Words and Ways of God

May 25, 2013

STEP NUMBER FOUR:  Spend much time in God’s Word.

Let me tell you why.  In chapter 55 of his prophecy, Isaiah tells us there is as much difference between the thoughts and ways of God and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth (vv. 8-9).   He then goes on to describe one of the many supernatural functions of the Word of God. 

The Word of God establishes an alignment between our thoughts, ways and wills, and the thoughts, ways and will of God.

I once heard Billy Graham tell of boarding a plane before he was famous.  He spoke to an old pastor friend who was sitting in an aisle seat reading his Bible.  The old pastor completely ignored Billy.  When they had been in flight for about an hour, the pastor came back to where Billy was seated and greeted him enthusiastically.  He apologized for ignoring Billy earlier.  He said, “When I pray, I am talking to God, but when I open God’s Word, He talks to me.  He was talking to me when you spoke to me and I could not interrupt God just to talk to Billy Graham.”

Thomas à Kempis opened his Bible every morning with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped.  Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.”   If we sincerely want to know the will of God, we must be in relationship and in conversation with God.  We should speak to our loving heavenly Father in prayer and expect God to speak to us as we open the Word of God.  That is why two of the bases we must touch when we seek to know the will of God are prayer and the Word of God.


A Prescription for Communication

October 5, 2012

“‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the LORD God asked.’”  (Genesis3:11)

We have confessed, climbed and conserved to apply the jet pilot’s compass.  We must now apply the most critical points on his compass and ours.  Just as the jet pilot must communicate with his carrier, we must communicate with God.

We all know that we can communicate with God through prayer.  In the familiar story from the book of Genesis we learn that God communicates with us and He wants us to know that He communicates with us.

In a psychiatric hospital a man told his psychiatrist that he was Napoleon.  The psychiatrist asked him “Who told you that you are Napoleon?” The man responded, “God told me.” The man in the next room shouted, “I did not!”

In Hebrew the question God asked is literally: “Who made you know that you were naked?”  You may be uncomfortable telling people that God told you to make a decision like a career change. Would it be more comfortable to say God made you know that you were to make a certain decision? Do you believe God can make you know what He wants you to know and do?

It is exciting to know that we can communicate with God through prayer and even more exciting to know He communicates with us.  Just as the last two points on the pilot’s compass are the most critical, it is critical for us to be in two-way communication with God.

God communicates with us in many ways but the most important is when we are reading His inspired Word.  We should open the Bible with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped.  Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.”

What Does It Mean to Conserve?

October 4, 2012
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139: 23, 24)

Applying the compass of a jet pilot to our personal compass of life we next need to ask what it means to conserve when we think we may have lost our way.  The familiar prayer of David in Psalm 139 is one answer to that question.  We can assume that David is facing challenging decisions about the way he needs to go.  We might also assume that he is aware of what this translation lists as his  ‘anxieties.’

He is asking God to take the lid off his mind, heart, thoughts and motives along with his anxieties and show him what should not be there because he wants to walk with God in the everlasting way.  By example and precept David is teaching that we should be conservative when our anxiety is letting us know that we have lost our way.

We should not make big decisions when we are down or on an emotional high.  We should move ahead steadily when what God shows us under the lid of our heart and mind is in alignment with His will and the way He wants us to go with Him.

My  friend, the  squadron commander, told me about a rookie pilot who radioed his carrier: “I’m lost somewhere over the South West Pacific Ocean but I’m making excellent time!” When we know we are lost that’s not when we are to be making excellent time.  That is the time for us to be conservative and pray this prayer of David.

A Prescription for Preparation

August 11, 2012

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You…” (Psalm 5:3)

What would you think of a concert violinist who played a brilliant concerto and then instead of granting an applauding audience an encore, fervently tuned his violin?  Spiritual people over the centuries believed that we should not play the concert of our day and then at night tune our instrument when the concert has already been played.

Do you wake up holy in the morning?  I mean, before you have had your coffee, are you spiritual?  Most people do not wake up holy.  I believe it is possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we will be honest I believe many of us will confess there are times we do not wake up that way.

George McDonald, a mentor of C.S. Lewis, wrote:  “With every morn my life afresh must break the crust of self gathered about me fresh, that Thy Wind-Spirit might rush in, shake the darkness out of me and rend the mesh the spider devils spin out of my flesh, eager to net my soul before it wake, that it may slumber us lie and listen to the snake.” 

That is an eloquent and accurate description of the way I sometimes awaken.   When I wake up listening to the snake I need to ask God to break the crust of self that has gathered about me fresh, shake the darkness out of me and then do something about my flesh.  My flesh is my human nature, unaided by God.

Do you sometimes wake up listening to the snake?  When you do, let George McDonald show you what to do about your unaided human nature.

The Original Talk Show

March 30, 2012

“… the just shall live by his faith.”   (Habakkuk 2:4)

 The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history.  God gave him a prophetic message to preach when the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people.  The watchtowers were manned with soldiers who were listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army.  This little prophet had witnessed the terrible ways the great Prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message.  Being a simple choir director he could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.

He therefore came up with a very clever literary form.  He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time.  Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?” He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions.  His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.

God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonian would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith.  Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity.  By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were used to inspire the great protestant reformation.

People say God does not speak today as He did then.  The truth is we do not listen for God as this prophet did.  Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from Him?