THE LORD IS TRYING TO TEACH YOU TO MAKE DECISIONS. ONE OF THE MAIN PRINCIPLES INVOLVED IN REACHING A DECISION IS: DON'T START TALKING--PRAY! God likes you to give Him a little honour. Prayer is not just to get down on your knees and speak your piece but to let God speak His, too!--And wait until He answers! You've got to get not only in prayer, but you've got to get in the Spirit. And if you do, He'll tell each one of you what you're supposed to do.
YOU NEED TO LEARN TO TALK TO THE LORD and HOW TO LISTEN MOST OF ALL. It's not up to the King to try to go chasing His subjects around screaming and hollering at them to try to get them to do what he wants. You come to Him with quietness and respect and you sincerely and in trembling present your petition, and you wait silently to get the answer. You have to fear, respect and reverence the Lord, and treat Him like the King He is.
UNLESS WE KNOW BY FAITH THAT WE'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING, EVEN IF WE ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING, IT IS A SIN. We get so busy --but if you don't know how to pray, you've got the letter of the Law rather than the Spirit. I don't care how many gifts you have--if you don't keep in touch with the Lord all the time, you're in trouble. But you don't have to be down on your hands and knees praying frantically to be heard. Prayer is something you're doing all the time, no matter what else you're doing. You can't wait until you're through doing this or that and then pray. It's like thinking on your feet!
I ASKED MY GRANDFATHER ONE TIME WHAT THE SECRET OF HIS SPEAKING SUCCESS WAS and he said, "I just get so full of my subject beforehand, and when I get in front of the audience I just speak right out of my heart." That's the secret of prayer. When did he fill his heart? He filled his mind and heart with the things he needed to know BEFORE he got up to speak. Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Fill up your heart and you won't have any trouble knowing what to say--or what to do. It really tees me off to see you guys running around sometimes fussing and fuming and wondering what you're to do--and not asking the Lord.
THERE ARE TIMES YOU'RE IN ACTION and YOU CAN'T GET QUIET--YOU'VE GOT TO PRAY AS YOU GO. It's like the soldier preparing for battle--there better be a quiet time. Any soldier in his right mind is going to pray before and during the battle. But in the Lord's battle, you're going to get most of your tactics ahead of time! Like Patton--I believe he got most of his inspiration from the Lord. He ran largely by inspiration. He'd plan way AHEAD what his tactics and strategy were going to be. Then during the battle, sometimes he'd make split-second decisions and change plans--but mostly it was just like he had found out ahead of time!
Most Christians are more concerned in having God hear what THEY have to say than they are in hearing what GOD has to say. They're trying to put THEIR programme across on GOD and get Him to sign HIS Name to THEIR programme. I heard someone say one time, "Are you willing, not to present YOUR programme to God for His Signature, not even to be presented with God's programme for you for YOUR signature--but are you willing to sign a blank sheet of paper and let God fill it in without your even knowing what His programme is going to be?"
ALL THIS RUNNING AROUND and MACHINERY--IF YOU DON'T LOOK OUT--IF YOU KEEP THIS UP YOU'LL BE JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE CHURCHES. Like the little girl said about the kitty, "Oh Mama, the kitty's gone to sleep and left its engine running!" You may run around and still be asleep spiritually and you may not be getting anywhere--as one that beateth the air! It's really pitiful--I'm really concerned about it! Because unless you get quiet and try to SEEK the Lord, how are you ever going to get anything FROM the Lord!
I'M FULLY CONVINCED I'VE GOTTEN MORE FROM THE LORD ALONE and QUIET THAN EVER ANY OTHER WAY. Because He can talk to you alone and you can give Him your full attention and the reverence due Him--and you're listening. If you're in a room full of people and the TV is on--if they keep raising their voices and drowning out the TV--no matter how loud the volume is, you won't get what it has to say. And the Lord, unlike TV, will just shut up if you don't listen!
I WAS A VERY QUIET LITTLE BOY, AFRAID OF PEOPLE--INTROVERTED--SHY! MAYBE THAT'S WHY I HEARD SO MUCH FROM THE LORD. I was always going around by myself alone and I was always hearing all kinds of things. And I know now it was the Lord teaching me Himself! Only in recent years have I learned to enjoy the fellowship of others. I love to be alone with the Lord because you can hear God so clearly when you're alone and quiet. The Lord speaks in a still small, but very definite, very firm, but very loving voice--but if you're too noisy you're not going to hear it!
