Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Eight Ways to Hear from God

Lesson 1 - Preaching

Recently, I preached a sermon called 8 ways to hear from God.  And I mentioned in that sermon that I would be building a Bible Study on that.  So here it is, this is the first part of that Bible Study:  Eight Ways to Hear From God. 

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

God in various ways spoke –

God speaks to us in various ways.  That phrase “various ways” simply means in different ways.  There isn’t jut one way.  It’s not ALWAYS a booming voice coming from heaven:

Mark 1:11 (NKJV) 
1:11 Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

It has happened that way, on more than one occasion, but it has never happened to me.  I’ve never heard that.  Paul did on the Damascus road.  The people at Jesus’ baptism did.  The disciples did at the mount of transfiguration.  As far as I know, it hasn’t happened like that recently.

But people still say things like God spoke to me.  Or I heard from God.  Or God called me.  God does still speak to His people, in VARIOUS ways.  So I thought about that.  In what ways does God speak to His people?  I came up with a list of Eight Ways that We Hear from God:

1.        Preaching
2.        The Bible
3.        Prayer
4.        Visions and Dreams
5.        Godly Counsel
6.        Relationships
7.        Fellowship
8.        Life

Here is the text for tonight’s study:

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NKJV) 
1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

So let’s start with tonight with preaching.  How many know that preaching is supposed to be Biblical.  It’s supposed to be based in the word of God.  A lot of preaching sounds like a self-help book.  There’s no confrontation of sin.  There’s no conviction.  It’s all about inspiring you to be a better you.  And that’s great as far as it goes, but it’s not really preaching, because preaching is about hearing from God. 

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NKJV) 
1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

We are sent out, not to speak eloquent words of our own wisdom but to preach the Gospel.  When we are speaking out of our own opinions or mindsets then we are giving that precedence over the Gospel.  That’s why it says “lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”  It’s not about our wisdom but the wisdom of God.  Sometimes our wisdom may seem more relevant to our times, but our wisdom is nothing in comparison to God’s:

Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV) 
55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.

You don’t come on Sundays to hear from me.  Really, think about it…I may be the one whose mouth is moving but hopefully the words are inspired of the Holy Spirit.  That word inspired means divinely breathed – Or breathed by God.  So it should be about what God is saying… That’s what the Gospel is, it’s the “Good News” of Jesus and redemption.  In fact that word Gospel means exactly that:  Good News. 

1 Corinthians 2:1 (NKJV) 
2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

So this is Paul and he’s saying, “It’s not about me, my wisdom or speaking talent.”  Preaching MUST be inspired by the word of God in order to be useful for us.  God speaks into our lives through the Biblical preaching of a man of God. 

1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NKJV) 
2:10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

So this tells us that it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us understanding of the “deep things of God.”  Do you remember from last week, what we called the Holy Spirit?  The Spirit of Truth:

John 16:13 (NKJV) 
16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

If we look once more at tonight’s study’s text, not the overall text, but the one for this study it says:

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NKJV) 
1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The power of God flows to us through the message.  In other words it comes through God speaking to us.  God speaks to us through HIS message.  This is one reason that I use a lot of scripture when I preach.  I want you to know these things are not my opinion, they come from the Word of God; the Bible.  It’s God’s opinion.

That message is translated for us by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV) 
2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Here’s the problem with hearing the word of God.  Sometimes, what God has to say will offend you.  A preacher has to understand that the MESSAGE is God’s not the preacher’s.  I remember at one time I would say things that made one of our translators nervous.  He just wouldn’t repeat what I said.  His excuse was, “I don’t want to offend.”  Well, it’s not coming from the translator, and if it’s a real message of God it’s not coming from the preacher, either.  It’s coming from God.  A preacher has to have boldness in order to preach God’s word:

2 Corinthians 3:12 (NKJV) 
3:12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech--

God wants to convict you.  God wants to shine a light on your sin, because God’s mean – No, because God wants to give you an opportunity to REPENT.  And I want to say something about that.  People should be coming to the altar in a church service.  If you’re hearing from God you shouldn’t always be comfortable with what you hear.  Preaching should make you examine your heart.  Preaching should DRIVE you to your knees, maybe not every time, but there should be times when you say, “Hey that’s what I’m doing.” If you’re always comfortable in church, then you’re probably not hearing from God.

Preaching is a sacred trust between the preacher and God.  This is for those of you who want to preach someday.  God trusts you with HIS message:

1 Timothy 6:20-21 (NKJV) 
6:20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-- 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

I hear these famous “celebrity” preachers, sometimes and that’s how I see their message as idle babblings, and worldly knowledge.  They’re afraid to confront sin.  One preacher, Joel Osteen, will not preach on sin.  He apparently doesn’t trust God to work in people.  If you read the Bible Jesus wasn’t afraid to offend.  Look:
Matthew 12:34 (NKJV) 
12:34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

You snakes!  Do you think someone might be offended to be called a snake?

