The Difference!

The Difference!

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 NIV

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale. Proverbs 18:11 NIV

Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12 NIV

To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13 NIV

How can a person respond to anyone–intelligently–before hearing what is said or asked?  When they respond without hearing the whole matter, it creates confusion and in many cases, after a person has had a chance to think about what they said–before hearing–they end up back-pedaling or switching positions on an issue or the question posed to them.

If a person has knowledge about a subject or is at least willing to seek knowledge from those who are wiser than he/she is–they might respond without hearing the whole matter out of anticipation. But if they anticipate the wrong question, the answer won’t make any sense at all. The wise course of action–hear a matter–in its entirety before speaking and when an answer is not known–don’t try faking knowledge because the truth will be exposed and that’s when the back-pedaling begins.

We must check our hearing to make sure we understand every nuance of every word before we attempt to respond to questions. We must be aware of our surroundings and check our sensitivity monitor. We cannot say the same things in every venue without regard for those who are listening to us. This does not mean we cannot speak truth–we simply need to be mindful of who is listening and phrase the truth without offending the hearer.

Of course there are those who are so arrogant and high-minded in thinking whatever they say is appropriate they never think before speaking. As a result, they always have to pull their foot of their mouths within hours of speaking rashly. It is this arrogance and haughtiness that will eventually expose them for who they are and then–they shall be humbled before the masses.

In certain venues or circles–those who have great wealth tend to think their wealth entitles them to say anything that comes to mind. They believe their economic status provides them with fortification/safety not afforded to others and they won’t suffer any wrong they do. Not so–the wealthy and the high-minded shall fall prey to their own arrogance and then some–if not most–will blame the media and anyone else for their downfall. They will whine louder than a petulant toddler who has been allowed to have their way about everything. Wise parents teach toddlers that they cannot have their way about everything and they must follow rules. When we see overage toddlers acting out–pouting, and whining–we know they never learned that lesson; but the lesson will be learned.

The difference between thinking one is fortified by economic status and those who know the name of The Lord is a strong tower–the righteous run into it and they are saved–from themselves and those things over which they have no control. When a person does not know The Lord–they don’t realize the measure of surety and safety they have in Him. In the midst of the storms–regardless of how devastating the damage from the “natural” storms or the spiritual storms–Believers know–everything will be all right. We can stand on our faith in The Lord and face whatever storms come–knowing we’ll be victorious.

Let’s pray for wisdom and then carefully listen to God when He responds so we’ll know how to respond to others–after we’ve heard the entire matter. That’s the difference between the wise Believer and the foolish faking they Believe.


Whose Words Are Heeded?

“Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” (Ecclesiastes 9:15-18 NIV)

For whatever reason–the masses choose to ignore the poor and humble, the quiet dignity of those who have no need to shout–thinking more highly of those who make a lot of noise, but their character is void of integrity and wisdom. Why is that? Our society tends to put those who make noise on pedestals and upon microscopic inspection, we discover–too late–nothing of substance in the noise-makers.

This is true of most of the politicians running for office–especially those vying for the position of President–but we can’t blame them–we are the ones to elect the ones who make the most noise, the empty promises designed to tickle our ears and cause us to ignore wisdom speaking from those who are not as noisy, but quietly sharing the wisdom of sages.

There’s a lot of noise being heard from the top Republican candidate right now–and people are buying into the bluster and clamor; he’s feeding the frenzy because people are so unhappy with the sitting president. I’m certain that when others jump into the fray, they’ll be just as noisy, at least some will and people will pay attention to them, but will they really have anything of substance to say?

At this moment–I’m not impressed with any candidate and this post is not really about politics, but it serves as a perfect analogy in demonstrating how we ignore the wise and give more credence to those “making some noise.”

This is especially true of so many of our churches–the more noise is made, the greater some people think the leadership is. In fact–what I’ve discovered in observing the worship services of a number of churches is this: The musician plays loudly, the choir sings loud and long, and the preacher–gets up and ignites a shout, whoops and hollers, but the service is void of any movement by Holy Spirit because He couldn’t be heard in order to lead them. And since Holy Spirit cannot be heard, only religious tradition is observed and no one learns anything of substance and those who enter the building–confused and empty of spiritual guidance–leave the same way, but they had a good time, making noise.

In the quiet of the night or a fleeting, illusive moment, if we listen carefully, and know The Word of God, we can hear Holy Spirit speak in the stillness and receive wisdom from on high. But in the midst of the noise–literally or figuratively, we can only hear “the noise” of complaint, confusion, chaos, and disdain–the noise of self-aggrandizement, haughtiness, and superiority–hearing nothing that will make a difference in anyone’s life other than the maker of the noise.

If we want peace in our homes, our communities and in our nations, we must be willing to look beyond desire to hear the noise of those who make empty promises, and those of empty character, and seek the quiet wisdom of God’s Word and obey.

