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Words That Can Open a Disciple's Heart
Scripture: Hebrews 4:12
Track 6 of 11 in the Life-Changing Words series
Running time: 29 minutes, 29 seconds.

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Matthew Wilson Speaker: Matthew Wilson
Matt is the Jr. and Sr. High Minister at Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

May 15, 2005 - Words that Reveal the Disciples' Heart

I hear voices. Shhh. I hear voices. Do you hear? Do you hear voices? I hear voices. I've heard voices in my head for a long time. I'm a preacher's kid and I grew up about 20 foot from a church and I spent a lot a time in that church, and I used to hear voices in that church. And then my mom would elbow me and wake me up because it was my dad preaching. Wake up! That church really did have some mysterious things going on. I was also a farm boy growing up–grew up on a lot of different farms actually and lived at one farm house and I remember having the flu about the third grade and having this pounding headache so bad that I began to hear voices coming from the ceiling in my room. And I went in the other room because I thought it was my parents calling for me, you know, kinda like Samuel and Eli and that whole story, and I went in and they're like no, we weren't saying anything, so I was like well, it must be the TV or something so I went back to bed and the voices were just so loud in that room. It was kinda creepin' me out because they turned the TV down and I was like there's someone in here talking to me. That house sat on an Indian reservation and I went back a few years later and there's now a double-wide trailer sitting on that very spot, and they've actually talked about some mysterious things that have happened since living there. Weird. Okay, enough of the stuff that creeps you out.

But do you ever hear voices? Do you hear voices in your life? I picture life as a journey, as a winding path and along my journey I've had different voices speak to me in my life. I've had voices that have been there to give me comfort. I've had voices that have been there to give me the kick in the behind when I've needed it. I've had all kinds of voices that have spoken into my life. I remember my baseball coach, Coach Lawson, I remember his voice. I remember particularly it was something like catch the ball, Wilson. Something like that. You see, we had a coach that would yell even during taking infield warm-ups. He would yell at us at the top of his lungs. I guess it worked because we won the state championship but it was really, he just yelled all the time. I had a voice like that, I remember the voice of my Uncle Dave. I remember being a kid and being at grandpa's and I was upset about something, something my parents wouldn't let me do, I don't know, probably torture an animal or something. And we were in an argument. Sorry, you had to be here a few weeks ago for that one. We were in an argument about something and I was just really upset and I went upstairs and I was crying. I was a big crybaby when I was a kid. I'm a big crybaby now, just a bigger one. My uncle Dave came upstairs and he just simply said to me, if you need anything, I'm here for you. He really didn't say anything magical. I just knew he was there and it was a voice of comfort. Do you have voices in your life? I recall still one other voice and this voice doesn't really go back to the creepy thing but it's kind of weird and you might think I'm off my rocker when I share this with you. It's a voice ... I really don't know what to call it. Well, actually I do know what to call it. I know what I call it, but I'm afraid if I say that it might make you uncomfortable. Well, I don't really care if you're uncomfortable. I hear the voice of God. I hear God speak to me. Now before you think that I'm crazy, hearing things in my head, let me explain what I mean.

I'm recently reading a book, been recently reading a book by Irwin McManus called the Barbarian Way, and he's one of my favorite authors, and when I came across this part of the book it really spoke to me because it made so much sense. He said he had a son Aaron who was about 12 and he wondered what God's voice sounded like. And he thought about that for a minute because he'd never really tried to explain God's voice in his life and he said well, it kind of sounds like my voice. And he wasn't being arrogant and I'm not being arrogant in saying this but when I hear God's voice it's deep within me and it kinda sounds like my voice. When I talk to God he answers back in kinda my voice. It's kinda weird to explain. I don't expect you to understand, to hear it in the way that I hear it but I hear God speak into my life. It's a voice that's been with me throughout my whole life journey. I hope that the voice of God is something that you hear because what I want you to take away this morning more than anything else is this: God still speaks.

