Hearing God

Scripture: Revelation 3:22, John 12:35, Proverbs 11:14
Date: 11/20/2013 
This sixth program in the Formula 4 Faith series about the science of salvation is about hearing God.
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Hello, class. Thanks for coming back. We're gonna talk again about our study dealing with the science of salvation. We're calling this, "formula 4 faith." And we're talking about just the most important aspects and steps in being a Christian. And we've been using the conversion experience of Isaiah as an outline or something of a template to better discover what are those steps of salvation.

We found out-- what's the first step? We see God and then by contrast, step two is? We see ourselves. And then after that there's repentance, there's confession, there's faith and believing, and then we're going on to the last couple of steps which are--today we're gonna talk about hearing God, and then our final step will be going for God. Now I've got to be very clear here. Does God hear every prayer that's ever prayed? Let me restate that. Does God know everything? So is there anything that he misses? You know, sometimes I go out to eat with people now, and as you get a little older, part of your hearing starts to go, and it begins with hearing people's voices when there's background noise and I have to keep saying, "what? What was that?" Because with this background noise, it's hard to hear God's voice.

And God hears every prayer. But there's a certain way that God does not hear and we don't hear him if there's a lot of background noise. He'll always hear every prayer for repentance. God hears that prayer. But one of the questions is, are we hearing God speak to us? Do we hear the voice of the Lord? Now God speaks to us several ways.

What is the most important way that God speaks to us? Through His Word. It's the most dependable. Everything else that you think might be the voice of God must be measured by what we know to be the voice of God. The ultimate voice of God is when he gave the Ten Commandments and he spoke it with his own voice in the hearing of a nation. But God speaks to us through His Word.

God may speak to us through the impressions of the Spirit, but that must always line up with the word, and sometimes there's things that we think are the impressions of the Spirit. We can confuse our own feelings and all kinds of things for the impressions of the Spirit. God speaks to us through Christian counsel. The Bible says, "in the multitude of counsel there is safety." God speaks to us sometimes through nature and the things that he's made. Says, "the heavens declare the glory of God.

" So you can see something about God through the things that he's made. You know, Jesus said, "if you've seen me, you've seen The Father," and sometimes you can see God by what he made, even though things have been tainted by sin. And we can see God through providence. Have you ever seen something that happens and you say, "wow, that was a God thing." You ever seen a prayer answered or a miracle that happens and you just say, "well, that had to be the Lord." And so, you know, there's a lot of examples we could all think of, of stories we could say, "God spoke to me through circumstances." But in reality, most of the time, most of the world is not listening to God and they don't hear the voice of God. To hear the voice of God, we really need to be emptied and surrendered.

One of the principal things the devil is doing to keep people in bondage is he's just distracting them, and it's not always sin. You can be distracted with too many good things. There can be a lot of background noise. There was a very successful phone commercial a few years ago. Some of the most successful advertising campaigns.

One was "got milk?" How many here have not heard of the "got milk?" Campaign? And then there's a lot of spin-offs of that and they say, you know, "do you got love?" "Do you got this?" "You got that?" Saw a 4-wheel-drive truck, it said, "got mud?" And so it just says everything. Well, one of the other ones that was a very successful campaign-- oh, I just thought of another one. Any of you old enough to remember, "where's the beef?" That campaign? Little old lady. One of the other ones was the verizon phone commercial, "can you hear me now?" Can you hear me now? So it's real important to know that we're listening to the voice of the Lord and sometimes you just got to be still and know that I am God. It says here in Revelation chapter 3, verse 22, one of the--last book of the Bible, one of the important messages.

"He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church." Now when we talk about the church, are we talking about a building, are we talking about people? It's people, right? Jesus is appealing. He's saying, "he that has an ear." What does he mean by that? Some people aren't really listening for the voice of God. Do you know you can actually learn, if you've got half of an ear for music, you can improve your tone. You can get where you can tune a guitar and you can tune a piano but it takes a little training to tune your ear. You can tune your spiritual ears.

