This is my beloved Son; listen to Him. Mark 9:7
One small word made a particular impression on me among the bigger and weightier words in the sermon last week: “listen!” This was probably because at the end of the previous week’s Island ECC Walking with God course, the group resolved to spend at least one minute daily for the following week listening to God. Just listening.
During the week I was reminded that listening doesn’t come naturally. As a parent, I want my children to listen to my pearls of wisdom, of course; but as a child of God, I want to do most of the talking rather than listening out for His wisdom. We even congratulate ourselves on spending “quiet time” with Him, though it is usually not so quiet on our side as we use our one mouth more than our two ears.
Of course, God does love to hear us express our issues and we grow spiritually as we talk to Him. But those words “listen to Him” were surely not just for the three disciples present but also for us. He did not tell us to follow, obey or imitate Jesus, which would have been all about our actions. Instead, He called on us to listen, which is all about our attention, heart and relationship. If these are cued by Christ, we will grow and be transformed, and the right actions will flow from that.
The trouble is, we and our attention tend to wander off, relegating Jesus to routines and compartments in our calendar. This must leave Him feeling saddened, like a parent who’s trying to connect with a beloved teenager through a seal of headphones and wall of social media activity. It’s ironic that this can be so, even though the other things jostling in our calendar can be “good” activities that we think will make Him happy.
So we need frequent reminders to listen up, and reach beyond routines to relationship. Let us:
Tiffany did not grow up in a Christian family, but one day her friend invited her to church. Tiffany believed she would stick out from the crowd; instead, she found a friendly place of worship that provided a community to walk with her through difficult times. As she kept going to church with an open heart, something began to click. Her faith materialised when she went through Alpha and GROW courses, which eventually led to this public profession of faith today.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. Romans 5:12 (NIV)
I recently had the privilege of sharing on the topic of sin at an event for teen mothers. I chose that topic because the journey the Lord has brought me on is a journey of confronting my sins, in particular with my anger issues. The birth of my son almost three years ago and the responsibility of motherhood convicted me to face these sins and seek the Lord in earnest about transforming my unhealthy, destructive patterns.
As I prepared to share with the teen mothers and reflected on my journey, I defined sin as “choosing to be our own god and trusting in ourselves rather than in God.” It was Adam’s action that caused sin to enter into the world for all mankind. Instead of trusting in God, Adam trusted in himself and was misled by the evil one to believe eating the fruit would make him be like God.
Through the help of professional counsellors, loving support from my spouse, family members and friends, and most important, from the Lord, I learned that my anger and rage comes from many deep layers of pain and hurt. I have learned that my destructive ways of dealing with anger were passed down from generations before me. While those have been somewhat external factors out of my control, God has also gradually allowed me to see and accept that my sin, much like Adam’s, is rooted in my desire to handle situations in my own way and in my own self-sufficiency rather than turning to Him.
Romans 5 continues, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous.” Jesus is the answer to confronting our sins. Only He can take on all of our sins – all of the pain and hurt, all that has come before us and even after us. It is only when we step down and let Jesus take the reins of our lives that we can experience the cleansing of our sins in which we are made righteous and can live a transformed life.
So, would you join me on our knees to:
Early this week I had the privilege of teaching a session in the Macau Bible Institute.
The current president of the Macau Bible Institute was my youth pastor when I was a teenager. He was also a great table tennis player – that’s why I faithfully attended youth fellowship! I went to church because I wanted to play with him. My co-teacher that day was the student chairman of the youth fellowship that I attended. He showed me how I could be a teenager and love God at the same time.
As we look back to our life stories, we concluded that it was the people in our lives that shaped who we are today. In a more precise way:
“It was how people treated us, whether good or bad, that helps shape us into who we are today. “
Some people pour their love on us. Some care enough to speak truth to us. Some even chastise us out of their deep love for us. Some people hurt us.
In a similar way, we all have influence. Whether you are a parent, a spouse, a boss, or a friend, we all leave an indelible mark on the lives of people around us, sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally (and carelessly).
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose. Proverbs 18:21, MSG
Words, or the lack thereof, are both messages. What you say and what you do not say could both be heard loud and clear.
In a similar way, what you do and what you do not do could both send important messages.
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a
Our lives are so jam-packed with never-ending to-do lists, must-watch television shows, daily chores and challenges, finances, relationships… not to mention fear and anxiety about the future. Sometimes we wonder how to place stop-loss orders on our worries. The world expects us to be busy and productive while the Word commands us to be still.
Our Heavenly Father wants to commune with us and spend time with us, but we have to make ourselves available. When we slow down completely and rest our hearts and minds on Jesus, we can hear what God is trying to tell us. When you are overwhelmed, rundown, hurt, fearful or anxious, silence those thoughts and remind yourself to be still – not because of your composure, confidence or ability but because of what you know about your Heavenly Father and His character. Being still before God in a way is the most productive thing we could ever undertake.
Our Lord is the all-powerful creator of the universe and He wants to spend time with us and give us His peace. In John 14:27, Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Let us resolve to live in God’s presence and peace. Be still and know that He is God. Trust God. He never leaves us or forsakes us.
Let us practice the power of stillness by: