Title: Hearing From God in Modern Times
Theme: Discerning God's Voice In a Secular Atmosphere
Introduction: We live in times were people are looking for answers. Now is the time for the people of God to be fully equipped to share God's Word in a way that intrigues' people to Biblical truths. Truths to live by in a sin cursed world growing in conflict, confusion and controversy.
Proposition: I would propose to you that God wants to use His children to provide answers, truths from the Lord that are exhilarating, intimate, unforgettable and ongoing. Truths that motivate and inspire the hungry to listen to God while receiving practical help and hearing from Him. Truths that help Christians to understand that the voice of God is not to be feared, but welcomed, like that of close friend, a loving husband, or honorable wife.
Interrogative Sentence: Just what are Biblical steps that enable Christians to discern the voice of God in a world demanding your attention and allegiance?
"Back in the day of telephone booths, a man stepped into the booth, dialed a number of a friend. When the connection was made, the friend on the other end of the line kept saying, 'I can not hear you!" All the traffic in the back ground caused such a roar, it drowned out the man's voice in the phone booth. In order for communication between the two friends to be effective, that man in the booth had to shut the door, shut out background noise. The world view has such a roar, you need to shut it out for a short season so you can hear the voice of God" (AMG Bible Illustrations. (2000). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers)
When the child of God, for a short season shuts out the world view, he learns to welcome the Lords voice for companionship, comfort, rebuke, and guidance.
Transitional Sentence: The first step to hearing the from God is to take a truth spoken by Jesus seriously, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:27-28) Jesus spoke another truth that must be grasped in order to hear from the Lord, "But you do not believe because you are not My sheep." (John 10:26)
It is imperative that you understand that Jesus is talking to Jews here. (John 10:24) He had been speaking to the Pharisees, (John 10:1) The beloved John makes it clear that the Pharisees could not understand what Jesus was teaching. (John 10:6) A Pharisee (Φαρισαῖος Pharisaios) is a member of a Jewish religious sect. Pharisees were educated (Nelson's New Testament Bible Manners and Customs) The Pharisees are described by two first century sources, the New Testament and Josephus, a Jewish Historian who wrote for non-Jews in the Greek language. The picture of the Pharisees in the Gospels present them as legalists, hypocrites and were blind to Jesus' message.
Jesus had a conversation with a Pharisee, named Nicodemus, they were talking about spiritual truths. As a matter of fact it was the imperative truth for all of man kind. Nicodemus is confused. Jesus said, "You are Israel's teacher, and you do not understand these things? As they continued their conversation, Jesus points out, "...you do not believe." (John 3:10, 12)
The point to grasp, Nicodemus, in that conversation could not hear the voice of God because he did not believe, He was questioning Jesus' teaching.
"I think of ignorant man who was examined on the subject of his faith. He was asked, 'What do you believe?' The ignorant man replied, 'I believe what the church believes.' He was then asked, 'What then, does the church believe?' On which the ignorant man replied, 'The church believes what I believe.' He then asked, 'What is then, what do you and the church believe.' The ignorant man said, 'Why, truly, the church and I believe in the same thing.'"
To "believe (πιστεύω pisteúō) means to imply trust. (Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) This trust causes you to live out what you believe. Pisteuo belief is like:
"I can say I believe there is a game of golf. Golf is real, many play it and there are some that make a lot of money playing golf. My belief in golf does not move me to participate in it. As a matter of fact, when I played golf in high school, I got board. I started chasing ground squirrels with the golf cart and golf clubs. That is not the type of belief in golf one should have. Many have that type of belief in God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. They are reckless in there living for self, while claiming to believe in Jesus.
There is a Arabian Horse trainer, David Boggs. He has pisteuo belief in the Arabian Horse business. He does whatever it takes to make the business work by investing money, time, and strength. He studies and applies what he believes will work in getting Arabian Horses ready for the show ring, he understands the genetics for future generations and disciples others in the business.
Christians who believe in Jesus will do whatever it takes on their part to get done what He says to do. They invest money, time and strength. They study to show themselves approved to be teachers of the Word, they have tasted the Lord is good, they teach the Word to younger generations and they disciples other in the truths of Lord."
To believe in God, His Son, and their Word is the key step to hearing from God. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice..." Christians are receptive to what Jesus teaches and they respond to His Holy Spirits promptings. In His parable of the "Good Shepherd and His Sheep" Jesus taught, "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him, because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will run from him." (John 10: 3-5)
"Travelers to lands where old-fashioned sheep herding methods are still used, have noticed the shepherds often give names to their sheep, just like we do our dogs, cats, and horses. They notice the sheep recognizes its own name, and comes when called by the shepherd they know. They even noticed that when the different flocks are mixed, as each shepherd begins to call his flock, travelers are intrigued by the sheep's readiness to separate and follow the commands given. They notice the sheep paid no attention to the shepherds they did not know." (Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 518). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers)
The first question to ask ourselves is. I am hearing from God? If not, is because I am not believing as I once did. People who do not listen for God's will for them, are people who do not have a healthy Biblical belief.
