Do you hear what I hear?

Read I Samuel 3: 8-10:

God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.”

The story of Samuel is pretty impressive. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, begged God for child. She made a pact with God that if he gave her a child, that child would be dedicated to service in the Temple. So she got pregnant, gave birth to Samuel, and when he got older, dropped him off to serve Eli in God’s Temple. One night, while everyone is sleeping, God audibly calls Samuel’s name. Samuel thinks it is Eli calling for him. After a few times of Samuel coming to Eli to ask why he is calling his name, Eli realizes that it is God who is calling Samuel’s name. Samuel needed Eli to help him understand what was going on, and what to do next. This is EXACTLY what we as parents are called to do. We need to be so in tune with God, that when we see God calling our child’s name (not necessarily an audible calling), we can help guide them in what to do. We also, as parents, need to be quiet and listen for God’s voice in our own lives. Prayer is a great way to calm down the noise in our lives, and be available to listen. We also need to surround ourselves with people that are “in tune” with God, and can help us decipher God’s calling on our lives, as well as give us direction with our children. The bottom line is, these children our not ours. God has given them to us, for his purpose. I wonder how often God is wanting me to give direction to my kids, but I’m to busy to recognize God’s voice in my children? I mean, it did take a few times before Eli realized it with Samuel. Lord, help me to be intentional in my focus on you and your word. Help me to properly guide my children to you in everything I say, and do.

Questions:
* Does it feel difficult to hear God’s voice in our lives? Is it even possible?
* How can we determine God’s voice from other voices in our lives?
* Do you have people in your life who can help you determine when God is trying to communicate with you? Do you seek out their help, or do you most often keep it to yourselves?
* Is there “noise” in your life that is keeping you from being able to be a Eli to someone else? Is there “noise” in your life that is keeping you from hearing God’s personal call to you?

 

(I highly recommend the devotional book “Solo” if you are looking for one…It is a really good daily devotion)

A Glorious Day in the Cook Home

I REALLY need to use this blog more often, so I thought I would share my devotion from this morning.

4/30/18 Revelation 21 “God is Moving In”

It is a BIG day in the Cook home today! Guess who is now a one year old? Aubrey! God knew exactly what we needed when he gave us Aubrey. We love that little girl so much, and can’t imagine life without her. It is humbling to think about how quickly the year has passed, and how many moments I’ll never get back. I really need to “be present” more often in my life. Birthdays can often bring clarity to the brevity of life.

The promises of the book of Revelation are pretty exciting. I really love this verse from 21:3:

“Look, Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women!”

God is going to live with us for all eternity. He will take care of all our needs, and on top of that, he will…(21:4)

“…wipe every tear from their eyes”

That sounds like a baby shampoo commercial! Fortunately for us, God will take away all pain, heartache, emotional distress, or whatever has caused us pain in the past will be taken away. There will be nothing left but God’s peace, joy, and happiness for ALL eternity. It will be the greatest high that we could ever experience, and that feeling will do nothing but grow forever and ever. God, for what you’ve already done for me, I should be on my hands and knees thanking you at all times of the day. You’ve delivered me from death and destruction. You have freed me from bondage and slavery. I am truly a free man. You didn’t stop with my freedom though; you gave me a life that I could not have imagined. I have an amazing family, and you’ve given me an amazing ministry. Of course, it sounds like an infomercial, because you didn’t stop there. You’ve promised me an eternity that words cannot even properly describe. Thank you! Help me today to invite more people to this relationship with you. Help my words to be your words. Help my actions to be directed by you and your word. Help my thoughts and attitude to be something that furthers your gospel, and distances me from my fleshly desires. You know my heart is wicked, and wants nothing less than total control. I’m asking you right now to take control of my heart. Help me today to live a life that would be pleasing in your sight. I love you! Amen!

Making something out of nothing

As a pastor, I’m often around many types of people. Whether they are members of the church, employees of the church, members of the community, etc., I’m around people of all walks of life.  I’ve often found that there are two types of people.  Those who hold themselves in high regard, and those who think they are “nobodys”.  The ones that really think they are “God’s gift to this world”, are the ones I don’t often spend a lot of time with.  The main reason being is that I tend to find myself on the other side of the fence. When I make mistakes, which often happens to me, I don’t do very well shaking the feeling of “worthlessness”.  That is why I find this passage so encouraging:

 

Romans 4:16b-18 (Message)

“For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father. We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”

It is GREAT to know that Abraham was a NOBODY, just like me! He wasn’t perfect, and God’s decision to use him was NOT based on him being a “saint” or having a unique skill set. Abraham made plenty of stupid mistakes! He just trusted God and had faith that God had perfect control of everything. Life is SO much easier when we realize that God is in control, and He has already taken care of every issue we will face. If we are simply focused on Him and truly trust Him, even in the worst circumstances we face, God says:

“(Abraham) dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.”

