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Hearing the Voice of God

Mike Connell

Deaf/Hearing-Impaired Audio Transcripts

Hearing the Voice of God

Adam heard God speaking to him when he was in the Garden, even though he'd sinned and walked away from God. People can hear the voice of God. We need to learn what it's like and how to recognise it. Once you become a believer Jesus expects not only would you hear His voice clearly, but you would actually respond and follow Him. So for a believer the number one thing that I would say if you have to learn anything in your life, this is the thing you'd want to learn; how can I build a relationship with Jesus and hear His voice consistently?

Follow Jesus (1 of 6)
How many people can remember the last time Jesus spoke clearly to do something? Here's the real question. Have you done it? When nothing comes, go back to what the last thing Jesus said was. Following Christ introduces you to a whole new set of challenges in your life. Following Christ is a courageous thing to do because you will face things you'd never have had to face. You'll face some opposition, difficulties, challenges, setbacks. You've got more questions than answers, but they're different questions.

The Princess Syndrome (2 of 6)
Church isn't perfect, it has many problems, probably so many problems we could spend a day or two just describing them all, but nevertheless His church is His church. It's His bride, it's the one He came for and He will make His church perfect. We can't follow Jesus and not be engaged with His people, and the cause He has in changing a community. Life is not all about you, and the sooner you realise it, the happier you will become.

Hearing the Voice of God (3 of 6)
People are the measuring stick of how you're doing with God. It's very easy to be drawn into all range of spiritual experiences and these are wonderful, but if it doesn't convert to being connected to people and working with people and helping people, there is something majorly lacking. If you engage with Jesus, with Him and His work, you will discover the true identity and call of God on your life. If you focus on using God just to get your needs and whatever met, He said you'll end up inward-looking and non productive. You'll actually lose your life. Learn how to hear His voice, and then choose to consistently say yes, and respond by doing something

Hearing the Voice of God (4 of 6)
Adam heard God speaking to him when he was in the Garden, even though he'd sinned and walked away from God. People can hear the voice of God. We need to learn what it's like and how to recognise it. Once you become a believer Jesus expects not only would you hear His voice clearly, but you would actually respond and follow Him. So for a believer the number one thing that I would say if you have to learn anything in your life, this is the thing you'd want to learn; how can I build a relationship with Jesus and hear His voice consistently?

When God Seems Silent (5 of 6)
Most of us would have had an experience where you really need God to give something to direct you but nothing happened. You sought the Lord, you prayed, read your Bible and nothing seemed to happen. It can be very troubling. You ask God to help you, He doesn't seem to help you; ask God to guide you, He doesn't seem to be guiding you, you don't seem to hear anything and it seems quite disturbing. It seems like at times heaven seems to be silent about the things that are really important.

Evidence of Your Discipleship (6 of 6)
By this shall all men know you're My disciples: your love for one another. If you won't let me wash your feet, you won't have a part with Me. I am a foot washer. Those who follow Me are foot washers. Sometimes Jesus doesn't do the foot washing directly, He does it through a member of the body, so we need relationships, connections.






Follow Jesus (1 of 6)  

Sun 28 Oct 2012 AM « Back to Top

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How many people can remember the last time Jesus spoke clearly to do something? Here's the real question. Have you done it? When nothing comes, go back to what the last thing Jesus said was. Following Christ introduces you to a whole new set of challenges in your life. Following Christ is a courageous thing to do because you will face things you'd never have had to face. You'll face some opposition, difficulties, challenges, setbacks. You've got more questions than answers, but they're different questions.

Follow Jesus (1 of 6)

Let's open our Bible in Mark 2:14. I want to speak a message called Follow Jesus. It says: He came by and He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office; and He said to him: Follow Me; so he arose and followed Him. Now as it happened, as He was dining at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and the disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. Notice the word 'follow' again. Then the Scribes and the Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners. They said to the disciples: how is it He eats and drinks with all of these terrible sinners? Jesus said to them: those who are well, have no need of a physician; but those who are sick. I didn't come to call the righteous, I came to call sinners to repentance.

Let's go back to that first verse again: and Jesus said follow me; and he arose and followed Him. You know Levi was an unusual person. Levi was a tax collector. In those days, Israel lived under Roman oppression, and the Romans transacted with some of the locals to become tax collectors. In other words, they just used them. They used them as a go-between, and they required that they extract taxes. Now you can imagine the attitude there was, to someone who's a tax collector for the hated Romans, and most of them were corrupt people anyway. They put an edge, or a margin, on what they charged for tax; so everyone thinks they're paying too much tax, so they were absolutely scorned, derided and despised. He was a tax collector. He lived in a community where everyone hated him. His only comfort was the money he got, and the wealth he had, from living as a tax collector. But at a personal level, he was without friends; he was without a sense of belonging, or without sense of community. He's one of the most unlikely people in that town that Jesus would call to be His follower, and His disciple.

It's the same today. God chooses the most unlikely people; so the call comes out: follow Me. Here's the interesting thing about this; Jesus said: you didn't choose Me, I chose you. Now there's a lot of things in life you don't choose. You don't choose the city you're born in, you don't choose the nation you're born in, you don't choose your family. There's a lot of things in life you don't choose, and you can't have any say in it, you just have it. There's one thing you also can't choose, and that's the call of God on your life. It's God's decision to call you. Jesus - you didn't choose Him. He chose you. The Bible says: He chose you, before the foundation of the world. Think about this. God chose you. He selected you, chose you for something. The problem is, we don't mind being chosen, we just neglect the next bit. He chose us to do something. He didn't choose you for a ministry. He didn't choose you to be a great leader. He didn't choose you to Pastor a church. He didn't choose you to have some kind of phenomenal business. He didn't choose you for any of those things; and so often what we think is: because I'm come to Jesus, that now all of my life somehow will go well, and I'll be blessed, and I'll have all these things happening in my life. This is what Jesus called you to do: He called you and me, to Follow Him. Follow Me, follow Me.

I want to highlight for you, five characteristics of people who are following Jesus. I don't care if you call yourself a Christian or not. What counts is, are you following Jesus? People follow many things. I don't know what you're following. You could be here, and we all look when we stood up and worshipped God; but are we following Jesus in our personal life? That's what Jesus called you to do, to follow Him. Think about that. We are called to follow a person.

I looked up in the Bible, how many times the word 'leader' appears. I'm sorry - doesn't appear very often. I looked up in the Bible, how much the words 'follow,' followed,' 'follower' is. It's there everywhere. The world doesn't need a lot more leaders; it needs many people following Jesus. That is the core of it. If you follow Jesus, you'll have an influence, and create ripples; and people will want to follow you, because they see what you have. Why don't you have a think about this: Everyone is following something, everyone. Whether you're aware of it, whether you've made an intentional choice, whether you did or not, you are following something.

One of the things that people follow are celebrities. People love celebrities. Look at Woman's Day, they're full of celebrities; and people are just fascinated with what the celebrities are doing, so they follow celebrities, they follow what they're doing. But you know celebrity is a mask, and it eats away the face. When a person's a celebrity, their personal life is on public display, and the crowd that loves them and follows them can just spit them out the next day. I've worked with many celebrities over in Asia, and I've come to discover that they're like public property; to be used, consumed and discarded when I don't like you anymore. It's a horrendous thing to be a celebrity. Fame exacts a tremendous personal price, and what I can see for most celebrities, there's very little in their life worth following. And yet they influence people, they give their opinions, they're promoted as having values, and we see them on the television, all that kind of thing. There's no value in this. Jesus called us not to follow the celebrities of the world, but to follow Him.

Here's the second thing people follow. People follow fashion. You notice that people follow fashion? They want to know what the latest thing is; and it's very hard to resist the latest thing. That's why we live in a consumer society. There's a pressure to follow: everyone else has it, I need to have it. I've got to have it! I noticed this week, they had a great release came out on television, and guess what it is? It is the iPad Mini - you just HAVE to have it! No, I don't have to have it; and so there they hold it up, and it's this latest thing, you just NEED to have. Everyone's going to buy one of these - you'll need one of these too. You'll be second-class if you don't have one of them. It'll make you happy if you have one - until the year after when they produce another model. See, this is what happens. The Bible says: the fashion of this world passes away. In other words, what people think is great today, is gone tomorrow; something else is in its place. So when the Bible talks about the fashion in this world, it's talking about it's values, what it believes in, what is hot, what is great to go.

I can remember about three to four years ago, it was really hot to buy up property; and then suddenly it's a disaster. That's the fashion of the world. I remember reading a little while ago: oh, there's an oil crisis, the world's running out of oil, and blah blah blah blah blah. I just read yesterday and they tell me how they've found these new methods of extracting oil, and now America will now increase its oil production, and become almost not dependent at all on any global oil from other countries. Hello! What's going on here? I read in the paper, they say: oh, we'll worry about global warming. The world is warming up and whatever; but I can remember in the '70s, they were worried about the next Ice Age. [Laughter] Someone can't be right with all of this. It's called the 'fashion of the world', and it influences you; and you begin to live, and you begin to set your whole course of your life around it, begin to start to shape our values and what we think. It affects the way we educate our children, raise our children, the fashion of this world. But Jesus said: follow Me. Don't follow the world, follow Me, follow Me, follow Me. Be distinctive - follow Me. Follow Me. That's His command, to follow Him.

Here's another area that people follow. People follow the crowd, especially if you're a teenager. I've been following you on Twitter. Really? Following me on Twitter? Actually I don't even use the thing, but however, people follow all kinds of people on Twitter; and so there they are. So we say who are you following? Well I'm Twittering so-and-so, following all of their Tweets. Wherever they go they say mindless things, like I met with so-and-so for lunch, and you're following all of that. Why are you following them like that? Where does all that go, that mindless Tweeting, where people just blurb out what's on their mind? They all hang out there, had lunch with so-and-so today. Oh really, oh - and Facebook's the other one. We're getting to that one! [Laughter] Facebook. My goodness me - and so social media now, you've got this whole thing of people are following what so-and so - they can't do a day without getting on the Facebook, and finding out what's going on. Oh, they're doing that, I need to do that - without being aware of it, and I'm not speaking against them - these things are wonderful ways that we can connect and communicate, and it's a great influence, but who are you following? Are you following Facebook? Are you following Twitter? What are you following? Who are you following? What is setting the course for your life?

Jesus said: follow Me, I'll Tweet you every day! [Laughter] How about that? [Applause] You want to see heaven's Facebook? There it is there, the Bible. Get into it every day, and look up and see: oh, that's happening, oh, that's happening. If you love this, as much as you love getting on Facebook, you might find you follow Jesus, instead of someone else. Come on, think about this. Who are we following? Then the other thing is, the popularity circus in the Christian world; another celebrity circus. Should we go there? Well I can remember when I was told: you need to go to this leadership conference, this is one of the foremost Christian leaders. You need to go and hear what he has to say, and we went and heard what he had to say, and I came away with the conclusion in the middle of it: that man is manifesting, and needs help. [Laughter] Am I the only one who can see this?

Then a little while later, I was following the Christian news, and I found that someone who is a prominent leader, that's influenced thousands of churches all over the world stood up and - very courageously stood up by the way. I admire and honour his courage - and said: we got it all wrong, when we said: copy the corporate structure of the world. I first of all, had to just honour him, that he had the courage to say he got it wrong; and my thinking is: what about the thousands of churches that are all going down that route, and had been led astray by following something else other than Jesus? Come on, this has ruined churches. It's totally ruined, and changed, the nature of the western church, following those models. God's trying to bring the church back to its family origin, its supernatural origin, and to get back to following Jesus. That's what the Bible tells us to do: follow Jesus. Jesus said: come follow Me; and you know when you follow other things, you end up usually following demonic spirits. The Bible says: this whole world operates under the influence of the demonic realm; in Ephesians 2. Some people are following their offences - so you hurt me. Hello! Who's leading you now? Is Jesus leading you? If Jesus was leading you, He'd take you that way, to forgive them and bless them and connect with them. No, no, no, no, you're following your offences, and you're following your bondages, and following your addictions. Actually you're being carried around, and pushed around, by demonic spirits.

I go to many places, they don't even talk about it. I went to one church, a big church, a very famous church, and they said: we didn't realise that deliverance was part of the great commission. Who are you following? Who are you following? You got a book, you got the Holy Ghost, you got men of faith, that you can model your life on? We're not called to follow them. We're called to follow Jesus. We're called to follow Jesus. It's following people that'll get you into trouble. We do need to follow Jesus, and Jesus ministers to us through people. In fact actually, following Jesus requires we connect with people. However, we shall right at the beginning, at the core of our being: I'm following the Lord. You know, I've found in the course of my life, that lots of people had a plan for my life. My family had a plan, but it wasn't God's plan. Joy's family had a plan, and they told me it over and over, and that wasn't God's plan either. The plan God had was quite unique, and I couldn't find it until I followed Jesus. Until I made a decision to put my life in His hands, I was in a mess; and if I'd stayed listening to what everyone else said, I would never have been here. Constantly, at key points in my life, I've had to make decisions, follow Jesus. That's all I'm called to do in my life. I am not, by identity, a Pastor. I function as a Pastor, but I am a follower of Jesus. That's who I am. I'm a son of the living God; so it doesn't matter where I am, or what I do, the identity never changes. It's still: am I following Jesus? That's who I want to be, all my life, a follower of Him; who loved me, and gave Himself for me, following Jesus.

So let's have a look at what following Jesus might mean. You could always ask yourself right now: I wonder who I'm following? Who's the voice in my life? Here's the thing about voices in your life - have a look at what fruit they have. Don't just look at their giftings. I have seen over the years, many gifted people and talented people, and they shine very smart; but you look behind them, and oh my goodness! Have they got a good marriage? No. Have they got a good family? No. Have they got savings? No. Have they got a good track record at work? No. What? Why am I listening to that person? Well they look good, and they're saying smooth things. You've got to look for fruit - and follow Jesus.

Okay, let's have a look at it, what following Jesus might look like. Okay, first thing is, it's good to tell you what it doesn't mean - now you're going to love this bit. It does NOT mean that you have all the answers! In fact, you've got more questions than answers. How many know that? Got lots of questions, wish God would tell you the answer? You have lots of questions. You have more questions than you had before you started, but they're different questions, you know? The question I used to have was: who can I go out and have a drink with? Now I don't have that question anymore - you have different kinds of questions when you're following the Lord. The second thing is, it doesn't mean is suddenly all together - I just come to Jesus, now my life is all right. Actually your life isn't all together. You discover as the light comes into just how broken and messy you are, and I remember crying for the first two years, and many times since then; as I've become aware, with every fresh touch of Jesus, what's in my life that needs to change. It doesn't mean you've got your life together, so don't think you've got to have your life together in a church. Stop trying to impress people. Follow Jesus. He just takes you like you are.

He said to the tax collector, He said: that guy there, follow Me. Everyone said: why is Jesus mixing with these wrong kinds of people? That's what religion does, it's got you all boxed u:, you're never good enough, you're the wrong kind of person; but Jesus said: don't listen to them. Follow Me. I'll accept you, love you. I've called you. Your part is the following, be available to follow. So it doesn't mean that you've got your act together, doesn't mean that you're even too smart, see? It doesn't mean that your life will go smoothly. How many thought your life would go smoothly after you become a Christian? It did for five minutes, then after that lots of things happened. No, it doesn't mean your life will go smoothly, without challenges, setbacks or difficulties. In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. I found there are challenges that come I would never have had without following Christ.

Following Christ introduces you to a whole new set of challenges in your life. Following Christ is a courageous thing to do, because you will face things you'd never have had to face. You'll face some opposition, difficulties, challenges, setbacks. You'll face things, and you'll think: God should have done that; and He doesn't do it. You face griefs and difficulties, and you think: whoa! But you know God is creating an authentic representation of Christ, and people are watching how you respond; and they're asking: do we see Jesus in this person, as they go through that? Do people see Jesus, reincarnated in you, living through you, as you face those challenges of life? That's what people are looking for. They're not looking for a perfect Christian. They love to say: oh well you're a Christian, you shouldn't be doing that. I say: I'm a Christian, I love Jesus, I do all kinds of things that aren't right, but God's helping me to grow in those areas. You understand that? You're walking with God. It's a journey. That's what following Jesus is, it's a journey; by nature, it's a journey; and so it doesn't mean you'll see clearly everything God's doing.

I would like to have a plan. I'd like God to have just laid out for me a plan, step by step, of how it would all work out. I didn't get anything, except the next step; and you know what? I've never had much more than the next step. People say: why don't you have this big thing with this? I said: well I don't know, all I know is I know what to do next. I know I know what to do next; and I can see ahead some of the way, and I'll walk as far as I can see, but I don't have it all together. And it's nice to set out plans, but you've got to have them flexible, because God can just interrupt them like that. Do have a plan, but make it a flexible plan. Put it in pencil, not in ink aye? [Laughter] Allow God to interrupt your life, because you'll find if you're walking with Jesus, and following Jesus, He interrupts your schedule something terribly! It's part of what He's like, and so then it becomes an issue of: who's in charge of my schedule? Am I following Jesus; or following my schedule? A lot of people are following their schedule. Some are following their finance, which is not much going anywhere. We should be following Jesus, need to be letting Jesus direct how our life goes. So it doesn't mean you won't have any of those problems. In fact you'll have all sorts of things like that. It's a journey, so following Jesus is actually a journey of faith. It's a journey; I'll put it in a different language. It's a journey of connection to a person, and trusting Him; and that's what you're called to do: follow Jesus. We could just simplify the whole Christian walk, it's just this: following Jesus. That means, that you're on a journey of life with Him.

So what does it mean to follow Jesus? Have a look in Matthew, Chapter 4. You'll see it in there. I think the church has got to return to the simplicity again, of just following Jesus; and it takes away all the complications, of all sorts of things, when actually your life is just centred: today as I rise, I celebrate, worship and follow Jesus. I let Him help me with my day. Yes, I've got my plans, and I put my plans in His hands, and I choose to follow Him. Jesus said, in Matthew 4, Verses 19 and 20; and He said to them: follow Me. I will make you become fishers of men; and immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Now that word 'followed,' when we think follow, we kind of think there's someone over here out in the front, and I'm behind, and they're telling me where to go. How many think that's what it means? See, we would normally think that's what it means. I used to think - until today I thought that's what it meant. I thought: well Jesus, there you are, you're going ahead, you follow Me; so all I've got to do is listen, and be told what to do. Actually that's not what it means; and that will release you immensely, when you realise, He isn't going to tell you everything to do.

If Jesus has to tell you everything to do, then you're not taking responsibility for ownership of your life, and bringing your contribution of creativity into it. You're not owning your dreams in your heart, you're not owning the things that God put in your life. You're waiting to be told what to do like a slave; and we have to learn obedience. We'll come to that in a moment - but you see the word means: to go on a journey together with someone. So when the Bible says: follow Me; Jesus is saying something simply like this. He said: I'm inviting you, to walk with Me, through your life's journey. In other words, I want to come into your journey, and I want to walk with you, alongside you. See the thing about walking alongside is, that we're partners and sharers of life; so He's not waiting for you every day just to have some little prayer time, and ask Him what to do, and wait and hope you'll hear something. He's asking you to invite Him each day into the sphere of your life, and begin to walk with Him, and have Him part of what you do through the day. It's a journey of life, therefore it comes as every aspect of our life.

So the word 'to follow' means: to be on the same road as a companion. Or it means like this, it means: to enter another person's world, and journey with them. So getting it like this, Jesus is saying: I want you to enter My world, My perspective, and journey your life with Me; and that'll result in a whole number of things. I'll explain some of those things. There's probably more, but I'll give you some that are very clear to me. So it's not the goal: that I'll be this, or I'll be that, or whatever; I'll have this or that. It's not the goal that I'll get to heaven. The journey itself is the goal. Now of course there's rewards in heaven, of course there's things we look forward to, and there's things we press through. But God wants you to understand: enjoy the journey, focus on the journey. He said: follow Me. That means, walk on a journey of life with Me, bring Me into every aspect of your life, bring Me into your life. He didn't just say: read your Bible, or pray. Those are great things, but Jesus said: you can read the scriptures, but these speak of Me, and you won't come to Me that you have life. So what He's wanting to do is, to come into every sphere of our life.

We tend to compartmentalise our lives, so here we are, we're at church. We're at church, doing Jesus' thing; then I'm out doing something else. That's not how it is. He said: I want to be part with you, in a journey through your life, that's every part of your life, every aspect of it, see? So it means to be caught up with what God is doing. So here's a core question. On any time, any day, when you face any situation, what is God doing? What is Jesus doing? What do I see? You know what Jesus said? He said: I do what I see the Father doing. Now sometimes He was really purposeful, He was on a mission, away He'd go. Sometimes He carried on like there was no panic at all. You know they'd say: oh, a girl's dying, she's dying, you've got to hurry, got to hurry, got to hurry! And He just moseys along, and stops to talk to a lady. Why? Because He saw what the Father was doing, and so He lived His life this way. Was He busy? Yes, sometimes so busy, He couldn't even eat. However, He had one driving thing: just listen to what the spirit of God is speaking to Me, and do that. See what the spirit of God is on, see what Father is showing Me what to do. That could be in relationships, in terms of ministry focus. He'll get up one day, have a time of prayer, they said: we're having a revival, stick around and preach; but He would say: no, I've got to move somewhere else. He was internally led by the spirit of God, He Himself was a disciple of the Father. He was a disciple. Notice this - He said: I say what I hear the Father saying, I do what I see the Father doing. In other words, what He's saying is: I've learned to yield to the spirit of God, and be happy with this life, full of the joy of the spirit, flowing with what My Father is doing.

When the parents said: where were You? We sought You; and they were angry, and they were scolding Him for staying, He said: don't you understand, I had to be about My Father's business? Even at the age of 12, He was aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit around His life, guiding Him what to do. So that starts to get you really thinking how you do life, because a lot of people are living in the house of God like a slave, waiting for God to tell them. He doesn't tell them, they don't know what to do, so they just carry on, and then kind of disconnect from God - except for Sundays. So what does it mean then, to follow Jesus? Let me give you five marks of following Jesus.

Number one, which we've already referred to is, following Jesus means walking your journey, it means sharing life with Him, just share your life with Him. Share your life. Talk about your family, talk about your marriage, talk about the issues. In other words, there's no issue of your life, that He's not interested in coming and helping. He's interested in the pains, the struggles, the fears. He knows them better than you do. He's asking that you would invite Him into that part of your life; so when you begin to share the aspects - Lord, today... - and it's not just an hour's prayer at the beginning of the day. It's just on the way through the day - Lord, I don't know what to do about that, that really got me by surprise. Just talk with Him, and it's so simple, to just engage Him like that; to talk with the Lord, and listen, and slow down and listen to your heart.

In Mark 3:14 it says: He chose them to be with Him. So number one, to be following Jesus, is to be with Him. Now to be with Him doesn't mean I've got to have an hour of prayer every day. That'd be a great help for you. Being with Jesus means: I consciously and intentionally allow Him to come in and around whatever I'm doing through the day. In other words, I just turn my mind to Him, and say: Lord, what do you think about that; or Lord, what about this? How do I handle that Lord? It's like praying continually. It's just being in a flow, where actually whatever I'm doing, Jesus is with me. Otherwise you've got this thing: when I'm in church and ministry, Jesus is with me; but when I'm in my workplace, Jesus is not with me. This is not true; and that kind of thinking has created this - it's a Greek thinking of: this is spiritual; and that's secular. In God's eyes there's no division. If you're at home, and you're a mother and a wife, and you're fully involved there, bring Jesus into your life, and into your home, and you're following Jesus. But I'm not out preaching. No, no, you don't need to - or I'm not out doing this, I'm not out doing that. No, you don't need to. Do what you're doing now, being a great wife, a great mother, and do it with great joy, and bring Jesus into it, and you'll be following Jesus, so that means talking with Him. It means commune with Him, talking with Him about life. Sometimes we think we've got to run everything ourselves, and we get stressed out unnecessarily. One of the signs you brought Jesus into it is: in His presence, there is joy. Ha ha! You lose your joy, lose your peace? Jesus isn't there anymore. You've shifted. Start to open up again.

The second thing is, we need to develop a relationship with Him. That means: listening to His voice; and responding. In John 15:27 He says: My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me. So get this, so the biggest skill you can learn, if you're going to learn any skill, is this one skill: how to hear what God is saying. If there's one thing every believer must learn, it's how to hear the voice of God, recognise it, and then trust Him that this is the best way for my life. It's about knowing He loves me; and trusting Him ,by listening to what He says, and doing it. There's no following Jesus, without doing what He says to do. How can there be? How can there be?

John 14:21, He who has My commandments, and does them, is the one who loves Me. Now let me ask you this. Don't put your hand up, because this is not to embarrass you. How many people can remember the last time that Jesus spoke clearly to do something? Don't put your hand up. Here's the question, that's the starter question, here's the real question. Have you done it? Have you done it? You're in a meeting, and you felt God speak to you about something. Did you write it down, and go do it, or did you say: man that's great, God spoke to me; but didn't do it? So responding to the Holy Spirit in obedience is a crucial part of being a follower of Jesus. There's no other way. So this is the interesting thing; God puts His spirit in us, so you'll always have Jesus with you, have the spirit of God with you. You've just got to decide whether you become conscious of His spirit within, and attuned to listen to the flow of spontaneity. As soon as you lose your peace, stop. You're disconnecting from following Jesus. You're going your own way, and you'll be stressed out. Why so many people are stressed out is, they've got burdens on them, that God never intended them to have, because they're no longer following Jesus. They've actually gone their own way, thinking: I have to work it all out myself. It's learning how to bring these things to the Lord, and listen to Him, and respond to what He has to say.

It's all so complicated isn't it? So that's a very decisive question: what was the last thing Jesus said to you? Are you doing it? You know, one of the things God spoke to me of a little while ago, and it really saved me huge grief, He spoke at a personal level: get rid of your mortgage. Get rid of debt, so we started to work hard on getting rid of our mortgage. Now that was just before the building boom, and then the building boom came. Everyone's saying: you need to do this; in fact many were saying: you need to mortgage the church, and expand, and all this kind of thing; and I listened to it all. In the end I thought: what was the last thing Jesus said to me? I prayed, and asked Him: speak to me, tell me something, what do I do? I'm a leader, tell me? - and nothing. So when nothing comes, go back to what the last thing Jesus said was. I went back to the last thing, and I said: you know something? The last thing Jesus said was: get rid of my debt. If He said it personally, then there's no difference between personal and corporate, we keep it the same way corporate. Then of course, within about two years, that whole building thing went, prices of everything dropped; we'd have been carrying a mortgage up to our eyeballs, and no way of servicing it. So sometimes you just don't get a fresh direction. You've got to follow the old one, until you get a new one. That's not sort of rocket science, all this stuff is it? Following Jesus. [Laughs]

I'll give you the last three quickly. The next one is: if you're going to follow Jesus, we must commit to personal change. We must commit to personal change. Let me tell you this: there is no following Jesus, without commitment to change. How can there be? If you're following Him, He wants you to change. Here's the plan of God, Romans 8. God's design is that we be conformed, become more like Christ. That means, I've got to change; because I'm not very like Christ, in a lot of areas in my life. How many find sometimes you're not very forgiving? How many find sometimes you get quite angry? How many know sometimes we've got all kinds of things that we don't like in there? God wants us to change! So what amazes me - I'll just put it straight out here - as a Pastor, we know of so many marriages which are struggling, have got major issues in them. When we do a marriage seminar, people don't come, and actually commit to change. That's foolish.

