Frequency Week 4 . Sleep

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There’s a secret ingredient when it comes to tuning into our Guide. Something you do every day, but if you miss the power of it, it’s going to be harder to hear your Guide.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Today we are talking about sleep, more specifically, why we should view sleep as a spiritual discipline. When you hear, “spiritual discipline” most of us think of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, going to church and so on. Often what happens, is people don’t do those things because they think they don’t have enough time.

The reason we don’t pray or read the Bible, is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that when we do have the time, we don’t have enough energy.

Reading the Bible, praying and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life is hard. If you’re not well rested, if you’re tired, you can’t even do it. You can’t have a serious conversation or read challenging material while you’re tired.

You simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of ways you can live on a sleep deficit. You can live a successful career life on a sleep deficit or a life of accomplishment on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of activities you can do on a sleep deficit. You can watch TV, check email and check things off your to-do list when you’re tired. Connecting with God is one thing you can’t do when you are tired.

God wants us to follow Him. God wants to meet with us, and we can’t stay awake.

There’s a chance to make real spiritual progress, but we’re too tired, so we do a lower activity, a less important activity.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

The Psalmist uses the word “vain” three times. Why is this lifestyle of getting up early and staying up late and getting as little sleep as you can, vain according to the psalmist?

There are things in our lives, in this broken world that fight against sleep, like kids, school, jobs, health problems or physical pain.

The psalmist here, is talking about a mindset that says, “I’m going to disregard sleep, I’m not going to value it, I’m not going to recognize it as a gift from God and I’m going to try and get by on as little as possible.”


Why is Trying to Sleep as Little as Possible, Vain?

1. All the big stuff is out of your control.

God is in control of all the big stuff. That’s what He means when He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s in vain.” 

You can work as hard as you want, but at the end of the day if God doesn’t want the house to stand, it’s not going to stand.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

The mindset of the person who tries to get as little sleep as possible is, “It all depends on me.”

We start to believe that it’s all up to us. That if we don’t keep working harder and harder every day and every week, we are going to fall behind and are not going to have enough. All of the big stuff is out of your control anyway.

If God wants it there, it’ll be there. If God doesn’t want it, it won’t be there. That’s the first reason why it is vain and pointless, to sleep as little as possible.

2. Even if you are successful, you’ll be eating the bread of anxious toil.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil…” Psalm 127:2 ESV

The bread of anxious toil doesn’t taste very good. This is the human problem. We accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We live in the neighborhood we wanted to live in, we build the house we want to live in, the perfect job that fulfills all our passions and somehow it doesn’t feel the way we thought it would feel.

It doesn’t matter if you get everything you want if you’re so anxious and tired all the time that you can’t enjoy it.

If you have this attitude of, “It all depends on me,” who cares if you reach all your goals, because you will just be eating the bread of anxious toil.

3. It’s massively counterproductive.

Productivity is not the number of things you get done. Productivity is doing the right things.

When you are tired, you won’t know what to say no to. You won’t have the right perspective. When you’re tired you have no self-disciplines and your emotions are out of control. It takes rest to decide what the right things are and you can’t do those things when you’re tired.

So many people experience relapse because they were so tired of the fight. It’s hard to fight against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, food, affairs and all those things, when you’re tired. Instead of moving forward, we relapse and do things that reverse our progress.

We’re talking about vanity, and the sense of it being pointless. The other meaning of the word vain is concerned with appearances, pride. That applies here too. We brag about the little sleep we get like we’re stronger than others and the Bible says that’s just vanity.

You can brag about it all you want and tell yourself you’re getting more done, but it’s vanity.


How to Sleep More and Better

More and more people’s sleep is being aided by some type of pill or some other form of sleep inducement. There are all sorts of articles online and in magazines with practical tips on how to sleep more and better. Things like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, room temperature, make sure to work hard during the day so you’re actually tired at night.

All of that can help, but today, let’s focus on the spiritual side of getting more sleep, getting better sleep.

  • Release control.

Why did God invent sleep in the first place?

Sleep reinforces the difference between us and God.

The core of all sin is believing that we are God. When we release control, we are recognizing we are not God.

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121:3b-4 NIV

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God doesn’t need to sleep and we do.

Sleep is a constant reminder that I am not God and I am not in control.

