We are in the middle of one of the most important and useful studies any true Christian could undertake: learning how to discern God's Will. Thus far, it has involved learning the importance and proper way of fasting in a disciple's walk with Christ and preparing our hearts and minds to want, hear, and do God's Will when we hear it. This being the single most important thing in our journey (ship) because we have to be surrendered to Him or Spirit led; like-minded in Christ walking in His Righteousness; hungry for His true will wherever that leads; and expectant that He will speak. And lastly, our previous lesson was focused on actually striving to begin hearing Him speak. First and foremost, through His Word (rudder), which is the foundation for testing all other Words we may hear. Secondly, by letting what you already know in His Word and about His Character be your guide to making the right decision (crow's nest), in your own discernment and will, for His glory and purpose, not your own. And thirdly, learning to walk expectantly and openly, listening for the Spirit Who literally indwells us at the ultimate cost (raise our sails). Because Scriptures promise that the children of God will be Guided by the One Who lives in us and does have the mind of God living in them. All of these ways of hearing God thus far are things we consciously strive to do in order to discern His Will.
Today we will begin discussion of a few other ways in which God spoke to those in the past. Ways in which Scriptures clearly say He still speaks today which are sometimes outside of our ability or even our conscious attempt to hear His Will. Ways which are often totally not instigated by us. A quote from Ewan McGregor (Ben Kenobi) says it best: "Then, one day, when you least expect it, the Great Adventure finds you!" Let's take a look at some Biblical instances when God spoke in these ways.
When David had sinned against God in adultery with Bathsheba, and plotted the murder of her husband to hide his sin-conceived child, God sent another person to verbally speak His Message to David in his deeds: 2 Samuel 12:1. Why did God use another person for speaking a Word to a man who was so close to God already that he was called, "A man after His Own Heart?!" A man who had already heard the Voice of God so powerfully that he had written many of the very Psalms from God which we hold in our hands right now? REASON #1: Because David was blinded and deafened by sin. He was carnally minded and could not hear the Spirit and God needed to reach his heart again. Another moment in David's life when he is enraged against Nabal for disrespecting him and his men after they had protected his shepherds and his land from harm. David was going to kill every man who worked for Nabal in his anger, but Nabal's wife, Abigail came secretly with a peace offering of food and a word and begged mercy for her evil husband's behavior. And this was David's reply: 1 Samuel 25:32-34. Here, it was not a heart living in sin, but David's overwhelming emotional response in events of the moment which had hindered him from hearing the Spirit's Voice, and so God had to intervene through the words of another. It does not have to be a heart which is far from God in sin, sometimes a righteously walking Christian can be overwhelmed in a situation.
REASON #2: We see moments in Scripture when fear, uncertainty, grief, emotional involvement, or even simple immaturity in Christ may cause a true believer to miss hearing God's Voice, and God must reach them in a more outward manner. REASON #3: Another powerful reason God uses the voice of others to show His Will is simply to validate and clarify that it is Him to firmly establish what He is already speaking to the heart through His Spirit. For example: When God told Peter to go to the Centurion named Cornelius and begin preaching the Word to the Gentiles, it was against everything Peter believed God would say to him, and the difficult message needed confirmation from God: Acts 10:19-22. Here, God had already spoken directly to Peter, but due to the difficult and unorthodox message to him, God verified His Word through another to firmly establish to all involved that it was Him, bringing faith and glory to God in the works. A personal example: Since I arrived from Virginia, I felt led to pray and prepare for a ministry to which God was leading but told no one, and had no idea of the type of ministry. Someone visited my house in tears, laid hands on me, said God called me to ministry. I fasted and prayed for three days and said, "God, if this is You, reveal Your Will!" On each of the first two days, I had someone approach me—unprovoked and unaware—and say God told them, I was to start a church. The second day, was at church, the Pastor in church said, "Someone here is receiving a call to be a pastor right now and is being a Jonah!" On last day of fast, I got a call from someone who said: "I don't know what this means, so I'll just say the words God told me to say, 'What are you waiting for? Why are you having so much trouble getting started?' Do you have any idea what that means?" REASON #4: And lastly, sometimes God uses the voice of another person because of the time and urgency of the situation. When God revealed His plans to save the whole crew of Paul’s ship during a storm off the coast of the island of Malta if they stayed together. Paul had to QUICKLY and forcefully communicate God's Will to all during the storm: Acts 27:30-31. Paul did not have time to tell them to pray and seek God's will or teach them a five-point program for hearing God. The moment was crucial and a voice had to be heard. Example #1: On the night of Micah, Ben, and Dakota's terrible car crash, Brenda woke me at 2am and frantically