Sunday, April 6, 2014

Romans 16 - Its Not Just a List!

So, I’m continuing with my Romans reading in preparation for teaching this marvelous epistle. I finally made it to the end, chapter 16, and I am fascinated by the litany of names with which Paul concludes the book; 26 in all (17 men and 9 women).

Now, many folks might see this as anti-climactic in the letter, almost as a boring conclusion; like the genealogy of Matthew 1. I mean, come on, it’s only a list. What is so special or what in the world is spiritual about a list of names? I mean, isn’t the core of the Roman argument found in 1:16-15:33. Romans 1-11 is often viewed as a theological argument for the righteousness of God and then chapters 12-15 are the ethical application of Paul’s teaching. Thus, Romans 16 is nothing other than an epilogue to the main argument. It’s just a list. 
Can I make just a few observations about this so-called list:
  • There are 26 names in the list; 16 of the 26 are singled out in some special way, either as deacons, co-workers, apostles, or a relative of some sort, either literal or figurative (i.e., Christian brother). 
  • Of the 16 individuals commended for specific tasks, almost half (7) are women. 
  • There are several married couples singled out and what appears to be four separate Christian communities; two of which seem to be house churches, Prisca and Aquila (16:3-5) and Aristobulos (16:10). 
  • Finally, in the list, there appear to be both Jewish and Gentile names.

What are the implications of these observations? Allow me to simply focus on the last one; there are both Jewish and Gentile names in Paul’s Roman 16 list. Now, that observation may not be as clear-cut as it seems. First, many Jewish people adopted Greco-Roman names as they functioned in the Roman marketplace outside of Palestine. Second, since Paul has yet to visit Rome, how did he meet all these Christian servants who are now living in Rome? The meetings must have been in other places in at earlier times. Remember, that in 49AD emperor Claudius evicted all the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2). They were dispersed throughout the empire. Many in the list, such as Pricilla and Aquila were among the expelled Jews who met Paul in Corinth. Andronicus and Junia are said to have been in prison with Paul (16:7) and from the same “nation.” They also are most certainly Jewish. Others on the list are referred to as Paul’s relatives (16:7, 11, 13). If all this is true, maybe this so-called list is much more Jewish than it appears at first look.

If this list is of Jewish Christians, then let’s take seriously that this list is in the form of a recommendation (beginning with Phoebe) not the typical greeting found at the end of other of Paul’s letters (e.g., 1 Cor 16). Paul is not greeting these people but rather is asking the gentile church in Rome to greet them and “receive them in a manner worthy of the saints.” Listen to the opening in 16:1-2:
commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.

Simply, the Gentile church in Rome is to receive the Jewish co-workers of Paul. My point is that Rom 16 is NOT JUST A LIST…I would call it the theological high water mark of practical spirituality in the Book of Romans. It might even be called the climax of the book. It’s the church living out practical righteousness before the world. Paul does not care for the Roman church to merely comprehend his theology (Rom 1-11) or to merely wrestle with its theoretical application (12-15). Paul is arguing that a life “dead to sin” (Rom 6) and “alive to the Spirit” (Rom 8) should play itself out with the reconciliation of the most difficult of all relationships; life-long adversaries (Jews and Gentiles) should live together as brothers.
I will leave the application of this principle into your hands, as directed by the very Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Lord Jesus;
May we never take Your Word lightly.
May we always seek the depth of its practicality to our lives.
Grant us eyes to see,
Give us ears to hear,
And empower us with Your Spirit to live on earth,
As it is in Heaven.
Amen


Now, Go with God.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This spring, I am teaching Romans. I’ve read this book countless times. I’ve preached on it. I’ve lead Bible Studies on it. But I have never taught it here at Kingswood. So I thought Romans and I should be intimately acquainted. I decided to read Romans in one sitting; and I failed miserably. I never got past Paul’s greeting.
Listen…
  • Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 1:1-7 NAS) 

