LEARNING HOW TO RELEASE UNDUE TENSION
IN OUR NECKS
What would keep God from making good His promise of “guiding us continually” (Isaiah 58:10-11)? God says there are certain conditions man must meet before he can receive specific guidance.
actions such as giving ourselves to the hungry and satisfying the desires of the afflicted are some of these conditions. SELFISHNESS is a hindrance to divine guidance in preventing “stiff-necked people“. Selfishness produces a hardness in us which the Lord is constantly warning us about. For example, suppose the Holy Spirit urges us to give ten dollars to our unemployed friend.
“Not me, Lord. The kids need new shoes before school starts and I might be laid off at work next.” The point is not the ten dollars. God could provide our friend with ten dollars from some other source. I believe there might be a “stiff neck” coming on; a dangerous hardness developing in our spirit when we resist the leading of God.
Therefore the remedy would be compassion which should be essential in our lives.
Disobedience, that is, “knowing unmistakably what God wants you to do, but refusing to do it will lead” to “STIFF NECKS”; hinders God’s guidance. This is a dangerous business, and the bible is full of examples of what happened to men and women who deliberately hardened their “necks” and “hearts” and set themselves to go against God’s orders. The list is long and includes both the “enemies” of God as well as God’s own people.
Lets begin with, In the Beginning, with the first family on earth. Sin came into the world through a deliberate act of DISOBEDIENCE. Moses disobeyed when he smote the rock for water in the desert of Zin. The Israelites disobeyed the command to go in and possess the land; God had called them a “stiff-necked people”. Samson disobeyed and lost not only his strength, but his life. Saul disobeyed by consulting a witch, and the anointing of God was replaced with a curse. David deliberately committed adultery, then murder, and lost his joy as well as the presence of the Holy Spirit. If you have ever had a serious stiff neck, your joy will definitely be absent. The list goes on and on, and the results of being “stiff–necked“; and the result of deliberate disobedience is always the same – the loss of God’s continual guidance.
THE REMEDY TO DISOBEDIENCE
When God says, “Don’t,” we had better not. When He says, “Do,” we had better. We have no one to blame about our “stiff neck” except ourselves. It’s that simple! You don’t have to ask for the generic equivalent or be concerned with the pronunciation and understanding on the back of the bottle.
INSINCERITY CAN CAUSE “STIFF NECKS”
There are people who pray loudly, “O God, I want to do your will. Just tell me Lord, and I will do it.” But internally they have their own agenda and a personal preset course with no intention of taking God’s advice. Oh, Oh! I see a “stiff neck” coming on!
Jeremiah 42 records the incident of the remnant of Judah coming to the Prophet and begging him to seek the Lord for guidance.
“The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, Do not go to Egypt. Know for a certainty that I [Jeremiah] have warned and testified to you this day. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place [Egypt] where you desire to go to dwell temporarily” (Jeremiah 42:19, 22).
Did the leaders of Judah rejoice in the Lord for His guidance? I see a “stiff neck” coming on! No, they turned against Jeremiah and said, “You’re liar. That’s not what God said. We will go to Egypt regardless of what you say!” Because of them being “stiff-necked people”, they never intended to change their minds. They were determined to go to Egypt and sent Jeremiah to seek God’s Word. They wanted His approval to do what they had already decided to do.
How many times have we done the same thing. We have decided what we want to do, and we want to bolster our decision by getting the approval of other Christians or the pastor. We search the Bible for verses that will support our decision. We pray, “O Lord, show us the way,” and then we seek the wise counsel of others. If we run against disapproval we say, “They are just not spiritual enough to understand God’s will in this.” We take only the opinion and advice that agrees with our pre-set decision. That is INSINCERITY which comes from the “hardness of the neck.” We did not mean it when we asked our Christian friends, we did not mean it when we prayed. Our insincerity has become a wall between us and guidance from God.
IMPATIENCE COMES FROM A “HARD- NECK” SYNDROME
Habakkuk 2:3 deals with this problem:
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tary, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”
Again and again in the Bible we are told that waiting on God is a necessity, a virtue, a source of strength. Yet, because of a “stiff-neck” syndrome, impatience is probably the failure which occurs most often.
We pray about a new job, the salvation of someone we love, the solution to a problem, and God gives us a wonderful promise of peace and assurance in His Word. We know our prayers are being answered. We have perfect peace – for an hour – but then the neck begins to get hard and we start nagging, “Lord, You promised. Why aren’t You doing it?” And as our necks become stiff, our thinking becomes impaired, we lose a sense of balance perhaps; our response is to busy ourselves arranging circumstances and manipulating people. “If You don’t do something about it, we will just go ahead and have a revival in our church anyway.”
[If you have any situations where you might have felt this way, I would love to hear from you in the comments at the end of this blog].
God operates on split-second timing and He is never late. When the conditions are right and God’s appointed time is here, God moves. By turning ahead of Him with a stiff neck, we can seriously harm ourselves and others.
MOST DANGEROUS HINDRANCE TO GOD’S GUIDANCE
Self-Sufficiency, by nature we say, “Show me and I will believe.” God says, “Believe and you will see!” Proverbs 3:5-7 gives us this piece of advice on preventing the “STIFF-NECK” Syndrome:
“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7 Amplified version).
One of God’s greatest hindrances in His servants is self-sufficiency. When Dianne and I were raising our three children, we tried to train them to be self-sufficient as they grew older. However, when that time approach, we really wanted them to depend more on their parents, for as long as they lived at home anyway. What a dichotomy!
Much of God’s dealing with us is to destroy “Self-Sufficiency”. It often manifests itself in this way: “You show me the first time, Lord, and I will take it from there.” Bob Mumford mentioned, an associate of his who knew the life of dependency upon God needed twelve hundred dollars. After much prayer, the money was remarkably supplied. He gave a heavy sigh of relief to which God responded, “Is this a sigh of relief because the money has been supplied – or because you no longer have to trust Me?” It was a rebuke well needed.
One last hindrance to God’s guidance. In regarding the “Stiff-Neck” Syndrome in the next blog, I believe it will be the quickest way to getting a stiff–neck than anything else I have unveiled to you. It is PRIDE!