Professor Sheringham is on the road a lot, so the phone in his hotel room is a very important tool, (especially when he’s in those areas when he doesn’t have a cellphone signal). But years ago, even before cell phones, (if you dare to believe there was such a time), it was even more frustrating for Professor Sheringham. One time in particular he shared with us his students. He was staying in this campus guest room provided by the school where he was lecturing. Now, he appreciated the room; he just didn’t appreciate the phone. The problem? He couldn’t call out, not even collect or with a credit card! You see, the school had programmed the phone so it blocked any outgoing calls, because he guessed they didn’t want to get stuck with long distance bills.
However, for him it was absolutely frustrating! Especially early in the morning or late at night when he wasn’t dressed and couldn’t easily get down to the public phone seven floors down in the “good old days.” Well, one morning they were in the middle of something that required daily communication with his office, and he literally prayed that someone from his team would call and deliver him from this one-way telephone prison. And God answered the prayer – they did call. Then they called the people that he needed to hear from. In essence, he could receive calls; he just couldn’t initiate them. So he was stuck being able to talk only when someone wanted to talk to him! I guess it was too bad if he wanted to talk to them!
From his experience he then taught our class from 1 Samuel 3:8-10. It was a time right at the beginning of Samuel’s life as he is a young man staying with the priest, Eli. And it says this, “God called again, “Samuel!” – the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG)
See, God wanted to talk to Samuel, but He had a little difficulty getting the call through. He had to dial three times after all. Likewise, God has some things He’d like to say to you about your future, your pain, your questions, the decisions you need to make, the struggle you’re going through. But maybe there’s just a one-way phone most of the time. Oh, you’re calling God whenever you feel like it (or feel you need to). You’re talking about whatever is on your mind. But maybe you’re not allowing much opportunity for God to whisper something quietly to your soul.
1 Kings 19:11-14, “Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire A GENTLE AND QUIET WHISPER. When Elijah HEARD the QUIET VOICE, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A QUIET VOICE asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” (MSG)
Elijah only heard the quiet whisper of a voice because he was listening. Which means there will be times when you have to ignore the distractions of the “hurricane wind…shattered rocks…earthquake…and fire”! Sometimes hearing God means you will have to make the deliberate decision to block anyone, any thing and any place out that would distract you from Hearing Him! The Bible says, “…Elijah Heard the Quiet Voice…” Do you hear it too, or are you too busy being distracted by your own voice or that of others?
Remember: He wants prayer to be a dialogue, not a monologue.
The dangerous problem is that we unfortunately rewrite this verse to say, “Listen Lord. Your servant is speaking.” Oh, and make no mistake about it, He does. He listens. We initiate a call to God, we say what we want to say and hang up. But we miss so much when we don’t allow God to call us with important things that He wants to show us.
Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message…’Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG)
But unfortunate for us, we call God, tell Him what we want to, then hang up!
Imagine if we did this in other areas of our lives: For instance, what would happen if you called the fire department, told them there’s a fire, then hung up? What would happen if you called the police department, told them there’s a robbery, then hung up? How about your child calling you and telling you they’re in danger, then they hang up? None of these scenario’s would end very well. You’re on the phone with people who you’ve got to talk to AND listen to if help is to be reached!
But instead, we call God and say, “Lord, help me meet the mortgage this month; how am I going to pay tuition at these new rates; how am I supposed to put these 3 children through college when they’re stair-steps in age; what am I going to do when this last check runs out? Lord, my marriage is letting go of the last string it had to hold onto, what now? Lord, I went to the doctor for that, and now they say I’ve got this too, what’s going on? God, I give my full tithe, and yet my financial future is looking more and more empty. God, I can’t get this weight off; God I’m tired of being single; God when will we have a baby? God, will I ever get this promotion? God, when can I open the church, start the business, have peace of mind?!”
We talk to God only to tell Him to, “fix it God; heal it God; save it God; deliver it God; promote it God; protect it God; provide for it God; send him/her God; close that door God; open that door God; forgive me God; punish them God…” And our ‘to-do-list’ for God goes on and on and on!
But when do we take the deliberate, undisturbed time to listen to God?
