Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Do You Do When God Seems Silent (Part 3)

The Bible describes many men and women who have been used in mighty ways for the glory of God. What we often forget is that these men and women were just like us. They had their struggles just as we have ours. One of these men was the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17-18). Wicked King Ahab and Jezebel, his queen, had led Israel away from the Lord and into the worship of Baal. God punished the nation by holding back the rain that they needed (see Deut. 28:12, 23). Elijah had been used of God to hold back rain from the people for over 3 years, because of their sins. We are told in 1 Kings 18:1 “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 

According to Luke 4:25, this “After a long time” was actually 3 and a half years. The famine was 3 and a half years long. For 3 and a half years, the people apparently continued to sin, Elijah continued to hold on by faith, but God said nothing. During this time of God's silence, Elijah fervently prayed. He didn't get discourage, instead we see him set before us as an example of a righteous man whose prayers released power (James 5:17-18). Elijah was a man just like us (James 5:17). He was not perfect and we learn that latter he gets discouraged and runs away. But he was a righteous man, that was obedient to the Lord and trusted Him. He was willing to believe God, even during the time of God's apparent silence. He prayed believing and he was persistent in prayer.

Have you ever been there? Have you had been faithfully serving and then suddenly everything is quiet. Have you experience a time when there is a spiritual drought, a time when God seems silent, and you don't know what to do? What should we do during the times of silence, before the power of God come through for us?There are several things that we can do during that time when God seems silent. These things sum up what we have had in this three part series.

Don’t ignore the silence. God often sends those that he uses into a wilderness experience like Moses, or out in the quiet fields like David, or on the back side of the desert like Paul, before He chooses to use them publicly. During that time of silence stay very close to God and watch for His power to be displayed. Just because God is silent it doesn’t mean He is idle.

A 400 year gap between the ministry of Prophet Malachi and John the Baptist. God was quiet but preparing the world to receive His son (Gal.4:4). It is often said, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” When you’re at your lowest point, when all seems lost and all hope seems to be gone, have hope in God, because things can only get better from there on.

Confess known sin in your life. This wasn’t the problem of silence for Elijah, but the problem for the Israelites was that they were chasing after other gods and living lives in total disobedience to God. Sin may not be the reason you don’t sense closeness to God right now, but if you have known sin in your life it will affect your intimacy with God. The priests were mediators between God and Man. But when Eli’s sons sinned (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22). their service for God was ended and God spoke very rarely to his people (1 Samuel 3:1).

Elijah didn’t sin, but the Israelites were living in sin. Sin hinders our intimacy with God. Holding back a secret sin always hindered our prayer life. Releasing them always brings peace of mind. Don’t find excuses to justify your sin. Confront your sin, confess and turn back to God.

Get back to the basic. Walk with the Lord daily in prayer and in His Word. Don't let the enemy side track you. Hearing God involves waiting in prayer and listening to His Word. When David was discouraged He encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6). This is where we find strength to endure the silent times.

Make a decision to serve God, no manner what. You can’t serve God and the world. God hasn’t moved, but if you’ve shifted in your obedience, get back securely on the right side.

Trust completely on the Lord. Times of silence may be filled with fear, but these times will definitely require more faith. Times come in our spiritual life when our enthusiasm isn’t as real as when we began our walk with God. That’s not an indication to quit, it may be that God is using that time for something bigger than you could have imagined, but it will require a deeper level of trust. Stay away from words of unbelief like“God couldn’t, wouldn’t, doesn’t.”

Listen and Watch Closely. Some day God is going to speak and you don't want to miss what He will say! He may come to your personally, through His Word, circumstances or another person. You’ll need to be in a position to know that God is speaking. You never know how or who God will speak through! Be alert while your waiting. Don't try manipulate your circumstances, wait on the Lord, the outcome will be much better. God will break the silence some day and when He does, it will be worth the wait. clothe yourself in joy as you wait for God to bless you after the period of silence. 

Are you in one of those periods of silence today? How do you handle these periods of time? Remember that God hasn't abandoned you, He's still with you and He knows all about it.

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