Sunday, July 08, 2007

Come - Be Still - Listen

After much prayer I have today posted the following messages as I believe they are important to our daily walk - you will also find further messages related to these articles in the April 2006 archive - it is my prayer that you will find a message or scripture here that will minister to your situation & that you will leave here encouraged & refreshed in spirit. Be blessed today!

Come Away to a Quiet Place (Phil Ware)

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place (Mark 6:30-32 TNIV). [Emphasis added.]

How do you restore your energies after you have reached the spiritual exhaustion point?

What do you do when the fatigue debt has mounted so high in every dimension of your life - physical, emotional, and spiritual - that you do not think you can do one more thing?

Where do you go for renewal when plenty of sleep won't relieve the bone-weariness that pulses through every fiber of your being?

These are not hypothetical questions. You probably know that from personal experience. There is a kind of tiredness that nothing seems to relieve. This kind of exhaustion comes at the end of a long spiritual battle or from being the long-term caregiver for a loved one or from ministering to people repeatedly until you are completely depleted or from battling a long and debilitating illness or from ...

For many of us who have found ourselves in such wearisome conditions, retreat and rest are often prescribed. They are also much desired.

Yet many find such restful retreats remedy their weariness for just a short time, only to learn its return has left them feeling completely and perpetually "burned out."

Elijah's example of rest and refreshment after his exhaustion is a good one. Food and rest were not enough for Elijah to be renewed (1 Kings 19:1-7), although they were part of his healing.

What Elijah needed most, however, was to be in the presence of God. He needed to have God minister to him and speak directly to his heart (1 Kings 19:8-18). God spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12) and called Elijah back into service, reminding him there were others out there still serving the LORD God (1 Kings 19:18). One of these in particular needed Elijah to prepare him to lead God's people (1 Kings 19:15-17).

Carve out some sacred space and some holy time!

I am not surprised that when Jesus saw the weariness of his apostles, the Lord not only told them to go away to a quiet place, but he also called them to be with him. Getting away wasn't enough. Resting and being alone, far away from the crowd, wouldn't rekindle the holy fire they needed to minister. No matter how restful retreat from the maddening rush may seem at the time, getting away by itself will not restore what is spent.

Only the presence of the Lord can renew, restore, revitalize, reinvigorate, and re-establish our spirits. Only the Spirit of God, the breath of heaven, can make dry bones rise again (Ezekiel 37:1-13).

Used with permission - HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine 2007 --

Be Still! (Kimberli J. Brackett)

One of my favorite songs has always been "Be Still and Know that He is God" by Stephen Curtis Chapman. The scripture reference (which is also one of my favorites) is taken from Psalm 46:10 - a simple yet profound verse.

I sometimes wonder which part of the verse is most desired by God - that I am still or that I know He is God. I think the answer to my own question would be that you can't have one without the other. Something to ponder anyway ...

Today, I'm adding to those two favorites a verse that my children have learned this week while memorizing Psalm 37. Verse 7 says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."

I know I am drawn to both Stephen's song and these scriptures because it's so difficult for me, in my flesh, to be still. So often God says, "Be still my child," as a gentle reminder to me that I can only hear what he is asking of me, I can only see the unimaginable power He possesses, when I decide to quit talking, asking, and planning, and simply ... listen.

I don't know about you, but my heavenly Father sometimes has to go to extremes to get my attention. He decided in the last two weeks to take the "be still" part of my life into his own hands. In his infinite wisdom, the Father graciously moved our family to Noodle, TX - yes, there IS a town in Texas called Noodle...

God sometimes has to purposely remove us from what is comfortable and "normal" so He can show us how distracted and "busy" we are in this big noisy world we live in. He so desperately wants to show himself to us, to tell us he loves us, but so often we can't hear him speak words of love or see His fingerprints in our lives because we are so busy being busy. ....

God is gently calling you to be still!

