We tend to think of blessings in terms of material prosperity or personal comfort. The Bible never promises such things or a life without problems. The disciples’ devotion did not prevent a martyr’s death for believing Jesus was who He claimed to be. Family devotions do not do away with rebellion. A devotion to studies does not guarantee a good career. There are no guarantees of material blessings in a free world, only God’s guarantee of His love, acceptance, and future eternity with Him. Believing otherwise can cause a strain in our relationship with God when material or physical blessings don’t come our way.
Good works are not so that God can love us more or bless us materially. Walking in God’s ways is a blessing in of itself. God desires we become more like Christ for our own good. A person who tells the truth does not fear being caught. One who speaks honestly leads to genuine respect from others. A righteous person can be remembered for generations and for eternity because of their positive influence. The wicked will die with nothing.
God sees every single act of kindness. We may be forgotten after retirement in our company but God never forgets. The parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 gives hopes to those that start late. Thank God there is not an exact accounting. Prayer is to know better who God is so we may become more like Him, not so that God will love and bless us more. God’s lack of material blessings doesn’t mean He doesn’t care or love us. God already loves us unconditionally.
When Bill Hybels writes you better listen. The man has a passion to serve God and has accomplished much for the kingdom of God. He wrote a book The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God. Having The Guts To Respond. He waited until after decades of ministry to write his thoughts on God’s directions for us. Bill is convinced God does sometimes speak to us, not necessarily audibly, and those can surely be the sweetest times in our relationship with our Creator. Who doesn’t long for such communication and direction from their Best Friend?
I am not sure it matters whether we believe the Bible suggest God today does or doesn’t speak to us. More importantly, God’s people don’t need to feel stuck or anxious. My heart goes out to those who long for such guidance and feel that they never get it, or they are confused if they are hearing God’s voice. When others say God’s speak to them, one might feel less spiritual because they don’t hear God in the same way.
Many don’t claim God speaks to them audibly but nevertheless God does speak to them, perhaps giving them impressions in the mind that we all have from time to time. I was on a bike ride and I saw a young lady whose car had broken down. Plenty of cars were around. Surely someone would help. Who doesn’t have a cell phone? I am no mechanic for sure. I was looking forward to a long bike ride and stopping causes my legs to tighten up. Blah, blah, blah! Was God whispering for me to stop and check on her? Next time, I decided I would stop. How do we know though when the voice is from God?
I believe God doesn’t need to whisper to us; He has already shouted! The Bible is chocked full of wisdom and guidance, if only I would listen and take action. It can be overwhelming and guilt producing, but we must remind ourselves God loves and sees every act of kindness, not just the times of omission. The Bible speaks of making wise decisions based on circumstances, gifts, and passions. We can seek out the wisdom of others for future decisions. But, we don’t have to wonder if God is speaking to us. The Bible is explicit about God’s moral will but does not imply there is a specific individual will in the day-to-day lives of believers.
God will speak audibly if needed; otherwise, assume you have God’s blessings if it isn’t immoral. Don’t worry whether God is whispering to you if that is troubling you. God has never spoken to me audibly and I am unable to discern if my impressions are His, but I don’t lack guidance from God. God has given us total freedom to pursue the desires of our heart. God does not somehow lose control because our lives do not follow a specific script. In I Corinthians 7 about the decision to marry or not, Paul’s counsel depended on personal and worldly circumstances at the time. Paul did not condemn whichever choice is made. We do not serve a God who hides or leaves us wondering about His desires. God doesn’t demand His children pursue a certain career like some earthly parents. Make the wisest choice you know to make at the time. Many “Godly” paths can be chosen while still remaining entirely within God’s will. You just can’t go wrong!