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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>

Prayer-School Course #31

Thoughts From Teresa

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 19
Assumptions in Our Hearing of God's Voice

I had an interesting experience in hearing God's voice and accidentally ignoring what I heard. It had to do with a credit card that the GodSpeak ministry has. From time to time I charge ministry related expenses on that card. I have never excelled at bookkeeping and the hardest part of is remembering to call the credit card company's "pay by phone" number to pay the bill. I have tried a few different times to have GodSpeak volunteers do this for me so it won't get forgotten. But inevitably they don't do it and a few months after I give this assignment to the volunteer, I end up getting a nasty call form the billing department that the account is past due. (This particular credit card company does not have a feature to let them simply deduct the payments from the bank account, though I am told that feature is "in the works" and may be available sometime in the future. I can hardly wait for this to be available so that I cam be assured the credit card bill is always paid on time without having to worry about it.)

It was a Monday night two weeks ago, and I was in the middle of an hour drive home from a meeting I had spoken at. It was almost midnight and I was very tired. As I drove, the thought ran across my mind that I needed to check my bill and see about paying the credit card by phone. Unfortunately, it was not possible to act on that thought at the moment because I was driving on a freeway and did not have the bill with me. I did pray briefly for God to remind me at a more convenient time. But by the time I got home, I had totally forgotten about that.

Five days later, I was in the shower and I was praying. After a while, my mind began to wander a bit. One of the things that it wandered to was the credit card bill. I remembered that I had thought about this in the car the previous Monday, and now I was thinking about it again. I really needed to check the bill and see if there was any charges on it that I needed to pay so that it did not go past due. The thought also ran through my mind that sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us by reminding us of things. The passage from John 14:26 ran through my mind that said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

My mind put those things together and I realized that the Holy Spirit was probably telling me to look at the credit card bill and make sure I paid it before it went past due. I mentally agreed that I should do that, but I could not do it right that second because I was in the shower and my hair was full of shampoo. I figured God was telling me to pay the credit card bill right away, but the part about looking at the bill sort of escaped me. I told God that I wanted to obey Him but that His timing was not the greatest, since I was in the middle of my shower. I asked Him to remind me when I got out of the shower.

But when I got out of the shower and was drying off, I got a phone call about something that had to be taken care of urgently. By the time that call was over, I had totally forgotten about the credit card again. That was on Saturday.

The following Tuesday I was driving home from the gym and I turned on my cell phone to make a call and I noticed that I had a new message. So I checked the message and it was the credit card company. Then I remembered that I had not paid the bill in time and now it was probably past due. Sigh. I remembered those two times I had thought about it during the previous week and realized that if I had acted on them, it would not have gone past due, and I would not have "earned" a thirty dollar finance change.

I mentally kicked myself for not having listened to God and acted on it back when He spoke to me the previous week. I had not intentionally or willfully disobeyed, it had just slipped my mind. But the bottom line was that I had not listened to God and because of that I incurred a bad mark on my credit and a thirty dollar penalty. Of course I felt bad for having missed it, and I felt bad for carelessness that cost the GodSpeak ministry thirty dollars. I starting thinking that maybe I should pay the late charge out of my personal money because it was my error that caused that charge. Then God spoke to me clearly to pay the late charge out of the ministry money and not worry about it, but to go look at the bill when I got home and pay it. I was afraid that I might forget again, so I asked Him to be sure to remind me as soon as I got home.

When I did get home, there was also message from the credit card company on my home phone's answering machine. I guess they are real serious about making sure you know when you own them money. I don't think I would have forgotten this time, but that message served as a reminder. I wanted to act on it as soon as possible, so I grabbed the credit card out of my purse and called the number on the back and selected the pay by phone option.

What a bad witness for a ministry organization not to pay their bills on time. I was upset that I had allowed the bill to go past due that I still ignored part of God's command to me and did not even realize that I was doing so. He had told me to look at the bill before paying. And I was in such a hurry to pay that I did not even look at the bill, I just tried to pay it. But when pay by phone told me the dollar amount I owed, that served as a reality check and slowed me down. All I had purchased in the last few months was a few offic esupplies and postage for some GodSpeak mailings. I expected the bill would be in the neighborhood of $100, and at most $150. But pay by phone informed me that my bill was over five hundred dollars!

