Whose voice leads you?
Infants begin life under the influence of parents, and then grow up hearing family and friends. Intermingled with familiar voices, the world speaks volumes of ideas that are embedded in our minds, hearts and souls. Except we are trained in our thinking, we become the voice of the world. Our voices echo what is processed through our minds. Processing includes the foundational ideas from our childhood by which we compare all new information.
What we see, read, hear, and repeat through the years become our basis and voice of truth.
The Voice of the Majority
The voice of the majority is one of discontent.
The voice of contentment is rarely heard and known except from those who hear this voice within them. This voice, however, is not a self-produced voice, but the still, small voice of our heavenly Father and Creator. Contentment is not found in the voices and the noises of everyday life, as we know it. It is the voice of the new heart, new spirit, and new life that is ours in Christ, spoken by the Holy Spirit, kept alive through the reading, and hearing of God’s Word.
The Voice of the Oppressor
The voice of the world is the voice of Satan, the oppressor. If you have been with us from the beginning of A Year for Contentment, you may remember that we started with the two extremes in Born for Contentment. Oppression and contentment are the voices that God’s children hear every day. Either one has the power to drown the other. The voice of contentment must be practiced if it is to overcome the voice of oppression.
God said, “Let there be light. And there was light.” Genesis 1:3
Eve listened to the voice of Satan, the voice of the oppressor, so as to put out the light and to silence His voice.
After the promise of restoration in Genesis 3:15, God sent His prophets to voice His Words. Moses spoke God’s Words to His people.
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19: 5-6
“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:2
These and other passages speak of the blessings and contentment that come to those who hear and obey God’s voice. There are also those that speak of the curses that come to those who do not obey His voice. This is what we see and hear in the world, from generation to generation.
The writer begins the book of Hebrews with these words, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:1-3
God’s people would not listen to the voice of the prophets. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not listen to Him and their voices influenced the people. They were accustomed to the voice of the enemy and did not recognize God’s voice through those whom He sent.
Jesus’ voice still speaks today by His Spirit and His Word, and His is the voice of contentment. The voice of contentment is the voice of LIFE, life in Christ. In John 6:63, He said to the people, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
The voice of oppression says, “More, more. Give me more.”
The voice of contentment says, “Christ is enough. He is all I need.”
Ministers today must speak warnings against the voice of the world. They are called to be the voice of the gospel, of truth that brings contentment in a world of oppression. Repetition is what keeps either voice alive.
Do we continually listen and share what the world is saying and doing? Does the world need our voice to speak of its oppression? Or do we, as those of God’s kingdom and family, voice His words, words that inform and encourage others by our contentment; a voice that draws others in obedience to Him?
“Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored,
and they shall not be small.
God, our Father has given us voices to speak for Him, to praise and honor Him, and to witness of His grace and glory. Are we using our voices to share what He has given us?
“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3
“My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.” Psalm 71:8
“My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.”
Gracious Father, forgive us for voicing the words and actions of the oppressor. Work in us your voice of thanksgiving and praise, from a heart of peace and joy in Christ our Lord. Enable us to share your kingdom of grace with our family and others around us. While others speak the voice of the world, let us respond with the voice of your kingdom. Fill us with your Spirit of contentment that draws others to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
This good news was announced on earth to a few shepherds by a single angel, after which a multitude of angels rejoiced, in praise “to God in the highest.” One of the greatest events on earth took place that night.
Can we imagine what was going on in heaven? Could it be that after thousands of years of planning and waiting for this day heaven was quiet?
Joseph’s purpose and greatness in this life was to serve as Jesus’ earthly father. He attended the birth and accepted Jesus as his own son. But God, His heavenly Father begat Him for an even greater purpose. His physical birth was the result of the heavenly Father’s desiring, and siring, to fulfill all His promises of redemption for His people of every race and nation.
Would not He and all of heaven been in a holy expectancy in anticipation of this event with its celebration and proclamation?
While the people of Bethlehem may have been sleeping and the world clueless to God’s plans during this historical event, can we not think that God, Jesus’ heavenly Father was present, with the attendance of the angels, for the delivery of His own Son? Would not Gabriel who had announced the conception to Mary been present? And might Michael have been there to keep the enemy at bay? This is only speculation, but surely there was much going on that was not recorded for us.
