Monday, January 08, 2007

Is that really you God?

'Rizzo, come here, my Cap'n Alphabet is sending me a message: R U There.' Gonzo

'Are you sure it didn't say R U NUTS?'" Rizzo

"Hearing the voice of God"

Praying, talking to God, actually communicating with Him.

We don’t pray in a vacuum- we have issues, concerns, thoughts etc. This is not a gimmick, a formula, but a place to begin a journey or to continue on one.

Here’s a thought: do we grow because a) we hear God’s voice, or b) because we do what is asked? Now you need both, but a precedes b. if we don’t get this straight, we often superimpose our story on others.

I will share from my own story, as that is my filter of experience. My hope is that it will help you unpack your own conversation with God.

I have known profound times of hearing God’s voice and other times of awkward silence; times of frantic activity where everything I thought was for God but as I look back on it realize much of it was for me. Perhaps you can relate to that.

We need holding places where we can talk about these experiences, both the positive and the shadowy. Otherwise we live and pretend as if success with God and knowing His voice is all we’ve ever known. When darkness descends around us we can easily develop a case of terminal failure.

Has God spoken to you through misery? How about those moments of inexplicable grace where you hear God say, ‘I love you _’?

Jeremiah 31:31-34
"That's right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won't be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master." God's Decree.

"This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They'll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I'll forget they ever sinned!" God's Decree.

How do we reframe and experience the new reality that is ours through Jesus Christ?

“We need to understand that many of us pursue models of spiritual maturity that do not work” Larry Crabb

Work hard and do what is right. Fix what is wrong. Get what is missing. What we really require is a dependence model of spiritual maturity, where we get to know who God really is and communicate with Him.

Prayer is primarily about building a relationship with God. It is communicating with transformational intent.

If we really don’t, or aren’t able to communicate with God, we will live as functional atheists: saying pious words about God’s presence in our lives but believing, on the contrary, that nothing good is going to happen unless we make it happen.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Why does God say something so obvious?

“The chief purpose of prayer is to get to know God, to deepen our relationship with Him, to nourish the life of God He has already placed within us, and to do it all to satisfy His desire for relationship with us.” Larry Crabb

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Relationally speaking, what does God want from me?

God wants me to see His face.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 105:3-4
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

God wants to communicate some important bits of information.

“I love you.”

Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Romans 5:1-8
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

“I am a perfect father.”

Matthew 7:7-12
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

“I can be trusted.”

Hosea 14:9
If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this. If you know what's good for you, you'll learn this inside and out. God's paths get you where you want to go. Right-living people walk them easily; wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Psalm 118:5-9
In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

“I want to be your strength.”

1 Chronicles 29:10-13
David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

“If we imagine we have any strength apart from God, we will have to break the neck of our strength over some obstacle before we are willing to rely upon Him. Our own strength is the backbone of the natural life, but not the life of God. There will be a wobble in our walk of faith until the vision of faith and the reality are one and the same.”
Oswald Chambers

“I want to be your greatest desire.”

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

Commit to relational prayer: “Hide-nothing, tell-everything, share-anything

Journal, and do it as if you’re talking to God. The average group can tolerate no more than 15 seconds of silence.

Prayer is inner work. If we cut corners here, we cut corners everywhere. Though this is inner work, and is deeply personal, it is not necessarily a private matter. We must do inner work together, as opposed to just alone. We can only find community by doing inner work together.

Here is where there’s always confusion: doing this in community still doesn’t identify the ‘how’ question. One thing is clear: we can’t do this with the intention of ‘setting each other straight’.

Don’t set each other straight!

The Hebrew word for desert is midbaar, from the word dahbar, which means to speak.

Hosea 2:14
"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

God has always desired to speak to us tenderly.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is a megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

It’s often a lack of maturity that forces God to shout, but we need to discover this our self.

The direction of duty lies not in doing things for God, but in doing what God tells us to do. Oswald Chambers

Have you ever confused the teaching with the teacher? Perhaps you had a great mentor, instructor, even a parent or grandparent. But now they’re gone, and all you have is their teaching. It lives on. Such is only partly the case with Jesus. The teaching lives on, but the teacher is still with us. He has promised to never leave or forsake us.

John 14:18-21
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Let God speak to you this week. Speak to Him. Lets really listen together…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stew, I love the analogy you offer, of 'unpacking' our own conversations with presents an image of getting out every single suitcase in the house (do backpacks count?)and starting to unpack. I can run to the neighbour's and borrow more bags, if I need to continue the process. My guess is that some of us have plenty of 'unpacking' before us.

I appreciate the quote from Oswald Chambers with respect to strength; there's such a false sense of personal power when we believe we've accomplished things solely from individual strength. I feel tremendous gratitude (though the gratitude usually comes much later)for some of the obstacles I've faced; those that have lead me to finally recognize that resolution to problems does not come from human will, understanding or strength. In the moments when I 'give up', I suspect I'm finally 'getting it.'

9:23 AM  

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