"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 20, 2013
Many years ago, I attended church with a lady who would consistently ask, "So what is God saying to you today?" No matter where you were or what the occasion was, she would always ask this same question. Another lady asked her why she always did this, and it was her opinion that God is saying something to us each and every day, if only we would listen. She said that she was interested in what God was speaking to others.
The thing is, if you didn't have a specific answer, she tended to make you feel as if you were lacking or were somehow failing spiritually in your relationship with God. Whether or not she intended to make you feel this way, that is how she portrayed herself. It personally made me want to avoid being around her.
I do believe that God speaks to our hearts; whether it be through His Word, a sermon, something we see in nature, a story we read that grips our heart, a conversation with a child, etc. There are many ways that God can commune with us. I also believe that we often get so busy that we miss what He is trying to say. Then there are times when we may hear Him, but we don't really stop and listen. Hearing and listening are two different things.
But I also believe that there are times when God is seemingly silent and we may not sense or feel Him speaking anything specific to us. There have been periods of time when I felt like I was spiritually going through a dry desert, and it sometimes felt as if God were far away. That doesn't mean that He is, for God is always present in our lives, but that is how it felt.
I have sometimes prayed and prayed about a specific situation and have felt as if I were listening for an answer from God, but months, and sometimes even years, go by and I don't receive a clear direction or breakthrough and it is as if God is being silent on that particular subject. Perhaps it is a time of Him testing my faith, it may be God testing my perseverance, or it could be that it is not yet His timing to answer. At times it could also be that God is speaking but I'm too stubborn to obey or listen, because what He's saying is not what I want to hear.
We often allow others to influence how we "think" we should feel or act spiritually. If they tell us that we should be daily hearing a specific word from God and we're not, then if we're not careful, we will start feeling as if we are not as close to God as they are, or have somehow failed, or are doing something wrong.
God doesn't always move the same way in everyone's life. He doesn't always reveal Himself to everyone in the same manner. And He doesn't always speak the same way in each heart.
One of my sisters has had three or four very vivid dreams with a very strong spiritual context to them. There is not doubt but that those dreams were God-given. But I can't say that I have ever had a dream such as that.
I have heard stories of individuals having God-interventions in their lives, for there is no other explanations for what occurred. I believe that at times God has sent an angel to those people in their situation. But I have never had such an encounter.
There have been sermons and teachings that I have heard that have been absolutely anointed. I sat there amazed at how God revealed something through a specific scripture for that individual to share with a congregation or class. I sit there thinking, "Wow! I have never thought of God or that scripture in that context!" It is enlightening and makes you want to go home and read those scriptures over and ponder and think about what you heard.
But God doesn't always speak or reveal Himself to us in a way that grabs our attention and lets us know that it is Him speaking to us. Sometimes He comes in a still small voice, and if we're not careful we will miss Him.
1 Kings 19:11-13 is a great example of this. "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
We often look for the big signs that God is speaking to us. We want Him to do so in a way that is obvious. When He speaks in a whisper to our heart, we are often afraid that we've somehow missed God and keep praying for Him to do something bigger and greater so we can be assured that we really did hear Him. How often have we prayed, "God was that really You? If it was really You then do such and such or let this or that happen, etc."
Perhaps God is wanting us to stop looking for the "wind, earthquake, and fire" and to stop and really listen to His whisper to our heart. Sometimes He may come in the sense of peace that envelops us in the midst of turmoil, sickness, hardship, disappointment, or pain that we are going through. Our circumstance can look overwhelming, yet God will come and surround us with His peace.
God does still speak to our hearts. But it may not be in the typical way that He speaks to someone else or in a way that we expect. If we are quiet and will take time to listen, we will hear Him. We may not hear a specific word or have a great revelation each and every day, but we can feel Him in our heart and life and sense His presence and know that God is always with us.
I'm happy for those who do hear from God in a clear, obvious way. I'm also a little jealous. Too many of them expect me to hear from God the same way, and then my joy for them (and jealousy) turns to annoyance.
We're all heading for the same destination. But we all have different paths. The only way to heaven is through the Son, that is, Jesus. But we all have different starting points, different trials, different histories, and so on. And we have a variety of gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:7-14 explains it very well.
"To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as He decides to each person, Who produces all these things. For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body--though many--are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many."
Just because one Christian is blessed with some gift does not mean that another is less of a Christian for not receiving that gift.
Spring Time Salad
1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 bunch broccoli
1/3 cup sugar
1 small onion, separated into rings (optional)
1 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
1/4 lb. Bacon, fried and crumbled
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Separate cauliflower into flowerets; cut flowerets into pieces. Chop broccoli and separate into bite-sized pieces. Combine cauliflower, broccoli, onions, bacon and cheese. Mix sugar and Miracle Whip together. Add to vegetable mixture; salt and pepper to taste; stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Sometimes you see those things that make you wonder, "Hmm.... I wonder what they were thinking?!"
Jon and I were driving down the street a few days ago and there was a mid-sized car that had a couch on top of it that was turned upside down, cock-eyed at an angle so the driver could see out the window right of him.... and yes, the car was moving down a busy street! The couch was not tied or strapped onto the car. The only person inside the car was the driver. He had one hand outside the sun roof holding onto the couch -- and that was the only thing holding it onto the top of the car. This was a full-sized couch! He apparently just threw the couch on top of the car and took off.
I recently rode along with Janie, who had to drive 2 hours each way to do a 1-hour job, to keep her company. We stopped at a convenience store to use the restroom. The ladies restroom was designed so only one person could use it at a time. Janie used it first and when she came out she was laughing and commented, "Hmm... that was interesting!" I walked in next and looked around..... there was one toilet but two sinks sitting side by side!
On the other hand, several years ago my sister and brother-in-law pastored a church where the women's bathroom had two toilets sitting side by side -- no stalls or barrier or wall between them. It was one room where you walk in and lock the door and there were those two side-by-side toilets.... with one sink.
As springtime begins and nature begins coming to life again after lying dormant for winter,
take time to stop and enjoy the beauty surrounding you.
But if you've also been going through a dormant time of winter in your life,
allow God to bring the newness of springtime in your heart.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon