Listening to God’s Voice

Water – Cool Clear Water. Where Do We Find It?

Jeremiah used several colorful water figures of speech in Chapter 2 of Jerimiah.

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.  Jeremiah 2:13 NIV

Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way? Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the River? Jeremiah 2:17-18 NIV

Shihor is a tributary of the Nile, and “the River” is the Euphrates. Jeremiah observed Judah seeking help from Egypt and Assyria instead of depending on God. The Lord offered them refreshing life-giving water; instead they were either building their own broken cisterns (by worshiping wooden idols), or they were looking to their enemies to save them.

“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the house of Israel is disgraced– they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets. They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’ Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.“
Jeremiah 2:26-27 NIV

Have you ever seen a spring of fresh water, perhaps in the mountains? It is an amazing sight, fresh clear water bubbling up right out of the ground and flowing down, providing life to animals, plants, even people. Here is a picture of one. https://images.app.goo.gl/zxmGgdtYtaYwV8YJ8

The First Responder

Before we judge and point fingers at rebellious Judah, perhaps we should look at our lives – our own hearts. I myself have a tendency to be self-sufficient, to want to solve my own problems on my own, to fix the problem myself, neglecting to ask for help from God or anyone else. How about you? Is your first response to a problem to turn to God, to pray and ask for help, wisdom, insight and direction?

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.  Psalm 36:5-10 NIV

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10 NIV

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14 NIV

This week, read Jeremiah 2, perhaps in various versions. Listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you that you need to confess, or need to change. Thank God: that Jesus is our living water, that Jesus is our fountain of life, that through him, His Holy Spirit lives in us and is our eternal life.

Water – Cool Clear Water. Where Do We Find It?2023-03-04T12:45:28-07:00

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast. We record our podcast “live” every Thursday at 11am.
What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon, “Listening to God’s Voice”, by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-02-18T12:02:24-07:00

Posture Is Everything

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”  John 15:16–17

I remember when I first heard this passage as a young boy. My young faith was skeptical, but I really wanted to believe that it was true. I decided to test it and asked God for a dirt bike. I was careful to say, “In Jesus’ name, amen,” at the end of my prayer. I never got a dirt bike. This passage has been misunderstood by many. We may chuckle at my childish reading of the text, but we are still left to deal with what this text actually means. Is there a kind of praying that will genuinely give the prayer “whatever you ask?”

The operative phrase in the passage is that our prayer must be in alignment with the name of Jesus. In other words, prayers that are in alignment with the character of Jesus will be answered with a unique power. Prayer is not a lever that we wield to accomplish our goals, it is a connection to the king and the kingdom. We are aligning ourselves with God’s goals for the world.

I have also found that I tend to hear God’s voice more clearly when I have a posture of obedience. In other words, when I intend to obey what he says, I hear more clearly. Often when I pray specific prayers for guidance and wisdom, I’ll add a phrase that reminds me to take that posture. It goes like this, “what you say, I intend to obey.”

This week try praying differently, and see if you get a stronger sense of his voice. Ask yourself if your prayers align with the character of Jesus. If you are not sure, ask the spirit to help you pray in alignment. You can also ask yourself if you are willing to obey whatever you hear from him. That posture is an attitude of true listening. Perhaps you might hear God’s voice.

Posture Is Everything2023-02-18T11:56:32-07:00

Friends of Jesus

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14 ESV

When I hear the word “friend” I first think of an equal with whom I enjoy mutual support through thick and thin – mostly to get through personal trials. When I interpret Jesus as that kind of friend, this popular song comes to mind. It’s a true and comforting song. But Jesus’s use of the term “friend” in John 15 seems more robust.

One of the things you might question is why did Jesus inject the word “command” when talking about his disciples as friends? Reading further in John 15, it becomes apparent that Jesus intends the friendship role to extend beyond a sharing of joys and personal difficulties.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:15-17 ESV

In these few words, Jesus invited and appointed his disciples to progress from the status of “servants” who work for a daily wage, to an inner circle of “friends” devoted to advancing his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He also reinforced his command for them to love one another as intensely as he loved them – that they regard themselves as an indestructible team. Jesus also confirmed that our Father in Heaven stands ready to provide ample resources to accomplish his mission.

Perhaps the word “friend” in John 15 can be better understood by looking at the role of ambassador described by the Apostle Paul:

…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ESV

Here is the contemporary Merriam-Webster definition of an ambassador:

A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.