If “the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents,” imagine what all the heavenly hosts were doing that night when the Redeemer, who has brought that means of repentance, was born.
A few were privileged to experience the reverberation that night—from the heavenly Father came the proclamation of new life here on earth, as promised from the beginning, and prophesied through the ages. The shepherds heard, believed, and came to see “that which had come to pass,” and glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen.
“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
The echo continues, as it has for thousands of years. God, the Father is still proclaiming the majesty of His Son over all things, and His love for all His children. For those who hear, Christ is conceived in the heart, bringing faith and repentance. The heavenly hosts are still rejoicing as God, the Father, through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit give true life ~eternal life ~ to new sons and daughters.
We do not know what happened the night of Jesus’ birth other than what has been recorded in His Word, and passed down through the centuries. We celebrate the season of this birth in many different ways according to our culture and traditions. There are many reverberations heard and experienced throughout the world that have nothing to do with the purpose and truth of the birth of the Son of God. But, in a few, from the hearts of those to whom this truth has been revealed there is an echo resounding, not from speculation or imagination, but from the Father, and Christ, Himself.
He is present, and the heavenly hosts rejoice with each new birth. He has made us His children, His family, His people, His church, His echo here on earth, heard not just for one season or another, but for all time and eternity.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace with whom he is pleased.”
“Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Dear heavenly Father, as you planned that your only begotten Son would be the first of many brethren, bringing many sons to glory, let us gratefully echo the good tidings that the angels announced that holy night. Fill us with the Spirit of the life of Christ, so that forever He will be glorified in you and us. In His name we pray. Amen.
“He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Why is it so important that we see Jesus as God? The Father has made it so. The Book of Hebrews, when studied in depth, opens our eyes to see Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature ~ the image of the invisible God, through whom the world was made ~ all things were created through him and for him.” (Hebrews 1:2-3; Colossians 1:15-16)
We are taught in the first chapter of Hebrews that “He upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” How do we see Him there?
“We have such a high priest, holy, innocent,
unstained, separated from sinners,
and exalted above the heavens,
one who is seated at the right hand
of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
a minister in the holy places,
where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,
Hebrews 7:26 8:1
He is there, having fulfilled all the law of righteousness on our behalf so that He can “save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him.”
“Where we who have fled for refuge
might have strong encouragement
to hold fast to the hope set before us.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.
Hebrews 5:18-19; 6:20
In this hope and assurance, we see Him as our life here and forever.
“And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from one degree of glory to another.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
All this is from God, who through Christ
reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:16-19
What should be our response?
Music: Come Christians Join to Sing
Come, Christians, join to sing
Loud praise to Christ our King;
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice.
Come, lift your hearts on high,
Let praises fill the sky;
He is our Guide and Friend;
To us He’ll condescend;
His love shall never end.
Praise yet our Christ again,
Life shall not end the strain;
On heaven’s blissful shore,
His goodness we’ll adore,
Christian H. Bateman (1843)
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God , and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17
We tend to settle with what we want and what we think we need, therefore not receiving what God has prepared for us as His children. One of the first benefits is having His Word, The Holy Bible. In it we find all the treasures that we may claim in His name. It is last will and testament, revealing all that He wants us to know about Him and what He has bequeathed to us, remembering that we do not deserve anything, but all is of His grace.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalm 68:19
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;” Psalm 103:2
Read the whole of Psalm 103 and find these benefits.
“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12
We do not deserve, nor can we ever return anything but obedience, praise and thanksgiving for His benefits.
Read His Word daily as if looking for the rights that are given to us in His kingdom. It is an exhaustive search for which we find all that He wants us to. Only a few are listed here, because they are two numerous for an article; and the book has already been written. We need to search diligently for what is given to those who ask, seek and knock at the door of His heart.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
His Mind: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
His Riches: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
His Kingdom: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32
Dear Father, We thank you and praise you for every days provision of all that you give us in and through your Son, Jesus Christ. We deserve nothing but your disapproval and wrath, but by your mercy and grace you have made us your own children, heaping upon us all your love and benefits. Open the eyes of your children to see the waste of the world in those things that are never satisfying; and give the light of Christ to see eternal life in you and your eternal treasures. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
Jesus Christ is no longer a baby lying in a manger;
Nor a man hanging on a cross;
But The Man
Seated at the right hand of God
“The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-17
“God has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: “ Hebrews 1:1-3
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus;”
1 Timothy 2:5
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man comes to the Father, but by me.”
