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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - The God Who Hears

Mark Batterson - The God Who Hears

Mark Batterson - The God Who Hears

"What comes to mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you". A.W. Tozer said that. A little boy was drawing a picture one day, and his father asked him what he was drawing, the little boy said, "I'm drawing a picture of God". Father said, "Son, no one knows what God looks like". The little boy said, "They will when I'm done". Please hear what I'm about to say. All of us are drawing a picture of God all the time. The question is, is it accurate? If we get God wrong, everything else is off. So important that our internal image of who God is reflects the reality of who He really is. Why, because that internal image of God will determine our identity, our reality, our destiny. So, one more time for good measure. What comes to mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. If you think of God as a cosmic killjoy, rather than the God who is rejoicing over you with singing, you'll relate to God the wrong way. Couple of diagnostic questions. What expression is God wearing on His face? Is He frowning or is He smiling? How about body posture, arms folded, leaning back, or arms wide open, leaning in? How about tone of voice? Is it a vindictive voice, or is it the most loving, most caring, most gentle, yet powerful voice you have ever heard?

Welcome to National Community Church, in person, online, DC, Nova, we kick off a new series, Seen, Heard, Loved. Now, if you're taking notes, you can jot this down, better yet, download the NCC app. And there are message notes on here every week, believe it or not. An attribute of God is not something God does. An attribute of God is something God is. And this is a critical distinction. God doesn't just love, God is love. God is light, God is life, God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our food. This series is about three attributes, the God who sees, the God who hears, the God who loves, all seeing, all hearing, all loving. You can grab your Bible, meet me in ancient Egypt, the Israelites have been enslaved for 400 years, we pick up the story, Exodus 6:1. "Then the Lord said to Moses 'Now you will see what I will do.'"

In light of our last series, can I add a even? Even now you will see what I will do. It is never too little, it is never too late, it's almost like God is saying, "Enough is enough. It's time". Time for what? Time to deliver my people. Time to flex on Pharaoh. "Now, you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, because of my mighty hand, he will let them go because of my mighty hand, he will drive them out of his country". God said to Moses, "I am the Lord". This week. Someone followed me on Twitter, and the name rung a bell. His dad, Phil Lawler, was my PE teacher at Madison Junior High in Naperville, Illinois. Blast from the past, jogged a memory of what is one of the greatest sports memories of my life, one of the greatest sports moments, as a member of the Madison Junior High basketball team, we won the eighth grade city championship. Thank you.

Now hold your applause. Hold your applause. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Now listen, Zeke, what grade are you in? Yeah, I knew it. You're in eighth grade. In eighth grade, listen to me, 'cause the next day, the next day, Yours Truly was on the front page of the Naperville Sun. And in the eighth grade, that's big time. It was like the crowning moment of the junior high basketball career, but it comes with a catch. They got this amazing picture, I'm grabbing this rebound, I'm pretty vertical, it's looking good despite... I mean, this is tight, tight days, okay? So but I'm grabbing the rebound, and then I see it, the caption, it didn't say "Mark Batterson" It said "Mike Batterson".

Anybody wanna guess what my friends called me? From that day forward, Not just Mike. Mikey. Junior High is cruel. And so then that reminded me of another moment, in college, our basketball team Central Bible College, we used to go, and minister at churches, and we'd teach Sunday school, share testimony, and we would sing. And there was this one Sunday, where our whole team is on stage, coaches with us, and the pastor gets up and says, "I wanna introduce to you my good friend". And there was this awkward pause, and then he turned to our coach and said, "What was your name again"? Can I tell you what I think? I think some people call God Mike. I think they caption God the wrong way. I think they call God by the wrong name, or they don't know His name at all. Or the only time they use His name is in vain.

Now, occasionally I'll read a book I don't wanna read. Why? Because I disagree with almost everything they're saying, but I feel like I need to know why they think the way they think. So I recently read "Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris, made me mad, made me sad, because the entire book disparages, and here's the key, who Sam Harris thinks God is. Now let me say this as succinctly as I can. To know God is to love God. If you don't love God, maybe, just maybe, you don't know God. If you don't love God, maybe that picture of God is off. Remember the famous sermon, Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"? Truth is, I think it's the opposite. I think it's God in the hands of angry people. We project our anger on God, and the picture gets distorted, and God becomes an extension of, or an expression of my ego. We create God in our image, and then we wonder why God is so angry.

