In this message, we learn that God wants to speak with you through His Spirit.
When you worship God, you’re not pouring out your love to Him. He is pouring His love into you. I think a lot of times we think that worship is all about us loving God. The truth is, is when you worship it’s God loving you and he’s filling up something inside of you. And as a church we’re learning together how to sit in the presence of God. We’re learning together how to steward the atmosphere when God comes to meet with His people, when He inhabits our praises, and He wants to visit with us and do things inside of us.
And so when just God is here today, and if nothing else, I just want you to be aware of that. I want you to acknowledge it, and I wanted to just kind of set something at peace in your heart. If the God of the universe is tangibly like hanging out with us in this room, that’s pretty cool [Laughs]. Don’t you think?
I was reminded again – this has nothing to do with anything where we’re going, but it’s just God’s moving, so you just go with it. I was reminded last night again after service – I was told a story of somebody that came to church last night, a couple for the first time. They’ve never been in church in their entire lives, and the entire service they just sat there like snorting and crying and bubbled nose, kind of stuff.
And they were explaining this reality that they’ve never felt anything like this and they never realized that this is what church is, and it’s that whole thing. When the presence of God shows up everything changes. You can’t encounter the presence of God and not change. Change is everywhere.
And so here’s where we’re at today; it’s we’re going to wrap up this series that we’ve been in together as a church. For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about strengthening ourselves in the Lord. Take heart. How do we deal with hard situations and hard circumstances? How do we find strength in this life? And so before I jump in and kind of bring the last piece of this, the conclusion to it, I just want to remind you where we’ve been. Remember, the first week we said that who you strengthen yourself in is more important than how you strengthen yourself. John 16:33 – Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” In other words Jesus says, “I’ve already won the victory out there. What I want is for you to win the battle in here, that it’s about the heart.” That we win the victory in here, we will walk in victory out there. We lose the battle in here and we will walk in defeat out there. It’s all about the heart. And then the second week we talked about gratitude. Do you remember that? Remember that? That was only like three weeks ago when we talked about gratitude [Laughs].
We talked about gratitude. We said gratitude is the pathway to strength. That when we give thanks it builds our faith, because it reminds us what God has done and inspires us to believe that God is going to do something like that again in the future. And then we talked about renewing our minds. That we have these loops in our minds that are conformed to the pattern of this world, and we need to break those and write new loops by the Spirit of the Living God. And then last week we talked about feeding ourselves the word of God. That we need to consume the scriptures for ourselves and dig this deep well that’s full of the word of God, that we can draw from it anytime, so we’re not people confronted with this reality of having to say, “I think”, but that we’re people that when life gets hard we’re able to declare, “It is written.” And so my question for you is, what have you been doing with this series? Like, in your life what have you done with it? How have you applied it to your life? How has it changed you in some way, shape or form? No one can force you to strengthen yourself in the Lord. What have you been doing with it?
In fact, when you walked in you probably got one of these cards, and it’s just a great reminder, an opportunity, for you to reflect in your own life and say, “Man, what is God teaching me? What am I doing with it? How am I moving forward?” You see, this series is a really, really interesting series to me. Every series is different. Some series are encouraging. Some series are vision oriented. Some series are very applicable. Some series are about ‘go and do this’ or comforting. And then there’s some series where God just flat out moves. And this is a series God just has been flat out moving. I don’t know how to say it to you any other way than that, but God has been moving. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. The feedback I’ve got – I mean, God has just been moving in this series. I love that the Bible says, “The Kingdom of God advances by force.” It advances by force, which means when the kingdom of God moves forward there is a collision with the kingdom of darkness. It’s violent. It’s forceful. God is pushing back the forces of darkness. In other words, the rule and reign of God is displacing the rule and reign of Satan in your life and in my life.
