Abiding, Bible, Intimacy, Listening, Quiet, Relationships, Scripture

JUST BE QUIET

HABAKKUK 2:20

“‘But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.’”

As I read this verse a memory popped up in my head. Once I first came to Christ in 1977, I was 16 years old and hungry to know Him. My home church, Pelham First Baptist, used to leave the door open twenty-four hours a day to the prayer room. I can still see that room. It seemed to be seldom used (that is sad to think about), but I loved to go there to pray. It was a quiet place where I could hear God’s voice. I needed that place.

This verse today in Habakkuk is probably the key verse to the whole book. This is the central message of God to Habakkuk for His people. It’s as if the Lord is saying, “Get quiet and listen to me. I am still on the throne. No one has removed me. I know who you are and where you are. Do you trust me? Do you love me? Come to me now.”

APPLICATION

Are you hustling and bustling every day this time of the year. The holiday season seems to put people in a tizzy. They can’t seem to rest. Take a breath and look at this verse today. God is telling us to get quiet and listen. We seldom do much listening, do we? We are always talking or doing something.

Getting quiet is a skill you must develop. It does not come naturally for most people. But the benefits of listening to God are huge. You get to hear His voice. You get to rest in the bosom of the Father. You can hear your spirit connect with Him in an intimate relationship meant only for you. Don’t you want that?

I know I do. I want to know Him more. I need to get quiet more often. I need to hear my own heartbeat as it connects with His. Oh, how I long to hear His voice. And the beautiful thing is He wants that too. He wants to spend that kind of time with us. That’s the amazing God we love and serve.

Word of God speak. Speak to me. Let me get quiet and just listen.

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Answers, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Prayer, Scripture

WAKE UP!

HABAKKUK 2:19

“‘Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ to a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ That is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet there is no breath at all inside it.’”

Have you ever tried to wake up someone from a dead sleep? You start out quietly whispering their name. Then you may touch them lightly and saying their name again. Finally, you are shoving and yelling, lol. I used to wake up my daughter with “earthquakes” in her bed. She could sleep so soundly.

God is mocking the false gods in this fifth and final woe He has spoken to Habakkuk. He says to try to wake them. Maybe they are asleep (wink/grin). They may look pretty dressed in their gold and silver, but they are breathless, lifeless, unresponsive.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad our God never sleeps and never slumbers (Psalm 121:4)? I don’t have to yell and scream to get His attention. In fact, He is always waiting to listen to me. I don’t mean He is at my beckon call and will just hop to it when I call His name. No, He is always listening and will answer according to His perfect will.

If you aren’t “getting God’s attention,” perhaps it’s because you are praying with the wrong motives or not according to His will. Our God wants to bless us. He can only do that as we seek Him. We may scream and shout until we are without voice. But all it takes to get God’s ear is to speak to Him with an open heart and willing spirit.

I am reminded of David’s Psalm 51. He cried out in verses 15-17, “15Lord, open my lips, so that my mouth may declare Your praise. 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.” Talk to Him today.

Thank You, Lord, for listening to me. Thank You that You are bending Your ear to hear my voice.

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Answers, Asking, Belief, Bible, Confidence, Faithfulness, God's Will, Listening, Scripture

RIGHT ON TIME, JUST IN TIME

HABAKKUK 2:3

“‘For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hurries toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it delays, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay long.’”

Aren’t you glad God is never late? I know! I know! We often think He is, don’t we? I can remember a few times in my life when I tried to hurry Him up. “Come on, God. Don’t you see me down here? When are you going to do something?” Don’t judge me. You have prayed the same thing, lol.

God tells Habakkuk that the vision He is receiving is for “the appointed time.” He doesn’t tell him when. He just reassures him that it 1) hurries toward the goal, 2) will not fail, 3) will certainly come, and 4) will not delay. Now, this is God speaking, so Habakkuk knows he can trust the message.

APPLICATION

God is always right on time. He is always just in time. He is always aware of the clock. He doesn’t always wait to the eleventh hour. Sometimes He reacts quickly. I have known prayers that were answered as soon as they were lifted up (or so it seemed). Other prayers were repeated for years until He answered.

Whether quick or delay, His answer will come. He promises that. I have shared several verses in the past about answered prayers. Let me encourage you to do a study on prayer through Scripture. Look up and read all the prayers that are recorded. It may surprise you to see how God worked in each and every situation.

How do you handle waiting? I am naturally a pretty impatient guy. I hate waiting at restaurants. I won’t stay if the wait is longer than ½ an hour. But God has taught me to wait on Him. I know all His messages in His Word are true. I know He is sending His Son to take us home. I will wait. How about you?

I will wait on You, Lord. You will accomplish Your work in due time – Your time.

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Bible, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Looking, Obedience, Scripture

GOD’S MESSENGERS

HABAKKUK 1:6

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that grim and impetuous people who march throughout the earth, to take possession of dwelling places that are not theirs.”

