God Is Always Listening!
Psalm 28: 1: "Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest,
if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit."
Have you ever thought, "Where is God when I need Him?"
Did you pray, and yet, there was no immediate answer from God?
I'm not talking about those times when you had deliberately sinned against God.
I'm talking about those times when you had done all you knew to do that was right,
and there was still no answer from God.
David must've been facing such a time when he wrote the words of this psalm.
He desperately needed to hear from God and cried out for God not to be silent.
David was saying, "God, if I don't hear from you, I'm going to die!"
Many Christians have felt like that when they were right with God and with their fellow man,
and yet, there is an emptiness inside their heart.
They don't feel the closeness of God as they have in the past.
They know that Christ lives within them.
They have been busy serving God, yet He seems to be silent in all their busyness and activity.
And in such periods of personal struggle or spiritual depression, they need to be reminded
that God is still at work in their lives.
He is still conforming us to the image of Christ so that we might become more like Him.
There are several reasons that we don't believe that God is listening.
Each reason points to a different aspect of our spiritual progress, and each is designed to draw us
closer to Him.
There are times when we believe that God is silent because we are not listening to what He has to say.
God sees all the hustle and busyness in our daily routine and realizes that we wouldn't hear Him
if He was to speak to us at that moment.
We are often just too busy to listen to God.
We rarely take time to be quiet and to seek His face.
Busyness is not godliness.
Busyness is a necessity of life, but it is an activity that must be controlled or it will control us.
All too often, we are too busy to pray.
There are times when we are too busy for church.
Sometimes, we are too busy for our own families.
When we allow busy activities to control our time, they will at the same time drain our souls.
Also, busyness leaves us little time to seek God.
There are times when we allow our work to rob us of the time that we should spend with God.
God blesses hard work and being industrious, but when that becomes an end in itself,
it will rob us of personal and spiritual vitality.
Sometimes, it is necessary to restrict our activities so that we might spend quiet time
and quality time with God.
Sometimes, God is not listening because we are not listening to Him.
Haven't you ever try to have a conversation with someone, and they were not listening to you.
They were looking around and .....
When that happens, you quit talking because you do not want to waste your time talking
to someone who isn't hearing anything you have to say.
Sad to say, that is how many of us treat God.
We are so busy that we don't take time to listen to what He has to say.
We have put our personal relationship with God at the bottom of our list of priorities.
God desires our fellowship and our communion, but we are the problem.
There are many times when we take time to pray, and then, we allow the telephone, the doorbell,
and the television to interrupt us.
We often pray, "Oh, God, I need your help."
"I need to hear from you right now."
The phone rings, and you spend the next hour talking about nothing really important.
So our real attitude seems to be saying, "God, I need your help, but I'm so busy,
I really don't have time to seek it."
We act as though God is some kind of glorified errand boy to do our bidding.
We want God to fit into our schedule and to operate within our time frame.
We must remember that we are not God.
He is God.
He is sovereign over all the events in our lives.
He chooses when and how He will answer our prayers, and He will do it in accordance
with His will -- not ours.
When we try to rush God, we insult Him and He simply and quietly withdraws His power from our lives.
The Bible reminds us that God will only show Himself "strong in the behalf of them whose heart
is perfect toward him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)
God's word also tells us, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me
with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
Sometimes, God is not listening because he has found a so busy and rude that He is not
about to reveal Himself to us.
God deserves our undivided attention.
"Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
There are times that God is not listening because He has spoken to us before,
and we have said, "No," to His will.
So, He withholds new guidance until we act upon the guidance that He has already given.
Remember what happened to Jonah.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, and preach against their sins and call them to repentance.
Jonah didn't go to Nineveh.
Instead, he went in the opposite direction to Joppa on the Mediterranean Coast.
He sailed westward from there, and then, out to sea.
A storm arose, and the sailors cast Jonah overboard.
He was swallowed by a "great fish" and spent three days and nights in its belly.
Now Jonah is calling out to God in desperation.
Jonah 2:1 says: "Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God out of the fish's belly."
He cried out for mercy and asked God to deliver him.
Yet, for three days and nights there was no answer from God.
During those three days, God did not speak to the disobedient prophet.
When God finally did speak, He didn't speak to Jonah.
He spoke to the fish which spit Jonah up on dry ground.
