Robert Morris — Recognize Through Relationship
The title of this message is Recognize Through Relationship. In other words, recognize God's voice through relationship. And I just want to say the Bible starts with God talking to Adam and Eve and it ends with God talking to John on the Island of Patmos. I mean, He's talking all through the Bible. To somehow think that all of a sudden, He stopped talking, really, I'm not trying to put anyone down that believes that, but it really is ludicrous to me. And the sad thing about it is that it's almost like a bait and switch and here's what I mean by that: We lead people to Christ and we tell them that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus but then after we get saved, we tell them, "Oh, by He doesn't talk to you anymore". You know, He left an instruction manual, which I'm not putting the Bible down, but He doesn't speak specifically anymore, and you just have to read this manual and try to do the best you can.
I don't know if you've ever put together a swing set or a bike or something on Christmas Eve, but it would be a lot better if there was somebody there helping you. And Jesus said, "I'm not going to leave you as orphans. I'm going to send somebody to help you and he's going to talk to you. He's going to talk to you". So, God speaks.
Let me read you this quote by the way about having a personal relationship by Dallas Willard. Dallas Willard says in his book, Hearing God, "If God doesn't speak today, then the greatest disservice we could ever do to people is to tell them that they can have a personal relationship with God". Isn't that an incredible quote? So, God does speak, but He speaks through relationships. So, let me tell you some things about relationship. I didn't tell you where to turn, so I'll just read them, alright?
If you want to, go to Genesis 3 and then we'll be at Luke 10 later. So, let me tell you three things about relationship with God. First of all, relationship with God is our highest priority. It is our highest priority. Now, we're talking about hearing God, but I'm telling you, if you want to hear God, you need to develop your relationship with Him, alright? It's our highest priority. Look, Genesis 3:8. This is after Adam and Eve sinned.
"And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden and then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' So, he said," now these are some of the saddest words in the Bible. And they are the saddest words that God had ever heard up until this point. He had never heard anything like this before. Never. Listen to what Adam said, so he said, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself". "I heard your voice," now we're talking about hearing God's voice, "I heard your voice and I was afraid".
The reason people became afraid of hearing the voice of God is sin. Adam and Eve were never afraid of the voice of God before sin came in the world. We should never be afraid. God created them to walk and talk with Him in the cool of the day. We're talking about hearing God and yet when God created people, He didn't create them and give them a book and say, "Figure it out". He created them to walk and talking with Him and He's walking in the garden one day and they're not there. And He's going to take them maybe and show them a waterfall that day or something. I don't know, but He's going to spend time with His kids and He says, "Adam, where are you"? And here's these words, "I heard your voice and I was afraid".
When man sinned, man started fearing the voice of God. And that's what was lost, was to be able to have that wonderful open commune with God, but here's something really cool. Have you ever heard the old hymn, In the Garden? And He walks with me and He, what? And He talks with me. It's about Mary Magdalene in the garden with the resurrected Christ. I know you've probably heard about the little boy that said to his mother one day at church, "Who's Andy"? She said, "Who's Andy? What do you mean Andy"? He said, "You know, Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me". But it was written about Jesus.
Listen, God is walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the garden. The sin, so He sends His Son to redeem us, so we can walk and talk with Him again in the garden. That's why Jesus came. He restores to us the ability to walk and talk with God. And to hear the voice of God. See, I can teach you methods. I can teach you doctrine and theology about hearing God's voice, but I can't develop a personal relationship for you with God. Only you can do it.
I know we have caller ID now, but I have several friends that have unlisted phone numbers. Two that call me a lot, that I communicate with a lot, two of our apostolic elders, James Robinson and Jack Hayford. And so many times, my phone, I'll get a phone call and it says, No Caller ID. And I'm thinking it's probably James or Jack, you know. And so, I'm going to tell you a story. You tell me if you think this happened. So, this last week, I get a phone call that says No Caller ID. So, I say, "Hello," and the voice on the other end of the line says, "Hey, Robert, this is Pastor Jack". I said, "Pastor Jack, who"? You think that happened? No. See, is it Jack or James calling me? Well, as soon as I hear his voice, I know. You know how I know? Because I spend a lot time with him.
