Do We Have Ears that Hear?

Do We Have Ears that Hear?

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mk 4:23 NKJV)

He who has ears to hear, let him hear!  (Mt 11:15 NKJV)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  (Rev 2:29 NKJV)

The Scriptures talk about people having “ears to hear” quite a bit.  What can that mean to us as believers?

Do you know that God is always speaking to His people?  And our relationship with our Savior is based, as any true relationship is, upon communication! 

To quote Kris Vallotton (Bethel Church, Redding, CA), “Communication is probably the single greatest vehicle of any relationship.”  Prayer is part of our communication with God and listening for His voice is the other part of that two-way communication.  It is our responsibility to do the listening!  Pay attention because the Lord’s voice will often be quiet and unobtrusive. And He may speak to you in ways that you don’t recognize.

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  (1 Kgs 19:11-12 NKJV, emphasis added) 

The wonderful thing about God is that He may use various ways to communicate with us.  He uses the Scriptures to communicate clearly with us, but he may also use any of these other methods as well. 

  • Visions:  The Lord may give us visions which are simply images and concepts that play upon the screen of our imagination within our minds.  Visions frequently require interpretation.  So, when the Holy Spirit uses this method to communicate, we need to ask Him to clarify the meaning of the vision.  (See Acts 2:17-18)
  • The still, small voice of the Lord:  This can be perceived as a transient thought, an abrupt but strong impression, or an inner perception of a message from the Lord.  (See 1 Kgs 19:11-13)
  • Creation:  The very creation that God made speaks to us of His power, strength, creativity, provision, and beauty.  Pay attention to any message that the Lord may give you through His creation.  For me, when I was a brand-new believer, I was asking the Lord to show me His love.  I was out with my fiancé driving on a country road.  I kept looking at the beautiful sky above me that was just full of large, puffy, billowy clouds as far as the eye could see in EVERY direction.  As I was observing those clouds, a church song came into my heart in which the chorus includes the phrase:  Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, in fathomless billows of love!  (Song Wonderful Peace, lyrics by Warren D. Cornell, music by W. George Cooper – 1889) 
    The Lord used nature to communicate His great love for me with the image of fathomless billows of love that were demonstrated to me by the huge, billowing clouds before my own eyes—as far as the eye could see in every direction.  To this day, 50 years later, I have never forgotten that message from the Lord that was just for me.  I cherish it.
  • Circumstances:  God is able to speak to us and to direct us through the circumstances of our lives.  He can open doors of opportunity, or close them, as a way of directing us.  However, we can easily misread a blockage that has been erected by the enemy and think that it is God directing us.  But we would be wrong.  Consequently, we should always seek wise counsel from our Pastor and from other mature believers whom we know very well, and who know us.  Also, we must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us about every step we need to take in our lives.

So, look back upon your life and recall the times when God used any of these various methods to speak to you or to direct you.  Or, you may have a new example of how God communicated something to you.  But the important thing to recognize is that there is communication flowing in your relationship with the Lord.  Thank and praise the Lord for it! When you can receive such communication from God and ACT UPON IT, then you can be assured that you DO have ‘hearing ears’!  God bless you.

What’s Your Delight?

What’s Your Delight?

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  (Ps 1:2)

Do you find delight in the Bible?  This Psalmist declares that he delights in the word so much that he meditates upon it and thinks about it all of the time—literally!

Most of us can find delight in our children; or in a certain sports team; or a wonderful movie . . . even a favorite meal.  But have we trained our appetite in such a way that we derive great pleasure from reading the word and meditating upon it?

We can prime ourselves to love and rejoice in God’s word by drawing closer to God.  That can be achieved through prayer, praise and worship, and simply quietly listening for His voice and His wisdom to be imparted to us after we have spent time in the word. 

After accustoming ourselves with the word, and receiving answered prayer because of praying according what we know the word says, then we will definitely begin to have a deep appreciation for God’s word.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  (Ps 37:4)

As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”  (Ps 16:3)

As Psalm 16:3 says, God delights in His saints and God notices when we delight in His word and in Him!  When we delight in Him, he gives us the desires of our heart.

Note:  This is a copy of our blog article dated 05/18/2017.

Prayer & Faith

Prayer & Faith

Prayer that arises from faith in Jesus in our hearts accomplishes wonderful and mighty blessings.  Another beneficial tool that believers have is anointing people with oil, and laying hands on them in prayer.  In the Scriptures, oil represents the Holy Spirit.  In the New Testament the laying on of hands was associated with Christ healing the sick (Luke 4:40)

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  (Jas 5:14-15 NIV)  In this case, we are encouraged to ask the elders of the church to pray for the sick after anointing them with oil.

And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mk 6:13)  This passage is referring to the apostles’ doing good works, including casting out demons, anointing the sick with oil and healing them.  Praise God!

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.  (Ac 28:8)  The Apostle Paul laid hands on Publius after praying for him, and healed Publius.

These are procedures that the apostles used, because they had seen Jesus Christ (our example) using them.  Modern believers should use these same methods and practices in order to see the same results.

