Hearing God Speak, Part 5 - Eliminate the Excuses

Hearing God Speak

By Lowell Snow – www.leadingprayer.com

Part 5 - Eliminate the Excuses

In previous newsletters; (available in the archives of the leadingprayer web site) we completed segments one through four of this series on Hearing God Speak:

  • In the introduction, Examine your Expectations, we realized that God speaks to all of us, but may not be saying what we expect or want to hear.
  • In Come to Christ, we looked at salvation as the first step of a conversational relationship with Him.
  • In Master the Minors, we considered some foundational disciplines of life that may seem ‘minor’, but must be mastered before higher plateaus can be reached.
  • In Consider the Content, we learned to examine the content of the message to know if it’s a word from God or something else.

In this final segment we’ll see that we must Eliminate the Excuses that allow hidden sins to interfere with our ability to hear God speak.

You’re listening to your favorite radio program as you travel in your car. Just as the commentator or musician gets to the part you’re most interested in – bzzz, crackle, hisss. You pass a power line or tall building and the interference drowns out the program. You miss the best part. What a bummer.

Radio interference can come from lots of places, but the spiritual interference that comes between you and God often comes from within you.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15 NKJV

There’s that word again – sin – it just won’t go away. Just when you think you’ve reached some level of spiritual maturity – Bam! – It gets you again. It may be the return of an old sin or you may be blind-sided by a temptation you never saw coming. Where does it all come from? Well it doesn’t all come from the devil. Some of it’s your own doing.

I was to lead a conference in a rural church many miles from the nearest motel so the church set up a camper for Peggy and me to stay in. The nice lady who owned it met us and showed us how everything worked. This was no ordinary camper. Leather furniture, HD TV, fireplace. Really nice.

It had one problem the lady said; the surround sound system made strange sounds. I suggested that we’d just leave it off, but she said it didn’t matter. Even when it was off these crazy sounds would just come and go. Kind of spooky I thought, but we assured her that this minor blemish in her beautiful camper would be no problem.

That night as Peggy and I were settling in, sure enough, these really eerie sounds filled the camper. About the time I was thinking maybe the drive to a motel in town might be a good idea, I realized that the sounds were familiar. They were the same sounds that emanate from my computer when I lay my cell phone next to the speakers.

I went to the living room and there it was – my cell phone was lying on the shelf right by the sound system. I picked it up and the problem was solved. That nice lady had a habit of laying her purse, with cell phone, on that same convenient shelf. The problem had never been the camper. She was causing the problem all along and didn’t know it.

You’ve probably got sinful habits in your life that keep distracting you from hearing all that God wants to say. Perhaps you’ve been convincing yourself for many years that they’re really not that bad. You’ve got to stop making excuses and let the Father complete what He began in you when you were saved. Jesus said:

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt 5:48 NKJV

You’re excusing yourself from that statement of Christ right now aren’t you? You’re trying to figure out some loop-hole so that perfect doesn’t apply to God’s plan for you right now. Maybe you should open your Bible to that passage from the Sermon on the Mount and be reminded just how high Jesus set the bar. Here’s a short list:

  • love your enemies,
  • bless those who curse you,
  • do good to those who hate you,
  • and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you

Jesus is world famous for His mercy to sinners, but He’s also relentless in His pursuit of holiness. Have you ever considered how much emphasis Jesus places on mind over body in the Sermon on the Mount? He says it’s not enough to refrain from murder, we must refrain from hate. It’s not enough to refrain from adultery, we must refrain from lust. Hate and lust are battles that take place in the gray matter just above your eyeballs.

In our study of hearing God speak, we’ve come to the final frontier – the battle for your mind. You will eventually learn to think as Jesus thinks. Only then will your communication with the Heavenly Father be unrestricted.

So what’s your excuse for being lazy in your private devotions, lustful in your secret thoughts, hateful in your undisclosed grudges, greedy in your hidden desires, prideful in your covert ambitions, and arrogant in your unseen indulgences? What if next Sunday morning at your church, every person had a screen placed on their back that displayed every thought that came to their mind. The altar would be full of humiliated Christians begging for God’s forgiveness and help. Instead, 99% of folks who walk into church walk out an hour later unrepentant with their secret sins still safely hidden.

Hidden from fellow church goers, but not from God. And that’s where the rub comes isn’t it. The closer you grow to Him; the more violent the war becomes in your mind. The fairy-tale notions of walking hand in hand with Christ through a garden of roses have failed you. You thought that once you overcame the sins of the flesh; the Christian life would be easy, but it’s not. Increasingly God allows you to come face to face with the reality that He is not your fairy-god-mother. He’s Jehovah who demands perfection even in your thoughts and will stop at nothing to accomplish it.

Make no mistake follower of Christ. It is not up to you. Let me say that again – It’s not up to you. You can’t do it. Only God can accomplish holiness and He will purge you of all, even unseen, vestiges of unrighteousness. You can resist and complain, but He will not be deterred. Your best alternative is to be like Paul in his response to God’s refusal to remove his thorn in the flesh:

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10 NKJV

James, the brother of Christ, who was once impatient with Jesus’ lack of interest in making public appearances for publicity, eventually learned this same lesson:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 NKJV

Both of these men had come to understand that righteousness did not come by any ability, effort, or even commitment on their part; but God working through their difficulties to change the way they thought. Don’t get confused. We’re not talking about salvation of the sinner, but perfection of the saint. These are the final stages of the Christian walk in which faith is without doubt, prayer is unhindered, and day to day holiness is the norm.

Not there yet? Me neither. But someday you will be – not by the strength of your will, but the power of His Spirit. Stop resenting your struggles and embrace them as tools that the Father is using to make you more and more like His son.

Meditate on each of the twenty words in the following prayer by reading the verse twenty times and putting emphasis on each successive word. Do all twenty and read it out loud if possible.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Ps 51:6 NKJV

So what sins persist in your inward hidden parts that need to be eliminated? There’s a good chance you don’t even know all of them – but God does. And He’s going to get rid of them one way or another before you walk through the pearly gates. It will go much better if you willingly let go of them as soon as He convicts you of them rather than clinging to them until He forces them out in the open and stomps them like the cockroaches of spiritual darkness that they are.

Consider this prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Ps 139:23-24a KJV

Are you willing to pray that prayer asking God to reveal sins in your secret life that are a hindrance to Him leading you on in the way everlasting? If so, pray it in much the same way you read the Psalms 51 verse before. Pray it twenty times, emphasizing successively the words in ‘bold’.

Search me , O God, and know my heart:

try me , and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked wayin me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

What did He reveal? What are you going to do? Make an excuse or repent?

{recommended resource: Returning to Holiness by Dr. Gregory R. Frizzell, Bethany Press International, a seven week quest for holiness, available at www.leadingprayer.com}

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