Sermon Sunday September 5, 2021 – Hearing God’s Voice

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The sad truth about Christian discipleship today is that we teach people about God, but we don’t teach people to experience God.

As followers of Jesus, we are invited into a relationship, having our daily steps ordered by the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 37:23).

I often hear from people who wish they could hear from God regarding His will for their lives.

The incredible news is that God does still speak to His children, and Jesus made this clear in John 10.

The sheepfold of the first century was usually an enclosure made of rocks, and the shepherd would guard the flock at night by lying across the opening. It was not unusual for several flocks to be sheltered together in the same fold. In the morning, the shepherds would come, call their sheep, and assemble their own flocks. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 10:3-4.

Jesus calls himself two different things in this passage, firstly he is the door (John 10:9). He is the Door of salvation for all who put their faith in him.
Then Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd and in verse 11 he says, “the Good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. Those hearing these words must have struggled to understand what he was saying. Jesus willingly went to the cross to die for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God the Father.

We miss the point when we get so focused on the plan of salvation as a means to get out of hell and into heaven. There is so much more. We are invited into a relationship with Jesus, in verse 10 he says, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

In verse 16 Jesus speaks to the Gentiles who were outside of the Jewish “fold”. He uses the key phrase, “they will listen to my voice.” Are you listening to the voice of The Good Shepherd?

Prayer is not a monologue where you recite all your needs to God, and He responds like a vending machine. It is a two-way fellowship, where we speak to God, and He speaks to us.

Henry Blackaby wrote, “what God says to you in prayer, is far more important than what you say to Him. After all, God already knows what you are going to tell Him.”

How does God speak to us?

1. Primarily God speaks to us through His word, the Bible.
The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God because it is His special revelation of Jesus to mankind (2 Timothy 3:16). However, for us to hear and respond to the God breathed Word, we need to open it and meditate on it.
Having said that, God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible. God can speak in any way that He knows will get our attention.

2. God speaks through other Christians. God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us, and we all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love. God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit, as fellow believers use their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).   

3. God will speak through Circumstances. In Genesis 50 Joseph saw how God used the seemingly impossible circumstances and redeem them to his glory. Be aware of God leading through circumstances.

4. God speaks audibly. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 God spoke to Elijah. The voice of God was a gentle whisper, and he knew that God was speaking to him.  God also speaks to us in that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
It is so important to be quiet before the Lord and to listen for His voice.

This is where the value of a journal comes in. When you sit down with your Bible each day, come with an expectation that He is going to speak to you. Sometimes through the words on the page, sometimes through the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, and as that happens, write down your dialogue with God. Write out your prayers and write down what you hear from the Lord. I am always encouraged as I look back at my journals from years gone by and see how the Lord was speaking and directing me.

5. God still speaks in dreams.  The life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretation. Today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in dreams and are being converted.

There is no doubt that God speaks today, but we must be careful to test every word. To test to discern if God is speaking, use these five simple tests.

1. Does it Exalt Christ?(John 16:13-14) If what you think you heard does not exalt Christ but exalts something or someone else instead, you can be certain that the leading is not from God.

2. Is it Scriptural? (Proverbs 30:5-6) God will never contradict His Word. If the person presenting the word to you takes the Bible out of context, you can reject it. Always go back to God’s primary revelation, His Word the Bible.

3. Do Other Christians Confirm it?(1 Corinthians 14:29) If you feel that God is speaking to you on a certain issue, but you are not sure. Take it to wise people in the church who can guide you and join in prayer with you.

4. Does it Produce Good Fruit?(John 15:5) Compare what you hear with the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. God’s word will always produce the fruit of the Spirit.  

5. Does God Bring it to Pass?  (Isaiah 55:10-11) If it never comes to pass, you can be sure God was not in it.

It is essential that you learn to test the word, whether it is something you read or something someone tells you. God is not intimidated by our questions, but He does expect our obedience when His word is confirmed.

The most important part of your day is the time spent waiting on the Lord.

