Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Listening Obedience

“...You must all be quick to listen...  But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says...” James 1: 19-26 NLT

Listening is harder for people, usually because we often have something we want to convey or tell. Taking self out of the conversation opens the door for better listening. Henri Nouwen writes, “Listening is giving our full attention - which requires welcoming [others] into our very beings.” Laying down self is essential to being a good listener.

However, we are not only called to listen but to respond. God’s word gives us direction and discernment in all the matters of life. Sometimes, we need to sharpen our listening skills with others, but more importantly with God. Wiersbe says, “It is not reading the Bible that makes a person happy; it is obeying what it says.” In listening with intention, we develop a listening obedience. Let our heart’s desire for genuine obedience be seen in outward actions. dho

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Listening

 A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear. When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives.  Henri Nouwen 



We struggle with listening. Either we do not hear what God is saying to us, or we choose not to respond to what He asks. If we do not listen for God, we have little hope of developing our obedience. Matthew 6:6 ~ Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace. 


I believe faith is the foundation for our listening hearts. Without faith, can there be obedience to God? The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means "listening"It would seem that Henri Nouwen would go one step further and say that without listening, obedience is absent. He concludes, "The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God." ~dho


Thursday, January 03, 2019

New Year is Here!

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
Isaiah 46:9-10 NIV

This new year of 2019 is underway, and we are settling into daily routines again, the holiday decorations put away. With each new year, new opportunities come. What will you choose new this year? A new devotional time or style, a new reading list? A new hobby or the revitalization of a dormant hobby? A new form of exercise? A new vacation destination? A new way to celebrate? A new way of living? 


Whatever your new is for 2019, remember God. His presence will go with you ~ encourage you, enable you, energize you! Spend some time seeking His purpose for you this new year! The Good News is that no matter what your path has been, God still desires to be with you. He is always faithful and will not leave you. God's mercies are new everyday! He was and is and shall be! Remember the lessons of Advent, He is coming! ~ dho

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018

May the Prince of Peace be your King of kings! 
Merry Christmas!

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, 
and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, ... 
He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, 
and His name is called The Word of God... 
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 
"KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Revelation 19:11-16 NASB

Clothed with splendor and majesty, Christ will come again. Surrounded by angels, His glory will illumine space; there will be no more darkness. LORD OF LORDS, the title declaring Him Lord over all, reigns forever. Jesus Christ - the Light of the World, the Messiah, KING OF KINGS - now waits in Heaven until the holy appointed time. Jesus waits for us to call on His name, waits for us to cry out in need, waits for us to share His Love, waits for us to speak His name. 

Listen! Every day the Word of God quills the story of everlasting love and unfailing grace. Believe! Every day find Immanuel, God with us. Wait! Anticipate Advent every moment of your everyday. THIS is the Christmas Story! -dho



Sunday, December 23, 2018

Peace on Earth - 4th Sunday of Advent

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:14,22



Advent offers us time to refocus on the promise, birth, redemption, and return of Christ. The Christmas season brings lights and gifts, love and joy; it retells the stories of prophets and angels, shepherds and magi, Mary and Jesus. All the wonders of Christmas open our imaginations to promises and possibilities. From before time until time to come, God embraces us with hope.


“...When peace shall over all the earth
It’s ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world sends back the song
Which now the angels sing.”**

“Peace on earth” is God’s promise of Everlasting Peace which is still to come. Anticipation of the second Advent of Christ becomes our eternal hope. For now, each of us are called to embrace the peace offered by the Author of peace, the Prince of Peace. May Christ’s peace be the ornament that decorates our hearts at Christmas and throughout the coming year. Let us sing the angels’ message, “Peace on earth, good will to men.” -dho

** lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849 



Sunday, December 16, 2018

Peace of God - 3rd Sunday of Advent

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Peace is often challenged by a world full of anxieties and chaos, doubts and uncertainties, but there is an inner peace the soul can know. When faith in Christ leads us to “peace with God” the “peace of God” becomes the soul’s resting place. Peace of God is a blessing, a gift.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low...
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing! **


Peace belongs in relationships, between God and humanity and to our relationships with each other. Christians are called to ‘let the peace of Christ rule” in our hearts and “be thankful”. Our inward peace usually defines our outward behaviors, the way we respond to difficult circumstances and to others, whether we agree or disagree with them. Inner peace finds its rest in trusting God’s Sovereignty.

