Speaking, Listening

Proverb 10: 19 – 21

When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is like choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.

This is an intriguing, if a bit frightening, bit of scripture. There is definitely good news here, but there is a warning as well.

This passage makes me want to not speak because with many words we find the snare. Clearly the advice is to restrain from saying all that we might. However, there is another part of this. The lips of the righteous feed. So, speaking in wisdom, speaking the words of the Father is like manna from heaven, in fact it is manna and feeds the multitudes.

Sometimes we don’t listen to the words of wisdom offered us. We die for lack of understanding. Even today, we may be dying spiritually, emotionally, or even physically because we have failed to recognize the words of wisdom. Worse yet, sometimes we ignore wisdom and that is what I find most frightening personally and frustrating professionally.

All the pastors who receive this will relate to the latter part of that last statement. A pastor’s heart grieves seeing the beloved sheep wander aimlessly, not heeding the master’s voice. I have lived that so many times, watching someone hurt knowing I have an answer. It grieves the heart. Knowing this, living this truth causes me to wonder how often I fail to hear or fail to follow the words of my Lord and Father. How horrible is their grief watching me wander from the path cleared and ordained for me?

There is so much packed in this passage. Are you the person who speaks when they should hold? Are you the one who shows wisdom in your restraint? Perhaps you are like choice silver in your words. At the end of the day, we may also ask ourselves if we are foolish in our failure to follow wisdom. Do we fail to recognize wisdom when our blessed Father sends His words to us in the mouth of a person?

This passage offers many opportunities for fear: fear that we talk too much, fear that we are not hearing Him speak to us, fear that we fail to recognize His voice in the words of another person. However, there is no fear under the sun (or son) that has power over you because Jesus is Lord of it all and hallelujah for that. Take a deep breath and exhale and as you do, say, “Abba” because your Father is listening to your breath, your heart, and your words right now. He is waiting to quell all your fears and to lead you upon the right path that being called, the path of rightness or as we know it, the path of righteousness. They are all the same. It is the path which He has already prepared for you. He will guide your words and anoint your ears. Listen, beloved, for the Lord is speaking to you right now.

Partnered with Christ

Psalm 25: 12

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
First let us begin with a small reminder. There is no reason to be afraid of the Lord our God and father. This fear is more akin to a reverential awe. I personally read it as, “Who is the one who loves the Lord?” I think of this as applying to the person who is living in and with the Lord. Those who so do will be instructed by the Lord. God will show such a person the profitable path, the way he should choose.
I want to use another illustration today to demonstrate the idea of partnering with God in our lives. This partnership means that we are neither exercising our own might and power nor sitting on our hands waiting for God to drop everything in our lives.
Last week I was praying over a house. I was asking the Father to abide in the property and beseeching the Holy Spirit to saturate every molecule of the house with his presence. As I prayed I kept hearing the words “abide” and “saturate” repeating in my head. Well, isn’t that what I just prayed? Then I realized that the words were not coming from me but from Father God. He was telling me to abide in the space I was praying over. “Set up a desk here and work in this space. Reside here, abide. Next, if you want the Holy Spirit to saturate this space then you saturate it with prayer and anointed music. Sit here and pray. Let your prayers saturate the walls.” As I received this message I remembered some of the old churches I have been in. As soon as you walk into them you can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Westminster Abbey was the most amazing in this respect but I remember going into an old country church and feeling that anointing. I remember thinking that one could feel the generations of prayers which had been offered in that building. The prayers of the saints had saturated the walls and the pews.

The point, though, is that through prayer, through connecting with God, He told me what to do for that property. You see, I prayed and then He told me what to do. He has a part to do and I have a part to do. When we begin our days, projects and work with Christ, then we will walk in the way we should. He will direct our paths. This is how we work in harness with Jesus, this is the way of partnership.

I Can Hear

Isaiah 50: 5

The Lord God has opened my ear.

