Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Selective Hearing

 


Selective hearing is a real thing.  

When my children were young, they all had trouble with their hearing.  It wasn’t a medical/physical thing.  Their selective hearing was by choice.  

They could hear fine if I said, “Time for chocolate cake.”  "Who wants to go outside and play?" "Let's finger-paint with chocolate pudding!" 

But when I said, “Time to share that toy.”  "It's bedtime."  "Don't touch that."  Suddenly, no one could hear a thing.  It was like I was speaking a foreign language.

When my eldest child was almost 3-years-old, he took off on his little bike peddling like the wicked witch of the west character from the movie The Wizard of Oz.  (I can actually hear the music that played while she peddled her bike when I remember this incident.)  

I started out by calling to him in a sweet tone, "That's far enough.  Come back." Then my volume increased and my concern was evident with the not-so-sweet tone of my one word,  "Stop." 

He did not even turn his head to look back in my direction.  I franticly yelled for him to stop and come back.  He peddled faster.  

I quickly realized he was getting too far away from me.  In that moment, the danger was real.  The more I yelled for him to stop, the faster his little feet peddled.  He was heading straight for a main road that had a steady flow of traffic.  

Did he hear me yelling?  Oh, yes, he did.  

Did he listen to me?  Oh, no, he did not.

I had to run with all my might to catch him.  When I finally got close enough to grab him, he jumped from his bike and started to run towards the busy road.  I was able to take hold of his arm only 10 feet from the traffic.   

It was a horrifying memory and to this day, causes my heart to beat faster in the retelling of the story.  

In the book of Revelation, God makes an important statement to the seven churches.  He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22).

Listening is an important skill both in our physical and spiritual lives.  When we choose to listen, we will avoid many dangers.  

I wonder how often we have selective hearing when it comes to the things God is trying to speak into our lives?  Do we jump on our little bike and peddle as fast as we can to get away from the Spirit's warnings?

In the past, when God’s people cease to listen, He ceased to speak.   From the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, until John the Baptist arrived on the scene there were 450+ years of silence.   

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in the book of John chapter 10:27, 

“My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Ears have one function, only one.  Hearing! 

In the book of Revelation, John tells us to tune into what the Spirit is speaking to the church.

Church!  It’s time for a hearing tested.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

This is not the time for selective hearing.  

***

(If you follow my weekly devotionals, this concludes 66-weeks of going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Some weeks, it wasn't easy to zero in on only one verse from an entire book like Psalms or Proverbs but I went with whatever God was speaking to my heart at the time.  I hope you enjoyed this spiritual discipline with me.  I'll be taking a break writing these weekly devotionals for a bit. God Bless.

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

I never saw that coming.


"I never saw that coming."  

 

I've blurted that phrase out many times in my life when something took me by surprise.  Like on the occasions I've tripped over things unexpectedly, when I've been surprised by the arrival of a loved one, or when someone shows an expression of appreciation that you didn't see coming.  

 

I've also experienced times in my life when someone has acted or said unkind words to me and in my pain I'd say, “Wow!  I never saw that coming.” 

 

The one chapter book of Jude is packed with many spiritual truths that are applicable to our lives today and one of these is a warning about those "I never saw that coming" life moments.  


In Jude 1:12-13, there are warnings of false teachers who snuck into the church and carried with them dangerous teachings that over time would cause problems.  

 

These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (Jude 1:12-13 NKJV)

 

The best translation in Greek for “spot or blemishes in your love feasts,” is hidden rocks.  Hidden rocks are found below the surface of the water and hold the potential of destroying a passing ship.  Those assigned to spot these hidden rocks never saw them coming.  

 

You know, I've experienced a few hidden rocks in my own life.  They are things I may enjoy, want, believe are fine but are not necessarily good for me.  If I ignore these hidden rocks and sail through life oblivious to the danger of hidden rocks, destruction is sure to come.  

 

I like eating raw cookie dough yet, everyone knows that eating food with raw eggs is dangerous.

 

Drinking my coffee with half and half is amazing, but too much of either coffee or half and half is unhealthy.

 

Telling someone off when they deserve it feels great in the moment, yet as gratifying and justified as it may feel in that moment, is it really worth the destruction of a relationship? 

 

When we all choose to do only what makes us feel good, WARNING...there are consequences.

 

In the book of Jude, as well as other New Testament books, there are warnings that we should beware of false teachers in our midst.  

 

These false teachers will become our own personal ‘hidden rocks.’  

 

You may think you're able to spot a false teacher quickly, but the ways of the world have crept into the church and if the community of Believers is not careful, we’ll all be caught saying, “I never saw that coming.”



 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Role Models

My daughter and me.  
I pray my life is one she will what to imitate.

I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to have role models whose lives are of godly moral character.  They are and were lives I want to emulate. 

When I was a little girl and regularly attended kid’s camp, I’d fall in love each year with whoever my camp counselor was.  I don’t remember even one of my counselor’s names from camp, but when I was younger the first chance I had, I wanted to be a camp counselor.  I wanted to impact young lives for the Lord like these women who gave their energy and time to impact my life.   

From my youth until now, I was blessed with many great role models who were sold out to God.  There were Sunday school teachers, pastors and their wives,  and godly men and women in the church, who spoke into my life with words and actions.

In my own family, I had five great women who influenced me and helped form me by their example.  I am who I am today because of my praying grandmother, generous aunt, loving mother, caring mother-in-law and spiritual stepmom. 

The book of 3 John is a short one-chapter book written in three-parts.  

