Friday, December 2, 2016

The Wise LIsten

12/2- Proverbs 1:5- “Let the wise listen and they will add to their learning.” 

The person who doesn’t need to read because they know it all already will not add to their learning.  The one who thinks no one has anything to say to them will plateau in their knowledge.  But the wise listen. This applies to Advent- the time before Christmas.  Christmas should be a time of wonder.  It is time to listen to the angels sing; It is time to Hark! (an ancient word for “Listen”).  It is time to be filled with wonder and with awe.  As we listen to God and not just the noise on TV or radio; or the chatter of text messages and the internet- we hear a more meaningful, deeper voice calling us to add to our learning.  Seek to (as Paul says in Phil. 3:10) “Know Him better.” 
     The magi or wise men were listeners or watchers.  They were looking for a king to honor.

Prayer: Lord make me a wise person who listens and learns.  May I know you better this Advent season. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Do Not Harden Your Heart

12/1-  Exodus 7:13- “Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen to them as the Lord had said.”

There is debate about how Pharaoh’s heart was hard.  But this is a warning.  When our hearts are hard to the Lord- or calloused- we do not listen.  Psalm 95:8 says, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah…”  There are many times in history where the people have decided they do not need to listen to God or His Word any more- but they can make up their own ideas about God.  Such thinking is a hardening of our hearts.  Often sin hardens our hearts.  We do not want to admit we are wrong, or need to change.  We may actually think that we cannot change at all.  Humility causes soft hearts.  A soft, contrite heart the Lord will not despise.  This Advent, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and let Him lift you up.  Jesus humbled himself- leaving heaven, dying on the cross.  The Father raised Him up to the highest place that every knee would bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.  But being lifted up means that you are not the one doing all the talking.  You recognize, humbly, the need to listen. 

Prayer: Lord, give me a listening heart.  Keep me from pride and a hardening of my heart to you.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent 3- 11-30-16

11/30- Deuteronomy 5:1-7 “Hear O Israel the decrees and Laws I declare in your hearing today.” 
Thoughts: This is the introduction to the Ten Commandments. God is saying, He deserves their attention for He saved them out of slavery.  But out of love He is also giving them some direction for the common good.  Now the secular person would say Moses just looked around at other laws in Egypt and Babylon and made these up.  The skeptic might even say Moses never existed.  The apathetic says there is no truth of God so why would it matter.  But archaeology and the very existence of Jews today points to the beginning.  It had to start somewhere.  It started with being delivered, but it continues by listening to the Law. Jesus said he did not come to break the law but to fulfill it.   To be a Christian means to believe, but that is not all—it is a lifestyle.  To be a disciple means to follow in the way of the Lord- ever listening- ever learning. 

Prayer: Help me to understand that it is a blessing to me to have your Law.  Let me understand and to seek to please you. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Waiting for a Baby

13Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give youc a sign: The virgindwill conceive and give birth to a son, ande will call him Immanuel. 

Thoughts: This week or next week my daughter will have my third grandchild.  The whole pregnancy adventure is amazing.  The body instantly starts changing the minute the egg is fertilized.  In the end bones change, organs move and form.  Sometimes the body gains 50% of its own weight.  But the waiting is also amazing. The anticipation is great.  We know the baby is coming, but don't know exactly when.  In this passage and others it is clear that God is coming to earth.  The name "Immanuel" means "God with us."  We just don't know when He will show up.  Many spend their whole life waiting.  But God comes at the best time.  Patience while waiting is important, but waiting with anticipation is also important.  

Prayer: Lord, thank you for waiting until the time had fully come to come to earth for us.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent Day 2 Joshua 1:6-9

11/29- Joshua 1:6-9 Be careful to obey…Meditate on this Book of the Law Day and Night… Then you will have success- then you will prosper.

Moses was a great leader.  He led them away from slavery.  When he died, the temptation was to believe that they would have to figure this all out again.  But the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses were not written in clay or mud but on stone.  The great leaders know how to listen.  But the best one to listen to is the One who made us and gives us direction, truth, love, and purpose.  Joshua was told that if he listened and meditated he would succeed. 

Prayer: Lord, give me a heart to hear.  Make me a stronger person as I listen to you.  Keep me from failure and evil as I seek to please and honor you. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent day 1- My Sheep Hear My Voice

Advent means coming, and the theme of advent is waiting.  While it is a bit artificial to wait again on the Christ who has come, it is also true that we should remember, re-live, and re-open our hearts to the coming Christ.  There is a sense in which waiting and listening are similar.  When we wait in the doctor’s office for our name to be called we are listening while we wait.  The story of the Ten bridesmaids waiting is also a story of their listening for the groom to show up.  Listening for relatives’ car doors to slam, or a phone call to say they are almost there is similar.

There are several words translated as “Hear” of “Listen”.  In Hebrew “Anah” means to respond or be aware of;  “Shamah” means to listen with intelligence or consider.  There are 7 Greek verbs for “Hear” or “listen.” The most common is “akouo” (perceiving a sound)- from which we get our word “acoustic” but other words are “eisakouo” (heed); “epakouo” (listen with favor). 
The theme this year is “Listening to the Coming or Do You Hear What I Hear?”  I remember the movie, “The Polar Express” where the boy who believes can hear the bells but adults and others who didn’t believe could not hear them.  There is something to this idea.  There are those who have ears but they cannot hear the frequency of faith.  In many ways Advent is about being able to see God’s hand at work and having eyes of wonder and gratitude looking at His Word and the world He made.


11/27- John 10:27- “My sheep hear my voice.”  Jesus is the great shepherd.  He leads us beside the still waters and onto green pastures. He restores our soul.  But He also calls to us.  He calls to us to gather with the fold of other sheep.  He calls to us to follow Him and not go astray.  He calls to us to listen to His voice above the voices of the other sheep or the howls of the wolves.  Are you able to not only hear His voice, but focus on it and heed the voice?   He comes to us so that we are not like sheep without a shepherd.  He comes to give us purpose, direction in life.  He comes to call us beyond focusing on the stuff (the grass for the sheep).  

Prayer: Lord, Give me ears to hear your voice.  Let me trust in you, the Great Shepherd this advent.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Pray with Thanksgiving

Be anxious for nothing.  But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Then the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Thoughts:  Thanksgiving and gratitude is important in everything we do- even asking God for help.  We ask with grateful hearts because no matter what happens God is on the throne.  If we have little or if we have much God still loves us- and we can be grateful.  If we do not get our way- we can still know that God will get His and we desire His will above all things (and want our will to conform to His will).  When we ask selfishly and demanding our will instead of His- God probably should not morally answer it our way.  Otherwise we may pray for a pink cadillac and demand that God give it to us.  God has a right to say no to our selfishness.  He may still, out of His grace and weighing all for His glory and our good.  But if we ask saying, "Not my will but yours be done" then we are asking gratefully.  Gratitude helps us appreciate God and honestly trust in God.

Prayer: Lord, let me pray with gratitude and have your peace in my heart.