Be SILENT and LISTEN

Do you realize that SILENT and LISTEN contain the same letters only arranged differently?

James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” “Quick to hear” requires us to LISTEN. “Slow to speak” encourages us to be SILENT.

If we are going to hear what is being said, we must be quiet. We must be SILENT and LISTEN. This is applicable regarding a conversation with another person or with God.

Proverbs 18:13 says,To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.” Oops! I can be guilty of this. When I should be listening closely to what someone is saying, I may already be formulating my response in my mind. Because my mind is not SILENT, I do not LISTEN accurately.

The Lord says in Isaiah 28:23, “Give ear and hear My voice, listen and hear My words.” Jesus says in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” In both verses, being quiet (SILENT) is necessary to hear (LISTEN).

Let’s think about young Samuel’s experience in I Samuel 3. Samuel had lied down for the night. He was silent. God called to Samuel in verses 4, 6 and 8. Each time Samuel heard God but he thought it was Eli calling him. Eli realized that it was the Lord calling the boy. In verse 9 Eli said, “Go and lie down, and if He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” Verse 10 says, “The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ The Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.” The Lord revealed His plan to Samuel in verse 11. Because Samuel was SILENT, he was able to LISTEN to God.

We can learn through Samuel’s experience. In order for us to hear God speak, we must be willing to be quiet. We make space for God to speak through silence. It is hard for us to LISTEN if we are never SILENT!

Scripture encourages us to be silent. David says in Psalm 62:5, “My soul, wait in silence for God.” Psalm 37:7 says, “Be silent in the LORD’s presence and wait patiently for Him.” Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there is a time to keep silence.

While being silent, we must listen. Proverbs 19:20-21 tells us, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 8:32 says, “Now therefore, O sons, listen to Me, for blessed are they who keep My ways.” Jesus says in John 10:2, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” He also says in Matthew 11:15,He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Whether the letters EILNST spell SILENT or LISTEN, God has a message for us.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “Transgression is at work where people talk too much, but anyone who holds his tongue is prudent.” With this being true, let us echo, Psalm 141:3, “O LORD,set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

The Lord instructs us in Isaiah 28:23, “Give ear and hear My voice, Listen and hear My words.” And Jesus says in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” These verses are good advice for us to be SILENT and LISTEN.

Let us listen to and obey the Lord’s words in Psalm 46:10. Be still, and know that I am God.

More Sunshine and Sonshine!

Springtime brings more sunlight. Springtime brings flowers.

The sun’s warmth encourages perennial flowers to pop out of the ground and burst into bloom. Daffodils – tulips – hyacinths. Rays of sunshine draw us out of our home’s winter seclusion. We are ready to plant some annuals. Pansies – geraniums – petunias.

Each ray of sunshine is like a warm finger gently persuading the flower petals to open and display their beauty.

Each spiritual ray of Sonshine from the hand of God unlocks His hidden beauty within us.

In Coming into Alignment, Graham Cooke writes, “When people open up to the radiant nature of Jesus, they begin to shrug off complacency. Like a flower cannot resist opening up to the sun, we cannot resist the joy and love of God.”

The Son shines on a couple of Bible blossoms. Psalm 16:11 NKJV declares, “In Your presence is fullness of joy. I Corinthians13:1 says, “Love never fails.

Cooke goes on to say, “Jesus is irresistible; and when we magnify Him, we create space for glory.” As I think about the glory of God, a specific flower comes to my mind – the morning glory. These trumpet-shaped blossoms yawn into existence early in the morning as the sun peaks over the horizon. Delicate petals unravel their ravishing beauty to reveal the glory of God.

Isaiah 60:1 is an invitation for us to crawl out of bed and open our eyes to God’s beauty and glory. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

Psalm 72:19 says, “Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.Floral blossoms springing from terra firma help to fill the earth with the Lord’s glory. May we glorify Him with hearts overflowing with praise.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1:17-19, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.We can bloom where we are planted when these words become a reality in our lives. Our personality petals will reflect the radiance of God’s glory.

The hymn Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in Me by Albert Orsborn comes to mind. “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity, Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” May our eyes be open to see the beauty of Jesus is the spring flowers surrounding us. And, may our lives portray Jesus’ beauty. May everything and everyone reflect the glory of God.

It is April. Spring flowers are coming alive. Because of sufficient sunshine, floral gardens exhibit a bouquet of beauty. In addition to the abundance of flower blossoms, a fragrant aroma fills the air. A sweet scented perfume is emitted from pretty petals.

Let us learn a lesson from these plantings. II Corinthians 2:15 NLT says, “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.

May we come alive with awe and wonder as we stroll through springtime floral gardens. Let us savor the beauty of nature as we walk and talk with the Lord in the light of His presence.

Whether we are thinking about sunshine or Sonshine, there is a warmth descending upon us.

Hear Jesus speak the following words through the pen of Sarah Young. “My Light shines warmly into your mind, helping you live in My Peace.”

Between the Beginning and the End

The Lord says in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Hebrews12:2 describes Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith. But is God in the middle?

