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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - God Told Me

Mike Novotny - God Told Me

Mike Novotny - God Told Me
TOPICS: Trends vs. Truth, God's Voice

You ever had an experience, where it just felt, it just seem like God was speaking directly to you? Like, not necessarily you're in church, open Bible, you know, reading the Word of God, but there's just, there's something about the situation, where you think that is either the craziest coincidence or God is trying to talk to me. Or maybe you're going through something big in life, you're trying to decide on work, or college, do you stay local, do you go out of state, you're asking God for a sign, for a sign, for a sign. Then just something happens that either feels really, really crazy or it's the sign that you're praying for. Or maybe, have you ever been through, like, a breakup or a divorce or just something really difficult, and you just not coping with it very well, and you get in the car, and you turn on the radio and the song that pops on is just so, like, spot on.

What are the odds the DJ would play that song, at that time, when you were thinking about that very thing. You ever had a dream that just seem to connect with what you were going through in life? Has a friend ever said something to you that was totally serendipitous or maybe the Holy Spirit is speaking through them? You ever just had a thought, or a feeling, or an impression where you concluded, "This has to be God. God nudging me, God poking me, God whispering to me, God speaking to me, God loves me, he wants to help me, I need help", and this feels like this is exactly it. What do you think about that? I mean, there's some beautiful stories that I've heard about God seeming to guide people and really intentional, unique, and beautiful ways. And then all these other stories where it just seems like, no.

Maybe I'm sensitive to this because, I'm a pastor, and we're a church that's on TV, and if you know anything about pastors who have been on TV, especially through the '80s and early '90s, "God told me," was like red flag central. "God told me we have got to build a new build. God told me we need to raise 10 million dollars. If you just give a seed of faith today". Right? So, God told me, you don't want to be skeptical, you don't want to be mean, but how do you know the difference between God actually speaking, and guiding, and directing by his spirit and people just saying, or feeling, or thinking what comes out of their own hearts. It's really a huge question, how does God communicate with you?

And here's why I care about the answer to that question because God is God, and you are you. I mean, if you've ever gotten drunk before and woken up totally hungover? That's proof that you don't always think of what's good in the long term. Sometimes you and I smart and self-controlled and we do what's best for our future, and sometimes we just say it, or we smoke it, or we do it, or we choose it, just because we care about this very moment. And so, you know, here we are, people who have mixed motives, people who don't know the future, and then there's God who know everything about the future, and who's motives are always good. And so, my point it is so natural, it is so wise for us to put up our hands in humility and say, "God, tell me, guide me, help me, speak to me".

And so, that's the question I want to wrestle with you today, how does God do that? How does God speak to people? How does God communicate with you? How do you know, how can you be sure it's not just your own subconscious, your own... How can you know? Put your faith on it and absolutely trust it that God is speaking directly to you. Well, grab a pen if you're taking notes, because here's the first big thing I want to say as I study that theme throughout the Bible. It's the first fill in the blank in your program if you're taking notes and it this, that God has spoken in many ways. Read the Bible from cover to cover, you don't have to go very far, and you realize that when God wants to speak to people he does it in a really different, really unique, and sometimes very interesting ways.

You ever heard the story of Moses and the burning bush? God's going to call Moses, speak a word directly to him, to save his people, but he doesn't speak in a an old book or in an ancient scroll, Moses is just, like, shepherding his flock until... and God speaks. You ever heard of the prophet Elijah? He's running for his life from a wicked king, Ahab, and his murderous wife, Jezebel, and there's this earthquake, and this fire, and these powerful miracles and signs, but God doesn't speak in that. Instead, shh, in a still, small voice, God spoke. Ever heard of Daniel and Joseph? They woke in the middle of the night with dreams that were God speaking to them. Ever heard of Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah? It was visions that they saw that they communicated to the people of God.

You ever heard of this guy named Balaam before? Balaam was like this shifty, shady, money hungry, kind of false prophet. And he got on his donkey, and he was riding it down this reckless path, and God spoke to him, he confronted him, and he called him out. Do you know how he did it? The Bible says, "The donkey turned around, and spoke to him". So, God can speak through a donkey, right? He's God, he can do whatever he wants. It can be a wind, it can be a whisper, it can be a word, it can be a burning bush, a talking animal. He's God, he can communicate in many, many different ways. The very first verse of the book of Hebrews says this, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways".

