Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hearing From God Part 3

I’ve had many professing Christians tell me, “Well, I just don’t hear from God like you do.” I say they probably do, if they are in Christ.

For the unconvinced, let me ask this:

If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven? Old question for evangelical Christians. But do you know for sure? How do you know? Well, you might tell me that you know because you have believed what the Bible says about Jesus, coming to earth, living a sinless life, and taking your sins upon Himself, He was crucified to pay the penalty for your sins; but that being sinless Himself, He arose from that grave and is alive today, and that He has returned to God the Father, and has sent His Holy Spirit into your heart. And you may tell me that His Spirit confirms with your spirit, that you are a child of God now, and that you will be in Heaven forever.

If you can tell me that, then brother or sister, you have heard from God. How do you know Christ is in you? How do you know you are forgiven of your sins? How do you have hope to overcome sin or trust that your mind is being renewed day by day, or that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, or considered righteous in God's eyes, or that you are seated in heavenly places? Do you say that you believe these things simply because your Zondervan Red Letter Bible says that anyone who confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, will be saved? NO, you do not say that. If you do, please write to me.

If you are born again, you can say all these things because God has conveyed them to you somehow. You know it, somehow. And so if I say that God 'told' you these things and you right now believe them, is that okay? If your spirit has been raised with Christ, His Spirit can and does, speak to yours. Your Zondervan Red Letter Edition even says this: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” (Romans 8:6)

If so, please continue and bear with me. I'm writing this to encourage you, not to correct. I want to encourage the children of God, to hear from Him more. Yes, read His Logos (word) in your Bibles. But just as His Spirit has been able to tell you all these wonderfully true and otherwise impossible to believe things, He has much more to say to you, as to how you can walk this out today. When He says these Rhema words to you, obey them. Follow His leading (voice).

Doing so called 'great things' for God is not an expression of faith. It is usually just really doing things that impress other people, and so we consider them great. Nothing is too great for God to do. It may well actually be that “the little things” that you do in response to God's voice, will eternally be proven to have been very important, but you probably shouldn't dwell on that now. Concentrate on obedience in the small things. The first step is to hear from Him, and then to respond to that which He says to you. As you do this again and again, His voice in your life will become something normally wonderful to you; and something you soon won’t want to ever do without.

Missionaries itinerate a lot, visiting different churches to help them with their mission conferences. Over the years, we've been all over to different churches and find the most amazing teachings about faith. To hear some teach on faith, planning a big plan, and claiming that God should bless you in this venture because you are a child of the King and so are entitled to a success in this venture, is not faith. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." First you have to hear from God. We do not dictate what God tells us. We can only hear that which He tells us, and act accordingly as our faith suggests, for true faith to be displayed. Just as you have heard the Gospel message, and have responded to the Holy Spirit's call for you to repent and to give your life back to Christ, in the same way, you can still hear His voice today, and must, if you want to take that next step of faith.

Did God tell you to build that church building that seats 500 people? How did he tell you? Did He tell you while you were praying? Were you reading the Scriptures and did He tell you to widen your tent pegs? Or did you just want an increase in your numbers at church and this is the next logical step? Did someone come up to you and suggest this and offer a plan to pay for this building? How did they come up with their plan? Test it out. Who spoke first? Did God speak first, or you or a friend or a business associate?

If it was you or a friend, and you are now praying fervently for God to bless this, don't blame Him in the end if your plan doesn’t happen. But if it was His idea, and you heard Him tell you to increase your seating that much, and you have faith to go with it; then say so. Go ahead and say, “God told me to do this.” Saying so shows all that this is God’s idea. And when it is done, God will get the glory (credit) and praise. Let people know that God has indicated this, or that He’s spoken, led you, or shown you that you need to make room for more people. However you want to word it is fine. But faith ventures start with God speaking. Then when it is completed or fulfilled, people will follow your lead and give God the credit. And all involved will be eager to hear from God again. Your action and God’s faithfulness, will have helped these folk grow in their faith. Next time God leads them to do something greater than they could have hoped for or imagined, they will again step forward in faith, much bolstered by your testimony.

In 1982 God told me to go to Haiti? I didn’t want to go. In fact, I was at the time attending a church where the pastor had a love for world missions. Once a month they would have an evening service dedicated to having a missionary come and speak. I went every Sunday night, but when it was missions’ Sunday, I’d realize it after I got to church and my heart would sink. Sometimes I would miss it altogether, on purpose. I resisted going because I loved my new life in Christ, and the career path He seemed to have me on, and I didn’t trust myself once that pipe organ and piano started playing and Pastor started asking, “Who will go?” “Who has not yielded this area of their life to God?” “Will you come and give your life fully to God with this too?” I honestly don’t remember if I ever went forward and said, “Okay God, I must admit that I have not been open even, to your leading me to cannibals. But you know I love You and if you were, that I would want to obey. But please don’t, eh?” I don’t remember that. But it didn’t matter.

