God Speaks Exodus 3:1-22 November 3, 2019
Last Sunday, our focus considered whether we miss-out on experiences of God because we fail to see the invitation of God to be involved where He is already at work. I said often our prayers are looking for God to give us fulfillment, answers, and solutions. However, invitations don’t give us those experiences. God’s invitation often invites us to move into some unknown or something where fulfillment will be in the future. So, we miss out on the reality of experiencing God if were looking for immediate fulfilment when God is inviting us into the unknown, the, new or unfamiliar.
An invitation has to be communicated somehow to us or we cannot accept it. As God invites, God communicates or speaks to us. Not all Christians or for that matter people of faith have the same comfort level for how well they hear and discern God speaking to them. As I mentioned in the church newsletter, hearing God for some people seems as natural as listening to a friend, but it’s not that way for everyone. Take a look at this video piece.
PLAY CLIP Tim Tebow claims God spoke to his heart (no audible voice.) The story does have a neat and very ironic ending about the way 3:16 popped up again in Tebow’s career. 94 million google John 3:16
Remember our line from Albert Einstein we used a couple weeks ago, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Maybe God was having a little fun that evening. I want to be careful with a video like this when we also know so many tragic events are happening around the world and to people personally
that need a miracle. The validity of what Tebow claims can be debated later.
But the point is to get us considering how God speaks or communicates with us.
It’s easier to understand why God speaks.
It’s easier to understand why God speaks. For starters, I believe God speaks and communicates with us because God wants what any of us desires – to be known.
Dr. Henry Blackaby provides some helpful reminders about why God speaks. He writes;
“God draws you into a deeper and closer walk with Him so that you can trust Him and have faith in Him.” (Blackaby)
“He will reveal His purposes to you so that you can become involved in his work rather than merely pursuing your own goals and dreams.” (Blackaby)
“He reveals His ways so that you can accomplish His purposes in a manner that glorifies Him.” (Blackaby)
“You can’t discover these truths about God on your own. Divine truth must be revealed.” (Blackaby)
However, none of those statements tell me how I can expect God to speak or communicate to me.
God speaks in a variety of ways Many would agree that in the Bible God communicates to people in a variety of ways.
In the Old Testament you have stories where God seems to be talking audibly to people. We have been using the story of Moses from Exodus the third chapter. Exodus 3:4-5 states, “God called to him out of the bush, Moses, Moses…Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, you are on holy ground.”
What is interesting in the New Testament is more of the stories on how God reveals himself seems to be more of a leading of the Spirit within the person. Especially when you consider the teaching from the apostles to the churches. Read the various letters from Paul, Peter, James and others and its more about a leading by the Spirit within.
Romans 8:12-14 Paul wrote, “So then brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Now usually at this point we preachers like to point out that just as God in scripture has revealed himself through miracles, people, nature and so forth we also acknowledge there are a variety of ways we can use comprehend what God is saying to us. This list is like a check and balance. Here is the usual list.
1. The Holy Spirit 2. The Bible – is it biblical. 3. Experience/tradition from believers who gone before us. Have they experienced what we believe we are experiencing and understanding? 4. Reason
We can use these four to help us decide if what we are experiencing and what we claim we are hearing is truly from God. Even the most spiritual person can be mistaken. A common danger is to take scripture out of its original intent/context and wrongfully apply it to ourselves.
Pastor Greg Gilbert provides an example based on the life of one of the great preachers of the past, George Whitfield. He writes,
“George Whitefield, the great preacher in the Great Awakening announced prior to the birth of his son that the boy would be a great preacher and that he would be great in the sight of the Lord. Four months after his birth, though, the child died. Whitefield had taken the passage from the gospel of Luke about the angel’s declaration to Zechariah about having a son as his own. As Christians we are to always read the Bible in its context.” There is life-changing truth to be gained from understanding the Bible as God meant it to be understood” (Greg Gilbert, Book review of Experiencing God, 9marks, 5/22/01).
