Summary: Every relationship includes both speaking and listening. This sermon talks about how to listen to God.
How to Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus May 20, 2007
Continuing the Conversation – Recognizing the Voice of God
We started this series on How to have a Personal Relationship with Jesus a few weeks ago. The first week, we talked about starting the relationship – being reconciled to God. Last week we talked about how we begin the conversation in prayer by looking at the Lord’s Prayer. But conversations are not just about talking, they are about listening as well. (this might be a surprise to some of you)
Nicholas – “I don’t see him so well.”
Our difficulty is how to recognize God’s voice – Nicky’s telephone story talk 7 16:47
How do we get to know God’s voice like a good friend’s?
Ho can we hear God’s voice, and
How can we be sure that what we are hearing is God and not our own voice or some other spiritual being?
“In those days the word of the Lord was rare:” is that the case today?
The difficulty of the “God said to me…” people
This might seem like a faith builder, but for some of us it is just a discouragemen, because we do not hear that clearly.
Recognizing God’s voice – Samuel doesn’t recognize it at all – he would become the greatest prophet/judge in Israel, Eli the High Priest takes number of tries before he gets it.
God’s voice is not always obvious – we would often like God to speak in a massive lighting bolt from the sky that etches his words into two stone tablets.
But the reality is that the vast majority of the time God speaks to us with subtlety, with what we might call an inkling of a thought in our mind, or a divine excitement or passion that rises us within us.
Clip from the Nativity Story 3:07:40
“And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
I think that the reason that they had this story running through the movie was to point to how God often does things and speaks in small, almost imperceptible ways.
I believe, from reading the Bible, and my own life experience that this is God’s main way of speaking to us – in the whisper, not in the whirlwind.
Maybe he is like the schoolteacher who knows that she will get the class’ full attention by whispering, but not by yelling.
Even in some of the greatest events in Redemption History, he came to earth in the form of an impoverished baby, he paid for our sin by dying on a cross like so many people had before him – it is hardly a blip on the radar screen of world history!
He speaks in the whisper.
So how do we learn to hear him?
Remembering God’s voice
– those times when in hind-sight you knew that God was saying something
- at your conversion
God’s voice always agrees with Scripture
God will never tell you to break a command.
We may have to go back and look again – Airport renewal – Peter’s experience of the vision of unclean animals – we may have to go back and understand God’s word differently that we have
God’s voice has a consistent character
Get to know God’s character in scripture –
See God’s Character in the character of Jesus 2 Corinthians 4:6
“For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
Read with the ear of you heart – not just with your head – read to learn to recognize God’s voice, not just to learn about God.