I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about pastors teaching, and he said, " so many pastors tell you why but never really teach you the how." I know I need to listen to God but how?
Today I want to share with you the HOW. How do you know that God is giving you a fresh vision for your life? In Acts we see a story of Peter and Cornelius and both had encounters. During Peters vision, he was told to kill an animal but he refused to because he was living under the pretext of old revelation. His words were, "not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Under the old way of doing things Peter never should have even spoken with Cornelius. During that vision God set the stage to change Peter's life.
Here is three things about How To Tell if God is communicating something fresh into you.
1. Supernatural Revelation. God expands Peter Horizons during his vision when he tells Peter that what God has cleansed is neither unclean or common. God gave a fresh revelation to Peter. God will give you a fresh revelation that will help to see outside the box. He will give you a new education that will lead you to new conviction. Peter became convicted and convinced to speak as a Jewish man to another man from another country. His conviction allowed him to redefine what is possible, as he was no longer constricted to the rules of the old way. When you receive a fresh revelation about what is possible in your life that is from God.
2. Supernatural Invitation. God sends associates of Cornelius to invite Peter to enter a new scope of ministry to the Gentiles. God will invite you to a new area of ministry by bringing new people into your life. When you begin feeling drawn or connected to the new it may be your supernatural invitation.God is looking to give you a new exposure, with new people, to create a new compassion.
3. Supernatural Conformation. God confirmed this enlarged vision he gave to Peter with a receptive Cornelius and signs following his conversion. God will confirm a new vision in your life by the new experiences that lead you to a new commitment.
When God wants to draw new obedience from His servants, He almost always communicates fresh vision. This is exactly what Peter got.
When I was kid I was always in such a hurry to get whatever task my parents gave me done as fast as possible. My parents were always telling me to slow down and listen to them. So many times I wish I would have! Often times the task only got partially completed correctly because what I heard them say about the task and I what I listen to them say about the task to be completed... were two very different things.
As a parent now I realize more than ever the difference between hearing and listening. I have learned that one of the fastest ways to earn the right to speak into peoples lives is through listening. By listening well you will be able to speak with relevance. By listening well you display love, compassion and understanding. I have also learned that just because you hear does not mean you are listening.
I can tell you many a conflict would have been avoided if I had listened better. Many times my wife has said to me, "You are not listening to me!" I then repeat back to her exactly what she said to prove I heard hear. She is trying to making a point that I am not listening to her out of love, and I am trying to prove a point that I heard her because I love her. There is a difference between the two. As a man...and most men do this...we attempt to placate our wives by hearing them, when in actuality our brains are else where. I mean who really cares about what so and so said, or did, or wore. This is what we think and because we think this we shut them out as they speak. We view their words as irrelevant and our actions chip away at genuine love.
There is a story about David who once snuck up on Saul while Saul was sleeping. Now Saul was trying to kill David during this time period. David, instead of killing him...took his spear and water jug and later from a distance confronted King Saul with questions. David showed that a leader who listens possess a genuine love.
Here are four things I want you to learn about genuine love and listening well.
1. Genuine Love is not always popular...be different. Remember David's men? Malcontents. Disgruntled. More than once they encouraged David to look out for himself and take Saul's life, but David refused. We must be careful how we interpret circumstance and whose advice we accept. God was with David and Samuel the prophet and confirmed David as King. So often people will speak into your life suggestions that seem to be wise or make sense at the time, but later you find out were mistakes that took you away from a specific course God had you on. I once was advised by numerous church friends to stick it out at a church I was at. I loved the church, the people there, the pastor, the message was great, but while I was feeling all this love...there was still something missing. I didn't feel like I was growing. I felt like the small group life was stagnant and personally I was needing more. I had a very wise friend who had been in a similar situation advise me that I need to not quench the spirit and that I needed to be where I was growing the most. He encouraged me that God was refining me and that I needed to be submissive to his will and not mine. It was the best decision for my spiritual growth I could have ever made. I experienced God like I had never before. My today is considerable different because I listened well.
2. Genuine Love needs a clear perspective...be humble. David took Saul's spear and water jug, he called to the king from a distance. He submitted himself and humbly asked for perspective. "What have I done?" he asked. We will never be able to love people correctly until we see them clearly, with God's eyes. I once had a bitter dispute with someone I once cared for. The dispute was over listening. I felt like he was not listening to me because he viewed me as less than and not equal to. This was the same with David and Saul. Saul let his position go to his head. He forgot God is in view of David.
3. Genuine Love is not defensive...be patient. David knew God put him in this situation for a purpose and trusted HIM to deliver him. David offers to make a sacrifice if he has harmed Saul or done anything wrong, and he waits to hear Saul's rationale. Impatience indicates we lack trust and want our rights. David let Saul speak completely and heard him completely. Given the fact that David was appointed by God to the be the new King, had defeated Goliath, was being pursed by the current King Saul who wanted to kill him, David could have been very arrogant and impatient with new divine appointment to be King. He could have killed Saul on two separate occasions. Instead David listened to God & listened to Saul. He would get his turn, he just had to be patient.
4. Genuine Love is powerful...be forgiving. Saul later apologizes to David and admits his wrong. He promises to go home. At the point, David sits in the driver seat; he still has Saul's spear and water jug. Be he returns them and forgives Saul of everything. Like David, we must trust God to make things right. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was to forgive. We often mistake our lip service of saying I forgive you to actually forgiving you. We hold unforgiveness in our hearts for long periods of time. David had to forgive Saul completely first before he could move forward because unforgiveness would have kept him frozen where he was.