Heart of Hearing

The lessons over the past two weeks have been hard to hear and even harder to share. Merriam-Webster says hard of hearing is “relating to or having a defective but functional sense of hearing.” My heart’s hearing has been defective, but functional, most of my life. God reminded me yesterday that honest communion fosters a heart of hearing. Nothing is more painful or frustrating than not being heard. The heart is designed to hear and be heard, but I usually let my heart get to its breaking point before I let others hear it. I have a heart of hearing and thank God for all the beautiful people He has placed in my path. There is nothing I love more than hearing someone’s heart, but I stumble when it comes to letting others hear mine.

Lately, I’ve found myself shut up in a vacuum wanting to hear but unable to make a connection. Like a weak signal or limited coverage, my need to please others creates interference and causes a great deal of frustration when it comes to my heart being heard. The same thing happens to the heart that happens to the voice when it is not being heard; it either stops speaking or starts screaming. My heart most often shuts up. This week was different, and that made for difficult learning as God brought me out of my comfort zone.

The pressure in a boiling pot will build to the point of blowing the lid off if there is enough water inside to feed it, and it will boil down to nothing if left simmering for too long. My heart is the same, and the pressure built to the boiling point this week. It’s easy to keep the lid on my heart if I simply don’t feel or replace loving with doing. If I never turn on the burner, the water will never get out of hand. If I never love, there will be no need to worry about my heart. The problem is that hearts are made for loving, and loving involves hearing.

Attention and patience are the keys to both loving and boiling water. When someone says they can’t boil water, it really means they can’t pay attention or don’t have the necessary patience to wait for the water to boil. The very same thing is true when it comes to love. Love takes a great deal of attention and even more patience. It’s okay to let the water boil over or dry up, and it’s okay to let love come to the boiling point or dry up too. It’s all part of the journey. Nothing teaches better than a mistake, and I’ve made many when it comes to cooking and loving.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (NASB)

I love the simplicity of this verse, and I love that God is using the book Romans in a powerful way to teach me that my heart can be hard of hearing because its capacity to love has been “defective but functional.” God wants so much more for me. Christ’s precious love enables me to hear with a new heart, and that is the beautiful message God had for me this morning. I thank God for an unexpected healing that opened the way for my heart to hear clearly and with love. It changes the way I hear my own heart and allows me to hear God’s heart and the hearts of those in my path with the joy of one who hears sound for the very first time. I pray I never take hearing for granted, and I pray that I speak and love in a way that makes hearing my heart easier for those around me.

Flesh and Faith

Galatians 2:20-21 tells me, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

A Spirit-filled life is a life of faith lived out in the flesh, and Romans 10:17 reminds me, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” God’s Word fills my faith and tempers my flesh as it reminds me of Christ’s righteousness. When I see God’s Word as a set of rules for righteousness or try to live out the law instead of loving out my faith, I miss the life God has for me. The law is a guide and a reminder that Jesus did fulfill that which I cannot do on my own. As Paul says, “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” I’m learning to gauge all in my life by looking at how it relates to Christ’s gift of love. Leaning on the law, dismisses His gift. Floundering in the flesh does the same. The Holy Spirit allows me to live out my faith in a way that blesses Him and teaches me.

If I think I can be good enough, I nullify God’s grace. If I think His grace gives me the license to do whatever I want, I nullify God’s grace. If I believe Christ is the Son of God and understand that His love comes to me through God’s grace, then flesh and faith can work together. The problem comes if I try to live out my faith on my own or think I can control my flesh. Forgetting His Spirit is breathing without lungs. If I try to live by faith without the Holy Spirit, I end up worn, weary, and out of breath as I get caught up in the process of being good and forget the purpose of Christ’s coming. Paul knew, and I’m learning, that faith is hearing, understanding, and living out Christ’s words with the help of His Spirit.

 Christ promises to be with us always in Matthew 27:17-20, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Christ’s commission includes a precious promise that assures me I can live by faith if I will take His words to heart with the help of His Holy Spirit. God’s sweet message this week has been that I am not alone. He is always with me through His Holy Spirit, and I can live the life He has in mind if I stop trying to do what His Son has already done. I’ve never felt as alive as I have this week as God has given me a taste of living the life He has in mind. Faith forces flesh to relax and allows me to breathe in a way that changes everything:)

Author! Author!

Hebrews 12:2 says much about faith that I tend to forget. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”NASB

Author is an interesting word. The origin of the word is autor “father,” from Old French auctor, acteor. It is a word I associate with God. There may be no original thoughts, as some say, but there is an Originator who has all authority. I have been thinking recently about authorship. There is much debate on the subject when it comes to the Bible, and there is a desire to understand the origin of various texts. I read an interesting article this week by Richard L. Schultz from Wheaton College called “Intertextuality, Canon, and ‘Undecidability’ Understanding Isaiah’s ‘New Heavens and New Earth’ (Isaiah 65: 17-25) ” Schultz says it best with “Our goal in identifying and considering intertextuality is not primarily to achieve a more accurate but rather a richer interpretation,” We argue over accuracy of a text too often when a richer interpretation should be the goal of delving into the beautiful scriptures of God’s Word.

The thing I love best about God’s Word is the life it takes on when read with an open heart. There is nothing like it in all of literature. I can read the same passage a thousand times and never hear it the same way. Those who would cement and fix or pick and peck at particular passages miss the beauty of seeing the whole beautiful message. Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith. Romans 10:17 makes a beautiful connection with “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” NASB Faith isn’t something I can find by by searching diligently or get by working harder. It is something I hear and take into my heart so I can move closer to God. Jesus fulfilled God’s Word in a way no one expected, and He is still fulfilling it in the same way.

The religious leaders of Christ’s day would have preferred for Him to prove them right because that’s human nature. Jesus was fully human, but He had God’s nature which isn’t anything at all like ours. He saw the joy before Him, so He could get past the present suffering He knew He would have to endure. I have to do the same when it comes to faith. Jesus is the author and the model when it comes to trusting God when I cannot see the outcome. I have a blurred vision or an inking of what is going on when it comes to God’s plan for me, but I will not have clarity and complete understanding until I am with Him. A dear friend reminded me this week that watching is as important as listening in that regard. Jesus knew the seat beside His Father was waiting for Him, and He had complete trust in the Author of His faith. That encourages me to hear God’s Word with a new heart that  opens His Word and lets His Holy Spirit help me find my faith.