Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hearing From God: Part 4

When we look at that list of exemplary people of faith, found in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, we don't see people building mega churches or starting worldwide mission organizations. Okay Noah's structure was huge. But most of these people were just asked to do strange things. Go away from home, make a sacrifice, build a boat in the desert, walk close with God, have a baby in your old age, bless your child the way I your Lord want you to, save your baby's life however possible, harbor My people and don't betray them. Most of these things are not going to make the front page of the news. But these deeds were all done by faith. And now, hundreds and thousands of years later, these events are known worldwide and we consider them great feats. But faith isn't doing great feats, it is doing what God is telling you to do, and saying you are doing it because God is telling you to do it, and often it means looking kind of dumb or crazy while doing so. You may not like that feeling, but there is another feeling that far outweighs that one; that is, the deep and inner understanding and peace which comes from knowing you are following God.

So when I write that God told Ann or I this or that, please don't think I am saying that we did some great thing. I’m telling you this for a purpose. I am telling you this so that later, when I let you know the outcome, I want you to see that it was not our idea, but God's, so as to make sure He gets the credit.

Going to live in China took very little faith for us. We wanted to travel and to evangelize long before we heard God telling us to go to China. My call to Haiti required much more faith than that, because I had no confidence that I could learn a language, and I had a fear of poverty. After living in Haiti for a while, fluency in Creole came, and some of my best and dearest friends were materially extremely poor. God delivered me from my fears and feelings of inadequacy. It took hearing Him tell me to go to Haiti and a lot of inner and outer (complaining, and protesting, sad to say) before saying "okay God, whatever You say! You're the boss, send me," to going and seeing that Neply, Haiti was indeed the right place for my loving Father to send me. And that helped teach me two great lessons. One is that God knows me better than I know myself; including what I will like or not. And secondly, it helped me see that God is good. Faith in God's goodness grows as we obey, and knowing He is good, helps us obey faster next time. And so faith grows, because we become eager to hear what our good Lord has to say to us next. Faith comes by hearing.

So, first we hear His voice, and then we act accordingly, and then we see how wise and good and right He is and we get all encouraged to do it again. One reason many people don't hear more from God, is that they don't expect to hear from God. They have been told that although the Holy Spirit tells them (assures them or "bears witness with their spirits" is the same thing) that they are saved, God won't tell them what job to take, where to spend their free time this week, or which ministry team to join at church, or other specifics of their days. It is like, they go from the impossible, letting God declare them as 'righteous' (even though they have sometimes had a horribly unforgiving thought towards someone, or have lusted, or told someone an untruth in order to avoid some discomfort), they can believe upon repentance that God has forgiven them, and say that He bears witness with their spirits so, when it comes to, "Lord which college would be best for me to go to, for Your glory and for Your Kingdom?" these same people will advise: "Just weigh the pros and the cons. Where do you WANT to go? He just wants you to decide."

When I was in Bible College, we were to read a book that basically said that God’s full will was made known in the Bible, and so as long as we know His moral will through our knowledge of the Bible, then we have the mind of Christ and can make decisions based upon what we see is best, by weighing the options and considering the ramifications of the decisions we will be making. The way to know God’s will seemed to be to simply grow in our wisdom and knowledge. It pretty much left the Holy Spirit out of the picture. Naturally our class was split down the middle, by people who loved the book, and people who believe they do hear specifics from God, and so felt the book was announcing that folk who testify to such, are either deceived or are lying. We had many lunchtime debates while reading this book, and some late into the night. Of course in the end, nobody was convinced in any kind of new way. But just to say, if a person has been sitting under this kind of teaching at church or through their readings, that their expectation to hear from God will be very minimal.

We are told to 'abide' in Christ. We are the branches and He is the vine. Abiding means to 'stay' with. We don't hear from God at an evangelistic crusade and then just grow in whichever direction we want. That same voice we heard then, we must continue to keep our ears trained on. He speaks to us more than we hear. And sometimes it is because we don't expect to hear from Him. And so we don't hear. We think He has said all He wanted to say to us on a given subject.

Yet we call Him Father. What kind of Father just imparts every word he has into his babies and toddlers and then leaves them to fend for themselves, only correcting them if they do something wrong? Perhaps there are some fathers who do that. I don't know. Mine continued to talk to me until he passed away, when I was an adult; seems like he wanted to.

Talk to God and listen. Then however strange it may sound, if it is not sin, or expressly against what the scriptures teach as right, do what you hear Him saying to you. You'll be glad you did. And then as you tell about it, your faith will grow.