Thursday, April 28, 2011

Listening to God’s Call


1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”


Listening is very, very important. Tell me, what do we use to listen? Silly question, right? Of course you know the answer! When we were children, we were taught that we listen with our ears.

When we were in a place where it was very noisy—a place where, maybe, lots of people were talking and we tried to get our mom’s attention—we had to work quite hard.

“Mom,” we would say.

“Mom,” we would say a little louder.

“Mom,” we would say more insistently.

“Mom!” We finally would shout quite loudly and tug on her sleeve.

We had to speak really, really loudly in order to get our mom’s attention. We had to speak loudly enough that she could hear us over the noise of the other people talking.

Sometimes, you see, it is really hard to listen when we are surrounded by lots of noise.

In the verses at the beginning of this blog post, the Bible tells the story of a little boy, not much older than some of us were when we first learned about how noise interferes with communication. One night, as he was fast asleep, he thought he heard someone call his name. Well, you know this story, don’t you? And, if you don’t, you can read it above.

Once Samuel realized the Lord was calling him, he replied, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

And, do you know what happened then?

The Lord and Samuel had a conversation. That’s right. They had quite a talk. And, what they talked about will be the subject of another blog post that we will share together sometime.

Why do you suppose that God waited until night time to talk to Samuel?

God waited until it was very, very quiet. Because God knew that when it was very quiet, Samuel would be able to listen better. Samuel would be able to hear God’s voice.

In the first part of Psalm 46:10, the Bible says:

10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

One of the hardest lessons to learn is how to be quiet and listen. That’s right. It is really, really hard to be quiet and listen. No matter how old you are, it's hard to be quiet and listen. But, if you work at it, you can learn to listen. Listen to each other. And, listen to what God might want to say to you. Listen with your natural human ears. And, listen with your supernatural, “spiritual ears.”

Will you pray with me.

Precious Father, thank You for loving us. Thank You for teaching us that, if we will be quiet, we can listen to hear what You might wish to say to us through Your Word—the Bible—and through the still, small voice of Your Holy Spirit who lives inside our hearts.

We thank You that You have told us that if we will be still—if we will sit in quietness before You—we will know that You are God. Help us to learn to listen. We pray in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Learning How to Submit


36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.

41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it,
may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”


Today, I want to talk about what it means to “submit.” Now I realize that the word “submit” is not a very popular word. It is not a word that most people really understand, at least not with clarity. And, yet, I think it’s very important to a person’s development, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, to know what it means to “submit.”

When I was a little boy, I really did not like to eat peas. My mom told me that peas were good for me. But, when I looked at a pile of peas on my plate, all I could think of was how mushy and squishy they would be when I took a spoonful of them into my mouth and began to chew.

So, when my mom would give me some peas, I would take my spoon and push the peas over to the side of the plate. I would be very careful that all the peas stayed together in that little pile. Then I would eat everything else on my plate, and hope that by saving the peas to the very last, maybe Mom wouldn’t make me eat them.

But, do you know what? She would make me eat them every time.

Now sometimes, I would sit there and not eat those peas for a very long time. My mom would say, “Dean! Eat your peas!”

And, I would say, “Yes, Mom.” But, I wouldn’t eat them.

In a little while, my mom would say, “Dean! Eat your peas!”

And again, I would say, “Yes, Mom.” But, I still wouldn’t eat the peas.

Finally, my mom would say, quite sternly, “Dean! Eat your peas. You cannot leave the table until you eat those peas!”

So, finally, reluctantly, very, very slowly I would eat the peas. The moment I began to eat those peas, I began to “submit” to my mom. You see, I did what my mom wanted me to do. That’s what it means to “submit.” We submit, when we do what someone trustworthy wants us to do.

God want us to do what He tells us to do in His Word, the Bible. He wants us to submit to Him because He loves us and because He always knows what is the very best for us. God is certainly trustworthy. He’s someone worthy of our trust. And, He has given us power through His Holy Spirit to enable us to submit to His will.

It’s important for us to remember that Jesus, God’s Son, gave us a beautiful example of what it means to submit in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the very night that Jesus was going to be arrested on false charges and ultimately crucified in our place on the cruel cross of Calvary, He asked God in prayer to spare Him. But, and this is the really important part, He ended His prayer with the words, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” He submitted to His Father’s perfect plan.

Because Jesus knew what it meant to submit, and because He willingly submitted His will to God the Father, we received forgiveness for all our sins through the shedding of His precious blood. And, because He rose again from the dead, He gave assurance to everyone who believes in Him that he or she would have eternal life.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for always knowing what is best for me. Help me to learn to submit and do what You tell me to do. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hey! Jesus Loves You!


16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

—The words of Jesus from John 31:16-17


If I say to you, “Jesus loves you,” I know that won’t surprise you at all, will it?

