02 Jan How Can You Hear God’s Voice While Living In The World?
<Jer 33:2-3; Jn 16:33>
The world in which we are living is filled with world news, information and messages. The world seems to be telling us to be busy with various pursuits.
But is there the voice of God in this world?
How does God speak to us through the world?
Some people only see that the world is getting more and more progressive, science and technology more and more advanced, the places that we are able to go, the experiences that we get and the money we earn also become increasingly more. These people are the pursuers of this world. Not only do they hope, they also believe that the world will become more and more at peace. But the truth tells us that the world will never be at peace. The moment the world becomes seemingly peaceful, news about wars start to surface, regional disasters begin to happen, diseases and death draw closer. These people not only pursue the world, the state of their heart and spirit is also very forgetful.
Just when the festive Christmas and New Year periods bring about an atmosphere with surging crowds, it cannot give our heart and spirit the correct voice.
When the world celebrates certain festivals and holidays, these people’s emotions are completely driven by the festive atmosphere. They fail to discover the reality that in this festive period, many people are even more empty, lonely and stressed. A report from the United States in 2006 tells us that a quarter of the people are lonely during festive holidays. About 40% of people are even more stressed during this same period. Just when the festive Christmas and New Year periods bring about an atmosphere with surging crowds, it cannot give our heart and spirit the correct voice. Instead, it creates even more illusions, resulting in a state where the emptiness in a person’s heart and spirit is overlooked. However, on the other hand, there will also be people who are excessively pessimistic. These people sense loneliness in the crowd, and feel miserable amidst fun and laughter. This could be because they have experienced some setbacks or sufferings in life, or they were disappointed by people. When they see the achievements and joys of the people in this world, they feel very inadequate. Therefore, these people become the pessimists of this world.
When they see the achievements and joys of the people in this world, they feel very inadequate.
But the word of the Lord tells us, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” <Ps 30:5>. The Lord told His disciples that when we see the Lord, we will rejoice and no one can take away that joy <John 16:22>. Truly, God is leading this world. He is not most concerned with the things that happened in this world, but what people have heard in their heart and spirit through the things that had happened. As parents, our greatest concern is not whether the house is tidy or messy but whether our children can hear our voice and do things at home in accordance with our desires. Therefore, just when the world is in joy and laughter, some disasters happened (like in the recent week, a tsunami in Indonesia caused the death of about 400 people to date), but when people are feeling negative and are in despair, then joyous atmosphere come and heartwarming news are also received. Usually, there is a thin line between good and bad news (just like how trade wars between countries can suddenly become very hostile but in the next moment, these countries become warm and friendly). Actually, why do people of this world constantly fall into an unpredictable state? This is because they cannot hear the voice of God.
As we approach the end of 2018, what have we heard from the Lord?
What have our heart and spirit understood?
This will determine how we will approach 2019. As the day of the Lord approaches, some people can see the work of God very clearly in the overall situation of this world. They study, work and interact with people for God’s kingdom. Their footsteps continue to head towards saving their family, relatives and friends and blessing this generation. There are also some that remain in meaningless optimism or pessimism. May the Lord open the ears of our heart and spirit to hear His most pressing heartbeat.
How do you view the world?
Do you have a clear worldview?
After many believers read the Bible, they still do not have a clear worldview. Or after reading the Bible, they still use the news and information of the world to shape their worldview. If we only have the right family perspective, we can only bless the family, at most we can be a very loving husband, wife or parent. If we only have very good financial perspective, we can only manage our finances well, plan for rainy days, or at most have the ability to help those in need and bless the society. Or if you have the correct view on the nation, you can bless your nation. However, if you have the right worldview, you not only can bless your family, society, country, but also the whole world. Thus, we must be careful, after reading the Bible, do not merely live for our families, or place our focus only on being an ethical person, who knows how to be considerate to the spouse, manage finances, human affairs, or who only teaches children good habits and cultivation. If we do not have the worldview the Bible offers, eventually we and our families will be captives of this world.