We have wonderful people here who teach on training children; and I've seen some, and they've got their kids out of control, things are not going well. Hello! Are you blind or something? Invest. Get some training, learn what to do. Church is to be an equipping centre, not a nursery, not a hospital. It has those aspects to it, but it's one thing to have like a little room, where you carry your patients, and you help them for a little, while they recover. It's another thing for the whole thing to be full of patients, and nurses running around giving IV feeds every day, trying to look after - this is not the church. Jesus says, those who follow Me, they're called to be warriors, and to be great soldiers for Him. So some people have got issues with finance, and so we get involved with counselling with them, and we find they have these massive issues of finance. The whole financial world is a total mess, they're not following Jesus; they're following the chaos of advertising in the world, and irresponsibility; yet when something's put on, they don't commit to come. What stupidity is that? We have to be committed to invest in ourselves. It's not the Pastor's job, or the leader's job, to make your life go right. You've got to own this yourself.

If you need help, you put up your hand, and find it, from wherever you can get it. If you've got brokenness in your soul, everyone has a bit of it. Get along to a course. If it doesn't do it all, go back and do it again, don't worry about it. Just own change, own this business of growing. It's your life. Don't stay a baby all your life. Make a decision to invest. Next year, as we begin to share what we'll do next year, you make the decision: what do I need to grow in? In fact, before you even get there: what do I need to grow in? Where do I need to grow personally? Where do I need to change? What things do I need to learn, to become a better follower of Jesus? Next year, when there's opportunities up, you put your hand up, and turn up, and get to change. That's how life works. Get in a group - so commit to change. Ha ha! You've gone all quiet on that one. Tell someone next to you: he was talking about you, you know; it wasn't me, I've changed enough. I don't need to change - I've arrived. [Laughs] How many know someone that's already arrived? There we are, don't need to change.

Matthew 16, Jesus said this. He said: if any man really purposes in their heart, that they will come after Me, and walk the journey with Me; this is what He said, oh, you're going to love this! He said: you'll have to deal with selfishness, and there'll be a cross, there'll be a part of your life that I can't carry for you. There'll be some stuff you won't like, where you'll have to actually surrender and yield. He said: you can't follow Me, unless you're doing that route. Now this is what we want: we want a path of following Jesus, that bypasses Gethsemane, Calvary; just take me straight to the resurrection! [Laughter] Glory! I want glory! I want buzzes, and things happening! But no, it's not going to be like that. Before every resurrection, there's a death; and I have journeyed with God long enough to know, that it goes in ebbs of flows of life and death, that life comes when something dies.

So sometimes the thing that needs to die, is your dependency on yourself, the bondage you've got in your heart; there's an area you have to bring to the cross, issues in our life. Jesus said: if you want to follow Me, you're going to have to deal with self-centredness, the self-protective life, the self-governing life; and take up your cross. That means specifically, you will face some challenges in your life, that no one else will face; and if you will face them, and walk with Jesus in them, you'll come out with a resurrection life out the other side. No one can carry your cross. We can help make one for you. [Laughter] Wouldn't that be right? We could make crosses for everyone, it'd be great; but you're the only one who can carry your cross. [Laughs]

Okay, here's the last two then. Learn how to be great at serving, to serve generously. I don't know anyone following Jesus, who isn't a generous server, giving of yourself. Jesus said: in the world, everyone wants to be great, and be a kingpin, and have privilege, and have this and have that; but it shall not be so in My kingdom. He said: if you want to be great in My kingdom - Matthew 20:28 - then learn to be a servant. You want to be the top dog? Who wants to be the top dog? The most important and famous in the kingdom? Awesome! Just serve everyone, and there you are, you've arrived! Now that just gets over you, because you see people want title, they wanted this, they wanted that, but actually it's just in the serving of people you grow as a follower of Jesus. Here's the thing. In church, so many people want a position. Why would you want a position? Ridiculous. It's just a job to do. Anyone desires the office of an elder, do work, so work, you've got to work, something to do, so all positions are just titles.

See, what really counts, is serving. So if you've got the kingdom heart, you're a follower of Jesus, you can take on a role, and then you can let go of the role. You can pick up this role, and then let go of that role, that's not a problem. Why? Because your life isn't in the role. Your life is in following Jesus. Your life is in serving; and if you're a server of Jesus, it doesn't matter whether anyone here notices you at all. What really counts, is the audience of one. Well I'll tell you something, if you're following Jesus, and you're serving well, everyone's going to notice you, because you'll stand out by being so different. I know it's sort of basic, it's not rocket science - tell someone: this is simple, you knew that didn't you? I knew you knew that.

Here's the last one then. I'm not even going to go into this one too far, but let me just tell you, here's the last one. If we're going to follow Jesus - I'll put it to you really straight on this one - it does mean: we share His mission. Now let me ask you this: how is it possible to follow Jesus, and not share His mission in the world? Jesus is constantly engaging with lost people. He came to save the world, not just a few people at church. Think about it - and His mandate is to go, and engage with other people, and make them disciples; not just get a decision for Jesus. One of the greatest deceptions of all - I don't even know how many people, when they say a little prayer, really get saved. I know that's not what Jesus said, you can't see it anywhere in the Bible. He said: I want you to be people who follow Me; and following Me, means learning to listen to Me, and do the things that I say. That's what we're called to make; so you can't look around a church, and say whether it's any good or not. You can see certain factors of it, but one thing you've really got to look for, is how many people are pursuing passionately, they're followers of Jesus; and those signs, those five signs will be there.

Now what does it mean then, to engage in mission? It means: just as Jesus entered your world through someone; you consciously make a decision, you'll intentionally enter the world of other people, who don't know Jesus; and find their story, find their journey, and help them discover the One, and hear His call on their life for the first time, and then encourage them to follow Him. We should not think that it's okay just to pray a sinner's prayer, and that's that. That's not what Jesus came to do. That's only one part. It's like getting your foot out of the womb, but the rest doesn't come out. You know there is a lot more to go. We're called actually, to build people, who love Jesus, and follow Him.

So here's some simple things then, you could look and ask yourself these questions: am I bringing Jesus into most parts of my life, some parts of my life, no parts of my life? Have I reserved Jesus for Sundays? What room do I make for Jesus? Do I talk with Him, engage Him in His word, in prayer? Do I bring Him intentionally into the issues in my life? Number one, that's very, very important - do I bring Him.

The second thing is, am I listening to Him? What did He last say to me; and am I doing it? Am I listening and building a trusting relationship, where I can trust Him with my finances, trust Him with my marriage, trust Him with my pains and sorrows? Have I made a decision, am I serving? Am I committed to change? What did I last change in? Where was there an issue that I last stood up, and actually embraced change? How engaged am I in reaching people? This coming year's going to be a great year. We're going to push forward in this whole theme of becoming a follower of Jesus, becoming a follower of the One who loved us. Amen?

Why don't we close our eyes right now. Father in heaven, I just thank You that You love us, that You are with us; and I thank You that each person here has heard the call of God. Lord, I pray for grace to follow you.

Just while our eyes are closed and heads are bowed, is there any person here has not yet actually responded personally to Jesus Christ? God sent His Son in the world, to die on the cross for your sins. If you're here, and haven't made a personal response to Christ; to receive Him into your life, to commit your life into His hands, to journey through your life with Him. God calls you to follow His Son, Jesus Christ. In Him is life. Whoever follows Him, will have the light of life. They won't walk in darkness. If you've never made that decision to follow Jesus Christ, I'd love you just to raise your hand today, and say: today's my day, I want to make that decision, become a follower of Jesus.

I wonder just while we've been listening, and just enjoying the meeting today, in the midst of it, if you felt God speak to you about some aspect of following Jesus. It could be just beginning to share your life with Him at a greater level, it could be the issue then of listening to Him and reading His word, listening to His voice, responding to Him; obeying something He's already told you to do. It could be an issue of an area of change in your life, your marriage, your family, your finances; whatever it is, you just need to make a decision, you're going to start to move there. Maybe it's the area of just engagement in mission, or engagement in serving in some kind of way. What is your serving like? Do people find you as a generous server, or do they find you as someone who's always withdrawn, and holding back waiting for someone to serve them? Are you engaging intensely in anyone's life, reaching out to people to enter their world, find out where they are, and let them see: you don't have all the answers, but there is a God who loves them, that could help them; and point them to Him.

When we follow a Pastor or leader, we point people to them, and their preaching, or their ministry or whatever. When we follow a church, we point to the church, this is the area where you get your help. When we follow Jesus we point people to Him. How many are feeling God's spirit speaking to you, and challenging you today, about following Jesus? I'd like you just to raise your hand, if there's some area that God spoke to you, just raise your hand. God bless, God bless, God bless, many hands, many hands.

Father, we just thank You today, that Your hand is on our life to change us. I pray that change will become practical, tangible, and real; as we exit this year, and even into next year, Lord there'll be an arising of people to follow You, in a whole new dimension. Lord, we give you all the honour, because You model for us, what it means. You came from heaven, You came into this earth, You love people, You walk with people, You engage with people, You serve people. You've brought a revelation of the kingdom of heaven. Now Lord, we commit our lives to do the same, in Jesus' Mighty name.

Summary Notes

Formatted » Back to Top »

1. Introduction
· Mk.2:14 “And as He passed by He saw Levi the son of Alphyaeu7s sitting at the receipt of custom and said to him :”Follow Me” … and he arose and followed him”
· Levi was a tax collector employed and used by the Roman oppressors.
· Tax collectors were despised, scorned and hated by Jews, considered traitors.
· Jesus chose Levi : summoned him to follow Him.
· John 15:16 “You did not choose me, I chose you” – He invited himself into our life
· Each of us is chosen by God – His call is to “Follow Jesus”.
· Our call is to attach to a person Jesus and to “Follow Him!” – a personal call.

2. Everyone is following something!
· Everyone follows someone or something – only question is who/what will we follow?

(1) Celebrities – pop, movie, business – Fame is a mask that eats away face
(2) Fashion/values of the world (1 Cor. 7:3 fashion of this world)
(3) Popular leaders in the Christian World (1 Cor.3:3-5 Paul? Apollos?)
(4) Demonic Spirits (Eph.2:1-2)
(5) The Crowd (friends, face-book, social media, web, twitter) (Acts 28:4-6 … they changed their minds)

· Jesus is the true leader – will you follow him?

3. What does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

(a) What it does Not Mean?
Following Jesus does not mean that:
i) You have all the answers
ii) Your life is suddenly all together
iii) Your life will go smoothly without challenges, setbacks, difficulties
iv) You will always see clearly what God is doing
v) You will always have money
It is a journey – constantly moving after the one you said Yes to!
It is not the goal, the reward, the destination – it is the journey itself being with Jesus

(b) What it Means to “Follow”
· Mt 4:19-20 “He said to them Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men, and they straight away left their nets and followed him”.
· “Followed” = NT190= Akoloutheo : ‘az’ union; “Kelenthos” = road
= to be on the same road as a companion
= to enter another person’s world and join them on their journey
= to be caught up with what God is doing and participate

(c) How We Follow Jesus

(i) Share Your Life with Jesus
· Mk.3:14 “He appointed twelve that they might be “with Him”
· “Be With” = intentional sharing of our life allowing the Holy Spirit into every area.
· Not just “me and Jesus” but also connection to His Body the Church.
· Acts 9:4 We cannot separate Jesus from His people, His church.

(ii) Develop Relationship with Jesus
· Jn.15:27 “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me”
· Following Jesus is closely connected to serving Him and serving people.
· Following means trusting and obeying His words – doing what He says.
· Jn. 14:2 “He who has my commands and keeps them, it is he who loves me”

(iii)Commit to Personal Change/Spiritual Growth
· God desires each of us to become like Christ – to represent him Rom.8:29.
· Spiritual Growth is not accidental it is a journey of intentional change.
· Mt.16:24-27 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me”
Literally: “If any person resolves or determines in his heart to journey with me he must contradict his selfish nature and surrender to my leadership”.
· Jesus accomplished at the Cross all that is needed to save us. Our response is to apply it to our lives.

(iv) Learn how to Serve
· Jn.12:26”If any man serves me let him follow me ….”
· Following Jesus is closely connected to serving Him and serving people.
· Mt.20:25-28 “Whoever desires to become great among you let him be your servant”
· Jesus rejected the leadership model of the world – position and privilege.
· Jesus modelled and taught serving : great followers are great servers.
· Kingdom Leadership = serving people and meeting needs.

(v) Share His Mission
· Mt.28:18-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you”
· This is an intentional effort to enter the lives of other people and journey with them to become followers of Christ.

· John 21:20 – Follow Me!

The Princess Syndrome (2 of 6)  

Sun 18 Nov 2012 AM « Back to Top

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Church isn't perfect, it has many problems, probably so many problems we could spend a day or two just describing them all, but nevertheless His church is His church. It's His bride, it's the one He came for and He will make His church perfect. We can't follow Jesus and not be engaged with His people, and the cause He has in changing a community. Life is not all about you, and the sooner you realise it, the happier you will become.

The Princess Syndrome (2 of 6)

Open your Bible with me in gospel of Mark 1. The last message I preached was a message called Follow Jesus, so we're going to pick that up. I feel challenged on that one, on Following Jesus. People are following many things today, and I want to challenge you to follow Jesus. This is something we do corporately, but it's also something that is very individual, and so I want you to think.

You can be following all kinds of things. We saw last week a number of the things we could be following. Let's just start with a key verse to trigger off with. Then I want to share with you a message which I've called the Princess Syndrome, and you'll see what it's about, and how it connects to following Jesus in a moment. I didn't even know there was such a thing. In fact, it wasn't until after I'd thought about it, and got some ideas together, and felt the Holy Spirit quicken some things, I thought: I wonder if that is something? I should look it up - and then it turns out that it's well known in psychologist circles: the Princess Syndrome. I'm not going to be talking about that. I'm going to be talking about discipleship, following Jesus, and about one of the issues that stops us, so let's have a look.

Mark 1:17-18, Jesus said to them: follow Me. Here it is. He hasn't changed, He still calls us to follow Him, not follow an experience, to follow Him. It's a person, not follow a doctrine - follow a person. Not follow celebrities - follow Jesus. We're called to follow Him, and I feel the Holy Ghost pressing on me, the church needs to return to the very foundations of what our faith is about. It is about following Jesus; and it says it was the disciples, the followers of Christ, that were called Christians. Today we call lots of people Christians, and it doesn't say anything, it doesn't really mean anything much at all. You can call yourself what you like. What counts is that you follow Christ, and that is not just a decision you make, it's a lifestyle. Jesus said: Follow Me, I will make you to become fishers of men. If you follow Jesus, your life will become something it isn't now. He will make you something you're not. He will change you, to become something He wants you to become, and that is someone vitally interested in the salvation, and welfare, of people. That's what He'll make you.

People who get caught into experiences, and forget the lost, forget the needs of people, have gone astray from the faith. We're called to follow Jesus, and He will make us a fisher of men. He will make us someone who engages people who don't know Him, and gathers them up in different kinds of ways. It doesn't mean you'll be all evangelist. It does mean engaging people where they are, and helping them progress in their relationship with God, is what all believers are called to do. So to follow, just define it again, what it means to follow Jesus; I'm still trying to get a handle on it, so every week as I study, I'm looking for more insights on it. So the word comes from a word that means union; it's two words coming together - union; and the second one is in a road; so it means being united on a journey, or a road, with Jesus. So notice here to follow Me, it means literally to be: on a road, with someone as your companion; that's what it means. To follow Jesus, you are on a journey with Him through life, so following Jesus is about the journey, not just about where you're going to get. It's actually about learning how to have a day to day relationship, and walk with someone through life.

It's sharing the journey. He comes as a companion to you, to share your life with you. You walk with Him in life, sharing your life with Him, and so it's a journey on the same road. The word means literally to enter someone else's world and journey with them. So if we're going to follow Jesus, we're going to enter into His perspectives on life. It's thinking life differently to the way you've thought it. If you want to follow the world, it follows a course; but when we follow Jesus, we begin to think about how He sees life, what is His perspective on life? What is important? What isn't important? What is of value, and what's not of value? So our values begin to change. We begin to shift how we think about life. One of the challenges that the church faces is, the lifestyle of so many believers is so similar to the world, and the anxieties and pressures and problems they have are so identical, it's hard to find someone following Jesus. There's plenty of people going to church; it's someone following Jesus that'll provide the answer.

We want to focus on what it means to follow Jesus, so it's a lifelong journey with Him, being committed both to Him and to His cause. I don't think you can be a follower of Jesus without loving His church. Church isn't perfect, it has many problems, probably so many problems we could spend a day or two just describing them all, but nevertheless His church is His church. It's His bride, it's the one He came for, and He will make His church perfect. I don't think we can follow Jesus, and not be engaged with His people; and also with the cause He has, in changing a community. Following Jesus means that.

I want to pick up one aspect of following Jesus, in a scripture you'll be very familiar with shortly; and so here's the first thing that you have to realise, if you're going to follow Jesus: It's not all about me. [Laughter] Tell someone: it's not all about me. Speak the words: It's not all about me! And I know that just on that one revelation, some of you could go home today very disappointed. [Laughter]

Life is not all about you; and the sooner you realise it, the happier you will become. Your family, your children, need to learn this lesson - many lessons they need to learn, here's one lesson they need to learn: it is not all about them. Wake up! You've got to fit into the world somewhere, and you've got to learn how to live in it, and make sense with it, so it's not all about me. Now I want you to have a look in Luke 15. I'm going to follow this thought: it's all about me; and I'll describe what I call the Princess Syndrome in a moment. So we read in Luke, Chapter 15 - now I'm going to come to the discipleship verse in a moment, but I want to give you just something that'll make sense to you now, when you see this. When I go to the passage that Jesus said what it means to follow Him, you need this in the back of your mind, as we're going there.

Now you know the story. This is the story in Luke 15, and it's a revelation of who God is, and what God is like, in three phases; Jesus is the shepherd. God reveals Himself as the one who lights up our way, the Holy Spirit. He also reveals Himself as Father, and this story about the Father - we call it the Prodigal Son - but it's actually about the extravagance of God as a Father, and His love as a Father. Now we've ministered it to you from the perspective of the Father's love. I don't want to approach it that way. I want to look at it a different way. I want to have a look at the younger son's ruin, and why he was ruined. I want to draw your attention to four words, and here's the first two of them. The first two of them are found in Verse 12: And the younger one said to his father, father, GIVE ME - give me my share of the property. Give me - and we find from that point on, he goes progressively down into total ruin. Then there's a turning point comes in his life - verse 17, he came to himself and said: how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough to spare and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I'll say: father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Here it is - MAKE ME. Give me the path to ruin; Make me the path to promotion. Now if you just took that away you'd have something. Give me, is the path to ruin. Now you notice here in the story, give me; his mentality is this: It's all about me. It's about what I want. He has a sense of entitlement. I was interested in reading the American elections recently, they said there's a major concern in the way the country is going. It is moving away from it's foundations of personal responsibility, and moving towards a sense of entitlement - that the Government needs to come through for me, and provide something for me. That is the road to ruin.

When you get a sense of entitlement, it's my right - to have a sense of entitlement means: I believe that I am owed something, by someone. The Government owes me, the church owes me, my parents owe me, someone owes me something. That kind of sense of entitlement is identified by the two words 'give me.' Give me - spirit of entitlement, a sense of entitlement. He had no interest in the welfare of his father. In fact actually, a person who's got this 'give me' mentality sees people from the perspective of: can I use you to get me somewhere? Give me. It's all about me. I want something from you, that will help me get to where I want to get. There's an expectation of special treatment. I'm special, you should break the rules for me. I should get this ahead of time. I should get what I want, when I want. Notice he's also strongly promoting himself - me, I want you to give to me. It's about me. I want to fulfil my own destiny, and I want to be free of restraints; so his focus is on his personal rights. Dad, you're going to die, and I'm going to get a share, but I'm not interested in waiting. I want it all, and I want it now!

Now, do those thoughts sound very familiar, in today's generation? It is a road to ruin. It's a road to ruin, total road to ruin. Now I want to just talk a little bit about the Princess Syndrome. The Princess Syndrome goes something like this: when children become the focus of all the attention in the family, they become like little princesses. It's all about me, and it's all about what I feel; and if I'm unhappy, you've got to make me feel happy. If I want this, you've got to give me what I want. The loss of fathers in family, bringing order and identity, has contributed to this. The breakdown of families has contributed deeply to this; and so we have a generation arising, and actually they've all got a princess syndrome - it's about me. I want to look good, I want to feel good, I want you to meet my needs, so don't tell me anything that will upset me.

So we'll have to change our education system. We won't have a pass/fail! In my life, I don't know about you, but all my way through life, there were many pass/fails. You got the job; or you didn't get the job. That's a pass/fail isn't it? Why would you hide from someone, that real life works that way; that you sometimes get things, sometimes don't? That's actually life, and if you qualify, you get; if you don't qualify, you don't. This is actually what you experience in life. Why would you hide from a generation these realities, and give them kind of soft-grades? I'm all for education, and for improvements in education, but what I'm seeing is a generation arising, that's actually got like a princess syndrome. It's all about me, and what I feel, and what I want, and you coming through for me. It's actually not the understanding that this is the road to ruin.

So there's a whole season in education, where there's this focus on the esteem of the child. Fine, but actually our esteem is not found by cultivating and nurturing self. It's actually found by identifying with Christ - totally, radically different. So when you pamper people's esteem, what happens is, you don't help them. It becomes more, and more, and more about me. Then, let me tell you, when you come into the kingdom with that mentality, then you know what? God, it's still all about me; and so when I pray, I want you to bless me and help me; do this for me, get me this, get me that; and that moment something goes wrong, and I don't get what I want, now I'm having a hissy fit. I don't need to go into all of those, but you can see that there's a generation emerging with a great sense of entitlement, and what they need, is to be challenged over this. It's the road to ruin. What you need is, a cause to live for bigger than yourself. You need a person to connect to, and a cause to live for. You need to get outside yourself, and into something bigger.

Every time you get into yourself, you decrease and become smaller and smaller. It's when you get caught in something bigger than yourself, you grow in capacity, and start to flourish. In fact actually, we're designed that way. We were never designed to be the centre of the world. We're designed not to be the sun. We're designed actually, to have Christ as the centre of our world, and from that perspective we establish who we are. One of the things a child has to establish, in the family, very clearly has to be established: who is in charge; and if mum and dad don't establish they're in charge, that child gets the princess syndrome, it's all about me, and then there's this spoilt-brat kind of deal, where they want everything, and they fuss and create tantrums, all kind of deal when they don't get their way. They come into church, they do the same thing, and I've seen many people fail in their walk with God, for this reason. They never got, that it's not all about me. They just didn't get it, because our society cultivates that.

It keeps presenting that. All the advertising's directed that way: you will be happy if you have this, you'll be happy if you have that. You just need this. Oh, you can get it right now - three years and you don't have to pay a thing! It's interest free all that time; but what they're not telling you, is actually you don't need it to make you happy, because after you've got it, by the time you come to pay for it, you'll be unhappy. So it's not all about me, so we need to realise that. Of course there's a whole thing here, you may have heard about a guy by the name of Narcissus in Greek mythology. He loved himself actually, that's the best way to describe it. He was in love with himself, and he wanted everyone to admire him. He was very beautiful, wanted everyone to admire how beautiful he was; and so everywhere he went he expected everyone to say: oh, you're lovely, you're wonderful, you're beautiful, it's all about you. We've been watching that TV series called Big Bang Theory, and for Sheldon it's all about him. The whole world is about him, and his obsessions; and of course this is the extreme of it, it's all about him, and it's disrupting and dysfunctional in all relationships. So Narcissus, it was totally about him; and so all his relationships, what he wanted was people to give to him, but he didn't want to give anything back; and so he destroyed all relationships, rejecting everyone, until one day he sat by some water, and saw his own face. He thought that looks amazing, that's a wonderful person, I like that person; and touched the water, and the water moved, and the person was gone - a bit shocked because the person's gone. Then he looked into the water again, and there it was, he saw himself. He became captivated by himself, and in the end, he began to wither away, and just grow old and die, even though everyone tried to help him. So when you use that term Narcissus, it's someone who's totally preoccupied with themselves.

Unfortunately, many people are caught up with that. They're caught up with themselves; and when you're caught up with yourself, let me tell you this. I have learnt this, in moving in the spirit. The one thing, that will stop you flowing in the anointing, is being preoccupied with yourself. That should teach something, shouldn't it; that the moment I think about myself, the anointing stops flowing. I've proven that over and over and over, and we teach and demonstrate how to move with the Holy Spirit. It always comes to this point: if you think about yourself, the flow of the spirit shuts down, and you have no movement of God, when you look in on yourself. There is no movement. There's no life there. Now there's times to reflect, and to consider our needs, and so on, but here's the thing. The result of being self-absorbed is, people do this: they end up with broken relationships. So you've got a generation emerging that can't form committed relationships, doesn't know what they are. They're preoccupied with getting something out of a relationship; rather than growing, and becoming someone who can build into it. There's a major problem in our society of this, and it's all around this thing: give me.

It requires a radical shift, and at the core of discipleship, and following Jesus, is a shift from: 'give me', to 'make me.' He said: Follow Me, I will make you something. There's a shift, that requires internal changes on a daily basis; so one of the things that happens when people are occupied with themselves, is they end up rejecting everyone else, because others have got no value to them. They end up absorbed in themselves, end up with all kinds of problems, it creates division in the church, it creates division in the workplace. You look in the workplace, at the cause of the problems, and most of the time it's people; it's all about me, is the thing that's going on. This creates all sorts of difficulties. You think about addictions. Why do people get so addicted into drugs? Why? It's all about me, and their pain, and what they want to feel like; and they totally, in the end, become so gripped with it, that they ignore all the hurt they're causing everyone around them. So this is the path to ruin, a path to ruin. It's rooted in pride. Look where he ends up! This should be a lesson for us.

It says in verse 15: he went, and joined himself to a citizen of that country, who sent him in the fields to feed the pigs. He ended up down with the pigs. The path of give me, give me, give me, is a slow steady path to ruin, in every aspect of your life. At some point, you've got to say: God, help me to make a shift on the inside; and you'll see that the core of discipleship, is a shift around that issue, of who's in charge. Have a look in Matthew 16 verse 21: From that time, Jesus began to show His disciples, He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up the third day. What is Jesus doing? He's revealing His life's purpose. He's revealing: this is what the Father has planned for Me. This is the course I must run, because it's not about Me, it's about salvation of many. It's about the world. It's about salvation coming. It's about My Father's plan, it's not about Me. Therefore I will experience suffering, I will be put to death, but I will rise, and then we will accomplish what God sent Me for.

But you see Peter interrupted Him. Look what Peter did. Peter took Him - so he put his hand on Him, or even took Him aside, and he began to rebuke Him, saying: be it far from You Lord, this shall not happen to You! Now I want you to see what he did. The first thing is, he begins to rebuke Him. Now the interesting thing about the word rebuke means, it means literally to place value on someone. So what he's doing is, he's saying :listen, You are the one who's helping me be the centre of attention. We're having revivals. There's a coming kingdom, and we're going to rule in that kingdom, and if You go mess it up by dying on the cross, what will happen to me? Listen, listen to me, he said. He began to rebuke Him. If you really care about people, you will talk about things in their life; so he began to rebuke Him, and this is what he said: Be it far from me; or literally, it says: pity Yourself. What he's really saying is: now I heard what you say about suffering, and crosses and stuff. I didn't hear resurrection at all - but what I do sense is this. You need to look out for Yourself, pity Yourself, have mercy on Yourself, look after Yourself.

