Taking God Off Mute
Pastor Vannae Savig– November 22, 2020
Last week Pastor Sam reminded us that the key to hearing from God is through a relationship with him. But oftentimes even unintentionally, we push the mute button on God and push back that relationship with Him. and push back that relationship with Him, because of our fears, insecurities, distrust, disbelief, and busyness. When I think about God being on mute, I imagine you’re watching your tv show, and you mute the commercials. But what if God is in the commercials of your life? Like we’re looking for God to speak in these huge parts of our lives, but fail to look in the simple moments, or fail to hear his still small voice sometimes. This week I have the honor of concluding our mini series on hearing from God.
To be honest when I started going to church, I thought Christians were pretty strange. I was really thrown off by some of the words in worship songs..LIke how we need Christ’s blood and want to be washed in it. Were Christians vampires? Then I got extra suspicious when people started talking about how they “heard from God”, or “felt God say..” I was really confused because why would the creator of the universe want anything to do with me? Let alone speak to me. It was revolutionary to learn that God wanted a relationship with humanity so much he gave his only son, but he also made ways to communicate with us.
And when I began to look at the Bible stories, God spoke to people in really HUGE ways. Like burning bushes, thunder, or through vivid dreams. And as I grew in my faith, I realized that it wasn’t just me who had these huge expectations of God speaking, but there were lots of believers who expected fireworks when God spoke.
(Slide 2) Let me ask you, what do you expect when God speaks? Do you expect something big and loud, or can God talk to you in a still small voice? Do you expect to hear God at all?
Let’s look at this story of Elijah the prophet. Elijah has really upset Jezebel, the queen, because he challenged her priests to a classic “whose God is better” challenge, Baal or Yaweh. Obviously, Yahweh won, and Elijah had the priests killed. So she swore to kill Elijah and he has to flee. Elijah hits a pretty low point in the wilderness (feeling guilt) , and asks for God to take his life. An angel comes and feeds Elijah. And once he’s feeling better, he goes into a cave to sleep. When awake, God asked Elijah what are you doing here? And Elijah tells him that people are trying to kill him. I know that was a lot, and if you haven’t read this story yet, you should. All of the O.T is like a telenovela and we are here for it. (Slide 3) But let’s focus now on this part of the story: in 1 Kings 19:11-13:
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God was in the gentle whisper. Not in the earthquake or the fire. When we are looking around for the fire and earthquakes, it’s the gentle whisper that can often be overlooked. The story of God revealing himself through a still small voice is a more tangible and relational way we can expect to connect with God.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t communicate in grandiose ways. God can speak to us in multiple ways, be it: dreams, visions, voices, through the Bible, and through extraordinary ways. However, I find that God talks in this still small voice, in our everyday lives. When you’re putting away your groceries, when you’re driving in your car, or when you’re taking a walk.
God doesn’t just speak to his prophets, or pastors. (Slide 4)God speaks to everyone. Yes, even you. I remember I was at a vineyard conference a few years back, and they opened up the ministry time by asking everyone in the audience, “who of you believe you hear from God.” I was shocked and saddened to see only ½ of the room raised their hands. I mean this room is full of leaders and pastors in the Vineyard. And they don’t believe they hear from God? Immediately, the speaker of the conference told all of us that we all hear from God. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Hearing God speak is for everyone. It doesn’t take a super special or righteous person to hear God speak. It takes a relationship with Christ. Pastor Sam described it like this last week, “If we want to hear the voice of God in our lives, it begins with knowing Jesus AND connecting with him. (SLIDE 5)We recognize the voice of the shepherd through time, practice, experience and knowledge.” In our relationship with Christ, it takes practice to recognize his voice. The more time you spend with him the easier it will be to recognize his voice. It makes me think of the time before caller id. I know some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. But imagine a time where your phone is in the kitchen, attached to the wall. It’s the only phone in your house, most likely. And you can’t see who is calling. It actually became quite a skill to learn and recognize your friend and family member’s voices. I could pick up the phone and as soon as I heard the first few words, I could identify who was calling. I could do this with the people I talked with the most. The people I spent most of my time with. So is the same with the voice of God.
I think prerequisites for hearing God speak is being opened to what might happen when he does. When God speaks everything can change. And even if you’re skeptical, that’s ok! Bring that God. Tell him you have doubts, but that if he speaks you’re willing to listen.
