Summary: Part 6. When we hear from God we are at a crisis of belief where we will have to choose whether we will step out in faith or not.
We have been in a series titled “Knowing and Experiencing God” because, truth be told, many times in our Christian life we are just going through the motions. Perhaps we go to church on Sunday, maybe we do our daily devotions (reading the Bible & praying), generally we try to be a good person, do the right thing. But if I were to ask if our Christian life is characterized by personal experiences with God, in other words tangible evidence of God’s presence and work in our life, what would we say? Are we experiencing God on a personal level? If not, why not, because the experience of Christians in the Bible and down through the last 2000 years is one of personal experience and relationship with God.
During the series I’ve been focusing on three possible problems: 1) We might have a relationship problem with God. God’s first priority for us is knowing Him, by that I mean having a close personal relationship with God through Christ. We were created for a loving friendship with God. This isn’t knowing about God, it is real and it is personal relationship with our heavenly Father. 2) We could have a hearing problem. Perhaps we don’t know how to listen to God’s voice, or God communicating his truth to us, or we aren’t spending the time we need to listen and be attentive to God’s work in our life or around us. Hearing God’s voice is important because the only way we can know the truth about God and his ways, and what he wants us to do is when he reveals it to us.
1) When God Speaks it is Our Invitation to Join Him
Over the last three weeks we have looked at how God communicates with us. There are lots of ways God can speak to us, but God primarily “speaks” to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances (like coincidences and open and closed doors), and other Christian believers. God doesn’t communicate with us just to give us warm fuzzies. The purpose of sharing these truths is so that we will grow in our relationship with him, and so that we will follow his plan. In fact, when God “speaks” to us he is typically inviting us to join him in his work. When we look in the Bible, virtually any time we read of God speaking to people he is inviting them to join him in what he is doing, or what he is about to do. When God reveals something to you that is your invitation to get on board with God.
3) Lastly, we could have an obedience problem. This is when we know what God wants us to do, we’ve felt the prick of our conscious, God has placed something on our heart, we have read something in Scripture which has touched our heart, but we have been unwilling to step out in faith and make the adjustments in our life to do what God wants us to do.
2) Our Invitation Usually Leads to a Crisis of Belief which Requires Faith and Action
a) Crisis of Belief
When God speaks to us and invites us to join him in his work it usually brings us to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action because whatever God asks us to do will seem impossible to us. In the Bible, when God spoke and directed people in what he wanted them to do, the task usually seemed impossible by human reason and understanding. Because it seems too difficult it led to a crisis of belief. In last week’s lesson God directed the Apostle Peter to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to Gentiles (non-Jews) for the first time. Peter’s crisis of belief was his prejudice against Gentiles. In order to follow God’s plan he had to get over his belief that Gentiles were unclean, impure, and untouchable. When God invited Moses to be the point man to speak with Pharaoh and lead the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan, Moses faced a crisis of belief. Would he return to the land where he was wanted for murder? Why would the Israelites ever accept him as a leader? What about his lack of speaking skills? In our Scripture this week Gideon faced a big crisis of belief. God picked Gideon, who was from the weakest clan of his tribe, and he the least in his family (Judg. 6:15). God asked Gideon to gather an army to defeat the enemy forces marching into their territory numbering over 135,000 men strong. Gideon gathered an army numbering 35,000, but God thought that was too many even though they were outnumbered almost 4:1. God felt he would not get enough credit if they were victorious so God whittled the number down to only 300 men…against 135,000! How could Gideon possibly defeat an army 500 times larger than his own? Impossible…by human ability.