Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Hearing the Word of the Lord

Posted on 03 Nov 2013 in Christianity, Church, Discipleship, missional theology, Teaching | Comments Off on Hearing the Word of the Lord

We began a four week series in the book of Jonah this week at Garden Park, looking at what it means to live faithfully and missionally into the context to which God has called us. Here are a couple of observations from Jonah 1:

  1. We must be open to hearing the Word of the Lord. Many people think that we by default have this ability, but it’s not that simple. Jonah was off doing his own thing before he had an encounter with God. We too must have open hearts and minds to hear a fresh word from God. Both individually and corporately we can get bogged down with the idea that we once received a word, and God wants us to do that always and forever. In reality, God wants his people to be open to fresh seasons, if only for a specific time, place, and purpose.

    The goal for the month is to hear the word of the Lord and respond: we want to fill this fish with food items to support our local food bank.

    The goal for the month is to hear the word of the Lord and respond: we want to fill this fish with food items to support our local food bank.

  2. We have the option of how to respond. Jonah chose to run away. Even when faced with a life or death decision, he seemingly regretted the decision to follow God. We too have the option of how to respond when God speaks to us. We know that God wants us to love our neighbors, care for the poor, seek people of peace, and be a blessing to those around us, but we also find it easier to make excuses about how busy, untrained, or preoccupied with other (and seemingly just as good) things. Then we wonder why we don’t experience a life of joy or fulfillment that Jesus promises. Hearing the word of the Lord isn’t what makes us faithful, responding appropriately is.
  3. God’s heart is for the lost, broken, hurting, and desperate. While translations like the TNIV say, “preach against the great city” it’s best understood as something like “proclaim, invite, and summon them”. In short, the message that Jonah is to take is a call for repentance. It’s to let the city know that there is a God out there who loves them. It isn’t about a God of judgment wanting to bring hellfire and brimstone down on them, but the call of a swooning lover asking them to come back. For Jonah to have to take this message to people that he hated, that had conquered and subjected his people, this must have been a hard pill to swallow.
  4. Sometimes the call of God to go somewhere is not because we are the best, brightest, or most gifted, but because we have the most to learn. Humility is never fun, even more so when paired with a dangerous and potentially life threatening message. Jonah throughout his story will take two steps forward and one step back, struggling with the call from God but finding out more than he could have probably ever imagined.
  5. The primary call is not necessarily found in the results, but in the faithfulness. God’s call was for Jonah to go and to call the Ninevites to repentance. God never promised him results (though admittedly Jonah’s hesitation appears to be based on the fact that he knew it just might work). Similarly, God’s call for us may not be results driven. Our communities may not ever be perfect, our churches may not ever have a large building, good looking pastor, world renowned choir, be the subject of best-selling made for TV movies, or anything else that we might consider a standard or measurement for success. But what we do get is the chance to hear the word of the Lord, respond appropriately, and discover a God so full of grace and compassion not only for us, but for our greatest enemies.
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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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