Summary: Expository/topical sermon of hearing and listening to God’s voice, taken from Paul’s conversion. Bulletin notes following full text sermon.
Acts 9:1-9 – Do You Hear What I Hear?
A man was having difficulty communicating with his wife and concluded that she was becoming hard of hearing. So he decided to conduct a test without her knowing about it.
One evening he sat in a chair on the far side of the room. Her back was to him and she could not see him. Very quietly he whispered, "Can you hear me?" There was no response.
Moving a little closer, he asked again, "Can you hear me now?" Still no reply. Quietly he edged closer and whispered the same words, but still no answer.
Finally, he moved right in behind her chair and said, "Can you hear me now?" To his surprise and chagrin, she responded with irritation in her voice, "For the fourth time, yes!"
It’s funny: we accuse God of not hearing what we say, what we pray. We figure He’s up there not listening to anything we say. In fact, the opposite is true. As we holler up, “Can you hear me?”, He hollers back, “Yes! But can you hear me?” Folks, we’re the deaf ones, not God.
As we wrap up our 9 weeks of the words of Jesus – what he said to His followers after His resurrection, we come to Acts 9. Now, Jesus has already been raised from the dead. He’s walked on earth in a glorified body for 40 days. And He’s been taken to heaven. The disciples have waited on the Lord for 10 days, and the Holy Spirit has been given to every believer. The church has been growing, and opposition has come. A young man named Saul has been wanting to stomp out Christianity, because in his mind, it is a cult, a perverted form of Judaism. And Saul has been going around putting followers of Jesus in jail, even having some put to death. We pick up the story in Acts 9:1-9.
Today, although there’s so much wealth in this passage, we’re just going to glean some insights of how the voice of the Lord comes to us. How does God speak to us? What does His voice sound like? If you are hollering at God trying to get His attention, this is how God might be hollering back at you. How does God speak to people?
1) God’s voice came when Paul was trying to do what God wanted. We look back and see that Saul was wrong. Hunting down Christians was clearly not God’s desires. But Saul really thought he was right. Writer Eugenia Price says: ”Saul believed himself to be serving the Lord God of Israel when he persecuted the disciples of Jesus. His service had become an obsession.”
So even though he was wrong, he thought he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do. God calls you, not when you’re sitting around doing nothing for Him, but when you’re trying to follow Him. Moses and Amos were tending sheep when God called them. Samuel was helping in the temple when God spoke to him. Nehemiah was doing his job when God called him. Folks, if you aren’t doing what you already know God wants you to do, if you’re already holding out on areas in your life, if you know you cling to something that displeases God, don’t expect new messages from Him. Listen to what He’s already saying to you.
2) God’s voice caused him to change direction. Saul got a total change in his life that day. The voice from heaven showed him that the life that he knew would be over, because God had singled him out for a brand new thing. Folks, although at times the voice of God comes only as an encouragement to lift us up, the most important reason is to transform us. God wants to make us like His Son, Jesus. Romans 8:29 says: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” It’s the 2nd purpose of our church: to increase in the knowledge and image of Christ. To know more about Him and to become more like Him. Folks, if you and I really listened to God’s voice, we would not always like what He would tell us. It wouldn’t always be John 3:16 or Psalm 23. It would involve attitudes. It would involve actions. Beware of the voice that says you’re OK, that says you don’t need anything else. My favorite singer, Steve Taylor, wrote 20 years ago: “So you say it’s of the devil and you’ve got no choice, cuz you heard a revelation from a still small voice. If the Bible doesn’t back it, then it seems quite clear: perhaps it was the devil who whispered in your ear.”