Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Listening for God's Voice

A snippet of scripture surfaced before me recently, waiting for me to take notice. Three times in the last two days, in fact, floating front and center, finally grabbing my attention this afternoon. Revelation 12.11. “…they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” I’m familiar with the verse, but it is a bit unusual and by the third expression I figured I better heed what the Spirit was saying.

I’m not usually one to ‘hear from God’ on a regular basis. I believe I’ve felt promptings, but I generally don’t experience God tapping my shoulder telling me to head left or right. Though maybe I should listen more closely (see Isaiah 30.21).

At any rate, when a friend spoke this phrase during prayer today (the other two expressions came through two different songs – Overcome sung by Jeremy Camp and More Than Conquerors sung by Steven Curtis Chapman) I began to contemplate what God’s message to me might be.
So I asked my friend through whom God spoke this verse, and explained about these three repetitions of Revelation 12.11. He thought a moment and asked, without judgment, if the church where I pastor is a very evangelistic congregation.

Now I have to admit, overt witnessing isn’t something we engage in very often. Oh, we hold regular ‘outreach’ events in our neighborhood, we’re open and friendly, we invite others to worship, but to my knowledge none of us are in line to become the next Billy Graham.

And that’s okay. We don’t have to be street corner evangelists. But maybe what this verse is reminding us – me and the church I serve, and maybe you too – is that we do have a testimony to share. And we are called to share it. A testimony is simply what God through Christ has done and is doing in our life. It’s pretty simple, and doesn’t demand three years of seminary level preparatory work.

But it does demand readiness.

We overcome the accuser – Satan, who seeks to drag us down with him by linking our sin and disobedience with his – we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb – that is, Christ’s sacrificial death, His atoning sacrifice, and His resurrection power – AND by the word of our testimony, the testifying witness that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our Rock and our Redeemer. The story of how God’s loving grace in our life saved us from sin’s despair is and should be always on our lips. It not only empowers us to overcome the evil one but our testimony provides a path of salvation for others to follow right into the Kingdom of God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.”

Are we bold enough to simply share our testimony with others? Are we ready, no matter the cost? (Note the ending of verse 11.) I pray we are. I pray I am. After hearing God speak this verse to me three times these past two days, I’m now praying I’ll be ready to speak his words of love and forgiveness, transformation and power, into the lives of others when the opportunity arises.

So I’m trusting his divine appointment book because if he can bring this verse to the surface of my mind he can bring the right people into my life who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. He will do that for each of us, I’m certain. He’s speaking to everyone willing to listen for his voice.