Listen to the Sound of His Voice

Oh how I long for November. And no, it isn’t because of the pecan pie I will be wolfing down at Thanksgiving. My true longing for October to come to an end is actually motivated by a desire to see my neighborhood’s Halloween decorations packed away for another year. I am all for a day that centers around candy, but this year the decorations are causing me some grief. The main culprit is, specifically, one nylon ghost.

For some reason the fabric ghost, which is tethered to a tree, terrifies my dog. Unfortunately the tree to which the ghost is tied is on the route of our daily walk. The first time we passed the ghost my dog went absolutely bonkers. She jumped, she growled, and the hair on the back of her neck stood straight up. She pulled on her leash and barked and barked. Some people passing the same way found the whole thing quite comical. They weren’t the ones holding onto the leash!

After having my shoulder wrenched for several minutes, I pulled my dog along the sidewalk. That entire block, which is a long stretch, she kept her head turned toward the ghost. I talked quietly to her, reassuring her that the thing that was terrifying her was not real. She ignored my calming voice. She was in such a frenzy that I don’t think she even heard my voice. Every ounce of her concentration was on the ghost. I tried to shift her focus to what was on the sidewalk right in front of us, and she kept looking at the “threat.” She was so consumed by what was frightening her; she missed out on things that would have given her pleasure. Quite a few squirrels went un-barked at that day and a fragrant fire hydrant went un-sniffed. My dog was so worried about something that wasn’t even real that she missed the joy of our walk together.

Sound familiar? As I talked to my dog that day about how silly she was to expend so much energy worrying about something that wasn’t even real, God reminded me that I often do the very same thing. How many times do I miss the beauty of the day the Lord has set before me because I am worried about something that may happen? How many times has he tried to get my focus turned back towards Him so that he could speak truth into my situation? How many times have I missed His calming voice? And the thing of it is, most of the things that push my worry button never come to pass. Can I get a witness?

We have an amazing Master; He holds the entire universe together and still longs to walk through life with us. If we listen to the sound of his voice in our daily time with him, it will be much easier to recognize when the real threats come. He is faithful, He is true. And He hasn’t just suggested that we not worry, He has commanded it.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.   Matthew 6:34

Cyndi Word

Our Enemy

The devil has had thousands of years to study humanity, and we’ve less than a lifetime to understand him. He has examined human psychology, physiology, biology and sociology using this information to war against us and he has taken advantage of his time to put his knowledge into practice. It is said that from a worldly perspective, “history repeats itself”, but from a Christian perspective, we are witnessing the trial and error of Satan who desires to sit as a god over all the inhabitants of earth. It would seem that he has an unfair intellectual advantage over each generation, until we realize that all that we need to know about him is summed up at Calvary.

The devil invested all the knowledge and experience that he had accumulated, and threw it at Jesus of Nazareth. When he could not defeat Jesus face to face in the wilderness, he used other people. It isn’t hard to imagine the celebratory high-fives after having incited the Pharisees and mob to crucify Him. What a shock it must have been to the devil, to finally realize that all of his efforts to destroy the only begotten Son of God were used to participate in the salvation of mankind.

The heel that crushed the head of Satan was the one that Satan through the hands of men, nailed to the cross. The blood that ran from the wounds of Jesus was the very means of our redemption. How brief was Satan’s celebration and what a dramatic turn of events when he realized he had been out-witted. A cloud of heavenly hosts witnessed his defeat as the dramatic scene unfolded. They were the first to know. It would be three days before his disciples would discover that this was just the beginning of a new era; an era that heralded a new creation, a new species of mankind within whom God would dwell.

Satan in ignorance of the things that truly define us had underestimated the love of God for the humanity that He created in His own image. Satan may be an intelligent creature, but he knows nothing of faith, hope and love. It was the love of God for mankind that led to the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. It was the Son’s love for mankind, and for God His Father, that gave Him the courage to fulfill His divine purpose as a lamb led to the slaughter. The very same God who created all things seen and unseen, took upon Himself human flesh in order to save us from destruction, and to have fellowship with us. Our way may not always be clear, but our destination is sure.