We’re not in control of other people or what happens in the world. Every 24 hours no matter who you are, we have to become like a little baby. Blind, weak, helpless, vulnerable. It’s humiliating if you fight it. It’s humbling if you embrace it. If you embrace sleep, instead of fighting it, it becomes an act of surrender.

Sleep is an act of worship.

We fight for control of our lives all day long. We fight to control the people around us and their decisions and sleep is this act of surrender and this act of worship. Many people would love to sleep more and better, but they can’t because their mind continues to race, because they haven’t trusted God with their lives.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Peace comes from trust in God.

In the Bible, there’s this time when Jesus is sleeping during a giant storm. How? Because He trusts His Father. How can we release control and trust in God?

When you google, “practical ways to fall asleep” you are going to hear in multiple places, meditate. These sources couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

How to release control: Consciously Meditate

Most of the time what the magazines and self helpers are talking about is the Buddhist or eastern religious practice, where you sit and focus on your breath. You won’t be able to focus on your breath for 20 minutes, but every time something pops into your mind other than your breath, you release it and focus on your breath again, and it works.

It’s not only an ancient Buddhist practice, it’s an ancient Christian practice as well. But the word mediation has been absolutely highjacked. The enemy can’t create anything so he distorts what God has created.

The Christian practice of meditation is a lot better, because focus on something more than your breathing. You focus on God. There are different versions of this. You can focus on a name of God, like the name Father or Provider, you pray a short prayer over and over again. One of the oldest ones is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

But again, you’re not going to be able to. You can’t even do it for 10 seconds. Other thoughts will rush in. We think that’s a bad thing, that those thoughts are the enemy. This is the breakdown in our perspective of Christian prayer and meditation. We don’t think we can rest, because we get so distracted.

Distractions aren’t the enemy, they’re the point.

When you pray, what distracts you? What other thoughts are coming in? Take those distractions and now you know what to pray about. Don’t just pray about the things you are conscious of, pray about the things that are decieving you.

Paul, a New Testament writer, told us to put on truth first, because we get deceived. So we sit there and think and distractions come pouring in…those are the things we release to God.

Don’t start worrying about it or figuring out what to do with this problem, just say, “God this is yours to deal with, I release control to you and I can’t do anything about it.”

If you do that, your sleep quality will begin to change.

  • Remember the resurrection.

One of the things about sleep is this connection it has to death. There’s an African proverb that says, “Sleep is the friend of death.”

Schopenhauer said, “Every day is a mini life. Every time you wake up it’s a mini birth, and every time you go to sleep it’s like death.”

There’s this sense in which sleep is great practice for death, because the same God you have to trust to watch over you as you sleep, is the same God you’ll have to trust in the end when you die.

The connection between sleep and death, is that there is one thing that will keep you awake at night. It’s wondering if your soul is in danger.

Remember this childhood prayer? Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

It’s a very dark prayer, but parents felt like this is where it’s at. This is the essence of peace. The essence of being able to sleep soundly is trusting God with your soul.

How do you get to the point where you trust God with your soul and not fear death?

The way the Christian is able to not fear death is by realizing that death is nothing more than sleep.

Jesus is the one who introduces this terminology. He told His disciples,

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”  John 11:11-15 NIV

After the resurrection, the early Christians figure out that his resurrection is not a one off event, but it’s actually what happens to everyone who believes, they start using the same terminology about all Christians who have died.

In the New Testament, Paul talks about different people falling asleep. We pass over that like he’s being polite, but it’s not a euphemism. It’s a very particular and profound statement of faith. We know this, because of the places it’s not used.

After Christ, the term of fallen asleep is never used for an unbeliever, someone who rejected God. For them, it’s just died. It’s over. The phrase fallen asleep is never used with respect to Christ himself. It never says Christ fell asleep, even though he was eventually raised. Why? Because Christ died the death of an unbeliever.

The thing that makes death so awful is the separation from God and in some sense, that’s the definition of death. That’s what Jesus went through. He didn’t just fall asleep. He was separated from God. He died, condemned and with sin on his shoulders. Not his own sin, but our sin.

Because He died in condemnation in our place, we don’t have to experience it. There is no final death of being separated from God. What other’s call death, is falling asleep and waking up, resurrected for a believer.

