Face Time: A Time to Listen
Message Summary
Face time with God is a time to talk and a time to listen. We talk to God in prayer and we listen to God through His revealed words to us in the Holy Bible. Of course God also speaks through The Holy Spirit and sometimes through others. The one thing to remember when trying to discern what is really God’s voice and what is not, is this; God will never contradict His principles as they are revealed in the Bible. I’ve heard people who have claimed God spoke to them in their spirit telling them to do something contrary to Biblical principles. My reply; never! And when you hear a preacher or Bible teacher speaking, make sure what they say lines up with Scripture. If it doesn’t, you know something is wrong! In the Bible we hear God’s voice speaking in many ways. This sermon looks at a passage found in Isaiah 55:1-13, and includes many examples of things we hear from God when we read or remember His Holy Word. Here’s the list, just from this text, of things God speaks to us: invitations, questions, truths, promises, prophecies, realities, principles, results, instructions, and outcomes. Within these, we discover His love, forgiveness, mercy, wisdom, guidance, peace, understanding, and so much more!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Share an experience you’ve had when God spoke through His Word to you.

2. God uses others to speak to us, and sometimes speaks to us by way of His Holy Spirit! However, we must make sure the word we’re getting lines up with the Word of God in the Bible. Why is this so important?
1 John 4:1  Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 Th 5:21  Test everything. Hold on to the good.
1 Th 5:22  Avoid every kind of evil.
Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3. Discuss how an invitation, a promise or a principle, found in God’s Word has been used of God to speak to your heart! You may have a specific one in mind, but here’s an example...
Mat 11:28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

4. We know God wants to speak to us, the question is will we listen! Discuss an example of listening and obeying the voice of God and then an example of not listening or not obeying the voice of God. You can use the experience of a Biblical character or your own.
Psa 81:8  "Hear, O my people, and I will warn you-- if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
Psa 81:9  You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god.
Psa 81:10  I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
Psa 81:11  "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.
Psa 81:12  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
Psa 81:13  "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways,
Psa 81:14  how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!



Full Sermon Notes

Face Time: A Time to Listen
"Our Father everlasting The all creating One! God Almighty, through Your Holy Spirit conceiving Christ the Son, Jesus our Savior!"
That's what we just sang! Why would anyone not want to listen to The Father everlasting, the all Creating One, God Almighty? And why would we not want to listen to Jesus Christ The Son, the One sacrificed in order to be our Savior? Somehow we have got to get to a place in our lives as individuals and as a people where we desire to hear the voice of God!

Let's pray and seek to hear His voice. "Father God, thank you so much for loving us with an un-conditional love. We could never do any thing to make You love us more than You already love us and we could never do anything to make You love us any less than You have always loved us! And it's because of that love we long to hear Your voice! It's because of Your faithfulness to us and Your mercy towards us we do not have to fear the sound of Your voice! And because of Your forgiveness and kindness towards us we are comforted by Your voice. It's not that we aren't sometimes convicted and convinced to change our evil ways when we hear Your voice, we are. It's just that we know Your voice, even in times of correction, speaks for our good! You love us with an everlasting love! Help us as individuals and as a church and even as a nation to once again be willing to not only hear, but to really listen and to heed Your voice! I yield my voice to You today and ask that You use it to speak Your Word to ears and hearts open to hear. In Jesus Name I pray and I believe. Amen!

Today we're going to hear words of God written in the book of Isaiah, where we are told that the Word of God endures forever!

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. ”

The Word of God is the primary way God speaks to His children. Let me just say this at the very beginning of our message today: God will never speak anything to your heart or spirit that contradicts the principles of Bible, God's Holy Word! So if you feel, or think God has told you something, but it violates The Word of God, it's not from God! You might say, but The Spirit led me. The Holy Spirit will not lead you contrary to God's revealed precepts. Why? Because God's principles are unchanging and stand forever!

The more you grow in your knowledge and understanding of God's Word the more God will speak to your heart through the Word and not just when you're reading it, but when you remember it! Today we're going to take a chapter out of the life of God's people back in the Old Testament. I want to give you a little background concerning the situation of Judah, the southern Kingdom, during the time Isaiah penned our text for today, which is, Isaiah 55. If you want to read along, that's where we'll be for most of our time, Isaiah 55, and I decided to read all 13 verses.

Now the very important background! Israel and Judah, which had been united under King David's leadership, a unity that continued for a while under King Solomon, David's son, was about to end because of Solomon's wickedness. The kingdom was torn in two.
The Northern Kingdom retained the name Israel while the Southern Kingdom was called Judah. Of course, Solomon was not the only one to blame! It seems when a nation has great material wealth and power, it inevitably falls prey to moral and spiritual decay. Sound familiar?

And one thing we know is that God will not bless immorality and wickedness. Israel and Judah fell to outside forces and began to be ruled by pagan nations. For around a century it was the Assyrians, and then it was the Babylonians for around 70 years.
On three different occasions large groups of Hebrew people were exiled to Babylon. Jerusalem was reduced to ruins and the temple had been burned. But here's the important thing, God still had a plan for His people.

He used another foreign leader, Cyrus, head of the Medes and Persian empire, to overthrow the Babylonians! Cyrus allowed the captives to return to Jerusalem. But, here's the crazy thing. The people had gotten comfortable in their captivity. They had learned the local systems, and found ways to make money and survive. So much so, that a vast number of them refused to return home. Now I want to ask you a question. Have you ever known someone who was enslaved to something but refused to allow God to set them free?