Listen, most people don't want a relationship with God, who don't want a relationship with God, don't want a relationship with who they think God is. So here's the deal. I don't want a relationship with the God that Sam Harris thinks He is. I don't want anything to do with that. Who is God, and what is His heart towards us? Let's dig a little deeper. Exodus 6:3. "I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El-Shaddai. God almighty". And then this is interesting, "But I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them". Now there are more than 400 names for God in Scripture. And this is key. His name is His character. The first name of God is Elohim, "Bereshit Elohim Bara". In the beginning, God created. What's fascinating about Elohim grammatically speaking is that it's plural. So in the very beginning, this idea of trinity, one God, three persons, "Let us, us make man in our image, in our likeness". Isn't that interesting?

In Genesis 1, God is Elohim, in Genesis 2, God is Yahweh. And this begins a progressive revelation of who God is. Now, I'll just say for the record, the God of the New Testament seems very different than the God of the Old Testament. Or is that just me? And yet Scripture says "He's the same yesterday today and forever". So it's not like God's getting nicer. As we read from Genesis to Revelation, I think what's happening is God is pulling back the curtain, just like we would in any relationship with any other person, and He is revealing more of who He is. God is Adonai. God is El-Shaddai. God is Jehovah-Rapha, God my healer, He is Jehovah-Nissi, God my banner, Then you get to Exodus 3, and a burning bush. And God says to Moses, "I am who I am". It's the Hebrew word Ehyeh.

Now little crash course in Biblical Hebrew. In English, we generally say things, subject, verb, object. Jack and Jill ran down the hill. In Hebrew, it's object, verb, subject. Down the hill ran Jack and Jill. It sounds like Yoda. "Patience you must have". "Careful you must be". "Size matters not". "May the force be with you", and also with you. Now, one more nuance. English has three verb tenses that relate to time, past, present, future. Hebrew only has two tenses, and they relate to action. Hebrew is an action-oriented language. In fact, there's no distinction between knowing and doing. If you don't do it, don't tell me you know it in Hebrew. And so you've heard this 100 times. Most of us are educated way beyond the level of our obedience already. We don't need to know more, as much as we need to do more with what we know. Maybe an amen, right. Right there.

A perfect verb in Hebrew is completed action, and... There won't be a quiz at the end. And imperfect verb is incomplete action. And the significance of that is this. Ehyeh is the imperfect tense. So it's not like God is saying, "I am who I am", completed action. It's like God is saying, "I will be who I will be". There aren't enough names to reveal the dimensions of my love and power and grace and mercy. And so we say Hallowed be thy name. We sang it. Worthy is your name. Name above all names. And then please hear my heart right here. When Scripture says "Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess before that name". It's not a threat. It's a beautiful promise. Our Creator, our Redeemer. The one who sees me, and hears me, and loves me, and now we're face to face. And that name then gives us our name, Revelation 2:17, a name written on a white stone, that no one else knows, the day is coming, my friend.

When that name will... Your name that your parents gave you as a placeholder, because that name will make sense of everything. In that moment, I think our lives will flash, "That's who I am. That's who I am". Mm. Mm. I can't see my notes. In one sense, spiritual growth is getting to know the names of God, and by that I mean the character of God. But I'll take it one more step. If you remember the priestly blessing, "May the Lord bless you and keep you. Make His face shine on you. Be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His countenance towards you, and give you peace". But there is a postscript to that priestly blessing. Here's what it says. It's the most important part. It's even more important. Are you ready for this? Than the blessing itself. The Lord says, "So they will put my name, put my name, they will put my name on them, they will put my name on them, they will put my name on..."

Listen to me. When God healed my lungs, He didn't just heal my lungs, He put His name on me. I am Jehovah-Rapha. God, your healer. And I haven't touched an inhaler from that day to this day, when we built phase one and phase two of this building debt free, God said, "Watch this. I am Jehovah-Jireh, God, your provider". I will say this. He did it through us. Praise God. And the day He saved you, He put His name you. I am Yeshua. The Lord who saves. Verse five. "I have heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are enslaving". I love this, "And I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to the Israelites, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with mighty acts of judgment, I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord, and I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord".

