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Sunday, December 4, 2011

3--Hear the Voice of God - Chapter 2

Hear the Voice of God
How to Acquire Faith

Let all things be done
decently and in order.

-1 Corinthians 14:40

Our earthly home did not just happen by accident, nor did God bring it about through some great chaotic explosion in the universe. On the contrary, the book of Genesis specifies God’s intricate fabrication of this amazing creation...all that is in it and on it...through a carefully planned and detailed order of design.

God was working with a precise intention, preparing a place to carry out the greatest story ever told. Earth was being prepared to manifest His glory and teach His created beings about the benefits and blessings of faith.

The word, “prepare” means to get ready, arrange, organize, plan, set up, practice, and put in order.

Preparation is God’s hallmark, the significant character quality that defines His nature. He is a God of order and has admonished us to follow His example.

In thee, O LORD,
do I put my trust:
let me never be
put to confusion.

-Psalm 71:1

The opposite of order is confusion and in the Scriptures “confusion” is always presented in a negative light describing it as sin or something to avoid. Confusion is used to fragment our thinking. It breaks our focus on the most important things in life and keeps us from hearing the Voice of God.

It is common knowledge that the Holy Bible is not any ordinary book. This can only be true because the Bible was also created by the hand of God. In fact, this sacred volume has often been referred to as “the instruction manual” intended to be a part of the creation package; a providentially provided “tech support document,” if you will, to assist mankind with God’s instructions regarding how to care for and properly use all that He has created.

In addition, God desired to communicate with the beings He had fashioned by His Word and His own hands and lovingly placed in the unique environment made especially for them. Our heavenly Father and Creator ordained that faith alone, accessed through the Holy Scriptures and interpreted by His Holy Spirit, would enable us to hear God’s Voice, and understand His will.

How do we acquire the faith necessary to experience the promises of God?

The World Tells Us How to Acquire Faith:

 “Stand in front of the mirror and just keep telling yourself that you can do it.”

 “Read lots of biographies. When you see how other people survived, you will have faith that you can survive too.”
(While biographies, Christian or otherwise, can be very inspirational, they should not be a substitute for the life-giving Word of God.)

 “Sit on the floor, cross your legs, and chant Ommmmm, Ommmmm, Ommmmm.”

 “Maybe what you really need to do is to call on a higher power—You know, ‘the Force’.”

God Tells Us How to Acquire Faith:

Faith comes by hearing
and hearing
by the Word of God,

-Romans 10:16-18

* Therefore we (personally) must listen carefully to what He has said in His Word.

* We (personally) must drink freely and frequently from the water of the Word.

* We (personally) must study to show ourselves approved

* We (personally) must hide His Word in our hearts and meditate on it day and night.

* We (personally) must learn God’s Word diligently line upon line.

After I discovered more about faith and realized that it was a result of being infused with the Word of God, I went on a mission to find the best way to absorb the Word and began sharing these techniques with my children.

First I bought some very pricey cassette tapes of the word-by-word recorded Scriptures. (That was in the olden days). As time passed, however, we discovered that Bible CDs can sometimes be purchased now for just a dollar per volume from a dollar store. Each volume can hold several chapters of the Bible. MP3 discs can also be convenient because they can contain several books of the Bible on each disc and are often available on the internet at reduced prices.

I decided to use the King James exclusively, so we would be memorizing consistently from one version. Even when the reading skills of children are still a bit sketchy, they love following along in their Bibles while the CDs are being played. In this way, they receive the double benefit of practicing their reading skills at the same time. Whenever we traveled in the car, did crafts or any other repetitious activity where the brain was free to focus on the Word of God, we also played the Bible CDs.

Unlike some of the spoon-fed modern versions of the Scriptures, the King James offers a more polished form of the English language. It also provides a style that requires careful “dissecting.” As we engage in this process, many hidden details of interpretation are often revealed.

When we become familiar with the King James version, it gives us a clear path of recall in pursuing additional information from the Strong’s Concordance which is most beneficial in helping us understand the true intent and meaning of the words as they were written in the languages of Hebrew and Greek.

Whom shall he teach knowledge?
and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?

them that are weaned from the milk,
and drawn from the breasts.

-Isaiah 28:9

Whom shall God teach knowledge and bless with the capacity to understand His doctrine?

Knowledge and understanding will be given to those who are not satisfied with the pabulum given to babies, but to those who are ready to mature and feed on the deeper things of God—the “meat” of the Word of God.

For precept must be upon precept,
precept upon precept;
line upon line, line upon line;
here a little, and there a little:

-Isaiah 28:10

Only the spiritually hungry follower of Christ will see the value of the Word of God and have the desire, ability to focus, and patience to do the work of building the Word into his life one precept and one line at a time.

