LISTENING TO GOD
By Mrs. C.S. Deming
FORWARD TO 2019 EDITION
Drawn from a box from her garage shelf, my mother shared her family history with three fourths of her offspring one Christmas season. Fascinated by stories from our ancestors that were generations and centuries old, I listened attentively. Included was a little 16-page booklet which my great grandmother penned. This document following, LISTENING TO GOD, contains priceless wisdom for every human being, which, if applied, brings joy unspeakable. She wisely instructed for it never to be sold, but freely shared. As He has in the past, may God bless its reach now. With new tools of communication may it effectively reach every soul.
LAURA LYNNE HAMO
FORWARD TO 1949 EDITION
It is almost 29 years since this little leaflet was first printed. Friends who had been helped by the message of Listening to God, had asked for its recording, that they might pass it on to others. A meeting was arranged at the Northfield Hotel, Massachusetts, so that guests might hear the message, and notes be taken. But only an amateur stenographer being available, everything had to be recorded in a short time just before my return to the Mission field. It was written while on my knees, in a little log cabin among the pines. God has blessed it wherever it has gone, and been put to the test.
The time has come for a new edition, but this one will omit all names. The message was given by the Spirit of God through His servants, and no human being can claim them as his personal possession. When men claim some message of the Holy Spirit as their own, steal the glory that belongs to Him, the grieved Spirit ceases to work, and what was once penned a lifegiving force, becomes a dead form.
The leaflet is not for sale, but anyone finding it helpful may be free to have it reprinted for personal distribution, with the understanding that no changes may be made in it.
The Scriptural basis for the “Listening Time” described later in the pages may be found in Psalm 143, verses 8-11.
Cause me to HEAR
Cause me to KNOW
Teach me to DO
Thy Spirit is good
The message of Listening to God, is for born again children of God who have been quickened by His indwelling Spirit. Christ said, MY SHEEP HEAR my voice (Jn. 10:27). If you know that you have not been born again, seek the experience down on your knees at the foot of the cross, in full surrender of your life to the One who died there for you, asking for forgiveness, pardon, and cleansing of sin, and to be made His twice born child. He has said, “Him that cometh to ME, I will in no wise cast out. As many as received HIM, to them gave HE the power to become the SONS OF GOD. Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear MY voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Jn. 1:12; 6:37, Rev. 3:20).
The Book of Isaiah speaks of the morning Listening Time. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Is. 50:4).
In this time of world crisis and heartbreak, with needy souls all about us seeking help in contacting God, every child of His will be eager to prepare himself for the service of helping others. And God needs men and women for leadership who can listen and obey. To this end, this little messenger once more is being sent on its way.
EDITH MILLARD DEMING.
LISTENING TO GOD
Many years ago, a Christian Missionary Statesman made a tour of mission lands, and on his return, emphasized the need for more missionaries. After a second tour, he emphasized the need for developing the native national leadership. On a third trip, he found great improvement materially in lives invested, and in equipment, but not the spiritual results there should have been. Being acquainted with a spiritual diagnostician, a doctor of souls, whose work had influenced the whole life of a great University, he asked him to take a trip around the world, and seek the reason for this lack. This man went from place to place in Japan, Korea, China, and India. The Lord revealed to him the reasons for lack of power and failure in the lives of missionaries and national workers alike. Burdened in heart, he returned to America, having found the cause.
While at Hartford, Connecticut, a small group of seven men used to meet once a week for an hour, to listen to God’s voice, in a fellowship of silence, this burdened leader among them. During one of these sessions, God spoke to him, and told him that there would be a great rebirth of the conscious presence of God in the world, a rebirth of personal evangelism: that God wanted every Christian to be a miracle worker in transforming lives, a soul winner, and that He wanted every Church member to be a force, rather than a field. The message gripped the seven men, and several of them carried it to the foreign field.
In China some years later, a big evangelistic campaign was conducted for the official classes and students. These nationwide gatherings were spectacular, well advertised, and the admittance was by ticket only. The results, judging from the number of decision cards for Bible study handed in, were very large. However, no plans had been made for conserving the results, and much was therefore lost. Realizing their mistake, the committee in charge requested a second campaign, with meetings in every place for which preparations were to be made by training of personal workers.