And when that happens there is a shaking. There is no way the kingdom advances without their being a shaking because it’s violent. And so there should be a shaking that’s been happening in your life over these past few weeks – the shaking of relationships; the shaking of the way you think; the shaking of patterns; shaking of faulty foundations that may be you’ve built your life upon. He is bringing the shaking, and what do you do when the kingdom is shaking? [Laughs] You just hold on and you go where He is going. And let His rule and reign displace the rule and reign of Satan. You see, Isaiah 30:15 and 16 – I love it – God says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee.’ And therefore you will flee and your pursuers will be swift!” You see, God wants us to find strength in Him, but a lot of us we say, “No, no. We’ll have none of it. We’ll find strength our own way, God. We’ll figure it out on our own, by ourselves.”
And so we start running, and the faster we run the faster the things in this life chase us down. And so here’s my hope today; it’s that we can stop running. We can talk about one last thing. We can strengthen ourselves in the Lord, and then we’re going to have an experience at the end of service together. Are you okay with that?
You can sense a difference in me probably, and you can sense the contemplativeness with which in God’s doing this weekend in this place. And here’s the thing; I just don’t want you to miss what God is giving you, because when God moves jump in the river and let it take you where it’s going to go. Okay? So if you’ve got your Bibles, 1st Samuel 30 and 2nd Corinthians 12 – One more time in 1st Samuel Chapter 30 – Let me remind you of what’s happened. David and his men are off to fight to a battle. While they’re gone the Amalekites come in, destroy David’s village, burn it to the ground, take all their treasure, all their plunder, take all the women and children. And as David and his men come back and realize what’s happening, it’s one of the most devastating, hardest days in David’s entire life.
He realized everything is gone and all of sudden it says, “And David’s men talked of stoning him.” They literally start picking up stones. They wanted to kill David because of what has happened. And it’s one of these moments where David has a decision. “Am I going to weaken myself in the circumstances or strengthen myself in the Lord?” And pick it up with me in Verse 6 – It says, “But David found strength in the Lord, his God.” Not someone else’s God; his God. “Then David said to Abiathar, the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” – which was just basically a way in the Old Testament, the people heard the voice of God. “Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” He answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” I want you to picture it one more time in your mind.
David and his men come back. The village is still in smoke and in flames from being burnt to the ground. Everything is gone. It’s loud. David’s men are weeping bitterly, the Bible says. When you hear grown men sobbing and weeping, that is an uncomfortable sound. You can hear the sound of stones clicking together as these men are picking up these stones. It’s discouraging. It’s defeating. It’s overwhelming. And David does something amazing. He quiets everything down. And it says, “He inquires of the Lord.” In other words, he asks God to speak. He stops everything and he says, “God, I need you to speak. I need to hear your voice.” And if you look at the life of David, all throughout 1st and 2nd Samuel, it says over and over again; “David inquired of the Lord”, “David inquired of the Lord”, “David inquired of the Lord”. David had a confidence and a faith that God was going to speak to him, and he knew that God’s voice was the thing that was going to give him strength and the wisdom that he needed. And so he inquires of the Lord. God speaks, David responds, and victory is won.
They chase the Amalekites down and they get everything back, all because of God’s voice. And a little interesting detail that you and I probably miss when we read this story; it’s fascinating to me is that David was able to look past the offense of his men picking up stones wanting to stone him, called them back to their destiny, and they went and they won a victory together. He looked past the offense. [Laughs] I mean, you want to talk about being offended? These are David’s mighty men. He is the only one who has given them a chance. He is the one that’s gone out on a limb. He has provided everything for them, taking care of them in this life. And all of a sudden one thing goes wrong and they pick up stones and want to stone him. You want to talk about being offended? But it’s God’s voice that unlocks David from the prison of offense. In fact, you can’t hear God’s voice and stay offended at other people, because God’s voice will always dislodge that offense out of your heart. So the question I have for you today is this. Are you offended at somebody? Your spouse, a sibling, a kid, a parent, your boss, a leader; are you offended?
Only God’s voice has the power and the authority to dislodge that offense from our heart. And what I love about what we learn about David in this moment for you and I is that if we’re ever going to strengthen ourselves in the Lord we have to listen to His voice. We have to inquire of the Lord. I mean, what’s more helpful when life is falling apart than heavenly wisdom from God? One word from God changes everything. Do you know that? I mean, one word from God changes everything!
