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Listening to God

June 16th, 2019

Minoh International Church
Pastor Andrew Miller

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Matthew 17:1-8

六日後、イエスは、ペテロとヤコブと、彼の兄弟ヨハネを連れて、人里離れた高い山の頂上に登られました。すると、三人の目の前で、たちまちイエスの姿が変わりました。顔は太陽のように輝き、着物はまばゆいほど白くなりました。そこへ突然、モーセとエリヤが現れて、イエスと親しく話し始めたではありませんか。 これを見て、ペテロは思わず口走りました。「ああ、先生。なんとありがたいことでしょう。こんなすばらしいところに居合わせるなんて! もし、よろしければ、幕屋(神がイスラエルの民と会う聖所)を三つお建てしましょう。あなたと、モーセとエリヤのために。」ところが、そう言っているうちにも、光り輝く雲が現れて、三人をすっぽり包んでしまいました。そして雲の中から、「これこそ、わたしの愛する子。わたしはこれを心から喜んでいる。彼の言うことを聞きなさい」という声がしました。この声を聞いた弟子たちは、恐ろしさのあまりわなわなと震え、ひれ伏しました。イエスは近寄り、彼らにさわって言われました。「さあ、起きなさい。こわがることはありません。」それで、彼らがようやく顔を上げると、そこにはもう、イエスのほかにはだれもいませんでした。マタイの福音書 17:1-8

Have you ever been in a situation where, because of nerves or fluster, you say something really stupid? I have, more times than I would like to count! That’s why I like the apostle Peter so much. Whatever mistakes I’ve made, he’s made them, too, only probably even worse than me. And he went on to be the head of the church. So there’s hope for all of us.

There Peter was, with James and John, up on a high mountain, accompanying Jesus, when Jesus is suddenly transfigured. We just read what that was like. It must have been as terrifying as it was amazing, so it’s actually quite understandable that Peter would start speaking gibberish. He wants to put up tents for them to stay in, as though they were in need of accommodation.

But the foolishness of Peter’s speech here is actually worse than it first seems. His mistake is not only in assuming that the heavenly visitors needed a tent to stay in. Let’s pull back for a moment and ask, why were Moses and Elijiah there in the first place? Yes, it’s assumed that they were probably talking with Jesus about his impending death and resurrection, but why Moses and Elijiah? Why not Samuel and Isaiah? Or David and Ezekiel? Why was it Moses and Elijiah? (Any ideas?)

They were representatives. Moses was representing the law, and Elijiah was representing the prophets. You might remember Jesus often referred to what was written “in the law and the prophets”. So basically Moses and Elijiah represented everything of God that had come up until that time.

And here was Peter’s mistake. When he suggested putting up three tents, he was putting Jesus, Moses and Elijiah all on the same level. But they are not on the same level. Jesus is greater. This is what the book of Hebrews is all about. Jesus is greater than the law, He is greater than the prophets, He is greater than the angels. He has been exalted to the highest place that every knee should bow to Him and every tongue confess Him, and no-one else, as Lord.

Now, listen to what God said after Peter suggested putting up three tents.

God said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” He didn’t say, “Listen to all these guys”. He said, “Listen to my Son!” There is a lesson here for us. We all have mentors and heroes of the faith. Some of them are the heroes of old – the prophets and apostles we read about here – and some of them are more current. Bill Johnson, Phillip Yancey, Ayako Miura, John Piper, Rick Warren, Jim Cymbala, Joseph Ricohermoso. These are all great people of faith and we can learn a lot from them. But ultimately, we are not called to listen to other people who listen to Jesus. We are called to listen to Jesus for ourselves. It is amazing that we have access to the throne of grace by the blood of Christ, and by prayer and meditation on the Word of God, we can listen to Jesus, the Living Word, for ourselves.
神様は「これこそ、わたしの愛する子。わたしは心から喜んでいます。彼の言うことを聞きなさい。」と仰いました。神様は、「彼らの言葉を聞きなさい」とは仰いませんでした。「私の愛する子の言う事を聞きなさい」と仰ったのです。ここに私たちへの教訓があります。私たちは皆、信仰における指導者や崇拝している人がいると思います。それは聖書における預言者や使徒のように昔の時代の人物であったり、現代の人物であったりするでしょう。ビル・ジョンソン、フィリップ・ヤンシー、三浦 綾子、ジョン・パイパー、リック・ウォレン、ジム・シムバラ、ジョゼフ牧師などです。彼らは全員信仰において素晴らしく、私たちは彼らから多くを学ぶ事ができます。しかし、最終的に、私たちは「イエス様の言葉に耳を傾けている人」の話を聞くように指示されていません。私たちは直接イエス様の御言葉を聞くようにと指示されているのです。これはとても素晴らしい事です。私たちは、信仰、祈り、そして神様の御言葉を深く考えることによって、直接恵みを受ける事ができるのです。私たちはイエス様の御言葉、生きた言葉を自ら聞く事ができるのです。

