The importance of listening well


God is always speaking in some way and the question is, are we listening? I want to look at one example in the Book of Acts, chapter 10. I’m going to look at the example of the Apostle Peter allowing himself to be taught or spoken to by the Lord, and that is one example because it combines a few different modes of God communicating.

But I want to think about Peter. How many of you know that listening is a learned skill. Some people are better listeners than others. How many of us know that? Sometimes our tendency, you know, you’re talking to someone and they’re looking around and they’re yawning. And you say, ‘look, are you getting anything, are you listening? Maybe they are, but they are just now giving you the clues. And there’s other people who you feel that, guau, I say something and this person…. They’re just ….. on me, they’re listening, they’re giving me feedback, they’re really interested in what I’m saying. They’re people who have learned how to listen, that’s a learned skill and in fact I want to put of that in our discipulado materials, someone remind me of that, because we need to teach it. It doesn’t come naturally, to listen.

And it’s the same thing with the Holy Spirit and I look at the Apostle Peter and we were talking about this last Sunday in the 12 o’clock service, the way he learned to hear from God from the very beginning of his relationship with God when Jesus, he’d been fishing all night and he hadn’t caught anything, remember the story? And Jesus says, ‘Why don’t you try, go out and throw the nets on the other side?’ And Peter says, ‘We’ve been fishing all night, we haven’t caught anything’ and then he looks at him and says, ‘Well, because it’s you, we’ll give it a try’. And then they catch the fish, it’s a miraculous catch, it’s more than they can fit. Peter comes up to Jesus, everyone else is celebrating and laughing and singing and fisher flopping all over the place, and Peter just comes up to Jesus and says, ‘Go away from me, I’m a sinful man.’ Because he heard the message in that experience. He heard the message that he had just been slightly sarcastic with the Son of the living God and he realized that he was sinful and his arrogance was exposed, and he heard it at that moment.

And he’ll go through all kinds of learning experiences where God will be speaking to him. I think of some moments where the pastor spoke about when Peter walked on the water and then he fell into the water. But boy, he must have learned something from that. God telling him ‘Peter, if you keep your eyes on me, there’s nothing you can’t do. And if you take your eyes off me and you’re going to get wet fast.’

And the Apostle Peter learned to walk in the supernatural, he learned the lessons. I remember a moment when God spoke to him in not so pleasant a way, when he had said ‘Jesus, you’re the Christ, you’re the Son of the living God’ and then Jesus starts talking about how it’s necessary for him to suffer and to be crucified and to be spat upon him, and Peter takes him aside and what does he do?

Anyone remember? He rebuked him, he says, ‘Jesus, this is never going to happen. No, no, no this isn’t the plan’. And Jesus says, ‘Get behind me, Satan, I rebuke’, and Peter, he learned how to hear from God in the rebuke.

And then there was a time when Peter, we talked about this last Sunday, thought he had it all together and Jesus says, ‘You’re all going to fall away from me’, and Peter says, ‘Even if everybody falls away, not me, I’ll never deny you’. And Jesus says, ‘Tonight, tonight, before the cock crocks twice, you’re going to deny 3 times that you even know me’, and Peter says, ‘Even if everybody else denies you, I never will, I’m willing to die with you’. And Jesus says, ‘You need to learn just how we really are.’

And we all know the story: that night Peter denied him 3 times, went out and wept bitterly. And Jesus came back, and he repeated the miracle of the catch. Peter was fishing, and Jesus was there after the resurrection on the sea shore and he says, ‘hey, why don’t you try on the other side?’, and there was another miraculous catch and Peter got the message. He said, ‘That’s the Lord’.

And I love what happens in that story, this is after Peter denied the Lord, it’s after the resurrection. It says, “… the others started rowing towards shore, the shore, but not Peter. Peter really quick, he threw on the garment and he jumped in and he swam to the shore. Peter had a heart that sought after the Living God. He had a passionate heart for God and he swam to shore and Jesus said, ‘Peter, do you love me?’ And Peter says, ‘You know I love you’, and he says, ‘feed my sheep’, and he asks him 3 times and he reinstates him and calls him to his position. But Peter got the point. I’m not as strong as I think I am, I don’t know everything, God sometimes, I’m sure and I’m wrong and you need to speak to me and to change the paradigms of life that I have.

