Get ready now to blow the lid off your theology. Be prepared to see Jesus in an entirely new light. Did you know we have been coming at our problems from the wrong end? We have been so preoccupied with our own problems, we have not even entertained the thought that our Lord has a problem, too. And if we can understand His problem, we will soon get to the root of our own.
Our Lord's problem is that He is lonely. He has an almost insurmountable problem of communicating with those of us who claim to love Him so. He is a "feeling" Savior, and His feelings and needs have been totally neglected by many of His own children.
We seek to satisfy the heart of Jesus through praise, only. We sing and shout and lift a chorus of worship and adoration, and that is wonderful and scriptural. We come unto His gates with praise and enter His courts with thanksgiving. We praise Him with instruments. We praise him with song, with uplifted hands, with tears and loud hosannas. But it is still only one-way communication. God commands everything that has breath to praise Him. But praise alone does not meet our Savior's need.
I wonder if the Lord ever wearies of His children coming into His presence and never once stopping to listen. Nothing is so empty and unfulfilling as one-way communication. Try listening to someone for a few hours without getting in a word. It leaves you with a feeling of loneliness. The person who "got the load off his chest" goes away feeling better - he talked it out. But the poor listener, who could not offer a single word of advice or share his own heart, stands there unfulfilled.
How often have we left our Lord there alone in the secret closet, lonely and unfulfilled? We rush into His presence with a "Praise you Jesus; worship you, Jesus! Glory to Jesus! Here's my shopping list and my healing card. Amen" How many times has He been so ready and anxious to open His own heart to speak, when lo and behold, no one was there.
If we pray an hour, we talk an hour. If we pray for hours, we talk for hours. If we pray all night, we talk all night. Millions of voices talking, talking and praising. All my preaching life has been spent in trying to get people to pray. Now, I see that has not really been the problem. The real problem is leaving the Savior in the secret closet, alone, unfulfilled, lonely - having said not a word to us. We left that closet of prayer having unburdened our hearts. We talked it all out with Him, joy filled our hearts. We told Him of our hopes, our dreams, our desires. We left that holy place of prayer with a satisfied mind. Yet, our Lord was still there waiting with keen anticipation, longing to share in that communion. Does our Lord not say, "Yes, yes, thank you for your praise. I accept it. I'm so glad you took the time to be shut in with Me. I have heard your request and the Father will give you the desire of your heart. But please, wait! Please be still awhile. Don't leave just now. I have some things I want to share with you. My heart is yearning to be unburdened to you. I've bottled your tears, I've soothed your troubled mind. Now, allow Me to talk! Allow Me to tell you what is on My heart"
Our Lord Jesus wants to talk. He wants to tell us what is breaking His heart in our generation. He wants to speak to each child about the beautiful plan He has for all who trust Him - revealing glorious truths; guidance for ourselves and help in raising children; solutions to our problems; new ministries and outreaches that will save the lost; specific words concerning jobs, careers, homes, life partners; truths about heaven, hell and the coming calamities. Most of all, He wants to talk to us about how much He loves and cares for His own.
Lest you think I am unscriptural, listen to His very own words. Here is a beautiful glimpse into the very heart of Jesus.
"But which of you having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him...when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?" (Luke 17:7,8).
We have no trouble at all identifying with the servant in his duty to his master. No trouble in putting on our apron and serving up the Lord a full table of praises - a good feast of worship. We love to feed our Lord! We love to see Him feasting on our service and love. We gird ourselves, make ready and serve Him with gladness. It is our greatest joy, our supreme fulfillment - to minister unto the Lord.
But we have difficulty with the last part - the Lord's part. "And afterward, you shall eat!" That is too much for us to comprehend. We do not know how to sit down after we have served Him - to allow Him the same joy we experienced in serving Him! We rob our Lord of the joy of ministering to us.
We think our Lord gets enough pleasure from what we do for Him. But there is so much more. Our Lord responds to our faith. He rejoices when we repent. He talks to the Father about us. He delights in our childlike trust. It pleases Him to give us rest and peace and to fulfill all His promises on our behalf. But I am convinced that His greatest need is to have a one-to-one personal communication with those He left here on earth. Not a single angel in Heaven can meet that need. No one who has already passed the veil can meet that need. Jesus wants to talk to those on the battlefield. He must have open lines - two-way lines - to every soldier on every front.
Where did I get such a notion that Christ is lonely and has a desperate need to speak? It's all there in the beautiful account for Christ appearing to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus had just been resurrected. The very same day, about noon, Cleopas and another disciple were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus - a distance of about six and one-half miles.
Jesus drew near. They were grieved about their departed Lord. In their grief, they did not recognize Him. To really understand the deep need in our Lord's heart, watch Him carefully as he walked along beside those talking, grieving disciples. They were communing and reasoning between themselves.