As long as you have attended church, many, different people have told you that “Jesus loves you.” You have heard it from your Sunday School teachers. You have heard it from your pastors. You may have even heard it from your mom and dad, or from your grandma and grandpa, or your uncle or aunt, or from some close friend. “Jesus loves you” is a wonderful, wonderful truth. And, all of you know this is so.

There are some people in your community who don’t know that Jesus loves them. As sad as it is to realize this, we can take joy from knowing that God has given us the wonderful opportunity of being the ones to tell them that Jesus loves them, too.

Sometimes, before we can tell people that Jesus loves them, we have to get their attention. We also have to be sensitive to needs they might have and try to reach out to them and meet those needs.

Have you ever considered participating in a special event at your church? I’m talking about the kind of event that invites all of the people in your neighborhood to come to your church for an occasion where you offer them some food, some entertainment, and a chance to share with them—in a very non-threatening way—that “Jesus loves them.” This kind of an event is really a way of getting their attention and trying to meet some needs they might have, so you can have the opportunity of telling them the good news of Jesus’ love.

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed the treats in the photo above. In fact, I imagine that some of you have hardly taken your eyes off that tray of treats from the moment you first landed on this blog post a few minutes ago. They really look good, don’t they? These treats have really captured your attention.

In the same way these treats have captured your attention, a special event at your church will capture the attention of the people in your neighborhood.

Underneath each of the treats in this photo, I’ve tucked a note written on a very small piece of paper. Can you tell me what you think the note says? That’s right! “Jesus loves you.”

And, you know, He really does love you.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for getting my attention so I will know that Your Son, Jesus, loves me. Please help me to encourage my church to create an event that will allow us to invite our neighbors to come, so we can tell them that Jesus loves them, too. In His Name, we pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Good News and Bad News


1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

—The words of the Apostle John from Revelation 1:1-3


Almost everyone knows A. A. Milne’s character called “Winnie-the-Pooh?” Do you know Pooh Bear?

Well then, you know that Winnie-the-Pooh is a very special friend of a little boy named Christopher Robin. You probably also know that Winnie-the-Pooh lives in the forest and has a very special something that he likes to eat. Do you remember what that special something is?

That’s right. Winnie-the-Pooh likes to eat honey. In fact, Pooh will go to great lengths to get a hold of some honey.

One day, Rabbit and Piglet went to visit Winnie-the-Pooh. They knocked on Winnie-the-Pooh’s door and waited for the bear to answer. When Pooh opened the door, Piglet said, “Hi, Pooh-bear. I have good news and I have bad news.”

“The good news is that Rabbit and I have found a very large mess of honey for you.”

“Wonderful,” Winnie-the-Pooh exclaimed.

“The bad news,” Piglet continued, “is that the honey is near the top of a very tall tree.”

“Oh,” Winnie-the-Pooh responded.

“The good news,” Piglet continued, “is that there are lots of branches near to the ground to make it easy for you to climb the tree.”

“That’s great!” Winnie-the-Pooh smiled in anticipation.

“The bad news,” Piglet went on, “is that the bark of that tree is really slippery, so you are likely to slip when you start climbing.”

“Oh,” Winnie-the-Pooh whispered, and sadly sat down on the ground.

“The good news,” Piglet said once more...

And, so it continued, back and forth. First the good news and then the bad news. First the good news, and then the bad news. Minute by minute. Hour by hour.

Sometimes, our lives can be a little bit like that exchange between Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh. First we get some good news and then we get some bad news. It was that way for the Church back at the time, many hundreds of years ago, when the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, first John would share some good news with the church, and then he would share some bad news. And, do you know why he would do that? He would do that so that the people in the church would learn about how God expected them to live their lives.

So the next time someone says to you that they have good news and bad news, just remember that it is probably a time when you are going to have to do some serious learning. Okay?

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for giving me the good news about Your Son, Jesus. Please help me, whether I get good news or bad news, to always try to learn whatever You want to teach me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Everyone Needs a Mentor


15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

—The words of Jesus from John 13:15


1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

—The words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 11:1


Do you know that every one needs a mentor? Now that word “mentor” is a word that at lot of people throw around quite casually in conversation these days. “Mentor” really means “a teacher who teaches by example.”

We learn lots of things by watching how other people do things. Have you ever watched “Mister Rogers” or “Sesame Street” or one of the other children’s programs when one of the characters shows how to do something? Then later, you (or your children) tried to do it? Sure you have. You learned because you saw someone else do something and you were able to do what they showed you until you could do that “something,” too.

Think about how you learned to pray. Maybe the first time mom or dad prayed with you, you were a very little boy or girl. I imagine that mom or dad said something like, “Now bow your head and close your eyes and we’re going to pray.” Then mom or dad would bow his or her head and close his or her eyes and pray a prayer with you.

Every time mom or dad prayed with you, he or she would say, “Now bow your head and close your eyes and we’re going to pray.” Pretty soon, you knew that when it was time to pray it was also time to bow your head and close your eyes. You learned how to pray by following what mom and dad showed you.

