In this message, we learn that it’s desire, not ability, that determines if you hear God’s voice.
Hey everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I’m so glad that you’re here with us. We want to welcome our Denton campus and everybody online. Will you welcome them with me? We are glad that you guys are here. And we are one week into our 21 days of praying and fasting. You made it through week one. [Laughs] What we’re doing together as a church is we’re creating space in our life for God to fill. We said last week that we can’t make God move, but we can create space for Him fill because He is a filler, not a forcer. And so we’re taking 21 days to pray and fast, to give some things up, but more importantly to add some things in, of spending time with God. And if you were here with us last week, we gave everybody one of these journals. And if you weren’t here last week and you didn’t get one, as soon as service is over go grab one from the information center. It’s got a card in here that has a reading plan and details and a bunch of things that we’re doing. And together as a church I invited you last week every day to pray this one simple prayer together. Lord, help me hear your whisper. And I hope you have the courage to pray that prayer this week. And if you were here with us last week, I told you at the top of your journal to write down, “Lord, help me hear your whisper.” And in the next line we said, “What do you want to speak to me?” And what we’re believing by faith is that God has a lot of things to say to us. And our hope with this journal is that it’s a tool that will just build your faith. And over the next few weeks you will use it to write down the notes we’re talking about in here on how to hear the voice of God. And then you will use it to write down prayers that you’re praying to God, and most importantly that you will start writing down some of the things that you believe that God has been saying to you. It’s a sign of faith to kind of build our faith, to say we believe that God is going to speak. And I told you last week that if you really engage with us in these 21 days, you pray and fast, you use the reading plan, you’re here with expectancy, that I believe God is going to speak to you, some of you for what you feel like is the first time in your life, over these 21 days.
And so like a back echo, what we’re doing is we talked about it last week; we’re positioning our hearts to hear His voice. We want to write down what He has to say, because it’s of value that we may have a clear vision to pursue. And so we’re one week into it and just so a way of encouragement for you. If you’ve faced any resistance this last week, the first week of prayer and fasting is always the hardest week, because what you’re doing is you’re kind of getting off the sideline and you’re moving forward. And Satan doesn’t care if you sit on the sidelines. He only cares when you get in the game. And so when you try to move forward, he wants to bring resistance to scare you, to put you back on the sidelines. But just remember, Satan only has the authority to bark, not bite.
And he will bark and he will growl and he’ll do that drool’y thing that nasty dogs do, you know. But he only has the authority to bark, not bite. You’re not fighting for victory. You’re fighting from victory. And if you’re experiencing some resistance, allow that resistance to make you stronger. It means you’re going in the right direction. Okay? And so if you weren’t here with us last week, we started this series ‘Whisper’, learning how to hear the voice of God together. And basically here’s what we said. We said we are His sheep, He is our shepherd. That God wants to speak to you. You already hear His voice. You just may be unaware of it. And that His voice draws you close. And so if you’ve got a Bible, turn with me to Exodus 20 and John 16. Exodus 20, John 16 and I hope you have your journal. Take that out with you to take some notes. Last week was all about building our faith, and this week I want to help you position your heart to be able to hear what God wants to say. Exodus 20 — The Israelites have just been set free of 400 years of slavery. God has come to meet with them on Mount Sinai. Verse 18 — this is one of the most significant passages, I think, in the Old Testament. “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke” — in other words, the presence of God — “they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Okay. Out of all of the mistakes that the Israelites make, this is their biggest one. If you know anything about the Israelites, they’re constantly failing. They’re constantly messing up. They have all kinds of issues throughout their journey. But this is their fatal flaw. This is the fatal mistake because this is the root issue that creates all the other problems. You see, God comes to meet with them and He wants to speak to them, but they back up. And they look at Moses and they say, “Moses, man” — like, “Hey Mo, you know, we can’t talk to God. You’ve got to go and talk to God for us. If we hear His voice, we will die. So you go press in. You seek God. You find out what He has to say. Then you come back and tell us what God has said. And we will listen to you and we will obey whatever it was. But we can’t speak to God for ourselves.” In other words, Moses, you speak to us on God’s behalf. They wanted to hear the voice of God through a man. They were willing to be the people of God. They just didn’t want to listen to God. They were willing to follow God. They just didn’t want to talk to God. They wanted what God could do for them without wanting God Himself. And so they chose religion over relationship. And what happens is Moses leans in and listens to the voice of God. Exodus 33:11 says, “God spoke to Moses face to face the way a man would speak to a friend”, which was the invitation He was giving to all of the Israelites in this moment. But the Israelites pulled back and resisted what God had for them, and so they always wanted to go back to Egypt. And what we learn from the Israelites in this moment — and here’s the big idea of this message. This is what I would encourage you to write down in your journal; it’s this. It is desire, not ability that determines whether or not you hear God’s voice.
