Listen, That Your Soul May Live
By Rich Carmicheal
Our Heavenly Father is a God who speaks. He is not like the gods fashioned by man, gods that cannot speak (Psa. 115:4-7), but He is the true and the living God whose glory thunders and whose voice is powerful and majestic (Psa. 29:3-4). His Word is like fire and like a hammer that shatters a rock (Jer. 23:29). It is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). When He sends forth His Word, it does not return to Him empty, but accomplishes what He desires and achieves His purposes (Isa. 55:11).
Our God is always speaking. He speaks to us through Creation, through His written Word, through His Spirit, and through our Lord Jesus Christ. However, not everyone recognizes or acknowledges what God says. There are many whose hearts are insensitive and whose ears are dull (Acts 28:26-27). In fact, consider yourself very blessed if you have ears to hear the Word of the Lord (Matt. 13:16).
Also realize that along with the privilege of hearing comes great responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart (Heb. 3:7-8, 15; 4:7). Do not "refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven" (Heb. 12:25).
Reproof and Correction
The Lord’s Word is not always pleasant to hear. While at times it comforts and encourages, it at other times warns, rebukes and corrects. For example, Jesus commended the church in Ephesus for their deeds, toil and perseverance (Rev. 2:2-3), but rebuked them for having left their first love (2:4). He also warned them that unless they repented, He would remove their lampstand (2:5).
Similarly, He commended those in Sardis who had not defiled their garments, but He also revealed that many in the church were dead spiritually even though they had the reputation of being alive. And He admonished them, "Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die…. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent" (3:1-4).
He also had very strong words for the church in Laodicea. He rebuked them for being lukewarm and for thinking they were rich when in fact they were "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3:15-17). He warned that He was about to spit them out of His mouth (3:16).
However, His purpose in issuing such strong words is not to discourage or crush His people, but to awaken them. "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent" (3:19). He wants His people to repent and be restored in their fellowship with Him. Notice His beautiful invitation to those even in as pathetic condition as the church in Laodicea: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me" (3:20).
Renewal and Revival
Those of us in the Herald office hope that you are full of spiritual life and that you are walking in truth and holiness. We hope that your love for the Lord and your love and compassion for others is red hot. We also hope you are devoted to the Word of God and faithful in prayer and intercession. If so, may Herald messages provide encouragement and inspiration as you press on in your fellowship with the Lord and your ministry to others.
We realize, however, that many believers are living below, in some cases far below, the life the Lord intends. Love has grown cold. Hearts have hardened. Sin has entangled. Spiritual sight and hearing have become dull. Spiritual appetite has diminished.
If you are in such a condition, take heart that the Lord seeks not to condemn you, but to awaken you. He stands at the door and knocks. In His love for you, He calls you to repentance. Do not harden your heart to His voice. Instead, let your heart be as good soil – "…hear the Word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold" (Mark 4:20). Follow the example of the psalmist: "The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Thy words. I entreated Thy favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Thy Word. I considered my ways, and turned my feet to Thy testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep Thy commandments" (Psa. 119:57-60); "I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land" (Psa. 85:8-9).
One of our prayers in the Herald office is for the Lord to provide messages and to anoint them to help refresh and revive the hearts of readers. We hope that you will hear from Him as you take the messages in this issue to heart. We also hope that whenever you hear His Word that you will be very sensitive and responsive to Him, and that you will draw near to Him and allow Him to fill you more fully with His love, His life, His Spirit, His holiness and His fire.
The Lord offers this invitation: "Listen carefully to Me…Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that your soul may live" (Isa. 55:2-3).