What is Your Sheepdog?

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It is a troubling thing if we always turn our daily inconveniences into “demonic attacks” and pray that they be “cut off” and “taken away”.  The things that bug us, the constant annoyances and the inconvenient circumstances – these things purify our character and should provoke us to turn to God for the grace and patience that we need each day to persevere. Maturity does not attribute every negative thing as from the enemy. Sometimes the things that challenge us, that constantly nip and bite at our heels are the very things that God uses to get us up and and to keep us moving in the right direction for our spiritual growth.

He Made Himself of No Reputation

bird face-off (2) It is sad when the world falsely accuses or seeks to tear down the reputation of honest people doing good things.  We may even experience this to some degree or at some point in our own lives. It is good to clarify a misconception and to speak truth into a lie, but sometimes a wrong can be made more wrong when we invest too much time trying to fix it.  With all the wrongs that need to be made right in this world, let us ask for wisdom  to know how much energy we should expend on trying to recover a tarnished reputation and to know when it is time to just move on.

How Are You Listening?

Communication is so much more than just words and information.  Expression and intonation play an important role. We can wait a long time, miss out on a lot of revelation and possibly miss the point entirely if we think that words are the only way that God whispers in our hearts. Often there is a deeper revelation without words or beyond words if we listen for the glorious weight of His expression or the tender sound of His intonation towards us, full of power, love and mercy. Direction may come from information, but intonation carries transformation.

 

How Much Faith?

bridge 2When we cautiously ask God for every detail up front before we set out on our journey of faith, we greatly diminish our ability to trust in God because we actually end up walking by sight and not by faith. Conversely, launching out blindly and zealously without regard for our current obligations is reckless.
Without faith it is impossible to please God.  Let us ask God for wisdom to live out our faith with just the right amount that we need for every situation.

Confirmed by Scripture

 

Revelation for specific personal direction should always be
weighed and cross-checked in light of scriptures regardless of how many
people confirm it and regardless of how important these people are.  God’s word spoken in the heart will never contradict the principles of God’s word written in the Bible.

A Disciplined Eye

The light of the body is the eye. Like our physical eyes, our spiritual eyes have the capacity to become trained to identify fine details when we fix our gaze and keep looking intently on the object of our affections. If our eye is pure there will be sunshine in our soul.  What are you looking at?

Discernment and the See-Saw

 

Discernment is starved if we rely only on the wisdom of godly counselors who listen for us and give us direction. While this practice is totally biblical, helpful and often vital, it is not meant to replace our own growth and maturity in learning to hear from God and His Word in our own hearts for ourselves.

Conversely we can fall into error by thinking we are totally self-sufficient in our listening and do not need the valuable input and guidance from our mature brothers and sisters.  We grow in discernment when we begin to balance the see-saw.  But the first step is often the hardest;  we must learn to recognize the imbalance in the first place.                                   T. Long

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord…Really?

 

If we really meant the words that we sing, “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you..”  then God would not need to use a crowbar to pry them open.  We know that our lip song does not match our heart cry when we shut our eyes to the unexpected and start telling God what we expect Him to look like.  The eyes of our heart are opened at spiritual birth but we can blind ourselves and cover our eyes to what we don’t want to see. We tend to put Him in a box and put parameters around our range of vision.  Spiritual vision comes when we yield our hearts to look at what He wants us to see and that usually involves our willingness to look outside the limited box of our expectation.                                T. Long

Listening with Carrots In Our Ears

“Excuse me sir, but you have carrots in your ears.”, the young boy told the man.  The man turned cupping his hand to his ear..”What?” he yelled back.  “You have carrots in your ears!”, the young boy said again, this time much more loudly.  The old man shouted back,  “I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.  I have carrots in my ears!!!”

A simple joke with a simple truth…we have a hard time hearing anything when our ears are plugged.  This illustration is not only true for our physical ears but also for our spiritual ears.   Someone told me once that his ability to hear God has not so much to do with his actual skill at listening, but rather that God is able to shout really loud over the things that plug his ears.   There is truth in this.  Thank God He is able to speak louder than our weaknesses and get our attention when we need to hear him.

But sometimes, the most meaningful and profound things that the Lord wants to speak into our hearts take the form of a soft voice or a quiet whisper that simply gets drowned out by the noise – the “carrots” if you will,  that plug our ears.  If we are truly trying to hear with our heart, then where it is possible and within our power to do so, we should try to place ourselves in the best position possible to listen,  and that would include cleaning out our ears.   Going to a quiet place, and reducing the noise, physical, mental and spiritual, has the ability to still our spirit and prepares us to listen and to receive.  Jesus went to a quiet place away to pray and spend time with God especially for important things that He really needed to hear, like choosing the 12 disciples.

Getting away may not be as easy or practical for us all the time, but simple things like walking away from the television, turning off our electronic cell phones and computers and going to a quiet room can make a substantial difference in our ability to hear with our heart.  Does removing the carrots automatically guarantee that we will be able to hear?  No, but it certainly helps.  Are you trying to listen with carrots in your ears?      T. Long