Sermon: Spiritual Receptivity – Kendell Linh Healy

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-13 (NIV) – Lector: Chris Butler

1 Kings 19:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lordis about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lordwas not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Spiritual Receptivity – Sermon Notes

  • There is no other way to converse with God unless something supernatural occurs. When you pray – you are affirming your belief in the supernatural.
  • W. Tozer – in his book The Pursuit of God – “The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that [human beings] can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience.”
    • Tozer is claiming that you can know and experience God in the same way that you know and experience the very people that you come into contact with
    • I’m going to claim that you can know God just as well as you know the person that you are the closest to.
    • This leads to some questions:
      • Does your dialogue with God mirror how close you are with God?
      • Are you having routine conversations with God?
      • When you are distant from God, are you missing God like the way you miss your loved ones or is it just God missing you?
    • How does Christian prayer work?
      • Prayer for the Christian is the supernatural and direct connection through the Holy Spirit back to God
      • The Holy spirit is what sets Christians apart from everyone else who engages in the activity of prayer and this is a vital distinction to understand for all believers in Christ.
      • Romans 8:27 “The Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (NIV)
        • What Paul is saying here is that the Holy Spirit in you is praying with you. The Spirit is able to take your prayers, however weak and disorganized you may feel some of them to be and point them in the right direction.
        • “God is involved at both ends of our prayers, not just the receiving of them but also the offering of them too.” – Sam Alberry – Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity
      • We want to avoid the pitfall of falsely assuming that the characters depicted in the Scriptures never had to work on the relationship with God and that they never had to cultivate their spiritual receptivity.
        • Christ was God with us and the Holy Spirit is God in us; however, having God in us does not mean that we are to be negligent and lazy when it comes to our spiritual growth.
      • Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God
        • “Our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.” – A.W. Tozer
      • A question of doubt:
        • Why pray to at all to an all-knowing God who is just going to do whatever He wants to do anyway?
          • God does not have to be in control of everything in order for God to be in control of everything
        • “All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen” – E.M. Bounds
          • You’re not going to experience those coincidences if you do not pray.

Practical Steps of application to the above theological points:

  1. Pastoral challenge: Spend some time in Scripture with God because that is the place you are going to hear God’s voice the clearest.
    1. “The goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures. The goal is to get the Scriptures through us.” – John Ortberg – The Life You’ve Always Wanted
    2. Ask the Scriptures critical and evaluative questions:
      1. What does this mean?
      2. What does this tell me about God?
  • What does this tell me about myself or others?
  1. Can I apply this to my life? How?
  1. Take some time away from the chaos in your life in order to assess the chaos in your life.
  2. When you pray – are you allowing space for an actual conversation to occur?
    1. “Why is it that when we speak to God we are said to be praying, but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic? And Why should God’s end of the line be equipped with a receiver but no mouthpiece?” – Ortberg – The Life You’ve Always Wanted.