In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
- My Sheep Hear My Voice
John 10: “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 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. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
- Directly from God
The Holy Spirit is our voice from God.
Galatians 5: 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Romans 8: 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
I was born without arms.
That is the best way to summarize my story. I stepped into suffering at birth. My physical body is a billboard for my pain. This has brought mocking, cruel jokes, stares, and the constant feeling that I am not like anyone else that I meet.
I have never been able to hide. Many people can bury their pain, but my heartache is written all over my two empty sleeves. Those sleeves tell a story without my mouth ever saying a word. My pain almost swallowed me. But Christ showed me how much greater he was than my empty sleeves.
I used to think that being born without arms was the most horrible thing that could happen to a person. In Christ, he has helped me say that the worst and most painful thing that has ever happened to me is also the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I am thankful for my pain. All of the frustration that has come with it has reaped a bounty that I never could have produced on my own. God stepped in and carried me along in my weakness, letting me taste his strength, grace, and love in new ways. In my pain, he has magnified so many of his attributes.
I have always been drawn to C.S. Lewis and his perspective on pain. Lewis had tasted pain in ways that few can relate to. He lost his mother at an early age, saw his dad emotionally abandon him, suffered from a respiratory illness as a teenager, fought and was wounded in World War I, and finally had to bury his beloved wife. Through all of this, Lewis wrote about all of his heartache in his work The Problem of Pain. In this work, Lewis penned one of his most famous lines:
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
We are most keenly aware of God’s character in our suffering. It is when our self-sufficiency is peeled away that we see how weak we really are. It is in that moment of weakness that, as God tells Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” It is in our pain that God has us taste his power most intimately.
I see the reality of Lewis’s statement clearly in my own life. God has shouted to me through my pain and reminded me of his truth. As the mocking words of men fell on my heart like an avalanche, God showed me that it is only his words that bring life (Psalm 119:25). It was in my brokenness that I saw God’s true strength as he carried me along. It was in seeing my shattered identity as a disabled boy that I could see the beauty of being a blood-bought son (Romans 8:15). God used my hurt so that he could clearly write the lessons of his grace on my heart and set my affections on him (Psalm 119:67).
So, God will speak to us directly in response to our seeking Him.
- From God through other means
Think about the Christmas stories!
Luke 1 Angel speaks to Zechariah and Elizabeth about John.
Zechariah and Elizabeth speak
Luke 2 Angel speaks to Mary about Jesus
Luke 2 Angel speaks to Shepherds
Luke 2 Shepherds speak
Matt 1 Angels speaks to Joseph
Matt 2 Magi follow signs in the stars
Matt 2 Magi speak
Jesus speaks to the Aptostles
II Peter 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
The Apostles speak
II Cor 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,
Romans 1: 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The heavens declare the glory of God. Day after day they pour forth speech.
My mother’s story of God’s provision for her and her babies is the beginning place for my faith. Now, I have to decide if she is credible or not. Those experiences do not happen every day. But they happen.
- Obedient faith is necessary
Sacrifices of obedience!
There will always be other voices and other explanations. No one will ever silence the voice of God, except that you can for you.
So, let’s talk about problems hearing God.
- Hearing Problems
- Rooted in conflicting desires
It’s easy for folks to hear what they want to hear. Or to not hear what they don’t want to hear! (Selective deafness)
It’s easy to listen selfishly.
It is easy to doubt.
The Bible describes God’s voice as still and quiet. I think this is more a reflection of what we need to be in order to hear.
Matt 6 The lamp of the body is the eye.
If the eye is clear, the whole body will be full of light.
This applies to hearing as well. “Ears to hear, eyes to see”
- God will wait
It is really important to assume that the problem is on the side of the hearer. If God has spoken and we don’t respond, He will wait for us to respond. He won’t go on speaking to a non-listener
- Get stuck on yes
Ears to hear.
Mark 4: 24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
Light received yields more light. Light rejected creates darkness and on ongoing dullness.
It is possible to move a large ship with a relatively small rudder as long as it is moving. Get moving.
III. What Can I Do to Hear God?
- Pay attention to the ways He speaks
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and go!
Listen to people of faith,
go to church,
study the Bible
And apply energy and talent to following Jesus Christ. As you apply energy and talent, you will find God giving you direction. Follow that direction.
- Expect to hear about character issues
Do this, don’t do that.
That is sinful.
You need to agree apologize and act to change.
- Ask and listen for what He wants to say
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Which comes first, obedience or understanding? Yes.
Jesus is the Word made flesh! Are we listening?
I don’t think it’s a mistake that the first words of Jesus that John records:
38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
The second words:
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
He says this to all of us. We are invited to know God through Jesus, but it will only happen as we trust that He is the Word of God. And It will only matter that we believe He is the Word of God as we follow His instructions for living. Start with relationship instructions within family and at work. God will show up!