Sunday 15th April PM
4 The Voice of God If you were here last year you would have heard Barry preaching about how big our God is. That our God is bigger than any problem or issue we might have. We should have no fear about going before our God with our weightiest struggle because God is bigger than we could ever imagine. So just how big is God? Well of course we don’t know but there are some pointers to give us a clue. Isaiah tells us in 40:12 (NIV) 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Marked off the heavens with the span of his hand, yes he’s big. And Isaiah tells us in 40:26(NIV) 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. You know when I think of the universe God created and our importance to Him I imagined we’re the centre and all the stars and planets revolve around us, our solar system. But when I look at the facts it’s not like that at all, actually we’re really quite insignificant. This is a picture of what our galaxy, the Milky Way, our corner of the universe, would look like if we had travelled far enough out to photograph it. We’re somewhere about a quarter of the way in and we wouldn’t be visible because the Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars and billions of other planets. To get from one side to the other would take 100,000 light years, A light year is how far light travels in a year. Now you know light is pretty fast. If you could travel as fast as light guess how long it would take you to circumnavigate the Earth eight times? One second. So if you travel that fast for hundred thousand years you can get across our galaxy. And our galaxy is just one of billions of other galaxies in the known universe. How does it make you feel, it makes me feel very small? Psalm 8:3-5 (ERV) 3 I look at the heavens you made with your hands. I see the moon and the stars you created.4 And I wonder, “Why are people so important to you? Why do you even think about them?Why do you care so much about humans[a]? Why do you even notice them?” 5 But you made them almost like gods and crowned them with glory and honour. As big as God is, as small as we are, we are still very special in His eyes, He knows each one of us by name, He has been with each one of us since before we were born and Jesus tells us the very hairs on our head are numbered. He loves us and He wants a relationship with us. God is not only big He also can be loud. The reading is from Psalm 29 which is attributed by most theologians to David; when he wrote this he could have been sheltering in a cave and looking out at some pretty foul weather, and when he sees the dark clouds and storms sweep across the land it conjures up in his mind some powerful images of his almighty God. Psalm 29 (TLB) 29 Praise the Lord, you angels of his; praise his glory and his strength. 2 Praise him for his majestic glory, the glory of his name. Come before him clothed in sacred garments. These first two verses are a call to worship a worthy God. The next nine verses David imagines the voice of God, powerfully moving and having an effect on everything in its path. 3 The voice of the Lord echoes from the clouds. The God of glory thunders through the skies. 4 So powerful is his voice; so full of majesty. 5-6 It breaks down the cedars. It splits the giant trees of Lebanon. It shakes Mount Lebanon and Mount Sirion. They leap and skip before him like young calves! 7 The voice of the Lord thunders through the lightning. 8 It resounds through the deserts and shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord spins and topples the mighty oaks. It strips the forests bare. They whirl and sway beneath the blast. But in his Temple all are praising, “Glory, glory to the Lord.” 10 At the Flood the Lord showed his control of all creation. Now he continues to unveil his power. 11 He will give his people strength. He will bless them with peace. In this Psalm David recognises God voicing his power and might through the forces of nature, the claps of thunder, the forks of lightning, and the very ground quaking at its mighty strength and yet able always to be compassionate and loving to His people. God’s voice is not only powerful but also incisive. Hebrews 4:12(ERV) 12 God’s word[a] is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God’s word cuts to the centre of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. The voice of God so forceful and devastating and yet a voice that can give us, in an instant all we need and His blessed peace. What an awesome God we serve, what a powerful God we have by our side, we are indeed truly blessed. In the last series we went through before Easter the message was God wants to heal us, the theme for this week and next week is God has a voice and wants to talk to us. He really does want to communicate with us. We hope it won’t be in the voice that trashed the giant cedars of Lebanon. For us God will hopefully use His still small voice, a voice we need to be open to at all times. Nicky Gumbel, of the Alpha series, uses this analogy of how we sometimes pray to God; he likens it to a visit to our doctor, we go in and tell him we’re suffering from migraines, and we have pains in our shoulder joint, we suffer with a shortage of breath and our back is so stiff we can’t bend and oh yes we think we have in-growing toenails, good-bye doctor, see you again. The doctor might want to say well would you like me to help you and hear what I have to say about your