Do you stop long enough so that God can break through the noise of your life? Television, music, conversations, and the Internet – a constant flow of noise. It takes discipline to stop and compare God's words with our inner dialogue. Our inner thoughts guide our actions and our decisions. If it is not aligned with God, we can't identify areas of unbelief, make corrections or connect deeper with God.
And He said, “Go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And, behold, the Lord passed by and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a still small voice.
Some commentaries on this scripture compare the “still, small voice” to Jesus’ mild voice and gentle nature. The “still, small voice” in verse 12 literally means “a sound of soft stillness.” God is so much more than the terrors of external power. He often speaks like a “light breath” penetrating the inmost soul, just like Jesus who spoke, without words, from the cross.
The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
The word for “fight” here in Hebrew is lacham, which means to “consume or devour.” At the time, the Egyptian army was a dominant well-trained army. The Israelites had few weapons and no training. They should have been easy prey, but instead, the Egyptian army was wiped out. God often requires us to stand still and let Him do the work.
Humbling ourselves before God begins with the explicit recognition we have defied God by embracing the things He hates; things we were never created for. You know in your heart, “This is wrong. I have sinned. God is grieved.” (The opposite of this is often justification: “I was wounded. If you knew what I went through and how badly I've been treated, you would cut me some slack.”)
Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
Even when God called to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” He knew where they were. He knew they had sinned. He called because He is love. He was inviting them to confession. This was already a manifestation of the Good Shepherd, calling and looking for His lost sheep (Luke 19:10).
Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
Here David declares in a heartfelt manner that he has sinned, not against Bathsheba, Uriah, or his people, but against God alone. If we are not genuinely upset by our sin, we are without remorse. True repentance is uncomfortable and painful but also sweet.
We struggle to give everything in our lives to God because we are not yet grasping that we are accepted, valued and cherished by Christ despite our sin. It’s His image being restored in us. We are called to give the Master Potter full permission to shape us more than we allow the world or others to shape us. We don't get to retain certain rights: offense, self-seeking behavior and self-righteousness all must die. If you turn your life over to God, it is a complete surrender.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Jesus said if we want to follow Him, we must take up our cross daily and follow him. This is something that must take place in your thoughts. Judging or dissatisfaction thoughts, for example, must be ‘put to death’ on an inner cross every day. Instead, you choose to deny the thoughts access to your heart.
“...that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for the one who has died is freed from sin.” (v6-7)
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and put Me to the test now in this,” says the Lord of armies, “If I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
This is the only verse in the Bible where God says, “Test me on this.” This verse is about tithing and giving part of your income to God. Here God is not guaranteeing you will be financially prosperous or spared from material losses. Instead, God is saying that someone who cheerfully gives to God's work will be more blessed than those who do not.
Experiencing the goodness of God fully requires we forgive others. Forgiving others takes away bitterness, anger, and revenge. Forgiving is choosing to release resentment and allow God to heal us. In short, we must forgive because God has forgiven us. Jesus even forgave those who falsely accused, arrested and tortured Him as He hung on the cross.
All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
These are harsh words! This verse says, “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander…” In short, we are to cease everything we do to hurt others. Made in His image, we are to be kind and compassionate.
For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.
If we don't forgive, God won't forgive. When we see injustice, we may feel God is letting people get away with things. Isn't He just? Of course, God is just! And no, God is not letting people “get away” with bringing evil and suffering. God loves us, and He doesn't take offence against us lightly. Justice is, however, not in our hands. Proverbs 20:22 says that God will vindicate us Himself.
Confession and faith are two sides of the same coin called transformation. When we confess our sins, we turn from sin to Jesus, and through faith, we embrace Him as our only hope. As Christians, we believe there is one mediator between us and God – Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). However, the process of forgiving implies heart-felt confession. Confession to others may be in-person but may also be done privately to release yourself or others in when you have been separated by time, distance or physical death.
”But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In Jesus, we have access to the Father. We don’t have to appeal to others to be forgiven because only God can truly take away sin.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
In the everyday life of a Christian, honesty, and purity of heart means that we will not keep our sins in the dark from the people in our lives. If you stay silent about the terrible things you have done, it physically affects you. One can only have peace once you've given it all to the Lord. The principle here is yes, we must confess to God, but dishonesty and hiding our sin brings further spiritual and physical misery. God wants to spare us this and teaches us to confess our sin also to one another.
Walking the walk of faith means walking it with others, not in isolation. We are designed to fellowship with others and share our lives. It is within the context of these relationships that we express and receive love. You’re meant to be part of the Body. God gave us a community of believers to experience the give-and-receive of love.
...and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...
Fellowship with others challenges us to be more like Jesus. Therefore, we should encourage each other as we pursue God and His Kingdom. Within the context of community, we are refined as followers of Jesus.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor. For if either falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat, but how can one be warm alone? And if one overpowers him who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
In times of trouble, two are better than one. You multiply strength, stamina and talent in a community. Our gifts and talents can bless others within the body of Christ and without. As believers, we're part of something special.
Love can be a powerful weapon in the Christian arsenal. We believe Jesus works through us, so if people are acting ugly or the issues in your life seem too difficult, you can ask Jesus to love the person through you. With His love as supernatural assistance, you can keep from striking back in word and deed. Another basic principle for a blessed life is giving back to God and to others what He freely bestows on us.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Our reaction to situations and the unkind things people say can determine if the problem dissipates or escalates. A gentle and kind answer will soften the atmosphere, whereas retaliating with anger will only lead to more anger.
...and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love (agape in Greek) is not based on emotions; therefore, we can love others even if we don't feel like it. Instead, godly love is given to us by the Holy Spirit, and His love shapes our will, leading to action and loving emotions.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
God is perfect love, peace, joy, kindness, and patience. If we choose a life with Him, all these things can also be ours. However, as we receive these blessings freely, we must also be willing to give them away freely.