My children and I experimented with the “line upon line” theory of hiding God’s Word in our heart and discovered that the rules for the game about “what Jack has in his wagon” could be customized to memorize Scripture line upon line.

The game about Jack goes, “Jack has a dog in his wagon.” The next person says, “Jack has a dog and a box in his wagon.” The next person says, “Jack has a dog and a box and a frog in his wagon, etc., etc.”

When we memorized the Bible, we followed Psalm 1 in the same way. The first person would say, “Blessed.” Then the next person would say, “Blessed is.” The next person would say, “Blessed is the.” The next person would say, “Blessed is the man,” etc. etc.

We also made our own Bible coloring books by drawing a picture for each verse and then writing the verse under the picture. My girls are all grown now, have children of their own, and still treasure these coloring books which meant so much to them while they were growing up.

Drawing the message contained in a verse continues to be a valuable method for building faith through symbolism. Some of us may lack the artistic gifts. In that case, stick-people work exceptionally well in a pinch, making it something even very small children can do.

Wasting time is wasting life, so it is wise to use every opportunity to infuse the Word of God into the lives of our children while we can. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Proverbs. 22:15) Therefore, children really don’t need silly, vulgar, or otherwise senseless entertainment, which only serves as a perpetual stumbling block to faith and wisdom.

When we view videos, we view Christian videos or other videos with a positive message. When we play games, we play Bible games and other games that will build character or help develop other skills, while at the same time providing an enjoyable family experience. In just minutes, I have seen a child happily transformed by the renewing of his mind as a result of the power of the Word of God.

Keep in mind that we are made in the image of our heavenly Father. He has chosen to communicate with us through His written Word. Therefore, as His children we can greatly benefit by following in His footsteps and write His Word. In fact, this may just be the very best way to feed upon the Word.

As we pray for guidance and study the Scriptures, God will lead us to develop our own style of writing, but it should be Word-focused and based on expounding the Word rather than on what we want to say or how we want to share our own opinions. When we write about our walk with God and our experiences, what we share should flow out of the experiences as they relate to the Word, are validated by the Word, and illustrate how they are submitted to the Word.

This book is an example of how to feed upon the Word. Notice how the lines of Scripture are broken into bite sized pieces? Can you see how God has carefully constructed His Word and transferred it into the pages of the Bible, so it can easily be broken into pieces and digested in this manner?

God will use the events in our life and in the world to motivate us to wonder what He has to say about these occurrences. We will find wisdom and understanding when we isolate the key word that describes the event, do a search on that specific word in the Strong’s Concordance, and expound each Word, verse, and passage by dissecting and meditating on the history, context, and the way it is being used.

In this way, the Word will move us away from our own thoughts and we will be reminded that our purpose is to hear the Voice of God, not about what we want to think or say. It will help us stay focused and allow the Word to instruct us and flow through us. At the same time the Spirit of God will guide us and lead us to the correct interpretation.

Since the mind naturally wants to wander away from the Word, we must watch for this and train our mind to focus and resist being distracted from the task at hand by our own thoughts. If you find your mind wandering, stop and make yourself go back to where you first began to wander—even if it means going back to page 1 and even if it means going back a hundred times. If we have not digested what is written, we really have not read or studied at all and will certainly be unable to hear anything God has to say to us.

The Word of God provides various levels of interpretation and understanding which often can be applied to our personal life as well as applied on a broader corporate level that will address world events. Every time we study a portion of Scripture and allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, the Spirit of God will lead us to a deeper level of understanding.

We need to remember to approach the Word prayerfully and request God’s direction each time we study and write. If we have jumped ahead and misinterpreted something we must be humble enough to allow God to correct us. This is vital. Many great Christian writers have been snared in their own net of pride because they could not admit an error in their doctrine. The Spirit of God leads us into all truth, but it is our own weaknesses that can cause us to embrace something that is false, so we must be careful to stay open and be willing to let God correct us.

While the Creator has not shared all of the details with us, He has given enough information in the Scriptures to indicate that the Word of God contains His life-giving Spirit. Jesus said, “My Words, they are Spirit and they are life.”(John 6:63).

The Book of Genesis teaches that during Creation, when “God said”—it was the power, somehow contained in the spoken Word and very Voice of God, which called into existence and assembled the necessary molecules to accomplish the process of creating all things.

The Word of God is alive with His power. Just as physical bread keeps our body alive, God’s Word is the spiritual bread that keeps our spirit alive. Jesus has revealed that we must have both spiritual food as well as physical food in order to live:

But he [Jesus] answered and said,
It is written,
Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word
that proceedeth out
of the mouth of God.

-Matthew 4:4

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