Yes, I know this is simply the Greeting, and I should not get overly excited until I get to the real heart of the matter (at least 1:16 and following). But this opening helps me grasp Romans in a way I never have before. Here is what I saw for the first time and it was always right in front of me. Take note of the extended description Paul gives about himself which I bracketed off above. It begins with “a bond-servant” in verse 1 and goes all the way thru “among whom you also are called of Jesus Christ” in 1:6. All that Paul has said is one long descriptor not really about Jesus…but it describes who Paul himself is! (Technically, if you are interested, all the phrases of this one long Greek sentence are set in apposition to the name “Paul.”) Paul = all that follows in 1:1-6.
So, you might ask, what is the big deal?  Try this; Paul cannot separate his story from Christ’s story. His story and God’s story are so dove-tailed that they become one-in-the-same story.
What a great life lesson!!!! Let me try to explain what grabbed me that I never saw before. Romans, from the first verse to the last, is not to be read as a theological treatise (sorry Martin Luther). It’s the most practical, almost earthy story about how God’s meta-narrative marvelously intersects with Paul’s own life story (and ours as well) Thus, wherever I preach, teach or live the Book of Romans, my story should and must come out. Yes, it’s all about Jesus. But it’s also about me and how Jesus has affected who I am, and who I am becoming.
This should resonate with many of you today. For you might think that Paul is far too deep a thinker that you can never fully comprehend his theology. Well, no problem, because Paul is simply introducing himself by telling a story. Yes, it is a re-orienting story, a paradigm-shifting story. But a story nonetheless.
If Paul is right (and he is!) our story intersecting with God’s story creates THE STORY. Paul calls it “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16). Thus, maybe storytelling is the most biblical style of evangelism. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann agrees when he says, “evangelism means inviting people into these stories as the defining story of our life, and thereby authorizing people to give up, abandon, and renounce other stories that have shaped their lives in false or distorting ways” (Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism).
So, if you want to be a subversive Christian, a biblical evangelist, following in Paul’s footsteps, simply tell your story. But the transformative power of your story is when you invite others to switch allegiances from their old story to a new life-story found in Christ. So, go and tell!
Lord,
Help us all to be grace-filled storytellers.
May we welcome others to the eternal narrative which God’s is continually writing; especially at this Advent season.
May His It’s-too-good-to-be-true story become the reality of our lives.
Jesus, may your children live their story In YOU.
Amen.
Now, Go with God.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smith Family Values v3.0


The Smith Family Values
Our Call to the Missio Dei – Mission of God
(John 20:21)

As we journey together to fulfill His mission, the following values define our lives:
1.    Transformation: We believe in the power of a transformed life. We will never forget where we have come from; sinners saved by grace. However, with the empowerment of the Spirit of God, we will not allow our “past” to prevent Christ from fully reshaping His image within us.  
2.    Integrity: We will display before people our transparent lives. We will not worry about what we cannot control. Rather, we will work on what we can control; first and foremost ourselves.
3.    Home: We will win at home first. We will always point one another and our children toward Christ.
4.    Spiritual Disciplines:
·      We will be people of prayer. We will seek divine guidance in everything and walk in the Spirit submissively.
·      We will be people of “one book” (Bible) but constantly search for truth as revealed throughout God’s creation and by His children.
·      We will intentionally set aside one day a week to fully embrace God’s gift of Sabbath rest.
·      We will pursue personal holiness for the purpose of enhancing our spiritual lives together and building up the Body of Christ.
5.    Ministry: We will love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Our “neighborhood” begins with one another and with our children; then extends to our place of service - Kingswood University and our local church - Kings Valley Wesleyan Church. Finally, may our neighborhood increase as we seek to live in love and harmony with the rest of His world. 
6.    Finances: We will endeavor to hold on to material things loosely. Money is simply a tool for our service in the Kingdom of Heaven.
7.    God’s Call: We will not live a life of regret. We will give up a more comfortable life for the hope of living a more fulfilling one. When we hear His voice, may our immediate response be a wholehearted, “Yes.”


