Study Guide: Communicating with God, Part 2

Sunday March 30, 2003 | Greg Boyd

Brief Summary:

This week Greg concluded this two-part sermon by giving four more principles for communicating with God.

Extended Summary:

Last week Greg shared three principles for communicating with God. First, listen to what God has already said (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Second, seek and listen for God’s will (Jeremiah 29:13). Third, delight yourself in the Lord and follow your heart (Psalm 37:4). This week Greg concluded this two-part sermon by giving four more principles for communicating with God.

The fourth principle is to pay attention to the “gentle whisper” of God. In 1 Kings 19:11-12, God revealed himself to Elijah. However, God was not in the fierce wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, God was in the “gentle whisper.” Instead of looking for God only in the huge events of life, Greg encouraged us to realize that God leads us powerfully in the seemingly monotonous daily activities of life. The question is whether we are sensitive to his prompting. Often we believe the matrix of lies that says that everything we think is our own doing. We do not leave room for the possibility that God could be calling us to do something. For example, it could be something like calling a friend. We cannot explain it, but we feel led to call. When we do, we find out that they were in dire need of encouragement, or simply a listening ear, etc. This raises the question, “How do I know this prompting is from God and not just me?” Greg replied that he usually does not know for sure. It involves stepping out in faith, and taking a risk. This leads to the fifth principle.

If you sense a leading to do something, but you are unsure if it is what God wants, ask yourself, “What fruit will this act manifest?” Will the fruit of the Spirit mark these actions (Galatians 5:22-23, 25)? This should characterize all actions prompted by the Spirit. Greg shared that when he senses a prompting, he asks himself, “If I’m wrong about the Spirit’s leading, what consequences will result?” If the result lacks demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit, then it is not something he will do. However, if the consequence will manifest the fruit of the Spirit what does he have to lose? At the very least, his actions will simply be an encouraging gesture.

The sixth principle is to be aware of possible dreams and pictures that the Spirit might inspire (see Acts 16:9, 18:9). Similar to the “gentle whisper,” our cultural matrix states that such dreams and vision are impossible because everything in our mind is from our mind. “That’s just your imagination,” goes the saying. Instead, we need to acknowledge that God can and does inspire our imagination. For example, four years ago one of Woodland Hills’ pastors had a vision of the church as a bridge. The imagery signified Woodland as a connection between entities that typically are separate (i.e. city/suburb, racial groups, and socio-economic levels). Not all the specifics regarding the meaning of the vision were there at the beginning, but as the church leadership prayed for God’s guidance, God revealed more details. In fact, the objectives of the “Growing in the Spirit” campaign further illuminate the vision’s meaning.

The seventh and final principle involves listening to the counsel of community. In Acts 15, there was a huge discussion regarding the requirements of Gentiles in the early church. The leaders came together to discuss, debate, and make a decision (see Acts 15:28). Furthermore, Proverbs 15:22 states, “Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” Greg encouraged us to seek counsel from those we trust when we face major decisions. Their participation can help us to discern God’s leading.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is the significance of a “kairos” moment according to Greg?
  2. What attitude/practice did Greg say can help to awaken a person to the prompting of God?
  3. Greg stated that dreams and visions can sometimes be misused within churches and toward individuals. What did he suggest could be a helpful way to ensure against this happening?