When I talk about our paradigms I mean it, as the assumptions we make, the things we’re sure of in life. For instance, my belief in gravity, that if I drop something it’s going to fall. It’s a paradigm: I believe in gravity. That’s just what happens. We have all kind of other assumptions: about life, about the way things work, about who we are, about the way God works in our life, there are paradigms. They’re the expectations. They’re the assumptions that we have, and we’re sure of them, whether they’re right or wrong, whether we even know we believe them. They’re there and when God speaks he sometimes takes those paradigms and smashes them all to bits.

Now, the difference between a disciples who moves on to great things in the Lord and those that don’t is if we’re willing to have the voice of God restructure the paradigms with which I see the world, to give me a difference set of glasses so that I see things differently. If I’m willing to do that, if I’m teachable, then I’m a sheep that follows the shepherd’s voice. If I’m not then I will constantly be tripping over the same stumbling blocks, all my life. There’s a proverb that says, ‘don’t be like the horse or the mule that has to be trained with blows, be like the….. I don’t know what it referred to, some other animal, that just responds to the movement of its rider. Those of us, when we resist, then God has to get a little bit heavy with us sometimes. It’s much better to just listen and flow with what he has.

So, we’re going to look at an example of Peter hearing from the Lord and my hope is that it will help us in learning how God works in speaking to us. So, Acts chapter 10, we’re going to read through this so I’m going to ask you to open up to Acts chapter 10, if you have it. If you don’t just follow along and we’re going to talk about a major experience of hearing the voice of God that Peter had. Now, it starts, not with Peter, but with another man who was a gentile and his name was Cornelius, and we’re going to start with him hearing from the Lord and then we’re going to shift the scene to Peter.

So, Acts chapter 10, it says: “…. At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion, in what was known as the Italian regiment. He and all his family were devout and God fearing. He gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly….”

Now, remember this man was not Jewish, he was a gentile, they were considered to be not the people of God, but he feared God, he prayed and he gave alms.

Verse 3, “….. One day at about 3 in the afternoon he had a vision, he distinctly saw an angel of God who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius’ and Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it Lord?’, he asked, and the angel answered, ‘your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now, send me to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon, who was called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.’ When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldiers who was one of his attendants and he told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa…..”

So that’s the first scene, you’ve got Peter somewhere else, and you’ve got Cornelius who was a soldier, not just a soldier, he was an authoritative soldier guy, a general, I don’t know what, a centurion, I don’t know, but he had authority. He was not a Jewish man. At that time they believed that the people of God were the Jews, that the Christians were Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, the expectation, the assumption, the paradigm was that God’s people are Jewish believers in the Messiah. Now, this man was not a Jew but he had a vision of an angel telling him, ‘go, send messengers to a guy named Peter. He’s going to share a special message with you.’ He does so.

Now, the scene, the movie shift to Peter’s house, or to the house of Simon the tanner and Peter is there, verse 9, Acts 10, verse 9.

“…..It’s about noon the following day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city and Peter went upon the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat and while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its 4 corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up Peter, kill and eat’….”

Ok, now, let’s stop right there for a second. Peter’s on the roof of the house. How many have ever been in a setting where you can go to the roof of a house and …. flat. When I was in Honduras the houses you could go up on the roof….. was beautiful at sunset… ah! The sun setting, you can see the city, you can smell the food being cooked underneath. Remember that? Anyone had that experience? Maybe some of you are like, no, never did, I’ve been in Boston all of my life.

Anyway, the roof, you’re on the roof. So, he’s on the roof, it’s a very pleasant setting, the sun is setting. Oh! He’s feeling good, he’s hungry, they’re cooking downstairs, you could smell the arroz con frijoles, they’re getting going down there, the food is wafting out. And then he goes into a trance and he has a vision of a sheet that comes down with all these animals.

