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01 October 2012

Listening to God - 01 October

So far we’ve learned that the best way to hear God’s voice is by studying His Word and praying. We can also hear from God through our spirit (unusual nervousness or restlessness), and sometimes we hear from God through other people.

What happens if we’re not sure whether the voice is from God or from Satan? Remember, Satan probably knows Scripture better than you – and he won’t hesitate to pervert the Word to turn you away from God’s real desire. He even tried to do that with Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) by taunting Him regarding His ability to call down angels to provide for His physical needs, then telling Jesus that if He would only worship Satan, the world would literally be His. Jesus knew His Father’s will, however, and didn’t fall for any of Satan’s tricks.

We know that Satan is always trying to cause us grief and pain.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

The most well-intentioned believer can give bad advice as well. One of Jesus’ disciples tried to convince Jesus that He didn’t need to go to Jerusalem and die.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matt 16:21-23 (ESV)

Peter thought he had Jesus’ best interests at heart, but he didn’t. His advice to Jesus caused a hindrance! So how can we tell whether advice is good or bad?

Bad, sounds good                                                                            Good and perfect from God
Do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt                         It doesn’t matter whether your behavior is
                 anyone else and/or you don’t get caught.                           Godly-appearing if your life isn’t
                                                                                                                                selfless and in service to others.
Eat, drink and be merry.                                                                              
Good sounding advice that’s NOT good
God’s Way
It’s your thing; do what you want to do.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Cor 5:14-15 (ESV)

Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy yourself and live for the moment.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-21 (ESV)

It’s not important to consider what others have to say. You are an island unto yourself.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)

You’re free and over 21. You can make your own independent decisions. You’re all grown up.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Phil 3:14-15 (ESV)

Did Jesus ever choose to cut down a person to make Himself feel better? Was He ever crude? Did He ever do something to hurt another person emotionally, spiritually or physically? We need to model our behavior after Christ.

If you think God is talking and is telling you to act rudely or rashly, it’s not God! Look at Abram. He had the promise from God Himself to create a child whose descendants would be uncountable. Instead of waiting on God, Abram listened to his wife Sarai, who thought she had to “help out” God by offering a younger womb for the job. She gave Abram permission to have a baby with her maid, and that decision is the seed of all of the conflict in the Middle East (Genesis 16, 17 and 21).

When you think that God is leading you to do something, stop to be sure that you’re not on a path that will harm another physically, mentally or spiritually. You should always be able to see blessings at the end of the tunnel.

Several years ago I was dismissed from a job, not for poor performance, but because of nepotism (they actually TOLD me that my work was superb but they needed to bring in the spouse of another employee and I was to go). I had many choices as to the path I took for the 6 or so weeks remaining on my contract. I chose to share my dismissal with my close friends and asked them to pray. I wanted to make many waves, but I chose to believe that this was all a part of God’s plan for my life. At the end of my employment, my friends told me that they watched my behavior toward employees, the “replacement”, and those we served. They said that my behavior was a model for them. Had I acted rashly and started rumors and/or trouble of any kind, my testimony would have been ruined God would not have been glorified. Many people thought that I should open my mouth to “save my reputation”, but I prayed and felt that keeping my mouth shut was the best course of action – and it blessed others. Another person asked me if I was angry and I asked her to think back on my actions – what did she most remember as I went through the stress of the end of the position?  She most remembered that when times got tough, I would close my eyes, pray, and keep my mouth shut until I’d spoken with God. My quiet responses inspired her and others to also try responding as I did.

Listen to God. Study His Word. If you feel that you need to speak forcefully and you are in God’s will, great. If not, do nothing to harm another. Look to Jesus as your inspiration for behavior. Don’t “get even”.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16  Rejoice always, 17  pray without ceasing, 18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:15-18 (ESV)

See you Wednesday.

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