Step Towards Transformation
Last Sunday We Learnt On Why Don’t I Hear God Speak?
Today, we’re going to continue in the series on Learning to Hear God’s Voice. We’re going to look specifically at Ways That God Speaks To Us.
When we talk about people listening to God and God talking to people, many people think this is something very mystical, like it’s something unusual or extraordinary that God talks to people. But the fact is, He does it all the time.
Any of us can talk to God and God wants to talk to you. The Bible says that God wired you up in order to talk to you, that He created you with the ability to tune into Him, to hear Him, to listen to Him, and to talk back to Him. It’s nothing unusual. All of us can do it.
Job 33:14 “God does speak, sometimes one way and sometimes another, even though people may not understand it.”
He’s saying the problem is not that God isn’t talking. The problem is our perception. Sometimes we’re just not tuned in. God wants to communicate with you because you can’t have a relationship without communication. God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to talk to you. He’s created you with that capacity to hear His voice.
WAYS THAT GOD SPEAKS TO US.
God is not limited to any single way. There are many, many ways. That’s why this series is talking about the many different ways that God talks to us. The Bible has some really spectacular ways. I would have been shocked by some of them.
Today we’re going to identify the most common ways that God speaks to us. Honestly, more effective than me explaining it to you is for you to hear a story that illustrates all four of these. But first let me identify the ways.
2 Timothy 3:16 “The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point.”
Notice it says God’s way of talking to us first is through His Bible. The Bible is not just a good collection of wonderful thoughts and ideas of men, just a nice inspired collection. Circle “by inspiration”. The word literally means in Greek, “God breathed.” That means that the Bible is absolutely reliable.
There is no other book in the world that is reliable like this book. It can be counted on. It will guide you. It will correct you. It will comfort you. It will help you. But if you don’t ever get in it, how can God talk to you? This is why it’s so important to have a daily quiet time where you set down for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes — it doesn’t matter the amount of time — and you talk to God in prayer and you let God talk to you through His word. If you’re not doing that on a daily basis, you’re missing the number one way God wants to talk to you.
Someone says, “God never talks to me.” Are you in the Bible every day? This is how He wants to speak to you. If you’re not reading the Bible, your phone is off the hook. He’s getting the busy signal and He can’t get through to you.
Illustration: If I told you that tomorrow the Prime Minister Of India wanted to meet with you at 6 a.m. in the Mantralaya, I don’t care what you think of the Prime Minister, you’d get up and you’d go. When somebody that important wants to meet with you, you go.
Even more important, God wants to meet with you tomorrow and you don’t even have to go to Mantralaya. You can do it in your own bed, or sitting at your coffee table with a cup of coffee, in your chair with your Pyjama’s on. He is waiting. The creator of the universe wants to have a conversation with you all the time, on a regular basis, You need to get into God’s word because this is the number one way that God speaks to us. If the only time you’re in it is every other week or so, you’re going to miss a whole lot.
Joshua 1:7–8-The Lord spoke to Joshua and said:“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” .
The book of the Law was Joshua’s guide, his instruction book in godly living. So the Bible is for us today.
How does this work out in a practical way for twentieth–century believers?
When we pray and seek guidance about a decision, we should ask God to speak to us through His Word and give us some advice to clarify our direction. As we meditate upon the Word with our request or decision in mind, God will often lead us to an incident in Scripture, a passage, or even a single verse that will relate to what concerns us. It may deal with our specific experience, or the principle governing our decision may be prominent in the text.
Sometimes God will lead us to the source, to the same passage over and over again. It is not that we choose to reread the same passage, but somehow we just seem to continue to open the book to that text.
Illustration: On an occasion when I was seeking the Lord’s will about a decision I faced, every morning for about three weeks I found myself reading Isaiah 6. I was into the third week before I realized that I was being rebellious toward the Lord with regard to what He required of me. Somehow, He would not let me escape those words in verse 8: “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ ” When I finally said yes to the Lord, Isaiah 6 was no longer prominent in my morning meditation.
Through His Word He directs us, challenges us, warns us, comforts us, assures us. I have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my Christian life: to face a challenge and meditate upon the Word until I know He has spoken.
Psalms 119: 105 .”your word is a lamp and a light for my path”
The bible says it is a flash light for life.now, its not a high intensity beam that’s going to show you the next 3 years how you are going to do. Some of you want to know all of it that’s going to happen in the future. Gods never going to show you that because it will freak you out. It will scare you to death.so if you try to find out all of your future , you are wasting your time. Nobody knows the future only God. And God’s not going to share all the future, because he wants you to walk by faith day by day. Now when you have a flash light , it does not show you far ahead, it shows you the next step.and you take one step then you take another step.