Sometimes we get our lessons from the strangest people or situations. I have been taught great truths from someone I met in an airport or maybe on the street. Hearing of their journey with Christ has given me new insight into mine. Hearing of their struggles with faith has taught me to trust more.

God is now telling Habakkuk what is going to happen (yesterday’s blog set this up, in case you missed it). God is going to use the Chaldeans to judge Israel. What!!! Why would God use such a “grim and impetuous people”? God’s instruments of judgment are not what we would choose, most His choice is always the perfect one.

APPLICATION

Who are what is God using right now in your life to teach you something? It doesn’t have to be a “Chaldean” like Habakkuk had to face. No, it could be the kind, elderly neighbor who just wants to talk. Your patience runs thin sometimes when you see them coming across the street. You know you are in for at least a thirty-minute conversation.

May I suggest that you take the time to listen. They may have something to say to you that you need to hear. God can use others around us to speak a message to us. Recently, a colleague of mine had that exact experience. Someone gave them a message they needed to hear which resulted in this person taking action, an action they had been pondering for some time.

I am thankful that we don’t get all our “sermons” on Sunday mornings. Many of them are spoken to us every day if we will just take the time to listen. So, are you listening? In your conversations, texts or emails today, look for that message you need to hear.

Father, I praise You for using others around me to speak to me. I want to hear Your voice no matter who it comes through.

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Abiding, Answers, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Scripture, Seeking

DON’T YOU HEAR ME, GOD?

HABAKKUK 1:2

“How long, LORD, have I called for help, and You do not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.”

I have officially reached the age where I can admit I have trouble hearing. It is not terrible, and I don’t think I need hearing aids yet. But some days around our house it can get quite comical as my wife and I attempt a conversation. Those conversations are even more comical if we are not in the same room and are trying to talk.

Habakkuk is not getting an answer from God. The conversation seems to be way. He says, “I called for help, and You do not hear.” He goes even further and says, “You do not save.” Habakkuk must have been pretty desperate to talk to God that way. But just you wait and see how God answers.

APPLICATION

I have been accused of not listening sometimes. Whether it be my wife, children, grandchildren, employees or friends, people want to be heard. And people want to know that God is listening. He always is, even if His answer is slow in coming.

Two of my favorite verses on God listening are Psalm 40:1 and Psalm 118:5

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He reached down to me and heard my cry.”

“From my distress I called upon the LORD; the LORD answered me and put me in an open space.”

Don’t you just love that? He reached down. He heard my cry. The Lord answered. What else could you want? God is there. He was there when Habakkuk cried out. Sometimes He asks us to wait – just wait – just wait – just wait. And when He answers it is always at the perfect time. Just wait.

I will wait for You, O Lord. I know You are there, even when I don’t feel You. You are always watching and listening.

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Bible, God's Will, Hearing, Listening, Scripture, Voice

NO VOLUME

NAHUM 2:13

“‘Behold, I am against you,’ declares the LORD of armies. ‘I will burn up her chariots in smoke, and a sword will devour your young lions; I will eliminate your prey from the land, and no longer will the voice of your messengers be heard.’”

I have a problem with my truck radio. The little cover for the volume knob is loose, so I have to squeeze the knob to adjust the volume. That’s not a problem if I am sitting still in my truck. But trying to do that while driving is a little difficult. A radio with no or low volume isn’t worth much, is it?

The Lord is telling Nineveh that they will no longer hear the messages from their messengers. Why? Because the messengers, along with the rest of the Ninevites, have been eliminated. They can listen all the want, but they will not hear a thing. No message – no signal – no word!

APPLICATION

There is nothing worse than not hearing God’s voice. So many people go through life not hearing it, though. They do not even realize they can. They think that if they just do all the expected things in church, they are doing okay. Oh, listen to me, brothers and sisters. If you are not hearing God’s voice, you are missing out.

What do you mean, Carl? How can I hear God’s voice? I am glad you asked. Through a disciplined prayer life and Quiet Time, God will speak to you. How do I know that? Because I have heard it myself and dozens of others tell me the same thing. When we get alone with God and truly concentrate on His Word and talk with Him, He speaks.

The Holy Spirit, who lives within you, will speak for Him. It won’t be a fuzzy connection, like you get sometimes on your radio. It will be crystal clear. God is not trying to make you guess if it is Him or not. He will speak to you so that you know it is Him. Do you want that? Then get alone with Him today and ask Him to speak.

Lord, speak to me. I want to hear Your voice.

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Accountability, Attention, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confidence, God's Will, Listening, Scripture, Wisdom

SOUND WISDOM

MICAH 6:9

“The voice of the LORD will call to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name: ‘Hear, you tribe. Who has designated its time?’”

My dad was a wise man. He always gave me good advice. Even before he was a believer, I could trust what he said to be true. And once he came to Christ, his wisdom increased because then he had true wisdom. The wisdom of the world does not always match up to the wisdom from God. I miss my wise dad.

