Listening

I’m home from vacation, and scrambling to meet a writing deadline. I’ll be teaching Jeremiah beginning Friday of this week, and I’m feeling lots of pressure. Busy times, you know?

But I’m enjoying the book of Acts. And, because it’s on my mind a lot lately, I’ve been noticing a trend. Remember these guys are just guys, like you and me. They have to eat and sleep, and dress — just like we do. They have moments of doubt and moments of brilliance — just like us. And, like us, I’m guessing they struggled with knowing what God would have them do next.

So what’s the pattern?

Watch this:

After Peter and John heal a lame man, they give this amazing sermon. In the New Living Translation it says: “Peter saw his opportunity.” 3:12

“As for Phillip, an angel of theLORD said to him, “Go south, down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem.” (8:26)

“As he was nearing Damascus, on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice, saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (9:4)

“the LORD spoke to him in a vision, calling, ‘Ananias,” (9:10)

“One afternoon, about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him, “Cornelius!” the angel said. (10:3)

“But while lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners.” (Acts 10:10)

“Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the LORD stood before Peter… ‘Quick, get up.’ And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, ‘Get dressed and put on your sandals.'”(12:7)

One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabus and Saul for the special work I have for them.”

Okay, have you fallen asleep yet? Are you wondering what on earth these things have in common?

Try this on for controversy…

In all these cases, the Lord clearly made his will known to his children.

1. They didn’t get it out of the written Word of God — they didn’t have one as such. And yet, God gave personal leadership to each of them. Real directions. Specific instructions. Clear leadership. Not just general stuff like “go into all the world.” Somehow God gave Specifics, “Go to this street. Go to this house. Go get this man.” Somehow, God made his way known. Look at the ways!

visions
dreams
angels
disembodied voices
the LORD’s voice
trances
and even simple old OPPORTUNITIES!

Certainly, many of these events happened in the context of prayer. But not always.

My challenge? Has God changed? Has he stopped using these means to give specific direction to his children? Doesn’t he care anymore what you do with your life? Is he too busy to speak?

Or worse. When was the last time you had a vsion? A voice? A trance? A dream?

I confess, it frustrates me that I don’t experience God more in my daily life. I haven’t had a vision lately. I rarely have a dream from God. But is this because I don’t believe he can? Or that I don’t believe he will?

Is it because He doesn’t speak any more? Or is it because I’ve stopped listening? Or have we stopped EXPECTING to hear from him? You tell me! I really want to know.

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