Does God Speak to You?

God Speaks

The Bible is filled with stories about God speaking to people.

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush; and God told Joseph that the people of Egypt needed to save food, so that they would survive a seven-year famine. God spoke to the prophets, and revealed Himself to Abraham. And, in 1 Samuel 3:1-20, God speaks to a little boy who was sleeping beside the Ark of the Covenant.

The Bible tells us that Eli (the Temple priest) was quite blind by the time God decided to speak to Samuel, and that he was neatly tucked beneath the smelly blanket that he had used for many years. When Samuel first ran to the Temple priest, Eli was as confused by the whole thing as Samuel was – because the word of the Lord was rare in those days and even the prophets weren’t having the types of visions that they used to have.

But the “pregnant question” remains.

Does God speak to people during times when the word of the Lord seems to be rare, and when the prophets aren’t having the visions that they used to have? Can you imagine a God who knows you by name, who can choose to call-out to you and whisper words into your ears, who continues to lead and guide you through life, and who can even send you into the world with words to share with other people?

In this week’s message, “Does God Speak to You?”, we’re asked to reflect and to consider how God speaks us today.

What do you think happens when you gather with other people to hear God’s Word and to share in the “Feast of Heaven”? What do you think happens when the Holy Spirit lives and moves and breathes and stirs people as they listen to the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do we still believe that it’s God’s voice that continues to call us to take-up the Cross and follow Jesus wherever He leads us? Do we believe that God still has the power to speak to us, and send us out into the world to strive for justice and peace – telling us that if we invest all of our time and energy in trying to save our own lives and our churches, we’re going to lose it all – and telling us that if we take up the Cross, invest ourselves in other people, and bring the Good News of God’s love to the world, we’re going to find a new type of life that will continue to flourish and endure even in an Age when churches are closing their doors for the last time every week?

Does God speak to you? Do you really believe that God continues to know you by name and calls-out to you in the midst of darkness? Do you really believe that we have a God who continues to speak to us as we read God’s Word, as we gather in worship, and as we spend time in daily devotion and prayer?

The Holy Spirit continues to live and move and stir God’s people. The Spirit of God is still calling-out to people and inviting them into the ongoing mission of Christ’s Church.

When God calls-out to us, will we have the courage (as Samuel did) to respond by saying, “Here I am, Lord”? Will we have the faith and courage to respond to God’s calling in our own lives and to boldly say, “Speak to me, for Your servant is listening!”?

 

Read Through the Bible – Week 18

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Summer is a wonderful time to shift gears and to set-aside time for something new!

Many people have never read through the entire Bible. Some people don’t know where to begin, and other people begin in the first chapter of Genesis – but get bogged-down when they reach Leviticus. We all like to know that we’re doing things with other people. That’s what the ExploraStory Cafe is all about! It’s about reading God’s Word with other people. It’s about exploring foundations of our faith by listening, together, to recorded messages. It’s about spending quiet-time at the end of the day – reviewing the events of the past day and even asking ourselves, “What will I need from God – as I face the joys and challenges of tomorrow?”

This week, we’re going to ride a roller coaster during our journey through the Bible!

We’re going to read the 10 Commandments on Monday, and we’re going to read David’s psalm of confession (which was written after his disastrous affair with Bathsheba and after his role in causing the death of her husband, Uriah, became public) on Wednesday. We are going to encounter a threat that God uttered against a false-prophet, Hananiah, (“I am going to remove you from the face of the earth!” ~ Jeremiah 28:16) on Friday; and, on Saturday, we’re going to see Mark’s Gospel abruptly end as the three women who went to Jesus’ empty tomb flee in astonishment and say nothing to anyone. And, as we’re reading through these parts of the Bible together, we’re going to be challenged to think.

Which of the 10 Commandments am I breaking – right now – at this point in my life?

Do I regularly think about the things that I’m doing and ask God to forgive my sins, or do I wait until my sins are lifted before my eyes by another person?

How are my thoughts and actions being shaped by God’s Word, and how do my thoughts and actions bear testimony to what God’s doing in my life and in the world?

How do I respond to my encounters with the Risen Christ? Am I telling others about what Christ is doing in my life? Am I trying my best to figure-out what it means? Am I afraid to speak about the things that God’s doing? How could I be a more effective witness to God’s work in my life and in the world?

Here are next week’s readings:

Sunday: 2 Corinthians 4-5 – Monday: Exodus 17-20 – Tuesday: 2 Samuel 5-9 – Wednesday: Psalms 51-53 – Thursday: Job 35-36 – Friday: Jeremiah 27-31 – Saturday: Mark 15-16

Blessings!

Reading Through the Bible – Weeks 7 – 8 – 9

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I’m hoping that you continued your journey through the Bible this week – even if you had to use a little bit of creativity to do it…! I got immersed in my preparations for Holy Week and Easter last week; and, inadvertently, forgot to post readings for Week #7. Sorry about that! I’m posting the readings now – and the readings for the next two weeks since I’ll be taking some much-needed time away from the office. I’m hoping that, if you missed a few days along the way (or if you stopped reading because you weren’t sure which chapters to read next), we can just get things going again without delay. I’m suggesting that we just move forward without feeling a compelling need to return to readings we’ve missed. I’m sure that you’ve already picked-up that theme in this blog.

In the coming week, we’ll be reading one of the best-known passages in the Bible!

Psalm 23 is a wonderful psalm that clearly reminds us of God’s goodness and sustaining presence in our lives. David invites us to picture God as a Shepherd – leading us to places where we can safely drink from refreshing streams, and guiding us toward places in life where we can have our souls restored and refreshed in the midst of busy routines. We’re reminded that God is a God who journeys with us when life’s good, and we’re told that our God is also a God who walks with us “even though [we] walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)

We do not need to live in fear!

