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.
The Remote Employee – Sandy Gregory http://www.acts17-11.com/hearing.html
Wouldn’t it be great if God could send text reminders to us when He had something to say? When we were going in the wrong direction He could text us a verse from the Bible to remind us of His ways and His love.
Or if He wanted to communicate how much He loves us that He could write it on our facebook wall….
Wouldn’t it be great if God decided to use billboards to talk to us? Just think, we could drive down the road and God would simply choose one of a zillion billboards to get our attention. There we’d be with a mapped out message straight from God. Pretty cool, huh?
Or the old writing in the sky technique…
GOD DOES SPEAK TO US – but usually more subtlely…. And usually in the old school context of relationship and all that entails… But we can be confident that He speaks and wants to lead us and guide us and encourage us and teach us!
I am the Shepherd and my sheep know my voice. John 10
John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
BE EXPECTANT and have faith to hear from God!
Remember Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship with a very real and personal God who loves us with an everlasting love and desires us to know Him and walk in His ways…
One of greatest obstacles to hearing from God can often be our ownselves and the perception that God doesn’t talk to us or that we cant hear from God. Sometimes it is difficult yes. Some people seem wired to hear God very easily – seemily having a gift to hear. Sometimes we need to reprogramme our flesh and spirit to communicate with God – just as a person needs to train to be a ballerina or learn the roadcode and some practical skills before they drive a car.
Our relationship by faith isn’t based on how we hear from God, how many visions or revelations we’ve had – it is based on faith that Jesus is Lord and that He died on the cross for us and that if we’re born again we belong to His family and are loved and called.
From the beginning God has spoken to His children and desired real relationship with them. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and at the end of time Revelation 22:3-4 it says that we will worship God face to face!
Abraham was called a friend of God.
Moses talked with God face to face in the tabernacle tent and upon Mt Sinai.
Joshua lingered in the tabernacle tent after Moses left.
Prophets spoke on behalf of God to kings and nations.
Jeremiah was taught by God in visions to hear His voice.
Isaiah had a vision of the throne room of God and heard God.
Daniel had angelic visitations and dreams.
Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to go to different places and also the Holy Spirit stopped him from going to other locations.
The disciples on the road from Emmaus were warmed in their spirits when Jesus talked with them.
Elijah heard God in the still small voice, after an earthquake, fire and wind.
Shepherds saw an angel who told them about baby Jesus’ birth
When Jesus was baptized God spoke in an audible voice, but some of the crowd heard thunder and others thought it was angels speaking.
We recognize God’s voice because we recognize Him, the better we get to know God the more clearly we will recognize His voice.
Recognizing the Voice of God
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the templeof the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"
Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
1 Samuel 3
Did you notice at the start of that passage that the God speaking was a rare thing in those days? We do live in a different age – the Holy Spirit lives within each believer – but there is something we can learn. Samuel was a rare child – he grew up dedicated to God. He was different from the other kids and other people of his generation who lived for themselves and forsook following God.
Learning to recognize the voice of God is part of learning to hear the voice of God. It is just like when a friend rings on the phone – if they are a new friend you may have to ask who is on the phone, but when they are a good friend you recognize their voice. It takes time and conversation.
God wants to fellowship and communicate with us. That’s two-way communication. Why? Because you can’t really have a relationship unless there is true dialogue. How do we get to know a person? By communicating with them. By talking and listening. God wants us to know that He loves us and how to follow Him.
It’s the same with our relationship with God. He talks, we listen. We talk, He listens.
God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to take our place and to die for us. He did this so that we could once again have fellowship with Him. In the book of Hebrews we see that we can have access to God’s very presence, "…having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way…" (Hebrews 10:19-20a).
God speaks to us. We are His children. We also have the revelation of the Word of God that we can trust in and follow for instruction for life and knowing God.
The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 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 10:2-5
The Holy Spirit lives within us to reveal God to us – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. John 16:13-15
We are led by God – because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14
Does the Holy Spirit live within you? Are you a Christian? Are you a son or daughter of God? Then YOU ARE LED by God. God guides you. God speaks to you. That is the promise of God and the reality we live in. It may not be with flashes of lightening and angelic revelation but nonetheless God is speaking and guiding and it probably wont be until we see our lives from the otherside of eternity that we see just how much God was speaking and leading us.
Are you confident and secure in the truth and reality that God speaks to YOU?
God spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3), Habakkuk knew the sound of God speaking to him (Habakkuk 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12 ). However, I have found that usually, God’s voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.
For example, haven’t you been driving down the road and had a thought come to you to pray for a certain person? Didn’t you believe it was God telling you to pray? What did God’s voice sound like? Was it an audible voice, or was it a spontaneous thought that lit upon your mind? Or in a conversation you feel prompted to say something or to encourage a person? Or when praying for someone you get a picture or a thought that just seems random and that just popped in there?
Hearing the voice of God is as natural as hearing your best friend talk to you. He speaks to us in the natural moments of life. Do you want to hear God’s voice? Then you must be ready to listen.
And as we trust God to speak and trust that what we’ve heard/thought it God the easier it will be to discern His speaking as we listen.
Be Ready and Willing
It can also be said that being willing is a key to hearing God’s voice. David heard God speak many times in many different ways but in 2 Samuel 11 we see David falling into a time of sin and making seriously unwise choices. In this time his conscience seems dull and he seems unresponsive to God. It isn’t until God sends Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12 that David “gets” what has happened. We can shut God out and choose sin and choose the flesh and refuse to listen to His voice saying (Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,) "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
Sometimes we make a choice to be listeners or not?
