Thursday, August 17, 2006

Listening to God

Matthew 7:21-25 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
21-23"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

This passage reminds me that there is no substitute for regular quietness before God. I don't mean having a "quiet time," which for me often means anything but being quiet! My typical "quiet time" can easily look like this if I'm not careful: Start by glancing at the clock to gauge the time available; grab journal, Bible and assorted devotional books; start reading; write in journal; glance at clock; talk to God; glance at clock. Yikes, it's that time already?!

I have an opportunity to listen to the One who shaped the universe; what's my rush? He just might have something of value to say to me! Simply being quiet in his presence, creating space for him to speak is important.

Reading Matthew 7:21 and further on through verse 25, I see that it is possible to be busy and even apparently effective for God, but to have nothing to do with him. At the time such people meet Jesus, they will be stunned to find out that what they did "in his name," was not truly in his name. That is, he didn't ask them to do it, he didn't ordain it; they were doing what they wanted to do, even though on the surface their activity mimicked the ministry of Jesus. Verse 24 speaks of hearing the words of Jesus and putting them into practice; listen first, then act. The apostle John in the 15th chapter of his gospel uses the analogy of branches into which the life and power of the vine flow:

John 15:5-8 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

Prayer: Lord, I don't want to waste a moment in doing anything that you didn't ordain or intend. Forgive me for the arrogance of thinking for one moment that what I have to say to you is more important than what you have to say to me. I'm listening Lord and I can't wait to hear what you have to say.

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