Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
(1 Kings 19:11-12 NKJV)
Picture this: you get into your car in the morning and start the engine as you pull out of your driveway and make your way to work. It is an ordinary day, nothing is different just the usual daily commute. About 10 to 15 minutes into your trip you suddenly get a thought out of the blue. That little familiar voice inside your head gently whispers that today you should take a different route, a detour. You take a minute to consider it and wonder whether it’s worth taking a chance on your scheduled commute, or just brush it off as a silly thought and continue on your way.
There are two types of people in this case: Person A tends to be intuitive and listens often to that little voice and obeys it. Person B is more hesitant and does not care for change, so tends to ignore it and take their chances as they go about life in their own way. Which type of person are you? What would you do? If you are person A, who listens to that voice and takes the detour, you will get to your destination regardless. It could have even taken you a little longer but either way you would get there. If you are person B and ignore the voice, imagine now that you have reached a road block. Perhaps there has been a bad accident and the road had to be closed off for investigation. Officers are directing drivers to go either right or left but the traffic is now so congested that you watch your precious time tick away and soon you will be late for work. Now do you wish you listened to the little voice? Would have saved you some time and grief, right?
Sometimes in life we need to be able to take detours. We need to be open minded to the fact that things do not always go our way, that our plans may change due to unforeseen events, and that sometimes these detours cause a little bit more grief and time than what we originally wanted but in the end, it actually helped us dodge a bigger bullet. We need to learn to tune in to that little voice in our head and trust that God is speaking to us and helping to direct us in a better direction. We may be afraid and not see it as we go along, but He knows what is ahead and He has a map with better directions and safer routes. Sometimes we tend to ignore the message because we are afraid of change or because it is telling us something we do not want to hear, or we may not be tuned in as much as we should be so when we face bumpy roads we get so easily angry and frustrated not realizing that sometimes we bring it upon ourselves. The more we learn to listen to that little voice and trust it, the better our outcomes in certain situations will be. If something feels right, go for it. If something about a person, place, or thing feels off or you are not at ease with or around it, then leave it. We have these instincts for a reason and being able to follow them is a defense mechanism God has instilled in us to help steer us in the right direction. If you tune in to what He has to say, then you can be sure that you are on track to where you need to be.
Tune in to God’s message for you and take better control of your life.
His brothers said, “Why don’t you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do? No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes. If you’re serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world.” His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn’t believe in him either.
(John 7:3-5 MSG)
“Do you put yourself out there?” asked a good friend of mine. She had gotten engaged and wished the same for me. “No, not just for anyone anyways,” I answered, after giving it some deep thought. Throughout my life, I’ve heard this question asked in some form or another. Whether it was work or relationships, people always wondered if I was making myself noticeable enough. But relying on God for wisdom and direction, has taught me that I don’t need to try hard to prove myself because God is always at work on my behalf.
Jesus’ brothers seem to ask Him a similar question in today’s passage. They push Him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles, a feast which ironically emphasizes God’s provision, so He can be publicly known. “Come out in the open and show the world,” they tell Him. But Jesus knew better. He stays back, at least until it’s the right time for Him to go. “Don’t crowd me. This isn’t my time. It’s your time—it’s always your time; you have nothing to lose…You go ahead, go up to the Feast. Don’t wait for me. I’m not ready. It’s not the right time for me.” He said this and stayed on in Galilee. But later, after his family had gone up to the Feast, he also went. But he kept out of the way, careful not to draw attention to himself”‘ (John 7:6-11).
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sitdown to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. (Luke 15:17-20 MSG)
My favourite part in the story of “The Lost Son” is when the younger son comes back to his senses. Let’s face it, the son could have easily chosen to mope over his misfortune like most people would, but instead, he uses his God-given common sense, the turning point in the story. After all, if he was going to work for someone, it might as well be his father whose servants were better off. But the good news is that the young man is welcomed back not as a servant, but as a son. It really does come down to good old fashion common sense. Sadly, unlike the lost son in the story, most people choose not to use it, even when their whole world comes crashing down around them. As a result, they miss out on the good life that God has to offer them as His children. Don’t settle for less than His best. Use common sense. Seek the Father.
Common sense is something that everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.