Understanding that, I would like to share with you my own journey of listening to Jesus over the last six months. The last six months have been amongst the most stressful and difficult times of my life. Between January and March, I don’t think I had one night of unbroken sleep. A seemingly unending number of concerns consumed me regarding leaving the church here, finding ministry in Australia, sorting out income in Australia and providing for my family; there were concerns with accommodation, with unexpected tax bills, immigration hurdles, legal twists, it seemed to go on and on.

Despite having sought God in all this long ago and talked about it with Toy and other family members, now that the rubber was hitting the road, all these obstacles were popping up and I would find myself on occasions waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and wondering what on earth I was doing with my life.

As troubling as this period in my life was, there was good news. You see, it drove me desperately into the arms of God. I spent so much time in the Word and in prayer, crying out to God, listening to Jesus and waiting on Him.

Jesus said,

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink …and rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John 7:37,38

「だれでも、渇いているなら、わたしのところへ来て飲みなさい。 38 わたしを信じれば、心の奥底からいのちの水の川が流れ出ると、聖書に語られているとおりです。」

ヨハネの福音書 7:37-38

Well, I was very thirsty, and I drank a lot, and God’s living water flowed within me.

There’s an old joke about how to not read the Bible. A man picks up a Bible, opens it at a random place, sticks his finger in and hits Matthew 27:5: “So Judas went away and hanged himself.”

The man thought, “That’s horrible!” and tried again. He opened the Bible once more, stuck his finger in and hit Luke 10:37: “Go now and do likewise.”

Very worried, he thought he would give it one more go. He opened the Bible, stuck his finger in, and hit John 13:27: “Hurry now and do what you must do”.
とても不気味になり、彼はあともう一回だけやってみる事にしました。すると、次はヨハネの福音書13章27節のところでした。「 さあ急いで、やるべきことをしなさい」

The man closed the Bible and ran away. So that’s a comical example of how randomly and carelessly reading the Bible can be unproductive.

I share this joke with you because of the way God consistently spoke to me at this difficult time in my life. There were times when God spoke through His Word so clearly and so specifically, I felt I was actually having a conversation with God Himself. And I want to assure you that this was not the result of random verse selection or just ‘getting lucky’. Each of these verses was part of a Bible reading plan that I was following, and day after day, God, knowing my needs and my hunger for Him, spoke to me. Here are just a few simple examples.

When I was wondering if God could hear my cries at all and I was asking Him if he was really listening, he responded the same day with

I cried out to you in my distress, the delivering God, and from your temple-throne you heard my troubled cry. My sobs came right into your heart and you turned your face to rescue me.
Psalm 18:6

詩篇 18:6

There were times when I just felt foolish, even ridiculed; that everything would fall apart and I would just become a laughing stock or a cautionary tale. I cried out to God and he assured me with the words of

For you will vindicate your people, showing your tender love to all your servants.
Psalm 135:14


When I was seeking God about whether I should ask others to help and wondering if I should turn to this person or that person, God responded the same day with

Some find their strength in their weapons and wisdom, but my miracle deliverance can never be won by men. Our boast is in the Lord our God, who makes us strong and gives us victory!
Psalm 20:7


When I was struggling with family members back home who at one point said that maybe I should just give up, I was demoralised and brought it before God. He responded the same day with

My relatives have abandoned me. I’m like an orphan! But you took me in and made me yours.
Psalm 27:10


Time and time again, day after day, God spoke into my heart through His Word. These simple words might seem unimpressive to some but to me they were so powerful in their timeliness and they sustained me as I waited for God to bring deliverance. More importantly, these were more than just words of comfort. They were words of truth and they were followed by deliverance. God delivered from each of my troubles.

