Listening to the Holy Spirit: Finding Your Faith’s Ear

Seven ways to start or re-start your discernment skills. God speaks. How will we learn to listen?

Your equipping skill: Listening Prayers of the heart and growing in discernment

Listening to the Holy Spirit is Central to a living Faith.

What “listening to the Holy Spirit” means

  • The Holy spirit testifies to Christ, guides, inspires and motivates us.  Listening to the Holy Spirit means prioritizing God’s word above other sources.
  • Too often we worship our preferences.  This leads us to blind and deaf spots where we cannot hear what God has to say. 

What this does NOT mean

  • This is not divining the future
  • This is not “Fire Insurance”, insuring a financial or other success.
  • This does not put you or I in charge. Servant Leaders are First Followers
  • This is not manipulating God to do our will.
  • This is not prayer per se, but prayer is the vehicle by which we listen. It is God doing all of the work while we work at listening.

Equipping with Authority

  • This article is focused on the Concrete more than the theorhetical. God is the speaker and will use your preferences to find your listening ear.
  • Central to listening for God is Having an intentional plan. This post should not imply that teaching a mechanical skill-is all that it takes. These 7 actions are ways to intentionally equip yourself to listen
  • Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience are all tests for The Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture, tradition changes to meet the day but gives us context and community, truth makes sense by faith-Fod gave us a mind to use. Finally, all experiences teach something. Pay attention and listen carefully to all four of these as you do these activities. Keep it simple-listen.

1. Disciplined Time with God through Bible study and prayer.

  • God has already spoken through His Word. The more time you spend with God through reading His Word and through prayer, the more familiar you’ll become with His voice.
  • This is important because God will never tell you to do anything that contradicts His written Word. The more time you spend time with God, the more familiar you will become with His voice.

2. Memorize Scripture in context

  • The Bible is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you, transform you, make you more receptive to hear God’s voice.
  • It’s not enough to simply read the Word. Search the Scripture and “Hide it in your Heart”. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Many times the Holy Spirit will use the Word to guide you. This becomes so much easier if you actually have the Word in your heart.

3. Create a balanced life of prayer: ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (Requests).

  • No one like to be around someone who does all of the talking.
  • Don’t just run into prayer with your checklist in hand and pray, “Dear God, please help me here, bless this, bless that, protect them, help me have a good day. Amen.” Spend time listening.
  • You may not hear anything, but it’s important to remember that prayer is a conversation with God, not a list of needs and desires. .

4. Seek Silence Every Day

  • Look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and you’ll see that God chose to speak to Elijah through a gentle whisper. God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice, and not a shout! Faith beckons us to listen in order to hear.
  • God wants us to remove all the distractions from our lives and focus on Him. Find a consistent time and a dedicated place to be silent before God everyday and hear God’s gentle whisper.

5. Have a Spiritual Director and wise counselors

  • God doesn’t speak exclusively to you. He also speaks to those around you. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about the necessity of seeking wise counsel.
  • When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, seek someone wise to be your prayer partner. Carefully and prayerfully seek the wise counsel of those around you. Pray for God to bring these human resources.

6. Intentionally Listen for God in Daily Decisions

  • Don’t just do something, Sit there
  • Practice makes perfect. We have been given a spirit of discernment by our Father. The Holy Spirit is God. God wants us to know the difference between God’s voice and the many enemies competing for our own thoughts.
  • It takes discernment, and the only way to figure it out is to start practicing. This does NOT legitimize procrastination.

7. Be obedient

  • Don’t just sit there, Do something. 
  • Listening to the Holy Spirit requires obedience. Search through the book of Acts. It is a diary of the Holy Spirit speaking to the early church. The “Spirit” is used in Acts 67 different times. The reason the Spirit is still leading and motivating the church today is because the church obeyed the Spirit when Jesus’ Church heard His voice.
  • Do the last thing God told you to do.  If God hasn’t spoken to you, perhaps it’s because you didn’t obey the last thing God told you to do. God may be silent until you finish what He started. When the Spirit speaks, it’s not meant as a suggestion. If you want the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you, obey God when God speaks

NOW WHAT?  What transforming change will you make today? These “Doing” activities can and will point you to “Being” in Christ. The point of this excercise is to strengthen faith and create a more intimate relationship with God. Listen well and hear God’s loving and still small voice.

Some resources for further study:

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

Anatomy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer (Praying together)

When God is Silent by Barbara Brown Taylor ( The Section on Silence)

The Once and Future Wesleyan Movement by Scott J. Jones ( The Holy Spirit p. 57)

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Cheatham Memorial September 2016 Worship!

The theme for September is is “A Work in Progress” and the image is the cross.  Yes, we have a cross in every sermon but these four message will give it more weight.  Do our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness flow from the cross of Christ or just adorn our t-shirts?  I am asking this of myself  during quiet time.  What amazing  power the cross has in our everyday living….when we choose to access it.  How do you do that?  Come to worship and see.  We will also explore prayers of blessing and host a two-week short course on prayer, September 15 and 22 at 6:30 PM.  See cheathamumc.net for details

September 4, 2016: 16th Sunday of Pentecost  Jeremiah 18:1-11   “The Potter’s House

We are all a work in progress.  Even when life is under pressure, faith can build us even if circumstances are trying to get us down.  The greater the pressure, the stronger the earthen vessel.

