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17 September 2012

Listening to God - 17 September

As Christians, we need to walk in the Spirit – listening to His voice and learning to walk as Jesus walked. If all works as expected, no matter what we are doing, when the Spirit speaks, we stop to listen.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  Gal 5:16-17 (ESV)

Alas, our sin nature gets in our way. We hear the Spirit but turn away. We turn off our “Spirit radio” and don’t bother to listen at all.

Our gracious and loving God always longs to bring us back to His fold, and gives us many nudges to let us know that He’s trying to communicate. Have you ever felt restless? Has a friend or accountability partner told you something you didn’t want to hear (about a sin)? Have you noticed a lack of answers to your prayers?

Remember that there are no accidents with God. He may use one method to get your attention today and another method the next time you stop listening. For some, it’s the same every time and they know that when they feel restless, for example, that it’s time to get on their knees and ask God what He wants them to know. And of course, God tailors His methods to our personalities! He knos you so intimately that He can find exactly the method needed to get your attention.

Today we’re going to talk about having a restless spirit. Wednesday we will find out about hearing a word from another, and on Friday we’ll talk about unanswered prayer. It’s important to note that if you have any of these “symptoms”, the symptom doesn’t contain the meaning. It’s God’s way of getting our attention.

I’ve felt that restless spirit on many occasions. But because I’m a nervous person in general, it’s important for me to figure out whether my restlessness is because of my basic makeup or God trying to get my attention. So when I become restless, I take a moment to listen. If it’s not God getting my attention, it serves to calm my soul. Can’t get much better than that!

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalms 4:7-8 (ESV)

Of course, I’m not the first – or last – person to feel restless when God’s trying to get my attention. We see that same restless spirit in King Ahasuerus after he’d been tricked by Haman, his Prime Minister. Haman hated the Jews and managed to trick the king into signing an edict to exterminate all the Jews. But after he signed it, King Ahasuerus couldn’t sleep. The King just “happened” to read:

On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. Esth 6:1-2 (ESV)

God doesn’t deal with coincidence. We know that his advisors read exactly the right passage, and the King discovered that the Jew Mordecai helped save his life. The King chose to honor Mordecai, and Haman was first forced to honor him as well… then he was hung on the gallows he’d erected for Mordecai’s destruction.

Is it a restless spirit, or a case of nerves? If you have any kind of nerve problem, you may have to listen even more closely, but in general a restless spirit feels deeper than “normal” nerves. It may last longer. It may feel different. Or, you may not know if you’re simply having a bad case of nerves.

Whether it is nerves or the Spirit’s prompting, isn’t it a good idea to stop and get into the Word? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask God what’s going on? Don’t ignore it or avoid it. If God has something to tell you, take time to listen. If your prayer life isn’t as consistent as you’d like, now is the time to work on it. Make an appointment with God every day without fail. You might consider a fast if your health permits, or a partial fast if your health does not. You might even consider fasting a thing and using that time to get with God. I fasted a specific television show – and that led me to getting away from television! I spend more time reading; I am able to control what goes into my mind far better than when I was mindlessly watching the tube. But fasting television might not be for you. But you must seek God if you have this restless feeling!

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.  Deut 4:29-30 (ESV)

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Prov 8:17 (ESV)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matt 7:7-8 (ESV)

God promises to reward us if we seek Him. When your spirit is restless, take a little extra time with God. He is waiting for you!

See you Wednesday.

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