Last week Ricky was telling us how to live our life inside out. Today, I want us to examine how well we are listening for Jesus’ voice. I want you to start to examine right now if Jesus’ voice is being crowded out by other voices in your life. The voices that you listen to often will influence the actions that you make. How many of you have ever made a purchase online based on the reviews of a product? Or, how many of you have been influenced by a television commercial or radio ad? Have you ever stopped to think about the craziness of the people trying to sell you products? For example, does Michael Jordan really know more about underwear then the average person? Is he the expert on Hanes underwear? Does Stephen Colbert eat more pistachios than anyone else? Is that why he is the guru on pistachios? It is not a far stretch to believe that Brad Pitt knows a thing or two about tequila but has he ever drank anything other than Patrone tequila?
You could convince me that those guys know what they are talking about but does Julia Roberts personally use Nationwide Insurance? How about Chuck Liddell the famous MMA wrestler. Is he really using Interstate Batteries and nothing else? If this logic is true then Dale Earnhart Jr. drinks a ton of Diet Mt. Dew and Matt Damon only does his personal finances with TD Ameritrade. That would also make Blake Shelton a pizza guru. Here’s the real truth of the story. If this logic were true and we are gullible enough to buy a product because someone famous told us to then basically what we would be saying as a society is that Willy Robertson is an expert in everything.
I want you to hear me clearly about this. The voices that are speaking to you all day long on the phone, Internet, radio and television are not just trying to get your attention. That’s where it starts but not where it ends. It’s not good enough to have your attention they also want your affection. They want to win your heart. The next logical step is that they move toward your attitudes. They are trying to subtlety change the way you think things. Ultimately the voices that you are listening to are trying to get your actions. This may sound weird to you but I believe it is the truth. That is exactly what Jesus is trying to do too. He wants to be the voice that gets your attention, attitude, affections and ultimately your action. Here’s the question for tonight…in your life is Jesus greater than the voices fighting for your attention?
I. Don’t turn away from Jesus’ voice
18 You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” 22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
Back in Exodus 19 you see the set up for the delivering of the Ten Commandments in Exodus Chapter 20. If you pay close attention to your Bible, you’ll know that God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone and gave them to Moses. When he originally delivered them in Exodus Chapter 20, God spoke with an audible voice. His voice literally boomed from Mt. Sinai and the people were terrified. This happens over and over again in Scripture. The people could see how holy and perfect God is, how sinful they were, and they could see the distance between their sin and a perfect God. It terrified them! So much so, that they begged Moses to intercede on their behalf. They asked Moses to tell God to stop speaking. They wanted God to speak to Moses and they would listen to what he said through Moses.
Hebrews tells us that the way that God spoke in the Old Testament terrified people because of a holy fear. In the New Testament that’s not how God is speaking to people. God still speaks to us but now instead of booming from Mt. Sinai he speaks in a still quiet voice in our souls. If you’re not careful you will be so inundated by a society that is screaming for your attention that you can’t hear his voice anymore. His voice is being drowned out by all the other voices that are crying for your attention.
In the Old Testament, God brought forgiveness through the slaughtering of a lamb. In the New Testament, God brings forgiveness through his Son. Hebrews tells us there is another voice to think about. When Abel was killed back in Genesis Chapter 4 his blood cried out to God for revenge. When Jesus died in the New Testament his blood cries out to God for forgiveness.
Have you thought about the voices that you are listening to just this week? What are the voices calling for your attention? Have you ever asked yourself if the voices were healthy and propelling you to a closer relationship with Jesus? Or, are the voices pulling you away from him? Are they harmful for you? I want to challenge the men in the room to come to our Tuesday morning Bible study. We all need good men who are passionate followers of Jesus to invest in our lives. If you stick with this study through the end, I promise you will notice something different about your life.
For everyone else, the reason we tell you that Small Groups are so important is because in that room you are able to hear people speak directly to your life. You open up and tell people what is going on in your life and they do the same. You all start to make a difference in each other’s lives. Small Groups will always be more important than what we do in the big group.