Sometimes the repercussions and gravity of their situation is apparent to others, but they can't see it. This was the case with the people of God. They were spiritually bankrupt and God was crying out to them to return to Him, but many of them were deceived and no longer heard His voice.

God wanted His children to spend some face time with Him and hear His voice, but many, if not most of them were no longer listening. They were spiritually thirsty and hungry, but had long since turned to other things to try and fill their longings. Sounds so much like many in our world today.

God was speaking, but few were listening. God speaks in the first five verses then the writer comments in verses 6 and 7. God finishes out the chapter with important words for the original readers and for us today! Isaiah 55:1-5...

"LISTEN"
GOD SPEAKS AN
INVITATION, A QUESTION, A TRUTH,  A PROMISE, AND A PROPHECY

THE INVITATION

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

God has invited all who are thirsty and hungry to come to Him. If you don't have money, you can still come, and if you do have money it won't buy what God is offering to you free of charge. Some of the Babylonian exiles had done good materially, but many were destitute.

Regardless, what God was offering and what He still offers today is the water and bread of life! Here's the way Jesus would speak it years later...

John 6:32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

The next thing God speaks to the Hebrew exiles is a question...

THE QUESTION

Isaiah 55:2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?

As I stated earlier, many of the exiles decided they would rather have physical comforts than risk going back to Jerusalem. The sad truth was and is that no material thing can replace the satisfaction that is only found in what God offers us in His love and mercy! Jesus spoke on this very thing...

Matthew 6:31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In our text, God then gives the Hebrew exiles a powerful truth...

A TRUTH

Isaiah 55:2b...Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

When we listen, really listen to God, we will be feasting on true "soul food!" And talk about rich! God's Words will be so sweet to your soul!

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

In the Hebrew language, subject and verb agreement is different than it is in the English. So verse four can be correctly translated, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" or "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give your heart it's desires!" In other words, if you are delighting in hearing God's voice, His Word, His principles, His will, His desire, then your heart will begin to desire what God desires and when that happens, God will give you the desires of your heart, because they will be Godly!
I love that! That's powerful.

God also spoke a promise...

A PROMISE

Isaiah 55:3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.

If we give ear and spend face time with God and hear His voice, it will give life to our soul and spiritually we'll become healthy. It says when we come to God and listen to Him, our soul will live, and just as God promised to love David forever, He has promised to love us forever! And did you notice God said He had made David a witness to the peoples? God was saying that David was not the only witness, but all the people of God and as a part of the new covenant, we've also been made a witness to others. Listen to the prophesy...

A PROPHESY  

Isaiah 55:5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

And how does that apply to us? Listen to what Jesus said just before He ascended back into heaven...

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The next two verses of our text are actually the prophet speaking. We should listen to his instructions, since God was inspiring his words.

"LISTEN"
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS PROPHET INSTRUCTIONS AND OUTCOMES

INSTRUCTIONS

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD...

Amazing wisdom from this prophet! Seek the Lord while He may be found! Listen to these words...

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

OUTCOMES

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

So when we forsake our wicked ways and evil thoughts, and turn to the Lord, He will have mercy on us and pardon us. But here is a truth we must never forget. The prophet in Isaiah said we must forsake our wicked ways and Jesus said the same thing...

Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Repent means to turn and go another direction. When we listen to God's voice, He will tell us to turn around any time He sees us on a path headed for death and destruction. That's because He cares about us! John put it this way in 1 John 1:9…

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So in our text we've heard God speak, and we've heard one of His prophets speak. Now God is going to speak to the Hebrew exiles again and if you're listening to the voice of God in His Word this morning, you know He's talking to you too! I know He's talking to me.  

"LISTEN"
GOD SPEAKS REALITY, PRINCIPLES, AND RESULTS

REALITY

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Nothing like a little reality check! And in these two verses God serves us up a little "humble pie!" And listen He's not being mean. It's just that He knows all about human pride and how destructive it can be. When we think we know more than God we certainly won't be listening to His voice! Ok, let's get honest! Have you ever had a situation where you knew better than God what to do? Unless you can say you've always followed God's directions and been perfectly obedient to Him, there's been times you've acted as if you knew better than God! You may not have been actually thinking it, but you were certainly acting it! I know that's hard to hear, but we have got to get to a the place where we constantly acknowledge God's superior wisdom and seek to know and follow His wisdom.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

I don't want to be in the fools category, do you? I didn't think so. The writer of Proverbs put's it this way...

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

The wisdom of God always includes principles and He gives us a powerful principle that has everything to do with listening to His voice, His Word...

PRINCIPLES

Isaiah 55:10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and
making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

That's so exciting to me! When I listen to God's voice, His Word, and His Holy Spirit inspiring me to remember, I can know God's Word will accomplish exactly what He intended it to accomplish and it will fulfill it's God given purpose. In other words, there will be results!

RESULTS

Here's the way God put it...

Isaiah 55:12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’S renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

This doesn't mean I won't ever have any problems or difficulties, or struggles, I will, but here's the cool thing, nothing can take away my joy, and nothing can take away my peace! There will be mountains and hills to climb, but they will burst into song before me and the trees will clap their hands. In other words, God will use life's circumstances, no matter how tough, to encourage me. How is that possible? Because when I listen to His voice I know He's bigger than any thing I'll face and His covenant of eternal love is a promise He'll never break, ever!

Close your eyes as I close with these Word's of God...

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.