Aside from these words from the Bible, on several occasions, Jesus gave me specific words by His Spirit into my heart about what lay ahead and how I was to wait or respond accordingly. They were words that seemed so absurd and implausible that I felt I was risking even greater loss and humiliation, yet if they were true, would be extraordinary.

I’ll just share one of them here. In early January when I went back to Australia, I began in earnest to seek ministry work. I met with army chaplains, university chaplains, church pastors, and other ministers. I joined several Christian and secular online employment agencies. I wrote emails to friends and colleagues – because this is all the right thing to do, right? This is exactly what I would counsel anyone to do who was looking for work and ministry (or a house or a spouse…).

But in this case, God said to me “Stop! Just stop all this activity! This will be my doing and my doing alone. I want you to do nothing!” Well, I felt really stupid (and hypocritical) needing work so badly and doing nothing at all about it. I shared this (and the other words that God was giving me) with Min (and maybe one or two others), and they encouraged me in these things and in some cases confirmed them. (I still felt stupid though!) But the very words God spoke to me have come to pass. God has provided without me doing anything. I won’t get into specifics about that but once again I find it amazing how God speaks through His Word and by His Spirit when we hunger and thirst for Him.

This hungering and thirsting for God is a big deal. I have just finished reading the book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi. He describes his passionate, desperate search for the true God, as a devout Muslim opposed to Christianity, and how through Christian friends, study of the Bible, and his own visions and dreams, Jesus appeared to him and saved him.

It really is true what Jesus said.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink …and rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:37,38

だれでも、渇いているなら、わたしのところへ来て飲みなさい。 38 わたしを信じれば、心の奥底からいのちの水の川が流れ出ると、聖書に語られているとおりです。
ヨハネの福音書 7:37-38

I challenge you to humbly, passionately and patiently draw near to God, not to seek experiences, but to seek God Himself through His Word and in prayer, and His Spirit will flow from within you.

And when God did begin to deliver me from my troubles, and I wanted to praise Him, He gave me the words to do that properly, too,

Lord! I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me! My lips are full of perpetual praise. I’m boasting of you and all your works, so let all who are discouraged take heart.
Join me, everyone! Let’s praise the Lord together. Let’s make him famous! Let’s make his name glorious to all. Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Psalm 34:1-4


I don’t have the time now to go into any detail about how God resolved each of my troubles and brought me through, suffice to say it was a bit of a roller coaster ride and demanded that I live by faith. But let me share with you briefly what God is calling me onto. There are two ministries I will be working with.

One is called God’s Garage. I’ve shared this with some of you before. This is a men’s small group ministry I will be leading which reaches men who for one reason or another either fell away from the church or never really got into it. They no longer feel comfortable stepping into a conventional church but they want to know more about God. So we meet in a garage behind the Jesus Racing car. Our meetings start with a beer (just one). We read and talk about the Bible, and issues affecting guys, and pray.
一つは「God’s Garage 神様の駐車場?」と呼ばれています。以前何人かに説明したことがあります。これは、男性だけの小さなミニストリーで、何らかの理由で教会から離れてしまった、もしくは教会に一度も行く気にならなかった男性たちに対するものです。彼らはもはや型にはまった教会に通う気はありませんが、神様のことはもっと知りたいと思っています。なのでこのミニストリーは、「Jesus Racing Car イエス様のレーシングカー 」が停まっている駐車場で集まります。そしてビールでミーティングが始まり(1本だけですよ)、そして聖書を読み、聖書や男性の問題について語り合い、最後にお祈りをします。

The other ministry I will be working with is DMI (Deaf Ministries International). You should already know about this ministry because MIC has been supporting it for years. Although I have been involved with DMI for many years, serving with them in a larger capacity is something that God laid on my heart in a big way, quite out of the blue, and the way that all came about was rather wonderful. I will be visiting churches to preach and to share about DMI’s work (much as we’ve seen Neville do here), as well as reaching for corporate sponsors, writing a blog, and maybe serving on the board in Melbourne, too. I would like to ask for your prayer as I take on these ministries. Both require a walk of faith.

At whatever stage of life you are at now, and at whatever level of faith you find yourself, I want to encourage you to be hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness, and to listen to Jesus through the Word and in prayer. Do that, and you will see the Holy Spirit working in amazing ways in your life.