There was a famous 18th Century preacher by the name of William Channing who once said, “The fewer the voice on the side of truth, the more distinct the strong must be your own.” Your voice isn’t strong enough to compete against everything else that’s trying to get your attention. You need other godly men and women around you if you are going to be able to tune out the voices of society and tune in to the voice of our Savior.
II. Don’t ignore Jesus’ message
25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.
In this passage you see God fixing what was broken in the Garden of Eden. You see God restoring what was fractured in Adam and Eve’s sin. When God created everything he created it perfect. When Adam and Eve broke the one command that God told them not to do everything in creation was fractured along with it to include the human soul. Because you were born after the event of sin, you yourself were born stained and marred by sin. Hebrews tells us that one of these days God is not only going to fix the problem of sin but he will restore the earth to the way it was created. God will do away with the man-made stuff and he will restore the God created stuff and make everything perfect again.
Hebrews says this is the God who still talks to us. I’m going to put you on the spot. If you were here the very first time we talked about Hebrews you’ll remember this, Hebrews Chapter 1 tells us that God still speaks to us today just like he spoke to people in the Old Testament but he does it differently. In the Old Testament God spoke through prophets and dreams, today he still speaks to us with an audible voice and the voice belongs to Jesus. In fact, Hebrews Chapter 12:23-24 says that God speaks, the Spirit speaks and Jesus speaks to us. All three members of the Trinity show up. God still is in the business of speaking to people but he speaks through Jesus’ voice. That means you have to tune out the voices of society if you are going to be able to listen to his voice.
I was looking for a video this week on what happens if you ignore the warnings of God. I found videos that talk about ignoring warnings about your health. I found tons of videos that tell you what happens if you ignore the warnings that your spouse is cheating on you. There were videos about ignoring that the economy is going to crash. There were videos about what happens if you ignore the warning that the brakes on your car are about to go out. I couldn’t find one video about what happens if you ignore the warning that the Spirit is speaking to your soul.
I did find this story and I hope it helps to make the connection for you. This is a true story about Peter Cartwright who was a Methodist preacher. He didn’t start out that way though. He was born in Kentucky in the early 1800’s. He hated slavery with a passion. When he was a young man he moved from Kentucky to Illinois. Since he was raised in a home where his parents loved Jesus, taught him to love Jesus and his country, he felt prompted by God as a young man to run for a congressional seat in Illinois. In 1847 he ran for Congress against an unknown politician and was defeated. The politician that he ran against was also from Kentucky. He was Abraham Lincoln. The loss devastated Cartwright because he thought that was the plan that God had for him. God spoke to Cartwright and told him that he wanted him to be a preacher. Peter Cartwright became a Methodist circuit-riding preacher in the American West preaching to Native Americans. For the rest of his life he traveled on horseback from place to place to preach the Gospel of Jesus and see men and women’s lives transformed. It is said that in the course of Cartwright’s life he preached more than 15,000 sermons and baptized more than 10,000 people because he heard the voice of God directing his life.
If Jesus is speaking to you right now through his Holy Spirit don’t ignore him. Every week I invite you to respond in faith to God’s Holy Spirit and to turn your soul over to him. You are probably tired of hearing it but until Jesus comes back I’m going to keep offering people the opportunity to respond God’s Spirit as he speaks to their souls. Maybe he is speaking to you tonight about your sin, your need for forgiveness and about what Christ did for you as Savior. Maybe today you nail down for the first time ever that Christ is your Savior through a simple prayer of faith. A prayer that says, “God, I am a sinner who is incapable of getting to heaven on my own. I believe you sent Jesus for the very purpose of rescuing me, dying on the cross in my place and for my sin. Right now today, I surrender it all to him.” If you are hearing his voice speaking to you don’t ignore it and don’t delay.
III. Don’t give what belongs to Jesus away
28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.
