Sent

send buttonThere are times when I hit send on an email or text without really checking it out to make sure the auto-correct feature didn’t goof up something I meant to say. There are other times when I delete the email or text before sending because I’m a bit “fired up” and my words will cause harm instead of being productive. I often wish that I had the same editing privileges on my mouth. I have to watch my words carefully, especially when I’m upset about something.

I came across this passage where Jesus is sending out His disciples to warn the Jewish people that the Kingdom is near. He didn’t “sugar coat” His instructions. Check this out….

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:16-20 NLT)

 

This had to be a bit scary for Jesus’ disciples. The analogy of being sheep among wolves – they had seen firsthand what wolves do to defenseless sheep.  They were probably going to offend some very important people with their message. They were going to face arrest and prison time. This was not the type of “mission trip” that I have been on before for sure. The last part of these instructions really jumped out at me because I’ve experienced this personally…. “Don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.”  There have been times when I say something in response to someone else that after I speak, I realize that I’m not that smart or that spiritually astute. The Lord speaks through me when I slow down and press pause on my big mouth long enough to hear from Him.

He has sent me out to live out my faith.

He has sent me out to speak up about my faith.

He has sent me with His Word to deliver.

He is in charge of my life….my words and actions.

I’m praying that the words I speak and all that I do bring honor to Him. I feel responsible to Him because He sent me to be His hands and feet to everyone I meet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Significance of Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love the solitude and quietness of the morning. I can hear the noises of a quiet home in the morning. I hear the furnace come on occasionally. I can hear the fridge come on some as well. There is something special about my time of solitude in the morning. I like to start my time of solitude after I’ve shaved, showered and made a pot of coffee. I start each day with reading some from the Word of God. I believe the scriptures speak truth into my life every day.  I do not consider myself a theologian at all. I’m just a regular guy who loves God and loves His Word. I find such deep pockets of my faith and incredible clarity for my life when I spend time alone with the Lord in His Word.

I love the fact that Jesus modeled this. He would occasionally slip away from the “noise” of His ministry for times of solitude and prayer.  This well-known event in Jesus’ life occurred after a time of solitude and prayer. Check this out…

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them,49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. (Mark 6:45-51a NLT)

Solitude and prayer work together to help prepare my heart and mind for the day ahead. I must admit that some days are tougher than others. I can often look back on my morning time of solitude in the middle of a busy and hectic day. I believe that solitude and prayer anchor my soul to The Word of God. I believe that the Words of Scripture contain wisdom and insight that is timeless and powerful. I find words of healing here. I find words of hope. I find depth of insight. I believe solitude combined with scripture and prayer are two very valuable ingredients to a peace-filled life. In the midst of a noisy and chaotic world, I can find peace because of my time of solitude and prayer each morning.

I’ve not tried walking on water or “leaping tall buildings in a single bound”.  I just know that I’m a stronger Christian because of my time of solitude and prayer in the morning. It’s not because I’m special, I simply seeking the Lord to lead me as I live out my life. Solitude gives focus and clarity to my life and helps keep thing in proper perspective. I also think the simple discipline of starting my day with the Lord has been a huge game changer for many years. I only wish I had started this daily discipline many years ago. I’m thankful for the Lord’s Powerful Presence in my life as I sit with Him to begin each day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Attention

 

Woman talking through a megaphone and a man plugging his earsIf I’m in a big room and it’s loud and a bit chaotic and I want to get everyone’s attention, I can yell or whistle and people will often get quiet. It doesn’t do much good to make an announcement to a room full of people who aren’t paying attention.

The trumpet is a pretty loud horn instrument. If I’m anywhere a trumpet that is being played, it’s hard to ignore. It is like the bugle which was used by the US Calvary years ago to signal the troops to charge or retreat.

John is watching and trying to keep all of this written down as to what is happening in this beautiful, unique place he’s in. He is watching as the Lamb opens the seventh seal. Check this out…

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. (Revelation 8:1-2 CSB)

I can see something big coming. Trumpets are not quiet. I also enjoy silence sometimes. The contrast between silence and a trumpet is several decibels.

The Lord wants the attention of His people. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention. I’m committed to giving the Lord my attention in the quietness of the morning. I love hearing from Him. He doesn’t always whisper, but I feel like His Spirit speaks to me about my day coming up. He directs my steps and gives me insight to make sound decisions. I don’t want Him to ever need to shout for my attention – although He is capable of that for sure.

Come & Listen – David Crowder

Come and listen, come to the water’s edge, all you who know and fear the Lord.
Come and listen, come to the water’s edge all you who are thirsty, come.

Let me tell you what He has done for me.
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
Come and listen to what He’s done.

Praise our God for He is good.

He has done for me,
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
Come and listen to what He’s done.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Silence

 

Woman talking through a megaphone and a man plugging his earsThere are times that I love the peace and serenity I feel in silence. Recently my family celebrated my Dad’s 80th birthday. It was a lot of fun with a lot of my family gathered as well as friends and neighbors. I must say that silence was not really part of the celebrating, but afterward I was looking forward to silence. I’ve been both the giver and receiver of the “silent treatment” when someone is angry or frustrated with me. There are times when silence is a blessing and at other times it’s very painful and hard.

The Lord had gone silent on Saul for his disobedience when the Lord told him to carry out His furious judgment on the Amalakites. Saul is on his own and the silence of the Lord is deafening. Check this out….

