Attentively Listen (Philippians 2:8)


Men are accused of many things against which we defend ourselves diligently.  However, there is one accusation against us to which we have a difficult time denying and that is that we have selective hearing.  Granted that not all men ignore their wives–me being one of them–or pretend to listen and choose to select what they say they heard.  But as a whole, men are guilty.  Many wives wish they could get their husbands to listen attentively to what they say and even more so the requests that they make.  This type of listening would be “attentive listening”.

An example of this was done by The Lord, Jesus.  The scriptures say that Jesus was obedient to the Father.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8)

The term obedient comes from the Greek word for attentively listening.  It is the kind of listening that my German Shepherd displays when he thinks he hears something.  He raises his head with ears pointed straight up and faces towards the direction of the sound.  He wants to hear everything that is going on so that he can respond properly.  So, a person who listens attentively to another does it so that they can respond properly to the communication given to them.

This type of listening would benefit the Christian.  For us to walk through our day, attentively listening for God’s voice would not only be good, but it would enable us to do his will.  How many times have you handled a matter wrongfully only to recognize what you should have done afterwards and sometimes the recognition came immediately afterwards?  If we could only hear God’s voice sooner, so much better could come from our actions.  The key to doing God’s will is listening.  Listening does not occur by hearing, but when our attention is focused on God when he speaks.  Too many times, we are distracted by external problems and internal thoughts.  We need to block out all distractions and attentively listen for God.

As you live today, continually focus on recognizing and listening for God’s voice.  Obedience will be the byproduct.

Stir The Flames (2 Peter 3:1)

One thing I enjoy about camping is building a fire. I have enjoyed it ever since being a Boy Scout and learning how to build one. As you probably know when a fire starts to die, it only needs to be stirred a bit, just to get the flames going again. Believers need stirred just like a fire does.

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (2 Peter 3:1)

If you want to help believers, stir up their minds to remember God’s word and how the Lord has worked in their lives. Some may need rebuked and others may required a reproof, but by far, the majority need only to be stirred. A loving Christian has no problem with stirring up people. Don’t be quick to think that struggling people need to be rebuked. Their fire of faith may be dwindling low, but a simple stirring of their remembrance about God and what he has done for them will stoke their flames of faith. Be an encourager. The Lord knows, we have enough rebukers in the world.


Prayers Not Heard (Psalm 66:18)

Why is it that sometimes God hears my prayers and at other times does not? What determines if God will hear them? When I need God, I want to make sure that he is attentive to my requests. As a sinner, I know that I sin daily, but there have been times that God seemed to hear my prayers in spite of me sinning. Why is that so?

The affection of your heart determines God’s attention to your prayer. (If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18). It is not so much the sin, but the affection that our heart has towards it that motivates his response. When we regard sin in our heart, we are holding it dear to ourselves. Our heart’s focus is on the sin and our desire to keep and enjoy it. It is this heart condition that is really divided against God, which causes him not to be attentive to our prayers.

Remember when you were lost in your sin? You then heard the gospel and your heart was changed. Instead of wanting to hold on to your sin or have regard for it, you disdained it. You experienced what the bible calls repentance. It was that change of heart that brought attention to your call to the savior. I remember calling out to Jesus throughout my entire childhood to have him as savior. I believed he was the savior. I knew he died on the cross to pay for my sins, but my heart kept getting in the way. It was not until I was nearly 22 years of age before my heart was changed and that change made all the difference with my prayer. No longer was I regarding sin in my heart and finally my prayer was answered.

Remember, it isn’t any different today. We still sin and we still need God to answer our prayers. Thankfully we do not need to live a sinless life in order to get prayers answered. What we do need is a heart that wants God instead of wanting to hold on to sin.


Why Make Me Thirsty? (Psalm 63:1)

Over the years, I have heard many people say that it was during the good and prosperous times in their lives that they became complacent and wandered away from God. It seemed that because things were going well, the need for prayer diminished and the need for cautiously walking so as to please God and gain blessings was no longer urgent. How does God help us when we become like this? What does he do to bring us back to himself?