Not once, not twice, three times. God reveals His name, "I am the Lord", and then He reveals another nuance of that name. "I have heard the groaning of the Israelites", He is the God who hears, He is El-Shema. It's the Hebrew word, Shema. Remember this from a few weeks ago, the English language has 170,000 words. Biblical Hebrew has less than 8,000 words, which means English has more words, Hebrew has more meaning. And so this word, Shema, means to listen intelligently. Did you know God knows you better than you know you? He hears what you're really thinking, what you're really feeling, in a way that's beyond what you can even understand. Is that not amazing? He listens intelligently, and He listens closely. There's something about this word that... I shouldn't do this. This is not God up on a stage, removed from us. Is this gonna be weird, Dido? We're good enough friends. We've been friends for 20 years, that this is the God. Just... Is it getting weird or it's getting weird.

Like right, my ear to your... This is the God. This is the God. Here, I'll just give you a hug too, 'cause I love you. This is the God who just leans in, and doesn't just hear our words, He hears your heart. Before a word is even on my tongue, you know it completely. Oh, He knows you inside and out. The God who hears, not just the all seeing eye, He is the all hearing ear. We change lanes. How are we doing, are we doing okay? Had a crazy thought this week. For me, that's a normal week. We're watching TV, Laura and I, and I swear, our 13-pound-cockapoo, Nella, is as into this show as we are. And so this thought crosses my mind, like, "What do dogs see and hear when they watch TV"?

So I researched it. But I need to show you, puppy. Yeah. That's all you're gonna remember from this message. Just leave Nella up for a minute. Did you know that two-thirds of dog owners leave the TV on when they go to work for their dog? That's 60% of dog parents believe that their dog has a favorite TV show? I just, if you're online, just put in the chat your dog's favorite TV show. So what do dogs see and hear when they watch TV? And I'm going somewhere with this. Humans are trichromats. We have three cones, allows us to distinguish between a million different colors. Dogs are dichromats, so they have two cones, they can only see 10,000 colors, but the biggest difference between dogs and humans is that dogs have better motion perception. Okay. Humans can see about 55 frames per second, dogs can see 70 frames per second. Most TVs are, the refresh rate, the number of times that the display, the picture refreshes itself is 60 frames per second.

So all you see is a moving picture. Your poor dog sees the flicker effect between frames. So what I'm saying is this, if you have a dog, if you love your dog, get an HDTV with 120 Hertz. And there is a point. Okay, dial in right here. Humans have visual and auditory ranges. We can see and hear within certain ranges. And I'll put up a graph just to help us with this. Our range of hearing is between 20 and 20,000 Hertz. Anything below 20 Hertz, infrasonic, anything above 20,000 Hertz, ultrasonic. When we hear sound, we think phonics, but we should think physics, because when you get outside of the auditory range, sound does some strange and mysterious stuff. So according to zoologists, the elephant down here can predict weather changes with infrasound, and then birds, that's how they navigate when they migrate, and then when you get to ultrasound, it's crazy, 'cause you can track submarines, pasteurize milk, break up kidney stones, and get a glimpse of your unborn baby via sonogram.

Isn't that amazing? When we think of the voice of God, we tend to think of this audible range between 20 and 20,000 Hertz. We think that God is gonna use human language. Now can God speak audibly? Absolutely. But that's a thin slice of God's vocal range. His ability to speak is not limited by your ability to hear. And there are those who would say "Never heard the voice of God". With all due respect, you've never not. Theologically speaking, "In the beginning, God said, He said, 'Let there be light.'" Those four words are still creating galaxies at the outer edge of the Universe. The Universe is God's way of saying "Look at what I can do with four words". All that to say this. There is a God. He is the God. He is the God who speaks beyond what we can hear. And He is the God who hears beyond what we can speak.

Can I say that one more time? Would you just get that from here, to here, to here? He is the God who speaks beyond what you can hear. And He is the God who hears beyond what you can speak. What does it say? I have heard the groanings. I have heard the groanings. Past few weeks, a heaviness with all that's happening around us. Tragic car accident, two teenagers in northern Virginia, tragically killed Pastor Marian, pastored those funerals. What happened in California? Mass shootings, heartbreaking. Memphis. I watched it once. Bumped into a council member walking Nella this week. I said, "What's getting you up early, and what's keeping you up late"? Council member says, "We have kids killing kids in our city".

And then I've had some conversations over the last few weeks with some of you. Like... Heartbreaking. And yet a God who Has sustained you. A God who has never left you nor forsaken you. The God of all comfort in those moments, and so I'm just gonna say two things. These are two things I've learned and these are two things that I do. One, God gives the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. When I feel heavy in my spirit, sometimes the last thing that I feel like doing is worshiping. But I've learned that when I begin to give God the sacrifice of praise, God begins to put a garment of praise on me. And the spirit of heaviness begins to lift. And I can now overcome what was overwhelming me. Because God, I'm gonna give you my praise, because you inhabit the praises of your people. Listen, we don't come together, and just sing words on a screen. There's a God who is rejoicing over you with singing.

