The Voice

A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, March 8, 2023.

The company where I work spent the time and money during the pandemic to remodel our corporate offices to a better, user-friendly space.  It has been a blessing to go from a workplace that was dark and largely uninviting to one that is now bright, open and welcoming!  With our present hybrid work schedule, it is great to have the blend of working in the best work environment that I have ever experienced along with being able to have meetings on Microsoft Teams from home while washing a load of clothes!

My company, in its new floor designs, has added a great deal of emphasis on wellness for every employee.  Wellness covers a number of categories, including being financially and physically healthy, but for me, my personal focus has been on the importance of emotional wellness.  One of the great additions to my office today is the addition of a meditation room.

The meditation room allows for one or two people to go and spend some time doing quiet reflection, and it can be a great way to shut out noise and distractions.  It is a quiet room with adjustable lighting with a curved chair and what I would call a very firm couch.  It is not designed for people to go in and take a nap.  It is to sit upright and allow, in my case, listening to a meditation on a Bible verse and spend time in prayer.  You can reserve the room for a period of time and spend this quiet time as you see fit.

Meditation on God’s Word is something that should be a regular practice for every believer—every single day—to shut out the noise of the world.

Psalm 1:1-3 NLT

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not

    follow the advice of the wicked,

    or stand around with sinners,

    or join in with mockers.

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,

    meditating on it day and night.

3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,

    bearing fruit each season.

Their leaves never wither,

    and they prosper in all they do.

Not only this but know that your time with God in meditation has a positive impact on your relationship with Him.

Psalm 104:34 ESV

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

God absolutely loves when you spend quiet time with Him. 

Matthew 6:6 ESV

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

He wants you to spend time with Him in order to get more and more acquainted with Him in your prayer life.  He wants you to become more and more sensitive to hearing His voice

It is very important to be able to discern and listen to God’s voice.  His voice is in His Word, and His Word is reinforced by the enlightening presence of the Holy Spirit.

There are a number of questions that you may have about hearing God’s voice:

“How do I know if I can hear God?”

“How will I recognize His voice?”

“How can I determine if it is God’s voice and not someone or something else?”

Let’s explore the answers to these questions with the support of Scripture.

How do you know if you can hear God and recognize His voice?  You will know because God enables those who believe in Him to hear Him, and we hear Him through the recognition of His written Word.  (Which means you need to read your Bible every day.)

John 10:27 ESV

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Romans 10:17 NLT

So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Faith in Jesus is the result of believing that He is the Lord of your life.  You will hear His voice as you continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus.

How do you know if it is God’s voice and not someone or something else?  You will hear Jesus as you continue to remain faithful to Jesus.  He has given each of us The Holy Spirit.  He is the Communicator of truth and also the Filter for any potential distractions.

John 14:15-17 NLT

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Romans 8:9 NLT

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

It comes right down to hearing Jesus through the power of God’s Word.  It provides instruction, direction and, if necessary, correction.  (We all need this correction every now and then.)

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

So now that we’ve made it clear that God speaks, we need to explore this further with questions about how we are to respond to His voice.

As we listen to His voice, it is helpful to note that Jesus ALWAYS speaks truth and provides knowledge and godly wisdom.  His voice provides guidance in a situation or direction pertaining to a course of action.

Psalm 32:8 ESV

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Our challenge is to listen to His voice and respond in faithfulness.  When we don’t, we make the fateful decision to follow our own path or advice, and in many cases outside of His will.

When we do this, we fail God.  We fail Him because all too often we succumb to the temptations of the flesh, the world we live in, and we put God in a place far removed from first place in our lives.  We fail to obey His laws and precepts and we fall victim to our own selfish desires…pridefulness, jealousy, envy, anger with sinful behavior.  We don’t lose our membership in God’s family, but we systematically remove ourselves from God’s fellowship because we settle on the ways of the devil as being more appealing.  All of this occurs because we fail to listen to what He has to say to us.

In Hebrews 3:7, this is exactly why the voice that we are to listen to, in the form of the Holy Spirit, makes a strong and firm declaration.

Hebrews 3:7-8 NLT

7 That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,

8     don’t harden your hearts

as Israel did when they rebelled,

    when they tested me in the wilderness.’”

We need to listen to His voice, and not just listen, but also trust in His voice.  We get ourselves in trouble because of our inconsistency in trusting in Him and our failure to truly believe in Him.  We are distracted all too easily by the desires of the flesh.

Why do we fail to believe in Jesus?  Here are some stoppers that reflect a reliance in our flesh:

  • We fail Him when we lack courage and confidence.

Courage is the ability to act on what we know is right and good, and to dare to do what lies in front of us.  Fear paralyzes you, but it is courage that helps us move forward.

Psalm 27:1 NLT

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

    so why should I be afraid?

The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,

    so why should I tremble?

Isaiah 41:10 NLT

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

The ESV Bible uses the words “righteous right hand,” but I love the word “victorious” here because it is a reinforcement of how we often say the words, “God’s got this!”  He holds us up with His hand and strengthen us, sustain us, and hold us up as overcomers!

1 John 5:4-5 ESV

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

  • We fail God when we don’t listen to His voice because we are listening to other voices.

Here’s a warning to avoid fleshliness and to devote yourself to Jesus: 

Romans 6:12-14 NLT

12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

  • Pride creates an adversarial relationship with God.

1 John 2:16 ESV

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Proverbs 8:13 ESV

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

  • Anger must be conquered.

Genesis 4:3-7 NLT

3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

  • Above all, we are to resist the temptations of Satan.

James 4:7 ESV

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 John 3:8 ESV

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

We are to avoid these failures and heed God’s warnings:

Hebrews 4:7 NLT

7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,

    don’t harden your hearts.”

In Hebrews 4:7, the emphasis is to not put off listening for tomorrow or a day in the future (which is the response that the flesh will always present to you when it is time to make a decision).  The importance of doing it today, as referenced, means to “DO IT NOW!”  Today is the day, not tomorrow, not next week, not when you get older and even more set in your ways.  Do it today!!!  (This also applies to making a timely decision to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of your life.)

We run away from God when our life is not right.  As we become more mature in our faith, there should be a burning desire in our hearts to run towards God to hear His voice.

Proverbs 18:10 ESV

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Philippians 4:13 ESV

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

God ignores no one.  He knows each and every one of us, and we cannot and will not escape His judgment.  He will tell you everything about you, and that will include the things that you don’t want to hear about yourself. 

Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Psalm 139:1-4 NLT

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.

    You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.

God knows where you are.  In order to ensure that you hear His voice, be mindful of your thought life and heed your actions.

Turn your heart to Him and give it all that you’ve got!

1 John 1:9 ESV

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Be strong and courageous.  Be confident in your position with Jesus.

Joshua 1:9 NLT

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Listen to His commands.  Listen to His voice.

Copyright © 2006, 2023 Melvin Gaines.

Categories Christian Studies, Christianity, message, Sermon, The BibleTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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