Pulling the Threads Together on Hearing God's Voice (19)
I started this series with the quote from the first verse of the book of Hebrews: “In past times God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. But now He has spoken to us in a Son.” (Hebrews 1:1). ]
I focused on the point that God speaks MANY TIMES in MANY WAYS. I firmly believe that if you are ready to hear God’s voice and know His will then He will make it abundantly clear. It will become inescapable. You will keep getting the same message over and over again in lots of different ways. In what ways has God spoken to you? Here are the ways that our cell group in Jakarta came up with when we did this exercise.
Still small voice,
Thoughts in the mind,
Timely comments from other people,
Verse in the Bible quickened to me,
Remembering a general principle of God
Prophetic words from others
Prophetic words that come from within us
Word of Knowledge
Songs or lyrics of songs
An inner sense
Daily Reading book
A single word that comes to mind over and over
Circumstances that line up with experience
Advice/counsel from a friend
Something from a movie we are watching
Happenings from life
“Teletext” words in our minds-eye
Yes it is true what the writer to the Hebrews wrote: God has spoken in many and diverse ways. We need to have our antennae tuned into Him. For most of us, God’s voice gets lost in the “noise of life”. I believe God speaks to each and every person, not just a select few. I would love to hear from you if you can add to the list above the ways that God has spoken to you that are not covered in the list. When we want to hear from God and God has something He wants to communicate with us then it will become impossible for us not to get the message. The message will be loud and clear and His intentions for us will be inescapable.
I have deliberately shared examples of the ways in which God has spoken to Tania and me over the years to give you illustrations and explanation of the ways in which God speaks.
Any difficulty in the communication process between us and God is always centred on us and either our reluctance to want to hear what He has to say or the fact that He has shown us already what we were seeking answers for but we refuse to hear it. We don't like the answer we have been given, so we ask again like stubborn children. I told you briefly of my experience talking with the university students at Melbourne University and them reacting to me sharing my testimony of the Lord telling me to go home from the Geography Conference "tomorrow". [HGV 4]. After sharing that story there were a number of questions they asked collectively probing the idea of God answering so specifically and in ways they had been told not to do. One student in particularly stood and challenged a comment of mine to the effect that God speaks to everyone. He was adamant that God hadn't ever spoken to him like that. I responded by saying, while that may be true that God hasn't spoken in THAT particular way, I am sure that God has spoken to you. Then I added, often times the reason God stops speaking to us is that we have not responded to what He has already said. We can cut off the flow of God's communication to us by our refusal to respond. He immediately sat down again. I was convinced that was indeed his experience but I heard no more from him. I had offered to talk to anyone more about their concerns if they wished.
I wrote about the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that we all have which screens out unwanted input to our senses. [HGV 2] Interestingly that ability to shut off communication must be God-given. Think about that. God has built into you an ability to shut Him out if you wish to. Not only has He given you free will but He has also enabled you with RAS to screen Him out. That's incredible! Go back and read again what I said about the RAS.
I also believe that we receive many promptings from God to do something for someone else or share something with a stranger or even just to sit and talk with THAT person over there. Remember the story I told you of Yvonne Butler (Haskew) sensing to show me the magazine ad of the "Bruchko" book [HGV 2]. I don't know about your experience but I do know that I have had inklings like that many times before and I have to be honest in saying the bulk of those early promptings I received went unheeded. Not so much now. I have learned the secret to respond to God when He calls. Delayed obedience is disobedience. I think many times God prompts all of His people in that way but more often than not His promptings go unheeded.
Another principle I think is a feature of God's communication with us is the strength and clarity of His communication with His children is stronger when we are not listening. I kept a journal for a long time. I also have on my computer a file called Tablets in which I have written down the things that God has said to me. I named it Tablets after Habakkuk 2:2. Habakkuk's name means "to embrace" the things of God or to be "willing to wrestle with what He says". Keep His words to your heart ever before you. When I do that I realise that there is a pattern to God's dealings with me. He will say things over and over to me. Themes come through clearly, especially when I am not listening or worse yet when I have refused to listen. He won't violate my space but neither will He let me off the hook. I had told you of some clear ways that God has spoken to me in an audible voice or in prophetic words etc. It is clear to me that I hear God the clearest and strongest when I am not getting it. Either because I don't want to get it or because my hearing is dulled for one reason or another. it is in those moments that God SPEAKS LOUDLY.