Many times we think that the bible has a "the end" at the end of it. Now granted, Revelation doesn't have an "s" on the end of it, there's no new revelations that we need to know about God, but the story of the bible continues throughout time. God spoke in the bible through all kinds of people in all kinds of ways and God continues to speak today. The story of his work has not ended. God still is alive and well. Let's look together at Hebrews 4:12 our theme text for this morning. So we can really understand what this means, God speaking today. Hebrews 4:12 says this "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword it separates or penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The word of God is alive and well.

A few weeks ago I stood up here and I tried to give you some practical tips on how to get the word of God into your life, tried to give you some tools. I hope that you understand the importance of the practice and the reading of scripture, to do all those things we discussed like teaching and guiding your life. But I hope that when you go to the word of God you go to hear his voice. And this morning it's not going to be a typical sermon that I've delivered before where you can hang your hat on three points. I just want to share with you this morning my experience and the experience of others so hopefully you can get a taste of how God speaks today in our lives. I just want to touch on a couple of thoughts while we do that. The first thought is this: God is alive and active. Now whenever I first told you that I hear God speak, you probably thought I was crazy. You probably think that you're not really ready to drink that Koolaid, not ready to buy into that. And rightly so, because we've had a lot of people throughout our lives that have said they've heard God speak to them, and we have names for them. We affectionately call them crazy or cuckoo because they have claimed to hear from God a new revelation and they've said many things in the name of God that God never intended. So when you hear me say that God speaks to me, you're probably very cautious to be around me now because of the things that you've experienced in your life. You know that people have misrepresented God's voice and we do need to throw a disclaimer here. We have to be careful not to read into everything in life that it's God that's saying it. And some people can do that with every experience. Oh, I got the front parking spot at Wal-mart. It was God. Okay? Front parking spot ... that's not particularly what we're talking about here. We have to be careful to say that everything is God speaking or everything is God moving, but God definitely still speaks today.

There's a lot of people who've done a lot of great research on the evidences of the bible, that the bible is true, that the bible is valid, and they've done a lot of great work. There's many archeological digs, there's many documents that have proven the validity of this word, and we have that truth to stand upon. And I'm really grateful for that. I had a professor at Ozark, his name was Wilbur Fields, and he was a guy who did many archeological digs, discovered a lot of great things. But he said in class one day, I'll never forget, he said you an take all this evidence and if it was gone, I would still believe in God. I think there's this great pendulum that swings back and forth when it comes to our faith. On one side we do have those evidences and the truth and we've taken so much time to prove creation over evolution and all these things about knowing the bible is real and valid. But I think there's the flip side of this pendulum that doesn't really get much attention. I think it's the mystery of God, that experience that we have with him. I think both are good and I think the pendulum needs to swing back and forth to touch upon both. Some people need to know those evidences. Some people need to have those answers at different times on their discovery of faith, and then other people at times need those experiences and we all need, I think, both of these as we learn to follow and trust the voice of God. So for a few moments this morning, let's swing the pendulum back to the experience side and to the mystery side of God to see how God speaks, to see how God works. When you think about that and as we read through Revelation this morning, some of that's confusing and some of that being symbolistic is tough to understand when you think about a person's experience and a mystery and a vision. Some of that is unexplainable to people but that is what is so exciting about God, that he cannot be totally explained. There is a mystery to it.