Psalm 29:4 says, “The voice of the Lord is powerful and majestic.” I love that. The voice of the Lord is powerful, which means God’s voice can open doors no man can open, and God’s voice can shut doors no man can close. One word from God changes everything. In fact, the most important reality on your journey with Jesus is your willingness to hear His voice. Most important thing in your walk with God is your willingness to hear His voice. See it all over the Bible. Old Testament giants knew how to hear his voice; Moses and Abraham and Gideon.
You see, Jesus and the disciples – the disciples were constantly listening to his voice. The New Testament, church and the apostles and the Book of Acts, they have the Holy Spirit listening to God’s voice. It was God’s voice that gave them the faith to follow. In fact, the most dangerous place you can ever be is to be a follower of Jesus with no desire to hear his voice. Most dangerous place you can be in this life. You’re a follower of Jesus, but you have no desire to hear his voice because that’s saying, “God, I want what you offer, but I don’t want You.” In fact, that’s the worst mistake the Israelites ever made. How many of you know the Israelites made a lot of mistakes? They were really good at making mistakes. The worst mistake they ever made was this. Listen to this; Exodus 20:19 – “The Israelites said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” Catch this. The Israelites flat out look at Moses and they say, “Moses, you go find out what God wants to say. Come back and tell us and we will listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we will die.”
And all the while God is here on Mount Sinai and He is inviting them all into His presence. He is saying, “Come, come.” They’ve just been set free from 400 years of slavery. They’re now the children of Israel. God says, “Come into my presence. I want all of you to hear My voice with your ears.” And the Israelites step back and say, “No, no. Moses, you go and you find out. If we speak to God, if we hear what God has to say, we will die.” They thought they would die if they heard His voice. The truth is you die without His voice. There is no life apart from God’s voice. John 6:63 – “Jesus says, ‘The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.’” His voice is our life. And Moses presses in and he hears the voice of God and he becomes a friend of God. The Israelites pull back. They don’t want to hear His voice, and they eventually the Golden Calf. See, to follow God without His voice is to choose slavery over friendship. If you don’t hear His voice, you will never have the faith to follow and you will always build a golden calf. Not the golden calf is right; just basically this dumb gold calf that they built and worshipped as if it’s had some kind of power in their life.
And you know what’s so sad to me about this verse? This verse defines the American church, guys. This is the American church! We say, “Oh, we can’t hear God’s voice. Hey pastor, you hear God’s voice for us. Tell us what He has to say.” Small group leader, counselor, mentor – “I mean, you go hear God and come back and you tell us what God wants to say.” And all the while God is saying, “No, no. I want to speak to you. I want you to hear my voice.” The primary way God wants you to hear His voice is not through a man. It’s through the Spirit of the Living God. And yet for some reason the American church, we backed way out. We say, “No, no. You hear it and you tell us what God has to say.” It’s like we play the telephone game with God. Remember the telephone game? I’ve got little kids, so we still play the telephone game, right? Someone whispers something; and then they hear it. Then they whisper, then they hear it.
And we’re way down here and all of a sudden we hear something about God, and we believe this is why we got bad theology [Laughs]. All the while God is saying, “Hey, I don’t want to say it through 12 people to get to you. I just want you to come to me and let me speak to you.” Listen; this is why I love our vision here at this church. We’re all about helping people take their –
Okay. Do you understand; our vision forces you to hear the voice of God for yourself? Literally forces you to hear the voice of God for yourself because no one knows what your next step is except the Holy Spirit. And if you don’t ask Him what it is, you’re not going to know what it is because God is not going to tell me your next step and I’m not going to listen for you either by the way [Laughs]. You’re going to have to do that one on your own. You’ve got to ask, listen and respond. Our vision forces you to hear the voice of God for yourself. And Jesus says, “Follow me.” How are you going to follow him if you never hear his voice? How are you going to be in relationship with someone if you don’t ever hear what they have to say?
