Discerning God's Voice

Posted on 01/09/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


will have sugery on my hip and I need prayer to go thru it. also need prayer for me and my hushband that we get closer.
   -star Graymark

Fellow believers... I come to you with a prayer request for a little baby girl who is in needs of the Lord's healing intervention. I am a new mom and have lurked around on baby websites, this is where I came across baby Scarlett's story.... What was supposed to be a routine 2 month wellness check, turned into the beginning of a very terrifying journey for Scarlett and her parents. Scarlett has been diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor. It has grown to the point where she cannot even lift her head when laying on her tummy. The prognosis is not very good at all, usually babies that are diagnosed only have weeks left. Anyway, Scarlett's parents have been told that surgery and chemo is the only chance, and there's not even a guarantee that she will make it through the several hour surgery. So, their surgery is scheduled for this coming Wednesday. I've been praying for this precious baby but am trying to get as many believers as I can reach to lift this little one up in prayer. This family needs peace and understanding and to be able to rest assured that God is in control. Lets pray for a divine intervention in this family's lives. Thanks, sorry so long :) God bless
   -Harlo Resident

Heavenly Father, I've messed up bad. I've given in to the enemy too many times, especially in my thought life. Father, your word says will forgive and cleanse those who repent. I repent, Lord. Now please cleanse and heal my mind. Heal the emotional wounds. Heal the memories. Help me let go of the pain and memories. Help me focus on you and what you've accomplished. Protect me from the evil one who seeks to keep me distracted and focused on everything else except you. Thank you, Father. I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord! Amen!
   -Greg

*******

Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

******


JOYFUL, JOYFUL, WE ADORE THEE

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee
opening to the sun above

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
fill us with the light of day

All thy works with joy surround thee
earth and heaven reflect thy rays
Stars and angels sing around thee
center of unbroken praise

Field and forest, vale and mountain
flowery meadow, flashing sea
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
call us to rejoice in thee

Thou art giving and forgiving
ever blessing, ever blest
Wellspring of the joy of living
ocean depth of happy rest

Thou our Father, Christ our brother
all who live in love are thine
Teach us how to love each other
lift us to the joy divine

Mortals, join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began
Love divine is reigning o'er us
binding all within its span

Ever singing, march we onward
victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music leads us sunward
in the triumph song of life

'TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
and to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
and to know, "Thus says the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him
How I've proved him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust him more

O how sweet to trust in Jesus
just to trust his cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
neath the healing, cleansing flood

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him
How I've proved him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust him more

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus
just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
life and rest, and joy and peace

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him
How I've proved him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust him more

I'm so glad I learned to trust you
precious Jesus, Savior, friend
And I know that you are with me
will be with me to the end

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust you
How I've proved you o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust you more

SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD

Spirit of the living God
fall a-fresh on me
Spirit of the living God
fall a-fresh on me

Melt me, mold me,
fill me, use me

Spirit of the living God
fall a-fresh on me


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


It's truly a blessing to be back with you today, and I pray you had a blessed holiday season.

Before we start today's message, I'd like to read a passage out of Romans chapter 14.

Romans 14:1-10 (NKJV)

1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


You might have noticed that the style of music we used to worship God today was a little bit different from usual. We left out the drums, and did not sing any new songs. And the reason for this is because of some of our dear expected visitors today. We don't need the style of music we're used to to worship God. In fact, we don't really need music at all. And I don't want our comfort zone to distract you from giving something to and receiving something from God today.

And so we will obey the Word of God today, and will not judge another's servant over preferences or "disputes over doubtful things," but will instead open the Scriptures and listen, with a teachable heart, to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us.

As 2nd Timothy 2:24 tells us, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all." If you are a servant of the Lord today, but have come to quarrel or protest, I encourage you to do the hard thing and let go of your own agenda, and instead obey the Word of God, as we live in obedience by being gentle to all. Let us look past ourselves and our own ideas, and instead, turn our eyes completely on Jesus; for He alone is worthy of our undivided attention. Amen?


The title of today's message is "Discerning God's Voice."

You know, we are surrounded by voices that claim to be God's. Every minute that goes by, another so-called prophet arises, and declares that they are the mouthpiece of God, and everyone who disagrees with them is false.

How can we know who is really speaking the words of God? How can we discern the real from the counterfeit?

1 John 4:1-6 (NKJV) says this:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


So, what exactly does this mean? "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God?" The Muslims believe Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Is Islam therefore of God? Most new agers believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Is the new age therefore of God?

Let's dig a little deeper as we pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word of God to us today.


In verse six, Paul says this:  "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

That part of the test knocks out quite a few false prophets. It knocks out Islam, because they believe the writings of Paul and the other apostles are false. It knocks out new age teachings because they too reject the writings of the apostles, or re-interpret them as non-literal and therefore open to whatever interpretation anyone wants to give them.

