If there is one cry that comes from the heart of every true believer, it is to hear from the Lord. Such a cry is the desire to have a real and powerful opportunity to hear from Heaven and know what the Lord is saying to us. Such a desire comes from deep within our souls and is very much like a child crying for their father and saying, "Abba! Father!" as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 4:6. Only the Lord Himself can meet the deepest need of being our Father, Lord and Savior by speaking tenderly and directly to His people through His Word.
The problem we are facing in this hour is that hearing from the Lord is not a very common thing today. We are living in a period of history that is very similar to the days of the Judges about 3000 years ago. Back in those days, the culture was preoccupied with a focus on the "self" where everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). The people did not have spiritually mature leadership, so they were not hearing from the Lord. When the young boy Samuel was finally born, we are told that hearing the "Word of the Lord" was rare (I Samuel 3:1). Samuel's birth was meant to be a sign that the Lord was going to speak to the people again through him because his name in Hebrew means, "to hear." Real leaders must first hear from the Lord themselves, before they can share what the Lord is saying to the people. It is not enough to just be religious or even be in religious leadership.
America today is full of church services, religious things to do and sermons to hear. We are surrounded by Christian TV, radio and media, yet it seems that something is missing. People are not hearing from God very much today based on the condition of our society. It would be hard to make a case that people are encountering the Lord and His Word when the Church is not much different than the world and the Country is falling apart before our eyes. When people are really hearing from the Lord, things change! When people hear from the Lord nothing is ever the same again! That was the case with all of the people in the Bible. When Isaiah heard from the Lord, he was totally transformed (Isaiah 6:1-6). When people hear from Heaven real repentance takes place.
Now the reason why we are seeing this happen is primarily because we are largely hearing from the Church and not the Lord of the Church. Many church leaders are doing a good job of meeting the needs of their audiences with culturally pleasing messages, but fewer and fewer of them are telling people what the Lord is saying. As an example, it is a very easy thing to create a sermon series that makes people feel good. Such sermons and ministry will always draw a crowd. However, it is much, much harder to share certain Biblical passages that convict and call for commitment or repentance. Many leaders are careful not to do too much of that today because their audience will shrink and they may not "reach" as many people. This shrinking audience is exactly what happened to the Lord Jesus in John 6:60-69 when His followers dropped from 5000 to 12 after some more challening teaching. As a result, it is often not so important what the preacher is saying, but what remains unsaid, that makes all the difference in whether or not people are hearing from the Lord. Untold millions of people are attending church every week thinking they are "hearing from God', when in reality all they are possibly doing is attending church and "hearing from their pastor."
This tendency for leadership to cater to the crowd was and is behind every spiritual decline in the history of Israel and the Church. You see a great example of this pattern at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 32, when Aaron builds the Golden Calf for the people. Moses had gone off to meet the Lord on the mountain, leaving Aaron behind. This leadership vacuum created presssure on Aaron to keep the people happy as he started listening to their demands on what "god" they wanted to worship. Nothing much has changed today in a typical denomination or church. The voice of the people and their demands always seems much louder than hearing from the Lord and His Word. Biblical and Church history repeatedly shows that most leadership will eventually work toward accomodating the people's wants and desires. Hearing the Lord and His Word afresh can often be far removed from every day life.
If we are ever going to hear from the Lord directly and powerfully we have to want to hear from Him. We have to give up going to churches that just give us what we want to hear. We have to demand that our pastors, preachers and spiritual leaders, "tell us what the Lord is saying to His people in this hour." We have to be willing to change by picking up our crosses and following Jesus, as opposed to just wanting to get out of services by noon. We have to read and study the entire Bible, and not just the few passages that we like and make us feel good. When this whole counsel of God is preached our hearts are cut to the core as they were by the Apostle Peter's sermon in Acts 2:37-38. We are challenged, we are shaken. We stand in awe of the Lord and His majesty. The Lord is elevated from our "Celestial Buddy" on Sunday to one we fall before and worship with all our hearts. The Lord Jesus Christ becomes our all-in-all in reality and not just a song we sing.
If there was ever a time to seek the Lord Jesus Christ and hear His Word afresh.... it is now. Such a hearing can be unsettling, hard and challenging at times. But if we don't decide to do that, we are just left building some religious enterprise, where the Lord of glory is the Junior Partner. Such a turn of events won't last long or deeply satisfy our souls. The real joy of the Christian life is hearing from the Lord and knowing it is well with our souls by His grace alone. May that thought be the true desire of the Lord's people in this dramatic hour.