“I and my Father are one.”
He saves to the uttermost all that come to the Father by Him.”
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” Hebrews 2:14
“There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.” 1 John 5:11-12
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11
“Jesus said, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man
sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
(Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending)
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” John 21:25
What are your favorite references to our Lord Jesus Christ?
Father, open our eyes that we may see you today, in your word, in your church, in your people, in your creation. Let your word go forth in power today to reveal your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to us. Let us behold Him, and be changed into His image, from glory to glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
The Man Christ Jesus Charles Spurgeon
I have heard the message from Matthew 28 on the Great Commission in different places, from different pulpits, from tracts, television, from different pastors, etc.? It is always accompanied with the sense of guilt. The last time I heard it was no different, but my response to it this time brought me to the Lord in prayer, to ask forgiveness for where I may have failed to share Christ, and for further help to be the witness He wants me to be.
As I hear the command, “Go,” the thought of going seems to be the last thing we are to do. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus’ message was “Come, and find.” Before we can “Go” with any kind of witness we must have “Come” first to Jesus, in humility, to find rest for our own souls. We must know this rest that is in Him. We must first have been born of His Spirit and be fruit bearers of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and temperance.
The commission to “Go,” to make disciples, and teach them what they had been taught, was given to those who had been with Jesus; during His ministry, His suffering, His crucifixion, His resurrection and ascension. They were a motley crew until they knew without doubt who Christ was. They deserted Him, but were brought again to see that He indeed was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Savoir of the world.
I do not mean to say that the commission was to them alone; or to pastors alone. These were not the only witnesses of Christ and the good news of salvation; these were not the only ones who taught in His name. The point is that when we have first “come” to Christ, receiving the gospel, born of His Spirit we “go” wherever He leads us, whether to the mission field, or simply where He places us daily. We share what He teaches us in our daily living; He draws others to Himself through us.
Freedom from Guilt
What does God’s word say about guilt and fear?
In John 8:31-32 Jesus speaks to believers who are not true followers.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
When the law of the Spirit of life in Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death Romans 8:2 the life in Christ is a new life in us, free from guilt.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
If we fear talking to others about Christ we need to be diligent to make our election sure. (1 Peter 1:10) Simon Peter in his letter to the early Christians reminds them that they have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness in the knowledge of God, the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul writes to the Philippians.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life.” Philippians 2:13-16
“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13
Before we have the true sense of what it means to “Go” we must come and stay awhile with Jesus. We must sit at his feet to receive the good portion of grace and faith that is allotted to each of us. For some it is exciting to talk about a new faith. Discouragement can come when we hear the words, “I don’t want to hear it.”
Long term witness becomes our life as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have the witness in ourselves of the truth of Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:10)
Witnessing to others of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not something that is meant to be a dread or drudgery. Talking to others about Jesus Christ is our whole life because He is our Life. Christ in us is our hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) It is who we are in Christ. Christians who believe, who are true disciples of Christ, those who are “the called” are those who have “come” to Christ and have studied Christ. We have been caught up in Him and taught by Him.
It is not a dread or fear to talk about what we love. The world naturally shares what they believe and love. And so do we; but supernaturally. It is not we that speak but the Holy Spirit of mercy and grace ~ the same truth that He spoke to us, and that brought us to Christ.
All that Christ means to us will out, to people we meet. We cannot hide it. The Word of God that is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet cannot be hidden.
When we rejoice in the Lord, making our moderation known to all men we are witnessing to the gospel. When we have any concerns we make our requests known to Him in everything, with prayer and supplication; with thanksgiving. And the peace that passes understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Let us, as His redeemed, continue to rejoice, request, rest, and remember that we were bought with a price; so that we would testify of His great salvation. Those who are His will hear, and by His Holy Spirit, come to Him.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Let us understand what it means to be His disciple; to come to and after Him, denying ourselves, taking up our own crosses daily, to follow Him. (Luke 9:23)
Fill us Lord, with your fullness
that we may overflow with your grace.
