Thought for the day: Advice. Who do you go to for advice? Why? We all have that person, or people, we seek advice from when we are at a crossroads. The real question is: do you follow their advice? It has worked both ways for me. There are a handful of people who I go to. And by handful, I mean less than five. God is included in that count. Sometimes I listen and follow, other times…. Perhaps I didn’t like what they said (including God), so, I did my own thing anyway. You? I’m pretty sure, our stories of doing our own thing all turned out similar. Difficult, and stressful. Can you relate? Why, do we do that? Two words: pride, easy. Our pride that we know best gets in the way, and we want an easy, comfortable, life. Yet, we get the opposite. You? There was a man that at every trun in his life sought advice from God. Moses. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. No simple task. Throughout the Book of Exodus we can read over and over, he cried put to God. May we take his example and when we cry out to God for advice, DO what He says. “Then Moses cried out to the LORD,… So Moses did this…” Ex. 17:5-6 #spreadthewordacrosstheglobe #advicelistenanddo
This week our challenge proved to be a bit different. Our challenge was not just focusing on His promise, which imparted the majority of the work on God. This week, our verse had us praying that God. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give us wisdom and revelation.
Friends, I could hardly stand it when I noticed my part in the prayer! This past week it wasn’t just focusing on one of His promises with an expectation for him to show up, but instead we had to take the initiative, and ask. Did anyone else notice that?
I will admit I was a bit anxious with all that I asked of God. Were you?
- A spirit of wisdom
- Revelation in the knowledge of Him
- Mind to be enlightened
- To know the hope of His calling
- His inheritance, and immeasurable greatness of His power!
And if that is not enough I will know all of that according to His vast strength!
Now do you see it?! This challenge was to draw us closer to Him, and to know Him better. This week my fellow sojourners we asked God to know him better. And, I don’t know about you but I have felt a bit overwhelmed. That’s quite the list.
In Jer. 29:33 he says, if you seek me you will find me. I am seeking Him, are you? He is letting me find Him, is he you? Oh I pray He is. Friends there is nothing in this world like it!
Yet with all of that, due to my current circumstances of impending unemployment starring me down, five words grabbed my attention.
To know the hope of His calling
“What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind – God prepared this for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9-10 HCSB
I recently celebrated a birthday, and looking back on my life I never expected at my age to be in the position I am in. Some of you may be able to relate, like me –
- You had a good career – until the company restructured.
- You had a plan mapped out for a new career – until that ended.
- You had been is a good financial position – until laid off.
- You had freedom from worries many others dealt with – until my finances dwindled.
Now it’s –
- Seasonal job to seasonal job, or part time to part time.
- Making just enough to pay the bills.
- Having worries that used to be foreign seem like friends.
I share all of this not for you to feel sorry for me. No way! It is to say – I understand what others went through. Your path may be different, it may consist of a broken relationship, health issues, addictions, or another issue. Whatever your issue I bet you never expected it, or wanted it.
The verses this week had me asking – what is the hope of my calling? Do you ever wonder that? If like me you worked in a vocation for a long time, only to have it end, and no doors open back up to it – you may find yourself asking the same question?
Perhaps if you are an empty nester, find yourself single after years of marriage, or being in a relationship, all of a sudden, you may find yourself asking the same question? Even those that have just retired may have asked – now what is my calling?
And maybe not. You might be one that knows. Good for you. However, for some of us – the search is just beginning, or is continuing.
First I had to know what the word calling meant. Like any good student I looked it up.
The Strongest Strongs Exhaustive Concordance defines it as “a situation, station in life, vocation” (p. 2817)
Have you ever had a question about something, really desired the answer, then sought out to get an answer, and when you see the answer you think – that’s it? Yep, that was my thought. Since those five words “to know the hope of His calling” have weighed on me for the last few years I think I was thinking the answer would show up there. Instead it solidified the question even deeper. And with that – I got my spade shovel out and began to dig deeper looking up more verses with the same meaning.
“He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Crist Jesus.” 2 Ti. 1:9 HCSB
Ah-ha! A new version of the word “call” the sixth one in. Yes, I looked it up and it says “to invite, A higher authority has invited you.”
Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown? Invited me to what? Friends, please tell me I am not alone here, and that you too have had a question in which the answer was not immediate. Yet, like a good solider, we forge on with the answer still waiting to be conquered.
