Be still and listen

Be still and know that I AM YHWH

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Read: 1 Samuel 3

Samuel was raised by Eli from the age of three and was taught the Torah. We read in this chapter that Eli was reliant upon Samuel, as he was blind and needed assistance in getting around the Temple. This explains why Samuel responded to the voice by jumping up and running to Eli’s bedside, an indication as to the dedication and servant-heart of the young boy.

In verse 1 Scripture tells us that Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. This shows that not only is Samuel dedicated in serving but he is obedient and assists Eli daily. We read that Eli’s sons were rebellious and that Eli had turned a blind eye to their sinful ways. It is interesting to read that Samuel served the Lord by assisting the priest, in other words there is no indication of a living-relationship between God and Samuel. In fact in verse 7 we are told that Samuel ‘did not know the Lord yet’ and it is for this reason that he did not recognise the voice of YHWH. Samuel would have been very aware of who YHWH was and through learning the Torah and serving in the Temple he would have had a good knowledge of what YHWH had done, yet this knowledge did not translate to a relationship with Father YHWH. This knowledge only translated once Samuel recognised the voice of YHWH.

In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep will recognise My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” The words recognise and follow indicate a relationship, to follow someone you need to know them. For Jesus to say that His sheep recognise His voice points to a personal knowledge of what His voice sounds like and the fact that He has been able to get to know the sheep. The Bible tells us however that before Samuel stepped into his calling as a prophet the voice of YHWH was rarely heard. This signals that sin and crookedness inhibits a relationship with the Father. Eli realised that Samuel is being called by the Heavenly Father, YHWH, and he instructed the youngster to go back to bed, to lie down and to respond with the words, “Speak, Your servant is listening”, and not to jump up but to lie down and listen.

One of my flaws is that I start to listen, then I rush off using my assumptions to complete the instruction. This frustrates those who are speaking to me and it is only after getting things wrong so many times that I have learnt to stop, listen and make sure I understand what I heard. All too often we hear, jump up and run off, much like Samuel who was so eager to serve, jumping in and out of bed but not stopping to listen, to recognise the voice calling. We are all guilty of this, when often all that is required of us is to be still, know who is speaking and listen. Being still and knowing the voice of YHWH is necessary in preparing to serve and fulfil our purpose, we need to ask for spiritual ears that hear and listen.

There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a verb that is used to describe what happens when your ears capture a sound. You hear a noise/sound but unless you listen you do not  engage thinking to focus on the noise/sound and make sense of what it means, what action it requires you to take. As a mother and teacher I would often ask, “Did you not hear me?” The answer often given was yes, and this would annoy me as I would want to know why the required action to the statement or question had not been taken. I should have asked, “Did you listen to what I said?” I can assure you the response would have been different. How often do we hear Father, but because of our busyness we jump to action and run off with our own agenda, without double checking we understand what He wants? Should we not take more time to be still and listen?

When you listen it means you are making sense of the sounds you hear. You recognise the source and allow your brain to translate the sounds into meaningful phrases. Listening involves understanding and even questioning if you are not sure. One of the best ways to listen is to paraphrase what you heard, do we take time to be still and do this with YHWH? In verse 15 we read that Samuel lies down and listens. He obeyed Eli and because he listened he was able to answer the call with , “I am listening.” He was not distracted, he was focused on the voice of YHWH. This takes a servant-heart, to listen so we can obey and serve.

We read that after Samuel received the prophetic word, he did not jump up and run to Eli, but stayed in bed lying down, still and quiet. It was only when Eli directly asked him what God had said that Samuel spilt the beans. There is a lesson to be gleaned from this, a lesson about attitude. Samuel had a servant-heart, he was obedient and he listened by lying down and being still. We are told at the end of this chapter that Samuel received many more messages from YHWH and that he became known as a man that heard from the Father.

Eli was told by God that he would loose his sons on the same day because of their sinful ways. However Eli heard but did not listen. I am of the opinion that if he had listened he would have heeded the warning and taken steps to rectify their wayward behaviour. Eli was not only physically blind but he was spiritually blinded as well, even spiritually deaf. I think that his sons became so wrapped up in the world that they stopped listening to Father and to Eli, they became deaf and this caused their death.

Life bombards us with noise and sound. We have voices coming at us from screens, radios, music, peers and life. It is so hard to listen to all of these voices telling us how to dress, how to eat, how to exercise, what to drive, buy and be….We need to choose which voice we are going to listen to, which voice we are going to trust and seek to hear. We need to become quiet and listen to the beautiful voice of YHWH. I am reminded of the scripture, where Elijah listens for the voice of the Lord God Almighty. The voice of Elohim is not in the windstorm, earthquake or fire but in the gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). To listen to a gentle whisper you need to be still and listen BUT also recognise His voice distinguishing it from all other noise.