It’s desire, not ability that determines whether or not you hear God’s voice. You see, the moment we start talking about hearing God’s voice, the question we all ask is how? How do I listen? How do I hear Him? How do I make Him speak? How do I position myself? How do I have the ability to do? It’s the wrong question. The right question is, do you have the hunger to hear what He has to say? Do you have a desire? Do you want to hear from Him? It is desire, not ability that determines whether or not you hear God’s voice. I mean, think of Jesus when he showed up in the gospels. He comes and the Pharisees, they were the ones with the most ability to hear the voice of God. They knew the scriptures. They hung out at the temple. They knew the things that God wanted them to do. And yet they didn’t have any desire to hear what Jesus had to say. Now contrast that with the sinners, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes who really had no ability to hear God. But boy, they had a desire, a hunger for what God wanted to say. And so they soaked up every word Jesus had to say. It’s desire, not ability that determines whether or not you hear God in your life. You see, in this moment the Israelites, they’re afraid. They’re afraid. They think if they hear God’s voice they will die, but what they didn’t understand is that if you don’t hear God’s voice you die. John 6:63 — Jesus says, “The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” In other words, his voice is our life. The same voice that spoke the universe into existence, the same voice that called Lazarus from the dead, the same voice that spoke peace and calm into the wind and the waves, the same voice that declared, “It is finished”, wants to speak to you. You don’t die from the sound of His voice. You die without it. You see, like the Israelites, I think a lot of us, we’re afraid to hear God’s voice. We say things like this. Like, “I’m not holy enough to hear God.”
[Laughs] What? Like, “If you knew me, man, you knew where I’ve been and what I’ve done and the things I do late at night and the thoughts in me. I mean, you would just know. I am not holy enough to hear God’s voice.” Or some of us say things like this. Like, “I’m not significant enough for God to speak to. Six billion people on the face of the earth. Like, who am I? God is not going to speak to me. My life is so insignificant to what He is running in the universe. He is not going to speak to me.” Or some of us say things like this. “We’re not sure we want to hear God’s voice because we’re afraid of what He might say.” We don’t want God to talk to us about tithing, forgiving, or serving. We want God to talk to us about blessings, abundance and provision. Am I right? And so we’re afraid of what we might hear and what it might require of us. So a lot of us choose ignorance because it’s easier than disobedience. It’s easier to not listen to God’s voice and choose ignorance than it is to hear His voice and then have to deal with the conscious of disobedience. So a lot of us will just say, “Ignorance is better than disobedience. So I don’t really want to hear what He has to say.” We’re afraid. But listen to me. You don’t have to be afraid. You say, “I’m not holy enough?” Hebrews 4:16 — “Therefore, let us boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need, that we may find mercy.” In other words, you get to walk right up to the Father and He speaks to you not based on what you do, but based on what Jesus has done. You are holy enough in Jesus. And some of you that say, “I’m not significant enough.” Jeremiah 1:5 — God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart.” In other words, He knew you, He made you, He set you apart, and He wants to speak to you. You are so significant because you are made in His image and His likeness. And then for those of us that we’re afraid of what we might actually hear, First John 4:16 — “God is love.” And if God is love, then everything He has to say to you is loving and will lead you to freedom. God’s voice is the breath of life.