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:5)

We can know that God has “commanded His angels concerning [us],” and we can trust in the fact that God will “guard [us] in all [our] ways.” (Psalm 91:11)

This week, I’d like to invite you to spend some time thinking about where you are seeing God at work in your life these days. Where is God walking with you, right now?  Where is God lifting you up, sustaining you, and giving you strength? Where is God giving you the courage you need to face each new day with faith, hope and peace in your heart?

And now, here are the readings for next few weeks:

Week #7

Sunday: Romans 13-14 – Monday: Genesis 24-27 – Tuesday: Judges 7-11 – Wednesday: Psalms 18-20 – Thursday: Job 13-14 – Friday: Isaiah 34-39 – Saturday: Matthew 17-19

Week #8

Sunday: Romans 15-16 – Monday: Genesis 28-31 – Tuesday: Judges 12-16 – Wednesday: Psalms 21-23 – Thursday: Job 15-16 – Friday: Isaiah 40-44 – Saturday: Matthew 20-22

Week #9

Sunday: 1 Corinthians 1-2 – Monday: Genesis 32-35 – Tuesday: Judges 17-21 – Wednesday: Psalms 24-26 – Thursday: Job 17-18 – Friday: Isaiah 45-50 – Saturday: Matthew 23-25

Please remember that this journey through the Bible is meant to encourage you to explore God’s Word and to help you move through the Bible. It’s not meant to place a burden upon you! I’m hoping that if you miss a reading (or a few of the readings) along the way that you’ll feel free to simply jump back into the schedule of readings that I’m providing – knowing that, when you do, you’ll be re-connecting with faithful people who are committed to traveling through God’s Word with you.

Blessings!

Reading Through the Bible – Week 6

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I’m hoping that you continued your journey through the Bible this week! If you have missed a few days along the way, that’s OK. We are glad you’re staying with us – and hope that you’ll feel free to simply move forward without feeling burdened by the need to return to what you have missed.

We completed our first book of the Bible this week!

The book of Joshua began with the commissioning of the son of Nun; and continued with a story of dramatic conquest. We watched Israel cross the Jordan River and celebrate the first Passover in Canaan. We read the story of the fall of Jericho, and heard about the sun miraculously stopping in the sky. And then, the land God had promised to the Hebrews was divided between the tribes of Israel and cities of refuge were established for people who had accidentally killed other people.

The book of Joshua ends with a renewal of the covenant at Shechem: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Choose whom you will serve this day!” (Joshua 24:14-15) And Joshua adds: “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn on you and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” (Joshua 24:20)

Those are haunting words that put God on the spot. What is the nature of God? What is God’s response going to be when people fall short? How does this support or conflict with the image of God that we’ve come to know in Jesus Christ? We’ll see this image of God put to the test, again and again, as we continue to read God’s Word together.

And now, here are the readings for next week:

Week #6

Sunday: Romans 11-12 – Monday: Genesis 20-23 – Tuesday: Judges 1-6 – Wednesday: Psalm 15-17 – Thursday: Job 11-12 – Friday: Isaiah 29-33 – Saturday: Matthew 14-16

Please remember that this journey through the Bible is meant to encourage you to explore God’s Word and to help you move through the Bible. It’s not meant to place a burden upon you! I’m hoping that if you miss a reading (or a few of the readings) along the way that you’ll feel free to simply jump back into the schedule of readings that I’m providing – knowing that, when you do, you’ll be re-connecting with faithful people who are committed to traveling through God’s Word with you.

Blessings!

 

 

 

Reading Through the Bible – Week 4

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I’m hoping that you continued your journey through the Bible this week!

You’ve done it! I mentioned, last week, that studies have shown that new routines become a regular part of our lives after 21-days of consistent change. If you’ve been sticking with your daily times of reading the Bible with us, you’ve just created a life-changing spiritual practice. Congratulations! If you’ve missed a few days along the way, that’s OK too! We are glad that you’re staying with us – and hope that you’ll feel free to simply continue to move forward with us this week without feeling burdened by the need to return to what you’ve missed.

Perhaps, some of the things that you’ve read this week struck you?

Have you noticed the sharp contrast between the “peace with God” (that St. Paul describes in Romans 5:1) and the brutality that we’ve been seeing in the book of Joshua?

I was struck (on Wednesday) by the sharp distinction that I see between the words “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears” (Psalm 6:6) and the words “What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Where do you find yourself in your journey of faith, right now? Is your walk with Christ one that’s filled with harsh realities, or peace with God? Are you traveling through a time in your life when you are flooding your bed with tears, or are you mindful of God’s gentleness and compassion? Perhaps you would describe this particular point in your spiritual journey with other words? If that’s true, what words would you use?

That’s something that I’d encourage you to think about as you move through the rest of this week’s readings.

And now, here are the readings for next week:

Week #4

Sunday: Romans 7-8 – Monday: Genesis 12-15 – Tuesday: Joshua 16-20 – Wednesday: Psalm 9-11 – Thursday: Job 7-8 – Friday: Isaiah 18-22 – Saturday: Matthew 8-10

Please remember that this journey through the Bible is meant to encourage you to explore God’s Word and to help you move through the Bible over the course of the next 52 weeks. It’s not meant to place a burden upon you! I’m hoping that if you miss a reading (or a few of the readings) along the way that you’ll feel free to simply jump back into the schedule of readings that I’m providing – knowing that, when you do, you’ll be re-connecting with faithful people who are committed to traveling through God’s Word with you.

Blessings!