Ecclesiastes 5:1. Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen
The remote employee.
Imagine you are hired to open up an office in Anchorage, Alaska.
Your new boss gives you a high-tech looking two-way radio, a policy and procedure manual, and tells you that you will receive instructions once you arrive, and off you go. Upon arrival you hear your boss's voice over the radio, saying, "I will communicate to you through this radio unit. But take note: our competitors, our enemies, also have access to this channel. They will try to impersonate my voice with false messages to thwart our purposes.“
"Oh no!" you panic, "Then how will I know if it is you or the enemy giving me instructions?"
Your boss's voice comes back over the radio "Three ways.
First, considering the situation, check every message supposedly from me against the policy and procedure manual. Since I wrote it, I'm not likely to ask you to violate it, right? Also, if I am not talking, don't focus in on the noise, pretending that I am. If I am not speaking, let the manual be your guide. Don't let any impersonating voice mislead you, or your own overactive imagination."
"Second, since the Manual does not cover every situation, you will have to get to know my voice. I know, this will take time, and so I am not likely to ask you to do anything radical until we both have some low-risk successes under our belts. Remember, I understand the situation perfectly well, so I'll go slow at first.
A time will come when I will be able to tell you to do the wildest things, and you will know it is me. In the short-term, you must be trained through low-risk experience."
"Third, over time, my overall purpose for your work will begin to come into focus. You will begin to see the grand strategy in the policy and procedure manual, and the overall pattern of my true instructions. When this happens, you'll know instantly if what you hear through your unit is 'of me', just your imagination, or enemy misinformation. False instructions will begin to appear silly to you then. So take heart, and get to work."
After reflecting on this a few moments, you hear your boss's voice again on the radio unit.
"Take all of the money from petty cash and give it the next person that walks in, no questions asked." Hmmm... You look in the policy and procedure manual, and this is specifically forbidden. Besides, you know your boss wouldn't tell you to do something that risky right off. And also there was an certain "twang" to the voice, an appeal to something different within you, and a plan that was not in the long-term interests of the company. So, even though you are on a hostile channel, you are beginning to have hope that you can indeed do this job.
Text: John 10:3-5.
3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
John 10: 8,9 &14-16.
8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
How does God speak to us? Firstly let me say that most Christians don’t have a problem talking to God, they neglect to do it at times and remember very quickly when challenging situations arise, but many Christians don’t listen to the Lord. Some don’t know how to, some don’t care to and still others hear him and choose to ignore him and in so doing silence him.
On rare occasions God speaks with an audible voice.
God speaks to us through his Word and in the absence of all other directives this must be our guide.
God speaks to us in a still small inner voice in our heart and mind.
God speaks to us through people especially the more mature Christians who mentor us.
God speaks to us through circumstances.
God speaking audibly.
1 Samuel 3.1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. 2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, 3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, 4 that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” 5 So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”
And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.
6 Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!”
So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)
8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.”Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.
9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. 14 And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
(Jesus prayed) “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an Angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit not mine.”
2 Peter 1:16-19
16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
The big problem that confronts modern day Christianity is not a God that doesn’t speak, but Christians, who like the Jews of old, do not listen.
Jeremiah 6:10. “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.”
Zechariah 7:11-13. “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen…So the Lord Almighty was angry. “When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen” says the Lord Almighty
1Samuel 15:22. “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings… as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.”
Obedience is the response that keeps the dialog going. If we refuse to do what God tells us, we risk deafening our spiritual ear.
Mark 4:23-25. He who has ears to hear let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear, with the measure you use it will be given to you and even more. He who hears will be given more, he who does not hear even that which he has will be taken away.
30 “As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
When the Children of Israel left Egypt, the Lord spoke to them at Sinai, but we all know that they soon forgot.
22 These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.
23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The LORD our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer. 26 For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”
28 The LORD heard you when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!
Revelation 3:20. Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.
Jesus will not speak guidance and direction into our lives through a closed door like some unwanted visitor or salesman.
Perhaps you’re too busy with work or even ministry, maybe you have time for your favourite TV programs or gym or sport, but the Lord gets your leftovers.
Joyce Meyer says that there is no drive-through breakthrough.
John 7:17. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
There has to first be a willingness and a desire to do God’s will before we know God’s will. (God reveals himself to the hungry and thirsty, not to the casual enquirer)
How do you open the door to let the Lord in?
Turn from sin. James 4:8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Wash your hands you sinners. (Outward) Purify your hearts you double-minded. (Inward)
Prayer. Matthew7:7. Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Prayer however must be sincere and from our heart. Isaiah 29:13. The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
How do you open the door to let the Lord in?
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
145 I call with all my heart; answer me, LORD,
and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws.
150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, LORD,
and all your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.
How do you open the door to let the Lord in?
Perhaps the greatest hindrance when wanting to know the will of God and wanting to hear his voice, is the flesh. That is why fasting can be such a benefit if our intention is to hear His voice and do His will.
Many Christians don’t know God’s voice and are uncertain of His will, because their minds have not been renewed by God’s Word and instead of opening the door to the Lord they have opened the door to the evil one or to their flesh and live a life of indulgence.
Surely no one will question that in lands where food is in plentiful supply there are vastly more people who are ill through over-indulgence than through under nourishment. The Edwin Smith papyrus, estimated to be 3700 years old, quotes an ancient Egyptian Doctor as saying: “Man eats too much. Thus he lives on only a quarter of what he consumes, the Doctors however live on the remaining three quarters.” From an article in Christianity today we have the following quotation from James Morrison: “There are multitudes of diseases which have their origin in fullness, and might have their end in fasting.” Without a doubt there are ills that could be cured, or better still prevented, and a better state of general health enjoyed if fasting coupled with reformed eating habits were practiced. Oblivious of this, man still continues to dig his grave with his knife and fork.
From the book “The chosen fast”
Fasting that pleases God.
1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
3‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
6“ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
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