Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!

~ Psalm 81: 13-14

Do you remember your parents teaching you how to hear…of course not?  Hearing was something that came along with being born.  Your ears were able to perceive sounds from the time you entered this world.  Of course, later in life those same parents may have taught you how to listen and pay attention.

Our ears are always open and always turned on.  We hear automatically.  Of course, it takes time to understand the things that we are hearing.  But through repetition and instruction, we can discern the differences between words, music, and noise.  Shortly after having been born, your mother’s voice probably became one of the first things you were able to recognize.  And, for parents, there is no greater joy than to realize our child’s response at the sound of our voice.

As we become older, however, we develop the ability to hear without listening.  And while this ability is very evident in children, many adults are just as guilty.  Every day at work we hear ideas with which we disagree and receive job assignment that we really don’t want to do.  We hear the words telling us these things, but we really don’t take them to heart… in short, we just don’t listen to them.

For some people, this same “hearing but not listening” issue invades their spiritual lives as well.  Our spiritual ears can hear God’s Word, but we fail to tuck it away in our hearts where it needs to lodge and take root.  In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower.  With that parable, Jesus tries to get the people (and us) to understand that many different forces are conspiring to rob us of our ability to hear and listen… the devil, the cares of this world, the hardness of our heats, and a myriad of other things.

But there is more to it than simply listening and considering God’s words.  He also is calling us to act upon those words.  God wants us to follow him and his ways.  He wants us to do what his Word says.  Otherwise, we are going to end up like the man in the first chapter of James who, after having seen his reflection in the mirror, left and immediately forgot what he looked like.

But if we are truly listening and following God’s Word, then God is going to act on our behalf.  He is going to intervene in situations and circumstances that are blocking his will and purpose for our lives.  God is going to right relationships and subvert the plans of people who would battle against us.  He is going to be our Defender and protect our lives and our reputations.  In short, God is going to be our God, and we will be his people.  It’s his promise to us… and we have his Word on it.

 

Lord, open our ears that we might not only hear but listen to and obey your Word.  Amen.

Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

Let me know your ways, so that I may understand you more fully. ~ Exodus 33:13

God loves to hear from us.  He loves to hear the sound of our voice.  He loves to hear us calling out to him, inviting him into our lives.  God loves to hear our prayers, our praises, our problems, our joys and our requests.  But of all the requests we offer up to him, God loves to hear those that ask for more of him.  Everything he does, all his answers to our prayers are his way of showing us his character.  God loves a heartfelt request for more of him instead of for more “stuff” on our behalf.  Would you want to be appreciated as the one who doles out perks and provisions more than for being who you are?  You’d probably end up feeling used, wouldn’t you?  So why should it be any different when it comes to God in our lives?

 Throughout the course of the Exodus, God promised to grant Moses’ request for his presence with the people because Moses acknowledged the people’s primary need for God himself to be with them.  The rescue from Egypt and the manna God provided were wonderful gifts, without question, but the people first needed to know the wonder of who their God was and is… his characteristics as mighty Lord, yet intimate Savior.

 The gift of God’s presence is so precious because he doesn’t ever owe or have to give us the time of day, yet he wants nothing more than to spend time with us.  God continues to woo us with his love, his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy, and his many other qualities that invite us to love him in return.  It is when he shows himself uniquely to us, that we are able to get a glimpse of eternity.

 God’s presence is the greatest gift we could ever hope for, the greatest one he can make available to us.  Just as he promised Moses, God’s going to tuck us into a safe place and keep u covered by his presence… “And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of a rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”  Today and every day, enjoy the presence of God, and enjoy being safe in his hands.

 Perhaps it was Cleland McCafee who phrased it most appropriately in his words that make up one my favorite hymns…

There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.

A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God,

There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God.

A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.

 

Lord, sometimes I think we begin to understand how precious your gift of you is.  But God, please awaken us to even more of you today.  Amen.