Then, it happened at work one day, a co-worker said to me, “your responsibility is to live life for YOU, and do what makes you happy.” Right then, the light went on. It was so bright I thought I was going to have to put my sunglasses on. I responded immediately with, “Incorrect my friend. My responsibility is to live life for Christ. To glorify Him, and along the way perhaps introduce others to Him. That is my responsibility.”
Girlfriend, guy friend, that is your responsibility too! That is our calling. Jump back one verse in 2 Ti. 1, and look at verse 8.
“So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God” 2 Ti. 1:8 HCSB
Let’s not allow the word suffering to deter us, we know we will have troubles, and hard times. Instead, let’s look at the last six words – “relying on the power of God.” What was in our week five verse? Yes! Also, that we would know –
“the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.” Eph 1:19 HCSB
With my God, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, and I, climb this mountain in front of me. Each rock we scale, each trail we take, each pebble that jerks my feet as I climb higher to the calling He has for me, I will remain hopeful that in its fullness it will be made known to me. And yours to you.
Along the journey, with the premise always shining bright to guide us, we recall God is not a man that lies. Num. 23:19. With that we can rely on the last four weeks of promises:
- If we look for Him, He will let us find him. Jer. 29:13-14
- Not to be afraid, or discouraged. Isa. 41:10
- He will provide ALL of our needs. Mt. 6:33
- He is on our side. Ez. 36:7
In the words of my bible study teacher “Isn’t this RICH?!” I love it, as all of His promises entwine with each other and our lives! Do you?
As week five ends and we move into week six, keep climbing. Keep forging on, for goodness sakes, get on your belly and crawl if you have to, just keep going towards the hope of our calling!
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19-20 HCSB
That is our calling. Who are you telling? Who are you inviting to church and/or a bible study?
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2016
*picture by quotesgram, pinterest, and 123rf
Has there been a time in your life where the same set of words kept showing up? Perhaps you thought it was a coincidence? But, instead it was divine intervention.
What did you do? Did you ignore the words? Reason them to fit your life? Or, listen and yield to what the words were saying? Depending on your situation, and the words, I’m sure all of our answers would be different. And, I will admit I’ve reasoned a few. How did it turn out? That’s for another day.
What I wonder is… if we do not listen, take to heart, and yield to the Words. Would we have missed a great opportunity that awaited us? Would the opportunity present itself again? Do we want to risk missing what He has in store for us?
Lately, there have been a set of words that keep resurfacing. The words first began when I had the privilege to volunteer for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at my church. It so happened the words began in my life as the motto for VBS, “and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.’” Isa. 30:21 HCSB (italics mine)
Those last seven words reappeared today with a little more volume than before. Sometimes when God is trying to tell us something He begins softly, and as He makes His message clearer the volume gets louder, and the words appear more often. The problem I have, and I wonder if you do too, is I can be so busy, or so involved with things I want, that I miss it. Or perhaps I just simply ignore the words.
Have you ever tried to get a message across? You keep repeating yourself, yet the other person just seems to ignore you. Or, if they don’t by their lack of action it is clear they have chosen to ignore you. If you’re like me you will convey your message only for so long, and after the words spew out like lava from a volcano, left unattended to over time you become indifferent to the situation. Any of us know that once indifference sets in it is typically the beginning of the end.
But, thankfully with God indifference does not set in! He keeps after us.
“He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.” Isa. 30:19NLT.
I love how the Holman Christian Study Bible explains Isaiah 30:21, “There are two ways – a crooked path that represents an evil life heading toward death and the straight path of godliness that leads to life.” (p. 1173 HCSB) When I read that my mind immediately went to a childhood story that I heard many times. You may know it too – Hansel and Gretel, by Brothers Grimm.
There are paths in the forest in which they have been left in. Hansel decides to leave bread crumbs so they can find their way back. But, the birds eat the crumbs. At that they are to decide which path to take. Do you now see it? There is a path that represents evil, and a path that leads to life. Which one do they take?
If you know the story you know what happened. They ended up at a witch’s house – evil. Yet, they escaped, and were reunited with their father – life. I will leave out all the details in case you have never read the story. It is one of the Fairy Tale Classics.
Even though it is a fairy tale, I can relate. Can you? We are faced with a decision. There are two answers. One that will lead to not necessarily a witch’s house – evil, but to a lesser life than what God had originally planned for us. The other that will lead to a life that experiences all of His best. When we hear “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isa. 30:21
“A road will be there and a way.” Isa. 35:8a HCSB
I love how God does not just say there will be a road, and to take it. Do you notice He says there will also be “a way”? We may have wondered deep into the woods like Hansel and Gretel. All of our bread crumbs may have been eaten up from our poor choices. Yet, He will give “a way.”