When Jesus calls us into friendship, he’s inviting and appointing us to be ambassadors from the Kingdom of God to the world around us. He desires us to hear his voice daily so we won’t find ourselves acting independently of him for our own benefit. Being Jesus’ friend and ambassador likewise includes working in close harmony with other believers.

Sometime this week or next, read or listen to an interview with a current or former U.S. ambassador to a major country. Alternatively, research which countries the U.S. does not maintain an embassy or consulate – think about the consequences of no embassy if you should visit that country. Allow daily margin for the Holy Spirit to reveal details about the ambassadorship you’ve been assigned. If you’re not yet on a team with a group of Jesus’s other ambassadors, ask him to show you where he wants you.

Friends of Jesus2023-02-18T11:45:55-07:00

Learning the Language of Prayer

Prayer is central to the Christian faith. Believers are told to “Pray without ceasing.“ (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Scripture also says that prayer brings His kingdom to earth. How does this happen? What does it look like?

It seems to me that learning to pray is a lot like learning a foreign language — communication involves listening, observing, speaking and acting. At times I have found myself doing more talking than listening when I pray. Have you ever seen a tourist who doesn’t speak the language of a country and keeps trying to get a point understood? The volume goes up, the talking increases and none of the effort leads to communication. That’s how I feel when my prayers are mostly about me talking without taking time to listen and learn God’s ways of communicating.

It can be difficult to grasp what it means to communicate with God, who is invisible. However, Scriptures say that Jesus was a perfect representative of God:

Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19b

Learning to pray requires observing how Jesus acted and then following his example. Obedience is the way we demonstrate to God that we have heard from him:

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. John 15:10

It’s so interesting that Jesus says “keep my commands”, not “Keep the Commandments”.  Jesus didn’t just keep the “Ten Commandments” as if he had learned them from a book; he spoke them fluently through the love he showed as well as the words he spoke. He showed us, through his example, how prayer brings God’s kingdom to earth. That’s how we are to learn to pray as well.

Here’s an example: My father is elderly and hasn’t been able to hear any of the messages that our Pastor, Alex, has given. That doesn’t matter at all. He loves Alex and thinks the messages are amazing. He’s picking up on what Alex is saying without being able to hear words. He sees the Lord’s prayer being lived out:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.

Thinking of prayer as a way to hear from God and learning to speak His language, we need to learn to communicate in the way Jesus did, with our whole selves, not just our words. In this way we become more and more a part of a wonderful conversation that God invites us into.


Communicating in a foreign language begins with the basics of vocabulary and building simple sentences. Being a fluent speaker requires much more – learning the give and take of speaking and listening as well as the pronunciation, culture, and mannerisms of native speakers.

Think about the prayers and lives of believers who have made an impression on you. What has stood out to you about their words and their actions? Take a moment to thank God for the way he transforms us as we learn to communicate with Him in prayer. Ask Him to continue transforming you.

Learning the Language of Prayer2023-02-18T11:11:27-07:00

The Gospel – Good News of the Kingdom

The Person Prophesied

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed. Isaiah 61:1 NLT

The Good News Prophesied

In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book,
and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:18-19 NLT

The lame will leap and dance,
and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Isaiah 35:6a NLT

The scoffer will be gone,
the arrogant will disappear,
and those who plot evil will be killed.
Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear.
A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice
and who tell lies to destroy the innocent. Isaiah 29:20-21 NLT

Jesus Preaches the Good News of the Kingdom

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News.
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:14-15 NLT

John the Baptist has a Question

John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting,
or should we keep looking for someone else?’” Luke 7:20 NLT

Jesus in Action

At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.
Luke 7:21 NLT

Jesus’ Message to John

Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Luke 7:22-23 NLT

Fifteen years ago this month I had the privilege of being on a team of writers who wrote the daily devotionals for Lent. They were printed in a book entitled, “Faces on the Way to the Cross”. One of the devotionals I wrote was on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I wrote it as if each event was a headline in a local or national newspaper.


I have to ask myself as I study if I have grown “blind” to what God would have me see in each scripture? Have I gotten “deaf” to His voice reminding me to be patient when things don’t happen the way I want or as quickly as I think they should? As you read the devotionals this week, ponder the different ways God would have you come alive in seeing and hearing God through the good news of God’s Kingdom.

