“Luke 8:4-15 "
One of the most basic claims
of Christianity is that God speaks to people. All through the Bible you see
the phrase, "And God said..." Pretty soon you get the idea
that God really does speak to people. God wants to have a relationship with
you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. There is no
relationship without communication. God has chosen to speak to us.
The problem is communication
is often misunderstood. When my wife speaks to me I often, a) don't hear it,
and b) misunderstand it. I'm sure I'm the only man that ever felt that way!
Men, there are two things you need to understand about women.... and nobody knows
what they are! If I have that much difficulty with my wife who I spend my
entire life with and love and know and still we don't always communicate
clearly, how much should you expect there to be communication problems with
God? There are communication problems with God.
Some people think that
pastors always understand exactly what God wants us to do. That's not true. I
am often as confused as everybody else about what is God saying, what is God
trying to say. Some of you think I have a little red telephone in my library
and I pick up the God-phone. God tells me what to say to you and I talk with
him that way. God does not send me e‑ mail. He doesn't send me
telegrams. I don't have a fax of God. Sometimes I'm just as much in the dark
about hearing God as you are.
On the other hand, there are
times in my life when God speaks when I have no doubt at all that God is
speaking to me. Just like when my wife calls me on the phone, I don't have to
ask who it is -- I know her voice. There are times when God speaks to me when
I know exactly who it is, who's putting that idea in my mind. I know where
that impression is coming from.
What makes the difference?
The difference is attitude.
This morning we're beginning
a new series I'm calling, "How to Hear God Speak". Nothing is more
important to you than understanding that God wants to talk to you and that you
can actually hear Him if you just tune in. Jesus once said in Luke 8:8, "He
who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Get your ears on! You've got to
be tuned in order to hear God speak.
We all have cell phones.
Sometimes you get a call and and it's not real clear, you have a lot of static
and noise, you hang up and call the person back and then all of a sudden it's
crystal clear. Many times, God has spoken to you, but it hasn't come through
crystal clear because you're not on the right channel.
Jesus told the story in Luke
8, a parable, in which He says, Let me explain to you that it's all about
mental attitude. There are four kinds of attitudes that will depend whether
you get the message clearly from God or whether you don't. This is so
important. Obviously, if you can tune into God He can direct you, He can save
you a lot of time from making wrong mistakes, He can comfort you when you need
comfort, He can guide you, and so on.
So He says, Let me tell you a
story. There was a farmer who goes out to sow seed and as he went out to sow
seed, his seed scattered all over in different types of soil. Back in the
Middle East in the old days they didn't plant one seed per spot and cover it up
with dirt. They did what was called broadcasting. A farmer would have a pouch
on his side filled with seed and, as he'd walk through the field which he had
already tilled, he would toss it out, scattering it. That's where we get the
term broadcasting from. Obviously some of the seed falls on good soil and some
of it doesn't. He says these four soils represent four mental attitudes.
They're not four kinds of people, but actually all of us have been all four of
these types. We vary from them from time to time. Sometimes we're very open
to God to what He wants to say to us. Sometimes we're very closed.
How do I hear God speak to
1. I MUST CULTIVATE AN
I've got to want to hear from
God, be eager, be receptive. I've got to be ready and willing to hear God.
Some of you today are not believers. You're seekers. You're checking out
Christ. We welcome you here. We're glad you're here. Others of you are new
believers. Others have been believers for many years. But if I were to ask
you, Have you ever heard God speak to you? there are many of you who would say,
"I can't think of a time in my life where I ever actually heard God speak
to me." I'm not talking about an audible voice, but an impression in your
mind that you knew that is from God.
Why is that? One of the
possible reasons is that you've never been open to the possibility of it.
Maybe you didn't even know it was possible that God does want to speak to you
directly. You've thought maybe God doesn't speak to you and maybe you don't even
believe in that. When you've got a closed mind, obviously, God is not going to
This is the first type of
soil. v. 5 "Some seed fell on the path and it was trampled on and the
birds of the air came and ate it up....[v. 12] Those along the path are
like people who hear and then the devil comes along and takes away the word
from their hearts so they cannot believe and be saved."
