Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Recently I visited one of our members in an assisted living home. This member is somewhat feeble, which is why they are cared for in the home. So, when I talk with this person I need to pay special attention to what they say. I turn off the TV, which is usually on at a high volume. I sit in front of them and look them in the eye. I make sure to listen carefully. And, when I speak I try to make sure they understand. They may have trouble speaking at times. But, my wife says I don’t hear as well as I once did either. I give special attention to listening to this elderly member.
So, how do you listen for God? Do you have trouble hearing God speak to you? Do you wish the Lord would tell you which job to take? Do you wish God would guide you in your relationships with others? Do you wish God would help you with spending decisions? Do you yearn for God to help you set your priorities? How do you listen for God?
You should know that often God speaks softly. But, when we listen, and when we hear our Lord’s voice, His voice brings peace and joy and strength. God’s voice brings love and life!
There is a famous account of the prophet Elijah found in the book of 1 Kings. (You might want to read 1 Kings 17-19) God had directed Elijah to speak His word to the king of Israel, Ahab, and to Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. Ahab had followed Jezebel’s lead in worshiping false gods, and Ahab had then led the nation of Israel into idolatry. So, God arranged a showdown on Mt. Carmel between Elijah and the false prophets. The Lord showed himself to be true God, and Ahab executed over 400 priests of the false god. Queen Jezebel was furious and swore to kill Elijah. In fear, Elijah ran south to Mt. Horeb. But, worse than fear, Elijah became horribly depressed. After all, Elijah had done the Lord’s work, and now his life was in danger. Elijah whined to God that he wanted to die. But, the Lord appeared to Elijah to strengthen him and give Elijah direction. Listen to how God spoke to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13,
11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Sometimes God is difficult to hear, even for a great prophet like Elijah. The Bible describes the voice of God as “a gentle whisper,” or as the King James Version translated this phrase, “a still small voice.” When God speaks we need to listen. We need to pay attention in order to hear God’s voice in our lives.
When I listen for God there are two truths that I know. First, I don’t always understand everything about God, or about His ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I actually find comfort in knowing I cannot personally understand everything! So, I lean in trust on my Lord and His love and His wisdom, knowing that His ways and thoughts are higher than mine.
Second, I know where to go to listen. Jesus prayed for His disciples because of the trials they would face in serving Him. In the prayer Jesus prayed the night he was betrayed, these words are recorded as Jesus asked His father to care for His followers, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) God speaks to us in His Word. So, we find God’s truth in Scripture. But, God speaks to us even more plainly in another messenger. Jesus told His disciples, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” God speaks to us through the righteous life of Jesus, and through His love and sacrificial death.
So, if God is hard to hear, but I need His direction for my life, where do I go to listen? Personally, I begin each day in devotional Bible reading and in prayer. I am alone with God during this time. I underline what I read. Even though I have read the Bible many times, each day I read I learn something new. I see God’s love in a new way. I learn more about Jesus. And, when God answers my prayers, His answers teach me about our Lord and His life.
Do you wish God would speak to you? Are you listening carefully and paying attention as He speaks through His Word, through His Son, Jesus?
A Child of God, Listening for My Loving Lord to Give Me Direction for my Life,
P.S. Here are some pictures from “Garden Planting Day at St. John on June 3. The sunflowers grew from seeds planted at the Easter Festival. https://photos.app.goo.gl/DoXXoM5G0ETJRtnG2
P.P.S. In my weekly e-mail last week I said I would send pictures of garden planting day at our house, and then I did not send them. (I wrote my e-mail in the car on the way to the Alaska Church Workers’ Conference and had trouble seeing the screen. )
Here are some pictures from “Garden Planting Day 2018 at the Rockey house with grandchildren. https://photos.app.goo.gl/TxTuP5zcseeFEOX03
P.P.P.S. If you read my e-mail about my dog, Mat, here are a couple of pictures of Mat over the last year. We have now taken EXTRA steps to keep Mat at home. He will visit the vet on Thursday!
· Fishing with Mat in May https://photos.app.goo.gl/TEjn8I1POz9oYGgT2
· Ice Fishing with Mat in March https://photos.app.goo.gl/jaXZ1AQZapf5F13p1
· St. John Shane Woods Ice fishing Outing https://photos.app.goo.gl/Pjtql09YbfmO2tPe2
· New dog, Matanuska, in July 2017 - https://photos.app.goo.gl/7iIxmkBNajGu3ihj1
P.P.P.P.S The last day of the Alaska Church Workers’ Conference 15 folks went halibut fishing. Here are some pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/0B6um3VgYEiGL2F62
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.