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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Hearing God's Voice

Craig Groeschel - Hearing God's Voice

Craig Groeschel - Hearing God's Voice
Craig Groeschel - Hearing God's Voice
TOPICS: He Promises, God's Voice

Do you ever find it difficult to hear God's voice? For example, if you have a decision that you need to make and so you think, well, maybe I should pray about it. And so you pray about it and you might say, okay, God, I wanna do what You want. What is it that You want me to do? And then sometimes maybe a thought will enter your head and you'll be, like, was that God or was that me? Was that my emotions? Is that what I want? Was that the Holy Spirit? Or was that the pizza I had late last night talking to me today? How do you know? Wouldn't it be incredible, wouldn't it be amazing to know exactly what God wants for you? I mean, imagine if you could ask God a question and you could get a really clear answer. Kind of like... I don't know if any of you are old enough to remember the Magic 8 Ball.

Anybody ever play with the Magic 8 Ball? You're kinda laughing at that. Wouldn't it be really cool if I had a Magic 8 Ball right now? Does anybody happen to have one on you? Anybody? Anybody? Oh my goodness. Oh wow, what a coincidence. Pastor Sam just happens to have... Wow. It's almost like we had that planned. But you remember how you could just like ask the Magic 8 Ball question, like Magic 8 Ball, Magic 8 Ball, should I break up with this rude person that I've been dating? Without a doubt. Magic 8 Ball, Magic 8 Ball, should I send this angry text? My reply is no. Magic 8 Ball, Magic 8 Ball, you might ask, should I serve in LifeKids? It is certain. I didn't even look. It just says it is certain. That's just what it said on there. I just say, God just spoke to you right there...

When we had two kids, we said, "Magic 8 Ball, Magic 8 Ball, should we stop having kids"? Ask again later. We stopped asking the Magic 8 Ball after having six kids. We were tired. Wouldn't it be amazing if you had a question and you could ask God and you could clearly hear His voice? The good news is you can. We're in a message series called He Promises, and we're talking about the promises of Jesus. Last week, we talked about the promise that Jesus will always love you. Next week, we're gonna talk about the promise, and this will speak to those of you who might be in a difficult season right now, that He will be with you always. He will never leave you and never forsake you. Today, we're gonna look at the promise that you can know the voice of Jesus. And the title of today's message is Hearing God's Voice.

And we ask Holy Spirit that we would hear Your voice and know Your will and do exactly what You call us to do. Speak God to those who need to hear from You. We thank You, God, that You will speak and we will listen and hear. Speak to us, Lord. We are listening. We pray this in Jesus' name. And everybody said... Amen. Amen. Amen.

All right, hearing from God, let's just kind of cut the preacher, like God's gonna speak to you now and all that kind of stuff. Just like be real honest. Sometimes it's difficult to hear from God. It feels complicated. How do I know if He's speaking to me? When I was a brand new Christian, I'm talking, I was barely saved, barely saved. I had a little Bible study at this little church that was a old, old, old church with brick walls. There was maybe seven or eight of us there. And there was this other brand new Christian. We were holding hands and we were praying, and I was unequally yoked. I had one guy prayer squeezing, and the other guy was a dead fish prayer hand. And I was very confused, but the guy was praying with a hard hand squeezing was gone. God, speak to us. God, speak us. God, speak. I wanna hear Your voice, God. Speak to us. And then he stopped in the middle of the praying. I just heard from God. And we were a new Christian, like, "What did He say"?

And he looked, his eyes were really big and he said, "God just told me to run into that brick wall as hard as I can, head first". And I said, "I don't think that's what God told you to do". And he said, "No, I'm certain. God just told me to trust Him to run into that brick wall, head first, as hard as I can". I said, "Are you sure"? He said, "I'm sure". I said, "Well, if God told you to, you better do it". He said, "I know". And so he's backed up almost like a bull running to chase the red flag thing. And he kind of just got ready and he ran as fast as he could head first into... True story. This is not a preacher story. This one's 100% true. And the fact that I have to tell you that brings all my other stories into question, sorry. So this guy, he runs straight into this brick wall. Boom, hits it, falls back. His eyes kind of go back into his head. I mean, he's seeing 15 stars these days. And finally, when he came to, he said, "God just spoke to me again". I said, "What did he tell you"? He said, "Don't ever, ever do that again".

That's a very true story. I never will forget. How do you know? Did God really tell you to run into that wall and then he told you? I mean, how do you know if it's God speaking? Or how do you know if it's your desires? Or how do you know if the thought you have is a distraction from the devil or some kind of intrusive thought coming into your brain? How do you discern if you're praying, God, show me your will if we really know if it's God showing us His will? Well, Jesus gave us a promise, and Jesus told us that He is the good shepherd and we are the sheep. And Jesus promised that the sheep, that's us, would know the voice of the good shepherd. That's Jesus. Jesus promised that we would know His voice.

In fact, we see it in John 10 when we read about the good shepherd. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd, the good shepherd of the sheep. And what do the sheep do? We say it aloud, what do the sheep do? The sheep listen to his voice. The good shepherd calls his own sheep by name because God loves you as if there were only one of you. God calls them by name and He leads them out. The good shepherd does. And the sheep follow him. And why do they follow him? Because they know his voice. Jesus promises that He is the good shepherd and that you are the sheep and the sheep can know and recognize His voice. So how do we do it? What I wanna do is look at God's Word today and make it as simple as possible and talk about how we hear the voice of the good shepherd.

The very first thought is obvious, but I wanna say it. Number one is you wanna ask God to speak to you. If you've got a decision to make, you don't just think about it or weigh the pros and cons. But, God, what is Your will? Speak to me. Now, let me just warn you for a moment. This sounds really easy, God speak to me. But before you pray and ask God to speak to you, I wanna warn you, that's actually a dangerous prayer. In fact, I would suggest that you don't ask God to speak to you if you don't want to hear what He has to say because often His will and His way is very different from yours. Don't ask God to speak to you if you don't want to hear what He has to say. In fact, there's a really powerful story in the Old Testament about a young boy named Samuel who's probably 12 or so, and he worked in the temple for the priest named Eli.

Now, Eli wasn't obeying God and the little boy Samuel probably didn't know God, but Samuel was doing the religious rituals in the temple. He was doing the religious work, but he didn't have a relationship with God, which brings up a side thought that a ritual is very different than a relationship. Amen. Some of you perhaps have been in a religious ritual doing some of the right things without actually knowing the God who loves you. Samuel was doing the rituals, but he didn't yet know God. And so one night, he went to bed and he heard his name, Samuel, or maybe it was like Samuel. I don't know what it was like, but he heard his name and so he thought the priest was calling him. So he ran into the priest's room and said, "Eli, what do you want? What do you want? What do you want"? And Eli said, "I didn't do anything. Go back to bed".

And Samuel goes back and gets into bed and he falls asleep when he hears his name, Samuel. And he runs in and he says, "What do you want? What do you what? What do you want"? And Eli says, "That wasn't me. Go back to bed". And Samuel goes back to bed and he goes to sleep when he hears, "Samuel". And he runs in and says, "Eli, what do I do? What do I do? Is that you"? Ah, he realized that the Lord was most likely speaking to Samuel. And so in 1 Samuel 3:8, Eli realized the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down. And if God calls you..."

What are you gonna say? Everybody read this aloud. Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. Those of you online, I want you to type that in the comment section. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. And I would love it if all of you would pause for a moment, and let's just say this prayerfully, I'll go first and then you follow. We're gonna say, speak, Lord. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening. Your servant is listening. One more time, just very, very prayerfully. Some of you have a decision to make, you need direction. And so what are we gonna pray? We're gonna pray. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening. And so that's what Samuel does. God, what are You trying to say? Speak to me. And what did God say to him?

