We all know that God reveals Himself in many different ways…
But did you know that God reveals Himself through baking?
The other week we had to get our bath resurfaced and so we had this guy, this tradesman come, and mend the crack and spray some stuff and stink out the house.
While he was there I was doing some baking for children’s church and felt a nudge to give him a coffee and a muffin. So I went down to the bathroom, asked if he wanted a coffee and then went and made it. Took back the coffee and a muffin on a plate.
“I thought you might be hungry” I said, “and I’m doing some baking for our children’s church and thought you could do the taste test.”
“this is home baking?” he replied. “I haven’t had home baking since I was 12.”
Now this trades guy, the bath fix it man, was in his 50s. Gray unkept hair. Lives on a boat. That kinda guy.
He took the muffin in a really humble way and I was really humbled. Since he was 12. my mother heart melted.
About 2 hours later he came into the lounge and straight up asked me “so you’re involved in the church are you?” (did you notice the drop about children’s church) which led into me telling my story about how I became a Christian when I was 16.
God revealed Himself to me with the nudge when I was baking, but God revealed Himself to the bath fix it man with baking. With a muffin.
I love how God speaks. I love that HE DOES.
One of my most most most favourite bible verses of all time is this:
However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11
God HAS revealed Himself – He is not an unknowable God that we cant pin down so tonight we’re going to explore some of the ways that God speaks to us and makes Himself known.
Let me begin with this:
1. God is deliberately mysterious.
Now that may sound like a complete contradiction to what I’ve just said but get this: God is deliberately mysterious and also puts Himself totally out there.
We are never – until the other side of eternity – going to understand the depth, breadth, height, width and scope of God.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God is bigger than we can imagine. He breathed out the stars. He knows the path of the lightening. He knows how many hairs you have on your head and how many hairs you have on your toes. He fashioned the mountains and knows the path of the lightening. Unfathomable greatness.
And because of that and those omnis – He knows all and sees all and is out of time – He has perspective that we as finite beings don’t have.
God’s ways are higher. His wisdom is higher. His perception is higher. His love is higher. And because we can’t grasp it all, God sometimes seems mysterious and unpredictable.
But what we can know, even though the mysteriousness and even though the unpredictability is what He has revealed to us – we can trust and be confident in those things He has put out there in black and white about who He is.
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14 NIV
The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. NSAB
God invites us to seek Him: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
You see even though He is deliberately mysterious He puts Himself totally out there, inviting us to draw near and find Him. He has given us this book – the Bible – revelation of WHO God is. And the most stunning of all – He sent Jesus – Jesus says in John 14 “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Time and time again in the NT it says that Jesus is the exact likeness of God.
Colossians 1:15 – He is the image of the invisible God
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Don’t you just love that. God became flesh, Jesus – and the message says The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
You want to see what God is like… look at Jesus. Look at how Jesus lived and loved and gave and spoke and did.
You see one of the things you can stake your life on and that never changes is that God is good.
All the time.
God is good. In every action and in every day and in every moment God is good.
Just a few weeks ago I was priv’d to go to Sistas and Sy Rogers was one of the main speakers and he had the most fantastic analogy about this.
Imagine with me the ocean. Helpful imagination triggers on the screen.
Did you know that The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world’s five oceans. It covers 155.557 million sq km, covering about 28% of the global surface; larger than the total land area of the world.
Did you know they are still discovering new life forms in the pacific ocean and there are unexplored depths that are even too deep for the bestest marine explorer technology to reach?
The cool thing is you can go to the Pacific Ocean – by going to Eastern Beach. You can swim in the Pacific. Of course you could go to Hawaii or California where the water would be warmer… but you can go there, tonight. You can swim in it. Touch it. Drink it (which I don’t recommend!)
God is a little bit like that ocean. Big. Deep. Unexplored territory. You can experience a bit of God – just like how you can experience a bit of the ocean.
But the cool thing is – if you go to Eastern beach tonight you can scoop up a handful of water and know something about the whole ocean. It is wet and it is salty. From coast to coast and through and through the pacific ocean is wet and salty.
Likewise, with God, you can know what He has said about Himself and know that it is true through and through.
God is good and God is love.
These are the 2 main revelations of WHO GOD IS that I live my life on and that I colour everything else about God with. I may not get to swim the whole ocean – but this I know. Wet and salty. I may not get to know every detail and revelation about God. But this I know. Good and love.
God is deliberately mysterious and His ways are higher than ours but He is good and He loves us. All the time.
So back to the best but in the bible: BUT HE HAS REVEALED
I love when God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, I will go over and see this strange sight— why the bush does not burn up. When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, Moses! Moses! And Moses said, Here I am. Do not come any closer, God said. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Then he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Moses said to God, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers— the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob— has sent me to you.’ This is my name for ever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
God revealed Himself to Moses as I AM. I AM WHO I SAY I AM. Again – we can have confidence in what God says and who He says He is.
I love this passage because it shows me a few things about who God is and how He reveals Himself to us.
- God has our lives planned out and we can look back, retrospectively, and see His hand at work and see how He was revealing Himself in our lives.
I can look back at many times, before I was even a Christian, at the times God was drawing me to Himself and showing me glimpses of who He is.
I remember seeing a movie one easter that had a really profound affect on me, about 3 years before I became a Christian about Christians singing in the roman coliseum awaiting their death by lion.
That clip put a resolve in me – that if I ever became a Christian that I wanted it to be something so real that I would give my whole life to God.
God had positioned Moses – through His experiences – in the palace, in the desert and for this moment – to encounter Him and be His man for the hour, bringing deliverance and connection back between God and His people. We see how God has worked in our lives so that we can have confidence and loyalty in the moment when we don’t have the perspective He does. We can see how God tapestries our whole life into a complete story.