Mark 8:33 (NKJV) 
8:33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Ouch.  How would you feel to be called Satan, just because you were worldly?  Finally:

Matthew 23:27 (NKJV) 
23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

Jesus says it like it is.  He’s not afraid to offend.  He’s not afraid to hurt people’s feelings.  So, people say, I want to hear from God…the question is what if God speaks to you like this.

Preaching is one of God’s ways to speak to His people.  But it takes faith, to think that sometimes what God is saying to you is something you don’t want to hear.  God is speaking to you to transform you:  to make you PERFECT (complete, whole) so that you’re prepared for Heaven.

Lesson 2 – The Bible

We are in part 2 of our Bible Study called 8 Ways to Hear from God.  Last week we looked at Preaching as a method that God uses to speak to us.  Tonight I want to move on to the next method, which is through the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word spoken directly to us.  So let’s start with the Study text:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight let’s look at the second method, the Bible.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) 
3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

One of the arguments that I have had with Atheists is that the Bible was written by men.  How can we call it the “Word of God,” when it was written by men?  This scripture tells us that the words written on the page were written by men INSPIRED by God.  I mentioned last week, in talking about Biblical preaching, that the word inspired mean divinely breathed.  Or that God “SPOKE” the words into the writers.  God put the words there.  These men weren’t writing on their own they were writing down what God spoke to them.  Think about this:

1.  The Bible was written by forty different men.  There are forty different authors of the Bible.  They wrote the Bible over a period of 1500 years.  The thing that’s interesting is that all of those authors over all those years essentially agree.  How often have you heard me use both Old and New Testament while preaching on one concept?  The Old Testament seems to be mostly stories that demonstrate New Testament Truths.  For example there’s this:  David has sinned.  He committed adultery with Bathsheba.  He’s killed her husband to cover it up.  God sends Nathan the Prophet to David to REBUKE him for this sin and to tell him that God was going to judge him:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 (NKJV) 
12:10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 Thus says the Lord: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "

David sinned; God judged.  But then David repents:

2 Samuel 12:13 (NKJV) 
12:13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

So David repented and God took away the threat of death.  In the New Testament the Bible tells us:

Romans 6:23 (NKJV) 
6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our wages are wha5t we deserve from what we’ve done.  At work we receive wages for the work we do.  That’s what we deserve.  The Bible tells us that what we deserve from our sin is death.  That’s what we have earned through sin.  But God gives us a gift and that gift is eternal life.  But we have to lose the sin to receive it. So how is that done?  Repentance:

Acts 2:38 (NKJV) 
2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

David repented and his life was spared by God.  We repent and our sin is removed and we no longer face the death that we deserve because of OUR sin.  The two concepts are the same.  The book of 2 Samuel was written in 540 BC.  The book of Acts was written in 90 AD, 630 years later.  God’s Word is consistent throughout the Bible.  God is saying the same things to us throughout the Bible.

2.  The Old Testament is full of the words of the Prophets.  Fifteen of the Bibles sixty-six books are Prophets.  12 minor prophets.  (These books are up to 14 chapters) and three Major Prophets (more than 14 chapters). 

The Bible uses the phrase “God said” or “Thus says the Lord” or something like that three thousand eight hundred times.

Isaiah 38:4 (NKJV) 
38:4 And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying,

Jeremiah 1:4 (NKJV) 
1:4 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

Ezekiel 1:3 (NKJV) 
1:3 the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.

This is God speaking to his people through the prophet’s words which were written for us in the BIBLE.

So is the Bible the written word of God?  It is.  It’s one of the primary ways that God speaks to us.  It is God’s words accurately relayed to us by faithful men, inspired by the Holy Spirit.  For what reason was it given to us?  Look at our text again for a moment:



2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) 
3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1.  God has given us the Bible to “thoroughly equip us for every good work.”  It’s so we can live according to what God wants for us.
James 1:21-22 (NKJV) 
1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

2.  The Bible will assist you in “save your soul.”  It is given to us that we will live it out.  We should do the things the Bible tells us.  It’s not enough to just read it.  Living it out is the key.  Memorize scriptures that can help you to stay saved.  Commit yourself to following God’s commands.  “I will do what God says is right.”

Hebrews 4:12 (NRSV) 
4:12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

3.  Have you ever wondered if the things you’re thinking and doing are the right things?  Maybe someone else is trying to influence you into certain behaviors.  The Bible will help you to know what’s right and what’s wrong.  What someone says to justify their behavior may sound like it’s logical, but the Word of God can help you to divide right thinking from wrong thinking. 



Ephesians 6:17 (NRSV) 
6:17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

4.  The word of God is like a sword.  A sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon.  You use a sword to attack and destroy an enemy.  Who is your enemy?  Satan, right?  The name Satan means adversary.  He’s against you.  He must be destroyed before He destroys you.  You can attack him with the word of God. 

Also, you can defend yourself against his attacks by ruminating on the word of God.  To ruminate means to bring up and chew over again.  Like Cows do.  They eat some grass and then they bring it up again and chew it over again.  That’s called chewing their cud.  We can do that by reading our Bible in the morning and then throughout the day, meditating on what we read.  This helps us to avoid temptations.  We can also bring up verses that help us to turn back temptation.

