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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

SOCK IT TO ME BABY!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Message- Listening



This week, as I was finishing my path through chapters 16-18 of the Frist Five Books of the Bible, I read a blog post from a friend that made me question my own paying attention to God.  I remembered lonely days, sitting on a bridge at night, asking God my whys and wherefores and getting answers- and wondered why it seemed so distant now.  As you might expect, the answer was simple- "I am still talking, you stopped listening for Me."  True that.  So I need to make a better effort at listening.  But how do you accomplish that?  Well, the series I was in the middle of at the time pretty much covered that question.

STEP 1:  Welcome Him in.

Gen 18:1  And Jehovah appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting at the door of the tent in the heat of the day. 
Gen 18:2  And he lifted up his eyes and looked; and, behold, three men were standing by him. And he saw, and he ran to meet them from the entrance of the tent. And he bowed to the ground. 
Gen 18:3  And he said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, I beg You, do not leave from near Your servant. 
Gen 18:4  Please allow a little water to be taken and You wash Your feet, and rest under the tree. 
Gen 18:5  And I will bring a bite of bread and will sustain Your heart. Then You may pass on, for this is why You have passed over to Your servant. And they said, Do so, as you have said. 


Once again, we have a sighting of the pre-incarnate Christ (those who doubt this, night I suggest John 8:58), and the first thing that Abraham did was marshall his resources to make Him welcome.  Do I start my morning prayers with a greeting, or just present the day's "laundry list"?

STEP 2: Cast your doubts behind.

Exo 17:5  And Jehovah said to Moses, Pass on in front of the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. And take in your hand your staff with which you smote the River, and go. 
Exo 17:6  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. And you shall smite the rock, and water will come out of it; and the people will drink. And Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel. 
Exo 17:7  And one called the name of the place, Massah, and Meribah, because of the wrangling of the sons of Israel, and because of their testing of Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah in our midst, or not? 


So many times, I have heard atheists with their excuse, "I know the Bible better than you do."  Big deal.  Did you ever once come without doubt? Did you ever once come without the challenge in your words, your heart?  Notice that God didn't come for the Hebrews who doubted, but were blessed by His listening to Moses, who had no doubt.


STEP 3:  Come clean.

Lev 16:2  And Jehovah said to Moses, Speak to your brother Aaron, and he shall not come in at all times to the sanctuary within the veil, to the front of the mercy-seat. 
Lev 16:3  With this Aaron shall come into the sanctuary: with a bull, a son of the herd, for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 
Lev 16:4  He shall put on a holy linen coat, and linen underpants shall be on his flesh, and he shall gird himself with a linen girdle, and he shall wrap himself in a linen miter; they are holy garments. And he shall bathe his flesh with water and shall put them on. 


God is a Holy God, and we need to come in a proper state.  Those of you who have partaken in Communion/the Lord's Supper know what I mean.  Confess your sins, be penitent.  Reflect on your unworthiness and the Holiness of God.  Aaron lost two kids who thought they could come into the Holy Place in any old state and any old time; he himself was then instructed to wash thoroughly, put on the holy linen garments, and when he was done, to remove the garments and bathe again.

You ever notice on All In The Family that the only time Archie Bunker wasn't loudly self assured was when he prayed?  He would take off his hat, bend a bit, and in a low, humble voice, say, "Good evening, Lord, A. Bunker here."  How do I enter the Holy Place?

STEP 4:  Come respectful.

Num 16:12  And Moses sent to call for Dathan and for Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said, We will not come up. 
Num 16:13  Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but must you seizing also seize dominion over us? 
Num 16:14  Yea, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance in fields and vineyards; will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up! 
Num 16:15  And Moses was very angry, and said to Jehovah, Do not respect their offering; I have not taken one ass from them, nor have I done evil to one of them. 


The rebellion in the middle of the Book of Numbers was all about three men- the two listed above and Korah- who thought that everyone should have the same access to God that Moses did.  They claimed that all the congregation was holy, but they were dead wrong.  Moses was God's servant because he was obedient;  the three stooges were worried only about power.  If you want to be able to listen to God, you can't interject your own agenda.

Another common misconception of atheists is, "If God is good, He should treat everyone the same."  Not so fast, my friend.  Korah, Dathan, and Abiram wanted to get God's blessings for doing whatever they wanted, up to and including undoing God's dramatic rescue of them from Egypt.  Atheists have much the same agenda- to do what they want without the Judgment of a Holy God, and to wipe out anyone who would hold them back from doing whatever they want, or judge them as God would.  That's why they fight so hard about prayers at commencement ceremonies and Ten Commandments on courthouse walls.  It doesn't offend them- it EXPOSES them.


STEP 5: Come rejoicing.

Deu 16:10  And you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Jehovah your God according to the measure of the freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give according as Jehovah your God blesses you. 
Deu 16:11  And you shall rejoice before Jehovah your God, you and your son, and your daughter, and your male slave, and your slave-girl, and the Levite that is inside your gates, and the alien, and the fatherless, and the widow that are among you, in the place which Jehovah your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. 
Deu 16:12  And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall take heed to do these statutes. 



Deu 16:14  And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son, and your daughter, and your male slave, and your slave-girl, and the Levite, and the alien, and the fatherless, and the widow that are inside your gates. 
Deu 16:15  You shall keep a solemn feast seven days to Jehovah your God in the place which Jehovah shall choose; for Jehovah your God shall bless you in all your produce, and in every work of your hands, and you shall be altogether joyful. 