- if you’re wanting God to reveal Himself to you – BE WATCHING AND LISTENING AND LOOKING! And TURN ASIDE! i once heard a quote that goes something like this, my paraphrase “God is speaking all the time and we’re not listening.” – aka God is speaking to us but we’re just going through life and not paying attention, not receiving the signal!
Right now, in this room radio signals are all over the place. Right now there is talk back shows and music and sports commentary floating all around us. But unless we have a radio and tune it into a station we cant actually receive the signals.
Job 33:14 says For God does speak— now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it.
The CEV puts it this way: CEV Job 33:14 God speaks in different ways, and we don’t always recognize his voice.
Moses turned aside and then God revealed Himself to him. Moses could have just carried on and got home the end of the story would have gone something like this: “ hi honey I’m home. “how was your day dear?” “yeah good, sheep were good. funny thing happened today though, I saw this bush and it was on fire but not burning up.” That’s interesting dear”
God doesn’t give a full in depth explorative explanation on who He is. Deliberately mysterious again. I AM WHO I AM. But in that name contains that premise again – that we can be confident and trust that God will do exactly what He says He will do and be who He says He is, because that is His nature and character. We don’t need to know the whole picture, the whole ocean, but what we do know we can live by.
Lets be people who want to be hearers, who want to know God, who recognize His voice, who perceive when God is speaking. Don’t underestimate this. Kate, in housegroup the other night, said that “the bible is underestimated.” And I totally agree – spending time with God and creating opportunities for Him to speak – or rather for us to LISTEN – is underestimated. Turn aside!
- God can use creation and the natural world to speak to you.
The Bush was burning.
Have you ever been out for a walk and been amazed by the sunset (or sunrise!)? Ever had a rainbow at just the right moment remind you that God keeps His promises?
I remember one morning on our way to kindy God used creation to expand my understanding of who He was. Caleb loved playing in the sandpit. That was HIS thing at kindy. Of course, if the day was rainy, no sandpit. So we were driving to kindy and it began to rain. I heard his little voice in the backseat praying for the rain to stop so he could play in the sandpit. I went to open my big mouth to expound on how rain is necessary etc etc etc and I felt a STOP nudge in my spirit. That coincided with me noticing that it had stopped raining. And it didn’t rain all day. Creation sure spoke to me in that moment about the bigness of God and His capability to answer prayers.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
Romans 1:20 says, For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
The natural world, its intricacy, its order, its beauty reveal to us things about who God is.
Have you ever thought about how complex we are? Like our bodies. I think louie giglio says it best:
YOUTUBE CLIP to 4.08
When I look at creation I am reminded all the time that God is creative. And big enough. Creative enough and big enough to deal with my life and sort it out.
- God will use other people to speak to you.
God was used Moses to speak to His people, the Israelites. He used Moses to speak to the Pharaoh.
Who has God place in your life that He is speaking through?
He might reveal Himself through a prophecy, or something at housegroup, or through a message up the front here, or through a conversation over coffee, or a text. Sometimes doesn’t it feel like God is reading your facebook status’ (or the ones we would put if we were being honest) and someone says the exact right thing we need to hear.
God is speaking. Through someone with skin on. He is revealing Himself through someone like you or me. You can be used by God to reveal God to someone, just as me and my baking was used to reveal God to the bath fix it man.
- There are many other ways God speaks to us.
He speaks to people – audibly and with what Christians call a still quiet voice. One of the most distinct times I know God has spoken me is the day Evangeline was born. It was the middle of the night, and she had been crying. I put her up on my shoulder to cuddle her and God said “she is delightful” – the first time I ever heard God speak I didn’t know it was him. It was about ½ hour after I had become a Christian and the speaker said “someone here has a word from God” – well I had LOTS of words running in my head. Lots of thoughts just popping in there. My heart was pounding and my temperature rising and I felt “funny” – good funny. He then said “your heart is pounding and you can feel God’s presence and He is speaking to you.” I still didn’t say anything because I didn’t really know what was happening. I have learned to recognize His voice, just as I learn to recognize a friend’s voice on the telephone.
God speaks through our conscience. Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it.
He speaks through dreams (I had a cool dream about meeting billy graham in a tent the other night!)
He speaks through donkeys (which could be classified as nature but it was an extraordinary means of revelation!)
He speaks through His Word and in worship.
He speaks through visions and angelic visitations.
And last but by no means least: He speaks and reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit speaks to your spirit. Your spirit is designed to hear the voice of God. When you are born again your spirit is activated to hear God, you have a natural ability because you are a child of God to hear your Father.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.1 Corinthians 2:9-12
The BUT HAS REVEALED them to us through His Spirit… that is good news! God has given you the capacity to hear His voice! To process the revelation of God to you. The Holy Spirit is like the translator – translating God who is mysterious and whose ways are higher and translates them, declares them, reveals them to us.
"But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)
The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us to reveal who God is. He dwells inside of you to show us what God is like and to speak God’s personal words to you, personal encouragements, personal challenges, personal conviction, personal wisdom, personal grace, personal guidance.
The Holy Spirit speaking can sometimes just feel like a nudge, or a compelling. I was nudged, compelled to give the bath fix it guy a muffin.
God’s promise to each one of us is DRAW NEAR TO ME and I will reveal myself to you.
Draw near to me and I will draw near to you. James 4:8
He may seem far away, He may seem deliberately mysterious and unpredictable and even quiet at times – because He can do that – but we can have confidence that He is always with us and that as His kids, we will learn to recognize His voice.
preaching notes from Sunday 20th November