Whisper Day 15: Think on These Things

Horse Stampede, photo by Hugh Beebower

Day 14 of the Whisper Reading Plan is set aside for worship and rest.

The Power of a Whisper
Reading Plan

Day 15 Reading:
Philippians 2:5-11; 4:4-9

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:7-8

Observation
A main theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is developing the mind of Christ. In his book The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels describes this process as corralling our thoughts and conforming them to Christ’s. This imagery drew me to picture of my thoughts as wild, beautiful, volatile and powerful horses. As a follower of Christ, I allow them to be brought into his corral for training and protection. (a safe place for my heart and my mind- v. 7) After some time, my thoughts begin to work together, to move in the same direction under the leadership of Christ. Their power is disciplined in the best sense of that word. They are harnessed for a greater good.

The list in Philippians 4:8 serves as the fence posts of the corral. The first four – true, honorable, just, pure – are Christ-like character traits I desire to cultivate. The last four – pleasing, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise – are the types of people I look to as role models to inspire me and challenge me to greater faith.

Application
I sense God calling me to find some role models who are living this list. It will be challenging since so much of the media is now devoted to following the lives of people making foolish choices- wasting money and opportunity, misplaced priorities, destructive habits and relationships, etc.

I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book,
the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.
– John Wesley

Prayer
Lord Jesus, Savior and Sanctifier, lead me to those who live your list. Persons of honor and excellence and truth. Inspire me with their faith and servant hearts. Make the changes needed in me so I too might inspire others to greater good and faith in you. Thank you for the promise of new life in you. Thank you for being the safe place for my heart and mind, the place of deep healing and wholeness. Thank you for the chance to be a part of a greater good. In Your Name I trust and pray. Amen.

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Whisper Day 13: Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder by Albert Houthuesen

The Power of a Whisper Reading Plan
Day 13 Reading: Genesis 28:10-22

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”- Genesis 28:16 (NRSV)

Observation
Jacob is on the run, the result of selfish choices. He’s tricked his father Isaac and his twin brother Esau, stealing both his firstborn birthright and blessing. Esau is ready to kill him, so Jacob literally flees for his life. God reaches out to Jacob in the midst of his ambition, deceit and self-centeredness. God isn’t a part of Jacob’s plan, but Jacob is a part of God’s plan.

God surprises this exhausted and isolated young man in the middle of the wilderness in the middle of the night. In a dream, God recognizes Jacob as the heir to the covenant, promising to fulfill the all the promises made to Abraham through Jacob and his descendants. Jacob is awestruck. He responds by setting up a pillar of reverence and making his own vows.

As Jacob with Travel was Weary One Day
traditional, English Carol (ca. 18th century)

As Jacob with travel was weary one day,
at night on a stone for a pillow he lay;
he saw in a vision a ladder so high,
that its foot was on earth and its top in the sky:
Refrain: Alleluia to Jesus, who died on the tree
and has raised up a ladder of mercy for me,
and has raised up a ladder of mercy for me.

The ladder is long, it is strong and well-made,
has stood hundreds of years and is not yet decayed;
many millions have climbed it and reached Zion’s hill,
many millions by faith now are climbing it still. Refrain

Come, let us ascend! All may climb it who will,
for the angels of Jacob are guarding it still;
and remember, each step that by faith we pass o’er,
many prophets and martyrs have trod it before. Refrain

And when we arrive at the haven of rest,
we shall hear the glad words, “Come to me all the blest,
here are regions of light, here are mansions of bliss.”
Who would not want to climb such a ladder as this. Refrain

Application
God reaches out to us, even though we are far from expecting it and far from being worthy of it.

Jeremiah 29:11
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Prayer
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
God of me
Your grace is deep and surprising
Your mercy is awesome to discover
Thank you for reaching out to me even in my most selfish moments
Thank you for reaching out to me when I choose sin and foolishness
Thank you for reaching out to me when my actions put me in danger
and when they result in broken relationships with you and others
Forgive me and set me aright
Mend my ways
Help me to forgive myself so that I can move forward with you
Bless you
Thank you
Amen

Day 14 of the Whisper Reading Plan is set aside for worship and rest.

