Dialog with God
Posted on 05/11/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
Good morning, and Happy Mother's Day! A special welcome to all our visitors, and I hope you'll click the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave.
Let's all stand to our feet and go to the Lord in prayer.
Lord God, thank you for this brand new day. Thank you for bringing us all here together today to gather in your name and give you praise and all the glory.
I ask a special blessing on the mothers who are here with us today, and we honor them, for you have given them a great responsibility, and they play a vital role in the lives of future generations.
Lord, we want to fellowship with you today. As we draw close to you, may we sense that you are drawing close to us.
We pray for the private prayer requests, and any unspoken requests here today. You know the needs, and you have the answer. Move here in a mighty way today, for your glory.
And we pray for this service. May all we do glorify you and bring us closer to you.
And we ask all these things in the name of Jesus.
Remain standing, and let's worship God with our giving.
Take a moment to turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door, and give as the Lord leads.
Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship God with song. Today Garron will be leading worship for us. Let's enter into the throne room and worship our King together.
HEART OF WORSHIP
When the music fades, and all is stripped away
and I simply come
Longing just to bring, something that's of worth
that will bless your heart
I'll bring you more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
through the way things appear
you're looking into my heart
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
'cause it's all about you,
it's all about you Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the things I've made it
when it's all about you,
it's about you Jesus
King of endless worth, no one could express
how much you deserve
Though I'm weak and worn, all I have is yours
every single breath
GOD OF WONDERS
Lord of all creation, of water, earth, and sky
The heavens are your tabernacle
glory to the Lord on high
God of wonders beyond our galaxy
you are holy, holy
The universe declares your majesty
you are holy, holy
Lord of heaven and earth
Lord of heaven and earth
Early in the morning, I will celebrate the light
And as I stumbled through the darkness
I will call your name by night
Hallelujah, to the Lord of heaven and earth
Hallelujah, to the Lord of heaven and earth
Hallelujah, to the Lord of heaven and earth!
Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature, and all created things
Above all wisdom, and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth, and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what you're worth
Crucified, laid behind the stone
you lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
you took the fall and thought of me
Isn't God good? It's such a privilege and an honor to enter into your presence, Lord. Thank you for sending your only begotten Son, Jesus, to die in our place, so that we could be reconciled to you and have a life-long and then an eternal relationship with you.
You can be seated.
I realize we have some mothers here today, and I want to take a moment to honor you on this Mother's Day. Thank you for all you do, for taking on the responsibility God has given you to raise your children in the nuture and admonition of the Lord. And through all your strengths and weaknesses, and through all your successes and failures, thank you for being you.
And to all the mothers, and to all those who have ever had mothers (I believe that covers everyone here today), I'm confident you understand the importance of a good relationship. If the relationship between parent and child is good, that child's chances of success in life are much greater, and it's a joy for such a blessed parent. But if the relationship is broken, it's a sorrow, and leads to many problems.
This is true not only of the relationship between parent and child, but even more so of the relationship between God and mankind.
I don't have to tell you what makes a great relationship. You already know that it goes beyond knowing someone, or even being related to someone. It takes communication, dialog, fellowship, a two-way relationship.
And that's what I'd like for us to talk about today. The relationship between us, and God.
The title of my message today is, "Dialog with God." Originally I was going to call it "Prayer as a Dialog." To some, this would sound redundant, for they believe praying is talking WITH God. To others, this would sound false, for they believe praying is talking TO God. And our walk with God is not, or should not be, limited to our times of prayer.
So today I'd like for us to look at a few examples in Scripture, and take to task the question, is prayer a dialog, or is prayer a monolog.
First of all I'd like to point out that to say prayer is a dialog is not to suggest a scenario like this: We say, "Hello, God." and he says, "Hi there. How are you today?" and we say, "I'm well. How are you doing, God?"
Rather, a dialog can be spoken, written, or otherwise expressed. A dialog is simply a conversation, a sharing back and forth of words, thoughts, ideas, emotions, and any other thing which can be shared and communicated.
Here's the definition of "dialog" from Dictionary.com:
1. A conversation between two or more persons.
2. An exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.
3. To discuss areas of disagreement frankly in order to resolve them.
We'll go back to this definition a bit later.
Conversely, here's the definition of "monolog" from Dictionary.com:
1. A form of dramatic entertainment, comedic solo, or the like by a single speaker.
2. A prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation.
3. Any composition, as a poem, in which a single person speaks alone.
4. A part of a drama in which a single actor speaks alone; a soliloquy.
So let's compare these definitions of "dialog" and of "monolog" to examples throughout Scripture, and come to an understanding of whether prayer and the whole Christian walk is indeed a dialog, or a monolog.
First, let's ponder the implication of prayer as a monolog. Let's consider this passage found in James 1:5-7:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Now let's suppose that you aren't quite sure how to handle a certain situation or which direction to take in a matter, and the issue cannot be decided by Scripture alone. This would be a great time to ask God for wisdom. Asking God for something is praying. And so we pray for wisdom.