Let me tell you what God didn't say to the 12-year-old boy. God didn't say, hey, Samuel, you're doing a great job, therefore I'm gonna bless you with that cute 12-year-old girl that you liked that you met at the playground. And when you're 21, you're gonna get married and you're gonna have a good job making six figures, according to that time. And you're gonna have 2.5 children and a dog and a white picket fence. You're gonna be blessed beyond measure. God didn't say that to him. God said something to him that he didn't want to hear. And God told Samuel, you can read about it in the text, he warned him that the priest Eli wasn't listening to God. And he didn't discipline his rebellious sons and he blasphemed the name of God. And so God said to him, "I'm going to shock all of Israel". And God's told a 12-year-old boy, I'm gonna carry out my judgment against Eli and his entire family.

That's a hard message for a 12-year-old boy. And that's why I wanna remind you, don't ask God to speak to you unless you want to hear what He has to say. Now, some of you may say, okay, I am asking God to speak to me and I'm not hearing anything. And I wanna remind you, just because you aren't hearing doesn't mean God isn't speaking. That the more you listen, the better you'll be able to recognize God's voice. I'll illustrate it this way. Have I ever told you that I'm a pilot? They'll tell you that. There's a joke that says, how do you know if someone's a pilot? And the punchline is, don't worry, they'll tell you. So if I haven't told you before, I'm a pilot. And about three years ago, I started to study, get my pilot's license. And I'll show a picture of the plane. This was a plane that I learned in. That plane is so old.

The good news is, that it's actually three years younger than I am. That's good news. Okay? So that was a whole plane. And so when I was flying with my instructor, when you're up flying around ATC, air traffic control, talks to you and maybe talking to 50, 60, 70, 80 other planes if you're in busy airspace. And what they'll do to get your attention is they're talking to everybody, but they'll call your tail number, which is kind of like your name. And let's just say this isn't a tail number I've flown, but let's just say it's 1820 Alpha. And so we're flying along and they say 1820 Alpha. And they would talk to me over and over and over again and I would never hear my name. My instructor would always say, "Wait, wait, they just said our name," and then we'd listen. I'd go, "How do you do that"?

We're talking up there, they're saying all these different names. And he said, "The more you learn to listen, the better you'll hear your name". And so if I'm flying with Amy... Now, for example, we flew last week to see one of our campuses and we went to Fort Worth, Texas. And we're flying along. And then I hear our tail number. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. 1820 alpha. And they say, "Fly heading 130, maintain 3000". And then I'll say it back, "Fly 120, maintain 3000". She said, "How do you hear your name"? And I told her, "The more you listen, the better you'll get at recognizing your name". The more you listen to God, the better you'll get at recognizing when He calls you by name and directs your step. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could clearly hear the voice of God? And the good news is, you can. Jesus promises He's the good shepherd and you are the sheep, and the sheep will know the voice of the shepherd.

So how do you hear from Him? We start by asking him to speak to you. The second thing, and this is really, really obvious, but this is a game changer, is you listen to what He says. Jeremiah 33:3, God said this, God said, "Call to me and I will answer you". If you have a question, if you need direction, if you need wisdom, you ask God for wisdom. The Bible says that He will give generously to all. So you call to God. God, I need to know Your will. I need to know Your voice. I need to know Your ways. And when you call to Him, He will answer you. Why? Because our God is a relational God. God spoke to create the world. God created Adam and Eve for relationship with Him and with each other. God is a relational God. He's always speaking. The question is, are you listening? He's speaking all the time.

Now, you may say, okay, okay, I'm gonna ask Him to speak. I'm gonna listen. How will I hear from Him? How does God speak? And I wanna tell you very, very clearly, the most reliable way to hear God speak is listening to what He says to you through His word. His word is living. It's active. It is powerful. It's like a a sword. It encourages, it corrects, it directs, it guides, it comforts. As the people of God, we feed on the word of God every day, taking this word into our body that it would renew our minds, that it would direct our feet, that it would take us toward God's will. The most reliable way to hear from God is to listen to what He says through His word. And God will never ever contradict anything that He says in His word. He'll speak to you through His word. He may speak to you through the wisdom of a friend. He can speak to you through a sermon or a song. He can speak to you through circumstances when you're going one way and all of a sudden God closes the door, or you don't think you can go this way and God opens up a door.

