Over the last couple of weeks, there were several things that deeply concerned me about God’s people. These are not new problems, but somehow, I sense the Holy Spirit placing an urgent emphasis on them.
The first concern is about our ability to hear from the Lord. As a pastor, my job is not to be an intermediary between God and His people. My office as part of the five-fold ministry is to train the saints and equip them, and that includes training believers to hear from the Lord for themselves.
Unlike traditional concepts of priesthood, where the priest or spiritual leader is the channel of communication between the people and God, Christianity does not hold to such a concept. God’s will is that all His people are able to hear from Him. His desire is that all should prophesy.
Yet one of the urgent needs in the Body of Christ is for God’s people to learn to hear from Him accurately and consistently. This does not happen overnight. Instead it requires for us to pursue His voice in a disciplined manner. Let me suggest a few things that we can do:
1. Read the Bible Regularly
I’m a strong believer of the fact that God speaks to us primarily from His Word – the Bible. In my own personal life, this holds true. By this, I don’t mean that we should randomly open the Bible and hope for a suitable Scripture for our circumstances. Instead, as we read the Bible consistently and through a systematic reading plan, we’ll find the Lord speaking to us. It’s uncanny how your daily reading will often coincide with something you’re asking the Lord concerning.
2. Make Room for God to Speak
All too often, we want the Lord to speak to us, but we don’t make room for it. Say for example, we’ve an important decision to make. We all want to hear from God, but all too often, we make those decisions without taking time to hear from Him. We often place a short time limit for God to speak and if He doesn’t speak by then, we’d make our own decisions.
I want to strongly encourage us not to do that. Most important decisions in our lives are not rushed. Decisions on a home purchase, marriage, relocation to a different country – these are all decisions that will greatly impact our lives. These are decisions also that we should take time to wait on the Lord until He speaks.
3. Be Still
One of the most important keys for hearing from the Lord is to quieten ourselves to hear His still, small voice. Too often, our minds and surroundings are filled with too much noise for us to hear from the Lord. The imagery of a still, small voice conjures for us the need to lean in and be silent so that we can catch what’s being said.
I suggest waking up early before the needs of the day press in on us. Alternatively, do it at night when everyone else is asleep. The instructions from the Lord is to find a secret place.
The second concern I have for God’s people is the issue of offences and bitterness. Bitterness comes as a result of offences that are not dealt with in our hearts towards people. I don’t know how I can emphasise this in the strongest manner possible except to compare it with the most aggressive type of malignant cancer.
Bitterness absolutely destroys us. It results in terrible barrenness in our lives and is highly infectious. It’s a spiritual disease that the infected person often will not realise they’ve contracted. It clouds our perspective, impairs our judgement and fills us with negativity. In our own eyes, we’re the victims.
How then do we deal with bitterness? The key lies in looking at the Cross. A deep and full appreciation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross makes it clear that Jesus alone is the victim. The most horrid injustice was done to Him. All the penalty of sin was placed on Him. Despite all that, Jesus forgave and gave His life willingly as a ransom for us – the ones who crucified Him by our sins.
You see, the Children of Israel came to Marah and found bitter waters. Moses was instructed to cast a tree (the symbol of the Cross) into the waters and the bitter waters became sweet. Can the most bitter experiences of our lives actually be transformed into the sweetest moments of victory? Yes, indeed. There’s grace sufficient for us to overcome every offence and every bitter experience.
I pray that we’ll take a serious examination of our own hearts on these matters.