For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”
(Luke 4:5-7 MSG)
As someone who enjoys photography, I know what it’s like to capture that perfect moment, or create it if need be. Unfortunately, the devil is a skilled photographer too. He can create that picture-perfect moment in our minds and tempt us to think it’s all there is. He did it to Jesus years ago and he continues to do it to countless other people today, making them believe it’s theirs for the taking, if they would just bow down to his ways. But as any photographer knows, there’s no such thing as a perfect picture. It takes a lot of skill and effort, not to mention editing, to achieve perfection. Jesus knew that what He was being presented with wasn’t real. That is why He refused to worship the devil. Study and memorize God’s Word too so that you’ll learn to see beyond the devil’s distortions of reality, and won’t bow to him either.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but we need to know the Word.
He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
(Psalm 103:5 NLT)
“Are you sure you want to get her that?” asked the sales associate again. “We offer other things that you can get her.” “Yes, it’s what she wants,” I reassured her once again. For her 40th birthday, a family member had asked for a 40-year pendant charm. The sales associate was shocked that someone would ask for something that would remind them of their age, but then heard something even more shocking, “She’s not worried about her age.”
Age is just a number, people say to comfort those who are aging. But over the years, I’ve come to see that those who walk with God, are truly living up to that saying. Age isn’t a concern for them. They’re the ones who can confidently say, “He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” They may or may not look like their age (and most of the time they don’t), but they sure don’t feel like it.
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
(Matthew 6:33 NLT)
I appreciate checklists. They keep me organized and on top of things. But when checklists spiral out of control, they can create unnecessary problems. When people make a checklist of things in life that they would like to check off – things that are beyond their control – they can become manipulative, upset and miserable. Manipulative because they begin to take matters in their own hands; upset because the list doesn’t get checked off as soon as they would like it to or the way they would like it to; and miserable because even when the list does get checked off, it still doesn’t bring the fulfillment they were looking for.
God, who is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33), also has a checklist in place. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” God is not opposed to us having a checklist. What He’s against is a self-centered checklist. When we put Him first, He’ll give us everything we need. Make Him a priority and not a last resort and everything else on the checklist will be checked off in His way and His time.
Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.
(Proverbs 13:24 NLT)
The more I work with children the more aware I’ve become of the lack of discipline in their lives. Years ago, I would have been disciplined for talking back to my elders or for not obeying them, but not today’s generation. Their parents can’t seem to know how to discipline them, or perhaps they’re afraid of being accused of abuse for doing so. But please note that in today’s Scripture, the rod is a figure of speech that can refer to a loving discipline of any kind. The “look” from my parents was all it took to get me to adjust my attitude. We really need to bring discipline back, but without the help of parents it won’t work. If we love our children, we’ll discipline them. After all, that’s how God deals with His children.
As His dearly beloved children, God disciplines us for our good.
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said.
(Matthew 14:16-18 NIV)
I once caught up with a friend who was preparing for a difficult test. She shared how while anxiously studying for the test, God spoke to her through the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Just as Jesus was able to bless the five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the five thousand, God was asking her to trust Him with the little knowledge that she possessed. Let’s take a leaf from her story. God can use the simple things that we have to offer and turn them into something big for His glory. After having fed the five thousand, we’re told, “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matthew 16:20). There’s always plenty when we bring Him what’s little. So bring Him the little that you have and let Him bless it into something more.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
(Acts 10:38 NIV)
This is one of my favourite Scriptures. For years I read it and missed the point. See, Jesus of Nazareth “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” because 1) He was anointed and 2) God was with Him. We can try to go around and do good all we can, but unless we’re anointed by His Holy Spirit, unless God is with us, what we do won’t have much power. In fact, Jesus went around doing good even to those who weren’t good to Him. Listen to the verses that follow: “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God RAISED him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen” (Acts 10:39-40, emphasis added). Rising above retaliation and hate isn’t easy, I know. But Jesus can help us rise again after we’ve been hurt by those who haven’t been so good to us. So keep doing good because what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. But just remember, you can’t do good to all apart from God because only He is good, good all the time and good to all.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22:20 NIV)
After witnessing the apocalypse, the apostle John longed for that day and prayed, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus,” and this has been the believer’s prayer ever since. It’s the desire of every follower of Christ to be with Him. Nothing this life has to offer can quench that longing. And while we’ll never know when Jesus is going to come, we have His sure promise that He will. “Yes, I am coming soon,” He says, and my heart’s cry is Maranatha (Come, O Lord)!