Wednesday, October 19, 2016

God Listens- We Should Listen

13“ ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.  (Zechariah 7:13)

Thoughts: Is it right for us to close our ears to God but then expect God to listen to us?  This passage points out the irony of our demanding that God listen but then refusing to listen to our Maker. God cares that we do what is right- and the first thing is to be willing to listen to our Lord.  
     It is important for us to know that if we want God to answer our prayers and listen to our cry; we should also see it is important to listen to God.  

Prayer: Lord, give me a listening heart.  Lord, listen to me with mercy and kindness for the sake and name of Jesus Christ who died for me.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Listen Even If No One Else Does

4He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.5You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
10And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” (Ezekiel 3)

Thoughts: Ezekiel is told to listen to the Lord.  He is also told to speak to the people for God- whether his hearers listen or not.  We are not called to only get results.  We are always called to please God and be faithful to Him.  In a results oriented, productivity driven culture, it is hard to recognize that being faithful to God sometimes bears little immediate results.  God is saying that He will help his servant be faithful- making him as hard to their sin as they are to God's Word.  We do not need to be afraid even if everyone turns away (like they did in Elijah's day).  Let us always seek to please God.  In the end, human popularity is fickle.  But God and one make a majority.  

Prayer:  Lord, let me value being true and faithful to you.  Help me to listen even if I am the only one doing so.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Listen for God's Blessing

7In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.c
8Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
9You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
10I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
11“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
13“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
14how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes! (Psalm 81)

Thoughts: If your theology does not allow for God to answer prayer, then your theology is shallow and your God is both deaf, helpless, and useless.  This is the point of this Psalm.  God listens to our prayers- answers them.  He then invites us over and over to listen to Him in return and then He will bless us.  When we turn away from God- and refuse to listen to His voice and ways- making things up as we go, we forsake God and He promises to forsake us.  Yet God pleads in this Psalm- to please listen.  God holds the carrot out for us- if we will but listen- only listen- He will provide food for us (open wide your mouth and I will fill it- vs. 10); he would subdue their enemies; and they would know in whom they could trust.  But when we refuse to listen out of pride or a desire to make up our own way- God gives us over to our own way.  He allows us to "follow our devices" which leads away from His provision, His protection, and His love.  Listening- harkening, obeying, heeding- are all important ways we acknowledge God as God, and that He has a Word for us to hear.  

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear and a heart to respond to you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quick to Listen

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

Thoughts: Listening establishes a relationship.  Listening to others helps establish a relationship to them  Listening to God establishes a relationship with God.  If we did these three things we would be much better off.  Being quick to listen means we are looking for opportunities to listen.  Christians should be experts at listening.  

Prayer: Lord, give me grace to listen to you and others.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Eating with Strangers

1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,a do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahsb of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” (Genesis 18)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Thoughts: Abraham may have thought he was entertaining three strangers, but these were special guests.  They predicted Sarah's pregnancy in a year and also the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality.  Ezekiel 16 comments on their immorality as consisting of "detestable practices (sexual immorality is often called "detestable practices") but also an unwillingness to help the poor and needy."  Abraham's faith, righteousness and generosity (he gave a tithe to Melchizedek) stand in sharp contrast to Sodom and Gomorrah's skepticism, immorality, and selfishness/lack of hospitality.   From this it is clear that God blesses kindness and hospitality but is unhappy with lack of hospitality.  We are called to welcome, eat with, encourage, and be generous toward others.  

Prayer: Lord, let me see the stranger who needs help and hospitality.  Then give me the grace to be kind to them.  Help me to remember you welcomed me in as a stranger when I could give you nothing in return.   

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm Going to Your House Today

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19)

Thoughts: Jesus did not just come to Jericho to be in a parade.  He came to care.  He cared for the sinner Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was extra despised  as a tax collaborator with the Romans.  He could legally fleece his own people, getting more than required.  Not only did Zacchaeus seek Jesus out, but Jesus sought him out.  Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus.  Jesus went to his house- to be the guest of a sinner.  He was not worried about appearances, but worried about Zacchaeus.  We should not be skeptical about the ability of Jesus to go to anyone and change them.  This is the real power of the Gospel.  It is the welcoming, hospitable, life-changing power.  

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you have come to me.  Help me to show your kind of hospitality to others.  Give me eyes to see others as you see them.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Passover Last Supper

4When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:14-200

Thoughts: Jesus was eager to eat the last supper with his disciples.  The Passover meal was his last meal.  Passover symbolized God's delivering the people of God from the angel of death.  Jesus was about to die as our Passover Lamb (as John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." ).
     He also expresses twice that Jesus would eat and drink with us in the kingdom of heaven.  This means Jesus was not losing hope of eating and fellowshipping with them again.  But He knew this would be His last meal on earth.  In heaven, the sins of eating- rushing, inconsideration, over-indulging and endangering our safety will be eliminated.
      Jesus asked them to consider food and the act of eating it as a way to symbolize His presence and love.  Jesus made a new covenant- sealed with his blood- but symbolized by bread and cup.  

Prayer: Lord, we remember you and your deliverance. After we are delivered from this life, we look forward to eating and drinking with you in heaven.