O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? – Habakkuk 2:1
Have you ever been at a concert and tried to say something to the person next to you. No matter how hard you yell, it is difficult for that person to hear you. What is interesting is that if they turn and look at you, chances are they will be able to understand what you are saying. That is sometimes how it is with God, but we are the ones who must turn. Let me explain.
There have been times in my life that I feel that God is not listening to me. He seems distant and even though I am praying to him he doesn’t seem to respond, at least not in the way that I think he should. I can understand Habbakkuk’s frustration. I am in that place right now. I know the path that God has set out for me, but he seems to be silent and inactive. Why does this happen? There are many reasons why we may feel that God is ignoring us, and they all have to do with my position with God.
Is There Sin In My Life?
The Psalmist tells us in 66:18 – “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” It is not that I just committed a sin. We all sin every day and need to repent for each and every time we sin. The Psalmist is talking about “cherishing” the sin in our heart. If we are not careful we will find that we get comfortable with the sins that we are committing. It doesn’t matter what the sin is. It may be great or small, it is still possible to become accustomed to sinning. Oh, we make all kinds of excuses for it, but the reality is that we have allowed our sin nature to reign. We must overcome our sin nature. How do we do this? By surrendering our lives completely to Christ. Paul says in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” In his next breath, Paul answers his own question, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25a) We cannot do this on our own. Whenever we try to overcome our sin nature, we fail miserably. We try and try to do what is right, but we always end up doing what we shouldn’t do.
Jesus tells us in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” This verse always gives me a lot of hope. First of all it guarantees that I will be able to hear Jesus’ voice. It doesn’t say I will always hear it, but it promises that I will be able to. It promises that Jesus knows me. He knows what I am going through and will provide a way out of our temptation. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If I am able to hear His voice, He knows me, and I will follow Him.We must overcome the flesh by surrending to Christ moment by moment, then we will hear His voice and follow Him.
The Roaring Lion
We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is a roaring lion, looking for those who he can devour. Notice that Satan is not a hunting lion quietly stalking his prey. He is roaring. If you have ever heard a lion roar, you will know that it is loud. Satan uses the world to drown out the voice of God. This world is full of distractions and they are very loud. When we are in the flesh we are like a bunch of people with ADD looking for the next best thing. The trapings in this world distract us and lead us down paths that we never should be on. They never satisfy us, in fact they are so short term that we are constantly looking for the next worldly fix. Whether it is video games, TV, pornography, money, or any one of the other millions of distractions, they will never satisfy like Christ.
So how do we defeat this lion? James 4:7 gives us the answer. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The first step is to submit to God. This goes against our human nature and our western idea of who we are. We are very self-reliant and don’t like to admit that we need help, just ask any wife who has been traveling lost with her husband. We must submit to God. Again we are back to not being able to do it on our own and only being able to do it by the power of Christ. But James takes it even one step further. We don’t just submit and allow God to take care of it. We must resist. This takes effort on our part, but we must do it by the power of God and not in our own strength. If we try to resist without first submitting, we will fail.
In order to hear the voice of God we must submit ourselves to God. Galatians 5:16-17 says it all, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” I will talk about walking in the Spirit in my next post.
Father, help me to submit to you every moment of my life. I want to hear your voice and follow you. I know that I cannot do this on my own and by my own strength. It is only by walking in the Spirit that I will be able to overcome the flesh and resist the devil. Your grace and power are my only hope. Give me strength for today. – Amen