Have you ever wondered when you read the Bible, Abraham hears this voice and it says, "Abraham, take your son, "your only son who you love. "Bring him to the mountains of moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering unto me." And the Bible says, "thou shalt not kill," and that should probably include your children. So how did Abraham know that was the voice of God? Have you ever wondered that? He had tuned his ear to listening to the voice of his Heavenly Father for years, and he was able to quickly discern is this some strange background noise that the devil's giving me, or is this the voice of God? There's a little child who was brought to the doctor and they said, "we think our child has lost his hearing." Just, you know, a little 2-year-old. And the doctor, on examination, found that evidently, once at dinner the child had taken black-eyed peas and stuffed them in his ears. Nothing was wrong with his hearing.

He'd just stuck some peas in his ears, and some of us have done that. We sort of plug our ears because we don't want to hear what God's gonna say because we're afraid of conviction. Now, you might not walk around with your fingers in your ears, but sometimes we don't study the word as we should because we find it convicting. We don't pray as we should or confess our sins as we should because we find it convicting. And God will not force us, you know, sometimes he might make a horse-fly land on your nose to try and get your attention or he might send a storm like he did with Jonah, but most of the time God will speak to you in a still small voice and you need to be willing to listen, willing to hear.

It says here, "why do you not understand my speech? Because you're not able to listen to my word." Sometimes it means we need to have a heart that's open and really want to hear what God says. You know, if you search for him, the Bible says you'll find him. But you've got to search with all your heart. You need to be willing to hear. Now what does it mean to be willing to hear? Doesn't mean just be in the room when he's talking.

It means, when God says, "hear my voice," hearing, is it just auditory with God or is it being willing to do what you're hearing? The parent says to their child, "get out of the street. Car's coming." Child says, "I hear you," but they stay there. Are they really hearing 'em? Now, while we're talking about the subject of listening for the voice of God, why don't we pause and take a little detour. Have you ever wondered about what the will of God is for your life? Let's assume that you've gone through the steps of Isaiah. You've gone through the steps of salvation.

You understand the basics and the formula for faith. You've heard--you see God, you've seen yourself, you've repented, you confess, you've received the cleansing, you're hearing God, you're willing to go for God and then you say, "go where? "Lord, what is your plan for my life? I want to know what your will is for me." Well, there's a number of ways that you can understand the will of God. Let's look at some of the most important aspects to understand what is it that God wants me to do. First of all, do you flip a coin? You know, the Bible talks about sometimes there's a case where you cast a fleece before the Lord like gideon. You know, there might be times you pray for providence.

I don't recommend you cast lots and flip a coin. I've heard stories where people were just praying and praying about decisions. They opened their Bible and the first verse the eyes fell upon, it guided them in what they're supposed to do. God can use these methods. I don't recommend it.

I think that's sort of like a last resort. Yes, I know that the apostles sometimes cast lots. They did it under the inspiration of the Spirit. You might say, "lord, what do you want me to do?" And you could flip open your Bible and it'll tell you like Judas to go hang yourself. And that's obviously not God's plan.

So, yeah, be very careful. That reminds me of a lady that was-- she used to sell thread in scotland. Wherever she came to a fork in the road--they had no signs back then--she would take a stick and she'd throw it in the air and it would land. And whatever direction the stick pointed, she would go. And one man observed from her yard one day, she was at a fork in the road and she kept throwing the stick in the air and it would land.

She'd pick it up and she'd throw it again and it would land. He'd say, "ma'am, what are you doing?" She says, "well, I throw this stick in the air, "and whichever way it lands, it tells me which way to go. "And I had to keep throwing it several times before it pointed "down the road that I wanted to go down 'cause that other road looks pretty rough." So that's kind of like people say, you know, "we'll flip a coin, but what if it doesn't say what you want? We'll flip it again," you know? Be careful what you ask for when you throw out those fleece like that. So that's not the best way to find God's will. Sometimes God might speak through dreams and visions.

That does happen but it's easy to confuse what visions and dreams are from God, what visions and dreams are from eating too much too late, you know what I'm saying? You could have all kinds of things that can cause dreams and visions. And so that's not the safest method either. I'm gonna begin with what I think is the most trustworthy way to be able to know and to hear the will of God for your life. You know what it is? Be fully surrendered and willing to do whatever he says. If you are completely surrendered and say, "lord, I am willing to do your will," and God knows your heart and you say, "speak, lord, your servant is listening.

Whatever you want me to do, I will do it," and you really mean that. And if in your heart you're saying, "I'm willing to go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do," if that's really your attitude, then God becomes responsible to reveal his will to you. So number one is having a willing heart to do God's will. Number two, we've talked about already, is consult the Word of God. Now, depending on what your situation is, there's different places in the word you might go, for instance.

Basic will of God is the Ten Commandments. Bible tells us in psalm 40, "yea, I love to do your will. Your law is in my heart." So the law of God is the best expression or simplest expression of the will of God. It's his will that you do not lie, that you do not kill, basically you love your neighbor, you love the Lord with all your heart. And so the Word of God is gonna give you the best guidance.

Psalm 119, verse 105, "your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." And Proverbs 14:12, "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death." So going by your feelings is not always the safest thing. Or going by popular opinion, not the safest thing. God reveals his will to those that are faithful. So we want to walk in the light where he's in the light. John 12, verse 35, "Jesus said, 'a little while longer the light is with you.

"'Walk while you have the light, or the light will be taken away.'" In other words, be faithful in following what you do know. Some people will be saying, "lord, how come you're "not speaking to me anymore? How come I don't hear your voice anymore?" You know, the volume can go down if we're not listening to what he is saying. The Bible says the Lord calls to us and he calls and we hear him and there's usually great conviction, but if we're not responding to that call, the next time he calls, we've got, like, a callus on our ear and it gets fainter and it gets fainter over time. If you want the volume to go up, if you're willing to listen to what God does say, he'll give you more. Another one is obtain Christian counsel.

Proverbs 11:14, "where there is no counsel, the people fail. But in the multitude of counselors, there is safety." And then I can also read 1 Corinthians 15:33, "do not be deceived: 'evil companions corrupt good habits.'" Godly friends can help you take an inventory of your life. You have Godly friends that know you. They'll also better understand what your spiritual gifts are and what they aren't. And if you tell your friends, "you know, I'm praying about-- "I'm thinking of quitting my job and going on the road and giving a music ministry.

" And your friends might say, "brother, sister, you can't sing to save your life." "Whoa, I sing all the time. I thought I had a great voice." That's again, a rough illustration but sometimes your friends will be honest with you. And they'll say, "don't quit your day job." So consult your Christian friends and be willing to listen and ask them to be honest with you and say, you know, "I'm praying about God's will for my life. I've got these two opportunities," and sometimes you need to just get-- like I said, Godly counsel is very important in understanding the will of God. Some other things, observe providence.

Look for things where God might be guiding you through circumstances in the Bible. For instance, Ruth and naomi come back destitute from the land of moab, they have nothing. And they are just probably living in a hovel, they've lost their land, they've lost everything. It's harvest time and so they're praying about, "lord, now what do we do? "We're back in the promised land but we don't know where to go. "We don't know how to begin.

How do we rebuild our lives?" Two widows, no children, no spouse. And isn't it interesting that Ruth goes out to glean in the fields and she comes home, says, "I gleaned in the field of a guy named boaz today," and naomi says, "you're kidding! "Of all the places you could have been, he's the one who has the ability to redeem us." That of course, ends up--they fall in love and get married and Jesus comes through the line of Ruth. Was it an accident that she wandered into the field of boaz that day to glean? So they saw that as providential. And you'll see a lot of examples in the Bible where God providentially arranges things. Have you ever seen the providence of God in your life, where God is trying to tell you something and something amazing happens and you just know it wasn't an accident? Like a guy out on the road hitchhiking, praying for food.

A truck goes by, carrying oranges from California to phoenix, Arizona. He hits a bump, three oranges pop out, right after he prays on the road. True story. One of the characteristics that God often wants from you when you're listening to his voice and wanting to know his will: patience. Patience.

Wait on the Lord. He may not always tell you right away. Have you ever noticed in the Bible sometimes the Lord waits 'til the last minute before he tells you exactly what he wants you to do? And I've had that happen to me when I'm preaching a sermon. I'm praying about what to say, and I don't recommend this, but I'm sometimes praying about what to say within minutes of walking to the pulpit and I have no idea of what to say. And it doesn't mean I've not been studying.