Is it theoretically possible, that God could put a dream in your mind that would help you make a good decision? He can. Is it possibly, you know, you just been through a breakup and your heart's broken, and you're lacking the peace and joy that God could nudge that one DJ from that one station to just happen to think of that one song. That was like your song, so when you in the car, during that one car ride, of that one hour, of that one minute, you would push the button and... He's God yes, he can do that. Is it possible that maybe you're coping with a bad day at work, and you're pouring one glass of too many, and God sends your dog to sit on the coach right next to you and the dog looks at you like, hmm. Yes, he can. If he spoke through a donkey, he can an expression on your dogs face. God can do anything because he's God.

It's the beautiful thing about him, he's not limited, he's not restricted to a book, a chapter, a verse, he's the God who can do all things. In the past God spoke and many times, and in various ways, which means, God absolutely can. Oh, but here's the tricky part. Even though God can, can you absolutely be sure it's God? As you're trying to read between the lines of a dream, or interpret the message of a song, or figure out if that's just your dog being weird or if that's from above, if that thought came from you heart or from God's heart. I mean, God absolutely, can do anything, but can you be absolutely sure that God is speaking to you? That makes you think of George Whitefield.

A few of you, church history buffs know that name. George Whitefield was perhaps one of the most influential pastors of the 1700s. He was so gifted at his sermons that even Benjamin Franklin, who was not a fan of Christianity, loved to listen to George Whitefield talk about Jesus. Back in 1743, George and his wife, Elizabeth, had a baby boy, and God told George, it's what he said, that this little boy would grow up to be a great preacher of the gospel of Jesus. In fact, George and Elizabeth were so sure that God had told this to them, they named their little son, John, like John the Baptist, whose mother was also named Elizabeth, by the way. At his baptism service, George baptized his infant son, and he preached to the gathered crowds about this prophecy, this impression that he had from God.

My son is going to grow and do great things because he will preach the great news of our great savior Jesus. Except it didn't happen, John Whitefield did not grow up to be a great preacher of the gospel, in part because John Whitefield never became a preacher of the gospel, which was true because John Whitefield never grew up. At the tender age of just four months, little John had a seizure, and he died. And George Whitefield, who felt so certain, was so absolutely convince in his own head that he didn't just whisper it to close family and friends, he's proclaimed it publicly to his church, staked his reputation on it. He found out that the message he thought was from above, actually just came from within.

See, the Christian faith wants something rock solid. It doesn't want the shifting sand of maybe it was God, it doesn't want to put its full weight, and trust, and confidence, and faith in something that might have come from above. No, your hearts to find peace and confidence for today and tomorrow doesn't want something that might happen, or might have come from heaven it wants something that absolutely guaranteed came from the heart of God. And that's why I love, love, love the thing I'm going to tell you next. I'd love for you to write this down. Yeah, God has spoken in many ways, but here's what also the Bible tells us. God promised to speak in one way. He promised, he guaranteed it. And do you know the way that God has promised to speak personally to you?

The book. God has said that on every page from front to back, from Genesis 1 to the maps on the last page, God is speaking. He might not have written your first and last name in it, but this word was inspired page by page, for people like me, and like you. 2 Timothy 3 says this, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work". And you're thinking, "Well, what's the purpose of my life? Is it just like maybe fall in love, have kids, go to work, pay the bills, try not to do anything terrible and die? Well, why am I here"?

Some of you are older, you're thinking, "Why am I still here, I think my best time is behind me". No, no, no, this book is so useful for teaching. It's going to teach you about you, it's going to teach you about God, it's going to teach you about grace, it's going to teach you about forgiveness. They're a thousand things that this book will teach you about how to do life God's way. And how to end up with God for eternal life. The scripture is useful, and not just for teaching. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking," that means calling you out, "and correcting". Maybe this is the reason why some people don't love the Bible? Because it gets all up in your business.

