The hymn for today is a psalm of praise.
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Sunday, July 31, 2016
There once was an old man, crying out to God, “Remove this pest from me!” And he cried it again, and again—because it was not his pathos that he saw as pathetic, but himself, his weakness, his frailty, and he did not want the constant reminder haunting and accusing him.
Many have argued over the ages about what it was that he found so embarrassing about himself. There has been no resolution because no answer is given; the sources do not say. They do not fret over irrelevancies, but instead, they point us to the more important things.
The cry of the human heart is often concerned with the irrelevant while missing the important. Indeed, it seems our lot in life to be forever distracted from what should be our most important goal. It matters not so much who you are, as who you are with. It matters not so much what is yours as whose you are.
We are much like the silly house cat that is more concerned with keeping an annoying fly away from its food bowl than it is with what’s in the bowl—its food.
Leave off the fly and eat your food.
If you do not, another cat will come along and enjoy the sup without you.
It took many years for that old man to finally hear what God was saying, to finally understand what it was that was to be his goal. But when he did, oh the change in him! What a marvelous thing to see! Even the fly stopped buzzing for the amazement of it all. Glory in his frailty?!?!? What new thing was this??? What was it that God said to him to bring about such bliss? “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your frailty!” 1
There are things I have been discovering these past few weeks when my knees have seemed so weak. People have begun to no longer be seeing me as an appendage on a camera. They have begun to hear my heart and see my song, no longer blind to what has been there all along.
From the moment I elected to accept the pain things have begun to change. For one thing, I have begun to dream, again. Some time ago an image entered my dreaming mind, and a voice with it, saying, “Africa: It’s now or never!”In the image you see here I have taken the words of that voice along with my immediate impression of what was being warned about by the voice and incorporated them into this rough reproduction of what I saw in my dreaming mind.
I began to pray, and to get others to pray, and later that very same day God answered those prayers with the words you can find in the hymn, THE SILENT VOICE, which is a message of assurance and hope and promise. It is also a message of instruction on how to hear the voice of the Lord, and not be distracted by fools and foolishness.
Indeed, cast your mind upon the opening line: “Have you ever heard the silent voice to bellow its command?” The very fact of the question being asked of the hearer assumes that they have a trove of experience from which to draw in answering the question being put. In other words, the very fact of the question assumes that the hearer is able to answer it—indeed, that the hearer has, in fact, heard that voice often enough and knows its behavior well enough that the question can be stated rhetorically.
There is an intimacy there, an intimacy that will be missed by those unfamiliar with it. Those unfamiliar with the intimacy found in that relationship will react with confusion and pridefulness, perhaps even dismissing it as a nonsense question. I have even been asked—by a brother—“How can you hear a silent voice?”
But they asked. There was no pride or dismissiveness in their asking; they simply wanted to know. And as they wanted to know, and are a child of the King, the King opened their mind to the answer. Opening their mind to this answer also opened their mind to something that the voice was trying to tell them, and that changed their message for the men that evening.
Intimacy. It is of such a state that when one small stumbling block is removed, like a dam burst, it releases a flood of information that is already organized into a message ready to share.
This intimacy is a treasure. It is the type of treasure for which the Lord tells us that a man, on finding it, would hide it back then go and sell all he has to gain the money to buy the field where he found it.2
What would you pay? This old man would suffer pain and anguish and agony and every sort of trial should it bring this intimacy to him.
And I—when I decided to accept the pain in my knees, rather than rail and fight and battle against it, part of me thought I must be mad. But, also, part of me knew that depending solely on God would draw me closer to God, and that that closeness, that intimacy, would come to be a treasure beyond worth.3
A long time friend saw this before I did, and yet rejected the feast they could have also had—and another has come in to take their place. He came unto His own and His own received Him not.4 It also says that a native branch has been cut off and a wild branch grafted in in its place.5
Beware the intimacy that you reject, for it may never come again,6 and you may end up bereft without it, for you cannot return to that place, for another will have taken your place. You will have become defiled while it is holy.6
One must repent while repenting is available, and not after it is too late.
