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Discerning the Voice of God
There is no escaping the culture of cause-driven protests that have been permeating in cities all over the world. Many of them involving young people that have often been mis-labelled as being apathetic or entitled. While there are differing opinions, often leading to heated debates, on the issues/cause, there is agreement that everyone has a VOICE and there are more platforms than ever before for these voices to bring about changes that would lead to a revolution.
The Apostle Paul would have been considered a revolutionist, given his personal turnaround from one who was persecuting Christ-followers into one of the greatest preachers of the Gospel. The role of the preacher is often referred to as a “herald,” meaning a person who brings news.
“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.” (2 Timothy 1:11 NIV)
Paul identifies his appointment as a herald of the Gospel in the letter to Timothy, partly to oppose false teachers (voices) that were misguiding the early church. Just as the messaging was key to establish the foundations of the church then, the Message has to be the foundation of the church today!
The Holy Spirit appoints men and women today to be heralds of the Gospel message in the office of the pastor (preacher and teacher). Therefore, I believe that the best way for us to hear God’s voice is to listen intently to the sermons diligently prepared by our pastors each week through their personal study and reflection on God’s Word for us. A sermon may have the form of a lecture, but it is so much more because it does not serve just to inform but to transform.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Of course, we are not to abdicate our own personal study of Scripture and blindly taking in every wind of teaching. Nor are we called to be Bible critics cross-examining every aspect of a sermon’s form and function (unless you are doing so for a preaching course). When we appreciate that the sermon is prepared from the heart of a pastor for the congregation that he or she shepherds, we allow the Holy Spirit to speak faith and truth into our lives.
“And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.” (1 Timothy 2:7 NIV)
In a sea of many voices that are constantly trying to shape our opinions and ideas, be encouraged that the Holy Spirit wants to speak God’s Word to your heart. The next time before you listen to a sermon, try to pray this prayer:
“Father, I pray that I might be open to hear Your voice. May I be eager to hear what You have to say to me through Your written Word, and by the Word as it is preached. I pray that I might not turn away from the truth but would listen intently to what You are saying to me. Lord, it appears that at times the voices of this world are louder than Your still small voice; help me to discern that the loudest voice is not always the wisest voice. Open my spiritual ears and help me to hear You calling me by name to be Yours both now and forever. Amen”