Now verses six and seven tell us that if we ask for wisdom but doubt that God will give it to us, then we shouldn't suppose that we will receive ANYTHING from the Lord. In other words, asking God for wisdom and direction while supposing your prayer is only one-sided is a total waste of time.
Okay, so let's assume that you DO believe God will answer you and give you wisdom, but you simply don't believe it will be during your prayer. You might be right. God might answer you by pointing out a verse of Scripture (which is a form of God communicating with you). Or he might send someone to say something to you (which is another form of God communicating with you). Or he might speak through a certain situation (which is yet another form of God communicating with you).
But he might prefer to answer you right then and there, speaking to you while you speak to him -- or, speaking WITH you. He might impress upon you just to wait in his presence. And as you obey the leading of his Holy Spirit, the wisdom and direction you're seeking just might be given to you right then and there.
After all, he's God. He will answer your prayer when he sees fit. And the most effective prayer is one in which we are not expecting that we will have the last word, but God will respond. This is a dialog. This is a life of conversation with God.
Would you agree that to say prayer is only a monologue, a one-way event, is to say that God does not respond to our prayers?
I believe that would be saying this very thing. Let's look at another passage of Scripture, this time from Exodus chapter 32, verses 7 through 14. Moses had been in the mountain for over a month with God, and had witnessed God engraving the Ten Commandments in tablets of stone.
Meanwhile, the Israelites supposed he was dead, and fashioned for themselves a golden calf, an idol, a false god which they began to worship as they engaged in sexual sins.
And we pick up this story in verse seven of Exodus chapter 32.
7 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"
9 And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!
10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."
11 Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
14 So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
So first we see God speaking to Moses. Fair enough. But then Moses speaks back. And after Moses speaks back, God replies by deciding to not destroy them.
Once again, according to the definitions we read earlier, a dialog is a conversation between two or more persons, while a monolog is a prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation.
Now, was Moses praying? Let's isolate what he said to God and decide.
"LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
So Moses is interceding for the people of Israel. He is claiming God's promises and asking him to spare the people. This most certainly is a prayer.
But it was also a dialog. The third definition of dialog we read was this: "To discuss areas of disagreement frankly in order to resolve them." And that's exactly what Moses was doing.
Moses was having a dialog with God.
Okay, so I realize that none of us have seen God use our obedience to turn a staff into a snake, or to bring plagues upon a nation, or to part the Red Sea. We haven't hit a rock with a stick and seen that rock follow us through the desert with a stream of water pouring out of it. We haven't prayed to God and had bread fall down from heaven.
But all that is not even relevant. Let's remember our question: Is prayer a dialog with God? Or is it a monolog in which we monopolize the conversation?
I believe the Scripture we read in James should be sufficient to answer that question. We are told to ask God for wisdom, and warned that we must believe he will answer us, or we won't receive anything from him.
And yet let's not stop there. In John chapter 14 verses 25 and 26 Jesus says this:
25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."
Have you ever been praying, and suddenly a Scripture came to mind that you knew was the Holy Spirit bringing that to your remembrance? God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, was speaking to you, saying, "Pray to me using this promise from my Word."
Or have you ever been praying about something, and a promise from the Bible came to your mind, and you knew that God was speaking to you through Scripture telling you that he would take care of the situation? That was God, conversing with you as you conversed with him.
You had a need, or were praying for the need of another, and God spoke to you. Or, more accurately, God spoke WITH you, as you spoke WITH God. Your prayer was not a monolog, "a prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation." Rather, your prayer was a dialog, "a conversation between two or more persons." You spoke with God, and God spoke with you.
Let's ponder for just a moment the nature of God, for the nature of God results in what God does, and what God does displays his nature. We see in the book of Genesis that God walked daily with Adam in the garden. Did God talk with Adam?
After Adam and Eve had sinned, they hid in shame. Then God came to walk with them. And it says that God called out for him, "Adam, where are you? Have you eaten of the tree I told you not to eat?" God was talking with Adam. And I believe that as God walked with man in the cool of the day, they talked, they communicated, whether in words or in other ways -- they had an ongoing dialog.
This reveals to us something about the nature of God. God desires to have dialog with us. He desires to talk with us, to fellowship with us, to have a daily, ongoing, two-way relationship with us.
Certainly he has given us his Word, the Holy Scriptures. Without them, we would stumble about in the darkness, being deceived by our own minds, by our own flesh, and by demons.
Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." It is the Word of God, the Bible, that gives us a light to walk on his paths, and to show us the truth in a world of darkess.
But let's ponder the relationship God had with Adam. At that time, there was no sin. There was one law and one law only. Everything else was okay. Whatever Adam did, he was free to do. The only law was that he was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil.
So did God walk with him every day and fellowship with him every day to remind him of this law?