You see, the most dangerous place you can be on your journey with Jesus is to be a Christian with no desire to hear His voice. The most dangerous place you can be is, “I want to call myself a Christian, but I have no desire to hear His voice”, because you are consciously choosing religion over relationship. And like the Israelites you’re pulling back, which will make you always want to go back to Egypt. I mean, think of my kids for a second. Let’s say, I did everything for my kids. I woke up and I made them breakfast. I drove them to school. I gave them a home and a room to stay in and toys. And I used my finances to provide for their needs. I did everything that they needed. But imagine if they never wanted to listen to what I had to say. Some of you are like, “It sounds like a teenager.” It kind of does [Laughs]. They would enjoy the work of my hands without getting to know the love of my heart. We’d be related, but we wouldn’t be in a relationship. I wonder how many of us enjoy the work of God’s hands without ever getting to know the love in His heart. Matthew 12:34 — Jesus says, “The mouth speaks of the overflow of the heart.” In other words, whatever is coming out of your mouth is a reflection of who you are. Your words reveal your heart. What you say tells us what’s really in here. Like, did you ever have one of those moments where you just kind of flew off the handle and you spat it out a bunch of words? And later, when you had to apologize you’re like, “I’m sorry. That wasn’t me.” Actually it was.
Because your words tell us what’s in here. Or maybe you’ve had a moment where you were super-encouraging and kind and compassionate to somebody, and you were surprised by it. You’re like, “I can’t believe I responded so kind to that person.” Your words are revealing your heart what’s in here. In fact, you can just say it like this. Words are a tool that communicates the heart. We’re so confused sometimes by vocabulary and words and what all they say. Words are just a tool that communicates what’s in here. Well, if that’s true of us, it’s also true of God. His words reveal His heart. So the more you listen to His voice, the more you get to know His heart. And the more you know His heart, the more you will trust His voice. You can’t be in relationship with someone that you never listen to. Now do you remember the telephone game? Maybe you played this in elementary school. You can like remember back to then? Telephone game, usually it’d be like on a Friday afternoon when the teacher has had enough of you in class and just wants to buy an hour till the bus comes. And the telephone game will go something like this. The teacher would bend down and he or she would whisper a phrase into the first kid’s ear. And then that kid would take that phrase and whisper it to the next kid, and they would whisper it to the next kid and whisper it to the next kid, and go all the way down the line whispering. And it gets to the last kid and when it got to him he would stand up and he would shout the phrase out loud. And everybody would start laughing because it was a ridiculous phrase that made no sense. The further they got away from the source, the whisper, the original whisper, the more distorted the phrase became. As it got passed from kid to kid the phrase got changed from whisper to whisper. And then what God shouted out was ultimately distorted. Okay, do you realize the further away you get from the source of the whisper, the more distorted God’s truth becomes? The further away you get from God as the source of the whisper, the more distorted the truth will become. Like the Israelites a lot of us, we want to hear God’s voice through man. But every time it passes from man to man it gets a little more distorted. Like, you realize this is why so many people have such bad theology, because they’re taking their theology not from the source, but through man. And it’s gone from generation to generation to generation, from pastor to pastor to pastor, from small group leader to small group leader to small group leader, from grandma to dad to brother to uncle. And it gets to you and you shout it out loud or you believe, “This is my theology. This is what is true of God.” And it’s so distorted because it’s gotten so far away from the source. The only way you can know it’s accurate is if you listen to the whisper yourself.
I mean, one of the things that surprised me when I first became the lead pastor was how we would have weekends and we would open up the Bible, and we would teach right out of the text. And somebody would come up after service and say, “Well, everything you said today was wrong.” Really? Why? “Well, because that’s not what my small group leader, Joe, has told me or what grandma, Gene, used to say.” What? We taught right out of the Bible. “Yeah, yeah, I know, but that doesn’t matter. That’s not what Joe or Grandma Gene has told me.” [Laughs] And so they believe their truth because it’s been passed on to them from man. But do you understand? This is the source. This is why I ask you to bring your Bible. This is why I ask you to turn to the passage because I’m not up here like pontificating around some great idea that I had this week. I want you to bring you to the source and say, “Read it for yourself. Listen to His whisper, from His mouth to your ears, that you may be connected to the source, so it’s not distorted.” I mean, we want to hear God’s voice through man. We want the radio preacher to talk to us. We want our small group leader to tell us what God has said. We want to listen to it through the sermon. We want, you know, our religious grandma to tell us what God has said. And what God is saying is, “I want to speak directly to you.” Yes, you need preaching and teaching. Yes, you need godly relationships. You even need a religious grandma to tell you to knock it off sometimes. Okay?