Remember, all signs, wonders and miracles are a result of faith in Jesus Christ and in focusing upon Him and His love and mercy.  Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8) and we should cherish it, value it, and thank and praise God for it. Hallelujah!

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

God-Ordained Sights & Sounds

Why do some believers hear things and see things that others do not hear and see? 

“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’  (Ac 22:9-10) 

In the above instance, the people who were traveling with Saul (who later became Paul, the apostle) saw the supernatural light that appeared to Saul but they did not hear God’s voice speaking to him.  God was giving Saul directions to follows. So the only one who needed to hear the Lord was Saul.

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  (Ac 9:7)

In this verse, those who accompanied Saul heard the Lord’s voice speaking to Saul but they didn’t see anything.  In Acts 9:7, Saul was again being told what to do next but we don’t know why God allowed the others to hear God’s voice in this instance.

“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.”  (Ac 26:12-13)

This account in the Bible is where Paul is telling King Agrippa about the heavenly light, brighter than the sun, which he and his friends saw on the road to Damascus.  This was a genuine physical AND spiritual encounter that Paul had with the Lord.

As we diligently work to serve the Lord, and spend time studying the Word and drawing near to God’s presence, we may experience God-ordained sights and sounds which other people don’t experience.  Such things are out of the ordinary for most believers, but they are clearly controlled by God. 

Ask God to give you His wisdom and insight into understanding such an event if it should happen to you.  Don’t be afraid of it, but diligently seek the Scriptures and God’s wisdom to make sure that it lines up with the teachings of the Lord in the New Testament.  Determine what God’s wants you to do or to change as a result of your experience.  If it does not agree with Biblical teachings, then simply put it out of your mind and heart.

For those of us who do not experience these types of incidents, it doesn’t mean that we are any less of a follower of Jesus Christ than any other believer.  It simply means that every individual person’s relationship with the Lord is unique and special.  Value your relationship with the Lord and draw near to Him through prayer, Bible reading, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with other believers.  You are blessed!

Be Steadfast

Be Steadfast

Be steadfast in your spiritual life.  Steadfast means unwavering, unfaltering, loyal, devoted, or constant.  So how can we be steadfast and in what ways?

. . . rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer . . .  (Rom 12:12)  Continue in daily prayer interceding for yourself and for other people and for our leaders—both spiritual and national.

For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  (Gal 5:5)  As we eagerly wait for the return of Jesus (or to arrive in heaven ourselves), wait with a sense of anticipation, eagerness and joy. 

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Joh 16:33)  The Lord warns us that we’ll experience tribulation somehow, at some point in our lives, but that we should be cheered up knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world.  So be loyal and stalwart in believing the truth of this Scripture.  Remember that the Lord is with you and that He fights FOR you.  (Deu 3:22; Josh 23:10)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  (1 Cor 15:58)  Be devoted to thriving in the work of the Lord, knowing that one day you WILL receive your reward.  The “work of the Lord” involves ministering to others (by prayer, service, or helps); sharing the gospel with others; and baptizing new believers or bringing them to church so that they can be baptized in water.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Ac 2:42)  Be unwavering in having fellowship with other believers; in sharing meals with them; in taking communion with other believers, and in prayers with them and for them. 

Above all, rejoice in hope! 

An Everlasting Covenant

An Everlasting Covenant

Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  (Ezek 37:26 NKJV)

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.  I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.  (Jer 30:19 NIV)

For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.  (Zech 2:5 KJV)

A covenant is an agreement, pledge, bond, or contract.  The Bible reminds us that God cannot lie (Tit 1:2) and that His Word is tested and true.  (Ps 119:140, 142)

God’s promises to His people, based upon the passages above, are that:

  • He will establish us;
  • He multiplies us;
  • He gives us His peace;
  • He lives within us;
  • He will bring us honor;
  • He guarantees that we won’t be disdained;
  • He protects us as a wall of fire; and
  • He is the glory within us.

He will establish us by confirming that our faith us genuine and that our relationship with Him is legitimate.

He multiplies us by adding other believers to our numbers, and by giving us literal children of our own, as well as spiritual children whom we parent as spiritual mentors.

He gives us peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7) because He is the Prince of Peace.  (Isa 9:6)

He lives with every believer because we are individually (and collectively) the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19)

How does God bring honor to any believer?  Some of the ways He will honor us is by hearing and answering our prayers for other people.  When we lead people to accept Jesus as their own personal Savior, we are being honored by God.  When God performs signs and wonders in response to our prayers for someone, he is honoring us.  He is responding to the genuine faith that we are using by praying on behalf of other people.  Hallelujah!

The final three promises are that we won’t be disdained; that He protects us; and that His glory is within each of us.  These are things that we have to simply trust Him to perform.  We don’t need to do anything about them; we just need to continue in our relationship with Jesus Christ and keep on serving our Savior, who is a Covenant-Keeping God.  Glory to God!