God may speak to you through His Holy Spirit. Whenever you turn from your sins and you call on the name of Jesus, your spirit is born anew. God is spirit. He speaks to you, His spirit to your spirit. And internally, you can discern the voice of God through His Holy Spirit speaking to your spirit. God will prompt you sometimes be like, oh man, I feel prompted to give this to someone. And you may say, oh, was that the God? Was that God prompted me to give? Or was that the devil? And you say, oh, the devil probably didn't tempt me to be generous. That was probably God. And you're prompted in different ways, or God may speak to you through dreams. God may speak to you through visions. God may give you a supernatural peace, or God may direct you by the absence of peace. I can't get a peace about this, so it must not be God.

God may give you a confirmation through His word, through a message or through a friend. God is always speaking. The question is, are you listening? Ask Him to speak. Listen to what He says. And then you're gonna say like, when is He gonna speak to me? And the answer is, He's gonna speak to you every time you need to hear what he wants to say. And He'll speak to you in a holy, quiet moment. And He'll speak to you in an ordinary moment when you need to hear His voice. This happens kind of all the time for me. For example, I did this little TV interview thing one time where this interviewer was in another state. And so they had the interviewer on the TV screen. And I could watch what she was saying and hear her voice. And then they gave me this communication device and put it in my ear. And it was really cool because the producer kind of gave me some comfort like, you're not alone.

And so before the interview went live, I could hear the little voice in my ear saying, okay, "Craig, you look really good". Like, oh, thank you. Can you tell me that again? You look really good. We're gonna be going live here in 15, 14. Sit up straight, just smile. And now we're live. And then the conversation would start. And then they say, they asked me a question and then I hear it in my ear. We got about a 15 second before commercial, so wrap it up. And all of a sudden, I would be done. And the whole time I was having one conversation, there was another voice in my ear directing my steps and comforting me when I felt uncomfortable. And this is often how God will speak to you. You'll be in a weird place and you need to know his voice. You'll be talking to someone, you're like, what am I supposed to say to them? And all of a sudden, He prompts you.

In fact, I love what Isaiah 30:21, how it describes it. 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". If you listen for the voice of God, you'll hear Him guiding you, giving you the words to say, comforting you, giving you peace, prompting you to do something. Maybe even giving you a Bible verse to share with someone. You're hearing the voice of God. He's always speaking. The question is, are you listening? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could clearly hear God's voice? And Jesus promises, you can. Jesus is the good shepherd and you are the sheep. And the sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd.

So how do you hear from God? Well, we're gonna ask Him, God, speak. Your servant is listening. God, speak. I want to hear Your voice. I want to know Your way. Then you're gonna listen to what God has to say. And number three is... You ready? You're gonna do what He tells you to do. Pretty simple, right? But it's a game changer. You're gonna do what He tells you to do. And let me warn you, what He tells you to do will often take faith. It'll often take faith. I like what Jesus said when He replied to a question. He said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God..". And do what else? "And obey it". Blessed are those were not just hearers of the word, but were actually doers of the word.

Now, some of you may say, okay, I get it. I'm a Christian and I believe God speaks, but I haven't heard from God for a long time. Why isn't God speaking to me? And I don't know for sure, but for some of you, maybe it's because you didn't do the last thing He told you to do. Maybe He gave you an assignment before and said, "Here's what I want you to do, and you haven't done it yet". And I can tell you just very sincerely in many years of being a pastor, I've seen a lot of Christians who have a lot of Bible knowledge, but not a lot of obedience. I mean, they can quote the Bible all day long, they're hearing it, but not necessarily doing it. We could say there are many Christians that are educated beyond their level of obedience. Why would I heard from God in a long time? Maybe because you didn't do the last thing that He told you to do.