I really believe that we can come to the place where God says, "Hey, Robert"? And I say, "Hey, Lord". Because I spend time with Him. This is our highest priority is to spend time with God and walk and talk with Him. It's what we were created to do. Here's the second thing a relationship with God is. It's our highest pursuit. It's our highest pursuit. Remember Adam and Eve we just read in the garden, you've gotta remember now that what caused the sin? There were two trees, the tree of life. The other one though wasn't the called the tree of death, although it was. It was called the knowledge, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Okay, I'm going to make a very bold statement here. God never designed for you to live by choosing between good and evil. He designed for you to live by hearing His voice. See, He said to Adam and Eve, "Listen to Me, you can eat from every tree. Just don't eat from that tree". With his voice. He told them that. So, God designed for us to live life by hearing His voice. Now, He never wanted us to know good and evil. He never wanted us to judge is this good or is this bad. Do you realize how many times we do that? Is this good or is this bad? No. Is it good or is it God? Because it can be good and not be God. Good can be bad if it's not God.
And so, God gave us something when we sinned called our conscience. And our conscience tells us what's good and evil, right? But here's what it's supposed to do, it's supposed to bring us to Christ, our conscience. And people have said this before, "Well, how do you know what's good or bad for your life"? And people say, "My conscience". No. The voice of God. Your conscience brings you to God. He never intended you to live by your conscience. As a matter of fact, if your conscience is not cleansed by the blood, this is what Hebrews says, "Then you will serve God out of dead works". As long as you have a guilty conscience, you'll try to do something to get God's favor instead of going to God in prayer and receiving God's grace and God's free forgiveness and then you can again serve God by His voice. He did not design for you to live life by your conscience. What's good and what's bad. When you think about this, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and once man sinned, man began to live by his own conscience.
As a matter of fact, we even have this little expression, "Well, I could never do anything that would violate my conscience". Now, I'm not saying that God doesn't want us to have a pure conscience because it says to live with a good conscience. But let me tell you what the verse actually says. It says to live with faith and a good conscience. And do you know where faith comes from? Remember Romans 10:17? Faith comes from hearing. So, here's what it's saying, "Live by hearing the voice of God and you'll have a clean conscience". But when we say something like this, "Well, I could never do anything that would violate my conscience". Well, my question for you is, well, what if God told you to.
I even asked this lady that one time. She said, "God would never tell me to do anything that would violate my conscience". And I just want you to think about that for a minute. I said, "So, God is limited to your conscience"? Now, I want you to think about that. The God of the universe is limited by your conscience? And so, she said to me, "Well, give me an example in the Bible where God told someone to do something that would violate his conscience". I said, "I think He told Abraham to sacrifice his son". That would have violated my conscience.
I'm not saying that we do something wrong or bad. I'm trying to get us away from living from the wrong tree. When God created us, this is what I want you to get more than anything, He created us to live by His voice. And Adam and Eve lived by His voice until sin came into the world. And Jesus came to restore, so that we could have a relationship by living by the voice of God. What's God saying about this?
So, it's our highest pursuit and here's number three. It's our highest passion. It's our highest passion in this life to have a personal relationship with God. Okay, Luke 10:38-42, famous story. "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat as Jesus' feet and heard His word". I want you to notice that. Sat at His feet and heard His word. "But Martha was distracted with much serving and she approached Him and said, "now I just want to know if you ever felt this way, "Lord, do you not care"? You ever felt that way? "Do you not care what's going on and all the responsibility that I have on me right now? Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me. And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha'".
I underlined the next phrase because I wanted you to pick up on it. "You are worried and troubled about many things". You ever been there? You're worried and troubled about many things. "But," watch this, "one thing is needed. One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her". Okay, here's how simple it is. One thing is needed. It's real clear. Let me tell you what it is. To sit at Jesus' feet and hear His words. That is the one thing that you need to make sure you do in your life. Is you need to have a time.
We talked about it. In this series, we talked about make an appointment. Set a time and a place. We talked about the 10 ways God speaks. We talked about that we're sheep and that sheep hear His voice. We talked about that we're friends of God and God speaks to friends. We talked about that we can prophesy. The Bible says, "You can all prophesy that all may learn, and all may be encouraged". So, if you can give someone a word from God, you must be able to hear God. We talked about how to confirm His word. With the Bible, with counsel and with peace. We talked about that if we heed or obey His word, then we get more. So, I've told you how to hear God. I've shown you that God still speaks today. I've told you all I can tell you. But the only thing now I cannot do for you, is develop your personal relationship with Jesus.
