Summary: I talk about factors that keep us from hearing the voice of God and then ways we can improve our spiritual hearing.
“How’s Your Spiritual Hearing?”
Intro: Imagine what it will be like if you never spoke to your spouse but he/she spoke to you. How would your home be? Imagine what it would be like if your children never spoke to you but you spoke to them. What kind of relationship would that be? A very hard one. It would be very hard to work. And yet this is exactly what happens in our relationship with God. When we talk about prayer we assume it’s a one-lane road.
God doesn’t just want to listen to us but he wants to speak to us too! Imagine, the God of the whole universe speaks to his people!
Transition: This past week I did a quick survey through the Bible and tried to find the different ways God spoke to people. I have put scripture references in your outlines so you can do your own personal study. God has spoken in the past through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4), direct & audible voice (Genesis 22, Acts 8:26-29), through another person (2 Samuel 12), a donkey (Numbers 22:21-30), visions (Acts 10:9-16, 16:9), dreams (Daniel 4), circumstances (Acts 16:6-8), prayer (Luke 6:12), and promptings of the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting to see how God has spoken and speaks to his people. It is important to understand that our focus should not be on the means of how God speaks but our focus should be on the reality that he does speak. The Bible tells us that God never changes. “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God spoke in the past, he speaks today and he will speak tomorrow. He will use whatever means necessary to get his message across. He doesn’t want to leave us in the dark.
And yet for many individual believers and for many churches there is silence. Sure, there are plenty of prayers going up… but no voice coming down. Why don’t we hear God’s voice sometimes? Here are some factors that keep us from hearing God:
1). The Distraction factor.
We are so used to going from appointment to appointment to appointment and never making time for the most important appointment of the day—our time with him. We have something going on every single day: soccer, work meetings, church meetings, social meetings, etc. until late hours of the day.
I find it so fascinating that Jesus never referred to a day timer or calendar. Even in his busy schedule he found the time to get alone with the father and seek his face. Jesus said a statement many times throughout the gospels. That statement is, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” Jesus knew that man may have ears to hear but are many times deaf to God’s voice. We let the distractions of life keep us from hearing his voice.
2). Another factor that keeps us from hearing God is what I call the “Dissatisfaction Factor.”
God always has something worthy to say. Things about Himself, things about his purposes, and also things about your life. When God talks we need to listen. But you know what, we might not be comfortable with what he has to say. God cares enough about us that he doesn’t want to leave us in sin. So in his love and mercy he speaks to us about sin in our lives. If we like sin, we won’t like what God has to say. So we ignore. The more we ignore, the more our hearts get hardened. Hebrews 4:7b is a good word for us: “Today, if you hear his voice do nor harden your hearts.” Don’t harden your heart.
We not only don’t like it when he speaks to us about our sin but we don’t like some of the assignments he gives us. I immediately think of Jonah. In chapter one God gives Jonah a word of instruction. “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” There are a lot of Jonah’s in the world today. But, unlike Jonah we might not get another chance.
3). A third reason we have a hard time hearing what God has to say is the “I’m doing just fine” factor
We really don’t care what God has to say. We are safe, we are healthy and that’s all we want. We think somehow God is going to spoil our fun. This is not how God intended it. I want to know what God has to say about me. I want NCC to be on a mission to hear what God has to say.
Transition: So how can we improve our spiritual hearing?