As a Christian you have a new hope. You have a King and you have a new kingdom. Which means, you no longer belong in this realm. Your ultimate destiny is a new realm, an unshakeable kingdom. A kingdom that was created by God and you were designed to live there with him forever. Hebrews takes almost directly from Psalm 92:2 here. It describes God as being awesome and powerful and therefore, God deserves our worship in awe and fear. He wants us to worship him with a holy respect and see the difference between him and sinful man. Hebrews tells us to be thankful because of it. In the book Desiring God, John Piper makes this statement; “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with him.” God takes pleasure in the fact that we rest in him and not in ourselves. Basically, God gets the glory when we give him the respect, awe and worship that he deserves. Worship is not just singing songs. Worship is a lifestyle that says God you deserve my attention and allegiance. The way that you do that is by being thankful and remembering who he is and what he has done for you.
A number of years ago I was leading a couple’s Bible study about the jealousy of God. This couple stopped me after the study was over and I could tell by looking in their eyes there was some history in their relationship about this topic. They asked if I could help them understand why the Bible refers to God as a jealous God. They thought being jealous was a bad thing. I want us to look at why God would be a jealous God or a devouring fire.
Jealousy in human relationships shows up in one of two ways. One way is the jealousy over possessions. By that I mean when someone has stuff that you don’t have and you decide that you want that same stuff because they look happier than you are. You falsely assume that the stuff is what makes them happy. The truth is the only reason they have more stuff than you is because you looked happier then them. They thought your stuff made you happy so they bought more stuff so they would be happy. You are both miserable because you are in merry-go-round of misery trying to buy stuff to make you feel happy. The only thing this does is put you both deeper into debt. The jealousy over possessions is clearly not what the Bible is describing about God.
There is also the jealousy over relationships. It is almost always because of insecurity. There is a relationship in your life that is very important to you and you feel insecure that someone could steal this relationship from you. So you start to become jealous or manipulating and controlling in order to direct the circumstances so someone can’t steal this relationship from you. Here are two things that we know right up front. God doesn’t need stuff so he’s not jealous about possessions. God is certainly not insecure so it is not a relationship issue that God would be jealous about.
So why would God be described as a jealous God? Let me explain it this way. I love my children. I’m not the world’s perfect father and we both know that. I love them enough that I’m jealous for their admiration. I want to be able to look my children in the eyes and if I give them some advice I want them to know that their dad loves them and that I care enough about them to tell them the truth. I want to be able to look my sons in the eyes and say, “That woman is a good woman. You ought to consider marrying her.” Notice I didn’t tell them to get married I only said they should consider it. I would hope my boys would respect my opinion that they would seriously consider it. I have not needed to do this but if I needed to I would look at my daughters and tell them I’m concerned about something in their character. Since I’m jealous for their admiration I hope that they would believe that their dad loves them and wants what is best for them so there must be some truth in what he says.
The bottom line is that God wants what is best for you. God knows that there is no relationship out there that can compare to his relationship with you. God is jealous for you because he wants you to have perfect love that you will never find in a human relationship or in possessions. You will only find it in God and only in God. The challenge I want to leave you with is are you giving away something that only Jesus should get from you? Are you giving away your attention? Are you giving away your affection? Are you giving away your allegiance to a voice other than Jesus’? Jesus loves you. He is a jealous God and will not compete for your attention. He wants your worship. If anyone or anything else is getting more attention in your life than Jesus’ voice then you are worshipping the wrong thing. Jesus wants first place in your life. Are you listening to his voice and tuning out the other voices that are competing for your attention?
- Who or what would you say is the most influential voice in your life this week? Why?
- Does God speak to people today? How?
- What are you jealous about? Why? Is it a healthy jealousy?
- Should we still fear God today like they feared him in the Old Testament times? (Explain your answer)
- Give an example of how a Christian can “ignore” Jesus’ voice in our day.
- Why will it be worse for us today if we ignore Jesus’ voice than for those that ignored Moses in the Old Testament times?
- Pray that we would listen to Jesus’ voice this week and tune out the voices that are competing for his attention.