But ultimately, you need to hear the whisper at the source. To resist His voice is to resist God Himself. To refuse His invitation to hear His voice is to reject a relationship with God. And what a lot of us are looking for, if we’re honest, is we’re looking for a realtor. We want a realtor to broker a deal between us and God. Like, “Tell me what I need to do to get what I want from Him. We don’t ever have to meet. Our paths don’t have to cross. You just help me broker the deal and make it happen.” Do you understand? You don’t need a realtor anymore because Jesus already brokered the deal. And I hate to break it to some of you today, but I’m not your realtor. Okay? I’m not brokering any deal between anyone. I’m trying to set you up on a blind date with God. That’s who I am. Okay? I’m trying to sit here and tell you every single week. Like, “Hey, this is God. He is amazing.”
He created the universe. That’s how strong He is. He is brave. He is a warrior and He loves you, and He wants to take you out. Now go and have a great time with Him. He pays for all the meals and takes care of everything–and will take you to places you’ve never been before. Go, have a great time.” I’m trying to set you up on a date with someone who is already in love with you. No one needs to broker a deal for you anymore because Jesus already has. So you just get to listen. That’s good news, isn’t it? Here’s what I would say to you today. May that drop in your heart for the rest of your life wherever you go. May you never see a pastor, a small group leader, or your religious grandma as a realtor. May you see the people who know God as people who are trying to set you up with God. Because way too many of us think, “Hey, if I could just get my grandma to pray, God answers her prayers.” [Laughs] In Jesus, He now says He answers your prayers. Maybe He is not answering them because you’re not praying them. Maybe He is not speaking because you’re not asking Him to whisper. You see, if you never hear His voice, you will never have the faith to follow. Romans 10:17 — “Faith comes by” — Hearing. Present tense, in the moment. It doesn’t say faith comes by “having heard.” It’s not past tense. “I heard something way back there one time.” Hearing, in the moment, what God wants to say to me today. That’s what gives me the faith to follow.
Think of Peter for a second. Imagine if Peter — for three years on his journey with Jesus, imagine if he never listened to Jesus directly. He always made John be his realtor, his transaction. And so everywhere they went John needed to turn around and like tell Peter what Jesus was saying. So imagine, they’re in the boat and they’re out on the Sea of Galilee. The wind and the waves start. Here comes Jesus walking on water. And he gets to the boat and he starts talking to the disciples. But Peter doesn’t hear Jesus for himself. He needs to hear it through John. So he waits for a few minutes, taps John on the shoulder. “Hey John, what’s Jesus saying, man?” John looks over, “That he wants you to walk out on water to him.” “Come on, man. He didn’t say that. No one can walk on water. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Come on, John. What’s he saying?” “Yeah, that he wants you and only you to walk out on the water. The 11 of us will stay in the boat, but we’ll cheer you on along the way, Peter.” [Laughs]
Come on. Peter would never have gotten out of the boat to walk out on water, because he wouldn’t have had the faith to follow if he heard it through a man. It would have always left him with this seed of doubt. And so if he wouldn’t have heard the voice of God for himself, he would have missed out on one of the most defining moments of his entire life. I’m convinced we miss out on the defining moments of our lives, because we don’t listen to the whisper for ourselves. We want it to be translated to us through a man. That never gives you the faith to follow. Do you realize? I can tell you things that God is saying, that God is doing. I can sit up here and try to roll it all out and illustrate it with analogies and stories and try to bring you life, but a lot of you will always leave this place with doubt because you’re not listening to the source for yourself. And it will never give you the courage to step out. I mean, Peter was hungry for Jesus’ voice. Jesus comes walking by and he is the only one that steps up and says, “Jesus, if it’s you man, tell me to come walk to you and I’ll come out there.” Jesus is like, “Okay, Peter. It’s me. Come out on the water.” And he gets out of the boat and he walks.