I'm intrigued by many stories in the bible, especially by David. He's one of my favorite characters. And I know when we talk about King David we usually talk about and we say he was a man after God's own heart. And then when we talk about that, I don't know but I do, I always go right to the biggest mistake that he ever made. So let's just do that this morning. David was a man after God's own heart but he made a big mistake.  He made many mistakes, but the big hiccup that we find in his life happened in the springtime. You see it was the time of the year where all the kings go off to war, in the springtime, time like right now. But David stayed home and David was I guess bored or he just wanted to experience the cool of the night and he climbed upon the roof of his palace and I just kind of imagine, you know, he was viewing the stars in the sky and taking it all in. I took at trip to Mexico once and climbed up on a roof and kinda took it all in, even though I didn't see many stars. I saw the city lights and you know, kinda refreshing. But pretty soon David wasn't seeing the stars in the sky. He was seeing the stars in a woman's eyes. Well, except I'm not so sure he was really focusing on her eyes because as he looked down, he saw a woman and she was naked and she was bathing. That's about the best way I know to bathe, is naked., if you really want to get clean. And she was down there naked. Her name is Bathsheba. We all know that name. And when David sees her, he's intrigued. The bible says she was very beautiful and the bible doesn't throw around the word "very" very lightly. She was hot. When David saw her, he wanted her and so, being king, he sent an official to go get her. She came back, they slept together, and like a soap opera, the message comes from Bathsheba, I'm pregnant, which shouldn't be a big deal, right? Oh, except for this one thing–she's also already married to another man. His name, of course, is Uriah, and this isn't just a normal man. This is a man whose part of David's royal guard. I mean, he was one of the most loyal, faithful soldiers that you can find. So he's home on a little R & R and David tries to cover for his mistake and he has Uriah, he wants him to go home and sleep with his wife so that it would look like it was his kid and not David's. But this man is so faithful he sleeps with the servants because he can't even bear to think about his brothers being on the battlefield and him being at home comfortable and with his wife. So David tries again, this time he tries to get him drunk. Doesn't work. It's time for plan B. David calls in Joab, his right-hand man, his commander of his forces and says, listen, we need to take care of something with Uriah, the Hittite. I need you to let him be killed in battle. So Joab complies. The troops withdraw as they're up against a wall and sure enough, Uriah along with other men die. David committed adultery, now he's committed murder. We know this big hiccup, this big mistake, in his life. So everything seems to be fine until this man Nathan comes into the scene and Nathan was sent by God to David and he goes in front of David and he tells him this story. There was a man who was a rich man, had many cattle, many sheep, and a traveler came to visit him. This man had a neighbor who was a poor neighbor who had just one lamb that he raised up as it was his only child. He let it drink from his cup, let it eat at his table and when this man had a traveler visiting, this rich man took that one sheep, even though he had many of his own, he took the one sheep from his poor neighbor and he slaughtered it to feed this traveler and be hospitable. David at hearing this story was outraged. He said, let this man pay fourfold what was done to him or what he did to someone else. And Nathan just simply pointed at David and said you are the man. God is alive and he's active and he spoke to David.

I know when you hear Nathan speaking in front of God that you're saying, that's different. That's different. God doesn't speak like that today. God doesn't speak through a prophet in that way. And I would say, you're right. He doesn't. Look at Hebrews 1:1, the very first part of Hebrews and you can see how God speaks and how this really ties into Hebrews 4:12 today. It says "In the past God spoke to our forefathers, like David, spoke to him through the prophets, like Nathan, in many and various ways. But today he speaks through Jesus." Yeah, God does speak differently. In fact, it's a whole new level of God speaking today. God speaks through the word, through his son Jesus. You remember John 1:1, the word was with God. This word is Jesus. This word speaks through us, to us today. We have it available and open and ready right in our hands for God to speak. It is different how God speaks. But we can all hear God speak to us because of his word. I have a really good friend. His name is Chris Brown, and I have a lot of friends named Chris Brown now. I don't know why. But not the Chris Brown you probably know because I made a friend here since moving here. But my friend, Chris, lived in Lebanon, and if you were to walk in to Lebanon this morning to go to church, you'd probably be able to spot Chris pretty easily because I'm going to describe him to you. He's a guy who's kind of a bodybuilder, you know, he's done those body sculpting things, and although he's not as quite as buff as me, actually no, he's way bigger than I am, he's a little bit shorter than me, but he's built. But the thing that sticks out about Chris, he has a ponytail down to about the middle of his back and when I first started coming to Lebanon, he had first started attending church and, you know, he kind of sticks out in the midwest, you know, when you go to church. But after a while you just get used to it. He's a really good friend of mine now. But he has quite a story. Chris was very involved and wrapped up in the world of drugs. He was very addicted to drugs of all sorts. His life was a wreck, all kinds of drugs, all kinds of problems that he was into because of the drugs. His marriage was a wreck, his kids didn't really have a father. Chris started coming to church and he began to hear God's voice. He began to hear Matthew in that book saying seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Chris heard God's voice speak to him through his word.