Or, maybe, you didn’t grow up in a praying household and the first time you prayed was as a teenager or an adult. Even then, didn’t you learn how to pray by listening to someone else, or maybe many others, pray? Sure you did.

The lesson for today is that God wants us to be teachers to all of our friends and all of the other people we see each day. He wants us to show them the right way to do things. God wants us to live our lives in such a way that we can be good teachers, good mentors to others.

You can learn how to mentor others by always choosing what you know is the right thing to do. We sometimes try to kid ourselves into believing that we have many choices in every situation. The truth is that we really do know, within the depth of our being, what is the right thing to do in each circumstance. That nudging within you is the Holy Spirit.

God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within everyone who acknowledges that the Lord Jesus Christ is his or her Savior. The Holy Spirit helps keep us on the pathway that God has laid out before us. The Holy Spirit helps us choose to do the right thing whenever we must make a choice.

So, you can learn how to be a good and effective mentor by listening carefully for that nudge from the Holy Spirit. Choose to do the right thing in every case and you’ll become a good mentor.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for letting me show you my love for You by living my life as an example for others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Bearing Fruit


9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:9-14


I want you to imagine with me for a moment that you are a farmer. Can you do that? Of course you can. And, on your farm you have a very large field. Your field stretches from way over there to way over here. All through this very large field you have planted fruit trees.

Now planting those fruit trees was only the beginning. Starting in the very early days of spring, you would have to put fertilizer around those trees. You would have to make certain the trees have enough water. You would have to carefully remove any weeds that might grow up around the trees and steal nourishment away from them. You would have to work very, very hard. All through the summer months and into the fall, you would have to care for those trees in the hope that when the time of harvest comes they would produce beautiful, juicy, delightfully tasting fruit.

Now imagine if you were that farmer and you went out into the field at harvest time expecting to find fruit and the first tree you came to had not one piece of fruit on it. Why you would look that tree up and down. You would move branches aside. But no matter where you looked, no fruit.

So you would move on to the next tree. You would look up and down, move branches, but—wait a minute—no fruit. Hey, what’s going on? At the third tree, no fruit. At the fourth tree, no fruit. Not one tree in all of your orchard has fruit. What a terrible disappointment. All that work, and nothing to show for your effort.

In the Bible, Jesus tells us that we have to make certain our lives do not become like trees that do not bear fruit. We have to respond to the love of the Christ that occupies our hearts by living out that love in our service to others.

Through acts of kindness to others, by doing what we know is right, by sharing what we have with people in need, we show that Christ’s love lives in our hearts.

We have to always remember that because God loves us so much, He sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. Our response to this great act of God’s love is to make certain we show His love to the people with whom we come in contact.

Every time you say a kind word to someone or give someone a cheerful smile, you show them Christ’s love. Every time you give someone less fortunate than you part of what God has given you, you show them Christ’s love. Every time you tell someone that “Jesus loves them, too,” you show them His love.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for sending Jesus. Thank you for helping me show that I love You by being kind to others. Help me to be a person who does what You want me to do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Through Christ our Lord...


Almighty God, to whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Book of Common Prayer 1662 (translation)


What does it mean when we acknowledge all of the above requests we make in prayer to God by using the phrase “through Christ our Lord?” And, what impact does this acknowledgement have on our daily walk of obedience with Him?

Jesus told his disciples in John 14:6:

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In these few words, the Lord Jesus Christ declares Himself the sole means by which we connect with God. The use of the definite article, “the,” leaves room for no other way to God. Jesus is the way!

As bold as this declaration may seem, and as disappointing as it may appear to followers of all other religions, the Son of God declares Himself the definitive point of contact. In the reality of our daily lives, this confirms that—as we strive to obediently follow the pathway God has laid out for us—everything we do, everything we say, everything we accomplish, in fact, everthing we are comes through Jesus. He becomes the enabling pathway.

In John 14:26, Jesus declares:

26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

So, God gives believers in Jesus the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to become an internal counselor who will strive with us as we seek to enter into all things through the Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter what kind of trial or difficulty we may have to face, our sustaining encouragement and our exit strategy comes through Jesus. He is the One who enables us to draw sustenance from Him to face the time of trial. He is the One who directs our pathway along the road of obedience to His will and His Word. He is the One who will protect us from the onslaught of our enemies and confirm for us the support of our friends.

And, part of the beauty of His Abiding Presence is the reality that He fulfills, moment-by-moment, His promise from John 15:5-8:

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

We must remain in Him. We must move through Him. We must experience through Him. We must enjoy through Him. We must love through Him. We must obey through Him.

God accomplishes His will and purpose in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, we accomplish God's perfect will for us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. All that we have and all the we are comes as a precious gift from God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

To walk the pathway of obedience, we must follow the writer of Hebrews' instruction in Hebrews 12:1-3:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Join me, won't you, in living this day in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Allow the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to carry you along the pathway of true obedience that God has laid out before you. Release every obstacle that arises into the protective arms of Jesus. And, experience the joy of His peace.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.