When God Gets Our Attention, He uses every means He has to do so.
Acts 9:1-8 (ESV Strong’s)
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
Paul was a man doing what he thought was the right thing… Persecuting Christians. He was zealous, he was ruthless, he was determined and he was focussed. He wanted nothing to deter him from his mission.
But God had other ideas. Paul was the man chosen to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, indeed to the whole world! But how could God arrest the attention of a man so focussed and what he was doing?
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
Acts 9:3-5 (ESV Strong’s)
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Jesus took extreme measures to get Paul’s attention. He was blinded by the light, and had to be led by the hand. Jesus radically broke into his world to get his attention, because God had plans for him.
DON’T BOTHER ME NOW GOD
God wants to lead and guide us into the wonderful future He has planned for us, but often we are simply not listening. Are you listening to God right now? Or are you too focussed on building your life, your business, your family, your finances, your reputation?
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong’s)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
And God has plans for you! People think destiny is something external, so thing that happens to you. Oh it’s fate, they say, I was destined to have this happen. But in reality, destiny is not something that happens to you, it’s the product of your choices. Moving into God’s destiny for you is a series of choices. If you make bad choices, if you miss it, don’t blame God, blame yourself and your choices.
God loves you so much, He’s going to get your attention one way or another. If you want Him to speak to you and guide you every day He will. But if you are stubborn, rebellious or focussed on the wrong thing, He will likely gain your attention with something big, and very often devastating.
Getting your attention often requires something out of the ordinary, but it may not be spectacular, or pleasant. It may hurt us, or challenge us, or cause anxiety, but no matter the method, God will use whatever He thinks it takes to get your attention, because He loves you! He has plans for you.
So I want to look at how God gets our attention. Are you so focussed on something right now that it requires God to do something to get your attention?
GOD GETS OUR ATTENTION
Sometimes God does the spectacular, things like angelic visitations or miracles or prophetic words, but most often God uses small, gentle and subtle ways.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will, but most times He just whispers. God always wants the best for us, and He is committed to showing us how to follow the specific plan He has designed for each of our lives.
He wants us to listen for His voice, to hear what He wants us to do and how He wants us to do it. Then He wants us to be obedient.
Proverbs 19:21 (ESV Strong’s)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
When we begin to wander from the course God has set for us, He will take all kinds of measures to capture our attention and protect us from harm. He has a wide variety of ways to help us to take notice. Let’s have a look at them.
1. RESTLESS SPIRIT
Sometimes God gets our attention by making us restless.
Psalms 55:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
If you experience a restlessness deep within—something you cannot quite identify—then stop and pray, “Lord, are You trying to say something to me?”
I often feel restless in my spirit when I am about to experience significant changes in my life. Each time I have had to leave a job, move house or something else major, God has used a restlessness to get my attention.
2. A SPOKEN WORD
God also gets our attention by using the words of others.
Acts 2:37 (ESV Strong’s)
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
It could be a word in a sermon that just seems to speak directly to you. Many of you told me last week that this happened in the message. It’s not me or my words, it’s the Lord getting your attention.
It could also be words from several people in a short span of time begin telling you the same thing. If people are randomly saying things that get your attention, you need to ask the Lord if He is trying to speak to you through them.
Proverbs 11:14 (ESV Strong’s)
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.
3. PROPHETIC WORDS
Many people in this church can speak true prophetic words from the Lord, and many people love these prophetic words. However, because this is such a potentially wonderful gift, it can also be an abused and dangerous gift.
At Ignite, we do not permit directive or corrective prophecies except when you run them by me, or our prayer team, which is Doug and Cindy, or by one of the pastors.
If you have an encouraging word, feel free to share that, but if your word for someone else involves a rebuke, a correction, or a direction as to actions they should take in their life, bring it to the leadership and let us deal with it.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
I never act on a prophetic word alone, I turn to the next way God often captures my attention…
4. THE BIBLE
Ever read a passage and it just jumps up and hits you? This happens to me all the time, and this is the main way that God gets my attention. Why? Because I’m actually reading the Bible every day.
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong’s)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
It cuts right to the heart many times, judging or separating your soul, that is your mind, will and emotions, from your spirit. If you are not reading the Bible every day you are missing probably the most effective way God has to talk to you and lead and guide your life.
5. AN UNUSUAL BLESSING
God may bless us in an unusual way to gain our attention, and this is one way we love the Lord getting our attention. Of course, if you are an overly self-sufficient person, the Lord may use some other method to get your focus on Him.
Elijah was down and depressed, fearful and overwhelmed, but God blessed him and definitely got his attention…
1 Kings 17:4 (ESV Strong’s)
You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
Often He will use a blessing like the birth of a child, a financial win, moving house or going to great church to get your attention. If you are blessed, start listening!
6. AN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION
God got Moses’ attention with a burning bush in Exodus 3, while he got Gideon’s attention with an angel in Judges 6. You and I must learn to look for the presence of God in every circumstance of life. He leaves His footprints and handiwork all around us, and often in an extraordinary way.
