Friday, July 24, 2009

The Power of Blessing

Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Does that surprise you? It should. It blew me away.

Think about it. As Genesis 47 opens, Pharaoh has it all. Because of the famine, he owns all the land, has all the people's money, in fact, he's even managed to get the whole population enslaved to him.

He was the "Iranian Dictator," the Idi Amin, the People's Republic, of his era. He had it all. Everything.

But Jacob, who was a starving refugee still chose to bless Pharaoh, not just once, but twice in the same chapter. Why? What did Jacob have to offer? What gave Jacob the chutzpah to bless the highest leader in the land?

Because he had something Pharaoh didn't. Jacob had a direct line to the God of the Universe. Jacob had relationship. He had perspective. He had divine understanding (Jacob was a prophet!) Jacob had divine leading. Jacob had lived a life under the shadow of God's hand.

He didn't have stuff. Jacob had God.

Compared to that, Pharaoh had nothing.

So, what about you? Got God?

If you do, do you have the courage -- in the same audacious way of Jacob -- to bless the people you meet?

Can you give God's blessing to everyone? Rich or poor?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The little things are the big things.

One more on obedience:

It's really the little things. There are many little things I hear during the day that I must not ignore. No. I don't hear voices. But I do get the "impression" of instructions. Full sentences. Directions. Instructions.

Last weekend, I got the impression that I should mention to someone that he seemed tired and less than himself. He responded that I was right. I told him that I would pray for him. I think the Holy Spirit wanted him to know that HE cared for my friend.

Here are some I've heard lately:

Pray for that person.
Call her.
Contact him.
You should think about giving ... to ...
Contact (this person from my past professional contacts) and tell her you are thinking of her.
Write out a prayer for him. Send it.
Pray this way for your son.
Ask forgiveness.
Let it go.
Don't say it. (I need to heed this one more often)
Turn it off.
Work on this (project)
Do this project (a completely new idea I hadn't considered)
Write the opening like this (happened during a bike ride this weekend).

These are the whispers of the Holy Spirit in my life. They are personal. They are specific. They are time sensitive. Often, if I delay, the effect is negated. You could say that I'm schizophrenic (one who hears voices), but I don't think I qualify.

I think these things are common with Believers who listen. Ironically, you learn to recognize God's voice by beginning to obey. Just one at first. Then judge. Was it the Holy Spirit? What were the results? Was Jesus glorified? Was someone cared for? Was someone touched?

Then, the next time you hear that same voice you will recognize it more easily. Perhaps more quickly. It will start to feel familiar to you, perhaps as familiar as best friend's voice when she calls on the phone.

It happens. Listen. Obey. Judge. And listen again.

"My sheep know my voice."
Do you know your shepherd's voice?

Tell me a story about listening where it made a real difference!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thinking About Obedience

This is so cool.

Today, at church, our pastor was talking about guidance and obedience. It was really good thinking and very relevant to this discussion, yes?

As a commenter mentioned in her writing: "I have trouble obeying if I don't have instructions." She's right. Without instructions, we are just wandering around in foreign country without a map.

So, where do you start? One easy place! Start by obeying (by the Spirit of God) all the simple instruction sentences in the New Testament. There are way too many to name. But let me give some examples:

John 15: Remain in my love. I command you to love one another. Romans 8: by the power of the Spirit, turn from your sinful nature. Give your body to God. Don't copy the behavior and customs of the world. Corinthians 5: Don't be caught by sexual immorality. A wife must not leave her husband. Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work. Use the things of this world without becoming attached to them. Don't be enslaved by the world. Let love be your highest goal. Be courageous. Be strong. Give the wonderful message of the Gospel to others. Make disciples. Obey the authority of the world (Do you obey the speed limit?) Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans )Don't forsake meeting together. Use your gift for the benefit of the body (are you actively ministering? Daily, weekly?) Are you living by the spirit or by human strength and rules? (Galatians) Allow the Spirit to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in your character (love joy peace patience kindness gentleness faithfulness, goodness self control). Don't follow the desires of the sinful nature. Pray for one another. Encourage one another. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord (and do it!) Make the most of EVERY opportunity for doing good in these evil days.

Are you living the disciplines? Are there some you could use some help with? Prayer? Word study, memorization, meditation? Fellowship? Service? Discipleship? Are you mentoring or being mentored? (These disciplines aren't just something the Navigators made up. They are recommended behaviors in the new testament. To develop the disciplines is to obey the Holy Spirit!)

So many single statements in the New Testament are TODAY's instructions. When we take them to heart (as the spirit whispers) and respond, THAT is obedience.

Just like Abraham.

Our pastor said this, and I think it is great advice, "If you are a Sunday Christian, don't expect to hear from God on Monday morning."

His point: The closer to God you walk, the more you will hear his voice, recognize it's timber and respond in obedience.

Yesterday, one of my daughters drove me home from shopping. A motorcycle was RIGHT ON HER BUMPER all the way. My daughter was angry. She was afraid for his life. She was full of emotion.

Frankly, her behavior, language and response didn't reflect her faith in Jesus. It was a perfect opportunity to obey TODAY, what she knew of God's instructions in her life.

Most of the time, my daughter succeeds. That particular time, she didn't. I fail too. I frequently speed -- just enough that I don't get a ticket.

You see? Obedience is most often not about the high and mighty things. It is about the small things. The small things lead to the bigger things. And then we look like Abraham, obeying THAT SAME DAY.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

obedience 101.

I started over.

Right now, I'm reading in Genesis (again). I can't tell you how many times I've been through the Bible-- yearly since 1979 as far as I can remember. Every day, I see something new, something inspiring.

This time, I was reading in Genesis about God initiating a covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 17:22 my Bible reads, "That ended the conversation, and God left. ON THAT VERY DAY Abraham took his son Ishmael and every other male in his household and circumcised them."

I placed the CAPS there for emphasis.

Do you see what I see? God instructs. Abe obeys. Same day. In real time.

No delay. No arguing. No self-justification. No questions. No excuses. No "I'll do it as soon as I finish. . ."

I wish, after all these years, that I could be that obedient. This year, in January, God showed me a task he wanted me to accomplish. I thought it was about writing, and publishing. Now, I'm not sure.

When I thought it was about my success. I was quick to obey. When the whole purpose came into question, my enthusiasm waned. I slowed. I gave up. I failed.

Reading about Abraham gives me pause. I repent Lord. I will do it. I will keep at it. I will obey.

Okay. I've confessed. Now it's your turn. Where do you struggle with obedience?