- Whose voice speaks loudest in your life?
- What situations or circumstances tend to push you into isolation?
- Is there something in your life you should consider fasting from to help you hear God’s voice more clearly?
Welcome to Hope City! My name is Peter Gowesky I want to invite you to join me right after service for lunch. We’re going to be throwing a quick party after service today, we call it Pizza with the Pastor, and it’s an opportunity for you to meet people, for me to meet you, and share with you how we hope that this place can become your home! There is no cost, and we’ve even got childcare… So… That’s a win too! Come on now. Somebody out there is ready for that!
We are in week 3 of our series I AM, and I personally am loving this series, I hope you’re enjoying it as well. What I have loved about it is that the more we understand who Jesus is, the better we begin to understand who we are! And at the beginning of the year when everyone is looking for a “new me” what better way to find that, than by discovering who Jesus is so that we can discover who we are.
Isn’t it funny the things that we will do in order to find ourselves? The Fad’s we’ll chase? Like, let me show you a picture of me when my son Noah was born. So this is me 13 years ago. Look at that hair. What was I thinking you ask? Well let me tell you… I lived 2 miles from the beach, I was influenced by the surf culture, and I was trying to fit in. But be careful… I saw some of your “How Hard Did Aging Hit You Posts” this week on Facebook. You all were into some funny stuff too.
Every one of us in some capacity is searching for fulfillment and joy in our life. We are willing to trade whatever we’ve got going right now for whatever’s behind Door #1… Have you ever seen the show let’s make a deal? This is the show where contestants are given a gift, and before they accept that gift, they can choose between it and something that they can’t see behind a door or a curtain. It’s always amazing how someone can be staring at a gift of $790 cold hard cash, and then they choose something that they cannot see on the premise that it might be better than what they’ve currently been offered.
Of course you have the audience screaming in the background instructions on what they think the person should do… We will do so much and go so far to find fulfillment and satisfaction, won’t we? Often times it depends on whose voice we are listening to!
We BUY THINGS in the hopes that it will satisfy us and cause us to feel fulfilled, and then we end up feeling overwhelmed and cluttered. We know this isn’t the solution because from time to time we have what we call Buyers Remorse.
We DO WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING in the hopes that if everyone else is seemingly happy with this, it will make me happy too. This Band Wagon Effect is largely responsible for fashion trends, and social surges of popularity. This is why MOM JEANS and Man Buns are around…
Or we will GO WITHOUT because we believe a lie that we are too heavy, too ugly, too whatever… you fill in the blank. And so we see people who go without eating in order to limit their caloric intake to change their body shape or weight.
Why do we do this? Because we are searching for control over our life and ultimately we are searching for Meaning. We want our life to count for something!
Americans aren’t plagued with a LACK OF experiences, thrills or pleasure. We have more pleasure and entertainment at our finger tips than ever before. We have more experiences thrown at us on a daily basis than any generation ever before. And yet we still are searching for something. We are plagued with a lack of purpose & meaning. Isn’t it odd to think that American’s living with as much affluence as we have here in SRQ can be starving for meaning? We prop up our hollow shell of a life against the comparison of someone else’s well-polished Instagram Story. And then you click through their best day while comparing it to your every day. If we aren’t careful, you and I will start out 2019, believing lies and chasing after a hollow meaningless year that will leave us at the start of 2020 wondering what happened this past year?
Let’s turn back into the book of John and see another statement that Jesus reveals about who He is. Today we are going to be in John chapter 10 starting in verse 1. That’s page 732 in the Bible’s around you. We open the Bible every week because our teaching is not based on what I say, but what God says to us through His word.
Jesus is again speaking to the Pharisees, or the religious leaders, and you’ll remember that He just finished saying, I am the Light of the World. No one needs to walk in darkness anymore, because I am the light of the world. And they were enraged by that. Then Jesus made a statement that caused them to pick up rocks to Stone Jesus right there on the spot. He said, You know your spiritual father, Abraham? Yeah, before Abraham was, I am. Again, two little words that reveal so much. This is a direct echo of what God spoke to Abraham in Exodus 3:14 when God refers to Himself and says, “tell the people that I AM has sent you.” Jesus is making the most authentic and audacious statement of who He is to these people, by identifying himself as I AM.
Which brings us to what Jesus says here in John 10.
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Shepherds managed sheep very differently in Israel than we do today. They would call their sheep by name, and the sheep were so familiar with the voice of the shepherd that they would follow that voice. They didn’t need to be herded by dogs, or driven into pens, they would follow the voice of the shepherd.