Worship is singing back. "I hear you Lord". And two, when I don't know what to say, when I don't know what to pray, and for this pastor, it's often, I pray in the Spirit. Because I dunno what to say. And when I do, in a sense, I'm just doing what God does for us. Do you realize today that there is a God who doesn't just hear our groanings? There is a God who groans for us. Romans 8. Long before you woke up today, long after you go to sleep tonight, the Spirit of God is interceding for you with wordless groans, and He's not the only one. The advocate is at the right hand, of the Father interceding for you. Two-thirds of the Godhead are interceding for you today to the other third, to the Heavenly Father. Oh, thank you, Lord. God's got this, God's got you.

On the way in, you got a prayer card that looks like this. I'm a mess today. But how can I communicate to God who cries with us and for us, if maybe occasionally I don't shed a few tears? Would you put pen to paper, and at some point before you leave, or if you're online, you can email or text, we'll get you a way to do that, we'll even put something in the chat for you. Would you pen a prayer? And then here's what we're gonna do, at House of Prayer on Thursday nights during this series, we're just gonna come together, and we're gonna stand in the gap, and we're gonna bear each other's burdens, and we're gonna lift each other's arms, and we're gonna agree in prayer, and we're gonna cover you with prayer. You can hand it to a Pastor, to a greeter, lay it in an altar, let's be praying over one another.

All right, let me share some good news, and we're getting close. God doesn't hear us based on volume, God doesn't hear us based on vocabulary. You don't have to pull out fancy words, praying in old English, doesn't matter whether you pray KJV or NIV. God hears the pain and suffering you can't put into words. God hears the subliminal hopes and dreams, here's your history, here's your hurts, here's your heart. When my father-in-law passed away, and our family was grieving, I discovered that I was sighing all the time. And I realized that it's a physiological release valve, but it's also a prayer language, because that's when I discovered Psalm 5:1. Jot it down. "Oh Lord, hear me as I pray". And here's what it says. "Consider my sighing". The NIV says, "Pay attention to my groaning".

He hears our groans. He groans for us, but I'm gonna take it one step further, and we'll close with this. Let me show you four images. Anyone know what these are? They look, kind of look like snowflakes, right? But they aren't, but they are as unique as snowflakes. They are four images of tears, captured by the Danish artist, Maurice Mikkers, after they crystallized, he took a photo micrograph of them, and there are three primary types of tears. Real quick. Base tears lubricate the eyes, reflex tears are caused by irritants like onions, and emotional tears, are you ready for this? We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Emotional tears have extra ingredients. They include the stress hormone prolactin, and a natural painkiller, leucine enkephalin. But regardless of the type, they're as unique as snowflakes. Are you ready for this?

Let's put it up. Upper left hand corner. These are tears of grief. Upper right, tears of change. Onion tears. And then these are tears of joy. They're laughing tears. Just leave those up, and 90 seconds, here we go. John, 11:35. "Jesus wept". Shortest verse in the Bible, but it speaks volumes. What's interesting to me is those tears were unnecessary, 'cause Jesus already knew what He was going to do. He was gonna raise Lazarus from the dead. Oh, but this is the God who can't not cry for us. This is the God who can't not feel with us. This is the God who collects tears in His bottle. Psalm 56:8. In ancient Rome, there were bottles called tear catchers, made of ornamental glass, four inches in height, those who mourned, literally filled those bottles with their tears, and then they placed them on tombs as symbols of love. More tears, more beloved that person was.

Average person, 1.4 milliliters of tears every day. I did the math. That's 10 gallons of tears. And God collects every last one. And every last one is unique to you. He hears your groans, He collects your tears, and He knows your voice, and He loves your voice. We're gonna sing a song in a moment, and you might be tempted to think "There are hundreds of people singing. So does my voice really matter"? Your voiceprint is unlike anyone else. God knows your voice. He loves your voice. And the truth is, you worship God out of your testimony, your history, your personality. No one can worship God like you or for you. So a few years ago, Summer and I wrote a little book, God Speaks in whispers. It's a bedtime story book for kids, but big people need reminding. So here it is. Above all else. Know this is true, that God is singing all around you. And what is He saying in that voice still and small? That you, my dear, are His favorite of all. Amen.
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