HS Winter Retreat

Listen

Have you heard the voice of God today? I mean it. I must confess I have never heard that voice at least out loud. I have felt Him working in my life but have never heard Him speak to me. Still as I sit here I wonder if anyone really listens. Last time we spoke about prayer and the importance of talking to God. Today I want to take a few minutes and talk about the other side: Listening. God does in fact speak to us on a regular basis. It is just that we all sometimes don’t know how to hear His voice. Each day is a chance to hear what God wants to tell us. Each day we get to have a conversation with the creator of the universe. How you may ask? It is a two part process. We speak to God in our prayers. He speaks to us in wonderful ways.

The first place that God speaks to us is in the examples of the people and places all around us. Martin Luther said that “The resurrection was not just in books alone but in every leaf of springtime. “All of the world around us is God speaking to us. We only have to know how to listen. From the humming of birds to the cry of a life beginning. Talk with someone who has been around for a few years with God and they can tell you how that voice sounds. They have heard it many times in their lives. In my own walk with God I have never heard that voice above a whisper. In fact the time I heard it the most was in court a few years ago. I had gone to court to pay a fine for a ticket I had gotten. I do not remember for what. I was ready to admit my mistake and take the penalty for my error in judgment. The judge looked at me and then looked for my accuser, in this case the officer who wrote the ticket. Noticing that he was not in the room, she threw the case out. At that moment I heard God. He showed me a parallel to his courtroom. Where we will all stand in judgment ready to plead guilty for our sins. Yet at that moment God will see our faith in His Son and proclaim us innocent in His eyes.

Second and most important, He speaks to us in His Word. The Bible is God speaking to us. Open it’s pages and let certain verses will move you in a way that you have never been moved before. The Bible is as relative and powerful to us as it was when it was first written ages ago. There are verses dealing with every issue we face in this life. From dealing with temptation where we are told to” resist the devil and he must flee.” (James 4:7) to words of encouragement like (Psalm 27:14 ), to the beautiful words of praise when things are going good. (Psalm 65:8). God’s word is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105)

These are the voices of God that we are listening for and sometimes miss in the moments of our lives when God is doing the talking. The difference is that this is not the big booming voice we imagine he had at creation. It is a quiet still voice that you have to listen to hear. There is so much more that can be said about the voice of God. We could go on talking for the rest of our days of the examples that are there to hear His voice. But to do so would miss a key ingredient to hearing the voice of God.
We must lift our prayers to God to chat with him and then be still and quiet to hear his voice. For it is in the quiet times that we are most able to hear what our heavenly Father is saying. When our hearts are open, our ears are listening and our mouths are shut we can in fact here the voice of God.

HS Winter Retreat

Spectator Sports

Do you know what spectator sports are?  They are sports that generally have people watching them being played.  Spectator sports usually require a venue in which the watchers can view the event.  Many times the venue is a stadium.  Baseball is a spectator sport, NASCAR is a spectator sport.  If television is involved, it is a spectator sport.

Worship is not a spectator sport, and yet, all too often, we attend services in the capacity of a spectator, not a participant.  What is worship – it’s an ‘act’ of religious devotion -it means to do somethingWorship is a participant-event  that requires us to act!  What are act’s of worship?  Here are some I can think of:  Confession/contrition/repentance; prayer; singing/praising; giving; hearing/active listening to the Word; testifying .  The following are not my words, but are worth repeating:  ‘Too often worship has become a place of safety and complacency, a narrowly private experience in which solitary individuals only express their personal adoration. Even when we gather corporately, we often close our eyes (and our voices) to those around us, focusing on God but ignoring our neighbor. But true biblical worship does not merely point us upward–it should turn us outward as well.  Psalm 100: ‘Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.’

In our world today, too many people are not singing God’s praises, but only sitting on His premises!  Remember that idea the next time you are at worship, inspire those around you!   II Samuel 6:  ‘David…danced before the LORD with all his might…’  I Chronicles 16:  Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.’  II Chronicles 5:  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:  “He is good; his love endures forever.”