Ok so we know that sometimes we put God’s voice on mute and there can be things that have led us to do so. We know that if we want to hear God’s voice it doesn’t have to be fire coming out of heaven, like in the story with Elijah, we learned that God can speak in a still small voice. And we also know that in order to hear from God, you have to have a relationship with him, the more time you spend with Christ, the easier it will become to recognize his voice. The next natural question would be ,(SLIDE 6) how do we take the mute button off of God, and begin to hear his voice?
The answer is: finding the way the Holy Spirit speaks to you. But there are a variety of ways that God can speak to us, There isn’t a one size fits all way to connect and hear from God. God made us unique and therefore has different ways to speak to us that works for us and fits our personalities.
Here are some ways that the Holy Spirit can speak to us. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the most common ways people hear from God.
(SLIDE 7)The Nudge. Do you ever have that little nudge in your gut to do something? Or maybe to stop doing something? The Holy Spirit can do that for us. He can be guiding and leading us. A friend of mine was a landscaper for a university in Chicago. While he is using the weed wacker, he hears “a rock is going to hit you in the eye.” This didn’t make a whole lot of sense because my friend was wearing safety goggles and was using the weed wacker away from his face. So the chances of a rock flying up were pretty slim. He ignores this voice and continues with his job. All of a sudden, a rock shoots up and wedges itself up under his goggles and hits him in the eye! I’m sure we all have stories like this. The nudge can help us and the more we learn God’s voice the easier it will be to recognize and listen to.
(SLIDE 8)The Natural: God can also speak to us through nature. Coming from Colorado I know lots of people who felt closest to God when they were in nature. Seeing the beauty that God has created, the animals, the trees, the birds of the air, all the way down to the honeybee can make it even easier to hear God’s voice.
(SLIDE 10)The wisdom of others: I’m sure most of us have that one person who every time they open their mouths, say something that Yoda would say. It’s like God is speaking through them. Or if you’ve been in the Vineyard long enough, someone at some point may have said they had a prophetic word or a word of knowledge for you. God can use prayer warriors, wise people, and prophets to speak to you. God can also use your best friend, a co-worker, a stranger. Pay attention to how their words sit in your spirit, because it could be God speaking. And remember that what they say shouldn’t contradict God’s word, should be encouraging, and God should confirm it. Whenever I’ve had prophetic words for people, I always tell them, “if what I say doesn’t sit right with you, and God and people you trust don’t confirm it, there’s a trash can on your way out, feel free to toss it out.”
(SLIDE 11)Scripture- Reading the Bible is a great way to not only build a relationship with God, but also the pages can come to life and speak to you. There are so many times I read the scriptures and think “whoa! This was written for me!”
(SLIDE 12)Dreams and/or visions- Dreams and visions are some of the harder and yet coolest ways I think God can speak to us. I personally have had God speak to me in visions and dreams, and they can be hard to decide if they are from God, or just cause you ate some weird food the night before. I could preach just on this topic but for today, I will say, when in doubt ask Jesus. I write down most dreams that I have and the ones that stick with me. Then I ask God to tell me if that was from him and if he’s trying to show me something. I also ask people that I know are good at this kind of thing for help. And lastly, I feel like God has given me a dream language that took me a long time to figure out, and I’m still figuring things out. But there are symbols that repeat in my dreams, and I’m able to identify what some of those mean or represent. But overall, I pray and ask God for wisdom to help me understand what he’s showing me.
(SLIDE 13) Artistic expressions – God loves the arts. He loves dance, painting, drawing, and singing. He put this creativity into us. I believe that God can speak to us through them. I know that I feel God’s presence when I’m signing and worshiping. And I also know lots of people that see and hear God when they are being creative.
If you aren’t sure how God speaks to you, and the list I just gave didn’t necessarily highlight anything for you, I recommend reading, “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas. This is a great way to learn about the different ways to hear and connect with God, he also has a quiz you can take that I found helpful.
In that dark cave, Elijah was sitting alone feeling scared. Elijah unmuted God’s voice, and he heard him speak in a soft gentle whisper. God showed up just the way he needed him to.
If you’re feeling like you’re in a dark cave with the pandemic, political unrest, job loss, missing your family and friends, take God off of mute. Let him speak to you and comfort you in his still small voice.