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The Practice of Paying Attention


There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the burning bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet is was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him ... Ex 3:2-3

Joining God where He is moving, the Blackaby Principle, is not Ruth Haley Barton’s thesis in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership*. She observes, there seems to be a cause-and-effect relationship between Moses’ willingness to pay attention and God’s willingness to speak. But there is more.

Paying AttentionThe disciples on the road to Emmaus were so busy and focused on the events of the Passover/Crucifixion weekend that they could not listen to the stranger walking with them. When they stopped to reflect they finally saw that stranger as Jesus. Unlike Moses, these disciples did not engage in a dialogue with the Lord about their next assignment during the encounter. It was after the visit was over that these disciples noticed the inner stirring they had experiencing Christ. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was taking to us on the road?”

Notice, however, under the era of the New Covenant, under which Law written in our hearts (Jer 31:33-34), the burning is not external. It is internal.

We are instructed to test the spirits, but for many of us, like with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, this makes no sense. The things of God often don't add up for us, so even things from God don't pass our testing. However, Barton suggests we may not be using the right test. What is the right test?

The tests are mundane, not momentous. They may seem relatively inconsequential until we learn to pay attention and listen for what is being communicated. For, you see, under the terms of the New Covenant, the tests are already within us.

God's will for us, his direction for us, is generally more to do with what gives us life, what energizes us, what gives us delight. That means the fire within us is extinguished by those things that drain life from us. The principle is we are strengthened by our strengths and weakened, burned out, by our weaknesses.

The lesson from 2 Cor 3:7ff is the Lord is in the Spirit within us and the Spirit frees us from ourselves. If we are paying attention to the Lord, we are freed to accomplish His objectives. That is real freedom.

Take time to reflect and turn to Lord in the bush in our surroundings, know the Lord in our hearts within us, the veil of our own futility is lifted. As in the case of Moses, we begin to reflect His glory. We become transformed in our thinking as our agenda is transformed to His agenda. This is not limiting. It is expanding. It is being transformed from one degree of glory to another.

Go ahead and risk giving your life, your agenda, to Him. See what can be accomplished if you are not fearful, but faithful to let Him work in you and through you for His good pleasure.

Nelson Malwitz, Finishers Project Founder, July 2010


Dan of Lancaster, PA wrote:

It is not that we want to do too much. It often we want to do too little.


Donald of Phoenix, AZ wrote:

It is well known that bushes will burn spontaneously in the desert. We know it is likely that Moses saw burning bushes before. We do not know how many times God presented a burning bush that was not consumed. We do know in this instance, that Moses did take notice.

I am challenged to look at my circumstances to see what is unusual about them.


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*Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, IVP, 2008