Finding God at Christmas
“If God is with me, why can’t I hear him?
1st Kings 19
I had been away leading a conference on church growth in another church. We had experienced a good week but I was ready to get back home to my family. The conference closed on Friday night around 9:00 so instead of spending another night in a hotel O chose to go ahead and drive home. The drive was several hours and I didn’t get home until the early hours the next morning.
So when I entered the house I tried to be as quiet as possible. I put my clothes down, my suitcase and my briefcase down and went to get ready for bed. I had gone into the bathroom, turned the water on and it was at that moment that I began to hear a voice speaking. At first I thought it was coming from one of the kid’s rooms. Maybe the radio. I checked each one—no sound—they were all sound asleep.
I came back into the hallway and I could still hear the voice-then what was already strange became even more puzzling. The voice I was hearing I recognized….it was mine. I started down the stairs and the voice seemed to be getting louder and louder. I walked into the area where I had set my things down and suddenly I realized that the voice I was hearing was coming from my briefcase. I opened it and this was it. I had placed some notes on this recorder as reminders for myself and when I set the briefcase down, it jarred the recorder and turned it on and it began playing my messages.
Have you ever wished God would speak to you like that? After all we speak out loud to Him and we want to hear back. In fact I’ve had at least one time when I was a bit mad at God and I screamed at Him and I said Lord where are you??? I’m talking to you Lord, have you forgotten about me?
I have come to this conclusion. Finding God is only difficult because of us. Not because of Him. God doesn’t want us to be in the dark. God doesn’t want us to wonder what He wants us to do. Think about it this way: if there was something you wanted your children to do would you make it a guessing game? No you would simply tell them. God wants His will to be very clear.
If you take a quick survey through the Bible of how God has spoken to his people, this is what you would find..
In Exodus…God spoke through a burning bush
In Genesis…He spoke in an audible voice
In Numbers…He spoke through a donkey
In Acts…He spoke through visions
In Daniel..through dreams
Now God is not limited when it comes to communicating with His people. There are several reasons why we often do not hear God and we completely miss what He is saying to us.
1. We are often too distracted. Too busy. We constantly move from one thing to the next. TV. Radio. Ipod. Cell phone. Computer. Email. Too many distractions and too little focus.
So where do we find God? It gives me some level of comfort that the great prophet Elijah in the OT also had trouble hearing God. In this passage Elijah had killed 850 false prophets and now a messenger shows up sent by King Ahab and the messenger threatens and promises to kill him. Elijah became afraid and the Bible says that he ran for his life. He traveled a day’s journey into the desert, came to a tree and sat down and he prayed. This was his prayer, “I have had enough Lord,” take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he fell asleep and he was touched by an angel who told him to get up and eat. He looked around and there by his head was a cake of bread being baked over the coals and there was a jar of water. So he ate the bread and drank the water and laid down again.
The angel then comes back a 2nd time, touches him again and said get up and eat for the journey is too much for you. So he got up, ate and then traveled for 40 days to Horeb which is the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave and spent the night.
Now it is at that point that God came to Elijah and said what are you doing Elijah? Here is how he responds..v.10. So the Lord says to him, “go out….” V. 11. Now what we see here are 3 places where Elijah could not find God. And we realize of course that these were the first 3 places that he looked.
(1) He was not in the wind.
(2) He was not in the earthquake.
(3) He was not in the fire.
But then notice this in v. 4. He was in the whisper. Now the message here is this. Do not let the noise of this world keep you from hearing a whisper from God. The psalmist said be still and know that I am God. Why don’t we hear God?
2. When we do hear God speak we don’t always like what He has to say. As one man said, it’s not the part of the Bible that I don’t understand that bother me. It’s the part I do understand that gives me the most trouble. Let’s face it, there are plenty of times God speaks to us and we simply do not recognize that it is Him.
It had been raining for days and days and a big flood came over the land. The waters rose so high that one man was forced to climb onto the roof of his house. As the waters rose higher and higher a man in a rowboat came by and told him to get in. The man said no I have faith in the Lord, He will save me. So the man in the boat rowed away and the man on the house prayed Lord save me. The waters rose higher and higher and suddenly a speedboat came by. The man shouted get in, I’ll help you. The man on the roof said no I have faith God will take care of me. So he drove away and the man on the roof continued to pray for God to save him. The waters continued to rise and then a helicopter appeared, the pilot shouted over the loud speaker, I’ll lower someone down to get you. But the man said no I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me. So the helicopter went away and the man on the roof asked God to save him. The waters rose higher and higher and eventually the rose so high that the man was washed away and he drowned. When he arrived in heaven the man marched straight over to God and he said Father, I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me and yet you did nothing. I don’t understand. God gave him kind of a puzzled look and he said I said you two boats and a helicopter, what did you expect?
Two things we need to understand. (1) God uses people many times to get His work done. (2) We having trouble seeing the hand of God when he is working in our lives. We’re not always comfortable with the answer He gives. We think we want help and then we turn it away.
3. We don’t hear God because we have sin in our lives. You see if we like sin then we won’t like what God has to say about it. So we choose to ignore His voice. And the more we do the more hardened our hearts become. God spoke through the Psalmist David and said, today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts.
God spoke to the prophet Jonah and told Jonah, go to Ninevah and preach so Jonah went to Tarshish. Now if you haven’t seen it on the map, take a look.
God said go here and Jonah went there. But notice that when he did, look what happened. He got in a boat and was then tossed from the boat and a whale swallowed him. You remember the story…he was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights. And ended up where he was supposed to start.
There are 3 truths we need to get hold of if we are going to get a grasp on how God speaks to us.
1. We must understand that God is love and that His will is always best. When God speaks to us, no matter what He has to say, it is always for our good. Now e don’t always see it that way. Here’s what I mean. When you hear these words do they give you positive thoughts or negative thoughts. Rules. Commands. Laws. Judgements. Most of us have a negative response mainly because we do not understand the purpose of the law which is to point us to Christ.
Deut. 10:12-13 (Living) "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you except to listen carefully to all he says to you,  and to obey for your own good the commandments I am giving you today, and to love him, and to worship him with all your hearts and souls?
2. We must understand that God is all knowing. His directions are always right. Sometimes we are not very good at following directions. The teacher used to write on your report card, “does not follow directions well.” His directions are always right.
3. God is all powerful. If God tells you to do something, He will give you the strength to do it.
Isaiah 46:10 (NLT) Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
God told Gideon to go fight an army of 120,000 men. And then he told him to do it with only 300 men. But Gideon followed God’s voice. And Gideon, under God’s leadership won the battle.
God told Noah to build an ark 1 ½ football fields in length because it was going to flood and they had never seen rain. But they followed his voice.
The scripture is filled with story after story of men and women to whom God spoke and they did what He said to do and as a result their lives were blessed. Unfortunately the Bible is also filled with stories of those who heard God’s call and they refused to follow.
John 6. John 6:66 (NLT) At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.