4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He enquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. (1 Samuel 28:4-6 NIV)

Samuel was gripped by fear and this was magnified when he realized that the Lord had turned away from Him. He actually sought out a witch or medium. This is extremely dangerous territory where the Lord is involved. He wanted to hear from the prophet Samuel who was dead. It is the beginning of the end of Saul’s leadership and I think he knows it.

I don’t want to experience the silence of the Lord. I want my hearing from the Lord to improve as my body ages and my physical hearing slips a bit. I would rather hear from the Lord than anyone else. I’m so thankful that the Lord speaks to me through His Word and through my daily journey of prayer. He gives wisdom and understanding that blows my mind. He prompts and He directs. He speaks and He whispers. He stirs my heart to hear Him more clearly. I’m grateful to be called His kid. I’m grateful that He listens to my heart. I’m grateful that He speaks to me. When I sit before Him in silence, I’m so grateful that He isn’t silent.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Prompted

 

prompt helpThe word prompted carries with it the words assisted or encouraged. I remember being prompted in school by the teachers. I was prompted with my homework. I was prompted with my behavior. Much of the prompting that I received in school was not optional – it was mandatory. I’m pretty confident that there will be all sorts of “prompting” until the day I die. I’m “prompted” to pay taxes and utility bills. I’m “prompted” to pay back any debts that I owe. I’m “prompted” to have the proper license to drive and I’m “prompted” to drive a certain speed. There are prompts that are optional and prompts that are NOT an option.s

The people of Israel – God’s People – had options as well. He wanted to be their God and He commanded that they do certain things and live a certain way. They always had the option to do it differently. The consequences of those options were not always positive. In many cases throughout the Old Testament, the Law seems to present a very harsh and condescending God. I believe God is and ALWAYS has been a God of Love and Grace. In the Old Testament the law restricted behavior and therefore some facets of relationship. Under the Law my relationship with God was actually through the leader (Moses) or the high priest. When Jesus came He changed the very nature of my relationship with God by granting me “direct access” to God.

The Israelites have just been given the Law from God. He also gave them very specific instructions about building a Tabernacle complete with the furnishings. This would be a place that God would dwell among the people as they moved toward the land that was promised them. Moses was to get special skilled craftsmen to build the pieces, but the resources came from the people. Check this out…

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. (Exodus 25:1-2 NIV)

I know a bit about this type of prompting. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God is the “Ultimate Prompter”.

I’m prompted me to give on many occasions.

I have been prompted to speak to a specific person.

I’m prompted to go to a certain place.

I’m prompted to keep quiet.

I’m prompted to love.

I’m prompted to serve.

This list could get really long. I believe that the very Spirit of God lives in me and uses me because my life is surrendered to the Lord. I want to be a sensitive and keen listener to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit in me. I welcome the prompting of God because it helps me know that I’m in step with Him and I’m walking with His Will for me. I believe that the Lord prompted me to write these thoughts this morning.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Say What You Want

 

Child speaking out loudWhen I was growing up, I remember going to church and the preacher yelling and shouting a lot. I remember seeing the preacher preach like he was angry. As I grew up I realized that sometimes the preacher was angry, but for the wrong reason. He might be angry that giving is off or that the people are as committed to his ministry as he’d like. I really don’t care for that style of preaching and teaching. I often think that when those type speakers have nothing to say, they simply shout and get more animated. There are a lot of people who like to be rebuked in that way. They feel like they’ve been to church when they get their “toes stepped on”. I love hearing the truth and I’m convinced that the truth doesn’t always need fake emotion. The Holy Spirit can do the shouting deep inside the hearer’s heart.

There are other preachers and church leaders today that don’t ever speak against sin. They just love everybody and anything goes. They really water down the truth to the point it doesn’t even sound like truth. They really want the people who give to their church to like them, so they don’t call out sin in order to not offend. I believe that the Lord is not happy about this type of preaching and leading.

Micah was a prophet who called out prophets who were simply saying what people wanted to hear. He is God’s spokesperson and he doesn’t mince words. Check this out…

5-7 Here is God’s Message to the prophets,

    the preachers who lie to my people:

“For as long as they’re well paid and well fed,

    the prophets preach, ‘Isn’t life wonderful! Peace to all!’

But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon,

    their ‘God bless you’ turns into ‘God damn you.’

Therefore, you’re going blind. You’ll see nothing.

    You’ll live in deep shadows and know nothing.

The sun has set on the prophets.

    They’ve had their day; from now on it’s night.

Visionaries will be confused,

    experts will be all mixed up.

They’ll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses

    to cover up their God-ignorance.”

8 But me—I’m filled with God’s power,

    filled with God’s Spirit of justice and strength,

Ready to confront Jacob’s crime

    and Israel’s sin. (Micah 3:5-8 The Message)

I believe that preachers should preach the truth.

I believe that Christ followers should speak the truth.

I believe that Christ followers should follow the truth of God’s Word.

I don’t always like what the Word says to me, but the truth is the truth.

I want to speak the truth with love in my heart. I want to honor the Lord with my life and my words. I want my life and my words to be in concert on His behalf. I want my opinions and ideas to be grounded in the truth of the Word, but I want to make sure that Truth prevails over any feelings or opinions I have. I want to say what the Lord wants me to say and nothing else.

Pressing On!

Dwayne