Remembering that Jesus has already died the final death of condemnation in my place enables me to sleep soundly.

If you can remember the final death of condemnation has already been undergone by someone else in your place, then it will enable you to sleep soundly.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on recognizing God’s voice and testing an impression through the Bible, Christlikeness, Godly counsel and peace?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we concluded the Frequency series with the thought, “I simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Read: Isaiah 40, Psalm 127 and John 11:1-44

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you to hear?
  2. Have you ever reached a goal and been too busy, anxious or tired to enjoy it?
  3. Have you ever made a bad or wrong decision because you were too tired or overwhelmed?
  4. How can sleep be an act of worship?
  5. How did this message change the way you think about the word meditation?
  6. When life slows down, what do you tend to worry about? Family? Money? Work?
  7. Christ died the death of an unbeliever. How can that help us to sleep soundly?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help or encourage someone else?

 

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Frequency Week 3 . Recognizing God’s Voice

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Here it says other people are speaking to us, strangers. The world, the flesh, the devil has a voice and is speaking.

Take a look back at our posts on Preparing to Hear God’s Voice and The Whispers of God to find out how you can listen best and how God speaks most.

Today let’s answer the question, “How do we know if what we’re hearing is God, the devil or somethingwe just made it up ourselves?”

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” 1 John 4:1

There are going to be certain feelings or impressions that lead you one way, but first run them through a few tests, some filters.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12


Testing an Impression

1. Does it line up with the Bible?

God’s voice will never contradict God’s word. God’s Will, will never contradict God’s word. He will never tell you to violate, ignore or disobey the Bible.

He’s not going to say one thing in the Bible and then say to you something else. For instance, in the book of Romans it says as a matter of conscience, we are to pay our taxes. So as we move into tax season, if you feel led to not pay your taxes or cheat your taxes a little bit, that did not come from God.

Here’s another example:

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied…”  Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus then goes on to quote the book of Genesis. He quotes the Bible. He asked the Pharisees why they were asking His opinon when it had already been written.

Instead of answering these questions about right and wrong, just point to God and His word. What makes Him God is that He gets to say what’s right or wrong. If we are following Him, we will know the answer.

The context of this passage is divorce, but it could be a number of topics. God does not hate divorced people, He hates divorce. If you are honest, you do too. God hates anything that hurts us. He loves you and he can redeem anything you’ve been through. If you’ve gone through the tragedy of this, God’s word also says that He can redeem and heal anything.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Luke 21:33

So, there will even be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word will not need to be new. His word is true forever.

2. Will it make me more like Christ?

In other words, will the thing you are feeling, if you follow through with it, will it make you more like Jesus or less like Jesus? This is God’s ultimate purpose for you. This really is our ultimate goal after salvation. Don’t make it your goal before salvation. You have to meet Jesus, love him and surrender your life to Him before you’ll have what it takes to become like Him. You don’t have to get your act together to become a Christian. Salvation is free. You don’t have to earn it.

Once you’re saved we work out that salvation. Regeneration is going to take place. This means that the more you know Christ, the more you become like Him.

Let Him work on your attitude, decision making and all your choices. We are not where we need to be, but thank God, we’re not where we used to be.

At Rock Brook we help you grow in your faith in two primary ways: Growth Track & Small Groups. Visit the connect tab on our website to find out more about these to pathways to growth.

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:5 NCV

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

If you still say,”I don’t even know what Jesus would do.” Let’s look at a list found in scripture.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:16-18

This is a great grid to think through. First notice he says there are two ways to know it’s not from God and many ways to know if it is from God.

He says if it’s not from God, it’s full of envy or selfish-ambition.

God does not give selfish ideas. We come up with them ourselves. If you have a great idea that’s going to make you filthy rich, everyone’s going to be envious of you and you are going to be the top dog, God says that idea is not from Him. God didn’t put you on earth to bless your selfish ambition and live for yourself.

If you get an idea and it’s from God, it’s going to be one of these things…

Pure: An impure thought is not from God.

Peace-loving: Ideas from God promote harmony, not division. God is not going to give you an idea to create conflict in your family, marriage, small group, workplace or at church. To divide people into this side and that side, means gossip is present and gossip is not from God. When we criticize, condemn and gossip about others, we’re just doing the devil’s work for him.