Now that's an amazing statement to make, because I hear that all the time, you need to look after yourself. Actually it's true, you must be responsible for yourself. There's a difference between being responsible for yourself and your needs, which are valid needs, and then being preoccupied with yourself. That's quite a different thing. Here is a direct statement from Jesus of His purpose, His life's purpose; and someone's saying: there's hardship in that, don't take that route. Well I feel God's calling me to do this. Oh, that sounds pretty tough, don't take that route. I feel God's calling me to get up, and do this. Oh, well don't take that route, it'll be difficult for you. Now I tell you what, there'll be a Peter in every person's life, to say: don't take that route, look out for yourself. What will happen to you financially? What will happen to you if you do that? If you gave your life to serve the Lord, what would happen to you? Oh, I don't think that's a good move. You know, Jesus said: sometimes the enemies of the call of God, are within your own household; trying to keep your family members happy, who don't carry the same spirit of faith towards the things of God that you do. He said: that's why, in discipleship, there would come choices you'd have to make, as to the priority you place on the call of God, or the work of God, in your life. It's quite a challenge, and no one escapes it. How many can identify a time, when you felt committed to do something that was going to be costly for you, and there was some resistance, and people tried to talk you out of it? How many have had that happen to you? See, it's almost everyone here. Interesting isn't it aye?

So here's the next thing that Jesus did. Now what Jesus did is quite interesting. This is what He did. He turned and said to Peter: get behind Me Satan, you're an offence to Me. You're not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men. Now in that is a tremendous amount of insight. I want you to have a look at the first thing He said - He actually confronts the mentality. He confronts it strongly, and says: behind Me Satan. Now here's the interesting thing. He ascribes to Satan, the mentality: look after yourself, give me. Of course Satan was the great give me, give me, give me person. That's where it all stems from; and so when He heard that thought come through, look out for yourself instead of - put yourself before God's purpose for Your life, He immediately ascribed it to the devil, and rightly so. The devil will obstruct every attempt you make to fulfil the course of God, by saying: look out for yourself, it'll cost you too much.

The second thing He said: you are an offence to Me. That word means, you are putting in my path, something that will stumble and hinder me going forward in this purpose of God. When people tell you: hey, look out for yourself, take pity on yourself, have compassion for yourself, and it's all about you, it stumbles you fulfilling God's purpose in your life. It's not all about you. It's about the Lord and what He wants. Isn't the deal one of covenant? My wife married me, it was a covenant. She agreed to follow me, wherever I went. I was a Catholic boy when she married me. She didn't know I'd go all over the world casting demons, and doing weird things all over, in different countries. No one told her that. I was a teacher, and earning quite good money; and she didn't know, when she said she'd follow me, that that would involve hardship and difficulty, which she would have to embrace her part in it. This is the thing you see, is that you don't know. When you give your life to Jesus, the deal is one of covenant, not casual: if I agree with you, I'll go there; if I don't agree with you, I don't. If I like it, I'll say yes; if I don't like it, I'll say no. That's not the deal we're in! We're in a deal of covenant, where He makes everything available to me. I make all I have available to Him as well. That's the deal. It's covenant! It's actually a commitment to engage in a journey together through life. This is why today's generation needs this message, because they don't understand what it means to journey through life, and stick through thick and thin, when it's tough. They need to actually get a message life is about covenant relationships, not casual. It's about: make me to serve; not: give me what I can.

So the third thing that Jesus said to him: you are stumbling me. In other words, this kind of thinking is an obstacle. You know, there's humanity to it as well. He wrestled with this thing, of going to the cross; and when He prayed in the Garden, and sweated blood and tears, His whole humanity didn't want to die. He sweated over that one. That's why He said: you coming along, and telling Me I shouldn't do it, that's a real stumbling stone for Me. I need you to say: yes, go for the will of God! Not every reason why I shouldn't.

And the last thing He said, so He identified the source of the statement: look out for yourself, and give me, as being the devil. The impact is an offence, or a stumbling block; and He said: the root of it, is in the way you think, because you have more concern, and your affections are set on, what people think, rather than what God thinks. So He identifies that the core, or the spirit behind it, is the devil. He identified that it stumbles you, in your walk with God, when you get exposed to it; and He said: it all has to do with what's of the highest value in your thinking, in your life. Are the things of God important to you, or are the things men more important? He's not saying you shouldn't be concerned with the issues of life. He's saying: it's about priorities; and so there'll always come a point, where what you feel you'd like to do, what you would want to do, what would be nice to do, comes in conflict with what God wants you to do; and that's when you meet the next part, which is what Jesus says. He used it as an opportunity to instruct, about what it means to be His disciple, and here it is.

He said: if anyone desires to come after Me - that's anyone - who desires to come after Jesus? Well we all do, we all sort of, it's not a trick question. The word desire there means literally: has any one here purposed to follow Jesus, anyone purposed to be His follower, to walk in the same path with Him. He says: this is what it's going to take, to stay on the same path; here's what it'll take, these three things: Let him deny himself; take up his cross; follow Me. You can't get that clearer. I haven't preached on that verse for a long time, and people don't like that verse, because you know what it's got in it? Two very uncomfortable things - number one: deny yourself; and we don't like to have that one in there; and number two: take up your cross. We don't want crosses, we want power and glory! [Laughter]. But before the glory, there's the cross; and if it took Jesus to go through the crossm into the glory, there will be points in our life in following Him, where the will of God, and our will, will cross; and that's when you have to make the choices. It's in those costly choices, that you find the favour of God. That's where resurrection comes.

So number one, deny self. Any man come after Me, he must deny himself. So what it's saying is this: you've actually got to recognise, that the self-centred, what's-in-this-for-me, give-me mentality must be rejected. You actually have to make decisions to reject, and these are daily decisions. Now it's not about proper care for needs, proper managing your finances, proper looking out for emotional and physical needs, or keeping yourself fit, or anything like that. It's actually the whole issue of a self-centred way of thinking and acting. What's in this for me, is no longer my viewpoint. Now if you think about this, if everywhere I went, I changed; and no longer was it: what's in this for me; but: what can I give; you would be on the path to kingdom thinking. You do the counselling in the marriage - how many of them come in: what am I going to get out of this, you know? What can you give me? I want sex, I want this, I want that; and you've got to re-orient their whole thinking - actually what do you bring into this thing? You're bringing in very little. You're not ready for marriage yet. Isn't that how it works?

In other words, people come into the relationship thinking: what can I get out of this marriage, and they end up destroying it. But if they came in saying: what can I bring into this marriage, what can I give in to this marriage - that would start to build it. That's true of every arena in life. If you approach it from not: what's in this for me, but: what can I do to serve? How can I give in to this? Then you'll radically change your view of life: what can I give? How can I serve? How can I help? What can I do? You see it's a way of thinking, that just says: no, to: what do I get out of this? What do I get out of this anyway? The whole path - number one, deny self. Now every one of you has to face that, it's your own journey, where you have to deny self. I can't do that for you unfortunately. You could pray a prayer, but that won't do any good. Could have an altar call - that won't do any good either, because at the end, you still have to say: NO! No! No to me; yes to others. That's what it'll boil down to.

And take up the cross. Now here's the interesting thing, what does it mean take up the cross? Well you don't have to take up Jesus' cross, He's already done the dying on the cross for sin. You don't have to go to the cross for sins, or anything like that, but what does it mean to take up the cross? Very simply, it means doing what God requires of you, regardless of what people say or think, or what you feel. Better run that one by you again. Take up your cross - the cross was the instrument of death, so when you took up your cross you were on your way to death, on your way to the gallows. Now here's the thing. The gallows was a horribly painful unpleasant thing; and not only that, people looked at you, stared at you and ridiculed you, so that kind of gives you the picture, why He used the word cross.

So what He's really saying is: you need to make decisions; and it's take up your cross daily Paul adds, one of the gospel writers adds. It's a daily decision, that I'll do what God is calling me to do; I'll follow what He's calling me to do, regardless of what people say, or think, or how I feel, or if it inconveniences me - I will still do it. I'll do what God wants me - so you notice the perspective is thinking: what God is wanting for me. It's a heaven perspective, it's a thinking about how I work in this situation, what is the spirit of God saying for me to do. What is the word of God saying for me to do? It takes away a lot of guess work, just: God, what do you want in this situation? Lord, I'm really happy to do that, and follow Me, follow Me means that I walk in the same spirit that Jesus did, and I follow the same leadings He did. He was led by the Holy Spirit. I need to follow Him, so that means I keep my eyes on Him, not on what people are doing.

Interesting Peter said: hey, what about this disciple over here? John, what about him? What's going to happen to him? And he's all het up about what's going - he knows he's going to die - so he goes: what about this guy here, you know? Jesus said: if he lives forever, what's that to you? You follow Me. In other words, mind your business about what God's doing in someone else's life. You just follow Me. Mind your business. Don't worry about what God's doing with someone else - you just make sure you're following. Don't worry about what this one's doing this, this one's doing that. No, no, no, no, mind your business, stick with what God called you to do. Even Paul wrote, and said: study to mind your own business, it's a good - tell someone, mind your own business. Good idea isn't it? There's even an accounting program, isn't there Bruce, on that one: Mind Your Own Business? [Laughs] So if you're going to follow the Lord, what it'll require, is you adopt a lifestyle of saying: I'm here to give what I can, even if it's little I'll give what I can. Two, it'll mean at times, it's not comfortable for me, it's painful for me, or difficult for me, if people don't agree; but I've got my eyes fixed on Jesus. That's all it is. Just for a simple example, I'll give you two simple examples, that just show you how simple this thing works out; just keeping in mind: deny self, take up your cross, follow Jesus, okay?

Here's the first issue. Someone upsets you. That's pretty common isn't it? [Laughter] They upset you because of your pride. You become offended and hurt; so deny self. I need to deal with the pride, and the offence, and the hurt, and I need to bring resolution to it. Stop focussing on me, what about me, give me, you owe me an apology, give me, give me. I need to actually realise, something's happened, it's set me back. It's not what I expected, or what I hoped for, it's knocked me around a bit; but here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to actually deal with this thing, very quickly. Instead of demanding my rights, I'll surrender my rights; and think: yes, they have offended me. What can I put into this to improve the situation? Most people want to go there: well I'm going to see them, I'm going to get there, and their nose is flaring, and their eyes are out there bulging, and their highly set up - I'm going to tell them what's what! Good on you mate, you know? They're not walking after Jesus, that's for sure; and you'll end up with the pigs, like everyone else does, who follows that path. It doesn't go anywhere. It ends up in destruction. What you need to decide is: yes, actually what's happened is not good. However what can I give in to this, that could improve or change the situation? You understand, just the change in thinking?

Number two, take up the cross. Well what would it mean to take up the cross? Well I need to forgive, because on the cross Jesus forgave. But I don't want to forgive, I want to shake my fist! Oh, so take up your cross, and forgive. Then follow Jesus. What did Jesus do? Jesus showed grace and mercy to people. Remember what they said, when He came past one town, and the disciples said: these guys have rejected us. We should call down fire! Give me the word Jesus, and we'll call fire down, and burn them all up! Oh, they were really full of 'Holy Ghost' fire, you know and this 'righteous' indignation. I notice when people get angry, they always say it's righteous anger. I doubt it, I haven't seen much of that really. [Laughter] Righteous anger's usually addressed to the poor, and fixing the grievances of the afflicted, not towards being angry about your own injustices. Anyway, that's an aside. So I've lost the track now [Laughter]

So what do you need to do? You see most people just flare up. Well it's a very, very simple thing. Instead of saying: I'm hurt, and it's all about me; why don't you just say: what could I do to help this situation? How could I build a bridge of peace into this relationship, and be a peace-maker; and what will it cost me to do it? I need to forgive. I need to go and ask what's my part in it, and say: I'm sorry. [Wails] But it's all about me, and they did this. I should be getting someone saying sorry to me! But they're not saying sorry to me. It's actually about letting it go. You may have only contributed ten percent. Just go and put your ten percent right. What about them? Don't worry about them, it's not about them. It's about you, doing your part, to make this a different situation; and in doing that, you follow Jesus; because when you follow Jesus, you'll have the peace of God in your heart. That's how you know you're following Him, your heart is at peace. Why? Because the spirit of God, the kingdom of heaven is righteousness, peace. As soon as the peace lifts, you're out of place. You've got to make a decision; deny self, take up the cross, do what Jesus would have done, okay?

Second example, quite easy, I've learned this, is when it comes to moving in the spirit, very, very simple. The moment you stop, and think about yourself, the movement of the spirit stops, just like that; and that should be a lesson, that if you want to flow with the Holy Spirit, stop thinking about yourself. I found one of the things that's helped me mostly, in ministering to people, is very simply this: begin to think how much God loves them, and agree with that. Begin to think about the person being of great value, and that God wants to help them, and I could just be a channel for that. As I orient my thinking that way, the spirit moves. It's not really hard is it, it's quite sort of simple stuff. Okay, follow Me.

So let's finish it up. We'll go back to that one in Luke 15, finish back up there again. The young man had a revelation; and when you're right down in the pigs, and your life's a mess, and everything's fallen apart, you're having a disaster, maybe 'give me' was the part that got you there. Maybe it's a financial ruin, and when you think about it was: give me, give me, give me; and you went to the store, and you got thi,s and got that and got something else. Then there you are, down there in ruin, and they're coming to the door to take away your stuff, and you're embarrassed and humiliated. You're right down there, and then he came to himself. Isn't that a good thing? What does that mean? It means he was actually out of his mind. We've got lots of crazy people - they're out of their mind. You know when you start to think according to the ways of God, you come to your senses, you come to your senses. Usually you come to your senses when you repent and acknowledge the truth, then your mind clears, the demons go, and you think: that was stupid of me. Anyone had that one before? That was stupid. Why did I do that? What came over me? [Laughs] What came over me? So he came to his senses. I'll give you the key thing. The first thing he did - and this is what we need to do - need to just recognise the condition. He said this: I'm perishing with hunger, my life is a mess. I need to recognise, the reason it's a mess, is because the way I'm looking at life is: give me, give me, give me. That's why I'm in this mess. It doesn't matter whether you're a Christian or not, I've seen plenty of Christians get into a mess, because they still had that same thinking. This is one in the house of God really, this young man here.

The second one here is, it needs to be heartfelt repentance. He said: I know I'll go to my father; and I'll say: I've sinned against heaven and before you. There has to be an admission of wrong, that actually my attitude has been wrong, and that I've hurt people with it. That's the hard one, and you notice he was willing to go and say: I've sinned before God. What I did is actually sin, that's the root of it; self-centred thinking, give-me, is sin. Oh? See we think of sin as: well I got drunk, or did this, or did that. We don't think, that actually that whole self-centred orientation of life, is actually out of order, and therefore sin.

He said: I'll say I've sinned against heaven, and I've sinned against you, so here's the thing. Number one, I need to recognise that my 'give me' approach to life and relationships, whether it's work, marriage, children, family, ministry, whatever it is, actually is a path to ruin. I need to come and start to reflect and say: God, show me not only where I'm at, but show me how I've hurt people through this. Then he went to the father, and he was willing to apologise and say: I am sorry, what I did was wrong. I have really damaged our relationship. I'm not even worthy to be called your son. Notice there's no claims, no entitlement, it's all gone. He said: make me to be a servant in the house. What a change!

So number one, we need to recognise just the condition we're in, and that mentality and way of thinking. Two, deeply repent, because it has affected those around us. It has affected people in your sphere of influence. Where appropriate, put it right by apologising. Then thirdly, we need to actually take up the cross. There's actually a decision, that I'm going to do things differently, I'll do things differently. You notice what the young man did. He come back, and he said: I'm going to be a servant; so make a commitment you'll serve in situations. The moment you set yourself to serve, a decision to serve others, and make your value in life: I will honour people, I will serve people; because this is who I am. When you make that decision, everything in your life starts to shift; because every situation you go into, it's not: what can I get out, give-me, and getting angry and upset and offended. It's now, what can I put in that will make it better? What can I contribute that would shift this? How can I be a blessing, how can I build? Now I may not be able to fix everything, but I can do my part to make this office, this house, this neighbourhood, my marriage, my family a better place; and in doing so, you're following Jesus, because He said: if you want to be great in the kingdom, serve. Serve, serve, serve, serve, serve, serve, serve, serve, serve, serve.

You never graduate from it. It doesn't matter what position you hold, title or rank, they don't mean anything. It's all about serving, and if you haven't got the serving thing fixed up, then the title's a mess. It just means you use everyone, and you'll hurt them; but if you've actually got serving right, you can have a position or no position; it doesn't mean a thing, because when you have no position, you're serving; when you have a position, you're serving. It's just how you serve different, and this is what's going on right through the world right now, the corporate structures are starting to collapse, because they are based on: give me, and entitlement; and not on serve me. Now they're starting to collapse, and the world's saying: we need to look to another way of doing life. Churches which picked up that model for years, and ran with it, and where are they going to look now? Need to come back to what Jesus said, and Jesus was able to - now get this, you'll love this. We'll finish with this. It's His last meal. Now if you're about to have your last meal, you want it to be a special meal, a happy meal; let it be a happy meal with everything added on. What you would probably want is everyone to be nice to you, because you're about to do this very big thing you know. I'm going to go to the cross, it's going to hurt! [Laughter] What He did instead was, He washed the feet. See, that is the spirit of the kingdom. That is the spirit. Now if you follow Christ, that's the spirit you walk in, a spirit of serving.

Why don't we just close our eyes right now, shall we? Father, God, we just thank You for the great privilege, of being called to walk in Your kingdom, and to have Jesus as such a model. We thank You Lord, that even now as we open our hearts, You will come forth, and You will serve us. You will minister to us, You will help us. Lord, wherever our feet are dirty, because of the way we've walked our life; we may be down in the pigsty because of the decisions we've made; but You will come, and wrap Your arms around us, and help us to get up out of it.

Just while our eyes are closed and heads are bowed, is there anyone here today, that's not yet become a follower of Jesus, haven't given your life to Jesus? Be a great day to do that, wouldn't it? To be in the atmosphere of God, the presence of God. Why don't you make that decision today: I'm going to actually open my heart to Jesus Christ. I'm going to take the first step, by inviting Christ into my life, and trusting Him to deal with the issues of my sins and failures of the past. That's the first step. Then it's a journey after that, walking with Him. Is anyone at that place to receive Jesus? Would you raise your hand, just let me know, any person here? You're not a Christian by coming to church. You're a Christian by a decision, the work of God; and so the work of God in your heart comes when you believe and trust Christ. Is there anyone here just right at that place of decision right now?

Just before we finish now - we're going to finish just exalting Him and lifting Him up - I wonder is there anyone here, and God really challenged you; you realise actually, this thing of give-me, give-me has been more in my life than I realised, and I really need to address it. God has been speaking to me about this issue of denying self in some area; of actually reorienting, to become what can I give, and how can I serve; rather than what can I get, and what can I receive. If you heard God speaking about that, or maybe about the issue of the cross, where actually you've quit on many things, because people were upset, or someone didn't like it, or it cost you something; it hurt, it was difficult on the way, and there were unexpected setbacks and difficulties; and Jesus is saying: come on, pick up your cross, you need to follow Me again, come on, start walking with Me. If you know you had God speak to you today about that, just make a response today. See, we love all these words about 'destiny' and 'future' and 'purpose of God', but you know the pathway there, is the pathway of following Jesus; and it involves denying self, taking up your cross, following Him. That is the path of a disciple. It's the path of every disciple, there are no exceptions.

I thought it'd be different for me, you know, I'm sort of special. My mum told me I was special. All the time, when the kids bullied me, they told me I was special. Yes, you're special; but stop being a pretty princess, and make a decision to man up and follow Christ. If that's you today, and you know God was speaking to you in some area, why don't you raise your hand right now, God challenged you - God bless, God bless, many hands coming up. Father, I just thank You. Why don't we just, as we stand together, what we'll do is, we'll just worship with that song we sing right at the very end of the service. We'll just exalt Him, and you build an altar in your heart. If God spoke to you: you need to go and put a marriage thing right, a family thing right, a relationship right, a work situation right; work out how to do it, how to own it, how to go there with a serving heart, how to actually make the apology a good apology. Then believe that now you're going to come and serve. You know the path to my promotion in the workplace came one day, when I went to my boss and apologised to him, because I had neglected something in my work that was very important to him. I could see the astonishment in his face, but within eighteen months he'd promoted me. Hmm, principles of God work. Come on, let's just stand and worship Him shall we, let's just stand up, flow into that song.

Summary Notes

Formatted » Back to Top »

1. Introduction
· Mk.1:17-18 “Then Jesus said to them “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men”. They immediately left their nets and followed him”
· Each of us is called by God to attach to Jesus and to Follow Him.
· “Follow” = NT190= akoloutheo az = “union”; Keleuthos = “road”.
= To be on the same road as a companion.
= To enter another person’s world and to join them on their journey.
= A lifelong journey with Jesus constantly learning and being committed to His Cause.
· Jn.10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me”.

2. “It’s Not all About Me”

(a) “Give Me” – The Entitlement Mentality
· Lk.15:11-12 “The younger son said to his father: “Father give me, my share of the estate” (NIV)
· Story is about the father’s generosity – also contains keys to why people self-destruct.
· “Give Me” = mentality = It’s all about me!
· Son was self-centred = sense of entitlement
= no interest in the welfare of his father
= expectation of special treatment
= Strongly promoted himself – self focused
= Used others to advance himself, exploited relationships
= Focus on personal rights rather than responsibilities

(b) “The Princess Syndrome”
· When children become the central focus of family they can grow up self centred.
· “Princess” = the centre of attention. Whatever princess wants she gets.
· A generation is emerging with a great sense of “entitlement” rather than responsibility.
· Education system has greatly contributed to “Princess” mentality.
· e.g. Narcissus - Greek myth very attractive young man renowned for his beauty.
- He wanted others to give to him but he gave to no-one.
- He formed many relationships, drew from them then rejected them.
- Eventually he became captivated by his own image in a pool of water.
- He refused all attempts to help him – withered away and lost all his beauty.
· Fruit of this self-absorption is:
- Broken relationships - Division - abuse in relationship
- Rejection - Mental illness - addictions/crime
· The Root is Pride Proverbs 16:18 = Pride goes before destruction.
· Lk.15:15 “He joined himself to a citizen of that country and he sent him into the fields to feed the swine”
· The path to ruin – financially, relationally, emotionally and spiritually “Give Me”.

3. Jesus Teaching on Discipleship
Mt.16:21-25 “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”.
(vs21) Jesus reveals his commitment to serve the Father – his commitment to the will of God. He reveals his path involves suffering, death, resurrection.
(a) Peter’s response “Save Yourself”
· (v22) Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying be it far from you. Lord this shall not happen to you.
· “Rebuke” =NT2008= epitimeo = to fix a value upon, raise the price of, admonish or forbid.
· “For be it” = pity yourself; show mercy and kindness and look after yourself.

(b) Jesus Rebuke of Peter
· (V23) “He turned and said to Peter: Get behind me Satan. You are an offense to me for you are not mindful of the things of God but the things of men”.
· He identified the source of this statement = “Satan” - one opposed to the purpose of God’s Spirit.
· He identified the impact of this statement = “Offence” – something hindering your course.
· He identified the root of this statement = “Mindful” – to set the affection on short term personal gain.

(c) Jesus Instruction to Disciples
· (v24) If any man will come after me – will =NT2309= to be resolved, determine, purpose.
(i) “Deny Self”
= turn away totally from self-centred way of thinking and acting.
= “What’s in this for me?” is no longer the viewpoint or attitude.
= total opposed to a self-centred agenda.
(ii) “Take up His Cross”
= Doing what Jesus requires of us regardless of what people think or say or do, or what may personally experience e.g. pain, inconvenience, pressure, difficulties, hardships.
= this is a daily decision (Lk9:23) – it is personal.

(iii) “Follow Me”
= look to Jesus constantly for direction, strength, encouragement.
= stay attached to Christ and His cause.
· The outcome of this kind of life is blessed and rewarded, now and eternally.
· E.g. Forgiveness = deny self, take up cross, follow Jesus example.

4. It’s All About Serving
· Lk.15:17-19 “He came to himself … “Make me to serve”
· The change in heart – from Give Me = Make Me to Serve = Great favour and blessing.

(i) Recognise Your Condition (v17) – “I perish with hunger”

(ii) Heartfelt Repentance (v18) = “I will go – I have sinned”
· Admission of his wrong and willingness to turn away.\Admission of how he had hurt others by this self-centred attitude.
· Turn away and put it right with those we have wronged – apologise

(iii) Decision to Love and Serve others (v19) “Make me like one of your Servants”
· We cannot experience resurrection until we identify with Christ’s death.
· Sins of selfishness, self-idolatry must come to the Cross.
· When we die to selfishness we are free to love and serve others.
· Dead people don’t react, get offended or hurt, or walk in pride.
· There may be roots in the heart to address.

(iv) Follow Jesus “Son of Man came to serve and give His life”
· Walk in the opposite to pride – humility.
· Matt.20:26-28 “Whoever desires to become great, let him be your servant”

Hearing the Voice of God (3 of 6)  

Sun 25 Nov 2012 AM « Back to Top

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People are the measuring stick of how you're doing with God. It's very easy to be drawn into all range of spiritual experiences and these are wonderful, but if it doesn't convert to being connected to people and working with people and helping people, there is something majorly lacking. If you engage with Jesus, with Him and His work, you will discover the true identity and call of God on your life. If you focus on using God just to get your needs and whatever met, He said you'll end up inward-looking and non productive. You'll actually lose your life. Learn how to hear His voice, and then choose to consistently say yes, and respond by doing something

Hearing the Voice of God (3 of 6)

I want to share with you something that would be extremely helpful for you, and I'm going to ask you to do something at the end of this too, which will be even better still, so I'll tell you in a moment what I'm going to ask you to do. Let's pick up where we're on. We're talking about following Jesus, and the Bible doesn't talk about coming to meetings, it talks about following Jesus. Coming to meetings and gatherings, it talks about not forsaking gathering together, or being gathered together; but the primary focus of Jesus' ministry was that we would engage Him and follow Him, so we'll pick up our key verse we were looking at which was found in Mark 1, and Jesus spoke to some of the disciples.

This is what He said to them here, He said to Simon and Andrew, his brother, who were casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen, and Jesus said to them: follow Me, I will make you become fishers of men; and immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Every one of us is called to be connected to Jesus and to follow Him. We talked about many, many things that people follow today, and you could be following the trends, following the fashion, following the world. You could be following the Middle East, you could be following lots of things; but ultimately many of these things lead to all kinds of pressures that we don't need. We are called to follow Jesus Christ, and we want to talk about what that would look like, following Jesus. I mean in those days there, there He was, He said: follow Me; and you just came up and followed Him; but there was always a price for it, so last week we shared on, in following Jesus, you will be caught up into what He's caught up in. There is no way you can follow Jesus Christ without being changed, and starting to shift in your values; what's important, what isn't important. When you begin to follow Jesus Christ, your whole value system begins to shift. It shifts because He will lead you somewhere you've never even thought of going; and the Bible says in this verse here, it says: I will make you fishers of men; so there's one thing absolutely certain, that when we follow Jesus Christ, He will teach us how to be a lover of God, but a lover of people. You can measure how spiritual you are, not by how many visions and dreams you have, but whether you actually overflow and love people, and connect with them and help them.