The man who had received the message from God about the rebirth of personal evangelism was asked to undertake the task of training these personal workers, having had a similar task during a great evangelistic campaign in New York City. This was the God-given opportunity for him to go to mission lands and tell the workers the causes for lack of power in their lives. Operations were begun in Kuling, the summer resort in Central China, having groups with missionaries and native leaders. During this time, several “key” men among the Chinese were won for Christ, and many missionaries came into new power.
A Personal Work Team was formed of men and women, young and old. My Mother, forty-two years a missionary in China at the time, was asked to join the party. Interviews with women should be conducted by women, whenever possible; those with men, by men.
A personal worker, like a doctor, must ask very personal questions at times, getting down into the roots of the life, in order to discover the malady, and present the cure. The Plan Followed, Personal Workers’ Training Groups were formed. They were small, informal groups with ten to fifteen persons in each, composed of “key” men and women. There would be business men’s groups, native pastors’ groups, professional men’s groups, students’ groups, professional women’s groups, and missionary groups. The number of groups depended on the number of leaders available in the team, and every part of the community life was represented in them. Every group met for three consecutive days, an hour a day.
The fourth day was the Personalization meeting to which those who had been in the groups came, each one bringing as a “ticket of admittance” the non-Christian to whom God had directed him. While the address was being given, each Christian was expected to be concentrating on his non-Christian friend in prayer, covering him, as it were, with prayer. Then a few minutes’ intermission would be given, during which time each one quietly pressed home the message to his friend. Then the meeting re-opened, and opportunities for making public the decisions that had been made were given. In a meeting of this kind, held in the Methodist Boys’ High School, in Seoul, Korea, during the Teams’ visit, and conducted under the leadership of the school Principal, one hundred and eighty decisions for Christ were made in a group of four hundred boys, about two hundred of whom were already Christians.
The next day was Conservation Day. Everyone deciding for Christ became a newborn babe in Him. As in the human family, so in the spiritual, the new infant requires much care. The spiritual father or mother is responsible for teaching the new infant how to take nourishment, by the study of God’s Word; how to breathe, by praying; how to exercise, by witnessing, and doing personal work. He must be helped to join the Church and become a worker immediately.
Think of the nature of the sea. There are two seas in Palestine, one in the North, teeming with life, fish, fruit, crops, birds, flowers, and life of all kinds. In the South is the Dead Sea—no fish, no fruit, no flowers, no homes, and no life of any kind. What is the reason for the difference? The Sea of Galilee has a river flowing into it, and a river flowing out of it. The Dead Sea has the same river flowing into it, but none flowing out. In the same way, a propagating live Christian is one who receives, and then passes on to others.
In order to win others, Personal Work Prayer Groups should be formed by those who have been attending the groups, together with those whom they have led to Christ. Thus, I win you, then you and I start a prayer group, both of us praying for each other, and for the ones to whom we have been directed by God. Those who have been won in this way, join our prayer group, soon becoming eight, thus growing by multiplication, then ten members.
In one Church in Seoul, Korea, forty personal work prayer groups were formed a few months after the visit of the Team. In another place the attendance was doubled by these means. In order to reach every phase of life in the community, classes were being planned for different vocations of people, such as school teachers, business men, railroad men, motor men, factory girls, school boys and girls, houseworkers, policemen, soldiers, housewives, etc. Thus personal evangelism must be the continuous effort of a Christian in a certain group to which he belongs, as well as for others—the constant rather than the occasional effort to evangelize with Christ.
I had the privilege of joining the group in Peiping and continued with them for a month. Then in Tientsin, I had the opportunity of attending another one of the Training Groups. It was impossible to be with that consecrated band of men and women without longing to become as successful in soul-winning as they were. We were a group of women missionaries, doctors, nurses, teachers, evangelistic workers, and wives.
The first question asked was this, “Can you say definitely that you have led some souls to Christ this year?” Some of us could reply in the affirmative, others could not say definitely that they had ever led a soul to Christ. They hoped that their life and work were influencing others for Him. We were asked, “If it is possible for you as the natural, normal everyday experience of your lives, to be winning souls for Christ, do you want that experience?” Of course we did.
The first step necessary is illustrated by the blind man whom Jesus healed. At first when touched by Christ, he saw men as trees walking, the crowd, the mass, statistics. At the second touch, he saw all men clearly. We need Christ’s second touch, that we may see the needs of those around us as individuals.