4 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.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
We need to stop here and recognize something…. Jesus is saying that there are multiple voices… There is the voice of the robber, the voice of the shepherd. And He just calls it out and says the sheep here run away from the stranger’s voice. The Shepherd is the one who is caring for these sheep, he is providing water for them, bandaging their wounds, bringing them out to pasture. Often times the shepherd took every measure to make sure each of his sheep was safe and without harm. He would put himself in danger to protect his flock. On the other hand, the thief and the robber have drastically different plans for the sheep. The robber’s intention for the sheep is to profit off them, to harass them, and put them in harms way. But who’s voice do they know? Their Shepherd’s! Look up here… DON’T LISTEN TO EVERY VOICE IN YOUR HEAD. There will be things that come into your head, voices, thoughts, and ideas that do not sound like the voice of the Lord. One voice is for you, the shepherd… and the other is out to get you, the thief. This is critical because we know that our response changes based upon the voice we are listening to.
When I send one of my kids to tell the others to bring their laundry downstairs, it’s amazing the difference in response when they say, You need to bring your laundry downstairs. Or when they say Dad says you need to bring your laundry downstairs. What’s even more amazing is when I go to the bottom of the steps and say, Hey guys, you need to bring your laundry downstairs. The voices you listen to matters. So Don’t listen to every voice in your head.
I love what Paul says when he writes the Corinthians…. Look here:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
There is no room for a wandering mind. We can’t listen to the voices in your head that want to lead you astray. If you feel like I’m talking just about people with multiple personality disorders, or those with mental illness, I’m not. I’m talking about every person in this room, including your pastor.
This Monday, I woke up and my head was in a fog. I don’t know if you know this, but Sunday’s are a big day for me! I get up early, pray up, study up, and set up with the Roadies, and then I’m down front worshiping with you all… And then every week I give each message my very best. Sunday’s are a big deal to me! And last Sunday was a GREAT SUNDAY! It was a huge win! And yet I woke up on Monday morning and my mind started racing. I started thinking thoughts like, “Did it even matter?” Or “Did what you did yesterday make a difference at all” and even sometimes, “There is someone far more qualified than you to do this job.” Monday morning was a battle ground for me, waging war against discouragement and disappointment. Because the day after a big win, there were voices in my head that I had to take captive and make obedient to Christ. It’s real… DON’T LISTEN TO EVERY VOICE IN YOUR HEAD.
Some of you need to hear me say this again. Satan, your enemy will want to lie to you and cause you to believe things that are not true. Jesus explains Satan this way in John 8:44 when he says of Satan,
…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
Your heavenly father is grieved by the lies that Satan tells, and even more grieved when you and I buy those lies. We listen to the lies in our heads like, You’re not a good enough mom. You’re not the room mom, and the pack a lunch everyday mom, and keep the house Pinterest perfect mom, and the working mom. And suddenly you feel overwhelmed and guilty as if you are good at nothing!
Or maybe you start listening to the voice that says you will never get married. You’re too this that or the other thing. These are lies that Satan can whisper in your head to distract you and deceive you from what God says about you. Which is what leads Jesus say what He says next. Check this out.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 
The Thief’s job is to steal, kill and destroy Jesus says. There is no way around this. The areas of your life that God is growing and working in, your enemy, Satan is looking for anyway that He can climb in there and steal, Kill, and destroy it. This is your marriage, this is your career, this is your integrity, this is your relationships with your kids, there is nothing off limits that Satan won’t try to mess with! Which is why you need the community of the herd. Because ISOLATION BIRTHS INTIMIDATION. In isolation you are more likely to be intimidated by the ploys and tactics of the thief. When you get alone in your thoughts, you are susceptible to fear that sets in.
On Monday’s like this past week, I have recognized that if I sit and soak in those thoughts, I will begin to get stuck in them, and do you know what happens? My joy is stolen by those thougths. My Day is destroyed by discouragement. So what do I do? Well this is one of the reasons why here at Hope City Church we have a board of Overseers that I have put in place as shepherds and guides to me. I’ll send them a quick email, or shoot them a text message and let them know what I’m feeling. I’ve put myself in a community of men that are there to encourage me and pray for me, and help me see the difference between the truth and the lies that Satan wants me to believe.
Do you know how sheep get lost? They wander off. They get separated from the flock. No sheep sets out that day to get lost. They wander off and get isolated. Do you know how affairs start? Couples start wandering off. They start getting disconnected and stop communicating, and stop putting the needs of the other in front of their own, and before you know it, they end up in a place they would not have imagined because they got isolated!
