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It Takes an Obedient Heart

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It Takes an Obedient Heart

If you have a child that consistently disobeys you, and they shut out whatever instruction you give them, what do you do to help them? You pull back. You let them fall. You let them learn their life lessons the hard way because you know they won’t obey you anyway. Why bother to waste your breath?

And isn’t our Heavenly Father an even better father than we are? God knows when to pull back.

Look at the lives of King David and King Saul. David had a heart for God, even though he made mistakes, but King Saul was habitually disobedient. It was to Saul God said, “It’s not sacrifice I’m looking for. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Disobedience is no different than the sin of witchcraft.”[1]

After God quit speaking to King Saul, that’s exactly what Saul turned to for direction, witchcraft (see 1 Samuel 28).

If we won’t obey, if we won’t heed the direction of God’s voice, He will quit talking and leave us to guide our lives.

God said to the children of Israel through the prophet Zechariah; “Did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God’s revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn’t listen to a word he said. So this is what God said, if they won’t listen to me, I won’t listen to them. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland” (see Zechariah 7)

How badly do you want to hear God’s voice? Are you willing to wait until He speaks? Are you willing to obey?

[1] 1 Samuel 15:23

The Biggest Challenge to Hearing God

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The Biggest Challenge to Hearing God

The problem with God is He’s slow! Have you ever noticed how long it takes for God to work things out? So, I’ve got a remedy for His slowness. I help God out!

Can you relate to what I’m talking about?

We say, “I know God spoke to me and said He was going to do such-and-such, so maybe this is the way it’s going to come about.”

Rather than waiting on God to provide, we jump in and try and fix it ourselves. And then what happens? We mess it up!

The classic example is Abraham and Sarah.

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.”[1]

It doesn’t sound like Abraham even thought about it for an hour!

The decisions we make apart from the clear direction of God have longlasting consequences.

The decision Abraham and Sarah made to help God, and the result of that decision, still plagues God’s people, Israel to this very day!

o             Ishmael = the son of the flesh (see Galatians 4)

o             Isaac = the son of the Spirit

Hebrews 6:12 says “Through faith and PATIENCE we inherit the promises of God.”

Sarah and Abraham’s promised child finally arrived 25 years later.

How long are you willing to wait for a clear answer from God? 1 year? 2 years?

 

[1] Genesis 16:1-2

 

Watch the full message on video here.

A Caution about Listening to Others

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A Caution about Listening to Others

 

In an effort to hear God’s voice and be led by the Spirit, we must be careful about listening to too many other voices. What do I mean?

When God revealed His plan to Mary regarding her newborn son, Jesus, the Bible says, “she treasured these things in her heart!”[1]

When you treasure something, you guard it. You don’t leave it laying around or show it to just anybody. It’s precious.

Did Jesus seek the advice of His disciples after God revealed His plan for the cross? No, He didn’t seek their advice. However, they offered it anyway! And Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me Satan. You have in mind the things of MAN, not the things of God!”[2]

When you get advice from others that seems contrary to what God may be saying, who’s advice will you follow?

In 1994, when my wife, Dorene and I came here to be your pastors, we had a dear friend who told us she didn’t think this was God’s will. At first it rattled me, but then I realized God might have been using her to test my resolve. It’s all good. We still love her!!

How do we hear God’s voice? Remember, it starts by wanting to hear him.

“What Do You Mean, I Have to Wait to Hear God?”

Yes, that’s right. We have to wait to hear God’s voice. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we don’t wait to actually hear from the Lord.

In one of my very first classes in Bible College, our professor said, “When you get into the ministry there will be moments when you have a big decision to make. If there’s a voice that says, quick, quick do it today, that voice is probably not God. It’s probably the devil!”

And then he said, “Most of the bad decisions I ever made came because I didn’t wait long enough for God to actually speak.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote often about waiting on God. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, mount up wings like eagles, run and not be weary!”[3]

He said something very similar to that in – Isaiah 30:15-18:

This is what the Almighty Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. But you don’t want that. You’ve said, “No, we’ll flee on horses.” So you flee. You’ve added, “We’ll ride on fast horses.” So those who chase you will also be fast. One thousand people will flee when one person threatens them, and you will flee when five threaten you. Then you will be left alone like a flagpole on top of a mountain, like a signpost on a hill. The Lord is waiting to be kind to you. He rises to have compassion on you. The Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him.

Then God made a promise. If we will wait, He will lead.[4]

Watch the full message on video here.

[1] Luke 2:19

[2] Matthew 16:23

[3] Psalm 27:14

[4] Isaiah 30:21

Developing a Listening Ear toward God

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Developing a Listening Ear toward God

A really great question to ask ourselves when we desire to hear God’s voice is, “Where is God at work in my life?” That question is at the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

  • What is God doing now?
  • What is God saying now?
  • What is God wanting to do in and through me?

And here’s the beautiful thing about developing an ear for God:  when we consistently hear what God is saying to us, that’s a very clear sign that we are growing in the Lord.

Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons (huios) of God.”

Babies cry “Abba,” [daddy, my daddy].

There are three levels of listening to God’s voice:

  1. Crisis level: “God help me!”
  2. Intermittent level: run hot and cold
  3. Constantly abiding level: trusting God from the bottom of your heart

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD!”[1]

[1] MSG

 

Watch the full message on video here. 

Do You Want to Hear God’s Voice? Really?

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Do You Want to Hear God’s Voice? Really?

Since God is still speaking today, how do we hear Him?

First, we have to want to hear his voice.

We are not born with the ability to hear God speak. It’s something we must cultivate as we grow in our relationship with Him.

The story of Samuel is a beautiful example of how we learn to hear God. Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God. When Samuel awoke in the night to God’s voice, he thought someone else was calling him. He went to the prophet Eli to see if he’d called him.

Eli told Samuel to go lay down, and if God called again he should say, “Speak, LORD. I am listening!”

Eli was teaching Samuel to posture himself to hear God’s voice.[1]

Jesus said we have to do the same thing; “He who has ears to hear, let him listen!”[2]

We must initiate a listening relationship with God!

God loves it when we try to listen to Him. He loves it when we seek to live in a dynamic, fluid, growing relationship with Him.

 

Watch the full message here on video.

[1] 1 Samuel 3:10

[2] Matthew 11:15

God Is Speaking – Are You Listening?

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God Is Speaking – Are You Listening?

Our ability to hear God’s voice is even more important to God than it is to us. God wants to speak, but how much do we want to listen?

Our grandkids were visiting and I don’t know how many times I heard my daughter say, “Listen to me; Mommy’s trying to talk to you!”

God wants to talk to us in this day every bit as much as He did 3,000 years ago when He spoke to the people of the Bible.

He’s a SPEAKING God, so we must become a LISTENING people!

God stops speaking when we stop listening.

One of the most haunting verses to me in the Bible is 1 Samuel 3:1 “In those days a word from the Lord was rare and there were not many revelations.”

Things dry up when we shut out the voice of God.

God has given us ways to speak to our hearts.

  • He speaks through His written Word. That’s why a consistent pattern of studying God’s Word is so important.
  • God speaks through His spoken Word, and that’s why Sunday morning messages are so valuable. We call our sermon a message!

In the next few blogs we’ll explore hearing God’s voice.

You can watch the full video this blog is taken from here.

The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

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The Battle Against Sin Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

We have it in our heads that if we struggle with temptation, if we fall into sin from time to time, there must be something terribly wrong with us. Everyone else seems fine. We must be pretenders. But the truth is everyone struggles with something. The battle itself is part of living in the already … but not yet dilemma.

Through the cross Jesus overcame sin and nailed them on it. Yet still we have to fight the battle against sin. And I am convinced we will fight that battle until the day we die.

That’s basically what the writer of Hebrews says.

God uses the struggle against sin to grow us, so don’t be surprised by it.

Don’t be discouraged by it.

Fight the fight (Hebrews 12).

Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Now he holds the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.

You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:

“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you.

The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”

Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.

 

Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. 13 Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord.”[1]

 

Every single one of God’s children lives between the “already” and the “not yet.”

Already Jesus reigns, but His final kingdom has not yet come.

Already sin has been defeated, but it has not yet been completely destroyed.

Already God has given you his Word, but it has not yet totally transformed your life.

Already you have been given grace, but God’s grace has not yet finished its work.

We all must wait for the final end of the work that God has begun in and for us.

But be assured, GOD IS AT WORK EVERYDAY!

“He who began a good work in you will will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

IMPERFECT? Yes.

PERFECT? Absolutely!

 

[1] Hebrews 12:1-14 GW

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