As we are coming up to tenth anniversary of writing The Still Voice, we are starting this week to serialise the book. We hope you will find much inspiration through a publication from which we continue to receive much good feedback.
Lord, on the slopes of Mount Hermon You showed the disciples how much You love Your Son. We heed the words the Father spoke from Heaven, and let the realization of who You really are penetrate still deeper in our heart.
Come and Listen
Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-2)
What a breakthrough! Peter had finally recognized that Jesus really was the Christ of God – and it led to Jesus taking him up a high mountain to pray, along with two other favoured disciples, James and John.
The three of them must have wondered what the trip was all about. If Jesus was going to teach and feed the multitudes again, then where were all the crowds? Why bother traipsing up a mountainside when there were so many needy people in the towns and villages clamouring for attention?
They had no idea they were about to witness something still more wonderful than when Heaven had opened at Jesus’ baptism.(1) The Father was about to reconfirm the seal of approval He had previously placed on his Son. The appearance of His face changed, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light, as bright as a flash of lightning. Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus – and in a moment the Father would speak from heaven.
The call to come higher
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17:3-7)
The Cross was already beginning to cast its long shadow when Jesus led Peter, James and John up the high mountain. Knowing the difficult path that lay ahead, Jesus Himself would have been strengthened by this experience – but the word fro Heaven was primarily for the benefit of the disciples.
Notice particularly what the Father did not say, ‘Pray to Him,’ because Jesus had already taught them how to pray. He said, ‘Listen to Him.’ He would not have said this had it not been possible for them to do so.
For Reflection and Prayer
Lord, on the slopes of Mount Hermon
You showed the disciples how much You love Your Son.
We heed the words the Father spoke from Heaven,
And let the realization of who You really are
penetrate still deeper in our heart.
At any moment, Lord,
Your power and presence can break through.
So suddenly Your glory came:
One moment a bare mountain,
And then the veil parted as Heaven came to earth.
Shekinah glory flooded the mountainside,
Fills both Heaven and Earth.
You are surrounded with glory, Lord Jesus –
And so by Your mercy are we.
The Lord confides in those who fear Him
The Lord confides in those who fear Him.
He takes the upright into His confidence.
(Psalm 25:14, Proverbs 3:32)
In the midst of a world where so many who use the name of God as little more than a swear word, can you sense how precious it is to the Lord when He finds someone – better still a whole fellowship – willing to share the things that are on His heart?
As we turn away from life’s many distractions and ‘follow Jesus up the mountainside’ – even by taking a few minutes out of a busy schedule – we become more aware of Heaven’s perspective, and are better equipped to face life’s challenges.
Just as we may share our greatest joys with those we trust and feel most comfortable with, so Jesus took ‘the inner three’ (Peter, James and John) up the mountain in order that they should see Him as He really was: the Lord of Glory. This was doubly important, because the forthcoming ordeal might appear to make Jesus look like nothing more than a battered victim.
Just as parents long for the day when they can take their children more fully into their confidence, so the Lord wants to share how He feels with us – whether about personal, political, spiritual or environmental issues.
‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials,’ Jesus assured His disciples, at what we now call the Last Supper. ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this meal with you.’(2) He grieves when such closeness with His people is missing.
In every century there have been those who have loved Jesus with all their hearts. One such was Margery Kempe. The Lord spoke often to this woman, who gave her all to Him. Back in the fourteenth century she wrote, ‘In my soul I heard Jesus say, “I ask no more of you than that you love Me as I love you. I would take you by the hand so that people know that you are My friend. I would speak to you more often than you will let Me.”’ Would He not say something similar to us?
For Reflection and Prayer
At the height of the persecution in the Soviet Union, a man imprisoned for his faith penned a highly challenging note. Smuggled out of a concentration camp it reached believers in the West. ‘Yes,’ it read, ‘our main need is for prayer – but lead such lives that God can answer your prayers.’