Life Verse:
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well.
(1 Thes 2:8)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The "Other side" of Spiritual Advancement Week

My Bethany friends,


We are now on the “other side” of Spiritual Advancement. We are into the semester routine…and for many of us that might mean we have misplaced some of the realities we discovered just 10 short days ago. On this Sabbath, could we take just a few moments to reflect upon both the profound words that were shared and the effects in our lives of the movement of the Spirit in our midst. Question: Are you the same today as you were before Rev. Clint Ussher came to Bethany? Can you see yourself falling back into some of the same, possibly even more destructive habit patterns as before? May it not be so!

 

Think with me about John chapter 5. This passage depicts a beautiful story of Jesus’ care and compassion for the disabled of the world. But more than that, it’s a description of the wholeness that Jesus offers to all who hear His voice. Listen to the description of the event, “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. (ESV 5:2, 4)” Traditionally, as story is told, an angel would “stir up” the water in the pool and the first one to get in would be immediately healed. But the story goes on, “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’”

 

Now, you might think that the answer to Jesus’ question is obvious. I mean, the man is in the right place isn’t he? He’s here, near the temple, waiting for a miracle, his miracle. But in actuality, Jesus is not simply asking a question, He is holding a mirror up to the man. How could a paralyzed man be the first to get in the pool? And he has been going through the same quasi-hopeful routine for 38 years. Maybe, just maybe, he is comfortable with the situation that he knows.

 

But what in actuality is Jesus asking him? Several translations word it this way, “Do you want to be healed?” (ESV) or “Do you want to be made well?”(NKJ, NASB, NIV). Neither word choice gets at the heart of Jesus’ question. Listen to my translation of the unusual word, “Do you want to be made whole?” This word occurs 11 x’s in NT; 9 in Gospels (Matt. 12:13; 15:31; Mark 5:34; John 5:6, 9, 11, 14f; 7:23; Acts 4:10; Titus 2:8). Outside of our use in John 5, the most revealing is in the passage concerning the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”(Mark 5:34 NIV)

 

Now, to John, the question Jesus is asking the man by the pool (and us) is this, “Do you want me to free you from what is destroying you?” Now, hear me carefully when I say, it’s not just his physical condition which is eating away at him. The man may not realize it but its more so his lack of faith that there will ever be any remedy. Moreover, we get even more insight into the man’s spiritual dilemma after his healing when “Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well!” (FYI, “well” is the same word we discussed above but this time in the perfect tense; “See, you are restored to wholeness”). But then Jesus goes on and says, “Sin no more that nothing worse may happen to you.’” Jesus explicitly states there are decisions that one can make which can return you to the same situation that you were in before Spiritual Advancement Week. Oh, please do not return but only go forward with the Presence of the Lord.

 

So, what will each of us do to keep from going back but rather to pursue Wholeness in our lives? First, “Align your lives with the means of grace God has put in your path.” For us here at Bethany, this is place before us every week.

  1. How about being transparent and utterly open before God and others with your life.
  2. How about the simplicity of reading a Psalm of Ascent (Psalm 121 for example) as you are walking to chapel. Prepare yourself for the meeting with God. Do not passively sit by the pool…but actively participate with Him. Expect to meet Him even before walking into the chapel.
  3. Make sure in the busy-ness of your schedule you set aside time for personal Bible study or to meet for public and private prayer. So many people are gathering for prayer walks or times of corporate prayer. Why not engage with them in a pursuit of the high-calling of Christ. Moreover, make D-Group not just another “check” on your Day-Timer but an opportunity to calibrate your spiritual compass in the direction of how God would like to fashion your Soul to look just like Him!

 

Second, one true shortcoming of many folks today who are trying to overcome spiritual shortcomings in their lives is that they attempt to remain in the grace of God all alone. Just like the man in John 5, “I have no one to put me into the pool for healing.” So why not intentionally align yourself with a spiritual mentor or guide, someone who is farther along the journey than yourself, and knows that wholeness can be attained because they live it before you each day.

 

Lord Jesus,

May Your wholeness be what we seek.

May Your Spirit guide us on this journey.

May Your Body here on earth assist each of us.

May Your Image be re-created within our hearts.

May the pleasure of Your voice be what we long for, “For you are my beloved child, in you I am well-pleased.”

May we never stop short of anything less.

Amen.

