Monday, September 24, 2012

How To Hear God: Part 1

In talking with my son Will about listening to God, he wanted to know if God has a voice. "Does he sound like Daddy or like another man?" Will asked me. I explained God speaks audibly and He also speaks quietly to our heart. "You've got to have 3 things in order to hear God," I said. "You've got to be available, be willing and not be too proud to do what He says. Some people call that humility."

Jesus was always seeking solitude with God. While I began to think of this as a "quiet time", Jesus never had to find time to be with God. Jesus was never in a hurry and he never needed more time. That's because he looked at his time as being God's time and he was always available for whatever God had him to do or say. Jesus was always in the right place at the right time in order to fulfill what God laid on his heart.

It is possible to have a "quiet time" every morning and never be available to God! People who are truly available to God always see God as owning their day and are perfectly comfortable when He reorders it anytime He chooses. Those same people have an incredible satisfaction from experiencing God's presence throughout the day and knowing they are pleasing Him.

There are very few people I'm truly available to at any time of the day and vice versa. Those people know they can call on me at any time and I will be there for them. And likewise, I know of very few people who would drop everything for me. The deeper the friendship, the greater the availability. Isn't that what God wants with us: a friendship outlined in John 15:15, "..I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Therefore, God is most available to those who are most available to Him. God doesn't throw His pearls before swine. The ones who find Him are those who seek Him with all of their heart as described in Deuteronomy 4:29, "But if you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." If we make ourselves available to God, He will make Himself available to us. James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

In order to hear God speak, you have to be available.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blessing Through Your Failures

Have you ever failed at something? There have been a few things over the years that I just didn't get quite right, especially on the first try. Whether it was trying to bake a cake from scratch, trying to complete several miles of running or learning how to sew, failure can really take the wind out of your sail. You feel like a loser, defeated and discouraged by the thought that whatever it was, it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to.

Failure will make you feel like you're stuck. You can't get traction, you can't get any forward movement and it makes you feel ignorant.

There are people who feel like they've failed in their spiritual walk with God. They may have had a "mountain top experience" at one time and tried hard to turn their life around, but then after a few weeks they went back to their old self. Or, life just seemed to get so busy that it got harder and harder to find time alone with God to study His Word and pray. Instead of putting their faults behind them, they can't move forward. People who feel like they've failed are sad and sad people end up being mad people. God didn't wire you for sadness. He wired you for joy! Nehemiah 8:10 says, "..the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Samuel felt like he had failed. Samuel had anointed Saul to be king over Israel only to have Saul make bad choices. God removed Saul's anointing and Samuel probably felt devastated at the turn of events. But God asked Samuel in I Samuel 16:1, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." God basically asked Samuel, "How long are you going to mourn over something that didn't work out? I've got a new plan!"

Nothing is ever wasted to God, even our failures. Why? Because God gathers what is left, which is more than what you started with, and God makes miracles out of it. God is good!

I once read Thomas Edison had 2,000 failed experiments before he discovered electricity. Would you have given up on the 1,999th try? You're not a failure until you stop trying. You can fail your way to success.

God is looking for somebody to bless, even through their failures.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ask "What" Instead of "Why"

Do you find yourself wrestling with a decision? Whatever you're facing, it seems so gigantic that you know there's quite a bit at stake based on the move you make. If you're like me, you're not one to take chances. Chances mortify you. You want to know that you know, that you know, the decision you're making is 100% correct. In your mind, there is no room for error. How do I know this about you? Because I'm wrestling with the same decision.

King David knew what was at stake in 2 Samuel 7. His reputation as king, his leadership, and his country were all riding on the decisions he faced. I've noticed the choices we have to make do not catch God off guard. God always gives a promise first before action is to be taken.

In 2 Samuel 7, David's friend Nathan received a word from God which Nathan shared with David, "I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you....And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed...I will also give you rest from all your enemies." (verses 9-11) God goes further in promising David that He will establish David's son to be king and Solomon will be the one to build a temple. Verse 16 says, "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."

After pouring out his heart to God, David understands better that his son will be the builder of the temple years later and David is to obey God and stay the course. David says to the Lord, "O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant....with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever." (verse 29-29)

Instead of questioning why he would not get to build the temple or "pitching a holy fit", David listened to God's promise that was given in knowing God was with him from his shepherd days and through this fight with Goliath. God was not going to abandon him as King. Sure enough, David didn't ask "why" but instead asked "what's next".

When we are faced with adversity or a difficult decision, we often ask "Why Lord?" Instead of asking why, we should ask "What Lord?"

God will always give you a promise of what's to come. You just have to be ready to act when He reveals the next step.

(Barbie will be the guest speaker  and signing books at Clear Branch Baptist Church's ladies dinner in Wesson Saturday.)