I was working in a children’s home, and on duty at the time. I’d gotten all 8 of the kids up and out to their different school buses and rides, and I was about to have the weekend off. So I went to take a shower. While I was in the shower, I opened my eyes, and I saw a scene. It was dark shirtless men carrying lumber on their shoulders. They were walking through a coconut grove. And then I heard the word, “Haiti.” And I got scared. I closed my eyes and reopened them. White tiles and water and a soap dish! I was back in the shower. But I got out quick. I got out and towel around my waist, I grabbed my clothes and ran upstairs to my room. Getting behind my dresser, where I often prayed, I gave it all to God. Not myself at first. At first I offered him to pray an hour a day for Haiti. No peace! Then I prayed and offered to give all that was in my savings at the time. (Not much!) No peace! God wasn’t letting up. “Okay Lord. How about I will go to Haiti, if you will show me the way to get there? Amen.” Peace came. I had no desire to go. But I had peace. I still had 7 months left on my contract, and for those months I wished God would take this cup from me. I did not want to quit my job. I did not want to go.

Researching to understand Haiti didn’t help. It was the poorest country. English was nowhere to be used there really, and I failed both French and Spanish in high school. Everyone there was black and I was white. I would see a lot of death there among babies and people dying of illnesses and just dying young. The Lord did show me the way. A man came to our church a week later, looking for volunteers for his new mission in Haiti. And God was so gentle with me! Whenever I would ask Him, “Really?” He would send me someone who’d either just been to Haiti, or I’d get something in the mail with Haiti on it, or I’d actually meet a Haitian person in some store. By the time the month arrived when I was to go, God provided all of the funds for me to stay longer term. I was going to go for a year. I knew it was right. But I still didn’t want to go. I had anxiety attacks over it. But all of the many times God had confirmed my going was His leading made it impossible it seemed at the time, for me to not move forward. So the day came, and I went.

I brought a journal with me to write in it. The first entry was not very hopeful at all. But I was going. I got to the airport, and a Haitian lady who had trouble lifting her luggage, kissed me full on the lips for helping her. Right in front of the missions director who had come to pick me up. Great way to make that first impression! I got into the back of the truck, and it went through the city streets. At every stop, hands were held up to me for hand outs with people saying, “Blanc! Blanc!” (“Whitey! Whitey!”) The truck moved soon out of the city, and down a 2 lane highway for about 45 minutes I guess. And then onto a dirt road that seemed to go for miles. Rural village after rural village till we stopped at a hut to pick up two American midwives who had just helped to deliver a baby. The villagers were not holding up their hands or looking for me to give them things. They asked my name and were told, “Fre Toma.” We then rumbled on to the mission station. I was shown to my cement room without a door and no screen in the window. Still under construction, there was a corrugated tin piece to put by the bottom of the door to keep the critters out at night. No electricity, here was my kerosene lamp for reading. Toilet is out back in the cane field. Watch out for tarantulas when you go. Good night.

In the morning I prayed for 2 hours before I could get out of that room. The other missionaries looked in and saw me praying and assumed it was my habit. I was scared! What got me out the door, was the Holy Spirit reminding me of how good God was, and how faithful He is to His own all the way through the scriptures, and then reminding me of the many ways He had spoken to me to go there; and how many times He had confirmed it. I got out there. The next day I prayed for an hour or two again. The third day too. This was hard, but I had to admit that I was liking the people I met each day; and while the kids laughed at me constantly as I struggled to learn the language, it was a joyful and not at all a mean laugh. By the end of the first week, I’d put in some screens, helped dig a ditch, dished out a lot of food at the feeding program, held down a couple patients as they got stitches, and played a lot with the kids at the elementary school’s feeding program. And one night I went to a funeral in the village. Wild and nothing like I’d ever seen. Skits, crying, hymn singing, men making fishing nets and playing cards, etc. And this thought hit. “I could live here and die here. I like it here.” And by week two my journal reads how I never wanted to leave. I loved it there in Haiti. God knew I would. How patient He had been with me; and how faithless I had gone into this whole adventure!

But the point is, it is very important to hear from God, because it is the things that He says to us, that He will make happen. And it is our going along with it, that brings us to places where we could only go by faith. He speaks, we follow, He rewards by giving us what His will was for us if we’d obey; “His good and pleasing and perfect will.” Listen to God!

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