Whose words are you hearing and obeying?

What God Has Prepared!

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”–the things God has prepared for those who love him–these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10 NIV)

Every time I get discouraged (and I do–momentarily) about the things I see, I ask God to speak to my heart and show me the way I should go. For those who understand hearing Holy Spirit and understand that Holy Spirit will only speak those things that God speaks, we know–no matter what things look like--God has prepared something great for those who love Him. 

What has He prepared for you? Only Holy Spirit can reveal God’s truth and wisdom to those willing to hear and obey.

And when we are in the midst of doing things and challenges arise, we must be mindful–at all times–of the wisdom we have with access through Holy Spirit. We do not have to know how to do all things, but if we are willing to listen, He can guide us in all things. When others attempt to advise us with their limited “human wisdom” we can go straight to the throne of God, and get wisdom from above–and sit back and watch how amazed others are or will be by the things God accomplishes through us.

Knowing that it is He who accomplishes our success is key. Without God, I could do nothing–worthwhile–for I am totally dependent upon Him. When I need answers and cannot rely upon others to provide them, I ask God and He shows me what to do. Through His wisdom, I have achieved success in areas that amazed me and left others shaking their heads. But when God speaks to us and we see the end results of our obedience, we must not allow our accomplishments to go to our heads, thinking we know anything. I freely admit–I know nothing but God’s love and I know His love will see me through anything and because I am willing to hear Him, I can say with confidence–“I can do all things through Him who loves me” and I know, “Nothing is impossible with God”. Having this mindset–keeps me moving forward–with great expectation–ready to see and receive what He has prepared for me.

Though the naysayers and doubters would rather complain than believe and trust in God, I will stand firmly, immovable, in my faith in God and my willingness to hear Him. We must be careful when we must interact with others because their lack of faith can creep into our spirits and cause us to miss what God has prepared for us, when we are distracted by the “noise” of unbelief and doubt.

Human wisdom is totally lacking when it comes to understanding the things of the Spirit. Those without benefit of Holy Spirit’s guidance will never understand those who operate with Holy Spirit guiding them–every step of the way. Remember, no one has heard or seen nor can they imagine all the good things God has prepared for those who love Him!

Don’t Just Listen–Do!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:19-22 NIV)

We know from reading The Word that faith comes by hearing and hearing by The Word of God–says, Paul to us. Now, James tells us, don’t just listen to The Word, do it! If our faith in God is going to be sustained, then we must do what we hear and read from The Word–and not just people.

The Messengers of God are worth hearing when they are speaking God’s message. When they veer off into their own imaginations and opinions that are based on nothing–especially not The Word–no one is obligated to hear or do what they say, yet so many people do.

I’m thinking particularly about a pastor–somewhere–who poured bleach over the heads of his congregants to “wash them clean” because of erroneous understanding of The Word. The Word tells us that the blood Jesus shed on the cross is what washes us clean–not bleach or anything else we attempt to do. The psalmist mentions being washed by The Word–not the literal word–but as representing what Jesus would accomplish since He is The Word.

Getting back to hearing and not doing–many people claim to listen to their pastor on a Sunday morning and praise their messages, but when asked what they said–they develop amnesia. “I don’t know, but it sure was good.” Apparently, they were not the good ground into which The Word was supposed to be sown.

Then there are those who wouldn’t miss church for the world–uh uh–no siree, they’re not missing church. They are there every time the doors open and listen intently to every word heard, but then their lives don’t demonstrate what they heard (unless they heard a message that opposes God’s Word). From their actions, one can tell, they didn’t hear about loving one’s neighbor as themselves because the minute they got into the parking lot, they started cussing out everyone in their way. They get home and talk about everyone who attended church–they talk about the pastor and his wife; they talk about the noisy children; they talk about the ushers who are too slow; they talk about the soloist and how they could see better than they did; they talk about the choir director who, “couldn’t direct traffic.” They talk about everyone and since they “saw” so much going on, how on earth did they hear any Word?

We can hear without listening and when we pretend to listen the only person we fool is us. God is not mocked. He knows our hearts and He knows when we’re pretending to pay attention and so does everyone else when we are not doing The Word.

We “do The Word” when we obey The Word and people know we have either read with understanding or at listened to God’s messengers because they see it in our conduct. We who “do” The Word don’t live in opposition to The Word, but strive to obey God in all things and that obedience starts with knowing how to love others and God.

Today would be a good day to start–not just listening, but in doing The Word–loving all we meet and greet and making the devil cringe because we even woke up–with desire in our hearts to please God!

What Must We Believe?

“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21,22 NIV)

Most of us know the story of Jesus and the fig tree that had leaves, but no fruit. When Jesus saw the leaves, He expected to find figs, but there were none and since He was hungry, and now frustrated, He spoke to the tree and said it would wither and die. When the disciples came back past the tree, they were amazed that the tree was withered.

