- Does God really speak to us today? And, if so, how?
- How can I improve my hearing?
- How should one recognize that it is God speaking?
- What do I think when I hear nothing at all?
- What keeps us from hearing God?
All six of these lessons are available to you at http://www.thehills.org/index.cfm/PageID/1523/index.html .
Fifty years ago, few people in our movement were very uncomfortable talking about hearing God’s voice. We were pretty convinced that God spoke to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, but that after the cross, He lost his voice and resorted to just writing His message down by means of the Holy Spirit. And once he put the last period on the Book of Revelation, He had no need to say anything else, so He has not been heard from since.
As is often the case, fear drove us to these theological conclusions. If God continued to speak, then it might be possible that He
- Might tell someone else something He hadn’t told us!
- Might change the pattern that we had discovered in the New Testament!
- Might talk to someone not in our fellowship, which would suggest His endorsement.
Of course, we protected ourselves from our fears with theological headphones—noise-cancelling headphones that let us hear only the sounds we wanted to hear. Because of our fears, many Christians only recognize God’s handwriting, not His voice.
Let me just say this: there are false prophets who claim to be the voice of God; there are ungodly voices that want to capture our hearts; and that some have not only distorted His voice but even forged His handwriting, producing “new” messages from God. These forgeries, both oral and written, began even during the first century, so from then until now, Christians have been warned: Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)
So what does the voice of God sound like? I wouldn’t speak for anyone else, but in my own life His voice has always been recognizable, even when indescribable. I know that doesn’t make any sense, so let me elaborate.
Recognizing the voice of God is easier when you are familiar with what He has said before. By His grace and mercy, we have a whole library of His conversations, His speeches, and His meditations. If you want to recognize His voice, you will become intimately familiar with what it sounds like.
This familiarity is also your protection against false voices: the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:3-5)
My other suggestion to you is to learn to be quiet and wait.
First, be quiet! In those times when you are keenly aware of your need to hear God’s voice, perhaps before a big crisis or at a crossroads, stop talking because it is almost impossible to talk and listen at the same time. In place of talking, listen to what you know to be His voice by reading His message—even ones that you don’t think apply to your situation. His Word is living and dynamic. How often have I been surprised by some arbitrary reading that spoke directly to my need!
Secondly, and even harder sometimes, just wait! If you haven’t heard His voice, don’t do anything until you have! Don’t let your need to know, or your need for security, or your action plan or schedule dictate when God must speak—or else you’ll act without hearing His voice. In my experience, It has never been a good idea to give God deadlines.
The last two weeks have been wild at LST. Major changes started happening with our staff: some needed to leave, others needed to shift, and perhaps we need to hire. In addition, big financial decisions need to be made almost immediately to adjust our spending for the last half of our year to meet our budget, decisions that will mean some shifts in how we do core activities. On top of all of that, our landlord walked in two weeks ago and said that they were closing our building down and we needed to move by August!
Two weeks ago, Sherrylee said, it feels like God’s asking us to reinvent the ministry! I heard that word as the voice of God. Rick said last week in his last lesson, “Until God speaks, you have not heard the last word,” and those were God’s voice for me. Some of our staff members had wishes and desires that made the answers to personnel shift decisions pretty obvious to me—and they were God’s voices.
Regarding our new location and office space—His voice is not clear yet, so we are waiting to hear. That doesn’t mean sitting around the office doing nothing. No, we are looking at properties almost every day and will continue until His answer is clear.
Don’t be afraid! You can recognize His voice. God gave you the headset (maybe heartset would be a better word) you needed when He gave you the gift of His Spirit.
Here’s the last word: “ The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things . . . . (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).