I mean, more than anything else, after identity that’s the main thing I want to teach you. After that I want to help you learn to hear the voice of God in your life, because if you hear the voice of God in your life, you will walk in victory. You will strengthen yourself in the Lord. You will not be defeated. You will know what your next steps are, because He wants to speak to you. I mean, think about my kids for a second. Imagine if my kids – I did everything for them. I took care of them. I provided all their needs. I drove them to school, but they never wanted to hear my voice. Some of you are like, “Well, it sounds like a teenager.” Right?
It kind of does. But imagine if that was true. We’d be related, but we wouldn’t be in relationship. We’d be related – they’re my kids – but we’re not in relationship. Way too much of the American church is related to God, but not in relationship. And what I love is that God wants you to hear his voice more than you want to hear it. He wants you to hear what He has to say more than you even have an interest in hearing it, which means He does everything He can so you can hear it.
Matthew 4:4 – “Jesus says, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes or proceeds from the mouth of God.’” That word ‘comes’, ‘proceeds’ in the original language, it’s present tense, which means now. The words that God is speaking right now that are coming out of his mouth – He hasn’t just spoken in the past. He is speaking now. Jesus tells us, “God is speaking.” And then John 10:4 and 5 – I love it – here’s what Jesus says. He says, “His sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger. In fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” [Laughs] Jesus says, “My sheep know my voice.” Are you a sheep of Jesus?
Is he your shepherd? And the Bible says you know how to hear his voice. If you’re his sheep, he says you know how to hear his voice. In fact, the best way I can explain it to you is like this. When you born on this earth, you were born with the ability to hear in the physical realm. Do you agree with that? Like, you were born with ears. You didn’t have to grow ears after you were born. You didn’t have to figure it out.
I mean, you just had to learn to tune into your father’s voice and understand the language that was being spoken to you. But you were born with the ability to hear in the physical realm. Well, Jesus says when we put our faith in him we’re spiritually born again. We’re born in the spirit realm. And when you’re spiritually born again, you’re born with spiritual ears that have the ability to hear the spiritual language to hear the voice of God just like you and I can hear in the physical realm. When you’re born again, you have the ability to hear in the spiritual realm. You just have to learn to tune into your Father’s voice and understand the language that He is speaking. Isaiah 30:21 – “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” See, the question is not, is God speaking? The question is this; are we listening? And the reason we don’t hear His voice is because our lives are too busy, our lives are too loud. I think sometimes we don’t want to know what God has to say. I think we’re terrified of the quiet.
We’re terrified of the quiet. So we always leave the radio on, the TV on, but the moment it goes quiet we pick up our phone, because we’re terrified of the quiet. David quieted everything down and inquired the Lord. Moses saw a burning bush and it literally says, “He went to the side. He changed the course of his life and heard the voice of God for the first time.” Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray, to hear the voice of the Father in his life. See, you and I, we want God to write in the clouds or send us a text message. I mean, wouldn’t that be cool right now? Beep, beep!
Unknown number. Hey, it’s gone. The answer is yes. Yeah, yeah! Yes! Right? Come on. You guys sound better than that. You’ve got the Holy Spirit of the Living God inside you as a follower of Jesus.
And Jesus died so you could hear God’s voice anytime, anywhere. To demand God to speak violates the relationship. To demand God to speak to you in a certain way or about a certain topic violates the relationship that you have with him. I mean, imagine if I demanded my wife to speak. [Laughs] She’d be like “Bro, we’ve got to talk, man.” Right?
She wants me to prepare my heart to listen to her voice. God wants us to prepare our hearts to listen to His voice, because to value His voice is to value Him. And God’s voice reveals His heart. Matthew 12:34 – “The mouth speaks of the overflow of the heart.” God’s voice reveals His heart. So if you never hear His voice, you will never know His heart. And you say, “Okay well, how do we prepare ourselves? How do I learn to hear His voice?” Right here. God’s written word will teach you how to hear His spoken word. What God has said in the past will teach you how you to hear what God wants to say right now in the present.
