Hearing and Obeying

Recently I had an interesting experience, well, to be honest it was rather humorous. But I didn’t want to say that because they might think I am making fun of them, and I certainly am not. I would never do that (well, not publicly, that is. Just kidding). Let me explain what happened. Someone had read some of my testimonies and several of my messages, and then sent me an “IM.” They told me that they were “deeply moved,” and were so “impressed.” They thought I must be “really close to our God” and super Holy or something.  I, of course, thanked them and was, well, quite embarrassed by all of the credit they were giving me. But I attempted to set the record straight, and assured them I am no different than anyone else.

I don’t have any special anointing to live out my faith. Like any of you, (as my children and wife will testify) I often fall short of what I profess and regret decisions that I make. I suppose that if there is anything different about me, it is that I don’t beat myself when I make mistakes. It is through my mistake (and restoration) that I can grow closer to my Lord. What I mean is that when I fail, I admit it and immediately go to my Lord and apologize. And, if I have offended someone through my disobedience, I try to resolve the offense.

Over the years, I have learned a few things regarding the seriousness of following the Lord and truly attempting to know Him. Tozer described it as, “Following Hard after God.” And if I am going to “follow hard,” I must be willing to answer the call when the Lord calls. And when He calls, I must do what he asks of me. If I am not willing to obey, He will no longer call to me.

Matthew Henry was right when he wrote, “Wherever there is true grace there is a desire for more grace.” Which was echoed by Tozer when he wrote, “I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.” When Paul wrote, “Don’t get drunk on wine, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), he was obviously attempting to make God-aholics out everyone who was pursuing the Lord. When we surrender ourselves to this pursuit we discover that the Spirit is not silent and lifeless; he is addicting. In fact, the evidence that you already have him, is that you want more of him.

I was thinking about this idea of following “hard after the Lord.” I realized that when the Lord does give us directions for our life or ministry, we must be willing to follow His direction; even if they are unsettling and appear  at the time, to be difficult.

Let’s pretend He is directing you to something that will cause you to be rejected and ridiculed, will you resist or hesitate in the slightest way? Whether we will hesitate or resist is something we need to ask ourselves. I say that because the life of faith never guarantees that our life will be comfortable and easy. And that can be quite unsettling for those of us who have a hobbit like reluctance for adventure and prefer to stay in our hobbit hole away from danger.

I can show you proof of this by the life of Isaiah! If you remember, Isaiah volunteered, “Send me, Lord, send me!” Well, the Lord took him up on that request and sent him on a hard, difficult mission!

‘. . . Make these people close-minded.
    Plug their ears.
        Shut their eyes.
            Otherwise, they may see with their eyes,
        hear with their ears,
    understand with their minds,
        and return and be healed (Isaiah 6:10)

The directions the Lord gave to Isaiah weren’t flattering, were they?! No, they weren’t. In fact, the Lord was directing him to do something that would make him hated, unpopular. He had to face ridicule and scorn from his own countrymen. How would you feel if the Lord told you to, “Go, harden those who refuse to hear me speak! Close their eyes and ears — finish the hardening of their hearts!”

Oh, it wasn’t just Isaiah who faced this type of situation. The Lord told Jeremiah:

Brace yourself, Jeremiah!

[Oh my. Not a good way to start a conversation. It’s like someone coming up to you and saying, ‘Well, I got some bad news, and I have some really bad news’]

    Stand up, and say to them whatever I tell you to say.

[See, that’s is what I have talking about in the whole message: hearing our Father’s voice and understanding His directions]

    Don’t be terrified in their presence,
        or I will make you even more terrified in their presence.
Today I have made you like a fortified city,
    an iron pillar, and a bronze wall.
        You will be able to stand up to the whole land.
        You will be able to stand up to Judah’s kings,
            its officials, its priests, and all the common people.
They will fight you,

[Oh! fight me? It was fine when you talked about making me ‘like a fortified city’ and ‘an iron pillar.’ That sounded coll, but someone wanting to ‘fight’ me?]

but they will not defeat you.
    I am with you, and I will rescue you,” declares Yahweh (Jeremiah 1:17-19)

Ezekiel had a similar experience. Shoot! Hosea was told to go marry a whore! That would be rather harsh, don’t you think? Think back to all of the things Moses experienced. Sure, he was able to talk to Yahweh face-to-face, and had some really cool experiences, but he also had to put up with a bunch of people who were rebellious, weak-willed, demanding. It got so tough that Moses asked Yahweh to, “Please wipe me out of the book you have written” (Exodus 32:32).

Look, if you want to know His voice, then you better be willing to hear everything he says! He will never say, “Go!” until he first asks, “Who will go?”

When He comes knocking on your door and asking, “Are you willing to do anything I tell you?” Well, you better be prepared with an answer, because He will add, “If you are, you will have to do it my way” Are you willing to lay down your life?”

Yeah, we want to hear our Father’s voice, but when we do, we want His message to be peaceful and comfortable! We don’t want our boat rocked. Oh, Heaven’s no. It’s like when we get our first hint of snow, I ask the Lord about a call for missionary duty in the Caribbean. But nope, it hasn’t come yet.  But let me ask you. If you are asking the Lord for directions for your life, why should He answer if he is not sure you will follow he instructions?

I don’t mean to be so hard on you, but this is something you have to start thinking about before you go to Him with your prayers.

Abraham learned to hear God’s voice by obeying what he heard — at the time he heard it! He didn’t spend time rationalizing it. Mulling it over and over, wondering if it was really the Lord directing him.  Nope, the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice the most treasured gift in his life, his son, Isaac (see Genesis 22:2). When Abraham acted on that message and obeyed it, he became a sweet smelling aroma that touched the whole world. As a response to Abraham’s obedience, the Lord declared,  “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).

That my friends is no small thing. Okay, okay. Maybe the message the Lord gives you isn’t as profound as the message He gave to Abraham, but it will affect the lives of your children or your spouse, or maybe it will affect your career. Whatever it is, are you willing to obey what He directs you to do?


(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)

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