Listening that affirms each other
When the rams are looking
at the shepherd, the woolly coats rub companionably against
each other – but when they look at each other they see only
Recognizing the work of the Spirit in each other is a vital
part of being in touch with the Still Small Voice. F.B.
Meyer was the leading conference speaker of his day. The
time came when a younger man, Campbell Morgan, superseded
him in popularity as a teacher. For a time Meyer wrestled
with the pain of seeing his followers turning elsewhere for
their spiritual nourishment. To overcome these feelings he
hit upon a truly inspired strategy: he resolved to spend as
much of his time as he could praying for the success of
I have shared this stunning example of humility in action on
numerous occasions, and it never fails to move me. It is the
perfect antidote to striving and jealousy.
Long ago, Satan had a problem relating to God. To this day
he never ceases trying to disrupt relationships. I have
watched with dismay as ministers in a deliverance session
have all but come to blows about how to proceed, never
realizing the degree to which they were being influenced by
the powers they should have been united in dislodging. It is
an extreme example of the strain relationships come under
when the enemy spies a weakness to exploit.(9)
Realistically, the powers of darkness do not have that many
worthwhile targets in a given region to pursue. It is no
wonder they focus their efforts on those who pose their
efforts on those who pose the greatest danger. Don’t be
surprised, Peter warns, when attacks crowd in on our health,
reputation, doctrine, finances and so on.(10)
Typically, the enemy directs his forces against an
individual or family, often using divisive spirits to make
full used of specific information to hurt or malign. Part of
the enemy’s strategy is to make us mistake our suspicions
for the authentic voice of God.
Suppose I am getting to know someone who has been divorced,
or who has had some kind of ‘history’ in the past. Things
are going fine until a Bible verse jumps off the page,
appearing to question their morality, or their motivation.
Is this a Godly warning? Or is it the devil dredging dirt?
We must be so careful. Leaping to wrong conclusions can
seriously affect the way we relate to each other.
There have been many splits in the Body of Christ, in which
basically excellent men and women have been driven from
their posts through people heeding strong and distorted
prejudices, and confusing this with the authentic leading of
How can we overcome the enemy’s implacable spite and
jealousy? By affirming each other! The more we shout for joy
when we see others doing well(11)
(and the quicker we are to pray
for those who are not faring so well), the less room we give
the green-eyed monster.
For Reflection and Prayer
If the grass is looking greener on the other side of the
fence, it is time to water your own lawn. (Anon)
‘Anger is cruel, and fury overwhelming, but who can stand
Jealousy lies at the root of
every character defect. It injects its poison, turns us in
on ourselves, and paralyzes our love and generosity.
There is only one letter difference between the words to
‘resent’ and to ‘repent’ – but all the difference in the
world in their outworking.
when I see someone
Who is much more obviously blessed than I am,
Let me not feel rejected or passed over.
I hand every pang of jealousy and envy to You.
Show me any bitter roots
That are operating in my heart.
Uproot all jealousy or judgment,
And enable me to bless the people, institutions and
Fellowships I have been feeling so ambiguous
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Listening that complements and compliments
Jesus, lover of our souls,
let our earthly loves be true.
As I draw near to my beloved,
May I draw still nearer to You.
Jesus, we welcome You
Into the heart of our homes and friendships.
Let common wit and purpose spur us on:
Let nothing come between our love.
Have you noticed how the Lord
often ‘balances’ people who are particularly gifted in
hearing the Still Small Voice by placing them in a safe and
I can see in memory the man who founded a beautiful retreat
centre that lies high in the hills of Pembrokeshire. I see
him sitting at his desk by the window, working his way
doggedly through huge administrative piles. His attention to
detail perfectly complemented (although it may have
occasionally irritated) his more spiritually ‘sensitive’
wife, who brought so many precious words from the Lord to
the guests who were staying with them. The ministry needed
both sets of skills.
You can probably think of a number of marriage and pastoral
teams that the Lord ‘counterbalances’ in such ways. If both
partners were too mystically inclined, the chances are that
they would embark on all manner of schemes and ideas, and
end up like Icarus – straying so close to the sun that they
melt their wings, and crash back to Terra Firma. If both
were too stolidly ‘earthly,’ however, they might lack the
vision and initiative to attempt the things the Lord had in
mind for them.
