Aug. 6, 2009
“For (Naomi) had heard in Moab how the Lord had visited His people.”
Ruth 1: 6
“The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.”
Proverbs 15: 14
Have I asked God to give me His gift of discernment in my life?
“Use your discernment and choose the course which takes you farthest away from the deadening activities of the stifling world, and brings you close to God; direct your footsteps toward Bethlehem…until you reach the appointed place.”
Synac Spiritual Writer
“Discerning…has to do with comprehending the remarkable in common happenings…to see hope where others are consigned to confusion or despair. Discerning…does not seek spectacular proofs or await the miraculous, but, rather, it means sensitivity to the Word of God in dwelling in all creation and transfiguring common history.”
The other day my sister and I were discussing a job offer she had received. She made the comment she wished God would do what He did for Gideon with the miracle of the wet and dry fleece in order that she would know what the correct decision was to make. I’ve often felt the same way, that is until we studied the book of Judges so thoroughly and found out that even Gideon got off the path God had laid out. For Gideon fouled up and forgot or ignored the destiny His heavenly Father designed for him. Not only did Gideon father children with “many wives,” but he added to his harem by taking a concubine in Shechem and having a child with her. If his marital woes weren’t enough, Gideon made an ephod for his family to worship – in direct disobedience of God’s direction. The fact is, Gideon didn’t listen to God. He didn’t hear Him. Nor did he discern God speaking to him.
Sadly, all of us fall into the same trap. We want to know and understand our destiny – and for good reason – so we chart a course and plow ahead, thinking we have all the answers and solutions.
In our story of Naomi, there is a very distinct quality which we find visible if we look for it in our text today. Naomi was a listener. Not just in Bethlehem but in Moab, too. If we go to the Hebrew and take a look at the word “heard,” it means, “intelligent attention, obedience, carefully attentive, careful consideration and last but not least, “diligent discernment.”
Naomi wasn’t a fair-weather follower of God only in Bethlehem where she had family and it was convenient for her. No! Absolutely not! Naomi “gave ear” to the call of God even when she lived in Moab and was surrounded by those who mocked her God.
She “perceived” and “discerned” that the report of “Bread In Bethlehem,” was no hoax. She regarded the words as true.
For ten years she’d been tuned to hear God’s proclamation. When the message came to Moab that there was no hunger in Bethlehem, Naomi knew the truth when she heard it for she discerned God’s call.
As I read the story of Naomi, I thought of the times in my own life when I got off the path my Father had destined for me, all because I wasn’t listening or didn’t take time to hear His voice. In the book of Ruth, we are told Naomi was listening and she heard – she obeyed because as she listened she discerned the voice of God, calling her back to the city of Bread, Bethlehem.
One of my favorite writers, Amy Carmichael, penned this wonderful prayer, entitled: “Influence My Thoughts”
“Think through me, thoughts of God;
My Father, quiet me,
Till in Thy holy presence, hushed,
I think Thy thoughts with Thee.
Think through me, thoughts of God,
That always, everywhere,
The stream that through my being flows
May homeward pass in prayer.
Think through me, thoughts of God,
And let my own thoughts be
Lost like the sand pools on
The shore of the eternal sea.”
If we want to follow the destiny God has for us, may our prayer each day be like Amy Carmichael’s and may we, “Think Thy thoughts with Thee.” Take time to listen and as we do, the Father’s thoughts will flow through us, lighting our way and clearing a path before us as we follow God’s destiny for our lives.
“One of the most powerful concepts, one which is a sure cure for lack of confidence, is the thought that God is with you and helping you. This is one of the simplest teachings…that Almighty God will be your companion, will stand by you, help you and see you through.”
Norman Vincent Peale
Listening to God
“The most difficult and most decisive part of prayer is acquiring the ability to listen. To listen, according to the dictionary, is ‘attentively to exercise the sense of hearing’. It is not a passive affair, a space when we don’t happen to be doing or saying anything and are, therefore, automatically able to listen. It is a conscious, willed action, requiring alertness and vigilance, by which our whole attention is focused and controlled. So it is difficult. And it is decisive because it is the beginning of our entry into a personal relationship with God in which we gradually learn to let go of ourselves and allow the Word of God to speak within us.”
Mother Mary Clare
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