Tag Archives: listening to God

There’s no fool like an… (Isaiah 42)

If you read the history of God in Old Testament Israel, you will see one miraculous event after another. You will hear God declare Himself in no uncertain terms as Creator and Savior, Holy and demanding holiness. You will see him judge – and forgive – sin over and over again.

If you had been a Jew at the time, you would have experienced God in very tangible, first-hand ways. Even other nations witnessed God in Israel, and recognized Him as something uniquely powerful and real. Yet people still worshiped idols, carved wooden figures that could not hear, speak, or move to rescue. Even faced with the evidence that God is God, they continued to reject Him.

Not just Gentiles, either. Jews rejected God, too. This is what God says about that:

Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing. (42:18-20)

It is sad when a person is physically and medically unable to hear. But the deafness of a hearing person is foolishness. A seeing person who refuses to see is unimaginable, and foolish. Yet God accuses His people of choosing deafness and blindness when they were, in fact, capable of hearing and seeing what was right in front of them.

You’ve heard it said, “there is no fool like an old fool.” I think God is saying there is no deafness like the one who refuses to hear, no blindness like the one refusing to see.

God had spelled everything out, had demonstrated exactly who He was, made “his law great and glorious.” Yet instead of living with the blessings of bowing to God, they had become plunder to their enemies. Instead of living in peace, they lived with “the violence of war.” How foolish could they be?

Well, before I get too judgmental here toward the Old Testament Jews, I am reminded that God has revealed Himself in unmistakable ways here in 2020, too. For one thing, we have the benefit of holding His own Words in our hands, reading them whenever we want. We can listen to preachers and teachers who hold true to the Truth that is Jesus as found in Scripture. We have eyes to see His creation, ears to hear His still, small voice, or the thunder of His voice from the skies.

Yet some of us are still worshiping idols of our own making. We worship self, money, power, right-ness. We honor rock stars and athletes above God. We listen to politicians while we ignore what God says. We spend more time pursuing fun than we do in pursuit of God.

God would tell us today that there is no fool like a blind seeing person or a hearing person who refuses to listen.

Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? (verse 23)

Just Stop Talking! (Isaiah 30)

My mother underlined the following from verses in this chapter:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (vs 15)

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. (vs 18)

How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (19)

This is the way. Walk in it. (vs 21)

I just watched a briefing conducted by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She was answering a question posed by a reporter who continued to talk during the answer. At one point you could hear the reporter ask, “Why aren’t you answering my question?” to which the Press Secretary replied something like, “You obviously are not interested in hearing my answer when you continue to talk over me.”

Now I wonder if we don’t do the same thing to God. The verses Mom underlined remind me that God answers prayer. He does tell us exactly what we need to know. When we cry for help, He always answers.

But sometimes we don’t want to hear the answers so we just keep on talking, keep on praying, keep on asking questions already answered. Sometimes we are so busy telling God what we think the answers should be, we stop listening to what the answers are.

These verses remind me there is strength and trust in quietness. It reminds me that if I am paying attention, God will always say: “Here is the way. Walk in it.” It encourages me to wait for Him because He longs to be gracious to me.

If only I would learn to be quiet, to just stop talking, and listen.

 

April 26; God Told Me To

2 Samuel 2:1-5:5; 1 Chronicles 3:1-4, 11:1-3

What happens when we do things in Jesus’ name that were never part of His plan? Does God bless it anyway? The Old Testament is full of examples of individuals, kings, entire nations doing things without God’s direction. And it usually ends very badly.

Ask Recab and Baanah for instance. Ish-Bosheth was standing in the way of David becoming King. At least that’s what Racab and Baanah seemed to have thought. So they decided to clear the path for David and kill Ish-Bosheth. Then, and this is what struck me today, they went to David and said:

Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring. (2 Samuel 4:8)

They actually gave God credit for what they had done. But do we read anywhere that God had directed them to murder Saul’s son? We don’t. Did God bless them anyway, seeing they had acted with good intentions in His Name? He did not.

They received a swift death penalty. More blood shed.

But look closer. Did that death sentence come from God? Scripture doesn’t say anything about David asking God what to do. It appears David, who was closely identified with God, made that call on his own.

We who are closely identified with Jesus need to be intentional in our walk with Him. We need to be careful not to do something we want, slap God’s name on it, and assume He’ll bless it.

We need to be aware that non-believers are watching us, and judging God by what we do. If we say, “God told me to,” they are going to believe God told us to do that thing. Whether or not He did. And that’s serious.

I think God sometimes gets a bad rap because His children are misrepresenting Him. And I don’t think any of us who love Jesus want to make Him look bad. God help us to do what He asks us to do in His Name.

And may He help us not be guilty of dressing up our own will and actions by saying,

“God told me to.”

 

April 4; That First Step Is A Doozie

Judges 8-9

Israel, under Gideon’s leadership, enjoyed a decisive victory over the enemy. I get excited whenever the Cleveland Indians win a ballgame. I can only imagine emotions were running much higher there in the Israelite camp when they won their victory that day. The people wanted to make Gideon their king. But Gideon politely refused the offer.

He could have cashed in on his success, but he kept his integrity in check. He didn’t even take any of the plunder for himself, although I’m pretty sure the people would not have objected if Gideon had wanted to walk away from the battle a rich man. Who deserved it more?

What Gideon did, however, was take the first step toward sin. Maybe he did it innocently enough, the Bible doesn’t tell us his thought process. He collected one earring from each of the fighting men, added the things taken from the two defeated enemy kings, and made a gold shirt.

An ephod was a sacred garment worn by priests as they served God. This sleeveless shirt held a lot of meaning to the Jews at that time.

Now, I’m only guessing here, but I wonder if Gideon, like lovers who carve their initials in the trunk of a tree to immortalize their love, wanted to “mark the spot” where God granted them the victory. Was it an ancient equivalent of a memory bench, or an 8×10 photo intended to remind everyone who saw it about the greatness of God?

The thing that’s glaringly absent from this story is God. I don’t see anywhere that Gideon asked God what He wanted him to do. “Here, God, let me do this for you. Surprise!”

The Bible says that the gold shirt “became a snare to Gideon and his family.” People actually started worshiping the gold ephod instead of the God it was supposed to point them to. It became an idol.

Gideon’s collecting of the gold earrings seemed innocent enough, maybe even spiritual, or sacrificial. “Look at what Gideon’s doing for God.” But that first step was like stepping off a cliff. It was a doozie. And the result was devastating.

I would like to challenge us all as we serve God to take steps directed only by Him. You might get a great idea and want to run with it. But let’s learn from Gideon’s mistake and stop to ask God His take on our great idea. If He’s not in it, no matter how good an idea you think it is, it just might “become a snare” for you and for others.

Here’s something else God has impressed on my heart today: what I do influences others for the good or for the bad. If I take a step toward sin, how many people will think it’s ok for them, too? And how many of them will take the sin further than even I will?

I’m reminded of Isaiah’s words:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (30:21)

Let’s determine to listen to that voice, and obey it; to take those steps set before us by our loving Heavenly Father. Because if we aren’t careful, we could find ourselves on the brink of disaster. And taking that first step out of God’s will is a doozie, a step that could take us and others down.

Please read your Bible every day. Pray. Be sensitive to God’s leading. Listen to His voice through His written Word. And obey Him. You will be blessed… and a blessing to others.