September 11, 2016: 17th Sunday of Pentecost, remembrance of 9-11,  1 Timothy 1:12-17  “Strength for the Falls”

The promise of redemption if from Jesus himself.  People of faith are strengthened for the everyday “falls” that inevitably come.  Like physical fitness or a baby learning to walk, it is through our trials that we are strengthened in faith.  This gift from the Christ is for all who believe and for all who don’t.  We are all walking redemption’s path.

 September 18, 2016: 18th Sunday of Pentecost, Gideon’s Sunday with special offering.  1 Timothy 2:1-7  “Levelling Prayers” 

In the prayer closet, kings and paupers are judged the same.  This epistle is inviting us to seek God rather than asking God to seek us. How are we praying for our own spiritual formation?  How are we praying for our political and church leaders in their life’s seeking of God?

September 25, 2016: 19th Sunday of Pentecost.  Luke 17:5-10  “A starting place”

This service will be an old school revival Sunday and include our favorite “Methodist Roots” hymns in an upbeat and tradition filled worship experience! The vision of a victorious end is the start of all good journeys.  Where is our starting place in the Christian life?  The truth is that we have many starting placed in Christ.  It is a journey of many steps.  We don’t begin our life of salvation all mature and filled many answers.  We start at the foot of the cross with the harsh reality that we are not finished yet, we continue with the present reality that we don’t journey along, and we live for the completion of our journey with eternity in Christ.  That being said, how do we begin?

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Coming Events:  Charge Conference! Fall Festival on October 15 and a celebration of our fund raiser on October 16!

June 2016 Sermons at Cheatham Memorial

compass of faith

The Cheatham Memorial Family invites you to join us for worship at 10:00 am each Sunday.  We have a variety of activities and service projects that you can check out at our WEBSITE!

Do you ever feel like you have lost direction?  We will discuss ways to “Face the Fire by Faith”.  What do I do with faith in a world that seems so random.   Transformation is a mystery that begins and ends with faith.  The fun stuff lies in the middle.  Find your way with us as we seek Christ together.

June 5:  The 3rd Sunday of Pentecost, Communion Sunday,

Text:  1 Kings 17:8-24 “Now What”

Transformation in the soul is built by our experiences in the day to day.  We need companions for the journey and our eye on God.  With each day’s ups and downs, let’s face it, faith can just be difficult.  And yet we grow through these experiences.

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June 12: 4th Sunday of Pentecost. 

Text: Galatians 2:15-21,” Faith is Dead Right”

The way to faith is faith.  God is faithful to plant the seeds of faith within us and water them with our experiences. Faith expressed leads us to faith experienced.   “Paul speaks of what kind of sinner he is and asks, “what kind of sinner are you?”

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 June 19: 5th Sunday of Pentecost, Father’s Day

Text Luke 8:26-39  “Hey, those are my pigs!”

A dad’s promise does not come from a perfect life but by following a perfect Jesus.  Faith opens our eyes to our own brand of distress and randomness.  Rather than excuse our lives as “Just the way it is”, a new way is given, by faith, to all who will fearlessly face the challenge.

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 June 26:  6th Sunday of Pentecost

Text:  2 Kings 2:1-14  “Pass it on”

Faith is not a possession to hold but one to nurture and pass on.  Our companions in life feed our faith but also depend on us to build them up too.  Leadership is successful when we let god and watch another grow.

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 Welcome-Home-logoCheck our out main website at cheathamumc.net

 

 

Sermon Brief: October 4, 2015 “Tell Them the I AM sent You”

 

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Before health education and restrictions on the tobacco industry nearly everyone smoked . People who did not smoke often carried light to share for others as a courtesy.  As a kid, I was fixated on the Zippo Lighter.  They clicked, flicked and snapped into a flame that did not consume the fibers in the center of the little chrome grid. This was cool and weird at the same time, just like the “burning bush” that confronted Moses.  God had a mission and a direction for Moses.  He had a cool-weird Zippo lighter moment and had the presence of mind to listen and follow.

Our smoking habits have changed.  Lighters are not as commonplace BUT  Jesus is still the way, the truth and the life.  He is the God of all creation and that does not change with the whims of culture.  God is the source of direction for our lives.  Even when we lose our way, God is still speaking to his people.  The greater question is, are we listening?