Sermon June 23, 2019 Hearing God’s Voice part 1

Why does God speak?

1 Samuel 3

Did God speak to you today?

As followers of Jesus, we get invited into a relationship, where our daily steps are ordered by the Lord (Proverbs 3:5 Psalm 37:23).

As a pastor I often hear from people that they wish they could hear from God regarding His will for their lives. They are really asking if God would speak to them.

This is hard to grasp, the creator and sustainer of the universe, who lives in unapproachable glory, unfathomable power and authority; does he actually speak to His children?

Incredibly, the answer is yes, God does speak to those who are called by His name and submit themselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Samuel 3, we see the well-known story of the calling of the prophet Samuel. This is such a wonderful story of God revealing Himself to humanity. This story highlights a turning point in the nation of Israel and their history, the period of the Judges is coming to an end and the Lord begins speaking on a regular basis through prophets as the era of the kings is ushered in.

Samuel is a wonderful example to us of someone who is attentive and waiting on the Lord. He responded quickly each time the Lord called him and ran to Eli, which reveals a lot about his character and his eagerness to serve.

 Samuel was serving in the temple, doing what he was told to do, but Samuel did not know the Lord (1 Samuel 3:7). Samuel was doing everything required of him, but he had no relationship with the one he was serving. Sadly, this is not unusual today, the church is full of people who go through the motions, who serve in many capacities, even as deacons or pastors, doing everything that looks right, but there is no personal relationship with the Lord, they do not know God’s voice.

If you don’t hear from the Lord, you need to go back to the basics and establish a relationship with Him. Submitting your life to the Lordship of Jesus.

The Lord chose to reveal himself to Samuel, this young 12-year-old had the humility and perspective that God was looking for. Some might say that this is the Old Testament and that God doesn’t speak that way anymore. I believe that we should have a greater expectation of hearing from God than any of the prophets of the Bible.

We live under the New Covenant, when Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, establishing the church. We as followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit residing in us (Jeremiah 31:33). If the prophets of the Old Testament heard God speak, it was to a specific individual, but today we have the presence of God in us, we can all hear from and be directed by the Lord.

In Exodus 33, Moses and Joshua would go to the tent of meeting to speak to God. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man meets with his friend. The people would all come out of their tents and stand in awe as they witnessed God meeting with man. What if I told you, that we are all invited into the tent. The tent of meeting is no longer a remote cloth structure in the wilderness, nor is it a building or any church structure, the tent of meeting is in us as followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19). So, when we say that we cannot hear from God, I can assure you that the problem is not with God. Our lives are so loud with entertainment, music and business that we struggle to hear the Shepherds voice (John 10:27).

Why does God speak? Most people, if asked, would say that God speaks primarily to direct or to give His children instructions. I believe God speaks to declare his love for us, to invite us into a relationship with Himself.

I am blessed to have two amazing children, but imagine if I only spoke to them when I wanted them to do something, are they really getting to know me? Do they know my heart and love for them? Do they know the reasons behind my instructions?

God, our heavenly father speaks to us, to grow our relationship with Him, so that when He instructs us to do something, we have no hesitation because we know and believe that all His ways are good. We know the Father behind the instructions.

Throughout the Bible we see accounts of God reaching down and connecting with men and women, God is always the proactive party. God encounters his people, even when they are not listening. God desires a relationship with you more than you can possibly imagine. We must position ourselves to listen to God.

Today we are blessed by what Jesus did on the cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we need to position ourselves to hear from the Lord, being attentive and willing to respond when He does speak to us. God does not speak to us for our benefit only, but rather it is usually to instruct us to do something that will have an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God.

God reveals Himself to us and as we learn about Him and grow in our relationship with Him. In turn we have the privilege of being His witnesses and tell others of the wonderful privilege we have as followers of Jesus.

What about you? Are you growing in your relationship with God? Or are you going about your life living a dead religion like Eli, doing all the correct rituals, but have no relationship with God.

You can hear the voice of God and God is waiting to speak to you. Take some time away from the business of life and open the Bible, asking God to speak to you as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s word to you.

