Robert Morris — Steward His Spoken Word
Alright. So we're talking about tuning in, hearing God. This week, the title of the message is, "Steward His Spoken Word". We're talking about, in this series, hearing God. So obviously, we need to be good stewards of the written Word of God. We need to honor it as the infallible, inherent, inspired scripture. No matter what culture says, this book never changes. So we need to honor this scripture, the written word. We need to memorize it, meditate on it, read it, study it, the written word. But what we're talking about in this series is God speaking to our hearts, as his children, which would never disagree with obviously the written word.
So certainly, we should steward the written word, but I'm saying are you stewarding the spoken word? In other words, when God speaks something to your heart, what do you do with it? It's very important — and see, when we talk about stewardship, we talk about stewarding our time, our energy, our resources. And all that's important. But we have to have this message in a series about hearing God, how do you steward the word God speaks to you?
So let me give you three ways to steward the word that God speaks to you. Alright. Number one, steward what you hear. Steward what you hear. Now, I said a moment ago, we're used to the word stewardship when we talk about finances. We know that we return the first 10% to the house of God, and we live below our means, and we know financial stewarding principles. There's a scripture, though, that is used, that Jesus uses it, talking about giving. And let me just see if you remember it. Do you remember this phrase, "With the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you"? Do you remember that phrase? Okay. He uses that, talking about giving, in Luke 6. But did you know he uses the same phrase, that's a stewarding phrase, about what you hear?
Let me show it to you. Mark 4:24-25. "Then he said to them, 'Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. And to you who hear,'" or steward what you hear, "More will be given". More words will be given. He's talking about what you hear. "For whoever has," or stewards what he has, what he hears: "To him more," words: "Will be given". I'm just giving you the context of it. "But whoever does not have," or doesn't steward what God gives them when he speaks to 'em, "Even what he has will be taken away from him".
So we all want to hear God. But when God speaks, what do you do with it? Are you a good steward of God's spoken word? But I want to give you the ten ways that God speaks. And this is something you can go into more study. Sometimes, you'll read something that says seven ways, sometimes eight ways. And I'm not saying this is all the ways God speaks. I'm not saying it's an exhaustive list, but this is just the ten ways I found that God speaks. Alright?
The first one is through circumstances. We'll talk about this later, but Jonah is an example. God spoke to him with his voice. He didn't heed his voice, so God spoke to him through circumstances.
Number two, through counsel. We covered this a few weeks ago, in Proverbs. All these verses about godly counsel. God speaks through counsel. I just want you to know, if you wonder if God speaks, there are a lot of ways God speaks.
Number three, through peace. We covered Colossians 3:15. "Let the peace of God rule," or umpire: "In your heart". Philippians 4:7. "The peace of God will guard your heart and your mind". So God speaks through peace.
Number four, through people. Lots of examples in the Bible, but I gave you one in Acts 21, where Agabus, a prophet, gave a word from God to Paul. Now, this is a New Testament example of God speaking.
Number five, through dreams and visions. I just listed a few people that had a dream or a vision. Solomon, Jacob, Peter, John, Paul, you could put Joseph in there. We'll talk about Joseph later in the message.
Number six, through thoughts. God can speak to you through your thoughts. Matthew 1:20 says that when Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, thought on these things, the Lord spoke to him. He sent the angel of the Lord, came and spoke to him. The word of the Lord came to him when he thought.
Number seven, through natural manifestations. Romans 1, that what can be known of God through nature. God can speak through nature. John 12:29, God spoke to Jesus, some heard a voice, some heard it thunder. And then, the Book of Revelation has all sorts of natural manifestations where God is speaking through those. Then not only through natural manifestations.
Number eight would be supernatural manifestations. Just a few, again. This isn't an exhaustive list, obviously. There are numerous examples in scripture. A burning bush. That's a supernatural manifestation. The fleece with Gideon. A donkey, with Balaam. Alright? Supernatural.
Number nine, through the Bible. Obviously, God speaks through the Bible. Romans 10:17. "Faith comes by hearing," we're talking about hearing God, "And hearing by the word". God speaks through the Bible.
Number ten, through a still, small voice. Some versions say a whisper. Bill Hybels wrote the book on hearing God, "Whispers". 1 Kings 19:12. Elijah described his voice as a still, small voice. Just a few ways that God speaks.
So the point is that God speaks. Now, I titled this series, "Frequency: Tune In, Hear God", because I'm using the example of God speaking on a certain frequency, and we can tune in. Did you know that right now, in this room, there are voices in the air? Right now. But if you tune in to the right frequency, you can hear a voice. Everyone agree with that? You've done it all the time in your car, on the radio. There are other voices, too. In the garden, there were two people trying to talk to Adam and Eve. God, and Satan. So this is what Jesus said. "Take heed what you hear". In other words, be careful to what you listen. Be careful. Be very, very careful what you listen to. Be very careful. Be careful. Because Satan speaks.