Let me show you how the Bible can help us:
Luke 4:1-4 (NKJV) 
4:1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' "

So here the devil tries to tempt Jesus to put His flesh before the things of God.  Jesus tells Him that IT IS WRITTEN – man doesn’t live by bread alone BUT by every WORD of GOD!  The Word of God is the key to LIFE.

Luke 4:5-8 (NKJV) 
4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "

Now, the devil tries to tempt Him with wealth and power.  You can have everything the world has to offer if you worship me.  You can be a king and not have to suffer.  It’s a shortcut to your kingdom.  Jesus answers “IT IS WRIITEN,” and quotes the scriptures to Him.

Luke 4:9-12 (NKJV) 
4:9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,' 11 "and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.' "

Now the devil tries to trick him by quoting scripture out of context.  He tries to get Him to sin through presumption.  I know what God will do.  That makes a situation where you are making your will God’s will.  But Jesus knows the written word of God and again uses it to defeat the temptation.  Then this happens:

Luke 4:13 (NKJV) 
4:13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.


The devil retreats from Him until He can catch Him off guard.  If you want protection from temptation and sin STUDY the Word of God.  read your Bible and memorize what God speaks to you.

God uses the Bible to speak to us; to protect us; to inform us; and to inspire us.  Next week we’ll look at How God speaks to us through Prayer.

Lesson 3 – Prayer

Tonight, we are going to be looking at Part 3 of our Bible Study “Eight Ways to Hear From God.”  We’ve already discussed how God speaks to us through Preaching and through the Bible.  Today we’re going to look at the third way God speaks to us, “Prayer.”  So, let’s begin by looking at the text for our overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight let’s look at the third method, PRAYER.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV) 
4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In our text God is inviting us to come “boldly” before the throne of grace.  The first thing I want to look at is that word grace.  The Greek word that is translated as boldly means with confident assurance.  In other words it means to come confident that God will hear you.  The verse means that we are invited to come before God knowing that He will receive us and respond to our needs.  We will find grace.  God will have grace on us and help us.

So God invites us to meet with Him.  Prayer is a time of communion with God.  It is a time when we are able to have an intimate fellowship with God.  Fellowship implies that there is a give and take with God.  We speak to God and He speaks back.

So, you might think God is the creator of all of the universe, “Why is He concerned about my needs?”  This scripture tells us that Jesus endured what we endure.  He is tempted like we are tempted so there is an empathy (He understands and sympathizes with) what we go through.  He endured the temptations, he understood our physical (carnal) needs, and He wants to be helpful. 

So because of these things we can come to Him confident that He will help us.  The Bible promises that if we pray God will answer us:

Isaiah 30:19 (NKJV) 
30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you.

If we pray and ask something of God, He WILL answer us.  He will be gracious to us when He hears our cry.

Isaiah 58:9 (NKJV) 
58:9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

He will SAY “Here I am”.  Finally, there’s this in the Book of Joel:

Joel 2:19 (NKJV) 
2:19 The Lord will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, And you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.

God will speak to His people and say…  So God speaks to us in prayer.  Listen to this event in the Bible:

David has become King over Israel.  The Philistines found out that David was King and they went to look for him.  They wanted to find him and kill him.  So David took his army and went out to meet them.  The Philistines went out to the Valley of Raphiam.  They made a raid.  They killed and stole in that place.  David is about to meet them for a battle.  Now look what happens:

1 Chronicles 14:10 (NKJV) 
14:10 And David inquired of God, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?" And the Lord said to him, "Go up, for I will deliver them into your hand."

David asked God a direct question and God answered Him!  Shall I go up against them?  Will you defeat them for us?  God SAID, “Go up I will deliver them to you.”  God SPOKE to him in prayer.

Then the Philistines made another raid in the valley and David had to make a decision to fight them again.  Look at what happens:

1 Chronicles 14:14-15 (NKJV) 
14:14 Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. 15 And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines."

So once again David asked God if he should attack.  God said “No, I have a plan for you.”  God spoke to Him and ADVISED Him how to proceed.  He answers prayer.  He guides us in prayer.  He meets with His people in prayer.  Do you want God to speak to you?  If you do then you need to make a HABIT of prayer.  David had a habit of praying. 

I want to kind of hit home with this.  People have a tendency to only pray when they need something.  Look at this:

There is a man who has a child.  The child has a demon.  It causes him to be mute and it throws him down (seizures).  The child is at risk because he may have a seizure that throws him into the fire or into the water.  So the father brings the child to the disciples for healing, but they can’t do it.  Then Jesus comes up and look at what happens:

Mark 9:25-27 (NKJV) 
9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Jesus came up and released the child from the demon.  He cast it out.  The disciples had tried to cast it out but couldn’t.  So, they asked Jesus, “How come we couldn’t cast it out?”  Look at His answer:

Mark 9:28-29 (NKJV) 
9:28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."

