Thursday, September 10, 2009

Doubting God's Voice

“He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (He was lying to him.)” – 1 Kings 13:18

I got up the other day expecting a phone call. I picked up my phone, unplugged it from the charger, and carried it into the bathroom with me. When I laid it down it lit up with the calculator application on the screen. It said ‘425’ in the display. The strange thing is I never use the calculator application, and there was no reason for it to come up at all…let alone with ‘425’ in the display.

As I stood there thinking about it an almost heavy feeling came over me that I should play that number in the lottery. I should tell you that I never play the lottery. In fact, I believe the lottery to be a method for making the poor even poorer by giving them false hope. But on that morning, I had to talk myself out of buying a lottery ticket!

The next day I felt I thought about that phone and ‘425’ again and felt compelled to go online and check the winning lottery numbers for that day. The pick three numbers on that day were ‘542’. I would have one $100. God was trying to bless me. But the blessing He wanted me to receive was for more than $100. It was an understanding of something much greater than $100. It was a lesson in understanding how important it is to not doubt the voice of God. It’s no mistake that he’d had me stuck on 1 Kings 13 for days when this happened.

In 1 Kings 13 we read about an unnamed “man of God”. He was told by God to go to the idolatrous King Jeroboam and deliver a message. The message was that the altars which he had built for worshipping his gods would be destroyed and the priests he had ordained would be sacrificed on them. The man of God courageously went before the King and delivered the message. But there were also three things God told the man of God NOT to do. He was not to eat in Bethel, drink in Bethel, and he was to leave a different way than he came into the city.

When King Jeroboam asked the man of God to stay with him and “refresh himself” and eat with him, the man of God boldly said he wouldn’t even for half of the King’s household! He was steadfast and confident in the words God had spoken to him. He was sure of God’s command even if he didn’t understand it.

But before he left the city of Bethel an old prophet from the city came to him and asked if he would come home and eat with him. The man of God again recited God’s orders that he was not to eat or drink in Bethel. He still believed God’s voice.

But the old prophet said to him in verse 18: “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” A conflicting message from what the man of God had received indeed! At this point the man of God could have asked God for confirmation. He could have prayed and asked God to speak to him about this matter. Instead, he chooses to believe a stranger over the voice of his God. The remaining 5 words in verse 18 tell us the man of God should not have been so quick to believe the old prophet: “He was lying to him.”

The man of God in that very instance doubted God’s voice. He probably though “maybe this prophet is closer to God than I am”, “maybe God changed His mind and hasn’t told me”, or “maybe I wasn’t hearing from God after all.” Regardless, he traded the words of a stranger for the words of God, and it ended up costing him his life.

While they sat there eating God again spoke. This time, instead of to the man of God, who had stopped listening to Him, He spoke to the old prophet which he was listening to! His message was: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” The man of God saddled his donkey and rode out of town only to be attacked and killed by a lion. The lion guarded his body, not eating it or destroying it, until the old prophet rode out and picked it up and buried him in his own tomb.

Far too often we are willing to accept what someone has told us to be God’s will in our life over what God himself has told us. We doubt our relationship with God, or view ours as somewhat less than someone else’s and therefore assume they have heard what we have failed to hear. We assume that God isn’t communicating fully with us in our one-on-one conversations. We begin to doubt what God has said, and we give in to following the voice of others over the voice of God Himself.

Be assured that if God wants you to do something – the One that used His voice to speak into creation the entire world can surely speak to you! Pray and ask Him for guidance. He’s already said in John 16:24, “ask and you will receive”. He also said in James 4:2, “you do not have because you do not ask.” Following anyone’s voice other than God, even if it seems to be fulfilling a purpose in God’s work, is being out of God’s will if He didn’t lead you there. Listen for that “still small voice”. He will never fail you.

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