Then, God's spoke a second time, and again told Jonah to go to Nineveh.
This time Jonah obeyed, and God used him to bring a great awakening to that pagan city.
Whenever God knocks on the door of your heart, you had better be ready to answer His call.
If God has spoken to you about a specific matter, He expects you to do it.
Don't try to rationalize your way out of it or excuse yourself.
If you say, "No", God may not speak to you for a while.
If you are concerned that you already may have rejected God's calling in your life,
tell Him that you are ready to obey him now.
Reaffirm your faith in Him, and recommit yourself to doing His will in your life.
It is never too late to start over in making things right with God.
There are times when God puts our faith to the test.
There been many times in my life when God's silence stretched my faith, and caused me
to grow in my walk with God.
There have been times in my life when I faced some very difficult times, and I knew that
my life was right with Him.
I knew His promises, and I claimed His power, and I prayed in faith, but there was no answer
As someone has said, when those times come, "Take hold of the rope of faith,
tie a knot in the end, and hang on for dear life."
This is a time that we must remember that God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.
This is a time when we should cast our every burden and care upon Him, being assured
that His power is sufficient to sustain us.
It is in those dark and lonely moments that we come to grips with the security
and the eternal nature of our salvation.
It is then that we remember that we are the branches and He is the vine.
We have been grafted into Him, and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
When it seems that everything is going wrong, hang in there with your faith.
God's word reminds us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith is the absolute reality of God's presence in our lives, and it enables us to hang in there
even when we don't think that God is listening.
Job suffered the greatest personal crisis that anyone could ever imagine.
His property was stolen, his fortune had vanished, his children had died, his wife turned
against him, and he was overcome with a serious disease.
Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong in his life.
Overwhelmed by all this personal tragedy, he collapsed into mourning in a pile of ashes.
The Bible describes him as a broken man, covered with boils, scratching himself
with a broken piece of pottery.
In all his agony, he had called upon God, but it seemed that God wasn't listening.
Then, to make matters even worse, Job had three friends who came to console him,
and ended up condemning him.
They assumed that he had sinned against God and was being judged for his sin.
Even his wife had urged him to "Curse God, and die." (Job 2:9)
Most of us would have given up at that time.
We would have thrown in the towel of defeat.
Yet, despite his anguish and his brokenness of spirit, and his horrific pain, Job said,
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." (Job 13: 15)
Job's response to his troubles was to call upon God.
At first, when God did not answer his prayer, Job said that God may not have answered,
but he would still trust in Him.
His faith was being tested.
It was stretched to the very limits of his endurance.
Finally, God responded, and restored to him all he had lost and more.
Faith is not really tested when everything is going well.
Faith is tested when everything is going wrong.
What can we do to recover a sense of God's presence when we feel abandoned and alone?
Sometimes it helps just to "go through the motions."
Jewish Theologian Abraham Heschel has said, "The way to faith is the way of faith."
Believing in God, even when it seems that God is silent, can be sustaining in and of itself.
Our faith can help to carry us through even the darkest of times.
During the 1930's and 40's, more than six million Jews were killed in concentration camps.
Those who survived the Holocaust witnessed countless atrocities, and many were tortured
and left to starve to death.
When the concentration camp in Auschwitz was liberated by Allied troops at the end
of World War II, the following words were found written on one of the walls inside the compound:
"I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I am alone.
I believe in God, even when he is silent."
In the midst of immense suffering, the woman or man who wrote these words held onto faith in God,
even when it seemed that God had disappeared.
Holding onto our faith in the midst of grief or despair can help to lead us to the quiet place
where we can once again hear God's voice.
When God doesn't seem to be answering our prayers, then, He is getting our attention.
The silence is so quiet that it is disturbing.
Remember, when you have been in a noisy room, and then, everything suddenly became quiet.
That's when everybody noticed.
So when God seems to be silent, He uses the silence to get our attention.
There are many times that God has spoken to us, and we didn't listen.
Then, God doesn't listen, in order that we might be searching our soul for the reason.
So, God does speak to us even when we don't believe that He is listening.
So maybe, God is not speaking to us because we are not listening to Him.
I read about a woman who started waking up at 3 am, every night, for no reason.
She wasn't worrying. She wasn't sick. She wasn't depressed.
She just woke up wide awake at 3 am.