 

Now, Go with God

Monday, May 9, 2011

Live in the "It-Is-Finished-ness" ... Graduation Address @ Bethany Bible College

Dr. H.C. Wilson, President Gorveatte, fellow members of the faculty and staff, distinguished friends and family, and most of all, to you students;
 
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
My task this morning is two fold. First, to be short. Today is about you, individually and as a faith community.
 
Second, my job to assist you in the beginning stages of the oft times difficult transition from the life of being a student to that of being a minister in the marketplace,
what ever that may look like, and
where ever it may be.
 
So again I repeat to you; Grace and peace.
 
May, "Well done good and faithful student" be your watchword and song this day.
 
Yet at the same time, each of you are riding the crest of a major life transition. You are leaving the "Oh-so-familiar" world of being student. Each semester you receive a lengthy syllabus for every class. Your faculty has predetermined all of your course assignments and their corresponding due dates. And as each of you know, the faculty spend countless hours strategizing on how to make all of your assignments and tests due at exactly the same day!
 
In the end, for the last 16-18 years, your life-decisions have been in the hands of another.
 
May I hear an "Amen" that this will no longer be the controlling force in your life?
 
From here on out, you will make all the decisions.
For example,
·      It will be up to you whether Chapel or its real-world equivalent, the Church will be the central spiritual focus of your week.  
·      It will be up to you to be proactive when it comes to your own spiritual growth. Will you make time to establish and personally invest in your own self-styled D-group? I pray that you will seek brothers and sisters in Christ to keep you accountable to the Scriptures and to live a vibrant life of faith
·      It will be up you if you ever pick up a book again, either for fun or to feed your soul so you can feed others.  
From here on out, you will make all the decisions.
 
Since your life will no longer be driven by a series of syllabi and assignments and due-dates; here is my question for this morning,
·      What will become the new driving force in the formation of your Day-Timer entries?
The reason I phrase the question this way is quite simple, what you invest your time in, is truly what you value.  
 
May I suggest a source for your decisions? Yes, of course you all would shout out "the Bible" and you would be correct. But I wanted to give you a special gift this morning of a place to turn that will give you the heartbeat of our Lord for making ministerial decisions.  The Scripture that you just heard read by Aisha, David, and Joshua is what biblical scholars call "Jesus' High Priestly Prayer." But this morning, they are wrong. Today, this is the prayer that Jesus prayed over the first class of graduates from His "School of Extreme Discipleship."
 
If you look carefully, John chapters 13-16 are what might be termed the "final classroom instruction" of Jesus. It is during these last few hours that Jesus prepares them for their lives of faith and ministry without Him as their teacher. Hummm, life without an incarnate instructor? Does that sound familiar to your situation in life?
 
Remember, in the first 12 chapters of John, Jesus teaches openly for all to hear; every kind of person in every imaginable public arena. Then in John 13, He initiates His private teaching to them beginning with an object lesson of love. The teacher washes the feet of His students. He sets the tone for all that will follow in the rest of His teaching with this humbling act of self-denial. And may I make a simple observation about this passage? In the first half of the Gospel of John Jesus has repeatedly said, "I only do what I have been shown by the Father." So, if I ask you where did Jesus learn to wash feet? The answer is simple, Jesus learned this from the Father. Thus, the act of foot-washing is not what the teacher does; it is precisely who He is.
 
As Jesus copies the life of the Father…May you copy exactly the same in your life and ministry. And, as a word of encouragement, there is no threat of plagiarism in copying Jesus word for word…and act for act. What an honor to reflect the Imago Dei; the image of God to a lost world with filthy feet.
 
It was how the Father served the Son. It was how the Son taught the disciples. Then Jesus instructed, "A new commandment I give to you, Love one another as I have loved you."
 
I now longer call you students, but friends. And "May a Basin and a Towel become ministry tools which allows the Lord to use you in demonstrating His love throughout the world."
 
We move from John 13 to John 17. Please notice how Jesus' teaching ends or I would argue, climaxes as Jesus prays. May I say that again; Jesus prays. At every major decision in Jesus' life, we find Him praying.
·      At his baptism.
·      At the selection of His disciples.
·      At His transfiguration.
·      At the Last Supper.
·      In the Garden of Gethsemane.
·      And most profoundly, On the Cross.
 