The Gospel – Good News of the Kingdom2023-02-18T10:11:29-07:00

Keep On Reading! Keep On Listening!

In 1969, my maternal grandmother(Granny), was able to get a “Books for the Blind” record player and some talking books from the organization for the blind. Granny could see to get around but could no longer see to read, which was a deep grief for her. My sister’s family and mine went together to buy Granny a King James Bible of her own. It was on, as I recall, 60 LP, 16 speed records. She was thrilled.

Granny lived with her daughter, my Aunt Carol, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When I went to visit them, Granny and I would sit in her bedroom and listen to various books and usually at least one of the Bible chapters she was currently in. The sewing machine was in her room, and I could sew while we listened.

I missed listening to books when I got back home and was a bit envious because there wasn’t any way to get them for me. Then a year or so later I read about an audio lending organization in Norman, Oklahoma where I could get Bible study cassettes. It was great—they came in the mail, I listened, and sent them back in exchange for others. My favorite teacher was Howard (Howie) Hendricks. I enjoyed his voice and his ability to make comments stick. One talk I treasure is a conversation he’d had with Dr. Harry Ironside who said, ”The hundredth time I read this verse, God brought this to mind.” Howard said, ”A HUNDRED TIMES?!!!!” At that time, I guess, Howie couldn’t imagine doing that.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read various parts of the Bible, but there are certain favorite scriptures where the Lord has shown me something I hadn’t thought about before. For instance: “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) NKJV. He brought to mind, “If I really am, ‘delighting myself in the Lord’, He IS the desire of my heart and I can ask Him what his heart’s desires are for me.”

About 12 years ago, South Fellowship did the “Ninety Day Through the Bible” program. I did much of my reading via audio, because I had a business finishing quilts for people, and I could do the sewing while listening. There were things I heard and remembered better than when I would read the same sections. Later, I would go through and mark my Bible so that I could go back to those verses and ponder them.

I am grateful these days for various Bible apps that contain multiple versions that I can move back and forth in. Some have audio and study tools, as well as access to suggested teachers and videos. I’ll be praying that your Bible reading/listening becomes a desire of your heart and a delight to you.

Keep On Reading! Keep On Listening!2023-02-11T11:07:52-07:00

How Do We Hear the Voice of God?

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV

Let’s look at a few of the ways God spoke to various people in the Bible. Moses heard God’s voice come from a burning bush, Joseph heard God’s voice in dreams. Balaam heard God in the voice of a donkey, David heard God through the rebuke of Nathan the prophet. Elijah heard God on both Mt. Carmel in the fire and in the still small voice on Mt. Horeb. Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, heard God’s voice in dreams, and Mary heard from God by way of an angel’s visit, as did Abraham. Peter had a vision about clean and unclean food, and God used it to help him understand more fully that the gospel was for gentiles as well Jews. Paul heard an audible voice on the road to Damascus and became a believer in Jesus instead of a persecutor of His people.

How do we listen for and hear the voice of God? In what way has he spoken to you and me? First, Jesus tells his disciples,

He who belongs to God hears what God says. John 8:47a NIV

Then He speaks about the role of the Holy spirit,

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. John 15:26 NIV

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all 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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. John 16:12-15 NIV

But how do we actually “hear” God’s voice? For me, God primarily speaks through scripture – often a phrase or a word seems to jump off the page and grabs my attention. If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to be regularly reading the Bible. Music often speaks God’s truth to me – when I am still and able to hear it. Often God uses sermons or teaching to proclaim His truth to me. When I am praying, often the Holy Spirit prompts me to pray for someone, or for a situation, or I become aware of an attitude or sin I need to confess to God. If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to be regularly praying, and spending some of that time simply listening to hear what God has to say. Frequently during my daily activities, the Holy Spirit reminds me of a person who has a need, and He prompts me to meet that need.

How do we know if it is the voice of God we are hearing? God’s voice will always sound like Jesus: because Jesus is God, His voice will align with His own teaching.

Spend some time listening to God’s voice. Choose one of these ways listed above, or something else that works for you. Remember, Elijah heard God in the still small voice on Mt. Horeb.

How Do We Hear the Voice of God?2023-02-11T10:35:11-07:00

Traveling Mercies

Travelling is one of the great themes in the Bible. Abraham left his home and journeyed to a foreign land in obedience to God’s command, Jesus and his disciples spent three years traveling together, and Paul, Timothy, and James were missionaries in foreign lands. The life of faith that Christians are called to, described through the life-journeys of believers in Hebrews 11, is both beautiful and sobering.