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR HIM, HE'LL TALK TO YOU. But the only time you can hear is when you sit down and get quiet! God doesn't usually scream! By the time God starts screaming at you, it's too late. He's probably so mad, it's too late, when God starts thundering out His judgements. Boy, you get quiet then! You shut up THEN and listen. But it's a little too late then. If you don't pay any attention to the yelling, then you get swatted down and knocked for a loop, so you'll have to listen! That's why God has to knock so many people flat in an accident or illness or bereavement--to make them stop long enough to listen.
LORD HELP US TO GET QUIET BEFORE HIM and LISTEN!--Not only make other people shut up, but shut up ourselves. If you don't have some quiet time with the Lord, I don't know how you can operate! I get most of my information from the Lord alone in the quiet of the night when everything is absolutely still and it's completely without distraction. If I wake up in the night and can't go back to sleep, I usually figure that's what it's for. But if you can't sleep, maybe God wants you to pray! As soon as I get prayed up I go right back to sleep!
MOST OF THE THINGS I GET FROM THE LORD, NOBODY KNOWS I'M PRAYING--IT'S JUST BETWEEN ME and THE LORD. "Go into thy closet and shut the door, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."-- Mat.6:6 . Now there's also a time for public prayer, when you pray together in a group--a time to unite your hearts together before the Lord. And if the whole congregation will get quiet, God will even speak THERE.
You have to play it by ear--and it better be your ear and the Lord's music! I guess to some Christians, playing it by ear means getting God's ear--trying to yell at God and shove their programme across! I know very little--I just have to ask the Lord!--And He's the One Who has to tell you what to do!
HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BEING QUIET BEFORE THE LORD--ABOUT REVERENCING THE LORD? How many quiet times do you have, studying to be quiet? "In quietness and confidence shall your strength be." Do you know what "confidence" means?--It's FAITH! The very fact that you keep quiet shows you have faith! It shows you're expecting GOD to do something and not trying to do it yourself! If you don't know what to do, stop everything!--Get quiet and wait for God to do something! The worst thing in the World you can do is to keep on going when you don't know what to do. That was Saul's mistake. It absolutely lost him the Kingdom! Because he kept right on moving even after he didn't know what to do. He figured he had to just keep busy and keep going no matter what!
THERE'S NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN FINDING OUT WHAT GOD WANTS TO TELL US! You just get busy listening to the Lord and you won't have to be bothered with these other things you think you have to do. After all, if you're there at His Service and asking Him what to do, He'll sure take care of things, if you're waiting on Him!
GETTING QUIET BEFORE THE LORD SHOWS YOU HAVE FAITH THAT GOD IS GOING TO HANDLE THE SITUATION. IT SHOWS YOU TRUST THE LORD. "Thou shalt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."-- Isa.26:3 . If you're not trusting, you're going to be in confusion all the time.
If you're in a big stew, confused and worrying and fretting and fuming, you're not trusting. You don't have the faith you oughta have. Trusting is a picture of complete rest, peace and quiet of mind, heart and spirit. The body may have to continue working, but your attitude and spirit is calm.
THAT'S WHY YOU CAN HAVE PEACE IN THE MIDST OF STORM. I've told you about that picture that won the contest and illustrated peace. Most of the artists handed in these quiet, calm pastoral scenes--absolute total quiet. That's a form of peace! But the hardest kind of peace to have is the picture that won the award! That was a picture of this horrible, roaring, raging cataract--a river in all its foaming and fury. But on a little branch right above, overhanging the raging current, there was a beautiful little nest with a tiny bird sitting there and peacefully singing away in spite of the storm! That's when your faith gets tested: In the midst of the storm! Quietness is a sign of faith!
JESUS, ON THE EVE OF HIS MINISTRY, GOES OUT and, SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY, WASTES 40 DAYS and NIGHTS ON THE MOUNTAIN HIMSELF and it seemed like He spent much of the time with the Devil. He had to lick the Devil first! If you don't get alone with the Lord and lick the Devil first, you might as well forget it! I wonder how much of that 120 years Noah spent praying! He must have spent some time, or he couldn't have gotten all those directions on how to build that boat! Remember, they'd never even seen a boat before! God probably gave him the exact specifications for every inch of that boat! It had never even rained before. But he just went calmly about his business building the Ark. He could've gotten feverish thinking rain was coming any minute and just slapped it together. But he just went calmly along 120 years working on that boat! Good night! You'd think you were spending a lot of time preparing if you just spent 120 days at it! It sure showed Noah had faith!
