We Need to HearPart 1
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
Mark 7:31-37. “And again (speaking of Jesus), departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coast of Decapolis. And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech Him (Jesus) to put His hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, [Jesus] sighed, and saith unto him, ‘Eph-pha-tha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And straightway, his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And [Jesus] charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”
We sing, “Oh, God, You’re good! You’re good! You’re good!” and I love that because it just says it all! “God, You are so good!” Now, if you’re highly educated and deeply spiritual :-) you would say the same thing this way: “Almighty, most gracious Ancient of Days. Thou art altogether…” and so on, :-) but it’s just easier to say, “God, You are really good! Oh, God, I vote ‘yes’ on You. You have done for me what no one else could do! What a good God! I worship You!” When our hearts are filled with that kind of praise and thanksgiving, we can begin to imagine the elation of this deaf man, healed by the hand of God!
Let’s look at our text in the Gospel of Mark, verse 31. Not a terribly exciting or life-changing verse, but what it says is, “He got from one place to another.” :-) And I love verse 32 also: “And they bring unto Him….” So, I have to ask: “They who? Who are they?” If you check backwards in the chapter as I did, for some identifying information, you can’t find any. “And they” somebody. Aren’t we impressed with ourselves? We think we’re so important. :-) The Lord just looks down and matter-of-factly says, “And they.” “They worshipped me.” “They were led in song by…” “They…” You see, it simply was not important to God for us to know who they were.
It is this man’s condition I want us to look at – that is important. When we’re in a pivotal period or transition (to employ an overused word today) – when we’re in a moment of time when we’ve been somewhere (whether good or bad), and we’re going somewhere (we don’t know if it’ll be good or bad) – we need to be able to hear the voice of God! We need His counsel!
It is a common thing for people, believers anyway, to inquire of me (and others), “What’s God doing today?” They’re just being honest about the difficulty they’re having in hearing God. And they really don’t know or understand the times. There’s such a temptation for us to – lie – :-) by making up something that sounds lofty or very spiritual. :-) The reason is, when someone asks me, “What is God saying, Sister Iverna? Dr. Tompkins?” I know that person has confidence that I’ve heard something. So, I’m tempted to say (somewhat pompously or piously), “Well, I feel that – what the Lord is saying today…” – when the truth is, I often don’t know any more than the one who is asking. :-)
Too often, we have come to a time or place when we become overly dependent on hearing the voice of God – through someone else! And we go to all sorts of meetings like little birds in a nest with our ears tuned in, so eager to hear something like their little gaping beaks are looking for food. At that searching time, we are, unfortunately, available or open to hear anything, because we have decided this person is a man or woman of God and everything they tell me is going to be absolute and right. That is the most dangerous position that exists for a Christian!
This caution does not (in any way) undermine our respect for the authority inherent in the offices of the apostle – or prophet – or evangelist – or pastor – or teacher ministries as they function properly in the Church today. The discussion here is not about being submitted to authority. I’m talking about knowing what God is saying. That way, when I (or you) hear a “word” given (or preached), purportedly from the Lord, it constantly becomes a confirmation of what I already know from Him. That’s what prophecy (and especially “personal prophecy”) should be – confirming what you’ve already heard from God – not some surprise directive.
If every time you hear a recognized speaker preach, you anticipate hearing something you’ve never heard before – you’re like a little baby, lying in a crib – “Waa-waa. Gimme a ba-ba!” :-) A humorous picture perhaps, but there is an important point to be made. What God wants today is to bring us all up higher, and most particularly those of us who have lived the bottle-experience far too long. Some of you have been throwing your bottle out of the crib. The leaders come along, pick it up, and put it back in your mouth – because that’s easier than listening to you whine. Hello. It is also easier than weaning you from the simple milk diet (like spiritual Simulac) and preparing heartier meals (real “meat”) that will help you grow! Is that too hard a truth for you to hear? Think about it though. This scenario is true too much of the time.
What is happening today is that the Lord is trying to get the attention of every individual believer. Everyone of you, hopefully, come to the preaching of the Word with open ears to hear what the Spirit is saying – not attempting to obtain a map or formula of what someone else did to get where they are spiritually – “Five Easy Steps to – this or that.” That just will not work any more. Someone else’s roadmap to spiritual maturity was customized by God for that person, and will not accomplish the same results for anyone else. How do I know that? I’m 76 years old, and have tried it all. :-) Every time you see something you aspire to having or being, the temptation is to get the “how-to” book. But our Lord is a God of individuals. Before He grants a corporate blessing, He first prepares the individuals.
