When God seems distant, well-meaning Christians take God’s guidance out of the context of a relationship with HIM and put it in their own heads.
‘Sanctified reasoning’ is all they have for making decisions. But if God wanted us to live entirely by sanctified reasoning, He wouldn’t have given us a Bible full of the cloud and fire that guided His people, the fleeces of Gideon, the dreams, and visions of priests and prophets and people like us, the signs and wonders of ordained circumstances, or the whispers of the Spirit that filled the early believers with a sense of direction.
No, God clearly has multiple means of communicating with HIS people. The sanctified reasoning may be our only option when HE hasn’t spoken, but we aren’t told to default to that. We are told to seek HIS will in everything and believe that HE will direct our paths.
Living by Christian principles rather than by personal relationship is lazy spirituality. This approach may reflect a desire to know God’s Word, but it doesn’t reflect a persistent pursuit of knowing GOD Himself. It doesn’t come from long hours of prayer and fellowship with HIM, or of asking HIM specific questions and being patient for specific answers, or of a oneness with HIS Spirit that cultivates sensitivity to HIS voice. It interrupts the path toward intimacy with HIM.
The listening process is long and intense by design. Why? Because in that uncomfortable, awkward, drawn-out silence between our asking and God’s answering, HE pulls us deeper into a relationship with HIM. Living by principles requires knowledge, but no fellowship. Living by God’s voice- that’s much more personal. And that’s God’s desire for those who love HIM.
“Seek HIS will in all you do, and HE will show you which path to take”
Some people suggest that many Christians spend too much time trying to discern God’s PERFECT WILL rather than simply following the HEART and WISDOMGod gave them. The assumption behind this suggestion is that God doesn’t have a single-minded purpose for us but allows a range of choices. And if a big purchase or a geographic move or a marriage partner seems okay to us, why not feel the freedom to take a major step without hearing from God about it?
There’s a kernel of truth in this argument- GOD does put desires and wisdom into our hearts- but not enough truth to make this the prevailing pattern for our lives. Especially in major decisions, God loves to speak to us and guide us. In fact, proverbs urges us to forsake our own understanding as we seek God’s direction. Why? Because God’s will often runs contrary to our own thought process. For instance, HE led Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the prophets, and many others in absolutely ludicrous directions, from a human point of view. Why, then, would we abandon our attempts to hear HIS voice and make HIS guidance a matter within our own minds? That’s the solution of a generation that doesn’t have the patience or yearning to press in and wait for God to speak, no matter how long it takes or how much deeper into HIS presence HE calls us. That’s the advice of an impatient spirit that doesn’t believe God speaks very often. And it isn’t very biblical.
Scripture is filled with specific guidance from the voice of God, and it presents the possibility of hearing HIM not as a rare exception but as a normal lifestyle. We have a tremendous capacity for making wrong decisions, and when we look in the rearview mirror, we often wish we had gotten clearer guidance. If we will be patient and persistent in seeking God’s direction, that guidance will come.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.
Listen in Scripture doesn’t mean just to comprehend. It means to embrace or to heed. It implies not only that we hear what is said but that we also carry it out.
As when an older adult admonishes a child to “listen to your parents,” the goal isn’t simply to hear. It is also to take the message to heart and do something about it.
Far too few Christians diligently listen to Jesus’ words in scripture. We admire them and honor them, but we often aren’t zealous about following them. That has to change.
Never be on the lookout for God’s voice of personal guidance if you aren’t also on the lookout for God’s voice in Jesus. When He says “love your neighbor as yourself,” for example, He really means it.
God doesn’t expect you to become a legalistic Christian Pharisee, but HE does expect you to embrace His heart as it is revealed in what Jesus said. In every we can, we must listen to HIM.
******** I’d like to encourage you, brothers and sisters, ask God for HIS words to carry full weight in your life. Let them sink deep into your heart that they will become a part of who you are.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”