The Bible is the manual for life. It’s the owner’s manual.
Illustration: A couple months ago I bought a car. When I did, they gave an owner’s manual. That is the designer’s original intent for the car. If I read that owners’s manual and follow what it says, my car is going to last a whole lot longer. It teaches me how to keep from putting my car under stress.
That’s what the Bible does. Why many of you are under stress is because you don’t know what’s in here and you’re not following what it says to do. So you’re stressed out. The Bible is the owner’s manual for life. When in doubt, consult the manual. God speaks through His word.
Ecclesiastes 10:10 -“If the axe is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.”
Illustration: Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!” Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”
Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the “axe”. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy that ever.
Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay “sharp”? There’s nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like taking time to get close to our Creator,
We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take the time to sharpen the “axe”, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness.
How do I get started in this book?
Do I start at Genesis and just start reading through it? I wouldn’t suggest that. Not if you’re just getting started in the Bible. In the first place, you need to get a new translation. There are many of them. The Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew. I’d suggest you get the New International Version or The Living Bible. There are a number of good ones. Then you might want to get a study Bible that will give you some guides and aids.
Then you need to set a regular time in the word. Then get involved in how to study the Bible. I would start in the New Testament. If you’ve never read the Bible at all, I would start with the book of James. James will give you some practical stuff just to get you going in the Christian life. You need to get into God’s word because that’s the number one way He speaks to us.
So, while relying on direction from the scriptures works some of the time, it isn’t the total answer.
But what about all those areas of human decisions that are not in the Bible?
So, while appealing to the scriptures is a first, and reliable source for direction, it leaves a lot of human decision unaddressed. Look for evidence of God’s work.
Look around and see where God is working, and join that work.
Or, suppose that my decision is not about anything “spiritual.” Rather, it’s about some major obstacle in the road that affects my career, family, or business.
Those are not the kind of issues we generally think of as being God’s work.
So, the suggestion to look around and see where God is working is a great idea, and it adds a major component to our spiritual lives. It is a way that God answers our prayers for direction. However, it may leave additional unanswered questions.
So, how does God communicate to us about those issues that are not directly addressed in the Bible, or that appear to be outside the kind of work we normally associate with God?
In Our Lifetime, He seems to use more subtle methods. Here’s some ways in which He’s communicated to me. These aren’t offered as an exclusive list of God’s methods. Rather, they are simply some observations from one person’s life. If God has used these means to communicate to me, it’s entirely possible that He may use them to communicate to you. His options are endless, His creativity beyond our comprehension. So, He may communicate to you in an unlimited number of other ways. With that understanding, here’s my list.
Rather than coming from the outside, often God speaks to us from the inside. The plain and simple fact is that God usually speaks to us in such a quiet, non-spectacular way that we are almost never going to be 100% certain that we heard Him speaking to us, and we just need to get used to that. Once we get past the “hang up” of needing to hear from God in spectacular, loud, supernatural ways, then we will find ourselves beginning to recognize the still, small voice which He usually uses.
Illustration: have you ever done something that bothered your conscience? Deep down inside you knew that it was wrong, but how did you know? It was because there is something way down inside of us that knows when something is right or wrong. Somehow our “knower” knows these things, and it bothers our conscience when we do things that our “knower” knows is not right. This “knower” is our spirit which we sense way down deep inside of us is where God often tends to speak to us. There is nothing spectacular about it, there is nothing sensational about it. It is the still, small voice of God.
That Spirit of God speaks to our spirit, and the communication rises to the surface of our brain in the form of a thought. We get thoughts — thoughts that come to use as communications from God. Imagine the Holy Spirit living in us.
John 14:26 “The Holy Spirit will be your teacher and will bring to your mind [circle this] all that I have said to you.”
“Bring to your mind” means He gives us impressions. He gives us ideas He gives us hunches. He gives us these gut feelings. God often does this.
Romans8:16 “The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, …….”
If I have a thought, particularly when I’ve prayed for an answer, or when I’m in the middle of reading the Bible or praying, and with that thought comes a conviction that the thought is from God, that’s good enough for me. I proceed on the basis that God has spoken to me.