Alright, it's very specific about what we should do with our words, how we should treat people at work who annoy us, how we should speak about those in authority whether they are our parents, or pastors, or our president. The Bible is useful, tells how often we should forgive people who hurt us. What we should do with grudges what we should think about gossip, or alcohol, or all of it. The Bible will get up in your face and will say, "No, this good, that bad, stop it". Because God is love and he wants what's best for you, for the future, he won't play nice with sin. He'll call it out and say, "I don't care if it's a bachelor party, no. I don't care if she started it, stop it. Before you train wreck this crazy cycle of bitterness and he said this, and she said that, and this person at work did that".

The Bible is so useful for saving us from future drama, it's useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and the passage said, "training in righteousness". I think of the Bible like a spiritual personal trainer. Any of you ever gone to the gym, after like ten years of not going to the gym, then you go and you don't even know how the machines work, but you know you need it. And so, you get this personal trainer and you're dying, right, you think, "I can't do this, I don't belong here, I'm not good enough". But what does the personal trainer do? They teach you, encourage you, they guide you, they say, "It's okay, you're making progress, they keep you going on a good to the future".

The Bible is so like that. It trains you. You think you can't do it. Maybe you're dealing with anxiety today, and you think, "I just can't, I can't do this for another year". Yes, you can, the Bible says. God is faithful, he will help my you. He got through it last year, he's going to do it again. Some of you are working with someone, or going to school with someone, you're like, "I can't love them. I can't. They're absolutely unlovable, and everyone knows it". And the Holy Spirits going to wing around your shoulder, and say, "That's not true. Jesus loved his enemies, and I can teach you to be like Jesus". In so many ways this book helps us figure out life, and forgiveness, and relationships. It's often challenging it is rarely easy, it is frequently inspiring, but I love this, all scripture is God breathed. This is the guaranteed place where God wants to speak to you.

Last thing I want to say about this passage, notice how it ends. Verse 17 says, "The servant of God," That's the followers of Jesus, "may be thoroughly equipped for every good work". It says, "All the scripture is breathed out by God so that if you know this book, if you were taught, and trained, and corrected by it. You will be thoroughly equipped for every good work". There's nothing that God wants you to do that you have to wait for him to reveal. God will tell you his plan for your life in the pages of this beautiful book that he breathed out from his own heart. So, here's my summary, write this down. If you want God's will, I hope you do, open God's word. If you want a rock solid foundation you can trust and never have to wonder or doubt, open the book, because all scripture is God breathed and it is useful to equip you for every single good work.

Now, I know what 16% of you are thinking. You're thinking, "False, the Bible doesn't help me with all the stuff I want. I'm trying to figure out if I should just go to work after high school or go to college, what page is that on, Pastor? We've been dating for 18 months, he hasn't propose yet, he doesn't want to talk about marriage, should I find a new option, or should I stick with him? I have an opportunity to get a new work, start a new career, it's less money, but it seems like a better fit for my gifts. Tell me in what verse of Genesis do I find answer to that"? Here's my beautiful, biblical answer to you. You won't. And you know why? Because God doesn't care. Which is so great. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't care about your life or your choices. I mean, that God is so good that he is waiting at the end of either road.

In fact, he will be with you as you take either road. You don't have to pray, "God, give me a sign, should I stay here in Wisconsin, should I move to Chicago... Well, that one's easy, I would stay in Wisconsin". Sorry about that if you're watching in Chicago right now. "You don't have to wonder, like, I'm going to make the wrong choice and I'm going to be disobedient, I'm going to sin against God, and he's only going to be here, so God tell me what to do, I don't know what to do". God says, "I don't care, I'm going to be with you". If I cared that much, I would've written a verse about it. "So, absorb my wisdom, take in my teaching, make a decision, and I'll be with you". And when things are difficult, or there's more challenges than you thought, you don't have to wonder in the back of your head, "Maybe I did the wrong thing. Maybe God was trying to give me a sign..."

You never have to think that. You never have to wonder and live in doubts that he is somewhere that you can't get to. God gives you a clear path, and he wrote it down so that you won't miss it or forget it. And that's not party pooping on people's spiritual experiences, it's actually giving them a rock solid foundation that leads to peace and leads to joy. So, I'm not sure about this last thing, I want to share with you today, but it just makes sense. Maybe the reason God didn't half his book, like, writing me a page about my career, or you a page about where you should live, is because he wanted to spend pretty much all of these pages talking about this. Like, do you want a quote from God that's directly for you? Do you want a word that comes from inside of his head and deep within his heart that's for you?