ConsiderateWill your idea help you but hurt someone else? Then it’s not from God.

Submissive: Teachable, the willingness to have the idea checked by someone else, is submitting that idea to them.

Full of Mercy: Will my idea make me more gracious, more fogiving? You’ve been forgiven, so be gracious to everyone else. God has cut you some slack, do that for others. When you think you hear from God, but you’re critical and always judging others, it’s proof you haven’t heard from God. It takes no wisdom or maturity to criticize others.

Impartial and Sincere: Don’t use what God tells you to manipulate others. If God gives you a dream, you’ll never have to manipulate to see it happen. You may have to work hard, but you’ll never have to manipulate or control. God is in control. When God gives you a dream or a word, surrender it back to Him.

What a great list to help us know if we are growing more like Christ. Here’s another filter we can use.

3. Does godly counsel agree?

You’ll be in a situation where people say different things, look for agreement. When you’re working on something or planning something, there’s power in agreement. Don’ trust every spirit, instead test it to make sure it’s of God.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

The wisest people aren’t the ones who know everything. The wisest people are the ones that know they don’t know everything. Wise people ask questions before they answer questions. Wise people know there’s always more to the story.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:20-21

“Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6

This isn’t suggesting going person to person that when they don’t give you the report you want, so I’ll go to someone else. If you don’t have any agreement, just stop.

4. Do I have peace?

What’s so unique about Christianity is that we don’t just worship an external God, we have God in us. You have this spirit, the Holy Spirit inside of you, and that’s a powerful thing.

You’ve felt it before. You’ve felt the clash of God’s spirit to your flesh wanting to go two different ways. Like the devil on the shoulder and the angel on the other. That’s a cartoon version of a reality.

How does God talk? Peace.

Jesus says it’s a peace the world can’t even give. There’s not a bottle or pill that can give it. God has a peace that the world cannot give. Follow that.

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV

He doesn’t author confusion, He’s the God of peace. Some of the biggest decisions in your life will have fears, will make you take risks, but there can be a peace with God about it.

Peace is an inner state, regardless of what’s happening on the outside. Now there’s a difference between peace, and justifying. Being able to justify something verses having peace with God about it.

Justifying something is when you find a reason that you tell yourself is a good enough reason to go ahead with something. If peace is an inner state, justifying is a legal argument. We can come up with an argument and justify why we need to buy this or why we need to do this at work, but when all that settles down, do you have peace about it?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Live in such a way that regardless of what you face, you sense this garrison, this army surrounding your heart and mind with peace. Whatever the circumstances, God is able to guard your heart and mind with peace in Christ Jesus.


Frequency

How do you get this peace daily in your life? This series of posts is called Frequencywe’re trying to tune into a frequency, the voice of God. But that word has a double meaning. Frequency also means, often. In other words, we need to tune in to God’s Frequency, frequently. Here’s some ways that God’s Frequency can have some frequency.

  • Tune in to God every day.

So the goal of daily Bible reading and prayer isn’t just to check a box. No, those are tools to tune into God. The ultimate goal of reading the Bible, isn’t to read the Bible, it’s to lead you to the person of the Bible. To know God’s nature and presence.

The goal of getting in the word is to meet the Word, Jesus Christ. Don’t make the moment the goal, but how well you tuned into God. Make time for God every day, slow down to hear his voice.

“When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:4 MSG

People who hear God’s voice are those who spend time with that voice to where they’re familiar with it.

  • Tune out things that oppose God.

You have to actively shut down the voices that oppose God. We should all grapple with how much of the secular, the parts of the world, opposes God.

What in the world doesn’t bother you anymore, but it should?

If certain sins don’t bother you, that’s the problem. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in it, it no longer bothers us.

“They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:5 MSG

  • Take steps toward what God has spoken.

Why would God keep talking to you if you didn’t do what he told you before? Take the step.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27 MSG

Not only do they hear the voice, they do something about it.

They follow.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the Whispers of God. God whispers encouragement, warnings, direction and dreams. Have you experienced that this week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: John 10 & Philippians 4

To know if we are hearing God, we have to be able to recognize His voice. God’s voice will never disagree with His Word, so when we are wondering if God really spoke to us, we can ask ourselves,

  1. Does it line up with the Bible?
  2. Will it make me more like Christ?
  3. Does godly counsel agree?
  4. Do I have peace?