The idea of being on a journey resonates with every human, because we are constantly encountering new challenges in which wisdom is needed. Whether on a voyage far from home or while making a way through various stages of life, acting with wisdom is difficult. The choices we need to make are usually complicated. Many circumstances in life are beyond the scope of our influence. In those cases we especially need the wisdom to trust that God is in control. How do Christians learn to live wisely on this journey of life?

These verses tell us that we need to rely on both Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy. 3:16-17 NIV

“I have much more to say to you. It is more than you can handle right now. 13 But when 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 still going to happen. 14 He will bring me glory. That’s because what he receives from me he will show to you. 15 Everything that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said what the Holy Spirit receives from me he will show to you.” John 16:12-15 NIV

If the Bible can “thoroughly equip (us) for every good work” why do we need the Holy Spirit? Isn’t learning from a book, and especially the Bible, more reliable than learning from a spirit? What could the Holy Spirit add to what the Bible can teach us?

“I have much more to say to you. It is more than you can handle right now. John 16:12

We need to be taught as we go through life stages. To take an everyday example: a child entering preschool needs to learn the basics of making friends and taking turns. Getting a lecture on choosing a career path would be more than they could handle. In the same way, Jesus taught his disciples with truth that was relevant to them, and the Holy Spirit meets us where we are.

The Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. (2 Timothy 3:16b). But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

The Spirit helps us understand how to apply scripture to our lives and will prompt us to act and speak in ways that build his kingdom. Jesus did not give his disciples a huge amount of information while expecting them to figure out how it applied to all the situations in which they would find themselves. He taught them more through stories and by his example of his actions in many situations. In the same way, the Holy Spirit assists us in applying the Bible’s wisdom to everyday life.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

We can all get discouraged, and need perspective and the comfort that the Holy Spirit provides. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will be a comfort to all believers in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

In 1 Kings 19:12b, God speaks to Elijah in “the sound of a low whisper”, not through the awesome and mighty sounds of the wind, earthquake, and fire that preceded it. In his message, Alex said that this “thin” sound is like milled grain being poured into a container.

Find a place where you can encounter ‘thin’ sounds. Some of my personal favorites sounds – wind whispering through dry grasses, the metallic brushing of Canadian geese in flight, melting snow and ice, and a chain moved by the wind, swinging against a flagpole with an irregular rhythm. Even in a noisy household, there are ‘thin’ sounds–a small child breathing, a pet padding across a hardwood floor, chopping and stirring as food is prepared.

As you tune into thin and beautiful sounds in our noisy world, ask God to help you be sensitive to the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.

Traveling Mercies2023-02-12T17:50:44-07:00

The Living Word Working In Us

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Tim 3:16

Where scripture describes itself, it does it in a surprising way. While we might use words like authority or inerrant – words which portray truth but are not necessarily how scripture describes itself – scripture describes itself as ‘God-breathed’. On the surface scripture is made up of a wide range of books, by different writers, in all sorts of locations, covering all sorts of genres, spread over more than one thousand years.

On the surface the writers are writing their thoughts about God. Somewhere in the midst of all of that humanness something incredible happens. God breathes on that work, and it becomes alive in a way no other book is alive. We discover in the midst of reading man’s thoughts about God that we are also reading God’s thoughts about man! As we read, we become alive in new ways, and God speaks through it to us!

Some years ago I spent lots of time reading scripture. I wanted to keep pace with a friend who read through the bible five times a year. (For those of you doing the math, that’s 16 chapters a day!) It was pure competitiveness on my part (and perhaps an unhealthy trait). But in the midst of that season, people would ask me, “what is different about you?” I had not noticed, but I was learning more (doctrine) and growing more like Jesus (in righteousness). God’s ‘breathed on and alive word’ was doing its work in me.

When we get engrossed in debating what scripture is, rather than encountering it, we might be missing out. We are invited to encounter God through and in His story in scripture.

Here are some ways to engage with scripture this week.

Pick a book of the Bible, and read it through in one sitting.
Grab a commentary, and do a deep dive on one verse that means something special to you.
Each time you read, ask God, “how are you speaking to me through this passage”.
Take some space to listen.

The Living Word Working In Us2023-02-12T17:22:52-07:00
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