Monday, March 26, 2007

The Listening Heart Answers God's Invitation

To study The Listening Heart way we answer seven questions and respond to seven reflections on a chosen passable of Scripture. Since I have just completed studying The Listening Heart with two groups of ladies at my church, I was inspired to blog the answer to one of my study questions (from each chapter). The question I chose is--How can I use this passage in prayer? Since the first chapter involves answering God's invitation, the chosen Scripture is Isaiah 55. God not only gives us an open invitation to come any time, but he also reveals the grand adventure our lives will be if we answer his call and spend time with him in study and prayer.

My heart's cry is that I continually answer God's invitation every day and listen to his magnificent voice. I pray this prayer not only for myself, but also for you, the readers of this blog. (To get the most out of this prayer you may want to read Isaiah 55)

Dear Lord Jesus,

Keep me thirsty. If there is anyone reading this blog who is not thirsty, I ask you to strike her or him with a holy thirst for your word. Help us to understand that if we look for satisfaction in anyone or anything besides you, we're looking in the wrong place and wasting our time.

I thank you, dear Lord, that feasting on your word delights our souls as in the richest of banquets. I pray that anyone who reads this blog who has not given their ear (their heart) to you, made an everlasting covenant with you, that you would draw her or him to yourself right now. We all need you as our witness, leader and commander. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit, endow us with your splendor, so nations will hasten to us. And when they do run to us as your word promises, make us bold to share your gospel, the good news, for you have glorified us. Help us not to leave anything out. You have died to pay the penalty for our sins, which is death. You were buried and rose to life on the third day to give us life that lasts forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for your availability, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. May we take advantage of your closeness and choose to spend time with you every day. Please grant your repentance when we turn away.

Even when we don't understand how you work, you are trustworthy. Your sovereignty stands firm. You supply our every need, seed for the sower and bread for the eater. Use your word to accomplish what you desire in our lives and achieve the purpose for which you sent it.

I pray that we remember who we are--children of the King and we won't allow our enemy to steal the joy and peace you have promised to us. We stand firm on your promises and believe you will turn our hard times, our thorns and briers into everlasting works for all the world to see. All of this will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed. In your precious name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Love Connection

“Ruby, come.”

My border collie perked her ears and came running. The moment she took notice of the treat in my hand, she repeatedly leapt into midair. If Ruby could talk, she would say, “Hurry up, tell me what to do. I love you and want to please you.”

Ruby went on to her other trick of grabbing her tail and spinning in circles at lightning speed. I finally gave her a command, “Ruby, jump and spin.” After a leap combined with a 180° turn, with most of the turn airborne, I delivered the tidbit which she gobbled down.

My family and I love Ruby as much as she loves us, maybe more. She adds a special joy to our home that is precious.

Thinking about her love brought a truth planted throughout the New Testament to mind. Jesus tells us that if we love him, we will obey Him. Then why does the word obey conjure up a negative picture of a master and his dog, which turns most of us off? We humans balk at being told what to do and when to do it.

Jesus tells us his love is proven by obedience to God, his Father. Does Jesus make it possible for us to follow His example? He does, even on those days when we feel like an old dog that can’t learn anything new. Otherwise he would not have said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

As long as we take some time out of each day to spend with Jesus, we are never too old or set in our ways to learn what genuine love is all about.

Jesus, I praise you for being my perfect example. Teach me the secret of the love connection by helping me to obey what you command. I do love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Living Prepared to Hear

". . . And he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23).

While thinking about living prepared to hear, my mind went to the life of Joseph in Genesis (Chapters 30-50) His preparation was being sold into slavery by his own brothers and then being unjustly imprisoned in Egypt for years. While stuck in the dungeon, Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of two fellow inmates, one the Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer, the other his chief baker. The interpretations delivered good news and bad news. The cupbearer returned to his position under Pharaoh, but the baker wasn’t as fortunate—he was hanged.

Forgotten in prison, Joseph’s dry spell appeared to be never-ending. Two more years passed, yet Joseph never gave up. He continued to act honorably in all situations, even while in a dank prison.

Then one starlit night Pharaoh had two dreams. Pharaoh told his dreams to all of the wise men and magicians of Egypt, but no one could interpret them.

Meanwhile, Joseph finally pops into the cupbearer's mind. The cupbearer reminds Pharaoh of the events two years prior and how a young Hebrew man interpreted his and the chief baker’s dreams with accuracy. Joseph was immediately dragged out of his jail cell, cleaned up and presented to the ruler of Egypt.

The Pharaoh told Joseph his strange dreams. Joseph responded to the Pharaoh by saying that he was not able to interpret dreams, but God could. Through Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph delivered a warning from God to prepare for seven years of famine that would occur after seven years of plenty. Because the Pharaoh recognized the spirit of God in Joseph he trusted his interpretation as accurate and elevated Joseph from lowly prisoner to second in charge of the entire nation.

Joseph’s new job entailed governing the nation’s food supply. During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph wisely stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea. There was so much that he had to stop keeping records because it was beyond measure.

God’s promises which came to Joseph in a dream as a child, held him to a higher standard of living. No matter what Joseph did or where he was, both as a slave or a prisoner, he did his best and God rewarded him. Joseph knew God as the promise-keeper and trusted him with his life no matter how bad it got.

God’s promises work for us the same way they did for Joseph, but now his promises are in the complete and perfect Holy Bible. For us, just like in Joseph’s life, what is intended to bring us harm, God intends for good (Genesis 50:20). God uses all of life’s experiences, bad and good, to give us plans to prosper and not harm us, plans to give us hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11). He shows us his salvation as he promises in Psalm 50:23.

God loves to work in the lives of those who continually prepare to hear from God. Like Joseph we, too, can act nobly no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Where are you? Are you in the waiting stage? Experiencing a dry spell? Reaping a harvest? Storing your harvest for the famine ahead? Take some time to ponder where you are today.