Summary: God is speaking to us through our worship, in the songs we sing, the Scriptures read and the message delivered. What you will walk away with will be determined by how well you listen to God. What is necessary to listen well?
Listening to God
Charles Stanley in a sermon from Nehemiah once asked, “How is it that two people can sit in the same pew, hear the same sermon about the same portion of Scripture, and walk away with two different reactions? One is joyful and the other unaffected.” God is speaking to us through our worship, in the songs we sing, the Scriptures read and the message delivered. What you will walk away with today will be determined by how well you are listening to God.
I. There must be a willingness to listen to the voice of God
A. One must have a desire to listen to God.
B. Exodus 20:18-19 “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die."
C. Oswald Chambers – “Many don’t want to hear from God. They would rather listen to His servants than to Him
D. Psalm 81:11 “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.”
E. Many do not want to hear from God for they dread what He may have to say to them or what He may ask them to do.
F. Sin in one’s life will dampen the desire to hear from God.
G. e.g. – Adam & Eve after disobeying God hid from God. Sin broke the lines of communication between God and man.
H. John 8:47a “He who is of God hears God’s words...”
I. Authentic discipleship begins with a sincere willingness to listen to God.
J. Proverbs 2:1-5 “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
K. In his book Directions, author James Hamilton shares this insight about listening to God: "Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. I closed the door,'' the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.'' The question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough and quiet enough to hear. Are we setting aside the noise and clamor of the things of this life with the intense focus on listening for God to speak?
L. Indifference must give way to humble hearts with an eager desire to hear from God.
M. Do you really hunger to hear God speaking to you?
II. There must be openness and receptivity to the message of God
A. Consider Samuels response to God’s call, in 1 Samuel 3:10 “The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel responded, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
B. Samuel positioned himself as a servant who listens attentively to the call of his master in order to know exactly his masters wishes, desires and commands. We’ve all heard the saying “Your wish is my command.” This is what Samuel was saying to the Lord.
C. Humility and readiness to listen to what God has to say opens up unlimited ways for you and me to be used by God.
D. When Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected Lord on the Damascus road, trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6)
E. I think of Old Jonah who heard the word of the Lord and did not like what he heard.
F. Jonah 1:1-3 “Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying , Arise , go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD “