[Well, I’ve really fallen off the bandwagon on writing anything from the Sunday messages at New Venture. It’s been hard lately to muster the writing skills on much. But today’s message was just so completely SPOT-ON for me. Seriously.]
It’s January and what else makes sense than a message series called “Start Right”? The first part is “Listening to God”; part two will be “Walking with God”.
Before we get going though, let’s backup a bit. Before we can listen to God, we have to actually talk to Him, now don’t we? I know, I know – he knows everything but we still have to ask. Philippians 4:6-7 lays it out pretty well for us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requested to God.
But talking to God seems to not always be such an easy thing, and not always improving [I sure know this as I’m in a low point]. Steve identifies a few things that could contribute to a lack of communication with God:
- good times – where’s the need to pray? Life is GOOD!
- guilt and shame – we all screw up … a lot and sometimes we don’t want to face it
- unanswered prayer – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”
But what changes our communication? Usually pain and desperation. It all gets worse. You see that there is no other humanly possible way. Nothing else to be done. So we tell Him to please, please help. And He listens. Psalms 34:18 says:
God is near to the broken-hearted and he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.
[I think at this, and wonder what pain I exactly need to go through. When will my spirit be crushed? I need change for something in very particular in my life, and I have prayed for it. Yet, this behavior continues. At the core is my selfishness, myme. Please God help me. Cleanse me. Crush my spirit and my will and change me. Tonight. Now. PLEASE.]
OK – so we all should be talking to God now, right? So let’s jump back to the title of the message: “listening to God“. Hebrews 3:7-8 says:
“Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him.”
[Hardened heart? For me, that would be me determined that I know the right way, not God (or anyone else, like let’s just say, maybe my wife?). Never done that one (like this morning…).]
It doesn’t make a difference that I’m not the Pope, a bishop, a pastor or whatever. God can talk directly to us. But are we listening? I mean it – are we serious in really wanting to hear from him? Or are we lightly asking and hoping he won’t “disturb our plans”? [I’ve done that many times, and don’t recall God responding then (but it sure was clear later). There’s a lot more that can be said on this, but I’m going to move on.]
Alright, so now we are listening and we do get a whisper. How do we know it’s really God or some “other spirit”? By testing:
- Scripture test – it shouldn’t contradict the teaching of the Bible. [I struggle with this sometimes because some are really good at twisting truth! Given this, I need to remember the next tests too…]
- Wisdom test [why I completely combine with the last test:]
- Godly counsel test – rely on other “veteran” Christ followers’ counsel over the advice
These are just my notes on the message. To catch everything, just listen to it in MP3 audio format.