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you?
  2. Does it line up with the Bible? Why won’t God contradict what he says in his Word? How exactly do we test what we perceive to be God’s voice against the Bible? Share a situation when God guided you. How did it line up with God’s Word? On the flip side, share a time when you were contradicting the Bible. What happened?
  3. Will it make me more like Christ? What is the difference between wisdom motivated by envy or ambition and wisdom that comes from God? (James3:16-18)
  4. Does Godly counsel agree? Who is a believer that you have gone to for advice? If you don’t have anyone, spend this week praying for God to show you someone you can find Godly counsel in.
  5. Do I have peace? What is God’s antidote to worry, anxiousness and confusion? Share a time when following God relieved these negative feelings.
  6. Tune in to God every day. Tune out thing that oppose God. What are you doing to take steps towards God this week?

Tell Someone Else

This week, pray using 2 Corinthians 10:5 –  “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” As you go throughout your week and in your prayer life, challenge yourself to take every thought and spoken word and make them obedient to God’s word as you encourage others.

 

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Frequency Week 2 . The Whispers of God

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV

Here, Jesus give us a metaphor that describes our relationship with God. He says that God is like a shepherd and we are like His sheep.

Jesus also reminds us that we have a speaking God. God doesn’t only speak to us generally, God also speaks to each of us individually. He speaks to each of us by name and He leads us out.

Part of our problem is we have so many other voices speaking into our lives. God is calling us to block out the other voices, reject the other voices, run away from the other voices and hear and follow the voice of God.


Why God Speaks

God wants to have an individual conversation with you, because He is a personal God. God wants to have an up close and personal relationship with you.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”  Matthew 1:23 NIV

Mary and Joseph name the baby Jesus, but they are going to nickname Him, Immanuel, which means “God with us.” There are things that God wants to say right into your heart if you’ll let Him. There are several reasons why God would want to do that.

  • God speaks to facilitate friendship.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  Exodus 33:11 NIV

A lot of people don’t see God that way, as a friend. God speaks to you to facilitate friendship. You can speak to Him in the same manner, as a friend. If you want to hear from God, you need to cultivate a friendship with Him. You create friendship with God by spending time with Him in conversation.

  • God speaks to us is to give guidance.

The Lord sees the dangers ahead. He sees the roads we shouldn’t take and He is trying to guide us. Here’s the tension with guidance; If God guides you away from something you’re doing, you’re probably not going to be happy about it. But God knows what lies ahead and He is trying to turn you from evil and steer you toward righteousness.

God knows what’s up ahead. He sees the beginning from the end. We have to learn to trust God in every situation even if it seems like He’s doing something we don’t like, something we don’t understand. God speaks to you to guide you through the things that you cannot see.

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”  Proverbs 3:6 MSG 

  • God speaks to provide perspective.

God has a perspective that you don’t currently have. Not everything that you see is what’s going on. Not everything that you see in the natural world is actually what’s going on. There is another dynamic, a spiritual, eternal dynamic around us.

God has both perspectives at the same time and He wants to unveil and reveal to you things that are happening in this spiritual realm, not just the physical realm.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for you, but God will reveal it to you by His Spirit. God would love to show you a new perspective on life and on the world.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

God wants you to walk by things you are not seeing on the surface. Walk by faith, not sight.

Don’t just trust what you see, but listen for what the Spirit of God is telling you.


There was a Wisconsin Badgers football game and they were losing the game, horribly. The fans in the stands were cheering like they were winning though. The Badgers would make a bad play and the fans in the stands would start cheering. It was confusing to the players and to the announcers who were calling the game.

Why would the crowd cheer for this horrible play? It turns out that the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team was also playing at the same time in a post-season game and the Brewers were winning, wonderfully. So the fans in the stands had their ear buds in and were listening to the game. So when the Brewers would score a run or make a great play, the fans would cheer wildly regardless of what the Badgers were doing on the field.

The people in the stands are watching a game they are losing, but they are listening to a game they are winning.

They are watching defeat but they are listening to victory. They were looking at one realm, and they were listening to another realm.

They were responding to what they were hearing, not what they were seeing.

God would love for you to respond to what you are hearing from Him not what you are seeing in the world.


