What is God trying to tell you today?
What is God trying to tell you today?
“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare…” Isaiah 55:2
I love being able to flip through the pages of my Bible and see the notes and comments that I have made in the past. I try to label them according to the date and according to who was speaking or preaching. Sometimes these notes come from personal study, but usually they come from a sermon or conference.
I love going through my bible and seeing notes from the important pastors and teachers who have blessed me with their wisdom and discernment. There are many entries credited to my first pastor, Pastor Terry Gibson. He was the pastor of the church the Lord directed me to when I was first called to Him, and Pastor Terry’s name is found in many places. Others whose name comes up often include Pastor Darrell, my current pastor. Pastor Darrell’s notes remind me of his insightful sermons, which not only tickle my ears, like some sermons, but also prod me to action. You will also find notes from Pastor Greg, a dear friend who leads us in Bible study every Friday night in his home. Every now and then I come across Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer, and even a few entries from Pastor Jerry in Botswana.
Today I am looking at notes made September 18, 2010, when I heard Pastor Homer Allison speak near Magnolia, Texas. Homer has spoken to my kids a few times at summer camp, and some very good friends of ours have taken us to visit his church and to attend some of his ministry functions. I have always felt drawn to Pastor Homer and moved deeply each time I hear him speak the Word, so I was delighted to come across these notes this morning as I sit with my Bible in my lap at…Starbucks.
Pastor Homer spoke that night about the three types of people that he knew were in the audience.
The first type was the type of people who hear the Word and are deeply satisfied with the Lord. Those people knew Him intimately and walked with Him closely, and they were the most satisfied souls.
The second type was the type of people who hear the word, then grit their teeth and insist they are satisfied…but really were not.
And the third type was the type who had not a satisfied bone in their body.
Each of those types represented the state of a man’s soul, and I found myself that night, as I find myself this morning, wondering which category I fall into.
My Aunt Ruth told me a story many years ago about when she was a young girl playing the piano for her grandfather, the Reverend J.E. Bankson, as he spoke under revival tents each night. She was about 12 at the time, and I can see her sitting there at the bench, with her perfectly coiffed hair, legs crossed demurely, looking up at her grandfather expectantly as he would open his sermon in the same fashion each night.
“Ruthie, how is it with your soul?” He would ask his granddaughter.
And Ruth would look up and say, “It is well.” And then her fingers would take to the ivory keys, and the words would come forth:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul…”
So, I ask you today, how is it with your soul? How are you when the sea billows roll?
When peace attendeth, we are great. We are, in Homer’s words, those who hear the Word and are deeply satisfied. It speaks to us intimately, comforts us completely, guides us unfailingly.
But when those storm clouds began to puff up, growing grayer and denser against the once blue sky, then what do we do?
Do we retreat back to the heathen behaviors of our surly past, finding comfort in our addictions, our indulgences, and our solitude? If so, then perhaps we are merely gritting our teeth, pretending to be clinging to the cross when we are, in actuality, turning our backs on it.
Or even worse than temporarily turning away, have we yet to ever give ourselves completely to the Lord?
How my heart breaks for those who simply smile at the word with their faces, but refuse to open the folds of their heart to its sweetness, its revelations, its cleansing power. I would not go back to that empty life for all the comforts of the world.
But I would be a fool if I never re-examined my soul, if I never asked myself which of these categories I fell into. I have confidence in my saviour, but I am not ignorant of the flesh. And there are times when that flesh causes me to grit my teeth. Only with a constant re-examination of my spirit can I keep my flesh completely in check, because this, my friend, is a daily process.
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed His own blood for my soul!”
I am so thankful for the Pastors of my past and present. I am thankful that God gives revelation to those blessed with the gift of preaching His Word, so that on days like these, with nothing in particular tugging at my heart other than a desire to hear His voice and know what He has to say to me today, I can open my Bible, reread these notes, and watch as the teaching seeds planted two years ago come alive once again, and then grow as they are enriched with new revelations and the leadings of the Spirit for this one, solitary day.
