hearing God

The folly of not waiting on God (Joshua 9)

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Crossing the Jordan was in response to God’s leading, Jericho was a unique one-off God-given strategy, The battle for Ai (round 1) was a mistake made because of not seeking God’s guidance, round two of the battle for Ai – repentance and obedience resulting in victory!  Then,  Gibeonite deception (Chapter 9)…

These Gibeonite guys were crafty!  They heard of the victories at Jericho and Ai and God’s mighty deeds ( in delivering them from Egypt) and quickly summed up the situation and realized; ‘we need to make a covenant!’

Just like these Gibeonite guys, our enemy the devil is crafty, he is the accuser and the deceiver and so we need to enquire of God to avoid being deceived by him.

Scripture says that we must not be unaware of the Devil’s schemes, we must not allow him to outwit us (2 Corinthians 5:11)!

How were they outwitted?

Vs14 says that they; “did not ask counsel from the Lord.”

Folly starts with a head/heart attitude that says; ‘I’ve got this…’  The Israelites got themselves duped because they didn’t enquire of God.

May we, may you take the time each day to enquire after God for all sorts of things in your everyday life.

Lessons learnt (Joshua 8)

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What is the significant difference in the campaign of Joshua 7 campaign against Ai and the Joshua 8 campaign?

It is noteworthy that in the narrative of Joshua 7 there is no reference to God speaking or Joshua enquiring after God for guidance or strategy for the city of Ai.

God had given clear instructions for Jericho, and their obedience resulted in great victory.

But the pattern is not repeated in Joshua 7 – no guidance from God was sought out.

Aren’t we like this!
We blow hot and cold, one moment asking for help then acting the next moment like we need none!

In Joshua 8, there seems to be a different spirit, a humility in evidence, that no doubt had something to do with the defeat at Ai and the subsequent seeking God for answers, and then God’s revealing the source of their defeat as being the sin of Achan.

The second attempt on Ai proceeds in response to explicit divine instructions (Joshua 8:1-2, 8-9, 18 & 27) which were followed. The passage goes into great detail for a relatively small battle, probably to emphasize that success comes only from following the Lord’s instructions which is in stark contrast to the failure in Joshua 7 as a result of failure to seek God or follow His instructions.

What is God saying to you, to us as a church at this present time?
Are you leaving room, leaving time for God’s specific leading?
Are you obeying what God has told you to do?

Hearing God (Joshua 6)

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Over my years of pastoral ministry, one of the things that people often battle with is hearing God.  As we read these accounts of God’s people moving into the Promised Land, into their promised inheritance its all too easy to pass over some profound little phrases…

“The Lord said to…” (Joshua 1:1, 3:7, 4:1, 4:15, 5:2, 5:9 &6:2…)

That phrase makes one want to say; “Wait, how?  More information please!”  In my personal experience, despite an absolute rock solid conviction that God does speak, that God wants to speak and wants me to hear Him speak to me/us, despite this, hearing God is not always easy.

And yet all through Scripture, it is assumed as normal for God’s people that we will hear God speaking to us, guiding us, encouraging us, exhorting us…

In our passage today, Joshua calls God’s people to embark on a military strategy that had never been tried before to overtake a city, and has never been tried again successdully either.  The only reason God’s people took this action was that; “The Lord said to Joshua…”

When our personal experience doesn’t match up to the clear testimony of Scripture we are faced with two choices:

  1. Either we adjust our interpretation of Scripture based on our experience of lack thereof (never a good idea)
  2. We call on God, asking Him to align our experience with what we see revealed in Scripture (go for this option!)

Jesus promised that we will hear His voice, we will recognise it as His and so we will be able to follow His leading and guiding (John 10:27).  Sometimes I think the problem is we only start asking God for His help, His voice of guidance when we face a Jericho moment, a large challenge or decision.

But Joshua has been practicing listening to God for years and years prior to this moment.  It was his practice to follow Moses into the Tent of Meeting, to witness God speaking to Moses, and even after Moses left Joshua used to remain the in tent with God (Exodus 33:7-11).  Joshua knew God’s voice by the time he stood before this great first challenge of Jericho as he lead God’s people into their inheritance.

We need to develop a habit of listening to God, waiting on Him in our private lives.  We need to learn this habit in peacetime, when there isn’t an apparent urgent need SO THAT we will be able to hear God when there is…

Why not make Jesus’ promise (John 10:27) your own?

