Introduction: We continue our series, Experiencing God.
- Today’s message is entitled, God Speaks.
- Theme verse: Job 33:14 (NCV)—God does speak—sometimes one way and sometimes another—even though people may not understand it.
- APP.: Do you believe that is true?
- Reality 4 is our focus: God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
- In the Bible, God spoke through angels, visions, dreams, Urim and Thummim, through prophets (Hebrews 1:1-2), fire, trumpets, fleece, casting lots, symbols from life and nature, a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12), audible voices, miraculous signs and a burning bush, and many other times when the way He spoke isn’t identified.
- The fact that God speaks is far more important than how He speaks.
- God communicates to each of us individually, personally, even uniquely, because He wants us to focus on our relationship with Him, not on the method by He uses.
- When God speaks, you’ll know it’s God; you’ll comprehend what He’s saying and you’ll understand what He wants you to do—and that is an encounter with God!
God Speaks by the Holy Spirit... (Isaiah 55:8; John 14:17,26; 16:13;
1 Corinthians 2:10-12)
- After Jesus returned to heaven (Ascension), the book of Acts records that God sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost; and from that time to the present, God has been speaking to His people by the Spirit.
- [Screen] John 16:13 (NLT)[P868]—When the Spirit of truth comes [Pentecost], He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard. (John 14:17: leads into all truth)
- The Holy Spirit communicates truth to us from God, the Father—which is an experience with God.
- The Holy Spirit comes into us when we are born again; in fact, He is the One who regenerates us (John 14:17;1 Corinthians 6:19-20)—and He never leaves!
- Since the Holy Spirit is always present within you, God can speak to you clearly at any time He chooses—and the Spirit will do whatever is necessary to make sure that you receive God’s message!
- God’s message does not mainly consist of an assignment; more importantly, the Spirit is revealing God’s nature, His purposes and His ways, because He wants us to have an intimate awareness of God, to develop a real love relationship with Him!
- God is not human; His thoughts and ways are not like ours (Isaiah 55:8), so we make a mistake if we assume that God views life and makes decisions like we do.
- EX.: Believing “God wants me to be happy,” as justification for selfish behaviors or “God is for every kind of love,” as rationalization for immoral activities are dangerous things to do.
- We must ask God what He wants us to do and obey His instructions.
- Reality 4 lists several primary ways God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.
God Speaks by the Holy Spirit...
#1 - Through the Bible. (John 8:47; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
- [Screen] 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NLT)[P961]—16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.
- The Bible was written by men who were guided by God; it’s a supernatural book!
- [Screen] 2 Peter 1:20–21 (NLT)[P982]—20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. [NCV: what a person wanted to say] No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.
- The Holy Spirit guided what was written and what was included in the Bible.
- Because they are spiritually-written books, Bibles must be understood spiritually.
- [Screen] 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT)—But people who aren’t spiritual [or who don’t have the Spirit; or who have only physical life] can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
- APP.: Have you ever read a verse, one you have read or heard many times, and it suddenly, it seemed to leap off of the page and address your particular situation?
- That’s the Holy Spirit applying God’s Word (the Bible) to your situation through a supernatural experience—an encounter with God—which changes you!
- You can read the Bible and gain wise, true, information which will provide guidance, but that is different from an experience with the Spirit which changes the way you think, what you believe, and therefore, how you live!
- APP.: Have you experienced an encounter with the Holy Spirit as you read God’s Word?
God Speaks by the Holy Spirit...
#2 - Through Prayer. (John 10:2-4; Romans 8:26-27; Philippians 4:6-7; James 1:5)
- [Screen] James 1:5 (NLT)[P974]—If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
- This verse establishes that prayer is two-way communication: speaking to God and listening to His reply.
- You may believe God speaks, but can’t always know when it is Him talking.
- We can learn to recognize the voice of God when He speaks to us. [Isaiah 30:21]
- John 10:2–4 (NLT) tells us that “the sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice [v.3] and they follow him because they know his voice.” [v.4]
- EX.: We know the voices of people who are close to us by hearing them speak.
- We can become familiar with the voice of God as we seek to know Him, not just to know His will, which prevents us from relying on some formula or process.
- God’s voice has a certain quality—a tone that conveys weight or force of calm authority; He doesn’t argue or try to convince, as our subconscious voice does.
- God’s voice possesses a certain spirit of peacefulness, confidence, joy, reasonableness and goodness (James 3:17).
- The content of God’s voice will always be consistent with His nature, purposes and concerns, and will never contradict anything He has expressed in the Scriptures.
- When we don’t know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us.
- [Screen] Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)[P909]— 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
- As we pray, the Holy Spirit works within us, conforming our thinking to God, transforming our lives so that we know God, and therefore understand what He wants from us! (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:6-7)
- APP: Do you recognize God’s voice when He speaks?
God Speaks by the Holy Spirit...
#3 - Through Circumstances. (Exodus 5:1-6:13; Acts 15:13-15; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:12–14 )
- Sometimes God gives us direction through what occurs around us.
- Paul wrote at [screen] 1 Corinthians 16:9 (NLT)[P928]—There is a wide-open door for a great work here [Ephesus], although many oppose me.
- Paul saw a great opportunity though he faced conflict and resistance, which many of us would have interpreted as time to leave town but not Paul, why?
- Many of us think that difficult circumstances or negative responses indicate that we have missed God’s will, but that is not necessarily so.
- We must always go back to what God has said instead of being guided by situations.
- Look at what else Paul had written: [Screen] 1 Corinthians 16:7–8 (NLT)[P928]—7 …I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. 8 In the meantime, I will be staying here at Ephesus until the Festival of Pentecost.
- Paul received his direction from God, not the warmth of his reception in Ephesus.
- Likewise, Moses encountered refusal when he asked Pharaoh to release the Israelites, so he returned to God complaining, but God kept sending him back to Pharaoh and kept telling him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 5:1-6:13)
- God may intend for the troubles we encounter to test our faith, develop our endurance and teach us greater reliance on Him. (James 1:2-8)
- To avoid abandoning God’s assignment due to difficulties, we must know what He wants us to do by the Spirit speaking through the Bible, prayer and the church.
God Speaks by the Holy Spirit...
#4 - Through the Church. (Ephesians 4:11–13; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 12:7–11;
1 Thessalonians 2:13)
- God uses the church community of Christians to speak to us.
- Sometimes this is through a message delivered in a Sunday service or teaching delivered in a Bible study.
- [Screen] 1Thessalonians 2:13 (NLT)[P953]—Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received His message from us [TLB: preached to you], you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
- Sometimes the Holy Spirit guides my words to address a situation which He is dealing with in an individual (1 Corinthians 2:13); other times, the Spirit communicates a personal message to someone that is completely different from what I am saying.
- Many of the most helpful things I’ve ever said in a message weren’t said by me.
- They were spoken by the Holy Spirit, who knew the needs of the hearers.
- God speaks, not just through pastors, but through any person who possesses the Spirit and is willing to be used by God, utilizing gifts received from the Spirit, in public Bible studies and private conversations to encourage unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son. (Ephesians 4:11-13; also 1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
- God speaks through Christians who are willing to communicate with others what they have learned from the Holy Spirit about God, His purposes and His ways through the Bible, prayer and circumstances—and this can occur in a Bible study, small group or through a conversation with another Christian.
- When God’s Spirit is speaking, the Bible, personal prayer, circumstances and members of the church body should all agree.
- APP.: Are you speaking for God, led by the Spirit, to benefit the body of Christ?