Now just in case you think that "rejoice" and "joyful" are mistranslations, they come from a word that literally means "To brighten up".  Why joyful?  Look back over what God has done!  Verse 12 reminds them that they are no longer slaves;  verse 15 reminds us that God will bless us.  No matter the crap we are currently stuck in, we all have that which brought us TO God, and that which God brings us TO.  So be joyful!



8 comments:

  1. Well, first of all, any blog bit about God and Christ that somehow also manages to mention 'Archie Bunker' and 'The Three Stooges' is a blog bit after my own heart!

    >>... I have heard atheists with their excuse, "I know the Bible better than you do." Big deal.

    I doubt that many (if any) atheists know The Bible better'n you do. However, there are some (pseudo-)atheists who do know The Bible fairly well, because they were in Christian families before they decided to rebel against God. And they think that because they know enough Bible to find some irrelevant inconsistencies it makes them wiser than God and God's Word null and void. (Foolish, foolish people.)

    Of course, when a person comes to realize that there are probably at least two valid interpretations for every Bible verse (and in some, or maybe all cases, even three), that person no longer boasts that they "know The Bible". I've been known to say that the ONLY Person who knows The Bible completely is Jesus because He lived it, and all of it has to do with His relationship with His Father and our relationship to both of Them.)

    It's been said that "Prayer is when we talk to God; Meditation is when we listen for God". That pretty well nails it.

    I never felt closer to God than during the many years I meditated on a nearly daily basis.

    It's perhaps the most difficult thing a person can learn to do well because it goes completely against our human nature - it is a purely Spiritual experience. We humans always be yakking - when we're not yakking to each other, we've got this constant yakking going on in our heads: that internal voice yakking to ourselves or playing out imaginary yakking sessions with family and friends in our brain.

    I had always thought I was a lousy meditator until I stopped doing it. Then later, thinking back on it, I realized that I'd reached a point that I could be in a true meditative state within seconds. And so much of my inspiration, lessons, and Spiritual strength came from those meditation sessions. (Including times when I truly did hear the voice of God and Christ. Some of my most potent Spiritual ideas and slogans were given to me while in a deep state of meditation. Fortunately, for years I kept a Meditation Journal where I recorded my experiences, and flipping through that today shows me just how much I've missed since I ceased my daily meditation sessions.)

    Of course there are good (beneficial) and bad (detrimental) ways to meditate, and I found out which was which by firsthand experience and practice. (Don't worry, BROTHER MARTIN, I'm not going to launch into a meditation lesson right here in your Comment Section.)

    Over time, I found that utilizing 'The Lord's Prayer' was my best way to gain access to the meditative state. Eventually, it got to a point where I could just close my eyes and - WHAM! - I was in a genuine meditative state within a matter of seconds, not minutes.

    After years of practicing my way to proficiency in Meditation, I can remember only one time when I found it difficult to get myself into the meditative state. And that was only because God was preventing it as He wanted me to get up and go to a Catholic service a few blocks away, in a Church where only Spanish was spoken and only Mexican-Americans went. God sent me there to receive an answer to a very troubling question I had... despite the fact that I've never been Catholic and the only Spanish I could speak and understand was: "Mucho cerveza, por favor. Pronto, Tonto!" (But that's a story for anever time.)

    Studying The Bible and meditating daily formed the foundation of my Spiritual walk with God, and I need to return to the latter part of that recipe.

    Another fine Sunday sermon, CW!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I can always count on you to add a few things to the discussion that are a benefit to the post!

      "We humans always be yakking - when we're not yakking to each other, we've got this constant yakking going on in our heads: that internal voice yakking to ourselves or playing out imaginary yakking sessions with family and friends in our brain."

      Sure glad that isn't just me! However, if you ever find an "on-off" switch, let me know!


      "(Don't worry, BROTHER MARTIN, I'm not going to launch into a meditation lesson right here in your Comment Section.)"

      A less-than-complete idiots guide would not be a problem at all. In fact, if you ever feel like it, go ahead and send me some pointers.

      "It's been said that "Prayer is when we talk to God; Meditation is when we listen for God". That pretty well nails it."

      That was a lot easier without the distractions of today's life. When I lived alone in a trailer, without a TV or computer, listening to God was MUCH easier.

      Is that on the circumstances? No, that's on "satisfaction". Hopefully I don't have to get "stripped down" to reach it now...

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  2. You make me want to watch Archie Bunker again. I'd forgotten he talked to God from time to time. Thank you for the humble reminder I need to do better.

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    1. That "I" needs to be a "we"- that's the point of God's use of this blog.

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  3. Stephen left a much finer comment than I ever could, so I'll just say that I knew plenty of atheists who claim to know the Bible better than most Christians... the extent of which just means pulling up a few passages on the Internet that conflict one another, and since they can recite them and point that out in a religious related conversation, it now qualifies them as a biblical expert.

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    1. The real problem with them is that to TRULY understand the Bible, you have to have that personal relationship with God- and every one of them draws the line there.

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  4. I work with an Athiest. He's very quick to start a confrontational conversation. I get flustered and sometimes don't choose the correct verbiage to support my thoughts. I finally had to pray and give it all to HIM . I know its our jobs to spread the word but I need HIS help to sound like I know what i'm talking about.
    Excellent post!!

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    1. Well, atheists- especially confrontational ones- spend a lot of time "practicing their lines". It gives them a sense of self-importance. We as Christians struggle with the concept of studying the Word "that we might have a ready reply." Plus, what we know to be real- our relationship with God through Christ- usually gets the "Easter Bunny" or "Thor" comments.

      God has truly put a wall around their hearts. Sometimes, like you said, we just have to leave it in His hands. He might not want that wall to fall, and you can't dig through God.

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