God can make “something out of nothing.” That makes me feel better about my life, my ministry, my job, my family, my friends, my spouse and kids, etc! Bring nothing to the table, and God can turn it into something better than YOU could have dreamed it to be! I LOVE it!

God is NOT a Grandfather!

I was in the lobby of the church yesterday, and overhead a conversation. Someone was talking about senior adults, and included a woman in the conversation as though she were a part of the “senior” crowd.  She was not ready for the label yet. This woman is a grandmother, but was not ready for the label “senior” yet (I can understand because she is a young grandmother with a son still in high school). I was reading a book that quoted an old saying I had never heard before. The statement says,

 

God has no grandchildren

My generation (those who are mid 30’s to early 40’s), is having a major identity crisis.  Several have married, and remarried, and are living with several kids (their own children and stepchildren).  They are good parents, and great employees, but many seem to have little time for church attendance, and even less time to serve at church.  In my discussions with them, they tell me where they are going to church.  I’ll often follow up asking, “Why did you choose to attend church there?” The answer is often, “Well, that’s where my parents go.” Now, in my mind that simply says, “My parents will pay for my family’s lunch if I go to church with them!”.  I’m not saying that is the motivation for all of them, but how often do we view God as the “God of our parents”?  Many won’t say that, but their lives seem to display that. When our view of the church, and who God is to us personally, goes through the filter of our parents, we often regulate God to the role of “grandfather” in our lives. I have a child who is 18 months old now.  He has 4 of the best grandparents in the world.  They spoil him, they send him presents, they pray for him, they do everything they can to be a part of his life.  They aren’t his parents. They won’t love him like I love him.  They don’t understand him like I do.  Don’t get me wrong, they have been around the block with several of their own kids, and have very wise counselor for me, but they can never take the place of his father in his life. The moment I first saw him, a connection like no other in my life was made. Scientifically speaking, he will never physically be anyone else’s son but mine.  We have the opportunity to have a father/child relationship with God, but so often with Christians today, we choose to give God the “grandfather” role in our lives. Unfortunately, we risk having a whole generation whose only connection to God is through their parents. So when their parents pass away, or they move away from their family, God becomes like a distant relative to them.  The problem is, God can NEVER be a grandparent. He is either our father, or we are not related. I’m doing my best to teach my child how to have a personal relationship with God every day. I want him to be my brother in his relationship with God, because that is the ONLY way he will be able to truly share in the inheritance God has planned for us one day.

Parents, and even Grandparents, ask specific questions of your kids every day. Start today, even if they aren’t so young anymore. Help guide them to developing a personal relationship with God, that doesn’t necessarily include you.  100 years from now, all that will matter in their lives is their relationship with God. Will He be their father, or will they stand in front of Him one day and realize that they aren’t even related?

Let’s Get All Dressed Up

Read Colossians 3:12-14 (Extended Reading: Colossians 3:1-17)

It is funny how people spend time picking out what clothing to wear each day. I often spend time doing it myself, and I’m always disappointed when something I like to wear shrinks (or maybe I just grow?), gets a hole, and/or a stain on it. Paul uses clothing as a spiritual thing in this passage. Most people spend time thinking about what to wear physically, but spiritually, what are we wearing every day? Do we even think about what others see us wearing?  Physically or spiritual, everyone sees what we wear each day. It may be something benign that goes virtually unnoticed, or it could be something that catches the attention of others (for good and bad reasons). Paul is encouraging Christians to dress up in the wardrobe God picked out for us. In the world of social media, it is so easy to dress up ugly. We can easily find ourselves condemning and belittling others for their political and social views, and be ugly in our responses to others.  God has a set of clothes that will allow us to stand out in the crowd…for good reasons. Paul urges us to dress in:

“compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

How simple can life be, when we choose second place? We can simply give our rights, and our desires away and through humility and compassion, lift others up. Forgive others quickly, and love them the way Christ first loved us. I know this discipline is harder than it sounds, but I think the more we dress ourselves in these garments, the easier it becomes to wear them every day. It will certainly make a statement to the world around us, and will allow us to truly have influence when we tell others how they can have the same clothing that we wear! God has already paid for the clothing, all we have to do is accept it and wear it.

So….what are you going to wear today?

Let’s get back to this again!

Over the past year, I have done a personal journal about 3 days a week, chronicling my life, and commenting on the things I read (mostly just bible stuff, although I should probably comment on the other books I read). I love what God has been showing me, so I feel like I need to put it on here. I’m not sure if anyone will read it, but regardless, I’m going to put it on here. I’ll dump a bunch of things from my journal on here, and then try to update it as often as I can.

Let’s see how long I last this time! Feel free to comment…that is if there is anyone who reads this blog. 🙂

Drew