Well having gone to school for quite some length of time, I think my biggest mistake in my education was taking German for 4 years in high school.
Now, I couldn’t have known it then, but I’ve never used it. And I’m not sure if I ever will.
I remember the first time I went on a missions trip to Mexico and practically everyone in our group was speaking Spanish…and all I could say was, “Guten Tag?”
And now…as our church does a lot of work in Haiti…my German…again…not all that helpful.
It’s frustrating because I want to be able to speak to the people 1 on 1. Without anyone else.
I don’t want a translator. I wish I could just talk to them in their language.
And God…in a similar way…wants to talk to you.
But often…we’re not so good at speaking his language.
Oh He’s speaking all right…but we don’t really hear it. Or we don’t understand it. Or we’re too busy.
But God…because He loves you…and He’s crazy about you….will employ other ways to get your attention. To speak to you.
And one of the most common ways He’ll do it…is through His version of a translator…another person.
And over the next 3 weeks of our “I NEED A SIGN” series, we’re going to look at the 3 most common ways that God speaks to His people.
1: Through the Bible. 2: Through our thoughts. 3: What we’re going to cover today, through other People.
PROPHETS & ORDINARY FOLKS
In the Bible…sometimes we see this in a dramatic way…and other times in a more subtle way.
The most obvious way we see this in Scripture is through the people called the prophets.
Some of the prophets were: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, etc., and they were people that had the spiritual gift of REALLY hearing God’s voice.
They, through maybe an audible voice or something in their thoughts, REALLY heard the voice of God and communicated it to the people.
So for instance, I’m currently listening to the Book of Jeremiah on my MP3 audio Bible in the mornings…while I eat my Cocoa Puffs…and it’s mostly just God…speaking through 1 guy, Jeremiah, to the people.
But the people are hearing God…through another person…not just themselves.
Or, in 2 Samuel 12, after King David commits adultery with Bathsheeba, he’s confronted by a man named Nathan.
Well, Nathan, is a prophet who was told by God to go and confront David.
And thus God uses another person to speak to David, and really get his attention.
Now…there are still people today who have stronger gifts than others when it comes to hearing from God…many even call them prophets.
But God also speaks through ordinary people.
Often without them even knowing it.
For instance, have you ever just been talking with someone (could be a friend…even a stranger), and you just feel like they said EXACTLY what you needed to hear?
Almost as if God was encouraging you straight through that person?!
Well, often, that’s God.
For instance, In Exodus 18, Moses is having a rough time. He’s overworked, stressed, and could use a Disney World vacation.
The people have come out of Egypt, but Moses is deciding every little dispute for EVERY single person and giving advice to EVERY person.
While this is happening, he happens to have a random conversation with his father-in-law (who is NOT a famous prophet…just an ordinary father-in-law)
And his father-in-law tells him that what Moses is currently doing is way too much work for 1 man! He then gives this suggestion:
(Exodus 18:21-23) – NIV
21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
And God uses this ordinary man’s advice…and outsider even to the people of Israel…to bring more order and structure to Israel.
And there are
I became a Christian when I was 18, and when I was 20, I started to consider being a pastor.
I had planned up until then to be an elementary school teacher, and that’s what I was majoring in.
I’ll never forget though…one night when I was 20 years old, I was speaking at a benefit at a church in Cambridge.
And after the event, an elderly woman came up to me and said “Young man…great job! Are you considering entering the ministry?
Then an elderly man said the same thing. And another woman came up and said: “Are you considering being a pastor?”
And I remember driving home and thinking, “God, what are you trying to tell me here?”
SPEAKS THROUGH THE LEADERS
Now…God…because He’s God…can speak through anyone.
There’s even an instance in Acts 5 where God speaks truth through a non-believer who is a member of the Pharisees persecuting the Christians
Or the ultimate example is in Numbers 22 where God even speaks through a Donkey…partly to prove: He’s God! He can speak however he wants!
But typically…what we see in Scripture…and in practice…is that God speaks through his believers.
This is in part because as 1 Corinthians 6 tells us, our bodies, as believers, are temples of the Holy Spirit.
And if God is in us, He’s often going to speak through US, his followers.
I think the two most common ways this happens is through Church Leaders (pastors, teachers, small group leaders, etc.) and 2ndly through friends and mentors in the body of Christ.
