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God's Ears

I know that you like play with animals and watch them too.  Have you ever held really still while a wild animal gets really close to you?  Then when you move slightly or make some sort of noise, what do they do?  They suddenly come to attention and are “all ears” right?  Their ears prick up, twitch, their nose wrinkles and they listen intently for the slightest sound.  They know that their very lives may depend on how well they listen.

 I know you have seen animals do this.   And it is an excellent example of what Jesus does when we talk to Him.  David said in Psalms 66:19, “But certainly God has heard.  He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.” 

  Well, God’s ears don’t actually prick up or twitch like an animals but the Hebrew words that David used to say “given heed” actually means “to prick up the ears like an alert animal; to pay attention”. 

 So Jesus listens just that intently when you talk to Him Brandon.  He listens slowly and carefully to everything you have to tell Him.

 One of Grandpa King’s favorite bible texts is about Jesus listening like this:

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke often to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who reverence the Lord and who value His name.”   Malachi 3:16 

 So Jesus really listens and when you talk to Him you can be sure that He listens to you as if you were the only one on earth talking.

 And I think it is just as important that you listen carefully and intently to Him too when He talks to you through the bible and your mommy and daddy and others.  Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what I say.”  Matthew 11:15 

  “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry…the righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of their troubles.”  Psalm 34:15,17

 

Sandcastles

A while back I went over to the coast to see aunt Coni and cousin Stanley and I went to Cannon Beach.  You remember Cannon Beach, where we always went and stayed at the beach.  I was looking at the waves crashing in on the beach and the great big Haystack rock and I started remembering all the fun things I have done at the ocean…

 Do you remember building sand castles with lots of walls and moats around them?  And then building roads inside with feathers for flags?  Then the tide started coming in and we would try to keep it from washing them away.  We would frantically build them back up between waves and try desperately to make them hold out against the incoming water.  Were we ever successful?   Ever?   No. 

Eventually the water overpowered our castle and washed it away.

 I remember doing that many times and sometimes with you.  But Haystack rock is different.  You know Haystack rock…we have looked for hermit crabs and starfish and touched sea anemone there a lot of times.  It is a huge rock and thousands and thousands of waves crash upon it every hour.  But it stands strong!  For years it has stood against millions of stormy waves!  Zillions?  Quillions?!  Anyway, a lot!!!

 Sounds like an excellent place for the wise man to build his house.  We know from experience that only a foolish man would build it where we try to build our castles on the sand.  Right?

 So where are you going to build your life Brandon?  Many all around us are trying to build their forts on the sand.  Well, you and I saw what happened to our cool sand castles.  The same thing happens to us if we build on anything but Jesus.

So build your life on a Rock…like Haystack rock…strong and firm.  Build your fortress on Jesus.

 

Thrown in the Water

There is a lot of swimming in the bible.  Water can have different effects on people depending on the circumstances.  Can you think of a man who got really wet but who definitely didn’t have a good time?  Its one thing to be swimming for your life in the middle of a stormy ocean.   That is scary enough!  But to be eaten by a huge sea monster?!!?  Yikes!!   Wouldn’t you be scared if you were swimming in the sea and suddenly you saw a massive fin and a monstrous tail cutting through the waster toward you?!!?   Yikes again!!   And then a big eye and mouth!!   And just as he is swallowing you and you are trying to stay away from his teeth, you think, “I’m a gonner!  I’m dead!!”    Maybe God’s scary words in Job 41 would hit you, “Around his teeth there is terror!”   Face it!  You would be terrified!!

 And so was Jonah!!   No doubt!  Scales and fins and teeth!  He was definitely not having a good day and most definitely not excited about being in the water!

 Now remember Brandon, Peter was excited to choose Jesus and jumped into the water in his excitement to get to Him.   Captain Naaman wasn’t excited to jump in the water but chose Jesus anyway, testing the water tentatively with his big toe.  How about Jonah?  Did he choose Jesus?  No.  He didn’t.   He chose not to do what was right and was thrown into the water to the most terrifying experience of his life.

But even when Jonah didn’t choose Jesus and chose to do the wrong thing, did Jesus leave him to die?   He gave him another chance.

 So, even when you don’t feel like it and sometimes when you don’t choose Jesus, He still wont let you go but He will come again to give you another choice.   But, the water might get pretty scary in the mean time!!!!  So, I want you to think about Jonah’s terrifying swim once in a while, Brandon.

