Act Upon

Read James 1:22-25

Many parents and spouses often make comments about hearing deficits in regard to their children and/or spouse. These individuals usually do not have a hearing issue but instead they are not responding to what their parent and/or spouse deems as appropriate. This creates frustration within the relationship. The frustration is expressed often by using such a question as, “Do you have a hearing problem because I just told you (fill in the blank) and yet you (fill in the blank)?” The person has heard but chose not to act upon whatever was said to them.

In his letter, James cautions the followers of Christ not to just receive the Word but to act upon what they have received. James provides imagery which shows the pointlessness of listening to what the Word says but not putting it into action within one’s life. Instead, James tells the reader to find in the Word the freedom which is given and to live within the Word. Acting upon what is learned from the Word will provide blessings in life.

How often are we like children who are given guidance and direction but ignore this? We have been given the Word of God, and seen it demonstrated in the life of Christ, as a pattern and guide for the way in which we live. This gift can only be a true gift if we act upon what we learn. The value of the Word is not found in the writings but in how we apply these writings daily in our lives. When we grasp the life application of God’s Word, we discover blessings which would allude us otherwise.

Spend time in studying God’s Word but do not stop there, apply what you have discovered in your daily life.

In The Quiet

In a world where there is constant noise around us, sometimes the loudest voice is found in the quiet.

Recently, I was sitting in my office and considering what I might wish to share next with those who read my posts. As I sat at my desk, I heard the ticking of a clock which hangs over my desk. Outside the window I could hear a bird calling. Then I became aware of the sound of my own breathing. I just sat for a while and listened. It created a calm that allowed my mind to open to possibilities. At one point, I realized that the inspiration I was searching for was found in the quiet surrounding me.

The concept of hearing the big things in the midst of the quiet is one which we find in Scripture. When we hear the story of Elijah and his fears and frustrations as a prophet of God, we hear of God being present in the quiet:

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13a, NIV)

The psalmist reminds us the importance of finding God in the quiet when we see these words:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

I have to admit that I have not always been very good at sitting in the quiet. I have had to train myself to sit and listen. My nature is to be going, doing, actively engaging. In order to achieve any ability to just sit and listen, I have had to work on deliberately creating a quiet environment and forcing myself to resist the urge to break the surrounding silence with activity. When other individuals would tell me what a rewarding exercise it is to be in a more contemplative and listening state of silence, I thought they were crazy or at the very least I would become crazy trying to participate in such an exercise.

Over time, and with the forced guidance of others, I began to become more comfortable being in the quiet. Early on I had to learn to forgive myself when my mind would race on and I would not be able to sit for any amount of extended time. As I engaged more frequently in taking deliberate quiet time, I found myself feeling much more comfortable with the quiet. Continued engagement in periods of time like these, let me to begin embracing these times more and more. I also was pleasantly surprised that I was able to “hear” more each time. The ideas which began to fill my mind were inspired thoughts by the Lord. While there was no audible voice, there was a sense that the Lord was speaking to me.

All of this brings me back to the two passages from Scripture which I shared with you earlier. I find the Lord more often in the gentle whispers of the world around me. I experience the presence of the almighty God more intensely when I am still.

You may be skeptical like I was. You may say that you are too busy to take time for quiet. Your fear may be just like mine in the sense that you are afraid you would go stir crazy if you just sat in silence. Let me tell you that I understand all of those thoughts and feelings because I had them all. Yet, if you will deliberately, and maybe even force yourself, to make time to be in the quiet, a whole new world of possibilities will open to you.