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Whisper Day 12: Moses and the Burning Bush

Moses and the Burning Bus by Ernst Fuchs

The Power of a Whisper
Reading Plan
Day 12 Reading:
Exodus 3:1-4:18

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”- Exodus 3:11 (NRSV)

Observation
God calls Moses to lead the people of God out of slavery in Egypt. It is a loooooooooog and involved conversation.

  1. God gets Moses’ attention with the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-3)
  2. God calls Moses by name (Exodus 3:4)
  3. God’s identity and the sacredness of the conversation are established with references to holy ground and the covenant (Exodus 3:5-6)
  4. God reveals the misery of the slaves to Moses and calls him to tell Pharaoh to free them.  Moses makes excuse #1 – Who am I to do this? (Exodus 3:7-11)
  5. God assures Moses of God’s presence and gives Moses the next part of the plan- the people will worship God in the wilderness. Moses makes excuse #2- What if the people question me about you? (Exodus 3:12-13)
  6. God reveals the name “I AM” to Moses and instructs him to take the elders with him when he speaks with Pharaoh. God then reveals more of the plan to Moses, explaining how Pharaoh will deny the slaves their freedom but God will move in powerful ways to make it happen anyway. The slaves will not only leave Egypt but will leave with great riches. Moses makes excuse #3- What if they don’t listen to me? (Exodus 3:14-4:1)
  7. God provides Moses with three powerful signs- a rod that can turn into a snake, a coat that can turn skin leprous and then clean again, the ability to turn water
    to blood. Moses makes excuse #4- I don’t speak well. (Exodus 4:2-10)
  8. God promises to supply Moses with the words he needs to fulfill the call. Moses pleads with God to send someone else. (Exodus 4:11-13)
  9. God provides Aaron to speak for Moses. Moses accepts the call. (Exodus 4:14-18)

All great religious traditions recognize that the deepest desire of the human heart is for freedom from inner oppression. We feel “conditioned”: bound by the chains of our habits and compulsions, our likes and dislikes, our fears and guilt, our inability to love. Our great tragedy is that we so often mistake these habits and compulsions for our true self. Perhaps most of us operate on the assumption that this conditioned, unfree self is all there is, all we can ever be, and we fear that without it we could not exist at all. We are unable, therefore, to stop protecting ourselves at all cost. This fear, however, is an illusion and we need to be freed from it. -Irma Zaleski, The Way of Repentence

Application
Moses seems as much a slave to his fears as the people are to Pharaoh. Moses makes excuse after excuse after excuse to avoid God’s call to action, but eventually agrees.

Is this all a waste of time? God grows irritated with Moses’ excuses (check out Exodus 4:14), yet uses Moses’ hesitation to good ends. Ultimately, Moses is better prepared to face Pharaoh and the questioning of his own people.

Romans 8:28 (NRSV)
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.

Some people follow God quickly, others eventually get around to it like Moses and Jonah, while others refuse the call completely. How often do I delay and debate or just walk away from a clear calling from God?

Prayer
Praise the One, True Living God
Holy, Holy, Holy
Covenant Keeper
Liberating Flame, burning away our chains
Empowering Flame, burning away our excuses

Praise our Rescuer, the Compassionate
Who draws near and hears our cries,
pleas of desperation and deliverance
alongside pleas to send someone else

Praise the Great I AM,
The Redeemer who brings
good out of evil
salvation out of slavery
answers out of questions
preparation out of hesitation
certainty out of maybe
yes out of no

Praise the Lord!

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Click Here, for a powerful reflection and prayer by Jan Richardson entitled Blessing at the Burning Bush

Click Here, for another striking reflection/poem based on the burning bush passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled The One Who Hears

For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For
more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Whisper Day 11: God at Work in Me


The Power of a Whisper
Reading Plan

Day 11 Reading: Philippians 2

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

Observation
In this letter, Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to be of one mind, to be unified with God and one another in the way they think, live, love and serve. The one mind they are to cultivate is the mind as Christ, the mind of a true servant of God. Having Christ’s mindset results in a life which:

  • looks to the interests of others, no selfish ambition (v. 3-4)
  • is humble and reverent before God (v. 5-8.)
  • freely chooses to obey God, even to the point of self sacrifice (v. 5-8.)
  • is empowered and blessed by God (v. 9-13)
  • is joyfully obedient to the purposes of God (v. 14)
  • shines as a testimony to God, offering the world a new way of living (v. 15-16)
  • is faithful and steadfast, even though surrounded by corruption (v. 15-16)