God’s truth teaches us how to view the world
God’s word instructs us not to love the world, for everything in the world will pass away <1 Jn 2:15-17>, but God also tells us that He loves the world (people in it), that He gave them His one and only Son <Jn 3:16>. God tells us that saints who live in this world will have trouble <Jn 16:33>, but before Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He also instructed His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel <Mk 16:15>. Therefore, what is the world? The world is not the object of our delight, but the target which we want to save. Once we lose this perspective, we will uncontrollably be captured by the world. Once our mouths testify less of the gospel, and we do not save God’s people nor build the culture of the kingdom of heaven, then we will realize our marriage is full of worldly talking points, our children are also gradually being attracted by worldly thinking and trends. This is not an issue of “want or do not want”, but “can or cannot”. Indeed, besides the Savior whom God gives the world, as well as His redemptive power, no other power can overcome the world.
The world is not the object of our delight, but the target which we want to save.
Today, the greatest misunderstanding of the ordinary believers is to think that “if I am a proper and average believer, I do not need to evangelise and yet my family, children and career can still be blessed”. This is a greatly mistaken viewpoint. Conversely, our worldview should be centred on things of the kingdom of heaven (the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world), such that we will constantly seek the Holy Spirit’s help to conduct ourselves. In the midst of this, we can then see God’s love and wisdom constantly anointing our hearts, and through us, also anoint those whom we love. Then our families and relationships will constantly be protected by the Lord.
The path to bring gospel to the ends of the earth lies in the meticulous guidance of the Holy Spirit
Moving from the worldview given by the gospel to the meticulous guidance of the Holy Spirit
After some people knew the word of God, they may be inspired by certain great characters of faith, so they are full of aspirations to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and to testify about the Lord everywhere. However, they do not know how to be led by the Holy Spirit. When God asks them to slow down, they cannot go slow; when God tells them to pray, they keep wanting to move; thus their aspirations will certainly make them face more obstacles. Indeed, as they follow the Lord, many people cannot distinguish between aspiration and submission. In terms of submitting to God, one must see the meticulous guidance of God. As they serve the Lord, some people always have the macro-view, but not the micro-view. They cannot see God’s very meticulous guidance and answers. Examples: Some people see that there are Christians who do business, then they start to have a desire to do business for the gospel, but often, not only are they unable to make their business work, but they are also bogged down by the miscellaneous things of their business, such that they cannot attend church meetings faithfully. In addition, there are also some leaders who see that some churches did very well in their internet ministries, and they also want to implement it in their own churches, but it cannot be done because of the lack of co-workers, as a result, they also neglect the shepherding work in their own churches. All these are failures in following the Lord.
In terms of submitting to God, one must see the meticulous guidance of God.
Thus, world gospelisation is the footsteps which follow God. That is like Paul going from places to places, seeing God’s personal guidance, closing and opening doors for him, and through these, he raised disciples and built churches. This is like Mark who continued to follow and learn even in his weaknesses, such that eventually he was of great help to Paul in his preaching ministry <2 Ti 4:11>.
Those who received the worldview in the Lord will have the unique guidance of the Holy Spirit
The problem of we humans is that we can instantly feel lost and helpless in the harsh environment and reality. Sometimes, as we serve the Lord and we suddenly see our children fall into problems, our hearts immediately have doubtful thoughts, thinking “why didn’t the Lord protect my children?” Or when we face obstacles while committing ourselves to the Lord’s kingdom, our hearts will instantly feel defeated and helpless. Actually, we must firmly believe that God has unique guidance for us (especially God’s holy people who bring different aspirations to follow Him). Then, to us, where is the meticulous and unique guidance of the Holy Spirit? It is not elsewhere, but in the places where we must go, in the midst of people whom we must be in contact with. To us who are working, that is the place we go to work every day. To our children, it is the schools they go to. To the retirees, that is among the retirees whom they are in contact with every day. If we encounter some unfavorable circumstances, (example: physical illnesses), we must firmly believe that our illnesses are not by coincidence, but there is God’s beautiful guidance, to use us to bless people around us. In the midst of this, the world’s ideology will challenge our blessed thinking. The world will offer us many methodologies. But we must especially focus on the Lord’s guidance and what He has given us. This is like Abraham losing everything when he went to Egypt (even his wife was taken away by Pharaoh), but he also received everything from there; this is like David who had never attended any military school, but at the critical moment set by the Lord, he defeated Goliath. In fact, we often missed the Lord’s unique guidance because of our humanistic ideology and methodologies. If we truly introspect our lives, we will discover that many a times we do not believe, and we do not seek the Lord’s unique guidance.
