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Tuning In

• David Morrow

God is still speaking, offering an invitation to dialogue with him. However, this dialogue will be as unique as you as an individual are. The question for us is whether not we will take up this challenge and learn how to listen, or if we will simply go with the status quo.

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God is not done speaking. This is the core message of the sermon provided by David this weekend. He asks, “How do I hear?” so that we might enter into the reality that God is speaking to us in a personal way. How anyone hears in a personal way will be unique to that person, and therefore there are a few layers to each person that we must navigate in order to better hear God’s voice. The first layer is that of one’s individual, unique personality. Then there is our family or origin and things like our culture. When we combine all of these together, we can better understand that God speaks to each person uniquely. There is not one uniform standard way that God speaks to all people.

The challenge we face in hearing God today is the reality of the noise saturation that we experience in our culture. We are overwhelmed with sounds that fill our minds and hinder us from hearing God’s voice.

In order to capture an imagination about how we might hear God today, David walks us through the story of Samuel when as a boy hear first heard God’s voice. This is found in 1 Samuel 3. When God’s spoke to him, we are told that the word of the Lord was rare, meaning that few actually heard God’s voice. Many today share this experience of the rarity of God’s voice. But it was actually in the midst of this reality that God speaks.

Samuel hears God speak to him three times, but each time Samuel ran to the priest Eli. After the third time, Eli told him that God was calling out to him. This was a reversal of order, where Eli was going blind—both physically and spiritually—God was speaking to a young man without position or stature. And God did so in a personal way.

This sets the stage for us to better understand how God speaks to us in a personal way. David shares five different ways that one can hear from God, as there is no one-size-fits-all pattern. These are:

  1. The Imagination: this has been re-introduced by Greg in a previous sermon in this series. Some hear God clearly in this way, but others struggle with it.
  2. The use of worship music and the arts. God sparks our imagination as we listen to music or mediate on artistic works.
  3. Breath prayer. This is where we pray a short few words as we breathe in and then another few words as we breathe out. While we are doing this, we are opening up ourselves to hearing God’s voice.
  4. Extended periods of silence and solitude.
  5. Diving into the Word of God. The Scripture serves as the beginning of the conversation with God, where God can continue his message to us through what God has done in a particular passage.

David concluded with some challenging questions that offer a way forward into hearing the voice of God. They are:

  • How much noise do you voluntary subject yourself to?
  • Does your schedule reflect that of a person who actually wants to hear the voice of God?
  • Do you believe that God’s voice is more interesting that those around you?

The challenge for each of us is to embrace the process of learning how each of us hears God in the unique way that God is specifically communicate to each person.

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Topics: Holy Spirit, Imagination, Prayer

Sermon Series: Listen Up

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-4

    The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
    One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lordcalled Samuel.
    Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
    But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
    Again the Lordcalled, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
    “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
    Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lordhad not yet been revealed to him.
    A third time the Lordcalled, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
    Then Eli realized that the Lordwas calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
    The Lordcame and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
    Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
    And the Lordsaid to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ”
    Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
    Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
    “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
    The Lordwas with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lordcontinued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

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3 thoughts on “Tuning In

  1. Tim says:

    Thank you! This was very helpful. It is hard to break from the “Western” mindset and see God active in day to day life!

  2. Kathy says:

    Not only are there qualifications the world sets for becoming president, there are qualifications the church sets in which the Word of God can be delivered and heard.

    To be delivered, one may need a masters degree in theology, or some form of training like going to Seminary. The way we shape how the Word of God is delivered or decipher what the Word of God says, one must be qualified to do so. There are those on stage who deliver the message, while the rest of the congregation is to sit and listen and be fed the Word of God.

    I am not saying that this isn’t necessary or appropriate, or that studying the Word of God as one with a master’s degree in theology does isn’t a good thing, we all benefit from it greatly. It seems to be how we have shaped delivering God’s Word when it comes to those called with the gift of teaching or pastoring a flock, but is it the best way?

    I am only saying that we can overlook someone who may have a profound message from God that isn’t heard. I think prophetic messages particularly can be missed because the messenger doesn’t have a way to deliver the message, and the church doesn’t necessarily recognize the messenger if they don’t have a degree or formally studied the Word of God. We are all the body of Christ, so God may have something to say through any of us. Also, the way brick and mortar church assumes authority to deliver the Word of God through the pulpit can also make people afraid to say anything even though they feel this urgency from God to do so; they may doubt themselves, they may think “who am I that the Lord would use me, I have no formal training to speak into that?” Plus there isn’t a good way to deliver a prophetic message as it may be happening in the middle of a sermon the way church is set up. It just seems we stifle the Spirit, we expect the Spirit to act around the particular way we have developed to gather to hear the Word of God. It seems we set some gifts of the Spirit apart as more important, like teaching or pastoring; or that the gifts we each have been given are not exercised like they could be the way we have set up the brick and mortar church.

    I hope that those reading this get the drift. It isn’t a criticism of anyone in particular at WHC, just something that I think happens in our church culture everywhere.

    I have always wondered how much more we might make disciples of men if church were treated more like an AA meeting, where everyone gets to speak about the topic, everyone is heard, everyone’s voice matters, we are all equals, we all learn from one another, we all get to act out being a part of the body of Christ within the particular church family in which we belong. Or maybe some form of the pulpit as we now know it combined with a round circle meeting. Maybe doing so would make the members of the body more dedicated to being church in all areas of their lives.

  3. Kathy says:

    Also, excellent message, thank you, David!

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