Transitional Sentence: The Pharisee, Nicodemus, was not able to perceive Jesus' teaching on the most important truth for all mankind. Our Lord gave him the key truth to hearing from God and living for Him. Jesus said, "No one will see the kingdom of God unless they are born again..." You must be born again." (John 3:3, 7b)
Born again is the key truth:
"The birth of a baby is a wonderful thing! Doctors, nurses and parents regularly speak of the miracle of the birth of a child. News of a child’s birth is often reported by newspaper and radio, especially in rural areas.
Exciting as it is, however, no natural birth of a child can compare to the awesome supernatural birth of a child of God. Though the birth of Jesus Christ was announced by an angel of the Lord and though people were amazed at what the shepherds told them about Jesus, only a few gave glory to God as the angels did. In the same way today, few note the birth of a new child of God. It will probably not be announced in the newspaper or on the radio and few, even in the church will rejoice over this miracle of God. Nevertheless, Jesus said, 'I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.' (Luke 15:7)
In the Greek, born “again” means born “from above.” Many Scriptures describe what God will do in the life of a person who, through true repentance, accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. Ezekiel 36: 26, 27 is one of the clearest, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.”
A heart of stone is inflexible, unyielding and insensitive. It is not apt to receive from or have any devoted affection toward its Creator. A man with a heart of stone has no fellowship with the Lord. He does not do the will of God. He does only what seems right in his own eyes which will lead to his destruction.
When God supernaturally gives you a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in you, you become sensitive and alive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Only then are you able to determine and do the will of God. Thus knowing the joy that comes from obedience to the Word of God. Once the Holy Spirit of God has entered your heart to implant the life of Christ within you, you will never be the same! Guaranteed!
Some people will have an immediate change, others it is a growing progress. Never-the-less, Christians are now able to be hungry to know if they are living a life pleasing to the Lord, they are now able to be responsive to the Holy Spirit of the Lord and hearing God's perfect plan for them.
Transitional Sentence: Hearing from the Lord begins with Biblical belief, being born again and seeking the Lord with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." Diligent search is necessary if one is going to hear from the Lord, especially in these busy days. The true seeker of the Lord will see and enjoy His faithfulness. To seek (בָּקַשׁ bāqaš) here means to be seeking someone's presence. Usually it is seeking the Lord's will through prayer. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 160). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers)
It is amazing, when your going through tough trials or testing's, how many well meaning Christians have a word from the Lord for you.
"'You just need more faith, believe God for a miracle, give more to missions, just trust God.' Christians, who mean well have told people, 'God's going to use this trial to show His miraculous ability to heal the sick, change your circumstance to show His ability to move mountains, if, if you have enough faith.'"
Many a child of God going through trials and testing have found themselves questioning their faith because of religious sounding clichés. People afflicted by illness, overcome by addictions, locked in unpleasant circumstances need council from Godly people who seek God for genuine truths.
Through prayer, God has used men like Dr Spiros Zodiates to help the afflicted by cancer or other serious illnesses to grasp Scriptural understanding of their trial. In a book titled, Sickness Why? Healing, How and When? His work shows a great deal of long term prayerful seeking God's Word, to gain His understanding of physical afflictions on people. Many, have found peace and understanding by reading Dr. Zodiates book. God has used Ruth Graham's book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, to bring comfort and hope to many a Christian parent who has seen their children walk away from the Lord's perfect will for them. Her book shows a great deal of seeking the Lord as she prayed for her son, Franklin Graham. A book, entitled, A Chance to Die, is about the beloved Irish missionary to India, Amy Carmicheal. The book is a portrayal of a women who sought God's strength to be obedient and for courage to serve in her calling for fifty-three years as she eventually founded Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy was a women with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who through seeking God, found enablement to serve Jesus unconditionally.
Those who seek God, find Him and they are used to minister to others who are seeking the Lord with all their hearts with real truth.
In Closing: We are looking at the Biblical steps to hearing from God in a secular atmosphere. The steps we have covered, knowing Jesus' voice, being born again, and seeking the Lord with all your heart are imperative, non-negotiable, and guaranteed to finding God's will for you. Next time we look at hearing from God, we will look at: Mirroring Your Circumstance, Using God's People to Confirm, Recognize God's Plan, Examining Your Obedience.
Let us pray!