Revelation 1:8 answers our question. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come—the Almighty. In Revelation 4:8, the angels never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Hebrews 3:8 declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Yesterday – today – forever. Past – present – future. The present is in the middle. We have begun our spiritual journey. (past) We know our eternal destination. (future) Currently, we are on a pilgrimage from the beginning to the end. (present) I Peter 2:10 reminds us, “now you are the people of God; . . . now you have received mercy.” Today is when we put our faith into action. Now is when we rely upon God “who was and is and is to come.”

“Now” is the time in the middle. The middle is sometimes referred to as “the land of the in between” or “the blank spaces.” Throughout our lives we encounter various long term situations. Maybe searching for a job. Possibly waiting for physical or emotional healing. We know when the problem began and we realize there will an end. However, living in “the land of the in between” is prolonged. We may feel like there are too many “blank spaces.” We must remember that what God is doing in between is often unseen by the natural eye.

I think about the COVID pandemic that began over a year ago. There are hopeful signs of an end. But, we are still in the middle of it. Meanwhile, we have the assurance that we are not alone spiritually even though we may encounter times of being alone physically while being quarantined. The song Waymaker has been meaningful to me during this time. I especially like the lines, “Even when I don’t see it You’re working. Even when I don’t feel it You’re working. You never stop. You never stop working!”

Scripture reminds us multiple times that the Lord will never leave us. One of the first references is Genesis 28:15. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Jesus assures us in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.” The Lord is in the middle as well as at the beginning and the end. He is by our side as we walk though the unknowns of “the land of the in between.” He helps us fill in “the blank spaces.” From the beginning to the end, God is with us. We may feel lonely but we are never alone.

Eugene H. Peterson says, “The Lord is never absent, passive, non-responsible or impotent, but always present, active, responsible and omnipotent. He is never dead, but always living; never sleeping, but always awake; never uninterested, but always concerned; never merely waiting in any respect, but even where He seems to wait, even where He permits, always holding the initiative.”

God is in “the land of the in between” because He is omnipresent. He is always present. Psalm 23 describes God as our Shepherd in “the land of the in between.” It reveals how God is actively involved in our everyday lives. According to the New Living Translation, the Lord gives us rest by peaceful streams. He strengthens us. He guides us along the right paths even when we walk through the darkest valleys. I highlight the concluding verse 6. Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

Philippians 1:3 is a good promise. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. We can be assured God will complete what He started in us because He is always with us at the beginning and the end and every space in between.

Holly Furtick of Elevation Church has said, “God’s not looking for perfection. He’s OK with the space between who you are and who you will become. You will have strength today for the task before you today. Your strength and faith grow along the way. You are only given enough faith to start, not to finish. God wants to do exceedingly abundantly but He only gives the strength for today.” (see Ephesians 3:20) Furtick concludes by saying, “Your job is to be patient. God’s got the rest.”

We are filling in the “blank spaces” of our lives with our words and thoughts and actions. We are living in “the land of the in between.” Bill and Beni Johnson write, “Living within the tension of ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ is a part of the divine wrestle of the human life. Don’t hide from tension or smooth it over, but allow your questions to pull you into an even closer dialogue with God.” The Lord manifests Himself in our lives in the in between. Remember Jeremiah 31:3, ‘”I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He has been with us since the beginning. He will still be there at the end. And, He is always present in the middle!

I close with the opening lines of Not for a Moment by Elevation Worship.

Can’t go back to the beginning
Can’t control what tomorrow will bring
But I know here in the middle
Is the place where You promise to be
I’m not enough unless You come
Will You meet me here again
‘Cause all I want is all You are
Will You meet me here again?

Jesus Talks with Mary Magdalene

We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus just a few days ago. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to numerous people before He ascended into heaven. In John 20:11-18, we listen to a conversation between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Mary is at the tomb where Jesus was buried after He died on the cross. She is crying. She observes two angels sitting in the tomb.

In verse 13, the angels ask Mary why she is weeping. She responds that they have taken away her Lord and she does not know where His body has been laid.

Then she hears another voice speak to her. She thinks it is probably the gardener. In verse 15, she is questioned, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She replies, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Surprise! It is Jesus who is questioning her!

In verse 16, Mary and Jesus have a very short exchange of words. Jesus says, “Mary!” She replies, “Rabboni!” (Her choice of words is Hebrew for Teacher.)

Jesus says to her in verse 17, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

She obeyed.

Now let’s personalize this conversation.

In verse 15, replace “woman” with your name. Are you crying? Why? Jesus wants to know. He cares about you. Are you searching for something? Jesus wants to be found by you. James 4:8 promises, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Do you recognize Jesus in the way He chooses to reveal Himself to you? Mary didn’t. But that did not deter Jesus.

Jesus simply spoke Mary’s name. Can you hear Jesus whispering your name? Listen carefully. He is calling you. He does not shout to get your attention. Listen to the still small voice of the Spirit. I Kings 19:12 reveals how the Lord spoke to Elijah. “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

After Mary recognized she was talking with Jesus, He gave her instructions. She was not to cling to death but to embrace life. She was to tell the others of His resurrection.

What is He telling you to do today? Is there something you are clinging to that He wants you to release? I encourage you to let go of the “old man” and grasp hold of the “new man.” Romans 4:8-11  says, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” II Corinthians 5:17 adds, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

The resurrection story lives on. Proclaim Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Jesus talked with Mary Magdalene. He wants to talk with you today. Verbally declare the words of I Samuel 3:10, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”