Ask Father God to speak to you, take time to build up a relationship with Him, where you recognise His voice, where you know when He is close and can distinguish the faintest of whispers. Know the voice of the Shepherd and you will find peace, grace and loving-commitment. You may still need to jump up and do something but it will be because you have been told to jump up, because you have listened to His voice and you are following His plans. Be still and know that He is YHWH and that His plan for your life is for good, take time to ask Him and seek His answers and voice (Jer 29:11 – 14).

Abba Father, I wish to hear your voice, even the faintest of whispers that I will serve you without distraction, I wish to hear from You and intimately know the sound of Your voice. I ask that You would unblock my spiritual ears and make me deaf to worldly noises, so that my ears distinguish Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth, and that I may recognise the voice of my beloved Saviour. Amen

Guard His ways and delight in Him

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4

Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

I would like to encourage you to read Samuel 22:20-23. In these verses we read that YHWH brings out, delivers, delights in, rewards and repays. These are the actions of a Father towards His children according to their righteousness, the cleanness of your hands, and the way you guard the way of the Father. It is clear that Abba Father desires to give us much more, more than we can comprehend.

In today’s society we are driven to succeed and to “please” others, and increasingly to please ourselves. However, these verses remind us that as children of the Most High we are called to delight in His love and seek His will. John 14:23 is one of my favourite verses as it holds an amazing promise. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me. My Father will love you and We will make Our home with you.” Wow, the Father, Son and Spirit will MAKE a home with me! A home is a place of belonging, protection, love and rest. I love this promise and it helps me to seek His will, to proclaim my love daily and to delight in having a home with YHWH. The requisite to this delightful prospect is to love Him, obey Him and seek right-ruling, being pure in worship and faith. To delight Yeshua you need to serve Him with an undivided heart and pure motives. God delights in those that guard His ways and Word. Those who love His Son and allow the Set-Apart Spirit of Truth to dwell in them. More of Him and less of me. God delights in the humble of heart, those who are totally dependent on His providence and do all things through the strength of  Yeshua for the glory of YHWH.

To guard His way and Word, we must understand the Way. Guarding something implies that what you are protecting, keeping safe and close to you is of value. To guard something means that you are willing to sacrifice something to keep it safe. You can’t guard something that you don’t know about or know where it is. You are not likely to guard something that has no value to you. Bodyguards are specially trained to defend persons of importance and are equipped with skills used to protect their charge, but most importantly they are willing to die for this person. Are you trained in knowing the Word, will you willingly sacrifice yourself for His Word and way? Do you guard the Word from dust by rubbing a finger over it now and again, is it hidden somewhere safe? The safest spot to hide the Word of God is in your heart, keeping it there and feeding upon it. Checking and measuring your thoughts with the Living Word is a good way of keeping your feet on the Way.

Staying with the analogy of guards, we need to be equipped to guard. Paul talks of putting on the armour of God – of ensuring that you are protected and understand who you are and how to use your equipment. Being equipped to guard the Word and will of YHWH means you need to understand who you are in Yeshua, that you are His redeemed and beloved, His Kallah (bride). You need need to be dressed in garments of praise and worship, be filled with His Spirit, ask and seek for wisdom, understanding, knowledge, Truth, power and might and clothe yourself in the fear of YHWH Most High. This fear is not the knee knocking fear, rather it is an awe, respect and wonderment for the Father as creator and author of life. Delight in your Father’s love.

To delight in something implies that you light up, you beam and that your mood and body is enlightened. There is a sense of rejoicing, a sense of joy and contentment. Father enjoys it when you delight in His creation, the beauty, variation and complexity of living things, the power of the ocean and weather. When is the last time that you really delighted in the beauty of the crashing waves, the sound of a storm, marvelled at the colours of a bird and their ability to soar in the sky. We are quick to moan about the cold wind that whips up sand, the rain that wets washing or cancels a picnic – these are moments of awesome creation. I love scuba diving or snorkelling. The storm can be whipping up the sea, yet beneath the very same waters in a world of colour and tranquillity. We serve a God that is alive and we need to take our noses out of books, eyes off screens, ears away from music and noise and see His awesomeness – delight in what He has created.

