We’ve heard her sing. But it’s not every day you hear Taya Gaukrodger, or better known as Taya Smith, from Hillsong UNITED preach.
“Initially, I was going to say no,” the worship leader confessed to the audience of 800 who were streaming the Impossible Online Conference 2020 via YouTube Live.
“But I’m here because I believe God has a word for you, and I want to be obedient to that,” Taya said, citing 1 Samuel 15:22 after struggling with God about taking on this assignment.
And the message that she has as the first speaker of the Impossible Conference? Obedience to the voice of the Lord.
Taya revealed that 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to mind when she learnt about the vision of the conference.
She said: “You’ve put out a call to be a people who would be found on your knees, gathering as a nation to contend for city-wide revival. I do believe revival is in the air…
“But for revival to take place, it actually has to start on the inside of individuals.”
In other words: Societal transformation first begins with self.
What would that look like?
“Individuals who are humbly bringing their lives before the Lord, allowing Him to remove the blockages of sin and the things that separate us from God,” described Taya.
“When we repent, it closes the gap between us and God, and He is able to move.”
And so, it was apt that the first of her three-point message touched on the importance of obedience.
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING GOD ASKED YOU TO DO?
Reading from The Message (MSG) version, Taya provided further context to the story of 1 Samuel 15:22.
“You see at that time, God had anointed Saul to be the king over the Israelites and yet time after time, Saul became impatient with what God had said,” she began.
“He would either take things into his own hands and make things happen faster, or not fully adhere to the exact instructions of the Lord.”
In this case, Saul did not fully obey God when he kept some animals that the Israelites had captured from their enemies – even though God had commanded him to destroy everything.
It was then the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul: “Because you said ‘no’ to God’s command, He says ‘no’ to your kingship.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23, MSG)
“Let’s be people who realise what God wants from us, and quickly respond to it.”
Letting the mic drop sink in, Taya paused before continuing: “If you feel like you’re not progressing in your relationship with God or even in life, dare I say it might be because you haven’t been obedient to what God has already spoken to you about?”
“What was the last thing God asked you to do?” she pressed.
“We always think it’s about the great and grandiose ideas of life, but actually it’s in our everyday, normal, walking-around life that we’re called to be obedient in.
“Let’s be people who realise what God wants from us, and quickly respond to it.”
Earlier in her introduction, Taya said she felt led to raise two specific sidenotes in relation to today’s sermon.
The first was for those who were dating: Don’t compromise, and don’t date someone who’s willing to compromise.
“The plans and purposes that God has for your life are far too precious and important to get off-track because you’re dating someone who doesn’t put Jesus first in all that they do,” she remarked.
The second was this: Don’t stay stuck in the habits of sin.
Taya suggested that this could well be in:
- The content we’re consuming with our eyes: The kind of shows we watch or the things we view.
- The speech coming out of our mouths: Our choice of words and the way we speak about other people.
- The meditations of our heart: How we truly feel about the people around us, the grievances we may carry.
Sharing a personal struggle, she admitted: “I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram.
“I know it can be so positive – that we can tell of what God has been doing – but it has also highlighted to me the sin of envy. We don’t even know that we’re comparing our lives to other people’s.”
Quoting from Song of Songs 2:15, which says to catch “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards”, Taya encouraged everyone to find freedom from the “sin that so easily tangles” (Hebrews 12:1).
“We’re called to live lightly and freely,” she said, adding that she has found from personal experience that this freedom can be so “incredibly sweet”.
ARE YOU USING YOUR ALL-ACCESS PASS TO GOD?
Her second point was on how we can actually hear from God and get in on His plans.
She then contrasted the relationship that God had with man before Jesus Christ came into the world (Isaiah 55:8-9) with how we’re now able to relate to Him in such an intimate way (1 Corinthians 2:11-16).
Taya explained: “God doesn’t think, act or see things the way we do. In essence, He’s a mystery to us.”
And yet, she asked, how crazy is it that the Bible tells us we have the mind of Christ because we have been given the Holy Spirit?
Referencing John 16:7, she highlighted the words of Jesus who told his disciples as he was anticipating his death on the cross: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
It blew her mind the first time Taya realised this truth: That we can know what God wants to do, in and through our lives, because we have so much access to the plans of God.
“But do we recognise it?” she challenged the audience, provoking them to reflection. “And once we recognise it, do we tangibly access the Spirit of God?
“And finally, when we access the Holy Spirit, are our ears open to be attuned to what He is saying? And after we hear what He’s saying, are we obedient?”
At this point, Taya clarified that hearing God doesn’t necessarily mean hearing His audible voice – she herself has never heard it before.
“For me, it’s when I read the Bible, when I pray or when I sing – I feel promptings and impressions on my spirit. And from there, I choose to respond, speak out and move in obedience to what I felt,” she shared.
“And what I’ve found is that, the more I choose to step out on these promptings, to not just sit back on the feelings; the more that I slowly get to know the Holy Spirit, His voice and His promptings; the more I learn how to be Spirit led.”
WHAT IS YOUR POSTURE LIKE?
Finally, Taya spoke about the importance of being humble.
“Humility goes against the way of the world and our nature as human beings. We’re full of pride and love of self,” she observed. “And yet Jesus set a different precedent.”
Highlighting how Jesus came to this earth as a servant king, she pointed out that the all-knowing Son of God even washed the feet of the disciple who would eventually betray Him.
“Jesus knew it was Him while He was washing His feet, and He chose to serve him anyway,” Taya elaborated.
“That is the God we serve. That is the God that we get to choose to encounter. That is His spirit.”
Voice trembling, she re-emphasised her point using Matthew 18:2-4.
“We need to be people who would be willing to come as little kids with childlike faith before our Father.
“We need to be people who would position ourselves lowly in humility to hear from God, to hear from His Spirit… to read His living Word and be obedient to what it is so plainly telling us.”
“It’s a whole lot easier to hear from someone if you’re sitting on your knees, looking up,” she said.
Wrapping up the session, Taya read out 2 Chronicles 7:12-17 from The Message version once more, reminding us how in the context of that passage, God was speaking about His presence abiding in the physical temple.
But what is amazing is this: We are now the living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Concluding her session by praying for the audience, she said: “And in the words of Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message… ‘God let it be with us, just as You say. So let it be in Jesus’ name, Amen.’”
Look out for more coverage on the Impossible Online Conference 2020 on Thir.st over the next few days! If you’d like to watch the full video from Session 1, check it out below.
- What are the specific sins in your life that are drawing you farther away from God?
- When was the last time you heard from God?
- What are you finding hard to obey the Lord in?