Dear Father, thank you for showing us that this is not our work but yours; just as you spoke your word to us you speak it through us wherever we are. Thank you for making us your own that through us you call others to new life in Christ. Please continue to bless us with your fullness, bearing the fruit of your Spirit through us as your children. Speak through us today to someone in the wilderness who will hear and come to Christ. For those who cannot yet speak of Christ, fill them with your Spirit, with your truth. Give them the joy of your salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Sleep did not come easily last night. My flesh was warring against my spirit. My joy and peace had been disturbed by yesterday’s activities. This old soul is no longer able to handle a lot of stimuli; and last night brought to mind many things, good and bad.
It was Emma’s birthday. The youngest of our six grandchildren, she turned to a beautiful eleven years. Since we had overslept the morning hour when we usually call I had to keep reminding myself that we still needed to wish her a happy birthday. Later when we called she had not gotten home from school.
Lee returned my call after work to talk about celebrating on Saturday. The conversation turned to the latest report from Brad’s uncle Mike, concerning his wife, Brad’s aunt, Zoe, who is dying of cancer. Her family and friends were talking about Mike’s Facebook posting about the ordeal they have been going through. While he has always been private about his personal life he is now speaking freely about things that perhaps Zoe should read. He speaks so well of her and her Christian faith since he knew her at the age of fourteen.
Jerry has a Facebook account that he never uses, but whenever there is something that we need to know we have access. As I read I was impressed by Mike’s writings, and, at the same time, my thoughts of losing my family members were beginning to recycle.
During the evening we tried two other times to reach Emma; and it wasn’t until later, after Jerry had gone to bed, that Lee called us from Zaxby’s. Sadness turned to joy again as we sang “Happy Birthday” and talked to Emma.
As I lay down to sleep my thoughts of Zoe and Emma intermingled ~ thoughts of the older and the younger; thoughts of death and life.
Zoe celebrated her 62nd birthday in January. Two months later Emma is celebrating her eleventh. As I have thought about these two girls I remember Zoe from her own witness of life in Christ. I had never known anyone with this name; and as names have fascinated me I looked up the meaning of Zoe when I first met her.
“Zoe means “life” in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).”
Because Zoe had done seminars for caregivers she was helpful to me when I knew that we would be taking care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. Then she and I were in counsel together to help Mr. Roney, a member of my church, when he needed to find help to care for his wife.
She and I both were caring for our mothers at the same time.
Zoe’s body is giving way to death. She is not walking in the “valley of the shadow of death;” but is now experiencing the darkness of the cavern of death. Christ has lived in her as His own witness. The life of Christ within her is carrying her through to eternal life with Him.
Zoe’s life in the flesh is waning. Emma’s life is only beginning, and we have seen the same life of Christ within her since a very young age. She has expressed her faith verbally and through her obedience to Him; in her desire for His word, in prayer and in her relationships with others. Like Zoe she is comfortable with speaking to others about her faith, and in putting hands and feet to her faith by helping others.
She and her sisters, with Lee, have helped Zoe with cleaning since she has been too ill to do things on her own.
When Jerry had the three surgeries on his leg, including his amputation, she was as helpful and gracious as any adult would have been. Nothing was bothersome to her. She always took these things in stride, even watching the wound treatment and dressings. She, like her mother, and like Zoe, have many friends. We all see something rare in her; a life that only God can give; life in Christ, which transcends all of death.
Christ came to overcome death with life. The enemy wanted death for us. Through it God brings us to Him for eternity.
It is natural that death would keep us thinking about death; but the Spirit of life in Christ brings us beyond those thoughts to think of Him.
We can rejoice in Him even as we think of losing Zoe. I will always remember her and her part in my own life; and continue to watch what He is doing in Emma and the lives of our family, our church, and within this world; for His own glory and our joy.
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
1 John 5:11-12
(As I was writing this Lee called. I thought she was going to say that Zoe had died. Instead, her news was about a worse death. A friend and neighbor she had known since middle school had killed herself. Because of this and two other suicides of people I knew in the last few months I will share a follow up with another article that I wrote two weeks ago entitled Self-Destruction.)