The first part of this one-chapter book was praise from the Apostle John to a man called Gaius for a job well done, yet John encouraged him to do more.  We all could be and do better in our walks with the Lord.  None of us have arrived.  I like that before John told Gaius that there was room for improvement, first he praised him for what he was doing well.  Take note parents and spiritual leaders, it may be good to find a few positives before zeroing in on the areas that need improvement. 

In the second part of the letter, John warns about a man named Diotrephes, who’s example is one to avoid.  Diotrephes was a man who exhibited selfishness, gossip, bitterness, jealousy, and contention.  And an area that John speaks to in this book is this man's lack of hospitality to those in ministry.  John warns Gaius to beware of him.  He is not a good role model.

In the last part of 3 John, Gaius is given the name of someone who’s example he should follow.  This man’s name was Demetrius.

In 3 John 11, it says,  

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.” 

Demetrius had a reputation within his church as a godly man who walked in truth and believed in God.  He was well spoken of within his church community. 

John encouraged Gaius to imitate what was good and not what was evil.   

Who are you emulating and who is emulating you?  

Are you a Diotrephes who is known for causing division in the church or a Demetrius who walks in love and truth? 

Choose your role models carefully.  

Your spiritual health depends on it.

 

 



Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Truth Matters



Teaching children to tell the truth is no small task.  I tried to drive this point home with my children when they were young by saying this, "I’m not punishing you for what you did wrong, but for not telling me the truth when I ask you."   


I did this with the hope that the next time I needed to address untruthfulness they would ponder the message and do the right thing by telling the truth no matter what the consequences might be. 

 

This lesson has been used by parents for generations.  Why?  Because truth matters.

 

The one chapter and thirteen verse of the book of Second John holds a powerful message.

 

·      Know the truth.

·      Walk in the truth.

·      Protect the message of the truth.

 

The truth that John is driving home for us in this book is that we should love one another, and John did not leave the truth of loving one another undefined. 

 

In 2 John 1:4-6 in The Message says this.

 

I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.

 

When training a child, we start at the beginning with a principle that we want them to learn.  That training is consistent and unchanging.  

God started from the beginning teaching His children an unchanging principle too, that we should love one another!

This truth matters.  When Believers allow worldly things to override their love one for another--we are acting in disobedience.   

·      Know the truth—by studying God’s Word to know what the Bible says about love.  

·      Walk in the truth—by showing your love for one another with your words and deeds.

·      Protect the truth—by not bringing shame to the name of Jesus by your unloving actions towards other Believers.

 

One day we will each stand before our Heavenly Father, and I hope He will not judge us too harshly when he recalls our love for one another.    

 

Truth Matters—Love one another.

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Love One Another

The best communication is clear and uncomplicated.  I don't care for all the frills and fluff that can get in the way of the message when things get too wordy.  


Are you familiar with this acronym?  


K.I.S.S.  


It sums up how I feel about most things in life.  Why make it harder than it needs to be?

That's why I love this verse from 1 John 3:11 (TLB).  It's simple and easy to understand yet communicates a message that many Christians struggle with.


For the message to us from the beginning has been 

that we should love one another.


The idea that we should love one another is a simple, uncomplicated command, yet when someone we should be loving upsets or offends us, how quickly do we take our eyes off the Lord and handle things in a way that is anything but love. 

 

If you have failed in loving one another, you're not alone.

  • The brothers of Joseph took their eyes of God and allowed jealousy to rob them of brotherly love.
  • Esau took his eyes off God and gave away his birthright for a bowl of soup.  Then resented his brother for his own poor choices.
  • David took his eyes off God and allowed his flesh to rule his heart.  His bad choices and attempts to cover up his sin led to taking another man’s life. 
  • Peter took his eye off God and, in fear, denied he ever knew Jesus.

I wonder if we choose to say this one simple phrase before taking action if our lives would be better for it.  

...we should love one another.


I think, yes.  


Yes, they would.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Make Every Effort


 

When I'm given a job assignment, I haven't always put forth my best effort.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it's not my strength.  For me, it has been a struggle to enjoy the task at hand because my eye is fixed on the finish line more than giving whatever the task may be my very best effort.  


For me, it's all about getting the job done, and as quickly as possible. 

 

In my life, I've made some blunders, messed up big time, and my hurried work has affected me and those around me.  Not good!  


In the book of 2 Peter, the author writes at the beginning and end of the book: "Make every effort."  This book was written for the early church but also applies to us today. 

 

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, the Apostle Peter gives us stepping stones to help us make every effort to build on a solid foundation.  This verse also tells us what happens when we don't make our best effort.


...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Next time you question if you are making every effort in your life to be effective and productive members of the body of Christ, here's the checklist from 2 Peter for you to consider.  

  • Is it good what you are about to do? (goodness)
  • Is God's word in agreement with what you're about to do? (knowledge)
  • Is it within your power to show self-control in this matter? (self-control)
  • Am I easily distracted by the concerns of this world and not focused on doing God's will?   (perseverance)
  • Will others see Christ in my actions? (godliness)
  • Do my actions show I care for my brothers and sisters in Christ? (mutual affection)
  • Are my actions an expression of love to others? (love)

If your answer is negative to even one of these questions, make every effort to reconsider your actions.  


In this first week of 2021, my prayer is that all who read these words would make every effort to filter their actions through this verse.  


When we do this, we'll become productive and effective representatives of Jesus.   

 

 

 

 

 

Selective Hearing

  Selective hearing  is a real thing.   When my children were young, they all had trouble with their hearing.  It wasn’t a medical/physical ...