How lonely Jesus must have been. He wanted to talk; He had so much to say to them. And when He could hold back no longer, Jesus stopped listening and began talking: "And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them...and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:15,27).
There could have been no finer experience for those disciples. They had heard His voice and went away saying, "...did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us?" But because we have never understood the needs of Jesus, we think only of the joy those disciples shared. What about the joy of Jesus? They said their hearts burned when He talked. But I see a resurrected Lord, tears streaming down His glorified cheeks, walking down that dusty road with a heart filled with joy. He was fulfilled, His need had been met. While the world waited, Jesus interrupted the whole plan of redemption a few hours - just to talk! I see Jesus overjoyed. He had ministered. In His glorified form, He had experienced His first two-way communion. He had poured out His heart. His lonely heart had been touched. His need, too, had been met.
We know so little today about His voice and His need to speak to us. We are too occupied with His power to be aware of His voice. Like Elijah, the great prophet, we are more familiar with demonstrations of power than we are of His still small voice.
Elijah exercised the power of prayer. He closed and opened the heavens. He called fire down and parted waters and his mantle. A man of action who brought entire governments under his spell, he stood on Mt. Carmel and mocked the prophets of Baal, killing them right under the king's nose.
This mighty man of prayer enters God's throne room seven times, earnestly praying for rain. Seven times Elijah talked to God about this one need. A little cloud appears, and the prophet who, 3-1/2 years before, had closed the heavens and caused a terrible drought, now opens the heavens and "an abundance" of rain falls. Elijah outruns Ahab's chariot 16 miles to the royal residence.
Elijah was flushed with victory. A great spiritual awakening was about to take place. The fire of God had fallen. Miracles had been witnessed by multitudes. It had been an unbelievable display of God's mighty power. Elijah thought, "Now, even Jezebel will repent! Even she cannot dismiss these signs and wonders. This is God's hour for this nation."
What a shock he got! Jezebel was not at all impressed with miracles and power. She said to Elijah, "By tomorrow at this time, I will kill you just like you killed my priests."
The next time you see this great man of power and action - this mighty prayer warrior - this miracle worker - this man who calls fire down out of Heaven - he is hiding in a cave almost 200 miles away on Mount Horeb.
What a sight! Forty days and forty nights he spends brooding over how things have all gone wrong. He became preoccupied with problems. His eyes were now on himself instead of God. So God calls to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here - hiding in a cave?"
With a pout, Elijah answers, "Lord, the nation is falling apart. The entire government is wicked, immoral. The people have backslidden; they won't even believe in miracles. Society has gone mad. My message has been thrown back in my face. They really don't want help. The devil is in control - he's got everybody but me. I'm the only one left standing true to you, Lord. I'm hiding out to preserve at least one saint."
Elijah, a praying prophet, had been so busy for God, so busy demonstrating God's power, so busy saving God's kingdom - he had become a one-way servant. He had been talking to God often - but he had done very little listening. Had he been listening, he would have heard God tell him there were 7,000 saints who had not compromised.
So God had to teach this servant a lesson on listening. He took him to the very top of Mt. Horeb and gave him an illustrated sermon!
"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:11-13).
When that wind began to howl, I think Elijah thought to himself, "It's about time, Lord. Blow Jezebel right off her throne - throw her and her sinner friends to the winds. Blow them all away! Show your power!" But God was not in the wind!
Suddenly, a great earthquake - and Elijah said, "That ought to scare them good! God will get even. He will shake them out of their shoes! Thank you, Lord. You are vindicating your servant." But God was not in the earthquake!
After the earthquake, a fire! The heavens were aglow with white-hot flames! Elijah said to his heart, "Lord, they didn't accept the fire that fell on the altar - burn them out! Burn out wicked Ahab! Fry Jezebel. Cause Your fire to consume the wicked. God, I know You are in this fire!" But God was not in the fire!
"And after the fire, a still small voice" (verse 12).
Can you imagine what happened next? A prophet who was not afraid of a hurricane, who didn't scare at all at an earthquake, who didn't bat an eyelid at heavenly fireworks - is absolutely frightened by a still small voice. "And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle" (verse 13).
Elijah covered his head with his coat! Why? Had not this prophet talked to God many times? Had he not been to the throne seven times on Mt. Carmel? Was he not a great man of prayer? Hadn't God used him mightily? Yes! But Elijah was a stranger to the still small voice!
And when Elijah finally allowed that voice to speak - alone, quiet, away from all the power displays - he got the most specific directions ever in all his ministry to God.
