Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I want to start this morning by telling you how I first got interested in God
I grew up not very interested in God. My family went to church a decent amount, but a pretty dead church that mostly just told you to be a good boy, etc. etc.
So I thought it was all pretty boring and irrelevant to my life
And thus, I didn’t care much about God the first 18 years of my life…and if anything was really bothered by people who did care about God
Well, by my senior year of high school, I had continued to grow further and further away from God, until maybe the most divine moment of my life happened.
It was a cold December night, and I was hanging out late at a friend’s house. I was going to stay the night, but I decided at 2am, that I’d rather just sleep in my own bed than on somebody’s couch, so I went home.
I got into my room, and was about to go to sleep, but for some reason, I just had this overpowering feeling that I should read the Bible.
I knew basically nothing about it. I had been given a Bible in 3rd grade by our church, and tried to read it from the beginning, but like most people, stopped when I got to the confusing parts of Leviticus…
Because I hadn’t read much of it at all, I just assumed the whole book was about sacrificing rams and crazy stuff like that.
But that night…at 2am…I just felt like…I was supposed to read it. Even though I was not into that God stuff
SO I opened up, to the red-letter parts in the book of Matthew, and started reading about Jesus.
And as I started reading that night…. I was blown away.
It wasn’t what I thought it was.
Jesus was really smart. Really smart. The words were powerful, and thought-provoking.
So every night, I would go to bed, and lock my door, because I didn’t want anyone coming in and seeing me reading the Bible for goodness sakes…
And I started reading through the New Testament.
And over a period of about 7 months, God started to soften my hardened heart.
And around June of that year…I finally gave my live to Christ and became a Christian.
And the main reason: Because God spoke to me through reading the Bible.
That this whole Jesus thing: It’s real. And that He gave his life for mine, and I owe him mine in return.
And here I am today. The guy who used to persecute Christians is now the pastor.
GOD ALREADY SPOKE AN ENTIRE BOOK FOR YOU
But how does that happen?
It happens because we believe that the Bible is what we call “The Word of God.”
(Hebrews 4:12) – NIV
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
When we read the Bible, it’s not just any other book. It’s not even just the best-seller of all time.
It’s a book that has the very words of God in them.
And when people read them…even if they are a non-believer like I was…the words have the power to penetrate our very hearts.
Because God speaks through His Bible.
We are finishing a series today called, “I Need a Sign.” And we’ve been talking about the 3 major ways that God often speaks.
Through People, Through Prayer/Thoughts, and today, Through the Bible.
And God can speak through the Bible…more than any other book, because the book itself is inspired by God:
(2 Timothy 3:16) - NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
So we believe that the entire Bible is Scripture…it is inspired by God, is God’s letter to humanity, and is with out error.
And when we say that, it’s not God hypnotized the writers of the Bible and wrote through them, but we believe he inspired them, and that all that they wrote is true….and, more importantly, from him.
And THUS….when you read the Bible…it is one of the major ways that God can speak to you!
And yet…as much as we desperately crave to hear from God…often we just leave the Bible untouched.
But what if we look at it this way:
What if I told you that I had a direct message from God for you (something He wanted to tell you), but I buried it at a ranch in South Dakota.
And let’s assume for a moment you believed this to be true. And not some wild goose chase.
Would you go get it? Would you go dig it up?
You bet you would.
If God had a direct message for you, you would want to know what it was!!
A plan! What does He want from you?!?
But here’s the deal: What if I could tell you that God already wrote you a message for your life?
And you can find this message in a book at your local Wal-Mart? And it’s called a Bible.
In our single-minded pursuit to hear a grand revelation from God, we forget that he already wrote us a book of instructions.
He already wrote you a love letter!
SO if you really want to hear from God in your life…You really want instructions from God on how to live your life..Let me start with the question: Have you read His instructions manual?
It’s kind of an odd deal, but so often we stand there waiting for God to give us direction and an assignment.
We say “Give me something to do God! Like a specific task for my calling. You know…something that really reflects my particular giftings! C’Mon, something specific and unique God! I’m getting bored in my faith”
But we’ve somehow forgotten or missed that He’s already given you more to do than you could ever imagine. And again…it’s in His manual.
For instance, He called you specifically, as his follower to be in Christian community.
He calls you, specifically, as one of his followers to reflect him with in you live your life. In how we treat other people. In the words we say. To give Him honor with the morality of our lives…say, like that 10 commandments:
Let’s start w/ tackling that.
He called you specifically as his follower, to share your faith w/ other people
And the reality is that most of us aren’t even doing the basics He asked of us in his manual, but YET, we’re alrady asking the boss to give us an ADVANCED assignment!!
“C’Mon God, something specific. What do you want me to do?!?”
But that’s like getting a job as a crane operator and asking to work on skyscrapers without ever even reading the manual!
If you want to hear God speak some amazing things into your life, be sure to faithful in the basic things first that He has ALREADY asked of you
(Luke 16:10) – NIV
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
There’s a related piece of this that we often miss when we’re looking for direction as well.
Let me give you an example.