Let me encourage you with a follow up comment. Maybe you have never heard God's voice audibly or never had Him call you names [HGV 17] because you respond at His first quiet whisper. If you really want to know God's will for you and to be guided by Him He will speak. His word is that which sustains the universe. I believe knowing God's will is easy when you are receptive and willing. His word to your heart is inescapable when you really want to know it. But realise to know God's will and not do it is folly.
Another principle I wish to spell out clearly is the meaning and intent behind Isaiah 30:21 which reads:- Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (NLT)
I chose to quote it from the New Living Translation for a reason. I normally like this translation but in this case the meaning of this verse is not as clear as it should be. The strength of the meaning in Hebrew is "in your turning to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way you should go." In other words when you deviate from the way God intends for you you will hear the LORD's corrective voice setting you back on the right way. Some of you have asked about this verse and how it applies to guidance. When we were asking God earnestly to lead us to the people group of His choosing
in Sulawesi, I wanted God to confirm to us clearly that the Rongkong was the right language group for us before our decision. But we got no confirmation whatsoever. It was like the heavens were brass and we heard nothing. It wasn't until after the fact that God's confirmation came. When you are heading in the right direction and keep asking for confirmation He will not necessarily give it to you. We have to learn to grow up and trust the earlier word to our heart was from Him.
Also too when you ask God for confirmation that something really is His will don't share it with others at the same time. Keep your cards close to your chest. If you tell everyone around, you are seeking His confirmation, someone you have told may have a "word for you". Just the same as if you are needing money to attend a missionary training course and you have put out a fleece (á la Gideon) - don't tell others about it. Otherwise when you are given the money you won't really know whether it was God-given or not. I didn't ever want to be going to the mission field if it was not God's plan. Just make sure any confirmation you ask for can't be tainted with human empathy. Also be as specific as you can so that when the answer comes it is clear. It can’t be a coincidence. If you pray vague general prayers you will get vague general answers and be left wondering if that was an answer or not.
I am delighted that the two Bible Gems I shared with you this week on Developing Spiritual Intimacy hit the spot for many of you. Hearing God's voice is important to us His people. While working on past Gems yesterday I came across the paragraph below on the issue of Predestination. It is helpful to read in the context of hearing God's voice.
Clipped from Gem 1633
It is not a two step process. The idea of believing in Him followed by a later submitting to His Lordship is not biblical. Bible believing has nothing to do with giving mental assent to something. To believe biblically has nothing to do with a mental agreement that Jesus existed, nor believing that He was a good teacher, nor believing that He was a prophet. You can't believe in Jesus and then live as though you don’t. It is not a case of believing He is God and then later beginning to obey Him. That is foreign to Bible thinking. If you come to the point of trusting or committing yourself to Him, you are acknowledging the fact that He is LORD, He is YHWH, He is the Lord of the Universe, He is the One by Whom the universe came into being, and subsequently is upheld by the on going power of His Word. To "believe” that and not submit to His Lordship and your rightful place of appointment in subjection to Him is an anathema. To acknowledge that He is who He says He is, then to seek His will but choose not to do it is the height of human arrogance and stubbornness. The angels must hold their collective breath in awe and shocked amazement when one of the God’s children acts in a way contrary to the Head.
This marks the end of this Nugget series on Hearing God's Voice.
What's next? I am not sure at this point. If you have a topic or knotty issue you want me to explore in a series of Nuggets tell me. Who knows? I might feel led to pick it up.
We are coming closer to the point where my website housing Gems and Nuggets will be launched. I have 250 more Gems to edit into the format required on the website followed by the Nuggets. The new website will become the platform for launching Deeper Bible Online. That will please those of you who commented in one way or another this week "that you can't wait" for Deeper Bible to go online. Well sorry you will have to wait some more. But I do have the mammoth task in hand and am approaching the end of it. But it is still realistically a couple of months off into the future. The good news is that all Gems and Nuggets will be indexed,, accessible and hot-linked among other features.
Tell me if this Hearing God's Voice series has been helpful to you and any suggestions you might have for a future series. When the website goes live Gems will go back to being live beginning with Paul's letter to the Philippians.