Paul, Follow His Voice

 In God We Trust

Paul, Follow His Voice

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Welcome! 

Maybe you have seen a post like this floating around social media: 

“You lack nothing. Use what I gave you.” -God. 

Maybe some of you are thinking yeah that’s good!  God has blessed us with all we need and we should just get to work using it. At first blush, this could sound really good and I’m sure is seen as encouragement by many as it is floating around social media. 

Can you hear what might be wrong with this quote? 

First-it’s not direct Scripture-it has been modified. Any time something is modified we have to reference back to Scripture to see what the true Word says and what the intention is. Otherwise, we end up with a muddied understanding of God’s Word. Especially in this day and age of social media posts being a primary reading source for so many. But even in our conversations with others and what has been handed down to us-we must look to His Word for right understanding. 

Let me show what can be wrong with a phrase like this. Above this post I saw this text from the one who shared the post: 

“My mom always told me not to spend too much time praying. Not because she didn’t believe in God, but because she believed that “God gave us a brain so that we could use it”.  

Maybe some as you hear that are still saying-yeah that’s good! What’s wrong with that? God did give us a brain to use. Many other people thought this same thing on this person’s post, who said, “that’s good, I like that!” “couldn’t put it any better,”  “Love this!” 

Well, what does God actually say about what we have and how we are to use it?

God’s Word says in Psalm 34:10 but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. 

 And in Hebrews 13:21 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

And John 14:13 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

To properly walk with Jesus, we must seek to understand Truth as God defines it. But we can’t just walk in truth either for then we can easily become judgmental and condemning towards others, self-righteous. We can start taking the ways of God, His Law, and use it against others and as a way to glorify ourselves as we uphold it. We must also worship God in Spirit and seek to listen for His counsel in Spirit. This way we have the understanding to Truth, discernment, revelation, and we’re acting as God tells us so Jesus receives the glory, not us. 

In our final message of In God We Trust, we’ll look at Saul who became the Apostle Paul.  Saul was deeply committed to God, zealous for Him and more so His Law and upholding it. He was a Pharisee who lorded over the Law of God to all Jews. He was all about punishment including imprisonment and even death for those who would not follow the Law of Moses. He was especially set against Jesus, the supposed Messiah, and was determined to destroy anyone helping to keep His teachings going or who followed the Way. 

His heart was for God and to do all to honor Him. His understanding of God’s purposes was confused and greatly lacking. His actions were not loving towards others; they only fueled division, fear, and chaos and that is not of God. 

Enter in Jesus, who changed everything and showed Saul what it meant to worship God in Truth and Spirit, and how God loves all people, so we are to do the same. He showed Paul how to follow His voice-over self-direction and reasoning. Never does God tell us to just go and live independently from Him and just do whatever we think is best. We won’t find that anywhere. We will find all throughout Scripture God speaking with and giving direction to His chosen people and the same with Jesus-teaching, guiding, mentoring, modeling the Way and the same with the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in the heart of all who believe in the name of Jesus-to teach us all things, to guide us into Truth, to show us what to pray for and to enable the power of Christ to flow through us. All throughout Scripture, there is intimacy with God for those who were willing to seek Him. 

Let us look to Paul today and see how we might connect with his journey and see what changed for him to truly learn to Follow the Voice of Jesus. 

Let’s pray. Father God we want to know Your Truth as You would have us understand it. We want to know You, our Living God. Make Yourself known to us as You did with Paul. Help us understand how to walk with You and follow Your voice above all other things. Help us to learn to cling to You, Jesus as our guide, our Wonderful Counselor, our Teacher and friend. In Your name we pray Jesus, Amen. 

Philippians 3: 1-9 NLT

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.  Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.

This is a man transformed by Christ who lives in him. This is a man who learned to follow the voice of God instead of acting in his own power and reasoning. 

  • Committed to God 

Paul was devoted to God, so much he was trained to be a Pharisee-a religious leader and one who made sure the law was upheld. He had all the religious training and education one could have. He was among the elite and from the tribe of Benjamin. Look at his pedigree if you will-in human standards it was very impressive and to be revered. 

 

Philippians 3:5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.      

One can be committed to God’s Law and miss the greatest truth which is for each of us to know God and have a relationship with Him. Paul studied the Law over studying God Himself. He operated in human reasoning, understanding, and power.    There were no conversations being had with Saul and God. There was no listening for God’s revelation of His Truth and how to apply the law as it was intended. And Saul, like the other Pharisees, could not see how Jesus came and fulfilled the very Law they were devoted to. They could not see Jesus was the fulfillment of all prophecy they studied. To them, Jesus was destroying the Law that had been sacred throughout their ancestry and in a sense He was. Not the Law itself because Jesus fulfilled it perfectly, but in how God’s people were living by the Law, devoted to the Law itself over living by the Spirit and being devoted to God in a relationship.   

In Saul’s zeal for God’s law, he was determined to put an end to anyone connected to Jesus.     

Acts 9:2 He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 

Look at the history of the Church and how this continues to be lived out today and has across all of the Church history. People committed to God and develop a great zeal for His Truth, His Law and in the name of religion, come against the very people Jesus came to save. We divide and devour fellow Christians all in the name of our religious beliefs. We play judge and jury like Saul was when someone isn’t seeing or living our beliefs. We condemn. It’s so easy to slide into this mindset and think we’re doing right. Saul absolutely believed with all his being he was doing what was right. 