Every year when we send people to Haiti, I inevitably have a number of people come up to me and say, “David, I really want to go to Haiti, but I’m just waiting to hear if God wants me to go.”
To which, I always respond, “Why don’t you change your prayers. Because God has already told you in his Word He wants you to do missions work.
Matthew 28: Make disciples of all nation
James 1:27 – Pure and faultless religion is to look after orphans…etc.
See, God’s ALREADY told you to do those things! What you should be praying is: “God, is there any reason in my life (family, etc. at this time) that you DON’T want me to go?”
Not, “Should I go?”
So again, when we look for direction in our lives, we have to look to his already written word!
HOW TO LISTEN FOR GOD IN SCRIPTURE
So when you want to hear God speak…The first thing we have to remember is that He already SPOKE!
And the more you know His word, the more you’ll ALREADY know what to do.
But there’s another way that God uses His Bible to speak to us.
Just like we said when we talk with other believers or when we pray….reading the Bible is like turning up our spiritual hearing aid.
Every time you open up the Bible, it’s like turning up the volume knob of God’s voice another 2 notches.
So sometimes, when we read the Bible…God can speak very specifically into our lives.
And just like it happens in prayer…this usually happens through our thoughts.
Like, have you ever been reading the Bible, when all of a sudden a passage finally makes sense to you?
That’s God! That’s the Holy Spirit revealing his truth.
A few nights ago, I read a passage that I had probably read 10 times before, and all of a sudden, it made sense to me.
God was revealing it to me…in His timing.
But when that happens THAT is God speaking to us.
Maybe you don’t think of it that way, but it is.
Maybe we don’t think of it that way because Christians tend to over dramatize when god speaks to them.
Often, it’s just the simple things.
I think it’s easy for us to forget that the Bible is meant for us to get to know God better and to help guide our lives.
It’s not just a book we read to grow in knowledge.
There isn’t a multiple-choice test after death.
We read, so we can learn about God and change our lives.
But some of us get stuck in “test mode.”
Or we get stuck in just “checking it off” our spiritual check-list every day
And sometimes that’s okay. You’re going to have dry spells, and you don’t want to stop just in the dry spells.
But…the Bible isn’t there just so you can check off that you read a chapter each day.
I’m a pretty rule-bound, type A person, so I get stuck in this sometimes.
I’m just reading my Bible to read it. And some days I barely even remember what I read…but I read my Bible!
But that’s not what God wants for us.
Yes…He wants us to learn more of his truth and plan…but He ALSO wants to encounter you while you read.
Remember…His word is LIVING and Active!
(Ephesians 6:17) – NIV
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
It’s the sword not just to our own hearts but helps us in Spiritual battle as well. It’s not just a book!
And my challenge to you this week, is #1, to get in the Bible every day this week. And #2 to pray this prayer before you start: “God, speak to me while I read your Word. Teach me what I need to do. Tell me what I need to know.”
If your readings getting kind of stale lately…(you’re just checking it off), I encourage you to let go of your check-list.
The past 6 months or so, when I read the Bible at night…I’ve been practicing what I call “slow-reading.”
I’m reading as if God’s going to speak to me. I’m looking at every word.
Like it truly is the INSPIRED word of God.
I’m stopping for a while to pray…if I need to. I’m re-reading the parts I don’t get. Sometimes 5 times.
And sometimes…I only read a paragraph.
Because that’s all I got through.
And (gasp) I didn’t get through my usual 1 chapter a night.
But I have to remind myself, the purpose is not a check-list, the purpose is to grow in my knowledge of God, encounter Him, and apply it to my life.
So if your Bible reading has gotten stale…I suggest slowing it down and tearing up the checklist.
Because God can speak so clearly through His word.
About 2 months ago, when Lindsey went into the hospital when she was only 27 weeks pregnant because she was starting to have a lot of contractions and they were afraid she was going to give premature birth…
God spoke to me that night in his word. I came home from the hospital at 2am that night…to get some sleep before I spoke here in the morning…and I opened up my Bible and started to read
And the 1st verse I opened up to was this:
(1 Peter 4:12) – NIV
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
And out of my immense stress, God reminded me, and spoke so clearly to my heart: “David, sufferings are a part of life here. “
Don’t be surprised. And then reminded me of another Scripture
(John 16:33) – NIV
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And God does that kind of stuff when we open up Scripture!
Does He do that every time? No. But he does it. Especially when we listen.
I do want to let you know that Lindsey is still at home on bed rest…and the babies are still in the womb.
Now 7 and half weeks later.
In fact, now we’re only a little over 2 weeks away from going as far as we can
In fact, it’s been one of the more clear answers to prayer that I’ve ever seen in my personal life, so I wanted to thank you the people of Renovation for praying for us! It means a lot.
You know, another reason to really learn the Bible….is that the Holy Spirit often loves to bring Scripture to our mind…to teach us something.
Kind of like I just referenced.
And again…the more you know…the more God can do this in your life.
But perhaps you’re thinking…”Okay…I want to try this…but where do I start?”
