Psalm 128 Says: "How joyful are those who fear the Lord-all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigourous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord's blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!"
Last fall sometime, Pastor Robert (our senior pastor at Gateway Church) preached a sermon on "How to hear God". He always talks about having conversations with God (Holy Spirit) as if they're sitting next to each other and just gabbing away. That fascinated and excited me, because Pastor Robert talked about how anyone could hear the Spirit as clearly as that if they do one simple thing: Listen and Obey. I was raised in a very traditional Southern Baptist Church. I had an amazing childhood so I'm not complaining, but it's just a fact that the Baptist Church doesn't teach or talk about the Gifts of the Spirit or about actually talking to the Holy Spirit that much so I had not been exposed to this until we went to Gateway. Pastor Robert said that the Spirit is continually speaking to all of us, but only some are actually listening, and even fewer are listening and obeying what they hear. He said that the Spirit will speak to you, very quietly, and if you listen and obey...then he'll speak to you again, but get a little louder. Then if you listen and obey, he'll speak again, even louder this time...and on and on...until eventually you'll be audibly having conversation with the Holy Spirit. I so wanted this and prayed and sought the Lord over this and asked for this very thing...but heard nothing. I heard nothing for months actually and got really frustrated (some of you know this story already so DON'T RUIN IT!!). A few months ago Cindy and I were candidates in a prophetic service for small group leaders at Gateway (if you're not familiar, leaders in the church who are gifted in the prophetic pray over you and then give you any word that the Lord has for you and they prophecy over you). In the service, one of the ladies who was a leader in our group (gifted in the prophetic) said to me..."You need to listen to your wife, as if she's the Holy Spirit.".....and........I said....."Ok". But left thinking "That's nice, but I listen to my wife pretty good...so...no big deal". For months I was still frustrated in my quiet times and in not hearing the Spirit but I kept hearing that woman's voice in my head every time I would pray or read scripture, "Listen to your wife as if she's the Holy Spirit". So finally (and those of you who know me well won't be surprised by this at all lol) I made God a deal. I said, "Fine, God. I'm going to prove you wrong. I'm going to say "Yes" to Cindy on anything she tells me that is different from what I was already going to do even if it is as simple as what shirt to wear that day, and I'm going to prove to you that she's not always right!" So I did, I started saying "Yes" to my wife and following her counsel to the "T" and guess what?? I've started hearing the Spirit so clearly sometimes I think another person is in the room with me! The blessings God has poured out on us since that time have been too many to number and some of them you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Which brings me to my point: Listen and Obey. Listening is the easier part by far. We all can say, "Sure I listen to God"...but how many of us (myself included) are actually following through with what he's asking of you? Our God is a just God, and he's a loving God, but he also is a selfish God: he will NOT share glory with anyone or anything. That includes your family, your job, your money, your talents....none of it. And it's been hard lesson for me to come to the point of telling God "sorry" for not giving him back 100% all the time of what he's given me. Last week Pastor Robert talked about the fact that God gave us EVERYTHING that we have. Everything we own, every talent or ability, every friend, EVERYTHING we have is a direct result of God working in our lives. So we don't own anything, we're stewards. We are just holding all of this for him and are supposed to be improving it and sharing it with other people. Here's a perfect example of opportunities he'll throw at you if you're listening. Last summer Cindy and I went to Panera for breakfast one morning. Cindy wanted to sit out on the patio (which she never does) so we got our food/drink and went out on the patio. Now I have really bad hearing (from shooting shotguns professionally for almost 20 years, and 5 sets of tubes in my ears). When we sat down, about 3 tables over there were two women, one older, one alot younger talking. As I was eating, I could hear every word they were saying. The older one says, "But you can't kill this baby, that would be murder, God wouldn't want that, couldn't you just give it away?!?", and the younger replied, "I just couldn't go through 9 months and then give it away, I have to get rid of it" Now one thing you may not know about me is that I'm adopted, and my birth mom contemplated aborting me but one of my family members (Grandmother I think,dont' ask why) talked her out of it and talked her into putting me up for adoption instead. So Cindy says to me, "Can you hear them", and I told he I could and she said, "You have to go say something!!!" I sat there a sec and drug my feet and then felt myself lifted out of my chair and before I knew what I was doing I walked over to the girl, clearly upset and said, "I'm sorry for listening in but I couldn't help hearing what you were talking about and I wanted to come tell you....my birthmom was in exactly the same spot you're in right now over 27 years ago. She was going to abort me, but she changed her mom and put me up for adoption and now, because of her gift and sacrifice, I'm married with a baby on the way, I'm a doctor with a huge sphere of ministry and none of that would be possible if I had not been allowed to come into this world. So please reconsider and please give your baby a chance!" She broke down and bawled harder than I've seen many people cry. The older lady jumped up and hugged her and said, "SEE THE PEOPLE GOD IS BRINGING INTO YOUR PATH FOR THIS BABY, CAN YOU SEE IT!!" And then turned to me and said thank you as she cried as well. We gave her a card and told her to call us if she ever needed anything. I never heard from her, but I know she had that baby and I pray God uses that child as much as he's using me right now. I still get chills thinking about it.
So think about it, and practice your listening skills. Everyone has heard the addage "You've got 2 ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk!" Well, that goes for God too! We pray to him every day but don't give him a chance to respond. Listen to him, and obey him, and then watch what he'll do in you and through you!!!