Satan’s destination is sure also. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev.20:10)

Satan devotes his time to making Christian lives miserable which is why it sometimes appears that the unsaved have an easier time of it in this world. They are not “plagued like other men…”(Psalm 73:5) but their end is most miserable. We are living in the perilous times described by Holy Scripture, and it is important to navigate these times under the banner of our victorious Lord and in union with Him. Satan tries to steal, kill and destroy. He counters faith with doubt, hope with discouragement and love with hatred, envy and apathy. All that he can do is try to deceive us and pry us away from Calvary and the victory that was accomplished there on our behalf.

Often we see the cross as a bridge to God, and live with it in our rearview mirror. Jesus never described Himself in that way. He said “I am the door”, “I am the gate”, “I am the vine”…never “I am the bridge”. We believe into Christ, and we abide in Him, where His Spirit works in us and through us. As we abide in Christ, we abide in His victory because we are joined and made one with the Victor, Jesus Christ. That’s all we need to know.

Deborah J Claypool

Someone is Always Watching

A dog’s gotta eat. At least that is what my pup’s soulful brown eyes seemed to say when she heard the plastic scoop scrape the bottom of her dog-food container. So off I went to the pet store. I threw the dog food, a Frisbee and some Milk-bones in my cart and headed to the check-out counter. I’m not sure what the cashier was thinking about, maybe the cute guy in her geometry class, but she rang my Frisbee up twice, the Milk-bones once and told me my total. Somewhere in the back of my mind a little alarm sounded-was that total correct? My dog’s sensitive system required an expensive dog food and I expected my bill to be higher but I swiped my payment card anyway.

Once I got home I looked at my receipt and saw the error. My bill was 20 dollars less than what it should have been. UGH, the cute guy in geometry class was now causing me problems. For a few seconds I tried to justify ignoring the discrepancy. I spent a lot of money at that pet store; they made quite a hefty profit off of me, and after-all the clerk is the one who made the mistake. But then I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit calling. He reminded me that character is who you are when no one else is around. And the fact is, for Christians, there is ALWAYS someone else around, the very indwelling of God himself. So I prepared to make a call to the pet store.

I played the scenario out in my mind. I imagined how grateful the manager would be that someone was honest enough to point out a mistake that worked in the store’s favor. I even imagined him asking why I would go out of my way to spend more money. And I would then say (cue the harp music) in my most humble voice that it was all because of Jesus.

Sniff, sniff, does anyone else smell some pride?

God was real quick to deal with that. I made the call to the store and the manager was not at all impressed with my honesty. In fact, she was a bit defensive and obnoxious. She told me to come back in and they would…sigh…get another bag of food off the shelf and scan it. Like I had placed a heavy burden on the employees of the store! Well, I hung up the phone and my earlier internal debate restarted with a vengeance and became external as I got my youngest son involved. That store didn’t deserve my honesty, why should I be inconvenienced when they are the ones who made a mistake and on and on and on.

Again the Holy Spirit spoke. He reminded me of Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” As far as my pride went he reminded me that my righteousness was as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) and then he finally said, “Sister, do you really want to talk about the word deserve?”

I knew I didn’t. The fact is that we who wear the name of Christ are called to follow his example in the way we live. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard, it doesn’t matter if it’s convenient, and it really doesn’t matter if the recipient of our grace deserves it. Jesus understands hard, he understands inconvenience and he has given more grace than we can ever comprehend.

Lord, Grant us strength to do the same.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~Micah 6:8

* For those of you who like an ending to a story, I did indeed go back to the store. I hate to admit that I still imagined getting a different manager who would be impressed by my integrity. Guess who I got? The same manager I had talked to the day before and she was no more impressed with me in person than she was on the phone. I’m grateful that God is so patient in teaching His lessons. The lesson on pride only cost me 20 bucks!

Cyndi Word