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Guest Speaker 3/4/07
Listen to God – 1 Kings 19:11-12

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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 thought.

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.

George Boose, Guest Speaker
Friday Study Ministries

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