There are three ways of inner witness
A] BY ILLUMINATION IN OUR MIND
Ephesians 1:17-18 (NIV)17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your mind may be enlightened …..,
He gives us ideas. Some of your most brilliant ideas weren’t yours. They were God’s. God was giving them to you. A brilliant business idea, a brilliant family idea, a brilliant relational idea, a brilliant financial idea. Where do you think you got some of those ideas? God, who loves you, who cares about you, who infinitely interested in all the details of your life. It didn’t feel like God because it’s so natural. You were made to receive ideas from God. A lot of the things you think up, you’re just not that smart either. God gives you those ideas.
Illustration Of Peter:
Acts 10:19-20(NIV) 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
“the Spirit said” must mean “The Holy Spirit spoke to his spirit” . the holy spirit said something through thoughts . Sometimes these thoughts come with a solid conviction that they are from God. I’ve come to rely on that conviction
Acts 13:2-3 (NIV) 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Sometimes at a church as the pastor is speaking he will stop and point to a place on his body, maybe to his back or his knee, and he will ask all those in the congregation who have pain in those places to stand up. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has given him a word of knowledge concerning some healings that He wants to do
I hope you’re beginning to see that the “voice” of God is not actually a voice at all (at least not usually). It is more of a “knowing” deep down inside of us in our thoughts. Sometimes you will sense a single word or a phrase or a picture inside of you, and it might be accompanied by a momentary “flash” of knowing what that word or phrase or image means. It’s sometimes like a camera’s flashbulb lighting up momentarily, and you just know what God means because He has illuminated it to your spirit.
But many times, I can’t help but question whether the thoughts come from someplace in my own mind or whether they really are communications from God or whether they are from Satan.
Note: it was Satan who put a thought in Judas to betray Jesus
John 13:2…During supper, when the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,
If I’m in doubt if the thought is from God or from me or from Satan, and I compare the thought with some clear insight from the Bible, and discover a contradiction, I know the thought isn’t from God. He doesn’t contradict Himself.
We need to be cautious on this point, however. It’s easy to take a position, and then to search the scriptures for some validation of that position. Rather than go to the scriptures with an open mind on a particular subject, we can have our own conclusion, and then twist the scriptures to support it.
Illustration: you may be considering whether or not you should accept a friend’s invitation to spend a weekend in wild partying. Since you really are tempted to do this, you find a Bible passage that says, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.” Luke 12:19 Ah ha! You have your answer.
Not so fast. Start reading a few words later, however, and you realize the correct thought is expressed by the whole of the verse, “Only the fool says eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.”[Luke 12:20]
So, we need to be as thorough and objective as possible when we search the scriptures for guidance.
So far, I’ve been talking about thoughts as being the carrier of God’s inner Enlightment or Illumination.
Yet there is another way that God speaks to us from the inside.
B] BY PROMPTINGS OR INSPIRATIONS IN OUR WILL TO BE LED
Illustration of Paul:
The Apostle Paul tells his friends with whom he has poured out three years of his life and love, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me” (Acts 20:22-23). The Apostle uses a word that means “tied up” as though he has no say in the matter, but must give over to this compulsion of the Spirit or being led by the Spirit.
Illustration Of Jesus:
Jesus was of course “led by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Lk 4:1)
Illustration Of Simeon:
Simeon was a righteous and devote man who spent his days worshipping God in the Temple as he waited for Israel’s Messiah. Then Luke records, “And he came in the Spirit into the temple…” to meet the child Jesus (2:27; ESV). The NIV translates the passive voice correctly here, “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” He was driven into the temple that day to see baby Jesus and his parents. Maybe it was a feeling, an urgency that he had to be there and nowhere else.
C] BY IMPRESSIONS OR PERCEIVING IN OUR FEELINGS
Illustration of Jesus:
Mark 2:8: And immediately Jesus, PERCEIVING IN HIS SPIRIT that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?
Illustration Of Paul:
A spiritual prompting of sorts may be what happened to the Apostle Paul as well on his voyage as he stood up to declare, “I PERCEIVE that the voyage will be with injury and much loss” (Acts 27:10).
I don’t know if we have the right language to express it. I hate to call it “FEELINGS” because that word implies emotions like anger, infatuation, and etc. I’m not sure God uses those to communicate to us.
Rather, we sometimes receive intuitive understandings. A sense that comes over us, whereby we understand a truth from God. This is different than a thought, because it’s larger. Our understanding is bigger than that contained by any thought. And it’s not a feeling, although it often is described as one. Rather, it’s an understanding that comes through what we call intuition.