Someone here, He might've told you to give something to somebody and you didn't do it. Or maybe He prompted you to confess a sin and you didn't confess it. Or maybe He told you to serve somewhere in the church or in the community, and you know He did, but you haven't done it yet. Or maybe He prompted you to invite someone to come with you to church and you haven't obeyed what He told you to do. Maybe He prompted you to forgive the person who hurt you and asked for forgiveness, but you're still holding a grudge. If you haven't heard from God in a long time, maybe it's because you didn't obey the last thing He told you to do. I've got really, really good news for you because I know life is complicated and we have a lot of decisions to make. Whenever you need direction, the good news is, Jesus, He is the good shepherd, and we are the sheep. And the sheep know the voice of the shepherd.

So how do we hear the voice? What I promise you is you have to turn down the volume of this world because everything is shouting for your attention. Stop scrolling, and stop clicking, and stop giving into what everybody else says and listen for the voice of God. There's an exercise that I've done now for maybe three years that I like a lot, and I'll do it on vacations or on a day off. I'll go sit outside. And what I'll do is I do this to focus my mind to practice just mindfulness and presence. And what it does is it helps me to focus to listen to the voice of God. And what I'll do is I just get really, really quiet and I'll start listening for a variety of noises. And I'll start to count the noises as I hear them. And my goal is to wait until I hear 20 different noises. And my rule is if a dog barks and then another dog barks, that just counts once.

If a car drives by another car drives, it is just one. You can only count everything one time. And so it's pretty easy at first. At first, you hear a dog bark and a car go by and a plane fly over and the air conditioner kick on and the house settle and your stomach growl. And then it gets kind of quiet. And then you listen, you listen, you listen, and you hear a cricket chirp way off in the distance. And then you might hear the wind blow and some leaves rustled. And you listen and you listen and you listen for 10 sounds. It's pretty easy, 11, 12. It takes longer and longer and longer. And you have to lean in and you have to listen very, very carefully. And you have to focus to hear the noise, to focus to hear the sound. What's interesting to me is that every day, those sounds are always there, but I rarely hear them. Why? Because I haven't slowed myself down and focused enough to hear them.

What I wanna tell you this is that God is speaking. He speaks every day to anyone who will listen to Him. He is a relational God who loves you and wants to reveal His love for you, and His purpose is for you, and His will for your life. God is always speaking. The problem is, we're not always listening. So what do we do? We slow down and we listen. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, be still and know that He is God". You can hear His voice. I'll close out with a story from the Old Testament. Elijah, the prophet, was a great man of God with big faith and destroyed all these false prophets. And then this evil queen named Jesse came after him. Jesse is short for Jezebel. And Jezebel was scary. Jezebel said, "I'm gonna kill you". And he had already handled all these men, but one angry woman come and he's done. He's like, "Ah".

And so he runs and hides in a cave. He is where some of you are right now. He was totally and completely depleted. He was at the end. He didn't know if he could take anymore. He needed a word from God. I wonder if there's anyone here today who needs a word from God. We serve a God who loves you, a God who is speaking. If you're listening, you can hear because God may give you a word that you need. He needed to hear from God. "And the wind blasted through the mountains," scripture says, "but the Lord was not in the wind".

Then a big earthquake came and shook the ground. But the Bible says the Lord was not in the earthquake and then a fire raged. But scripture tells us that the Lord was not in the fire. For those of you that are older like me, we see earth, wind, and fire. #dadjoke. Just play to my older crowd. Stick with me. You've been faithful for years. I have not forgotten you. And he was waiting for God in the extraordinary. But 1 Kings 19:12 says, "And after the fire came a gentle whisper". Came a gentle whisper. Here's what's so special to me. Where was God? Not in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary. And if you get to know God personally, He will whisper to you in the most ordinary times. Whether you turn to the right or the left, there's a voice in your ear saying, "Go this way".