 

Like a Seed

Today the sun is making me feel great!  It almost feels like spring.  Pretty soon we will be growing plants in our gardens again.  Do you like to grow plants?    I think it is fun to get the earth soft and plant the little seeds in rows!   As you water, weed and protect them, they pop out of the ground and grow and grow and grow.  After a little while you are eating lettuce, cucumbers,

tomatoes :0(, and corn.   I think it really is an exciting miracle to eat what you helped to grow.

 God’s words in the bible are just like the seeds you plant in your garden.  Jesus says so in Luke 8:11.  So you can ask Jesus for anything He has promised you in the bible and your prayers will grow up and be answered as surely as little seeds grow into watermelons! 

 Sometimes do you get anxious to eat what you planted and it seems like it takes forever for it to grow?  It can feel the same way with the things we ask God for.  Sometimes it just doesn’t look like God is keeping His promise or that our prayer garden is even growing.  And it is tempting to think that maybe our fruit isn’t even going to grow.  But remember, it takes a while after you plant the seed before you can eat the corn, right? And some plants, like lettuce, grow fast but others, like corn or watermelon, grow slow. 

 So, if you keep on watching your prayer garden carefully so that it doesn’t freeze or get eaten by bugs and if you weed and water it by continuing to ask Jesus to answer you like He promised and don’t give up on your seeds, then the promise will grow up into a big, fat watermelon for you to eat because you will see your prayers answered. 

 So be patient, believe in Jesus’ promises and wait for Him to grow your garden up.  And you will always see the promise happen just like you see the corn ripen in the summer and fall.

 If you hold the seeds in your hands when you put them in the ground and carefully watch over them as they grow, then you can expect, without a doubt, to hold the fruit in your hands too.   A big watermelon is in every little watermelon seed.  It just hasn’t grown yet.   In the same way you can expect God to keep His promises even though they haven’t grown up or matured yet.

 Thank Him for that big, fat watermelon right now while you are planting the seeds.

 

“His promises will be fulfilled. They have never failed.  They never can fail.”  Steps to Christ  p111

“Whoever believes in Jesus will not be disappointed.”  Romans 10:11

"You give up on your garden (God’s promises) to soon.  Keep praying and believe in the harvest.  The promises are sure.  Believe you receive the things you ask for and you shall have them. (Mark 11:24)”    Early Writings p73

 

The Words of my Mouth

Hmmm…..let me see…..I think we will talk about language.  Remember when God spoke the 10 commandments from Mount Sinai?  Do you remember what the 3rd commandment says?

 Exodus 20  “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain, for the Lord will                      not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

“In vain” in the Hebrew language means “to rush over” or  “to destroy”.    In other words we don’t want to say God’s name in a hurried, meaningless way.  Or say it in a way that would destroy the reverence that is belongs to it.   God is big and good beyond our understanding.  He made everything including the infinite sacrifice so we could live.  So we want to honor and respect His name.

 Peter, if you remember, had a problem with his mouth.  When he was upset he sometimes said very bad things.  It all came out the worst when he denied Jesus at his trial in Matthew 26:74.  “He began to curse and to swear” so he could convince them that he was not a disciple.  After all, a disciple of Jesus would never use such filthy language or take God’s name in vain, right?   Then the cock crowed….and Peter felt terrible and went out and cried.  He remembered that Jesus said it would happen and he must have remember His rebuke to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34-37

 “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good.  

 For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good and the

evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth that which is evil.  And I say

unto you that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render

account for it in the judgment.   For by your words you shall be justified 

and by your words you shall be condemned.”

 Peter had to let Jesus change his heart and make it good before his mouth would always say good things.   And so do we. 

 James said in James 3:2-8 that the tongue is like the bit in a horses mouth that controls the whole horse.  It is like the little rudder on a ship that controls the whole ship.  It is like the forest fire that is set ablaze by a little match.   So the tongue controls the body and boasts great things even though it is very small.  The problem is that  “No one can control the tongue…”   James 3:8   Not you, not me, not anyone.

 Only Jesus can if we let Him fill our hearts with His good treasures. 

 He says  “Let no unwholesome word come from your mouth.”  (Ephesians 4:29),    “Put aside abusive speech from your mouth.”  (Colossians 3:8), and  “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”  (Psalms 34:13)   Jesus commands us to do this and if He commands us to do something, He gives us the power to do it.  How?  By putting His goodness inside us if we ask Him every day.

 The wisest man that ever live was Solomon.  And I couldn’t finish without writing down a few of his Proverbs.

Proverbs 15:4  “A soothing tongue is a tree of life but perversion in it                                 crushes the spirit”

        Proverbs 18:21  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

        Proverbs 15:28  “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer but                                     the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

        Proverbs 21:23  “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his                                     soul from troubles.”