Second-hand Jesus will never give you firsthand faith. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Second-hand Jesus through the telephone will never give you firsthand faith. You cannot follow God primarily through the voice of man. It’s desire, not ability that determines that whether or not you hear His voice. And the reason it’s desire is because God has a lot to say. Listen to me; John 16 — Jesus is about to go to the cross. Here is what he says. “Now I’m going to Him, who sent me. Yet none of you asks me where are you going. Because I have said these things you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth, it’s for your good that I’m going away. Unless I go, the counselor, the Holy Spirit will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” Verse 12 — “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own. He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” Jesus tells the disciples, “Guys, I’m about to go away.” And they’re devastated. And I get it. They’ve left their whole life to follow Jesus. It doesn’t make sense. But he says, “No, no. This is for your good.” He says, “If I go, I’ll be able to pour out the Holy Spirit. And you will have the voice of God anytime, anyplace.” In other words, what Jesus is saying is that the Holy Spirit in you is better than Jesus next to you. And yet we’re like, “No, no. I’d much rather Jesus is next to me than the Holy Spirit in me.” Well, listen. There’s six billion people on this earth. How are you going to get that appointment?
Jesus can only be at one place at one time when he was on this earth. But he says, “If I go, I’ll pour out the Holy Spirit and you all will have the great whisperer within you, and you will have access to my voice anytime, anyplace, in any circumstance, in any situation. And he will tell you what you need to know exactly when you need to know it.” That’s what he says.
I’ve more to say to you than you can even handle. That implies, he has a lot of good things to say. You don’t need a roadmap in this life because you have a tour guide, and his name is the Holy Spirit. And the more you’re aware He is with you, the more faith you will have to hear His voice. And He has a lot of good things to say. Here are some things I want to encourage you to jot down. Here’s what God wants to talk to you about. God wants to tell you about His wisdom. James 1:5 — “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” He wants to tell you heavenly wisdom. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some heavenly wisdom in your life? [Laughs] Some wisdom for that relationship, that job, that situation. He says He wants to talk to you. Not only does He want to talk to you about His wisdom, He wants to talk to you about His counsel. John 14:26 — “But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” In other words, the Holy Spirit is your counselor and, good news, his counsel is always free. It’s free. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a counselor to help you find freedom from your past, hope in your despair, and peace in your circumstances? He wants to give you his counsel. And not only that; He wants to talk to you about His heart. John 15:15 — “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my father, I have made known to you.” So catch this. Jesus says we’re friends and he wants to tell you everything the Father has told him. In other words, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven belong to those who have a desire to listen. He will tell you everything the Father has told him. I don’t know about you, but that’s some cool stuff.
Not only does He want to tell you about His heart, He wants to talk to you about your future. First Corinthians 2 — “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His spirit.” In other words, God’s future for your life is so great, but you have no way of comprehending it, but the Spirit promises He will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. It’s desire, not ability, because He has a lot of good things to say. And we get in trouble in life because we don’t want to listen to His voice. We want to listen to our own voice. For our 10-year wedding anniversary Coleen and I went to New York City to celebrate. We just went for a short trip a couple of days and I got to surprise her. She had always wanted to go. And so we got to do a show and have dinner together and walk around all over. And it was winter and it was like 30 degrees. It was freezing, but we had a blast. And one day we decided we wanted to go to this museum. And we figured out we could take the subway from where our hotel was to this one side of Central Park. And we get out on the subway there, and all we had to do was go straight across Central Park and the museum we wanted was on the other side of Central Park. So we were like, “Okay.” Why are we laughing already? [Laughs] Were you here last night?
Somebody said yes. Well, don’t give the story away yet. And so we take the subway and we get there, and we come out and we come out on the side of Central Park. And here is another museum on this side and there’s a line around the block of people waiting to get in this one. And Coleen says, “Man, it would be horrible to walk around for a while and then end up right back at the end of this line.” [Laughs] Yeah, that would be bad if that happened. And so I said, “Well, all we need to do is cut across Central Park, because it’s just right there on the other side.” And she says, “Well, don’t you think we should ask somebody?” I said, “Ask somebody at Central Park? Like, I know how to navigate in the mountains. I know how to go through wilderness areas. This is a little baby park in the middle of a city. Like, how hard–“–“could it be to get across.” She says, “Okay.” So we just start walking. And so we’re cutting through Central Park and the only problem is that about every 10 feet it’s split right and left.