How God Speaks

The Bible gives us a number of ways that God speaks to us. He speaks loudly through peals of thunder and rushing mighty waters. God speaks through His word. God speaks through prophets and pastors and leaders, through pain and circumstances.

God is able to and will speak to us in a lot of different ways. But today let’s look at one way in particular that God speaks to us. It’s the way that God uses the most and it’s the way that God speaks to us that we often don’t recognize.

We call this The Whispers of God. It’s a nudging, a prompting, an urging in your spirit.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah fights the prophets of Baal and he wins a great victory over them. Then in chapter 19, after that great victory, Elijah enters into a deep depression.

Often after a spiritual high point, you enter into a spiritual low point. Spiritual highs are followed by spiritual lows. Don’t be surprised by that.

Elijah actually runs off to hide in a cave by himself. He’s become convinced that he is all by himself that he is the only one trying to serve God. That he’s the only one trying to do the right thing. God came to speak to Elijah in order to pull him out of his depression. 

“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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  1 Kings 19:11-12 NIV

Some translations call it a still, small voice. We need to learn to recognize the whispers of God. Here are four areas where God whispers to you.

1. He whispers encouragment.

God is doing this all day long. When someone irritates you, when the enemy is trying to rob you of your joy, the Spirit of God is right there trying to encourage you.

God is not disappointed in you saying, “Why don’t you read your Bible more? Why don’t you get to church? Why don’t you stop all your bad habits?”

 “The Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our heart and tells us that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16 NLT

God sees you as part of His family.

 “Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life- nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.”  Isaiah 55:3 MSG

God knows every stupid mistake you’ll ever make and He still loves you. He may not like what you’re doing, but He loves you just the same.

Today God is saying:

You are my child.

I love you.

I am so proud of you.

2. He whispers warnings.

Have you ever been heading in one direction in life and then all of a sudden you have a “feeling” it’s not the right way to go? The Holy Spirit can offer warnings to keep you from going off track.

“After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.”  Acts 16:6-7 NKJV

If you give the Holy Spirit room to speak into your life. He will guide and direct and protect you.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

He may be whispering:

Don’t do it.

End the secret.

Get help.

3. He whispers direction.

Some of you are looking for direction in your life about who to marry or where to work or what house to buy. God will speak to you, if you involve Him in the process. Here’s the secret to this one; let the emotion of the excitement of buying something new pass and then place it before the Lord and ask Him what you should do.

Let that first jolt of the emotions pass and then ask God to direct your decision and He will. Luke 2 tells the story of when Jesus was dedicated in the Temple as a baby and Simeon, this old man who had been waiting for the Messiah heard God speak.

Simeon was, “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”  Luke 2:27 NIV

The Holy Spirit told Simeon He had an assignment for him. God wanted him to pray for that Christ child. It was the greatest moment of Simeon’s long life.

Paul, in the book of Acts said, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”  Acts 20:22 NIV

Simeon was moved by the Spirit. Paul was compelled by the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us to direct us. He can speak pretty specifically to you too, if you let Him.

He may give you general directions like:

Slow down.

Do it now.

Take the next step.

4. He whispers dreams.

God will put inside of you something that you never thought you could do. 

“For God speaks again and again… He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night.”  Job 33:14-15 NLT

God speaks to people in different ways. We believe Jesus could come back at any time. It seems as though all the signs of the end times are being fulfilled now.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17 NIV

God says He’s going to put something inside of us so we can be a solution to all of the problems. Your role in the End Times is to be the salt and the light that points people to Christ.

What God might be saying to you today is:

Go all in.

Give God your best.

Make a Difference


So what do we need to do in order to hear the whispers of God? We need a posture and attitude that says, Speak to me LORD, I’m open to hear what You want to say.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:9 NIV

What if before every tweet, every email, every Facebook post, every conversation, every decision and every purchase, we said, “God speak to me and tell me what to do, I am eager to respond.”

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Preparing to Hear? What have you been hearing from God during 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Frequency series on how to cut through the noise and hear God’s voice.  Not only does God speak, but He is speaking to you!  Why and how does God speak?  God speaks because He is personal, close and relational.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:11

God speaks to facilitate friendship, guidance and perspective. That’s the “why” behind all of this.  God speaks because he is seeking a close, personal relationship with you. He is our guide, friend, and Lord. 

