Hearing God: Nature

This morning, we’re continuing our message series, “Hearing God.” So far, we were challenged on the foundational issue of hearing God’s voice; identity. Hearing God’s voice has far more to do with who we are than what we do. We learned that we first must be His sheep and the importance of transitioning in our relationship with Him from master/servant to friends.

We also learned a practical way to test, “Is that you, God?” If it is God’s voice, it will agree with the Bible, agree with God’s character, and produce the fruits of the Spirit.

Each week, we’ll start with this reminder that Jesus gave us found in John chapter 10. Please repeat after me:

John 10:3-5
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
I am His sheep
I hear His voice
I won’t recognize a stranger’s voice

Although God can speak to us in an infinite amount of ways, there are some which are more common than others. We learned about dreams and visions and how they are often followed by another way which God speaks; a change in our circumstances.

This week, we’ll dig in a little further to something eluded to last week; how God speaks to us through nature.

Romans 1:16-25
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

In just these few verses, some powerful realities regarding hearing God’s voice was revealed. The gospel speaks of God’s righteousness through faith, wickedness speaks of God’s wrath, and the creation speaks of God’s very nature.

The problem for us began, well, at the very beginning and it continues to this very day. God speaks through His creation of His very nature, but we exchange the Creator for the creation. We give worth and honor and glory to things of far less value than the only One whom is worthy of it all. We have great faith, but it is wrongfully placed.

We must be careful not to practice idolatry, which is what placing anything in equal or greater value to God in our lives. Spending ourselves and our resources on only the things of this world and neglecting the Kingdom of God is easy to do. It’s easy to allow idols in our lives even in these modern times in which we live.

After all, God understands when we skip church or spending time with him when we have the opportunity at some overtime, right? That truck payment isn’t going to make itself! He understands if we invest in how to better throw a ball around rather than to worship Him with our brothers and sisters in Christ, right? These opportunities don’t come around often! God understands if I stay home and get some work done around the house. After all, it is my only day off, right?

I could go on and on stepping on everyone’s toes, including my own, but you see how easy it is to practice idolatry in our culture since chasing after the things of this world is glorified and encouraged. No, we don’t have little carved or cast objects that we literally bow down to and burn offerings to, but we burn up every ounce of energy we have and dollar that we earn at the altars of things far less valuable if we seriously sit down and think about our lives.

God created the natural things for us to enjoy and they are all, as He said it first, GOOD. All of these things are good, but not if the created things begin to take the place of the Creator in our lives. A healthy balance is critical for us to maintain! After all, God desires us to embrace and enjoy His created things and He desires to speak to us through them.

How is it that God speaks to us through nature, His creation?

Psalm 19:1-6
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

What does God’s creation speak about His nature?

1. God is orderly, faithful, and true

God created everything with a predictable rhythm and in an orderly fashion. In fact, long before satellites and GPS were invented, a simple sextant could navigate ship captains across open waters with great accuracy by means of the stars in the sky. A simple stick in the ground can accurately tell time based on the position of the sun in the sky. Many ancient civilizations developed calendars based on the moon phases, sun, and position of various constellations all made possible because of God’s intentionally set order and predictability of His creation.

This speaks well of God’s nature being faithful and true, not like a human that changes their minds at any time for no apparent reason at all. God’s nature is orderly and not chaotic. He is never surprised by anything and He never changes; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! We can rely on Him fully and completely trust Him who is faithful.

Through the seasons we see how God is able to bring both death and life; how He can bring beauty from ashes. In fact, we even see how God can bring forth life from death. We learn that there is a time for all of these things throughout the seasons of our lives.

God gave us day and night, a clear indication that there is a time to work and a time to rest. We have an even further revelation on this through the creation account when God chose to rest on the seventh day, creating the Sabbath day for us. There is a predictable order and rhythm in God’s creation and He uses it to speak to us that our lives should possess this as well. There is a time for work, a time for enjoyment, a time for rest; literally a time and season for everything.

God speaks through nature reminding us that He is orderly, faithful, and true.

2. God is powerful

Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, and lightning; they all speak to us of the great power of God. These all possess the power to quickly and radically transform our creation in ways that leave us standing in awe. In a fraction of a second, lightning can transform sand to glass, split a tree standing strong for hundreds of years right down the center, and spark a wildfire clearing and leveling thousands of acres of land.

Just a slight shift in the sea’s floor generates a tsunami. These series of waves can travel thousands of miles before they come crashing ashore. With sometimes only a few minutes of a warning, tsunamis can crash inland for hours bringing wave after wave of mass destruction. The sheer weight of the water brought inland can scrape down large tracts of land completely down to bedrock.

If small changes in God’s creation can release such enormously powerful effects that quickly and radically transform the landscape, how much more powerful is the God who created it all simply by speaking?

Elijah must not have heard our message from last week. The pressures of life were upon him so much that he was just ready to die. He thought that he was the last person faithful to God alive. He ran from his troubles and hid in a cave.

1 Kings 19:9-13
9b 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 Lord is 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 Lord was 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?”

God then told him to go back and man up like the other 7,000 people were doing who also chose to remain faithful to God and not bow down to Baal. God was not in the things that we would have expected Him to be in, but His voice came through sure enough. There is surely no one like our God and none can compare to His power. God speaks through nature reminding us of His power.

3. God is our provider

God’s creation reveals His nature as being our provider. In fact, Jesus showed us exactly this through nature.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 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.

God speaks through nature reminding us not to worry about tomorrow, but to trust God to provide us our daily needs as they arise.

4. God is aware and compassionate

God’s creation reveals His nature as being aware of every detail of our lives and being compassionate toward us. When sending out the twelve disciples to heal every sickness and disease and to drive out demons, He said to them:

Matthew 10:28-31
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

God speaks through nature reminding us not to fear, but that He is fully aware of us and compassionate toward us.

5. God is creative

Perhaps this should have been the first point, but just a quick glance at the vastness of the universe and the uniqueness of the creatures within it just begin to scratch the surface of how creative God truly is. He created it all from nothing by simply saying the word.

Not only is He creative, but all that He creates is able to procreate after its own kind. A single cell grows, splits, multiplies, and eventually becomes a unique cell until all that we are grows from that single cell. This multiplication process then continues throughout our lifetime. God is creative! Humans, being created in God’s image, are able to be creative as well and have been given the authority and ability to transform God’s creation into new things using our God-given creativity.

God revealed to Jeremiah that we are like clay on God’s potter’s wheel. He can creatively mold and shape us into things that we never dreamed we can be. We are literally a new creation through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit when we choose to live out our faith in Jesus!

God speaks through nature reminding us that He is creative.

6. God is present

God’s creation reveals His nature as being ever present. Jesus gave an object lesson to Nicodemus using the natural world to explain this spiritual reality.

John 3:1-8
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

No one can see the wind, but we can see, hear, and feel the effects of the wind. So it is with God, Himself. We cannot see Him, but those born of the Spirit see, hear, and feel the effects of His Presence.

God chose natural objects, wind and fire, as signs of His Presence at Pentecost.

Acts 2:1-4
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

God speaks through His creation reminding us that He is present.

I could go on and on, but the question this morning is not how God has spoken to mankind through nature, His creation, in the past. The question for us this morning, and from now on, is, “What is God speaking to me now through nature?” This question is one of the reasons that I love to get out hunting and fishing.

It’s during those times that we intentionally still and quiet ourselves to just sit back and enjoy the world that God has created and placed us within that He is able to speak to us through the things that we would normally never take the time to notice and care about.

Psalm 19:1-4
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

For sure, God speaks to us through nature! Let’s begin to take the time to listen and hear that still, small voice.