• peterfoxwell

LORD, I'M LISTENING



These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Sunday, June 16, 2019.


EARS TO HEAR

When the prophet Samuel was a boy, and before he knew the Lord in a personal way, God spoke to him. Because he didn't know the Lord, he didn't recognize his voice. Then his mentor, Eli, told him what was happening. Listen what happened next:

(1 Samuel 3:9-10) So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

This week, I prayed that you would have ears to hear the Lord and I envisioned us all saying in unison, "Speak, for your servant is listening."


Today, I want to help you to do two things that will take your life to another level: 1). To hear God's voice and 2). To share God's voice in a positive, life-shaping way. The Bible calls this combination "prophecy." I'm going to show you how to prophesy.


I know that might cause a negative reaction in some here. Maybe you've been burned by people abusing the prophetic ministry. I hear you. I'd like you to give it another chance because it is such a valuable experience. Every Jesus-follower can learn to hear God speak and to share what he says in ways that are not abusive.


My confidence about this is is based on the apostle Peter's teaching in Acts 2. Let me read it now, beginning in verse 1, but our focus is verses 17-18. Then, I'll share some helpful insights.


It's Father's Day today, so see if you can spot why I picked this passage.


ACTS 2: SIX INSIGHTS

Acts 2 provides six insights into hearing God's voice:


The people on whom the Spirit fell were all Jesus-followers (see Acts 1:12-16).


The Spirit came upon the people in revival power, not regenerating power. They didn't become Christians; instead, they became Spirit-baptized, Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered Christians. (see Acts 1:8; Luke 24:49).

(Luke 24:49) I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The immediate effect of Spirit baptism was prophecy. The people spoke in "languages" and "declared the wonders of God." Here and in Acts 19:6, tongues and prophecy are very closely linked:

(Acts 19:6) When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

The apostle Peter explained what was happening: it was the fulfillment of ancient promises; the last-days outpouring of the Spirit on God's people.


Peter emphasized inclusion by listing broad categories: all people (believers), sons, daughters, young men, old men, servants, men, women.


We can hear God's voice in a number of ways. Acts 2 gives four examples:

  • The Bible: The Holy Spirit gave Peter insight into what was happening by showing him that it was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2.

  • An impression in our minds: "Your sons and daughters will prophesy." A distinct impression in our minds that a particular thought is not ours, but actually God's voice. Often this happens spontaneously as we pray for or speak over people.

  • Visions: "Your young men will see visions." Our minds become like a screen on which God communicates his message in a form similar to a movie.

  • Dreams: "Your old men will dream dreams." Similar to a vision, except it takes place when we're asleep and we remember after we wake up.

HOW TO PROPHESY

Ask the Spirit of God to immerse you in his presence and power. This isn't an elite form of Christian experience; it should be normal for all of us. That's the point of Acts 2 and other passages in Acts where new (ish) believers received Holy Spirit renewal after regeneration (conversion):

(Luke 11:13b) "... how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
(Acts 10:44-46) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

See also Acts 1:8; 2:38; 4:31; 6:5; 7:55; 8:14-17, 19; 9:17; 11:11-18; 15:6-9.


Ask for the gift of prophecy, but don't try to earn it. It is a gift (charisma), so it is given out according to grace (charis) not according to our merit. The gift of prophecy is one of nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, but the Bible says we must amp up our desire for prophecy in particular.

(1 Corinthians 14:1) Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
(1 Corinthians 12:11) All these (gifts in verses 7-10) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Ask someone with a strong prophetic gifting to lay hands on you. The Bible indicates that this is one (not the only) method of activating spiritual gifts.

(1 Timothy 4:14) Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
(2 Timothy 1:6-7) For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Use it or lose it. The gifts of the Spirit are dynamic power to strengthen the church. They aren't designed to be unleashed. We can do so much good by sharing God's voice with people in need. Don't let fear or shyness hold you back.

(1 Corinthians 12:7) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 14:39) Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager (zealous) to prophesy ...
(1 Timothy 4:14) Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
(2 Timothy 1:6-7) For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Remember God's goal for prophecy - to build people up, not to break them down. God uses us to bring out the best in people; to call out of people what he has poured into them. When we share something we've heard from the Lord, those who hear should feel loved and encouraged by God. New Covenant prophecy generally does not condemn or criticize. Rather, the Lord speaks through us to draw people closer to himself, to restore what is lost, and to heal what is broken.

(1 Corinthians 14:3-4) But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening (BUILD), encouraging (CALL OUT WHAT GOD HAS POURED IN) and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies (BUILDS) the church.

Cultivate your relationship with the Lord because it is in the context of relationship that the Lord speaks to us. When Mary and Martha invited Jesus to their home, Martha worked in the kitchen while Mary sat in on Jesus's teaching. When Martha complained, Jesus said:

(Luke 10:42) "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Deuteronomy 4:29) If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Pay attention and keep your eyes on the goal - you want to hear God's voice so that you can receive his encouragement or so that you can help someone else. Be confident: the Lord wants you to hear him. He's not hiding.


On our recent trip to Berlin, we were standing on a hilltop that overlooks a vast housing complex - 12,000 people in high rises. My heart was broken as I thought of these people without Jesus. In my mind, I heard the words, "Greater things are still to come, greater things are still to be done in this city." I think that was God. He loves those people more than I do. He's got big plans for them.


Then, Shawn shared a vision she received as she looked out over the high rises full of people. She saw the blood of Jesus flowing from the cross over the city. It was so powerful: the blood that forgives, cleanses, restores, and sets free. It was such a powerful picture. We were with a man who was trying to share Jesus in that place and, until then, he had seemed a little discouraged. I watched him as Shawn shared her vision. He broke down. It was a word from God to his heart. It filled him with fresh vision and hope. That's why we prophesy.


Note this: there was no great show, no "Thus says the Lord STUFF;" just low-key sharing.


Write it down. If you're like me, you'll forget important words from the Lord. Over the years, I have used various ways to record what I hear. None of them work for long because I don't have the journal or the notebook with me when the Lord speaks. Last week, I ordered this little notebook that I can easily carry around. I also use my notes app on my phone, usually when I'm out on my prayer walk.

(Revelation 1:19) “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later."
(Jeremiah 36:2) “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you ..."

CONCLUSION

I am confident that you can hear God's voice. The Lord will speak to you. Some of it is just for you, but he may also give you words for your kids, your friends, your family. When you visit someone in the hospital, you might receive a word to share that will help and heal. If a friend is struggling with a decision, the Lord might give you some direction to share. You might even receive a word for the Cornerstone family. When you do, let me know so I can see how it can be helpful.


You can call people into their destiny, into fresh hope, and new strength. Be encouraged. Be courageous. Don't hold back.


Now, let's take some time to ask the Lord for three things:

  1. A fresh immersion in the Holy Spirit's presence and power.

  2. A powerful activation of all the spiritual gifts.

  3. A powerful activation of the gift of prophecy in this church family. We want to hear God's voice and we want to share God's voice so we can cover people in God's love, encouragement, and direction.


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