When you're doing the dishes, God gives you wisdom. When you're driving to work, God gives you a word for someone. When you're awake at 2:00 AM in the morning, God whispers, "I am with you. I am for you. I will never leave you. I'll never forsake you. I'm working in all things to bring about good". If you can trust me, God whispers, He whispers. Why do you think He whispers? Maybe one of the reasons He whispers is to draw you close because our God is a relational God. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could ask God a question and you could know His will and hear His voice? The good news is you can because Jesus is the good shepherd and we are the sheep and the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. So ask Him. Listen to what He says and do what He says to do because He's speaking and you will hear Him if you are listening. Would you pray it with me?

Speak, Lord. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening. Your servant is listening. (One more time.) Speak, Lord. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening. Your servant is listening. Now, Father, we ask that You would speak directly to the hearts of those who need to hear from You.

Today at all of our churches, I know that there are some of you that are hurting. And you need a word of comfort. Some of you have lost hope when you need a word of hope. Some of you're trying to make a decision and you need wisdom. Some of you are carrying a burden and you need to cast that care on God and know that He cares for you. Today at all of our churches, those of you who would say, yeah, Craig, I really do, I want to better hear the voice of God. Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up all over the place. Online, you can just type in the comment section.

God, help me to hear Your voice, help me to hear Your voice. And, Father, I pray, as I've just been praying all week long for our church family, that we would be a people that humbly seek you in Your word every single day. God, that we would open up Your word and open up our hearts and let you speak to us. And, God, I ask, especially for those who need confirmation, or direction, or comfort, or guidance, or conviction, and correction, that You would speak very, very clearly. Speak through this message, speak through a song, speak through someone in their life group. Speak when they're serving, God. Help us to hear Your voice. And, God, give us the faith to do whatever you tell us to do. Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.

As you keep praying today, some of you may say, well, I've really never heard the voice of God before. And I would say to you, if you've never felt convicted or comforted or directed from God, I would suggest that maybe you don't know Him. You might even been a church person for years and years and years, kind of like Samuel. He was doing the ritual, but he didn't have a relationship. And there are some of you, if you were really, really honest, you'd say, we could just sit down and talk and I'd ask questions. You'd say, yeah, Craig, I really don't have a relationship with God.

Let me tell you what Jesus said. This is in the last book in the Bible, Revelation 3:20. Jesus said, "Here I am, and I stand at the door and knock". In other words, He loves you and He wants to come into your life. And then here's what He says, Jesus says, "If anyone hears my voice," listen to that. "If they hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and I will eat with them and they'll eat with me".

Jesus is knocking on the heart of somebody right now, and maybe you can hear His voice. He loves you. He wants you to surrender. He wants you to know the Father. He's knocking. And when you hear His voice, if you let Him in, He will come in. Some are gonna say, well, yeah, I want Him to come in, but I'm not ready yet. I gotta clean up my my house. Yet that night, none of you'll clean up your house. You're gonna get cleaning up. You just let Him in. You let Him in. What if I'm still sitting and messing up? You just let Him on in. You let him in. You confess your need for Him. And when you do, He forgives your sins. He makes you brand new. Jesus the good shepherd who died on the cross for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead so that anyone in this includes you who calls in His name, you would be saved and forgiven.

Today at all of our churches, those of you that know, you don't know Him and you're ready to let Him in, we're gonna step away from our sin, and we're gonna call on the name that is above every name. If that's you today, I need a relationship with Him. I want His forgiveness. I want is grace. I need His peace. I wanna step away from my old life. I wanna give all of my life to Jesus today. That's your prayer today. Lift your hands high right now all over the place. Lift them up and say, yes, that's my prayer back over there. God bless you. Others of you right back over here and over here as well. Praise God for you. Others today who say yes, Jesus, I surrender, lift up your hands and say, yes, I wanna know You, and serve You, and follow You. Online, if you can type in the comment section today, I'm following the good shepherd. And let's all pray together. Pray:

Heavenly Father, I surrender to You. I hear Your voice and I'm letting You in. Save me. Forgive me. Fill me with Your spirit. Speak to me daily so I can do Your will and show Your love in all I do. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. In Jesus' name I pray.

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