God speaks like He writes. His voice sounds like His word. This, right here, will teach you how to hear God’s voice in His life, because the word of God once spoken continues to be spoken. Just because He has spoken in the past doesn’t mean it’s died out and it’s over. No, no. It still is relevant and it’s here for you and now, but God has new things He wants to say to you in the moment, and this will teach you what His voice sounds like. John 5:46 and 47 – Jesus says, “If you believed Moses, 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?” Jesus says, “If you don’t what’s in here, you’re not going to believe what’s coming out of here.” You and I will say, “No, no. Whatever with the Bible, man, but if God spoke to me, I would certainly do that.” Jesus says, “No. If you don’t believe what’s in here, you won’t believe what’s coming out of here.” In fact, the authority you give to the written word is the authority you will give to his spoken word. Whatever authority this has in your life right now is the same level of authority His spoken word has in your life right now.
See, stewardship is a really big deal to God. We don’t know what stewardship means. We think everything we have is ours to do what we want with it. Everything God has given you is to be stewarded. You’ve got to steward your job and your relationships, your money, your ministry, your anointing. We’re just steward of days like today when God shows up in a different way and wants to meet with us. And He who is faithful in the little things will be entrusted with great things. That’s what the Bible says. That’s true of His voice. In fact, in Mark 4, “Jesus says, ‘Consider carefully what you hear, my voice. With the measure you used, it will be measured to you, and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” In other words Jesus says, “Whatever you do with what God has said to you yesterday will determine what you’re going to hear today.” Whatever you do with what God has spoken to you yesterday determines what God is going to say to you today. We need to combine our faith with His voice, because God is very careful with His words.
You and I are careless. We just let words fly out of our mouth. God is so careful with His words, because His words have so much power and so much authority that He knows He has to entrust His voice with those who are going to steward it well. And so the question I would ask you is, what have you done with what God has already said to you? Maybe it was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, 10 years ago. What have you done with what He has said to you? That determines what you’re hearing today. And you and I get all offended that God is not speaking to us about this particular thing. All the while God is saying, “Yeah, but I already spoke to you about that and I’m waiting to you what you’re going to do with what I’ve already said to you.” You think of a trusted friend. Imagine if you sat down with a trusted friend and they bared their soul and poured out their heart to you, and you left that coffee and you never followed up. You never encouraged him. You never responded. You never did anything with what they said. You just pretended like the conversation never happened [Laughs].
Is that person ever going to share anything with you again? Come on.
No. Because you didn’t value them by valuing their voice. Do you understand; Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants. I call you friends.” See, if you’re going to be in relationship with somebody, you have to be willing to listen to what they want to say, not just what you want to hear. It’s free marriage advice right there, okay?
You have to be willing to listen to what the other person wants to say, not just what you want to hear. And sometimes God has things that He wants to say that we’re not all that interested in hearing. It’s called relationship. Are you with me so far? Okay. Flip with me to 2nd Corinthians 12 real quick. 2nd Corinthians 12 – I’m very grateful by the way. I just wanted to tell you this. I’m very grateful what God is doing in our church.
And the way that He is moving us to a different place and to a different level – so 2nd Corinthians 12 – this is the Apostle Paul, the guy who knew how to strengthen himself in the Lord. I mean, he gets stoned. He gets shipwrecked, bitten by a snake. Pharisees don’t want him. The church doesn’t want him. I mean, this guy knows how to strengthen himself in the Lord. Here in 2nd Corinthians Chapter 12 – I think this is probably one of the worst days in Paul’s life, like David’s life in 1st Samuel 30. Verse 7 – pick it up with me – “To keep me from becoming conceited, because of the surpassingly great revelations.” So just pause here for a second. This is not really relevant to the message, but it’s important why we’re here. “To keep me from becoming conceited or prideful because of the surpassingly great revelations.” – listen to me; the temptation of revelation is always pride. The temptation of revelation is always pride. What’s a revelation? It’s when God reveals something to you, uncovers something that has been hidden, and He points something out or shows you something you didn’t know when He reveals the secrets or the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to you.