 So Dustin, I pray that the words of Psalms 19:14 will be what you want for your tongue:

         “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy

sight O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

 

Stand Firm 

I know that one of your favorite stories is the story of Moses and the deliverance of Isreal from the Egyptians.  Remember Moses, at the Red Sea, said, “Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord….”  It is so important for us to stand firm for God’s all important cause.  There is no other thing in life that is as important. 

 Let your heart thrill to see the 3 boys standing alone before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image when everyone else fell.  And be amazed to see the Spirit of the Lord upon Samson when he killed 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.  He was only one left standing!

 And I just found the most incredible story in 1 Chronicles 11:12-14.  David, with an army, fought against the Philistines at Pasdammim.  As the battle continued David’s army fled before the Philistines.  But David and one of his mighty men, Eleazar, stood back to back in a barley field and struck down the hoards of Philistines that came at them. And the Lord saved them with a great victory against all odds.  Can you see David and his friend, back to back, fighting furiously with their flashing swords while the bodies of thousands of Philistines piled up around them. 

 They were invincible!  Why?  Because they stood firm for God’s almighty cause and, risking everything, fought His battles.  So it must be with you and me.  After everyone else runs or falls, we must still be there, standing…fighting for God.

 It is interesting that David and his friend took their stand in a field of barley.  Do you know what grain is a symbol of in the bible?  The Word of God is our bread from heaven right?  And they clung to their swords which were also symbols for God’s Word—which is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).  And because they clung to the Word, God fought for them and they were victorious. 

 God will do the same for you Dustin if you put on His armor and fight His battles.

 

“Therefore put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil...and to resist in the evil day and having done everything, to stand firm.”  Ephesians 6:11 & 13

 

Don't Tear Your Clothes!

 As I was reading in the books of Moses about Isreal, the sanctuary and the priests, I came across a something very interesting.  You remember when Nadab and Abihu burned strange fire and died before the Lord?   Well, immediately after Moses told Aaron, “Do not tear your clothes or you will die.”   It was a natural thing that people did then when very sad things happened like your children dying.  But Aaron couldn’t do it because for him it was sin.

 Why?  Why is God so pleased in 2 Chronicles 34:27-28 that He pours out His blessing when Josiah the king tears his robes and yet warn Aaron of death for doing the same thing? 

 The answer is that Aaron was a priest and priests had special privileges.  In Old Testament times, only priests could go into the tabernacle’s Holy Place, and once a year the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of Jehovah.   Only the high priest knew what it was to stand in God’s Presence and live.

 But what does this have to do with his responsibility not to tear his robes? 

Remember that tearing robes was a cultural way of expressing extreme despair over a disaster.  I think God’s lesson is clear:  Someone who can come into the immediate presence of God never has reason to regard anything as a disaster.  In other words, when a person is aware of God’s presence in his or her life, nothing that happens can bring on a sense of despair or cause them to lose all hope.  If a priest were to tear his robes for personal grief, he would be clearly saying to all that there are problems in life that God doesn’t have solutions for.   And that is never true!! 

 The God who is love, the God of eternity, the Infinite, personal God who lives in the hearts of His people and sovereignly directs the flow of history is big enough to easily take care of every situation!  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  No problem is beyond His power to solve.  There is no possible event in life that God can’t take care of.  People who can approach this God directly must not despair.  To do so is to say that God is powerless to work for eternal good in our set of circumstances.

 Now here is the mind blower Dustin!  One of the most remarkable truths in the New Testament is that every member of God’s family is a priest!  Read it in 1 Peter 2:5!  We are warmly encouraged to come boldly to the throne of God, to approach Him believing that He understands our problems, cares about our struggles and will work everything out in our life for good.

 Because you and I, being saved children of God, enjoy the privileged position of priests, we must never tear our clothes.  Such action is unworthy and unbecoming for a priest of the Almighty Shepherd.  In His presence, there is never cause for despair!   There may be pain or hurt or sadness, but never despair.  No situation is so desperate that God can’t take care of it for us.  We must fully realize that our determination to live for God and to do what He says will always result in something good.

 

 “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing happened to Him except what His Father permitted for the blessing of the world.  This was Jesus’ source of comfort, and it is ours too.   When Christ’s spirit lives in us, then we abide in Him and whatever good or evil comes to us comes from Him.  We have no need to resist evil for Jesus is our defense.  Nothing can touch us except by our Lord’s permission and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28”

 Ellen White from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing  p71

 

With Your Might

The bible has some pretty powerful things to say about work.  The wisest man that ever lived said:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.                                                                                                                                                     Ecclesiastes 9:10

It is important to give everything you do your best shot.  Why?  Because we are not just working for men but for Jesus.