On every farm, in every field
there's a footpath that the farmer would walk down. As he went he would sow the
seed out onto the land that was tilled. There are two characteristics of a
footpath. One, they're hardened because of the constant traffic of people
walking. The soil is compacted and it's not fertile and tilled like the
field. It's hard. The other thing about a path is it's narrow.
Do you know anybody like
that? They're closed minded, narrow minded, hard hearted. They're not even
open to the possibility that God might speak to them. As a result, Jesus says
the farmer sows seed but it can't penetrate because it's hard and compacted. It
can't take route, it can't sprout, it just lays on the surface of the ground
and the birds come along and eat it. It never even gets a chance.
This is true with us many of
the times. God wants to speak to us, but He doesn't even get a chance because
our minds are closed, our hearts are hardened, we've made up our mind, we're
unwilling to listen, we've already decided what we're going to do so we don't
want to hear from God. We've already decided what we're going to do in the
What causes us to have a
1. Pride. Pride causes us
to have a closed mind. When I think, "I don't need God. I don't need to
hear from God. I can make this business decision on my own. I don't need
God. I know what to say to my children.... I don't need God. I know how to
handle this date.... I don't need God. I can ace this test without
praying." Anytime you fail to pray about something, you're basically
saying, "I don't need God in this. I can handle it on my own. I can
resolve it. I can solve it. I can handle this mess. I can correct this
error. I can resolve this conflict. I don't need God." That's called
pride. When I'm full of pride, I close my mind to God and He can't get in and
say anything to me because I think I've got it all figured out. So I don't
2. Fear. Sometimes we're
just afraid of what God might say to us. What if I pray or open my mind to God
and God tells me to do something I don't want to do? He might tell me something
hard. He might tell me to do something unpopular. He might tell me to do
something I think I can't do or I don't want to do. So I'm afraid. If I let
God speak to me, I might become a religious fanatic. I'll become like one of
those nuts on TV and have to wear a bouffant hairdo! Or wear s shiny leisure
suit. And say all kinds of weird stuff. Maybe God will make me some kind of
loony religious nut. So I'm afraid. I'm afraid I'll loose my freedom. I'm
afraid I'll lose my fun. I'm afraid I'll loose my fulfillment in life. No
thanks, God. So I close my mind. Some people close their mind to God simply
out of fear.
3. Bitterness. Whenever
we've been hurt and we hold on to those hurtful memories, it causes us to close
our minds to God. We start saying things like "God, why did You allow
this? Why is this happening to me? If You're such a great loving and powerful
God, why did this happen?" You're going to be hurt in life. You will
have pain in life. This is not heaven, this is earth. God has given us a free
choice and so people are free to do wrong things and the result is innocent
people suffer. He's given us the freedom to choose. So people get hurt.
You're going to be hurt in life.
What you do with that hurt
will determine whether you become a better person or a bitter person. A bitter
life is a wasted life. When we become bitter and when we hold on to our hurts,
it only prolongs the pain. What we tend to do is ... "They hurt me so I'm
going to close myself off, build up walls, hide in my shell, and I'm not going
to let anybody get close to me. Not even God, because God let it
happen." We start blaming God for things other people did to us. As a
result, we close our mind. People who have been deeply hurt often have a hard
time opening up their minds and their hearts to God. They've held in so much
and they hurt.
I have no doubt some of you
have been deeply hurt in the past. Some of you maybe have lost a loved one,
maybe a child, a young child. You still feel that pain. Some of you as
children were verbally abused, physically abused, emotionally abused. Some of
you have known the betrayal of a spouse who was unfaithful to you and that
still hurts. Some of you have even been hurt by other people who claim to be
Christians. Or you were in a church situation and supposedly Christian people
didn't act very Christian, very Christlike. They hurt you and you got burned
in a church experience. The tendency is to say, If that's what Christianity is
all about, no thanks, God! We blame God for what other people have done to
If you have been deeply hurt
and you’re in pain, let me say one thing: don't run from God. Run to God.
He's the one who can help. He's the one who can comfort. He's the one who can
care. He's the one who can make a difference. He's the one who can bring
healing to your emotions and your body and your past. Nobody else can do
James 1:21 "Get rid
of all the moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept [circle
"accept"] the word planted in you which can save you."
Let God love you, drop your defenses and open up your mind.
The first step in hearing God
speak is I must cultivate an open mind.