And my story is not at all like Chris'. In fact, my story is pretty plain compared to his. I've been in church all my life. They cut my umbilical cord with scissors from the craft room in the Sunday School classroom. I've been in church all my life. It's different. It's not that dramatic. I've known about God. But there came a time in the early part of 1987 that I began to hear God speak to me in a new kind of way. And I began to hear his voice through his word through all the bible verses I'd memorized, through all the VBSs I'd attended, and all the Sunday School classes and sermons I slept through, I mean went to, my father preaching. I'd been there but God began to speak in a whole new way to me. It began to be alive. There's a danger when we have the word of God in our lives to take it for granted. I know because we probably have a few bibles of our own at home that we didn't bring with us today and I always challenge my teenagers because they forget to bring their bibles with them to almost everything, but they're getting better. We take the word of God for granted and we leave it sitting on our shelves and it gets dusty and we don't pull it out. And then sometimes when we do pull it out, we have a tendency to kind of come at the word with this ho-hum approach, like, you know, I've gotta get my time in with God, I've gotta check it off my list and just get it done and sadly in bible college of all places, I went through a phase where the bible was a text book and even sometimes in ministry, the bible, I can just sometimes open it up just to get ready for that next sermon or that next lesson and suddenly I take for granted the power of God speaking to me through his word. God is alive and active, and if you want to experience and hear God's voice today, you need to crack open the word and let him speak to you and understand how powerful these words can really be in your life, understanding that he is alive and he's not dead, that these words are straight from his mouth. When you realize that, it'll begin to change you. It will begin to transform you. You know, I've picked up a lot of books that have been really good to read and a lot of books that have changed me, but no book that I've ever picked up has changed me like the word of God because God's word will reveal who I really am and will cut me to the core. Is your heart ready to be cut to the core? I'm sure David was when he heard Nathan say, you're the man, he was cut to the core and he realized what he'd done. He'd realized that he was in sin. David knew God's voice. David knew God was with him. He'd known it since he was a shepherd boy defending his flock and fighting off and beating up the predators. He's known it when he was fighting Goliath. He knew God's voice. He knew God's presence as he slung that stone and knocked down that giant. As he went out to battle nations he knew God was with him and here he is, hearing God's voice straight from the mouth of Nathan once again. And David is faced with the choice. You see, David can either turn a deaf ear to this word or he can accept this word and receive this word and let it cut him. And there's a lot of things that I'm sure David didn't want to face here because he committed a lot of wrong and he knew he was going to have to pay for that. In fact, Nathan tells him how. He says this boy that you have through Bathsheba, he's going to die because of your sin, but your life will be spared. But a couple other things. The sword will never depart from your house. That's another consequence for your sin David. Oh, and one more thing. You took Bathsehba and slept with her in secret. Someone close to you will take your very wives and sleep with them in the wide open in public and your sin will be exposed and that will be exposed in that way. And so this child is stricken and he's ill and David goes into mourning and fasting and praying to God to please spare this child's life. You know, you think David would be at a point where he's saying, God why do you have to affect this child? This child didn't do anything wrong. Save its life and the pain of the consequence they went through had to be excruciating as he watched his child die. My wife is pregnant and we're expecting our first child and there's no way I'd ever want to experience that. There's no way that I ever want anyone to experience any pain caused by something I did wrong. You know it's one thing for me to face it, but other people being hurt? That's a whole other level and David went through that pain. He later had another son named Absalom who pretty much all by himself fulfilled these other two things. Absalom took David's concubines and slept with them on the roof of that very palace where this all started, out in the wide open. That act alone declaring I am king and then later in this battle that occurred between Absalom and his guys and David and his guys, Absalom was struck down and he was killed and David loses another son because of his sin.