And whatsoever you do, do your work heartily, as to the Lord rather that for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  For it is the Lord that you serve.                                               

Colossians 3:23-24

Remember the parable of the talents?  At the end of the story the master says:  “He that is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.  But he who is unfaithful in a very little thing is unfaithful also in much.”  Luke 16:10

 God is looking for boys and girls and men and women that are trustworthy and responsible so He can use them for His purposes.   

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.  

                                                                                                2 Chronicles 16:9

Who you really are is what you are when nobody is looking.  You can fool men but God is watching and you can’t fool Him. Joseph did his work like he was doing it for God and look how God used him.

Maybe you can’t do it perfect but you can always do your best.  So strive for excellence in everything you do.  Even if no one is looking.  And God who sees in secret will reward you openly.

 

Evidence of Things Not Seen

I am at it again.  Because I think wisdom in this world is important.  Not my wisdom, mind you.  Gods.  Listen carefully to what He says:

          “Now Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink for there is the sound of the roar             of a heavy rain.’”  1 Kings 18:41

Rain?  Did you hear that?  Rain!!  How could Elijah hear rain?   The sun was still hot and scorching in the sky and dust swirled in the air.  He still had to pray 7 times before it would come.  But he hears rain!

Can you explain that Dustin?  As I think about it, I think that it is consistent with many other stories of God’s men in the bible.  I think Elijah knew God so well that he could hear His voice.  God speaks in many ways…through His promises, our thoughts, a friend or a dream, just to name a few.  So Elijah was so sure of God’s voice that he was really saying,  “I hear the sound of God’s voice!  He says it is going to rain.  It may not look or sound like a storm now but I hear it coming.” 

That reminds me of another man who heard rain coming 120 years before it arrived!! 

 Do you believe God like that?  That solidly?!  Even when it looks impossible?

 Joshua heard Jesus speak too.  Face to face, dressed as the Captain of the host of the Lord.   Jesus told him the same thing he told Elijah and Noah. 

          “See, I have already given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the                       valiant warriors.”  Joshua 6:1 

Already?  But Jericho didn’t look any different.  As a manner of fact, there was no change whatsoever.  Joshua still had to march around Jericho 7 times before it would fall.  Already conquered?!

 God says this to us often, Dustin.  And He wants us to believe Him even when everything looks the same.  I have good news for you!  When God states He has done something, from then on, as far as He is concerned, it is a done deal—He has done it!

 So what does God want from you?    He wants the same thing as He did from Elijah, Noah and Joshua.  First, talk to God and listen to His voice. Then believe Him, take Him at His word…possess it…lay hold of it. 

Fight the good fight of the faith. Lay hold of the eternal life

to which you were summoned and for which you confessed the good confession of faith before many people.”  1 Timothy 6:12

 What am I saying?

We walk by faith and not by sight.  2 Corinthians 4:18 and 5:7   Remember that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”.  God wants you and me to believe Him so absolutely that we are willing to stake our lives on what He says will happen. 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly

that it might not rain;  and it did not rain on the earth for three

years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured

rain, and the earth produced it fruit.”  James 5:17-18

 “It was because Elijah was a man of large faith that God could use him in this grave crisis in the history of Isreal.  As he prayed, his faith reached out and grasped the promises of Heaven, and he persevered in prayer until his petitions were answered.  He did not wait for the full evidence that God had heard him, but was willing to venture all on the slightest token of divine favor.   And yet what he was enabled to do under God, all may do in their sphere of activity in God’s service.  (That is you and me Coni!)  Faith such as this in needed in the world today—faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears.”

                                                        Ellen White’s comments in Prophets and Kings  p 157

 

God Needs You

Do you know why God created you?  Ellen White answers that question when she says, “We were brought into existence because we were needed.”  God needs you.  Out of the billions of people that have been created you are unique.  There is no other like you and there is a place in God’s heart that is Dustin shaped.

 God doesn’t just long for you to understand what He means to you but also what you mean to Him.

Remember all the Bible heroes that made God happy?  Enoch walked with God and made him happy. Read about it in Hebrews 11:5.  Abraham is called the friend of God in James 2:23 and in Isaiah 41:8 God Himself says, “My friend Abraham”.  And what about Moses?  “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.”  Exodus 33:11 God loves to talk with us about His plans just like He did with Abraham about Sodom and with Moses about wayward Israel. 