Out in the hallway we have two Bible reading plans you can start with
One is called the Bible Pyramid: It shows you the easiest, and most foundational books of the Bible to start with.
It’s a great guide because some of the first books of the Bible…near the beginning…are actually some of the hardest books to read.
The other is called 100 Chapters in 100 Days.
It gives you a 100-day overview of some of the most important chapters in the Bible.
Both of them are great plans to start with. I encourage you to stop by the table and take one home w/ you today.
And more importantly, if you don’t have the Bible, I want you to take the one under your chair today.
Seriously, that’s our gift to you.
So this week…when you open up your Bibles and ask God to speak…I pray He does.
But if you’re going to do this: There’s a few final things you have to keep in mind:
For one….be wary of the process in which you do this. Be wary of taking it into your own hands and demanding an answer on your TIMING.
Remember, just like how we talked the last few weeks, God is not a magic 8 ball.
He is a relational being.
Sometimes…people forget this when they ask God to speak through his Word.
Here’s a good example of this:
Sometimes, people take a Bible, flip through, point at random, and say, “Speak to me!”
That’s not a good plan.
You ever heard the story of the guy who opened up his Bible and said, “God speak to me!”
And he pointed to “Judas hung himself”
And he thought…I’ll try again
And then he pointed to “Go and do likewise”
When you do that…you miss the context.
And you’re just trying to fit God into your life rather than you into God’s life.
Pick a Bible reading plan.
I recommend to people that at minimum, if they’re going to skip around, read a book at a time:
Read Matthew, then skip to Genesis, then to Romans…but read whole books at a time or you miss context.
WE HAVE TO OBEY
We must also be wary of just hearing God speak to us and stopping at that.
Because…what if God does speak to you this week? Or He has already been speaking to you during this series?
Maybe through a person in your house group? Or during worship at church? Or at home through prayer or through Scripture?
If God’s speaking to YOU personally…he’s asking you to do something for him…He’s prompting you to confess a sin & change your life, or maybe it’s to do something great for him…or to share Him w/ a friend:
If, God Almighty Himself, has revealed something He wants for you to do……YOU….1 of 7 billion people on this planet…and He has something specifically for you:
The greatest error you could make would be to rejoice that you heard from God…and then not obey Him.
Even agreeing w/ God is not enough.
“Oh, wow God. How convicting you’re right.”
That’s not enough. We must obey.
(Matthew 21:28-31) – NIV
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
If God is speaking to you…it’s not enough to, like the 2nd son just say, “Wow! Great yes! I’ll do that!” - We have to obey!
(James 1:22-24) – NIV
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
And remember…God has both spoken to us personally, and already in his Word.
And what we do with the Word of God (both written down in the Bible and what was spoken to you personally)… verifies what we believe about God
It’s not what we say…it’s not how much we talk about it (oh, God told me this and that)…it’s what we do with it.
And when God speaks….and you obey…he will speak EVEN MORE into your life….because He knows you are a servant He can do great work with!
And if right now...in your life…you’re feeling convicted of disobedience…you know God has spoken clearly through the Bible…or God’s speaking something specific to you, and you haven’t obeyed…..
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
That’s not going to help either.
Jesus died for a bunch of disobedient failures like us.
Remember, despite all of our disobedience and failures…he still loves you.
He died on the cross to forgive all your sins…even when we blatantly disobey.
So decide this morning to start not just listening, but obeying.
And know that you’re coming back …not to an angry father…but to a loving father with his arms wide open.
Come back to Him knowing that He will love you and accept you…and speak tenderly to you again…as if you’ve never left.
That’s who Jesus is.
And we want to lead you to that gracious and merciful God this morning.
The one that wants to speak to YOU…right now…right here…whether you’ve never heard from Him in your life, if it’s been a really long time, or if it was yesterday.
He wants to speak to you.
In fact…we want to try listening to him through his Word this morning.
So here’s what we’re going to do:
Our worship band is going to come back on stage and lead us in worship…but as we get back into worship…I want to read a section of the Bible to you from one of Paul’s letters.
And in fact, I want you to read along with me.
Could every person in the room, bend over and pick up a Bible (I’ll give you a moment)
Turn to page 917
Here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to read a Scripture passage out loud…and as I read…I want you to listen for God in your thoughts.
We’ll pray that He’ll speak to us.
And as I read…if something jumps out to you…something strikes you…trust that God is prompting you
In fact, what I want you to do…whenever you feel God prompting you, I want you to stop reading or listening, and start praying about that.
Because if God wants to speak to you about that…than THAT is what you should be focusing on.
This is a good practice to do whenever you read Scripture.
So, I’m going to read through this passage and I want you to listen for the Holy Spirit.
It’ll be on the screen too if you need to see it better….
Then, if you want to keep reading the Bible while we worship…by all means keep reading.
And when we begin worship again…if you want to stand, stand… If you want to sit, sit. If you want to read, read.
We are passionate here about people encountering God, and not watching a show.
So I’m going to pray that God would speak to us, and then let’s read his Word:
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.