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Hearing God

“Why is it that when we talk to God it is called prayer but when God talks to us it is called schizophrenia?” (Lily Tomlin)

I grew up going to church and often seemed as common as white bread. Often the ones who made that claim were…well, there is no delicate way of saying this, THEY WERE WEIRD. I wondered if they heard God speak while the space aliens were probing them.

Still… Jesus makes it pretty clear that he believed that God does speak to his people. “A Farmer went out to sow his seed.” (Luke 8:5) That is what a farmer does. A farmer sows seeds. It is his nature to sow seeds.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11)

Just like a farmer will sow seed, God is going to “sow” words into our lives. You cannot help but notice how often the phrase, “And God said…” appears in Scripture. In fact, if the “god” you serve doesn’t speak then you are serving an “idol”.

“…you worship gods of wood and stone which cannot see or hear or eat or smell…Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, they cannot speak.” (Deuteronomy 4:28 & Jeremiah 10:5)

“As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.” (Luke 8:5-7)

What sort of farmer operates like this? Good farmers prepare the soil, lay it out with nice furrows and plant seeds in rows. This guy is just slinging seed anywhere and everywhere. It is landing in the rocks, the weeds, and the footpaths. For crying out loud 75% of it is going to waste! This is not how you plant seed.

But God speaks to us “at many times and in various ways.” (Hebrews 1:1) He is always scattering seed. We will miss the most critical words of our lives if we think that God can only speak to us when we are at church, sitting quietly in straight rows.

God sets bushes on fire, erects ladders in the desert, enlists mouths of donkeys and prophets. Day after day is full of his voice, night unto night utters his language. This is exhilarating and frightening all at the same time.

It is exhilarating when you understand the potential of the “Word”

Jesus used a seed intentionally to show the potential in every word that comes from the Lord. I can balance an orange seed on my thumb, but when I drive the highways around my home I pass groves with thousands of trees holding hundreds of thousands of oranges containing millions of seeds.

All of this resulted from one seed. In fact, people’s jobs, houses, education, an entire economy for generations sprang from one seed. Do you think that anyone looking at one little seed could envision that sort of impact? The thought was, "I am going to plant a seed." Not, "I am going to build an entire way of life for generations".

The things God speaks may not seem like that big of a deal but he can use our small acts of obedience to exponentially change our world. When God’s word is received into our lives it will, “yield a crop a hundred times more than was sown.” (Luke 8:8)

God is looking down the telescope of eternity and he knows that if you will receive his word in obedience an entire family, church, city, or even a nation could be changed.

Then there is the frightening possibility of missing the Words of God.

Jesus speaks of the word landing on “the path”. Probably, referencing footpaths that were created around the edges of fields. This is a picture of hearts that have gotten hardened by the skepticism of a secular culture or walked over by too many so-called “friends”. Hearts aren’t created hard, they are “hardened”, but we speed it along with our own choices and responses.

"Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7, 15, 4:7)

You never leave an encounter with God’s Word the same. When the living Word comes to you, you obey or disobey and something happens to you as a result. If you obey, God is going to do something in your heart that causes you to become a more fruitful person, but if you disobey, hardness begins to set in.

You never leave an encounter with God’s Word the same.

Sometimes the Word lands on the “rocks”. Here the problem is a shallow heart. These people “spring up”…they receive the word with “joy”!! There are people like this at every conference, revival, and missions convention. They are ready to “spring” into action. But Jesus mentions, “…the time of testing…” Which is another inevitable part of the word of God. Doing what the Lord told you to do leads to wonderful mountaintop moments. But in-between is a lot of monotony, frustration, fear, and concern. We bring forth fruit “By persevering.”

Then, oftentimes the problem is a Crowded Heart. Jesus puts these three words together “worries, riches, and pleasures”. Money multiplies pleasures and worries. Rich people like you and I worry about stuff all that time. Worries pop up like thorns in our lives!

“What if I get sick? What if I have to pay more for insurance next year? What if we have to sell the vacation home?” And we respond, “Well we are going to have to put it off…give less…give later.” So we choke out the word in our lives.

Recently my wife decided we needed to beautify the front of our home. We bought all plants, decorative mulch, and “potting mix”. I picked up a package of this “potting mix” that had caught my eye because it is called “MiracleGro”. I was interested in what would make the miracles happen in our yard. The ingredients were impressive-“peat”, “sphagnum”, and “processed forest products”. The trees weren’t bursting from the bag. But, despite the promise of “miracle” on the bag, and all the magic “elixir” inside, it occurred to me: if we don’t plant a seed in this it is just “dirt”.

So is life. Doesn’t matter how many letters follow your name on letterhead or how many accomplishments get listed after your name in the yearbook, if your heart is not receiving from and responding to the living God, it is worthless.

Live expectantly…be prepared…Ask God to give you ears to hear his "words" for you. They come to us packed and pulsating with the potential to multiply and transform life. If you go home and make the call…If you bow your head and pray as he is leading …If you end the relationship…if you write the check…if you commit to taking the trip…

There will be fruit for generations and lives will be changed in ways you can never comprehend. His voice changes everything, if we listen and obey.

Just a thought.

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