Summary: This sermon looks at mistakes we make and hints we can find from Elijah’s experience in listening to God.
Learning to Listen to God
Have you ever been in a spot where God was hard to find? Where you just wanted answers but no answers seemed evident? Have you ever been in a spot where you just needed to hear from God? Well Elijah was in just such a predicament when we find him this morning. He has just come off of one of the most stunning upset victories in history. If you remember back with me to the stories you know ¡V Elijah has just faced off with the 450 prophets of Baal. He prayed and God sent down fire from heaven and consumed the alter ¡V do you remember that story. Well this happens right after that victory. But now we find him in the midst of turmoil ¡V depression ¡V and fear ¡V and in need of hearing the voice of God. Let¡¦s read.
First this morning let me share with you some of the mistakes we make in listening to God ¡V
„« We Underestimate God ¡V think about Elijah with me ¡V he has just seen God send down fire from heaven and consume an alter he has built. He has just watched as the 450 prophets of Baal were executed by their own followers after Baal is proven false. Yet now when Jezebel sends her messenger ¡V he runs for his life. There is something systemically wrong with human beings ¡V we invariably have times when our brains simply cease to function. All of God¡¦s faithfulness and power become nothing. It happened after the red sea ¡V with the spies. It happened with the disciples after the feeding of the 5 thousand. The mistake is knowing what God has promised and not believing He is able.
„« We judge God¡¦s favor by our circumstances ¡V Elijah the great prophet of God ¡V now says ¡§I just want to die¡¨. ¡§Kill me Lord ¡V I¡¦m such a failure.¡¨ ¡§I¡¦m no better than those who have gone before me.¡¨ You see Elijah thought he was going to change the world and when he couldn¡¦t he accounted himself a failure. I must have really messed up to be in a place like this. Folks let me tell you what Elijah was about to find out ¡V doing the right thing is not always easy. Doing it God¡¦s way doesn¡¦t mean easy street often it means being slandered talked about and frustrated. Don¡¦t judge God¡¦s voice by your circumstance.
„« We judge God¡¦s voice by how we feel ¡V Folks I want to tell you something ¡V If you don¡¦t hear anything else I say today listen to this ¡V ¡§Your emotions will lie to you!¡¨ We live in an emotions based age. Everyone wants to know how you ¡§feel¡¨ about things. People constantly justify their sinful behavior because it ¡§feels right¡¨. Friend I don¡¦t care if it feels right what I want to know is ¡§Is it right¡¨. I talk with men all the time and I tell them one thing over and over ¡§THINK¡¨. Ask a man why he does the stupid things he does he¡¦ll tell you ¡§I wasn¡¦t thinking.¡¨ Ask a teenager why they got in trouble ¡§I wasn¡¦t thinking.¡¨ Ask the woman wrapped up in an illicit love affair why? ¡§I wasn¡¦t thinking.¡¨ Your sure shootin you wern¡¦t thinking you were feeling ¡V and feelings lie to us. They tell us right is wrong and wrong is right. Use your heads folks ¡V God gave us heads for more than just a place to grow our hair.
„« Look for answers in the extrordinary ¡V Elijah was looking for God in the wind and fire and earthquakes ¡V God wanted him to listen to the whisper.
So if we are making all these mistakes in listening to God ¡V how can we learn to be better listeners? Here are a few hints from Elijah.
„« Go to a place where you can listen. ¡V I don¡¦t mean go find a cave somewhere like Elijah did ¡V I mean go to a place where you can be quiet. Distractions surround us ¡V things that would prevent us from hearing the whisper of God. Go to your quiet place. Maybe that is your car, maybe your closet, maybe your workshop, maybe the church ¡V but find a place where you can be quiet and listen to God. Put the distractions away.
„« Learn to wait ¡V Elijah wanted an answer ¡V but it was 40 days and 40 nights before he got what he was reaching for. Elijah was tenacious when it came to hearing from God. He wasn¡¦t going to stop listening until God started talking. In a world of fast food and microwaves God seems so very slow. Today we have a problem we hook onto the information superhighway ¡V go to google ¡V and hit search ¡V voila our answer in seconds. Don¡¦t you wish God had an internet site? With a frequently asked questions page. Frankly I¡¦m glad he doesn¡¦t because I don¡¦t want canned answers I want my answers and that¡¦s what I get when I talk with God who is my friend and my Father.