Take delight in knowing that each new day is interwoven with opportunities to serve Him, to learn more about Him, to grow in love and fear at His loving-commitment to you. Delight in the love letters that you receive during the day, the little moments that are close to your heart, a smile from a stranger or a sunset that reminds you of how loved you are by the Creator. Ask YHWH to reveal to you a glimpse of His love for you, look to the cross and delight in your Saviour. Guard these moments, put His Word deep into your heart, guard that which has value and does not rust or get lost.

Father, You are so amazing and I love You. The words tumbling from my lips cannot express my delight, see my heart. Spirit of YHWH, help me fear YHWH, grow my knowledge and understanding of His Word deep in my heart, so that I may guard His Word. Guide me daily in Your Ways and equip me I pray to do Your will and seek right-ruling. I desire to delight in Your Word and purpose for my life for the glory and delight of Your Son. Amen

Walking with Jesus is a journey

We often refer to our spiritual walk with Yeshua, but recently I have been pondering the use of the word ‘walk’. Is it not rather a journey?

When one goes for a walk it is normally a short activity that can be done on a whim. It is not something that we plan months in advance. We may walk our dog, walk around the block or walk on the beach. These are short trips, trips that generally are dictated by the weather and your mood.

A journey on the other hand is something that we plan to undertake. It involves some form of preparation to ensure that we arrive at the planned destination on time and with what is required. A journey may involve walking, but in modern society journeys generally involve different modes of transport depending on the destination and purpose. So I started to ponder and question if I was walking with Yeshua or on a journey with Yeshua.

When Moses was instructed by YHWH to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, his journey started. In Exodus 4:24 we read that on the ‘journey’ to Egypt, Moses and his family stopped for the night. Moses was confronted by YHWH as his son had not been circumcised and for Moses to continue and succeed on his journey, he needed to ensure that he was completely obedient and submissive to the instruction and directions from the Most High. Commentary explains the circumcision had not occurred as his wife was not from Israel, and Moses had not been part of Israel for many years. For Moses to continue on the journey and reach the destination he had to remove any obstacle in obedience to YHWH.

As we journey with the Most High we are to ensure that we walk in obedience to Him, that we are following His instructions and directions. This is part of remaining in relationship with Him, being convicted of sin and seeking His purpose and way as we journey. This will ensure that we will be able to complete the journey and run the race and receive our reward. Moses was instructed by YHWH how the Israelites were to prepare for their journey into the desert. In Exodus 12 we read a recount of the instructions, but let us pay careful attention to verse 11, “Wear your travelling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals and carry your walking sticks in your hands. Eat the food quickly, for this is the Lord’s Passover.” In this chapter they were given instructions for the Passover, a prophesy of what Yeshua would do for us.

Verse 11, makes it very clear that going on a journey is more than a walk in the desert. It involved preparing clothing, footwear and nutrition, planning requirements and the route. If you don’t take a route you will go around in circles and never get anywhere. The journey is mapped out, it is planned and has a destination. Your life has been mapped out and planned – Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for your”, says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” What we need to ask ourselves is are we appropriately clothed for our journey? Do we sit at the table of the Lord and partake in Breaking of Bread? Do we clothe ourselves in the Armour of God? Do we hold the two-edged sword in our hands? Are we asking Him to guide us and show us the way? Or are we stumbling around without a plan?

Sometimes a journey may involve stopping over, residing in places for periods and the journey itself may vary in time. When Moses left Egypt with the Israelites the intent was to make their way to the Promised Land. However the Israelites complained about YHWH and were disobedient, as punishment a whole generation died in the wilderness and the journey took an extra 40 years (Numbers 14: 26-44). I have to ask myself how many times have I added extra travelling time to my journey because of my disobedience and lack of trust? Moses sets the ultimate example in Exodus 34:13-23. In this text we read a conversation between Moses and YHWH Most High. Moses asks for clear directions so that he can follow YHWH’s will exactly, Moses does not want to assume or guess – he wants to hear and succeed. Moses states that he does not want to make a single step without YHWH. Moses was seeking the direction, instruction and divine will of YHWH on the journey. This is what we should be doing, not merely going on our merry way, doing what we think. Instead we should be seeking His will and walking in obedience and relationship with Him. You and I were not accidentally dropped into the world, we were created in the image of the Most High for a purpose. We have a plan to fulfil and unless you are clothed, fed and following the map you are not fulfilling that purpose. We need to plan our journey, stop and ask YHWH Most High, “What is it that  You have planned for me to do? Please show me Your intentions so I will understand You more fully and do exactly what You want me to do.” (Exodus 34:13).