said, "God wants us to pray right now!" There was no time to discern, contemplate or question. Example #2: When our Elder's Body had to decide whether to buy an available building, rather than to build on our property, a completely unaware friend (that very evening) stayed after his shift to find me, and in tears said, "God told me to tell you, 'Whatever it is you are thinking about doing right now, don’t do it!'" Both times, God needed to make His Will clear and rapid to people who were openly willing to receive that Word. So, Scripturally speaking, and from experience, God does speak through others in your life. Sometimes through sought out or voluntary counsel; sometimes through a word of warning or encouragement when the delivering party was completely unaware; and sometimes when God moves someone to speak in direct obedience. In each of these instances, you can see the importance of these Scriptures: Proverbs 14:7-8; Proverbs 13:20. So beware, Satan and people will sometimes mislead you. Be careful of company kept. Someone told me, "God said, 'If I go back to work even one more day, rather than quit today, I would immediately lose my job and this ministry would fall!'" (They even had a gift I was to open after saying okay). I absolutely did not feel this was from God, so I did not listen. This was about 9 years ago. Since that time, I have been given the best possible job in the plant (almost supernaturally), and the ministry has been a complete blessing. This could have been catastrophic for my family, and the ministry. So how did I know not to heed these words as "God's Will?!" Because God will never speak anything through another person that He is not already speaking directly to you first. And that does not mean that you simply listen to words of others when they agree with you, because sometimes what is said to you—whatever seemingly in passing or on purpose—is exactly the opposite of what you are wanting to hear. But you know in your spirit it is what God has been truly telling you all along. You know in your spirit it is the right and most Christ-Honoring thing. Does it ring true in your spirit, not just appealing to wants? We must discern everything revealed to us spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21: Prophéteia. Many today will say this means we are to examine "preaching", but that predictive prophecy has ceased in our times. In definition and usage throughout multiple passages, this word strongly maintains the usage of: Preaching and enforcing the Written Words of Truth (Logos- Established Word of God, essences of creation, Eternal Truth); but also: Speaking or clarifying hidden truths revealed by inspiration. (Rhema- Individual, personal word spoken from God).
So just how are we to "test the spirits" to see if they are from God? How can we be like David when Abigail came to him and he said: "Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!” Here are Biblically sound "tests" that we need to apply. One: As always, is it Scripturally sound in God's Commands and in His Principles of love and faith? Two: Is the speaker truly living passionately for God? If their own walk is shallow or distant, and they exhibit fruits of immaturity and worldly focus, why would you trust their ability to hear God or discern the best action? Three: Is the word given in a spirit of love and concern for Christ and you—even if in rebuke? Or in a self-righteous, attention-getting, goal-seeking manner? I have had many people tell me, "God's Will" when it was clearly something they wanted for themselves or wanted from me. This is borderline blasphemy. Four: Is the speaker willing to have their word questioned or judged by others? Or are they adamant and defensive? Someone truly wanting God's Will and truly hearing God's Voice would be confident in having their words discerned by others and want you to be assured in your direction. Five: And lastly, honestly ask yourself, "Did I come to this particular person (if chosen) because I expected a certain answer?" And, "Am I defensive or easily frustrated when a particular direction is challenged?" If you can answer “yes” to either of these, stop and test your own heart for selfish motives. You may not be as open handed in asking as you think.
The final and most important thing to understand when we feel we have heard God speak to us about taking a certain direction in our lives is this: Yes, God takes us in a specific direction in order to find and do His Will. But remember, He doesn't need anyone to do His Will. He chooses to use you and I. With that in mind, what does that mean our main focus should be in finding His will? The path that He points you down—the work He gives to you, the choices He opens for you—are only about—not even primarily about—your actual direction or choice. But about what is going to happen along the journey. Revealing more of Himself to you and others; growing you in your walk and faith; teaching you obedience and passion; testing your desire for Him over self (for you to see). Think hard on these things as you discern His direction and as you follow in obedience, being sure that glorifying Him and knowing Him more intimately and desiring to do His will are primary—in discerning his direction, and primary as you follow where he leads. If we are hungry; if we are seeking; if we are expectant; if we are walking in His known ways with passion, many times God's voice and will is going to come in His time, His place, and His way. And if we stay ready, “The Great Adventure” may find us at any moment! In the largest or smallest of ways, be ready and listen! Finding and doing His Will in all things is our first and greatest calling: Psalm 40:8; John 6:38.
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