Crossways Concepts

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Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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The Whisper That We Don't Want To Miss

One of the things I love about the Bible is that the “heroes” of the Bible are so completely human.  They can move directly from God using them in a super-human way, to messing up completely.  They may have it all figured out in one area, only to completely flop out in another.  They may exhibit faith in the extreme, only to have their faith fail them in something else.

When I consider the human-ness of these “heroes”, I realize that there is still hope for even me to accomplish something significant for the Lord.  A tendency toward messing up does not eliminate your eligibility for being a hero in God.

One of these only-human heroes was Elijah.  Right after he had stood up in the face of the most powerful people in the nation, to turn the hearts of Israel back to the Lord through one of the most amazing miracles of the Bible, he fell.  After demonstrating huge faith and trust in the Lord, he got scared, turned tail and ran for his life.  Granted, one of the most wicked women in the history of the world had just sworn to kill him, but just the day before, he had prayed an brought down fire from heaven.  Yet, just as James said, Elijah was a man just like us (James 5:17) and real people do get scared.

So, Elijah ran into the wilderness, knowing that he would likely never survive the desert.  He would rather die of heat and thirst than to die at the hand of this terrible woman.  However, God wasn't done with Elijah.  God sustained and encouraged him, eventually bringing him to Mount Horeb.

On this mountain, God sought to restore Elijah's faith that had been shattered by his fear. After Elijah was honest with the Lord about his fear, the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord's presence.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. (1 Kings 19:11b-12)

This is the same God that had made His presence known through bringing fire down from heaven, but not this time.  While we would expect God Almighty to show up in some dramatic and powerful way, this not what He chose to do, but He did provide these big events for comparison to His reality.

This is not to say that God didn't cause the wind, the earthquake and the fire, because He did.  These powerful manifestations by Him were not the essence of Him that His servant needed.  For Elijah to be the servant that God needed, he must know God as that quiet whisper, a still small voice.  Elijah had experienced the raw power side of God, but right at this time he needed the intimate, personal side of the Lord.

We are oriented toward the physical and toward action.  It is easier to see our God in powerful actions like earthquakes, storms or great fires.  After all, these are something we can feel and see the  obvious effects of.  They are tangible.  A whisper is none of these things.

We are not so different than Elijah.  We tend to clutch onto the tangible things that God does and confuse those with the true essence of God.

Although the scripture says, “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.“(2 Corinthians 4:18) and “Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.“(Colossians 3:2), this is hard for us to do.  It is easier to focus on the Church than the One it was established to serve.  It is easier to focus on a ministry than it is to focus on the One who it should be ministering for.  It is easier to focus on the Bible than it is to focus on the One that authored it.  It is easier to focus on our life than it is to focus on the One that loved us enough to die for us.  It is easier to focus on the preacher and his sermon than it is to focus on the One that the sermon is about.

Everything important is really all about the Lord.  A truly challenging lesson from the Bible is that nothing we can see in this world is really important.  Nothing we can do is really important.  Nothing we can build, nothing we can set up and nothing that we can establish is really important.  These things all pale in comparison with that tiny, personal, loving whisper of God.

If we were to eradicate all disease and poverty, this is nothing if it isn't performed in submission to that whisper of God.  Jesus made it clear in the garden, when He said, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39).  He knew that His life was less important than obedience to the whisper of God.  He would then go to the cross knowing that He was doing the thing that must be done.  He had listened and obeyed the whisper of God.  Nothing is more important.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that, “an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”  He then continues with, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)  By this He indicates a connection between the Father and his worshipers that goes beyond just going to church, reading the Bible and occasionally talking to God.  He suggests that we connect with God on His turf, in spirit.  Since He is spirit, we cannot have dialogue with Him without doing it in spirit.  When we meet with people, we do it in the world.  To meet with him, that meeting must occur in the spirit.

As we meet with Him in the spirit, He does speak.  The Bible is provided to us as a model of how we are to relate to God.  From beginning to end, the people of the Bible are hearing the voice of God.  If the Bible is our model, then God expects us to hear His whisper into our lives.  Without hearing His whisper, we have no hope of being obedient to His perfect will for our lives and we are inevitably in disobedience.

For many Christians, the have never considered that God might speak to them.  If they felt that they needed to hear from the Lord, they wouldn't even know how to start.

This scripture speaks directly to the process of opening yourself to hear that whisper of God:

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

We cannot be obedient to God if we don't know what he wants of us, that is, His will for our specific life.  We cannot get His will for our life by reading a book, studying the Bible or listening to a sermon.  The only way we are going to learn his will for our life is by allowing Him to tell us.

According to the Romans scripture, we are able to discern (hear) God's will when our mind is transformed by God.  This transformation is contrary to what the world wants to do to our mind.  This transformation comes as a result of our spiritual worship.

The scripture describes our spiritual worship as making a sacrifice of our bodies.  We aren't as familiar with the concept of sacrifice as our first century counter-parts.  If somebody wanted to make a sacrifice under the law of Moses, he would take something of value (an animal, grain, etc.) and bring it to the temple.  In most cases, the offering would be totally destroyed for God.  The modern-day equivalent might be to take a $50 bill and burn it up for God.  A sacrifice is not about making a gift, it is to totally surrender something.

When the scripture says we should make a sacrifice of our bodies, He is not asking us to chop off body parts.  Instead, the “body” He is referring to something more akin to the “flesh” described in Romans 8 as being that portion of our life that is in opposition to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-9).  That flesh-interest in our lives consists of all those things in our lives that are visible and tangible.

To  “present your bodies as a living sacrifice” is to take the physical aspect of who we are and to sacrifice it to God.  That requires that we give it to Him for Him.  This is no easy thing to do and is actually more of a lifetime endeavor than it is a one-time event.

When we seek to trust Him enough that we can surrender all the aspects of our earthly life to Him, then we can discern His will in our lives.  If we take an earthly issue (it could be money, time, family or anything else) and sacrifice this aspect of “our body” to Him, we are saying, “I can trust you with this.  I'm not going to worry about it.  I will let you control it.  It will no longer control me. I will be obedient to your whispered guidance in this area.”

There are many times when God might whisper to us, but we don't want to hear His whispers, because we would have to surrender control.  However, until we surrender control to the Lord we are missing out on the huge blessing of being obedient to God.  There is no better place on earth, than being in the middle of God's will.

Just as when Elijah stood on that mountain seeking God, while God sought him, God's quiet whisper is still here for us today.  This whisper is God loving us enough to speak specifically to us.  He loves us as an individual and He speaks to us as an individual.  His whisper contains the secret to leading a life at the center of His will.  Listening and obeying that whisper will allow us to be the obedient servants we are called to be.

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