“God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13 HCSB
Once Hansel and Gretel escaped they were on the straight path to life. They were reunited with their father. Maybe some of you, like me, have been or are on the crooked path going deeper and deeper into the woods. Maybe right now we are face to face with the witch of our poor decisions, empty dreams, or long gone hopes, that we feel far removed us from our Father. Or perhaps you were once on that path and now walking on the straight path to life? You heard “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isa. 30:21. And, you did.
If not, and you are deep in the woods remember God provides a way. He himself will guide you, and get you back on the right track.
“I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day.” Ez. 34:12 HCSB
So friends, when the way looks dark, when all the bread crumbs you left behind are gone, when the way to go is clouded, when you hear His voice take heart. Stop. Listen, and yield to them. There are two paths – a crooked evil one, and a straight path to life. To know which to take we need to listen for:
“This is the way. Walk in it.” Isa. 30:21.
Then – Go.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
*picture by imgkid
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Pe. 3:15a NIV
This verse burst out in song like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in my head. It played its melodious tunes over and over, as I was in the midst of a conversation this weekend. The conversation was somewhat of a role play scenario. We were talking and I had asked a simple, or so I thought, question. Perhaps simple was not really what it was when I began with the ever popular two words that sets up the stage – “what if.”
“What if someone came up to you and asked you – Who is Jesus to you. What would you say?”
Apparently the person I was talking to thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t. The answer was simple, and comprised of two words; “God’s Son.” The answer was correct, yet did not tell me who Jesus was to the person. The question was personal in nature. As I asked for clarification and then went on to ask “why.” Answers were vague, and at a 30,000 feet level.
Having been a corporate trainer one of the questions I would ask frequently in class of my participants would be – What does that look like? Describe it. This requires much more detail, specifics, and examples.
Yet, that one sentence continued to belt out the tunes like a number one hit in pop music! And the first seven words was the chorus “Always be prepared to give an answer.” Are you prepared? Then – it turned to me. Am I prepared? Can you, or I, answer the question? “Who is Jesus to you?”
Allow me to present these three scenarios to you. Picture it:
#1 – A child is searching, seeking, and now curiosity has gotten the better of him/her. This child comes to you and asks you the question. This child is looking to you for an answer.
#2 – A teenager is struggling, seeking, and searching. This teenager has heard of Jesus, and is now face to face with you, and asks you the question. This teenager is looking to you for an answer.
#3 – An adult is facing difficulties, had a rough life, and/or is discontent. This adult has heard of Jesus, maybe even at one point “tried” church, yet still asks you the question. This adult is looking to you for an answer.
Are you prepared? What do you say? To answer the way God instructs means we have to get real, and personal. What!? Yes. You will have to share some of your personal experiences about Jesus. How He helped you. What He is doing right now in your life. Even when things look bleak – we know He is still there. So what do we say? Do we encourage, or discourage?
Anyone of those scenarios could involve people right in your sphere of influence: family, friends, co-workers, clients, or neighbors. From the young to the old. So let me ask again – Are you prepared?
The rest of verse fifteen God tells us what our attitude should be when we answer; “But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pt. 3:15b NIV) When we answer to be gentle. Speak to their situation, and if we can relate then to share how Jesus helped us through it.
One of the biggest things I would see over and over with managers when I was coaching them on how to assess readiness levels in their employees was not to forget what we at one time didn’t know. What happens is we begin a new job, skill, trade, and when we master it we forget what it was like to be in the learning stage, and then expect everyone to be where we are. Minimal time around the curve, so you can speak at a 30,000 foot level. No specifics, just high level instructions.
Those of us that are Christians may we not forget that at one time, when we were seeking, searching, and perhaps feeling discontent that the person that helped us didn’t just tell us to “read the bible,” or “just go to church,” instead they took time out of their day, talked with us, and shared their life with us. They became an open book, an example, of who Jesus was to them.
Are you prepared to give an answer? If not, maybe some practice is in the forecast. This is for me also. Am I prepared?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6 NIV
Heavenly Father, I pray that those of us reading this that we are presented with the question at just the right time, given just the right words, and season our speech with salt. That we are fully prepared to give an answer to everyone, and may there be many, who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. In His name, Amen.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
*picture by hdw.eweb4