the presence of God is a blessing in the easy parts of our journey as well as in the more difficult times. However the easier times make it more natural and effective when we hit the tough and lonely hills which we have to climb if we are ever to get out of the dark valleys.

Daily reading of Scripture, covering everything we do with prayer, conversing with God throughout the day, and moments of silence when we look, listen and absorb the beauty of His creation with Him – these are moments of blessing as well as forming the habits that see us through the times of challenge and distress. It is in these moments that we begin to find with Tennyson,

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with spirit can meet-
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

 Response:
Treat the Lord as near – and you will discover that He is

Prayer:

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me”
(Psalm 63:7-8)

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Heeding!

2016.06.02

“Heeding the voice of His word”
(Psalm 103:20 NKJV)

Reflection:
Heeding implies three things – that we Recognise God is speaking, that we Receive His word and that we Respond appropriately.

God’s word has a voice. It is not merely a statement but one that speaks to the recipient and into their situation. It may be general but has also a personal element and significance. It was relevant when first spoken and still has relevance to us today. It lives through the interpretation and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

God speaks to us through His written word – the Scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit. He also speaks to us through His acts, including His creation that came to be through His spoken and living Word Jesus Christ. So Paul would write,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”  (Romans 1:20)

Wherever we are today and whatever we are doing we will see God’s word. If we pause to consider it we will begin to hear it as well.

Response:
Pause – Look – Pray – Listen

Prayer:

Lord open the eyes of my ears and the ears of my eyes, in Jesus Name, Amen.

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All Around You

2016.02.05“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3)

Reflection:
When I take time to look, listen and be aware it seems as if Creation is filled with expressions of God. It is as if He passed by and

• The storm revealed His majesty
• The sunset revealed His glory
• The sunrise revealed His purity
• The gentle breeze revealed His tenderness
• The sun-kissed clouds revealed His beauty

As He journeyed on He scattered not only His Word but His gifts of Himself. And so

• The eagle soared
• The lark sang
• The lion roared
• The wind whispered through the trees
• The little brook chuckled … and
• A small child laughed

Paul writes,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20)

Can you see it – hear it – feel it? – be still and know He is right there – here – now.

Response:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,
God of Power and Might,
Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory,
Hosanna in the Highest.

 

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Choose Life

2016.01.28

“He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
(Luke 9:59)

Reflection:
It is not easy to get our priorities right – particularly in a world which shouts so loudly at us with its needs, challenges, opportunities and temptations.

On the face of it the man’s response is so normal and socially acceptable. Yet Jesus is clearly saying that when His call to us comes nothing, and absolutely nothing, must be allowed to stand in our way, distract or delay us. At such a moment He is not dealing with worldly order and acceptable behaviour but with eternal life and eternal consequences. There is no comparison with the enormous privilege of being called by our Lord and God to live and travel with Him – trusting Him that both the moment of the call and the consequences are a part of His divine will and understanding.

The urgent message is ‘Don’t miss out!” Which is why elsewhere He would teach us to be radical in getting rid of anything in our lives that would stand between us and Him.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)

If there is any attachment in our lives that is causing us to hang back from the Lord then we face a choice. We cannot have both if our relationship with Him is to be what He desires and one that which will bring us joy and blessing.

Response:
Make the choice today – then ask the Lord for the love and strength to live it out.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I do want You to be first and foremost in my life. Help me to walk away from the things that would separate us and instead look and cling only to You. Amen.

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