Friday, June 7, 2013

The First Time I Heard from God

Today is the final day of our 22nd week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1-2; Romans 9; Psalm 43.

Let me tell you about the first time I heard from God.  

I was a good kid, grew up in a Christian home, and attended church every week, sometimes more than once a week.  Mom was a Sunday school teacher and Dad was a deacon.  I was baptized at the age of six, and I'm reassured by folks who know that I knew what I was doing, even at that tender age.  By the time I was in second grade, I was carrying my Bible with me to school and reading it during recess while the other kids played.  In every way I was very religious, and hungry for God, but I had not yet heard from God.

Then in third grade, I made some friends who weren't bad kids, but they weren't Christians either, and they  valued some very different things from me.  By the time fifth grade and puberty came, we were headed down a bad path.  We were as devilish as fifth graders can be.  Things like staying up late at a sleepover and watching Risky Business on cable, when we knew we weren't supposed to.  Then one of my friends brought out his father's Playboy and I "oohed" and "aahed" along with the rest of them.  I mean--I was a wicked little fifth grader!  Headed down a path of destruction.

Then, one night not long after that incident, God spoke to me.  It had never happened before.  I'd read my Bible a lot, but had never felt like the words were written directly to me.  But these words from Proverbs 1 & 2 seemed to leap off the page:

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
    and forsake not your mother's teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
    and pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
    do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
    let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
    we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
    we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
    hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
    and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
    in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
    it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,[a]
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.
16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden[b] woman,
    from the adulteress[c] with her smooth words,
17 who forsakes the companion of her youth
    and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death,
    and her paths to the departed;[d]
19 none who go to her come back,
    nor do they regain the paths of life.

20 So you will walk in the way of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
    and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

That night, I heard from God for the first time.  There was no booming voice from the heavens, no burning bush, no finger on the wall.  There was only the truth of God speaking to a tender young heart from the pages of God's perfect Word.  It was perfect in its power to convict me of my sin and convince me of my need to change.  I sobbed and soaked my pillow that night, racked with remorse for what I had done and.  But in the morning, I awoke to a fresh resolution to live a better life--which, unfortunately, meant that I had to give up some friendships which were destructive.  This I bravely did, and I found that soon I had made new friends who were much more edifying to my life.

We have "history" with certain scriptures.  When has God's Word spoken profoundly to you?  Please leave a comment and tell me the "history" you have with hearing from God.   I pray that you will hear from God through the pages of His Word, which is perfect in its ability to transform lives.  

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