Listening to the Spirit

 

This is a copy of a message I gave at a Vineyard Church on Sunday.  I post it here because I think it’s God’s message for many today (me!), both in the Amazon and in the U.S.  I hope our Father uses it to encourage all of us to draw closer to Him.

A carpenter was hired to build a large house – he hired his two sons to work with him

Son #1 – highly skilled, did the work HE thought best, didn’t listen to father

Son #2 – minimally skilled, listened to father, anxious to learn and help

Which son would the father more be pleased with?

Which son would be more productive in finishing the house?

The first son realized he wasn’t much help to the project.  He worked hard but nothing that he did fit in the plans. His beautiful walls were improperly sized and were useless.  His beautiful floors were of the wrong material, etc.  Day after day, he saw his brother’s joy in working closely with his dad and he became more and more tired, frustrated, and lonely, so he came to his father.  He asked his father what to do and he began to do what his father asked. The Father was thrilled and embraced him and welcomed him to the team

John 10:27 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

God is looking for unskilled sons and daughters (sheep!) who will listen to Him, surrender to His leadership, learn learn learn, and follow His leading

He’s looking for son #2s

The cool thing about this is we all are not highly gifted or skilled or intelligent and …   NONE of these are required in God’s kingdom,

But we ALL can listen and obey, like the 2nd son

God doesn’t care if you’ve never listened and obeyed before, He doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done, He doesn’t care if you drink or smoke or have other such habits, He would be thrilled, like the father in the story, to have you come and ask

“What do you want me to do?”, and then begin doing it

We know that God doesn’t expect perfection from us—He compared us to sheep—I’ve owned sheep and they are not smart or "gifted", but they CAN learn to follow their shepherd’s voice

(It’s a huge misconception in Christian teaching in this culture that if you smoke or drink or have ANY "bad" habits, Jesus won’t accept you into His kingdom)

He calls us to listen to what He’s saying…then obey

This is what the Bible calls “walking in the Spirit” or “being led by the Spirit”

Rom 8:14–  For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Listening to what the Spirit is saying, and following what He says

This is the “Good News” … life in the kingdom is about walking with the Spirit –

Listening, then obeying (following)

Living in God’s kingdom is NOT about trying to be like Jesus and NOT about doing good things (!!!)

Like the Father in the story, God is thrilled when we ask Him often,

“Father, what are you saying to me?”

“Father, what would you have me do?”

while we wait in line, while we relax, while we work, when we’re talking to someone, when our circumstances go well, when things are difficult…

 

**How do we, as followers of Jesus, depart from this life of walking in the Spirit?

We become like the first son in our story — we do what WE want to do, what WE think is best —

We work hard trying to obey God, without listening to what HE wants

We focus on what we are doing, not listening to the Spirit and THEN doing work

This is what the bible calls walking in the flesh.  This is religion and is not part of God’s Kingdom

God wants us to work WITH Him, not FOR Him

The Christian life is NOT learning the Bible and trying to live it

It’s about listening to the Spirit …then obeying

Churches in the U.S. and Brazil are full of people who are very religious, trying to do work FOR God, learning the Bible and trying to live it …  apart from listening to the Spirit.  And these same people call themselves Christians but their lives are discontented, frustrated, and empty

If we choose this path, we will also end up empty and our life will lack the peace and joy that Jesus said would characterize his followers

If your life is characterized by this emptiness and lack of peace and joy, consider if you may be like the first son in our story, working hard but disconnected with the father

**Another mistake we make is we think knowing the Bible is the key to our Christian walk

We often feel inadequate if we don’t know much of the Bible

The Bible is NOT God. It leads us TO God and tells us about Him. Knowing God is the key. The Bible doesn’t give life, Jesus gives life. We learn the Bible to learn more about the God we want to listen to and obey. The devil knows the Bible better than any of us ever will , but he doesn’t listen and then obey what Jesus says to him.

Listening to the Spirit and surrendering to Him is the key to walking with God and realizing the peace and joy Jesus said would follow

**So, how do we know if we are walking in the Spirit? If we are living well in His kingdom?

Jesus told us one way we would know — Mt 7:22-27 (please read)

Storms reveal where our hearts are.  Storms are simply difficult, perhaps overwhelming circumstances.  They show us how solid our inner house is

Is our house built on sand or on rock?

We might be working very hard FOR God (doing) but not listening (hearing) to what He wants us to do —we build on sand

We may be learning the Bible (hearing) but not listening to Him and surrendering our hearts to Him, then obeying —we build on sand

But if we listen to what Jesus is telling us AND we do what He says — THEN we build on rock and our house will stand through any storm

Jesus wants our house built on rock – solid, stable, and useful – because storms WILL come

Jesus promised storms and trouble in this life — They are part of His plan….why?

Because houses that stand when other houses fall are noticed by the people whose houses have fallen or are falling

Few things give God greater glory or attention than when His people remain solid, continue to worship Him, continue to trust Him and serve Him, through storms, thru difficult times

No one is more useful to Him in His kingdom in leading others to Him than those who walk with Him, listening and surrendering to Him in the midst of the storms of life

This is why the early church was so effective – many died, many faced illness and persecution, but they continued to worship and trust Jesus—and those of the world who were lost and searching for truth noticed that the Christians’ "houses" stood though the storms, and those who didn’t know Jesus wanted to worship Jesus because of what they saw in the Christians’ lives

One day, we will prosper, we will have comfort, we will have no more tears, we will have complete understanding ………  but NOT in this life

God is looking for a people who care NOT about the things of this life, but rather He is looking for a people who will forsake this life and the things of this life and the pursuit of prosperity, who will make the most important thing in their life listening to Jesus and doing what He tells them to do

In John 10:10 Jesus says He came that we might have life abundant

To get this life, one that stands through storms, we become as sheep, listening to and following our Shepherd above ALL other pursuits

Our Shepherd cares deeply for us, He wants to speak to us and teach us and build His kingdom with us as His workers and His sons and daughters

I have been the first son in our story. After I knew Jesus, I became like the first son in our story, doing my own thing and asking God to bless it.

I know what it’s like to NOT listen to Him and try to live as a Christian and experience all the emptiness and frustration that goes with that.  My "Christianity" became as a heavy burden to me

I also know what it’s like to go to my Father and say I’m sorry for my independent heart …   and have Him embrace me and welcome me back to His side

I also know the joy of learning to recognize His inner voice and obeying

You may be at this place tonight. You have focused on yourself, your work, your strengths, your weaknesses, your mistakes. You’ve been like the first son, you can come to your Father tonight …….and begin again

Begin listening, surrendering to the One who made you, who died for you, and who invites you to come to Him surrenderred

You may be going through a storm and your life is very difficult right now

Call out to Him, He wants to meet you there, speak to you, change the sand to rock, and walk through it all with you

He may be asking you to examine your foundation – is it solid? Are you practicing listening to Him, and surrendering to Him? Talk with Him about it tonight, and listen for His voice

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