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Listening to God

Getting to Know the Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” John 10:14 NIV I’d like to ask you two questions for your consideration. What is it like when you spend time with your heavenly Father? What is it like to talk with Him? Please take a moment and try to describe these experiences. What I’m alluding to here is the topic of prayer. I think most people get hung up on this hyper-used word, “prayer.” We over-spiritualize it. You see, God knows we are mere man, yet we try to impress Him somehow with “good” praying. And then, we get distracted and give up until the next time we “try.” In doing this, we’ve missed the whole point of what prayer is meant to be! Prayer is simply how we connect with God. It’s how we relate to Him. And just how does God want us to come to Him in prayer? Well, His greatest desire is to have our total heart, mind, and strength as we read in Deuteronomy 6:5, right? To begin with, He wants us to enjoy Him—to focus on Him and not your “prayer.” We should always come to Him just as we are, giving our desperate, unworthy, yet wholly loved selves to our all-powerful, all-sustaining glorious, yet fully compassionate Father. And when we do, we find the overflowing cup of His strength, restoration, wisdom, peace, righteousness, and joy. In His presence is the abundant life. He is the Living Water and the Bread of Life. When we pray, we should not only talk but also listen. Seek to hear and follow His good paths. Come rejoicing, come playful, come weary, come doubting or afraid. Come to Him in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death. Draw in close and listen to His comforting words of life and hope. And so, we should come to Him continually—in the humdrum and in every other possible situation. As we do, we begin to know our Shepherd. I mean truly know Him. To me, my quiet prayer time feels like sitting and sipping hot tea with my closest of friends. It’s wonderful. Good stuff, right? As Paul E. Miller teaches in his book A Praying Life, “You can’t get to know God on the fly. You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it.” I pray these past seven days have deepened your understanding of what it means to listen to God. It’s not as complicated as we often imagine it is. It’s as simple as unstopping our ears to lies, opening our hearts, getting quiet, and letting our good Shepherd communicate. I pray you have a deeper understanding that listening to God is, always, about getting to know our good Shepherd. Tell the Father: Today, I’m going to seek You with all my heart, soul, and strength. I will begin now, with the real me, coming before the real You. I want to know and listen to You more and more each day. Today’s worship song recommendation: “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United

Our Daily Homily – September 29

Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave it – Joshua 12:6

We must not press a type, or analogy, unduly, though we may employ it to illustrate a doctrine well established from other parts of Scripture. Such an illustration is here. It is remarkable that the two tribes and a half which Moses settled beyond the Jordan took little part in the national life, and were soon wiped out of their inheritance. They were apparently absorbed by the nations whom they were supposed to have superseded.

This was partly due to the devotion of the people to their material prosperity. In the words of Deborah, Reuben preferred to sit among the sheepfolds, to hear the piping of the flocks, rather than to take part in the emancipation of Canaan from Midian. But, looked at typically, may we not say that whatever Moses gives will ultimately evade our grasp and slip from our possession? Like the tables of stone, it will fall from our hand and be broken in pieces. All that you try to be or do in the power of your own resolution and energy will inevitably fail and deceive you. The land looks fair and the tenure seems good, but you will not be able to retain it.

The deepest blessings of the spiritual life cannot be won or held in the strength of our own purpose, even though it be a holy and earnest one. These things can be ours only in so far as we abide in Christ, in whom our inheritance is vested, and from whom we receive it as we need, by faith. We can hold nothing apart from abiding fellowship with Jesus. And this is our privilege. Let us lift our hearts to the blessed Spirit, asking that He would reveal to us that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, but which God hath prepared for those that love Him.

Quiet Walk – September 29

September 29

Romans 14

Christians should not exercise personal liberty if it destroys another Christian.

INSIGHT

We are a part of others; what we say and what we do affects others. This is especially true of Christians. We are a part of the body of Christ; we are a part of one another. Not only does God not want us to live isolated lives but He has made it so that we cannot make it alone. Therefore, we must always be alert to how our actions affect others. If something we do harms another person, we must take that into account. If our freedom causes hurt to a brother or sister in Christ, then love dictates that we limit our freedom.

PRAYER

Praise your heavenly Father for your brothers and sisters in Christ:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity! . . .
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing-
Life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1, 3)

Pause for praise and thanksgiving, and as you seek to keep your life free from sin, pray this confession to the Lord:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Confess any sins that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind.

Now pray this affirmation to the Lord:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

As you make your requests known to the Lord, include:

  • Kindness in your dealings with others
  • Encouragement for missionaries in Europe
  • Your activities for the day

Finally, offer this closing prayer to the Lord:
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
“For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)  

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From Bothwell Bridge to the Kirk of Greyfriars – In His Grip – Week of September 28

From Bothwell Bridge to the Kirk of Greyfriars

It was a visual stunner. There we stood in a secluded field outside of Edinburg, Scotland. We could see nothing but rolling-meadows and the only sounds were that of a dog barking in the far distance. To get to this secluded but historic place we had to traverse a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I had to wonder why Jimmy, our tour host took us there. We soon figured it out. Directly in front of us stood a monument inscribed with a tribute to the Covenanters who had become martyrs. Their crime? They wanted to be able to read the scriptures for themselves.

Back to that meadow. In those days during the Reformation it was illegal to assemble for worship in many of the church buildings. However, worship and fellowship was so important that many of these saints would gather outdoors in what was referred to as “Conventicles.” During one of those illegal worship services the English army initiated a battle in that meadow where the Covenanters used the ploy of a hidden marsh that bogged down the English horses and allowed them to soundly defeat the English.

That battle and subsequent victory emboldened the Covenanters to battle the English again at a place that is called Bothwell Bridge. The odds were firmly in favor of the English. After all, there were 3000 Covenanters to battle 50000. British. The outcome was brutal. Only 1200 Covenanters survived. Another 900 bodies never recovered from the river under the bridge to this day. The surviving men had their ears cut off while surviving women were face-branded. They were imprisoned in an outdoor prison at Greyfriars church where the ones who survived that imprisonment were then sold into slavery to the American colonies. The “outdoor prison” where they were kept is now owned and operated by a company that sells ghost tours where the ignorant are led to believe that the ghosts of the Covenanters are alive and well inside the gates.

We stood at that locked yard and it took all I had not to begin weeping. Men, women and children brutalized for only desiring religious liberty, to love Jesus the way the scriptures teach and to teach their children how to read so that they could study the Bible. What a price that was paid!

What scriptures did they declare to one another, when God seemed absent from their suffering? Some that came to mind on that rainy day in that silent cemetary:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart….

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet…..

I run in the path of your commands, for You have set my heart free…..

My heart is steadfast, O Lord, I wll sing and make music with all my soul….

It is very convicting to me as a free Western believer who takes his Bible for granted. I had to ask myself if I would have given my life for this right. I hope so!

Such a sacrifice endears God’s Word to me even more – it is a treasure, a priceless record of God’s love for me. When you hold your Bible, remember those who walked by faith, giving their very lives for this privilege.

In His Grip,
Dr. Chuck F. Betters

For more information from In His Grip with Dr. Chuck F. Betters please visit http://www.markinc.org/