  • Living Out of Biblical Law   

Here’s what went wrong. Saul was living out of Biblical Law, which is ultimately living out of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God put the Law in place so we sinful humans might be aware of our sin. So we would know what is good and what is wicked in God’s eyes. The Law only increased our temptation then to sin-we have to understand that. It did not save us from sin. It only highlighted things we should not be doing according to our holy God who has called us and set us apart for His glory and purposes. Remember they still had to do sacrifices all the time to atone for their sin. They kept sinning, we all sin. The Law was put in place to show us our nature and reveal to us that we cannot ever save ourselves in our own power. It was to show us our need for a Savior who would come through grace to pay our ransom, to take our sin to the grave, and to purify us with His righteousness. That Savior is Jesus Christ. 

We are to live out of Him as we believe in Him. By doing so, we will uphold the law, but it’s about listening to Him and having a relationship with Him. 

Remember Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, a day will come and indeed that day is now, where true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. God is Spirit and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and truth.                                                                                

Philippians 3:6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.    

Saul was seeking to obtain righteousness with God in his own power in obeying the Law. Righteousness does not come from us. We are not righteous-not one of us on our own. If we were, we would receive the glory. If we were or could be on our own, why did Jesus come? If we could truly uphold the Law perfectly, why did Jesus give His life on the cross? Jesus was and is the only one righteous so He imparts His righteousness to us as we believe in Him. Then He receives the glory as God intends.  

We’re told how we are to live and by what we are to eat to stay healthy and nourished way back in Genesis. 

Genesis 2:9 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Tree of Life symbolizes Jesus and staying tuned to Him as our Bread of Life and Living Water-nourishing us in every way. We tune to Him through the Spirit who dwells in us. 

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is us living out of human reasoning-seeking to understand good and evil, right and wrong in our own abilities. This goes back to the example of the social media post-believing we have all we need to live independent of God for we are like God and have all the ability to make our own choices. God very clearly said do not eat of this tree in v. 17 17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

  • Living Out of Divine Encounter

Paul had to learn how to live out of Divine Encounter and truly hear from God. He had not been trained to do that. He had to relearn everything he thought he knew to be right and true. The Law wasn’t his guide, Jesus Christ was the Living God who spoke to him. 

Jesus made a very dramatic appearance to Saul on his way to round up and imprison as many Christians as he could. He flashed a bright light bringing Saul to his knees and he said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  

He then made it known to Saul, you are chosen and called to take the Good News of My salvation to the Gentiles. Saul was convicted in his heart and knew he had to learn more about how Jesus fit into God’s plan not only for Israel but all the world. He went to the desert to spend time alone with God and learn directly from Him. This was key to his transformation to Paul. In the desert is where Paul learned to Follow the voice of God through the Spirit. 

In the desert, he learned his true treasure was knowing Christ Himself and forming an intimate relationship with Him over his theology. Paul realized Jesus is a person! He learned to sense His movement within him and how to seek the Presence of God. He spent 3 years in the desert to be undone and remade in Christ. 

Philippians 3:7-9 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. 

 

In my coursework, Dr. Virkler stated, “confusion is often the first step to revelation.” 

 

If you ever find yourself confused on theology, confused in what you believe, confused on what you knew to be true then get excited about it and start seeking God. He’s positioning you to gain some new revelation to who He is! 

  

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.      

 

This is what Christ says is eternal life, Knowing God and Him. Living out of their voice and their power flowing within. Paul learned he no longer lived (independent of God, making his own choices, acting out his own agenda) it was Christ who lived through Him fulfilling the purposes of God. Paul no longer lived solely out of his mind and human reasoning; he lived out of his heart, tuned to the flow of the Holy Spirit. 

 

He teaches in 2 Corinthians 3:6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

                   

Jesus was telling His disciples as He was leaving to ascend to Heaven this truth-keep seeking Me and listening for My voice.  John 16: 12-13 12 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

                                                                                  

Conclusion:  We serve a living, personal God who desires for us to encounter His Almighty Presence daily. We do that when we learn to live out of our heart, for He dwells there. Let us like Paul, be willing to shift from living out of biblical law to encountering Jesus Christ and His Power in us. May our zeal be focused on following His voice.

Let’s pray.  Thank You Lord for choosing to connect with us personally, for choosing to reveal Yourself to us in unique ways. Thank You for the Law that points to our need for a Savior who redeems us and justifies us before You God. Thank You Jesus for being our Savior and Redeemer. Let us have ears to hear and a heart willing to follow Your voice O Lord. Amen. 

 

Communion:  Out front on our sign right now we have Jesus’ words stating “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” 

This means the only way to live out God’s purposes is to believe in and follow Jesus Christ. He is Truth. Everything in God’s Word is pointed to and lived out in Jesus Christ. He is our life, as we tune to the flow of His Spirit, the Living Water within us. Walking in the Spirit leads to life and peace. Jesus says the gate is narrow to God, and He is the gate. We cannot come before the Father without going through Jesus Christ. We cannot find salvation apart from Jesus Christ. We cannot go to heaven and have eternity with God without believing in the Lamb of God as our sacrifice. Let us give thanks today for our Savior Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. Let us give thanks for His blood shed that made the atonement for the sins of humanity and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. It is because of Christ and His sacrifice that we have been made right before our holy God. 

 

Jesus calls us to remember Him, His death and His resurrection for this is the will of God and this brings glory to the Father through His Son.  Jesus by faith, we believe You willingly died on the cross in our place. You became sin who knew no sin. You gave Your body over to death for our sake. We thank You and we praise You Lord-Lamb of God. 

 

You shed Your blood that was innocent and pure to pay our ransom and justify us before God. You cleanse us and make us new, spotless before the Father. With Your blood shed you ushered in a new covenant of grace bestowed to all who believe in You. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your blood that washes away our sin, that purifies us and makes us white as snow before our God. May we each choose to live our lives to honor You our Savior and Redeemer. You are our Great Shepherd, our Teacher, our Wise Counselor, the Everlasting God and our Friend. Let us not look solely to the Law that You already fulfilled, but let us look to You daily listen for Your voice. 

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