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10 October 2012

Listening to God - October 10

When we’re listening for God, we are affected by our understanding of who He is. Is He loving or demanding? Understanding or insensitive? Faithful or inconsistent? Intimate or distant? Gentle or angry?

When you come to God, do you expect Him to accept you and love you just as you are? (We know that we all need to make changes and that we sin and do stuff He would be angry about, of course, but the question is about now. When you talked to God today, did you expect Him to accept you at the place you are – or were you afraid you weren’t good enough, or smart enough, or _____ enough?

God loves us and expects us to love others. He sets the example for us, and He proved His love by sending His only Son to die for all our sins.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11 (ESV)

Do you have difficulty believing that God loves you? Take some time to look up verses that prove God’s love. If you can borrow or find one at a reasonable price, I highly recommend Nave’s Topical Bible.

When you talk to God, are you allowed to say anything you want? Can you tell Him you are mad at Him, for instance? Can you tell Him that you don’t understand something and ask Him to give you an answer? Again, we look to Jesus. He lived intimately with His disciples. He saw them asking questions that were intelligent, some questions that weren’t so “smart”. We saw them adore Him and ask many things. We also saw some of them say things that angered Jesus (“Get thee behind me, Satan” is a pretty harsh response to one of your inner circle!) As Jesus taught His disciples about love, He also told them that they were His friends. We are also His friends if we have accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:12-17 (ESV)

Is God an angry disciplinarian, or does He punish us to help us get back on track? We are all products of our upbringing, and part of our perspective of God is based on the way our parents (particularly our father) treated us. Loving fathers produce people who tend to see God as loving; absent fathers produce people who see God as distant; abusive fathers produce people who see God as angry.

Yes, Jesus overturned the tables in the temple. He was also very harsh with the Pharisees. He reprimanded Peter, too. Jesus was harsh when He needed to be. But when you read through the Gospels, you see a thread of compassion. The woman at the well, living with a man and previously married, who was seeking the living water, received compassion, explanation, and a command to go and sin no more. The woman caught in adultery, crying at Jesus’ feet, was met with compassion and a comment to the crowd asking that whoever had no sin cast the first stone to kill her. Jesus even had compassion for Judas because He knew that Judas was part of God’s big picture.

Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to see how compassionately Jesus dealt with people. Look at the way He chose to correct those who were truly seeking Him. Jesus is the picture of our God: compassionate, loving, and ready to correct us to make our lives better.

Does Jesus care about how you feel? Does He understand your desires and temptations? Yes! Remember, He went through the human experience. He was tempted by Satan and offered, literally, the world. We know that He could get angry. He went through life (voluntarily) so He would be able to say that He has shared our pain. There are many Scriptures which show God’s compassion, and I think that this Scripture sums it up nicely.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalms 103:8 (ESV)

Do you know that God is trustworthy, reliable, and consistent? Do you know that He is there in your time of need? I leave you today with a verse that was made into a hymn. If you can, find a recording of Great Is Thy Faithfulness and let the faithfulness of God wash over you!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23 (ESV)

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