Click here for our Sermon Text: Exodus 3:1-15

Here are some of the high points:

  • Moses has lost his way.  Born into hiding, prayed into being a prince of the most powerful nation in history. He had everything all figured out until he killed a man.
  • He fled Egypt at about age 40, he could be 70- or 80 years old, trapped in the sheep business. His direction is to water and pasture for the sheep. The Big picture direction of his life was lost
  • God called through an angle in the guise of a fire. Like a zippo, the flame is alive with sound sight and the very voice of God but it is not consumed This is a holy moment on a holy patch of ground.
  • The message: GO to Egypt, bring the message of victory and release, deliver them. Your marching orders, your credentials and your provision is simply from “I AM. Tell them I AM sent you.  This is a derivation of the Yahweh, the name of God.  They would understand.
  • There is no question that this burning bush moment is God’s direction, authority, and provision.  He may question his sanity or his faith but this is to far out there to be anything less than God.  He shows more than a little doubt of self or his ability but the mission is all there.

Wouldn’t you and I have a less anxious life if we followed God’s clear direction with such surefootedness.

A young man that is now a certified lay minister and holding down a church asked me a question.  We were have a parking lot conversation with another pastor who was accustomed to saying “God told me” this and that, whether choosing a song, sermon, or a car.  He often spoke this way and  I knew him as a man of God committed to the Gospel and prayer.  The young lay pastor  was quiet in this conversation as our neighbor was telling us what God had told him to do.  After this pastor left, my friend quietly asked.  “Brother Joe hears from God?  How does he know its God and not someone else?”  This is a great question .

Moses has some hints for listening for God’s voice in this story.  I have never heard Charlton Heston’s voice booming a message out of the rafters or had writing magically appear on the wall but I hear God’s voice in my spirit. Many of my friends and colleagues have been re- assured of their life’s direction in many different ways.  How do we hear?  How do we know it isn’t a misleading voice?

Good questions!  People are dying from a lack of direction. Suicide, depression, missed opportunities, lost wages to unproductivity burden us when we lose our direction and flounder in our faith.  It can all be crushed by simply knowing and following God’s direction by faith.  Before you get too excited though, God makes us work for it and we will battle with doubt most of the way!

We are seldom blessed with an angelic and fiery message.  We live by faith and not sight.   God’s message is subtle, silent and sure we have to listen for it.  Consider these when you are discerning your life-direction.

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Walking in faith and seeking God’s direction begins when we pay attention to God in your everyday life, create time and place for prayer, know your own story.  The light of Christ is your, portable, powerful and shareable.  Jesus isn’t I was or the I will be he is the ever present and eternal “I AM”.  Jesus is your portable, powerful, eternal and living flame.  Carry it well and share!

You have the authority, God has the direction for you!  I AM knows you by name

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Click here for our website

October 2015 Sermon Schedule

October Theme

We will continue to discuss the many tools that God gives us to discern our life’s direction  Concentrating God’s word as our compass and the Holy Spirit as Guide.  We will cut the clutter and discuss as much about what the Bible doesn’t say as what it does say.   We will hone our discernment skills to refine our “Vision Statement” as a congregation and to develop our personal life statement as well.  Come and see us at 10:oo worship!

  • October 4: Exodus 3:1-15 “Tell Them I-Am Sent You”
    The word of the day: God’s Direction for our lives and our congregation. This direction is Knowable and Do-able.  What God requires, God Directs and provides. Moses was endorsed by God, and In Christ, so are we.
  • October 11:  “Laity Sunday!”The message will be brought by Lay Person Jackie Fitzgerald from 1 Peter 4:10-11.  Judi Yarbrough will also present a mission report in word and photos.
  • “October 18: 21st: Mark 10:17-31 ”Oh, Come on….You know this!”We know the basics of Christ, some of us even from childhood,  but we still have to be reminded of them from time to time.
  • October 25: James 3:1-12 “But we must all learn”Not all can or should teach.  It is a gift and a craft.  BUT we must all learn from our many teachers.  Christ is teaching all things everywhere.  Listen, and learn…..

“Monday School”: A precept study of James-Week 1

Tonight we had a small group with a BIG discussion! We have set aside Monday Evenings at 6:00 for Adult Bible Study  This is an Inductive study where we look at the whole to see where God’s direction comes from.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

Tonight was James, Chapter 1: CLICK HERE  for the full text:  Hey the book in only 5 pages!

What we observed:

  • It was written by a powerhouse guy, but a real person who really knew Jesus.  He had a solid grasp of a mixed Christian culture and Jewish wisdom literature.  This is the New Testament book of proverbs.
  • People of faith have problems. Seeking God uses them to build us up, strengthen us, to stay standing and motivate us to DO faith instead of folding when times get tough. We shared stories about carrying on.  Tough times build a Faith that stands when the heat is on and an untested faith is no faith at all.
  • One likened to simply hearing as reading a novel, when tired, looking away, and looking back to forget what we read.  Faith leads to Wisdom which moves us from a forgetful hearer to an effectual doer.  Talk+love= action.
  • Wisdom that builds faith listens, then speaks and doesn’t get mad.  Mad takes our mind off of God.
  • Finally wisdom is shown by keeping our mouths under control and our moral decision inline with God’s word.  This is hard BUT we have everything we need to observe, interpret and they bravely apply. We don’t have to feel inferior to ANYONE but carry on.

Next week Chapter 2:  How is a growing faith lived out with others.  Excellent Group! Group members and others are welcome to add a comment

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