And I want to look at both of those categories.
Let’s look at the teachers/leaders thing first.
The teachers of the church are called by God to teach messages that can encourage people in the truth.
In other words…encourage them with the words of God:
The Bible says this about pastors and leaders:
(Titus 1:9) – NIV
9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Now…does this mean everything I, or another speaker, or leader says is the “WORD OF GOD?”
No. Absolutely not. In fact, sometimes the words I say up here are even wrong.
I’m human. I’m a sinful, imperfect human.
I cringe looking back at the notes of the some of the messages I first gave as a new believer.
But…we believe, as Christians, that when someone opens up the Word of God, the Bible…and starts teaching…that the Holy Spirit can really speak to us!
One of the really powerful things about just being at church every Sunday is that we actually STOP…and ask God to speak to us for an hour
Where, for most of us, the rest of the week, we’re just on the go: “Gotta get up, get the kids ready, go to work, whoops, forgot a kid at home, get through rush hour, get that report in”
And for most of us...we don’t have the time to stop and listen to God (which, admittedly, is a separate issue)
But Sunday mornings, we often hear from God…because somebody is teaching from the WORDS of God…and finally…we’re actually open to let God speak to us
How?? Through another person!
And God does it.
Here’s a funny example of how:
I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me and say something like this, “Pastor David…this morning, while you were speaking, I felt so convicted to break up with my girlfriend. She just isn’t good for me. In fact, I felt like you were speaking right to me!”
And in my head, I’m thinking, “A) I’m not spying on you. Didn’t write this w/ you in mind. And B) How did you get THAT from God while I was giving a message on the book of Revelation and the end times?!”
But it doesn’t matter…because when we come to church, it’s one of the only times of our week, where we’re just open, saying, “God…speak to me!”
And HE does! He seizes the opportunity, and starts speaking.
In fact, I encourage you to pray that prayer every week when you walk through those doors.
Just pray…God…whatever you have for me today…speak to me!
And God does this kind of stuff ALL THE TIME…when we open up ourselves to hear from other people talking about Him!
Whether that’s you listening to a message on a Sunday, watching a message online, listening to another pastor online, talking to a Christian friend about God
Those are all times where we’re saying: “OK God, speak to me.”
And He usually does!
4 of the first 5 years I was a Youth pastor, I always said, “God’s calling me to lead a church. I just don’t know if it’s to plant a church or get hired at an established one”
And it wasn’t until I really started SEEKING His will that I heard Him give me clarity on it.
About a year and a half before we started Renovation, I went to a conference on Church Planting (starting churches).
And it was there….while listening to other pastors speak about God and the Bible…and the call to plant churches…that I felt Him begin to whisper this into my heart.
And part of that was simply because it was one of the first times where I really just sat down…stopped…and said, “Speak to me on this!”
And He did! Through OTHER PEOPLE.
SPEAKS THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST
But that’s only half the story.
And for most American Christians…that’s the easier half. It requires less work. And less interaction.
But, God can speak through ANY believer.
There’s nothing special about me or any other pastor…it’s just that you’re here…for 60 minutes a week…and you’re actually focused on hearing from God.
You turned up your spiritual hearing aid for an hour.
But God can speak to you just the same through other believers.
And often, in much more specific ways:
Because here’s the deal: Especially at a church this size, with 250-300 people, I can’t really watch your life.
Most pastors can’t do that: Unless they pastor a church of 35 people.
We need other people, in the body of Christ…who KNOW us…to encourage us and challenge us.
We mention this phrase a lot, but the Bible describes the Church as a BODY
(1 Corinthians 12:14-18) – NIV
14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
Another way to look at this is the modern-day parable of the train
Suppose the eye could say to the body, “Let us walk down these train tracks. The way is clear. Not a train is in sight!”
So the body starts down the tracks. But the ear says, “I hear a whistle coming from the other direction.” The eye argues, “But nothing is on the track as far as I can possibly see. Let’s keep on walking.”
So…the body listens only to the eye and keeps on walking.
Soon the ear says, “That whistle is getting louder and closer!”
Then the feet say, “I feel the rumbling motion of a train coming. We better get our body off these tracks!”
The reality is this: If you want to hear the full counsel of God for your life, you have to be surrounded by other Christians.
