Thursday, May 31, 2012

Part 3: A Set-Apart Holiness

The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.  -1 Samuel 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to be silent and a time to speak.  - Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.  - 2 Corinthians 7:1

I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.  - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

In Part 3 of He Speaks To Me:  Preparing to Hear From God by Priscilla Shirer, we learn how to stand out from the crowd.  However, it's probably not that standing out that we typically imagine.  When I hear that someone stands out in a crowd, I think of an individual that is loud, making jokes, has everyone's attention.  Here we learn how God wants us to stand out in a crowd.  He wants us to remember who we are.  He wants us to remember who He is.  The set-apart holiness is the third characteristic that Priscilla Shirer describes that positioned Samuel to hear from God.  In other words, while the world around him was deep into sin and being okay with sinning, Samuel was not.  He wanted to live his life for God.  Samuel's set-apart holiness definitely helped him to hear from God more clearer than those around him.

How do we get this set-apart holiness?  How can we position ourselves like Samuel in a holy way so that we can hear from God?

The first thing we learn in chapter 7 is what is happening when God is silent.  The following are the points that stood out to me the most in this chapter.

*  ...He withholds His voice from those who consistently indulge in sin.  (p. 82)
*  The children of Israel had heard God's Word, but they had chosen not to listen, and so God finally quit speaking to them.  (p. 82)
*  Christians that don't hear from God should be on the lookout for unconfessed sin and rebellion in their lives.  (p.  84)
*...God isn't looking for sinless people.  He knows there aren't any.  He's just looking for a people who are serious about hearing His Word and obeying it.  (p. 84)
*  Although He is more than able to intervene, sometimes He shows His glory, demonstrates His power, and strengthens His children by His silence.  (p. 85)
*  God is using silence to strengthen your trust in Him and open your ears to spiritual truths.  (p. 86)
*  We know that we are becoming spiritually mature when God is silent, and, instead of asking why, we humble ourselves before Him and persevere in prayer.  (p. 86)
*  Trust that in His silence, God is speaking to you.  (p. 86)
*  Many things clamor our attention when life gets busy, and hearing God's voice in the midst of the chaos can be difficult.  (p. 87)

This chapter, obviously, touched me the most.  I never really thought that maybe the reason God isn't speaking to me is because of something I'm doing that is a sin.  It doesn't even have to be a sin that most of us would consider huge.  It could be jealousy, anger, resentment.  These are all sins in God's eyes because it's not what He wants us to feel and it keeps us from getting closer to Him.   In other words, if I am sitting around waiting for God to speak to me about my son with autism, yet I am harboring feelings of anger and jealousy, why is He going to speak to me?  He wants to confess these sins, no matter how big or small, give them to Him.  Trust in Him.  Listen for Him.

In chapter 8, we learn how we can live more of a holy life for God.  The following are the points from chapter 8 which stood out the most to me.

*  How can we expect God to speak to us when we act the same as we did before we knew Him?  (p. 92)
*  It involves a decision on our part to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so we can live a life that pleases our heavenly Father.  (p. 92)
*  We cannot live a lifestyle of perpetually  unrepentant sin and expect to hear God's voice.  The two cannot coexist.  (p. 93)
*  The closer and more intimate your relationship with God becomes, the more clearly you are going to hear Him speak.  (p. 93)

What could be going on in our lives that is clouding our ability to hear from God?

In chapter 9, we learn how we can live a life for God and not give up.  The following are the points from chapter 9 which stood out the most to me.

*  Satan knows that once you are a believer, he can't destroy you, so he's just out to distract you.  He knows he can't get you for eternity, so he just wants to make sure you're no good for the kingdom of God while you're here on earth.  (p. 100)
*  Just like me, you need to know what tempts you to sin and be intentional about dealing with it.  (p. 101)

What is weighing us down in our lives?  What sin is making it harder to live the life that Christ wants us to live?  It's so easy for us to get buried in the demands of our day to day lives.  We need to consistently be turning to God, asking Him for His strength to live the life we were made to live.

I pray that we all use what we've learned in Part 3.  Let's get rid of the sin that's taken over our lives.  Let's stand out in a crowd and stand up for what God wants and let's give Him everything that is weighing us down.

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