Hearing God

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Sermon on Hearing God’s Voice

Title:  Bush, Bedroom and Blinding Light

Sermon Theme:  God’s voice will be heard in our lives.

Goal:  to encourage Christians to hear the voice of God in their lives.

Need:  Christians struggle to hear the voice of God in the areas of life.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Introduction:  God seems so silent, often at the most important times of our life.
  2. God has spoken to his people in the past.
  3. God still speaks to his people
    1. In his word
    2. In the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit
    3. Through Outward signs and circumstances.
  4. Conclusion:  Nail the goal of encouraging Christians to hear the voice of God.

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          Major decisions in life can paralyze us.  I don’t think I am the only one here who has ever had this problem.  A major decision comes up.  You can see the benefits of different alternatives.  You know that there is no guarantee that either choice is going to work out the way you want it to.  But, in the end, you have to make a decision.  It can be paralyzing.  It can make you want to curl up in a ball and say, somebody please choose for me.  I don’t want to.  Just tell me what I need to do in this situation.

          We know that in every decisions, whether small and pretty much insignificant or one that has the potential to make or break the next decade of our life, we know that we need to try and follow God’s will.  It would be especially nice if God just stepped on in.  If he would just drop us a note.  It doesn’t have to be long just tell us the right answer a or b.  We wish we could clearly hear the voice of God and know what decision he would like us to make.

          But God seems so silent.  In fact, he can often feel the most absent during the times when the biggest decisions need to be made.  It feels like God advice webpage is down.  Sorry, the website may be down or your browser may be experiencing difficulties.  Check you internet connection and try again later. 

          Thanks… big help God.

          What I want to assure you of tonight is that God’s site is never down.  His phone is never off the hook.  His voice is always out there telling his people what path he is pushing them to take.

          The first way that we can be encouraged that God’s voice can be heard is because many others who were not crazy heard the voice of God, and followed that will.

          One of the clearest times where God’s voice was heard, was in a bush.  A washed up middle aged shepherd who was still living and working for his in-laws was busy keeping an eye on the sheep.  Suddenly a bush starts talking to him.  Of course I am talking about Moses and the burning bush here.  The bush looks like it is on fire because the holy, untouchable presence of God was in the bush.  And Moses has a conversation with God in the bush.

          Another time God’s voice was heard clearly was in a bedroom of all places.  A helper in the temple lays down for bed at night when he starts hearing voices.  He gets up and talks to the priest.  What do you want.  It’s not me he says.  They go through it three times.  Finally the priest says it’s God talking to you.  You need to say speak Lord for your servant is listening.  This boy in a temple bedroom hears directly God’s word to him.  He hears the voice of God.  In our church this morning we heard a sermon about this kid, Samuel.  He listen to the voice of God.  He obeyed God’s calling in his life.

          A third place, there are way more than three, but I don’t think you want me to mention them all.  A third place where the voice of God was heard very clearly was as someone was walking down the road going about their business.  This guy and some companions were just walking down the road, minding their own business.  Minding their own business of hunting down Christians and persecuting them.  Walking down the road to Damascus all of a sudden he is struck by this bright light.  And out of the bright light, God talks to him.  Asks him why he is persecuting the church.  The guy on the road is Saul who becomes Paul, the greatest evangelist ever.

          Three situations in the past, each one totally powerful.  The creator of the world making his voice heard.  If nothing else, these three situations should make you go, “Okay… I see… God knows how to talk to human beings.”  It’s pretty obvious that God doesn’t just let the world flounder around out of his control.

          When we don’t feel like we know the direction for our lives, it is pretty easy to picture God like some wild eyed, crazed, sadistic doctor who likes punishing lab rats in an electrified maze.  “Let’s see how many times the little guy gets zapped before he finally figures out which way to go.”  When a person is struggling for direction, when the world needs direction, God isn’t sitting there ready to laugh when we get zapped a real good one again.

          We see from Scripture that God is in the practice of letting his voice be heard by human beings.  No questions about it.

          But… that doesn’t always help right now.  Especially if the ups and downs of life have left you in a pretty deep down right now.  Every day you head to what you consider a deadend job, or maybe you can’t even get a job.  Or you’re in a give everything, get nothing in return relationship with someone you thought, maybe you still think is “the one.”  Knowing God has always been talking to people all along, might make you actually questions more about why God hasn’t been talking to you.

          That’s the next thing we need to realize.  God has been talking to us.  He is constantly talking to us. 

