Hearing the still small voice 3

2015-03.3

Proverbs 16:18

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Be humble and God will speak to you

Ski crash

We are all prone to overreach ourselves and take a tumble – but there are ways to prevent this

Proverbs 16:18 The Message
First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

I GREW UP in a traditional C of E setting. Church was quite boring, but we were expected to go. Some of the sermons were good, though – I can still remember one or two. No one really expected God to speak to them personally — it was a lot later that I learned about Jesus and what He had done for me, and how I could come into a close and personal relationship with God by trusting Him and accepting His lordship. That sounds like nothing much, just a religious thing, but it was quite a step. Allowing someone else right into your life… anyway, a lot of lights went on for me at that time and I quickly made new friends who DID have an expectation of being guided by God and having a sense of what He was saying to them at a given time.

In the traditional church the vicar or minister was the one who heard from God and (on a good day) made it the content of his sermon for that week. Everything spiritual funnelled through the professional leader ordained and inducted public;ly for the task. There was some safety in that – training and experience tend to emphasise balance. However, it was a narrow funnel for revelation. It didn’t encourage the involvement of others and the sense of being a body.

The charismatic renewal that came in the 1970s and 80s brought a new awareness on spiritual gifts and the empowering for ministry of every believer — not just the ones wearing funny collars. That’s all good, with one “but”. Empowering and recognising spiritual gifts raises participation and lowers the dependence on one person’s gifts – but character, humility and balance are vitally important. When church becomes a do-it-yourself project, it is too easy for arrogance and clumsiness to creep in alongsiode genuine gift. Others want to get in on the act, and with a lot of people paddling, only some of whom are actually gifted paddlers, direction is lost and disputes follow.

So back to hearing God. Everybody who is open to the Spirit can; many should; few are called to teach or influence others in this way. All must be quick to submit what they think they are hearing to others. What that means in practice is that we all need others to be a kind of sounding board. It’s so easy to slip into self-deception, to imagine we are hearing what we want to hear (and the devil will give us plenty of help here!). Check it out. That’s why there are shepherds (pastors) who have familiarity with the ways of helping you test out your word.

Be humble and God will speak to you and give you confirmations as you seek Him. Get off on one, in some kind of ‘revelation’ that makes you look good, and you may, with a bump, be reminded that pride does come before a fall. We all get this lesson from time to time!

• Who would you go to with your word? Would that be easy for you to do?

• What would your response be if they didn’t see it the way you wanted to?

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