The temptation of revelation is always pride. When we get revelation from God, our temptation is to think we’re superior, that we’re better than other people, that we know something they don’t know, that we’ve kind of figured it out and they just haven’t been enlightened yet. The temptation of revelation is always pride. But revelation should never move us to pride. It should always move us to love. And so as God has given us a lot of revelation around here lately, don’t let it move you to pride. Let it move you to love. Okay? It’s got nothing to do what we’re talking about, but it’s important. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassingly great revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” In other words, a really hard situation and circumstance in Paul’s life. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
That’s deep. And here is what he says. In your weakness, in your discouragement, and in your despair, Christ’s power rests on you. I would guess there’s a lot of Christ’s power resting in this room right now. Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” He is never closer to you than when you’re hurting. And he says that His power is released through your weakness. In other words, it’s in your greatest weakness you will experience His greatest strength. And you will never believe Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. That’s what he is saying here. “You will never believe Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” Paul realizes in this moment, “Jesus is all I’ve got. Jesus is really all I need.”
You see, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s in desperation we seek God the most. Do you agree with that? In desperation we seek God the most. Like, when life is falling apart and we’re broken and we’re painful and things are flying out of control – in desperation we seek God the most. It’s true in all the Bible stories. It’s true in church. It’s true in your life. Well, if that’s true, that in desperation we seek God the most, then it’s God’s greatest love to allow things in our lives that will cause us to seek Him the most. If in desperation we seek God the most, then it’s His greatest love to allow things in our lives that will cause us to seek Him the most. I don’t even like that as it comes out of my mouth. I know you don’t like that as it comes to your ears. But it’s true! In your life, I promise you, you’ve sought God with the most amount of passion when you’ve been hurting in life.
God is always more interested in intimacy than circumstances, and He will use circumstances to draw us into intimacy. Listen; God does not send these things. He does not create these things, but He will allow them and He will use them to draw you into intimacy. He didn’t send this into Paul’s life. It’s a messenger of Satan, is what the Bible says. But He is going to use it in Paul’s life to draw him to this place of intimacy. See, very few of us have figured out how to passionately pursue God when life is great. Right? I mean, who passionately pursues God when life is great? Like, how interested are you in hearing the voice of God when life is perfect? You’ve got money. Your job is good. Your marriage is great. Your parenting is going well. You’ve got great friends. Who is really that interested? That’s why the author or Proverbs, in Proverbs 38:9, says “God, please don’t give me riches, because if I have riches, I’ll probably disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” When was the last time you prayed, “God, don’t give me riches?”, because I’ll probably stop seeking you.
See, it’s a chaotic external life that often leads us to an abundant internal life. Chaotic external life brings you to an abundant internal life. Why? Because it forces you to seek Jesus and take heart and find strength in Him. And you and I, we believe the abundant life is external, but the Bible really teaches the abundant life is internal. In fact, if the abundant life was external, then Jesus didn’t live in abundant life. Alright? His family rejected him. Disciples failed him. Pharisees wanted – I mean, the guy went to a cross. I’m just going to say that doesn’t qualify for a good external life [Laughs]. How about Paul? Paul was shipwrecked, persecuted, stoned – all these different kinds of things. And you’re going to tell me Jesus and Paul didn’t live an abundant life? They’ve experienced more abundance than you and I have ever even yet dreamed of experiencing. It’s all in here. Take heart.
See, here’s what I love what Paul says. Verses 8 and 9 – He says, “I asked, He said, therefore I will.” “I asked God, ‘Please speak into this situation.’ He said – he spoke to me, ‘Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfect in your weakness. Therefore, I will.” And it changed the course of Paul’s life. I asked, He said, therefore I will. God spoke into Paul’s life. He heard it. He strengthened himself in the Lord. He changed his attitude. Notice the circumstance didn’t change. The thorn didn’t go away, but Paul changed. We think the greatest miracle is the circumstance changing. The greatest miracle is your heart changing. And Paul goes from pleading to delighting. Pleading, “God, do something. Take this away.” To delighting, because His power is resting upon me and flowing through me.