The Message of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18 NIV, underlining and emphasis added) 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16, emphasis added)

 . . .  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  (1 Cor 1:23-25, emphasis added)

. . . because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)

The message of the cross is sometimes referred to as the:

  • Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)
  • Good News (1 Thes 3:6)
  • Power of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Resurrection Gospel (1 Cor 15, entire chapter)

What is the message of the cross?  It is that God LOVES the world, and desires to be in RELATIONSHIP with each and every one of us.  Thanks to this truth, the Father God provided salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ.

Jesus humbled himself in coming to earth as a newborn baby.  He grew up as a normal, human boy and learned the trade of carpentry.  He lived a sinless, perfect life serving His heavenly Father.  Jesus preached Good News, and demonstrated the love of His heavenly Father by performing signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Jesus displayed the need for continuous fellowship with His Father, as well as drawing apart for prayer.  He modeled forgiveness, wisdom, and walking in the Spirit for us all.

The symbol of the cross is an icon of grim human suffering and public humiliation.  Jesus’ suffering and subsequent death and resurrection are all part of the message of the cross.  In the light of Christ’s resurrection, there is restoration of hope, complete joy, and utter triumph.  Hallelujah!

Notice that the preaching of this gospel of salvation is always accompanied by the POWER of God.

The message of the cross proves the magnitude of the love that God has for mankind.

Watch for the Master!

Watch for the Master!

This is a message for EVERYONE!  We are taught by the Scriptures to keep a watch for the coming of the Master.  Jesus is the “Master of the house” of each person who has accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. 

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”  (Mark 13:35-37, emphasis added)

Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion.  (Isa 52:8)

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night.  You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent . . . (Isa 62:6)

In the Christian community, our watchmen are the prophets and pastors who teach us and lead us in our daily walk.  The prophets give us timely insights from the Lord and we should pay attention to them.  The pastors are under-shepherds who are supposed to follow the example of Jesus, the Shepherd of all believers, by living exemplary lives of faith and love.  Pastors also lead their flocks in right paths and teach us about God’s nature and the Bible to enable us to live righteous, upright lives.

We are also told to “watch and pray” lest we enter into temptation.  (Mt 26:41)  This is a spiritual watching coupled with prayer that gives each one of us the strength to survive temptations and the difficult situations of life.

When the New Testament instructs us to “watch,” it means to stay alert, awake, and attentive.  This is a spiritual instruction to be spiritually perceptive, on guard, and to examine every teaching closely so that we do not allow ourselves to be lead into error or false doctrine.

As we study our Bibles daily and meditate upon them faithfully, the Holy Spirit will bring to our minds the Scriptures that we have learned.  (Joh 14:25-26)  He will lead each of His children wherever He wants each person to go.  Praise the Lord!

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and Wisdom

Humility and wisdom are two attributes that are praised in the Scriptures.  Blessings are frequently mentioned in connection with them.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  (Pro 11:2 NIV)  Humility and wisdom are frequent companions!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  (Jas 3:13 NIV)  This verse informs us that humility comes from wisdom.  As a matter of fact, a person with humility coupled with the fear of the Lord will experience riches, honor, and life.  (Pro 22:4)

Toward the scorners He is scornful, but to the humble He gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.  (Pro 3:34-35 ESV)  To people who are humble, the Lord gives favor; and the Lord bestows honor upon the wise.

Only we are capable of humbling ourselves; no one else can do it for us.  When we humble ourselves, the Lord promises to exalt us.  (Jas 4:10 NKJV)  The Bible reminds us that if we don’t humble ourselves, the Lord will do it for us.  (Mt 23:12 ESV)

James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for it because He will generously answer our prayer.  Scriptures state repeatedly the many blessings that God bestows upon those who are wise.  See Ps 111:10; Pro 3:13-18; 4:6-7; 14:16; 16:16; 24:3-7; Lk 21:15; Jas 3:17.

Because the end of the ages is approaching, all believers must live carefully and intentionally for the Lord.  Let us each take inventory of our strengths and our weaknesses; and if we are lacking in wisdom or humility, take steps to mend our ways. 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  (Eph 5:15-16 ESV)

Be Watchful

Be Watchful

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (2 Tim 4:5)

. . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—  (Eph 6:18)

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.  (1 Pet 4:7)

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.  (1 Cor 16:13)

Often the Bible urges us to watch as well as to pray.  (Mk 13:33; 14:38; Lk 21:36; Eph 6:18)  It’s important that these two actions go hand in hand. 

Watch means to stay awake; to be sleepless.  We need to take this command literally as well as spiritually.  We are meant to be vigilant, on guard, alert, and intently aware.  Spiritual watching combined with prayer will give us the strength we need to resist temptation and to overcome difficult situations in life.

Staying awake is connected with righteousness.  (1 Cor 15:34)  If ever there has been a time to stay alert and focused, it is NOW.  Many scholars believe that we are living in what is called the “end times.”  We must focus on strengthening our relationship with Jesus Christ and living a holy life, by the grace which He imparts to us.

Believers must be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ; we must guard against temptation; and we should pray without ceasing.  We should prepare for the completion (conclusion) of our salvation!

“Vigilant watchfulness is a manifestation of genuine spiritual life.” ~ Billy Graham