If you have ever been part of a marriage conference or counseling…they teach you the art of active listening. Each has the others undivided attention as they converse back and forth…repeating back to the person what they heard and asking, “Is this what you meant?” There is much more listening done than speaking, and more unselfish attention given than self-centeredness. Listening to the Lord is a lot like that. It is not blabbering on incessantly about our own feelings and emotions…it’s listening with all our being…taking the time to be quiet…hearing and then heeding His voice.
Stiffed-necked…that’s quite a word picture in my head! When your neck is immobilized by a cervical collar, you can’t swivel your head independently without moving your whole body also… for you lack the flexibility and capacity to turn. When we’re stiff-necked towards God, we’re unwilling to turn away from sin…refusing to listen and heed His Word.
Sadly today, the Church has been lulled into this self-indulgent form of “quasi” Bible Study. We get all comfy on the couch, usually with a cup of coffee…Christian music playing in the background and a personal Journal on our lap and we wait. But what we’re jotting down is just our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions…for no where is found an open Bible. Bible Study is meditating on God’s Word… not on what we think. Sure, there’s a place for journaling what the Holy Spirit is showing you, but it needs to be grounded in the Word first.
God really does know who you are. To Him you’re not just a number or face in the crowd. Consider this Scripture in Psalms… “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4) Tonight go stand outside and look up…can you even begin to count the stars? So if this verse tells us God can name each one of those stars…how could you believe He doesn’t know your name? But it goes so much farther than that… for God not only knows who you are but is aware of every detail in your life, for nothing escapes Him.
When your motive of ministry to others is true…it is not only empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it’s powerful… impacting the total person. Your ministry doesn’t just tickle them with feel good, wishy-washy platitudes…it challenges them to a higher calling. The Christian journey should be an ever upwards climb filled with trials and tests that make us better…not a passive, apathetic walk where we are left weak and ineffective for the Lord.
The shepherds had just experienced the greatest light show ever…more sensational than the biggest fireworks display…more glorious than anything the world had ever seen. Mixed with their awe and wonder was excitement…they had just been told about the coming Messiah. No wonder they all agreed to, “go to Bethlehem and see this thing,(Rhema) the Lord has told us about.” They had been given God’s Word…the Greek word is Rhema…and their enthusiasm was infectious. And after they had found the Christ child, their elation didn’t wane, for in Luke 2:17 it tells us that, ” When they had seen Him, they spread the Word ( Rhema) concerning what they had been told about this child.” These plain, ordinary men were the very first missionaries, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had no Theological degrees or advanced education… God’s Word had touched them and couldn’t contain their elation. They were compelled to tell others just as we should be. For the greatest story ever told is the one they spread…a Savior has been born to you; He is Jesus Christ the Lord.
The OT prophets had it pretty rough. They faced rebuke and persecution from all sides, especially when their message was the total opposite of what the people wanted to hear. So where did this boldness come from? How were these mild-mannered, many times even timid men able to stand before Kings and High Priests proclaiming God’s Word? It was the Holy Spirit within, enabling them to go boldly into battle for the Lord. Are you brave enough to pray the prayer the Apostles did in Acts 4:29? ” Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.” Boldness empowered by the Holy Spirit will change your perception. For you’ll no longer have your limited vision, but God’s.