Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

There is a line from the movie Rush Hour that says, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?"  In this movie there was a slight language barrier that made this line/quote funny.  However, a serious tone is struck when we hear and understand that God has been saying this to believers as well as unbelievers in Christ for a very long time now.

Let us visit the Old Testament for a moment.  Proverbs 18 has the art of listening or the lack thereof sprinkled throughout the chapter.

  • A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (v.2)
  • A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. (v.6)
  • A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. (v.7)
He who answers before listening-- that is his folly and his shame. (v.13)
  • From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. (v.20)
  • The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (v.21)
Now, let us visit the New Testament and observe how the early, new testament church approached listening. The writer of Hebrews mentions twice in the third chapter - "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."  Once in verse eight and the other instance in verse fifteen.  The Church, or body of believers in Christ, in Acts consulted God and listened for His reply. Acts 4: 29-31 says -  
  • Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."  After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
All that is needed was one example, however, there are numerous other verses that encourage the Christian to - seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33)
The catch is - if you are going to seek God first about anything, be prepared to WAIT for His response. Many Christians know the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar (Genesis 15 & 16).  However, as a recap - Abraham, heard from God that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky.  He believed God for a time, but then allowed doubt and some bad advice to sway him to take matters into his own hands.  

Some people do this in everyday conversation.  People will ask a question, knowing the answer and interrupt you to give it.  Abraham asked his question, got his answer instantly and then interrupted God in the fulfilling of the answer with his own version of the answer.  The result - two sons, one of curse (Ishmael) and one of promise (Issac) that would birth two peoples who are at war with each other to this day in the Middle East. 

Christians have that same potential to affect the world in the positive or in the negative.  What are we going to do with the time between the question/request to God and answer from God is a big factor in which way the believer will sway (+/-).  In this possible lengthy interlude, many thoughts can creep in and distractions can set up to keep our Spiritual Ears from hearing and listening to God's answer.  This is why patience and perseverance in prayer is so important. 

In this day of ~ got-to-have-it-now-mentality ~ I know my patience needs improving drastically.  If the individual Christian or The Church desire to move forward as an effective member/body of believers, then we have got to be willing to in all our ways submit to him, and he will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). Let us consult Him first, wait and listen for His answer and not find ourselves saying - What Did You Say?