Tag Archives: hear

Prayer: What Difference Does It Make? (1 John 5:14) [Part 7 of a Series]

Today’s message summary of May 21, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Today, we will discuss prayer but we also want to be able to learn how to listen to God in the midst of prayer.

Elijah went into hiding because he learned that his life was in danger because of his efforts to remove the idols of the day from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel.  There, the Lord spoke to him…

1 Kings 19:9-18

He entered a cave there and spent the night.

Elijahs Encounter with the Lord

Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?

He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.

Then He said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lords presence.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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 there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, he replied, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and theyre looking for me to take my life.

Then the Lord said to him, Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram.  You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.  Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu.  But I will leave 7,000 in Israelevery knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.

There are many points here, but we will cover the following point relevant to listening to God when we pray:

Identifying God’s voice.  Many of us can recognize specific voices, such as a mother, brothers or sisters, or even children and parents, and that is because of your personal knowledge and exposure.  In contrast, we often can struggle hearing God’s voice.  Please note that God has never stopped speaking to his church.  Our struggle is the amount of time we spend trying to hear Him.  We face many distractions that keep us from hearing Him.  Consider that Elijah, a very devout man, was in a place where he had become frightful even though he was a man full of faith and had spoken to God on a regular basis.  You would not necessarily expect that he would struggle here as he did.

God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  We can ask ourselves the same question.  Even when we are speaking to God, sometimes we cannot hear him because of how our fears can drown out the voice of God.

Can you identify the voice of God?  Are you able to decipher His voice over the voices of others?

John 10:2-5

The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they dont recognize the voice of strangers.

The sheep know His voice.  If you know Jesus Christ, you can identify His voice.  It is often, however, that we, as His sheep, will willingly listen to strangers that lead us to sin.  Other voices that are contrary to God will try to drown out God’s voice.  We can often be easily distracted.  We need to be intentional in pursuing the very things that God directs us to in order to succeed.

We can hear the voice of God actually answering previously unanswered prayers.

Colossians 3:15-16

And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Ephesians 5:18-21

And dont get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

speaking to one another

in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,

singing and making music

from your heart to the Lord,

giving thanks always for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

submitting to one another

in the fear of Christ.

What is really in your heart?  Is it the Word of God or is it something else?  What permeates from you?  Is the Word of God something that comes naturally for you?

When you hear a voice of condemnation or one that promotes depression, it is not the voice of God.  We are to decipher those voices of the world versus those that come from God.

How do we know when God is communicating to us?  In biblical times, God did so in many different ways.  He can use these means even today.  He communicates to us through our friends or even our worldly co-workers.  In order to hear what He is saying, we must be attentive to this communication and live intentionally for Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:6-9

For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may reside in me.

Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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 there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

These are three supernatural and spontaneous events that occurred.  Notice that Elijah is trying to hear God’s voice through all of the noise but it was only when things were quiet and still was when he heard it.

It is important for each one of you, in our busyness, that we have to be still and focus on His voice.  It is in our quiet moments when we can hear Him best.

When we are praying to Him, what would it look like if we were silent?  What you will hopefully hear is your quiet conversation with Him and His response as you learn to read and meditate on His Word on a daily basis.


Rest in The Lord

For many of us, there is no such thing as a slow time of the year, and the holiday season is no exception to that.  Everything that we are involved in seems to move at a rapid pace.  There are timelines and deadlines, ever-present breaking news events, instant communication through emails and social media, and ever-increasing expectations to do more with less, even when we aren’t at work.

As busy as we can be, our moments of leisure, such as a vacation, or even a day off from work, are very precious to us.  These are the times when we can rest our bodies, take a deep breath, and enjoy the change of scenery or surroundings, or even get a nap or two in when we need it most.  If only those moments wouldn’t go by so quickly!

Our time of rest is indeed precious to us.  God knows that this time is special.  While it is good for all of us to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10) and remain busy in service for Him, it is still a necessity that we make time for some down time.  In our time of rest, we are to use it to our benefit.  We need to regularly refresh and recharge our batteries, for it helps each of us to see life in a way where we can appreciate what we have instead of what we don’t have.  It is a time to focus on the peace of the moment and on where God is in your life.

The best opportunities of reflecting upon God come when we are less busy—it’s very difficult to do when we are very busy.  While we are to never put Him to the side while we are at work, we are best able to learn about Him during our moments of rest.  What you will find is that the moments of rest are His preferred time for each of us to rest in Him and in His Word.  The more that we see His best during our rest, the more we will see His presence at all times during our life.

God uses the time we spend in Him to communicate with us, and to give us a reassurance of His presence.  He gives us what we need, and when we need it most.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands. 

Psalm 119:102-105

I have not turned from Your judgments,
for You Yourself have instructed me.