Consequences of sin are hard to face and that's why I would guess that when we hear the word of God speak to us through his word sometimes we don't want to hear it. Sometimes we shy away from it. In fact, sometimes we run away from it because we know what it might mean. And if you get used to running away from the voice of God long enough, pretty soon God doesn't speak to you any more. Well, he still speaks but you just don't hear it. You've grown numb, you've grown deaf to it. You hear what the word says you need to do in your life, but you don't want to do that any more. It's this hardening of the heart that we looked at last week that can begin to happen in a disciple's heart. Chris Brown had a choice. He saw all the things that he was addicted to, all the things that he thought he had to have, and he saw that passage and he heard God speak and say, leave all these things and I'll give you everything. I don't know if you've ever been addicted to anything. I'm sure at some point in our lives we've all been addicted to something, but when you're addicted to something, you want nothing but that and you'll do anything to get that. And Chris gave it all up. He gave up drugs. He gave up the life that drugs had given him. And it was difficult going through withdrawals and going through the pain of that. But in the end it brought his marriage back together. He had a son that was wrapped up in the very same things around the age of 16, 18 as he was. He was able to rescue his son out of it because he responded to God's voice. He was tired of not hearing God speak, and he woke up and he did something to change.

August 10, 1987, was a day that I decided to wake up and now I was nine years old and thinking, what do you know about God then? That's what I think. I don't know anything about God now. How could I know much about God at age nine? But on that day I unmistakably heard God call to me and say you need something more. There's an emptiness inside that you can't fill with anything else. And that was the day that I was baptized into Christ and I began to respond to God's word. And I'd love to tell you that every day since I've listened really well, but sometimes I've grown numb. I've heard God's voice and I've turned a deaf ear. I have a guy that I've heard preach. His name is Mark Driscoll and he preaches at Mars Hill in Seattle. When he first became a Christian, he asked his preacher what should he do and the preacher told him read through your bible. So he did and he said what now? He said, well read through a book and when you understand it, read through another one. So he began to do that and now as he preaches, he preaches through a whole book. So you know what I did this week? I thought well, that'd be a really great thing to do so I read through the whole book of Hebrews and as I read that, it was amazing to me how beautiful this story is of this covenant that God has made through his son Jesus with us. And I'd read it before, I've done bible studies from it before, but just this week I opened up and just let God speak into me through the word. And I let him just pour out whatever he would in my life. And it was so refreshing because once again God comes to me and he penetrates my soul, he penetrates my heart and says there's some things that you need to change, there's some things in your life that need to get right and God does that through his word. It says that it's sharper than the sharpest sword. Jeremiah says is not my word like fire, like a hammer that breaks rocks into pieces. Sometimes our hearts can become really hard. God's word can shatter our hearts. Hebrews 12:25 says "do no refuse him who speaks." I know this morning that there are probably hearts in here that have hardened. Probably hearts that are tired, they're drenched, there's no life in them, and you're thinking, I don't hear God's voice. I don't want to hear God's voice because I've hurt so much because God isn't real to me any more. I'm here to tell you that God still is alive and he still speaks. There's a beautiful passage in I Corinthians that talks about a church where people come in and they hear people talking about God so that they recognize and they say really, God is really among you. And I hope that in this moment together you understand that God is really amongst us, that he's really here and that he is alive and that he's speaking.

We have a promise from Isaiah 55:11 that says "my word that goes out from my mouth will not return empty. It will accomplish what I desire. It will achieve the purpose for which I sent it." There may be a lot of purposes for why God sent this word this week, and I hope that this morning I've been able to get out of the way so that you can just simply see the wonder and the mystery of God speaking. And it's looked different all throughout history but never is it more alive than it is right now. The bible has not ended. This story goes on. My story is pretty lame, honestly, I've grown up in a church. That's not, we want to hear the dramatic stories. So I claim Chris Brown's story for you today, and you can claim it as well to tell other people just how God's word can change people's lives and change people's hearts. Claim those stories. Claims God's word into your life and open up this book that has these leather-bound covers that need to have warning stickers on them, because when you open up this bible, it's God speaking right to you. He's alive. Oh, and he's well and he's active and he wants to take your heart and open it wide. David wrote some pretty cool psalms. In Psalms 51 he says "create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." And he goes on to say, "a broken and contrite heart, Lord, you will not despise." He wrote that Psalm right after his son died that he had with Bathsheba. I tell you one thing, I give you this promise. God will not reject your broken heart this morning. God will not despise the heart that comes and says change me. Do you hear voices? Do you hear it? I hope you still hear God's voice this morning. What's he speaking to you? Let's stand together and sing.

[Transcribed by PU4]