So “This kind comes out only by fasting and PRAYER.”  But Jesus didn’t stop what He was doing to pray and fast, did He?  He just cast it out.  The disciples couldn’t do that but Jesus could?  Why not?  Jesus prayed daily and fasted regularly.  Apparently, the disciples were less diligent, because He told them that.  If we really want to hear from God, or if we really want God to move in our circumstances or meet our needs, we need to pray and fast regularly; with discipline.

I pray everyday.  I come here to pray in the morning.  I announce prayer meeting for Saturdays at 9:30 every week.  (But I never see anyone at prayer but one person.)  I fast every Wednesday; I invite you to join me and fast one day:  Tuesday night to Wednesday AFTER Bible Study.  Get PRAYED UP, so you can have that kind of prayer power.  God doesn’t always answer right away, the first time you pray, so if you only ask when there’s a problem, you may not have God’s help at that moment:

Psalms 40:1 (NKJV) 
40:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.

I waited PATIENTLY for the Lord.  God didn’t answer right away.  God answered eventually.  He listened and answered but David had to be patient.  David didn’t stop praying.  Look at Daniel for a moment.  Daniel had a vision that he didn’t understand, so he asked God to show him what it meant:

Daniel 10:1-3 (NKJV) 
10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Daniel prayed that God would reveal the message of the vision.  He fasted, but He didn’t hear from, God right away.  So he continued to fast and pray for three weeks until he got the message.  We need to be patient and continue to pray UNTIL God answers.  He promises to answer prayer but He doesn’t say when.

I want to talk about one more thing.  Over and over in the Bible God says come to me with your problems and needs and I will answer you.  But does God only speak with words?  Have you ever heard the phrase, Actions SPEAK louder than words?  God’s speaking to us often takes the form of prayers being fulfilled or exceeded. 

Lastly, look at this:

2 Chronicles 7:12-15 (NKJV) 
7:12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

God tells Solomon, in answer to his prayer, “If the people humble themselves and pray, I will hear from them and heal their land.”  God spoke directly to Solomon with words, but He will speak to the people with His actions. 

He says, “My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”  God is responsive to the prayer made in the Temple.  Do you want God to be attentive to our prayers?  Then we need to come together and pray.  Come before service and pray.  It will help you.  I encourage everyone in ministry to be here to pray before church.  Come on Saturdays and pray with me.  Let’s bombard God with our prayers so that we can hear from Him.  Let’s be like a squeaky wheel.  The wheel that makes the noise gets the grease.  Lets make a noise that God can’t ignore and we will see God move for us.

Psalms 37:4 (NKJV) 
37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

The other night, on the way home from the coffee bar we were talking about the church and Ashley blurted out, “I love our church.”  She delights in what God does in our church and in us.  That’s what God’s looking for.  Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  These are the things that you really, really want.  If you delight in God He will delight in giving them to you.  How do we delight in Him.  We come to him praising and worshiping and praying.

Lesson 4 – Visions and Dreams

Today we will continue our Bible Study on Eight Ways to Hear from God.  We’ve already looked at Preaching, the Bible, an Prayer, so today we’re going to look at the fourth way that we hear from God – Visions and dreams.

Let’s start with our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight let’s look at the fourth method – Visions and Dreams.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Acts 2:17 (NKJV) 
2:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

This is Peter on the day of Pentecost and he’s quoting the words spoken by Joel the Prophet.  This scripture speaks of how the Holy Spirit will work in us.  You sons and daughters will prophesy – That is to speak under divine inspiration.  Speak words that God has put in us.  They may tell the future or they may speak a warning of what MAY happen if people don’t repent and change direction.  Jonah prophesied when he called the ninevites to repentance:

Jonah 3:4 (NKJV) 
3:4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"

But today, I’m more concerned with the next part of the text, “Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream, dreams.”

First, what is a vision?  What does it mean to see a vision?  That word translated as vision means an inspired appearance.  In other words, God shows you something that speaks to His plan, for humanity, or for your life.

Here’s an example:

Isaiah 6:1-5 (NKJV) 
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts."

This is Isaiah’s vision.  He’s seeing the throne room of God.  Above the throne of God stood the Seraphims.  This is interesting.  The word seraph means to burn.  Seraphim means “burning ones.”  These are the ones who are zealous in their worship of God.  Let me ask you, have you ever heard the phrase, “He’s on fire for God.”?  That’s similar to what these ones are – They are on fire in their worship of God.  It can be seen in the way they use their wings.  One set covers their eyes.     Hiding their eyes represents reverence.  They aren’t worthy to look at God’s face.  It’s like when God passed before Moses in Exodus 33:

God has called Moses up to the mountain.  While he’s up there, Moses asks to see God’s glory.  Look at God’s response:

Exodus 33:19-23 (NKJV) 
33:19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." 20 But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." 21 And the Lord said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."

In this vision, God tells Moses you cannot see my face.  The seraphim are the same they CANNOT look on the face of God.  So the wings covering their eyes speak of reverence for God.