Do you have a community of people who are encouraging you? You need one! Here at Hope City we have Connect Groups, these are groups that meet throughout the week to connect with one another, encourage each other, share some scripture and help one another take next steps. These groups are short, 11-12 weeks each session, and they are based around interests, studies, stage of life, you name it, and there is a group for you. In fact, if you are interested in something, make it a group! Maybe you like volleyball… That can be a group. Maybe you want to study scripture. That can be a group. The goal of the group is to develop meaningful relationships with one another and with God. Where that happens, and what you’re doing while that happens does not matter. I lead a men’s group on Tuesday mornings. We meet at Hope City HQ and we have breakfast together and talk about how God’s word applies to our life that day. We’ve talked about everything from How to be Godly men, to better parents, to good neighbors. We aren’t all the same, but we all like to eat breakfast and we all have a desire to grow together more! Maybe your saying… I want that kind of community. I don’t want to be isolated. Maybe you should lead a connect group! This Tuesday I’ll be leading an interest meeting over at Hope City HQ for anyone who is leading a group, or even interested in leading a group! You weren’t meant to do life alone. We need to stay connected to one another.
Look back at what Jesus says in verse 9 and following.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 
Maybe you feel like you have been knocking down every door to find meaning and value in your life. You’ve been chasing down financial doors… trying to make another dollar thinking that would make you happy. And every time you get where you think you need to be, you just need a little more.
Maybe you’ve been walking through doors that promise pleasure. The thrill of the chase, the hunt, the rush of adrenaline. All of these things leave you feeling like you need more!
Or maybe you’ve been working your hardest to be invited through certain Social Doors. These doors of popularity. You may not be worried about whose lunch table you’re sitting at anymore, but you are jockeying to get invited to those parties, and those events.
Jesus says, I’m the gate, I’m the door that will lead you to life and life that won’t leave you feeling like you need more. But life to the full! In other words, JESUS PROTECTS AND PROVIDES. When Jesus says I am the Gate. He is saying, in order to get to you, they’ve got to come through me. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Anyone who enters through me will be saved, they will go in to the sheep pen for protection. And they will go out for pasture. They will go out to pasture for life abundant.
Whose voice are you listening to? In our search for meaning, let me encourage you to listen to the voice of the Lord. In fact, let me say it this way, “LISTEN TODAY FOR A MEANING FULL TOMORROW.”
I often wish that I could hear the audible voice of God. I feel this way when it comes to big decisions. I have felt this way during really hard times. But I also feel this way in the normal parts of my life too. I want to have Him lead me, and remind me that I’m on the right path. Even though I’ve never heard the voice of God out loud, you and I can listen to his direction and sense His presence.
How to Hear God’s Voice (Slide should be a building slide with this as the title)
If you want to heighten your sensitivity to hearing God’s voice, you may want to try investing Time. If we really want to hear from God we need to set aside time to listen. Sometimes God speaks through a still, small voice and if we are moving too quickly we could miss it.
Scripture. God speaks to us primarily through His Word. If we are going to God’s Word daily to hear from Him, He will speak to you. This is why we have printed STEP journals, and given you a reading plan to help you take this next step every day. STEP stands for Scritpure… Think… Execute… and Prayer…. If you work your way through the scripture reading that day, think about it, come up with one thing to put into motion or execute in your week, and bring it before God in prayer, He can’t help but move in you and speak to you! Get in God’s word. You don’t have to be a seminary grad to do this.
Godly Counsel. God will speak to us through godly people. If we are seeking to hear from the Lord on something, we can bring it to people who are a little older and wiser in the faith than us and let them help us think it through. God uses other believers in our lives to confirm something or steer us in a different direction. Everybody needs to be in connection with other people. You need to be in a connect group!
Fasting. When you are hungry to hear the voice of God you are willing to focus on that hunger alone! Fasting is a spiritual practice of emptying yourself of one things so you can fill up on another. Maybe you have noticed that too much of your mind, your time, and your energy has gone into social media. What if you did a social media fast. Or maybe you turn to food for comfort. What if you eliminated snacking not for a health or waistline reason, but a spiritual reason because you want to be reminded to turn to God for comfort.
LISTEN TODAY FOR A MEANING FULL TOMORROW. What if you invited the Lord’s voice of truth into your life today. What could happen to your sense of meaning and value when you are listening to the one who is for you not against you. I’ll tell you one thing, when you understand that Jesus is the Gate to life, you will not have to wonder and guess anymore what’s behind door #1. Every other door will fail you.
Jesus invites us into the promise that through Him and Him alone we can experience true life!
Let’s Pray together.