So how does God speak? He is not limited to one way of communicating. It may be that God speaks to you in a clap of thunder, a still small voice, or directly through His Word.  The key to an open line of communication with our Father is intentionally keeping our ears open and our hearts receptive to what He is speaking.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5 NIV 

Application

1. Tell your group about a time when you heard the whispers of God.

2. Has God ever used the pain of a difficult situation to speak into your life? How did you react? What did you learn?

3. If we need to have the right “posture” to hear God’s voice, in what ways are you posturing yourself through prayer to hear God speak?

4. Do you have any tips on prayer that you can share with your group?  What has helped you to hear from God?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to listen for God’s whispers in their life?

For more information on 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit http://rockbrook.org/events

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Frequency Week 1 . Preparing to Hear

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You could have the nicest radio on the market, but if you don’t tune it in you’re still not going to receive anything. That doesn’t mean no one is broadcasting, someone’s still broadcasting, but you can’t hear it until you tune it in.

The most asked question people ask about their relationship with God is, “How do I know I’m being led by God?” We serve a speaking God and He’s spoken throughout time.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.”  John 10:3

So a shepherd leads his sheep, even sometimes into another flock crossing the same road. The sheep might mix together and all the shepherds would need to do is make their particular sound to their flock the the sheep will follow their shepherd.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:4-5

“Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, [In everything.] everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 MSG

Many people think that if they could just hear an audible voice from God that it would be the most superior way to hear from God. It’s not necessarily the best way. You can hear an audible voice and still be confused.

You talk with your audible voice to people every day, and people sometimes walk away confused. The times in scripture we read about God or an angel using an audible voice to communicate to someone, you’d think they’d be so sure for the rest of their lives. That they’d never doubt again, but they still doubt. They still get confused.

When we say God is speaking, it can be something that’s even better than an audible voice. It can be so deep within you that it could only be of God. It’s louder than audible.

Jesus makes this bold statement in Luke chapter 8. Here, Jesus tells a parable where he says, “God doesn’t have a speaking problem. We have a hearing problem.”


Preparing to Hear

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!”  Luke 8:8

This verse is right in the middle of a story. Let’s look at the story the precedes this verse. Then we’ll hit this verse again and go beyond it.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. When he said this, he called out, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!’” Luke 8:5-8

In the verses following, Jesus retells the story but with an explanation this time.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11

The Word of God is the voice of God. These were God’s spoken words. He was speaking to his people. The problem isn’t that there’s not a speaking God, it’s what’s on the receiving end.

The farmer in this story is extravagantly scattering seed in all directions. God is extravagantly spreading His word, and you are in one of these four different scenarios.


“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”  Luke 8:12

In the first version He says, birds came and here He’s explaining that it’s the devil. Every time God tries to speak to you, the devil is trying to throw something in the mix so you don’t receive it. God is trying to speak, but you have junk in your heart.

1. The polluted heart.

The enemy tries non-stop to pollute all of our hearts. So it wouldn’t matter what God was saying, the pollution is taking over. That pollution, is coming in one of two forms.

The first one is the choices we make, the sins we commit and the junk we create. We all have sin that we haven’t given to God. Things you haven’t let Him forgive you and it creates pollution in your heart.

The second form of pollution is not from yourself, but other people. People wronged you. Every time we try to draw close to God, the devil will try to stir up any relationship he can, primarily in your family, your marriage, your kids or someone close to you, and that problem between you and that person is not about you and that person.

This was the devils attempt to get in the way of you hearing from God and he’s using that. Because it will mess you up. Every time life slows down or you sit down to pray, you think about it. If possible, you gotta clear the air with them.

If you say God never speaks to you, it may be because of all the junk. Some of us aren’t having conversation with God, because we’ve allowed sin in our life we’re not repenting from and some of us have let something come between us and someone else.

“Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your soul.”  James 1:21 NLT

God invites you to turn. That’s what the word “repent” means. You’re headed in this direction, repent and turn the other way.

We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.


“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13 NIV

It’s because something else competed with it that it couldn’t take root.

2. The distracted heart.

The distractions can even be good things or neutral things, but it has all of your attention. For a lot of us, we’re not hearing from God because we’re hearing from someone else.