So the test of a spirit includes whether they confess Jesus came in the flesh, and whether they agree with and do not contradict or ignore the writings of the apostles.


Let's back up here for just a moment and take another look at the first test: "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God."

The word "Christ" means "Messiah." What is meant by "Messiah?"

Well, first of all, the Messiah is the deliverer. Not A deliverer, but THE deliverer. Anyone who says Jesus is only ONE path to God is diminishing his role as Messiah.

Second of all, the Messiah is the Lord; and the Bible tells us that God does not share his glory. Anyone who points to themselves as hearing God better than all who disagree with them, is placing glory upon themselves.

There are scores of people who insist that, for things the Bible does not clearly address, they have heard the final word from God, and anyone who disagrees with them simply cannot hear God's voice.

The problem with this is that it comes from a position of pride. Anyone who carries such an attitude is puffed up. How else could anyone think they alone can unerringly hear God's voice? And all who do not hear the same extra-Biblical teachings they come up with are deceived?

And what does the Bible say about those who walk in pride? James 4:6 says that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." So if you've been walking in this type of pride, the Word of God is challenging you today to admit that, by thinking you can hear God better than anyone who doesn't agree with you, you are causing God to oppose you, and you are actually stopping up your ears with your own pride.

And when you see someone display pride in this way, you would do well to pray for them, and then go somewhere else for spiritual teaching from those who are walking in Christ-like humility instead of promoting themselves as something great.


So a spirit that is from God will glorify Jesus and not themselves, it will declare that Jesus is the only way to God and the only hope for mankind, and it will walk by and completely agree with the Scriptures, which is repeated in Galatians 1:8 (NKJV):

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.


And these are questions we can ask ourselves about any teacher or prophet:

1. Do they glorify Jesus alone, or do they also exalt themselves?

2. Do they proclaim Jesus as the only way to God, or do they declare there is some other way?

3. Do they agree with all of Scripture? Or do they add to it or contradict it?

And if the answer to ANY of these questions, even just one of them, is "no," then they are NOT walking in the Spirit of God.


I'd like for us to take a look at one more passage, and then we'll talk about it and then close with a time of prayer.

James 3:13-18 (NKJV)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


In verses 13 through 15, we see a definition of wisdom that is not from God.

1. It is not meek. It is not gentle and kind. It is not humbly patient, especially when provoked.

2. It contains bitterness, envy, and self-seeking. This goes back to self-exaltation and pride, as well as insulting or belittling others who don't agree.

And anything that comes from any of these things is what? Verse 15 says it is "earthly, sensual, and demonic." And verse 16 says that "confusion and every evil thing" will accompany such false wisdom. Often, those two elements will sooner or later come out of the mouths of those bringing such godless wisdom, or will be seen in those who follow it.


How does this compare with wisdom that is from God? How can we identify whether a word supposedly from God is really from Him? Well, in addition to the tests in 1st John chapter 4, wisdom from God will fit the following criteria:

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Is it pure?
Is it peaceable?
Is it gentle?
Is it willing to yield to others?
Is it full of mercy?
Is it full of good fruit?
Does it show no partiality to a particular leader?
Is it sown in peace by those who make peace?

If it does not meet these Biblical standards, stay away from it. And if a teacher, prophet, or leader does not promote this true Godly wisdom, pray for them and then go somewhere else.

And if YOU have thoughts you think are Godly wisdom, but they don't meet the Biblical sniff-test, then humble yourself before God, let go of those earthly thoughts and feelings, and let the love of God consume you.

You don't have to be exalted. You don't have to be praised. And you don't have to be right.

As Micah 6:8 (KMV) says, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

And THAT is all you need.


Let's close today with a time of prayer and surrender, as we let all our own ideas go in exchange for true humility, so that we can really know the truth and so we can be free.

This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat and make your way to the front.

Maybe you recognize that not everything you thought was wisdom was really from God, because it does not stand up to the standards of God's Word. I think ALL of us have been there, and many of us are there right now.

But God doesn't condemn you for not being perfect, and you honor Him by admitting you're not; for it is then and only then that you can grow.

And if you want to commit yourself to humbling yourself before God, to giving up your need to always be right, to forsaking an argumentative, divisive spirit and instead embracing only Godly wisdom, then come to the front and spend some time in the presence of the Lord.

Perhaps you haven't ever surrendered your life, your own ways and ideas, to God, but today you are ready to give everything over to Jesus and to follow wherever He leads. Come to the front and make peace with God right now, and He will give you a brand new start.

In a few minutes, after this time at the altar, we'll gather in the Fellowship Room, which is to your left, for a bit of fellowship. Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and I pray you have a blessed week, and that you draw even closer to God.

Come, and let's lay it all down at the Master's feet, so that we can be humble, obedient children of our Heavenly Father, discerning God's voice.