Samuel said, “…Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG) Are you just as READY TO LISTEN? The word ‘ready’ is defined as ‘prepared for an activity or situation; made suitable and available for immediate use; easily obtained; within reach; willing to do or having a desire for; quick; prompt; prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action’ So, I ask again, are you READY TO LISTEN? Have you entered into prayer prepared to listen to God? Are you within reach of God’s voice, or is His voice muffled by all the other voices vying for your attention? Do you even have a desire to hear God speak? Are you mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for an experience with God? Are you ready, quick and prompt, or are you hesitating, procrastinating, dragging, slothful, and lazy in your approach to God? Have you made yourself suitable and available for God’s immediate use when He talks to you and tells you what He wants you to do?
Listen to Samuel again: “The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as He had done before, “Samuel, Samuel!” “I’M LISTENING,” Samuel answered. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” (vs.10 CEV) Is that your response to God? Or do you end your prayer with, “God, here’s what I want YOU to do!” There is a difference you know?
Brothers, you give your ear to many people throughout the day: Your spouse; your children; your family; your friends; your coworkers; your bosses; your church family; the news; sports; even the latest gossip (believe it or not, but men gossip too)…but are you giving your ear to God? Does He have your undivided attention? Do you take time to hear His voice? Just imagine the great things God wants to say to you, but you won’t LISTEN. You have a one-way calling system…you talk to God, He listens to you, you hang up!
But what happens when you install a new, two-way calling system? What happens when you have a two-way phone system from earth to heaven and heaven to earth? Well let’s see what verse 11 has to say, God said to him, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle.” Let’s take a listen to a few translations:
“…Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it!” (CEV);
“…Listen carefully. I’m getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention.” (MSG)
God is about to tell Samuel about something BIG He’s getting ready to do in Israel, and when it is heard, it will shock people, shake people and get everyone’s attention! And all Samuel has to do is LISTEN! Samuel is getting insider information because he’s attentive enough to LISTEN…are you? I mean, this is about to be some exciting news! Likewise, God wants to show you some amazing things, but you have to stop talking to hear Him tell you what they are! Samuel let’s God know, “I’m listening, I’m paying attention, speak Lord, talk to me, share with me the great things You’re about to do!” Have you positioned yourself in like manner?
LISTEN: When you pray about something, allow some silent time at the beginning and at the end. Allow a space where God could call you. You won’t always hear an audible voice like Samuel; that’s not needed so much today when God lives inside His children through the Holy Spirit. But He’ll speak to you as you meditate on a verse of Scripture. He’ll light up your situation suddenly with a personal application of those words or maybe as you’re praying. As for me, I tend to trust the ideas or the insights that come into my mind while I’m talking to God about an issue, when I’ve turned off everything else, not looking at my cell phone, not responding to texts, not listening to the radio, not watching TV, nothing else around, and I’m just listening to God solo – to let Him say something to my soul. I can trust pretty much what I hear then, and so can you.
As a man, you need to listen for what God tells you to do concerning your family, health, finances, schooling, church, personal salvation, and deliverance. You need to hear what He has to tell you about raising sons and daughters, about loving your own, one wife. You need to hear what He has to tell you about being effective in your church, your community or even as you rise on the corporate ladder. You need to hear what He has to tell you to tell another brother, as iron still sharpens iron. You have to hear what He has to tell you about leading and following; and spear-heading; working solo and a part of the team. You have to hear what God needs to tell you about your ministry, anointing, and gifts. You have to hear God’s instructions concerning your every assignment, the ones to take and the ones to leave. You have to hear God clearly say, ‘she’s the one!’ You have to hear God say, ‘save this; spend that; invest there.’
You will never be a man with an effective vision who has impaired hearing to God’s voice!
You need to hear God when He tells you, ‘sign that contract; get out of that contract; lay hands on that building; go to that dealership; that’s the school; that’s the job; go to this doctor; see that specialist; start now; stop now; wait now; not now.’
John 10:27, “…My sheep RECOGNIZE my voice. I know them, and they follow Me…” (MSG)
Do you recognize God’s voice? Do you know God’s voice? Do you follow God’s voice? The word ‘recognize’ is defined as, ‘to identify; to acknowledge the validity and legality of to show official appreciation of.” Its Latin Origin ‘recognoscere’, from ‘cognoscere’ literally means ‘to learn.’ You need to learn how to recognize God’s voice, and the best way to do that is to make it a daily habit of listening to it! For example, I’ve been with my husband over 20 years, married 19. That’s a lot of time to spend talking to and listening to this one person’s voice! Now, we both have family members, jobs and church responsibilities in leading people, so we both hear varying voices every day. However, we’ve spent so much time with one another in a personal, intimate, and focused manner, that even in the midst of a crowded, talkative bunch, we can recognize each other’s voices without having to turn around! But that took years, of talking, listening, and arguing to develop! It took time, so much time, that now we can have a full conversation in the middle of folks without saying a single word to each other! You see, when you invest time into the communication of your relationship, and yes, in your relationship with God as well, there’s a depth that grows from such nourishment. It develops level by level. You learn to become more familiar with the person and the voice, even with the things that are being communicated in a non-verbal manner. But you’ve got to invest in the communication if you want to reap the benefits from such an investment!