People are the measuring stick of how you're doing with God. It's very easy to be drawn into all range of spiritual experiences, and these are wonderful; but if it doesn't convert to being connected to people, and working with people and helping people, there is something majorly lacking. So that's where we start, that's where we got to, and we shared a little bit about how we seem to have a generation which is fairly precious. Last week we talked about the Princess Syndrome, and how many people are just wanting to look after themselves, fuss over themselves; and in doing that, Jesus said: you can't be My disciple, unless you deny self, take up your cross, follow Me. In other words, He's saying very simply this: I'm called to something much bigger than looking after myself. He said: I am called to change the world, and changing the world will involve Me suffering, dying, going to the cross. Peter's response was: don't even think of doing that; and Jesus said: listen, if you don't actually deal with this issue of self-interest, and embrace the difficulties and hardships accompanied with My mission, you can't be a follower of Me.

Then He went on to say an interesting thing - I don't want to develop it today, I want to look at something else. He said: if you save your life, in other words, if you look after yourself, you'll lose it. He said: if you try and preserve your selfish interest, you'll end up immersed in problems beyond what you can imagine; but He said: if you will lose your life for My sake, you'll find it. What He's saying is something like this: If you engage with Jesus, with Him and His work, you will discover the true identity, and call of God, on your life. If you focus on using God just to get your needs and whatever met, He said you'll end up inward-looking, and non productive. You'll actually lose your life.

So I don't want to go into that. I want you to look with me in John 10:27. We're still looking on the theme of following Jesus, and this is going to be quite practical for you, very practical. Verse 27: My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. Here it is: My sheep hear My voice. They follow Me. Now what could be simpler than that? So here it is, right in a nutshell, what we're talking about today. We're talking about hearing the voice of God. Jesus said: if you belong to Him - here's the first thing - you hear His voice; and two, you respond to what He's saying. So at the end of the meeting today, I'm going to ask you this question: What impression, or what impressed you about today's message? In other words - or in today's service - what impressions did you have, that impacted you? In other words, I'm going to ask you to start to reflect, what you actually received today; then the second question is: what will you do with that? What steps will you take, or what choices will you make, because the Bible's very clear. If we come into gatherings, and we spend a lot of time listening to messages, and never respond, we end up in a religious, deceived state. The Bible is always very practical, God calls us to act; to listen, and then to respond, so I want to just pick up this thought here today about hearing the voice of God. So tell someone: actually, you need to hear the voice of God.

How can you follow someone, if you don't know where they're going? That's pretty simple isn't it? How can you follow someone, if you don't know where they're going? How can you know where they're going, unless they tell you where they're going? So if you're going to follow Jesus, you need to know where He's going. You've got to be able to listen to Him, so essentially to belong to Christ means very simply this: that we have a capacity to hear Him. Every person here can hear the voice of God. Listen, even if you are not saved, you can hear the voice of God. Adam, after he fell, heard the voice of God. Every person can hear the voice of God; and if you become a believer, then hearing the voice of God becomes absolutely vital, totally vital to your life! So here's the thing: communication is foundational to every relationship, communication. You cannot build a relationship without communication; and it needs to be two-way, absolutely two-way! ...and your wife's nodding furiously. Now that means you have to listen. [Laughs]

Okay, so communication, one of the biggest skills in communication, is the ability to listen; to actually listen, and hear what the person is saying; not jump to conclusions what they might be saying, but actually hear what they're saying; and then make a response. If you don't hear what someone else has got to say, and actually hear it properly, and make a response, that relationship's going to be in deep trouble. That's true of every area of life. How many know that's true of life? Now I want to just picture this up a little bit. Now can you imagine a young couple going out together, usually what you notice is that they talk a lot. Isn't that right? Then you see the same couple years later, and he's got the paper, and he's got his nose in the paper, and she's sort of looking, where to look, and there's no talk going on; so notice that relationships start with a lot of talk, and then when you see them and there's not much talk, you could say that relationship's pretty well in bad shape. Would that be right?

So what are the conditions there? What does it look like, when a relationship is in bad shape? Actually there's no passion, there's no fire, there's no excitement, there's no joy. It's actually ho-hum. Is that right, ho-hum? No ho-ho, it's ho-hum. So when relationships have deteriorated, the ho-ho has gone, and there's just ho-hum [Laughter] isn't that right? Okay then. Now what would that look like for a Christian then, who started their relationship with a lot of ho-ho, and now it's ho-hum? The core behind that, is they've stopped hearing and responding to Jesus; and they've substituted personal connection with Jesus, hearing what He has to say, with religious duties, or religious habits. Now I believe it's great to have habits. We need to have habits, but they are not a substitute for living connection with Jesus. Now that really creates a bit of a problem, because if we individually stop hearing Jesus and responding to Him, we are now living our life out of habit and routines, and it lacks passion, life, vitality, spontaneity - it becomes ho-hum and routine.

The problem is, most people don't know when they stopped hearing and responding. They just drift that way. It's true of marriages. It's true in families. It's true of all relationships, that if they're not nurtured and built in the communications area, they will diminish until there's nothing left. Now understanding that means we need to place a high priority on personally, and corporately, hearing the voice of God. Of all the skills you could learn in your spiritual journey, if I could just nail it down to one, it would be this: learn how to hear His voice; and then choose to consistently say: yes, and respond by doing something. Would that be true? That sums it all up aye? You don't need much more than that, but I'll give you a bit more [laughs], because it raises a lot of problems and a lot of questions, so here's a couple of questions I could ask you straight away to just get you thinking.

Here's the first one. What's the last thing that Jesus said to you? How long ago was it? What have you been doing about it? If that's a bit of a guilty response after that, and it's a long time since you last heard Jesus speak personally to you, your relationship is in trouble - not with Him, He's fine. You're the one who's in trouble, because you've replaced a living, vibrant connection, with routine, and it gets boring, and you get bored. You get to quit on doing the stuff that God wants you to do, so that's interesting isn't it? Well okay then, so we'll think about that. So Jesus actually made a number of cautions. Looking through the gospels, and Jesus' teaching, did you realise, eight times it's recorded in the gospels alone, Jesus said: that he that has ears to hear, let him hear. In other words, He's saying: make sure you stay tuned in to God; and He gave many, many warnings related to that. In the Book of Revelation, which is about the end time church, it's about the revealing of Jesus Christ, seven times He said: let he that has an ear to hear, hear what the spirit is saying to the churches.

Now here's an interesting thought: God is speaking to you individually; God is speaking to the church. Now if God is speaking to you individually, then He'll speak in a personal way, about the issues of your life, about your relationships - He's interested in every arena in your life. He does want to talk to you about that. But He also wants to talk to us corporately. Now when He talks to us corporately, I'll put it down in a simple thing. It means: He's talking to Bay City people, about something, at one time; hence the need to place importance on what God is saying to us. Now I can go on the Internet, I can hear all things God's saying all over the world, to all kinds of different people, but they're all around the world. What I need to be hearing is what God is saying to us here, in Hastings, New Zealand; and so to do that I need to be attentive to that, so Sunday gatherings for example, we gather at church like this. I wait on the Lord for messages. I just don't think: well give me something to do you know? I'm listening to God. In fact, if I don't hear from God, I get quite upset, under pressure, and I don't know what to do. It's no trouble, if you have experience, and if you're a teacher, to have a message; but it's something else to hear the voice of the spirit, and say what God is saying to us; so when I bring messages, I endeavour to hear, or have something quickened, by the Holy Spirit, that's what He is saying to us. He is saying at the moment, He's inspiring and calling us, to follow Jesus; to actually centre our focus on Him; and to understand in our life and personal walk, what it'll mean to follow Him, to be a follower of Jesus Christ, not just a Christian.

Now lots of people call themselves Christians, but to be a follower of Christ implies a dynamic of a walk with God; so if you're coming to meetings on Sundays, and this is your home, then God would be saying something here. Either through the worship, He'll say something, in the meetings He'll say something. Usually I find when I speak and minister the word of God, about a half, if not more of the church, were already thinking about that, studying it or had heard something on it a week to two weeks before, meaning God is speaking to the church. He doesn't just speak one Sunday, then another Sunday. Usually there's a flow, and He's speaking about a number of things, and He's wanting us to adjust and respond; hence the importance of keeping and taking notes. I notice so few - I just don't know about you. I can't remember an hour later what anyone said, except my wife - sometimes. [Laughter] Then I'm on to the next thing. I'm a man you know; that was then, I'm on to now, and so I don't always retain what I've heard.

I've made it a discipline over years, write down when I'm in a meeting what was said, what happened. I do it in personal meetings, I do it in group meetings, I do it in Sunday meetings. I write down what was said. Even when the young guys are preaching, I write down what they said, what the message was, because in it, I'll hear from God. So I might record the message, and write the notes on it, but as I'm writing the notes, I'm listening: God, what are you saying to me? And I'll write at the top of the page: I heard this. Now either you believe God's talking to you, and you respond; or you believe God's talking to you in your head, and it's ho-hum, oh yeah, okay, move on. You see the relationship with God requires response: My people hear My voice, and follow. Follow, means I make decisions to respond to what I've heard. Getting the idea? You all got quiet all of a sudden. I must be getting in too deep. I need to lighten up [laughs] praise the Lord.

Now here's a couple of ways you could think of, of helping yourself, on whether you're hearing God. One of them is: on Sundays, just take some notes. I notice the newsletter that you get, there's a little space to write them down. All you've got to do is remember to bring a pen, write something down. Here's the second thing you could do: Get involved in a small group, where they can ask you these two questions: what has God been saying to you? What have you been doing with that? Now we think that our Christian life can be lived alone. It cannot be lived alone. It's never designed to be lived alone. We're designed to live in community, so not only does God speak to us individually, the Spirit speaks to the churches - not only our church - He speaks to churches all over the world. I have been to prophetic churches around the world, and I've found the very things I'm preaching, someone else has been preaching it in other places as well. When people are prophetic, they're picking up what God is saying, and He is talking about turning the church, re-centring on Jesus, re-centring on the harvest, re-centring on discipleship.

In this last couple of months, every place I've gone, the one thing that's been common everywhere, is the emphasis again on harvest of souls, and on discipleship. It is everywhere, so that means to not go and move intentionally that way, means we're not hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Getting the idea? When you hear what the Spirit says, and you respond, you become an overcomer! Being an overcomer's not that hard really. It's not like I'm on top of it all the time. Have a look at all the people in the Bible. One thing that's got to be common, with all the great heroes of faith, is how many times they were defeated; and fell down, fell over, or made mistakes, or just plum outright sinned; yet they were all core men of faith, because when God spoke to them, they responded. So I don't think being an overcomer means I'm on top of everything all the time. I think it means that when I hear God speak, I say: yes; and do it. You start to do that your life will shift immensely. Amen.

So what does the voice of God sound like? What does God's voice sound like, when He is speaking to us? And of course it raises other questions; what if God isn't speaking? What if I've been praying and asking for something for a long time, and He hasn't spoken? That is a real horrible one. How many know what I'm talking about there? You've got an issue in your life, and in that issue in your life, heaven is silent! In the midst of that silence, there's stress, because I need a reply from heaven, and no reply is forthcoming. It's like God's got the pip, and He's not talking, shut down; and so, how many know that experience? Right, we all have it; so when I say that the Bible says: My sheep hear My voice, and follow Me, we also have to take into account, there are times when God remains silent for a season. In that season, your heart is tested, what you will do; and in that season, He requires that we just trust Him, and do the last thing He told us to do. That's probably as simple as I can get it.

Now I hate those times when He's not telling me, but I've learned in them trust Him, and relax. He's got an answer. It is coming, and in due time, He'll tell me. He will tell me. He will show the way. He's promised to show the way; so if you're stuck in that place now, and it feels like you've got an issue in your life - maybe it's an issue with a child, an issue with a spouse, an issue with finances, an issue with a job - there's so many of them in life, and it's like God speaks on lots of trivial things, but on the big thing He's not saying anything. That is horrible, and it happens to all of us, and it happens more often than we'd like to say - it happens. And in those times remain confident, trust in the Lord with all your heart, don't lean on your own understanding and try and find your way. Walk with God, humbly dependent, confessing His word over your life, and trusting Him - and acting on the last thing you were given.

Now having put that aside, now we'll look at hearing the voice of God okay? So if you hear the voice of God, what will it sound like? Very, very simple - Jesus spoke in 1 Corinthians 6:17, Paul wrote: he that's joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. So we have to be very, very clear that when God speaks, He is speaking to our spirit; and here's the amazing thing. When the disciples were on the earth, they literally had to physically follow Jesus, and walk after a person; but now Jesus said: there's a whole new deal; and so He says: I want you to abide in Me. I'm going to put my spirit inside you. My spirit and your spirit will be joined, and because of that you will be able to have free access to the realm of heaven, but you will be on the earth. You'll be living here, but you'll have access to the realm of heaven, the realm of the spirit. My spirit will always be with you, so you won't need to physically be in Israel. You can be with Me. I will be with you. I'll never leave you, not forsake you; so notice it's he that's joined the Lord, is one spirit - and therein is the key. If we're going to hear from God, it will be in our spirit. Now I'm not going to downplay the word of God in this. The word of God is vital to all guidance and direction, and moving from the word of God creates disasters. However, God wants us to learn how to recognise when He's speaking to us, so it will be from our spirit. So He wants us to learn how to be aware of the movements of His spirit within us.

Now worship is one great way you can learn how to flow with what God is doing.Have you noticed in a worship meeting, or at the beginning, and there's a flow begins to build, and as the musicians began to lead you actually can feel yourself shifting, and things begin to move, your spirit becomes stirred inside you, you start to arise within. You are starting to arise in your spirit, so all movements of God are movements in our spirit, so He leads you from within your spirit. That means - here's the interesting thing - that you are one spirit with the spirit of God - now get this - so therefore, His thoughts will come into your thoughts, His feelings will come into your feelings, His visions or pictures will come into yours, the impressions He has will, come into yours. In fact everything that He is like, He's a person, the Holy Spirit's a person - He will implant into your spirit, His own very thoughts and ideas. That's a very, very simple concept. God is joined to me. I'm one spirit with the Lord. He's never far from me. I don't have to come to a service, to actually hear the voice of God. It's wonderful to come, and to be inspired in corporate worship. There's a place for that, and hear what God's saying to the church; but I also need to be stirred in my own spiritual life. I need to grow and develop spirit awareness, spirit sensitivity. Everyone can develop it. It's not automatic, it's something you develop. For example, a mother can quickly pick the voice of her child in a room of yelling children - huh, that's my one! You just hear noise, she hears her child. She has tuned her ear to the voice of her child. We have to tune our ear to the voice of our spirit, because that's where we'll hear the Holy Spirit. You won't necessarily have some great big picture and revelation. You may not have some great big open dream, or thing like that; but you can, within your spirit, hear and receive impressions of the Holy Spirit.

In John 7:37-39, Jesus was speaking, and He said: out of your belly, out of your spirit, out of within, you will flow rivers of living water; and He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, or the ministry of the spirit. The word I want to draw your attention to is - two words; one is 'out of your belly', out of your spirit, out of deep within you - that's the first word. The second word is this: flow. Flow is not one, two, three, four, five, six. Flow is more like a river moving. It's a spontaneous movement; so the movements of the Holy Spirit, and the guidance or direction of God, or the voice of God will be: number one, from within you; number two, it will be a flow. It will be spontaneous, and there'll be a moving. Now that seems so very, very simple, yet there's a whole lifestyle of actually learning how to hear that voice. So God's voice is not going to be yelling at you, although He can. It's not going to be outside you, although it can be. It may not be very dramatic, although it can be. Usually, for most of us, most of the time, it's like Elijah described: a still small voice, very still. In other words, it's not loud, raucous, pushing, pressy; and it's very small, it's very little, and very easily stopped.

Now if we're going to hear the voice of God then, that means I've got to deal with inner noise, and learn how to come to rest. If I have got a lot of noise going on my soul, it will distract me from hearing God. If I've got a lot of turmoil in my soul, it will stop me hearing God; and so the reason a lot of people don't hear much from God, is because of turmoil going on inside their life; and usually in the turmoil, when you really most want to hear God, there's so much turmoil, it blocks your hearing; and so you've got to do something about the turmoil. Let me give you some of the common hindrances, things that literally obstruct that flow of the spirit; then we'll just give you some very simple ways, you could just develop it. It's not hard, but it's a lifetime of practice. Here's some of the things. One of the things that will stop you, or hinder you - I'll use the word hinder, because nothing stops God. Even Adam and Eve, after they sinned, heard the voice of God. So here's the thing: hidden sin. If you've got things in your heart God's been talking to you about, and you're not responding; that sin will create noise in your life, that blocks out God. It's like you just don't hear Him anymore. If I regard inequity in my heart, He shall not hear me; so it affects our prayer life, everything. Hidden sin opens the door to being: the voice you hear, is the one that condemns you, that's not the voice of Jesus.

So there are many voices, many impressions we have within; we have to learn how to distinguish what they are, and removing a few of the hindrances can help. One of the hindrances is sin, un-confessed, un-repented of. Another common hindrance, more common than you'd realise, is if we are disappointed with God. This is a bigger one than you realise, disappointed with God. If you are disappointed with someone, you're hurt, because they didn't do what you thought, the way you thought. What normally happens is, you close your heart up to them; and when you close your heart up to someone, then when you meet with that person, there's a distance between you, and you're not really receiving properly. So if we've been disappointed, we've prayed, sought God over something and nothing happened, there's a tendency to feel hurt, rejected and to blame God, and then shut down. This just hinders us, and here's the problem. If you're wanting to hear the voice of God, of course you're going to have to face this issue where you felt disappointed by God, [laughs] and I don't want to face that! So now we hold the hurt in our heart, it just blocks us. We need to resolve things, and if there's a hurt and a grief and a disappointment, God knows about it. The big one that's got the issue, that's not facing it, is ourselves.

Another area related to it, is unresolved grief and offences. Offences with people, and with God, are blockers to hearing from God. I just can't have my heart with offence in it. I can't stay that way, because I lose peace. It's just a horrible way of living your life. There's so much turmoil inside, about what someone did, and how hurt you are; you can't - it just drowns out the voice of God, which is very gentle. So when you try to hear the voice of God, if there's hurts and offences, resolve them very quickly. Another thing that can be a problem is mindsets, where you've got a mindset about something, or you've got something you've just set your mind to. For example a person's asking God to direct them over a relationship, but they've already got their mind made on it. They want to go in that relationship. They're just doing a nominal thing, asking God about it. You're not going to hear. You'll just hear what's in your heart already, so when we're approaching God for guidance and direction, we've got to come from a place where, whatever the Lord wants, we're happy with. If you come from the place: hey, this is what I've already got made up, I want You to confirm it, well that's crazy stuff. God's not going to rubber stamp your plans. You have to come with an open heart, and no mindsets about what it'll be. Mindsets often come out of hurts and offences, so come with a free heart.

Another thing that will hinder you, is an over-dependence on reasoning; where we've learnt to reason and work everything out, and we get stuck in our head trying to figure it out. You can't figure God out; so for most people, their thoughts, and the flow of their life, is off their reasoning; but God want us to learn listen to the thoughts from the heart. There are thoughts from your heart. These are the thoughts of the spirit man. We have the mind of Christ, so there's a flow from our heart and spirit, and we need to listen through that; then our thoughts of our mind - they can can be quite distorted. You can have an opinion about something, that's completely wrong. You can have an attitude that's completely wrong, but if I listen to the voice of my heart, then I can actually then re-think life. Now a lot of people, the moment they see something, go back into reasoning, trying to work it out. It just hinders them flowing with the spirit of God, so those are some of the most common hindrances.

Of course if you're loaded with demons that can make a huge problem too, just get full of confusion, and doubt, and condemnation. So the voice of doubt, and condemnation, and being put down, all of those voices do not come from God. They come from the demonic realm, through access to our mind. God loves you, He wants to talk with you; so what would be some of the simple keys on how you can receive from God? Lots of people have got different ways of doing it. Mark Virkler has written a brilliant book about Hearing the Voice of God, we've done a great course - how many have done that course by the way, Hearing the Voice of God? Well look at that, see, already so many.

Okay then, now here's what I have found helps. I'll just put it in language that's easy. The first one is: you need to free up your spirit. If your spirit is held down, because you're oppressed in your thoughts or emotions, you won't easily hear the voice of your spirit. So many times we come to listen to God, or want to hear God, our spirit is heavy, shut down. That's why, in the meetings, we encourage you to enter in, to give out something, to give something to God; so you can free your spirit up in a number of ways. One is by starting to express gratitude to Him. Another way is by praising Him, until you start to feel your soul and emotions move. Another way is by praying in tongues. Praying in tongues will stir your spirit up; so we need to actually do something, that our spirit is free.

It may well be that you've got clutter in your soul. Then bring it out, and put it out before Him, and remove the clutter. Write it down. Do something that gets it out of your head, where it buzzes around; put it down in front of the Lord, then arise and begin to praise Him, and worship Him; pray in tongues, so you feel your spirit flow. Sometimes it can take a little while to feel the flow of your spirit, hence worship meetings are great places for hearing the voice of God. I love our worship. Every time I come in here, I feel impressions of the Holy Spirit, straight away, because there's such a great atmosphere; and you can come in on what someone else has done; or what's even better, you can come and contribute, and build something, that everyone else can be blessed with. So the first one is free up your spirit. Soft music can help you. Constantly, when I'm preparing messages, I have some soft, what I call spontaneous, music flowing; because I've found if I have words, they tend to echo in my mind, and I wake up, they're just stuck in my mind; and so I found that with secular and spiritual songs, and I found if I just want to just be in a flow of hearing God, the best thing is just to have some spontaneous instrumental music going, it just really helps you. It's quite surprising. So those are some things, but free up your spirit, whatever it takes.

The second thing is: you need to focus your attention, or fix your thoughts. Most of us, our mind wanders all over. If you're going to hear the voice of God, it requires you centre, or fix, your thoughts on Him. I have noticed an interesting thing, that when I'm ministering to people, that if I fix my thoughts on trying to meet their need, I shut down in my spirit. If I fix my thoughts on myself, I shut down in my spirit; but if I actually just consciously begin to think, and meditate, that Jesus is there, I begin to see Him as a wonderful shepherd, see Him as a friend; my spirit opens up, and I can start to receive. Just learn a very simple thing: fix your thoughts. Fix your thoughts on Him; so you can use scriptures to create pictures of Him, but you've got to get rid of your external distractions, and internal distractions, and focus or fix your thoughts; and the best way is with a picture. If you're not good at a picture, try to perhaps meditate on a scripture, but focus your attention on Him. In order to see something from the Lord, you've got to look, or listen. You want to hear something, you've got to be listening, actually be attentive.

So the next thing is faith; I need to expect that God will speak. I need to expect God will give me something. I should expect God to do something. Why? Because He said: My sheep hear My voice; so there's a place of expectation, and that God will give something, that there'll be a quickening. How would it come, if God spoke to me? Well, it'll come just as a spontaneous picture, a spontaneous thought, just comes up into your thoughts, just like that - wow, where did that come from? Or a spontaneous word or an impression, just have an impression, or you may just have a feeling, an emotion. Sometimes in a meeting I'll be praying, I'll just be worshipping, and I'll feel this emotion come up. I think: oh, that's interesting. What's that emotion? What's causing that emotion? Then I begin to track what God's wanting to say; so you have to then identify what those sensations are you pick up. Of course if you're just a busy, busy person, you spend all your time on the internet, all your time chitter-chatter, all your time on the phone; and you don't develop the discipline of slowing down, and being still, and listening to your heart, you won't develop a walk with God that sustains you. You'll live out of highs and lows of experiences and meetings, rather than actually learning to yield to the voice of the Spirit.

When the spirit of God speaks to us, He'll never speak contrary to the word of God. It'll always align with the word of God. It'll always be very, very simply - it'll be aligned with what God's word said, and never violate the written word; so if you're getting things that aren't in the word of God, then beware, be cautious; because if it's contrary to the word of God, why would the spirit of God give you something, that He wrote something different about? It makes Him a liar; so if anything you receive by revelation is contrary to the Bible, then it's contrary to the spirit of God. You're getting it from somewhere else. Just shut it down, stop listening to that stuff.

The second thing it would do, is it always brings a fruit in your life of peace. When God gives you something, there's a witness in your spirit, there's a peace in your heart. It's always like that. The third thing is, that when God gives us something, it usually: comforts, edifies and exalts us. It lifts us up, it builds us up. It never condemns, and puts you down. He just doesn't do that. He says: I do not condemn you, I come to save, not condemn, not to judge. He does never condemn us; so if you're hearing condemning thoughts, they're not from God. Someone prophesies a condemning prophesy, that's not from God either - bless you brother, but I don't receive any word of it. You know, it's as simple as that. Why should you receive something that's contrary to scripture? Someone says things that are condemning and putting down, that's not God. He's not going to treat you that way. He'll talk with you with love, encouragement, and He'll tell you the truth, and He'll show you what to do to move forward; so things that come from God are very, very clear. Very simply, they're in line with the word of God, and the character of God; they produce a fruit of peace, and good results in our life. They witness with our spirit, they tend to edify and to build us up. They tend to strengthen us.

If someone prophesies, or there's some word you get about something in the future; if it comes to pass, it most likely was God. There are many reasons that things don't come to pass, and one of them is that we don't respond to them; so here's the thing then, very, very simple. It's not hard to hear the voice of God, not hard to move and to listen to God, but you've got to go quiet, and still your heart, and listen. Free your spirit, focus your attention, faith, expect God to speak to you and give you something; feel or identify what you have; and then respond and act on it. It really helps if you're identifying things to journal them, write them down. What did God say to you?

So let's just close our eyes right now. Father, I just thank You that You are speaking to us, even today, as again in every Sunday, you have been speaking to us. I want you just to close your eyes for just a moment. I want to ask you two questions. What impression, what impressed you in today's service? What impression came into your heart? You may have not thought of it as being God speaking to you. It could have been during the worship, during something someone said, or did, during the meeting, or during this message. But what did God speak to you? What impression did you get that touched you? What impressed you today? Think about that. The second question is, what will you do about that?

So I want you just to think about that. What did God say that impressed your heart? What impression did you get? It could be totally unrelated to anything I have said, but nevertheless there was an impression you got, so have a think about it. If you can't answer that, then slow down and say: I wonder why I didn't feel anything, or sense anything? So just talk with the person next to you, and share what impressed you, what impressed you. My sheep hear My voice - what impressed you? Secondly, say what you're going to do about it. Have a think about that. You may not even know Jesus. You may not be a Christian yet, but God can still have spoken to your heart.

How many people, you can identify clearly, what it was, God was speaking to you in the service today, you know God spoke to you about something? Well that's a lot of hands up here; okay then, very, very good. Okay, how many of you know what you're going to do as a result of that? That's fantastic, wonderful, great. Okay, take it away, and remember to do it. How many of you, it was a bit of a struggle; in fact actually, you found a bit of a struggle over it, you felt a bit under pressure, and nothing seemed to come? Just put your hand up if that was you? Some of us will identify, let's just be honest. Okay, there's not so many, okay then. So what I'd like to do over the next season in the church, is at the end of our message each time, just ask the question: what did God impress you with today? What was impressed on you? What were you touched by, in the service today? What impressions did you receive, identify what they are; and then ask the question: what are you going to do about what God was showing you. Then we'll finish up our service.

If God says by His spirit: He says take heed what the Spirit is saying to the churches; it'd be really great for us to be aware what God is saying, articulate it, and then know what we've got to do to respond. Amen. My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me. In other words, believers hear, and can identify what God is saying, then do something to put it into action.

Summary Notes

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1. Introduction

· Mk.1:17-18 ““Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him”
· Each of us is called by God to be connected to Jesus and to “Follow Him”.
· Foundational to following Jesus is hearing and responding to Him speaking.