Isn't it amazing that Satan is called the prince and power of the air? Did you know that when you speak, when the words come out of your mouth, before they enter the other person's ear, they travel through what? The air. Do you think Satan might try to twist your words? "Take heed what you hear". It's not just God broadcasting. There's someone else broadcasting. And let me say something else, too. Sometimes, you can hear your own thoughts and think it's God.
A guy wrote me a letter, and had four words from God, you know, in the letter. One of the words from God was that when we built the South Lake campus, we dedicated it. Well, we were celebrating that we had more room for more people to come to Christ. But one of his words from God was, he said, "God was displeased, because you were celebrating bricks and mortar". We weren't celebrating bricks and mortar. We were celebrating a success that we had built a building here in a recession for more people to come to know the Lord.
But the reason he was upset is because, I found out later, he's been a failure at just about everything he's ever done. So when someone else had a success, he felt like — it reminded him of his own failure, so he wanted to write and say, "God said". God didn't say that. By the way, one of his other words was he said, "You have a lot of great leaders around you". See, it's very manipulative how people do this. "But you don't have any prophets". He was volunteering to be my prophet. I don't need a prophet, I have the Holy Spirit. It doesn't mean that God can't speak to me through someone else, but that's for confirmation. Are you following me? So Jesus said, "Be careful what you hear".
Alright, here's the second thing. Steward how you hear. Not just steward what you hear, steward how you hear. Now, watch this in Luke 8. This is incredible. Jesus uses — same scripture, but he changes the wording a little bit. Luke 8:18. "Therefore take heed how you hear". There it is. Take heed how you hear. "For whoever has, to him more will be given". More words, whoever stewards well what he hears. "But whoever does not have, even what he seems to have," well, those are some strong words, "Will be taken away from him".
So how do you hear when God speaks to you? Let's just say that God says something like this to you. "You're going to minister to thousands". Where's the emphasis, in your mind? Is it that you are going to minister to thousands, and people ought to recognize how great you are? Or is it that God is going to reach thousands of people? Whether he does it through you or not. I hope you're catching what I'm saying. Everybody says, "Pastor, I want to hear those big words from God". What are you doing with the little words? If you can't be faithful with a little, you can't be faithful with a lot. You've got to steward and one way — what you hear in one way is to steward how you hear it.
Joseph gets a dream from God that his brothers are going to bow down. What does he do? Goes and tells his brothers. Now, the dream was from God. But the dream wasn't to try to tell him, "Hey, you're going to be in power one day". The dream was to tell him, "You're going to have power one day to lead," and listen to me, please hear this, leadership in the Kingdom is not how many people you can get to serve you. It's how many people you can serve. That's what leadership is. He was actually telling him, "You're going to get to serve your family one day". So how do you hear?
James 4:6-7. Now, this is going to be — part of this verse is one of the most amazing things I've ever read in the Bible. Alright? Watch this. "But he," that's God, "Gives more grace". Okay, stop just for a minute. Grace is pretty cool, isn't it? Grace is pretty amazing, like the song says. It's amazing. Can you imagine getting more grace? God gives more grace. So how do you get more grace? "Therefore," or because, "He says: 'God resists,'" and I want you to notice that word resists, "Resists the proud, but gives grace," and the context is more grace, "To the humble.' Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you".
Okay. Just want you to notice, there are two resists in this verse — in these verses. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. We all know that. But God resists the proud. Listen to me. You can't resist the devil when God is resisting you. The only way you can resist the devil is to get more grace from God, and the only way you get more grace is to be humble. If you're prideful, you can't resist the devil. As a matter of fact, God is resisting you.
This word resist means to play on the opposing team. It's from a sporting term, I've told you how several Greek words are used for military — have a military background. Several have sporting backgrounds. This one has a sporting background. It means to play on the opposing team. God opposes the proud. He plays on the opposing team. Okay, so let me explain this. The Kingdom's fantastic. It's really cool to be in the Kingdom, because in the Kingdom, God lets us run with the ball. No matter what you do, whatever your spiritual gift is, whether it's leading a small group or giving, or praying for someone, or sharing or witnessing, or ministering to someone who's sick. Whatever it is, God lets you run with the ball. Here's what he says, though. God says, "Just stay behind me". "Just stay behind me. Here's the ball, but stay behind me".
Okay. Now, here's what we say whenever we start whatever ministry God's called us to. "God, I can't run with the ball. I just can't do this. I can't. God, I can't do this. You need to choose someone else. I just can't do this, God. This just — I can't lead a group. I can't do this, God. I can't teach a class. I just can't do this". God says, "Listen, you can do it if you just stay behind me". So what do we do? We are, like, right behind God, right? I mean, we stay right behind Him. That first small group we teach, right behind Him. God's walking down the field, kind of like this. Just knocking the enemy out of the way. We get to the end zone, and God says, "Look. Look, you made a touchdown". Oh, boy. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. But please don't ever ask me to do that again.
