First Reflections of 2011

     Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1:2-8

"God has everything to tell us and nothing to learn from us." Evelyn Underhill

As a Christian I believe that God speaks.  I believe He speaks to us and that He seeks to guide us, use us, and express His love for us.  I believe He speaks through ordinary experiences as well as extraordinary ones.  I believe He speaks through the morning paper and the holy scriptures.  I believe He speaks.  I believe His voice is powerful.  It is beautiful.  It comforts and it distresses us.

As I have posted often in recent months, I believe a big problem with this is that our lives are too noisy to hear and see God.  You see I have come to realize a couple of realities about hearing God's voice.  God is heard by people who want to hear Him.  When we want other things more than we want to hear God, or when we have made up our mind about something and want God's blessing instead of His guidance, or when we intend to use God instead of being used by Him, we are not going to hear Him well.  Indeed, the most significant distraction from hearing God is our intentions.  (see Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27)

But, we can hear Him.  If we will learn to read the signs and recognize God's current movement.  We need to learn from His historic activities, how to recognize His present movements.  We need to practice his presence in our activity for Him - as well as in reading about Him, praying to Him and/or singing about Him.  If we long for God to do miraculous things when we gather in our congregations on Sundays, we would benefit by being in tune with His supernatural activities all around us throughout the week.

God is also heard by people who obey Him.  I think we like to hear God's voice when He says, "you are forgiven."  We like to hear Him when He says, "you are loved," "you are special," "you are free," "you are gonna make it."  We are not so likely to ignore those words from God's mouth.  But I don't think we like to hear (or want to hear) Him say, "go and make disciples in your part of the ends of the earth."  I don't think we want to hear Him say, "no."  I don't think we want to hear Him say, "sell that and give what you receive to feed the needy."  I don't think we want to hear Him say anything about our money, and we're not so keen about what He wants to tell us about the way we spend our time either.  I think we seek affirmation instead of guidance and so we don't hear Him.

It is beautiful when the people of God desire to hear Him so that we can understand our lives and times and so that we can obey Him.  If we will reject the idea that there are special times for hearing God and hear in continually in the working out of our daily lives there will be a magnificent light in world illuminating God's work and words to us.  If we will trust that God's guidance is better than our best idea, our ears will be miraculously unplugged.  And if our heart will continually be in the state of asking "what do you want in this matter, in my life, in Your church?" we will indeed hear God.


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