All hell is trying to keep us from God. It can be evil things or just all the other voices. In the Bible, Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s house. Both women have 2 different experiences while He was there, because one of them has ears to hear and the other doesn’t.

“And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving.”  Luke 10:39-40 AMP

Serving is a great thing and Jesus asks us to do it, but He wants both. 

To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.

There’s something in the world that has to shut down, that’s fasting. You’ll have to figure out what those are for you. Ask God to show you what’s distracting you and what you need to just eliminate for 21 days. After that, put it in its proper place.

Food is the greatest thing that connects us with our flesh rather than our spirit. That’s why the most biblical fasting is food fasting. You need to have seasons where you tell your flesh no. Where your flesh is screaming at you, and you can tell it no. There are different types of fasts and different things. Take a look at the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting page on our website for resources and fasting information.


“The seed that fell among weeds stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they don’t mature.”  Luke 8:14

3. The immature heart.

Another condition of our heart, you might relate to is the neglected heart. Maybe it’s time to mature. Maturing won’t come naturally to you, but you will be glad you did it.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

When’s the last time you said, I’m going to take this next season and for 21 Days or even the small group semester that starts next month and grow in my faith.

Notice the underlined words this time through, same verse, different emphasis.

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus…”   Hebrews 12:1-2 GW

“We” and “Us” run through this entire passage multiple times. Maturity can’t happen without people. You don’t mature just you and God. We’ve got to get in an environment with people who know you. When you get there, the conversation between you and God will change.

When you put yourself in that situation, it grows you. Many of you, your next steps of growth are going to come through leading. It forces you to grow up a bit. Some people never receive because they don’t mature.

Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.

We’ve all got areas where excuses need to turn into changes. Places we need to grow, but you don’t mature alone. You do it with others.


“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  Luke 8:15

4. The prepared heart.

Here are three ways to be prepared:

  • Repent.

Just change your direction. If you’re going the wrong direction, just turn around. God will forgive you. You can run a hundred miles in the wrong direction, it’s just one step back.

  • Refocus.

It’s time to go to bed a little earlier. Renew my morning commitment to God. Get back to reading the Bible. If you haven’t read the Bible in awhile. Just start tomorrow.

  • Revive.

Revive your heart. That’s what prepares the heart. God I want to fall in love with you all over again.

“Let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 MSG

This life isn’t Disney World, there are no seat belts, there are no brakes. You may be going through the toughest season of your life. But there is a guide and He’s not far away. He’s right there with you. He’s speaking, do you know His voice?

God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.

God’s voice is very clear, but you got to get your ears ready. You can’t grow bananas in Alaska. Bananas grow in Jamaica. Put it in the right environment, you’ll see the fruit. You’ll see a great harvest.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on 2 Corinthians 5 and being Brand New? How was Christmas? How was New Years?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6

But how do we hear God? God has already given us the capacity to hear Him, and He is speaking to us, we just have to learn to listen.

How do we do that? We prepare our heart. God’s voice sounds clearest in a prepared environment.

To prepare our hearts we repent and turn away from sin, refocus our minds, and revive our hearts. The word repent can sound a little hard and intimidating. In reality, it just means, “to turn away.” If you’ve been headed in the wrong direction, just turn the other way. You can do it today, right now, and prepare yourself to hear from God.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Read: Luke 8:5-15

Application

  1. Of the four heart conditions, which one do you relate to the most right now? Polluted, distracted, immature, prepared?
  2. “We can never begin a new life until we turn from the old.” What pollution in your life do you need to turn from so you can tune into God? Is there someone you need to reach out to and clear the air?
  3. “To hear God’s voice, I must turn down the world’s volume.” Discuss the things that distract you most and how to tune those out to focus on hearing God.
  4. “Maturity comes when we stop making excuses and start making changes.” What changes do you need to make to grow in your faith?
  5. “God’s voice is clearest in a prepared environment.” Discuss with the group how you create an environment to hear God’s voice. Explain what this looks like practically.
  6. Share a time when you were going through a situation and you heard God speak to you about it. How did you react, and what did you learn from God’s word?

Tell Someone Else

21 Days of Prayer has officially started. Make plans to join us as we pray and seek to hear God’s voice! For more information about 21 Days of Prayer and other prayer resources, visit RockBrook.org/Events

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message?

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