Summary: Part 2 in the series Faith Basics. This message looks at ways we can recognize God’s voice when he speaks to us.
Recognizing God’s Voice
Faith Basics, part 2
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
Sept. 2, 2007
God may not be where you think he is. Many hundreds of years before Christ, the prophet Elijah receives an order from God – he is to prepare himself to meet God, for God is about to pass by. Let’s see what happens.
1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)
11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Usually we get the cart before the horse. We want to know what God wants us to do in this situation or that. We want him to tell us who to marry, or what school to attend, or whether or not to take a promotion, or whether it’s finally time for us to think about getting out of a relationship. But my friends, this is jumping the gun. This assumes that we’ll recognize God’s voice when he speaks to us! But what if we miss him? What if we’re looking for him in the wind, or in the earthquake or the fire, when all along he’s in the gentle whisper?
Here’s a video clip about guy who is praying – who is specifically asking God to tell him something. God responds pretty specifically to his prayer, but he doesn’t recognize God’s voice. Watch this.
[Roll clip from Bruce Almighty]
Last week I talked you about putting yourself into a place where it will be possible for you to hear God’s voice. We need to quiet down, listen up, look around, and move over! But just because you’re listening doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to know God’s voice when you hear it. Bruce Almighty was praying for a sign. He received a sign – a ton of them – and he missed it. It is easy to miss God’s voice – to be expecting something other than what we get.
Jesus himself is called The Word of God. He was God’s voice to a world that was constantly looking for God. Where’d he end up? Hanging on a cross. Why? Because God’s voice didn’t sound like people thought it would sound. They didn’t recognize it when they heard it. The gospel of John has this account of Jesus:
John 10:22-27 (MSG)
22 They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter.
23 Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch.
24 The Jews, circling him, said, "How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out."
25 Jesus answered, "I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words.
26 You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep.
27 My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
We pray “Lord, tell me what I should do. Give me direction. Give me a sign.” But like Bruce Almighty we can pray this prayer sincerely, and then not recognize God when he speaks to us. We can be blinded by our own expectations. See expectations are powerful. They filter out what we see and hear. People come into this gymnasium every week with expectations for what church is like. When this place does not meet those expectations, the response is usually one of two things:
1. Disappointment – That wasn’t church to me at all.
2. Delight -- Wow. Not what I expected, but there’s something special about this place.
Interesting isn’t it? That’s how people seemed to respond to Jesus. The religious people were almost all disappointed. All their lives they had studied scripture. They had expectations for what the Messiah would do and say. Jesus didn’t meet those expectations, and so they were disappointed.
Now the regular people – the poor, the sick, the sinners – they had expectations too. They expected that no matter what, they would continue to be put down and ignored like they always had been. Jesus failed to meet those expectations, and when he did, they were delighted. They loved him. He didn’t act at all like all the religious people they had seen, and for them that was a good thing. Jesus mystified them because here was a teacher, a holy man, who kept company with them and loved them and wanted to know them. They had never seen anything like it.