Monday, February 27, 2012

The Whispering Spirit

As quiet as the sound of snow falling...
try not to make God yell at you
when He wants to whisper.
I think pastors often say things that their flock might not understand.  Just as often I wonder if even the pastor understands what he says.  Today, I want to talk about “listening to the Holy Spirit” – a church term used as frequently as “Welcome”, but shrouded in mystery and confusion.  To illustrate:

I’ve mentioned my money-pit house before.  I’ve had more than my share of problems with the garage door.  Numerous service calls and many hundreds of dollars invested left me only wearier when new problems arose.  Several years ago, I just threw up my hands.  The door had “seized up” somehow so I just popped the hitch off the powered door opener and we raised and lowered the heavy door for close to a year, maybe more.  That means we also left it unlocked.  No harm befell us, but I certainly put the persons and property of our house at risk.  Let me break here for a word from our Sponsor.
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. … But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:8-10, 11a)
In a flood of final instructions before Jesus was crucified, He promised us that the Holy Spirit would come and help us realize more fully (convict) the realities of Sin, Righteousness, Judgment, and Truth – four things that we really need to know more about to successfully follow Jesus.  But how does the Holy Spirit do that?  Do we get a text message saying, “Don’t gossip.” or “Put more money in the plate.”?  That’s never happened to me, how about you?

Do you believe you have a conscience?  What is it?  How do you know you have one?  Would you agree that your conscience leads you or prompts you to do something?  I believe the conscience is our sixth sense and this is how we sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I recommend that followers of Jesus spend time in prayer asking God to heighten their sense of the Spirit.  And I always point out this word from our Sponsor:
And [the Word of the Lord] said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”  (1 Kings 19:11-12)
… and the LORD was in the still small voice.  This passage is about a contrast in the levels of force and sound volume.  “A still small voice”… sounds like a whisper to me.  I think the point is that God does not prefer to yell and scream at us.  I don’t think God appreciates having to shout above the clutter of our world to communicate with us.  He wants to whisper to us as a Father comforting His child at nap time.  If you want to hear from the Spirit, you desperately need to find a time to slow down, settle down, and listen up.  Don’t make God shout at you.

Now where was I?  House… money pit… garage door… yes, garage door.  You know what was wrong with the door opener for the year (or more) that we lifted and closed it manually?  On top of the  wall-mounted opener pad is a little switch.  It seems this switch locks and unlocks the unit.  Someone sometime somehow pushed this switch to OFF.  I’d paid for two service calls and finally gave up – inconveniencing my family and myself (not to mention the safety issue) for a year because neither I nor the service folks ever noticed this still small switch in the wrong position.  The word “fool” comes to mind.

Follower of Jesus, are you missing something?  Are you inconvenienced or at risk spiritually because you are not sensing the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin, righteousness, judgment, and truth?  Maybe you need to slow down, turn off the noise, and tell God you’re ready to listen.  I can’t tell you what your perceptions will be.  If you realize that your conscience has a dynamic role in your life, I’d beg the Holy Spirit to speak through your conscience to help you follow Jesus even more closely.  And pay attention when you get even a still small whisper from your conscience.  Heeding it may save you a quakenado of trouble.

Clark H Smith

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