Saul knew immediately and absolutely just who was speaking to him. For his response to the voice was, “Who are You, Lord?” For in an instant, Saul realized the deity and supremacy of the voice of the Lord. We all someday will hear that same voice of the Lord. For some it will be the stern voice at Judgement Day…but for others it will be the kind words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Can I as a Believer have a hard heart? The answer is yes! Now I’m not talking about full-out rebellion against God…I’m talking more about apathy. For the road to a hardened heart starts simply with indifference and disregard to the Holy Spirit. We hear but we choose to ignore. That’s because we arrogantly think we know better, so we slowly toughen our stance…digging in our heels…holding on to old habits we’re unlikely to ever change. A hardened heart does not happen over night…it is rather an insidious and gradual process of resistance towards God’s authority in our life.
Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
The Ethiopian eunuch had been reading Isaiah 53:7-8 when Phillip came up to his chariot and started telling him about Jesus. Phillip started with the verses the eunuch was reading but then added related verses…threading them together into the Gospel Message. This “stringing pearls of heaven” is an excellent way of telling others about Jesus, and one I have used for a long time. In the front of my Bible I have written the starting point of this 10 point Road to Salvation – Revelation 3:20. Next to each verse is written then the subsequent verse to go to – Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans:5:8, John 3:16-18, John 3:36, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12, II Corinthians 6:2. The result is a beautifully told story of need, salvation, and redemption and one you can easily use to share the Good News with others.
There’s been many times when I think I know more than the Lord. I’ve foolishly and smugly concluded that God didn’t have all the facts…or that He just didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. But who am I to advise or give guidance to the Lord? I can no where grasp or begin to comprehend the mind of God as a gold-fish can care for itself in its bowl. It is totally beyond my capabilities to understand God and His works. So again I must humbly confess, “You are God and I am not!”
If you have ever been part of a marriage conference or counseling…they teach you the art of active listening. Each has the others undivided attention as they converse back and forth…repeating back to the person what they heard and asking, “Is this what you meant?” There is much more listening done than speaking, and more unselfish attention given than self-centeredness. Listening to the Lord is a lot like that. It is not blabbering on incessantly about our own feelings and emotions…it’s listening with all our being…taking the time to be quiet…hearing and then heeding His voice.
Jesus taught the crowds that clamored around Him with parables…but when He was alone with His disciples, He would explain the meaning behind them. It tells us in Mark 4:10 that, “When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables.” Reading about God from some author isn’t the same as being alone with God yourself. Solitary time with God and His Word enables you to ask those tough questions you’re confused about. And as you probe deeper into His Word, that alone time with God becomes even more important…for it’s then that He can teach, edify, and exhort you.
I think as Believers, we all smugly think that if we had lived during Biblical times and had witnessed the miracles and teachings of Jesus…we would of immediately realized He was the Messiah. But would we? Humanity saw Him as just another man…indeed, a good man who taught with unheard of authority and passion, but still just a flesh and blood human like the rest of us. Would we have been able to recognize His divinity…when the incarnate Jesus Christ…the embodiment of God took on human form and lived among us? I would hope and pray so.
If you’ve ever gone through a very traumatic time in your life…like me, you were begging the Lord to stop it and give you back the security and wellbeing that was woefully missing in your life. But this Psalm shows us what the Lord gives us first in the mist of that traumatic event…He gives us strength. For many times, we must walk through the situation…one painful step at a time, to find only at the end of the journey, the peace we were so desperately looking for. This Psalm wants us to remember, that with each excruciating step, the Lord is there to come along side to support, sustain, and strengthen our fragile mind, body, and soul. For He will never leave us or forsake us. And soon, that peace will come back into our lives.
In these verses from the Parable of the Sower we see the Word of God being sown over rocky ground. The plants spring up, but because they have no adequate root system, they die off quickly. In the Amplified Version of the Bible it gives us insight into this shallow faith. It states in Mark 4:17, ” And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.” So how can we pray for this person? They have to go deeper. In I Timothy 3:9 it talks about keeping ahold of the deep truths of the faith…the divine secrets, revealed truths, and revelations from God. To move from shallow faith to a vibrant and intimate relationship with the Lord, a person has to go deeper with God…allowing Him to speak to them through the Scriptures, revealing important truths to them. And with these new revelations, they are then able to send roots of trust down deep.