Should we go right or left? Ah, I think right. And then we go a little further and it’s split again. Right or left? Ah, this time left. And split again, and then there’s lakes and little ponds and trails. Now I’m getting confused. So I’m trying to navigate by the buildings and the sky and I just keep thinking, “We just have to go that way. It can’t be that far to get across Central Park.” And so we keep going and going and going and now — true story, I kid you not — it was over an hour. We finally get to the edge and I’m like, “Okay, this has got to be it.” And we pop up and we’re on the road and I’m thinking, “Alright. We made it across Central Park and here’s a bus stop, you know, terminal thing that has a map that does the ‘You are here’ on it.” And so we walk over to it and it says, “You are here.” Only the “You are here” said it was we were on the original side of the park that we started. And so Coleen looked at me. She’s freezing and it’s been over an hour and she kind of had a look of like, “Are you serious?” And I looked at her and I said, “Don’t worry, the map is wrong.”
[Laughs] There is no way we walked for an hour and ended up on the same side. So we just got to go like one block down here and there will be our museum. And we walked one block down there and you know what happened? We found ourselves at the end of the line we started at an hour-and-a-half ago at this point. We ended up right back where we were. And what had ended up happening is because I didn’t have the wisdom or the desire to just ask somebody. “Hey, how do you get across Central Park to this museum?” We ended up caught in this place called The Ramble. That’s what it’s actually called if you’ve been in Central Park. It’s actually called The Ramble, and it’s for all the people that live in the big city and never see grass. And it’s just all these paths that go in different ways where they can just get lost and walk their dog around. We got lost in the Ramble and ended up right back where we were, all because we didn’t have a desire to just ask how to get across. And someone would have said, “Don’t take the Ramble. Take this path right here and it will get you right there.”
I am convinced a whole lot of us get caught in the ramble of life. We ramble through a job. We ramble in relationships. We ramble in school. We ramble in our activities and we find ourselves right back where we started, cold, tired and frustrated, all because we don’t want to listen to the voice of the great whisperer. It’s desire, not ability, because He has a lot to say. And if you have a desire to hear His voice, that desire will lead you to action. And so here’s the application for you. If you say, “Okay, what do you with all this”, here’s the application for you. If you have a desire, it will lead you to this action, and I want to encourage you to write these down in your journal. Are you still with me so far?
Okay? This is quick, but this is the action you will take. If you have a desire to hear His voice, slow down. You will slow down if you have a desire to hear His voice because you know you can’t have a conversation with anybody running 100 miles an hour. The best conversations you’ve ever had in your life have come over a long cup of coffee, a long dinner with someone, cross-country car drive where you’re trapped in the car together for hours, sitting around a bonfire late at night. There’s something about slowing down that opens a whole new level of conversation. Same is true with God. Jesus withdrew to lonely places to pray. Moses turned to the side of what he was doing to hear God from the burning bush. David stepped out of the chaos to enquire of the Lord. They slowed down. Acts 13:2 — it’s a great verse for us right now — “While they were worshipping and fasting, the Holy Spirit said.” When they slowed down, created space for God to fill, and became aware of His presence the Holy Spirit spoke. If you will slow down, you will hear His voice. How do you need to slow down? Second thing is if you have a desire to hear His voice, engage the scriptures.
Engage the scriptures. God speaks like He writes. Or a better way of saying it is He writes like He speaks. I mean, if you ever read a letter from somebody and as you’re reading it in your mind you could hear them saying it, because we write like we speak. Well, the same is true with God. God’s voice sounds like His word. What God has already said will teach you how to hear what God wants to say. God’s written word will teach you how to hear His spoken word. Hebrews 4:12 — “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” In other words, this is God’s voice and a word of God once spoken continues to be spoken. It’s still alive. And if you say, “I need to hear God’s voice right now today”, great. I’ve got a great answer for you. Open up the Bible and read it because this is God’s voice. That’s what He has already said. This is His voice. People who read His word hear His voice. And let’s just be honest, I get it too. We’re like, “No, no, that Bible thing, it’s confusing. I don’t have time for that.” But if Jesus just spoke to me, then I would obey and listen. John 5 — Jesus says, “If you believed Moses, the Old Testament, you would believe me for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” In other words he says, “If you don’t believe what I’ve already said, you’re not going to believe what I want to say.” Whatever value you’ve already assigned to this is the value you’ve already assigned to this. You can’t say, “I’ll value this, but I don’t value this”, because this is this. We confuse the Bible. We think it’s a religious book that tell us do’s and don’ts. This is the breath of God on pages, breathing life into you. If you have a desire to hear His voice, you will engage the scriptures. Third thing is this. Pursue godly relationships. If you really have a desire to hear His voice, you will pursue godly relationships because we all know you become like whoever you hang out with.
