From Pastor Jeff

Listen to God at All Times!

As we welcome the beginning of a new year, we should give thanks to God for the blessings and challenges of 2017. We can all understand the importance of thanking God for the blessings he has showered upon us. But we should also remember that God can teach us more through our challenges than He can through our “victories.”  I don’t listen to God very well when all is right in my world. It is when I face obstacles and trials that I really begin to call upon Him for help. That’s when I’m ready to listen to the wisdom of Scripture and to the “still, small voice” that spoke to Elijah after the powerful rock-shattering wind, after the earthquake, and after the fire. It was in the silence following these cataclysmic events that Elijah heard the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice.

My prayer for the new year is that we will be wise enough to bear with the winds, to stand when the ground begins to shift beneath our feet, and to turn to God when the fire’s heat frightens us and causes us to tremble.

Shortly after Elijah’s triumph over the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, the prophet learned a powerful enemy was determined to take his life: the Queen of Israel, Jezebel. Did Elijah face Jezebel with the same faith and courage which had allowed him to defeat the prophets of Baal? Hardly. Elijah ran away from Jezebel (and away from God) and hid in the desert, praying that he would die. But, God didn’t give up on Elijah. God sent an angel to provide him with food and encouraged him to get up, eat, and make the long journey to Horeb, the mountain of God. It was at Horeb that God came to Elijah, not in the rushing wind, nor in the earthquake, nor even in the fire, but in the stillness of silence.

This year I will serve as president of the Association of Christian Ministers of Clayton County (ACMCC). After serving on the Association’s Executive Board for the past four years, I am aware that God will bring both victories and challenges to my year-long commitment as president. The only way that I can effectively lead our church and serve as president of the ACMCC is to delegate certain responsibilities to the bright and committed people in leadership both here at First Baptist Riverdale and in the ACMCC. But, practicing good leadership skills, like delegating, is only part of the answer. I must be thoughtful and focused on the tasks God has in store for me. Like Elijah, I must be quiet enough to hear God’s still, small voice instead of paying attention to the storms of life.

All of us have a lot of “noise” in our lives. We have many distractions. We face many challenges and have many fears. Perhaps this year I will seek out moments of solitude to silence the noise of my life. Perhaps this year, I will tune my heart to hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice. Perhaps this year, I will be quiet enough to really listen: to my family, to my friends, to my fellow Christians, to you. Perhaps this year, I will be quiet enough to listen to God. Perhaps you will do the same.

~Pastor Jeff Lowe