Devotional

Recognizing God’s Voice

24 March 2023, 12:00 am

After years of research and analysis, scientists have learned that wolves have distinct voices that help them establish hierarchy and communicate with each other. Using a specific sound analysis code, one scientist realized the use of various volumes and pitches in a wolf’s howl enabled her to identify specific wolves with one-hundred percent accuracy.

The Bible provides many examples of God recognizing the distinct voices of His beloved creations. He called Moses by name and spoke to him directly (Exodus 3:4–6). The psalmist David proclaimed, “I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain” (Psalm 3:4). However, the apostle Paul also emphasizes the value of God’s people recognizing God’s voice.

When bidding farewell to the Ephesian elders, Paul said the Spirit had “compelled” him to head to Jerusalem. He confirmed his commitment to follow God’s voice, though he didn’t know what to expect upon his arrival (Acts 20:22). The apostle warned that “savage wolves” would “arise and distort the truth,” even from within the church (vv. 29–30). Then, he encouraged the elders to remain diligent in discerning God’s truth (v. 31).

All believers in Jesus have the privilege of knowing God hears and answers us. We also have the power of the Holy Spirit who helps us recognize God’s voice, which is always in alignment with the words He’s preserved in the Bible.

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Why Do This?

23 March 2023, 12:00 am

As I was helping my sixth-grade grandson Logan with some tough algebra-type homework, he told me of his dream of becoming an engineer. After we returned to figuring out what to do with the x’s and y’s in his assignment, he said, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?”

I couldn’t help but smile, saying, “Well, Logan, this is exactly the stuff you’ll use if you become an engineer!” He hadn’t realized the connection between algebra and his hoped-for future.

Sometimes we view Scripture that way. When we listen to sermons and read certain parts of the Bible, we may think, “When am I ever going to use this?” The psalmist David had some answers. He said God’s truths found in Scripture do these things: “[refresh] the soul,” “[make] wise the simple,” and “[give] joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:7–8). The wisdom of Scripture, found in the first five books of the Bible as referred to in Psalm 19 (as well as all of Scripture), helps us as we daily rely on the Spirit’s leading (Proverbs 2:6).

And without the Scriptures we’d lack the vital way God has provided for us to experience Him and better know His love and ways. Why study the Bible? Because “the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).

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Permission to Rest

22 March 2023, 12:00 am

We sat atop some beach boulders, my friend Soozi and I, watching the foam send up sea spray in arched curls. Looking at the incoming waves crashing one after another against the rocks, Soozi announced, “I love the ocean. It keeps moving so I don’t have to!”

Isn’t it interesting how some of us feel we need “permission” to pause from our work to rest? Well, that’s just what our good God offers us! For six days, God spun the earth into existence, creating light, land, vegetation, animals, and humans. Then on the seventh day, God rested (Genesis 1:31–2:2). In the Ten Commandments, God listed His rules for healthy living to honor Him, including the command to remember the Sabbath as a day of rest (Exodus 20:8–11). In the New Testament we see Jesus healing all the sick of the town (Mark 1:29–34) and then early the next morning retreating to a solitary place to pray (v. 35). Purposefully, our God both worked and rested.

The rhythm of God’s provision in work and His invitation to rest reverberates around us. Spring’s planting yields growth in summer, harvest in autumn, and rest in winter. Morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night. God orders our lives for both work and rest, offering us permission to do both.

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Spiritual Renewal

21 March 2023, 12:00 am

Chinese medicine has practiced pearl powder exfoliation for thousands of years, using ground pearls to scrub away dead cells resting at the top of the skin. In Romania, rejuvenating therapeutic mud has become a widely sought-after exfoliant that’s purported to make skin youthful and glowing. All over the world, people use body care practices they believe will renew even the dullest of skin.

The tools we’ve developed to maintain our physical bodies, however, can only bring us temporary satisfaction. What matters more is that we remain spiritually healthy and strong. As believers in Jesus, we’re given the gift of spiritual renewal through Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The challenges we face daily can weigh us down when we hold on to things like fear, hurt, and anxiety. Spiritual renewal comes when we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (v. 18). We do this by turning our daily worries over to God and praying for the fruit of the Holy Spirit—including love, joy, and peace—to emerge anew in our lives (Galatians 5:22). When we release our troubles to God and allow His Spirit to radiate through us each day, He restores our souls.

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