Listen to God –
1 Kings 19:11-12
Listen to God
by George Boose
“Then He said, ‘Go
out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by,
and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in
pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an
earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a
fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice”
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
Have you heard God speak to you today? If that question
is a little upsetting, if you’re feeling somewhat defensive or guilty, I’ll be
quick to add, I’m not sure I have either. Probably, the better question would
have been, “Have you been listening for God?” This is a very difficult subject,
but I think it’s a matter that can benefit all of us if we’ll give it a little
For starters, if we’re interested in how to hear God
speaking to us, let’s examine just how He does communicate with His children.
Most loudly and clearly, God’s voice thunders to us from the pages of His Holy
Bible. Unfortunately, we too often close our ears when He speaks to us from
Scripture. You want to hear from God? Read His Book. Memorize His Word. Obey His
commands. That’s the best way to really listen to God speaking.
Well, you say, everybody knows that the Bible is the
Word of God – that God “speaks” to us in the Scriptures. “But,” you say, “that’s
just too conventional – that’s no fun – I want a personal message to boom down
from the clouds with maybe a little lightning and thunder thrown in to impress
the neighbors. I upped my tithe this year; it seems like God could turn up the
knob on His amplifier just a little bit. I don’t want to strain to listen – I
want stereo with hi-fidelity. I wouldn’t mind if I even needed earplugs.” But
God doesn’t speak to us like that. And I think we already knew it.
If we pay attention, listen intently, we can hear God in
the Bible. It’s not glamorous. It’s “blue collar” work. The Apostle Paul tells
us, “…Warn them before God against quarrelling about
words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to
present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be
ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth. Avoid godless chatter…”
(2 Timothy 2:14-16). Be one of God’s “workmen” – a blue collar guy or gal – work
at it, study the Bible, and you can hear God speak to you from His Word.
Another way that God speaks to us is through answered
prayer. Did I hear somebody gulp a little on that one? If you did, I think you
immediately got the point. If we don’t faithfully and regularly go to God in
prayer – how can He speak to us through answered prayer? Yes, God does answer
our prayers. Sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes He says “no,” sometimes we have
to wait. Probably, more than we like to admit, He answers, but we don’t listen
close enough to hear Him. We really do need that amplifier, don’t we? But think
about it – what wonderful, soothing “words” God provides when He answers prayer.
What would you rather receive – a loud, 30-second sound byte from heaven
proclaiming, “I feel your pain” – or the gentle peace that surpasses all
understanding to calm your soul that only God can provide?
How else does God speak to us? We’ve discussed that He
speaks to us through His written Word – the Bible. He also speaks to us in the
answers He is faithful to provide to our prayers. Sometimes the listening for
the answer to prayers – the ability to pick out God’s voice – becomes very
difficult, especially when the answer to our prayer is “no.” Nevertheless, some
of you are still seeking an audible voice to speak directly to you, preferably
in your own language, maybe something you could put on tape and play back,
time-after-time. I don’t think it’s going to happen that way.
Someone is going to say, “It just isn’t fair – God used
to speak out loud to His children.” That’s true. Right from the beginning, the
Bible (God’s voice today) has recorded examples of God speaking to various
people here on earth. But it wasn’t always pleasant. Shortly after Adam and Eve
ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, God spoke to them as they were
hiding in their nakedness. “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3:9). Then God gave quite a lecture to the serpent as well as to both
Adam and Eve, concluding, “By the sweat of your brow you
will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). To Adam and
Eve that probably seemed as if God had every loud speaker in the universe turned
on. Surely, they were able to hear God speaking. And He continued speaking
throughout Old Testament times. Just a few years later He questioned Cain after
he had killed Abel. In reply, Cain, we might say, smarted off to God by shouting
back, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
God didn’t stop with Cain. He kept on speaking –
clearly, loudly, distinctly – to Abraham, Moses, and many others. Many, many
examples of God speaking are recorded in the Old Testament. In the New
Testament, after the resurrection, we find Jesus talking to Saul on the road to
Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
(Acts 9:4). And finally, in the Book of Revelation, we find these spoken words,
“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’
says the Lord God, ‘who is,
and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8), and in
the 22nd Chapter of Revelation, John records Jesus saying, “Yes,
I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20).
But since that time, God’s voice comes to us more like
the voice of our conscience than from some celestial loudspeaker. That brings up
another problem. By hardening our hearts down through the years, we’ve been able
to pretty well drown out our conscience. Walt Disney gave Pinocchio a talking
conscience in Jiminy Cricket. If we’re going to be like Pinocchio and not listen
to our conscience – we’re in for something worse than our nose growing longer.
Also, if the voice of our conscience has grown a little faint – how can we
expect to ever hear God?
I’m afraid I sense some of you getting a little
restless. Enough hot air. Get with it, you’re saying. Tell us – is there still
today some way to hear God? That’s a common question asked over and over again…
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in
our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” Someone else said, “to
hear God, you must use the ears of your heart.” That’s good advice. The
Book of Job tells us, “For God does speak – now one way,
now another – though man may not perceive it” (Job 33:14).
I think you’ve realized by now that I’m not going to be
able to tell you exactly how to listen to God. But I can say with a certain
amount of certainty that, when He speaks, it may not be loud. You have to pay
attention. The prophet Elijah learned this lesson: “Then a
great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before
the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an
earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a
fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle
whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out
and stood at the mouth of the cave.” And then the voice of God spoke to him
(1 Kings 19:11-13).
Read your Bible, pray, and wait for God’s answer to your
prayers. Quiet yourself to listen for the still, small, gentle whisper of God.
Don’t miss it. God is speaking to you.
Note: This sermon is from "Sermons for
Seniors," by George Boose. Used with permission of the author.