I study all the time but you look at a group, you don't know what they need. God puts something on your heart and you just-- or the last minute God puts something else on your heart. You have your notes and you have to throw your notes out 'cause God is impressing you with something else. But sometimes it happens at the last minute. So pray, wait, and be open to God's providence.

He can arrange circumstances. He might bring you right up to the red sea before he shows you exactly what he wants you to do. Sometimes he'll only show you one chapter at a time because you can't handle the whole thing. And you say, "lord, what am I supposed to do "5 years from now? I want to have a life plan." And God is saying, "well, it's good to have a plan but be open to changes." Be willing to lay your plans at his feet. Look for providence.

I already mentioned this. Pray about God's will. Seems obvious, but 1 John 5:14, "now this is the confidence that we have in him, "that if we ask anything according to his will, "he hears us. "And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we ask for." I can read also John 15:15, "I no longer call you servants, "because a servant does not know his master's business. "Instead, I've called you friends, for everything I've learned from my father, I've made known to you.

" We want to know The Father's will, we'll find it in the word but we need to pray and ask. And does God tell his friends what his will is? I think it was interesting that God said to Abraham, "shall I hide from my friend what I'm about to do to sodom and gomorrah?" And he told him. Told him so he could pray about it. And God said to Elijah, "look at ahab, how he humbles himself. "You know, I told you to prophesy against him "but since he's humbling himself, I'm not gonna bring this disaster in his life.

" He didn't need to share that with Elijah. But because they're friends, he talked to him. And so if you're the friend of God and you have that relationship--how do you make friends with somebody? Communication. You talk to them, they talk to you. If you're reading the word or he speaks to you, if you're praying and walking, how often should we pray? Pray without ceasing.

You're talking to God all the time, you become friends with God, he will reveal things to you. He will impress you. Guided by the Spirit. You might wonder why did he save this towards the end of the list? It's not because the Holy Spirit isn't important. It's because it is the thing that is often the most misunderstood.

I quoted this in Isaiah 30, verse 21, "you will hear a word behind you, saying, 'this is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or the left." You know, I remember reading once when some of the ancient arabs were crossing these vast expanses out in the desert that they could get lost, and the sandstorm would block the horizon and block the sun and they couldn't tell what was east or west, and they had to keep moving and they would keep a homing pigeon with them and with a long piece of thread. And they'd release this pigeon and it would circle a little bit, and just like a compass needle, it would then start tugging on the direction towards home. And sometimes you just feel this tugging in the right direction and when you start going in the wrong direction, you don't feel peace. So you'll see these doors and you start--you say, "I got to make a decision, lord, I can't stand here and do nothing forever." It's like Elijah said, "how long do you halt between two opinions?" At some point, make up your mind. And you'll find if you start walking in the wrong direction, you'll lose peace.

There is a fear, it just doesn't feel right for lack of another way of saying it, you know what I mean? The Bible has to be your guide but sometimes you've got-- the Holy Spirit does speak to you. John said the Spirit teaches you. And then you go this direction and you say, "I just feel peace that this is what God's telling me to do." Sometimes you'll see as you move in the right direction, the doors continue to open and you're going in the wrong direction, doors seem to close. And so sometimes you've just got to start moving and then you'll make a correction. Say, "oh, no, that's not right.

" And you start going like this. Do you ever play marco polo? You know what I'm talking about, in the swimming pool or something like that? And you've got to get blindfolded and then your call, you say, "marco." What do they say? "Polo," right? And so you're trying to find someone so you can tag them in the pool. What are you using? Echo location. You're just using-- and you, just, "say it again, say it again," you know? And you're going like this. Sometimes being a Christian's kind of like it.

You're saying, "lord, speak. Speak. "It's getting louder. It's getting louder. Oh, getting cold.

Getting cold." And so I don't want to make it sound superstitious like you're witching for water or something, but quite frankly, sometimes you just got to listen for the Spirit's voice to guide you and you'll see that there's a peace and that comes from being in the habit of listening to God all the time. You know, the devil sometimes keeps us so busy that we just can't hear the voice of the Lord, and it's important for us to be listening. After you've done everything, do a little accounting. Tally the evidence. Take all those things that I just mentioned, those criteria, and say, "well, you know, the counselors are saying this, but the providence is saying this.