Proverbs 13:20 — “He who walks with the wise, becomes wise. A companion of fools suffers harm.” If you want to be a good athlete, you will hang out with athletes. If you want to make money, you will hang out with people who make money. If you want to be a good parent, you will hang out with other good parents. If you want to be a good student, you will hang out with good students. If you want to hear God’s voice, hang out with people who hear God’s voice. Joshua learned how to hear God from Moses. Elijah learned how to hear it from Elijah. Timothy learned how to hear it from Paul. The disciples learned how to hear it from Jesus. And you will learn how to hear it from people in this church. And I love being around people who hear God’s voice because it builds my faith. It encourages my heart and I learn from their experiences. When I hear them tell me how they hear God and what He is saying, it like helps me keep growing in my understanding of how God speaks. And what I want to say to you is this. Faith is contagious. Doubt is infectious. Faith is contagious, but doubt is infectious. And what I mean by that is if you hang out with people who have faith, people who believe God speaks and hear His voice and believe that God wants to meet with us, that faith is contagious. It will jump on you and your faith will start to grow, but doubt is infectious. If you hang out with people who don’t think God speaks, who don’t want to hear God’s voice, who have no interest in valuing God, then that will suck you into dark vortex as well. And so a question then I want to ask you is this. Do you have friends who hear God’s voice? If the answer is no, you need new friends. If you want to follow Jesus and you don’t have friends who hear his voice, you need new friends. And so you need to like join a group. You need to go to Group Connect, join a serving team, go to the Pathway. We lay out everything we can to make it as easy as possible for you, but at the end of the day you have to choose it for you. If you’re serious about having a desire to hear His voice, you need godly relationships. And the last thing is this. Ask God to speak with humility.
You cannot make God speak, but you can position your heart to listen. That’s why every day we’re praying one humble prayer. Lord, help me hear your whisper. Let me close it all with this. In First Samuel Chapter 3 — it’s one of our readings this week. All the readings on that card are about hearing God’s voice. Samuel was a little boy who served the high priest Eli in the presence of God. And what it says — in the beginning of First Samuel Chapter 3 it says, “In those days, the word of the Lord was rare.” Can I make a prophetic declaration over your life today? Some of you are here and you feel like the word of the Lord has been rare and you haven’t heard his voice. I believe in 2016 the word of the Lord is going to be abundant. Okay?
The word of the Lord was rare and so one night Samuel goes to lay down. Eli is in another room and God comes to Samuel and He speaks. He says, “Samuel, Samuel.” Samuel pops up, runs into Eli’s room. “What is it, Eli? You called?” “I didn’t call you, Samuel. What are you talking about? Go back and lay down.” Samuel is kind of confused. He goes back and he lays down. God comes a second time, “Samuel, Samuel.” He pops up and runs into Eli’s room. “What is it, Eli? You called me. I’m here. What do you need?” Eli is annoyed this time. Like, “Samuel, I didn’t call you. Okay? It’s late at night. We’re trying to go to sleep. We’ve got a long day tomorrow offering sacrifices. These Israelites, they can sin like nobody’s business.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow. So go lay down.” Samuel is confused and he goes back and he lays down. And in Verse 7 it says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” This is Samuel, one of the greatest prophets in all of the Old Testament, and what we learn from him is even he had to learn how to tune in to the voice of God. So if you haven’t heard Him yet, don’t feel bad. Don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you. We all learn to tune in to God’s voice. And what’s fascinating is — well, I don’t have time for that. We’ll skip that. No, I’ll tell you.