Peace is both a greeting and farewell in the Bible. Salutations and valedictions of peace fill Paul’s letters. Jesus greets the disciples, “Peace to you” as they hid after the crucifixion, a time of anxiety and uncertainty. Jesus offers this same peace to His followers today. Greg Laurie writes, “The only way we can experience the peace of God that passes all human understanding is through the blood of the cross... You cannot have the peace of God until you have peace with God.” This holy season I hope your soul knows the peace of God. Shalom! - dho

**lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Peace with God - 2nd Sunday of Advent

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1


Occurring 429 times in the KJV and using the Hebrew word shalom and Greek word eirene, peace is translated as well-being, prosperity, health, safety, and completeness. Both the Old Testament and New Testament describe this blessing. Scofield offers four references to peace: peace from God, peace with God, peace of God, and peace on earth. Deep inside, each of us desires the assurance of peace. Only God can provide complete peace.

And man, at war with man, hears not

The love-story which they bring,
Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing. **

Jesus Christ is our peace (Ephesians 2:14-17). Peace with God is “the work of Christ into which the individual enters by faith”. Through faith, the repentant heart is given grace, not earned, not deserved. This gift of grace declares the believer righteous, bringing spiritual completeness and reconciliation with God. Christ is the Author of peace, our Mediator. He is Perfect Peace, a gift God gives to the faithful who trust in Him. We bring our need, and Christ meets us. Our unimaginable blessing through Christ becomes peace with God. Shalom. - dho

**lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849


Sunday, December 02, 2018

Peace From God - 1st Sunday of Advent

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.” 
Luke 2:13-14 MSG

Peace seems to be a distant hope at times with so much discord in the world. What exactly is peace? How does one find peace? Christianity believes that God is the Source of all true peace; Christ is the Good News of peace to us from God. Peace is the message of the angels the night that Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

“...Peace on the earth, good will to men,  
from heaven’s all-gracious King:
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.” **

Isaiah 9:6 gives us the promise of Christ, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Centuries later, angels appear in the stillness of the night sky, and welcome the Prince of Peace to earth.

This peace from God is a gift; this peace is Divine Grace! As the season of Advent begins, let us reflect up on God’s Promise given, the Prince of Peace for all. Can you feel the stillness of that night on a hillside in Bethlehem? Can you hear the angels sing? Let the peace from God become your message of hope! Shalom! - dho

** lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849





Thursday, November 29, 2018

Peace Comes


At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.
Luke 2:13-14 MSG

The season of Advent, meaning "to come," finds us waiting to celebrate - once again - the arrival of the baby Jesus on Christmas. This promise of the Messiah spans generations, but when He does arrive, the first Advent, it changes everything. Tender manger scenes contrast the glorious angels singing. From the silence of the evening sky, Peace comes to earth.

We light the 1st candle of Advent this coming Sunday, December 3. During the Season of Advent I will post on Sunday instead of Thursday. Let’s gather each week during Advent and reflect more about God’s peace. - dho


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Give Thanks to the LORD ~ Thanksgiving 2018

God is the LORD,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifices with cords
to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, 
for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

As we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us reflect upon the abundant blessings that fill the moments of life. The heart experiences immense gratitude from unexpected words that whisper love and inside surprises that shout joy and within unspoken thoughtfulness. In between the obvious and outside the margins, threads of possibility weave scenes of goodness and generosity and grace. While grand gestures and catastrophic calamities stand alone and unforgotten, these small and simple pleasures embrace the soul with wordless glimpses of heaven. As silence surrounds, we must bring these most sacred offerings to the His altar with abundant thanksgiving. Within these holy moments, God draws us deeper into His Presence. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. ~dho

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Extravagant Gifts of Every Day - Gratitude

Loving God,
    
The night sky is filled with luminaries that
light the darkness. Angels whisper evening
songs to my weary soul. I do not notice.

As sleep gently calls, I forget that I have
breathed the morning air, listened to laughter,
seen the evening sky appear. Another day! 

Something disturbs the rhythm of my sleep, 
summons my soul. In these sleepless moments,
the Holy Spirit is waiting and listens for my
response. I whisper, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 




Holy Father, when I fail to see the beauty of
Your day, remind me with a glorious morning
to take my breath away, a soul-laugh that only 
a listening heart can find, and a night sky 
crowded with stars like diamonds that demand
a lingering look. 


My heart bursts with unmeasured thankfulness!  
These are Your ordinary gifts! I simply miss them in my
hectic hours, my scheduled chaos, my saturated time.

Give my heart the desire to breathe,
listen, and see the ordinary with extraordinary 
intention. Grant my soul the desire to breathe,
listen, and see Your Extraordinary Gifts of
Love, Grace, and Joy! Let me seek Your
extravagant gifts in every day! 

Let me shout, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Refresh my spirit! Refine my faith! 
Restore my love! Renew my strength!  
Rebuild my trust! Reclaim my soul! 

To God be the glory! Amen.  ~dho