THAT'S WHY THEY SAY FARMERS MAKE THE BEST MISSIONARIES, BECAUSE THEY DON'T EXPECT EVERYTHING IN ONE DAY. They have a lot of patience in the long process of waiting for the plants to grow, or the animals to produce. The farmer just has to trust that the Lord will make them grow and not worry about it! God does the biggest part of the job. He sends the rain: He makes it grow! All the farmer is there for is to supervise things. If there's any picture of a quiet type of personality, it's the farmer! The city folks make fun of the farmers. But if the farmers didn't take it slow, they'd go crazy, like the city people! The farmer's motto is "Go slow!" The farmer is a perfect example of faith and patience. That's why so few people want to live on the farm. Because it takes too much dependence on God!--There's not too much THEY can do--they have to leave it all up to God! They're moving off the farms in droves. God's too much in control. It's too quiet out there--THEY call it too DEAD--no action, they say! Some people have to be in motion all the time--they've got to be DOING something! And I think one reason is, they don't want to THINK! That's why they have so many amusements, and you know what that word means--"away from thinking".
PEOPLE ARE ABSOLUTELY SCARED STUPID OF THE QUIET and THE STILLNESS, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE VOICE OF GOD MIGHT COME THROUGH! So the Devil keeps their mind and their eyes and their ears filled with noise and violent sights and sounds! That's why cities are such a curse! They're totally Man-made environments!--So they get entirely away from God--hardly a blade of grass, and where you can't see the stars or the Sun or Moon or the sky. They live underground!--Screeching, screaming sub ways, horrible noise of traffic! There's much more deafness amongst city children than country children, because they live in an atmosphere of constant noise. Whereas country children have very keen hearing. If you live in an atmosphere of spiritual and physical confusion, you'll develop a hardness against the Voice of God, because you have to develop a deafness against all the noises around you! Then you can't even hear the Lord! But if you live in quiet and peace and calm and stillness, you'll find your ears really becoming very keen and sharp. We should take a lesson from the farmer! City people become dull of hearing and hardened of heart!
THINK OF THE YEARS ABRAHAM SPENT OUT IN THE FIELDS WATCHING FLOCKS! No wonder he heard from the Lord: He had time to listen! Lord forgive us! We get so busy! If you're too busy to pray, you're too busy! If you're too busy to get alone with God and pray, you're too busy! What if the servant said to the King, "I'm sorry, I can't come and listen to your orders today, I'm too busy out serving you!"
THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB YOU HAVE IS LISTENING TO THE KING: TO STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!--OR YOU'RE GOING TO GET RUN OVER! That's the greatest danger: All this feverish activity! This is the greatest temptation of workers for the Lord!
THERE ARE A LOT OF CHRISTIANS THAT START PLAYING WITH THE THINGS OF GOD and NEGLECT GOD HIMSELF! Or like that little girl who took her fellowship time with her father to make him bedroom slippers for his birthday and nearly broke his heart. God may appreciate the bedroom slippers you're making for Him, but He'd rather have YOU! And in fact, you'll probably make a helluva mess of them if you neglect Him!
ONE OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO LEARN IS TO WAIT FOR THE LORD TO WORK! I know times when I didn't listen to the Lord and the only way He could get me to look up was to get me flat on my back where that was the only direction I could look--straight up! My Mother used to give her testimony of getting so busy with the Lord's Work that the Lord had to slap her down with a malignant cancer so she'd have to give HIM her full attention!
GOD WILL NOT TAKE SECOND PLACE EVEN TO HIS SERVICE! "I will have no other gods before Me; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord Thy God am a jealous God. ..."-- Exo.20:3,5 . That probably is the greatest mistake of sincere Christians: To make a god of God's Service. All this action, all this noise, beating the air, holding a service--and so little of God! We used to sing this little song:
It's a lot easier for you to just let God do it! And you show you're letting go by getting quiet before the Lord! You show that you have faith by stopping your own activity and waiting for God to work! "Be still and know that I am God. Study to be quiet."
ONE DAY WHEN MARTIN LUTHER and HIS CO-WORKER MELANCTHON HAD A PARTICULARLY STRENUOUS and BUSY DAY AHEAD, Melancthon suggested that they cut their prayer time together at the beginning of the day in half. Luther refused vehemently and insisted that instead of their regular TWO hours in prayer, they would today have to spend FOUR hours in the presence of the Lord because they have so MUCH to do!
WHEN MOSES WAS A REAL SMART YOUNG MAN OF 40 YEARS OF AGE and really thought he knew how to do the job, he made a helluva mess out of it, and he had to run for his life and it took God 40 years to straighten him out and show him he had to depend on HIM!