Sermon Sunday July 1, 2018 – Lessons from Gideon Part 2

Have you ever questioned whether or not God was speaking to you? God sent his only Son in order to restore His relationship with you, why would He not speak to you if you have given your life over to the lordship of Jesus Christ?

Gideon was called by God to be the deliverer of the Israelites from the oppressive hand of the Midianites in Judges Chapter 6. It was an overwhelming task and Gideon is understandably cautious.  Gideon was almost certain that he was talking to God, but he needed a sign. He rushes off to prepare a meal from his meager supplies, killing a young goat he makes some unleavened cakes and some broth, bringing it to this Holy Messenger.

It is quite possible that Gideon was thinking that this meal would be a test to see who this messenger was. If he ate the meal, then he was a prophet, but if he didn’t eat the food, maybe disposed of it some way, it just might be a divine messenger.

The angel tells him to put the meat and broth on the rock, which was probably the winepress stone, and then proceeds to touch the meat and the unleavened cakes with the tip of his staff. Immediately fire came up out of the rock and consumed the meal.

That was enough for Gideon, he knew that he had not been talking to a prophet, but this was a supernatural being. But more than that, Gideon knew that he had been talking to God, because he immediately begins to fear for his life (Judges 6:22). Gideon used the Hebrew word YHWH, the unspoken name of God. He knew that he had seen God and should not live (Exodus 33:20).

There has only ever been one person pure enough to be able to stand in the presence of the holiness of God. That person is the pure spotless lamb of God, Jesus himself. All humanity is born in sin and as a result, we could never live if we were to be exposed to the holiness of God, it would consume us. That is why, what Jesus did on the cross, by providing a way for us to have communion with God, is so incredible.

The Angel of the Lord disappears, but God doesn’t stop speaking to Gideon, the physical manifestation of his presence has gone, but God continues to speak and calms him down. God says to him, “peace be to you, do not fear, you shall not die”. God’s presence and name brings peace. Maybe you are lacking peace right now, you are worried about finances, your future or maybe your child’s future. Have you spent time asking the Prince of Peace for his peace in your life?

The Bible is full of promises of peace from God, here are three verses you can meditate on, Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalms 27:1 and Isaiah 41:10. My friends, fear and anxiety must melt in the presence of the Lord, go to him, spend time with him.

As soon as Gideon calmed down, he built an altar, and he called it Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is Peace. In a land where there were idols and altars to false gods, Gideon builds an altar to the one true God, a place that he can come back to and remember his encounter with the Lord. Gideon knew that he would need a reminder and a place he could come back to when times got tough.

We also need altar moments in our life, we need to commemorate those key moments in our life when God speaks to us. Those moments when the course of our life was altered because God met us. The day we became a follower of Jesus is an altar, it is our testimony. The day we were baptized is an altar, a remembrance of what God has done for us. The day we were set free from an addiction is an altar of remembrance to what God has done for us.

God spoke to Gideon and called him to be the next leader of the people of Israel. The Bible is full of accounts of people that God spoke to, and God still speaks today, calling people and activating them in ministry.

You may say that God doesn’t speak to you, you are not unique in this feeling, but the truth is that if you have given your life to the Lordship of Jesus, God will speak to you and direct you, you are just not listening!

Psalm 46:10 says” Be still and know that I am God.” Just be quiet and let him speak! There are so many things competing for our attention that it is hard for us to hear God’s voice, we need to get away from the noise of our busy lives and spend time quietly before God.

God speaks to us primarily through His Word the Bible.  When Joshua led the Children of Israel across the Jordan in Joshua 4, the Lord told them to take twelve stones out of the river and set them in place on the west side of the Jordan, so that they could remember what God had done for them.

We should have memorial stones, and the best memorial stones are Bible verses. Verses from the Bible that we can go back to and be reminded of His faithfulness and His promises. As we memorize and meditate on these memorial stone scripture texts, our lives will be enriched as we grow in our relationship with the Author of the Bible.