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12 October 2012

Listening to God - October 12

Attitude. What does that word conjure up? Probably nothing good, and those negative attitudes are unacceptable when we approach God.

Submissive. That’s tough for most people. We want to be in control, but it’s precisely because we fail so badly when we’re in charge that we need God. We can’t come to God and truly hear what He has to say unless we are voluntarily submitting our will to His. I know that there have been many times where I’ve advised God as to what He needs to do, pridefully letting God know that I know what’s best. That never works out like I want!

I remember a time when I was very young – just starting out on my own – and I told God that I needed a car. I reminded Him that whatever I asked for, He promised to give me.

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:23-24 (ESV)

For whatever reason, He didn’t want me to have a car, so His answer was “not now”. I was young and foolish so I began to demand that He provide the car He promised. Yikes! What arrogance. God taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. I was offered a free car! WOO HOO! I won the “God lottery”. Yep. Dancing in the streets and saying “it’s about time, God”. That attitude was completely wrong. Did I mention that the car had a body in perfect condition, a pristine interior and … no engine? I laugh to this day because that was the best lesson that I could have ever received about my attitude toward God. I have never asked Him for a “thing” again without making sure that, like Christ, I prayed:

… nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42 (KJV)

Do you go to God with the attitude that He is God, you are not, and that His will is far superior than your will? Or, like most, do you sometimes submit and sometimes attempt to advise God?

Trust. When I prayed for that car, I wasn’t trusting that God had the best plan, so I didn’t bother to listen to His “not now”. I learned a lesson about trust that I carry to this day.

When we go to God with preconceived notions about His answer, we don’t really listen to all He has to say. In the garden, Jesus prayed so hard…

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44 (KJV)

Because He had a human nature, He asked God to take the cup if possible. But He acknowledged that He needed to trust His heavenly Father completely. He was absolutely convinced after listening to God that the direction God was taking Him was the right one. We don’t have to worry about dying to atone for all of mankind, of course, but the questions we ask God are just as monumental to us.

How much do you trust God? Are you willing to read Scripture and hear whatever answer God has? When your soul is restless, do you recognize the hand of God, or (especially if you don’t want to hear the answer) do you just chalk it up to indigestion? When the preacher gives a sermon that was meant just for you – do you think that this might be God speaking? When you receive clear answers, do you trust that God has a plan, even if the answer doesn’t make sense?

Are you demanding or thankful? Wholehearted worship contains wholehearted thanks. We need to thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do. We see many examples in Scripture where a leader would recount God’s goodness to remind the people to be thankful.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!  For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  Psalms 100:4-5 (ESV)

I leave you for the week with these wise words from the book of James. See you Monday!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (ESV)

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