Now, these were not normal animals, these were all animals that according to Old Testament law, were unclean for a good devout Hebrew to eat, that was food that if you’re a good, Bible observing, Jewish man or woman, you don’t need these animals. They were considered unclean, that’s what the Bible said, ok, and the idea is to follow the Bible, right? So that happens.

Now a voice comes and what does the voice tell Peter? ‘Get up, kill, eat. Here’s your dinner.’ But wait a minute: the Bible says that this food is bad, I’m not supposed to eat it. But this voice tells him that, ok? Now, so we go on, at least what he thought the Bible says. It says that you’re not supposed to eat it, that was his interpretation.

Now, we go on to verse 14, how do you think Peter is going to react? “…..Surely not, Peter replied, I’ve eaten anything impure or unclean….”

No, I mean to…… appreciate the scandal of this. He believed that God was telling him to do something that wasn’t supposed to be done…. Ok, I’m going to use an illustratioin. I thought about this, I prayed about if I should do it. You’re going to have to forgive me if this is a bad illustration, you cannot misapply the illustration I’m using, right? You promise?

If I got giving you a vision of a bunch of cigars and says, ‘Get up, smoke….’ What would you say? You’d say, ‘No, Lord, I’m not going to do that….’

Now, ok, I don’t want anyone afterwards with their Fidel Castro cigar say the pastor said I’m supposed….. Please cameras, you’re getting this…. I’m not saying…. But all I’m saying is I’m trying to communicate just how scandalous it was for God to tell him this. it was different from what he thought it was right and appropriate and normal for him to do.

So, he says, ‘No, surely not…’. It’s like when Jesus tried to wash his feet, anyone remember what Peter said when Jesus tried to wash his feet? ‘Never, Lord, never’, and then Jesus said, ‘Peter, I don’t wash you, you have nothing to with me, you don’t understand now what I’m doing, but later you’ll understand, ok? That’s the idea. Peter learned that sometimes God is doing things that he doesn’t understand at the time and he learned, ‘go with the flow. God will show me later. He’s going to figure things out even though things don’t make sense right now, ok?

Get up, kill, eat. Never, Lord, I’ve never done this, verse 15 “…. The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean…’

He thought that food was impure, that was his interpretation of the Old Testament and God is saying ‘don’t call something impure that I cleaned’.

And now, this happened 3 times an immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. Now, in the Old Testament they knew, when you want to emphasize something that instead of shouting you just say it 3 times, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God all mighty. There’s a whole concept of 3, so God said this, not just once, and not just twice, but 3 times because he wanted Peter to know that this was serious, this was important.

Ok, verse 17 “…. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out asking if Simon, who was known as Peter was staying there…”

Ok, we’re going to stop there. While Peter was wondering about the vision….. Now, that’s the key right there. When God speaks, much of the time we don’t understand what he’s saying at the time, ok? When Mary, heard prophesies about Jesus, right? They said, this son, this child is destined to be great and he will cause the rising and falling of many in Israel and a sword will pierce your heart… Mary didn’t understand the full meaning of that. The Bible says she pondered it in her heart, because she recognized, God is speaking but I don’t fully get it right now, but I’m just going to take this word and I’m going to think about it, I’m going to pray about it, I’m going to ponder it and let God bring more understanding and meaning to it.

So, that’s what Peter was doing. He took the vision and he thought ‘What was that?’, and he was thinking about it, and he was praying about it. And right then the guys come from Cornelius’ house. They say, ‘Is Peter there?’, they’re yelling upstairs, you know. He’s up on the roof, he hears them, what’s going on down there. ok.

So, verse 19 “… While Peter was still thinking about the vision, -that’s the follow up, God what are you saying to me?- the spirit said to him, ‘Simon, 3 men are looking for you, so get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them….”

Ok, so now we’re getting the next part of it, sometimes you don’t know the whole story, and God doesn’t give you a whole map, he just tells you where the next turn you, sometimes, he doesn’t tell you the whole story, but just the next chapter.