Ask God to speak to you, trust that He will, and obey Him when He does.

And when God speaks, even if it means doing things differently to the way they have always been done, or the way others think you should, decide to obey Him and watch what He will do through your obedience.

So where has the romance gone?

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Reading the story of how Abraham sent out his servant to find a wife for his beloved son, Isaac, it seems that finding a marriage partner was a very calculated activity.  But it is in fact the opposite!

God knows the desires of our hearts, He knows our personalities and habits.  Only He can perfectly suit two people to each other.  And His choice for Isaac was perfect, because the two of them loved each other dearly.  And what a wise servant, to stay close to God in this pursuit (Gen 24:21)

“The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.”

I have experienced a very similar story recently when a dear friend of mine’s daughter got married.  And to illustrate how much God is involved in the choosing of a marriage partner even today (as much as, and even more than, He is involved in every part of our lives), let me briefly recap the story to you.

There was a young South African woman who dedicated her life to God and purposed to also trust Him to provide her with a husband.  She set out to get a clear picture in her own mind about the qualities a man should possess to make him a good husband.  She allowed herself to dream of her perfect man, and entrusted these dreams to her Father.

On the other side of the world was a young man who, amidst constant pressure to join the dating game, and constant ridicule for not doing so, trusted God to point out to him whom to marry.  He decided to keep himself pure until that day.

So the young woman went to the other side of the world for a short period of time, attending a course at the very insitution where this young man worked. And sure enough, God pointed out to him that this is the woman whom He has chosen for the young man.  And although the young woman recognised many of the attributes of a good husband in this young man, she had no idea of the conversation between him and God and in due course she returned to South Africa.

Almost despairing, the young man asked God for wisdom in ways to start courting the young woman.  Telling the story in detail astonishes everyone as to how God’s masterplan came together in ways no human being can conceive.

The two of them got to know each other through e-mail and a deep appreciation and love for each other grew in their hearts.  God opened the way for them to get engaged and then married, and they now have a beautiful little girl and another child on its way.

Their lives still speak of God’s miraculous dealings as they move forward in His plan for them.

Are they a unique couple?  Is God really interested in helping young men and women today, find their perfect life partner? YES!

It is not only the old, Biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah, or the recent, modern story of my two young friends above – it can be your story too!

You have entrusted God with your life when you answered “yes” to His call.  Won’t you trust Him and WAIT until He shows you the one He has chosen for you?

by Lise Oosthuizen

Hearing precedes obeying

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If one wants to hear “well done” on That Day we need to hear God today – so that we can obey.

If my children don’t hear me they can’t obey what I have asked of them.

Yet many, including myself, will testify that at times they battle to hear God’s voice.

Just the other day I sat with a man in my offfice who needed to hear God for a workplace decision, last weekend good friends needed to hear God’s guiding voice again to make a decision about their future and that of the church, just today a young woman I know asked for prayer that she’d be able to hear from God and that He would guide me in the direction He wants me…

And yet in John 10 Jesus has an expectation that those who are His will not only hear His voice but will know it, recognise it as His.

John 10:3-4 & 27 ESV
…The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice…(27)My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

So what do we do when our experience doesn’t line up with the clear reading & interpretation of Scripture?

Two options present themselves:
1) Alter our interpretation of Scripture to fit our experience or
2) Believe Scripture and so pray for our experience to change.

God does speak, I believe He’s speaking all the time, so why not start today by deciding in your heart that you are desiring to hear God your Father so that you can obey, why not start praying daily that you’d recognise His voice.

God speaks in many varied ways (creation, Scripture, other people, a peace or unease in our spirit or conscience, through something that happens or something we experience, through something written, sung, painted…) how exciting to go into every day with a sense of anticipation knowing your Father is speaking, you just need to discover & discern His voice!

Do you find your default, when you think you might have heard God, is to disbelieve that it was God?

If you believe God your Father wants to speak to you in everyday life, why not decide now to err on the side of belief rather than unbelief. Next time you feel like God’s speaking, why not believe that He is?

Hearing God, is essential for daily living, we need to get out of the bad habit of only seeking God, trying to hear God when facing big life decisions. If developed a practice of hearing God in the daily little things, we’d surely find it easier to recognise and therefore hear God’s voice in the big moments of life.

Join me in this adventure of hearing God & obeying what He says, not doing more than He told us to, not doing less but obeying quickly.

Imagine that life… It’s your inheritance as the child of God.