What’s fascinating is he spent his life in the presence of the Lord ministering in the tabernacle with Eli, and he still didn’t know how to hear God’s voice. Which means you can spend your entire life in church and have yet to really hear His voice for you. You’ve got to learn to tune in. Okay? That was worth it. Okay. Third time he comes and he says, “Samuel, Samuel.” He pops up, runs into Eli’s room. “Eli, what is it?” This time Eli gets it, godly relationship. He says, “Samuel, I’m not talking to you, but I think God is. So the next time He calls you, say, “Speak Lord”, and listen.” Samuel goes back. He lays down. A fourth time God comes, “Samuel, Samuel.” Notice God’s persistence. He wants you to hear His voice even more than you do. And Samuel says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” And he hears God’s voice because he had a humble posture in his heart, to ask God to speak with humility. Samuel goes on to hear the voice of God for the rest of his life, becomes one of the greatest prophets in all of Israelite history and of human history. And there’s a fascinating verse at the end of the chapter that says this. Verse 19 — “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of His words fall to the ground.” Catch this. For the rest of his life as Samuel spoke none of his words fell to the ground. In other words, they accomplished the purpose for which Samuel spoke. They had an impact and people listened to what Samuel had to say. Wouldn’t it be nice if when you spoke your words didn’t fall to the ground? Come on. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into your boss’ office and speak to him and have him actually listen to what you have to say? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to your spouse, and when you talk to them they actually received what you had to say? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to your parents and when you tell them something, they received what you had to say? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to your kids and when they heard what you had to say, they received it? And wouldn’t that be nice?
You say, “Well, how does that happen?” Here is how it happens. The authority to speak comes from the willingness to listen. The authority to speak comes first from the willingness to listen. Samuel was willing to listen to God’s voice. So he had an authority to speak to the world. The reason our words fall to the ground is because we’re speaking the words of the earth. The words of the earth or your ideas will fall to the ground. They have no weight. They have no authority. But the words of heaven raise things to life. People don’t listen to what we have to say because we’re not willing to listen to what He has to say. So you’re speaking the words of the earth like everyone else around you, but when you first listen to His voice and then you step forward to speak, all of a sudden the game changes. You will walk into your boss’ office and you will give him an idea. And when you give him that idea he will receive it and look at you and say, “That’s amazing. I’m going to give you a promotion, a bonus, and a raise.” That’s good. You will walk up to your spouse and tell them something you wanted to tell them for years that they just can’t receive it, but now you have the wisdom of heaven and you say it in such a way that they receive it, and it brings breakthrough. You will walk up to your kids and you will say something, and they will receive it in a different way. You go to that kid in school and say something, and because it’s the words of heaven it will raise something dead in his heart to life. Good listeners become great speakers. And it all starts with the desire to listen. The question is not, does God desire to speak? The question is this; do you have a desire to listen? It’s desire, not ability. And if you have a desire, He will give you the ability. So will you do this? Will you close your eyes with me? And let me just ask you this simple question. What does the Holy Spirit want to say to you today?
What does he want to whisper in your heart in this moment? He’s here and he has a lot to say. And he wants to say things that you need to hear. Some of you got saying, “I have some wisdom for you in that situation.” Some of you, you’re hearing, “I love you.” Some of you, you’re hearing, “You can come right to me. You don’t need a translator anymore.” Some of you, you’re hearing, “I miss you and I want to take you out on an amazing date.” What does the Holy Spirit want to say to you? Don’t focus on your ability to hear. Focus on His desire to speak. And if you’re sitting here and you’re saying, “Man, I don’t really care. I don’t have a desire to hear God’s voice.”, then tell Him that. Ask him; say, “God, I would like to have a desire to hear you speak, but I just don’t.” That’s a humble prayer and He can start walking through that. Speak Lord, for we’re listening. What I want to encourage you to do this week is that as you, even now in this moment if you sense His voice, if you sense an impression, you feel like God is speaking something to your heart, I want to encourage you to write it down in your journal. Write it down in your journal by faith. Put it down there even if you’re not sure if it was you or if it was Him or whatever it might be.
And the next week we’re going to talk about, what do you do with that when you think you’ve heard God’s voice? But He is speaking. Do you have the desire to hear? So Jesus, we lift you up in this place. Thank you for speaking to us. We say, “Speak Lord, for we are listening.” Help us hear your whisper this week. We love you, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.