2. Communication is Essential to Relationship

· Jn.10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.
· If we belong to Christ we have the capacity to hear Him speak to us.
· Communication is essential to cultivate and develop relations.
Communication = active listening and responding.
· Without communication relationships wither and die, they become sterile.
· When did you last hear God speak to you?
What did He say to you?
What are you doing about it? – How are you responding?
· Jesus cautions (i) Gospels: He that have ears to hear – let him hear (8x)
(ii) Revelations: He that has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (7x)
· Mk.4:23-25 “For whoever has (ears to hear) more shall be given”.
· God speaks to us individually and corporately we must listen and respond!
· When we are no longer hearing the Holy Spirit we become passive, spiritually asleep.
· Two helps (i) Sundays: Bring Bible – take notes – listen for the Holy Spirit
(ii) Small Group: Ask one another questions – What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? How are you responding?

3. What does the Voice of God sound like?

· 1 Cor.6:17 “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”.
· We are joined spirit to spirit with Jesus – constantly connected to Him.
· He lives within our hearts and desires to reveal Himself within us.
· The more we become aware of His presence the easier to hear His voice.
· He is not some nebulous force but a person with thoughts, feelings, personality.
· Jn.7:37-39 “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”.
· God’s spirit within us “flows” like a river = is spontaneous, moving.
· Western lifestyle focus on the mind and reason – Bible focus is on being Spirit conscious.
· The movement of the Holy Spirit is flowing, spontaneous words, thoughts, pictures, impressions and feelings.
· God’s voice is like a still small voice within us (1 Kg.19:12).

4. Common Hindrances to Hearing God Speak

· Listening to God =- listening in to spontaneous words, thoughts, pictures, impressions, feelings within. These are easily blocked or hindered.

· Common Hindrances:
i) Hidden sins iv) Having “mind-sets” or idols in the heart
ii) Disappointment with God v) Over dependence on mind and reasoning
iii) Unresolved grief and offence
vi) Demonic oppression
· Inner impressions that we receive can come from three different sources
(i) Self – selfish
(ii) Evil Spirits – evil, demanding
(iii) Holy Spirit – good!

5. Keys to Hearing the Holy Spirit speak (Hab.2:2)

(i) Free Up Your Spirit
· If your spirit is weighed down there is little or no flow.
· Speak in tongues – activate your spirit (1 Cor. 14:14,4)
· Soft music can help.

(ii) Focus Your Thoughts
· Fix your thoughts upon Jesus – use a picture from Scripture.
· Remove external distractions.
· Press through internal distractions by focussing/fixing your thoughts.
· In order to see you need to look – fix your mind on Jesus the Source.

(iii) Faith – Expect to Receive
· Expect to receive spontaneous thoughts, words, impressions, pictures, feelings as you still your heart and look.
· It is easy to think that God won’t speak to me.
· Faith is based on what God says “My sheep hear my voice!”
· Voice =NT5456= Phone = sound, frequency, tone, voice, words.

(iv) Feel – Identify the Impressions You Receive
· Identify the flow of thoughts, ideas, words, pictures, impressions.
· Value them as being a flow of the River of God.
· Write them down (journal) expecting more to come.

6. Process What You have Received

Test it Respond to It
· Agree with the Word of God? What must I do?
· Edify, Comfort or Exhort?
· Open to the Counsel of Others?
· Exalt Jesus or Self?
· Fruit of Peace?

Hearing the Voice of God (4 of 6)  

Sun 25 Nov 2012 PM « Back to Top

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Adam heard God speaking to him when he was in the Garden, even though he'd sinned and walked away from God. People can hear the voice of God. We need to learn what it's like and how to recognise it. Once you become a believer Jesus expects not only would you hear His voice clearly, but you would actually respond and follow Him. So for a believer the number one thing that I would say if you have to learn anything in your life, this is the thing you'd want to learn; how can I build a relationship with Jesus and hear His voice consistently?

Hearing the Voice of God (4 of 6)

It was some years ago, we had a bit of an old car, a station wagon. You know, in those days you just jammed all the kids in the station wagon; and we were going through a time or a season in the church when we were facing tremendous spiritual pressure. A lot of bad stuff happened, and I had this case with - my file with the police was very, very big. Anyway we were home one night, and I looked outside, and my car's gone, and apparently the kids had seen it drive down the drive and go, but they didn't think it was anyone else, but someone had stolen our car. They'd got into it, and started the thing up, and drove the station wagon off; and I remember thinking: we've got no way of replacing this thing. This is a disaster for us, and I remember just thinking: Lord, what do I do about this. So I rung up the police, and I reported: hey, my car's been stolen. I gave them the number plate; there's this Ford Falcon station wagon, and it's our family wagon, and here's the number. They said: oh, you'll never get that back.

You know something rose up inside me, and I said: we'll see; and I got off the phone, and I felt the Lord impress in my heart that scripture when David had been ripped off, and the Lord spoke to him and said: pursue, overtake, recover all. So Joy and I just stood in prayer, and we agreed. We agreed on certain things, so we said: Lord, we just speak right now, we forbid the stealing of our car. We command that car to be returned. Father, we pray the police will discover the man, we pray the conviction of the Holy Spirit will come on him, and that we will end up better at the end, than we have at the beginning. So we stood in prayer, and then went to bed. It was about 11 o'clock at night I suppose. We woke up at one, and there's a phone call, and I thought: oh, who's ringing me at one? This is a bad time to ring. It was the police, they said: we found your car. I said: really? This is the car that wasn't going to be found, that was gone, going to be broken up for parts? They said: yep, we've found it.

So anyway we were able to go get the car, and have it restored, and got it back home again; so number one, now I had a look at the petrol tank, and blow me down it had been empty when it had been stolen, and he couldn't drive it. Now it was full of gas - so I'm one up already. Anyway, so the next day, you know, the police go through their thing; so next day I'm out there cleaning the car, and trying to tidy it up, thinking: I wonder how the kids allowed this to be pushed down the drive, and someone steal it like this. I heard this sort of shuffling around behind me, I looked around and there's a young guy there, and I said: hello, how are you? What can I do for you? He said: I'm the young man who stole your car. I said: really? Wow, I'm glad to meet you. I hear they caught up with you. He said: yes, they did, but when I found it was a Pastor I felt - I've been tormented all night. He said: I haven't been able to sleep all night. I've felt so bad all night, I just haven't been able to sleep; so he said: I've never done it. I've stolen a lot of things in my life, and I've never done this before. He said: I wanted to apologise for taking your car.

I said: apology accepted. I said: I believe, we're a Pastor, we pray, and we've been praying for you. We prayed that God would touch your life; and I began to ask him some questions, and his story. We took him in, and he had a meal with us. This is the guy that stole the car - so we had a meal, introduced him to all the family, and that was I think Saturday. The next day, he was in church on Sunday, and we led him to the Lord, and his life was blessed, so it was actually able to turn it around completely. Now not all stories end like that. I've had other thefts that didn't turn out that way, but on the other hand, God is able to turn everything around for our good. Do you reckon that? The other big thing is, to keep your attitude sweet.

Alright then, I want you to open you Bible with me in John, Chapter 10. I want to share with you tonight, what I shared this morning, on hearing the voice of God; because of all the things, it's the most important for you to be able to do in your life, is to know when God is talking to you. God talks to us, it's got to be important. In fact, I can think of times God spoke to me, and my whole life changed. Just one example, I can remember like it was yesterday, standing doing my lawns and I was in Dannevirke. There I was with the lawnmower, chundering through all the lawns, a huge amount of lawns we had to do then, and in the middle of this [dok-dok-dok] with the mower, I heard God speak to me. He began to speak to me, and talk to me, about what He wanted for my life. I wasn't praying, or doing anything much, just praying in tongues a little bit. It was a sunny, hot day, and I'm doing the lawns, not really thinking of anything very spiritual. Suddenly in the middle of it, God's voice came; and He began to speak to me about what He had for me, about Him calling me to be a Pastor, calling me to lead His people, calling me to a place of leadership. I had no desire for such a thing at all. I said: I don't think so, I've actually got other things I'm really busy doing, I don't really want to be the leader of a church at all; and I'm really quite full, doing what I'm doing already.

He said: no, this is what I've called you to do. I'm going to make it happen. I said: well You'll have to make it happen, because I'm not putting myself forward; and I watched. It was about three months, from when He spoke to me doing the lawns, and I was ordained and sent in as Pastor of the church, and I didn't do a thing. It just all seemed to happen. It unfolded, and unravelled, and it was because of many other things of course, but here's the point: my life changed the day I heard God speak. If you were to hear God speak to you, it could change your future. It could change your future forever; so I want to just talk to you about hearing the voice of God, so we'll just have a look at a couple of scriptures first of all. Let's have a look in John, Chapter 10, Jesus talking about thieves and robbers and good shepherds. Verse 27, He says: My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. My sheep hear My voice. Here's the deal: You can hear the voice of God. Now even if you don't know Jesus, even if you're not saved, you can still hear the voice of God. You have the capacity to hear God speak to you.

Adam heard God speaking to him, when he was in the Garden; even though he'd sinned, and walked away from God. People can hear the voice of God. We need to learn what it's like, and how to recognise it. Once you become a believer, Jesus expects, not only would you hear His voice clearly, but you would actually respond and follow Him. So for a believer, the number one thing that I would say, if you have to learn anything in your life, this is the thing you'd want to learn: how can I build a relationship with Jesus, and hear His voice consistently? Think about this: All relationships depend on communication. If there's no communication, then what happens to that relationship? It just begins to diminish, and wither - I see you nodding over there it's right. It's right, isn't it. Relationships wither, if there's no communication. Communication requires that I have a heart to listen, to hear and respond to the other person; so communication's always two-way. What kind of relationship will we be having with God, if all we do is talk to Him, and we never hear from Him? What kind of relationship is that? See, God wants you to have a relationship, and one of the greatest things to cultivate, is your capacity to hear Him speak. So we want to have a look. Notice what He says in John, Chapter 10. We'll read it in another couple of verses. It says in Verse 4, it says: the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. When we were in Dannevirke, we had a pet sheep. I didn't know anything about sheep, I was from the city, so we decided we'd get a pet lamb. We got the pet lamb, the farmer gave us a pet lamb, we thought it was a cute little lamb, and I found out all the problems with cute little lambs - that grow up. Finally we had this sheep, and here's an interesting thing about the sheep: it recognised my voice.

I would walk home from school - I was just over the road, living over the road, and the sheep would be around the back, and all I would have to do was call out, Sheepy - or Christmas dinner! [Laughs] I'd call out Sheepy, and what would happen is, immediately, it would just roar around the side of the house, and come up to where I was. If I just whistled, that was all it took. It would come around, it would come up, and it would come exactly to where I was. That's the problem, if you've got pet sheep, they just become very, very friendly, but they learn to recognise your voice. They know who you are, they recognise the voice. My mother came to look after the children at one stage. Her voice, they did not know, the sheep did not know; so my mother had no control over the sheep whatsoever, just couldn't get it to do anything. It was just a menace for her, and pooped all over the beans; but however the thing is, that the sheep learn the sound of the voice.

That's what Jesus said. He said My sheep hear My voice. In other words, they recognise the tone, or the frequency, or the sound, of Me speaking to them and they respond. So what I want to do is to open up for you just some very simple things on hearing the voice of God. Here's an interesting scripture. I want you to have a look at this one here, before we go on and give you the practical keys, in Mark, Chapter 4 and Verse 24, he said: take heed what you hear, or how you hear; because the measure you use, it will be measured to you; to those who hear, more will be given. Whoever has, to him, more will be given. So here's what he's saying. He's talking about having an ear to hear. About eight times in the New Testament in the gospels, Jesus says: have an ear to hear. In other words, it's important to learn to listen and recognise God speaking, and respond; and this is what he says. To those who respond to what God's saying, He gives you more, and you have abundance. If we don't respond to what God says, then what we think we have, we lose; or what he's saying in another way round, putting it a different way, he's saying this: your relationship with God will increase and deepen and grow, if you continually respond to what you're hearing Him say; but if we ignore what He's saying, then our ears and heart become dull, we don't hear so much any more; and we think we're doing well as a believer, but we're not really at all.

So here's a couple of questions. When did you last hear the voice of God? When did you last hear God speak to you? What did He say to you? Have you done what He said? Have you responded to what He said? When we respond to what He says, it unlocks blessing, and the flow of His spirit in our life. So if it's a long time since you've heard God, then you've got a problem in your relationship with Him. You say: no I haven't, I don't think I have, I'm coming to church and I go to a meeting. No, no, no, no, coming to church is good, but it's no substitute for personally connecting with God.

In 1 Corinthians 6:17, it says: he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit with the Lord. We are joined to the Lord. When you become a believer, the spirit of God enters your life, you become one spirit. You and the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of God, are joined; so that means it's possible for you to receive all the time, input/communication from the Holy Spirit. He is within you. Jesus, when He left, He said: now I'm going; but He said: I will not leave you an orphan, I'll not leave you alone, I will give you another comforter, the Holy Spirit, spirit of truth. He will lead you into all truth. So the spirit of God has come to live inside us. We are joined one spirit to the Lord, so here's the first key. The first key we see is, if I'm going to hear God, I will hear Him within my spirit, because that's where I'm joined to God. That's where I'm joined to God.

The second thing it tells us is this. It says in John 7:38-39, Jesus said: out of your innermost being, will flow rivers of living water; and He was speaking about the Holy Spirit, and the ministry of the spirit. So here's the second key: The movement of the spirit of God to speak to you, comes as a flow like a river. Now we need to understand, that if we're going to hear God, we're going to hear Him from our heart, from our spirit, from our inner man; so if you are looking for God to guide you from outside, you're going to be mislead very easily. If you're looking for God to guide you by circumstances, you're going to be mislead very, very easily, because good circumstances do not mean we're in the will of God. There's a story in the Bible, where the weather looked great, everyone thought it was good to get on the ship, but Paul, hearing from God, said: no, I perceive that if we continue this journey, it's going to end in disaster. But everyone believed the captain, and the good conditions, and the good circumstances, and the story is history of course; the boat sank, and they lost the whole cargo. It cost them a lot of money not to listen to the voice of God, so circumstances looked good, but actually it was going to be a disaster.

Just the same, circumstances can look difficult, and look against us, but that does not mean God is not leading you that way. So you can't look outside you for guidance. You've got to learn to look within, and look into the word of God, and listen to the spirit of God, if you're going to let God guide you. So there's some very simple things: number one, that we're joined to the spirit, guidance will come from the spirit within; secondly, it'll come like a flow. Now we need to understand this. God has designed you. You have a mind and a brain, you can think. How many can think clearly? There's one or two - there's three people can think clearly, the rest are quite confused. Okay, alright - but we have a capacity to think and to reason, work stuff out. So the language of your head, and the language of your heart, are very different in nature. The language of your head, is quite different to the language of your heart. If God is going to speak to you, He'll speak from your heart and spirit, and the way He'll speak will be different to the way, or the language, of your head.

The language of your head is like this. First of all, it's very logical. We tend to reason, so: hmm, I'm facing this problem, what should I do? So we get into reasoning mode, we try to figure it out. So the language of your mind, or thinking, is a language of reason, it's a reason of logic. It's a language where you try to work things out, one, two, three. Well if I do this, then that may happen. If I do something different, then this might happen. It's about reasoning and figuring things out. How many know what I'm talking about here? In fact actually if you are doing some figuring things out, scientists say that the left side of your brain is incredibly active and busy, because that's where you process, and your thoughts come. So when we're listening to the language of our head, it's a language of structure, a language of order, it's a language of thoughts, one after the other. It's reasoning, but we can't reason our way into divine guidance. You can't reason your way, into the things of God.

We need to receive by revelation, and we receive from our heart; so the language of your heart is quite different. The Bible says: it is a flow. It is a flow; that means it's spontaneous. If you ever watch a river, rivers don't sort of go: one, two, three, four. Rivers sort of flow, and move, and they bubble, and they're full of life, so He's using the language of a river, saying that the movement of the spirit of God within you, to speak to you; one, it's like a river, it is spontaneous, it comes as a movement or a flow, from inside you. What kind of flow does it come as? It comes as a flow of pictures, or images; it comes as a flow of words; it comes as a flow of thoughts, or ideas; it comes as a flow of impressions, where you sense something or feel something. It comes as a flow, sometimes, of emotions; let me give you an example. How many of you have been in a movie, and there was some certain point in the movie, maybe there was someone and he was an underdog, and finally he comes and he wins some great - he rises above all circumstances, and he suddenly achieves and he wins and he gets a great breakthrough? Often it's very easy to feel emotional.

You feel something rise up, and you think: I wonder why I'm feeling tears; or we see one of our runners in the Olympic Games, and they run the distance, and they pass everyone there, then you see them on the dais, and they put on the medal, and they play the New Zealand anthem. You feel your heart sort of - you feel emotions rising up inside. In other words, the picture of someone achieving and winning a prize, stirs something in the heart; so emotions can be evidence of movement in your heart. Thoughts and spontaneous pictures are evidence of movement in your heart, so we need to understand, if God's going to speak to me, I've got to learn how to tune into the flow from my heart. There's a verse in the Old Testament, it's found in the Book of Habakkuk, Chapter 2, this is what he says: I will stand on the watch, or I'll set me on the watch, and I will look to see what God will say to me. So in other words, notice this, he said: I will position myself.

He's a watchman. He's a man of prayer, so when he says: I'll set myself on the watch; he's saying: I will position myself, and then I will look to see what God will say to me. In other words, he's implying that many of the ways God speaks to us, we see something; and then how I'll respond when God speaks to me. So let me just give you first of all, some simple reasons why people struggle to get something from God, so we just get that out of the way; and then I'll give you just the very simple steps, or process, that will help you. You begin to practice these things, you can begin to start to flow, and hear the voice of God. I'd love you, at the end of the meeting, to just in a few minutes, just to open your heart to see what God is wanting to say to you. What an amazing thing, if you can go away, and you say: God spoke to me in the meeting tonight. Then I'd love to pray for a few of you, and we'll see what God will say to you - we'll listen to God.

So here's some of the reasons that we get blocks. Remember, if we're going to hear from God, it will come as a flow from inside; so if you have sin in your life, you have deliberate things wrong, what that will do is, it'll tend to give a voice of condemnation. You'll hear constantly, you're reminded about what's wrong. Hidden sin blocks, or hinders, the flow of the spirit of God talking to you, because what God's wanting to tell you about is your sin, and if you don't want to deal with your sin, then there's kind of like this block inside. God says: I want to talk about that sin. I want you to get out of it. I want you to repent, want you to get right, want you to get flowing with me again; and you're saying: I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to even go there. So if I'm going to hear the voice of God, I've got to make a decision that things that offend Him, I'll remove them consciously, as I'm aware of them. So the first thing is, hidden sin can cause a block in our heart.

The second thing that can cause blocks to us hearing the voice of God, the second thing. very simply is: if I'm disappointed with God. I've found many, many Christians are not hearing God anymore, because they had a difficult situation in which they were hurt and disappointed. When we're disappointed, there's a grief and a pain gets in our life; we don't understand why this happened like it did. We feel God somehow has not been fair to us. Now how are you going to hear God, if you've got an attitude to Him? You know if you meet someone, and you've got a bit of an attitude and you're disappointed in them, you feel the wall go up the moment you see them. You notice with Adam, the moment God came to him, he went and hid. So if we are disappointed with God, and holding grief in our heart, it can block hearing God. What you're better to do, is just face your disappointment, and say: God, we've been needing to talk for a long time, and I've been disappointed, and I shut down my heart, and I drew back from you. I've just been going through the motions of being a Christian, but I'm not connected. Then begin to talk to Him about your disappointment. He already knows about it - you're the one who won't face it and admit it - so disappointment.

The other thing is griefs and offences, grief and offence. So we can have situations which cause grief or which offend us; we get an attitude in our heart. Those things can be just blocks, like a stone in the heart, like they harden up your heart, and build a wall that stops you receiving. So if we're going to come near to God, the Bible says: when you come to pray, forgive; so don't come holding things against people. That creates issues or blocks in the heart, it creates like a lot of noise, that stops you being sensitive; because remember, if we're going to hear the voice of God, we're going to have to listen to our heart; and if you don't want to go there, that's going to be a problem. I was talking with one person who asked for prayer, and the person was wanting to be prayed, ministered; and I began to say: well you know, one of the things you need to do is to face some of the feelings, some of the issues of conflict you've never faced before; and her whole face screwed up - she didn't want to do it. I said: well what you're wanting is for God to solve your problem, without you being willing to look at your problem, and talk to Him about it. You'll have to talk to Him about it. You'll have to bring out what's in your heart to Him.

Another thing that stops us hearing the voice of God, is a mindset. Now a mindset means, you've fixed your thinking; so therefore, anything that's contrary to that, you're not going to hear it; you've got a mindset. If you've got a mindset that all Arabs are terrorists, you know what's going to happen when you meet an Arab? Immediately, he's a terrorist. In your mind, he's a terrorist. Now, of course, not all Arabs are terrorists. This is just actually a mindset; but what it'll do, it'll stop you connecting with that person. It'll create a block immediately, because you've got this mindset; and so many times, one of the reasons we struggle to hear from God, is because we have a mindset about how it will happen, or what He needs to say, or what we want Him to do; a mindset, or we have something we've already set on. So for example, I've had people come, and they want to share with me about a relationship; but when I try to point out the problems in the relationship that need to be addressed, they don't want to hear. They've got a mindset, that blocks everything contrary to what they think; and so they reject counsel, they reject the voice of God, to pursue what they want to pursue. I've had that over and over and over again, and so this is a problem. Mindset is a fixed way of looking at something, and people have many mindsets about God, and about life, and about all kinds of things; finances. If you have mindsets, then you have literally constructed a wall, that stops you receiving anything contrary to it. That's something that can block you off. You can have a mindset about men, a mindset about women, a mindset about finances, a mindset about who you are, you can have all kinds of mindsets. So these are some of the things that can just create blocks, and we need to just be aware of them.

Of course the last two, one of them can be demonic oppression. Sometimes the reason you can't hear God is you're too oppressed, just got too much heaviness. Have you ever noticed if you get depressed, you don't hear God? Every noticed when you're depressed? Some people don't get depressed, but many of us have experienced depression at various times. When you're depressed, there's like a spirit sits over your mind, and your mind clouds, and you can't receive from the Holy Spirit. Until you break that depression, you don't hear God; because it's a demonic spirit, that's influencing your mind, instead of the spirit of God influencing your mind. Then the last one, and one of the major reasons people don't receive, or hear from, the spirit of God, is they just lean into their own reasoning all the time, and try to work everything out. We have to learn to shift, and make changes, to hear the voice of God.

So having shared those things, how many can identify with at least one of those things; you can say: man, there's one of those I've struggled with, one of those I've wrestled with? That's great, that's very honest; so the question then would be: if you've identified one thing blocking you to hearing the voice of God, what will you do to address it? What will you do to address it? I need to hear God's voice. Why? Because my life is committed to Him. I'm walking with Him. I'm in a relationship with Him. I need to know Him speaking to me. I need Him to encourage me, I need to hear His voice, I need to get His perspectives, I need to know what I should do. I need to know those things, and if I've got blocks that hinder that, I need to address them. So what will you do about the block you've got? When will you do it? You want to write down if you're taking notes, write down this is the block, I'm aware of it, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to deal with it, and I'll just start on it this week. If you need help, get some help, just deal with it, get it out of the way.

Okay then, so let me give you several simple ways that we can receive, or hear, or recognise the voice of the spirit of God; and then I want to give you some checks, some things because I know a lot of people say: well God told me this, God told me that, and I look at them and I think: you are weird, weird plus! So we want to be able to hear God without the weirdness factor, okay? So I'll give you several checks to stop the weirdness factor creeping in.

So if I'm going to hear the voice of God, here's several practical things you can do. Number one, free up your spirit. If you are going to hear the voice of God, it's going to be from within, it's going to be a flow. You need to literally free up the flow, from within your spirit. Now what are the ways you could do that? There's quite simple ways you can do it, it's not very hard. Speaking in tongues is a way of freeing up your spirit. You just get a flow, when you speak in tongues. Your spirit is flowing, your spirit is praying. Here's another thing you could do, is you start to begin to thank God, and begin to recognise and remember the blessings, and begin to express gratitude to Him. Gratitude will cause your spirit to lift up, see? That's another way. Begin to start to praise Him, your spirit starts to come up; so there's several things I can do, that will free up my spirit. Sometimes the reason your spirit is uptight, and there's no flow, is because you've got a conflict, or something you're anxious about, so when you try to listen to God, you just hear this thing talking, and yelling in your mind.

The voice of God is gentle. It's quite light. It's easily stopped, so if I've got noisy, noise in my mind, and distracting, dominating thoughts, I have to literally aggressively cast them, push them out of the way, otherwise I'm not going to hear from God. So number one, free up your spirit. Number two, there's a need to focus your thoughts, or to fix your thoughts, towards God. So how do you do that? You are literally having to eliminate distractions. Now how do you fix your thoughts? One of the best ways you can fix your thoughts, is with a picture. If you were to take a scripture, and the Bible says that Jesus is ever before me; and you were to begin to picture, I wonder what it looks like for Jesus to be before me? I'll just begin to picture Him standing there, He is my friend, and He's near me, and I will fix my attention on Him, that He is near me. Then what will happen is, the fixing of your attention with a picture, starts to cause everything else to just diminish, as you fix your mind; so you fix your mind on Jesus, the person. It helps to put a picture there, but it's not the picture we're focussed on. It just helps you focus your thoughts.

The third thing is, when you focus or fix your thoughts on Jesus, there needs to be faith. You need to expect Him to say something to you. You need to expect Him to speak to you. Faith means: I believe what God says. He says: My sheep hear My voice, so it shouldn't be hard for me to hear His voice. Probably, I doubt it, because it seems so easy; and it seems to be such an easy thing, I doubt that it's really God. When people are listening to the voice of God, here's the thing. It will be like an impression, or gentle flow of thoughts. It's so light, it can seem as though it's your thoughts, and that's because they are your thoughts in your head, but they've come from the Holy Spirit. There are lots of thoughts can get in your head. Other thoughts that are centred, or come from yourself, they generally are focussed on yourself. Thoughts that come from demons, generally are very demanding and pressuring, and they're often evil in intent; but the thoughts that come from God are usually gentle, and life-giving, and quite easily stopped. So I need to fix my mind on the Lord, expecting Him to give me something, for something to begin to come.

Then the fourth thing, here's a simple key. Feel what you're thinking, feel or identify what you're getting, what you are receiving. Identify the impressions you get. For example, how many of you have read through a chapter of the Bible, and one verse is kind of lit up? It seemed like it just seemed to stand out to you, you just noticed it? You looked at the whole page, and then one, you just seemed to be drawn to it, didn't know anything about it, but seemed to be drawn. How many have had that experience? Okay, alright. I'll tell you what that is. That is the Holy Spirit drawing your attention, He wants to speak to you out of that verse. So even though you've looked at, and read the whole chapter, the one that you felt the draw to, that is where the spirit of God wants you to go to, and take time to ponder and think and dwell in it, because He wants to speak to you from that. It's in fixing your mind on it, and allowing yourself to think about it, you begin to open up to the thoughts of God, and the insights from the Holy Spirit. That's how it comes to you. It's how I get messages together.