She tried cutting down on coffee, squeezed in some exercise during the day,
but she still woke up every night.
Night after night after night.
This woman was busy.
She had a family, job, friends, volunteer work, parents.
She never stopped.
Driving the kids to activities, making meals, cleaning house, shopping, paying the bills
she was always on the go.
And she thrived on the activity, thrived on being in control, and on being needed.
Sometimes she felt lost in her busy-ness, as if something elusive was missing in her life.
But she brushed off the nagging thought, and went back to proudly crossing things off her long list.
Since she was used to being in control of her life, this waking up in the middle of the night
was driving her crazy.
In the mornings, she was so tired and frustrated at waking up in the middle of the night.
She began to get angry.
Finally, one night, waking up again, she sat up in bed, wide awake and really, really disturbed.
"God!" she shouted aloud, "Why am I waking up every night at 3 am?"
And to her utter astonishment, God answered:
"Because it's the only time I can get your attention."
Sometimes we get so busy we forget that we need to stop and listen.
We need to learn how to respond when we think that God is not listening.
First, we need to remember that we are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ,
and nothing ever can separate us from God.
Just because we think that He is not listening doesn't mean that He has departed from us.
Remember the great passage of assurance in Romans 8:38-39:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, no principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able
to separate us from the love of God."
Paul had been beaten, stoned, and even left for dead.
More than one time, he was imprisoned and punished without trial.
If anyone could have ever have asked, "Where is God?" It could have been Paul.
There were times when other Christians questioned why he suffered so much.
There were fellow Christians who criticized him, and even some of his own companions forsook him.
Yet, through it all, Paul knew that Christ lived in him, and that His will could be trusted.
Through It All
"I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.
I've been to lots of places,
And I've seen a lot of faces,
There've been times I felt so all alone;
But in my lonely hours,
Yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.
I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word."
-- Ray Boltz
We must remember that not having an answer from God does not necessarily mean
that the answer to our prayer is "No".
He may not answer so that we could be more motivated to deal with our own shortcomings.
When we think that God is not answering our prayers, then He may be getting us
to have greater faith in Him.
Many years ago Oswald J. Smith who was a great missionary-pastor, as a young man,
wanted to go to the mission field, but God never gave him a clear calling to do that.
He was willing to go to Africa, Asia, or wherever God may want to send him.
But God never answered his prayer.
Dr. Smith went to Toronto, Canada, to establish the People's Church.
Instead of sending him to the mission field, God led him to build the greatest
missionary-sending-and-supporting church of our time.
Today there are thousands of missionaries all round the world because God didn't answer
his prayer to send him to a mission field.
We must remember that when it seems that God is not listening, He may be at the very time
doing a great work in our behalf.
We must remember that the very purpose that He is now working in our lives is to conform us
into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
He will not give up on this.
Philippians 1:6 says "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work
in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
At the moment, it may seem that He is not listening.
He is waiting for the precise moment to speak directly to our hearts.
Our task is to listen in childlike obedience do whatever He commands us to do
when He does speak.
We must always remember that even when we think that God is not listening, He is still there.
He Was There All The Time
"Time after time I went searching for peace in some void,
I was trying to blame all my ills on this world I was in.
Surface relationships used me 'til I was done in,
And all the while someone was trying to free me from sin.
Never again will I look for a fake rainbow's end,
Now I have the answer, my life is just starting to rhyme;
Sharing each new day with Him is a cup of fresh wine.
Oh, what I missed! He's been waiting right there all the time.
He was there all the time,
He was there all the time;
Waiting patiently in line,
He was there all the time."
-- By Gary Paxton
He is always watching over us, waiting for the moment to lift our load, to take away
the burden, and to give us that much needed assurance.
"The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help." (Psalm 34:17)
Whenever you are in trouble, God hears. He's waiting to help!
God is listening!
"Lord; you hear my every sigh." (Psalm 38:9)
God even hears your sighs, your weariness, when you feel like giving up.
God is listening!
"Morning, noon, and night I plead aloud in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice."
When your concern just won't go away God is listening!
"For the Lord hears the cries of his needy ones." (Psalm 69:33)
When you have a need, God hears.
When you realize just how much you need God's help, He is listening!
"I love the Lord because he hears and answers my prayers." (Psalm 116:1)
He hears. He answers.
God is always listening to our prayers!
Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White