So Peter went down said; “…. I’m the one you’re looking for, why have you come?’ and the men replied, ‘We have come from Cornelius, the centurion, he’s a righteous God-fearing man, who’s respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say’. Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests…”

Does anyone know why that was such a radical thing for Peter to do? Anyone know the background to this? you do not sit down at a table with a gentile even when the Jewish leaders went to the house of the Roman rulers to have Jesus crucified, they wouldn’t go in the house even though it was a Roman ruler, because a Jew doesn’t go into the house of a gentile and a good, righteous Hebrew doesn’t allow a gentile to come into his house. But Peter was already seeing, he was seeing, God said, ‘don’t call anything impure that God has made clean’.

Here are some people, some human beings, some special people who’ve come telling me about something that God is doing and even though they’re gentiles, I’m going to start breaking the rules in my own head. They’re not God’s rules any more, they’re his rules, and he says, ‘I’m going to let this person come in’, ok?

So they come in and then, let’s see what happens the next day. “…. The next day Peter started out with them –we’re in verse 23 still- and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea and Cornelius was expecting them and he called together his relatives and his close friends, and as Peter entered the house Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence, but Peter made him get up and said, stand up, he said ‘I’m only a man myself’, and talking with him, Peter went inside –he went inside the house- and he found a large gathering of people….”

I just imagine that moment, when Peter walked in the house and he looked and here was room full of faces and eyes and people looking at him, gentiles, people that if he followed the rules in his head, they’re people that he’s not allowed to spend time with, one and one, but there he is, looking at them and I just imagine the words ringing in his head ‘Don’t call anything impure that God has made clean…. Don’t call anything impure that God has made clean….’

And now, look at what happens, “… He said to them –in verse 28, we’re working through the text, stay with me here, verse 28- “…. He said to them ‘you are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a gentile or visit him, but God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent me?’

Now, notice what Peter says, “… it says in our law that Jews must not associate with gentiles, but God has shown me….” Ok. Peter had a law that he followed, that was a bad law, it was a law that was wrong, that was not really God’s will for him, and God showed him that this law, this assumption of what’s appropriate and what’s right and what’s wrong is off based. And so Peter he realized that…. Even though the vision was about food, he realized that God was talking to him about people and he says, ‘I shouldn’t call anyone impure or unclean that God has made clean’.

Peter knew how to interpret the revelation of God in his life and how to connect the dots. That’s why I loved what Dave said about the stop lights, because basically, something that seemed totally unconnected but he’s connecting the dots, his experience with the revelation of God, one thing after another…. Have you ever done that connect the dot thing, whgen you’re a kid, the pictures. At first the dots in themselves don’t have any meaning, but you start to connect them in the appropriate order and then you see that there’s a message coming through. Ok.

Now, just as a little side note, it’s possible for us to connect the dots wrong? Because we are fallible and human, there is many a prophet who has received a revelation and misinterpreted that revelation. The revelation was true but the meaning wasn’t.

I’m just going to take a step back and tell a story that I read in a book by a pastor from Kansas City who’s one of my favorite teachers. And he talked about a guy in his church who came up to another man and said, ‘Brother, the Lord has revealed to me that you have a calling to be a worship leader. You need to become a worship leader’. So this guy, you know, believing in the prophetic gifting of this friend whom he loved, worshiped, so he figured ‘ok, I’ll work on it’. And he starts getting into a worship group and discovers that he sings like a dieing cow and he’s totally tone-deaf and he doesn’t know how to do music at all and it just terrible, it just wasn’t working. So he goes back to friend and he says ‘I thought God told you that I was supposed to be worship leader, why is it that I stink? He says, tell me what you saw?, and the guy saw, ‘ok, well I saw you and I saw the image of a musical symbol, you know, in the music, musical symbol…. A musical note over your head, that’s what I saw.’ And the guy said, ‘but why didn’t you just tell me that, I was praying about opening a music store at that point and I was praying for God…. why did you tell me….