I can do all the study, but study is using your natural mind, your logical processes; you look up a concordance, you look up a dictionary, you look at the verses, you find this, find that, blah blah blah, but all of that's just logical. What is needed, is the flow of the spirit, to illuminate what's important; put together what you haven't recognised before, to connect ideas with it, you haven't seen before. That requires a flow of the spirit to do that; so to do that, I've got to stop being in the study mode, and actually get into a pondering, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me through His words. I often find that works in the shower. Why does it work in the shower? I can hear God better in the shower, than in the study. Well it's really quite simple, because in the shower, you're relaxed. In the shower, you don't have books and things around you, you've just got what you've got in you, and you have a chance to just ponder while you relax.

So I'm just relaxing in the shower, and thoughts start to come, oh my! I just see exactly what it is. Sometimes I've found just going to bed at night, thinking about something from the word of God, that God was drawing my attention to; I wake up the next morning, and as I'm waking up, ideas are coming to my mind. They're coming from the spirit of God. Now remember this, it's so gentle and light, it feels like your own thoughts. It feels like it's just from you. You've got to learn to recognise the thoughts that come from God, so it helps if you write them down, and as you write them down or journal them, you can often get in a flow of writing. It helps if you act on what God says, because He says: if you'll act on what He gives you, He'll give you more. So if you're reading a chapter, and one verse comes to mind, and you take time and attention to look at it, God promises He'll give you more. He'll start to open up what He's wanting to speak to you, out of that situation.

Now it's very gentle. It's a very gentle flow. It's so gentle, it hardly feels like anything. That's why you've got to silence all the noise inside, free up your spirit with gratitude and praise, letting things go to God, focussing your attention on Him, expecting for Him to give you something; and then identify the impressions, the things you feel. I will sometimes, when I'm even studying or looking for messages, or things like that, I'll just feel no life on something. It's good but there's no quickening, no life on that. Wherever the spirit is moving, there's something comes alive, so you could have a whole page of things you're reading and look at, but there's just one you feel you're drawn to. That's where the life will be. That's where the spirit is leading you, and so it's very, very simple. Now this is not just something that happens once, or often, or when you're in a prayer meeting. This is something you build a daily relationship with God, time in His word, time in prayer, looking for God to speak to you; and if you're serious, you write down the things God's saying to you.

I have in my iPad, as I've been seeking guidance just recently; I have every little piece of guidance that I felt God giving me, is itemised in my iPad under 'Guidance.' Why? Because each little thing itself may not be very much, but together they form a consistent, and compelling, direction from the spirit of God. Are you getting the idea? Remember, it's not in the big; it's in the little. Jesus said: the kingdom of heaven is like the sower that sows the seed, if you don't understand the power of the seed, the devil will take the seed away. I believe that many of us, God has sown seeds to you, and given thoughts and ideas; but because you didn't understand it, and thought it was so little, you let the devil take it away, didn't understand it's significance in changing your life. This is one of the problems. When God gives us things, it's very, very little; but when we give ourselves to dwelling on it, pondering on it, thinking about it, asking Him for further insight, it grows. Within the seed, is a tree; so in all aspects of our life, within the seed is a tree. It's in the little thing, if you'll give yourself to it, and develop it, it begins to grow - - so hearing the voice of God.

Now let me just finish on how not to become an idiot at the end of it - we'll probably put it under that heading - or you could put it down under the thing of guidelines as to whether you heard the voice of God; but how not to become a spiritual idiot, how about we put it that way? So there's a few ways that people become a spiritual idiot, let me just give them to you. These are cautions about impressions you receive. Number one, here's the first question: does it agree with the word of God? If what you're receiving, is just contrary to what the Bible says - the Holy Ghost's not going to contradict Himself. I had some people say: oh, I just feel I prayed, and we feel it's right to move in with one another, and live together; and I say: what, you mean you're going to be having sexual relationships? How can the Holy Spirit be leading you to do that, when He says: abstain from fornication? Come on, help me understand how the one who wrote the Bible, now is telling you a different story,, and it's your story, it's so different because it's about you?

Actually this is what He says, so don't say that's guidance from God. That's coming from your own heart, it's all about you. So if it doesn't agree with the word of God - I hear all kinds of weirdness come, and people say: God told me this, God told me that, God told me, all kinds of things. I think: this is just weirdness. You're hearing from yourself; or you're hearing, even worse, from demonic spirits. If it's from the spirit of God, it'll never contradict the Bible. It may highlight things we haven't been aware of, and it may bring understanding of things, but it'll always have a reference base in the Bible, so your spiritual experiences need to be anchored back to the word of God. Getting the idea? How many can think of some weirdness already? [Laughs] Okay. Here's the second thing: what you're getting, does it edify, and exhort you, and stir you up, and build you up; or does it put you down?

If it lifts you up, then it's probably the spirit of God. If it puts you down, it's probably demonic in origin. That's quite simple isn't it? God does not condemn; He lifts us up. Now sometimes the things He speaks to us are a little bit painful. I remember when I was having some time downloading to God, because I was in a very painful situation; and then there was a silence, and I know that silence, He's about to talk to me; and He said this. He said: I'm not committed to your comfort, I'm committed to your character. Then He began to nail me on something. He said: what you did was wrong; and I knew that was God. I didn't feel condemned. It was specific. It was exactly about something I knew what I'd done, and it gave me hope that if I changed, I would see something happen. I remember being in a meeting one time, I walked in there, there was this guy in a wheelchair. I looked and I thought: oh no, a guy in a wheelchair, oh no, no, I don't like wheelchairs. I felt my heart sink with unbelief. As I walked to my seat, the Lord said: you've got a bad attitude. He just said it: you've got a bad attitude.

Now that's not putting me down, that's just saying: you have an attitude, it's a bad one, and I needed to repent. I just said: Lord, I just repent straight away. He said: now this is what I want you to do. I want you to meditate in healing, and I want you to picture and see that man healed. I want you to believe for Him to get up tonight, and come out of that wheelchair; so I spent some time through the service while worshipping, meditating, then faith suddenly came into my heart. How did it happen? I suddenly - now I was doing this, meditating on him being healed by Jesus, Jesus coming over, touching him and being healed and stepping up. I was imagining it in my imagination, and then suddenly, the picture of God just suddenly flashed into my mind, and I saw him stand up. Whoa! Heal and walk. I got very excited, because I'd never seen that happen before; and we got praying for some people, then eventually I prayed for him, and sure enough, he got up, he not only walked, he ran! [Laughter]

Now, notice the things in there: the correction from the Lord was quite straight, and quite specific, but it was for good. It never gave condemnation. It gave a clear directive how to get out of it. Not only that, it produced a good fruit, so I know it came from God. Okay, number one, the word of God; number two, it edifies, exhorts and comforts. It does you good, lifts you and blesses you; third, here's a good one - it's open to the counsel of others. Now this is where a lot of people go off the rails, this is where they become just spiritually stupid, and do crazy stuff. If I've got something from God - in James 3 it says: the wisdom of love is teachable, and approachable, and open to reason, it's open to being talked about it; so if you've got guidance from God, it should be able to stand in the light with spiritually mature people. So if God says He's told you to do something, and you put it out before some spiritually mature people, and ask for their counsel; if it's God, it'll stand the test. If it isn't God, they'll say: no, we don't think that's God. Now that doesn't mean they're against you, or they're not hearing God. It means you counsel is getting the light of day, it's getting scrutiny.

One of the most common ways I've seen people go off the rails, is this; they just have no one to run their counsel by, because they don't build relationships with people that could give them advice. This is crazy nonsense. In the counsel of many, plans are established; do in getting direction that's another area. A fourth one: it brings a fruit of peace in our life, and it exalts Jesus and lifts Him up. So there's just some simple things. Now I want you just to close your eyes for a moment. I want you just to stop for a minute now, just stop, now we're just going to finish the service up and I'm going to pray for a few people; but here's the first thing I'd like to ask: What impressions, or wha impressed you tonight? As you think about tonight's service, was there some point where something impressed your heart? You felt something stir, because of what was said or done or happened? What was that thing that impressed you? Try and identify it right now.

How many of you felt, as you felt that impression, quite clearly, you were to learn something, or God was getting your attention about something? How many felt God's trying to get your attention about something, just put your hand up, while our eyes are closed. Okay, lots of hands going up, very, very good. Okay then. Here's the next question then: what will you do, about what that issue is? What will you do? What will you do? What action will you take? What steps will you take, to respond to what God said to you tonight? Now here's a wonderful thing: God is accessible all of the time. He's accessible all of the time.

Praise the Lord. I'm going to just pray for a few people, then we're going to have an opportunity for you to receive prayer. Well just close your eyes, look up to the Lord. Don't look to me - I want you to look up expecting Jesus to speak with you; and He's able to speak to you without my help at all, able to speak to you inside in your spirit; but I'm going to, just myself, reach out to the Lord for something for you. So I'll just be relaxed, and have my spirit free; and as I'm doing that, I'll be fixing my attention on Jesus, looking to Him about something He wants to say to you. I'll expect He'll give me a picture, a thought, it'll flow spontaneously, and if I'll speak about it, I believe the spirit of God will just flow and touch your life.

Well I just thank You Lord, thank You Lord, You just love her, You know her. Thank You Lord that - well there it is, and immediately I see it. So let me just share with you what I saw. I just saw a picture drop into my mind of a boat in a storm, a boat in a storm; and it feels like your life, you are in a storm. There's many things, are coming up all around you, and it's stirring up a storm in your emotions, and in your thinking, in your soul, and it's kind of like that picture of the storm, the boat is filling with water, and the waves look big, and the wind looks big. You're thinking: I just think I'm going to sink, I feel like I'm being overwhelmed by it all. But the Lord is with you. He wants you to see that He is with you in the midst of your storm. You need have no fear, because Jesus is with you, He is standing with you, He is alongside you, He wants you to have no fear about what is happening.

He wants you to understand, that the storm you're in, is an opportunity to stand up. It's an opportunity to believe, it's an opportunity to hold on to God's promises in your life. God is healing things from your past. It's like Lazarus. He kind of called Lazarus out, and the cave was opened up, out come this man; but oh my, they were grave clothes, and they're all the smell of death. It's like God has reached into your life, drawn you out into salvation experience, and now there's all these grave clothes, old things, old things clinging to yo,u that other people put on you. Jesus wants you to know, He's going to take them all off. Don't be worried about the storm, don't be worried about the grave clothes, don't be worried about the trouble in your emotions. Jesus said: I am with you, I will never leave you, focus on Me in this storm, and look to Me to show you, and I will teach you how to walk through the storm.

Now Lord, I'm asking that You would bring Your peace, that You would calm the storm in her soul tonight. Every spirit that troubles you, we forbid its operation. Now Lord, just let Your peace come, here it is, just coming right now, just like that, see? Just coming out of heaven, flowing over your life, because with God's words, come His peace and His presence. Touch her Lord, touch her, [blows], Holy Spirit, come on her now. Holy Ghost come. Praise the Lord.

So all I did was free up my spirit, focus my attention on the Lord, look for a picture. I got the slightest picture, and I just began to talk about it, and as I talked, it grew and became something that was real, and touched her life. That's how simple it is. So I thought you know, you must have - no, it's no big thing, it's just remaining quiet inside and listening. This is a lifestyle. It's a habit you develop, waiting in the presence of God, meditating in the scriptures, and asking Him to speak to you. Imagine if God was speaking to you every day, imagine if He was talking to you about your day, and starting to share with you things He wanted to do in that day. Wouldn't that be wonderful? It can happen for you, but you have to position yourself for it.

Thank You Lord. Father, I just thank You for Mel, Mel again, just close your eyes and look up to Jesus, because He's the one that is wanting to speak with you. He's the one who's wanting to speak with you. Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord. Now again, as I just stay relaxed, and just reach out to the Lord, and just stay focussed on Him - I'm not trying to get any answers. I'm just reaching out, and saying: Jesus, You love her. She's Your daughter. Show me what You want to say to her, so as I was doing that, I just felt something very, very simple happen. You know what I saw? I saw a path. It was kind of like a steep gradient, and you were on that path. It's like you're climbing up hill, and it feels like you have been climbing up hill. You know when you're walking on a flat path, it's quite straight forward; when you're walking on a down hill path, it's even easier; but when you're walking an up hill path, there's an effort in every step. I feel the Lord showing me that you're having to take an effort, conscious effort with every step you're taking. But I see you coming to the top, and there's decisions you're making, then it goes down the other side. It's a lot easier.

The Lord wants to encourage you, keep your eyes fixed on Him. He's got your hand. You're not going to falter, you're not going to fall and roll back down hill. You're going to make decisions, and you'll go over the top of the mountain, and start to come into a place of enlargement. The Lord says: it's okay. It's okay to make decisions. It's okay to change your mind. It's okay to have new thoughts. He's with you. He knows the journey you're taking, and He's helping you. Now Lord, just come and touch her right now, pour out Your presence upon Mel. There it is, presence of God coming now. Holy Spirit [blows], just touch her, come from heaven upon her, rest upon her and bring peace into her heart tonight, in Jesus' Mighty name.

Always with words from God, there comes a peace in a person's life. [Laughs] Holy Spirit come, there it is, thank You Lord. I think there's a great presence of God to speak to people tonight, be great if others could hear God's voice speak.

Sezzy, can I pray with you? Praise the Lord, thank You Lord, come, come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit. Well of course, it's not easy just to pray for you, because I know something about your plans; but if you just fix your eyes on the Lord, and I fix my eyes on Him, I just know He's going to show us something. Now as I'm doing that, I'm just consciously removing all awareness. Sarah's my daughter, I notice the decisions she's making right now, I've just got to push them all aside. I just begin to look to Jesus, and I see what Jesus has done, and then I'll just give words to what I'm seeing. Now this is what I see. I see Jesus, and He's holding a box, a treasure chest, and it's very big, and it's full of treasure; and I see you have reached your hands out to Him, and you've got hold of one side of the box, He's got hold of the other. What He wants you to know, is He has invested great treasures within you, He's built within your life, many treasures; well beyond what you realise, well beyond what you understand, but you've had a hunger for things of the spirit, and God has built and imparted and put into your life many things which are treasures.

There are natural treasures, but there are spiritual treasures, and God has put spiritual treasures in you; and that box, as I'm looking at it, is a closed box, meaning that at this point in time, it's sealed up, and people can't see what's in it. But then as you go forth with the box in your hands, I see the lid opening, and you're beginning to explore the treasures, then you're beginning to distribute the treasures. There's just many, many, many, many, many, many people, many, many different people. I see some of them are incredibly poor, some of them are incredibly poor. I see orphans. I see children. I see poor people, desperate people, and you're opening your hands, treasures of the heavens are flowing into the lives of people. I feel the Lord saying: don't forget your destiny, because He hasn't forgotten. Your destiny is to carry His word, His spirit, His life, to carry healing miracles, and a flow of prophetic revelation from heaven; expect it to increase, not diminish. Take the treasures one by one, explore them, use them, employ them. The Lord says: He's going to open the doors for you, one after the other, after the other. You will be amazed. This is something God's called you to. I know you're connected, and I know as a couple, you're going into a place (Zimbabwe), but God's wanting you to know there's something He has through you, and I see it connected with the children, to those who are in poverty, those who are poor, and I see miracles flowing through your hands. I see gold dust on your hands, I see a flow of the river of God from heaven, touching people's lives.

I see you having prophetic visions, I see you bringing people and they're standing there, and as they lift their hands they're coming to encounter God. Just there's many of them, all at once, hundreds upon hundreds. I see you standing there and heaven opening, and the rain of God coming on people, and them experiencing Him. This is your legacy. These are the treasures, and God has given you a little taste. You've seen little bits of this, a little bit of that, a little bit of something else, but they've all been accumulating over many years, and now the Lord says: the box is yours. Now begin to explore the treasures within, and release them into the lives of others. Here it is. In a moment, there's going to be a handing in to your life, into your spirit, of many, many treasures; and particularly the whole area of visions, revelations, insight to heaven. It's going to increase, not decrease, but guard it, because it's treasure. It's treasure we have within an earthen vessel, Christ in us. Here it comes, here it comes, heaven opening over your life right now - oh, look into heaven, look up, there it is, right now, and see, as He gives to you. Stay in that place of looking. It'll unravel for you without me doing anything, just stay in that place of looking. Praise the Lord.

I wonder is there anyone here tonight that doesn't know Jesus, it'd be a great night to receive Him, to ask Him to be your saviour. There may be others tonight, if you want to receive Jesus Christ, I'd love to just pray with you, come up and just let me know and I'll pray with you. There may be others tonight, and what you're needing is just us to lay hands on you, and just to release a fresh flow of God's spirit moving in your life, to speak to you. If you'd like that tonight, why don't you come on up here, but don't focus on who's praying for you. Just come and stand, lift your hands. If you know God was speaking to you about something tonight, and you've decided to act on that, just make your way to the front. We're not going to find out all what it is, we'll just lay hands and endorse it, and just bless you. I feel tonight there's an impartation, come on people. Would you do that tonight, just come, come, people tonight needing to come. Let's just stand together, let's stand. You know God spoke to you? Make your way to the front. If you're wanting a release of this flow of anointing, of the spirit of revelation, make your way to the front.

Summary Notes

Formatted » Back to Top »

1. Introduction

· Mk.1:17-18 ““Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him”
· Each of us is called by God to be connected to Jesus and to “Follow Him”.
· Foundational to following Jesus is hearing and responding to Him speaking.

2. Communication is Essential to Relationship

· Jn.10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.
· If we belong to Christ we have the capacity to hear Him speak to us.
· Communication is essential to cultivate and develop relations.
Communication = active listening and responding.
· Without communication relationships wither and die, they become sterile.
· When did you last hear God speak to you?
What did He say to you?
What are you doing about it? – How are you responding?
· Jesus cautions (i) Gospels: He that have ears to hear – let him hear (8x)
(ii) Revelations: He that has an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (7x)
· Mk.4:23-25 “For whoever has (ears to hear) more shall be given”.
· God speaks to us individually and corporately we must listen and respond!
· When we are no longer hearing the Holy Spirit we become passive, spiritually asleep.
· Two helps (i) Sundays: Bring Bible – take notes – listen for the Holy Spirit
(ii) Small Group: Ask one another questions – What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? How are you responding?

3. What does the Voice of God sound like?

· 1 Cor.6:17 “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”.
· We are joined spirit to spirit with Jesus – constantly connected to Him.
· He lives within our hearts and desires to reveal Himself within us.
· The more we become aware of His presence the easier to hear His voice.
· He is not some nebulous force but a person with thoughts, feelings, personality.
· Jn.7:37-39 “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”.
· God’s spirit within us “flows” like a river = is spontaneous, moving.
· Western lifestyle focus on the mind and reason – Bible focus is on being Spirit conscious.
· The movement of the Holy Spirit is flowing, spontaneous words, thoughts, pictures, impressions and feelings.
· God’s voice is like a still small voice within us (1 Kg.19:12).

4. Common Hindrances to Hearing God Speak

· Listening to God =- listening in to spontaneous words, thoughts, pictures, impressions, feelings within. These are easily blocked or hindered.

· Common Hindrances:
i) Hidden sins iv) Having “mind-sets” or idols in the heart
ii) Disappointment with God v) Over dependence on mind and reasoning
iii) Unresolved grief and offence vi) Demonic oppression
· Inner impressions that we receive can come from three different sources
(i) Self – selfish (ii) Evil Spirits – evil, demanding (iii) Holy Spirit – good!

5. Keys to Hearing the Holy Spirit speak (Hab.2:2)

(i) Free Up Your Spirit
· If your spirit is weighed down there is little or no flow.
· Speak in tongues – activate your spirit (1 Cor. 14:14,4)
· Soft music can help.

(ii) Focus Your Thoughts
· Fix your thoughts upon Jesus – use a picture from Scripture.
· Remove external distractions.
· Press through internal distractions by focussing/fixing your thoughts.
· In order to see you need to look – fix your mind on Jesus the Source.

(iii) Faith – Expect to Receive
· Expect to receive spontaneous thoughts, words, impressions, pictures, feelings as you still your heart and look.
· It is easy to think that God won’t speak to me.
· Faith is based on what God says “My sheep hear my voice!”
· Voice =NT5456= Phone = sound, frequency, tone, voice, words.

(iv) Feel – Identify the Impressions You Receive
· Identify the flow of thoughts, ideas, words, pictures, impressions.
· Value them as being a flow of the River of God.
· Write them down (journal) expecting more to come.

6. Process What You have Received

Test it Respond to It
· Agree with the Word of God? What must I do?
· Edify, Comfort or Exhort?
· Open to the Counsel of Others?
· Exalt Jesus or Self?
· Fruit of Peace?

When God Seems Silent (5 of 6)  

Sun 2nd Dec 2012 AM « Back to Top

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Most of us would have had an experience where you really need God to give something to direct you but nothing happened. You sought the Lord, you prayed, read your Bible and nothing seemed to happen. It can be very troubling. You ask God to help you, He doesn't seem to help you; ask God to guide you, He doesn't seem to be guiding you, you don't seem to hear anything and it seems quite disturbing. It seems like at times heaven seems to be silent about the things that are really important.

When God Seems Silent (5 of 6)

John 10:27, Jesus said: My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. So one of the things is, it's possible for any person to hear the voice of God. Whether you're saved or unsaved, God has got no trouble speaking to you. He can get through to you. He's got a way of doing it, and even if you're unsaved, people don't always recognise it's God, but many times they understand, actually that's God trying to get a hold of my attention.

But for a believer, this is what Jesus said: if you're My sheep; two things - one, we hear His voice; two, we respond, we actually do what Jesus said, we follow Him, or we make choices to act on what God said. Last week we shared with you some very simple keys on how you hear the voice of God. We talked about the flow of the spirit within you, how Jesus said that the spirit of God would flow like a river from within. We shared that the voice of your head is different to the voice of your heart. The voice of your head is logical, rational, one idea after another in an order. The voice of your heart is spontaneous, with pictures, and it flows. We saw that the spirit of God when He speaks to us, speaks to our heart, brings witness in our heart; and this is not something you just take for granted. It's something you cultivate. It becomes a way of life, of learning to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; and you'll save yourself a lot of hardship if you listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. How many felt unease or something was disturbing them and they ignored it, then it turned out really bad for them? How many have had that experience? See, we've all had that experience at some point; so what happens of course is that if you override or ignore the directings of God in your life, there's a consequence of it; so neither does God want us to be just a puppet, where He tells us everything; so there's this balance of human responsibility, of thinking and working out how to interact, and work my life out; with God working with me, to guide me and direct me. The two go hand in hand.

One of the most common experiences that people have is this: What do you do, when God doesn't seem to be talking? What do you do, when God seems to be silent? Now He's never silent, He's always speaking, and He's always available to speak; but there are times in our life, when God seems to be silent. How many of you know a time like that, known a situation; and it's very, very challenging! In Psalm 28, David knew this. Let's have a look at it in Psalm 28, a time when God was silent. Of course, if He's silent all the time, you've got a problem, you're disconnected. Psalm 28: To You, will I cry O Lord, my Rock; Do not be silent to me, lest if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit. So David is saying, or the Psalm is saying, he's saying: I need You to talk to me God, I need You to speak to me. I put my life in Your hands, I'm facing pressures and difficulties, I need You to talk. So he's saying: if you go silent on me, and give me the silent treatment, I'll end up in the pit of hell, pit of depression, pit of despair.

So let's just talk a little bit about what happens, when it seems like God is silent. Most of us would have had an experience where you really need God to give something to direct you, but nothing happened. You sought the Lord, you prayed, read your Bible; and nothing seemed to happen. It can be very troubling. You ask God to help you, He doesn't seem to help you; ask God to guide you, He doesn't seem to be guiding you, you don't seem to hear anything, and it seems quite disturbing. It seems like at times heaven seems to be silent, about the things that are really important. How many know that kind of situation? I hate that kind of situation. I have learned some things about it, so when God seems to be silent, there's always a reason behind it. There's always something we need to learn from it, when God seems to be silent; but you can go through many different experiences, and unfortunately many Christians don't respond the right way. Some get very angry and resentful, that God is not talking to them; some get offended that God's not talking; some just feel depressed, or feel what's the use, and actually feel like: well, I'll just get on with my life, and they kind of park it.

But it's of concern to us, if we're talking to God, and there's no response. Something is not right. We need to figure out what to do in situations like that, and at times God seems to withhold from us, the very thing we need to make a decision, or the very thing we need to get us out of a fix. When that happens, it can be quite distressing, unless you know what to do. One of the things to understand, is that when God is silent, there is always a reason for it; and sometimes that silence, can just be to let what's in your heart, rise to the surface. There's a king called Hezekiah, and it says: God withdrew from him for a while, to see what was in his heart; to test him, let what was in his heart, come to the surface. That's found in 2 Chronicles 32:31; so King Hezekiah was a godly man. He walked with the Lord, God blessed him and guided him; but there was a period of his time, when it felt like God had withdrawn from him. Now did God leave him? No. Does God leave you? No, He doesn't leave us, but it feels like He's not there. It feels like other things are really there: the pressures of finances, the pressures of a family situation, the pressures in a marriage, the pressures of your work situation, the pressures of a decision you need to make.

It feels like those are there, but God isn't there. The reality is: He is there, He is never going to leave you, He is always with you. The challenge is: how you handle that time, when it doesn't seem like God is responding. I want to give you just some things NOT to do, some things not to do; and we'll just give you some Bible examples on it, some things you should not do, when God is silent, and you just really do need to get some direction from Him. Now there's a lot of areas, that it's not clear what the answer is. We actually need the spirit of God to speak to us; decisions you make about your work, where you live, who you'll marry, decisions about family, there's a lot of things you can't actually, easily read, and find an answer exactly for it; so we actually have to position ourself, to let God talk with us. So what do we not do when God is silent?

Now I'm going to give you an example of a person who did this very thing, and every one of these people that did this thing, got themselves into trouble. So here, not necessarily in order of importance, but here's my number one. It's found in Luke 24:13. There were some disciples, after the resurrection of Jesus; now remember Jesus had died, He'd been buried, He'd risen from the dead, but He hadn't spoken to them. In other words, they had a period of silence, when God was not talking to them; and the Bible says that the two disciples headed out of Jerusalem, the place where they were called to be, the place where they were called to remain, the place where they were called to pioneer, the place where God had positioned them; and they began to go to Emmaus, which means literally the place of hot pools, the place of comfort. They began to withdraw, away from the placing that God had given them.

So one of the things that people do, when they feel God isn't speaking to them, or coming through, is they pull back from church and fellowship, that's what people do. They don't know why, they just do it. It's actually because, to come into fellowship, or to come into where people are, they're reminded of this conflict or pain or grief that they have, and don't want to be reminded of it; and rather than resolve it, withdraw from where they can be reminded of it. So the disciples went that path, and here's the thing that happened to them. When Jesus began to talk to them, they couldn't even recognise Him; so I have observed over many years, when people have faced disappointments and struggles and pain, that they withdraw from their connection to the body of Christ, or from relationship with people. When you do that, when you withdraw, you make a serious mistake, because now your problems will increase and get greater. The voice that'll be stronger will be the voice of the world, and your own feelings, not the voice of God.