Two wings cover their feet. This indicates humility.  They are humble before God.  The feet are considered to be inferior parts.  They speak of our limitations and unworthiness.  The reason we don’t walk around naked all the time is that we feel some parts are not to be seen by everyone.  So we keep them hidden.  This is what is signified by the seraphim hiding their feet.  Humility before God.

With two wings they fly.  These are the wings of service.  They use these wings to freely move about in their worship of God.  They are using their energy to serve God in worship.  Worship is what they are to do for God.  It’s their calling.  We are supposed to be in motion for God.  We are also to be ACTIVE in God’s service.  It’s also a form of worship. 

They cry out so loudly, that they shake the doorposts of heaven.  This is the zeal with which they worship.  Isaiah sees all of this and so “Whoa, I’m not measuring up to this.  I’m full of sin.  I’m unworthy.”  He sees his OWN SINFUL condition.

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NKJV) 
 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

Isaiah is a prophet he’s supposed to be the spokesman for God, but he can’t do that with unclean lips.  So, the seraphim takes the coal and cleanses his lips.  The fire removes the sin and he is able to speak for God.

God has SPOKEN to Isaiah.  He’s given him revelation of whom he is.  In the presence of God he recognizes that he isn’t worthy to be God’s spokesman.  He sees the depth of his own sin.   But then he sees the mercy of God in that the angel cleanses his lips and makes him useful for God’s purposes.  Even though we are imperfect God can use us.  Isaiah willingly, even eagerly answers God’s question – Who will go for us? 
So revelation can come through visions.  God speaks to us through visions.

Now let’s look at a dream.  Jacob is in the desert.  He’s on the way to his uncle’s home to find a wife.  He’s just ripped off his brother’s blessing.  He’s stolen his birthright.  Jacob is NOT a nice guy.  He’s a con man and a thief.  While he’s in the desert he has a dream:

Genesis 28:12-17 (NKJV) 
28:12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." 17 And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"

Jacob has a dream of a ladder descending to Heaven.  This is a connection a bridge between earth and heaven; between men and God.  Jesus makes a reference to this later:

John 1:51 (NKJV) 
1:51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jesus says that HE is the ladder.  He is the bridge between God and man. 

So Jacob has seen the future here.  God has spoken to him of the future.  This is a prophecy of Christ.  Jacob is blown away by this.  He suddenly recognizes the presence of God and it changes him:

Genesis 28:18-22 (NKJV) 
28:18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." 

He vows to honor God.  And he is a changed man.  We don’t ever hear of him being a thief or con man again.  He leaves this place different and becomes the namesake of the people of God.

God has spoken to him through this dream.  When God speaks to us it changes us.  It moves us.  Sometimes as we can see from these illustrations there is a symbolism that’s there.  We need to pray and meditate for the revelation.  Look at Daniel 10.   God has given him a vision that he doesn’t really understand:

Daniel 10:2-3 (NKJV) 
10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

He prayed and fasted for clarification.  God does use visions and dreams to speak to us.

Lesson 5 – Godly Counsel
God Speaks to us Through Godly Counsel

Today we will continue our Bible Study on Eight Ways to Hear from God.  We’ve already looked at Preaching, the Bible, and Prayer, so today we’re going to look at the fifth way that we hear from God – Godly Counsel.

Let’s start with our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words, God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight, let’s look at the fifth method – Godly Counsel.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV) 
11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

God uses men of God to speak truths to others.  Pastors can often bring correction and guidance to members of their congregation:  Through the use of scriptures; through the use of prayerful wisdom.  A pastor also often has spiritual discernment and can “rightly divide” the word of God. 

We like to think that we have it all together.  We like people to think that we can understand any set of circumstances.  We have great confidence in our own abilities, sometimes too much confidence.  But the truth is that we sometimes we allow ourselves to be too emotionally involved with a situation to clearly discern God’s will in something.  That’s where Godly counsel comes in. When we NEED to hear from God He sometimes uses someone else to speak for Him.  We need counsel:

Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV) 
12:1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) 
12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

Proverbs 17:10 (NKJV) 
17:10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.

Solomon is the wisest man who has ever lived.  God has given this wisdom:

2 Chronicles 1:7-12 (NKJV) 
1:10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?" 11 And God said to Solomon: "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life--but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king-- 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like."

So God gave wisdom to Solomon who passes it to us.  The entire Book of Proverbs is Godly counsel.  If we consider that to be true then we can see a need for Godly counsel.  What I’m really talking about here tonight though, is counsel from godly men and women.  People that we can go to and hear good biblical and godly advice. 

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) 
4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

So, God uses men to equip us for the work of the ministry.  That word translated as “equip” means to thoroughly furnish what is needed for ministry.  What is needed for ministry? 

For one thing we need to recognize God’s calling and will for our lives.  Is this thing I WANT to do really what God has called me to?  We may need someone else to tell us if we’re on the right track.  Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are usually men of God.  These are people whose lives are built around God’s will.  They pray, they hear from God.  They RECOGNIZE the sound of God’s voice.  God can use them to speak for them.  God places godly wisdom in godly men! He does that for us.