In other words, I can't hear God for you. I can hear God with you. I can help confirm something as a friend. But I can't hear God for you. And this is what people have been trying to get pastors to do for years. When God wanted to speak on the mountain to the children of Israel, here's what He said. You go back and read it, "Let everyone come up the mountain. Let everyone come up the mountain". It says, but the people heard the thundering and they were afraid and so the people stood afar off, but Moses drew nearer. And then we had the verse that God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. Well, it's real simple. Because he was the one who didn't stand far off. He was the one who drew near. He was the one that developed his personal relationship with God and I can't do that for you. I can show you theologically that God still speaks. I can show you how God speaks. I can tell you how to hear His voice. I can give you practical ways, like we talked about writing down what we believe God is saying through the word. I can do all that for you. But I can't show up for your appointment tomorrow morning. Only you can.
Years ago, Debbie and I, when the kids were young, we bought this hot tub that was a two-person hot tub. Only two people can fit in it. Put it on our back porch. It was so inexpensive that you just plugged it into a 110. That was all we could afford. But every night it seemed, we would sit in there after we put the kids to bed and we would just have time alone with God. Parents, you know what I'm talking about, it's like they're asleep. You know. And we had this, it was when they first came out, we had this little baby monitor. Now they're real complicated. But we had this little monitor, you plugged it into the wall.
I remember one time it fell in the hot tub. The amazing thing was though that the kids never cried after that. I don't know why. But we would sit in there every night. And just talk, you know. And she said to me one night, she's telling me something and I said to her, "Well, Sugar, you just need a word from God. You just need a word from God". And she started crying. And she said, "I don't know how to get a word from God. I don't know how to do that. I hear you talk about God speaking to you, Robert, all the time. But I don't know how to hear God".
So, the first person I ever taught to hear God was Debbie. So, I talked to her about it. I talked to her about some of the principles and then I said to her, "You know what? Let's just take a moment right now..". I said, "I want you to just take a moment and I'm going to pray. I want you to close your eyes. I want you to just tune out everything around you. I'm going to pray and I'm going to ask the Lord to speak to you". So, I prayed and then I'm just looking at her. She's got her eyes closed and she's kind of sitting like this and then all of a sudden, she does like this, she goes, pffft, like that. I said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait". I said, "Did you hear something"? She said, "Yeah, but it wasn't God". I said, "Wait a minute. Wait. We don't know. We don't know that". I said, "What did you hear"?
She said, "Well, you know that story, the Little Engine That Could"? she said, "I just read that to the kids to put them to bed and it's the little train that the big trains wouldn't pull the, the train, the big engines wouldn't pull the train over the mountain. So, they go to the little engine and so all the way up the mountain he says, what? 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can'". She said, "That's what I heard. I heard, 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can'". I said to her, "Sugar, don't you see, that's God". I said, "You see yourself as the little engine. And you see me as the big engine and God's trying to say to you, 'You can. You can. You just need to know that you can. You need to think you can hear God'".
So, that happened like 30-something years ago. So, just recently, we have some land, I told you about that and I was looking at buying one of those ATVs to take the grandkids on, you know? And so, I go to this dealership and I see one and I think, "Okay, I want one like that". But they don't have one. They said it would take four to six weeks to get it in. So, I come back, I get on the internet. I call every dealer within about a hundred miles. Nobody has one. So, then I decide to swim some laps. So, while I'm swimming I pray. So, I'm swimming and I'm saying, "God, I want a confirmation. I never want to spend money without confirmation. I think I'm doing this for the grandkids, but I want it too. So, I need you to tell me if I'm really hearing God or hearing Your or not. So, I'll just ask you to confirm it to me".
So, I get out from swimming laps and we have a hot tub. So, I sit in the hot tub and I said to Debbie, I said, "I just asked the Lord to confirm to me if we are supposed to buy this or not". And she said, "Well, I don't hear God like you do". Now, I don't think she meant that I hear God more. I think that some people hear in different ways. For instance, some people will say, "Well, I feel". Others will say, "Well, I don't see it that way. I see". You know, there are seers, there are feelers, and there are hearers and I normally hear a phrase. She feels. "I feel". You know? So, she said, "Well, I don't hear God like you".
Now, this happened like two weeks ago. We're talking about hearing God and I was thinking about it while I was preparing this message all the way back from the hot tub and we still like hot tubs. And she said, "Well, I don't hear God like you do, but when I prayed about it, I heard Oklahoma City". She said, "Is there a dealer in Oklahoma City". I said, "Well, actually, you know, you call up that big map and I did see a dealer in Oklahoma City". And I called the dealer the next morning and he said, "Yeah, I've got that one. And I'll bring it to you and meet you half way". I'm trying to tell you that my little engine can. You don't have to be the guy that stands on the stage to hear God. You just have to be His daughter or His son.
The greatest news I could ever tell you is what I've shared with you in this series that God still speaks today. I can't hear God for you, but I can help you learn to hear God.