Listening Like a (Faithful) Child

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This week I am going to talk about what it means to have faith like a child. I am currently an assistant teacher in a YMCA child development center, for a toddler classroom. The children that I work with the most are around the ages of 2 and 3. Throughout my day as an assistant teacher, there are many different elements that go into the teaching and caring for my 2 and 3 year olds. They have to listen, share, trust, sometimes they need comfort and sometimes they cry just because they do not yet have the vocabulary to fully tell me what it is that they need.


Today’s topic is listening like a child, especially when we are listening for God. Some verses about listening are here:

Luke 11:28 “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Proverbs 16:20 “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”

Philippians 4:9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me -put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.”


All of these verses are about listening, but many of these verses include the two parts that listening is made up of: hearing and doing. When I am speaking with my toddlers there are some things they need to do; hear what I am saying and do what I ask, even if they do not see or understand the reason. For example, when we walk the hallways in our center, on the way to different activities we ask our toddlers to hold onto the railing. This is an extra measure that keeps them safe, however some of them do not understand how or why it could be dangerous to them if they let go of the railing. God is the same way- there are things he teaches us through his word that will be harmful to us; we may not understand but we should listen to him anyway. There will be times in our own lives when God is going to be telling us something, asking us to hear and do, and we may not always understand the reason behind it.


Daily I am amazed by my toddlers, because most of the time when I ask them to hold their railing, or move their milk cup closer to the center of the table, or to walk in the classroom, they hear me and do what I see, even if I do not give them a reason. This is because I have a relationship with them, and they trust that I am doing what I can to protect them, care for them, teach them, and make sure they are safe. This is one way that faith like a child is important for us to recognize and practice in our own lives. Do you hear what God says to you, and do it without question? If not, maybe we should consider that call to listen, that call to have child-like faith. Today, I challenge you to try to listen for God and do what he asks you, without question and see what happens in your life.


Tomorrow I am going to talk more in-depth about the trust of a child, since that will follow today’s topic nicely. I also saw that Andrew Cheatwood, who wrote for last week included a song that he was impacted by each day, and this is something I have done in the past and have enjoyed, so I would like to continue the trend this week. The song that I have chosen for today is “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs


~Jana Swanson

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Perseverance through Tribulation

 

    Today, we return to the book of Job to further talk about depression. Job is being directly attacked by his own friends during a time frame when he is losing his health, his wife told him to curse God and die, his children have all died, and he has lost all his possessions he had. These are all things on their own that could cause depression within someone. Normally, these situations would cause problems internally, and someone who is depressed would tend to keep them to themselves. Job is blessed with wisdom though, and talks to his friends about his troubles. Instead of his friends trying to help him through it, they attack him on the grounds that they believe he clearly is wicked. The perseverance Job shows throughout the whole book is a testament of his faith in God.

That perseverance is one we should strive for on a day to day basis, whether going through trials and tribulation, or through times of blessing. There are times when he speaks of how he has been struck down from his status of respect in the community to one where people cannot bear to even look at him. In those moment, he is crying out to God, asking why it had happened. The moments that catch my eye though are when he is done mourning the trial, he returns to the debate with his friends on justice. In his responses to them, we see just how strong his faith is in YHWH, and the hope Job has stored in Him.   

Job 19: 25-27 NASB: “And as for me, my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I shall behold myself and not another. My heart faints within me.” The phrase ‘I know my Redeemer lives’ is one many Christians know because of the song Nicole C Mullins released in 2000. It is easy to read the English in this verse, and come to the conclusion that Job is saying Jesus lives, but contextually that doesn’t quite work. This is partly because Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I noticed no mention of a coming Messiah in the book of Job. That is another reason I found this verse to be confusing for a time because we tend to use Redeemer as a title for Jesus. We use the term redeemer as one who is a deliverer from sin. A more appropriate translation for the Hebrew word “go’el” in this context is vindicator. Vindicator means one who delivers from affliction and wrong which is not due to sin. (I have Spiros Zodhiates to thank for this insight because of a note in my study bible.)

    Job 23: 17 NASB: “But I am not silenced by the darkness, Nor deep gloom which covers me.” This verse comes in the middle of his second to last rebuttal of his friend’s arguments. Before this verse Job speaks of how He longs to see God and beg his case for being upright and faithful. Once he says this, Job says that no one can change God, and that this trial must be part of God’s plan for him. He starts to show his awe, fear, and reverence of God just before this verse. I want to emphasize this verse because Job is stating that though he is confused, he will not be quiet. He will stay faithful, though he has been brought low. This verse shows Job’s character, and how through his faith he perseveres through the troubles in his life.   

    Clinging to our faith in YHWH is essential to pushing through the difficult times this life brings forth to us. God is our Vindicator, and He gave us our redeemer, Jesus, that we may have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. May we continue to push forward in this life with these ideas in mind, that we may not falter. Let us retain this knowledge in our hearts, and share it with those around us, that we may be faithful bondservants of YHWH.

 

((I apologize for the late send, and with no photo, our family is camping for the next several days and very limited wifi could cause delays this week.  -Marcia

Thank you for writing, Andrew!   Here’s a little about Andrew….