God has not determined that only a few may hear His voice. He has opened the ear of us all that we might be led by Him. Life becomes substantially easier when you can hear His voice. You are able to then receive His wisdom and walk in the path He determines is best for you. You may say that you have never heard His voice before though. Ok, first you must accept that you can hear the voice of the Lord. Then come to expect it. Next, listen. You should start to actively listen. The leading of the Lord can be subtle but with time you might also find that He can be loud and clear. I have noticed that some of us have a difficult time hearing a person that is standing three feet away speaking audibly. Our minds have so much chatter going on in them that we really don’t listen to people all of the time. If you have discovered this in yourself, don’t worry. You are not alone. It is an epidemic. We are busy people juggling a lot of data in a short period of time. Learn how to quiet your mind so that you can hear from Him. Sometimes it is just a thought that comes to you out of nowhere. As you listen for His voice and begin to hear Him, you will grow accustomed to His communication. You will begin to recognize His voice at the first whisper. You are meant to hear from Him. You are the special person that He wants to talk with.

Desert or Oasis

Numbers 14: 22

Surely all the men who … have not listened to My voice shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers.

This verse is taken from a piece of a conversation between God and Moses. I have to stop right here in awe of dialoguing with God. That should be a goal for us all and what a privilege it is to get to sit in on this conversation. Anyway, they are discussing the people that God freed from Egyptian slavery and subsequently led to the Promised Land. 

The end of the story is that these people did not get to enter the Promised Land even after travelling for years to reach it. What is going on here? The long and short of it is that you can only enter the land of promise by faith. The reason they didn’t get to go in is because of doubt, they did not listen to God’s voice. We run the same risk when we don’t turn our ears to hearing the voice of the Lord.

Let’s begin simply. The easiest way to hear God speak is simply to pick up the Bible and read it. If a person is unwilling to do that then there is very little any minister or even God Himself can do for them. They are going to die in the desert with their testimony of doubt. Everyone can hear God speaking to them because He has written it down. Let’s keep it simple here. Pick up the book. Read it. No excuses.

We love to look down our noses at the Israelites but many times we are their modern day equivalents. We think, “If I had been there I would have been different.” Well, we are there. Many of us are still wandering around in the desert despite the voices calling out to us. Additionally, consider that they did not have a Bible. Okay, they had a cloud and that is cool but you don’t have to go outside and see if the cloud is still there. You can pick up your Bible and have God speak to you any time you wish. It’s like having a tape recorder with God on it so that all you have to do is press “play” and God begins speaking to you. Wow!

Doesn’t it strike you that these folks followed God around for forty years and yet did not get to enter into the Promised Land? It grieves my heart for them. But then it grieves my heart tremendously today when I see so many people rob themselves of the promises of God. Do you know why the Israelites took 40 years to make an 11 day trip? The answer is exactly the same as to the question, “Why is Jesus taking so long to come back.” He sees us wandering around in doubt and unbelief and he knows if we are confronted with the promise we will not be able to enter in because of our unbelief. God did not take the Israelites the most direct route because of the littleness of their faith. He knew that would fall immediately. So He led them around in the desert; feeding them manna from heaven, water from rocks, meeting their every need and answering their every complaint. He went before them in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire at night, His very presence with them at all times. He showed them miracle upon miracle trying to build their faith. However, when they reached the goal and surveyed the land of promise their report was full of doubt. Love couldn’t let them go in because they would have destroyed themselves. So, God had to wait to raise up another generation, a generation that could go forth in faith and take possession of the land which God had already given them.

Let the report about our generation be different. Let us end the desert years and go boldly into the Promised Land. There is so much the Father has for us if we can but listen to Him and do what He says. We all need to hear the voice of God and that is available to each of us but the Israelites did not fail to enter in because they did not hear the voice of God. They failed because they did not listen to God. They didn’t attend to His word. It really is that simple. They didn’t give it the proper weight in their lives and they did not act according to the Word of God. We can be different. With just a little effort and faith as small as a mustard seed we revolutionize our experience and our environment. We can be the generation that believed. Read the Word, listen to what God is saying to us and be a believer.