Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do You Know Your Features?


I once heard a pastor say that everything is a sermon illustration. That may or may not be true, but I believe everything has a lesson to teach if we will take the time to learn. Let me illustrate:
I have a tablet that I carry with me every day. Not the pen-and-ink kind, but the electronic kind. I bought a case for it from Wal-Mart, choosing the one I bought for the color (purple) and the reasonable price. I also liked the contraptions used to hold the tablet in place. I got it home, ripped it open, put the tablet in, and never looked back.

I have carried this thing for months, day in and day out. I have propped it up on my desk at work for music and for break-time YouTube viewing. I have connected the tablet to the sound system at the church almost every Sunday. I have folded the cover a million ways. But one day I pulled my tablet out and it was different. It was at a slightly different angle inside the case – one I had never seen before.
As I began to try to straighten it out, lamenting that I had broken it somehow, I discovered something that I had not known all this time. The base the tablet rests on swivels! I can adjust the tablet to stand vertically or horizontally, and I never even knew it. I found out through experimentation that it is actually capable of a full 360-degree rotation.

It’s obvious that I missed that detail when reading the cover’s features. I can’t imagine the creator would leave out such an important detail. I never even tried to move it in a different way. Had it not gotten off balance, I might have never known.
Of course, that taught me a lesson. Some of us are not living up to our full potential because we have never thought we were capable of moving in a different way. We’ve always operated in a certain position, and have not grasped the fact that there is more to us than meets the eye. We are capable of moving in different directions, but we’ve never even tried. The one direction, the one move that worked for us at the beginning has always been enough. Or has it?

Maybe we missed the part, like I did, in our packaging that explains all that we can do. I think it was Dr. Myles Munroe who once said the best way to know the purpose of a thing is to consult its creator. Most things come with an instruction manual, or at least a listing of features. If we don’t consult it, we miss out on some of the benefits the creator built into the creation. In the same way, God left us an external manual, the Bible, and an internal guide, the Holy Ghost, to help us understand all the ways we were created to be used. When we fail to consult our creator’s instructions, we limit our usefulness based on what we can figure out on our own, or based on what others perceive we are designed to do. Worse than that, we open ourselves up to misuse and abuse because we don’t know, and cannot appreciate, all that we are meant to be.

We go about our daily business, thinking this is all there is to us. Our current job, ministry, or assignment is working for us. We are doing what we know to do. But some of us, I would dare say all of us, are capable of more. Believe it or not, it usually takes something knocking us off balance for us to find out what that more is, because it’s usually a problem that sends us scrounging for the instructions that we had all along.
I told you – it was not until I noticed my tablet off balance that I discovered it could move in a different way. For many of you reading this little note, let me say that your feeling that something is off in your life is actually God’s way of getting you to move in a different direction. He wants you to try something you have not done before. There is more inside of you than realize. But this time, instead of guessing your way through, consult your instructions. Go to the Word of God to find out the intent of your Creator. Ask the Holy Ghost to show you how to unlock your hidden potential. You are flexible and versatile! Dr. Munroe also said, I believe, that if you don’t understand the purpose of a thing you will always abuse it. I said that to say this: Don’t let anyone who has not consulted the instruction manual handle you!

Get familiar with your built-in features and the additional power available from your Creator, and prepare to be used by God in new and exciting ways.
[Isa 43:19-21 KJV] Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is this Noise I am Hearing?

It's amazing how the human mind works. I have a thing about pens. I love them – all styles and all colors. But I particularly like gel pens, and rollerball pens. Until recently, I had never met a pen I didn't like. But just a few days ago I bought a new set. They look good, and the colors are nice. But they make noise! And they don't write as well as I had hoped.

These pens are disturbing my peace. Some of them write well depending on what paper I am writing on, but every pen in the set makes a strange noise as I am writing. I don't like the strange noise. It sounds bad on notebook paper; it is even worse on printer paper.

I keep twisting the barrels, trying to tighten them up somehow. The noise is bothering me. I don't know if the pens are falling apart or cutting up my paper as I write with them. I don't like strange noise!

Thinking about that – my aversion to strange noise – got me to thinking about God. Why? Because nearly everything gets me to thinking about God sooner or later. God hates strange noise too! Strange noise is a sign that something is out of order, something is not working as it should.

I can think of at least two times in Scripture right off the bat where strange noise revealed a people operating contrary to God's will.

In Exodus 32, the noise coming from the children of Israel's camp was an indication of worship directed toward something other than God. While Moses was up in the mountain receiving God's instructions for the people, the people were down in the valley creating a god for themselves. Moses' first indication that something was amiss was the noise coming from the camp. He was so disturbed by what he heard that he broke God's law into pieces and tore the whole scene apart.

Exodus 32:15-20 (KJV) 15  And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16  And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17  And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18  And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. 19  And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 20  And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.


 

In 1 Samuel 15, the noise coming from Israel's camp was an indication of disobedience to God's commands. God told Samuel that he was rejecting Saul as Saul had rejected Him. The noise let Samuel know that what God had said should die was still alive. Even though Saul claimed to have followed God's directions, the noise let Samuel know that Saul had not been completely truthful in his assessment of the situation. Samuel had to take the initiate to complete the work that God had assigned Saul to do and kill the king of the Amalekites. Saul blamed the people for his disobedience, which is really bad since he was the king!

1 Samuel 15:10-15 (KJV) 10  Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, 11  It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. 12  And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. 13  And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 14  And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? 15  And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.


 

In the New Testament, Jesus very plainly discussed the kind of sound His people should be seeking to hear: His voice. He said that a strange voice would not get their attention. Jesus implied from what He said that His voice would lead His true disciples; a strange voice would not have the same authority.

27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 (KJV)

So what is this noise that I am hearing? So many voices, all clamoring for attention and recognition.

Amy Grant sang a song years ago that said, "They're gonna hit you from all sides, better make up your mind, who to, who not to, listen to."

One problem seems to be that the strange noise is so loud these days. It's everywhere, inserting itself into all areas of life. And we like it because it gives us excitement. Because it is so loud, it seems important, vital.

Most of all, strange noise turns our focus outward. We don't have to work to hear it. We don't have to be still. We don't have to concentrate. We hear it and ignore the cries of wounded hearts and feeble souls.

The strange noise draws us to a place that we don't even know we're going. When we get there, we find out the truth, but sadly, it is often too late. We are trapped, caught up, and snared. The noise has us hooked!

The truth we find out is that the noise is just that – noise. There is no substance to it. There is nothing we can hold on to. We follow the noise over the edge and find out we are standing on nothing. Or worse, we are standing exactly opposite of where God wants us to be.

What can effectively treat our noise addiction before we have gone too far? Only the blood of Jesus. He died so that we could be healed, delivered, and set free from all bondage. He wants us to be unshackled from the noise and drawn into Him. He wants us to hear a sound that has meaning. He wants us to listen and truly hear. He wants us to focus on Him to the exclusion of all else. By becoming attuned to the voice of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, we learn to allow Him to filter the rest of the world for us.

What are you hearing? Is it the media, popular culture, society, or the opinions of mere men? If so, you must begin to silence the noise! These are strange noises that drown out the voice of God. As an act of your will, push aside anything that does not sound like God; remove any noise that is not reflective of Heaven. You cannot do it alone, but if you belong to Christ, you are never alone. The Holy Spirit is with you, He is in you, and He will help you.