problems. Too often we have a long list of prayer requests and never stop to hear the response God will have to those prayers. When we spend time with God we really should give time to listen, it’s not just a one way street. God has so many plans for us and if we get so wrapped in what we want, we’ll miss out on all that God has for us. God knows us before we are born and has a master plan for each of us. That plan is to make us superstars in the world for His glory. But then of course outside forces start working in our lives, the way we are brought up, the people we start to mix with, the poor choices we make and then the wrong roads we down. Every set back God takes into account and still has great plans for us, because of our humanness and all our setbacks we might not make the superstar status but God knows we can still be useful in His Kingdom. Now, me, just like you I’m created by God, as the Psalmist said “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made”. Before I was born God had a great plan for me, just as He has for everyone. As a child I went to Sunday school but at about fourteen I turned my back on Him. I made conscious decision to go my own way. For the next forty odd years I did my own thing, and in that time I wouldn’t recognise that God even existed. Then when I was almost 58 I came back into His Kingdom and it seemed God still had a plan for me. He welcomed me back as if nothing had changed, his voice was saying, ‘if you want to, I can use you’. We have an awesome God, a loving, merciful and forgiving God, and if you haven’t made that step of faith, don’t hesitate. As you can see it is never too late. Going back to Psalm 29 David’s imagination was saying God’s voice is so powerful the force of it would cause destruction and devastation but of course in reality God would only use His voice for constructive and positive reasons. His voice is used to build up His people; His voice is used to encourage us to use the gifts He has given us, His voice is there to help us at any time for any reason. One of the greatest benefits of our salvation has to be that of hearing God speak to us personally. There can be no intimate relationship with our heavenly Father without it. But, as easy as it is for us to speak to Him, most of us have a hard time hearing His voice. This is not the way the Lord intended it to be. Being able to clearly distinguish God’s voice would have to be the greatest gift a person could have. Instead of blindly going through life trying to work out what path is right path, what job should I take on and so on and so on? There are so many decisions we struggle with, to have God’s voice right there to guide us and protect us would be life transforming for us all. The Lord is constantly talking and giving us His directions, it’s never a case of God not speaking it’s just us not hearing. This is what Jesus said about hearing the Lord’s voice, John 10:3-5 (TLB) 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 He walks ahead of them; and they follow him, for they recognize his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger but will run from him, for they don’t recognize his voice.” Notice Jesus doesn’t say the sheep CAN hear his voice or they SHOULD hear his voice, Jesus is quite emphatic, there is no ambiguity ‘the sheep hear his voice’, then ‘they follow him, for they recognise his voice.’ A lot of us or some of us might say I wish I was as good as those sheep; I’d love to be able to recognise his voice. That’s just the point; God is talking to us all the time, for us it is a matter of recognition. God talks to us in our thoughts and impressions and we often mistake those thoughts as our own. He doesn’t talk to us in an audible voice, His Spirit communicates to our spirit and it’s up to us to tune in. So next time you have a thought to contact a friend you haven’t spoken to for awhile, do it, that’s what God is prompting you todo. Whatever God wants of you He will give to you in thought or somehow work it into your life and when He does we should act on it, it could then become our passion. I know I’ve mentioned this before but just a couple of years after I became a Christian, Margaret my wife, who was just a good friend of mine at the time invited me to join with her in Prison ministry. I had no interest in that at all and I said no thanks. I was involved in Small Groups and a few months later I bought a DVD series which was a follow up to the Alpha series, called ‘A life worth living”. I didn’t know its content but it looked interesting. I mentioned it to Margaret and she said that had just started that particular series in the prison and asked me again to join her in that ministry. I thought it would be interesting to see what it was about and as it was just an eight week course I agreed to go in with her to Yatala for a few weeks. That was about sixteen years ago and I’m still involved. God wanted me in that ministry and even though I had refused to begin with, He persisted and eventually gave me the motivation to make the step. It then became a passion of mine and has led me on a path which I never thought possible; here I am preaching the word of God. God has a voice and he is talking to us. To hear Him we have to listen and tune in and then act on His word. And the real joy is when we are doing the Lord’s will we will find our passion, we will find our place in His Kingdom, a full abundant happy life is the reward.