So if something unusual, extraordinary or surprising happens, stop and ask God if He is trying to get your attention.
US bus trip from Fort Smith Arkansas to Kansas City.
7. A DISAPPOINTMENT
We saw last week that changing one letter can make all the difference to your perception, making Disappointment into His Appointment. Sometimes when He needs to get our attention, God will often use disappointment to lead us in the way we should go…
Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong’s)
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Disappointment crushes the human spirit, but it is in those times that the Lord is very often the closest to us. If you’re disappointed, you can not only trust Him for the future, but you can also use it as a wake up call, to get your attention on Him and His purposes for you.
8. AN UNANSWERED PRAYER
Sometimes God will answer a prayer with “No.” Despite David’s prayers for God to save his infant son’s life—the child born through the king’s adultery—the boy died (2 Sam. 12:15–18).
Sometimes the Lord may remain silent to our prayers as a way of prompting us to examine ourselves. We can either get mad at Him, or choose to get close to Him!
9. A DEFEAT
All of us face defeat at some point, and often God uses a defeat to get our attention. When we have victory after victory, we can get a little arrogant, but a defeat often sober us up and causes us to stop and have a look at ourselves.
So none of us like defeat do we? Nobody likes to fail, but failure and defeat are necessary to grow and become greater.
(Josh. 7) Following their stunning victory over Jericho, the Israelites approached a small town with overconfidence and neglected to do what the Lord had commanded. God got Joshua’s attention by allowing the nation to suffer an embarrassing defeat at Ai. But even a defeat can prove to be a great stepping-stone to success when we pray, “Lord, what are You saying? Help me to see where I have taken a wrong turn.” A set back can be a set up for a comeback.
So if you fail, if you fall in sin, if things go pair shaped, stop and ask yourself “Is God is trying to get my attention?” If you fail, ask Him for forgiveness and then pledge to be obedient to what He wants you to do.
10. FINANCIAL TROUBLES
Nothing seems to get our attention like financial troubles. In the time of the judges, when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6), the nation fell into idolatry and disobedience. God brought judgment through the Midianites, who devastated the land, stealing and ruining crops and causing poverty and hardship. Only when He took away every material belonging did they cry out to Him (6:3–6).
God knew exactly what it would take to get their attention. When they did return to Him, He delivered them from their oppressors and blessed them. Sometimes financial troubles are God getting your attention so He can lead and guide you to a new level of financial prosperity.
11. A TRAGEDY
Life dishes up tragedy at times. God doesn’t cause tragedy and loss, but He can bring good out of devastating times! Death, sickness, estrangement, loss, sometimes God uses these tragedies to get our attention.
We should regard our tragedies and afflictions as reasons to inquire of the Lord, “What are You trying to say?” When King Hezekiah became prideful, God used illness to alert him to the problem (2 Chr. 32:24). Similarly, when Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christians, God struck him with blindness—a tactic that certainly got his attention (Acts 9:1–19)! God makes lemonade out of the lemons life hands us…
Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong’s)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
DOES HE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION NOW?
So whether a tragedy, a loss, a sickness, a blessing or a word, God wants our attention, He wants us focussed on Him, and will do whatever is required to gain it. He longs to lead us, but He can’t easily guide us if we are refusing to listen.
God always knows exactly where you are in your journey of faith and precisely what it will take to get your attention.
So stay alert; notice if any of these divine methods are occurring—or recurring—in your life. If they are, ask Him what He wants to tell you, and then listen, not simply to hear, but to obey.
God didn’t send COVID, but maybe He can use that to arrest our attention and cause changes we would never have considered otherwise.
God’s Holy Spirit is out to get your attention, because He wants to lead and guide you into the destiny He has planned for you. To flow with the Holy Spirit into your destiny requires 4 things in your part… FLOW
Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV Strong’s)
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What are you focussed on? Don’t focus on a bunch of things, seek first His Kingdom and righteousness and you get the lot.
Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong’s)
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
If you stop and listen you will begin to hear the still, small voice in hundreds of ways. If you read the Bible every day, you’ll begin to hear Him clearer and clearer. Listen, because He has the words of life. Keep listening to His still small voice.
Jeremiah 7:23-24 (ESV Strong’s)
But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
Choose to obey what God asks of you, whether you agree, whether you understand or whether your are fearful. Trust and obey. Ultimately that’s your choice today. Lord, do I trust you enough and will I choose to be obedient?
Obedience is not a once off choice, it is a daily, consistent commitment.
Micah 6:8 (ESV Strong’s)
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Are you walking humbly and obediently with your God? The Bible says,
Amos 3:3 (ESV Strong’s)
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?
You can’t walk with God and experience His blessing is you constantly disagree with Him, or if you ignore Him. Is He trying to get your attention? Are you ignoring Him, or are you preoccupied with whatever you are doing? If you want to flow with the Holy Spirit, focus, listen, obey and walk.
Lord, speak to me today.
1 Corinthians 7:35 (ESV Strong’s)
I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.