The story of the woman at the well also illustrates personal work. She said, “Come see a man who understands my need.” The result was “Many Samaritans believed.” If our eyes have been opened to see the needs of others, so that our hearts go out in sympathy and understanding, the result will be many souls saved.
How to Have Power
To have power in our lives, the first thing necessary is for us to have the conscious presence of God with us. If He is with us, our lives are joyful and full of fruit. If we do not have this conscious presence of God with us, our work is drudgery, ceaseless activity without results, like white mice in a whirling cage. When we have the conscious presence of God with us, we never know what it is to be alone. Wherever we go, we feel Him near us. We walk with Him and talk with Him. Our life is one of constant communion and fellowship.
Jesus Christ, through His Spirit, is the Unseen Presence with us all the time, and while our hands may be busy with the tasks which occupy them, our thoughts are with Him in constant fellowship. How does God speak to us? By luminous thoughts flashed into our minds by His Holy Spirit. It is not by an audible voice, though at times the voice is so seemingly distinct, that one turns instinctively to see the speaker.
If we do not have the conscious presence of God in our lives, how may we have this experience? By having a daily LISTENING TIME. Listen for God to speak to us before the day’s work begins. If we do this, we will find that He speaks to us in just the same way that he did to the prophets and disciples of old.
Christian people are accustomed to having the Morning Watch, or Quiet Time, spending the time in Bible reading and prayer, but many do not take time to listen to God, or expect to have Him speak to them directly. Our leader told us of his custom of having a listening time every morning from five to six. He wakens himself and lies quiet in bed, concentrating his thoughts on God. If he should get up, any one sharing the room might be disturbed, and the result be no listening time. Then lying there he says, “Father, is there anything in my heart or life that would prevent me from having Thy presence today? Anything that would prevent me from being used by Thee today?” Then he waits and listens for the answer.
If there has been some sin, the Holy Spirit just flashes a light upon it, making it loom up in all its blackness. It may be some seemingly little thing that has happened the day before, or which he had thought only little, and of no importance. It may be something which happened long years ago. But immediately he confesses it to God, asking that the precious blood of Christ be applied, and his heart cleansed from all sin and this sin in particular.
If it is a sin against someone else, he promises to make it right with that one, to confess it, and make restitution when necessary. He promises to see that one at once, or if he is at a distance, to write him a letter.
It is necessary to hate sin, forsake sin, confess sin, and make restitution. This is taking a daily, spiritual bath. After the cleansing comes the infilling with the Lord’s Presence, and a wonderful time of fellowship follows.
The next step is, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Then he waits for an answer, and gets his directions for the day. At times they are general directions, at other times they are very specific, the needy ones he will meet during the day, being brought before his mind. A message for their need is given him, and guidance in finding a natural point of contact.
The Triangle of Personal Work
Personal work is like a triangle. God up above, myself at one point, the one to be helped at the other point; or Christ beside me, speaking through my lips to the needy one, whose heart He is reaching, and has prepared by His Spirit.
God, the Holy Spirit, is working at both ends of the line, in the heart of the one who does not know Him, preparing his heart for the message; at the other end through me as His mouthpiece. God needs me to complete the triangle. Each one of us is surrounded by hungry needy souls, many of them nominal Christians, who are just waiting to be won, longing for someone to speak to them. If we do not win them, they may never be won, and we will be responsible for them.
A visiting minister had been called to officiate at the funeral of a young girl who had died suddenly. Wanting to know if she was a Christian and ready to go, he went to her pastor. He replied, “Three weeks ago, something said to me, ‘Speak to Mary, and see if she has yielded her life to Christ.’ I did not do so and I will never know.” He went to her Sunday School teacher. She replied, “Two weeks ago something said to me, ‘Speak to Mary, and see if she has yielded her life to Christ.’ I did not do so and I do not know.” He thought, “Surely the mother will have been sufficiently interested in her daughter to have found out her spiritual condition.” He went to her. She was broken up under her burden of sorrow and said, “About a week ago something said to me, ‘Speak to Mary, and see if she has yielded her life to Christ.’ I did not do so and I shall never know.” God was seeking someone whom He could use as His mouthpiece, but they all failed Him.