We all need checks and balances to guide us about our claims about God.
But there is still one other element that I believe helps us to hear God.
Honor of God heightens our ability to hear God.
Honor of God heightens our ability to hear God. Hearing God isn’t just about believing in God. Honor goes beyond belief. • People can believe in God but not honor because they think God is detached and uninvolved because we have wars and natural disasters. • They can believe in God, but think God failed to heal or save a love one from disease. • They can believe in God; but have no plans to follow God’s leading until their party days are over.
Belief and honor are not the same thing.
Honor/respect for something will cause us to yield/surrender/open ourselves to that influence. Dishonor or a lack of honor toward someone, something will cause us to turn away.
Illustration: Consider how we were when we were adolescents and young adults. We tuned out some people wiser than and what they told us because our honor of them was low and our self-confidence and desire to be in control was high. We believed in them; but we didn’t honor their wisdom.
It’s no wonder we see in the writings of Paul how he begins his teachings with words that bring honor to God and to Christ. • 2 Corinthians 2:14 states, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession…” • Ephesians 3:16 I pray that according to the riches of His glory you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit. • James 1:5 states, “if any of you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly…”
Those words came from men who even as they suffered for their faith. They still honored God and no wonder they kept seeing and hearing God at work in them and others.
Believing and honoring God are not the same. Honoring in the biblical sense brings the gift of our will to God for his use.
Listen to a couple quotes from A.W. Tozer about the importance of bringing honor to God.
“The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all, we step out of the world’s parade.”
“Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above.” Tozer, p.93
“The whole course of life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs. We exalt ourselves instead of God and the curse follows.” Tozer P.97
Honoring God will hear a word from Him above whatever we are facing; instead of focusing only on our circumstances.
(Kyle’s story illustration of leading) In his book, Don’t Give Up, pastor Kyle Ildemann tells about a woman named Coleen McKain. Colleen and her husband married young, but both expressed their love for Jesus. As the years went by, they started having deep conflict. They tried to fix it but didn’t. In the twenty-third year of marriage, her husband had an affair. He promised to change but didn’t and three more affairs occurred over the next four years. She thought the marriage was dead. She began to make arrangements for life without him by building her credit, saving money and being ready to divorce and move on. She said, early one morning she was reading her bible devotion and came across this verse in 1 Samuel 12:16, “Now then, stand still and see the great thing the Lord is about to do before your sight.” Colleen said she felt something she didn’t even want to feel. She felt a sense of hope. Over the next few days the same verse kept coming to her mind and so she watched. She said even though she was filled with rage at her husband she watched, she watched her husband like a hawk. She said, I told God, “I’d watch and see what he might do, though I doubted he would come through.” As she watched her husband, she could begin to see the change, a new heart and new behavior. She said, “There is a lot I don’t know, but I do know God is able to do a great thing…” (Kyle Idleman, Don’t Give Up, pp33-34)
• Her story is about someone informed by scripture, believed; but honoring God with patience to see what God might do was that next key step.
• She heard God speak and saw him move because she didn’t just believe in God; but honored him.
Honor will praise and give thanks to God not just seek to remove the obstacles, anxiety or stress from our lives.
Honoring God keeps us (1) seeing God for who he is, (2) brings a sacred perspective on our situations and (3) listens and watches for the role we need to play. Conclusion Start with today. If we are struggling to hear God, start with hearing what God wants you to know just for today. Pastor Francis Chan states, “I think a lot of us need to forget the God’s will for my life talk. God cares more about our response to the Holy Spirit’s leading today.” (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, p.120.)
If right now the truth be told, your carrying around some resentment toward God or someone – Ask God what you need to do so your resentment doesn’t bring dishonor, but honor to him and that situation?
If you have person on your heart because they are going through a difficult time – Ask God how you can honor him despite their circumstances?
Hebrews 1:2-3 tells us, “In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and exact imprint of God’s very being…”
I trust that as we give God honor, not just request, He will speak to us what is consistent with what was revealed in Jesus.