Summary: Part 2 of Take a Hike: Walking in the Spirit. This is about how to find God’s will, comparing OT ways, with our modern ways, with the NT ways.
Psalm 25:1-5 – Listen Up
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.”
It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Somewhat puzzled, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
Tonite’s message deals with listening, in particular, listening to God. We are continuing with our walking in the Spirit messages, and tonite’s topic deals with how to get instructions from God.
Now, I must say, I am no expert in this. I hope I don’t come across as someone who has all the answers. I don’t. But the journey I am on right
now leads me to think that we need to hear about how God speaks. Let’s read Psalm 25:1-5. Show me, teach me, guide me. These are all good places to start. As willing followers, we want God to show us what to do. We want God to teach us what is the best way to go. And we want God to guide us to where He wants us.
But how does He do it? Well, let’s start with the OT. Hebrews 1:1, commenting on the OT, says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Well, how did God let His people know what to do in the OT? What were those various ways? God spoke to Adam and Eve face to face. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He spoke to Balaam through his donkey. He spoke to Elijah through a still small voice. He spoke to the people of Israel through a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. He spoke to Isaiah through a vision. He spoke to Gideon through a sign, 2 days in a row. He spoke to Belshazzar through hand-writing on the wall. He spoke to Daniel through dreams. He spoke to Jacob through an angel. He spoke to David through the prophet Nathan. He spoke through the Urim and Thummim, which supposedly gave God’s directions.
But many times the Bible simply says, “The Lord spoke to…” I don’t know what that means, but I picture a booming voice from heaven. Well, clearly, God doesn’t really do that so much now, if at all. We want the big, clear, unmistakable signs that God is speaking to us. We want the bush, the writing, the donkey, the fleece. But they were pretty much one-time things. The NT changed so much, including how God speaks.
That Hebrews passage goes on in v2 to say, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Jesus is God’s message to us. His character is God’s message for how we should live. His sacrifice is God’s message for how we should approach Him. In short, Jesus is God’s Word to us.
But how do we flesh that out? How do we know what God wants for us today? How did God speak to His NT believers? Well, of course Jesus used all kinds of ways. He healed, He fed, He did miracles, and He did them all differently, as well. A person couldn’t predict how Jesus would do something. They just had to stand back and watch.
But I’ll tell you something, Pentecost changed everything. Part of Pentecost was to show that the Law wasn’t written on stone – it is now written on our hearts. That means, that a lot of the guidance that God gives us is an internal thing. It isn’t always easier, but such as it is. It means that we really have to seek for His will, instead of its being dropped onto us. It means more work, but God really enjoys our seeking Him, the same reason He doesn’t answer prayers immediately.
Up till Pentecost, in Acts 2, when Jesus has died and risen and ascended to heaven, the believers are trying to figure out what to do with the empty place of the 12, vacated by Judas. They cast lots – they roll dice, more or less – and Matthias is chosen. They took that as God’s sign. Well, Matthias is never heard from again, and we never read that they ever cast lots again. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t.
Now, before I get to how God does speak to believers in the NT, I’d like to look at how we have usually thought of this issue. One way that we have talked about knowing what God wanted is the Open Door method. “If God opens the door,” we say. That almost sounds biblical – Colossians 4:3 says, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.” But that wasn’t Paul trying to figure out God’s will. He knew what it was, and prayed that God would make it possible.