Proverbs 22:17-21 (NKJV) 
22:17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, 21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, That you may answer words of truth To those who send to you?

God says, “Listen to the words of the wise and apply your heart to MY knowledge.” (paraphrased)  If we listen to wise words we’re hearing the words of God.  Men can speak wisdom and counsel and it’s God’s words that are the ones who come through. 

Does one person have all the answers?  Not likely.  I know that I’m a person who prays.  I look for God to speak to me about a lot of issues in my life and others’ lives.  I can recognize the voice of God, because I’ve heard it.  Do I always have great and abounding understanding of every issue that people face?  Not by a long shot, I don’t.  But I do know that God will speak to me if I ask.  The Bible tells us to seek counsel from more that one person:

Proverbs 24:6 (NKJV) 
24:6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

People have talents and understandings.  Some people know and understand things that someone else may not grasp.  The Bible tells us that there is safety in a multitude of counselors.

Should we just go to anyone for advice, though?  Or should we carefully choose those who advise us?  Look at this:

Psalms 1:1 (NKJV) 
1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the ungodly.  That word blessed literally means HAPPY.  Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.  You don’t want to go to sinners for advice.  If you look at someone’s life you can see whether or not they’re living God’s Will for their lives.  How can we expect them to speak the things of God into our lives, when those things aren’t in their own.  As a sinner I went to my friends for advice sometimes and I heard a lot of strange things.  A lot of the advice I accepted and followed led to even worse situations.  But as I watched my pastor and saw that He was living God’s will for his own life, I knew that he knew and understood God’s will and could speak it into my life as well.

See the question that should be foremost on your mind when you ask for and receive advice is how does their life line up with what you know about the nature and character of God. 

God speaks to people through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the liaison between man and God.  He is the one who brings conviction.  He’s the one who acts as a conscience for us, and He is the one who guides us into the truth:

John 16:13 (NKJV) 
16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

He will guide you into truth.  Truth leads to discernment, because discernment is knowing the right thing from the wrong thing. 

Lesson 6 – Relationships

God Speaks to us Through Godly Counsel

Today we will continue our Bible Study on Eight Ways to Hear from God.  We’ve already looked at Preaching, the Bible, and Prayer, so today we’re going to look at the fifth way that we hear from God – Godly Counsel.

Let’s start with our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words, God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight, let’s look at the fifth method – Godly Counsel.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV) 
11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

God uses men of God to speak truths to others.  Pastors can often bring correction and guidance to members of their congregation:  Through the use of scriptures; through the use of prayerful wisdom.  A pastor also often has spiritual discernment and can “rightly divide” the word of God. 

We like to think that we have it all together.  We like people to think that we can understand any set of circumstances.  We have great confidence in our own abilities, sometimes too much confidence.  But the truth is that we sometimes we allow ourselves to be too emotionally involved with a situation to clearly discern God’s will in something.  That’s where Godly counsel comes in. When we NEED to hear from God He sometimes uses someone else to speak for Him.  We need counsel:

Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV) 
12:1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) 
12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

Proverbs 17:10 (NKJV) 
17:10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.

Solomon is the wisest man who has ever lived.  God has given this wisdom:

2 Chronicles 1:7-12 (NKJV) 
1:10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?" 11 And God said to Solomon: "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life--but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king-- 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like."

So God gave wisdom to Solomon who passes it to us.  The entire Book of Proverbs is Godly counsel.  If we consider that to be true then we can see a need for Godly counsel.  What I’m really talking about here tonight though, is counsel from godly men and women.  People that we can go to and hear good biblical and godly advice. 

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) 
4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

So, God uses men to equip us for the work of the ministry.  That word translated as “equip” means to thoroughly furnish what is needed for ministry.  What is needed for ministry? 

For one thing we need to recognize God’s calling and will for our lives.  Is this thing I WANT to do really what God has called me to?  We may need someone else to tell us if we’re on the right track.  Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are usually men of God.  These are people whose lives are built around God’s will.  They pray, they hear from God.  They RECOGNIZE the sound of God’s voice.  God can use them to speak for them.  God places godly wisdom in godly men! He does that for us.

Proverbs 22:17-21 (NKJV) 
22:17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, 21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, That you may answer words of truth To those who send to you?

God says, “Listen to the words of the wise and apply your heart to MY knowledge.” (paraphrased)  If we listen to wise words we’re hearing the words of God.  Men can speak wisdom and counsel and it’s God’s words that are the ones who come through. 

Does one person have all the answers?  Not likely.  I know that I’m a person who prays.  I look for God to speak to me about a lot of issues in my life and others’ lives.  I can recognize the voice of God, because I’ve heard it.  Do I always have great and abounding understanding of every issue that people face?  Not by a long shot, I don’t.  But I do know that God will speak to me if I ask.  The Bible tells us to seek counsel from more that one person:

Proverbs 24:6 (NKJV) 
24:6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

People have talents and understandings.  Some people know and understand things that someone else may not grasp.  The Bible tells us that there is safety in a multitude of counselors.

