Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Listening for the Whisper

I want to begin this post by giving a great deal of praise to my mighty and wonderful God. He is so powerful and so wonderful and I never fail to be amazed at His ways.

A few months ago a fellow brother in Christ by the name of Jason Jarrett (hey Jason) approached me and wanted to discuss starting a men's ministry in this area. I gave him the usual "oh yeah, great idea, let me know when you do all the work and I will be glad to help" at that time. However, over the next few months I thought about it and thought about as did Jason and we enlisted the help of three other brothers in Christ to help us get this off the ground. Our first meeting with one another to officially begin this men's ministry was last night and it was powerful, spiritually driven, and Christ-centered. I know that God was pleased with our effort. I say all that, to say this. This ministry that we think began on Monday night actually began Sunday night.

Sunday afternoon, Jason, Michael (one of the other "founders") and myself went together and played 18 holes of golf. Yes, you read correctly, three Church of Christ members were playing golf on a Sunday afternoon but I promise you we did not miss our church services. Jason and Michael allow me to come along because I make them look so good but that's another story.

Anyway, as we traveled home that evening (we had about a 40 minute drive) we began to discuss the voice of God and how he talks to us. So often in many denominations we hear "God told me this or that" and many of us look at this with skepticism. We had a great conversation about this and I know that all of us in that car left with a desire to learn more about how God is talking to us. As part of our men's ministry (name yet to be decided, any suggestions?) we were all to prepare a five to ten minute discussion of something that we were struggling with or that we thought would be helpful to the group. I thought I knew what I was gonna speak on until I got out of that car Sunday night and I decided to look further into this whole voice of God idea.

To make a long story short, my studies led me to 1 Kings 19 and the story of Elijah. Here we have Elijah feeling pity for himself because he feels like no one wants to do good and serve God but him and when God finds him he sends Elijah to a mountain and it is here that God shows us all how to know when to hear Him.

1 Kings 19: 11-12
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
As Elijah stands on this mountain waiting for God to show Himself, God allows a fire, strong winds, and an earthquake to affect where Elijah is standing. However, as the text says, God was not in any of these things. What was God's voice, it was a whisper; a whisper that if you finish reading this passage tells Elijah what God wants from him. As we know, from the time that Elijah listened to this whisper, God worked great wonders through Elijah.
How guilty are we of not allowing ourselves to hear God's whisper in our ear? Without getting into a discussion of how the Holy Spirit works, shouldn't we all be satisfied to know that God is whispering in all of our ears. So often we only want to see God in the big things such as fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. I think about Hurricane Katrina and how some tele-evangelists wanted to say that this was God cleansing this city. Are you kidding me? Did God allow it to happen? Yes. Was God in it? No!
Let's all make sure that we are listening to the whispers of God before they become whimpers or even worse disappear all together. Let's stop dismissing these whispers as random thoughts and never following through. I hear so much complaining about complacency in the church these days. Imagine a church where every member listened to the whispers and acted upon them accordingly. We would have visitors constantly, activities for Christian fellowship every night, and we would always be saying something that one of our brothers or sisters needed to hear (this one especially gets me because a kind word does so much for people).
We are given an example in Hebrews 3 of the Israelites who refused to listen to the whispers and we know about their 40 year plight. The author of Hebrews warns us that to not listen to this voice and OBEY it is sinful and will keep us from reaping our Heavenly reward someday. I talked to the guys in our men's ministry about the fact that this entire year something has been telling me to read and thoroughly study the book of Isaiah. I have put this off and put this off but after that whisper in my ear on Sunday night, I will put it off no more. I am going to be more faithful to listen to the voice of God and I know that there is something in the book of Isaiah that God wants me to read again.
In conclusion, you may be asking how to discern between the Holy Spirit and random thoughts. This is how I see it: Anytime something occurs to you that someone needs something from you and that by sharing this it will not be pleasing to your own flesh (meaning it will take sacrifice on your part, great or small, i.e. stopping what you are doing and making a phone call or praying) that, to me, is the Holy Spirit / God whispering in your ear. We need to start listening and obeying today.

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