I claim to be an average man of less than average ability…. I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith. – Mahatma Gandhi

Be not afraid of greatness:
some are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.
– William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Quote Act II, Scene V)

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. -Maya Angelou

When he was challenged by Jesus to accept a life of voluntary poverty, the rich young man knew he was faced with the simple alternative of obedience or disobedience. When Levi was called from the receipt of custom or Peter from his nets, there was no doubt that Jesus meant business. Both of them were to leave everything and follow. Again, when Peter was called to walk on the rolling sea, he had to get up and risk his life. Only one thing was required in each case — to rely on Christ’s word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world. The forces which tried to interpose themselves between the word of Jesus and the response of obedience were as formidable then as they are to-day. Reason and conscience, responsibility and piety all stood in the way, and even the law and ‘scriptural authority’ itself were obstacles which pretended to defend them from going to the extremes of antinomianism and ‘enthusiasms.’ But the call of Jesus made short work of all these barriers . . .
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Application
This passage reminds me of two pitfalls to faith. One is to think about faith in terms of what’s in it for me. I evaluate a congregation or ministry opportunity like I would a local business. (aka customer satisfaction) The true goal of a Christian is far different. The Holy Spirit of God is at work in me to will and to work for God’s good pleasure. Sometimes that will align with my pleasure and sometimes it will not.

As a Christian, I make a commitment to Christ- to a worldview, value system, and God beyond my own creating.  This more faithful mindset reminds me of a line I often heard on the TV show The West Wing, “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” As a Christian, I bring all I have to serve at the pleasure of God Almighty- whatever that might entail.

The other pitfall to faith is to compare myself to others when evaluating my spiritual life. I’m doing better than Susie so I must be ok. This passage reminds me to only compare myself with Christ. My goal is to become more Christ-like, to develop the mind of Christ within me, not Susie’s or anyone else’s.

Unity comes when believers all focus on being Christ-like. We are called by God to come together to “shine like stars in the world,” lighting the way to God. Those yet to believe will know we are Christians by our unity, our common mindset, and will want to have what we have found.

Prayer
Holy Spirit, you are at work in me. You empower me with the desire to follow God’s will. You strengthen me to carry it out. You correct me when I stray. You do this for others as well. Coninue to reveal to us the mind of Christ. Fill us with his wisdom, purity, and humility. Fill us with his courage, focus, and sacrifical service. Draw us together to will and to work for God’s good pleasure. Draw us together to shine, so others might be drawn to Christ as well. In his name we trust and pray, Amen.

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Whisper Day 10: Jeremiah's Call to Action

Jeremiah Receives the Gift of Prophecy from God, from The Bible Series, 1957 by Marc Chagall

The Power of a Whisper Reading Plan
Day 10 Reading: Jeremiah 1

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.”
Jeremiah 1:9 (NRSV)

Observation
In today’s passage, God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet of God. Jeremiah is hesitant to heed this call to action because of his age and inexperience. God addresses each of Jeremiah’s concerns.

Verse 7: Do not say, “I am only a boy”; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.
God reminds Jeremiah who he is in God’s eyes (a prophet to the nations) not who the world says he is (a boy). God gives Jeremiah a glimpse of himself responding powerfully and faithfully to God’s call- you shall go… you shall speak…

Verse 8: Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.

God reminds Jeremiah that he is not expected to fulfill this call in his own strength. God is there to strengthen and protect Jeremiah as he responds, to even fight for him when necessary. God affirms this again in verses 18- 19, using building imagery to remind Jeremiah that he is fortified by God for this mission.

Verse 17: Do not break down before them  
In verses 7-8, God addresses the fears of initially responding to the call. In verses 9 and 17, God addresses the fears that arise in the midst of fulfilling the call.  In the heat of the moment we ask, “What am I going to say?” In verse 9, God promises to provide- Now I have put my words in your mouth.