The Bible will spend most of its pages telling you about this, about Jesus. The thing I love about the Bible is that God is speaking to me. Me. Some random, middle aged dude living in the 2020s, in a medium sized town Wisconsin, and I wake up in the morning and I open this book, and it doesn't shout, but God speaks to me. It tells me I'm forgiven for the stuff I messed up, and it tells me he'll never bail on me, and it says that through his spirit I can do all things. That's God speaking to me. I don't need a dream, I got a book, and so, do you. Some of you have heard my favorite story in the world, if so, let me tell it again. There's once this youth pastor who planned a really special night for the church's youth group. Instead of pizza, and video games, and kids thinking on their phones, he decided something a little bit more serious, spiritual, and biblical so, here's what he did.

In the church basement he set up a bunch of folding chairs in a big circle, he put a notecard on each chair, and each notecard he wrote a passage from the Bible. Then in the center of the circle he put a single chair with a blindfold waiting over the seat. The kids show up to the church basement, they're kind of confused, they wonder where the pizza is. And the pastor explains to them, "Tonight's going to be a little bit different here's what we're going to do. I want each of you to find a seat around the edge of the circle, I want you to read the Bible passage that's on that notecard, and then I want one of you to volunteer to sit in a center. I want you to put the blindfold on, and then I'm asking you tonight, just be real. Life is good, and life is bad, life is easy, life is often hard. So, just, what's going on in life tell us, really. And what sins have you been struggling with recently, really". "It's an amazing idea," said none of the teenagers.

What 15 year old boy was going to put on a blindfold, and say in front of the girl that he likes the things he's struggling with. So, no one volunteers, the kids just sit there awkwardly, like they sometimes do, until one girl, the new girl raises her hand. And she sits on the chair, and she puts on the blindfold, and then, it comes out. The dysfunction of her family, the abuse of her father, the horrific argument that had happened right before the Bible study started. The tears came fast, and the words spilled out and the students sat there shell-shocked until the pastor pointed. And one teenager looked at his notecard and he read, "'But God is love.' 1 John 4". And the girl pushed back in her emotions, "But family doesn't even love me. My father says he doesn't even want me to come home today. Like, I don't know if I have to leave my family after this Bible study is over".

So, the pastor pointed to a kid in the back and the kid read, "'But I will never leave you.' Hebrews 13". And back and forth they went, the girl confessing her problems and struggles, the kids' reading from the notecard, until the girl couldn't handle it any longer, she took off the blindfold and with tear stained eyes and cheeks, she looked at the pastor and she said, "Pastor, why doesn't God speak to me like that"? And the pastor said, "Sweetie, he just did". Brothers and sisters, every time you open the book he does. Every time you read a verse, and find message of forgiveness, and hope, and peace, God is. If you want to know God's will, God's wants, God's heart, and God's love, you don't have to guess, you don't have to wait, just open the book. Just open God's word. Let's pray:

God, thank you so much for writing this down. I have trouble remembering my dreams 30 seconds after I wake up, if that was how you communicated with us, what a terrifying thought. Instead you used this old form of communication, you use paper and parchment, you used quill and ink, you prophets, and apostles, so that here in so many ways, on our phones, on our bookshelves, on our night stands there you speak to us. You speak tough words, and you speak tender words, you call us out, and you lead us to the cross, God you give us everything that we truly need as your children. And so, I pray today, Heavenly Father, that we would be people of the book. We are people who read and see more words, I think, than any humans, in all of human history. And so, if we're going to fill our hearts with that scripture, God, let us start with your scripture, with the things that you have written down because all of the scriptures are God breathed and are useful, so that we may be equipped for every good work. God as we read your word sanctify us, set us apart from this confused world, give us a kind of peace that goes beyond understanding, and a joy that cannot be touched, because we know that there is a God, and we know what that God thinks, because we know that that God speaks. It's in the name of your beautiful son, Jesus, the word that we pray, and all of God's people say, amen.

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