The Lord balances our giftings, therefore, and makes them
complementary rather than competitive. This is wonderful –
provided that everyone realizes what is going on. Otherwise
spiritually minded giants might be inclined to grumble, ‘Why
can’t they be more spiritual?’ leaving people whose feet are
more firmly planted on the ground feeling like spiritual
Over the years I have probably heard from the Lord more
often than Ros – although at key moments, and on certain
issues, the reverse has undoubtedly been the case. One of
Ros’s most precious roles is to weigh and balance the words
that I hear, and to keep me on course when I try to
implement them prematurely, or lose confidence in them
For Reflection and Prayer
I love Paul’s masterly understatement, when he warns that we
are not wise when we compare ourselves with one another.(13)
Such comparisons stem only from
pride, if we think we are better than them, or from shame
and despondency if we feel we are inferior. Neither attitude
is of the slightest help in discerning the Still Small
Since everything God gives is for the benefit of the whole
Body, the following questions probe our heart’s leaning,
whilst at the same time pointing us in a better direction:
proactive am I in praying for people and ministries
I am not instinctively drawn towards?
ii) Do I shout for joy when I see someone else
Stop – Look – Listen.
(Road Safety Slogan)
A few miles from where we live, extensive sectors of
Dartmoor are used as live firing ranges for the army. Red
flags fly to show when these are ‘forbidden zones.’ In much
the same way, the Lord finds ways to alert us when we are in
danger of crossing into dangerous territory. It is up to us
to heed the warnings.
If we cross the boundaries of propriety (whether in terms of
sexuality, or in observing national and spiritual laws) we
cannot but experience serious consequences. It is not so
much that we break God’s laws as that they break us.
I can only plead with you to heed the slogan above: ‘Stop.
Look. Listen.’ Acting on the promptings the Lord gives
through His Still Small Voice can prevent an ocean of
regrets later on.
Rick Renner describes a time when the Spirit prompted him
not to go to a particular meeting. Because he had come a
long way to attend it, however, he felt justified in
overruling his persistent warning nudges. When he returned
to his hotel room, he found it ransacked, with everything of
The Lord is prepared to share many insights with us, but we
must be careful not to pry into areas the Lord has no
intention of speaking about. To return to the Narnia stories
that mean so much to so many, Aslan rebukes Lucy on one
occasion for eavesdropping on two friends who had been
talking about her. At the same time he reassures her
concerning the friend who had been talking about her in such
a dismissive way.
have misjudged your friend. She is weak, but she
loves you. She was afraid of the older girl, and
said what she does not mean.’
Having overheard something
she had no right to be privy to, Lucy is worried that she
may have spoilt the relationship forever. We have no doubt
seen the Lord turn many such situations round through
repentance and prayer, but Aslan takes the opportunity to
outline a principle we all do well to bear in mind: ‘That
is someone else’s story. No one is ever told what would have
To stray into ‘someone else’s story’ is to enter realms of
divination that we are not permitted to explore.(16)
What happens if we allow no-go areas to develop in our
lives? We are likely to find the Still Small Voice growing
progressively fainter. Often, this comes about not because
of conscious sin but because we have built ‘walls’ to
protect ourselves from being hurt.
As we shall see in the final chapter, we may need to put
certain ‘filters’ in place to protect ourselves from
information overload. We must be careful, though, that the
measures we adopt do not develop into full scale walls that
keep the Lord, and other key people, at a distance.
Corrie Ten Boom once asked the Lord why she was no longer
hearing the Still Small Voice. He reminded her that she had
told Him once that she was willing to go anywhere for Him,
so long as it wasn’t Germany.
The moment she repented of this ‘no-go’ area, the Lord began
to speak to her again. He also opened the door for her to
exercise a wonderfully fruitful ministry – in Germany!
For Reflection and Prayer
As we evaluate our attempts to listen, we will often find
that our interpretation of events turns out to be too
narrowly subjective. When hard things happen to ‘bad’ men,
we automatically assume them to be the judgment of God. When
similar things befall good people, we rush to put all the
blame on the devil. That may by no means be all that is
going on in a situation.
many of Your ways are past finding out;
Yet You are willing to share so much with us.
As we heed the words and whispers You send our way,
Help us to respect proper boundaries,
And to avoid over simplistic interpretations.
like the angels! (Mark 12:25; Luke 20:36)
Behold, I will create new
heavens and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17)
The whole of history is leading up to the moment when the
Lord Jesus returns to make all things new. In the age to
come, Jesus says that we will be like His messengers – the
What do angels spend the greater part of their time doing?
They come in to the throne room to worship the Lamp, and
then they go out on specific assignments for Him. Since our
future state will include service for God, and fellowship
with Him, it makes sense to get in training now!
may we be like the angels:
Pure and single minded in our devotion,
But quick to recognize when You call us
to some new assignment.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
8 Mark 4:38
9 We will avoid many mistakes, and much discomfiture,
if we learn to think about how our actions will affect the
wider Body of Christ.
10 1 Peter 4:12f
11 Psalm 20:5
12 Proverbs 27:4
13 2 Corinthian’s 10:12
14 Rick Renner Sparkling Gems from the Greek
(Teach All Nations). We cannot recommend this devotional
compilation too highly.
15 C.S Lewis The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Harper
16 Deuteronomy 29:29