Sure sounds like God, doesn’t it? Ask, listen, respond. Sure sounds like David inquiring of the Lord. He said, I asked – he said, therefore I will. Let me close with this. Remember the story of Elijah? The story of Elijah that he’s having probably the worst day of his life – there’s a lot of worst days in the Bible by the way. It could bring a little comfort to your heart. He is running from Queen Jezebel. He is defeated and discouraged. He has got a ministry hangover. I mean, he’s exhausted. And he gets to this mountainside. And God says, “I’m going to come and meet with you there. So get ready.” And all of a sudden, the Bible says, “This great wind ripped down the mountain and broke open rocks, but God was not in the wind.” Then it said, “A giant earthquake came and shook the foundation of the very mountain Elijah was on, but God was not in the earthquake.” “Then a fire came and tore down the side of the mountain and burned everything in its path, but God was not in the fire.”
Then came a gentle whisper and God was in the whisper. And Elijah pulls a cloak over his face and he goes out on the side of the mountain and leans in to hear what God wants to say. And you might say, “Why does God speak in a whisper?” Because when he whispers he forces you to lean in and get close to Him. And God is so much more interested in intimacy with you than He has in changing the circumstances. And when we lean in to hear His voice, we will find the strength in the word of God. We want it to be epic, powerful, so brilliant that we couldn’t possibly miss it. And God says, “No, I want it to be a whisper because I want you to want me more than you want your circumstances to change.”
So here’s what we’re going to do. Can you just put all your stuff down for a second? They’re going to dim the lights here. The band is going to came back out and here’s what we’re going to do. Just for a moment we’re going to hear the whisper together. And so I will just ask you to be still. Please don’t move around for the next few moments. Right here, right now in this moment, we’re just going to ask God to speak. We’re going to invite God to whisper into our hearts, to whisper into our lives. Inquire of the Lord. Calm everything down inside of you. And just in your own way say, “Holy Spirit, will you speak to me?” If this is your first time here or you don’t even believe in God, that’s okay. Ask to God that you don’t believe and to speak, and see if he’s real.
Holy Spirit, will you speak to me? Don’t let your mind race. Don’t try to force something to come. Just quiet it down. Maybe there’s a situation or a circumstance or a relationship. Say, “God, will you please speak into this situation?” Listen to His voice. You’re His sheep, and His sheep know how to hear His voice. He is not way off in heaven. He is in this room, and if you believe in Him, He is actually in you. And that’s why often when you hear His voice it will feel like it bubbles up from the inside of you.
God’s voice is always loving, peaceful, comforting. Satan’s voice is condemning, shaming, and fearful. And so Holy Spirit, I invite you to move in this room right now. Will you come and will you speak to us? Speak Lord, for your servants are listening.
Some of you are hearing God just give you one word. One word from Him changes everything. Some of you are hearing God bring up a relationship in your mind. Maybe it’s because He wants you to reconcile. Some of you, God is showing you a picture of something; a vision maybe. And if you’re sitting here and you’re saying, “I don’t know. I can’t hear His voice.” And you’re stressed out and it’s just not working, can I just tell you? Here’s what I know God is speaking.
He is telling you He loves you. He is saying, “I love you.” And He wants that to echo and reverberate off the chambers of your heart. Some of you think you’re not worthy of it; you’re not deserving of it. He says, “No, no, no. My son, Jesus, now makes you more than worthy of it.” And you are more deserving of it because of the forgiveness of the cause of Jesus Christ. He is speaking to you, church. Are you listening?
Is it well with you? We’re gathered in this place to meet with the God who loves us, who pursues us, who is passionate for us. He wants us to know Him. So He speaks and He whispers. The Bible says He sings over you. And I’m by faith believing that some spiritual ears were opened up today.
That He is speaking to you and you’re hearing His voice. It just takes your willingness. He wants to speak. And I think the Lord did something in this series in our church, where He is looking at us as a group of people and He is saying, “That Valley Creek Church, they are going to be people who take heart, who strengthen themselves in me. Even when life is hard, challenging, falling apart, and seemingly the world is crumbling around us, that Valley Creek Church, they are going to be the ones who win the battle in here. And so they will walk in my victory out there.” Holy Spirit, we choose to listen to you. Speak to us, Lord, this week in new ways, and may we be in tune with what you want to say.
Lord, I bless this church and I pray that whatever you’re writing in the fabric of our lives and in our souls would take root and it would go deep and wide. We love you, Lord.