We’ve been going through that in the Body of Christ and now we’re coming to another place. What is He about to do now? He’s about to pour out a corporate blessing that will not be able to be pin-pointed in this one place or that one place or that other place – but it’s going to be poured out in the world! “All nations…” We are going to fulfill the prophecy on earth before we actually stand before the Throne. Revelation 15 says, “For all nations shall come and worship before Him, for His judgments are made manifest” (v.4). We’re going to see that on earth and, the preparatory work is already beginning in individuals.
God has a word especially for you and you need to hear it for yourself. I’m no longer going to stand up in front with a long line forming and give individual prophetic utterances as was done in the past. If you have to hear the Word of the Lord through me, you don’t want to know what He’s saying because what I hear Him saying is just two little words: “Grow up!” :-) “God bless you, grow up!” (5 words! :-)).
The Israelites in their wilderness journey had manna rained down from heaven until they got to the new land, almost 40 years later. Think about that. God provided food for them – liberally – until they reached the end of their wanderings (Selah) and were ready to embark on the fulfillment of the Promise. We could liken this to our own growth process into spiritual maturity. When the manna freely rains down, and all I have to do is pick it up, I get used to that. I really do. It’s so much easier that way – even if it’s the same old flavor (another “selah”). “Hey! It’s from heaven.” And we are too easily satisfied with what’s easiest to digest. Oh, there’s a lesson there if you can hear it!
Then a time came when the Lord said, “You’re in the new land now, you have to learn to fix your own food. Prepare vittles.” Joshua told them, “Prepare some food (victuals)” (1:11). “But I don’t know how to cook. I haven’t been doing that for years!” “Well, you’re going to get real hungry then, because the manna isn’t going to be rained on you so freely anymore. It’s going to be meat, and it’s going to be served. And when the meat of God’s Word is served, it will be such a confirming thing that your understanding will complement it like vegetables on the plate!”
Do you honestly think you know everything already? I don’t know it all. Wonderful astute men of God – Pastors on the platform – don’t know it all. Is that a shock to you? The truth is we all are still growing. In order to be a real leader – here’s a truth for leaders – we only have to be one step ahead of the crowd. Not miles and miles in front, just one step ahead. We can then say, “Follow us. Come on, follow me as I follow Christ” (1Cor.11:1), which means, “I’m learning as I go, but I’m following Him as closely as I can.”
God wants us to be constantly growing – growing up in our understanding of spiritual truths and in our commitment to His ways. In Hebrews chapter 5, the writer upbraids the readers, calling them “dull of hearing” (v.11b). The text continues by describing what he means by that condition: “For when the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb.5:12-14).
Oh, that we would not resist the move of God in each of our individual lives by choosing the bottle, the milk, over the meat! We need to allow the Lord to remove that which impedes us, causing us to be “dull of hearing” or delayed in our growth.
“And they bring to Him one that was deaf” (Mt.7:32).
What stops us from hearing? If God always is speaking, why is it that I only occasionally hear Him? We will look at 6 possibilities as hindrances to hearing God’s voice.
- The first thing that shuts out our ability to hear God is indecision.
We can learn about this when Jesus taught from the familiar parable: the sower plants the seed and before it grows the devil comes and snatches it away (Mt.13:19). That happens because we don’t make a decision when we first hear the Word. For years in the church, I have watched people do this “delayed action” or lack of response. The Spirit of conviction comes with the presentation of His Word in the message delivered, and you can actually watch some people contemplate what their response might be. The Lord opens their ears for hearing, but they begin to think, or rationalize, “You know, part of what she is saying could be true.” Then the Holy Spirit pinpoints something: “You need to do this,” or, “This is what I want from you,” or, “I’m speaking to you.” And you think (we’ll pretend it’s you :-) ), “You know, I’m going to think on this. I don’t want to make a hasty decision.” Oh, God forbid you should have a leaping response! :-) “I just don’t want to get caught up in group psychology. Just because hundreds of people are responding to the altar invitation, I don’t want to go because – I’m a free-thinker…” Oh, yes, you are free to think! But you need to learn to think with God!
I’ve seen people take a “white-knuckle” positioning – hanging on to the way they are, not wanting to consider change, yet experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit – and then they leave the building without responding to His promptings. By the time “you” get to your car, the atmosphere of faith ushered in with the Presence of the Holy Spirit that was there in the meeting to activate your faith and enable you to obey, is no longer stirring you. Now, when that element of faith is missing, human logic takes over. Still just pretending this is “you” :-) – in your process of thinking it over, you’re not thinking with the mind of Christ available to you (Phil.2:5), you’re thinking through the rationalization of human thought – a human’s mind in action – and you’re contemplating: “If I do this…” “If this was really God…” “If that…” “I’m not sure…” “I’m just going to wait…” That wait-and-see attitude, my Friend, will cause deafness – in you. While others soar on into what they’ve heard from God, responding to His voice, you sit in your silence (no voice of God being discerned) and contemplate.
Go to Part 2