When God directs us to speak to a needy soul, we know that by His Holy Spirit He is preparing that one’s heart for the message, and we can go to them with confidence, giving them the message that God has given us for them. One thing that will make a wall between God and myself, and between others and myself is SIN.
In God’s Holy Light
Facing Sin in Our Own Lives
Before coming to the second period of the course, each one was asked to prepare for it by taking Bible, pencil, and paper, and on her knees reading Romans 1:18-2:12. Item by item asking, “Lord, do I have this sin?” Pausing for the Holy Spirit to convict when necessary. If convicted of a sin, then recording its name on her paper, for her own private checking. When the list had been completed, each item was to be confessed and acknowledged in the Holy Spirit’s sight. And forgiveness and cleansing sought.
Pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to do His work in your heart. This may become your baptism by Fire, if you have not previously experienced it. All the disciples at Pentecost experienced the burning of the Fire before they were filled with the Spirit, when they tarried and prayed at Jerusalem. It is only after the Holy Spirit Himself has revealed your heart condition to you, that filled with horror and disgust, you cry out for cleansing. Then He opens your eyes to see Christ upon the cross. As His piercing eyes search your soul, like Peter of old, you weep bitterly in remorse and repentance, with confession, until complete emptying has taken place. Then the blood of cleansing is applied, and He comes in to take possession of your body as His holy temple. This is being filled with the Spirit.
When the class convened, we were asked to say if we had been convicted from the list. All had been. This was the significance of what Christ was teaching at the washing of the disciples’ feet. He said to Peter, “What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” Peter said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Peter saith, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus saith unto him, “He that is bathed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” The feet signify the part of us which becomes contaminated in the daily walk through life, therefore needs the daily cleansing which the “Listening Time,” can provide.
The Sins of the Christian
The second hour with the groups was called the “Sin Hour,” because this hour was set aside for consideration of the subject of Sin. What is Sin? It is a disease of the soul, sickness. Anything that prevents me from having power in my life and being a soul winner, is sin. Sin binds, sin blinds, sin multiplies, sin deadens.
What are the sins of Christian workers? The Christian worker is not immune to temptation of the grossest kind. He must expect to be the center of the attacks of the evil one because of the very work he is doing. His only safety, and that of every Christian, lies in always being on the alert, filled with the Spirit of Christ. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not obey the lusts of the flesh.” The sins of Christian workers are largely the sins of the mind, such as jealousy, envy, spiritual pride, hatred, covetousness, pride, hurt feelings, white lies, evil thoughts, criticism.
On the mission field, our leader had found the chief causes for lack of power, were hurt feelings, and criticism. We cannot prevent evil thoughts coming to us, but we can prevent harbouring them. As Martin Luther said, “I cannot prevent crows from flying over my head, but I can prevent them from making their nests in my hair.” Our leader told how for a whole year he was lacking in power, through harbouring hard feelings against six individuals who had hurt him. During this time, he was conducting Bible readings on the Continent and in England, even touring in the Holy Land. When he had a vision of Christ on the cross, in a little country chapel, and went home and wrote six letters of confession, heading each one with the verse, “When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride,” then power came, and that very day, he won the son of his hostess. A confessing Christian is a propagating Christian.
That hour spent studying the causes for lack of power, was a very searching one. After the message had been given, we bowed in silence, and listened for the Lord to tell us if there was any hindrance in our lives. The Lord did not tell me anything that was wrong with my life at that time.
I was the missionary to the Chinese in Korea, bearing great responsibility, especially as the work had been largely on a faith basis. I had learned very definitely that the prayers of a disobedient child, could not be answered, that I had to be right with God, if He was to use me. But in the early morning listening time, the Holy Spirit flashed a light upon a thing in my life which had happened eight years before. Hurt feelings, and dislike of one who had wronged me, resulting in hatred, shut away in my heart and forgotten. I confessed it to God, and received pardon and cleansing. Then I wrote and asked that one’s forgiveness.
That very day a friend said to me, “There is a young man here whom I feel that you can help. You remember he was in Seoul with us as our teacher some years ago and was won for Christ in the little Chinese mission. He joined the Church on his return but has not been winning his family. Some months ago, he came to the Church, cursed the pastor and the members, and went out, saying that he would have nothing further to do with Christianity. We have not been able to find out what was the matter.”