One of the things I've learned is, when you're in pressure, in difficulty, as much as lies within you, bring it into relationship and connection; don't withdraw. How many of you know someone like that? Oh yeah [laughs] okay then. Here's another one, number two: Don't harbour resentment; don't harbour resentment and blame in your heart. Now if we read in John 11:21; Martha, when she heard Jesus was coming, went and met Him, and Mary was sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus: Lord, if You'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Now you've got to realise what's happened. Martha and Mary are sweating it out, over the sickness that the brother has. They've sent a message out to Jesus, and guess what? Jesus doesn't reply. He not only doesn't reply, He doesn't do anything either. He just remains where He is, and refuses to respond; and it seems to them, or it seems to Martha anyway, Jesus doesn't seem to care about her. It seems to her like, He's just ignoring her. It seems like He's rejecting her, and this is their time of need. Remember they're the friends of Jesus, He's been in their home, He's been for meals with them, He's stayed with them, they are His friends - and yet when they need His help the most, the one who healed everyone else, didn't heal their brother. In fact he died, they'd had a funeral, he was buried, and they were all in the grieving stage.

Now you can understand, for her, God was silent; and now Jesus turns up. She's not exactly very happy, and what's in her heart comes out of her mouth; she said: if You'd been here, then he wouldn't have died. Now notice this, she's putting blame on Jesus, that the death of the brother came about, because He failed to do something. There's resentment and blame in her heart. When we get knocked around or disappointed, or suffer a grief in our life, and God does not seem to be talking to us; it's very easy, out of the grief, to them want to blame someone for what's happened. So the moment Jesus came, they started to blame Him. Don't blame! Blame leaves you a victim. Blame stops you actually exploring: what is it, I need to do or grow in, this particular time.

Here's a third thing then, here's another one. Luke Chapter 7:20-23, and this is John the Baptist. John the Baptist went through a bit of a painful situation, and he was cautioned by Jesus. Now in this particular situation, John has gone out preaching the gospel, he's gone out proclaiming Jesus is the coming saviour, He's the lamb of God, he's had this revelation about who Jesus is; and now he's stood up, and he confronted Herod and his wife, that their marriage was wrong, and it was out of order; and for his speaking the truth, he's thrown into jail. So he's sitting there in jail, and he's awaiting death. He knows now he's stuck in jail; but the messiah is here, Jesus is here, and here's the problem: He's not speaking or doing anything. Now you can understand, for someone who's in prison who's facing death, when God does not seem to be speaking or doing anything, that is very distressing. Here's the warning that Jesus gave. Jesus spoke, and told the disciples, in Verse 22: tell John the things you've seen and heard - the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them; and blessed is he, who is not offended because of Me.

Now why did they go to Him? They went to ask this question: are You the one we've been looking for? Now John knew that Jesus was the one, he got revelation; but he became hurt inside, that Jesus had failed to get him out of jail. He become upset that God had not rescued him out of a difficult problem. In fact actually, the Bible makes it very clear, he ended his days in that jail - his head was taken off. Now here's the thing: For him, he fully expected that Jesus would rescue him somehow out of the jail; and when Jesus didn't, the warning that came to him was this. Here's the warning, because he was starting to doubt the revelation he'd received. He's going, and now instead of saying this: is the one; he's saying: are you the one? So when we are in a difficult situation, and God doesn't seem to be speaking, it is very easy to harbour these two things: to harbour doubt about what God last said to us; and to feel offended, that He hasn't responded to our need; doubt about what God last said. Remember, he got revelation about who Jesus was. Now he's doubting the revelation he got. It's very easy, when you're in a difficult situation, it seems like you're in prison, it seems like the walls have closed in, it seems like there's no way out. It's very easy in a situation like that, to begin to doubt what God has been speaking to you; and easy to become offended with God, and build a wall of resentment or resistance. Don't harbour offence!

Here's another one, another one that took the wrong way round. I'll give you two more, and then we'll show you just exactly what you need to do. It's found in 1 Samuel, Chapter 13. This is King Saul. Now here's what - Saul has actually had a word from God, and this was the word: I want you to go to this place, I want you to wait there until I come. Now here's what's happened, and we read in Verse 6 of 1 Samuel 13: the men of Israel saw they were in great danger. They were in danger, because in Verse 5, the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, people like the sand which is on the seashore, for the multitude came up and encamped at Michmash, at the end of Beth Aven.

The men of Israel saw they were in danger, and so they went and they hid in the caves, the thickets, the rocks, holes and in pits. Some of them followed crossed Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and the people were following him, trembling. He waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come, and the people were scattered. So he said: bring a burnt offering and peace offerings, and he offered the burnt offerings. Now it happened, as soon as he'd finished presenting the burnt offering, Samuel came, and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said: what have you done? He said: I saw the people were scattered, you didn't come, the Philistines had gathered against me; and I said: I just need to go and make an offering to the Lord, so I forced myself, and did this offering.

He said: that's very foolish, you're going to lose your authority, you'll lose your kingdom, as a result of this. Now notice here, don't harbour fear or anxiety, and act in a reaction to what's going on. Don't hold on to fear and anxiety. Here's the problem with Saul. The problem was, he was insecure. Now what was the reason he was insecure? He was insecure, because he saw all the problems, but he didn't see how big God was. He was insecure because he saw the people leaving, and he didn't see God was still with him. He was insecure because he had no current word from God, except the last one to go on, and he's waiting for something to happen, so here's what happens. In the face of pressure, anxiety and fear took over him, he shut down, and he said: I know what I'll do, I'll make something happen to get my way out of this. How many have known what it's like to be in a place like that, where you've been tight, it's been difficult, it's been tense for you; and instead of actually waiting for God to give you directions, and show you what to do, you actually had to force yourself; but you tried to make something happen? When you do that, it always messes up. It always ends up like that.

That's the tendency we have, is we want to get back into control again, and feel safe; rather than actually leaning, and trusting, on the Lord. My experience has been God sometimes talks quickly, sometimes talks specifically, sometimes very directly; and sometimes He's incredibly silent, and it's distressing. You can go through all of these feelings, and want to try and do something. Here's the last one we'll look at it. It's found in Genesis 16, and this is Sarah. Sarah, Abram's wife, had borne no children - Verse 1 - and she had an Egyptian maidservant, whose name was Hagar. So Sarah said to Abram: see now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Notice she blames God for the situation? Please go into my maid, or have sexual relations with my maid; perhaps I'll obtain children by her. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarah. Then later on, Verse 11, the Angel of the Lord speaks to Hagar, and says: behold, you are with child, and you'll bear a son. You'll call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction; but he shall be a wild man, his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him. He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

Now get this one here. Every day you look in the papers, one of the things that you can't help but notice, are the troubles going on in the Middle East. You'll notice that the primary area of the troubles is around the Arab nations, the descendants of Ishmael; and when you look at those problems, what you need to be aware of is, those problems would never have occurred, if Abraham hadn't done this foolish thing. In fact the earth would have been free of all of that current conflict around there, if he hadn't done this. The dilemma, generationally, of his mistake, was enormous. We're still experiencing the consequences of it today. Notice what it says of Ishmael, he said: he'll be a wild man, he'll be like a wild ass you can't reason with. Dave was sharing some of the stuff over there in Pakistan, he said they use the term 'donkey brain', because people get so stubborn, and fixed, and set, you can't shift them out of it; and this is exactly what the Bible said. He said the generations that will come out of Ishmael, they will be like a donkey brain, you can't reason or talk to them. They're just stubborn and they're set; and notice this, he said: they will be all against one another. They'll be in conflict, one with another. How's this all happen? Now you've got to consider this, that Abraham had got a promise from God: I am going to give you children, I'm going to create out of your seed, all the nations will be blessed. He got that in Genesis 12. Now what you've got to realise is, ten years have passed, and God didn't speak to him and tell him too many things, so when God said to him: I'm going to bless you, I'll make your name great; and out of your seed, all the nations will be blessed. He didn't tell him about a great famine, that was coming in the land that He sent him to.

He sent him out into the land of Canaan. He didn't tell him there was going to be a famine there, or what to do in the famine. He didn't tell him that: yes, I'm going to give you children, but there's going to be some delay in this process. So after ten years in the land of Canaan, going through a famine, going back to Egypt, coming back out of Egypt up there; there he is, he still hasn't got a child. Now he's thinking: I need to help God out; and his wife, who's lost her faith in God can actually work in her, to give her children, thinks: well the only way it's going to work out, can't be me this promise is for, it must be just Abraham. So in her reasoning, she's trying to reason out the prophesy. She's trying to work out how God is going to make it happen. So she's thinking: well I'm not having any children, and he's going to have the children; it must be through someone else, so she starts to get into the reasoning process, how God will work it out, and comes up with the grand idea: won't you have sexual relations with my maid? Of course, this is where Ishmael came from.

So what can happen is, when there's a delay, and God isn't working out what we are looking for Him to do, it's very easy for us to think: how we can help God out, to make this come about. We try and reason it, and work it out. When we do that, we have an Ishmael. Ishmael's are horrible - they're painful, and they cause a lot of conflict. How many have had an Ishmael in your life? You've tried to help God out over something? One or two. The reality is, we've all tried to help God out with something or other; and when we did it, what came out of it, was not good at all. We have a better idea that God's; so people have prayed for a partner, prayed for someone for life, and rather than actually build their character, and walk with God, and build great relationships, they kind of hurry the process up a little bit, get someone that God never intended them to have - then it's a mess. You'd be better single, than with someone God never intended you to be with. Come on, think about that. A lot of people - all the counsellors say: yes, that's true. [Laughs]

We've all counselled people: mate, that was a bad decision, what were you thinking? I wasn't, I just wasn't. I know, I won't go there [laughs] I just wasn't thinking clearly, and a lot of guys just don't think clearly. There'll be people here today, just not thinking clearly; because what you're doing, instead of trusting God, and building into your life the path, and the journey with God, to get you where you're supposed to go, you just want to take the shortcut and get a quick answer. It doesn't work that way, so what can I do? What can I do, if God does not seem to be answering? How many in that place, you need an answer from God for something in your life right now? One or two, actually I'd say a lot of people are needing an answer from God, and sometimes He's real quick to give it, sometimes there's a bit of a delay, sometimes it's a long time.

So I want to share with you, what you can do, in the time when God is silent. I can assure you this: He will not stay silent forever. He will speak on it, even if it's not right now; and one of the things I've found frustrating is, the one thing I want Him to answer, and He's not saying anything; but He's talking about a lot of other things, the trivia [laughs] the little things in your life, the little things in relationships. He's talking about what seems to be trivia, and you've got one big main elephant sitting there, waiting to be dealt with; and it's like He's just pretending it isn't there. You know that situation? We have that, and it happens like that; so you've got to learn how to handle that, and to deal with it, otherwise you get overwhelmed. So since it's easy for us to be overwhelmed with painful emotions and feelings over that and so on, we need actually to deal with it, so here we go.

If you've got some important decision, some important thing, God's not talking; or you've got some painful thing. and God's not helping in some kind of way; it's very easy to become disappointed, so here's some things you can do. Now these are not just: hey, here's a one, two, three, four, do this, and it guarantees. Here's the first thing you've got to realise is: you can't make God to anything, you just can't. He is in control, not you. You can't make Him do anything, so this is where a lot of Christians get really disappointed. They think: well, if I just praise loud enough, then He'll do it. If I just read my Bible enough, He'll do it - and He doesn't do it. I'll pray in tongues for an hour a day, and He still doesn't do it; so you start to get into this scheming thing: how I can make God give me what I want. Until you've come to the end of all of that, you're not going to get anything. It's like He refuses to be pressured that way. I hate that when it's like that, because I've tried everything at times, then you end up just crying, then you get angry, and then you get sulky, and then you withdraw and don't pray. Then you stop reading your Bible, then you get back up again, because you've still got to get an answer; and you get connected again and start again, all over the same thing. How many know what I'm talking about? We've all had that, all been down that route. Tell someone, you know what that's about don't you? You've been there.[Laughs]

Okay then, so what could we do? What are some things that we can do? Here's a few things. The first thing you can do is, I found always: strengthen yourself in the Lord. Focus on strengthening your life with God, because negative emotions and fears or issues can surface very quickly. 1 Samuel 30:6, David was facing a major crisis, of everything gone wrong for him, and the Bible says when everyone else panicked, and become afraid, and began to blame and wanted to kill him, he strengthened himself in the Lord. So what would you do to strengthen yourself in the Lord? You need to just face, and let the emotions come out, that you've got going on there; because when you've got a lot of emotions stewing around inside, you can't build in your spirit on top of that. You've got to be honest about the feelings and struggles, pour them out before the Lord. What else you can do, start to remind yourself or remember the victories you've had in the past, where God answered you. Remember them, go back over them, how God came through for you; so you remember the track of the victories you've had. These are some simple things you can do. Meditate on the faithfulness of God. Go and take pictures of people in the Bible, and read about the crises they were in, and how God came through; and meditate on it. In other words, do some work establishing and strengthening your trust; because if you lose trust, and stop trusting God, that's when things start to really fall apart.

So the first thing I found it's helpful to do, is rather than trying to get the solution of make God speak to me; work on strengthening my inner life, getting the emotions out of the way; and starting to remind myself of the promises of God, and building the spirit man. I tell you one thing, if you're going to hear God, you will hear Him in your spirit; and if your spirit is being strengthened, and there's adversity: one, you'll come out the other side a better person; two, you're more likely to hear; so there's the first thing is - strengthen your spirit man. That involves praise and worship. Now a lot of people come into church on Sundays, and they've struggled through the week. They've struggled through the week for a whole range of reasons, and no one blames that people struggle. Struggle's a part of life. It's what you do in the struggles, and the tendency in the struggles, is instead of building and strengthening your inner life, and learning how to praise God and thank Him, and lift up the atmosphere around them; people tend to just go down, and withdraw, and shut down. I watch, I kind of see in church, and I watch the level of participation of people; and I can tell that many people are shut down, because when we are building an atmosphere, where we're actually giving something to God, that is a place you can break through; when everyone else is with you, and they're rising up, you begin to praise God - yeah, well I don't feel like it. This is not about feeling, it's actually about: this is what I choose to do, in my adversity.

You have a think about, for example, Paul and Silas, in Acts 16. In the middle of their adversity - they'd been beaten up, whipped and put into jail for doing good; and then they began to praise God, lift Him up, begin to exalt Him, sing songs, and actually just magnify God; and that is when they got an answer. They got an answer - then. You think they knew they were going to get an answer then? No, they did not. In fact actually, they could have remained in prison; but what they knew to do, was to magnify God in the midst of the difficulty, by thanking Him and praising Him. I've found a lot of people don't do that. When we come into a Sunday meeting, no matter what you feel like, no matter what you've been going through; make a decision you'll stand up and you'll begin to give praise, give something to God, give the honour to Him. Of course when you try to do it, if you're offended inside, it will surface quite quick; and you can then resolve it, and push it out of the way, because praise and gratitude will always surface this other stuff that's in your life. Getting the idea?

So I come to meet with God. I don't come to actually end up depressed at the end of the meeting. Now here's the thing. If we have say, 300 people come in, and 20 are excited and give themselves to God; then there's all these others, the 280, that are bringing a spirit of heaviness and depression; and 20 people have to shift that off everyone. That's not God. That's not the way to do it. The way to do it is, we come and we gather to give something to God, and we then give it to Him. I give Him the very best. I get into those songs, I come in, and I like to be the strongest, loudest, most vocal worshipper of God. Why? Because I have learned, no matter what I'm feeling, if I will do that, my spirit will energise and arise and lift; and other things take perspective. Getting the idea? But it's a choice, it's a choice to do it, and I've practised it enough now that I can arise in my spirit, quite quickly; so one thing, strengthen yourself in the Lord.

Here's the second thing you can do. You can examine your relationship with the Lord, to see if there's things in there you need to face. Sometimes there are things to face. Sometimes there are issues to face. Sometimes, if God hasn't been speaking to you, God's silent, maybe there's compromise; maybe there's an area that God had spoken to you, you've done nothing about it, and so it's all gone quiet, on the God front, in that area. Maybe there's an area where you actually are violating God's principles in some way? You know, you're sleeping with someone, and then you're wondering why you're not hearing from God. I know what you're going to hear from God, I'll tell you it right now. So if you are, if you're in sexual sin, or sexual immorality, this is what the word of God is: STOP IT! Simple. Stop it, because you're grieving the spirit of God. It's as simple as that. Don't grieve the spirit of God. Don't quench the spirit of God. Don't grieve Him, just stop the sin, turn from the sin, quickly get back into God. Why? Because then you'll hear about it. Who knows what you've got in, already got such a mess, it's unlikely the thing's ever going to work out properly; so stop it, that's it. You don't need lots of words. We need to hear what God says, so if there's compromise, sin, there's something in our life we know is wrong; and in the time when you get in that atmosphere of worshipping God, that's when you start to remember it.

When you remember it, deal with it quite quick. Did God say something to you? What did He last say? Did you do it? What was the last thing God said? If you can't remember, you're in trouble. See, you're in trouble, in your relationship. Now the problem is, we substitute activities, for authentic heart relationship. Authentic heart relationship requires communication. So remember this, that we can be going to church, I could be giving, I could be serving, I could go in in the prison, I'd be going down the community, all kinds of things. But if I'm not hearing God, or I haven't heard Him for a long time, it's very easy for everything to reduce down to just church, and Christian busyness; and we don't carry a presence of God around our life. We're just doing good things. Now we need to be more than that. Don't stop doing the good things; but just re-engage with God again, so the good things you're doing carry His presence into them.

So when did you last hear God speak? Keep a journal, keep a diary, write down what God is saying; because if you don't write it down, you forget it. Oh it's getting very quiet. [Laughs] These are really, really important things, aren't they? So we don't know what to do, we haven't heard God for a little while. Now I believe you need to be proactive. You have to be proactive in seeking God, not just a victim, and passive: oh well, God's not talking to me, He talks to someone else, doesn't talk to me. Don't be a victim, be proactive! Seek for answers, seek for answers. You've got to be proactive, so we need to seek answers. So how am I going to seek answers when I'm not hearing God? The Bible tells us very clearly, to seek wisdom. Wisdom is the principle thing. Wisdom is knowing what to do. I don't know what to do, God, show me what to do, so how would I go about seeking that wisdom, if I'm not hearing much from God, and I'm overwhelmed by the problem? Well there's a number of ways you can go doing it. Start to search the Bible for some principles that might apply. For example, if you were choosing someone to marry, there's no verse that says: marry this person; so now you've got to look at the principles that would be appropriate for that. Is the person one spirit with me? Are they joined to the Lord? Are they a believer? That would be a good thing to ask them, because if they're not a believer, you've got some big problems, division right at the beginning. Principles - have we got similar values? Can we walk in unity? Well they'll be principles in the Bible; so you can start to look for principles in the Bible to help you with those decisions. You can seek wisdom.

Here's another place you can seek wisdom. You seek wisdom from wise people. Now there's lots of foolish people, don't seek wisdom from foolish people. [Laughs] Seek wisdom from wise people; so if someone has got a track record of failure in their life, that is not the person to seek wisdom from. You want the person that's got some success track in their life. I'm surprised how easily people are seduced by nice words that people have, and how they don't actually stop to see what is the fruit in that person's life. If a person has failed in their finances, and has nothing, they've failed in their marriage, failed in their relationships, and they've got a track record that things are not working out; that's not the person I want to ask: what do you reckon I should do. [Laughs] You're going to get a bad reply - well I think... Well I don't really want to know what you think. I really want to have someone, who actually has done the track record of wisdom. Now someone's - their marriage broke down, they've gone through all the difficulties and pain. Now they've rebuilt and they've got a great marriage, probably a person like that will have a lot of experience that they'll be able to bring to bear. Go to people that have got a track record. We've got some people that have got great track records, but often they're the last ones to be sought out when it comes to getting advice. I'm amazed how people seek the wrong people. You seek a friend who's on drugs, you're going to end up down the same route they are. You've got to think it through. Now not all people that are wise, are Christians. I think there's a lot of people who've gained great wisdom, that are not Christians. I think there's a lot of people that have got some good experience and wisdom to bring to bear; but seek someone, who can give good advice. You say: well why would I do that? Because sometimes God wants to talk to you through people.

Here's a question you could ask: has God already been talking to me through someone, and I just didn't even recognise it? You see, we all want to just have the hotline with God, and I believe we should all hear directly from God; but there are times when God will speak through another person, and the reason He'll speak through another person is two-fold: one, you're not listening to Him directly, because you've got your agenda; and two, because this person now gives you a chance to deal with your pride in your heart, whether you'll receive from a person or not. I get people say: it's just me and God, and I'm hearing all this from God. Well okay, who are the people that you run your wisdom by? Who's speaking into your life, that will actually have the right to be able to talk, and give you some practical wisdom? One of the things we've been able to build in the oversight team, is the ability to speak into one another's life, very openly, very freely; but it starts when you are willing to do that.

Think about this: when Jesus came, His own town didn't receive Him; because they said: that's just a carpenter's son. Who's He? Doesn't know anything. You understand, you can miss God speaking into your life, when someone who's a person in the flesh, says something you don't like, in a way you don't like; but it may still be God. I had to learn early in my Christian walk, that sometimes the way people presented things to me was pretty appalling; but it didn't mean there wasn't some truth in it, I needed to hear; and it's very easy to get offended when God's trying to talk to you through a person, by the vessel, and miss the message that God's trying to speak to you. How many of you can think of an experience, where you've turned away from someone speaking to you, it turns out that was really God trying to get a hold of you? There'd be heaps of us like that.

Okay, so here's the last one you could think about. One of the things I think really helps, is to continually affirm my trust and confidence, that God is leading me. I declare this over you. Thank You Lord, today I hear Your voice clearly, and I instantly obey. Continue to affirm your trust, God leads. His job is to lead, ours is just to follow; so I pray the 23rd Psalm: Thank You Lord, You are my shepherd, and I go through the verse - You lead me in right paths, for Your own name's sake. So I begin to declare it, and acknowledge it, and make my default position: hey, God is leading me, whether I'm aware of it or not, whether it sounds clear or not, I'm convinced that God is directing me, and leading me. Thank You Lord, You are leading me. This is my declaration, I follow You. When You speak, I instantly obey. I thank You today, I hear Your voice clearly.

Start to frame the spiritual environment, by speaking out. Silence doesn't build anything. Speak words that build, so that you affirm and build up. Then the last one I found is: follow the plan. Follow either: the last thing that God told you to do; or what you had written down in your plan. So if you've got a plan for building your finances, and you're struggling on the way a little bit, just stick with the plan, follow the plan. Don't make a big swerve. God spoke to you about something, don't make any changes. Just follow that, until you've got through on that area. Don't be without some sense of direction; so God requires us to make plans, and to listen to Him. Put the two together: you make your plan, you pray over your plan, and then stick with it. Just stick with it; then if God is not speaking, that's okay. If He wants to change the plan, He'll speak to you at some point on the way; but at least don't just sit there passively, waiting for something to happen. We need to be quite proactive in this business of seeking God, listening for His voice. Can we say Amen to that?

Alright then, this is what I want you to do, before we finish up. I'll minister and pray for a few people in a moment, but what I want to do is this. I want to ask you two questions. Here's the first question: How has God been speaking to you, in this last half an hour to 45 minutes? What has God been saying to you? In other words, what impressed you? Now take it right back through the beginning of the meeting. Ten o'clock we came in to meet with God. Now what touched you, impressed you, spoke into your heart, in that last hour and a half? What? Try to think about it for a moment. What is it touched you? What is it impressed your heart? What is it you would say: perhaps I felt God speaking to me, touching me about something? I felt a stir, I felt a pressure, I felt perhaps: oh, that's a challenge, I felt something really go right into me, I just felt something inside me leap? What is it that you felt? What is it that God did?

Then here's the second question. What steps will you take, to act on that? If you can't answer it, just sit still for a little while, and just listen to the voice of your heart, listen for a thought to come up. Let's practice listening to God. You may not know the Lord, but something may have touched you and impressed you today. What did you feel God was saying to you? What will you do about that now? What steps will you take to act on what God showed you?

Summary Notes

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1. Introduction
· Jn.10:27 My Sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
· We all have the ability to hear the voice of God.
· To follow Jesus we must be able to hear His voice, recognise when He is speaking.
· He speaks to us in many ways, and through may different channels.
e.g. Bible; Messages preached; People; Counsellors; Circumstances.
· We can develop and cultivate our ability to hear His voice in our spirit.

2. What Happens When God Seems Silent?
· Ps.28:1 “…Do not be silent to me, lest if you are silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit.”
· God always responds to us but not always what we want or when we want.
· It can be “very troubling” when you asked direction – but no reply
You listened for His voice – but no response
You need help – but God seems silent
· When God seems silent and does not seem to respond to us it is very easy to:
Wonder if you have missed his direction
Feel angry and resentful
Think God has rejected or abandoned you
Become discouraged and maybe depressed.
· 2 Chron.32:31 “God withdrew from him in order to test him to know what was in his heart.”
- God does not leave us or abandon us. We are joined to the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:17)
- Sometimes we may not be aware of His presence or voice.
- In times when God is silent issues in our relationship with Him surface.

3. What Not to Do when God Seems Silent

(i) Don’t withdraw from your assignment
e.g. Luke 24:13
· Disciples were full of grief and disappointment
· They withdrew from their place of calling

(ii) Don’t Harbour Resentment and Blame
e.g. Jn.11:21 “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”
· Martha full of grief over her loss – blames Jesus for his delay and Lazarus’ death.
· She failed to see the bigger picture and the greater outcome – resurrection.

(iii) Don’t Harbour Offence against God
e.g. Lk. 7:20-23 “Blessed is he that is not offended in me”
· John expected God to move – expected Jesus to get him out of prison.
· When God does not do what we expect it is easy to be disappointed and harbour offense.

(iv) Don’t Harbour fear and anxiety and act presumptuously
e.g. 1 Sam. 13:4-11 “When I saw …. I felt compelled and offered a burnt offering”
· Saul faced mounting problems, loss of support, delay in God speaking.
· Out of insecurity he asked presumptuously – fear and anxiety dominated his emotions and he tried to control the situation.

(v) Don’t Strive to “Help God Out”
e.g. Gen 16:1-3, 11-12 “You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. shall be a wild man”
· Consider the problems in the Middle East – the descendants of Ishmael.
· Abraham was 10 years in Canaan waiting for promised child.
· God gave direction but didn’t speak about famine (Gen. 12:10) or delay.
· Abraham was 86 when had Ishmael (Gen.16:16) and 100 when had Israel (Gen. 2:5).
· He came up with his own idea to help fulfil God’s purpose.
· The consequences of our Ishmaels are painful.

4. What to Do when God Seems Silent

(i) Examine Your Relationship with the Lord (Is.59:1-2)
· Any sin? What did God last say? Doing it?
· Any compromise? God spoke but thought it was only a person
e.g. Acts 27 – Paul

(ii) Strengthen Yourself in the Lord (1 Sam.30:6)
· Pour out your heart, feelings, pain, struggles
· Remember past victories and experiences
· Meditate in the Word of God on His faithfulness

(iii) Seek Wisdom (Eph.5:15)
· When not hearing from God and Bible not clear on the issue : seek wisdom
· Counsel of wise friends (proven track record) (Prov.12:15)
· Continue to ask God for wisdom (Jam.1:5)
· Set aside time in the presence of God to wait on Him.

(iv) Affirm Your Trust in the Lord (Prov.3:5)
· Don’t draw back – constantly affirm your trust in His faithfulness.
· Follow the peace in your heart. (Col.3:15)

(v) Stick with the Plan
· For a time doing the last thing the Lord said.
· Follow through your own plans – don’t be passive
· Application
1. What did the Holy Spirit speak to you about today? – what impressed you?
2. What steps will you take to respond to this?
3. Pray for one another.

Evidence of Your Discipleship (6 of 6)  

Sun 16 Dec 2012 AM « Back to Top

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By this shall all men know you're My disciples: your love for one another. If you won't let me wash your feet, you won't have a part with Me. I am a foot washer. Those who follow Me are foot washers. Sometimes Jesus doesn't do the foot washing directly, He does it through a member of the body, so we need relationships, connections.