Any other day, and my fingers may be led to another page. But for this day and this moment, the Lord says, “Come back to this place with me, dear daughter…remember these words? Remember this message, and hear this new thing that I now want to add to it…”
A few weeks ago, I posted a video link on my facebook page, and I think I will post it here, also. It is a clip from my favorite movie of all time, The Color Purple.
Shug Avery, the honky-tonk tramp, grows weary of living in banishment from her family. Her preacher father has turned his back on her and her wild ways, and when she returns to the town she grew up in, she walks past his church with a catch in her heart. How she desires to be back in the fold, to be back in her father’s arms. But guilt from her sin keeps her away in fear, and pride and judgement in her father’s heart prevents him from reaching out.
But our God, a God of reconciliation, will not stop speaking to the hearts of his children. He will not rest until all is well with their souls. And one Sunday, Shug Avery and her ragamuffin band of prostitutes, drunks, adulterers, bastard children, and gamblers comes bursting through the pretty white doors of her daddy’s church, her sinful flesh for all to see, and her repentant heart longing for that peace like a river.
“God is trying to tell you something!” she sings, and in an instant, her father opens his eyes. He reaches out to embrace his prodigal daughter, and the two are reunited.
Is God trying to tell you something? Are you in the midst of the sea billows, gritting your teeth and wondering where to find peace?
Or are you sitting behind the sanctity of those big white doors, closing your ears and eyes to the hurting world right outside those doors? If that is you and your church, then God is trying to tell you something, too. There are, after all, just as many prostitutes, drunks, adulterers, bastard children and gamblers on the other side of the door, as well…
Open up your Bible and seek the Word He has for you today.
Love the unloved. Comfort the lonely. Feed those who hunger. Give shelter to those with no shelter. Share your bountiful blessings.
Reconcile with the heart of a friend.
And know that in the midst of those billows, the Lord cares for your soul.
“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back like a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.”
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near…” Isaiah 55:6
Yikes. It has been two weeks since I last wrote, and since my last post was a bit prickly, some have probably wondered if I have already given up.
I’m here for the long run. We were gone on vacation and then thenoblechildren were gone on vacation, leaving me a quiet house to enjoy. I just sort of vegged out, actually. But it was nice.
So, how is thenoblejourney going? It’s going well. In fact, phase one has been so successful that I am ready to embark on the next milestone. Now that I have a handle on the meal preparation, I’m ready to start tackling the hard stuff. You see, I enjoy cooking. It’s easy to make time for that. Put me in a kitchen with a well-stocked refrigerator and no dirty dishes in the sink, and I can have a great time. So now it’s time to get serious about the next issue.
“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27
Yes, this is the big one for me, because I rather enjoy being idle.
Uh, yeah, that’s me.
Now granted, some idleness is good. I believe the Lord desires us to rest, especially when we rest with Him. But I think you all know what I am talking about here. I’m talking about those times when I can sit on the couch for hours on end watching television, or sit at the computer surfing Pinterest. Or even those times when I wake up early, like I did this morning around 5:30, then drift back to sleep when I could get up and be productive.
I think that I justify my idleness with all kinds of excuses, which are listed below, but not in any order of preference:
1. I struggle with insomnia, so i should take rest when and however I find it.
2. It’s summer and I need to unwind.
3. The dog is resting too, and if it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for me.
4. My back/foot/neck/shoulders/ankle/elbow/freckle hurts
This list could be further developed, but I think you get the idea. It feels good to do nothing. It feels good to not be physically or mentally engaged. It allows me to daydream, or be lazy, or indulge in guilty pleasures.
One of the things I am debating for us is getting rid of cable tv. It would certainly help with the finances, although we have already cut our service down to the most basic package available. Last night theyoungernobleson was watching something that appeared to be eliciting a great deal of laughter from deep within his belly. He made the comment that it “wasn’t really that bad of a show”, which was immediately nullified by the next few lines out of the actor’s mouth.