"Adam, I'm glad you're walking with me today, because I really need to make sure you know that you aren't supposed to eat from that tree. If you eat from it, you will die. I really can't stress this enough. I know you haven't eaten of it yet, but I also know the future. Don't eat from it Adam. Don't even touch it. It was good walking with you today, I'll be back tomorrow to say the same thing."
Of course that sounds obsurd, and that's because it is. God wanted to fellowship with Adam. What form that fellowship took, or what they said, or how they walked, none of that is known. We simply know that God was friends with Adam.
Perhaps they talked about women. "God, all these animals have female partners. They seem to complete them." Who knows. We do know that God cared, not to mention he had a plan for all of mankind who would ever be born. But Scripture tells us that God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone, or without his human counterpart.
So God demonstrated more of his nature in his actions, as he created woman to fellowship with, commune with, have physical and emotional intimacy with, man. And from that union came the family. They fellowshiped. They spoke with one another. They had various forms of dialog. And in doing so, they displayed the nature of God, the image after which they had been created -- to have a two-way relationship and daily fellowship with one another.
And this shows us the heart of God. Yes, he has given us his Word as a solid foundation, a complete guide to living a life that is pleasing to him, the only reliable source of doctrine and spiritual practice.
But from our small glimpse into the nature of God, I would have to contend that the written Word of God was not given to us to replace a daily, intimate, two-way dialog with him. He still wants to walk with us, talk with us, fellowship with us. He still wants to be our friend.
In those daily times of prayer, when you get alone with God, I hope you don't just ask him for things and then go your way. Jesus gave us an outline for prayer, and while I don't believe he intended for us to recite it and say amen, he pointed out the purpose and the nature of prayer, and told us some things that are very important to remember when we talk with God.
Most of us know this by heart:
"Our father who is in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen."
Some time ago, we talked about this prayer outline in depth, and if you missed it or would like to review, you can go to almcyberchurch.org and view the audio archive. But this prayer outline begins and ends with worship.
Worship, just like prayer, is not a one-way conversation. It is a dialog. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." And when God draws near to us, it is because he wants to fellowship with us. He wants to walk with us as he did in the garden. He wants a dialog, a two-way relationship.
In Ephesians 2:14-16 we read this:
14 For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
So the work that Jesus did, the price he paid on the cross, was to put to death the enmity between us and God, reconciling us to him.
What does this mean? Reconciling us to God? Does this just mean that now we can read the Bible and do what it says? Certainly we can, through his Spirit.
Does this just mean that we are saved from eternal damnation in hell and instead are given everlasting life in heaven? Certainly we are, and it is by his blood, by faith through grace, alone.
But it doesn't end there. Those are things that WE get. WE can petition God, WE can read his Word, WE can gain victory over sin by his Spirit, and WE can escape hell and have everlasting life.
But what about the other end of the transaction? Reconciliation isn't a one-way street. If you are separated from a spouse or a loved one because you were at odds, does reconciliation mean you can read old love letters they wrote to you, and send them one-way conversations which they never answer? Or does it mean that your relationship with them, your fellowship with them, and your two-way communication with them is restored?
So we were not only given a pardon, but we were reconciled to God through Christ. And that gateway of fellowship with God was provided. He wants to dialog with you. God wants to be your friend.
The ministry team can come stand at the front now.
Maybe some of you here today or listening later have never started a relationship with God. You don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You have not yet been reconciled to God.
But today God is initiating a dialog with you. He is speaking to you through his Word, and he is speaking into your heart by his Spirit. Don't ignore him. Don't put him off. Answer his call. Answer his invitation. Turn to Jesus.
Just tell him you accept his free gift of Salvation, and want to be spiritually born into his family. The Christian life is all about relationship with Jesus, and the things that relationship implies. So just talk to him now.
You can answer him in any way, and you can say something like this with me: You can say, "Jesus, I accept your gift of Salvation. Forgive me for my sins. I turn away from them, and I turn to you. Make me a brand new creation. Give me a brand new start. And teach me how to have - daily and personal fellowship with you. I want my life - to be a dialog with you. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
If you just accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please instant message someone on the ministry team and let us know so we can rejoice with you and walk beside you on the path. If you're listening later, you can go to almcyberchurch.org and contact us through the website.
Now there may be some of you who are born again, but you don't feel as though your life is a dialog with God. You don't have that daily fellowship. But you want it restored. Today is your day. God is speaking to you today, and he's only waiting for you to answer him.
Lord God, we answer you today! And our answer is "Yes," we will walk in fellowship with you every day, starting today. Fill us to overflowing with your presence, your Holy Spirit, and teach us how to have that two-way fellowship with you.
This altar is open. If you want to draw closer to God, or just have a time of prayer and worship, feel free to get out of your seats and come to the front. If you need to go, you're free to do so, and we ask that if you carry on a conversation, you do so outside so the altar ministry is not distracted.