He went on like that for a long time, and then I said to him, “How would you expect God to speak, if He did speak to you?”
He thought for a minute and didn’t really know.
I said, “Would you expect Him to whisper to you, or talk to you?”
I said, “Psalm 19 says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God.’ On nights when you look up into the sky and are overwhelmed with the size and beauty and mystery of the universe, that’s God speaking. He’s saying to you, ‘I’m here!’”
This young man grew up in a church, so I said, “How would the pastor of the church you grew up in say God speaks?”
He thought again, and didn’t know. So I said, “I think he’d say to you that God speaks to you through the Bible. – Do you read the Bible?”
“Not much,” he said. “Not lately. And when I do, I never hear from Him.”
I said, “Well let’s just try something for a minute. Do you have a Bible?”
He had one right on a shelf next to us, so I reached over and opened it to Philippians 4:9. Philippines 4:9 says, Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
I said, “The Bible claims that this is God’s word. That God speaks to us through these words. If that’s true, then God has just spoken to you. He’s just said, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. You heard that, didn’t you?”
I said, “Here’s what I think probably happens to you when you hear words like that. You either say, ‘That’s not true.’ Or, “I don’t want that.’ Or, ‘I’m going to ignore that.’ Or, “I refuse to hear that. I refuse to acknowledge that that’s God speaking to me.’ If you do any of those, it’s not that God hasn’t spoken, it’s that you have chosen not to hear.”
I said, “I think God is speaking to you all the time. He’s whispering, ‘I’m here!’ When you’re with people you don’t like He’s saying, ‘These people matter to me.’ When you’re depressed about yourself, He’s whispering, ‘You matter to me. I love you.’ But you choose not to hear. And if you choose not to hear, you become used to not hearing. It becomes hard to hear.”
I said, “God has been saying to you, ‘You’re life can count. You can be a contributor. You can make a difference. You can love your wife and pour into her. You can care about your neighbors and make their lives better. God has been saying, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Think about these good things.’ But you haven’t heard. So you’re desperate to hear. You really want to hear from God, don’t you?” I said.
He said, “I do.”
If God wanted to make sure you heard Him, how would He do it?
I stumped him again.
I said, “If God had been whispering and you didn’t hear. If He’d been speaking through His word, but you weren’t picked it up. If God loved you and wanted to make sure you heard because He really, really, wanted you to know that you matter to Him and that He really does speak, you know what I think He’d do so that you wouldn’t doubt you’d heard from Him?...”
He looked at me like, “What? How would He do that?”
I said, “If I were God and you were in the situation you’re in, I’d send your pastor over here to speak to you. I think I ended up at your house tonight because God sent me. I wasn’t planning to be here tonight, but here I am. And I am absolutely sure that God is speaking to you now. Whatever is true, noble, right, lovely, think about these things. Look up, have hope. Decide that you will embrace these words and live them out. This is God’s word to you.”
You know what else I think, friends? I think this is God’s word to you too. I think we are in this room together right now, and God is speaking to you, through the words of your pastor, and this is what He’s saying:
“There are four ways to respond to God. You can ignore Him, you can respond and then do nothing about what you’ve heard, you can respond and then get distracted by other things, or you can respond and do what He says. Every day you must choose. You must take personal responsibility for your spiritual growth and your spiritual responsiveness to God.” This is God’s word to you.
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