There is another line to THE SILENT VOICE: “For Godly are His divine ways, and you don’t understand.” This is not a rebuke, but a reminder.7 God is love8 and grace and forgiveness and mercy and light. In some way His intimacy is available so long as you do not continue to reject it in this life.9
I have chosen intimacy, but intimacy with God is what I choose. There are many who will reject me, and have rejected me already—some thinking they already know God—because of this. I understand this perfectly well, but understand this: The intimacy I seek is not one they can find; it must be shown to them by God. If He has not shown it to them then they do not know God.
Pray for me that I would not fall back into the mire of sin. Pray that I would come to seek and know the grace within; that God would be to me the seed that flourishes within, and ask that I would come to see the gift He has for me, that from the sea of sin and doubt I’d be forever free, that I would come to know Him well in His intimacy.
Be well, my friends, and seek God in His intimacy.
1II Corinthians 12:9
3See my hymn, THY SWEAT HEART for more on this; although consciously, I was seeing a long and dear friend as the “treasure beyond worth”, and they are, there is a deeper meaning that begins to show itself.
8I John 4:8,16
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There are two that I know. I quite like them both. Both have the Hebrew word for God initialed within their names. One is younger, the other older. One visits the ministry freely, the other refusing to come near.1
There are two that I know, both claiming the name. One, seeing an oracle fulfilled, rejected it and threw him out.2 The other, being offered, reached out and took hold of a heart.3
There are two that I know, both reading the Word. One writes well and talks a good story. The other, finding the work of the Word, brought their family in—and lives it.1
There are two that I know, one cultivated in a good tree. The other, being wild, was grafted in.
Which feeds from the Root, and which needs to repent?4
There are two that I know. One, refusing to leave home, shall lose it. The other, having left their home, found it.5
Which are you, and which is the one that pleases God?
In general, people do not like it when someone records the words of God and speaks them into their life. This is because they want to think well of themselves rather than accurately. Surely you will have noticed how rarely people will honestly compare themselves to God. They just don’t do it, and if you seek to do so they will shout you down, marginalize you so that no one will listen to you, or level accusations, and insults and epithets at you in their effort to utterly discredit you. But they will not compare themselves to God—and won’t be letting you do so, either. When you insist on speaking what they do not want to hear, they will refuse to hear.
Such times can be the midnight of society’s soul. When someone—who sees themselves as in the Church (yes, capitol C)—witnesses—and is even themselves the very instrument of—the fulfillment of prophecy—and rejects it and throws out of their life the person bringing that prophecy, and, of those around them claiming Christ, not one person makes protest against those actions—it can be, indeed, the midnight of that ἐκκλησία’s6 soul.
The heart of Christ shines brightly against the blackness of the evil of society, but those who should be trumpeting His coming instead choose the comforts of the night.
How do you think that effects the heart of God? Do you even care?
Which are you, and which is the one that pleases God?
Are you the one that pleases God?
Are you really?
When is the last time you heard His voice? When is the last time He spoke into your soul? When is the last time you actually quieted yourself and sat down to simply listen? When is the last time you were Elijah upon the mountain of God?7
Has He, in fact, ever spoken to you at all? Have you ever heard the voice of God within your soul? Have you ever felt His arms across your shoulders? Have you ever felt His embrace surround your soul? When the time that He took you from the depths of darkness and despair instantaneously into the stratosphere of spiritual ecstasy—in a moment? When the time He prophesied into your soul?
And if He did, how do you know that it was Him?
God is not a man that He should lie! 8
Which are you, and which is the one that pleases God?
The heart of God shines brightly
through the midnight of despair
and man’s pretensions mist away
as if they were not there
God is not deceived by your pretending to spiritual things. When you go through the motions of a life that is not yours to have or hold you speak deceit, however bold. You live deceit and do not hold the light or things you claim to hold. There is no Heaven laid aside for those with sin they seek to hide.
My eyes battle tears as I write this, for one of whom I write has been so very close to my heart and I would not see their eternity shorn apart, cast asunder, and thrown upon the winds of deceitfulness, wickedness, sin, and darkness and despair. As I have said to them, we have a date in Heaven, and I would see them there. What other reason can there be for showing such deep care?