I asked the young man to come and see me, and for about three hours we talked together. He opened his heart to me and told the whole story. Someone whom he loved and respected almost as a father, had injured his reputation, made him lose face, and had warned someone against him. His love had turned to hate, and he was lying awake nights trying to plan murder. A pitiful story followed.
Then the Lord showed me how he had to help me get rid of my sin of hatred, so that I could help him. I could not ask him to give up hatred when I was harbouring it in my own heart. I told him of my sin, and how new joy and peace and power had come when it was put away. I told him that he would not be happy again until he had given up that sin.
He would not kneel down and pray with me, so I just bowed my head and prayed for him, that God would enable him to put this sin out of his heart. He finally went away, saying that he knew he would not have peace until he put this thing away, but he was not ready to do it yet.
That night when I went to my room at the hotel, I heard extraordinary sounds issuing from one of the rooms, and peals of laughter. Several of us went to see what was going on. A young Y.M.C.A. secretary was playing “The Rosary” on a bicycle pump, a most weird musical instrument! Our leader invited us all in for a party. We sang some college songs, then in the most natural way he said, “Let’s have our prayer time now, each person praying in turn.” Before starting in, I told the group of my experience in the morning, in the listening time, and the resulting interview with the young man. I knew that he had been in the business men’s evening group and wanted to know if he had come to any decision. He had not done so. We each one had special prayer for him. The next day in the meeting he got up and made confession, asking forgiveness of the man whom he had hated, and who was present.
How to Win a Soul
The third hour was the hour of personal work. The first step necessary is to win the confidence of the one whom you are seeking to help. Then he will open his heart and reveal his need, or confess his sin to you. You will help him to see the awful necessity of getting rid of that sin, and conviction, then conversion, then, conservation.
Our leader used stories to tell us how to win a soul. An incident after his arrival in Seoul, Korea, will illustrate. The Southern Methodist Mission was having trouble over an undesirable tenant on their Church property. He was supposed to be a Christian, and as such, had been permitted to rent a store by the side of the Church on the Church property. Later he turned it into a wine shop, and opened it on Sundays. Drunken brawls were going on during service. Other means having failed, a law suit against him was being instituted. After hearing the message of the “Listening Time,” the missionary in charge, and his native helper, decided to use some other method. The Korean helper went to call on the man in a friendly way, and found him sick in bed. The next day the missionary went to his own garden and gathered some strawberries. He took them to the man on his visit to him and said, “I heard you were sick and could not each much, so I thought some strawberries from my garden might tempt your appetite.” The man just broke down and cried, won by kindness. Then he said, “You know the preacher who had to leave here because he was so badly in debt? I want to pay his debts and have him re-installed.” He closed the wine shop part of his store, and had the whole place closed on Sundays, and every member of the family went to Church. He himself died of tuberculosis a month or two later, a happy rejoicing Christian. Just being friends, going about doing deeds of kindness, will give us our point of contact, and help us to win the confidence of others.
The Listening Time
My whole life has been enriched by having this listening time. Every day is full of wonderful experiences that come as a result of listening to God’s voice. The Union Chinese Church of Korea, with five churches, owns its own property because I learned to listen.
We were compelled to vacate our rented Church building in Seoul at short notice, or to buy it. After much prayer, we decided to buy, and agreed to pay it from an Evangelistic Fund in Los Angeles, set aside by a steward of God for just such evangelistic missionary work as ours. I wrote the Trustee of the Fund, asking him for a letter on my arrival in San Francisco for furlough, making an appointment.
On my arrival the letter was there and read, “It is most improbable that you can have any money for stated reasons, therefore it would not be worth your while to come here.” We slept on the steamer.
The next morning I was awakened by these words being pounded into my ears, “Improbable is not impossible. You are giving up too soon to go to Los Angeles for that money.” As a result, I went and the money was secured. Or rather, its promise conditional to favorable reports from the field, which were quickly provided. I received, that same day, the conditional promise of $5,000 (received a few months later), an organ, a new fountain pen, and two square meals, which I happened to be badly in need of at the time.
My message to every Christian is this, learn to listen, get your cleansing, obey directions, and your whole life will be a series of miracles. All over the world, in China, Japan, Korea, India, and the Philippines, men and women are praising God for the message He gave through His servant. There is life, instead of death, power instead of uselessness, fruit in souls won to Christ, instead of barrenness. Pervading all, joy unspeakable.