You see, this guy, he received genuinely, prophetic God spoke to him. He shows to him but he misinterpreted the vision he had. Let’s imagine if Peter had done that. If he thought it was just…. The vision said, ‘Get up, kill and eat’. And he goes around killing and …. The whole idea is to take the revelation and to be humble and teachable enough to let God interpret it for you and to realize that you can be wrong, and it’s ok. God can clarify. His sheep hear his voice. Ok?

So, that’s what Peter was doing. He was hearing and then Cornelius told Peter the story. He says, ‘well 4 days ago I had an angel come to me and tell me that God had heard my prayers and he told me to send someone to that house and look for you and that you would have something to tell that would make a difference.

Let’s skip ahead to verse 34 in Acts 10, “….Then Peter began to speak and he says, ‘I now realize….. –ok, now I realize, I didn’t before, but now I realize- …. how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right…..”

He says, I realized now that God doesn’t show favoritism, the message is also for the gentiles and then he goes on to preach a message. Does anyone know what happens as Peter preaches the message? Anyone remember what happens? What happens? In the middle of his message, just a holy chaos explode, people start getting filled with the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues, a supernatural language and prophesying and freaking out and it was Pentecost, it was just like what happened to them in Pentecost. And you see, God is pouring out his Holy Spirit on them and Peter didn’t even have to lay on hands. God just did it. They hadn’t even been baptized in water yet.

And you know, Peter might have thought, ‘is it right for me to baptize these gentiles?’ But he’s like, ‘look if God baptized them with the Holy Spirit, who am I to say they can’t be baptized in water?’. Peter learned his lesson. It changed a paradigm that he had.

And the point I want to make, there’s so many things that we think and we believe that are just wrong, really, really wrong and throughout history it’s been like. You know, there was a time, as you read history the Christians have believed all kinds of crazy stuff, it’s not really biblical, by they take Bible verses and they think that’s what it means. In the history of this country there was a civil war over slavery, right? There were people on both sides, in the north and in the south, used the Bible, the abolitionist, praise God here in Boston, Tremont Temple, use the Bible correctly to say that slavery is wrong, but there were Christians and pastors, a lot of them, Bible believers down in the south, who said ‘no, the Bible teaches that slavery is good and we need to preserve that’. They misinterpreted verses from the Bible, they had paradigms that were just wrong.

Now, God then speaks and hopefully people change their perspectives. You know, just as a little, while I’m on the civil war thing I’m kind in the history, I’m going to indult a little bit, after the war, there is a story of an Episcopalian church in Virginia where they were giving communion and in that time you would come forward and you would kneel at the altar to receive communion. It was Episcopalian kind of like Catholic in a way, and scandalously one day, this is years after the war, an African American man comes forward and kneels together with the white church members to receive communion and they said ‘ah…..there’s this …… to the church, ah….’ because in those days I mean, you don’t do that, you don’t do that. And everyone is there waiting to see what’s happened and then a gray-haired old man comes burbling up and kneels next to that man and the gray-haired old man who came forward was named Robert E. Lee, who was the military commander of the South in the Civil War and he went up there and said, ‘I’m receiving communion next to my brother.’

Now, I suspect there was…. I heard that on a historical documentary. It sounds almost too true to believe, but hey…. America, you know, the Civil War documentary series wouldn’t like, I hope. If that’s true, what an amazing story of a man who said ‘our paradigm is wrong and we need to be willing to hear from God that what we’ve always thought is right isn’t necessarily right, that God has a different way of doing things.

And we, in our lives, it’s like that. We have expectations for own life that we think this is the way life is for me, this is the way things are going to be and it’s not necessarily true and the sheep of God hear the shepherd’s voice.