Those who would rage against this do not know my heart and will not see me there. Though I rest in the lap of God, they will not see me there. If they would, they must repent and display Heaven’s cares. Oh, beloved, how tender is my heart to see that Heaven shares my love of those so precious their deaths would my soul tear!
As I wrote in an earlier hymn, “I have ever been so targeted by demon-spawn of earth”. Most of that demon-spawn claims Christ. He, though, does not claim them, for God is not a man that He should lie8, and those who attack me are deceitful, seeking to hide their own sin behind their attacks against me.9
Oh! How many times I have sought to warn them against the wickedness of their hearts and they respond, not with repentance, but with finger-pointing at me, accusing me of making excuses for my own sin!
Sin has no excuse10, and none can be made, for God is not mocked11, and is not deceived by pretenses to Christianity by those who, truly, know nothing of Him, but seek after the desires of their own flesh.12
When the light is shined upon them they rebel, seeking the darkness in their effort to extinguish that which exposes their wickedness and filth and depravity and sin.13 Those who live in darkness hate the light.
Do not let them deceive you: They are children of darkness and the spawn of Hell, though they claim to be of the light.14
These, however, hold no exclusive dominion over the hearts of men. As it is written, “I have yet 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Ba’al!” 15
The tenderness of heart that persists and insists upon tenderness and mercy will eventually be met with its kind.16 One might say that you meet with an angel, perhaps, unawares. Therefore, entertain rightly, that you may live.17
This very day, in fact, I was out and about, having prayed for someone to accompany me along the way. I was thinking about the one I had invited along, but who was too ill to make the journey, and pondering whether to bring something back for them, or avoid risking further difficulties for them. Yes, I wrestled with the idea.
Having thought better, I began returning along my way. Very shortly, someone approached. I greeted her, striking up a conversation. We found a shared love of music. I even sang for her a little bit, even though I had already confessed that I quickly run out of breath. This small, frail-looking lady, though, is a player of the bag-pipes. Oh! The irony! And, Oh! How I love the pipes, rightly played!
Sadly, I do not even remember her name, though I can hope that she remembers mine. Her name, though, is not really the point. The point is this:
Do you see how God answers the open heart? Had my friend—who was willing—been healthy enough to attend, I probably would never have met the music lover, who plays in churches all around, apparently. She, on the other hand would not have met a positive witness for those who are in need. Do you see how God answers the open heart?
The one who refuses to come near to the poor will not be come near to by God,18 but the one who gives mercy shall find it.16
I have been a poor, decrepit, wicked and evil man, but when God called I answered. I have not closed my heart to those to whom God is open, and now, God is open to me.19
Do you see how God answers the open heart?
When I am tired and nothing want but sleeping,
When I am worn and evil beckons me,
And my heart cries to God in His sweet mercy,
I feel His arms enfold and circle me!
When I am sad and my eyes fill with weeping,
When darkness comes and doubts encumber me,
And I seek peace and solace from the Savior,
Beneath His wings He gathers and shields me!
But for His love I am nothing but evil!
But for His love I am a demon seed!
But for His love I am a thrall of Satan!
But Jesus bled and died to make me clean!
When I’m alone and nothing see but silence,
When all is dark and nothing covers me,
The rains come down and death would see me freezing,
I cry to God and angels cover me!
For by His love I am the seed of Jesus,
And by His love the darkness flees from me
And by His love a chariot waits for me,
For Jesus died and rose to set me free!
Yes, Jesus died and rose to set me free!
©2016 William F. Maddock; all rights reserved; used by permission
Oh, beloved, know this; hear this and know it well: that God will respond to a true tenderness of heart.
6A Greek word meaning “a calling out” or “a gathering”, in particular, a religious gathering, such as a synagogue or a Christian congregation.
71 Kings 19
142 Corinthians 11:13-15
151 Kings 19:18
18Proverbs 21:13; James 2:13
192 Chronicles 15:2; Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:7; James 4:8