Am I Listening? – A Devotion

Am I Listening

Daniel 1:17 (NLT)

God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.

 

For many people, today marks the end of their 2015 Daniel Fast. Churches have embraced this Biblical concept corporately and believers individually to enter the brand new year with clear vision and revelation from the Lord. Daniel and his friends fasted for ten days eating only vegetables and abstaining from the royal menu. At the end of their fast, it was clear that the Lord had kept them as they were healthier than before. (Daniel 1:8-16) It is important to note here in reading this passage that their “fast” was to test their spiritual diet prescribed by Jewish law. They did not eat the same things that the king feasted on regularly. The fast was to prove to the king’s attendant that they would thrive this way bringing no ill will to their caregiver by the kind. Fasting is a life style. There are times when we may abstain from things for a given amount of time to seek greater understanding and remove the distractions that keep us from hearing the Lord’s Voice and Direction for our life. For many years, we have fasted as a family. Over this time, my diet has dramatically changed for the better. It seems that each year something I gave up for the fast no longer appealed to me so I never started eating or drinking it again. I believe that’s what fasting is really about consecrating more and more of our life to the Lord until we are complete lacking no good thing that He has prepared for us. At the end of his fast, the attendant agreed that the men were doing well so Daniel and his friends were allowed to continue eating only the things allowed according to the Law. The very next verse after this account is Daniel 1:17. God gave these men “unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect” of nature things and a “special ability to interpret the meanings” of spiritual things. Clarity. Perspective. Balance.

Do you hear the Voice of God today speaking to your heart and mind? God is always speaking to us whether we are listening or not. He responds to every inquiry and request on the part of His Beloved Children. He hears our cries and answers our call. It is important to be listening with our heart and our head to what the Lord tells us and doing it because this is how we receive His Promises. Fasting our life is putting away the world to let more of His Spirit take over our life. This year, I did not fast food. Truthfully, I prefer Daniel’s diet on a daily basis. It is like my husband fasting broccoli which he hates. Instead, the Lord has been speaking to me about simplifying my life. Reducing the clutter that keeps me from seeing how blessed and prosperous I already am. For the month of January, I did not buy anything new. I did not go on the routine shopping/browsing/looking/buying-stuff-we-don’t-need-but-is-on-sale with my girls that is the equivalent to guys going hunting. Instead, I cleaned out every nook and cranny of our home and began unloading the overwhelming and embarrassing amount of “stuff” that crammed in every closet. We did not do without in the slightest but I have discovered we have more than enough. We can share with others and are still bursting at the seams. My goal is to be content. Peace and joy are both qualities found in contentment and thankfulness reveals all the things we overlook in our need to acquire more. I am convinced that God has already all that we need to be blessed and even share with others but we just haven’t noticed.

Habakkuk 2:1-4 (Message)  

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I’ll wait to see what God says, how he’ll answer my complaint. And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.

 

If you know me, you are probably thinking that the fast I have chosen is no more than a budget to offset the years of cancer-fighting with our son and the recent wedding of our daughter. You are free to assume whatever you like. God has provided more than enough for our family to live through all these life changes without missing a beat. It’s just crazy how good God is. But I want more out of life than to pay bills and trudge back and forth to work every day. I want to be alive…fully alive…really alive. I have been a long-time fan of the watchman on the wall, and guard in the guard post of this chapter in Habakkuk. I believe that if I live in the watchtower of God always waiting and watching for Him that He will come. When the time is right and His Plan ready for fulfillment – that’s when He gets there. I have learned to wait and continue to do so. We ask God to do a lot for us. We ask Him why things happen in our life.  We demand answers. We request change. But do we listen for His Response? You can’t hear the Voice of God outside of His Spirit. You cannot be filled with His Spirit outside of believing. With disbelief in our heart, faith is a useless endeavor. God speaks to us in our waiting as He prepares us to move. The vision is clear to God. He wants to make it clear to you. It is ready to unfold but cannot until self is completely undone making room for His Spirit. He planned and prepared this life for you before you were ever born. It begins with desire in our heart that is consistent with the dreams and visions that the Lord gives us. Right standing with God is the platform in the watchtower. Faith is the rail that keeps us safe from falling over the edge. The Spirit is the magnifier that lets us see past today and look to the new horizon of tomorrow. Full of self, but an empty soul. It is one of my greatest fears. To somehow make this life about me, forgetting it is all about Jesus.

Joel 8:28-29 (NLT)

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”

 

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” Why does the Holy Spirit freak so many people out? I mean seriously. Without His Spirit, you will never know or understand the Heart of God. He is the very essence of God in us. He is not a silent partner. We are to become the quiet ones as we allow His Spirit to mold and change us from the inside out. God said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” God also said that His People literally will die from a lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6) Ignorance is not bliss and definitely not an excuse to live whatever way you want. God does not force us to listen to His Voice or do what He says. We are free to choose. A lack of spiritual maturity in the church today is heartbreaking. The Word of God is the fundamental foundation of our faith. People want to skip ahead to the good part. Cut in line, if you will, to get what is coming to them. Deep breath followed by longing sigh. The Spirit of God speaks to us. He expresses the Way and Will of God through dreams and visions. If we do not know God’s Language (His Word) and are not open to interpretation by His Spirit, we will never receive all that God has planned and prepared to complete and perfect out life. The Holy Spirit is an active partner and absolutely essential to having the Will and Way of God in our life. He identifies us as God’s Children. He is the guarantee of what we have been promised. We must receive an introduction to the Spirit of God and make Him welcome in our life. Call on God. Call on Jesus, but friend please add His Spirit to that list.

I Corinthians 2:10-13 (NLT)

 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

 

God reveals His Secrets by His Spirit. The Spirit searches our heart and life to reveal the areas that need review to prepare for receivership. His Job is to make us ready to receive all God planned and prepared for our life. Imagine that you were running late and found that your car had a flat tire, you fill it with air and try to make it to the local garage. Upon your arrival, it’s flat again. The mechanic tells you that there must be a whole it in so he fills it with air again. This time running water from a garden hose over it. Now how is that going to fix the problem and why am I paying him big bucks for this just fix it, right?! As the water runs over the tire, a small bubbling occurs in the midst of the tread. Aha! Found it. He fixes the whole refills the tire and now rather than making around the corner – you are able to make it back and forth to work. This is the work of God’s Spirit in our life. We are filled with His Spirit. (Pnuema – wind, spirit, breath of God) There are times when we cannot contain the Goodness of God in our life. We go flat. God keeps filling us with His Spirit and washes us in His Word revealing the “holes” in our life. Now whether or not we choose to “fix” them or not is totally up to us according to our freedom found in Christ. We do not have to use our freedom to have the Promises of God unless we decide that we want them enough to pursue them. Our life is a process of continually chasing the Plan and Purpose of God for our life that leads to complete perfection and fulfillment. We have to allow His Spirit to explain His Word, Will and Way to us. He cannot explain what He has not been given. When we cultivate God’s Spirit and His Word in our life, we begin to speak words of life. It is in this we prosper. Fasting our life is the process of undoing that shows us the areas of our life that we have yet to surrender giving us the opportunity and privilege to give God, Jesus and His Spirit just a little more and a little more until we are completely undone before Him. It is in this place that we are granted our heart’s desire. We find contentment. We live in the joy and peace that He promised no matter how it seems in the natural. I want to be in this place. I want this life. It is a simple life. It is a God life. I want an unusual aptitude for the natural like Daniel and his friends. I desire the dreams and visions customarily used by the Spirit to share with me God’s Secrets. I want to know Him more today. I will find more to give to have Him.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

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