We all will experience a lot of death in our lifetimes. If death is so natural, then why does it feel so very unnatural? This week we look at our origins and what it means in relation to our own death. Click. Watch.
OPENING ILLUSTRATION:I was in Bible college at Manhattan Christian College, we had chapel service once a week in the evening. It was fall, and I was struggling with what I was supposed to do with my life – the angst of young adult hood. I ended up walking out of the service – I was standing out in the parking lot of the campus and just yelling at God in my head. I kept thinking, “God, you revealed yourself to Abraham, why not me? Why not just come and answer my question…” I’m looking up and telling God, I just want Him to show Himself and when I look down, about 50 yards away there is this guy with a hoodie pulled up walking right for me. The parking lot had been completely empty a few seconds before. I just watch as this guy keeps walking right for me. All I can think is, what if God answered my prayer. He’s getting closer, 15 ft, 10 ft, 5 ft. I literally start to get sick to my stomach – making myself so nervous. The guy walks right up to me, like within arms reach, he looks right at me and says, “hey” and then walks off… Ha, I’m sure God was rolling on that one. But let me ask you, haven’t you been in that same place?-“God, I don’t know if I should take this job or not?”-“God, why am I going through this?”-“God, do you even love me?”My guess is, more than just me in this room has been in a position where you’ve felt like you needed God to speak…What do you do with that?Is something wrong with you?Does God just not speak to people?Does God even exist?The reality is, this is an incredibly serious issue – if you don’t figure it out, it WILL affect your walk with God.So, the first question on this journey, is does God talk to us?One time, Jesus was telling this parable – he was talking about Himself as a good shepherd, and he says this as He talks about Himself and His sheep…Let me just read a few passages…John 10:4-54 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”John 10:1616 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.The expectation of Jesus was that you and I would know His voice and follow Him…That brings up the second question? So, why don’t we hear Him?1 Corinthians 2:13-1613 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”[d]But we have the mind of Christ.Paul is intimating two types of hearing-we can hear things with our physical sense of hearing-and we can hear things through the spiritThis is really key to understanding why some people don’t hear from God…ILLUSTRATION:My family doesn’t pay for dish or cable, we use Antenna – but one of the things I could never get was CBS. Every time there was a football game, I would go out and get on the ladder and adjust my antenna to try and pick up the signal for the game. But I couldn’t get it. I must of looked like a fool yelling through the window, trying to watch the tv to see if it was fixed. I was getting so mad about it. Finally, I downloaded this app that tells you which way to point your antenna. Turns out, I had been pointing towards Pittsburg and should have been pointing more towards Joplin…Here’s what’s crazy – just because I wasn’t picking up the signal, didn’t mean it wasn’t there – I just wasn’t tuned in.Paul is saying, God doesn’t speak to our physical reality, God speaks to our spirit. As a matter of fact, Paul will follow this statement up by addressing the Corinthians and why he hasn’t been able to give them deeper teaching…1 Corinthians 3:1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?These were people who were baptized and claimed to follow Jesus –They had the gift of the Holy Spirit, but did not live by the spirit…This is huge – this means it is entirely possible to be saved, but to never experience the Holy Spirit speaking to you because you are living life entirely by your own means…This brings me to the final question, how do you tune into God’s Spirit?I don’t like things that are vague and sound impressive but don’t actually help you know what to do…So, I could say, “if you want to hear God, you need to live by the spirit”But thatwould probably leave you saying, “How do I do that?What is the difference between a person who lives by the spirit and someone who lives to please their fleshLuckily, the apostle Paul gives us some direction for this…Romans 8:55 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.ILLUSTRATION:Do you remember when you first fell in love? You are willing to do anything for the other person? I remember being with my brother & sister-in-law – at the time they were just dating, my brother in law was wearing shorts and he had socks that came about half way up his legs. My sister-in-law said to him, “why don’t you get socks that are more like Kents” Ha, I do happen to have the coolest socks out there. I thought it was a weird thing to tell someone. But you know what. He got socks like mine. What? Why in the world. I’ve seen people change the way they dress, who they spend time with, how they talk – all because of the person they are in Looove with…Heck, you may have even gone to church because of being in love.Paul says to you and I,If you want to live in the Spirit you need to set your mind on what the spirit desires.BHe’s saying, let the Spirit lead youWe see this in Jesus’ lifeJesus teaching, has huge crowds starting to gather around Him and…Mark 1:35-3835 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”Look, I would say most of us – if we are not hearing from God, it’s becauseOur desires are set on what we want – the flesh instead of what the Spirit wantsGET PRACTICAL:Let me tell you what setting my mind on what the Spirit desires looks like for me:I walk into a grocery store to get groceries after work for my wife. As I’m walking up, I’m just in prayer with God, “God, if there is someone in here you want me to encourage or talk to, I’m yours.”My kids get in an argument – I stop myself from responding and say, “Jesus, how do I handle this”Following Jesus is all about minutes and moments-it is focusing your mind on Him every minute-and watching for the moments He revealsASIDE:Let me just say a little aside here, some of you would say to me, “Kent, I’ve been a Christian a long time and I’ve never heard God’s voice…”I might ask you, have you ever read a scripture felt like it was meant specifically for you?Have you ever felt compelled to help someone without knowing why?Those are all ways God communicates with His people…CLOSING:This is the last in this series on Walking with God – next week we start a series called dust to dust looking at mortality and eternity…-But can I just say I’ve done some crazy things in my life – been on amazing adventures. I’ve seen things I never would have dreamed I’d see.But the most amazing adventure I’ve ever been on has been knowing God. I’m telling you – it has pushed me, made me a better man, helped me find a passion and purpose in life. If you haven’t chosen to follow Jesus, man – don’t leave this church today without choosing to walk with Him – He’s ready to walk with you!