I’ve been a part of the Hedrick of God since about age 5. I thirsted for the Word, and the depths of knowledge held within it from a young age. Along the way, I was baptized with my dear brother, Zach. One of my first solid memories after baptism is from a year later, my grandpa passed away. I became depressed because I didn’t cry out to God, and God used my depression to help mold me. Through a decade of turmoil, the love of God, and a supportive church family, I’m now ready to put proper effort into the goals I believe I’ve been given.  My intentions are to use my story and the knowledge I obtain from God along the way as a teacher.

 

 

 

Depression: Strictly Chemical, or can there be Spiritual Causes?

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Depression and mental illness have become hot topics in the public eye in the past decade, and for good reason. Chaos and heartless acts are being televised everywhere, traumatic and high stress events occur in peoples’ lives, and it becomes so easy to stay stuck in an abysmal state of mind. For some people, depression is a chemical imbalance that can be treated with prescription drugs. I believe it goes deeper than that for many people nowadays though. Depression for some people comes from a place of spiritual turmoil. It is something I know from personal experience because I’ve been fighting with depression on and off for over a decade. It starts to eat away at you, pessimism is the easiest form of logic to use, hopelessness starts to flood into you, and just a general lack of self worth creates a house for itself in your heart and mind. These were constants in my life since my 8th grade year when one of my biggest life influences, my grandpa, passed away. When that happened, my fight or flight instincts kicked into gear about how do I react to this situation. The choices my heart and mind gave me were: cry out to God for comfort and just to understand why this happened, or run away in the anger that had welled up within the confusion and pain because of unresolved time with my grandfather.

 

I ran away from God that day because I was hurt, I didn’t know how to talk about what had happened, and I was scared to show a hole in my armor at school because it felt like the people at school fed on my failure and pain. I now know looking at the past that probably wasn’t true, but I lost that passion to learn for a bit because I didn’t want to be attacked from the inside and out. The experiences I’ve had may not have been pleasant, but we’ve got an example of someone in Scripture who has gone through much worse, and came out on top because of his faith in God. That man’s name is Job. I believe that if we take the time to understand him we can learn to sympathize or empathize with people who have gone through, or are going through spiritual depression.

 

Job 2:9 (NASB). “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Personally, this verse is the best example of a variant of the fight or flight question that ran through my mind. Job was given the option to hold fast to his integrity, which stems from his relationship with the Heavenly Father. He was also given the option to curse God and die. Given everything that had happened to him by this point, it would be extremely easy for anyone to cry out in anger against God. Job by this point had lost all his monetary wealth, his cattle were all decimated, his children all recently died, and he had just begun to lose his health. Even through all of that, he stayed faithful to YHWH. Job 2:10 (NASB): “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

The response he gives has been stuck inside my head ever since I have read these verses. “…Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity…” That is such a healthy perspective on life, and one we must learn for ourselves. These words are ones I believe we must learn to use with one another in love and gentleness because it is easier to become angry with God, instead of realize we can use the rough patches of our lives as catalysts for something better. Whether that is to draw closer to God, be empathetic with another’s life stories, or to share our stories letting others know they aren’t the only ones struggling in this life.

-Andrew Cheatwood

 

Change of Plans

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ACTS 16

I love the book of Acts as we get a glimpse into Paul’s missionary journeys!  In this exciting chapter (go ahead and read it all) Paul begins his second missionary journey with Silas.

 

Right off the bat we get to meet Timothy and Lydia – two faithful believers at their start.  One thing I love about FUEL is looking out over the crowd and seeing the youthful energy and passion – and knowing that they won’t stay youth too long.  It is fun to wonder who might one day be my pastor, or my pastor’s wife?  Who might go on a missions trip with one of my children?  Who might teach a class at FUEL to my grandkids (years and years from now)?  The Christian life is a process of growth and ups and downs and new experiences and deeper maturity.  It’s fun to see the first steps of this developing growth in our church youth – and in those touched by Paul’s ministry.

 

One of the signs of growing in your faith – which can even be difficult for those who have been Christians a long time – involves putting your own plans aside when God would have you go in a different direction.  Here, Paul and companions (which now includes young Timothy) “were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (vs. 7).  I wonder how the Spirit of Jesus worked this time: torrential rain flooded out the road, lost passport, contagious disease in town… Can you think of a time when you were upset by something that suddenly changed your plans?  Looking back now, is there a chance that instead of circumstance or bad luck it was actually God leading you where He had a job for you to do?

 

Even when it looked like “bad luck” landed Paul and Silas into jail….God was at work.  And, with continued faith in God and His plans, Paul and Silas were singing and praising God in their chains.  At the time, they didn’t know that later that night an earthquake would open the jail doors and unfasten their chains.  But they sang praises to God.  They didn’t know that the jailer and his family would be baptized that very night, because of the life examples and testimonies of the faithful witnesses.  But they were praying to God – and the rest of the prisoners were listening.

 

Beware of crumbling under your “bad luck”.  Instead, keep growing your faith in God.  Continue praying and singing praises to God.  You never know who is listening and how it might also change their life and the lives of their family.

 

-Marcia Railton