And so, God says, "Okay, here. Run with the ball. Just stay behind me". And we don't say this, but here's kind of the way we feel. "Lord, I've been doing this for awhile now. And you can just sit this one out. You can just sit on the bench, God". But God doesn't sit on the bench. He plays on the opposing team. So God says, "Here, just stay behind me". And we say, "Lord, I don't need you to block for me". Oh, okay. Come on. Come on. Let's see how far you get without me. Come on. You say, "Well, why would God do that"? Because he tackles us lovingly. And he wants to tackle us before the enemy tackles us, and takes us out of the game. That's why he plays on the opposing team. God resists the proud. But he gives grace to the humble.
Take heed how you hear. And here's the third point, heed what you hear. Heed what you hear. Mark 4 and Luke 8 say take heed, they both begin with those two words. Take heed. Heed what you hear. So you remember the story of Jonah? I said we'd back to it. Jonah 1:2-3. God says, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it. For their wickedness has come up before me'. But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish," — now, this is a very important phrase, "From the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish," which is the opposite direction. You've probably heard that many times. "So he paid the fare, and went down into it," into the ship, "To go with them to Tarshish," — watch, "From the presence of the Lord".
Listen to me very carefully. When you don't obey the word of the Lord, you leave the presence of God. It's that simple. You leave his presence. You're fleeing from his presence. God spoke to Jonah with his voice. Jonah didn't listen. So he spoke with him with circumstances. Okay. Have you ever been in a place — now, all of us have. Have you ever been in a place where you just didn't feel like you were hearing God? Right? All of us have been there, right? Okay. Go back to the last place that God spoke to you, and ask yourself, did you obey? See, Jonah did not hear God speak again until he repented. God caused his circumstances to close in around him, so he would repent, and then God delivered him from his circumstances. Some of you right now have your circumstances closing in around you. The reason is because God spoke to you, and you didn't obey.
Let me ask you this. See, we're all saying, "Yes, pastor. I want to hear God". Why would God speak something new to you, if you haven't done the previous thing that He spoke to you? Boy, I hope you're catching this. We're talking about hearing God. This is one of the most important aspects of hearing God. Jesus said, "Take heed what you hear and how you hear it. And then, take heed". Take action. Do something about it. Because if you do, more will be given to you. You'll get more words from God if you'll just act on the words you get. But if you don't, even what you seem to have will be taken away from you.
Several years ago, Debbie and I were ministering in Australia and New Zealand. And when we went to New Zealand, we ate at a restaurant with the pastor and his wife, and a waitress came to our table, and waited on us. And I felt this little impression, you need to invite her to church. And then, we never saw her again. We found out later, she went on break. Another lady brought us our food, and brought us our check, and we never saw her. And so, we left the restaurant, and I kept thinking, well, Lord, was that you? Was that me? Was — I mean, and it — the — it got so strong, I said to Debbie and the pastor's wife, I've got to go back in and find this waitress. I've just got to go find her.
So I went back in. I said, "Is she still here"? They said, "Yeah, she's on a break". I said, "I don't want to interrupt her break, but this is very important. I have something very important to tell her". So she comes out, and I say, "I'm so sorry for interrupting your break. I understand everyone needs a break". But I said, "I have to tell you, God told me to invite you to church. The church where I'm speaking this weekend". Now, when we talked to her the first time, we found out that she and her husband were from the States, and he had taken a job over there recently. I said, "God told me specifically to invite you to church this weekend".
She started crying, and she said, "My husband and I have never gone to church". Never. Weddings, funerals, she named that. Weddings, funerals, like that counted. Now, I don't mean that wrong, but to her mind, you know? We were there for a funeral, you know? And she said, "But we've never gone to church". And sometimes, Easter or Christmas. She said, "We moved over here three or four months ago for his job, and we don't know anybody. And this last week, I said to him, 'What about if we went to a church, to try to meet some people?' And he said, 'I've been thinking the same thing, but I wouldn't have any idea of what church to go to'".
And she said, "This morning, on the way to work, I said, God, I don't even know if you exist. But if you exist, if you're real, would you have someone invite us to church somewhere we could go? Would you just have someone invite us"? What are you going to do when God speaks to you? Just do it. Just step out. Steward what he gives you, and he'll give you more.
I want to encourage you to not only hear God's voice, but to heed God's voice. In other words, when God speaks to you, step out, and share what God's telling you to share. Just like I did with that waitress in that restaurant, and she said, "I just can't believe you're inviting us to church, because we've been praying about a church to go to". So I want to encourage you, we all get those little impressions from God. And when it's an impression to help someone, bless someone, or strengthen someone, step out, and encourage someone by speaking God's word to 'em.