We agree together, Lord;
To do whatever it takes
To make us into people who lead such lives
That You can answer our prayers.
One word from Heaven
In any situation we find ourselves in, it is good to ponder ‘What would Jesus do?’ It is even more prophetic to ask, ‘What are You already doing, Lord?’
If I had to select one verse to summarize the Lord Jesus’ ministry, it would be John 5:19 ‘I only do what I see my Father doing.’ Because Jesus listened constantly to the Still Small Voice, He knew what to do in any given situation. As a result, the blind saw and deaf heard.
The briefest word from Heaven can bring about the most far-reaching effects. When the Lord spoke on the road to Damascus, Saul the Persecutor became overnight a devoted follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit spoke again at Antioch,(3) summoning Paul to his apostolic calling. Because the Lord spoke, and the disciples heeded the Still Small Voice, churches were planted wherever they went.
Only Eternity will reveal the full story of whom the Lord has spoken to, and how He has worked His purposes out. The most ordinary people have received the most surprising and challenging assignments.
Only the Lord knows, too, all the fruit that will come as a result of the words that He has spoken to you.
For Reflection and Prayer
Have you ever felt a bit disappointed by the disciples’ reaction to the Transfiguration? Befuddled by sleep and decidedly fearful, they were desperate to preserve this remarkable moment. Peter’s suggestion of building high altitude booths seems somewhat wooded, but when you consider what a decisive leader he became later on – and how slow we often are to respond to the Spirit’s leading – our impatience disappears. We are meant to be at home in God’s presence, but what He does will often take us by surprise.
The most important thing is to open ourselves to God’s leading, and not to let fear in. He is not going to send us to darkest Peru. I made this point in a meeting once, and a lady put her hand up, ‘He did!’ she replied. Perhaps I should have said, ‘He won’t send us there unless it really is the best thing for both Him and us!
Lover of our souls, we come close now to listen.
We set ourselves to follow You
Up the mountainside.
It thrills Your heart
When we give You the love of ours.
Forgive us when we hold back, Lord.
Lead us further on and further in.
When we are caught up in Your presence,
How beautiful it is.
There is nowhere we would rather be.
Word and Spirit in balance
Many years ago, Smith Wigglesworth declared that revival will come when God’s people put sufficient emphasis on both Word and Spirit.
Precisely because the concept of listening to the Lord appears so experience oriented, we cannot stress to strongly from the outset that Word and Spirit must flow together. We are, in fact, only safe to embark on the highway of listening to the Still Small Voice if we are rooted in the Word.
Far more than through any other means of communication, it is by reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God that we hear the Still Small Voice. The only reason I am not devoting more space in this publication to this crucial topic is because other authors have covered the theme of biblical meditation so eloquently.
When Scripture ‘lives’ within our heart, it provides a bedrock of faith with which to meet life’s many challenges. Just as many great musicians and actors claim they can only bring a piece of music or drama fully to life when they have committed it to memory, in much the same way the Word of God assumes new power and depth once it is stored in our heart.
Bishop Hans Lilje relates that it was the constant rehearsing of the Psalms and hymns he had learnt as a boy that saved his hope and sanity when the Nazis placed him in solitary confinement. Watchman Nee claimed the same after spending twenty-five years in prison undergoing extreme Communist indoctrination.
Most of us, if we are honest, could do a great deal more when it comes to developing these important aspects of Scriptural meditation and memorization. There are many underused ‘channels’ in our brain that we could so usefully fill with the Word of God!
For Reflection and Prayer
We praise You that Your Word is living and active;
Help us to hear You through it,
Now wild and disturbing, now calm and reassuring.
Let it enter the secret places of our heart,
Dispersing fear and bringing light and love.
Take it deeper into the pores of our heart,
To shape our thinking and check our impulses
1 Matthew 3:16-17Luke 22:15, 28f
2 Luke 22:15, 28f