When tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” So true. Our daily bread is to hear the voice of God and to obey His instructions. It is our personal relationship with Him that will set us apart.
It’s good to be with you again, as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme throughout this week has been: Hearing God’s Voice.
In my talk yesterday, I explained one specific result of hearing God’s voice which is of inestimable value. One result, which if nothing else ever followed, would make it well worth while to hear God’s voice, and that result is faith.
Now today I’m going to speak about the distinctive life style that results from hearing God’s voice. People who learn to hear God’s voice lead a life that’s different from other people. They just can’t be the same. I want to return to a scripture that I quoted in my talk yesterday, Matthew, chapter 4, verse 4. Jesus is answering Satan’s temptation to turn the stones into bread in the desert and this is what is written:
“But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’“ (NASB)
The word there is rhema, every rhema that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The verb, proceeds, is in the continuing present tense, every proceeding word, every word as it proceeds out of the mouth of God. You remember I said that hearing God’s voice indicates a direct personal relationship with God. We’re in tune with God right there, right then. It’s not past; it’s not future; it’s here and now, in the present. That’s the continuing, proceeding Word of God for that given moment, for that given time, for that given situation. That’s what we live on.
Jesus was speaking and comparing that rhema with bread. He said, “Man doesn’t live by bread alone but he lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” And in a certain sense he was comparing that with natural bread. And as natural bread feeds the natural body of man, so that proceeding, personal word of God feeds man’s inner being, his spirit. It nourishes his spirit. And we need the one just as much as we need the other. To keep our bodies alive we need natural bread. To keep our spirits alive and healthy, we need the spiritual bread, the proceeding Word, the personal word, the voice of the Lord coming to us. Now this comes only through the Holy Spirit. You see, if you hold a Bible in front of you, all you have, actually, is white sheets of paper with black marks on it. You can’t hear that. No one can hear black marks on white paper. It’s impossible. How can that ever become a voice, a spoken word that you can hear? There’s only one power in the universe that can turn those black marks on white paper into the voice of God and that power is the Holy Spirit.
So you see, we’re totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit who brings to us in any given situation the rhema, the Word of God that we need, that quickens it, that imparts life to it, that makes it a living voice. And so, through hearing that Word of God, we are related to God, the Holy Spirit. It’s God, the Holy Spirit, who’s guiding us and directing us all the way, every day by the rhema that He gives us.
See what Paul says in Romans 8:14:
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (NASB)
So what makes us sons of God? Being led by the Spirit of God. See, there are many different ways in which the Holy Spirit works in our lives. But I want to distinguish two.
First of all, we are born of the Holy Spirit and that makes each of us a new-born child, a baby. Peter said in his first Epistle, “As new born babies desire the pure milk of the Word.” But that doesn’t make us mature grown up sons of God. How can we become mature, grown up sons? Only by being led by the Holy Spirit. And all who are being led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God, not children, not babies, but mature sons. And notice, that’s a continuing, ongoing present, all who are being continually led by the Spirit of God. It’s not something that just happens once or even once a week, not just in church on Sunday or whatever day you may go to church, but it’s something that’s going on all the time in our daily life. It’s our daily bread. It’s hearing the voice of the Lord through the Holy Spirit and as we hear the voice of the Lord, we’re directed.
My wife and I have a prayer that we regularly pray whenever we go about any kind of business. Our prayer is that we may always be in the right place at the right time. We’ve discovered it makes a lot of difference. We spend a good deal of our time in Jerusalem and in Jerusalem many means of communication we’re used to here in the States are not so accessible. A lot of people don’t have phones. A lot of people don’t have cars. The mail system is extraordinary. I remember we once posted a letter from one address in Jerusalem to another. It took seventeen days to arrive. So, how can you communicate with people? Well, one of our solutions is we pray to be always in the right place at the right time. It’s amazing how often, without planning it, we meet the very person we need to meet at the very moment we need to speak to them because we’re in the right place at the right time. Who organizes that? The Holy Spirit. He prompts us. He says, “Today’s the day to go to the bank.” You go to the bank and there’s the very person standing in front of you in the line waiting to cash his check. Or, “Don’t catch that bus, catch another bus.” That’s the rhema. That’s the spoken word. It’s the ongoing direction of the Holy Spirit. That’s what makes us mature sons of God. We’re born again by the Spirit of God to be little babies, but to grow up we have to hear the voice of the Lord. We have to be led continually by the Holy Spirit.
To close my talk today, I want to show you that this life-style that I’m talking about, of hearing God’s Word as daily bread, of having the Holy Spirit speak to us daily and personally, was the life-style of Jesus Himself. He didn’t merely preach it, he practiced it.
In the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 50, verses 4 through 7, there’s a beautiful prophetic picture of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus, of His ministry, and in particular, of His ongoing daily relationship with God, the Father. And this is what it says, Isaiah 50, verses 4 through 7:
“The sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, [This is Jesus speaking.] to know the word that sustains the weary. [You know Jesus was able to speak that word that sustained the weary. Now how did it come? Listen:] He awakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to listen like one being taught. [That was the secret of Jesus, that God woke his ear every morning, that every morning He heard His father’s voice speaking, guiding Him, giving Him direction and instruction and strength for the day. He goes on:] The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. [And here’s a very clear, prophetic picture of Jesus.] I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I hid not my face from mocking and spitting. [Why was Jesus willing to go through with all that He went through? How was He able? How did He receive the strength? The answer was by hearing the Father’s voice. Every morning He heard from His Father before He communicated with human beings. Then He goes on:] Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” (NIV)
So you see, Jesus began each day listening to the Father. And here are some of the results that followed from His listening to the Father like that each day. First of all, He had words of encouragement for others. Secondly, He received personal direction for each day, Himself. Thirdly, He received obedience. You know hearing God’s voice produces obedience. Fourthly He received strength to go through all that He had to go through. He needed more than human strength. He needed supernatural strength and He received that through hearing the Father’s voice. Fifthly, He received determination. He said, “I’ve set my face like a flint, I’m not turning back. All that came to Jesus through hearing the Father’s voice and hearing God’s voice will do the same for us as it did for Jesus. We need to cultivate that habit of letting the Lord waken our ear each morning that we may hear His voice first thing.
Well our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. I’ll be continuing with this theme of Hearing God’s Voice. I’ll be sharing with you some important practical directions on how to make it work.
This week I’m making a special offer of my book, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This book explains a vital spiritual provision of God for His believing people, which more than any other single experience, can open your spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.
Also, my complete series of talks this week on Hearing God’s Voice is available in a single, carefully edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.