Wednesday, October 30, 2013

31 Days of Listening {to the Word}

It all keeps coming back to spending time with The Lord by spending time reading His Word. Whatever the question, this is the answer.

The most reliable way to know God and hear His voice is to read His written Word. There's no room for second guessing whether it's Him who is speaking to us.

On the streets of London, Kacey and I walked and talked for a long time about how we can know the difference between the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and discerning when we are simply being influenced by our emotions. My rock in these situations has always {and sometimes only} been God's Word {being a highly emotional woman}. It is HARD to discern whether the Spirit or my emotions are at play. Sometimes it is clear, when the Spirit is moving in a direction opposite of my emotions. But this isn't always the case.

The Word of God is, for me, the most reliable way to know God himself. To know God is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. John 15 calls this sequence remaining in God as a branch attached to a vine that produces and bears fruit. There is another aspect of our relationship with Him though, and that is trust. Trust and obedience work in relationship with one another to demonstrate true faith. I am realizing that we can have one without the other, but without the two in tandem, it's impossible to please God.

I'm reading Jerry Bridges' book "Trusting God" and he says,

" is just as important to trust God as it is to obey Him. When we disobey God we defy His authority and despise His holiness. But when we fail to trust God we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness. In both cases we cast aspersions upon His majesty and His character. God views our distrust of Him as seriously as He views our disobedience."

"...just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (see Romans 10:17), so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone... It is only from the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the grace to trust God in adversity."

Bridges quotes Lamentations 3:37-38, which says "Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?". He spends time addressing the fact that many people are offended by this scripture passage, because it's difficult to accept both good and calamity coming from God's hand. And yet we fail to remember that Jesus was put through an excruciating experience that was under God's sovereign control and a part of His divine plan for mankind, all as an amazing act of love towards us. Jesus did not waver in His belief that God was in control, even as He was handed over and crucified. And so we should hold fast to our belief in God's sovereign control over all things, too... and rather than being offended by it, take comfort in it and the fact that God has purpose in all things.

Bridges goes on to say, "God's plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don't understand... {we must} become so convinced of these truths {the sovereignty, love and wisdom of God} that we appropriate them in our daily circumstances, that we learn to trust God in the midst of our pain, whatever form it may take."

For me, I cannot actively, deeply trust someone or something I know nothing about. Especially when it comes to my young family. And yet, I am promised that I will never come to a complete understanding of God and His ways while I am on earth as a limited human being. And so, I study God's Word in order to learn as much as I can about Him, in order to get to know Him personally and love God more each day. I do this so that my trust in Him grows and is secure. I do this when life isn't particularly hard, challenging, heartbreaking or difficult, because I am guaranteed that those days are coming if they aren't here yet. I want to be prepared to withstand trials and suffering with the grace and humility that comes by walking with God when life has been quiet. To be so convinced of God's Truth that I can trust Him in all circumstances as they unfold in my life, for better or worse.

And the foundation for all of this is The Bible, God's Word. And so, I listen to it. Every morning I am able, I sit down and ask God to speak to me through it. I ascribe power to it in my life and ask that God would use it to change my heart and my life. I hunger for it, and while it satisfies and quenches my soul it also leaves me wanting more of it. It is beautiful and precious to me, as it is the means of my salvation and subsequent sanctification.

I have shifted my measures of 'success' as a result. My scorecard in life used to look like this:

How much have I accomplished?
How quickly and how much better than others am I accomplishing things?
How much praise am I receiving from the people around me?
How good do I feel?
How much do I have, how have I set myself up for more, how secure do I feel in what I've created and what I am maintaing?

My new 'scorecard' is so much more beautiful and freeing...

How much time have I spent with The Lord, in His Word?
Have I spent time laying my burdens down before Him, acknowledging Him as powerful, holy and sovereign?
Am I free from anxiety?
Am I living within the boundaries God has set for me, but freely pursuing Him and following wherever He leads me?
Am I loving others well?
Am I stretching myself with new spiritual disciplines that strengthen my faith?
Am I holding tightly to things He wants me to release?
Am I running from things or people He wants me to engage with?
Am I sharing what I'm learning?
Is my heart humble?
Am I confessing my sin regularly?
Am I listening to the wisdom of others and allowing myself to learn from them?

God's Word sets me free every day. I am so thankful for it, so desperate for it, and in awe of how it really is living and active. We have been given The Spirit and we have been given The Word. I pray every day that I am listening to both as I walk by faith.

1 comment:

The Larsons said...

And, all God's people say, "Amen!"