 So God formed you to be His friend because He needed a friend.  You cannot take the place of Enoch or Abraham or Moses nor can they take your place.  God has a place in His infinite heart that only you can fill.  For this reason He made you.  For this reason He died for you.  For this reason He has gone to prepare a home for you.  No matter how much He loves Moses, remember that He values you as if you were the only one in the world.  “The relation between go and each soul is as distinct and full as if there were not another soul upon the earth.”  Steps to Christ  100

 How can God need you when He has billions of other friends?  Imagine that when you and Brandon grow up that Brandon is good and respectful of mommy and me but you are a rascal and don’t respect mommy and I and rebelliously break the laws of God and man.  When Brandon came to visit we would be so happy in his friendship but then a tear would trickle down our faces as we thought of you somewhere out in the world and longed for your companionship and love.  There is a place in our hearts that only you can fill.  It is the same with God.  The love of millions of others cannot take the place of your love, your friendship and your fellowship. 

 That is why we need to spend our days thinking of God and talking with Him and being His friend. 

 

Choose to Fight

“Every man is a warrior inside, but the choice to fight is his own.”

 Think back over the lives of the heroes you have read about:

King Aurther…Paul…Abraham Lincoln…Daniel…Robin Hood…Jesus. 

These men had a battle to fight, a great mission in life that they were willing to follow even unto death.  (Remember what Jesus said in Mark 8:35, “but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it”.)  They had a transcendent cause, in other words:  a purpose beyond their personal needs and wants. 

 Now listen carefully, Dustin, because you do too.    That is why God created you---to stand by His side and join Him in the Great Battle along with all the truly great men of all time.  You have a specific place in the line, a mission God made you for.

 Satan’s lie is that your place here is really insignificant (unimportant, small) and that you aren’t really armed for it anyway.  You would like to lead the charge with a big sword in your hand but he makes you feel like the guy in the back with a hoe.

 But in your life, you are the hero!   Who else could you be?  There is no other boy or man who can replace you in your life, in the place God has called you to.  If you leave that place, it will remain empty.  No one else can be what you are meant to be.  You are the hero in your own story.  

 That is why, like I told you last week, you must choose to fight.  If you don’t, the enemy will destroy you.  Don’t kill the true man within you by turning away from your deep desires for battle and God and purity and adventure and beauty.  Instead, step into your place in the line.  Shoot the traitor!  How?  Choose against him every time you see him raise his ugly head and walk straight towards God and never passively accept evil.

 Then you will discover your strength in the daily details of your life.  This strength is wild and fierce and may make you feel uneasy at first.  But as you begin to taste God’s true strength, you will want more.  

 And, once it arrives, nothing will ever be the same.   So take up your Sword and lead the charge!

 

Little Things

Have you ever wondered how Joseph was able to stand so firm, upright and wise?  I have.  Look at how many others in the bible failed. 

 The reason is simple.  In his early years he was careful to do the duties that presented themselves to him and not just whatever he wanted to do.  Communion with God through nature and study of the way God dealt with other faithful men elevated and stimulated his spiritual nature and broadened and strengthened his mind like no other study could have done.  A pure and simple life gave him vigorous and strong physical and mental powers. 

 This is doing the same for you Dustin.  Ellen White says,

“Very few realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of their character.  Nothing with which we have to do is really small.  Every little circumstance that we meet day by day is designed to test our faithfulness and to qualify us for greater things.  By standing firm for the right in the things of ordinary life each day, the mind becomes accustomed to holding the claims of duty above those of pleasure and whatever you might want to do at the moment.  Minds disciplined like this will not waver between right and wrong, like a blade of grass in the wind; but they will be loyal to duty because little by little each day they have trained themselves to do so.  By faithfulness in that which is least, they gain strength to be faithful in much.”      

                                                Patriarchs and Prophets  222

 A good character worth more than priceless gold and without it no one can rise to honorable reputation.  But you don’t inherit character from your mom or dad.  You can’t buy it with money and it is not formed by accident.  The shaping of a noble character is the work of a lifetime and must be the result of effort that constantly stays on course. 

 That is why it says “STAY” on your coat of arms at the bottom.  You must always stay faithful in little and big things.  Each day God gives you opportunities to do this and your success depends upon the use that you make of those opportunities.

 A little seedling can grow up to be a massive cedar, straight and tall.  But if it is bent wrong in just a little way when it is small, it will grow crooked and be ruined.  That little seedling is you.  And the little things put you and Joseph on an even plane.  You can stand firm, with integrity and wisdom too.