Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Listening to God

Jesus said that when some people pray, they wrongly assume “that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). Praying doesn’t get better because it’s longer, just like sermons don’t get better because they’re longer. I’ve never heard anyone say, “That sermon was so good because it was SO long!” And I don’t think God says, “That prayer is so good because it’s so long! That person just talks and talks and talks and never expects Me to say anything back!”

Years ago when I worked for a Christian college in Georgia, I had an appointment with a lady who lived in another city to talk about some business concerning the college. After we met, she started talking non-stop (and I am not exaggerating) for the entire hour. I kept waiting for her to take a breath—to pause—to take a break between words—to ask what I thought—anything so I could get a word in edgewise, but she never did. Finally, after sixty minutes of me listening without saying a word, I had to leave for my next appointment. When I got up from my chair I said, “Well, it was nice talking to you!” 

God must feel the same way when we do all the talking but never listen. He wants to speak to us, but we must have open hearts to hear His voice. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:15). If you in a bad situation and don’t know what to do, God says if you will pray and ask for wisdom, He will always show you what to do. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God...and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

But how will you know when He gives you the wisdom? He will put thoughts in your mind and impressions on your heart. Sometimes He will give you desires to point your heart in the right direction. At other times, you will just instinctively know what you need to do. However, if you don’t expect Him to speak to you, you won’t receive anything from the Lord (James 1:7).

Remember that prayer is a dialog and not a monologue. Learn to listen to God and then do what He says.  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  
Are you worried about the futureRead The Sure Cure for Worry

Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejectionRead Slaying Your Giants

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trust in the Lord with all Your Heart

(This amazing true story comes from my new book, The Sure Cure for Worry (Chosen Books, 2013, pages 32-35)
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that God is in control when your world is falling apart. You must continue to obey God, even when what He tells you to do doesn’t make sense. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Max Wilkins is a pastor in Gainesville, Florida. Shortly after he surrendered to go into full-time ministry, Max applied at Candler School of Theology for seminary training. He had no money to attend graduate school but took the first step of faith by applying.

Max had two summer employment opportunities before fall classes would begin. The most promising was an assistant pastor position in a local church, which would completely pay for his first semester at the seminary. The other job was working at a church camp for only a penny per hour. The correct decision appeared to be obvious. The church staff job had to be the right choice. But after spending time in prayer, Max felt God pulling at his heart to work at the camp.

His parents tried to talk him out of it. “Son, you need to pray again. Obviously you didn’t hear that from God.” But Max could not deny that the Lord was leading him in a direction that defied logic. It would be financially impossible for him to pay for seminary with the money he would be making at camp.

Max faithfully fulfilled his camp duties and by the end of summer he had earned five dollars. Classes would be starting in two weeks. If he had listened to his parents and taken the other job, he would have had the money to pay for his first semester at school. But now that option was gone.

How could the Lord let him make a huge mistake like that? Max stormed down to the camp lake to have it out with God. Standing by the lake, he cried out, “Lord, you are the one who called me to seminary and to work at this camp. I am trying to be obedient to you, but I have no idea what to do now. This is your problem, God!”

At that moment he sensed the presence of someone nearby. He turned and noticed an elderly woman sitting on the lakeside bench. “Hello,” Max said. “Have we met before?”
“No, my name is Emily Ann. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you.”
Max sat next to her and shared about his desire to attend seminary and turning down the assistant pastor job to work at the camp for a penny per hour.

“You want to go to Candler School of Theology?” she asked. “My husband and I happen to have some friends who are endowing a scholarship at that seminary. Please give me your contact information and I will tell them about you.”

Max wondered if she was making up the answer to his problem, or if she might be a little bit senile. After all, what are the odds that a person with connections to a scholarship to the very seminary he had applied for would come to that exact spot on the lakeshore at the precise time he was there praying? Max scribbled his address on a piece of paper and handed it to her.

When summer camp ended, Max returned home and found a stack of mail lying on his desk. He came across an envelope from the Sherman Foundation. Tearing it open, he read:
Dear Max, Our dear friend Emily Ann spoke very highly of you and your calling to ministry. We trust her implicitly. Based on her recommendation, we are pleased to award you an all-expense paid scholarship to Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Sincerely, Frank and Helen Sherman, The Sherman Scholarship Foundation

What looked like an incredibly stupid decision to work at the camp for a penny an hour turned out to be the correct decision! Because Max trusted in the Lord with all his heart and did not lean to his own understanding, God led him on the right path—and provided what he needed.

The scholarship not only paid for his entire three years in seminary, but also gave him a monthly stipend for living expenses! When you walk in obedience to God, He has ways of providing for you that are beyond your understanding. Are you trusting the Lord with all your heart and obeying what He is telling you to do? If you will, God will take care of everything else.  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
Are you worried about an economic collapse or that you won't find the right person to marry?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry

Do you want to conquer depression, rejection, or unforgivenessRead Slaying Your Giants