|16th May, 1999|
Some people are very sure that God speaks to them. They are confident of God's guidance, and of learning His will in difficult situations. I have never heard God speaking to me in my ears, but I am very sure of God's guidance on an almost continual basis. How does God speak to us today?
When God speaks He chooses the place and the person. His methods of speaking to us vary, yet His voice is unmistakable. Moses, leading the Hebrews through the Sinai desert, came to Mt Sinai. There God spoke to Moses what was to become the basis of the Jewish nation and religion. In these last weeks we have discussed the Ten Commandments, the Ark of the Covenant, the Golden Calf and so on, and we have read that God spoke to Moses. Tonight's reading is a long dialogue between God and Moses, and God says: "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Many believers have found those words of God to be true. How is it that God speaks to us today?
We start with a negative: HOW GOD DOES NOT SPEAK TO US TODAY! God does not speak through good luck charms, lottery tickets, casino wins, occult practices, astrology, the stars, tarot cards, tea-leaves, charlatans or any other sham confidence trick. People who claim to speak from God through these means are frauds to be avoided and their practices are condemned in the Bible. Christians should take no part in them, not even for fun, or for interest. Fakes! Frauds! Now move to the affirmative: HOW GOD SPEAKS TO US TODAY.
1. GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH CREATION.
The testimony of the ages is that when people stop to meditate upon the beauty of nature God speaks to them. "O Lord, our Lord, thy greatness is seen in all the earth. When I look at the sky which you have made, at the moon and the stars which you have set in the their places, what is man that you think of Him, mere man that you care for Him?" Psalm 8:3-4 "The voice of the Lord is heard on the seas, the glorious God thunders, and His voice echoes over the ocean. The voice of the Lord is heard in all its might and majesty.... The voice of the Lord makes the lightning flash. His voice makes the desert shake... The Lord's voice shakes the oaks and strips the leaves from the trees, while everyone in His Temple shouts "Glory to God." Ps. 29: 3-9 "How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! How plainly it shows what He has done! Each day announces it to the following day; each night repeats it to the next. No words are used, no sound is heard; yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth." Ps 19:1-4
Hymn writers have caught the creation message:
"O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sins my soul, My Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!"
2. GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH COVENANTS.
Over the centuries, though His relationship with sensitive men and who have listened to His voice, God has spoken. As we sing:
"God has spoken by His prophets,
spoken His unchanging word;
Each from age to age proclaiming,
God the One, the righteous Lord.
God has spoken by Christ Jesus,
Christ the everlasting Son,
Brightness of the Father's glory,
With the Father ever one."
The Word God spoke through great men was often sealed with an agreement between mankind and God called a covenant. The Covenant through Noah established a promise by God never to destroy the people of earth by flood again. As a sign of this Covenant in the sky each time it rains, appears the rainbow. The Covenant through Abraham promised Abraham many descendents who would become the special people of God, the Jews. They would have to be true to His way, wear the sign of circumcision, and to worship only the Lord as God. If they did this God would give them their own land forever. The Covenant through Moses was confirmed at Mt Sinai, when God to Moses, called the people to listen to His voice, and gave them the Ten Commandments. They had to obey His laws and God would protect and save them. This Covenant is the centre of Israel's life and faith to this day. It be celebrated annually with a Passover Meal, and based upon the blood of a lamb shed for the people. Through the blood they were forgiven and redeemed.
The Covenant through Jesus was made on Mt Calvary, written not on tablets of stone but in the hearts of believers. They also stand beneath the shed blood on the mercy Seat of God, not of sacrificial animals, but of the Lamb of God. Believers are not required to be obedient to the Laws of the Old Testament, but to have faith in Christ who died for the forgiveness of their sins. They would receive forgiveness and eternal life and be part of the true family of God that consist, not just of Jews who have been circumcised, but of all believers who have been baptized. This covenant is remembered every time the bread and wine is shared at the Lord's Table. He said: "This is the New Covenant in my blood shed for many for the remission of sins." The Bible is the primary witness to God speaking to His people. That is why we call the Bible "The Word of God". It is the word of God speaking to us. The Bible reveals the word of God, contains the words of God, and the Bible is the Word of God. When we read it in church we say: "This is the Word of God."
3. GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH CHRIST.
Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God to humanity. "In the past, God spoke to our ancestors many times, and in many ways through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son." Heb 1:1-2 The hymn writer continued:
"And when I think of God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art!"
The Bible is the witness to God speaking through Christ. If you want to understand who Jesus is, what Jesus did, what He said, and how His life effects us, you must turn to the Bible and read it. The teachings of Jesus as recorded in the scriptures are the revealed word of God to us. The teachings are simple, poetical, practical, and show us how we were meant to live. They speak of relationships with each other and with God, of how we can fulfil our potential and live in harmony with the world about us. Those teachings are God's method of speaking to every generation. They are as fresh today, as they were the day they were spoken.
But it is not only what Jesus said that speaks to us from God, it also includes what Jesus did. How He accepted people, touched them, healed them, forgave them, served them, loved them, and died for them. His actions speak louder than His words of God's love. "For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life." Jn 3:16
4. GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH CONSCIENCE.
Conscience is the voice of your accumulated experiences, your early moral training, your teaching of ethical behaviour and social graces, and therefore the voice of conscience is most likely to be the voice of your mother! This is God speaking not with the voice of thunder, with the roaring of wind, the shaking of an earthquake, or the flashes of fire, but with the still small voice of calm! A conscience can be persistent, speaking in quiet moments, sometimes in the night, sometimes in dreams.
A conscience can be heightened, made more sensitive. A conscience can be seared by brutality. A conscience can be silenced. Like a bothersome Alarm in the morning telling you to get out of bed, a conscience is an alarm that alerts you to the consequences of anticipated behaviour, but like the morning alarm, you can silence it and ignore it. Paul said: "The Gentiles do not have the Law; but whenever they do by instinct what the Law commands, they are their own law, even though they do not have God's Law. Their conduct shows that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their consciences also shows that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them." Rom 2:14-15 When Paul was writing to Timothy, he reminded him: "Keep your faith and a clear conscience. Some men have not listened to their conscience and have made a ruin of their faith." 1 Tim. 1:19
5. GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH CHURCHES.
The Church is an imperfect church. That is why you can feel at home here! We are sinners on whom God has been working. With some He still has a lot of work to do! Yet God speaks through the Church to us:
Through the prayers of the church where words to God reach us. Through the prophecy of the church where a believer has insight. Through the people of the church who correct, guide or teach. Through the preaching of the church in expounding God's word. The Bible says: "God in His wisdom made it impossible for people to know Him by means of their own wisdom. Instead by means of the so-called foolish message that we preach, God decided to save those who believe."
God speaks to us. We must hear. When we hear, we must obey. One Old Testament story starts, "In those days when the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under the direction of Eli, there were very few messages from the Lord, and visions Him were quite rare." One night while asleep, the boy heard a voice calling him. He ran to Eli and said, "You called me?" Eli said, "I did not call you. Go back to bed." The Lord called Samuel again. The boy did not know it was the Lord because the Lord had not spoken to him before." He woke up Eli who sent him back to bed. Three times this happened. Eli realised it might have been the Lord and said to the boy, "Go back to bed and if He calls again say "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." This time he responded: "Master, speak, Thy servant heareth." 1 Samuel 3
A taxi driver who picked me up at mid-night outside 2GB told me that one Thursday night he was in despair. His marriage had broken up and his wife and children had left. In a small flat after work at 4am, he decided to blow his brains out with a shotgun. He loaded the gun, and took two cans of beer out of the fridge for a last drink. While he drank the cans he idly switched on the television, and by chance he saw the ealy morning repeat of my television program Turn 'Round Australia. I was saying: "It does not matter how deep the hole is that you are in or how dark the outlook, if you ask God to tackle your problems together, you will overcome them." That is all he heard or remembered. But that was the voice of God speaking to Him that night. He put away the gun. He went to sleep and has been strong ever since He asked God into his life to help him. May tonight you hear God speak!
Rev Dr Gordon Moyes
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