Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does Anything Really Happen by Chance?

"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all of the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense" (Luke 1:5-9).

We know from the rest of the story that the exact time Zechariah was chosen by lot to serve inside the temple at the altar of incense, an angel showed up and told him he would have a son. Their son, who they were told to name John would be a joy and delight to them. He would be great and filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, bring back many to the Lord and most importantly, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." This confirms what God speaks through his word in Proverbs 16:33: "The lot is cast into the lap, buts its every decision is from the LORD." Chance had nothing to do with Zechariah's call to duty on that special day.

But even though luck is not in God's dictionary, it's listed as a noun in ours. For us, this means each chance happening in our lives represents a decision from the Lord and learning to deal with it in positive ways can be a challenge.

With that said, how should we approach our good luck? By understanding all good and perfect gifts come from above (James 1:17). Acknowledge God with a grateful heart. Sometimes, I feel like I am casting lots when I choose my check-out line at the grocery store. If the line moves fast and I get out quick, I can thank God.

And what about bad luck? Zechariah and Elizabeth lived during the time of a horrible king, Herod king of Judea. We too, are living in the time of bad leaders and getting worse. I love the way Proverbs 16:33 goes in "The Message" translation: "Make your motions and cast your votes; but God has the final say." Living with bad luck requires trusting in God's Sovereignty in our lives--a lesson I have to learn daily no matter how long I have been listening to and walking with Him. For it is written:

" The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world" (1 Samuel 2:6-9).

"He's got the whole world in his hands." It's truly mind-boggling, but there's something good about knowing "every decision is from the LORD." His truth brings freedom and relief from stress. We don't have to worry so much about doing it right or even doing it wrong. We need just to live for him with a song of thanksgiving in our hearts and the word of God in our mouths, with a goal of bringing glory to his name in whatever we do--mundane or marvelous. Mother Theresa agrees because she once said, "Let none glory in her success but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness; on the other hand, no failure should dishearten her as long as she has done her best." Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

About the Listening Heart Bible Study

Tired of hamster wheel days? Feeling like there has got to be more in this life? Christians today know that time alone with God is crucial, but we find it increasingly difficult to schedule this time. We know that only by spending part of our day with God, will we hear direction on the satisfying life he intends for us and receive the healing which listening brings. We live in troubled times, the need to discern his voice has become stronger than ever. The truth, however, awaits us all—soul satisfaction can be found listening to the magnificent voice of God.

But how do we listen? Why do so many of us solely depend on what popular Bible teachers and pastors have heard from God instead of listening for ourselves? A reliable resource for today’s busy men and women, The Listening Heart provides readers with the inspiration and mentoring they need to spend quality time with God hearing his voice with confidence, despite busy and demanding lifestyles. Readers will experience a study deep enough to grab their attention and simple enough to understand at any level. Once they learn to study God’s word on their own, their life-supporting listening stays active year round. In turn, their ability to hear is never again tied to scheduled studies at church, which can ebb and flow with the seasons.

The Listening Heart also expands the readers’ thoughts on obedience to the greatest commandment—to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37-38). But the greatest commandment sparks more questions. What does it mean to love God? Why are we commanded to love God three different ways? How can we learn to love God with all of our hearts? With all our souls? With all our minds?

After years of spending time alone in God’s word listening, I've uncovered answers to these questions. I also found a more fulfilling life—life beyond my wildest imagination. Now God’s message burns in my heart like a fire, I cannot hold it in. I live to share my discoveries with others so they, too, can find soul satisfaction. The Listening Heart benefits all readers, spiritually and in every area of life. They gain relief from burnout and stress and much more by consistent biblical study and listening for the magnificent voice of God.

For further help listening, please contact me.