Summary: Ears to hear the voice of the Spirit
God Speaks - Are you listening?
Intro. – ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD) is mostly an organic problem which tends to run in families. It is characterized by the inability to sustain focused attention. This checklist rates the following behaviors which are present in most people with ADHD:
3. Free flight of ideas (free associations to any other idea)
4. Impulsivity - Moodiness
6. Bursts of hot temper
I believe that many Christians suffer from a kind of spiritual AD/HD. No, I’m not joking. One of the main reasons that many of us do not hear from God as clearly as we might, is because we are distracted, inattentive, and hyperactive.
I hear God’s voice so much more clearly when I am on retreat, at a conference where life’s distractions are minimal, or on vacation from the demands of the Pastorate. I constantly have to sharpen my ability to focus, to discipline myself to reject the diversions that surround me so I can give full attention to people and situations that require it.
I am not alone in this failure of focus. Our lives are full of distractions, opportunities, and demands. Phones ring at all hours. Cell phones keep us constantly plugged in. Internet connections can be made at any time. Email and IM allow real time written communication. As a result of being offered a smorgasbord of information, most of us have an attention span of about 30 seconds. If one thing bores us, we simply switch channels, pick up a different magazine, surf the ‘net, turn on the stereo, etc.
∙ One consequence is our inability to hear God’s voice over all the background ‘noise’ of our life.
Increasingly we yearn for the meaning and stability that hearing His voice brings to our lives, YET we attempt to satisfy our longing with more stimulation of an earthly nature. NOTHING in this world will satisfy our longing to hear the voice of God. To hear that voice, we must learn to focus, to wait on the Lord.
Psalm 123:1-2 contains a beautiful metaphor for this focused listening....
I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.
In The Message, that passage reads:
I look to you, heaven-dwelling God,
look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master’s commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,
We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
How does He speak?
1. God speaks to us through the Bible.
His will, His purposes and plans, His nature – all are clearly revealed to us through the pages of the Holy Scripture. Paul wrote that (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in
righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Having said that, let me hasten to add this note. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in our minds, the Bible is just another collection of ancient stories. We may read it, know the content from cover to cover, and even be able to have theological discussions about the Bible without being spoken to by the words on its pages. Millions of people have owned and read Bibles without hearing God’s voice.
Deion Sanders, the famous athlete was one of those who owned and even read a Bible without hearing from God. As he tells it, it was a different woman every night, sometimes several different women... But every morning he’d read the Bible, a legacy of a devout grandmother who helped raise Deion and his sister in Ft. Myers, Fla. "I read a Scripture a day, but it was more like brushing my teeth," he says. "If you asked me five minutes later what I read and what it meant, I couldn’t tell you. I did it out of repetition, but I didn’t live it." – Deion Sanders
quoted in Newsweek,11/9/98, Hail, Deion, Full of Grace By Allison Samuels and Mark Starr
∙ You are wrong if you think you can discover God in the Bible through your own intelligence alone.
∙ You are wrong if you believe that God’s truth can be wrested from the text through study alone.
∙ You are wrong if you conclude that the voice of God is heard through your church’s traditional interpretations of the Scripture.
Intelligence, discipline, and tradition failed the leaders of Israel at the time of Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees had all of those AND still they missed the Messiah in their midst. In John 5:39-40 Jesus spoke to these religious leaders and challenged their sterile reading of the Bible: