Peace, Patience, Tolerance

Proverbs 19:11

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

I am studying “glory” which is how I found this verse. I wrote it down and came back to it today. Apparently, it is to our glory to overlook offense. That’s not something I have heard often. You will be very blessed by reading this verse in several other translations but let me share one more with you. This is the God’s Word version, “A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense.” Did Solomon, the author of the proverbs, just accuse me of not having good sense? I believe he did! I wish I could argue with him, but I must admit that I sometimes lack patience.

This version reminded me of an expression I used to hear people use to describe someone they find lacking in some way. They would say, “He hasn’t got any sense,” or the country version, for those of you speak it, “He ain’t got good sense.” Often this described a person with no common sense. It could be used to describe someone with intelligence but who lacks common life skills. At first, thinking of that old country expression made me giggle but you know what, this proverb, and that old saying, describe me and a couple of million other folks.

If there is any generality you can confidently express about modern society it is that we are easily offended, easily angered. Slow to anger? What a joke! Accidentally cut in on someone on the road or worst still, let someone cut you off. I can’t say I am slow to anger. Just this morning I was getting aggravated trying to blow dry my hair. The blow dryer cord was getting tangled up and snagged on the bottom of the cabinet and I dropped one of my hairbrushes and couldn’t get the other one out of the drawer. How can such a simple thing cause me to begin to lose my peace? Societal norms have shifted so that it is okay to act like an idiot if someone intentional or even unintentionally offended you. Watch a reality show and tell me if this is a society that honors gentility and patience.

Around the world there is increasing pressure to restrict gun purchases because people are so angry and don’t have sufficient coping skills to deal with their frustrations. As an aside, that is another reason to exercise. It helps to alleviate stress. A good game of racquetball can certainly help.

Of course, if you read yesterday’s Word of the Day, you know the best treatment for anger issues, Psalm 85: 8, listen to what the Lord will say to you for He will speak peace to your heart. Isn’t that right? We need better coping skills and we are not going to get them from the world. It is not okay to lash out in anger. It is not acceptable to cuss and fuss and create a disturbance. And it is certainly not the sign of mature Christianity. I know for myself, when I show lack of patience and tolerance it is a clear sign that I have not been spending enough time with my Father. He gives me peace when I hang out with Him and I am sure He has the same effect on you.

Speak Yahweh

Psalm 85: 8

I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.

I hope you are enjoying Psalm Mondays. The psalms seem to be providing a good start to the week. Hearing God is a good way to begin the week too. As you read through different Bible versions for today’s scripture you gain a perspective that hearing God is an intentional act. In other words, the psalmists determined to listen to God and we can too.

Another thing I find interesting is not only has this psalmist decided to listen to God, but he fully expects to hear. This expectation of hearing God speak is common in the Bible. People heard God speaking to them in many ways but there never seems to be surprise at hearing His voice. People were startled and frightened when angels appeared but apparently accustomed to hearing the voice of God.

I find that so amazing because I do not believe that is our experience today. The Bible says God doesn’t change. If he voiced His thoughts and messages to people in the past, we should expect Him to speak to us now. My experience leads me to conclude that most everyday Christians not only don’t hear God speaking to them but they don’t expect to either. In fact, I am sure there are a great many of us who never stop to listen simply because we don’t expect God to speak to us. Additionally, we don’t stop to listen because we live fast paced lives. Our lives do not contain the quiet, contemplative time of old. Lives used to be slower and quieter. Now we have machines continually filling the space with sound and there is ever so much to available to occupy our time.

I would challenge you to talk with the Lord and expect Him to answer. Stop for a while and listen to the silence. In a few moments you may hear some whispers inside you. One of the ways I recognize God’s voice is when I am thinking of something and an entirely different thought comes to me. If you will hang out in some quiet solitude, I have no doubt that you will hear God speaking to you. He has been talking to you daily. The trick is in the hearing and that begins with an expectation followed by listening and practice. Soon, you could be like this psalmist, just waiting to hear God speak peace into your life.

Ears that Hear

Psalm 85: 8           NIV

I will listen to what God the LORD says.

Okay, fine, I will listen to what God says. What do you think of this statement? Is this something which you might write or say? Why? Why do you want to hear what the Lord says? What is your expectation? Why do you think the psalmist made this statement? The second part of the verse reads, “he promises peace to his people, his saints.” I like how the NASB phrases this part of the verse, “For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.”

The writers of this psalm demonstrate confidence that they will hear God. I wonder how they receive the word from the Lord. Was it just a matter of being quiet and calm as we learn from Psalm 46: 10 or is there more going on here? Do they inquire of the Lord? What do you do when you want to hear from the Lord?

One method we all can use to hear the Lord is simply to read the Bible. Just by reading today’s verse you see for yourself that it is possible to hear what God says. That can be a mighty big revelation when it goes off in you? God’s voice can be heard in the pages of the Bible and this is a primary way you can hear God speak directly to you. You will see verses come alive right before your eyes.

Another way to hear God speak is through two-way journaling. This can be a valuable tool. I used it today so that I could sort out what was in my own head and what was actually from the Father.
You can also hear the Father speak to your own heart and mind. Sometimes I notice Him because I am involved in something different than what comes into my mind. If I am thinking about X and a thought comes in about Y, it is often because the Father is speaking to me.

He wants to speak to us all. In fact, He is speaking to us. The key is in the hearing. Many times the obstacles are too much noise or too constant a noise in our environment. In other words, we can go days and weeks with little quiet. At one time I had some kind of content playing all of the time. I would listen to preachers on TV while getting dressed in the morning. I listened to yet another in the car. I had constant stimulation at work, and then back into the car for praise music or a teaching CD. You get the point. Even though this was all good content, there was no space for Father to speak, no time when I could hear Him above the fray.

The best tool of all to hear the Father, if you really want to, is to just get still and quiet and ask Him. Talk with Him and let Him reply. You don’t need to talk much. He can carry a conversation. Frankly, He already knows what you are thinking so just give yourself the opportunity to hear Him and you will.

Hear What God is Speaking

Psalm 85: 8

I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.

God is speaking to His people. He is speaking peace and love. He is constantly conveying His thoughts and plans to you. He is a God of revelation and glory so those are necessarily some of the things that He is speaking to your heart. If we will stop and listen for that still, quiet voice within us we will find that He is speaking life and unfailing devotion to our hearts.

When I read this passage yesterday, I was particularly arrested by the phrase, “I will hear what God the Lord will say.” God is speaking but just as important is that we are hearing. This is a strong and declarative statement from the writers of this Psalm that they had predetermined in their own hearts that they would hear what the voice of the Lord was saying. We too should have this same bold confidence. God is not talking to Himself. All of His declarations are for our benefit so we must tune our hearts and ears to listening to Him and we must make up our minds that we will hear His voice speaking to us.

Set your mind today to hearing the voice of the Lord. Take some quiet time to be alone with the Lord and allow Him to speak His wonders and mysteries to you. God has sent a spirit of revelation into the world. For all who will listen this is a time when you can receive the unfolding mystery of God. He has stored up knowledge and wisdom for today. Let your heart receive this blessing of revealed knowledge.