Evidence of Your Discipleship (6 of 6)

I want you to open your Bible at John, Chapter 13. We've been speaking on following Jesus, and I still feel that that's what God is speaking about: following Jesus, listening to Him. We talked about hearing His voice. Everyone is following something. We're either following Jesus, or we're following something else, or someone else. The challenge of our life is to follow Jesus, and to finish our course passionately following Him, and following His lead. Jesus said: if you follow Me, I will make you to become a fisher of men; so we get the picture straight away, if you are followers of Jesus, you will be vitally interested in people. It just goes hand in hand.

But I want to speak today, and just share a message on: the Evidence of Your Discipleship. There's probably a lot of things that give evidence we're disciples of Jesus, but there's one that He actually makes unmistakable; and I want to get this right out there, so we could put a checklist: am I a disciple of Jesus? Am I a disciple of Jesus? How many would say: yes, I am? Okay then, well let's look at what Jesus said it meant, to be a disciple of Him. So we look in John 13:34-35, He said: a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; in the same way I've loved you, you love one another. By this will all know you're My disciples: if you have love, one for another.

So Jesus clearly, unmistakeably, identifies the evidence you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Now notice some of the things it is not. He does not say: anointing and authority indicates you're a disciple; because you can have a gift, and be totally disconnected from Jesus, just operating in faith. He does not say: position or title means that you are a disciple of Jesus. You can be a Pastor, and still not be a disciple of Jesus. Think about it. He does not say: healings and miracles following you, indicates you're a disciple of Jesus; because He said to those in Matthew 7: we did signs and wonders in your name; He said: I never knew you. It does not mean that if I'm being blessed and prospering, that I'm a disciple of Jesus, because there are people in many countries suffering, enduring hardship, losing their lives. They are not being blessed, as we would measure it, in terms of finances and external things.

It does not mean Bible study and prayer; so you can be studying your Bible and praying, and still not be a disciple of Jesus. It does not mean spiritual experiences, visions or angelic encounters. You can be having all of those, and still not be a disciple of Jesus. You're just having experiences - wonderful experiences; but I remember in revival, some of the people had the most powerful experiences. I remember two of them at least, ended up in jail, because of the terrible things in their life. They were not followers of Jesus. They enjoyed experiences with Him, but were not followers of Him, they were not His disciples. So we look at all of those, so how can you tell? Here it is. It's so clear. This is how you know. There's only one way you can know: that you love one another! It's really quite simple isn't it, that you love; so in other words, how we relate to the person next to you, and others in the body of Christ, and how we treat them - that's how you know if you're a disciple or not.

You can call yourself a Christian, but in the Bible, the term Christian was reserved for disciples. We've gone and got this loose thing now; but you see, Jesus made it very clear, it's actually the one thing that speaks more than anything is this. It's the quality of the relationships, and the way we treat one another. This is where the evidence of discipleship is seen; because sin fractured relationship with God, relationship with one another; the evidence of the work of Christ in our life redeeming us, is in our relationships, and treatment of one another. Last week we had a message, a very powerful message on unity, on how you grieve the Holy Spirit, or we can stop Him moving totally; and become anti the Holy Spirit, not through our worship necessarily, or our Bible studies or meetings; but by how we treat one another.

Okay, so let's move on. Notice it says 'one another.' Now He's talking about fellow followers of Christ; not talking about the world now. He's saying: the way believers treat one another, is the evidence of whether they're a follower of Christ or not. Isn't that amazing? Treat one another. Jesus spoke to Paul, in Acts 9:4-5; He said: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? Now what we tend to do is this. We separate Jesus from His church; and we say: it's okay to love Jesus, but I can treat people like I like. It doesn't work that way. Jesus said, when Paul was persecuting the church, He said: you are persecuting Me. Can't get it clearer, so think about this. You can love on Jesus on a Sunday, but if you're horrible to a believer on Monday, you're not a follower of Christ. There's a shallowness to your walk with God. There's no overflow, or evidence outwardly, that Jesus is looking for. This is the fruit He's looking for. He's looking for changes in how we treat one another.

Now we're in John 13, so let's have a look at the key passage I want to go through, and I want to show you something about what loving one another might look like. Now there's a whole heap of one-anothers in the Bible. We're just going to look here, at one in particular: I want to look at the aspect of foot washing. Love is incredibly practical. Love washes feet. Now we're not going to get into bringing a bowl out, and washing someone's feet, so don't worry about that, it's not going to happen. I'll tell you why in a moment - so John 13:1, and it says: before the Feast of Passover, when Jesus knew His hour had come, that He would depart from this world to the Father - now notice this - having loved His own, that were in the world, He loved them to the end. Now what He's going to do now, is what love looks like, so watch what He does.

And the supper being ended, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him. So without any doubt, Judas Iscariot has already got betrayal in his heart, he's already got demonic seed in his heart; and then it says: Jesus, knowing that the Father had given everything into His hands, He had come from the Father, and was going to God. He was secure where He came from, where He was going to, and in His identity; He rose from the supper, laid aside His garments, took on a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water in a basin, began to wash the disciple's feet, and wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter, and Simon said: Lord, are You washing my feet? And He answered, and said: what I'm doing, you don't understand now, you will know this afterwards. Peter said to Him: You'll never wash my feet; and Jesus answered Him, He stood up to him, and said: if I don't wash you, you have no part with Me. Now notice that's a very important statement.

Then He goes on, He said: he who is bathed, needs only to wash his feet, he's completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you; for He knew who would betray Him. So, see He said: you're not all clean. And when He'd washed their feet, and taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them: do you know what I've done? He said: you call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for that's what I am. But, He said, if I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; then you also need to wash one another's feet. I have given you an example, that you should do, as I've done to you; so assuredly I tell you this: a servant isn't more important or greater than his master. The one sent, is not greater than the one who sent him; and so He said: if you know these things, you are blessed in the doing of it. Not knowing it, doing it. It's in the doing, that the blessing flows; so let's just pull the passage apart, because there's some important things.

Now the first thing you need to see is, love does not focus on position, or title, or role, or function. Love focuses instead, on serving. It's the nature of the king. Notice what it says. Notice there, where the people were, they'd come in; and of course they didn't have nice roads and cars like we have, just had dusty roads, and people walk with sandals; so they would come in, and the one part of everyone's body that got very, very dirty was the feet. The feet got dirty, so you could imagine what it's like. Any of you have had a day out there, and you come back in, take your shoes off and get a whiff of it, you know what dirty is like. Now they would walk, and they had animals on the road, so they'd pick up all kinds of animal droppings, they would pick up dust and mud and grime and everything. They'd come in, and their feet are dirty and messy; and so it was normally the custom that there would be a bowl of water provided, people would wash their own feet; or the lowest gentile servant would come and wash their feet for them; so that was the normal custom.

So you notice that this was the lowest job. Now here's the interesting thing. Jesus had revealed His power and authority. See, up to this point, they've seen the miracles: people raised from the dead, oh great! See water turned to wine - oh great! Oh, we've seen the bread multiply, oh, that is fantastic! They've seen all kinds of miracles, all kinds of healings. What they hadn't seen, is the nature of the King; what moves it all. See people see power, and miracles, and signs, and these are wonderful, I love them - but you've got to look past that, and see what the core nature of the kingdom is. The power - the Bible doesn't say: God is power. It says: God is love. Power, is how He expresses the love; but that's not the only way love is expressed; and so now Jesus does something that stuns them. He exposes the pride, and the carnal way of thinking they had, about positions and titles and so on. What He does is, He reveals to them, and this is what He did, He washed their feet. He revealed the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom we're part of, is a foot-washing kingdom. Now I'll get to what that means in just moment. It's a foot-washing kingdom. He gave up heaven, and came to earth, and just served. Now He just takes off His clothing, His outer clothing, puts on servant's clothing. He's the Lord, He's the master, He's the rabbi, He's the miracle worker, He's the one everyone comes to; yet He takes it all off, and just goes and washes their feet.

This is a total challenge to thinking. Now you think about this. How could God, come to earth, and wash my feet? Jesus said: the things I do, are what I see the Father doing. How could it be, that an amazing or powerful Almighty God, would not only create the world, but when my life got into a mess, into sin, into all kinds of uncleanness and defilement, He would come and wash my feet? It defies belief, because it's so contrary to the way we see authority and power; and how we see it manifest in the earth. It is completely different. God is not interested - He has ranks and titles and so on - but that is not what the kingdom is about. It's about a nature of love, that shows itself through serving, and entering people's world, where they're dirty and messy; and doing something to help their world become a better place. It's not about literal foot washing. The foot washing part was of the culture of the day. It's not what we do today, but the foot washing that He was - He was trying to teach them something. He didn't say: do what I did. He said do 'as' I did. In other words, understand what is behind this, moving it, and then do that. Getting the idea?

Okay, so number one, love focuses on serving; not on position and title. He wasn't concerned about that at all. Secondly - now get this one, this is a really good one: love is not selective, in its foot washing. This is a very big one. This is a very big one for the church. Love is not selective in the foot washing. Most of our foot washing, we're selective. I'll show you what I mean by 'not selective'. Notice this: position-minded people are incredibly selective in who they serve. So I will come, and I will serve this person, if it looks like serving them, will get me ahead. I will come and I'll serve - no, I won't serve this person. I'll come and serve this person; that's a Pastor, now that might help me, that might help me get ahead. See? Or whatever, yeah. So what happens is, people judge the value of others; and whether serving them, will help them get ahead, and get me an advancement. I've seen it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again; people using their serving, as a way to advance their own case, and their own position. Literally, in other words, their serving has got a self-centred agenda, to get them ahead somewhere; and you'll find with people like that, that the moment you cease to get them ahead, they will stop serving you; because the serving never came from love. It always came from: I want something from you.

It was never love; it was trading. I give you, you give me something; and even if they never said: you give me; there was always an expectation. Now notice this, when you look into the story - I've read it clearly, and tried to highlight as I was reading it - did you notice that Jesus knew who would betray Him, that He absolutely knew Judas, not only that he was a thief, and he was stealing regularly and ripping the money off from Him; but he had it in his heart, right there at that point in time, that he'd already consulted, and he already had it in his heart, to betray Him. Now you ask yourself this: most serving is done to get someone somewhere; or, it's because people deserve it. We may not serve just to get ourselves somewhere, but usually we think: we'll serve and do something nice, if the person deserves it. If they deserve it, I'll do it; if they don't deserve it, I don't do it. Now did Judas deserve what he got? He got God Himself, in the flesh, came and knelt at the foot of a betrayer, and washed his feet; knelt at the foot of a thief, and washed his feet. How can you do that?

I mean sometimes people do the slightest little thing, and we get so tiffed-off and so upset, we don't even want to know them anymore. Jesus was able to go to them, and washed his feet, knowing there's betrayal in his heart. Not only that, He was able to take a piece of bread and dip it, put it in a pot, dip it and then give it to him as a sign of friendship; and give him another chance to come clean, that there was treachery in his heart. When you look through the Bible, the Bible speaks about many, many sins, and of course people kind of got them all ranked; and there's many different ranks of sins, but the number one sin, that is the biggest sin of all in the Bible is this - in my opinion - and this is what it is. It is covenant-breaking, breaching covenantal relationship. That is the number one, in God's eyes. You can get away with a lot of things, but you don't get away with that. God is a covenant keeper, not a covenant breaker. Now this man Judas was in connection and relationship, it was a covenantal relationship. He breached it by stealing; he breached it because stealing and lying to together, by lying; and then he breached it by finally selling Jesus out. Yet Jesus washed his feet. That's what love in the kingdom looks like. It still can go to people who are messed up, and are doing things that are bad for you, and show kindness to them. It still can serve people, in spite of the fact that you see right through them, and see what's going on in their life.

Most of us, if we see something in a person, then we avoid them or turn away from them; but Jesus came and washed their feet. Notice what He's saying: this is the example I want you guys to get a hold of. This is what the church needs to get a hold of; instead of looking at what's wrong in people's lives, and seeing the things that are lacking and faults; and then deciding whether they deserve this, or deserve not. We should actually come to the conclusion: I love, because that's who I am; that's what I've got out of my relationship with God. I'm a loving person, I'm a generous person. Never give because people just have a need, or because I feel good; always give because that's what I am - I'm a giver, it's who I am.

Jesus was not selective. Can you serve a person, knowing they've been speaking behind your back? Can you serve someone, knowing that they've done something unkind to you? See, think about it aye? Can you serve someone who's talking to your enemies? Can you? What stops you? This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus; it's overcoming all that stuff, and drawing from Him. Now you'll see the significance of His next statements that He made, so Jesus was not selective and partial. He's serves everyone, and this is the thing that church people get stuck with. We think that God's just nice to the nice people; and He's judging, and He's got a down on the bad people - not at all. He loves every person, and He does actually some wonderful things to people who don't even know Him. It's something we could learn from isn't it aye?

Okay, so loving service. When you love like this you uncover pride. Notice what Peter did? He said straight away: Lord, You're washing my feet, stop it! You'll never wash my feet. So notice this, that pride - see when Jesus went down, and He knelt at Peter's feet, and began to wash his feet, Peter's got two problems come up, and they've all got pride around them. Number one, Jesus is throwing out His leadership paradigm. He's thinking: leadership means power, position, high, up, up, up and he's looking to get up, up, up, up and higher with Jesus. Now Jesus has blown it all out, and He's taking the lowest role, and He's washing his feet. He couldn't cope with it, because it blew out his thinking, of what it is to be great.

The second thing is, because of pride, he couldn't receive. Pride will stop us receiving other's ministering to our needs. We would rather be independent, go it alone. Now a lot of men know this one, when it comes to asking for directions. [Laughter] No, no, I can find the way, I'll find the way. She knows you're lost, and haven't got a clue; but you still won't consult the map. That's just pride: inability to actually admit there's a need, and have someone minister to it. See, so that's what he did, and notice Jesus held His ground. So pride loves recognition of position, and looking good before men, but you see pride resists the uncovering of it's dirty feet, and having someone serve it. I wonder what part of your life is dirty. I wonder who's got dirty feet; there's some part of your life that's dirty, but you're resistant to opening it up to anyone to help you. That's tragic. It's as good as Peter saying: no, no, no, no, no, I'll do it myself, leave it to me, no.

Okay, here's the next thing: Love is actually revealed in the foot washing. Notice what Jesus said. He said there straight away, He said - notice this statement: if I don't wash you, you've got no part with Me - number one; two, He said: you call Me Teacher and Lord, and it's well, but if I your Lord, have washed your feet, you ought to do that one another. I've set the example and the pace, so here's the first thing: will you let Jesus wash your feet? Now when we say 'Jesus washing your feet', He's not going to get a basin and come down, not that at all. Basically, will you let Jesus have access to the dirt in your life, to bring cleansing? Now it's impossible that we don't get dirty feet. You walk out of there, you'll just have the TV on, something will come up, you'll walk past and there's something advertised; and then someone gives you a bad mouth or a bad attitude, someone swears at you. Listen, you can't go through life without being dirtied. That's how it is.

Jesus said: you're already clean, you don't need everything else washed, just need your feet. That's your walk. It's your day to day life. Now most of us find we have experiences, you get hurt, you get disappointed, you get upset by people, you get let down by people, you have negative encounters with people. You have people with tough attitudes, negative attitudes, bad attitudes; and you pick up dirt. You go out there, it's impossible not to be exposed to some sexual uncleanness. It's just there everywhere, so wherever we go, we get out feet dirty; and Jesus is saying this, He said: if you won't let Me wash you, wash your feet, you can't be part with Me. Now He's not saying, you can't get to heaven. He's talking about the fruit that comes out of being a follower of Christ. Following Christ means we let Him have access to the dirt.

Here's the part that's a bit harder to take. You see, sometimes Jesus doesn't do the foot washing directly, He does it through a member of the body; so now, can I open my dirt to Jesus? Yeah, well I talk to Him about my problems. Alright then, so I'm not shifting in my life. Now can I go to a person in the body of Christ, and expose my dirty feet, and let them serve me and minister to me? That requires humility, accountability, openness. You won't let me wash your feet, you won't have a part with Me. In other words, He's saying: your portion of what God has intended for you to bring forth, in terms of fruit and blessing, will not happen as it would do, if you let this happen. That's the first thing.

Second thing, so will you open your life? [Laughs] Let someone speak into your life? Are you accountable in any way? I've got relationships with people where they speak into me, where we can put anything on the table, we can talk about anything, and they can talk about anything to me. I've got that set in my life. It's the most wonderful thing to have happen, most wonderful thing that happens. It's a safe place to be in, and I've welcomed them speaking in you see, because what it does, it means they can wash my feet, they can say what I didn't see, or point out what I'm overlooking, or don't want to face.

See, it's not just about Jesus washing your feet. He washes through His people, so we need relationships, connections. If you're a solo Christian, your running, and you're not connected to a group of people, in a meaningful relationship of building together, you probably are not having your feet washed. Ooh, getting quiet, okay - here's the last one then. Okay [laughs] well then, so now the first one, He said: if you don't let Me was your feet you're in trouble. Now what He says is: I've set you the example. I've set the pace. I am a foot washer. Those who follow Me, are foot washers. He said now listen, He said: I'm the master, is that right? Everybody say: Jesus is the Lord? [Yes.] Okay, if the Lord can serve and wash feet, what excuse does the servant have, not to wash feet? That's what He's saying there. If the Lord of the house can wash feet, what excuse do we, who serve Him have, for not washing feet? None whatsoever; and then He puts it a second way. He said: the sent person, is not greater than the one who sent them; so we are first of all servants of the Lord, and we are sent. We are sent, into a body; to serve and foot wash in the body. We're also sent into community, to serve and foot wash in the community; and we're not greater than Jesus. If anyone is, let me meet him - we'll appoint him the next senior leader, be great. [Laughter] It'd be great - but it's not so.

So what He is saying, simply is this: I've set the pace what it looks like in My kingdom, and that is, you become a foot washer. Now let's just look at what that looks like. I'll finish with this, and just ask you to think about this: How are you serving? By foot washing, it means you actually become available through relationship, through interest, through commitment, to connect into where something is dirty and messy, get involved with it, and serve to make it better. So that at one level could be just: do you have any people that you're connecting with, about the issues of their life, which are messy and dirty and painful, and grief; to actually engage them, and encourage them, and love them, and help them? Oh not my problem, I'm not a counsellor. Okay, alright, no foot washing, alright, okay. See? Have you moved on from serving? Now many have moved on. Well I've moved on now. Really? What have you moved to? [Laughter] See you can't move on from serving, when serving under-girds everything in the kingdom. Well I've moved on into my ministry. Oh really? What about ordinary serving, and washing feet? Well I've moved on, I'm in prayer now. Oh really? Well what about meeting people, and serving, and washing their feet? Well I've moved on. I've moved on.

Well what about the children, that need someone to invest in them, and to sow into their lives? Well I've moved on, that's not my thing. Well what about the young people, that need someone to help them and engage with them, and listen to them and talk with them; find out what's going on in their life and help them through engagement? That's not my ministry, I've moved on. Oh, well what about just greeting at the church, and making people feel welcome? It's not my ministry, I've moved on, I'm into deeper things brother. [Laughter] Well they're too deep for me I'm afraid; too deep, far too deep. You see never, do we ever lose the capacity, to just wash the feet. You know I make it a practice: I just go wash dishes, clean the toilets; because we never lose being a servant. If you lose or promote beyond that, you've lost what it takes to be where you are, anyway. You're now in a position in a thing.

One of the things that people found hard to fathom me out on, one issue is that I can let go a position or a role. I've been leader of a movement. People could not understand why I let go the leadership of the movement. I said: well it's simple - Jesus called me to serve, and now He's told me to do something different, it's quite simple. I picked it up, and did it with all my passion; now it's time to change, and I put it down again. It's quite simple. My life is not in the role. My life is in Him. It's not so hard to do that, and then what about other things? Well you can still help people, and go clean up for them and fix them up, or go round and help them with a meal, or do something. See, none of us can move away from foot washing. If you've gone beyond foot washing, you are too far out there to be any use to anyone; and here's one thing we can absolutely declare: you are not a disciple of Jesus.

To disciple, to be a disciple, means an imitator and a copier of a teacher; and He's just put it out there real clearly. He gets busy in people's lives where it's messy, dirty, not pleasant. It's difficult, there's hardship, heartache, all kinds of messes; and He engages them and serves them. What a challenge for us! Are you a disciple of Jesus, or did you slip and move on beyond the foot washing? Maybe today, we could just in our heart, make a decision: I'm coming back to foot washing; and this is why you need Jesus to wash your feet, because we do get attitudes, we do get uppity, we do get disappointed, we do get tired, we do get all these things come in. Then we just stop washing feet. That's why, if you don't keep coming to Him, and let Him wash you; you don't have what it takes, to wash the feet of others. You think: well, they don't deserve it anyway, I'm not going to do that. See, rather than saying: oh, I've just come out of the presence of an Almighty loving God, and He touched me! Oh, that thing He gave grace, and love to me; I have got to overflow to someone!

Here's the thing. I'll finish with this one. If you can't do it in the church you're a part of, I don't think it's going to happen anywhere; because here's the deal: we've all got grand ideas, but at the end, it's the person next to you; like this one, and this one here - I'm not going to wash his feet, no. [Laughter] You see immediately, I've missed the point. It's actually the people around us here, it's our children, it's our single parents, it's our widows, it's our older people, it's out there in the crèche, it's out there in the car park. It's just very, very simple, but all of us need to say: I'll be a foot washer; and I can take my gift, and use it to bless someone. What about your ministry? Here's the thing. Whatever ministry you have, if you haven't got foot washing in your heart, it'll never succeed greatly. It can't. It's missing the empowerment of the servant heart. Amen.

Father, we just honour You, thank You. We thank You for this day. We thank You for all You're doing in our lives, and we just ask Lord, that you help us to come back to the place, of firstly letting You wash our feet. Just while our eyes are closed and heads are bowed, maybe someone here who doesn't know Jesus, this would be a great day to open your life, to let Him in to the mess that's in there; and to allow Him to bring forgiveness and cleansing. Maybe you're here today, and it's been a long time since you let Jesus wash your feet, or let anyone talk into your life; in fact you've got all this stuff going on in your life, you haven't talked to anyone about it. It hasn't changed, so you think, that you're bringing it to the Lord, and praying about it, is going to change it. If you've been doing that for years, and it hasn't changed, I don't think so. I think you need to talk to someone else who you can trust, and say: I've got something in my life, I need to bring out to the open, and I'd like you to pray for me and stand with me, and believe with me, and help me. You know I would pray that there'd be many people would say: well I'd count it a privilege to walk with you, and wash your feet. Maybe there's some today need to just come back to the place, out of that place of pride, and say: God, I've just lost the foot washing out of my life. Lord, restore it again.

Maybe for some of us here today God's spoken to you about serving, about in some way washing the feet of the saints, ministering to people, using your home, using your gift, using whatever you have. Find a way that you can engage in the work of serving God's people. That's where it starts. By this shall all men know you're My disciples: your love for one another.

Father, make Your spirit just rest on us. We thank You for each person here. So my last question to you is this: what did you feel impressed you today, that you felt the Holy Ghost was speaking to you? What will you do about it? I'd like you just to pray with someone next to you, and just share what God was speaking to you; and just pray with them, as they share with you, what God was speaking to them. Let's pray and agree together, that God would help us, become outstanding at foot washing.

Summary Notes

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1. Introduction
· Jesus calls each of us to follow Him.
· Mk.1:17-18 “Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of Men”.
· How could we know we are followers of Christ? His disciples?

2. Love: The Evidence of Our Discipleship
Jn.13:34-35 “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
· Jesus identifies clearly the evidence that we are followers of Christ.
· Note: Not anointing or authority Not Bible Study or prayer
Not position or title Not spiritual revelations or experiences
Not healings or miracles Not visions, dreams, angels
Not blessing or prosperity
· The Evidence: How we relate to and treat “one another”
· Love flows from humility of heart and is seen in practical acts of serving and kindness.
· “One Another” = fellow Christians – members of the same church body, wider church.
· Acts 9:4-5 Saul, Saul – why are you persecuting ‘Me’
Jesus identifies closely with His people – Do to them = do to Me!

3. Love is Practical – Love washes Feet

(a) Key Passage: Jn. 13:1-17 “He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

(b) Love focuses on Serving not Position and Title
Jn 13:1-5 “He laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded himself.
· All the roads were dry and dirty where people walked.
· Feet were usually the dirtiest part of a person’s body.
· Foot washing was the lowest job in the household – kneeling to wash feet.
· Either water was offered and people washed self or a Gentile servant did the job.
· Jesus had revealed his anointing and authority – impressive miracles and power.
· Now he demonstrates the character and nature behind the power and authority.
· He again exposes the pride, positional thinking of His followers.
· He gave up heaven to come to earth – soon he will give up His ministry.
· vs1 He loved them till the end – Love washes feet!

(c) Love is Not Selective in Foot Washing
Jn.13:2,11 “He knew who would betray Him!” Also vs 25-26
· Position minded people are very selective in serving.
- Can you get me ahead? - Do you have influence I want?
- Can you benefit me personally? - Can I use this serving to impress you?
· Judas betrayal caused personal turmoil for Jesus vs21
· Can you serve a person - who harbours evil in their heart?
- who cannot be trusted with money or friendship?
- who is in communication with your enemies?
· Jesus washed Judas feet; Jesus dipped bread and gave it to him.
· Jesus washed the dirt off Judas feet and demonstrated friendship toward him.
· Love is Not Selective and partial – Love is a decision to serve the undeserving.

(d) Loving Service uncovers Pride
Jn 13:6-10 “Lord are you washing my feet? – “You shall never wash my feet!”
· Jesus knelt at Peter’s feet, exposed the dirt and began to wash his feet.
· Peter reacted and resisted Jesus serving him.
(i) Peter’s leadership paradigm shattered – Jesus the leader stooped to the lowest job.
(ii) He was unwilling to submit and receive – “You shall never wash my feet”.
· Jesus held his ground and refused to back down on foot washing.
· Pride wants recognition, position, wants to look good before men.
· Pride resists uncovering its dirty feet and receiving from another.

(e) Love is revealed by Foot Washing
· Love gets involved in the dirt in people’s lives and generously serves.
· Jesus revealed the nature of His Kingdom and its requirements.

(i) Will you let Jesus Wash Your Feet?
v8 “If I do not wash you – you have no part with me!”
· Not literal “foot washing”
· Will you let Jesus have access to the “dirt” in your life?
· Dirt – anything foul, filthy – mud, grime, dust, excrement.
· Dirt – grief’s, disappointments, hurts, offenses, attitudes, defiling words, bitterness and hardness of people, sexual uncleanness.
NB Will you open your life daily to expose to the Holy Spirit – repentance, confess
NB Will you open your life to Jesus in his people washing your feet?
- Speak into your life, correct, confront, hold you accountable.

(ii) Will You Wash the Feet of One Another?
Jn. 13:14-17 “You also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I have given you an example…”
· “I am Lord, I have washed feet – are you greater than Me? Paraphrased
· ‘Foot washing’ is part of being a servant, part of being sent.”
· How are you serving? How are you serving our local church?
· Are you selective? Serving only if it is “deserved” or an advantage personally?
· Have you “moved on from serving” and become self-important?
· Are you involved with the dirt in others’ lives – washing their feet through words and acts of kindness, speaking the truth?

Are You a Footwasher?


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