At the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, there is a mention of the epistle of the Laodicean church (4:17). Now, do not worry if you have not read Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans. It is not in the Bible, and As a matter of fact, there is no copy of the letter, which was lost early in church history. The letter did not make it into the canon of scripture. Perhaps because it was lost before the Bible was divinely put together, perhaps the letter was so much like the other epistles. Whatever the reason it is not in the Bible, we must conclude it was because God chose not to have it placed within scripture. But that does not take away from the fact that in the time of Paul, he is encouraging them to read the letter, but why?
Though the letter was not found necessary by the Holy Spirit to be placed within the canon, it was still something given to Paul by the Holy Spirit for that body at that time. At that moment, the letter was necessary and productive for the original audience, and Paul encouraged the Colossians that were near the city of Laodicea to read the letter. Many times, God sends us a word of knowledge, wisdom, or revelation to encourage, challenge, or correct us. Whether through a preacher preaching a Sunday sermon or a teacher teaching a small group, God uses someone we do not even know to bring a word into our life. The problem comes when we fail to listen to the Word that God is given to us because of the messenger that God is using. Paul would have understood this very well. In his early ministry, Paul had to overcome the stigma of being a persecutor of the church before he was converted. Many people that heard him preach could not get over who he was before and feared that he was trapping them. They failed to hear what Paul had to say. As a matter of fact, if you study the life of Paul, you will realize that it was not until after his death that the church really realized how powerful a man of God Paul was. People simply did not listen because he was who he was, and he was not as charismatic as Peter or even Apollos.
You see, many times fail to hear what God is saying to us because we want it to come to us in a certain package and in a certain way. We want the style to be just right or the verbiage to roll off the tongue in a certain way. Sometimes what we call anointing is simply charisma that one person has that another does not. In the Corinthian church, they thought this way. Some thought that Apollos was more anointed than Paul because he was very charismatic in the way that he spoke, and Paul was not. Now, how crazy is it that a church would think that the Apostle Paul was not anointed? The fact is that it happens in the church all the time. We cut people off simply because they are not pleasing to our ears. Itchy ears are not just because I want to be told I can sin and be all right, but it is also when I fail to hear the Word of God because it does not come in the fashion I think it should. There are many reasons why the people of God fail to hear the Word of the Lord or miss it when He gives it.
One is Spiritual arrogance. Spiritual arrogance is when you feel that you have arrived and that you have come to a place where God speaks to you in a certain way or only by certain people. William Shakespeare said, “It is a fool that thinks he is wise.” When we think that we have arrived, we are in a dangerous place. When we look at others and think to ourselves, they do not have what I have and are not at the level that I am at. We are in a dangerous place. When we think that the only Word we can get has to come through certain people, then we shut ourselves off to other ways in which God wants to speak to us. Thinking we are something is as anti-christ as we can be because it goes against the entire nature of Jesus. He was humble, not prideful, nor arrogant. And if anyone had the right to be spiritually arrogant, it was Him. Yet Jesus humbled Himself. The apostle Paul who was more educated than almost all if not all the apostles and had spent three years alone in the wilderness learning of Jesus, still submitted and learned from Peter and James in Jerusalem. Spiritual arrogance can stop us from hearing from God, and the sad thing is that most people in this condition fail to realize it. If you think that you are at a high level, if you think others are not where you are, or if you think that you can only get a word from certain people, then you need to repent.
Situations of life close you off. Sometimes we close off from the Word of God simply because we are going through something that is hard. We do not want to deal with the situation, and so we quit listening to what God has to say. We are distracted by our situation, so we come to church and never truly listen to anything that is said because our focus is on the situation that we face. We never hear what God has for us, and we never take in the Word that could bring comfort or change to the issue. Instate, we fail to listen and struggle longer than God ever intended because we are not listening. Or maybe we think our situation is so bad that it needs a special man or woman of God to take care of it, and we shut everyone else out. I remember years ago this woman in our church that was sick with a disease. She believes if she could get to a certain healing evangelist that was very popular at the time that, she could be healed. So, here and her husband when across the country to a meeting that he was doing, trying to have him lay hands on her. Finally, after going to several meetings and standing in several prayer lines, he comes, lays hands on her, and prays. Nothing happened, and she grew worse and worse. Finally, one night in our little church, a dear grayed-haired sister goes over to her and lays hands on her and prays. At that moment, God healed her, and she fully recovered. It was not the way she thought it would be, no big-time preacher, no fantasy prayer line, just a soft-spoken woman of faith who believed. Sometimes we allow our situation to cause us to miss out.
Lastly, we miss God speaking to us because we have sin in our life. We have allowed sin to enter our hearts, and it causes us to miss out on what God has for us. The only words that God will give to a sinner are the Word of repentance. Many in the church play the part of a Christian while the whole time they are wearing a veil of deception. When sin is present, it stops the Word of God from coming into our life.
Today maybe God is trying to speak to you. Maybe you really need a Word from the Lord, and you want to hear Him. Then open your heart, listen, and do not try to control the method in which God speaks. It may come through a big-time preacher, or it may come through a mild-speaking gray-haired saint. It may come in a dream, or it may come through reading the Bible or prayer. However, it comes to receive it and rejoice in the Word He has given you.