In verse 17, God reminds Jeremiah that he is not being forced into this decision. Jeremiah has the free will to choose to stand and speak God’s message before the nation’s leaders. He is not a puppet. Jeremiah is also reminded that should he choose to accept the call, God will fulfill the mission through him, not for him. Jeremiah must make the decision to bring his strength to the situation. (gird up his loins) In order to fulfill the mission, Jeremiah must place his trust and confidence in God and choose to act. God will magnify Jeremiah’s strength as he steps out in faith.

Application
When faced with a call to action, we can allow ourselves to be broken down by an earthly view the situation or we can allow God to build us up, step out in faith, trusting God to provide what we need to fulfill the mission.

Prayer
Lord of Light,
change the way I see

I see weakness where you see strength.
change the way I see

I see hopelessness where you see healing.
change the way I see

I see inexperience where you see potential.
change the way I see

I see giants where you see Promised Land.
change the way I see
that I may be strengthened to step out courageously in response to your call.
Amen.

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a
copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the
use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright
information page.

Whisper Day 9: Correction = Love


The Power of a Whisper
Reading Plan

Day 9 Reading: Proverbs 3

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
-Proverbs 3:11-12

Observation
When God whispers, it is usually one of three messages:

  • A whisper calling us to action: Go! It’s time to exercise your faith. It’s time to join me in saving the world.
  • A whisper of assurance: I am with you and will help you.
  • A whisper of admonition: i.e. correction

Today’s passage from Proverbs reminds us that God’s whispers of correction are rooted in love. They are not arbitrary rules we must follow in order to earn salvation or earn God’s love. Instead, they are words of protection and wisdom for our own good.

God has our best interest at heart. Good parents warn their children of danger: touching a hot stove, sticking something in a light socket, running out into the street, the destructive path of drugs or promiscuous sex…. Like a parent who can see a situation deeper than a child, God can see what we cannot in our haste and shortsightedness. God whispers:
Stop! Wait!
Have you considered the consequence of this choice?
What you are doing or thinking about doing is destructive, or even deadly.

Application
Delight in God’s whispers of correction, for they remind us of God’s deep love and watchful care.

Prayer
Heavenly One, you care for and defend us as a Father, you birth us and nurture us as a Mother. Open our ears to hear your correction and our hearts to delight in it. Share with us your eternal wisdom and goodness. Grow us in your life-giving ways. Make us who we were meant to be. These are but some of the many ways you love us. We are grateful and await your word…

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Whisper Day 8: Paul’s Whisper of Assurance

Day 7 of the Whisper Reading Plan is set aside for worship and rest.

The Power of a Whisper Reading Plan
Day 8 Reading:
When God speaks to us, it is usually one of three messages:
1. A whisper calling us to action.
Go! It’s time to exercise your faith. It’s time to join me in saving the world.
Example: Genesis 6, Noah is call to build the ark

2. A whisper of admonition (i.e. correction)
Stop! What you are doing or thinking about doing is deadly or destructive.
Example: Matthew 16:21-26, Jesus admonishes Peter

3. A whisper of assurance.
I am with you and will help you.
Example: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, God comforts Paul

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NRSV)

Observation
In Acts 9, Saul has an encounter with Jesus that looks more like a shout than a whisper. It is a whisper of admonition so powerful, Saul is knocked to the ground and temporarily blinded. Later Saul would receive a call to action from God: preach Jesus to the Gentiles. Saul the Pharisee then becomes Paul the apostle, church planter and defender of the faith. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul experiences what seems much more like a whisper, a whisper of assurance.

photo by istockphoto

Paul had an ailment of some kind, a thorn in the flesh. Scholars aren’t sure what that was exactly. Some think he was going blind. Others think he had a problem with his leg which may have caused him to limp. Maybe he had a problem with anger. Whatever it was, Paul asked God to heal him of it. God replies, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul would not be healed this side of heaven, yet God assured Paul he would have everything he needed to fulfill his mission of spreading the good news of Jesus. Paul’s weakness would shine a light on the goodness and power of God.

Application
Whispers of assurance are full of truth and grace. God doesn’t always provide what we desire, but always provides what we need.

Prayer
Jesus our Shepherd and Savior, you are near, speaking words of assurance to the broken and despairing. Help all who are suffering to be able to hear you above the pain and chaos. Help them to believe and trust in your promises. Help them to see you at work and rejoice. You are working all things for good and for your glory. You are near. Draw us near. Thank you for your compassion and companionship. Amen.

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For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.