Summary: What are you trusting, why?
Christian Faith or Magical Thinking?
For a couple of Sundays, we’ve been considering the importance of a contemporary experience of hearing God’s voice. A fresh relationship with the Lord prevents us from following a sterile set of rules that have little true power to shape our values and daily lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
We need to hear the words of God in order to do the works of God. I’ve been encouraging you to actively listen, to invite the Spirit of God to speak to you, guiding your life. What power. What an influence for the Lord you can become when you have heard from Him. That ‘knowing’ produces tremendous confidence!
The Book of Acts was written by Luke to tell us the story of the first generation Christians. Ordinary men and women heard from God and knew His Presence in their lives. Just a few Spirit-filled people changed the world in a century’s time BECAUSE they were listening to the Spirit and doing the will of the Father.
Shortly after the Day of Pentecost when the Believers were filled with God’s Spirit, Peter and John were going into the temple. They were approached by a crippled man who wanted money. Instead, they prayed for his healing and he was able to walk. This so amazed people that they gathered to look. These men began to talk about the Lord and so annoyed the religious authorities that they were arrested. At their hearing before the council of highly educated religious leaders they defended themselves eloquently. Acts 4.8 tells us that Peter was filled with a holy boldness. After he had spoken, the reaction of the court was: Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
The relationship they found with their Heavenly Father was so compelling that they gave their lives to spread the good news. Driven by this passion and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they reached – in one generation – from one end of the Roman Empire to the other. There is the story of Stephen. Acts 6:8-10
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen,10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
His witness so enraged the crowd that they dragged out of the city and killed him by stoning him. His final words show us how he heard from heaven and walked with God. Acts 7:56-60
56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Similar stories tell us how those early Christians overcame hardship, faced crisis, healed the sick, cared lovingly
for each other, knew where to go and what to say... All by the word of God that came to them by the Holy Spirit.
Some of you just can’t help thinking, “Well, that was then and this is now. God’s not speaking that way anymore.”
But He is... if He seems silent, it is because we are not listening.
To help you understand the concept of God’s voice in our time, let me share a story from my life. Some of you have heard it before and some of you were part of my life then.
In January, 1986, on a cold Saturday afternoon, our phone rang. When the sobbing coming over the lines subsided, Bev and I determined that the caller was Margarita from Dallas, TX. She had come into our lives about a year and half earlier as a result of outreach ministry. A man had recruited her to become part of his high-wire circus act in her native Colombia, So. America and then brought her to the US. Once he got her to the States he became abusive and cruel. We had urged her to separate from him, but she was frightened since she spoke no English and needed his support for her daughter and after month with us, she left with him. Now she was desperate. In her very broken English, she explained that she had separated from the man and that in a rage he had come to her apartment and taken her 4 yr. old daughter at gunpoint. Because her immigration papers were not in order, she was afraid to go the police, so she called us. Her story broke our hearts, but what could we do? We were not rich. We had no connections in Texas.