Monday, October 29, 2007

Setting Our Hearts

"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord,
and to practice it . . ."
Ezra 7:10NASB
If only Ezra was available to ask questions like, "How do you set your heart to study the law of the Lord? How do you go about practicing it? What do your daily disciplines entail?"
As I write and talk about The Listening Heart, I would love to have Ezra's insight because setting your heart on Bible Study represents part of a Listening Heart's life. When you love God with all your mind you keep it busy in God's word. I am praying as I write this blog and at this very moment the Lord has impressed upon my heart that you and I have something better than an interview with Ezra. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
I believe God will do for us what he did for Ezra. If we feed our desire to know God better, he will put a flame in our hearts set on studying his word and strengthen us to obey it. For God's word promises:
"He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back.
Isaiah 50:4-5
This promise is open to all of God's children. If it has come true in my life, I am convinced it will come true in yours, if it hasn't already. All we have to do is ask him to awaken a teachable mind and heart in us.
"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?"
Isaiah 40:21

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Choices can change our lives profoundly.
The choice to mend a broken relationship,
to say "yes" to a difficult assignment, to lay aside
some important work to play with a child, to visit
some forgotten person--these small choices may
affect our live eternally.
Gloria Gaither
I have found that the most important choice I have to make every single day is whether or not I will answer God's invitation to come and spend time with him in his precious word. For he says:
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
Isaiah 55:1 & 3
These verses have become the theme to my life and ministry. It hasn’t always been easy to answer his invitation, but over the years the habit of spending part of my day with God has not only become an absolute necessity, but the most enjoyable part of my day—I can’t go a day without retreating to pray and reading God’s love letter written to me and you, the Holy Bible.
As I share about the life of a Listening Heart, I hear many of your struggles in the area of spending time alone with God in prayer and Bible study. Most of you desire help. I know the challenges of taking time every day for God. All of us are busy and it’s easy to become over committed. We have spouses, children, jobs, church, and aging parents vying for our time. We also have opposition, fighting against long “to do” lists, illness, and our enemy, who works hard at stealing our day. Our hamster-wheel days make us feel like we have no time to sit still. Satan does his best to block us from finding the abundant life found when spending time alone with God.
With 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year we all have 8,760 hours to do with as we see fit. But the final answer is--the choice is ours. God gave us free will to spend our day on what we choose. I'm grateful to God that he made me curious enough to want to know what this soul living that he promises in Isaiah 55 is all about. And like Gloria said, it's those small choices that affect our lives eternally.
Always Listen.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Need Reviving?

With my mom’s recent hospital stay and many other daily challenges, I am physically, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted. I know you, too, face many challenges each day. Each of our cups is full. That said, the Holy Spirit led me to pray Romans 12:9-21 over myself and you as my reader. I am asking God to especially renew, revive, and blow his life into our spiritual fervor.

Dear Jesus,

May our love remain sincere. We want to hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Help us to be devoted to one another in brotherly love. To honor one another above ourselves. That we would never be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Always be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. May we continually share with God’s people who are in need and practice hospitality.

Help us to bless those who persecute us; bless and not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Crush our pride and help us to be willing to associate with people of low position, not being conceited.

You tell us not to repay anyone evil for evil and to be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone. We should never take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give
him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap
burning coals on his head.”

By your power may we not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
( from Romans 12:9-21)

O, Jesus, in the power of your word and in your precious name we ask all of these things. Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Have You Heard About God's Celebration over YOU?

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

Isaiah 55:12

While celebrating our 25th anniversary my mom went into the hospital, thinking she had possibly had a stroke. My sister chose not to call me until the next morning. My going out in joy came to a halt, or so I thought. My sister's son (my precious nephew) was getting married that Saturday night. My mom, Nanny to most, had to miss her second grandchild's wedding. When it rains it pours, as the old saying goes.

My mom lost vision in her right eye. The hospital tested her all weekend for stroke, but all the tests came up negative. By Monday, frustrated by no answers and an encounter with a difficult-to-deal-with nurse, I insisted we get her to the eye doctor. He quickly informed us she had a stroke in her eye, which resulted in permanent blindness. To top it off, she was scheduled to have cataract surgery on her eye not affected by the stroke the next week. For now, she is three-fourths of the way blind.

Being in the hospital can be described as a waiting game. But as we waited and friends visited, God's joy and peace permeated the room. We laughed and joked. During a visit from the Hospital Chaplain, my mom smiled and told him, "Well, I know I'm going to heaven. The Lord's taking me one piece at a time." We all laughed some more. For God's children, when stress hits its highest level, the Lord steps in. He causes us to go out in joy and be led forth in peace, no matter the circumstances.
I love you, Lord, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Thank you that weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Do you want to know the way?

This morning God spoke to my heart through Psalm 5:8

"Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness
because of mine enemies;
make thy way straight before my face."

A desire for God to lead me and go His straight way immediately welled up in my heart. He directed my prayers. I asked him to lead not only my daily activities, but also my praise and prayers, my thoughts, and my emotions.

I can't wait to see what the day holds. My husband and I are finally celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary with an evening on the town and a stay in a resort for the night. We have so much to thank God for. After a stressful time of waiting, my health has returned and my husband got his permanent position back at Coca-Cola (where he has worked for over 17 years).

Praise God. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.

Always Listen, Susan

Monday, October 1, 2007

Does God Live with You?

During my daily reading I ran across one of those verses that caused me to stop and think:

"I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite
and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly (humble) and to
revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15).

Does God live with me? Am I one who is contrite and lowly in spirit? I had to look up the original Hebrew and do some investigating to find out: Daka (contrite) means to crush, literally into powder. Figuratively it means to be contrite, which is someone who is feeling regret and sorrow for one's sins or offenses; penitent. Shaphal (lowly in spirit) means depressed (literal or figurative), base, humble, lowly.

Am I truly crushed over my sins, humble before the high and Holy One? I have to admit sometimes I get complacent over my position as a saved and forgiven child of God. When God catches me in my complacency like he did when I came across this verse, I do get depressed, literally and figuratively.

O Lord, I so want you to live with me while I'm here on earth struggling with the ins and outs of daily living. I need you desperately. When I think of all you did for me on the cross of Calvary I am overwhelmed with sorrow. How can I ever thank you enough for staying close to me and saving me (Psalm 34:18)? Just thinking about you as my Rescuer, my Savior, and my Lord revives my spirit and my heart, just like you promise in Isaiah 57:15 above. Thank you for being the ultimate Promise-keeper. I love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.