And American Christians lie to themselves when they say that “THIS…is being ‘surrounded’ by other Christians”
A quick, “Sure is cold out today! Have a good weekend!” to an acquaintance isn’t even a faint shadow of what the “BODY of Christ” looks like in the Bible.
The Body of Christ KNOWS each other. The look out for each other. The care for each other. They encourage each other. They challenge each other.
“This” is just our worship and teaching time. Which is important. They had that too in the Bible when the believers would gather by the masses to hear Peter and John preach and worship.
But God wants you to be a part of a BODY…that will look out for you.
That’s why we are so crazy about our house groups here.
We want for you to experience this awesome thing!
They are groups of 20-30 people a night (really more like 40 on a roster) of people that gather together weekly…or as much as they can…to hang out together…get to know each other, learn more about the Bible…and even break into small groups at the end of the night.
They are, for us, where the BODY of Christ happens.
And I believe that ALL THE TIME…on Sunday nights in House Groups, on Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday nights….that God is speaking through other people to our people in house groups.
And I want you to be a part of that.
I want you to have the full counsel of God in your life.
To be surrounded by OTHER Christians who also have the Holy Spirit…where God can help you grow more!
I think we’ve blurred something about God in our individualistic society.
See…The Bible teaches that your work with God is PERSONAL.
But it’s personal…not PRIVATE.
You need the Body of Christ.
AND…the Body of Christ needs YOU!
My challenge to you this morning from God’s Word is to get around as many people as possible that could be the conduit for God’s voice in your life.
If we know that God often speaks through believers to us…why would we want to isolate ourselves from God’s voice?
If this is 1/3 of the way God most commonly speaks to us…why would we want to cut that out of our lives?
And I plead with you to move beyond any fears you might have. Let your desire to follow Christ at all costs supersede your fear of the unknown.
Let your desire to hear from God win out over any excuses you’re holding onto.
Now…if you’re visiting Renovation today…you just started coming here. Sure sign up. But we understand if you’re just checking out this church. That’s totally normal. Check it out. Ask God if this is the place for you.
But if Renovation is your home. It’s time to set the excuses aside.
And just resolutely determine that you don’t want to be stalled in your relationship with God.
It’s hard to go anywhere w/ the car in park.
And I’m just so passionate about my flock hearing more from God and growing in Him that I simply don’t want you to miss out on a MASSIVE part of your faith.
So I challenge you this morning to put your desire to hear from God above any fears you may have and sign-up in the hallway for a house group on your way out today.
And be a part of the BODY and start hearing more from God!
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE?
But let’s say you feel like God maybe is speaking to you through another person? Maybe in house groups….maybe in church…maybe even through the innocent thing your child said at home…
How do you REALLY know it’s God?
Well, first of all, nothing they say should ever contradict the Bible. If it does… it’s not God speaking.
But what if you don’t know the Bible very well yet?
Again, another reason to be a PART OF the body of Christ.
You could check w/ someone who does
This is one of the reasons are house groups are intergenerational. We really value younger people interacting w/ more seasoned and mature Christians.
Whenever we cover this topic, it’s worth mentioning that we all have to be aware of what people call “Spiritual abuse.”
Spiritual abuse is when people LIE and say “God told me that you need to ______”
Starting a sentence with God told me is always a dangerous way to start a sentence. You better be pretty sure. (God can certainly do that…but we must be sure).
It’s never a good idea to misrepresent the word of God.
Even in Jethro’s conversation with his son-in-law Moses, he says:
(Exodus 18:23) – NIV
23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
So even as He gives Godly advice, he encourages Moses…it’s gotta be from God too.
Don’t just trust my advice. Confirm it w/ God!
If God is truly speaking, you should begin to see an alignment…not just in what people are saying, but in what God is speaking to YOUR heart, and what He’s confirming in Scripture (which we’ll cover in the next 2 weeks).
Although there can be many voices, there is only one WILL of God.
And the theme of all 3 of the pathways God speaks to us, is that in order to hear them, we’ve gotta press into God. We, as the sheep, need to hang around the shepherd.
But thankfully, as followers of Christ, we know that we can draw near to Him.
We know that, Jesus, died on the cross for us….so we could have a relationship with Him.
And in that relationship, that He WANTS to speak to us….through his people…through his Word…and through our hearts.
What an amazing thing that this amazing God…WANTS to speak to us.
Let’s continue to worship Him.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.