Summary: How do we hear God speak to us?
Made New - Listening Anew
John 14: 23-29
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
Recently, I heard of a chap here in Ottawa who was offered a job with a competing hi-tech firm in San Jose. Salary was about double what he was making. He began to pray, asking the Lord for some direction. His son was chattering with a buddy a few days later who asked, "So, what’s going to happen?" "Oh," said the son, "Dad’s praying, but mom’s packing."
There are many stories like this. They’re light hearted and sometimes even funny. But beneath them is a serious question -
Do we hear from God...... or not?
In three weeks we’ll be asked to vote for elders & deacons here at Calvin. Before the vote is held, a prayer will be offered. Should that prayer include a request for God to provide guidance? Or not?
When committee meetings are held, it is right to pray for the Spirit’s leading and guidance? Or not?
When you’re looking for a life’s partner, is that proper to ask God for direction in this matter? Or not?
Does He guide His people in specific, direct ways...... or not?
Please join me in reading from God’s directive for our lives:
John 14: 23-29
Focus with me, if you will, on these words of Jesus:
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
Can you recall the words we used to open our service, from Psalm 25?
Ps 25:5 "Guide me in your truth and teach me...."
The Lord God – teaching, reminding, guiding....
Activities that the Bible points to, and promises as an ongoing part of the lives of believers.
Activities -and that’s the first thing to take home this morning -
activities that come within a specific context;
the context of relationship.
salvation, love relationship;
between Bridegroom and Bride,
between Creator and Image Bearers,
between Saviour and Redeemed,
between Comforter and Comforted
I hope you picked up the tone of what Jesus was saying in John 14. It is all about relationship – father language, being "with" believers, peace-giving, coming, God making His home with believers.
It is in that relationship context that the leading of the Spirit is experienced.
Which is a good check for us who seek His voice. It reminds us that, more than anything, we want to be about the task of seeking the presence of God..... not His presents!
And it is when we experience His presence that we will experience His direction and leading.
All of which takes time, focus, space. Just like any other significant relationship. You can’t have a solid relationship with your spouse without having time alone, or time to focus on each other, or deliberate space to enjoy that relationship. You may be able to carry on for a short time without these elements, but soon things begin to deteriorate.
The heavenly bridegroom, Jesus, looks at His Church as a bride and seeks an intimate relationship with Her — with us.
Time alone, time to focus, deliberate space ---- we need these.
And so the scriptures speak of our living in God’s presence, and remind us six times: "Be still......."
And so Jesus visits the home of two sisters, one busy serving Him and the other quietly sitting with Him, listening to Him. Jesus points to the one with Him and says, "she has chosen the better way." (Luke 10).
Our tradition loves the phrase of John Calvin, "Ora et labora" – "Pray and work." Let me suggest that we lean heavily to the labora side. We are quick to move past praying and meditation, seeing them as preliminaries. You’ve probably heard.... or said:
"John, can you do devotions at the meeting tonight. But keep them short. We have a lot of business to cover."
Martin Luther is popularly quoted as saying, "I spend an hour a day in prayer. But when I am busy and the tasks press in on my, I can afford no less than 2 hours a day in prayer."
We cannot hear God’s directive to us while racing around like mad fools.
Second thing that I hope you take home this morning is that we listen for the Lord’s voice because we desire to obey Him. We want to respond to Him.
Loving Communion; enjoying His holy, love-filled and gracious presence; sharing the richness of divine fellowship;
out of which flows obedience.
This is what the Lord desires!
It becomes our desire, too.
And so we rip up and throw away any attitude towards seeking to hear God’s voice as a way to manipulate or to get from God.