In today’s verse, Micah is giving the word of the Lord and says, “and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name.” I like this other translation that reads, “and the man of wisdom shall see thy name.” You see, only the wise can truly recognize the Lord’s voice. Those who are wise according to God’s principles are given that ability to hear Him.

APPLICATION

I want to be known as a wise man. That does not mean I have to grow a long beard and sit on a mountain tip dispensing a secret knowledge. No! Being wise in God’s eyes means listening to Him and doing what He says. It means relying on His Word to direct me in all my decisions. It means recognizing that outside of God, I have no wisdom.

I get asked a lot for my “opinion” on things. My opinion does not mean much. However, my wisdom based on God’s Word can carry a lot of weight. That “weight” is solely dependent on the Word of God. I am helpless without His wisdom. I gladly admit that it is my crutch.

I have been told by some people that religion is just a crutch for people. My relationship with Jesus is so much more than a crutch, but He is One that I will willingly lean on. In fact, I dare not walk anywhere without Him. I know my flesh too well. I pray I can be that wise man who hears the Lord when He calls. His is the only voice I should be tuned in to. How about you?

Lord, I want to hear Your voice and do exactly what You say each and every day.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Relationships, Sanctification, Scripture

ANSWER ME

MICAH 6:3

“My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

I have mentioned before that I spent over three decades working with children and youth in the Child Welfare system. Give me a kid that is vocal and shouting rather than one that will not talk. Even when caught in the act of disobeying, these children will most often not respond to questions. Passive-aggressive is one term used for them.

The people God had chosen to love were acting that way. They had been caught in their sins, and now they were refusing to confess them and talk to their God. Unlike me, God is extremely patient. Psalm 103:8 say He is compassionate and gracious. He just wants to hear from them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear the Lord speaking to you? If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit who indwells you speaks for the Father. He is drawing you towards Him. He is speaking. Will you not talk back? Carl, that is plain crazy. I am not going to talk out loud to Him. Why not? He is as real as you and I.

I love to pray out loud. It helps me clarify what I am saying. It reduces distractions for me. And when I talk to the Lord, guess what? He almost always talks back. Not in an audible voice, but in my spirit. You may ask, How do you know that is the Lord? Because the words line up with His Word.

Now, there have been times when I did not want to answer God when He talked to me. In those times I was not living as I should. I was rationalizing my sins. I was simply resting in my salvation but not living to be sanctified. There is a big difference. Oh, how wonderful to hear His voice. The next time you hear it, answer Him.

Speak Lord, and I will answer. I love to carry on conversations with You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Following, Listening, Scripture, Shepherd

OUR SHEPHERD

MICAH 5:4

“And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.

Have you ever watched a shepherd call his sheep? It is pretty amazing. No matter what they are doing, if they hear his voice, they come (or so I have been told). They do not respond to any other voice, but his. I hope you can view this link. It is a great example of what I am talking about.  Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice? – YouTube

Micah is sharing with the people the rise of the Messiah. He will come and shepherd His flock, if only they will listen. I just love the last phrase of this verse – “because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” Look what has happened in the world for the cause of Christ. It has indeed spread to the ends of the earth.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you hear His voice? Do you hear the Shepherd calling you? You know He is. He wants to guide you. He wants to lead you to green pastures. He wants to guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). Will you let Him?

We are just like those dumb sheep sometimes. We wander off near dangerous bluffs. And when Jesus tries to prod us to safety, we rebel and wind up crashing over the side. Then we blame Him for not protecting us. We place ourselves in danger time after time, when all we have to do is listen for His voice.

I have learned that to hear His voice, I must be spending quality time with Him. That involves prayer, meditation and the study of His Word. His Spirit speaks to me through those. And as I spend more time, I have a clear channel to the throne of grace. How sweet it is to hear His voice early in the morning. Are you listening?

Father, speak to me. Guide, guard and graze me.

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Accountability, Bible, Deceit, Deception, Listening, Perversion, Scripture

TWISTED

MICAH 3:9 

“Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and twist everything that is straight,” 

I have a small deck on the back of my house. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had recently stained and sealed it. In the process of doing that I discovered that one of the posts that supports the deck has twisted over the years. I was not living in this house when the deck was built, but I am sure the builder did not put up a twisted post. Since it was built in 1998, this post has twisted. It will have to be watched to avoid damage to the rest of the deck. 

The “heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel” had twisted the Word. They did this over the years, slowly perverting God’s message to the people. They may have started right, but inserted their own words into the message, deceiving the people from the truth.  

APPLICATION 

We have to be so aware of the preachers and teachers we listen to. We should check what they say with God’s Word to ensure it matches. Any straying from that needs to be rejected. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those kinds of preachers and teachers out there today.  

As we share God’s truths with others, be careful to stay with what He says. Your opinions are not necessarily from God. Check those before you share them. The last thing you want to do is “twist” the message.  

Whenever I preach, I check myself. Handling the Word of God is so serious. We are told as teachers that we are held to a higher standard. James tells us this in James 3:1. “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” That warning should be enough for any of us. 

Father, help me to correctly handle Your Word as I share it with others. 

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