That was a shock to me, so I hung up and went and grabbed my most recent bill. To my surprise, that was the March bill instead of the April one. I guess the April bill must have gotten lost in the mail (that seems to happen a lot lately) and that was probably part of why I had forgotten to pay it... because I had not received a bill. I looked at the amount on the bill and it was over three hundred dollars, which was another a shock to me. But I did not look carefully at it, such as at the individual charges. I just looked at the total amount owned and was shocked. I figured I must have purchased some big ticket item that I'd forgotten about. I would deal with that later.

But I needed to understand how the bill when from $300 to $500 in a month when I had not really used the card much at all. So I called customer service number and asked them about it. They started reading the April charges to me, most of which were charges I knew I had not made. For instance, one of them was a renewal to magazine that I had never been subscribed to and had never received a copy of.

I stood there on the phone, holding the March bill in my hand and listening to the description of the April bill which had bogus charges on it. Then I once again heard God say, clearly and distinctly, "Teresa, look at the bill." This time I actually looked at the bill. This was what the Holy Spirit had been trying to get me to do since He first spoke to me on Monday night, eight days before. There were some valid charges on the bill, but there were three large invalid ones. Those three charges were all made on the same day to the same company and they were all for the same amount of just under $82. I asked the customer service lady what that company was, because I did not recognize the name or the charges. She said that it was an international charge, probably a currency exchange I had done when I was traveling internationally in March. I said that I had not been out of the country yet this year. It turned out that over $240 of the $300 of charges in March were fraudulent ones. No wonder the Holy Spirit had been telling me to look at the bill before I paid it.

The lady on the phone transferred me to the department that handles fraudulent charges since such a large portion of my past due bill was charges I did not think I had made. They took care of setting up a report to investigate the fraudulent charges and issuing me a new card, and then I paid them the amount I really owned them.

Yes, I was past due and had a thirty dollar finance charge for that. But the reason the Lord had been asking me to look at the bill was not because I was a few weeks late in paying it, but because someone had gotten a hold of the GodSpeak credit card number and was making fraudulent charges on it. Both problems (invalid charges and being late in paying the bill) have been taken care of. And I learned an important lesson in the process.

Sometimes God speaks to us about important things in that still small voice that sounds a lot like our own thoughts and memory. It can be easy to miss Him when He does that, because we think it is just some miscellaneous thing coming to our memory. That is a principle I already knew and not the lesson that I learned. Sometimes He speaks to us about things at a time that is not very convenient but He still expects us to act on it.

The lesson I learned is that sometimes when God speaks to us, we can make assumptions about what He is saying or why He is saying it. As a result, we can end up "not hearing" what He is really saying. I was so sure that He was worried about my being late in paying the bill that I almost did not find the fraudulent charges. I was sure that when He told me to look at the bill, it was to let me know how much I owed so I could pay it. It never occurred to me that someone might have gotten a hold of the credit card number and be charging things on it. I was so sure I knew what God meant that I never really heard what He was saying.

Sometimes I share my mistakes and learning processes publicly even when they make me look bad or dumb. The reason I do this is so that others can maybe learn from my mistakes and avoid having to make ones of their own. That is what I am hoping to accomplish in this weeks' thoughts. I figure that if you are aware of how assumptions can misdirect our ability to hear God, it might help you in your own walk and hearing of God's voice.

Assumptions can be a very dangerous thing, they can lead us astray. They can cause us to miss things when God is speaking to us. We need to be careful that we don't make these assumptions when God does speak to us and end up not hearing what He said. That is a hard think to do, because we don't usually choose to make these assumptions, they happen unconsciously. And sometimes it is hard to tell when we are making them and hearing wrong. I am not positive what the "solution" to that is, but I have a couple of ideas that might help. First we need to be aware that it can happen and second, we should ask God to alert us when we start to operate from assumptions that keep us from hearing Him clearly.

Fortunately, He is a faithful God and He is capable of working in our situations to be heard even when our assumptions try to get in the way.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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