Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why don't I hear from God?

After asking a friend this question, Rita was told, “There must be some sin in your life.” Sweeeeet!!! So let’s talk about hearing God’s voice, or sensing His lead, or knowing His will, or whatever dialect of Spiritualese you might use to describe this most wonderful part of following Jesus: Knowing His voice.

Jesus tells us that we are His sheep and that we listen to His voice and follow Him. (John 10:14-18). The key to hearing the voice of God, is to follow within earshot of Jesus.

Rita can hear God. She was born again when she was in her 30s. Jesus promised that the “Holy Spirit will guide” Rita “in all truth.” He promises that the Spirit would “tell” us things. (John 16:3)

God talks to His people, even when they sin. David was sinning with Bathsheba when God sent Nathan to “talk to” him. (And Jonah and Balaam). Today we can “grieve” the Holy Spirit. When someone says, “I was convicted to stop using His name as a swear word,” God spoke that to them. Ever been told to forgive someone? That was God speaking. Satan doesn’t want you forgiving people and I wasn’t there. It was God.

Our English language can rob us. “I just realized,” and “what a coincidence” and “funny you should mention that” often replaces “God showed me,” and etc. We don’t actually “realize” anything. We have 3 ½ pounds of brain, and I’m told we only use 10% of that. Repeat after me, “God showed me!”

There ARE two groups of people that don’t hear from God. To religious leaders intent on killing Him, Jesus said, “The reason you do not hear His voice, is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47) He didn’t say this to be mean or intolerant. That was truth that they needed to hear. Just because Gene Autry sings, “Santie Clause knows we’re all God’s children, n’ that makes everything right,” each Christmas season, doesn’t make it true. God speaks to His children. He loves everyone. We are all His creation. But only some have become His children:

“He (Jesus) came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
John 1:11,12

If you are a child of God, Jesus says that you hear His voice. If you don’t think you are hearing His voice, you need to get the wax out. Here is how I check my ears:

First, I must expect that God wants to speak to me. His goal is to make me like Jesus. Believe me, He has a lot left to say to me. It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word (Rhema) that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) I’m supposed to be living off of spoken words from God. I eat food three times a day. My Father wants me fed spiritually too.

Years ago, on “Missions Sunday,” a missionary would come and speak. I would miss those Sundays, unless I happened to forget and go, and then I’d sit glued to my seat, and kind of disengage. I knew that at the end of these services, the organ music would swell, and the Pastor or Missionary would give a kind of altar call, so that anyone who thought that God might be calling them to foreign fields, could come forward for prayer.

I didn’t know that God had my best interests in mind. I think I had this idea, that if I listened to the missionary, and then the organ played, that in the heat of the moment, if I went forward and let Pastor lay hands on my head to pray, that someone in the front row, (who maybe wanted my car) would stand up and prophesy: “God wants brother Tom, to smuggle Strongs Exhaustive Concordances into Siberia, driving an olive green Dodge Dart!” Then the congregation would applaud, with joyful weeping; and then of course, I’d have to find another church to attend.

Yikes!

Next, I must believe that God has my best interests in mind. Our Heavenly Father is not some Yuppie dad, preoccupied with His career as Creator God. He wants to affirm us too. Maybe you never had a dad present at home. You have a great One now! He will show you what a wonderful Father He is. Ask Him.

Consider these verses:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!”
Ephesians 3:20,21

Get into His presence. Be still and know that He is with you. Worship Him. Do you have a list? “Where should I work?” “Who should I marry?” “What school should I go to?” Let it go. He knows what you need to hear today, better than you know yourself. If you don’t hear right away, and have to get up and go, thank Him for going with you, and know that you will hear what He has to say soon. But let Him say whatever He wants.

Once, I was going to take a new English teaching Job and in doing so, needed to move fast. Ann and I couldn’t decide on one of two apartments. I prayed, “God, please show me which apartment to take?” I got quiet with Him and then I opened my scriptures and prayed, “Lord, anything you want to say to me, I want to hear it.” These words from Proverbs jumped out to my spirit:

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
Proverbs 21:2

It was God, and I should have been excited. But, I was annoyed. I wanted to know which apartment to take. This “word from God” was not answering my question. I prayed again, and that Proverb stuck in my mind. I knew it was what God wanted me to hear, but I wanted to talk about something else. I felt that His words were rather beside the point. Couldn’t He work on my character AFTER the move?!? I was in a hurry.

But really, I did ask Him to say whatever HE wanted to tell me. I ended my time in prayer, saying, “Lord, if there is something hidden in my heart, that you want me to see, I ask you to please reveal it. You know I need to know which apartment to take. Amen.”

That night, our friend Mahmut, came to visit. He has faith in Christ too, and he has a way of seeing things that I appreciate. He asked me, “What has God been saying to you this week?” So I showed him the verse from Proverbs. I told him I was a bit frustrated. Yes, we could take either apartment, but God knew whom my neighbors would be, (who would be most open to Jesus), so I wanted Him to guide me in this.

Then Mahmut says, “I thought that your school decided to rehire you. Why are you changing jobs?” And then I surprised myself. I began complaining how each year the school tells me that they have better applicants for English teachers for next year. Then later when those teachers don’t actually come, they rehire me, and I’m supposed to be grateful!?!? The folks at this other job really want me, and I’m tired of being put down each year, and now that I think about it, gag! “Mahmut, that is just really prideful of me, isn’t it? I mean, that I should think that my talent and great personality should let me keep a job when they could get a PhD in English to come!?! Honestly! Mahmut, isn’t that prideful?!?”
And Mahmut, in his wisdom said, “Yes Tom, it is.”

I didn’t need a different apartment. I humbly took my job back, and had several more great years at that same school. I was often later so grateful that God didn’t answer MY question.

James talks about another group who don’t hear from God. They are “double minded” people. One minute apparently full of faith, and the next full of doubt. James says in chapter one, that a double minded person “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” You can please God by just doing what it is you believe (in accordance with scriptures) that He is telling you to do.

“He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6

A double-minded person only wants to hear from God, so that they can THEN decide whether or not they are going to obey. No. Those who want to hear must first determine that no matter what God says, that they will obey Him. We can say this confidently because He is good, because we know He has our best in mind, and because He will be with us the whole way. We say “yes, Lord!” before He speaks.

Trust me, “No, Lord!” is just bad English. (See definition of “Lord.”)

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