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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Knock Knock. Who's There?

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him and he with me,”
Revelation 3:20 NIV

Often in spring I find walking in the garden before the sun comes up is a bit chilly. But his morning I am prepared. I have slipped on my favorite old comfortable sweatshirt and filled my travel mug with steaming hot coffee. I really need to get alone.  I need solitude. No distractions. I am in need of hearing the voice of God speak to me.
The truth of the matter is I am often confused by my thoughts. Do my thoughts belong to me, or are my thoughts inspired by the subtle suggestive voice of Satan, or are my thoughts from God? I know from past experience, a busy hectic schedule surrounded by noise is not conducive to deciphering my thoughts from God’s thoughts. A prayerful time in the garden opens the door for the Holy Spirit to come into my mind and speak his words of truth to my spirit. God has promised me that he is always available and is already standing at the door of my heart knocking. However, his promise is contingent upon me making time to open the door and invite him in. God desires to come into my thoughts. He wants his thoughts to become my thoughts. This is having the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 KJV
Frequently I am at my daughter’s home. Sometimes while visiting I become frustrated because her two children’s needs are so demanding that I might as well be invisible. I can talk and talk and talk, but she will not hear a single word. It is very much the same with Jesus. It does no good to open the door and let him in and then pay him no mind. The good news is that my daughter and I at times will sneak away for tea or a bite of lunch at a local restaurant without my two adorable grandchildren. Our conversation is focused and sweet. We make eye contact. She speaks and I listen. I speak and she listens. We laugh, share our hearts and receive strength from one another. This is also true when we invite Jesus in to eat with us and we share our thoughts in a loving two way relationship. I love to meet Jesus in a sweet time of prayer in the garden, because it is a perfect place of solitude, free of life’s distractions. It is here I can hear his voice.
Sorting out my thoughts is pretty easy because they are usually identified by selfish or self-centered motives. These “good ideas” are carefully wrapped in colorful paper with smiley faces and securely tied with a tight ribbon of control. My thoughts usually center on something I want or me asking God to get rid of something I don’t want.  Other times my mind is on what I think I need, something I want to accomplish, some way I want to serve, something I want to happen, or somewhere I want to go. I want to tell God about my plans and hope that they are his plans too. Often I discover that my plans have completely left God out of the loop. I am reminded that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD, determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Other times I hear the voice of Satan. His thoughts can be suggestive ideas that will seem to look good but will pull me away from God instead of drawing me closer to God. Satan also is a master of pouring on condemnation regarding my past failures. He loves to drag up old sins. He likes to remind me that I have failed before and I will fail again. But Jesus says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 NIV Satan loves to tell me over and over again that I must be careful or I will get hurt or passed over. Satan wants me to wrap my mind around fearful scenarios regarding what I perceive could possibly go wrong in the future. I must never forget that he is the father of lies and that he can promise me the world and in the end I get nothing but heartache and continued discontentment! Satan’s goal is to get between me and the Father, whatever it takes!
I also remember that there have been times when my heart burned within me because I knew I was hearing the voice of God. Sometimes God speaks words of conviction, in order to bring about positive change in my behavior, but he never speaks words of condemnation to a believer. As followers of Christ, our sins have been washed away and cast as far as the east is from the west. We belong to him! Even his words of conviction are words of love because it is the desire of God to carry us on wings of love, higher and higher, bringing us closer to him. God’s words are words of love, comfort, wisdom, guidance, and promise. God never paints a picture of fear, he says; “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” I John 4:18a  God is not a God of confusion. He is a God of peace.
God has given us his Word. The Bible is our road map to knowing the will and the heart of God. It contains the very words of Jesus. It clearly reveals the attributes of God, allowing us to part the clouds and look into heaven and see the character of the one who made us. The Bible, God’s Word, teaches us about the Holy Spirit, who lives within Believers. We grieve the Holy Spirit of God when we do not give him the place of honor that he deserves. I don’t understand how the Spirit lives within me any more than I understand how Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. I don’t understand how God created all things! But it is my faith in all of these things that is credited to me as righteousness. Without a doubt, it is not my righteousness, but the very righteousness of God that covers me though the blood of Jesus Christ when I believe.
Jesus said if we hear what the Holy Spirit says we hear the Father. We are not to divide God into three pieces because he is One God. But because he is God, he is able to manifest himself to mankind as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each manifestation provides for mankind exactly what we need in our time of need. The Bible reminds us, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” John 16:13-14 NIV Jesus also taught that those who saw him saw the Father. Therefore, if we know Jesus, we also know the Father.
I know that this day and every day, if I am to hear the voice of God, I must tune in to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. I must decipher my thoughts from Satan’s thoughts, and I must test all my thoughts for accuracy and consistency using the Word of God as my voice of authority. More time in the Word is needed, because if I do not know what is in the Word of God, I will not recognize the voice of God. If I do not know what Jesus taught, I will never know how he thinks? I will never be able to have the mind of Christ unless I am familiar with his thinking vs. the thinking of the world. I will never be able to rely on God’s promises unless I know what they are.
Reading the Bible is not designed to be a holy, legalistic ritual. It is a book that is divinely inspired by God, written down by men he trusted, and miraculously preserved for thousands of years so that we might be able to become his children, recognize his voice, and learn to follow him. I am convinced that God is speaking to me daily. I am also convinced that I am not hearing everything he says. Yes, it is possible that the Holy Spirit can be speaking to us and we miss hearing the message. The noise and distractions of the world are so loud that we can’t even hear ourselves think, let alone the Holy Spirit! This is why for me; I must make time to go to the garden and listen purposefully for the voice of God. I must read his Word, meditate on what it says and apply it to my life. I must tell God my needs and concerns, repent of the sin that constantly creeps into my life, and make time to thank him and praise him for being the amazing God he is. All of this is prayer.
When God knocks at my heart’s door and I open up the door for him to enter I learn so much! It is during these amazing times of learning my heart is stirred and burns within me. When this happens, we are passionately moved because the truth we are hearing is founded on the very Word of God. The words revealed to our spirit are clothed in authority because they are spoken by God himself. It is during this time of fellowship that our relationship with Jesus Christ also grows and we fall deeper and deeper in love with him.
Do not be surprised to find that after you learn something new and different, there will be a test. I am recognizing that it is during the test when I must pull up what I have learned and make a conscious choice to go higher with God by being obedient and faithful to what I have been taught through the Spirit. It is through our obedience and faithfulness during the test that God will always be glorified.
Hearing the voice of God doesn’t need to be confusing. First sort out all that is selfish and self-serving, then identify the lies and deception of Satan. Hear the voice of what remains and test it to see if it is based on the Word of God and his Holy character. If it does, embrace that truth, make it personally yours, and follow what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
It is such a comfort to know that God will reveal his will to me when, where and how he chooses. I need to learn to listen for the voice of God. I am trying to remember that it is not my job to discover God’s will for my life, because that is not my problem! It is totally God’s job and his responsibility to reveal his will to me and he delights in doing so. He does this when we trust him for the future. Sometimes I am aware that God is working in my life and other times I am not, but one thing is for sure, I believe that God goes before us and prepares the way. I want to learn to confidently rely on God to lead me through my life by opening and closing doors. I must remember that closed doors are not to be despised but rather embraced as a gift of loving protection. Open doors are to be held in my arms as precious opportunities to be used for God’s glorification! Although God loves me and cares about all that concerns me the main focus is never me. It is always about God and what God is doing in my life to make me more like him or what he is doing through me. When you are pretty sure you have heard the voice of God leading you ask him for confirmation and he will always make it clear.
God usually doesn’t speak in paragraphs. Most of the time I find that he is a God of few words. Like me, you may already be familiar with his limited vocabulary. Wait, go, no, yes, be still, forgive, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, humility, surrender, mercy, and grace, just to name a few, but oh the impact when the voice of God speaks even one simple word. Remember he is knocking, let him in and listen for his voice and obey.