And in our passage this morning, His students overhear how He talks to His Heavenly Father about them. And, if you were listening closely, Jesus is also praying for His future students as He said; "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." In this prayer, each of you were interceded for by Jesus. Your first graduation prayer came from the very lips of Jesus Himself, nearly 2,000 years ago. He anticipated this day for you. He celebrates with you as well.
                                                                     
One commentator on John 17 says, What Jesus talks to the Father about could be called, "Listening in to the conversation at the very Center of the Universe." It's God talk, and Jesus continues as our teacher by allowing us to overhear.
 
The early church worded it this way, Lex OrandiLex Credendi.
 
Literally, the phrase means "the law of prayer [is] the law of belief."
 
Let me translate this into our contemporary language, simply put, "What you pray is what you believe."  The contents of our prayers are the very things that we value the most.  I call this term our 'lived-out theology.'
 
Thus, if I want to know what Jesus believed and practiced and valued, simply look at what He prayed; for that is His "lived-out theology."
 
Similarly, if I want to know what you value the highest; let me overhear you in prayer. Let me read your prayer journal.  What are the very things that you bring to the Father?
 
May I urge you (please allow me to employ the Pauline word), may I urge you to carefully select the matters which you pray for; for they are truly what you believe, what you desire for God Himself to do in and thru you.  
 
May I urge you to adopt John 17 as your new life-syllabus.
For, if this passage indeed verbalizes what was important to Jesus in His last hours on earth…
For, if it was indeed a conversation at the very center of the universe…
Would it not be a great starting point with which to fashion your own "lived-out theology." As I have studied and carefully moved through this passage I have found numerous core principles Jesus is teaching us regarding His "lived-out theology."
 
But, you do not need me to lead you thru John 17. For you have been trained to read and exegete scripture; you have had an almost unlimited number of opportunities to apply scripture personally and also to proclaim it from a pulpit…but would you allow me to simply to whet your appetite, let me give you one example of how this might be employed…then I will leave the rest up to you for your life-long learning.
 
Listen to the beginning of Jesus' prayer in John 17: "Father I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."
 
May I urge you to live and minister within the "It-is-Finished-ness" of Christ. (Thank you Darrell Johnson for your book title)

The Greek word for "complete" is the verb  "teleiow" which is often translated as "finished." The initial words of Jesus' prayer are that He wants to bring God glory on earth by "finishing" His work. This prayer is of course a foreshadowing of Jesus' final cry from the Cross in John's Gospel, "It is finished."

Specifically, what is finished? This would include His work of reconciliation, of adoption, of sacrifice, of suffering, of abandonment, of forgiveness. For you as ministers, remember, Jesus is doing this work NOT you.

PLEASE listen to me carefully apply this text to your lives, this was His work.

This is so much more than an exegetical exercise.

For either we learn to live in the "it-is-finished-ness" or you will try to complete what you think or you feel is lacking in the work of God.

If the work that Jesus has completed actually brought Glory to God, should we tamper with it? Should we add to it? Or should me simply marvel in it? Hear me, IT IS Finished.

All of you graduates have completed your internship. And you know only too well that when you take all the cares of the world and the burden of ministry upon yourself; it is exhausting beyond belief. Hear me, IT IS Finished.

 

Everything that needs to be done in order for us as broken, sinful people to be re-created in His image and to enter into and enjoy life and ministry with the Living God has been finished.
 
Our task is to enter in. And to invite the world to come in as well; not to fix ourselves or them. That's the Work of God. Hear me, IT IS Finished.
 
What would a life be like that did not cause you to strive to constantly find the approval of others? Do you recall over the last 4 years the number of times you turned in a paper to a professor and then began to worry about what he/she would think of you when they read it? What would life be like, if you did not become overwhelmed with what people thought about you? Hear me, IT IS Finished
 
What would life be like, if you did not have to strive to please God? To prove your worthy-ness? Hear me, IT IS Finished.
 