Be Still and Know…by Gus Keiser

Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2: 10-11

Quite a few years ago someone recorded a song with the title “Happiness Is.”  The lyrics to that song listed a variety of things that make people happy.  People are continually searching for whatever will make them happy.  What has caused me to think about that feeling of happiness is a sign I saw recently at a restaurant here in the area.  The sign in that restaurant window read: We Sell Happiness.  I know the owners of that restaurant were using the message as a way of encouraging people to come in and eat there, but as I thought about that message, it occurred to me just how many people in our world, especially during this holiday gift buying time, are convinced that it is possible for happiness to be bought and sold.  Happiness (joy) is not some commodity to be bought, sold or traded; it is a feeling from within.

 Christmas is that special time of the year during which we celebrate the coming of the one who has brought us that joy: Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  This is the greatest birth announcement of all time, an announcement filled with joy.

 Just think of all the excitement that goes into preparing for Christmas.  But yet for a lot of people, underneath all that glitter and glamour, not all is happy and joyful.  Families and individuals are dealing with economic problems, illnesses and deaths.  We try to masque them with colorfully wrapped packages and bows and outward feelings of happiness.  But true happiness can’t be packaged, found in sentiments on a Christmas card, or at festive holiday gatherings.  Beneath them all still lay the hurts and sufferings.

 But there is a joy we can have, a joy within that completely satisfies.

 This is the message of joy that God sent to the shepherds that night.  “For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!”  Real joy comes from knowing Jesus Christ.  God’s message is a very personal one.  The angel said, “I bring YOU’.  God’s message is a universal one… “Which shall be to ALL people.”

 God’s joy comes from within; the worlds from without.  God’s joy has deep roots in himself; the world’s only on the surface.  God’s joy is unending; the world’s soon fades away.  God’s joy fills us completely; the world’s is only on the outside.  God’s joy satisfies; the world’s cannot.

May God’s joy fill your hearts and your lives at this Christmas time.  May his peace and love sustain you and prosper you during this coming year.  Merry Christmas and Amen. 

Be Still and Know…By Gus Keiser

 

Be still, and know that I am God ~ Psalm 46:10

This psalm opens with a world in turmoil… earthquakes are coming, mountains are shaking and crumbling, and the oceans are roaring and surging.  What the psalmist is describing here is an earth on the verge of destruction.

 But then the psalmist switches his focus.  Those scenes of devastation and destruction suddenly fade into the quietness of a gentle river as it slowly meanders through God’s beautiful city.  Its waves carry joy into God’s dwelling place, and it is his presence that protects the city from any threats of annihilation.

 But then the focus changes yet again, this time explaining that, yes, the world is bent on ruin.  The psalmist then assures us that God is determined to destroy anything that opposes him and his people.  So he warns his enemies, “Watch out!”  God’s victory is sure, and he will ferociously defend the ones he loves.

 As believers in Christ, we dwell in that city of safety.  God takes seriously his role as the defender of our hearts.  When we open up our hearts and welcome him in, it make him glad, and God is prepared to move heaven and earth to protect his investment in us.

 Whether you feel it or not, God presence is a very real part of your life.  Whenever the trickles of peace meander into your life, it is then that you sense his closeness.  And when the threat of your enemies are upon you, it is then that you wait to hear the thunderous sounds of his heavenly armies coming to your defense.

 Just as you would make any sacrifice to keep your home and loved ones safe, God has already given everything to ensure his home in you is secure.  Once his Holy Spirit lives within you; invading enemies will never be able to set up their camps.  They may… no, they will attack.  But they can never take over what God has already claimed for himself.  Your future is stable and secure once you’ve invited God to rule and protect your life.

 Right now, use this time to take the advice of the psalmist, to be still, and know that God is God.  Allow yourself the luxury of being quiet with him.  Enjoy living in the shelter of your King and Defender… and know that he is God once more today.

Lord, thanks for living within us.  Thanks for the ever-present peace and protection you offer.  Help us to rest in the understanding that you are our God.  Amen.