BUT ... you know our God is faithful. Outside my bedroom window, He brings an incredible sunrise every morning over the pond - matter of fact it's 7:45 a.m. and I'm watching it as I type this to you. There is also a bridge and a windmill (which I love) outside the same window! Almost every day, He sends at least one roadrunner that plays on the bridge for me and my children to watch. .... He may have forgotten to put big trees in West Texas, but there are cactus and rocks and valleys and gorgeous terrain. The wind blowing on our faces reminds us of His angels that are protecting us everyday. When we sit on the rocks overlooking the valleys and hills, we hear nothing. Did you read that correctly ... we hear NOTHING.

The blessing of this is that when you PRAY in the quietness of this place you actually CAN hear God because there are no distractions.Why am I sharing "Life in Noodle, TX" with you? Because, my sweet friends, I know that you too need to be still ... I know that you too need to find a quiet place where God can show himself to you in a mighty way so you can, possibly for the first time in your life, "know that He is God."

I know that I desperately needed Him to help me be in a place of solitude so I could hear what he was asking of me as a mother and a wife and as a ministry leader. He wanted me to watch the sunrise every morning, to get into His word and lay myself face down at His throne so He could show me the path I needed to take to be in His will. I was off course ... way off course. He wanted me to see through His eyes and not my own the direction I needed to go. He wanted for me to prioritize things differently and allow Him to be the love of my life and the only guide in my journey.

God is gently calling you to be still ... can you hear him? What blessing has your Heavenly Father planned in the stillness awaiting only you? What amazing truth is almighty God going to reveal to you when you surrender your heart to the quietness of his throne?

Let him show you. You only have to "be still" and he will do the rest ... remember ... He is God.

Used with Permission: - HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine 2007 --

Who Can Be Still? (Rubel Shelly)

Ever feel guilty when somebody quoted this Bible verse: "Be still, and know that I am God"? (Psalm 46:10).

I'll bet you'd like nothing better than to find a quiet time today. Maybe you are even planning for it. Wonderful things can happen in times of solitude, stillness, and silence before God. But "stillness" is hard to come by and simply isn't available on some days or in certain life experiences.There's precious little time for stillness when production deadlines are close. A report is due in three hours. An inspection is in progress. If you live in a big city, there are voices and horns. There is constant motion. Shared living space has someone else's music, someone else's TV, and someone else's voice. Where do you find God in all the noise?

Then there is "noise" of a different quality altogether. Pain from illness or injury screams at you. The pressure of finding a new job or putting life together after a death takes away your tranquil sense of God. Sadness, disappointment, and loss crash over you with the roar of an angry sea. Strange as it may seem to say, the greater need for some of us may be less for stillness than to learn how to hear God's voice smack in the middle of all the noise, chaotic activity, and disorienting trouble.

"They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord ..." (Psalm 107:27-31).

Do you really think ours is the first to feel this way?

Do you really think ours is the first generation of humankind to feel the pressure of noise, tension, and uncertainty? Of course it isn't. And the experience of some of those people can guide us in our times of stress.

Whoever the subjects of this ancient-but-always-modern thought (Psalm 107), they were reeling and staggering under their load. There was no serene stillness before God for them. To the contrary, they were "at their wits' end." So right in the middle of their frenzy and distress, "they cried out to the Lord in their trouble" - and God heard them.

If your life has more tumult than stillness, more crash than tranquility, God has not abandoned you. He beckons you to cry out to him, and he will show himself to you.

Amidst the noise, you will find him with you in the middle of it all.

Used with permission: - HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine 2007 --

Reflective Prayer: Lord it is so hard in the busyness of life to find the time & place of solitude to be with you - help me Abba to be a wise steward of my time - help me stop & find that place that is yours & mine alone - help me to stop talking - let me be still and listen - help me to know you - thank you for hearing my cry today! Amen

Learning to Listen - (Max Lucado)

Equipped with the right tools, we can learn to listen to God. What are those tools?

