Sometimes things surprise us.
Sometimes things surprise us which we already know and believe to be true.
One of the things which is evident in the Scriptures, in how God has promised to interact with His people, and in my own personal life experience thus far, is that God communicates His will to us. The Creator of the universe, who is in this moment upholding all things simply by His own power and nothing else, has promised to make Himself and His will known to us when we seek after Him.
And yet it still comes as a surprise when you realize that God is communicating with you. I mean, let’s be honest, that thought alone is somewhat startling. Which of us wouldn’t be startled to get a call from Barack Obama? How surprising would it be to be contacted by an internationally renowned expert in whatever field interests us, simply because he or she wanted to tell us something?
I was startled today to realize that God was telling me something. And I don’t mean that I feel like God was telling me something general, or that I read some Scripture and found that it applied in some general way to my life. No, I mean that I realized a few moments ago that God has over the past 2-3 days ordered my intake of study material, Scripture, and sermons all for a specific purpose.
- I’ve been reading Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper, and the chapter I have most recently come to is one on prayer. I was deeply struck by Piper’s discussion on the fact that prayer is a war tool. God gives us the ability to pray so that we might fight the good fight and call on His power to expand His kingdom. Prayer malfunctions, he says, when it is used more like an intercom to call down more comforts to the den. In essence, when our prayers are primarily for more heavenly ambrosia to be delivered to us instead of being primarily for more heavenly artillery to fight the fight of faith, we are not praying properly.
- In a devotional time, my thoughts were directed to 2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” and 1 Peter 4:11 – “…If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” My question, as I considered these verses, was to wonder how I could act and what I could do to show the people I serve that the power which sustains me is from God. How can I show people that it is God working through me, and not me working? As I was writing down a list of thoughts on this, the first 2 were: 1 – Pray more often. 2 – Pray more specifically. These would enable me to show how God worked specifically in answer to prayer.
- I was spending a few minutes on Facebook, and someone posted a link to a live broadcast of a pastors’ conference. On an arbitrary whim, knowing nothing about the conference, I clicked it to see what it was about. The preacher was speaking about prayer. He was speaking about the power of prayer, and how God ANSWERS prayer. He encouraged the listeners to be deeply devoted to prayer; to find our strength in prayer; to believe in prayer; to have communion with God through constant prayer.
I was three-fourths of the way through the preacher’s message before I realized what God had been telling me. In the blink of a moment, it clicked. It was not a chance of schedule that found me reading in Piper’s book yesterday. It was not a realization from my own intellect which came from looking at 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter. It was no accident that I clicked a link to a pastor’s conference on prayer.
God ordained each one of those things in its own moment. He ordered my reading schedule so that I might come to those pages on prayer at that particular time. He sent my thoughts to those passages of scripture, and He gave me the realization of how to apply them to my own ministry. He ordained that I would be on facebook at the right moment to see the link He prodded someone else to post.
My dear friends, God speaks…and in the moment when we realize that the God of heaven is communicating with us, there are several things that happen in a heart.
- There is an overwhelming sense of humility. God, the Creator, the eternal King…spoke to me so that I might pray more often, more fervently, and more specifically. How unfathomable! How humbling!
- There is also a deep sense of comfort which comes from this realization. We are not too small to concern God. We are not outside the realm of His affections. Indeed, we are second in His concern and affection only to Jesus.
- Lastly, there is a profound sense of the need to obey. A simple realization that I come to myself can fairly easily be disregarded. What is merely factual information can quickly be forgotten. However, when one realizes that the Author of life and Ruler of reality has spoken, there is no question as to whether we must obey.
So my friends, are you listening to the God who speaks? Are you spending time in the Word, that He might reveal Himself to you? Are you spending time in prayer? Are you maintaining fellowship with other believers, that God might use them to speak into your life?
And are you listening? What else could possibly be more important?