Silence is Golden

The Old Testament ends with the prophecies of Malachi. Then for 400 years God is silent. He doesn’t speak to the Jewish Nation again until the grand announcement. He waits until the appointed time, the time he has foretold from the beginning. The birth of His Son.

But what was God doing during those 400 years? I think it’s easier to understand if we see life like a stage play. Between scenes, the curtain closes and the stage crew silently rearranges the set to prepare for the next scene. They carefully set the stage for what will come next.

Perhaps that was what God was doing too. He said all he was going to say about what was to come and then began quietly arranging history to bring everything to that magnificent moment when Jesus, the Son of God enters our world to bridge the chasm between us and God.

I think God does this in our individual lives as well. He gives us direction and then sometimes there is a painfully long period where we struggle with the fact that we know we’ve heard from God concerning a decision or a direction and then nothing seems to happen. We begin to second guess what God has said, or we get impatient and try to make things happen on our own.

If we look at the 400 years when God was preparing for the birth of Christ, we know for a fact that there was absolutely nothing Israel could have done to make anything happen. Only God was able to bring fulfillment to His promises. And isn’t it the same for us today? Can we really make any convincing argument that we can bring about His promises in our lives any more than Israel could?

All we can do is wait and keep believing that God spoke to our hearts and that He is a faithful God and will keep his promises. Actually, we are now in a period of great silence that has lasted 2000 years. God spoke through His precious Son who came in a humble stable and His people have been waiting ever since. The silence will finally be broken when Christ returns for us. What a glorious day that will be! But while we wait in the silence, we can be encouraged. 2000 years ago God closed the curtain and has been quietly preparing what comes next. We can believe His promises and trust that one day soon, He will send His Son to reign as King, just like He promised!

 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”  Habakkuk 2:3(NASB)

 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21(NASB)

What is Joy?

Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires…and the expression or exhibition of such emotion.” Well-being is defined as “happy, healthy and prosperous.”

My first response to this definition is that if you feel joy, it should show! As I look more closely at those words, I find what the world would call joy is covered well in the first part – well-being,success and good fortune. Most people would agree that those are all good reasons to rejoice. But what if your life hasn’t been filled with good health, good fortune or success and prosperity? Is this reason to despair? Not for a minute! For believers, the rest of the definition is where we find our hope as well as our joy. “The prospect of possessing what I desire”… eternity with Christ! No matter what life looks like today, we still have reason to be filled with joy.

Many years ago I knew a man who, for me, was the personification of joy. John was no more than about 5’5” and wore glasses thicker that pop bottles. What little hair he had left was white. He was severely diabetic and also wore a colostomy bag. Yet every time you saw him he had a smile on his face and a story to tell about the goodness of God. The man dancing in the aisles each Sunday morning during worship? That was John. He wasn’t healthy or wealthy but he was wise. He knew the source of his joy – that he would possess what he most desired – eternity with his Lord and Savior. Toward the end of his life, John lost his dancing legs to complications of his diabetes and yet on the day he went home to his Savior he was still singing songs of joy.

 “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” –  Psalm 118:4

How will you express your joy today?

The Longer You Look, the More You See

We have some picture books by Joan Steiner. She makes elaborate photos of scenes using everyday items. It might be a train or an outdoor scene; it might be a kitchen or a living room. She uses items like erasers, paperclips, tennis rackets, socks, batteries, you name it. Using her imagination and all these simple, easily recognizable items, she creates an amazing picture. The longer you look at each picture the more items you are able to identify.

When I look at these books with my grandchildren it’s so much fun to watch their faces light up when they spot something else they recognize. With excitement, they say, “Hey! That’s a pencil sharpener!” or “Look, do you see that tree is really broccoli?” It’s such fun to see them suddenly find the treasure that was hidden in the picture.

I have a pair of curtains in my house that are of a brightly colored tide pool theme. If I look at them long enough I can see the face of an old man among the rocks. I can also see what looks like two puppies in the sand. If you look at the coral you can see the suggestion of a kid with a wild, blue afro and huge sunglasses. Now you may think I’m a little goofy, finding people and pets in a tide pool curtain but you know you’ve done the same sort of thing! How many times have you looked at a cloud and said, “Hey, that looks like a duck, or an elephant, or a car?”

I think it’s a trait God created in us for a purpose; looking for things that might not be readily apparent to the casual glance. It’s why we liked the hidden picture puzzles in the old Highlights magazines when we were children. It’s why Where’s Waldo was so popular. It’s why I can look at a pair of curtains in my house and see things that aren’t really in the picture.

It’s how God wants us to look at the world around us. He wants us to see beyond the obvious picture and find the things He’s hidden for us. He also wants us to do that with His Word. He wants us to linger for a while and look at the things He made and the things He said and find the hidden treasures that He so carefully designed into our world and His Word.

Take some time today to look more closely at the world around you. And take time to look more deeply into God’s Word and see what amazing surprises He has for you. I know you will be blessed!

 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. – Isaiah 45:3 (NIV)

 Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  – Jeremiah 33:3(NASB)

Sometimes You Have to Take a Risk

Most of us like to play it safe. We like to have all the facts and make well-informed decisions. We like to know what’s at stake up front with no surprises. But the longer you walk with the Lord, the more you come to realize that God doesn’t usually work that way.

God often requires us to make decisions and take action in ways that look pretty risky. Things don’t always look safe and risk-free. Why does He do this? What is gained by us having to take risks?

He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”  – Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NASB)

Sometimes God asks us to take a chance, to do something without knowing ahead of time what the outcome is going to be. Consider the risks that missionaries choose to take in order to proclaim the Gospel. What gives them the courage to willing face such uncertain and dangerous situations?

The word risk implies uncertainty and even fear. God doesn’t ever take risks because He already knows the outcome of every situation. He doesn’t have to fear what lies ahead. He offers us that same assurance if we will only allow Him to guide us. He asks us to put our trust in Him and have faith in His plan. To us, with our limited perspective, it looks like we may be asked to take huge risks but if God already knows the outcome and He is in control what do we have to fear?

What are you willing to risk? What steps can you take today to move out of your comfort zone and trust God to do something extravagant in you and through you? Just ask Him for courage and take that first step. You will be amazed at what He will do.