"Go to Damascus; go through the wilderness; anoint Hazael king over Syria; anoint Jehu king over Israel; and anoint Elisha to be prophet to follow you..." (1 Kings 19:15,16).
How many busy, busy children of God today have never had the voice come to them? They are so busy witnessing - going about doing good - praying for a spiritual awakening in the land - fasting - so intense - so sincere - so dedicated. Yet, they have heard everything but the voice of the Lord.
John the Baptist never made it to Pentecost! He saw none of the cloven tongues of fire. He did not hear the mighty rushing wind. He did not see Jerusalem shaken and multitudes converted. But John said his joy was fulfilled! He had heard something better than the rushing wind - better than good reports - better than the sounds of a joyful bride. He heard the Savior's voice.
"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled" (John 3:29).
John tasted of the greatest joy a follower of Jesus can know. He said, "I stood still and I heard Him talk to me. His voice made my heart leap. He talked to me personally. I listened to my Lord. And that's my joy. Just hearing His voice."
John could say, "O yes, I loved Him. I worshiped at His feet. I told Him how unworthy I was. But my joy is not in what I said to Him. My joy is in what He said to me. He spoke to me. I heard His voice, and I rejoice just in the sound of that voice."
Some people teach that the Lord no longer speaks to men - except through the revealed Word. They cannot believe men can be directed and blessed by hearing that still small voice today.
Jesus said, "My sheep know My voice; they hear when I call...another voice they will not hear..." But, nowadays we are afraid of all the abuses, afraid it will lead to revelations contrary to the Word of God in the scriptures. But, all the abuses are not God's fault. Every fake vision, false prophecy, false leading is a direct result of a man's own pride and self-will. Men abuse every gift of God. Nevertheless, the Lord still speaks directly to the hearts of those willing to hear.
"God, who at certain times in various ways spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son..." (Hebrews 1:1).
"Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, Today, if you will hear his voice... harden not your hearts." (Hebrews 3:7).
Millions have been converted because one man waited to hear His voice. Saul "fell to the earth and heard that voice." And when he became Paul, he kept on hearing that voice. The Lord spoke man-to-man with him. He knew his Shepherd's voice.
Peter allowed the Savior's voice to come to him.
"And Peter went up on the housetop to pray, and there came a voice to him (Acts 10:9).
The entire Gentile race was welcomed into the kingdom, along with the house of Cornelius, because a man obeyed a voice. We are living in the same New Testament times as Paul and Peter. We, too, must allow His voice to come to us. "But today, if you will hear His voice..." What God could do with Christians who learn to hear from Heaven!
Instead of waiting for His voice to come to us, we run to counselors, to Christian psychologists; we run to one session or another, reading books, listening to tapes - wanting to hear from God. We want a clear word of direction for our lives! We seek shepherds to dictate our every move. We want pastors to tell us what is right and wrong. We want a leader to follow, a diagram for the future. But few know how to go to the Lord and hear His voice. There are many who know how to get God's attention - to really touch God, but they know nothing about God reaching them.
"They that have ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit saith..." (Matthew 11:15).
God wants to shake the earth once more. The whole universe is ready for Holy Ghost convulsions!
"See that you refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven...whose voice then shook the earth. But now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven" (Hebrews 12:25,26).
He has promised, "Once again My voice will be heard. Those who hear will shake the earth. Heaven and earth will be moved. By the hearing of My voice, whatsoever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
To the last church, the Laodicean church, the Lord cries,
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).
That is the last call of Christ to the church. There will come a spirit of lukewarmness. Luxury will lead to lukewarmness! Multitudes will grow cold. But my people, "I'm asking to be heard. Open up. Let Me into your secret closet. Let Me talk with you and you talk with Me. Let's commune. That's how I will keep you from the hour of temptation that is coming on all the world."
John, in his revelation, talks about a day when our Lord's heart shall be lonely no more.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And God Himself shall be with them and God said... I will give him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" (Revelation 21:3-6).
That means free and full communication with no middle wall of partition; no dark glasses; no knowledge in part; but face-to-face conversation! We think of how glorious it will be to spend an eternity praising our Lord face-to-face, bowing at His knee. But have you ever tried to realize what that great homecoming will mean to our Savior? All the children home - free to share His very being. He will make us all sit down, and out of His innermost being will flow rivers of glorious truth. As He did on the road to Emmaus, our Redeemer will begin at Moses and take us all through the prophets. He will share the secrets of the universe. He will unfold every plan. Every cloud of darkness will be dispelled. Christ will share for an eternity!
I see the real joy of Heaven not just ours, but His. Our joy will be that of beholding His joy as He talks to us - to speak freely to us face-to-face. Our greatest joy in Heaven will be to see Christ fulfilled - to see His need fully met.