The Voice

My-Sheep-Hear-My-Voice_01

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27, NLT

Do you hear him? He is always speaking to his own; with many things, some pertaining to guidance, and other issues. He delights in teaching us– through words of wisdom that encourage us to follow, or how to really love your neighbor.

He desires to point out things as we encounter them; your curiosity in the natural is meant to be spiritual as well. His soul is that of a teaching shepherd, and he delights in his ministry to us. And we need his instruction.

Regular time with him can not be separated from our daily routine. I have learned that he accommodates himself to us, the ‘grist’ of life is his blackboard. The events that I encounter are his ‘lessons.’ As I move through my life I ‘hear’ his voice. I begin to sense the need of those who I encounter.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

I have learned the joy of praying in the moment with 10 second prayers. Praying continually as I see the needs. I pray for the man who bags my groceries; and lift up the young mother pushing a stroller. I believe his voice prompts me to lift each need I encounter. When the Bible tells us to ‘pray continually’ this is what Paul has in mind.

He becomes my teacher– compassionate and kind to those I meet.

He ‘tunes me’ to see people from his viewpoint. He shows me of their struggles, hopes, and aspirations. I try to never judge what I’m shown; actually the opposite is true– I’m learning to love like he loves. I’m seeing what he sees.

I’m a work in progress. Very often my cares, sins, and disobedience nullify the voice of Jesus, Sometimes my personal issues hijack me and I swirl down into depression or paranoia. I am intensely flawed, but the Holy Spirit is gracious. He always meets me where I am. Slowly, I’m learning to hear his voice.

bry-signat (2)

flourish9

He Was Home

3032

“A few days later, when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home.” 

Mark 2:1

You can’t hide the presence of Jesus.  There is a ‘built-in’ need for Him in the hearts of men and women.  You can’t keep it quiet, it is an open secret.  Believing people let it out in many ways.  You can see it in their faces, and hear it in their voices.  They become gentle and caring, where once was selfishness and anger.  Peace is present, and a wonderful new thing called joy.  They can’t help but share about their new guest, when they speak it spontaneously spills out.

Spring flowers can’t help their beautiful fragrance.  There is a fragrance that announces that He is present.  You might say that He takes over, just as a bright light takes over the darkness.  When Jesus is present, His brightness pushes through the cracks and shines out every window.  He cannot be contained or hidden.  Love itself is invisible.  But it has an effect on all who take it in.  The very presence of Jesus transforms us.

My heart is now His home.

People travel and gather great works of art.  They collect these things of beauty and culture.  They will go out of their way to search for paintings and statues of grace and elegance, and finding them they will spend a great deal of money to obtain them.  But no one or nothing can compare to having Christ as the honored guest. The poorest farmer can be the wealthiest man. No matter how quietly Jesus enters, His presence will soon make itself known.  Where Christ truly abides, nothing but good will be observed.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Ephesians 3:17, NLT

aabryscript flourish-bird

Disciples Who Can Stay Afloat

22 “Immediately Jesus told his followers to get into the boat and go ahead of him across the lake. He stayed there to send the people home.23 After he had sent them away, he went by himself up into the hills to pray. It was late, and Jesus was there alone.24 By this time, the boat was already far away from land. It was being hit by waves, because the wind was blowing against it. 25 Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water.26 When his followers saw him walking on the water, they were afraid. They said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus quickly spoke to them, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”28 Peter said, “Lord, if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water.” 29 Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and began to sink. He shouted, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter. Jesus said, “Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?” 32 After they got into the boat, the wind became calm.33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “Truly you are the Son of God!”

Matthew 14:22-33, New Century Version

flourish15

When I am in the storm, when the waves are breaking into my boat, my faith is shaky, and I feel abandoned, I turn to Matthew 14.

Jesus sees his disciples in mortal danger.  The overloaded boat has been caught in a ferocious storm.  It is 3 a.m., and the darkness just makes their situation that more desperate. The idea of imminent drowning has passed through their thoughts. They are terribly afraid.

Suddenly Jesus comes near, he is walking on the water!  Their fear turns to stark terror, they want to bolt but there is no place to go.  They are thinking that Jesus is a ghost, and that he is coming to escort them to the grave.  So Jesus calls out through the raging storm, “It is just me.  Do not fear!  Have courage.”

Brash Peter (bless him, Lord) yells to Jesus, “If it is you, really you, let me come to you, on the water!”  The word ‘if’ is very telling, and it explains much. Peter is soon on the edge of frantic hysteria when he begins to sink while walking to Jesus.

If it was me, I would have let Peter drown.  (What an object lesson to teach the 11 sitting in the boat.  “See what happens when you have weak faith, you drown!”)

But Jesus is not teaching here, He is loving.  He grabs Peter and pulls him out.  I find it interesting that the rock on whom Jesus is to build his Church upon sinks like a stone. Peter shows his faith for a brief shining moment, and when he falters and sinks, Jesus catches him.

aabryscript

The Pruning Knife

“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

John 15:2, NLT

In order to become fruitful we must accept the knife. 

It takes a sharp eye and a sharper knife to do the Father’s work of cutting.  He slices to the quick, and all that is not useful falls to the ground.  The vine will produce grapes, and every bit of “grape-energy” will be used productively. Fruitlessness will be cursed, and sterility is condemned.  It takes a decisive heart, as well as a wise hand to prune God’s own vineyard.

Fruitless believers may become fruitful ones.  Understand, the vine dresser does not attack the vine.  He is not malicious or vengeful.  All that He does is for the good of the vine.  He is motivated to produce fruit.  That is what He thinks about; you could say that He is preoccupied with that singular end.

Pruning and fruit are concepts that we vacillate over, some days we understand and other days we blow it off.  After over 30 years, I’ve heard every “John 15 sermon”.  And most of the time I turn down my spiritual hearing aid. That is tragic, and shows my heart has become hardened.

I need to come on board with this particular imagery.  For years I have asked God to “show me His ways”.  I’d like to believe that this understanding of pruning has changed me.  I would like to think that I have attained a clearer view of wisdom.  This pruning business is all well and good.  But being sanctified by the knife is decidedly unattractive and uncomfortable.

You must be pruned; pieces of your life are earmarked to be lopped off.  (I always wonder if the trees that are spray painted are curious over the why and the when they are to be cut?)  In regards to being fruitful we must accept the knife.  If we want to be holy and conform to the image of Christ we will be cut.  There is simply no other way.

aabryscript