    103 How sweet Your word is to my taste—
[sweeter] than honey to my mouth.

    104 I gain understanding from Your precepts;
therefore I hate every false way.

 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet 
and a light on my path.

In the same way that we need rest after a very long and busy day, we need God’s promises to bolster us and gives us encouragement through these moments, and even through those times when things are not going very well.  If we are being oppressed, falsely accused, or even persecuted, we are not going through those experiences alone.  God is aware of everything that we go through, sees it all, and provides encouragement that helps us to endure it.

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8

Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will support you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness
in the land of the living.

    14 Wait for the LORD;
be courageous and let your heart be strong.
Wait for the LORD.

When we slow down from a busy life pace, we can best hear God speaking to us.  Our time of rest should also be a time of recovery, and a time of healing.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus Christ encourages the state of being at rest, because, in His wisdom, He relates to us that He is the true source of our rest.  We readily need rest from our hectic life, our troubles, and our difficulties, and He encourages us to seek Him for that rest.  One area of that rest in Christ is communication with Him through prayer:

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 107:28-30

28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.

    29 He stilled the storm to a murmur,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.

    30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for.

Matthew 7:7

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 21:22

And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Mark 11:24

Therefore, I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for —believe that you have received them, and you will have them.

John 14:13-14

13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

In addition to prayer, your rest in the Lord is fulfilled when you have faith that God is responsive to your prayers and that you exercise complete trust…your trust and faith in the Lord is when you realize the true rest that Christ provides.  It is rest with confidence in Christ’s ability.

1 John 5:14-15

 14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

Another aspect of rest in the Lord is that He communicates with us in response to our prayers and provides insight to His will with guidance and direction.

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; 
with My eye on you, I will give counsel.

Proverbs 3:1-6

 1 My son, don’t forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commands;

    2 for they will bring you
many days, a full life, and well-being.

    3 Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.

    4 Then you will find favor and high regard
in the sight of God and man.

    5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;

    6 think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.

Resting in the Lord is more than just a state of mind and mere relaxation.  It is actually our best opportunity to slow our life pace down to recognize His true goodness.  He gives us much more than just rest.  He gives us a time of reflection through His word.  We are assured of:

  • His very presence
  • His encouragement through His Word
  • His communication with us through prayer

With these things, we have a confidence that He responds to us and that He will guide us through each and every situation and circumstance.  Our true rest in the Lord is our complete faith and trust in Him.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


Sunday School Today: Faith (Week 2)

What is faith?

…Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Your faith is your title deed to eternal life. Just as a title deed is evidence of real estate, your faith is evidence of your eternal estate in God. “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

1. Faith is taking God at His Word without questions (Hebrews 11:6).
2. Faith is knowing that “all things work together for good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28a). Having faith does not imply that all things are good, or that all things work well. It does imply that both good and bad things work together for the greater good to those who love God.
3. Faith has two sides…one side has to do with intellect. It is an intellectual conviction that Jesus Christ is God. The other side has to do with the will. It is a volitional surrender of the will to Jesus Christ as Master. This is revealed in the disciple Thomas, when he declared upon his belief and confession, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The words “my Lord” were a volitional (deliberate) surrender; “my God” was intellectual conviction. Put together, you have saving faith (John 20:31). Saving faith is an intellectual conviction that Jesus is God, and it is a volitional surrender to Him as Lord (Master) of your life. By faith, the mind trusts in God, the heart responds to the love of God, the will submits to the commands of God, and the life obeys in the service of God.
4. Faith is paradoxical. It goes beyond reason. It believes without understanding “why.” It allows one to sing out loud even when imprisoned (Acts 16:25). It glories even in tribulations (Romans 5:3). It chooses suffering (Hebrews 11:25). It accepts all things as a part of God’s will (Philippians 1:12). One is not born with faith. It comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17). This is why we are commanded to preach the gospel to every person, in order that they may hear and believe (Romans 10:13-14).


Sunday School Today: The Nature of God

God is a spirit (John 4:24). God does not have a body as we understand it. He is invisible to us; however, He has revealed Himself to us in a visible form in the person of Jesus Christ. In Christ, He came into the world with a body of flesh (John 1:14-18; Hebrews 1:3). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-16).”

God is light. “Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5).”

God is love. “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).”

God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

God hates. “Six things the Lord hates; in fact, seven are detestable to Him; arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).”

God hears. The eyes of the Lord are open unto us, and His ears are open unto our prayers.

God is a person. Personal names are used in reference to Him (Exodus 3:14; Matthew 11:25). Personal characteristics are ascribed to Him, such as: (1) knowledge (Isaiah 55:9-10); (2) emotions (Genesis 6:6); (3) will (Joshua 3:10).

God is a unity. Scripture clearly teaches that there is one God (1 Timothy 2:5; John 10:30, 17:11), even though we know of God as the Father, the Son, and as the Spirit. The false teaching that there are many different gods is contrary to reason and to Scripture.