<Pastor Vincent’s personal testimony: In terms of evangelism, God has opened doors for me, allowing me to see the Lord’s meticulous guidance in the people and environment which I encounter, and be able to testify all these. It is all through the help of God’s gracious hands. In this process, as I sought, saw, followed, I can then spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.>
But how can we not lose this attitude and perspective?
Be rooted and built up in the gospel truth
Actually, one of the biggest problems of believers is to just listen to the truth generally, such that in their mind, there is knowledge of the truth, but in their heart, they cannot confirm and apply the truth.
Only when our selfish desires are constantly being dealt with by the Word of God, can we hear God’s voice.
<Col 2:6> encourages us to be rooted and built up in Christ. What then is a faith that is not rooted and built up? Such is a faith that is easily swayed by the winds of the world. It is just like a house which will collapse when there is rain, flood and wind. Likewise, when a person encounters problem, he will immediately accept the world’s methods and ideas to resolve the problem. Indeed, if we are not rooted and built up in the gospel, it is not easy to hear God’s voice in this ever-changing and tempting world. In particular, the areas where our selfish desires breed is where the Word of God must be rooted, so that we can hear God’s voice. Therefore, we must not just listen to sermons to find relief for our own emotions, as our emotions are not as deeply held as our selfish desires. Only when our selfish desires are constantly being dealt with by the Word of God, can we hear God’s voice.
Always observe and engage the world holistically
Indeed, in international affairs, disasters, sufferings and joyous ambience, you can find voices and work of God. However, many people only see one aspect of the world, instead of perceiving the world holistically. Some people only know about the world they come into contact with and the things they care about, but they are ignorant about other people’s worlds. Therefore, we must be vigilant, not to be living in a cocoon, to only be concerned with family, children and making a living. If we do so, we and our families will gradually be consumed by what are happening in the world. In this, it is not just about achieving balance, more importantly, we must not lose the perspective of the gospel. For example, if you are sick, and you go in and out of hospital often, you should also interact more with healthy people and have deep conversations with them.
We must be vigilant and not live in a cocoon.
You may lead a very busy life in the world, but you should also spend some time to understand the disasters that are happening around the world. Sometimes, when you look at the world from different angles, you will better understand God’s heart, and you can guard your heart as a watchman. After we have understood the truth, the next step is to more holistically engage and sense this world, so that we can more comprehensively know what God is continuing to do in the world.
Through gathering with blessed brethren, our hearts will be protected
Actually, no matter how sensible we are, we still need people’s encouragement, for it is difficult for us to guard our hearts in this twisted and tempting world. We need God’s word, we also need the encouragement and sharing of experiences by brethren, then we can better understand how to apply the gospel we have heard. Indeed, no one person can understand the whole world in isolated living. When husband and wife communicate more, then they can better understand the functioning of the family, comprehend the hearts of the children, and even better understand the dynamics of other families. When Pastor interacts more with church members, then he can better understand things inside and outside the church, as well as God’s work on different saints. If church brethren do not gather and talk often, sharing one another’s weaknesses and difficulties, why would we ask the Lord for more grace? God’s grace is new and fresh, rather than static. Two persons form a world; 20,000 people also forms a world. What is important is whether we are communing and loving more deeply in the Lord.