Has God ever told you to do something and you said, What??? Why??? How???? Or maybe you got an “unction” (something within you that says, “Do This”) and it’s totally illogical or really out of your character? Well that’s what happened to Peter in the bible.
In Luke 5:1-7, it tells the story of Peter, a fisherman by trade, who had been out all night fishing. Jesus, a carpenter by trade, steps on the scene and proceeds to tell Peter how to fish. In the story, Jesus finds Peter and another fisherman at the shore, packing up their nets. The accounts say that they spent all night trying very hard to catch fish with nothing to show for it. They were probably tired, hungry, and frustrated. Fishing was their bread and butter and they were going home with neither bread nor butter – empty handed. So in response, Jesus (being Jesus) hopped onto Peter’s boat, told him to row out a little into the water, and then proceeded to preach a sermon to the crowd gathered at the shore. What??? After preaching, Jesus told Peter to row into deeper water and let down his net. Crazy, right? Peter probably thought – “ok … so your sermon was soooo good that fish are going to suddenly start jumping into the net now? Cuz I tried and those fish ain’t biting!” That would be equivalent to me stepping into an Operating Room and telling the surgeon: don’t take that tumor out of the patients brain, remove the tonsils instead. The surgeon would be like, ummm somebody call security!!!!
But Peter’s reaction was weird. He said (I’ll paraphrase here), “Dude! I been out here all night and ain’t caught a dang gone thing. But you know what, because You say so, I’ll do it!” That’s an unction – to be lead to do something but not fully understanding why. So Peter rowed out and threw his net into the water. Then guess what happened? The bible says Peter caught so many fish, he filled up his boat and when it started to sink he called for the other empty boat to help carry in the huge bounty!!! Now you can’t tell me it don’t pay to obey Jesus!!
I always found it interesting that Peter didn’t call security or tell Jesus “keep it moving man, I think I got this! Wait, what do you do? Build stuff? Well I’m a fisherman so…. yeah….” Yet instead, he humbled himself and actually obeyed Jesus! And through the recounting of this biblical interaction between a frustrated fisherman and a “knowitall” carpenter, we get our marching orders for our Christian walk: 1) hear His Word 2) Obey.
So you did notice there are only 2 steps, right? Some people (yours truly included) try to add a middle step in between the two: 1a) hear His Word, 1b) wait for confirmation or proof or ask 20 people what they think 2) Obey. Or we add a condition: 1) hear His Word 2a) if you have the time, energy, biblical education, been a Christian long enough, it’s in your character, have the talent, skill, personality, feel like it, etc., 2b) Obey. But really, it’s only 2 steps: 1) hear His Word 2) Obey.
So let’s break this down. First of all, you have to be in a position to Hear his word. You must learn to distinguish His voice, and drown out all the other mummering and distracting noises that keep you from hearing God. The goal is always to draw closer to Him. The more intimate you become with Jesus, the less you hear that outside clutter. My biggest distracting noise would be seeking out everyone’s opinion before I move on something God told me. Yours might be the voice of doubt whispering, “that’s crazy, you need to get more sleep at night, you’re starting to have delusions.” Someone else’s might be the voice of fear shouting, “if you do that, people will think you’re crazy, they won’t like you anymore, or they will laugh at you and call you a fool.” I could go on and on forever with the list of lying voices that pop up in our head. But when it’s God, you’ll know – it sounds different.
Does this mean you will hear angel wings flapping and birds chirping along with the message?? Some people may but probably not. You know how I usually know it’s God? I really don’t want to do it! I know it’s good and for the good but I am hesitant to do it because it’s stepping out on air (air = faith). I’m sure you’ve heard about that faith thing. Yeah, it’s real and necessary.
So that brings us to my second point, you have to have faith. If you don’t have faith, it will be impossible to do what He wants you to do. You have to Believe His Word to Do His word. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Also keep in mind that when God tells you to do something, the assignment is always one to encourage, help, lift up, or gently admonish. Take note: I said gently!!! If you just gotta “tell somebody about themselves who you think is outta line ” – that’s you – not God. The bible says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) So if God tells you to do something, if the motive is out of love – it’s God. He will always tell you to do something that’s for the good of others or yourself.
Can I just stop here and add a little tid bit about the “little stuff” we encounter daily that present us with an opportunity to do good? If you pass someone asking for change and you have change – just give it. We try to wait to see if God wants us to give change to a homeless person or predict what they will truly spend the $1 on – Dude! It’s a dollar!!! Just fork it over and keep it moving. If you see a package lying in the middle of the aisle at the store, pick it up and put it back on the shelf. If someone looks downcast with the weight of the world on their shoulders: stop, smile, and say, “Good Morning! Have an amazing day – on purpose!!!” For goodness sake, you don’t need a dramatic lightning bolt from heaven to do good. If it’s in front of you and you have an opportunity to be a “Light” to someone, to be the hands and feet of God – Just Do It!!! (Nike symbol inserted here.)
But …. if you get an unction to do something and it’s not lined up with the Word – that’s a spirit all right, just not God’s. People have made outrageous claims in the name of God. That’s how those cults get started, they claim God sent them. But everything they do is in direct opposition to the Word of God.
So here’s the difficult news for some: to make sure you are lined up with the Word of God, you have to study and read the Word of God consistently, daily! Now I’m not being “holier than thou.” I know it’s hard!! I miss the mark some days – ok let me be honest. During sports seasons for my kids, I miss the mark – a lot! But God’s tender mercies are new every day. So He forgives me and gives me a clean slate, day by day. He says to me, “You didn’t study yesterday but break open The Good Book now. I have something really awesome to show you!!!”
Your relationship with God is like a dating relationship (and with someone so amazing, you can’t believe they picked you!!). Everyday, you invest in spending time with that person, getting to know them. Eventually, you know them so much, you know how they will react to things, what they will say, you even finish their sentences! How many times in church has the preacher started to quote a scripture and you finished it out loud or in your mind? That’s cuz you know your “Boo” – you know Gods word!!! If you’re not at that point, don’t fret. You may still be in the “getting to know you phase.” Keep spending time in prayer, reading and studying His Word, going to church, joining small groups or classes offered about God. Slowly but surely, you’ll be finishing the scriptures in church. Hopefully it will bring to remembrance something beautiful God showed you about that scripture or how you can encourage someone in your life with it.
God is amazing. Sometimes I just pinch myself thinking – Dang! He chose me!!! It’s like an unbelievable love story between me and God! As you draw closer to Him, you will start to hear His voice more clearly and your only response should be: 1) Listen 2) Obey.