We spend a lot of time in prayer only to talk to God, but there’s much God wants to say to us as well, if only we’d listen. Jesus said, My sheep Recognize My Voice, they Know My voice, they Follow My voice. If you take the time to recognize, know and follow the voice of God, you’ll stop following your own voice as well as that of others. Truth is, many of us will listen to family and friends before we listen to the Father. This should not be so! Just think, your God, your Father, the one who has created all things, wants to talk to YOU! Now, if President Obama called you up and asked to speak with you, you’d be all ears! But God, who is more important wants to talk to you, and you have to check your schedule to see if you have time (unless of course you’re experiencing trouble)…
Brothers, communication with God has to become as vital to you as breathing. Not just talking to Him, but listening to Him. What does He want you to do? Where does He want you to go? Who does He want you to take? When are you supposed to go? How are you supposed to go? God desires to give you guidance and direction, but you have to listen first! Imagine if you listened to God the way you listen to your GPS when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going or where you are. You pay attention to every detail, you turn down the radio just in case there’s an unforeseen turn up ahead…but when God speaks, we have selective hearing!
Listen: I know the frustration of just receiving information without being able to send any, and so does God. If your heaven-link phone has only been calling out, why not try Samuel’s prayer every new day, “Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.” It’s important that God receives calls from you; however, it’s much more important that you get those calls from God!
Brothers, you can’t pass on God’s Voice through God’s Word to the next generation of boys to men, if you don’t listen and receive it for yourself first. And truth is, there’s some young boys in sports and school, young men in the military, brothers in the neighborhood, at work, in church and even standing on the street corner that need you to hear God so they can hear God when you speak! There are men in the barbershop getting their hair cut right next to you, and he needs a word so bad from God that he doesn’t know what to do. What if you were praying and listening for God before you ever left the house. What if God would’ve revealed to you the word of encouragement that that man needed at just the right time. You could’ve literally been apart of a God team that turned that man’s entire world around for the better! What if you listened to God before you head to the mechanic, who knows what assignment God would issue to you while you’re there. What if you listened for God before going to work, who knows what word of life you could’ve spoken to that colleague that gets on your last nerves!
Men, God loves you and He listens to you. But if you love Him as much as you say you do, you will do likewise, listen! Why? Because listening to God keeps you from marrying the wrong woman; having kids at the wrong time; falling down every time a new temptation comes up; wasting money that you should be investing; attending the wrong school; applying for the wrong job; going to the wrong dealership; making the wrong friends; requesting a loan from the wrong bank; signing papers out of season; turning down the wrong block! Listening for God is your Privilege, your Protection and your Power! Don’t Discard It!
Your vision needs God’s voice; your family needs God’s voice; your ministry and church needs God’s voice; your business needs God’s voice; your children need God’s voice; your marriage needs God’s voice; your health needs God’s voice; your promotion needs God’s voice! Guidance, Direction and Wisdom all come from Listening to God’s voice, so are you listening?!
“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”
“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.” (Andy Murray)
“Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. Prayer is the vehicle by which we reach God.” (Greg Laurie)
“When you pray be sure that you listen as well as talk. You have things you want to say to God, but He also has things He wants to say to you.” (Joyce Meyer)
“God want us to talk to Him as to a friend or father…authentically, reverently, personally, earnestly.” (Bill Hybels)
“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” (Simon Sinek)
“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening, is the beginning of prayer.” (Mother Teresa)
“Not many were hearing from God. Not because God was not speaking. It was because the people were preoccupied with other things. We are very good at talking, but not so good at taking the time to wait on God’s presence and listen.” (Jeff Syverson)
“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble. But it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Daily Inspirational Quotes)
Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. LISTEN for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all…” (MSG)
Proverbs 12:15, “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man LISTENS…” (TLB);
Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.” (CEV);
Proverbs 28:9, “God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t LISTEN to Him.” (MSG)
Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord
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