I want to wrap that up sort of with a personal testimony of a little paradigm shift that happened in my own life when I was 17 years old. I had become a Christian when I was 16 and I was part of a youth group, and I grew up in a real quiet little town called Simsbury, Connecticut, the major industry was insurance. It is a pretty quiet town, pretty ethically homogenous, you know, very, very homogenous, very…. Everyone was the same culturally ethically, and one day my youth group they took me into an inner city church called Glory Chapel and I had a team challenge program. Anyone know what a team challenge is? It’s a pentecostal city Christian drug rehab program where people come in with drug addictions and they hear the gospel and they get free, if they stick it out. They have stay free, you know, …. But God does the work.

So, they brought me to that, I’m 17 years old, I ‘d hardly ever been in the city before. I was from the suburbs and I went there with the youth group and the worship was wild, it was inner city gospel, Glory Chapel, you know with the gospel and people were just praising and falling down and crying and it was multi ethnic, and I was like ‘ah… I love it here!’ I said, ‘God, I like this!’, but I thought, you know, if I ever tried it…. and I thought the program looked kind of interesting, but I thought, if I ever try to go to this program and like help out, people are going to look at me like, ‘What are you doing here? Who do you think you are?’, you know, a little white boy from the suburbs, never had anything happen would say, ‘what are you doing here?’

And so I figured, this is a ministry I will probably visit, but I could probably actually never be part of this because I’m different and it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to or I was scared of it, I thought that I wouldn’t be received. So, anyway, several months later the group from teams challenge visits my church, it was a Presbyterian church so it was very alive, but in a quiet suburban kind of way, but it was spiritually alive, but they came in, they did their thing, they shared testimony, they preached and the leader was this guy who I thought was just amazing. He was dynamic, he had this thick Porto Rican accent and he was very pentecostal, ‘praise the Lord, Alleluia!’, you know, he was all over the place. And afterwards I go on to him and I’m talking to him and he says, ‘hey, praise the Lord, brother, where do you go to college?’ And I’m like, ‘well, I go to Amherst College, it’s a small college. You know, ……., a major in history’. So he said, ‘Praise the Lord, me too, I went to that college!’ and I ‘what?’ He says, yes, I grew up in Weston and it turns out this guy was …. He didn’t have a drop of Latino blood in him, not a drop. He was gringo, gringo, gringo, he didn’t have any, none of Puerto Rico, he grew up in a richer, more homogenous suburb than I did, went to Amherst College, majored in something like Medieval….. and then God called him to go to the inner city and do drug rehab ministry and he’d been there 10 years. And I was like, guau, and he said, ‘hey, why don’t you come in and volunteer this summer and do some stuff, maybe you can help tutors from other guys…. So I figured, well, ok, if he could it….

And I’ll never forget that about, just a couple of months after I was praying about it, because that was like… it was during the year. A couple of months later, I’m in a prayer chapel in my little Presbyterian church again, it happens to be called the barn, it’s in a barn building, rehabbed to be a church and there is a little silo where there’s a prayer chapel and I used to spend time in there alone praying. And I’m in there praying one day and suddenly I get ….. by 15 guys from the program and Paul, the same guy, just happened to come in at that moment because they just happened to be passing through Simsbury and Paul wanted to show them the prayer silo. And he said, ‘hey, we’re about to have a prayer meeting, do you want to stay with us?’ I said, ‘well, sure’ and I was in the middle of this and I, like Peter, I started connecting the dots.

I thought, I’ll give it a try. So, I figured out, I’ll visit for a couple of weeks and see what happens. So I got on the commuter bus with my dad, went in and I got off and walked down to the program and I decided, ok, I’m not going to pretend like I have the answers, because I don’t have a clue. I’m going to do a lot of listening and praying and I did and didn’t have anybody saying ‘Who do you think you are?’. I didn’t have anybody saying ‘You can’t understand me, you haven’t been through this….? Nobody, nobody said that. And you know, I was 17, now I’m … it’s 21 years later and just this morning when I was leaving a Bible study for men in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. I’ve doing it now for 21 years and nobody has ever said that to me.

Now, part of that is because I don’t assume I know what people are going through and I’m willing to listen, but I felt like God was saying ‘Greg, don’t decide in advance who you can and can’t minister to, or be ministered to by. Don’t decide what you can do and can’t do for me. Let me decide that and I’ll show you how it’s done and I’ll guide you, but don’t assume that this is the way your life is going to turn out because I may have different plans for you, and they’re good.