Should we just go to anyone for advice, though?  Or should we carefully choose those who advise us?  Look at this:

Psalms 1:1 (NKJV) 
1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the ungodly.  That word blessed literally means HAPPY.  Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.  You don’t want to go to sinners for advice.  If you look at someone’s life you can see whether or not they’re living God’s Will for their lives.  How can we expect them to speak the things of God into our lives, when those things aren’t in their own.  As a sinner I went to my friends for advice sometimes and I heard a lot of strange things.  A lot of the advice I accepted and followed led to even worse situations.  But as I watched my pastor and saw that He was living God’s will for his own life, I knew that he knew and understood God’s will and could speak it into my life as well.

See the question that should be foremost on your mind when you ask for and receive advice is how does their life line up with what you know about the nature and character of God. 

God speaks to people through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the liaison between man and God.  He is the one who brings conviction.  He’s the one who acts as a conscience for us, and He is the one who guides us into the truth:

John 16:13 (NKJV) 
16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

He will guide you into truth.  Truth leads to discernment, because discernment is knowing the right thing from the wrong thing. 


Lesson 7 – Fellowship

We have only 2 weeks left in this bible Study.  We have been studying Eight Ways to Hear from God.  Tonight we will continue that.    We have already looked at:  Preaching, the Bible, Prayer, Visions and Dreams, Godly Counsel, and Relationships.  Tonight we’ll look at the seventh way to hear from God – Fellowship.

Let’s start with our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words, God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight, let’s look at the seventh method – Fellowship.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Tonight’s Text:

Acts 2:1-3 (NKJV) 
2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

I think that the easiest way to understand this is to first look at what that word FELLOWSHIP means.  Fellowship means: a community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience.  The idea of fellowship really comes from that phrase “one accord.”  The Greek words that are translated as one accord mean “same passion.”  We are passionate about the same thing.  We are in agreement.  We are like-minded – We BELIEVE the same things and have the same GOALS:  That’s the way the church is supposed to be.  God moved in this moment on Pentecost as they were of “one accord.”  They were together in thought, and in action.  They were praying together for the same goals.

I think that’s what we lack sometimes.  I think that we aren’t all of one accord.  We don’t ALL have the same passion for people to get saved.  There is power in fellowship. 

John 20:19 (NKJV) 
20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."

After Jesus rose from the dead when He came to the disciples He came to them when they were together.  On the road to Emmaus He came to them when two were together:

Luke 24:13-15 (NKJV) 
24:13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.

While He was there with them, He spoke of many things.

Luke 24:25-27 (NKJV) 
24:25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

He talked to them about the Prophets.  He told them about the prophecies concerning Himself.  He talked about why He had to die.  Starting with the prophecies He explained to them whom He was.  He clearly REVEALED His purpose and all that would have to happen to Him.  He bought them revelation.

Luke 24:30-32 (NKJV) 
24:30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
Jesus brings revelation into a church where people are together and of the same mind.  This is one of the reasons we do Bible Study, to give us understanding and to put us into fellowship.  (like Passion)  there are people that have come from different sects of Christianity.  We have people that were Baptist before:  People who were Pentecostal before.  We had a young woman visit our church that was Anglican (The Church of England).  People come here from a lot of different beliefs.  The Bible Study tries to bring us all to the same thought and passion about Jesus.  If we’re of one accord we can hear from Jesus.

He came to them on the sea of Tiberius:

John 21:1-4 (NKJV) 
21:1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Peter has become discouraged; he’s given up.  So he goes back to his old life.  This comes after his betrayal of Jesus at the trial, when he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.  He’s in need of Jesus’ mercy.  The others have joined him, they are also discouraged.  Jesus appears to them as they’re fishing and He says to them:

John 21:5-6 (NKJV) 
21:5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

They didn’t at first recognize Him, so he brought them back to that first moment when he called them at the Sea of Galilee. 

Luke 5:4-8 (NKJV) 
5:4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"

This was the moment when Jesus said to him, “I will make you fishers of men.”  This is a moment of calling.  The same thing is happening in John 21:5-6.  It’ a moment of calling because look what happens next:

John 21:15-17 (NKJV) 
21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

Peter is being called to lead and build the local church.  It is more than that, though it is a moment of restoration.  Peter is being restored.  It isn’t in Jesus’ eyes that Peter needed restoration but in the eyes of Peter and the others. 

There’s one other interesting little item here.  Who knows what it is?  Why did Jesus ask Peter 3 times if he loved him?  Because He denied Jesus three times. 

He met with them to command them when they were together:

Acts 1:1-5 (NKJV) 
1:1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

Being assembled together with them, He commanded… we receive direction as a church when we’re in one accord.  Well, receive the same direction from God when they’re all together.  It seems like we’re hearing different things sometimes, because we’re not of one accord.  We’re hearing things separately. 

So when we are together Jesus meets with us and speaks to us.

1.        He brings revelation!
2.        He brings Restoration!
3.        He brings Calling!  And –
4.        He brings commandment!

This is what makes fellowship so important.  Once Jesus rose from the dead He never met with the disciples except when they were together.