Sometimes God allows trials to come so that we may again recognize our need for him.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; (Psalms 63:1)

In many cases, the trial is not a chastening, but the opportunity needed to brings us to the recognition of our need for him. A close friend of mine shared one time about how her parents had been struggling in their relationship. That was up until the time that one of them became very ill. It was the illness that shocked each of them into the reality of how much they really loved and needed each other. It was the wake up call. For us, trials can be much the same. Not all trials are for this purpose, but there are occasions when they are.

If you are currently in a trial, consider at least that The Lord may be trying to accomplish this work in your life. As you view others in trials, recognize that they may be right with God, but need to be drawn closer as well. They do not need your judgment at this time but rather your support.

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No Reputation (Philippians 2:7)

Jesus went from one end of the being spectrum to the other: from being God to becoming a slave. He was not forced to make this decision because he had done wrong by positioning himself as God like Lucifer had attempted to do, but willfully chose to do this because of our need of redemption and his loving desire to meet that need.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:7)

Jesus set the example and the Father wants us to follow. He wants us to lose our life for his sake. He lost it for ours and now he wants us to lose ours for him. His loss was greater than ours. His loss brought him to a low state of living. Not a low state of living in sin, but of hunger, thirst, weariness and eventual death. When we lose our lives, we only lose the desires we have for them. What God is asking us to do is trifle in comparison to what he has done for us.

What are you willing to lose for God? Can we really say lose? For God says that whoever loses his life for God’s sake will find it. But again, are you willing to step away from your life so that God can gain what he needs from your life?


The Banner Of Truth (Psalm 60:4)

In the midst of a great trial, God has provided you a banner or an opportunity to raise up his standard. The standard you can raise is truth. For the world who either rejects truth or will not read God’s word, there is still a standard of truth displayed. That standard is your testimony of faith in the trial.

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. (Psalms 60:4)

Strength to raise or hold up the standard does not come from determination or dedication, but from times of fellowship with The Lord. As we draw nigh to God, he draws nigh to us and with that he brings his supply of grace. It is by God’s grace that we have the strength of faith to raise the standard before the world.

Sin robs us. It robs us of joy and also strength. Each time we fall to sin, we are weakened in our walk. As we become weak, so does our faith. It is because of weakened faith that we waiver in holding up a standard of truth for others to see. That is why we must daily turn to God for forgiveness so that he may again establish our feet on the rock.

Holding up the banner is not a fanatical action, which says, “Look at me, I have a lot of faith!” Instead, the banner is automatically raised in your life as you look to God for deliverance. The scoffers will mock and scorn, but as you remain steadfast in faith to God, he will exalt you and your banner for all the world to see.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

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Faith And Fear Go Hand In Hand (Psalm 56:3)

Some things in life go hand in hand. With love comes heart ache, gray hair with age, weeds with flowers and hand prints on the walls with kids. This so true that we coined a phrase, “We are taking the good with the bad.” Another hand in hand aspect of life is fear with trust.

Faith and fear go hand in hand. You may have fear without faith or trust, but you will never have trust without the presence of fear. (What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalms 56:3). Fear occurs when we emotionally respond to the circumstances in our lives. The circumstances indicate that only bad is about to occur and that we are hopelessly in its path. It is at these times that we anxiously respond to the circumstances. In a frantic effort, we try to change our circumstances or perform some action that will lessen their effect.

However it is at this same time that The Lord wants us to cease from our efforts and rest in what he will do for us in light of the circumstances that we face. When we rest in him, we are trusting. We rest in him when we cease from our own efforts. Is this not what you did when you received salvation? With great effort you tried to perform good works and religious duties to negate the mounding debt of sin that you owed a righteous and holy God. That was, until you heard and understood about the savior. Because he paid your complete debt on the cross, he called you to trust or rest in him. When you rested in him and his finished work completed on the cross, you did so in light of fear, but your trusting brought the results that only God could do.

In this same fashion, we need to look to God for his strength and him to work. We may be experiencing fear with our trial, but in the midst of it, God wants us to trust in him or in other words to rest assure that he is in control and will work out his divine plan, which is best for us. Resting in God is never easy, but we are always able to do this. We cannot escape fear and are not failures as Christians because we fear just as long as we exercise faith in response to our fear.