You know, when we really let God do our life his way it’s good, it’s good. He knows what he’s doing and he speaks to us and he sometimes tells us stuff we wouldn’t have thought, we wouldn’t have wanted to hear, he brings us in directions we never planned but they’re good directions, they’re places where we’re blessed and happy because God’s sheep know their shepherd’s voice.

So, I’m going to invite the musicians to come up and actually Pastor Kathleen, I hate to put you on the spot, could I ask you to pray for us here? I want to talk a little bit too but I’m going to ask the musicians to come up and do their thing, and just want to ask you, what is God showing you these days? What’s he’s speaking to you? He’s telling you something, somehow? I don’t know how, maybe it’s through the Bible, maybe it’s through sermons, maybe it’s through friends, maybe it’s through family, maybe you’re having weird dreams, I don’t know, ok, but I know that God is speaking to everybody in some way and he’s telling you something. It’s up to us to learn how to discern the shepherd’s voice.

Now, we have to do that humbly, we can be wrong, we don’t necessarily know how the dots connect, but if we will be teachable and let ourselves be lead God will help us connect those dots and bring us into beautiful pastures that he’s prepared for us. Are you willing to listen and cultivate ears that hear?

Jesus says, ‘those who have the ears, let them hear what the spirit says’. We have ears, but that doesn’t mean that we can hear. We need to decide to say ‘God, I want to hear you. I want to hear what you’ve got to say to me’. And you know, God started speaking to the prophet Samuel when he was 8 years old, so it doesn’t matter how old you are. God…. that’s your mom’s elbow and for a good reason. He could start speaking to you now, now. You may be brand new here, you may not know what’s going on, but God is speaking, God is speaking and it’s up to us to listen.

So, I’m going to ask, as the musicians start playing, I’m going to ask just to be before the Lord for a minute. Why don’t we stand up. I’m going to ask pastor Kathleen who ministers in the service, just to pray for people in this area cultivating ears that hear.

Thank you, Jesus. Praise the Lord.

…… deep into our hearts and spirits. Praise you Lord, Alleluia! Thank you, Lord. Alleluia! Lord, we do want to know you more, we want to know you so much that we are able to hear your voice so that we stand before you tonight, each one of us. Lord we are at different points in our lives, but you know it all and we open up ourselves before you and God I pray over everyone here that this will be a people that it will be a said of us that my sheep know my voice.

God as we heard tonight, as you begin to bring us into a place where we’re seeing and we’re hearing and we’re receiving revelation from you, let us not miss it, oh God. Teach us how to discern, how to interpret, how to connect the dots, so Lord, that we would stand as a people in this generation with a clear sense of purpose, with an understanding of what your will for our lives is, what you’re calling us to do and ask to speak Lord, too, to our families, to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our cities, Lord. Speak to our hearts today, oh Lord. Open up our ears, Jesus. Cause us Lord to become even more sharp in our hearing. Some of us hear, some of see, some of us know it in our spirits, God what it is that you’re saying to us.

I pray God, that you just cause us, Lord to become more and more sharpened, even as that polished arrow is sharpened and hidden in the arrow sack of the Lord, let us be like that Lord, so that we are indeed for this time and this season, a new and a sharp, refreshing instrument. Lord that you could send us forth into the world, send us forth into the nations, send us forth, oh God, with the word in our mouth.

God give us humility as well, Lord Jesus, even as we begin to receive from you, that we will not act in presumption or pride, or arrogance, oh God, thinking, oh God, that we have it together, but teach us how to listen and how to wait and to wait for the fullness of your revelation to come, the fullness of the interpretation.

We thank you today as your spirit begins to deepen us and descend upon us in a fresh way, we just continue to stand and to bask in the presence of the Lord. Alleluia! In your name, Lord Jesus. Praise the Lord. Thank you, Lord.