The tree with leaves had the appearance of bearing fruit, but was barren. When we look at ourselves in our walk, following the precepts of Jesus, how do we look? Do we have the appearance of bearing fruit, yet no fruit exists? Are we just superficial Christians–mimicking phrases, following traditions that have no meaning, giving lip service, but no real praise, mumbling words resembling prayer, but have no power, carrying our bibles that we won’t read, and wearing crosses that bear no witness of our understanding of the work on the cross?

Do we know how to generate love in any environment we find ourselves simply because we know how to love? Is there real joy in our lives that overflows onto all we meet? Do we have peace in our hearts, homes and community? Do we know how to teach with gentleness, remembering that we too are imperfect people? Do we know how to show kindness and compassion to those in need? Are we faithful–totally committed to do that we do, to do it well? Have we disciplined ourselves so others can see we live a disciplined life–free of anxiety, anger, and intolerance? Are we fruit-bearing Christians or do we just have the appearance of being one?

Now, what Jesus referenced to His disciples was more about their faith and what they would be able to do if they believed what they heard. They heard Him what He said to the tree, but apparently did not believe it would happen since they were amazed at what happened. He knew there was doubt lingering in them which is why they were amazed and told them that if they “didn’t doubt” they could say, to the mountain, “go move into the sea and it would.” Why must they say it? So they could hear what they said and since Jesus told them to do it, it would be so. “Faith coming by hearing and hearing by The Word of God.”

We must believe The Word (Jesus is The Word) and when we pray, we can have whatever we ask for when we don’t doubt The Word. In another passage, Jesus reminds us that whatever we ask of the Father, in His name, He would do it–as long as we don’t doubt it will be done.

The reason many do not see answered prayers is because of doubt and unbelief or because of asking for things that do not align with The Word. When we know The Word, we do not pray amiss (out of alignment with The Word) and we know that God is not hard of hearing or forgetful. Those are our weaknesses, not His.

So when we pray–we only need to ask for what we want–once–and then we give thanks for it until we receive it. Giving thanks to God what we have faith to receive--removes doubt. For if we know, we already have what we ask for, why would we need to keep asking for it?

In order to see faith operate on a daily basis, we must “hear” The Word and keep hearing The Word, building our faith in Him so He will move on our behalf since He is moved by faith, not by feelings.

We Are Protected!

“The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.” (Psalm 91:14 NLT)

Many of us find ourselves in need of being rescued from various situations in life–car breakdowns, relationship breakdowns, financial breakdowns, and some even from fire or water hazards. Most of those rescues could have been avoided if we had simply made wiser decisions and not put our trust in people or things.

Sometimes, we think we know what we’re doing when we purchase certain types of things, but when we do not maintain the things, they will break down on us.

Sometimes, we think we know what we’re doing when we decide where to work or with whom we get into relationships, but then we realize we have made a mistake and we either get fired or get so frustrated we quit the job and end relationships.

How about this–let’s seek God for every decision we have to make and trust His judgment and guidance in our lives! When we trust Him, we won’t have to worry about making wrong decisions.

If we listen to Holy Spirit, He’ll remind us when to get the oil checked, the tire pressure checked, and other regular maintenance on a car. He’ll whisper in our ears when we’re in the wrong places trying to seek employment. He’ll also tell us when we’re with the wrong people–if we listen.

Loving Him, and trusting Him puts us in a good position to be protected by Him and we can avoid the need for being rescued. However, if our love for Him is real, He will rescue us from ourselves and yet protect us from the unwise decisions we make.

Being in a relationship with God does not mean that we have reached perfection, but it does mean that we should be mindful of those things of which He’s trying to warn us. When situations occur over which we have no control, He will rescue us!

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have His protection than the best insurance money can buy. He can do things and protect us from things that cannot be equated with monetary value. He deserves my trust and love beyond any other because It is He who gives me life and reason to keep going forward.

“I really love The Lord! Way back on Calvary, He gave me the victory and I really love The Lord!”

According To His Truth!

“Teach me your ways, O LORD that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever”(Psalm 86:11,12 NLT).

How long has it been since we asked God to teach us–His ways–according to His truth?

This is probably why our society is in the shape it is today! We have not asked God to teach us anything, but have been willing to listen to any and everyone who has something to say that–sounds good. And then we wonder why–we don’t hear God speaking to us. If we don’t know His voice, how can we hear Him?

The only way we’ll ever understand when God is speaking and when people are speaking (their version of truth) is by knowing what He has said in His Word. This cannot be said often enough. If we know His Word, we’ll know His voice because He will not say anything contrary to His written Word! This is why Jesus said through John, “My sheep know my voice and another they will not hear (or listen to, or obey).”