Remember, faith and fear go hand in hand.


We Should Not Be Moved (Psalm 55:22)

Because The Lord promised to sustain you, there should not be any circumstance in life that should cause you to stumble, fall, or give up. The Lord’s presence and power is always there and available. However, how he wants to provide power and the steps he wants us to take in the midst of trials may not be what we expect or desire. If trials or troubles have tripped you up, then you must have been trying to stand on your own.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22)

Many times in trials, we pray for The Lord to remove our trial and we hang on until he does. But when he does not removed the trial or answer our prayer as expected, we fall. What we should have done was seek God’s face in fellowship. His fellowship will bring joy to our hearts and the joy of The Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

I remember years ago when I was without a car and unable to cut my budget enough to save and buy one. Each morning, I left the house before dark and rode my son’s bike six miles to a co-worker’s house and then commuted with him for the remainder of the trip. The ride home required me to complete a ten mile trip. I really wanted God to remove the trial and provide for me a car. However, he had other plans.

The last part of my trip required a quarter mile trip up an extremely steep hill. For each peddle push that I made, I prayed, “God, please give me a car.” Little did I know, but God was more concerned about developing my prayer life than providing me convenience with a car. A car eventually came. It was a Volkswagen Rabbit diesel and it was given to me as a gift. With that The Lord received praise and glory from me and glory and honor before all my co-workers who saw my plight without a car and what The Lord had done.

In the end, I saw that it was best for the trial to come and for The Lord not to quickly deliver me from the trial. If trials come your way, it is alright to pray for deliverance, but what is better is to seek his face in fellowship.

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Goodness Of God (Psalm 52:1)

I remember as a boy in grade school, we had a reading lab for English class. It was a tier level curriculum that required you to read a story and then complete a quiz to assess comprehension. After taking the test, you would score your own material. After completing all the stories in one level, you advanced to the next.

At that time, I really struggled with read so I developed a plan. I would select my reading material and also remove the score key from the storage box. Then after reading the story, I would take the test, but all the while the score key, shaped like a book marker, was under the thigh of my leg. All seemed well and I was moving along through the curriculum at a good pace.

Then one day, the teacher handed me my material and stated that she had the score key at her desk and that I should contact her when I needed her to score it for me. Busted! I thought my plan was great and I was getting away with it. Boy was I ever wrong.

The Psalmist states that many times people think that they are getting away with their sin, but all the while, God knows all. We only are permitted to continue in our way without experiencing his judgment or chastening because of his goodness. We may think that we are getting away with sin, but in reality, we are getting away with nothing.

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. (Psalms 52:1)

God’s goodness is not only demonstrated towards us by his blessing, kind acts and help in times of need, but also when he delays in responding towards us and our sin. Both acts of God’s goodness are great and desirable, but we need the latter much more than we do the former.

Loving Kindness and Tender Mercy (Psalm 51:1)

Mercy occurs because of what is in God and is not brought on or motivated by the need of a helpless transgressor.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Psalms 51:1)

God’s mercy or act of having pity towards man is based on his loving kindness and tender mercies. Loving kindness occurs when he displays favor towards someone. An example of this is found in the book of Esther. When the uninvited Queen Esther approached the King, the King showed loving kindness by putting forth the sceptre and receiving her. Similarly, this is God’s response to man. But even greater than loving kindness is tender mercy. Tender mercy comes from a word meaning the womb or the bowels. As the tender love of a mother towards the baby that she carries, so is God’s love towards us. In spite of us falling into sin, he yearns deeply inside for us. It is this deep yearning that causes him to exercise mercy towards us.

Many times when we wrong people, we try to perform actions that may turn their heart to forgive us. With God it is not necessary. By tender mercy he takes the first step and reaches out to man. It is his tender mercy that brings conviction, repentance and confession. If it were not for his loving kindness and tender mercy we would be without hope.

As you grow in grace, allow God to develop this loving kindness and tender mercy towards those around you. As long as you continue to focus on yourself and your own needs, you will never reach this state. However when you esteem others better than yourself and look on the needs of them as stated in Philippians 2:4, you will begin to grow into the image of Christ.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Philippians 2:4)

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