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May 21, 2006
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Sermon Outline

“Sometimes When I Pray, I Feel Like I’m Talking To A Wall. 

How Can I Get God To Respond When I’m talking to Him?”

Prayer can change your life Part 5

 

Intro:

I read about a lady who had a hearing problem. One day she and her husband were driving from Tennessee to Little Rock, AK. They were pulled over by a state trooper who asked if the husband knew how fast he was driving? The wife asked, "What did he say?" The husband replied, "HE ASKED IF I KNEW THAT I WAS SPEEDING." Looking at the driver’s license the trooper said, "I see you’re not from around here." The husband said, "No we are from Memphis." The wife again asked, "What did you say?" The husband told her, "I SAID WE ARE FROM MEMPHIS." The state trooper then commented, "You know, the meanest woman I ever met was from Memphis." The wife again asked, "What did he say?" The husband replied, "HE SAYS HE THINKS HE KNOWS YOU!"

 

In the Old Testament God spoke thru:

-         angels, dreams, visions

-         Urim & Thurumin: gems or stones carried by the high priest and used by him to determine God’s will in certain matters. Many scholars believe these gems were lots that were cast, much as dice are thrown, to aid the high priest in making important decisions.

-         face to face

-         from a cloud, fire, earthquakes

-         writing on the wall, burning bush

-         Balaam’s donkey

 

Can He speak like that today?

 

Yes.

 

How do I hear God when He is talking?

 

Our goal today is to walk away from today understanding how we can Hear God’s voice, how we know it is Him talking, and how we are to respond to His voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John 10:1-18

 

Let’s talk about some symbolism:

 

John 10:2-3. 

The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.  The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.

 

Jesus is the good shepherd

-         he died for the sheep…you and me

 

Later on in the text…Jesus tells them who the shepherd is.

 

John 10:11.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep

(Psalm 23)

 

**Interesting note…The watchman opens the gate for Him

-         the Pastor’s job is to open the door for Jesus, to point people to Jesus

 

Sheep are symbolic of believers. 

 

John 10:4.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

 

 

You can’t hear God unless you are a believer

 

o       John 8:47- “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

o       Jude 10- “Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them.”

o       1 Corinthians 2:14- “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

 

 

 

Once we give our lives to Jesus, then we can learn how to hear from Him

How do we hear God’s voice?

 

Step one: We must listen

 

John 10:2-3.  The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.

 

-         We’ve got to shut up long enough to hear what He has to say

-         We get so busy asking and telling God what to do that we forget to listen

 

JOKE:

How many kids with ADD does it take to screw in a light bulb?

I don’t know…how many?

Want to go fishing?  Want to ride a bike?

 

A suggestion:

o       Matthew 6:6. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father

 

Get alone with God

 

        True communication is one on one (turn of the TV, put down the paper, stop what your doing)

        You can talk while you are doing but that is not as intimate as getting alone with someone

        If you are seeking the creator of the universe’s advice, don’t you think you ought to pay attention?

o       Matthew 14:22-23. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…

 

-         Often, the church is weak in praying alone

-         Sometimes we need to pray with each other and sometimes we need to walk to the other side of the room

 

-         Don’t you realize the awesomeness of having a one-on one conversation with God?!?!

 

 

Another suggestion:

 

Spend time reading His Words

 

Psalm 119:97.  Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

 

Why would we want to spend all day reading the Word?

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 

God-breathed.  God spoke it/ wrote it.  These Words written are His Words spoken

 

o       The Scriptures are God’s Words for man

o       “Did you not understand me, let me write it out for you.”

 

-         We first hear his voice by becoming familiar to his voice through the word

 

Psalm 119:105.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

 

-         The more we hear his voice through the Word, the more we recognize it

 

If I’m real familiar with your voice, you may try to disguise it, but I’m still gonna know it is you

 

This is pretty cool:

 

John 10:4. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

 

We know His voice and He knows our voice.

 

We have a close relationship with each other.  He knows your name!

 

Eventually you will get to the point when His voice is very familiar to you and unique to you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step two:  We obey

 

John 10:3-4.  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.

 

   Knowing His voice serves one purpose: to follow Him in obedience to where He is going

• Have you ever feel like God told you to do something and then left you alone?

• If it feels like He is not there, it is not His fault. 

 

As the people of Israel were getting ready to go into the promised land, God reminded them who He was…

 

Deuteronomy 31:8.  The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

• He’s always with you leading the way

• If you can’t see Him in it... your probably out taking a walk by yourself! 

        what a dangerous place to be!

 

What happens when we don’t listen and obey?

 

Zechariah 7:11-14. "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry. "`When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. `I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.'"

 

        When God speaks to us He has a reason

        When we refuse to obey, He stops speaking to us

        it is obedience that keeps the communication lines open

 

Jeremiah 7:22-26.  For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.  But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.  From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets.  But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.'

 

Sometimes this is how it works:

 

“I know you have told me what to do and know I’m going to have to trust you.  I heard clearly from you earlier today and now just because things are tough, I will not let my thinking get distorted.  I will not rebel.  You will prove yourself faithful.

 

Step three: Sometimes, we wait

 

Sometimes, we have to be willing to wait for an answer.

 

One of many examples:

 

Luke 1:5-23

8Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.  11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.

 

Luke 1:13.  "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.

 

The tense of the word "heard" literally means it's already happened.  It happened a long time ago. 

 

Luke 1:18. Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

 

-         Zechariah had prayed that prayer many years earlier but now he was old.  He must have assumed God did not want him to have any kids.

o       Hopefully he assumed that God was doing what was best for Zechariah as well as what was the best way to accomplish HIS PURPOSES. 

 

-         God hears our prayers immediately, but sometimes there's a delay in the answer.

o       There's no problem with it taking time for your prayer to get to God.  It is there instantly. 

o       But sometimes He delays the giving of the answer for a period of time and that is one of the hardest things we have to learn.

 

 

EXAMPLE: As a parent, the hardest concept for my kids to learn is this. They don't understand the difference between "no" and "not yet". It's hard for them.  They'll say, "Daddy, can I have a cookie?" Not yet.  They might go into a fit like I'm never going to give them a cookie. 

 

Why?  Because immature people don't understand the difference between "no" and "not yet".  The mark of maturity in the Christian life is this:  How long can you wait?  That's a mark of maturity in life.  Babies always have to have it immediately.  But a mature person can wait. 

 

Example:  Maybe your like the guy who said, "I tried prayer.  I prayed for two weeks and nothing happened so I've given up on prayer. I've lost my faith in prayer."  No, you haven't lost your faith. You've lost your patience.

 

Why does God delay our answers to prayer? 

 

Maybe it is because He needs to prepare us first.  He needs to get us ready. 

 

EXAMPLE: My little girl comes to me and says, "Daddy, can I drive the car today?"  She's a four year old!  I say, "Not today.  Someday you'll get to drive the car.  When you grow up and you're mature and you've learned how to drive, then you'll get the request answered.  But not yet, because you need to grow up." 

 

God may be waiting for us to grow up before He answers our prayers. 

 

Usually God wants to change us before he changes a problem. 

 

You may not be getting the answer you want in prayer because He is still working on you.

 

The fact of the matter is this: 

 

God is never late.  His timing is perfect. 

We may think He's late but He's never late. 

We may not know what is taking Him so long to answer but we need to remember that…

God's delays are not God's denials.  "Not yet" does not mean "No".