Illustration: At one point I was facing a legal proceeding. I knew that fairness, right and wrong have little to do with what happens in the court system. So, I was very concerned about the outcome. I approached the elders of the church and asked them to pray on my behalf. We prayed together. As I was leaving the meeting, a powerful intuitive understanding came over me. I knew that God had answered the prayer in my favor. The legal proceeding was not until the next day, but I knew that I would prevail.
When that knowledge came over me, I then felt a powerful sense of peace. The understanding and the sense of peace combined to produce that sense of intuition.
There’s a lot of confusion about how we receive impressions from God.
Next coming weeks we’re going to spend an entire message on it. We’re going to look at how to receive inspiration, how to receive impressions from God.
Then I’m going to give you how to test impressions from God. How to evaluate them to figure out whether they’re really from God or a bad hangover last night and it’s indigestion.
Note: There are two extremes you need avoid when thinking about impressions: one is the ONLY WORD BELIEVER, the other is ONLY SPIRIT BELIEVER.
I feel sorry for both of these extremes. The ONLY WORD BELIEVER, who thinks “God never gives me an idea” misses out on God’s counsel, God’s comfort, God’s care, God’s concern, God’s challenges and guidance in the ways of life. They miss it all. On the other hand, the ONLY SPIRIT BELIEVER who thinks that every impression they get is from God tends to make a lot of stupid mistakes and they embarrass themselves. They say, “God told me to do this,” and then they go bankrupt. What happened? You missed God. Both extremes are wrong.
Warning: Always test an impression. Never make a decision on an impression alone. You need to test that impression. Next coming weeks I’ll give you the seven ways to test an impression. It always has to match what the Bible says. If you ever get an impression that is opposite to what God said in the Bible, I guarantee that it’s not from God. God never contradicts what He’s already said. He’s not going to give you an impression contrary to what’s in the Bible.
God has said over and over, for your own protection, for your own benefit sex is for marriage only. It’s real clear. About 90% of our problems in that area, the emotional scars, the venereal diseases, the broken hearts wouldn’t be there if people would just obey what God says to do.
When we say, “I know God wants me to be happy, but …” you better check it out with the Bible.
Illustration : When you ignore the owner’s manual — If I don’t put oil in my car every so many thousand miles, guess what? It’s going to wear out. And it’s going to die real quick. When you don’t do what the Bible says you’re not hurting God. This is for your benefit.
Rev 3:22 (NIV) “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Sandy Gregory’s Story Of The Remote Employee
Imagine you are hired to open up an office in Anchorage, Alaska. Your new boss gives you a high-tech looking two-way radio, a policy and procedure manual, and tells you that you will receive instructions once you arrive, and off you go. Upon arrival you hear your boss’s voice over the radio, saying, “I will communicate to you through this radio unit. But take note: our competitors, our enemies, also have access to this channel. They will try to impersonate my voice with false messages to thwart our purposes.” “Oh no!” you panic, “Then how will I know if it is you or the enemy giving me instructions?”
Your boss’s voice comes back over the radio: “Three ways. First, considering the situation, check every message supposedly from me against the policy and procedure manual. Since I wrote it, I’m not likely to ask you to violate it, right? Also, if I am not talking, don’t focus in on the noise, pretending that I am. If I am not speaking, let the manual be your guide. Don’t let any impersonating voice mislead you, or your own overactive imagination.”
“Second, since the Manual does not cover every situation, you will have to get to know my voice. I know, this will take time, and so I am not likely to ask you to do anything radical until we both have some low-risk successes under our belts. Remember, I understand the situation perfectly well, so I’ll go slow at first. A time will come when I will be able to tell you to do the wildest things, and you will know it is me. In the short-term, you must be trained through low-risk experience.”
“Third, over time, my overall purpose for your work will begin to come into focus. You will begin to see the grand strategy in the policy and procedure manual, and the overall pattern of my true instructions. When this happens, you’ll know instantly if what you hear through your unit is ‘of me’, just your imagination, or enemy misinformation. False instructions will begin to appear silly to you then. So take heart, and get to work.”
After reflecting on this a few moments, you hear your boss’s voice again on the radio unit. “Take all of the money from petty cash and give it the next person that walks in, no questions asked.” Hmmm… You look in the policy and procedure manual, and this is specifically forbidden. Besides, you know your boss wouldn’t tell you to do something that risky right off. And also there was an certain “twang” to the voice, an appeal to something different within you, and a plan that was not in the long-term interests of the company. So, even though you are on a hostile channel, you are beginning to have hope that you can indeed do this job.
To be continued…….
In LEARNING TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE , we learnt this Sunday on
Next Coming Sundays we will continue this and also learn on the following: