If you could ask God anything, what would it be?
If you could have a conversation with Jesus, what would you say?
Who in here ever feels like God is distant? Like you can’t hear God?
Here’s what I want to tell you tonight…God often speaks. We rarely listen.
God speaks through High Word.
Hebrews 1:1-2 – “1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
We see in this passage both the Old Testament and the New Testament referenced. We see that in the past, God spoke. But we see that He speaks in the present as well. How? Through Jesus. But, we can’t talk to Jesus. Do you know the main reason why the books of our New Testament are the ones included in our Bible? They are confirmed to come from those in close proximity to Jesus. When we read God’s Word, God is literally speaking to us.
I want to ask you…if you feel like God is silent, how much time are you spending in His Word? Those who spend time in the Word spend time with God. For many of you, God is distant because you have distanced yourself from His Word.
God speaks through His Spirit.
The main way the Holy Spirit speaks to us is through the Scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God-breathed…”
The word “breathed” often is the same word used for Spirit. Just like in the beginning when God formed man out of the dust, He “breathed” life into Him. This same word means Spirit, He breathed His Spirit into him. God’s Word is that same kind of life-giving breath.
So, though the Spirit speaks primarily through the Word, He also dwells within the believer and speaks to us. It is often a “still, small voice.”
1 Kings 19:11-13 – 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
That voice will never lead us in a way that’s contradictory to God’s Word. So, if you hear a still, small voice that says something contrary to the way God has set forth, that is not God you are hearing, but it’s either your own sinful nature, the lies of the culture, hormones, or Satan himself.
Often, we are not quiet enough to hear the still, small voice. We make our wants and desires known, and we drown out any quietness with busyness and noise. No wonder we often can’t hear God speak. We aren’t quiet long enough to listen.
The most common word my son says is, “What?” Then I have to repeat myself 2-3 more times. Multiple times a day. It’s exhausting, and often I lose my patience. Often, I give up and say, “I’m not saying it again.” I think God sometimes says the same with us. We miss out on opportunities and blessings because we aren’t open, available, and listening. Sometimes I’m more patient and will repeat what I said. I think God is more like that. But my son can’t hear me because of two reasons. 1) He’s distracted by something. 2) He’s so incredibly loud all the time. I think it’s the same way for us.
So, when God speaks, what does He say and how should we listen? We shouldn’t just listen to hear what He says, but we should listen and be open and available for whatever He says.
GOD CALLS YOU TO HIMSELF
God has been calling those who are distant from Him to Himself since the beginning. As soon as Adam and Even sinned, God called out their names. He asked where they were. He knew where they were, and it was their fault they were distant from God, not God’s fault, but it order to draw them close to Himself again, He called out their names and called them to Himself.
God calls you to believe in Him.
We can see this in many places, but it is clear and makes the point we just went over about God’s Word, in the story of doubting Thomas.
John 20:24-31 – 24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Just like for Thomas, though you can’t see Him, blessed are those who believe in Him. And in fact, the gospels were written down and compiled for that very reason. God is calling your name to draw you to Himself for you to believe in Him and have life.
God calls you to follow Him.
This is how Jesus calls His disciples. He says, “Follow me.” When Jesus says, “follow me,” we can’t just hear Him, but we must be open and available to what He has said.
What would happen if they said “no” to “follow me”? Jesus said these words to Peter who was the rock upon which Christ would build the church. He was God’s main man to bring the gospel to the Jews. He was a leader in the church in Jerusalem. What if He heard Jesus but wasn’t open and available? 1) it either wouldn’t happen…God’s plan not being fulfilled, or 2) God would choose someone else. Someone else would do God’s work and receive the blessing. Peter likely would even miss out on eternal life. It is difficult for someone to say “I believe” without answering Jesus’s call to “Follow me.”
We do see someone say no to Jesus’s call.
Matthew 19:16-22 – 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Are you like this rich young ruler, too much in love with the things and ways of this world to be open and available to the call of Jesus? Or, are you like Peter who said yes and followed, even though it was costly?
Peter answered this call and, though he fell occasionally, he followed wherever God led, even to his own cross…upside down.
GOD CALLS YOU TO PEOPLE AND PLACES
The final words Jesus spoke to his followers before He ascended into heaven, I believe He chose them very carefully…wouldn’t you?
Matthew 28:18-20 – 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We understand that God calls us to people and places, but do I just share Christ with everyone or is there specific people He wants me to go to? The answer is yes and yes.
We should share Christ with everyone because He is the only way to life. Why would we keep that a secret? We should be willing to do anything to make anyone see the truth and beauty of this good news that is free for them if they just believe.
But also, God calls us to people and places.
Acts 16:6-10 – 6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
I want you to see how all of this comes full circle here. God speaks through His Word and by His Spirit. He calls us to Himself to believe in Him and follow Him. He calls us to share His good news and to certain people and places.
At this point, Paul had already poured over God’s Word. He had already believed in Jesus, even though he hated Christians. He didn’t just believe in Jesus, but the moment he believed, he started following Jesus, sharing Him with anyone and everyone, even immediately in the synagogues with the very people he was going there to persecute for their belief in Jesus.
I want you to see this about Paul. He was open and available. He was already following Jesus, so when the still, small voice came, it was crystal clear. He didn’t freeze in his comforts or old ways or doubts and fears. He was already following Jesus and was open and available for whatever God laid before Him. God was shutting doors for Paul to share the gospel, and Paul didn’t give up. He continued forward, following Jesus, then God spoke.
In the same way, we are to be open and available. We can’t miss out on what God has in store. This city can’t miss out on what God wants to do through YOU. Think of all that could happen this week if you were open and available to God. Think of all this school year that could happen if you were already following Jesus wherever He led, to the point that when He gives you those crystal clear, still, small whispers, you are already listening.
Let’s be open and available. And let’s follow.