Now, my children are teenagers, so the days of hyper-supervision are gone. The oldest at 22 is well past my intervention, and at 15 the youngest will be entering that territory soon. So as a parent, I don’t feel that simply ordering him to turn the channel is sufficient. I need to pick his brain. I need to engage him in conversation that helps me understand why he doesn’t understand the need to turn the channel without my intervention.
I want my children to think for themselves. It doesn’t hurt any less when they make decisions that I know are not pleasing to the Lord. I have watched all three of them buck the Holy Spirit at one time or another, and that is part of their own personal walk. I want to give the Holy Spirit a chance to convict in His own way and time, and for them to learn to respond to it quickly, or suffer the consequences.
But in this case, the television is in my house.
After the channel was turned, I asked theyoungernobleson why he did not feel bothered enough by what he heard to turn the channel himself. A lot of it, I know, comes down to the younger generations’ definition of humor, and that was probably the reason that came through the strongest in this situation. But even as I used my best rhetoric to make a case against this type of entertainment, the hypocrisies of my own day to day life flashed before my eyes.
I have to set the example in all ways. I have to keep reminding myself that I must exude the excellence that I want my children to reach for in their own lives, to expect from their own spouses and children, and to be able to convey in their future ministries.
There’s a lot of stuff that I watch that I shouldn’t be, also. And it does not have to be blatant cursing, sexually explicit, or extremely violent. When I laugh at a character who is doing something immoral, then it doesn’t really matter if I agree with the action or not. If I find it entertaining, then I am accepting it in some way into my moral boundaries.
So as I embark on the next level of excellence, looking over all of the affairs of my household, it’s not just going to be about being productive with my time. It’s going to be about eliminating those things that zap my productivity. After all, isn’t it usually the case that the things that we fall into while being unproductive are also counterproductive to the Christian walk? Those guilty pleasures threaten to erode the excellence that thenoblejourney is all about.
You may find that some of the things that I have to “struggle” to give up are, well, ridiculous. But that’s okay, because they are my struggles, not yours. They are the things the Holy Spirit has convicted me to change, not you. And since I am married and do not make decisions on my own, you will also understand (and I will try to, also) that my husband may not always be experiencing the same convictions, so there may be some conflict on the way. I need to brace for it.
So, what are the things that I am currently being convicted to change?
1. Internet surfing…I like to read the news on my phone, as well as on the computer at home. This time of year, I check the National Hurricane Center’s website about 7 times a day for any tropical storm development. (I’m not kidding about this). I also read the two local newspaper’s websites, CNN and Foxnews, People magazine, two local television news station’s websites, Craigslist, and Pinterest.
It only takes a few minutes to scan each website for breaking stories, which I do multiple times a day. So I am committing to lessen the amount of time that I spent “reading” online and also eliminating some of the websites. The websites I am now committing to stay away from include about half of those on my list. I am only going to keep the following: Craigslist, Foxnews, two local newspapers, one local news station, and Pinterest.
I am also happy to report that I have successfully given up surfing TMZ and The National Enquirer. I confess, I love keeping up with the celebrities and bizarre news. But there is nothing uplifting in this, and last month I felt convicted to give up the greater of the evils in these two websites. I feel like I need to get back into Celebrate Recovery to deal with this addiction! Is there a class for that???
2. Television…My entire youth was spent being entertained by the television. It has always been my go-to for solace. I know that some of you don’t relate to that at all, but it really is a big thing in my life. I am being convicted not just about what I watch, but how much time I spend watching. And in my desire to project excellence and foster it in my home, I am going to be restricting thenoblechildren and their access, as well. Be in prayer for me on that one, for sure.
I am also working on a list of things to replace the idle time with, which I will update you on in a future post. As I detox from technology, I expect some bumps along the way. But I also expect great rewards.
There is so much that could be addressed with this scripturally:
“And we urge you brothers, warn those who are idle…” I1 Thessalonians 5:14
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us…We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6 & 11
“…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” 1 Timothy 5:13
“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4
And because physical laziness also leads to spiritual laziness:
“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrews 6:10-12
I look forward to my inheritance.