  1. Have you ever been confused as to whether or not God was speaking to you or if it was your own thoughts or worse yet, the voice of Satan?
  2. Do you see value in getting alone with God in solitude so that you can decipher the voices you are hearing?
  3. Are you comforted to know that God’s voice is not the voice of condemnation?
  4. Do you feel a sense of joy in knowing that you can trust the voice of God because it is based on his Word and his loving, unchanging, and faithful character?
Dear God,
You are perfect in every way. You are Sovereign over all things. You are not the enemy. You are a God of love. I am amazed at all of the ways you call out to man. God, creation screams of your love. Jesus, you shout out to mankind, I came to die for your sin. I am the sacrificial lamb, look to me for redemption because the Father wants you released from the grip of sin. Holy Spirit, you knock at our hearts door and you say, let me into your mind. Let me help you climb higher so that you may see and recognize the love and power of the Father. God you have not left us orphans. You have sent us your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. God, those who do not know you cannot hear or feel the Holy Spirit, but for those of us who believe we know him because he lives within us. Yes Lord, you are perfect in every way. You have all of the bases covered. Your plan for my well being is complete. Forgive me God, when I let life crowd you out and when I am unaware that you are patiently waiting for me to listen for your whisper. Thank you for your loving conviction that calls me to go away to a quiet place and listen for YOUR voice so I can receive wisdom and instruction from you.
It is in your Son’s name I pray. Amen