The most important place where we need to God to start hearing the voice of God is in his word. 

The Bible is the Word of God.  You want to start hearing the voice of God better in your life, then you ought to immerse yourself in God’s word every single day.

To wonder about where God is leading you but never opening up the Bible, its like sitting on a lawn chair at the ocean wondering why you haven’t gotten wet yet.  Or sitting on a fast new motorcycle with the key off wondering what the thrill is all about.

The thing about God’s word, it may not tell you what job you need to take, what direction you need to go with your life, where to study, who to date or marry.  But it will give you wisdom to make the right decision.  And in whatever decision you make, God’s word is full of encouragement, and hope.  So, even if life hasn’t worked out the way you wanted to, God will assure you that he lead you to where you are for a purpose.  He will show you how he intends you to be a force in his kingdom, even in a place you don’t really want to be.  That’s by living your life by the word of God, but also IN the word of God.

When you use reading God’s Word and prayer together, God voice can be heard the best.  Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.[1]

So we see God speaks to people.  Today he speaks most clearly and powerfully through his word.  But he also speaks inside you through his Holy Spirit.  The deepest parts of your soul will be moved when he speaks to you.  In the deepest places in your heart you will feel this pull.  To use an older word, you feel this yearning.  You know by this deep pulling deep within you that God is speaking.  He is taking you to a different place than you are in right now.  He is pushing you to do something even though it might be difficult.

Often you will know it is the Holy Spirit speaking in you when you come to a decision.  When you finally have chosen which way to go, you will begin to be at peace with it.  When it is God’s Spirit that is leading you to make a decision, you realize that everything about that decision was in God’s hands anyway.  So, it may not have been an easy decision to make, but the Lord of our souls, and the Lord of the world, is also the Lord over our callings in life, and is Lord over every decision we make.  He will take care of us.  He is in control.  He will help us be at peace with it.

So, God has spoken in the past.  He speaks to us in his word.  He speaks powerfully into our own souls.  And a third way that he speaks to us is through the people around us.  God is going to be working in the people and circumstances around us.

My wife, Angela, and I have experienced this in the way that we ended up here in Trenton.  If you don’t know the circumstances around how I got to be a pastor here, let me fill you in.  At the end of my seminary training, I had a one year internship that I had to do to graduate.  In order to get an internship you have to grab the profile information on the church you thnk you might fit in well with.  I grabbed 6 or 7 profiles and signed up for interviews with 5 of these churches.  The end of the story is that I finally came to Trenton for my internship, but I remember going home to my wife Angela and she asked which churches I signed up for interviews with.  I told her two from the states, another in BC, and two in ontario.  When she asked which ones in Ontario, I told here Grimsby and Listowel.  Trenton was so far down the list for me, that I didn’t even remember that I had signed up from Trenton instead of Listowel. 

But God made sure I came out to Trenton.  One church I interviewed with called another pastor instead of getting an intern.  Another church decided they wanted someone else to come as an intern.  Another church gave a real bad feeling during the interview.  And I was left with two churches on my list.  Those were external motions by the God.  He used all that to give me a real push.  I can look back on it now and for sure see that God wasn’t forcing me into ministry here, but he was closing all the wrong doors that I kept on going after.  When we were down to the final two, a hugely difficult decision to make, we made the decision to come to Trenton.  And then God spoke to us with that sense of peace… we knew as we traveled out here, that God was bringing us here.

So, God is still speaking, we just need to know how to listen and what to listen for.  Listen to scripture.  Listen to the deepest places of your soul.  And listen to the barriers and open doors God is placing in your life.

If God’s voice were simple to hear we would all be doing good all the time.  But since that isn’t the case, I am going to ask you to do something that we don’t always think about doing.  Talk to someone about it.  You heard my story about God’s voice leading us to Trenton.  Every decision always has a story.  You need to think about your story.  Think about what things have lead you to the point of making this decision.  Figure out your story.  And then… and this is the crazy thing.  Tell someone your story.  Find a person you trust.  Not someone who will just say yes to whatever you decide, but someone you can tell your story to and see if they believe you are hearing the story right. 

This could be a parent, a friend, a close sibling, a pastor, a professor.  Whoever can be honest with you about your purpose in life and where God is leading you.  Talk to them and have someone else help you listen to God for a while.

God is speaking.  Don’t worry about that.  But get into God’s word.  Look into yoru soul.  And have someone help you look at the path that God is leading.  God will always do what is best for those who love him and try to follow his will.


[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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