Summary: Distinguishing the voice of God and determining what He is saying are essential to living in the power and purspose of God
Interpreting the Input
December 2, 2001
Last Wednesday, I was in the office preparing for last week’s sermon about inviting God to Shatter the Silence, and this man literally just busted into the room. No telephone call, no knock, no announcement of his intentions he just barged in. If you have ever been to my office you know that it used to be a janitor’s closet and my desk sits about 5 feet from the door. So when he came the fright almost knocked me out of my seat.
He asked me if I knew where some attorney was. I did not know, but I knew that he wasn’t in my building so I offered to look up his phone number and call him but the man said no and walked out. About 2 seconds later the door opened again and he said is this some kind of church or something, we have a plaque that says Dayspring Community Church on the door. I said yes and he said, could I put in a prayer request? I said sure what is on your mind. He began to tell me the most unfortunate story. Apparently he and his wife had been involved in some bad things and then they came to know the Lord. But they did not pay the price of discipleship and they drifted away and the drifting essentially cost them their children and now they were faced with the possibility of her losing her freedom. I asked him if I could pray with him and before we knelt down he said, “I think the Lord is trying to tell me something, I’m just not real sure what it is.” After he left, it hit me that positioning yourself in such a way as to invite God to shatter the silence doesn’t complete the process. Communication is only successful when the party that is listening understands what the speaker is saying. So today I want to complete our study on hearing from God by examining how to properly interpret the input.
Just as a reminder, last week we discovered from Samuel that for God to shatter the silence we should prepare ourselves by practicing the disciplines of service, solitude, and surrender to anything he might desire. Today by examining the life of another hero of our faith, we will discover when God speaks, and we will develop a set of questions we can ask of God, ourselves, and our circumstances that will help us interpret His input.
Turn in your Bibles to Judges 6:11-24 (READ). We are going to examine the encounter and call to arms of Gideon.
First question that I want to answer, is how we can have confidence that it is truly God that is speaking. There are 2 times when God typically speaks.
God speaks and gives guidance in times of worship or seeking. Two Bible verses to hang on to here before we look at Gideon.
Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In other words, our ability to hear and interpret God’s voice will be heightened in times of spiritual exercise or bliss, those times when we are worshipping. The closer you are to God the more likely you are to get a word you can be sure about.
Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” This promise covers times of spiritual doubt as well as spiritual bliss. It says that in those times when you are not close to God, as a matter of fact in times of doubt, confusion, and even anger, if you turn to God for the answer he will give you one. But you have to turn to him.
Which of these 2 circumstances do we find Gideon in? What is going on here? The Israelites are in a time of political oppression because of a season of spiritual rebellion. God has sent the Midianites to exact judgement on Israel because the scripture says they did evil in the eyes of the Lord. The Midianites would allow Israel to plant their crops and get them ready for harvest, and then at harvest time, they would invade their land like a swarm of locusts and ravage it, taking the harvest and then destroying the crops. Forcing the people of Israel to move out of their cities and into caves in the mountains for protection. When the time was right, they would sneak down to their fields, harvest what they could in secret and then go and hide as they processed them for consumption.