Lesson 8 – Life Itself

This is the last week of our Bible study “Eight Ways to Hear from God.”      We have already looked at:  Preaching, the Bible, Prayer, Visions and Dreams, Godly Counsel, Relationships, and Fellowship.  Tonight we’ll look at the eighth way to hear from God – Life itself.

Let’s start with our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

So, in the Bible there are a number of times where God spoke to people through a booming voice that came from Heaven.  He spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son in whom I’m well-pleased.”  He spoke to the disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration.  He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road.  But our text here tells us that God spoke at various times in various ways.  In other words, God speaks to us in different ways.  I made a list of eight ways God speaks to us.  So tonight, let’s look at the seventh method – Fellowship.  Here’s the text for tonight’s study:

Job 36:15 (NKJV) 
36:15 He delivers the poor in their affliction, And opens their ears in oppression.

We all understand that life is NOT fair, right?  There are things that happen that cause pain and suffering.  No one is immune to suffering.  We all suffer and struggle through certain things.  Oftentimes when we are experiencing AFFLICTION we ask the question, “Where is God in all this?  Why am I left to suffer and God is allowing that?” 

Our text takes place after Job has been attacked by Satan.  You know the story:

Job 1:8-12 (NKJV) 
1:8 Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" So Satan answered the Lord and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" 12 And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

After this Job’s servants died, his donkeys were stolen were stolen, his sheep were burned, his camels stolen, and his children were killed.  This all happened in one day and the Bible says that “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  He never cursed God.  He didn’t complain about it all. 

Job 1:20-21 (NKJV) 
1:20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."

So the devil came to God once more:

Job 2:4-6 (NKJV) 
2:4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life."

Satan afflicted Job with boils from his head to his feet.  So job covered himself in ashes and scraped his skin with a pot shard.  He’d lost everything his wealth, his family and now his health.  He was in such a pitiable state that his friends didn’t recognize him.  He was beaten down by life.  He was affoictec and oppressed.  His friends came to speak with him and Elihu speaks our text to him:

Job 36:15 (NKJV) 
36:15 He delivers the poor in their affliction, And opens their ears in oppression.

According to Elihu in this verse it may be that God is trying to SPEAK to you through affliction and oppression.  That’s what it means when it says, “opens their ears in oppression.”

Let’s first look at that word oppression:  It comes from the Hebrew word that means “to press.”  It is also translated as afflict, crush, force, and hold fast.  According to the Mirriam-Webster English Dictionaries it means to crush or burden by abuse or power. 

Have you ever suffered from some affliction where you felt crushed by the “weight” of the problem?  Depression often feels like that.  You are too depressed to do anything but sleep.  It’s like a great exertion to do anything else:  Like a great weight is crushing you. 

The Bible tells us that it is in these times that God “opens our ears.”  He makes it possible for us to hear from Him.  You could even say that affliction and oppression is how God taps us on the shoulder.

I remember when the World Trade Center was attacked.  3,000 people were killed on that day.  The entire population of the United States was affected and the newspapers printed stories about how people returned to churches trying to find out, “where God was in all of that.”  God spoke during that.  People heard God remind them of His presence and went to churches looking for comfort from God.

Psalms 119:50 (NKJV) 
119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.

In the Book of 1st Kings chapter 18 the Bible reports that Elijah stood against the Prophets of Baal.  Elijah challenged them to call on their gods.  So they did and their gods did not answer.  Then Elijah set up an altar to God and placed an offering on it.  Then he poured water over the offering.  Finally, he called on God to ignite a fire and consume the burnt offering…and God did that.  But in doing that he made the queen Jezebel, angry:

1 Kings 19:2-4 (NKJV) 
19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

He has followed God and now the queen is after him to kill him.  He’s beaten down, he’s depressed and he feels alone.  Have you ever felt like that?  He’s in hiding in the wilderness:

1 Kings 19:9-10 (NKJV) 
19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

God says to Elijah, “why are you HIDING here?”  Elijah complains to God.  I’ve served you zealously.  The people have, turned their backs on your commands, torn your altars down, and killed all the prophets.  I’m all alone, now!

Then God says look at this.  He passes before him, shows him God’s power:  the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire.  Then He speaks with a small still voice and commands him:

1 Kings 19:15-17 (NKJV) 
19:15 Then the Lord said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.

He tells him to get back to it.  Go do these things, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Then He gives him a word of comfort:

1 Kings 19:18 (NKJV) 
19:18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

In the midst of turmoil and affliction God speaks to him.  In the midst of the struggles of life God meets him and comforts him.  God will speak to us in the things of life itself.  In times of blessing God speaks of His provision and care fpr us and in the struggles and turmoil of affliction God speaks comfort and of His power to deliver.  God speaks to us through life itself.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 
1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

God speaks to us in various times in different ways.  The real question in all of this is “Are you listening for God’s voice.”  God can shout from the rooftops but if you’[re not listening you’ll never know that.  In this study we have seen eight ways that God speak to us.  For Bible Scholars tonight, see if you can find in your Bible other way that God speaks.