" And you add it all up and you look at it and sometimes you can just do a little and say, "you know, it seems like the majority of the evidence "of the indicators to know God's will "are pointing this direction. "My one or two might be pointing the wrong, but I'm giving, like, 12 or 14 different criteria." And I saved this for last. What do you want to do? Now you might say, "well, I want to sin." Now I'm not talking about that. I'm assuming you're converted. What do you want to do when it comes to--God will put a desire on your heart for mission work.

And in a certain area. You might have the gift for teaching. You might have the gift for medical work. You might have the gift-- "I want to go-- "I love working with my hands. "I want to be an aviation mechanic in a foreign mission field.

" And so God will place something on your heart. You know, when you're fully surrendered to the Lord, it says in Psalms 37, he will give you the desires of your heart. Believe it or not, he may actually put in your heart a desire to do his will because you are surrendered to him. And you'll say, "o lord, I really want to do this," and God says, "yeah, you got that from me. That's what I want you to do.

" And so sometimes he's just gonna be placing it on your-- and I put that at the end because it's easy for us to confuse our desires for his will. But sometimes you'll discover the very thing that God wants you to do is the thing that he's placed on your heart to do. What did Isaiah say when God said, "who will go for us?" He's jumping up and down, "here am i. "Send me. That's what I want to do.

I want to tell 'em." Well, God had put that in his heart. And it's like Paul said, "woe unto me if I preach not Christ." You couldn't have stopped Paul. They're killing Paul and what does Paul want to do? He wants to preach to the crowd before they stone him. I mean, just everywhere he went, he-- I feel that way sometimes. I'm on an airplane and when they're making their announcement before they take off, I always want to ask the flight attendant, "can I borrow the microphone for just a minute? "I'd like to make an announcement.

I want to preach the gospel." So just everywhere I go, I feel that desire to talk. And so God puts those things in your heart. You know, but it really revolves around being willing to listen to God. I heard this story years ago. This boy lived on a farm with his mom and his dad and his grandpa, and he knew his grandpa had this golden watch, a beautiful watch and he had gotten from retiring from the railroad or something.

And it was on a chain. He'd pull it out and he used to like looking at it. It flipped open, had a case and it had a little choo-choo train in it that went around. And grandfather would show this little boy the watch all the time. And while the grandpa was out working in the field one day, the boy went and started playing with his watch.

And he shouldn't have taken it. And he took it and he carried it out to the barn with it and he wanted to act like he was a railroad worker and he was playing. Put it in his pocket. The boy forgot about the watch for a while and he thought, "hey, there's a lot of fresh hay there in a pile "they tossed down from the loft. "I'm gonna jump.

I'm gonna jump from the loft into the hay." And he played for a little while, went back to the house and then he remembered the watch. And he went to take it out and it was gone. He'd lost grandpa's watch and he was frantic 'cause he thought, "I'm gonna be in big trouble if I lost grandpa's gold watch." He went back out to the barn and he looked and looked. And he dug around in the hay and he couldn't find it and he was just having a panic. Finally thought, "you know," he was a Christian, "I need to pray.

" And he got on his knees and he started to pray. Took a deep breath, and while he was praying, it became very quiet and he heard, "tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick." And he was able to track that little tick down until he sifted through the hay and he found the watch. Couldn't find it 'til he finally was able to be still. And the Bible says, "be still and know that I'm God." You'll hear a still, small voice behind you. And so the Lord is asking, "am I on mute? Can you hear me now?" Who has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church? I want to pray that I'm willing to listen to what God is saying in my life by obedience and praying for his will for the future.

How about you? Have you heard the voice of the Lord? And let's pray as we close. Father in Heaven, we're just so thankful that you are willing to speak to us. What an honor. We know that you speak through your word, through providence, through Christian counsel, and many other ways. I pray that you'll give us minds and hearts that are clean and unobstructed from any encumbrance.

Remove the background noise and help us to be willing to hear what you are saying to us. We thank you and pray this in Jesus' name, amen. All right, thank you for being a good class. We'll get together again.

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