Here are the ones I have found helpful:

A regular time and place. Select a slot on your schedule and a corner of your world, and claim it for God. For some it may be best to do this in the morning. Others prefer the evening Others prefer many encounters during the day. Some sit under a tree, others in the kitchen. Maybe your commute to work or your lunch break would be appropriate. Find a time and place that seems right for you.

How much time should you take? As much as you need. Value quality over length. Your time with God should last long enough for you to say what you want and for God to say what he wants.

Which leads us to a second tool you need? an open Bible.God speaks to us through his Word.

The first step in reading the Bible is to ask God to help you understand it. Before reading the Bible, pray. Don’t go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God’s. Read the Bible prayerfully. Also, read the Bible carefully.

Here is a practical point. Study the Bible a little at a time. God seems to send messages as he did his manna: one day’s portion at a time. Choose depth over quantity. Read until a verse “hits” you, then stop and meditate on it. Copy the verse onto a sheet of paper, or write it in your journal, and reflect on it several times.

Will I learn what God intends? If I listen, I will.Understanding comes a little at a time over a lifetime.

There is a third tool for having a productive time with God. Not only do we need a regular time and an open Bible, we also need a listening heart. Don’t forget the admonition from James: “The man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness” (James 1:25 PHILLIPS).

We know we are listening to God when what we read in the Bible is what others see in our lives. Paul urged his readers to put into practice what they had learned from him. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do” (Phil. 4:9 RSV).

If you want to be just like Jesus, let God have you. Spend time listening for him until you receive your lesson for the day - then apply it.

From Just Like Jesus - - UpWords from Max Lucado - Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1998, 2001)

Reflective Thought: Armour for the Battle

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (NAS) 1 Peter 5:8-9"

Personal spiritual warfare is anything we do as a conscious effort to live out the kingdom of God and oppose the kingdom of Satan in our particular contexts." (Scott Morreau).

The basic secret for overcoming our enemy is simply knowing God in a vital and deepening relationship. Our focus as Christians should be on God, His power, His sovereignty, His holiness and His love. Because of Christ's victory on the cross, our standing against the enemy is possible. ...the struggle between being godly & being you. The amazing truth is that God has elevated us, spiritually, to the same exalted position Christ enjoys. God "raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6).

As we take our stand in the victory of Christ, Satan is powerless to defeat us. No one who is wise goes into battle unprepared. Paul tells us: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Ephesians 6:10).

Immediately after beginning a relationship with Christ, a believer finds himself in a constant struggle. On earth, there are 2 kingdoms in conflict: God's Kingdom and the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-12). It is not a question of which Kingdom is stronger. Jesus is the stronger who has bound Satan (Luke 11:14-22). Because of Christ's victory on the cross, our standing against the enemy is possible.

So what's the struggle? Basically it's the struggle between being godly and being you. Paul says "be strong." The word "strong" means to empower. It comes from the root word "dunamis" which is where we get our word "dynamite". So it is dynamite like power. But, you cannot be strong in yourself. The strength come from God and His power.

Paul continues to write: "Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:11-12).

The verb tense of "put on" means that it is a command to begin at this very moment. Right now, not later! Put on the whole armor or God, not just bits and pieces, but the full armor of God! The phrase, "Take your stand" implies that not everyone does take a stand. Often, the very fact that you are willing to stand while everyone else is falling away, draws the attention of others and makes them seek out your secret.

HINT: The secret is your relationship with Jesus Christ.

So, are you STANDING? Are you EVEN in the Battle? Whose strength are you fighting IN?

Your own strength or GOD'S? Everything aims at our ability to stand. . .refuse to yield ground. . .sometimes all you can do is stand! And you will "win" if you stand! But, expect an active battle as you stand. "You can always measure the weight of your blow by the one you get back." (from a missionary in New Guinea)

Written by Marji "Mike" Kruger - Anchor Your Life: Devotions -