Sometimes we hear clearly from the Father, other times we may choose to walk in our way because it may seem easier, or because it makes more sense. The Israelites were disobedient and added to their journey, a 40 year detour through a small desert. I have come to realise that often what seems ridiculous or impossible is the divine will of YHWH. Often our human weaknesses hamper our ability to comprehend how the impossible can be possible. In these times we need to keep our eyes and faith focused on Him and be guided so His will can be fulfilled, and our testimony bring glory to the Father.

Where are you right now? Have you taken a wrong turn? Are you wandering around lost with no idea how to get back on track? The good news is that our Father never slumbers nor sleeps, that He is omnipresent and omnipotent, Almighty in unconditional love for you. Yeshua told the parable of the lost son. A young man that seemed to have it all planned, in human wisdom squandered his inheritance and ended up in a heap of despair. The boy realised the folly of his ways, he recognised his mistakes and returned home, to the father to ask for forgiveness. He humbly returned, expecting nothing. He was lost and broken, this is what the father saw him and welcomed him home, reinstating him into the household. Our Father is like this, He is lovingly-committed to His children and He is waiting for us to realise we need Him, to return to Him and repent of our disobedience so that He can restore and redirect us onto the path He has planned. We come to Him by acknowledging His Son, Yeshua. Yeshua is the way, the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father but through  Him.

Yeshua is the Lamb of God, His blood saves and sets you apart. Yeshua walked the Earth, He knows what causes us to stray and get lost on our journey. Yeshua has already paid the price for your redemption, He is looking at you from your destination, not from where you are. Walk toward Him, one step at a time like a child walks toward their father’s open arms. Yeshua sees the obstacles and has His hands ready to catch you if you should stumble, He is ready to carry you over the difficult patches.

Father, I pray that Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth would reveal Your plan, will and purpose for our journey. I pray that we would not move one single step without You, that each step will bring us closer to You and that we would bring You honour and exalt Your name as we journey homewards.

Amen

Photo by Jess Vide on Pexels.com

A Father’s love

We can’t earn the favour of YHWH. His thoughts are far above our thoughts and His plans we don’t always understand. There is nothing we can do to earn His love, He loved us first, He created us and chose us, paying the ultimate price so that we can be one with Him. You need to accept your redemption and walk as one who is redeemed. Our prayers should reflect our love for YHWH, we should desire His presence and as the bride of Christ have an overwhelming desire to be close to Him.

A man and woman get married because they love each other, and make a commitment to be together exclusively. There are different levels of intimacy in the relationship, and there is never any doubt of that commitment that was made or in the love that they have for each other. Our Father is lovingly-committed to you. He showed this by sending His Son, Yeshua to be the sacrifice and to take redeem a broken world so that all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour and proclaim Him to be the Son of the Most High, will not perish but receive everlasting life. We can’t imagine the love that the Father has for us, it is so great that man cannot fathom it. This is because we live in a broken world and try to compare the Father’s perfect and pure love to what we know and see.

Think of a parent watching a child trying to do something and wanting to intervene but the child pushing the help aside, and struggling. The parent watches patiently until the child turns and asks for help. The parent is quick to respond and help. This child grows into a young adult and insists that they know what they are doing, they have a ‘bullet-proof’ attitude. Their parent knows full well that what they are doing is not going to end well, and stays back and watches. When the young adult seeks help, the consequences may be greater, and while the young adult has to accept consequences, the parent will be there to love, encourage, support and guide. You see parents have hope and desires to see their children prosper and succeed. Yeshua reminds us that if we who are evil know how to do good for our children, then our Heavenly Father will do exceedingly more for His children (Matthew 7:11). Why do some of us think that YHWH does not care?

The Bible tells us that Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11) BUT the following verses hold the key to accessing this good plan. These keys are that those who call out to Him will be heard and those who seek Him will find Him. Too often we quote verse 11 and stop reading. The Father does not run after you, you need to call and seek His will for your life, His advice, His guidance. Seek first the Kingdom of YHWH and all these things will be added (Matthew 6:33). In the analogy the parent could see that the child needed help and when the child asked for help the parent lovingly helps.

Take time to ponder, are you pushing Him away? Are you seeking His will, crying out to Him for guidance? His plan is good, but you need to take time to sit in His presence, learn to listen and be guided by His Spirit so that you walk in the right direction. Place your plans, desires and dreams in His hands and seek His will and purpose for your life. He WILL make them known, they may just not be what you had envisage or what you want but they are good!

Photo by Liane Metzler