Until we determine, collectively, to hear and obey His voice–our prayers are in vain. It is not that He does not hear us, but that we cannot hear Him or choose to ignore Him when we hear Him because sometimes–what He has to say–we just don’t want to hear.

In verse six of this Psalm, the psalmist is asking God to hear his prayer and then goes on to tell Him all of the wonderful things He is to him. Is that what we do or do we just ask–selfishly for those things we want?

Prayer–our communication with God–should not just be about asking for things, but praising Him for who He is to us and our gratitude because He is who He is!

If we want to see a change in our society–change worth having that eliminates the hatred and violence–then those of us who know Him and will hear His voice when He speaks–need to know how to pray, hear, and respond;  know His voice and obey!

Prayer changes things, but only when those who are praying are willing to hear and obey and then do things, according to His Truth!


Somewhere Out There!

Somewhere out there in the universe is the pathway to seeing all of God’s promises fulfilled in this lifetime.

“We must work, while it is day because when night comes–no one can see enough to get anything done.” (Paraphrased)

If we do not do everything while we have an opportunity to do it–while we yet have breathe in our bodies and the use of our limbs, when we are dead–our darkness has come–it will be too late.

Since death does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, or ethnicity, none of us are exempt from leaving here–the planet earth–at any time. Even though I plan to live until I’m ninety-five; I have no idea what God’s plans for me are–as to when He’ll call me home. So, I’ve made up my mind, that no matter what happens, there is an avenue by which I can reach all of my goals and fulfill God’s plans (with ministry) before it’s time for me to go. Somewhere out there-on planet earth, there are people who are in position to do what must be done–God is speaking to hearts and I pray that those He is speaking to are listening.

None of us were intended to live a life in isolation and we are all supposed to help one another (“Be helpers of one another”); especially those in the body of Christ. So, I’ll wait to hear from those He has spoken to on my behalf.  I know you’re out there–somewhere. But don’t wait too long to respond to His voice. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and if I’m sure you don’t want to miss being a blessing to others.

God bless you richly for being obedient and doing all He puts upon your heart to do–for whoever He says to do it for or with. He is also speaking to someone on your behalf and I pray all are listening and willing to do–because somewhere out there–there are those who hold the keys to blessings meant to overflow and overtake all who are in need.

Can You Hear Him?

Can you hear Him?

Listen closely!
He speaks in a whisper,
In the roar of a storm
Or the quiet of night,
From beyond the natural,
Into the Spiritual realm—
Love flows and overwhelms
As He speaks—
Words of comfort
Words of encouragement
Words of instruction
Words that give life
Words that speak volumes,
In various translations
And languages of all nations,
To the remnant
Who will listen
And obey His voice.

Can you hear Him?
He’s speaking to
Our hearts—even now!

“My sheep know my voice and
Another they will not follow!”
“Love me with all your heart,
Soul and mind, Love your neighbor
As you love yourself.”
“You can do all things
Through Him who loves you
And is always with you!”
“Greater is He—Holy Spirit—
Who is in you than he—the adversary—
Who is in the world!”

“Did you not know?
Did you not hear?
I am not a man
That I should lie.”
“I am The Lord,
Your God; and I
Do not change my mind
Like fickle, unstable man!”

Can you hear Him?

He speaks what is already written
All we have to do is study
To show ourselves approved
Unto Him, teaching His truth
And not our own,
As we promote the Gospel,
The Good News to everyone
With an ear to hear!

Can you hear Him?

© 2014 Mary M. Hall-Rayford


What Does The Lord Say?

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

Solomon’s instructions to his son have endured for the benefit of all mankind. The real question is--are we listening?

We listen to everyone who has something to say for just about everything–we know the lyrics of songs that do nothing to honor women or promote respect for others; we listen to naysayers who refute and oppose everything God says; we listen to those who attempt to change God’s Word to support their fleshly desires that do nothing to benefit them or anyone else; we listen to the news media who seldom report anything good; we listen to family and friends who do not have a relationship with God and then they advise us; we listen to children telling us how unfair we are and give into their childish demands instead of parenting them; we listen–to just about everyone but The Lord.

If someone asks us what the Lord says about things–we stutter and stammer–trying to remember, but if someone asks us about an athlete or celebrity–we have a ready answer on our tongues. The real problem is–nothing the athletes or celebrities or anyone else has to say will pave the way into heaven–unless they are saying what the Lord says!

Getting into heaven is simple–we discover what The Lord says and do it. He has established a path for us and He is a shield for those who live right–according to His Word. Success on earth is guaranteed for those who hear what The Lord says. What does The Lord say? “If we keep His commands, then everything we put our hands to will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7,8) Love–the ultimate obedience to keeping His commands–Him and others–for if we do this–we would not sin against Him or others and especially not our own bodies.

What do you hear The Lord saying to you?