Please, may I urge you to enter into the "It-is-Finished-ness" of Christ.
 
This is a "lived-out theology" worth living!
 
In the ensuing days, Post-graduation that is; I beg of you to sit at the feet of your flawless teacher Jesus. Begin in John 13. Allow Him to show you your ultimate worth as He humbly steps from the throne, picks up a basin and towel, and washes away the grime of sin and cleanses you.
 
Then, search John 17. Listen to what Jesus says to the Father. Listen in to the conversation at the Center of the Universe…so you can fashion your own "lived-out theology" not based upon convenience or creature comforts, but upon Kingdom values that are utterly time-less and God-breathed.
 
I no longer call you students, but friends.
This is the way Kingdom friends talk to one another. Welcome to ministry.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Theology of Sponge-Bob

A "Go with God" Moment

Friends, last week we were talking about what it means to simply "listen and obey." But in all practicality, there is nothing simple about this. If so, we would never have an inner struggle of faith plus there would be no disobedience in the Christian world. 

So, what is so hard about listening? Maybe I can paint a spiritual metaphor that will define the overall problem. And I will do it in the form of a theological question. "What would make Sponge-Bob Square-pants a poor follower of Christ?" Go ahead, say it out loud. Right, "He has no ears." How can he listen if he has no ears? In essence, he is a spiritual blockhead. But that is nothing like us, right?

Read with me Psalm 40:6-8 …and let's create a "Theology of the Ear."

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have pierced;
Then I said, "Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart." 

Several years ago a male student burst into my office with Psalm 40 in his hand. He shouted, "I have all the biblical evidence I need. See, even God approves my ears being pierced." Now, he was trying to find scripture to justify to his parents that they should approve his desire to get his ears pierced. He read the text as if this act would be his offering to the Lord. I tried to convince him that he had unknowingly taken the passage out of context. For the NIV does a strange job of translating the Hebrew word kara. He was assuming this passage was referring to the act of faithfulness that a servant/slave does for his master by making a lifetime commitment by having his ear pierced. (See Ex 21:6; Deut 15:17). His only problem; it's the wrong Hebrew word.

The word "pierced" in Psalm 40 is a rarely used in the OT and it refers quite specifically to a cistern being dug out (Gen 26:26Num 21:18). The noun form of the word actually means "well" or "cistern." What the passage is describing is straightforward; we are human SpongeBobs. We have hands and feet (and are often found to be equally poor dressers). But worst of all, we have no real ears to hear the voice of God. Offering and sacrifices do not help in any way. God's words still falls on deaf ears. Furthermore, it will take a divine act of grace to fashion ears on the side of our heads that will hear anything above the earthly noise that fills our daily life. Our ears are only capable of hearing the within the auditory range of what I would call "daily distraction." 

The Gospels report the same hearing disorder to Jesus disciples. After they have witnessed countless miracles and sat under His teaching for years, Jesus sadly says to them, "Do you still not see or understand. Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see? Do you have ears but fail to hear? (Mark 8:17-18)

We are no different. Maybe we are even affected with a worse disease; for they all lived pre-Cross and pre-Resurrection. Our deafness is rejecting the full revelation of God. Plus, what honor or praise are we giving to a speaking God if there are no human ears to hear?

So, may I now ask you a serious question? This very day, will you allow the Lord, the Divine Physician Himself to do a serious act of spiritual surgery on you? Will you let Him fashion a whole new set of ears for you? Will you permit Him to dig out and excavate your old deaf ears and replace them with ones that are capable of hearing even the gentlest whisper of the Spirit? Does your heart long to hear the voice of the Father, with clarity?

Lord,
We desire to want what You want.
We pray for hearts to be shaped after Yours.
But Jesus, that may only begin when we can hear Your Word.
So begin with me this very day.
Use a divine instrument (Heb 4:12-13) and provide us with the ability to hear You.
We pledge to quiet all competing voices and distractions.
We promise to incline our lives in Your direction.
Now, Lord, heal our ears, dig deep into the recesses of our souls.
We long to hear…and obey.
Amen.

Now, Go with God