We make a choice to be sensitive or not.
God must be the dominant voice in our life, above other people and above ourselves and above the enemy. We must listen and obey – both to the written Word of God and the Holy Spirit speaking to us.
Zechariah 7:11 (NIV) "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen…
Jeremiah 6:10 (NIV) "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it."
How does God speak to us today?
The Word of God – The Bible
In order to actually "hear" from God, we have to know some things about God’s character. We have to develop an understanding of who God is, and the way he does things. Fortunately for us, all that information is available in the Bible. The Bible goes into a lot of detail about how you can expect God to react, what kinds of expectations he has for us, and most specifically, how he expects us to treat other people. It contains the promises of God and reveals who He is.
God has given us His written Word – the Bible – how to live and revelation of who He is – for us to read and learn and hear –and God speaks to us through that. It doesn’t need divine unction (jumping out etc) for it to be God’s Word – IT IS GOD’S WORD!
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Many times God will use other people to try to get through to us. Be wise in choosing who you listen to – who you take counsel from – but remember God can use anyone (He used a DONKEY to speak to Balaam!) – God can speak to us through other people in prophetic words and in conversation or through preaching. He might bring someone like Nathan along to correct you, or someone to encourage you. He might send a random stranger to Boardertown in Botany to talk to you.
Sometimes the only way God can teach us something is to allow circumstances in our life to lead us to and through the very thing we need to discover.
The Still Small Voice / Impressions / Unction
When learning to hear God’s voice, know that God speaks in many different ways: Such as a mental picture (vision), a song, a thought that won’t go away, a scripture… It takes time and practice to discern the voice of God.
God’s voice often comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions. For example, haven’t you been driving down the road and had a thought come to you to pray for a certain person? Didn’t you believe it was God telling you to pray? What did God’s voice sound like? Was it an audible voice, or was it a spontaneous thought that lit upon your mind?
Sometimes you have a feeling – or feel compelled – to do a certain thing, phone someone, facebook someone, say something, buy something, go somewhere, do something – these can be classified as unctions of God, being led by God.
Many times God uses a tiny voice inside us to let us know when we’re not on the right path. Some people call it "the voice of peace." Whenever we’re contemplating something and we don’t have peace about it, it’s a very good idea to stop and carefully look at the options. There’s a reason you don’t feel peace about it. Or all of a sudden, you just know you heard something. Pay attention to those occasions because it is very likely God trying to tell you something.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:10
Are you really confident and secure in the truth and reality that God speaks to YOU?
The Audible Voice
Sometimes we’re able to "hear" something in our spirit that sounds to us like an actual audible voice.
Helpful “Hints” and How To’s….
- Read your bible
- Have a regular devotion time
- Make prayer and worship a practice
- Listen as well as talk in prayer
- Be regular and involved at church
- Pray in tongues
- Be obedient to the things you know – be righteous and repentant!
- Press in – keep being persistent in prayer and listening and seeking God.
Make TIME to listen to God. Tony and I didn’t form our relationship on the run, snatching 2 minutes here or a text here or there. We spent TIME together and fell in love.
Sometimes hearing from God takes TIME and prolonged periods of TIME seeking God. We have become a microwave generation expecting to hear from God right away and that moment, but God sometimes works in our heart and upon our character in the process of listening and seeking Him. When praying about whether tony and I should date we – at counsel – took a week away from each other to pray about it… that week God spoke to me about lots of OTHER things and led me into prayer about lots of other things but didn’t that week speak to me about Tony until the last hour or so before the “time was up” Why didn’t God answer me on day one at prayer one? Because it was a process of seeking Him and being prepared to listen, being patient and surrendered.
Have we lost the art of surrender?
"If you make insight your priority, and won’t take no for an answer, searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, believe me, before you know it Fear of God will be yours; you’ll have come upon the knowledge of God." "Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God." Proverbs 2: 3-5
Get A Second Opinion… Check it Out…
Just because we hear something or feel something doesn’t mean it will always be God. It may be our own desires/flesh/self/imagination or it may even be the enemy seeking to distract and discourage us or mislead us.
The problem is that we are on a “hostile channel.” Our minds can be prompted by God, from our own flesh desires, or from the enemy. Some ignore this and naively believe that anything they think or feel is from God, without humility or reflection. This may seem a silly error, but it can become serious when such a person thinks God has told them to "go kill someone" or more applicable for us as young adults, when people feel that God has led them to date someone who isn’t a Christian or isn’t part of God’s plan for them.
Make sure it lines up with the Word of God. God will not speak to you something that contradicts His Word.
Talk to someone about it – someone you trust and that you trust hears from God
Pray about it
Pray some more!
Listen some more before you act!
In conclusion: we have an almighty amazing God who loves us so much that He made the way for us to be brought back to Him, through the death of Jesus Christ, and who now calls us family – by being born again we are BORN into His family – and we are transformed and now citizens of another kingdom, living not only flesh lives but supernatural lives. He speaks to us – Father to children, King to citizens, Friend to friends. We LEARN to hear His voice. We LEARN to discern His voice over ourselves, our desires, other people, the enemy. We LEARN and we continue to LISTEN and we OBEY.