Last month we began to look at God’s promised response to all who cry out to Him. We heard again from David the Psalmist King, and John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” that God hears each of us when we cry and He always, always, always answers us as a loving Father. Now, as the time of “dire straits” has ended we are going to move out into our expanded territory in His love and see what we can learn from our times of challenge and pressure.
In 2 Samuel 22:7 we learned that God hears each and every one of us when we cry out to Him and He moves mightily to meet us in our times of need. Our God is faithful and unchanging. He was present and powerful in the Old Testament as He visited His children. He is even more present for us as the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ. We simply cannot be separated from Him or from His love. Period. That is a settled truth.
And how He moves is also already known… He holds us, He supports us, He rescues us, and He makes a way for us. NOTHING can stop our God and Father from moving on our behalf and in His perfect love. But it doesn’t always look or feel like this is true, does it? How does God answer when we cry out? Let’s see if WE are “listening” for all the ways He speaks and if we are claiming all He has for us in response to our cries!
As I begin this message, I am going to take a slight detour into 1 Kings 18:26-29. The story here tells how false prophets prepared their sacrifice and “called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So, they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” Then Elijah steps up to the altar, drenched in water, cries out and the altar itself is utterly consumed by God’s fiery response!
Strange as this may sound—get your praise on! When you are scared, hurting, confused and even angry, open your mouth and start worshipping the One and Only One who can help you. He inhabits the praises of His people in a more powerful, more discernible way. While He is always with us, we will experience His presence more easily as we praise Him. Then look for Him to show up. You will probably need to exercise at least two fruits of the spirit to make this happen—self-control, to shut down those unruly emotions for a few moments, and Joy. You heard me, JOY. Claim the strength promised in Nehemiah- “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” We need to understand that sometimes God chooses NOT to rescue us out of a battle but rather to strengthen us in the battle and make us warriors for the battles to come. This isn’t God ignoring our cries but rather equipping for the future so we can better stand against the enemy.
Strategy two for listening is Praying in the Spirit. That’s right, cry out your questions and then pray, out loud, maybe even real loud, in tongues. His Word tells us this builds us up and strengthens us. My experience tells me it puts up a force field around me that the noise of the enemy cannot penetrate. Inside that Holy Spirit bubble, I feel His peace and hear with greater clarity. So, make a holy noise to hear His holy Voice. Expect, too, that Holy Spirit will prompt you to speak out the very promises you need and respond just as Jesus did with declarations of “It is written” to raise up that promised standard against the devil’s onslaught.
I am retelling this story as a reminder that OUR GOD is not meditating, not sleeping, not distracted, not away and not busy. He inclines His ear to us always and He ALWAYS answers. I hope this is settled in our hearts. So now we can build a strategy for the times when it looks and feels like God isn’t answering us. Let’s discover how to listen for His voice in new ways. For sure- God is speaking, He is bringing us the answer to our cries, and we don’t want to miss it!
For starters, do you remember a time when you had a new love in your life? Think back to that experience and how you listened for any communication from your beloved. Back before ringtones, we would leap on the phone to answer it, in hopes it would be “him”. Today we might race to messenger or email to see if there is word of him, but there was a time when we would race to the mailbox in hopes of a letter. We might have even found ourselves “passing by” places where he might be hanging out so we could accidently run into him. Can you identify?
When we are in love. we are hungry for our beloved. We are listening and watching for him. He is our top priority and we block out every background distraction so we won’t miss his voice. You know where I am going with this, don’t you? Do we listen like that for God’s response when we are crying out for Him? And if we don’t, let’s our hunger to hear Him and find a way to tune our ears to His voice in the midst of all the noise and chaos that surrounds us.
So, where do we look for Him? How can we recognize His voice? Where can we go to “run into” our God? Here are my tips on how to listen with spiritual ears…
And finally, for the purposes of this brief blog, get back into His Word. The Bible truly is a collection of love letters from the Lover of your soul to you. Dive in and ask Him to point you to the response to your cry. Search in faith for your answers until you find them, remembering always His declaration to YOU in Hebrews 11:6:But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.