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Archive for January, 2004

So recently a lot of questions have been asked regarding hearing from God. What does the voice of God sound like? How can I know if he’s really talking to me? How do I even know if he is talking to me? I think these are all very valid questions and to be honest, I don’t have all the answers (I know that may come as a shock to some of you). Therefore I can only answer you from my own personal experience and from I read in the Bible.

First of all, I have never heard God speak to me audibly. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen I’m just saying that it has never happened to me. I’ve never had a burning bush experience so I cannot really relate to that either. However, I have heard from God many times.

About three years ago I was with some of my closest friends. I don’t remember what night of the week it was but I do remember we were sitting around trying to find something to do (I’m sure you can all relate to this). This idea of going somewhere to worship popped into my head. I don’t know where it came from I just know that the thought of worshipping came into my head. Brushing if off as silliness, I tried to ignore it. I asked my friends if they wanted to see a movie or something. I pretty much suggested everything but that crazy idea of worship. Finally, since we couldn’t decide what to do, my friend Ted said, “I really feel that we should go worship somewhere.” That was exactly the same thought I had in my head, except I was too chicken to say anything. Had I heard from God? I believe I did and Ted even confirmed it by suggesting the exact same thing that I was too afraid to say.

That episode taught me several things. First, I learned that God really does talk to me. Second, I became a little more familiar with the voice of God. In the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, God spoke audibly to some people. This, however, was not the only way he spoke to them. See, the Bible tells us that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). Since God is a Spirit, we are to “worship him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). This means that our spirit communicates with the Spirit of God. Many times God will communicate with us through his Spirit and our spirit. In one place it says that we can “have an unction from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). In another place it says “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit” (Romans 8:16). So you see there that there is a lot of spirit to Spirit communication.

Part of the issue is learning to recognize the voice of God. When the Lord spoke to Elijah, he sent a mighty wind, an earthquake and a fire. But, the Word says, the Lord was not in any of these loud, demonstrative things. Afterward, the Lord spoke to Elijah in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). Then the Word also mentions that he will speak to us in visions and dreams (see: both Josephs) in Acts 2 as will as with words of wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 12). The trick is knowing which voice is the voice of God and which is not.

Here are some things that may help. First, any word from God will not violate the Bible. Because “thy word is truth” (John 17:17), we can hold up anything that we think is from God to it and use the Bible as a measuring stick. They should not contradict each other. The Bible even says to “let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (I Corinthians 14:29). Even the prophets are subject to having others judge their prophecy. If you’re not sure if what you hear is in line with the Word ask someone that you know hears from God and knows the Word. There is nothing wrong with that. By doing this you’ll become more familiar with God’s voice. Once you can even sort of recognize his voice, start following it and obeying it. The Bible says that Jesus is our Shepherd (or pastor) and “the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:4). When you start obeying it you will surely be blessed. As Pastor Jeph says, “Blessings follow obedience.” Also look for God to start “confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). After that, keep talking to God. I notice in my life that it works best in a dialogue fashion especially to questions that I have. Keep talking with him and learn to listen for his voice. Once you can start recognizing his voice, the other voices will become quieter and quieter.

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So last night I got invited to a party for my friend Ryan. Ryan was the guy that was in charge of the college group at Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church. However, tomorrow he’ll be on his way to Kona for training for a missions trip and if I’m not mistaken, they train for three months and then go on the mission field for three months. So, before he left, his parents threw him a going away party for him and a few of the other guys that are going with him. It was great and we got to pray for him and the other fellas.

On the drive home, I started thinking about this commitment. He’ll be away for six months doing the work of God. How cool is that? So here’s the question: is everyone called to do a missions trip? I mean, we go to Japan every summer (by the way if you’re interested, there’s a meeting this Sunday regarding this summer’s trip) and we have a great time, but what if you don’t think you’re called to go to a foreign place. What can you do here in your locale?

Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). While there is a need for us to go out into the nations to spread the love of God (Matthew 28:19), there is also a great need to spread God’s love here at home too. Jesus noted that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Luke 10:2). We need to be those workers.

For the last two weeks, there is a guy in my MiniChurch that has been telling us about how he has found a way to talk about God. Truth be told, he looks for those opportunities. One time he was just waiting to talk to a counselor and he managed to talk to a girl about God. The next week he had to give a two minute speech and after he talked for a bit, he ended up talking about God too. Here’s the cool thing. He doesn’t preach at people, he is just being himself. The Bible says, “open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15). That’s the attitude he has and that’s the attitude we should all have. If God will give me a chance to open my lips, my mouth will declare his praise. This week I would pray that you would all have a chance to open your mouth and spread the love of God with everyone. I trust that God will set up some divine appointments for you so when he does I want to hear about it. Let us rejoice together.

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Happy New Year everyone! So, this is 2004 huh? I’ll be honest, it kind of feels like 2003. Not too much has changed other than I have to remember to write the year correctly. However, as this is the time of year to make silly resolutions to be better, I should probably make some too. How are all of your doing with your resolutions? We’re not even two full weeks into the year and I’m not sure if I even kept any (although to my defense, I didn’t really make any yet). But I’m rambling (1st resolution: don’t ramble in these emails). Anyway, on to the point, the slogan that I’m going to live by this year is “expect more in 2004.” I know it’s been said a few times in church, but without making it a cliché, I really do expect God to do more in 2004. That means I expect to see more blessings, more miracles and mostly more testimonies of how good God is.

The other day I was talking to one of my good friends and he greeted me with the customary, “how are you?” I responded, “good.” As this is the we start most of our conversations, and I’m sure all of you can relate, his response to my response sort of caught me off guard. He said, “oh really? That’s too bad.” I asked him to explain. He said it was too bad that I was only doing good. See, to him, God is so good and wonderful and active in his life, a response of “good” isn’t that good of a response at all. Now, I’m going to take it a step further and say if anyone asks you how you are doing, don’t waste the opportunity to tell them what God is doing in your life.

Living a Christian life is not a passive activity. It is active. The Bible tells us to “declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (1 Chronicles 16:24). But in order to declare his glory and marvelous deeds we need to have either experienced them or at the very least believe them. If you haven’t gotten this far yet, just start declaring the goodness of God by faith and I guarantee that it will soon be made manifest in your life. Or as one man put it, “you’ve got to say it, before you see it.” Even Jesus knew the value of this. In his first sermon he declared that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit to “preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). He understood that he needed to tell others about they acceptable year of the Lord. There is a definite power in the spoken word. In the book of Revelation it says that they overcame the enemy “by the word of their testimony” (12:13). See, one of the things that happens when we talk about the goodness of God is we build faith in others. Their faith is boosted just by hearing what we have to say (Romans 10:17). Another thing is we actually magnify God. Anything you talk about is magnified, even the negative stuff, so make sure you’re magnifying the correct thing. But this year as we’re expecting more from God, I expect to hear more testimonies from you guys. In fact, I would love to hear about anything that God is doing in your lives (send them to scotts@hopechapel.com). So start sending ‘em in because I can always use a boost in my faith too!

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