HURRY IS A SIGN YOU'RE AFRAID YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE--WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE FEAR, WHICH MEANS YOU HAVEN'T GOT FAITH! If you're late, take it easy! Trust the Lord! One reason we hurry when we're late, in the first place, is because it was probably our own fault and we don't want to have to suffer the consequences! That's pride! You don't want people to know you were really late!
AND ANOTHER REASON YOU HURRY IS THAT YOU'RE NOT TRUSTING THE LORD! You're afraid if you don't get there you're going to miss something. You can't trust God that He's able to hold up the whole World or stop the Sun like Joshua had Him do. I'll never forget when I was rushing around trying to get the train and the Lord warned me that if I kept up this nervous and physical strain I would kill myself. So I put it in the Lord's hands to stop the train and I relaxed and took my time! And after I got on the train I sat there for 40 minutes wondering why the always punctual train did not leave the station. I finally asked the Lord and He told me, "You didn't tell Me you wanted to leave yet."
"THE HURRIER I GO, THE BEHINDER I GET!" Just relax, slow down; don't rush; don't be hasty; squeeze--don't jerk--and the Lord will slow everything else down for you if necessary! No use trying to kill yourself! You've got to learn to rest in the Lord!--And take it easier!
ALL THE SAMPLES IN THE BIBLE OF PATIENCE: JOB, MOSES and LOOK AT DAVID! He spent 24 years working under that old blunderbuss, King Saul, and the Lord really taught him from looking at Saul! Saul got all up-tight and tried to do things in his own strength and he found he wasn't strong enough! David learned that you have to let God do everything!--And wait for Him! Slow it down! Stop! ... Look! ... Listen! Wait for the Lord!--Especially if you don't know what to do and haven't heard from the Lord yet!
JESUS SPENT 30 YEARS OF HIS LIFE IN PREPARATION and only a little over three years in His public ministry! We're in such a hurry! If we don't give these outgoing teams any other preparation, let's at least teach them how to get their orders from the Lord!
YOU DON'T HEAR MUCH ABOUT JOHN THE BELOVED--a little about him being with the Lord etc. John wrote the Gospel of John--it must have taken some time with the Lord to do it! But his greatest masterpiece was written by the Lord in exile on an island.--The Book of Revelation. His biggest work was just letting God do all the directing and all the showing and the whole shebang! Let's slow it down! Stop! ... Look! ... Listen!, or you're going to get run over.
THE WORLD IS ALWAYS IN A HURRY! THAT'S THE DEVIL'S OWN MACHINERY: TO SPEED UP THE WORLD--anything to make everything move faster! God created the Earth 6,000 years ago and it hasn't hardly varied in its speed since then! GOD hasn't speeded up the seasons or the years any. MAN is speeding it up--Hell-bent for destruction! Slow it down: Squeeze--don't jerk! But most of all: Stop! Look! Listen! And WAIT! You see signs like this at dangerous places--crossings--intersections--places of crisis--an interruption of your routine--an interruption of your way--your road--your highway! Otherwise you might get out there and get hit by an express train!
BUT YOU SAY, "I DON'T HAVE TIME TO STOP and TO LOOK and TO LISTEN!" If you don't, you may never make it! Better late than never! Which is easier--to try to beat the train, to try to plough through the train, jump over the train or just to stop, watch it go by, wait another few minutes and it'll be out of your way and you can go peacefully on your way! Trying to force the situation and push your way through just won't work!
I'VE FOUND OUT THAT NO MATTER WHAT I DO, THE LORD'S WORK WILL GO ON! If it's God's Work, NOTHING will stop it--not even my absence! PTL? So it doesn't pay to rush around and fret and fume and try to get someplace to do something when you're supposed to be waiting on the Lord to find out for sure just where He wants you to be and what He wants you to do!
YOU'VE GOT TO KNOW YOU CAN'T DO IT and BE DESPERATE FOR GOD'S ANSWER, and STOP EVERYTHING ELSE and LISTEN! Getting quiet before the Lord shows you have FAITH that the Lord is going to handle the situation. Take time to hear from God and He'll take time to straighten out the problem. YOUR feverish activity is nothing, your service is NOTHING, if you don't give the KING your attention, your love, your time, your communion.
REMEMBER THAT HURRY IS LACK OF FAITH and IS OF THE DEVIL! If you're hurrying and rushing around, fretting and impatient, you'll never be able to focus your full attention--your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart on the Lord for the solution to the problem, the answer to the question, the best decision for the situation! But if you Stop, Look and Listen and wait in communion with Him--when you have learned to do this and to get HIS answer, you will have learned HOW to make decisions! You will have learned to PRAY and will have become truly one of GOD'S leaders. "He gives the very best to them, who leave the choices up to Him!"
I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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