Categories
Christian Living listening

Selective Listening

It happens every 4th of July – Independence Day here in the USA. In our little hamlet it’s perfectly legal for folks to shoot off fireworks, on the streets and from their back yards. And each passing year the relentless noise seems more startling to my sense of well-being. Time to break out the ear plugs.

So I’m sitting at the kitchen table (plugs in) surfing the net, when my wife comes in and starts rummaging through a cabinet drawer. She looks my way and says something unintelligible. I respond, “If you’re telling me something right now I can’t hear you.” She starts laughing, because she was chiding me (kindly) for misplacing the ink pen that goes in the drawer. Confession: I occasionally employ something called “selective spousal listening.”

This whole scene made me think of something God said to Israel during the prophet Isaiah’s time.

Don’t think the Lord is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help! It is because of your sins that He doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship Him.

Isaiah 59:1-2 (GNT)

Here’s an experiment: Watch television for a week and count the number of times you hear the word “sin.” I suspect you won’t run out of fingers. Transgression of divine law isn’t something the world cares to talk about. But why?

Somehow we know instinctively there’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in us. Sin damages our fellowship with our Creator and disrupts the ability to communicate with Him. This causes even unbelievers to scurry for the shadows (John 3:19-21).

Have there been times when you’ve tried to talk with God, but it felt like He wasn’t tuned in? Me too. “Child, if you’re telling me something right now, I can’t hear you.” Of course the Lord isn’t deaf. But He occasionally employs something called “selective divine listening.” Our unconfessed sin plugs His ears.

Thankfully, there is a solution:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

God always listens to prayers that start with, “Sorry, Lord. It was my fault…”

A Parting Thought:

Jesus often slipped away to spend time alone with God (Mark 1:35). He also led a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). Is there a connection? You and I will never be sinless–this side of heaven. But we would do well to follow Christ’s example.

🙏❤️ prayers and love.

Photo by Khoa Vu00f5 on Pexels.com

Categories
Christian Living

Falling out of the Nest

I was doing some yard work the other day when I noticed what looked like a little black ball underneath the mimosa tree. As I came closer, I realized it was a baby bird. I looked up and could see the nest–about 10 feet high in the fork between two branches. Mom, a yellow billed cuckoo, was sitting up there with two other hatchlings visible beside her.

My wife and I debated about what to do. The chick on the ground seemed no worse for wear. Should we put it back in the nest? A quick internet search told us that birds have a poor sense of smell and don’t normally reject a chick handled by humans. But we also found a warning to not disturb migratory birds or their young. Well, our apologies to the wildlife service, but we decided to intervene.

I grabbed a six foot step ladder, put on some disposable gloves and waited. Before too long, mother bird decided to run some errands, and that’s when I sprang into action. Positioning the ladder under the tree, I gently picked up the baby bird, and put him back in the nest with his siblings. Mom returned a few minutes later with some food and all was well.

This whole scene brought to mind a promise from Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge (vv. 1, 4a).”

Obviously, the little hatchling didn’t fall out of the nest on purpose, but his predicament also reminds me of something Jesus said when he arrived in Jerusalem before that last Passover.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.

Matthew 23:37

The application to the body of Christ is clear. In the nest (fellowship of believers) we are safe in God’s care. However, outside the nest, we are vulnerable to predators.

Satan and his demon goons are like lions on the savanna–waiting to cull one of God’s children from the herd (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy seeks to separate Christians from each other, because he knows this: when we stray from the fellowship, we are alone and defenseless (Matthew 9:36).

To enjoy God’s best, we must stay in the nest!

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

“Bird’s Nest” by Rugged Lens is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Categories
Christian Living grace

#shareHisgrace

Photo by Gary Fultz on Unsplash

After I posted recently about the importance of being kind to others, Barb, from My Life in Our Father’s World , commented with the following hashtag: #shareHisgrace.

While my piece spotlighted the usefulness of people cultivating the good, Barb shined a floodlight on where to find it in its purest form.

Thank you, friend, for bringing the focus back where it belongs—on God. You added to the value of my thoughts exponentially.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.

Psalm 16:2 (NASB)

This collaborative experience with a fellow believer jogged my memory about a true story of two people who showed uncommon grace to each other. It happened at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Sueo Oe (left) and Shuhei Nishida – source Wikipedia, copyright unknown

Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe were two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place at the summer games. However, as good friends and teammates, they declined to compete against each other (in a jump off) to decide between the silver and the bronze. So the silver was awarded to Nashida and the bronze to Oe, based on the fact that Nashida cleared the height in fewer attempts.

However, when they returned home to Japan, the two athletes did something extraordinary. They had a jeweler cut each of their medals in half and splice together two new ones—half silver and half bronze. They called these creations “Medals of Friendship.”

Source, Wikipedia – copyright unknown

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

A Few Observations

  • It’s God’s gift, not mine — the two athletes valued their friendship more than competition.
  • It’s not MY grace, either — they demonstrated this by committing to something larger than themselves.
  • God’s grace comes in different flavors — the Medals of Friendship were a unique way to show the true depth of their relationship.

My collaboration with Barb (and other believers, on and off-line) reminds me that our life in Christ is a shared experience. We are many members, but ONE body (Romans 12:4-5).

I like to call this interconnection “3 Makes 2”

You and me, with Jesus at the top of the triangle.

Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make Him known. Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.

Colossians 4:4-5 (TPT)

#shareHisgrace