Okay, so God has given you an answer, a vision, a word, a direction, or some idea of where you go from here (Act 1: The Answer). He is faithful to do that if you just ask. James 4:2 “…You do not have because you do not ask.” Also, exercise a little faith in asking, Matthew 21:22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Then, the enemy has tried to take it away or prevent you from receiving. You should know it is going to happen and expect it. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (Act 2: The Attack). The great thing about John 10:10, though, is that it is in the context of Jesus teaching that He is the good shepherd. Just a few verses earlier, Jesus says:
“10:3 …He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When He has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger, instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”
Typically, however, John goes on to note in verse 6, “Jesus gave them this illustration but they did not understand what He was telling them.”
I think the real key to “The Application” is right there in John 10:4-6: recognizing the shepherd’s voice and following it, or following strangers because you don’t understand. Hence, the title, “Is That You God?”
By no means am I saying this is easy, or that I am an expert, I am not. I struggle with this question daily, but I do think that mastery of this is like mastery of anything else, it comes with practice. Part of the problem, I think, is that we are so out of practice, that we don’t recognize the shepherd’s voice…and He is trying desperately to lead us out.
The point of this trilogy is, in part, to show that sometimes we do hear that voice, we just may not recognize it because the thief is trying to prevent our understanding. An attack following an answer is a great way of doing that because it makes us question our very ability to hear the answer. We need to be sensitive to this. I will give one brief personal example.
Not too long ago, Lori (my wife, for you who don’t know her) and I began to recognize that we would have arguments over the strangest things immediately before our joint efforts would be needed the following day, usually for a ministry opportunity. It might be the night before or the morning of, but invariably, if we had an argument that seemed to come from no where, we knew something was afoot. This tactic has become less effective, note that I said less effective, not ineffective…we are still working on this one. I would imagine that if you reflected for a moment, you could very easily begin to discern a few of these attacks.
Why all of this energy and effort aimed at preventing or confusing “The Answer”? It is because of “The Application”. As great as “The Answer” may be, it does not have the same effect as “The Application”. If you keep it a secret, don’t implement it, or don’t otherwise share it, there is little or no ripple effect. The ripple effect is what the enemy is most worried about.
This goes all the way back to Abraham, God blessed Abraham SO THAT Abraham would be a blessing to others. (Gen. 12:2). When we get an answer, it is SO THAT we will bless others. You get a raise, more money for the kingdom (you help a family in need or a missionary); you get healed, a testimony for the kingdom (you give someone else a boost of faith); your marriage is restored, you become a counselor for the kingdom (other marriages are restored). It’s the ripple effect. The answer will always have ripple effects. If there are no ripple effects, then the answer wasn’t from God, or, more likely, there was no application.
So, what then is “The Application”?
You get it, then you give it. It is the whole point of the gospel: spreading the good news. GO MAKE WAVES!