Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to hear God's Voice (He likes to speak)

"I'm not sure how familiar you are with hearing God's voice?"

"Not at all. Like, I've never heard it."

So went my recent conversation with a friend at a coffee shop. So we sat with our chai latte & iced mocha and talked about how to listen to the Great God who speaks.

I shared a few thoughts about how to hear God's Voice, describing it as a still, small voice that is urging you to do or not to do something (1 Kings 19:12). 

"Sometimes when I'm playing a crossword puzzle, I have this thought that I should put the crossword puzzle up and read the Bible," 
my friend said. 

I basically shouted at her. 

That sounds exactly like the kind of thing God would say, and I am certain that this thought that popped into her head wasn't just her imagination at work, but was a thought that was created in Heaven and then gently placed into her mind by God Himself.

She said she had always ignored that thought, assuming it was just her own mind making it up. 

I told my friend to listen to that still, small voice the next time it told her to put the crossword puzzle up and read the Bible. 
What will happen is this:
1) her faith will grow 
2) the next time she hears this small whisper, obeying it will be a tad easier and she'll be a tad more confident it's God
3) she will start becoming more familiar with this whisper and as time goes on, will hear it more often and more clearly

Jesus said that we can hear His Voice. 
And Jesus doesn't lie. 
(John 10:27)
He told us He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. 
A Shepherd's entire life is wrapped up in his sheep. 
He talks to them and leads them to where they need to go.
We CAN hear His Voice. He said so! We just have to know what to listen for. 

I told my friend that God's Voice sort of sounds like your conscience. 

Whenever you do something awful and you start to have the feeling in your heart that you've done something quite wrong, the thing which we call your "conscience" is at work. "I've done something awful and I must set out to make it right," is a thought that may be matched with the poor feeling in your heart. 

God has said this in this Bible, 
"But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day," says the LORD. "I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."
(Jeremiah 31:33, NLT)

And then Paul said it like this,
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom. 2:14, 15).

God's written His moral law on our hearts. 
Whether we know God or not, when we do something horrible, we've got this feeling that tells us we've done something horrible. 
That feeling is coming because we've disobeyed the moral law that has been written on our hearts by the Maker of our hearts. 

Christian folks have different ideas about whether a conscience is actually God speaking or not, and I don't really know about it. 
But what I do know is that when I hear God's Voice, it's sort of like when I hear my conscience. 
It's on the inside, it's gentle, it's quiet, it always agrees with the Bible, and always produces goodness. 
It's a thought that doesn't sound like my own thoughts, and it's a thought that my spirit agrees with. 

AND I always have the choice to listen to it or to label it as  "my silly imagination" and ignore it. 
My silly imagination doesn't tell me to give my favorite pair of shoes away. 
My silly imagination doesn't tell me to set up in bed and start praying. 
My silly imagination doesn't tell me to fly to India to preach the Gospel. 

I know the kinds of things God says because I know the kinds of things the Bible says. 
When I have a random thought pop into my head that I should do something outlandishly kind, brave, or generous, I know that this Voice is God's. 
He's always asking people to do things that are outlandishly kind, brave, and generous. 
(Because that's what He's like)

I'm no master just yet, and have thought I've heard God plenty of times, when it was just me. But being able to recognize His Voice is getting easier all the time, and the mistakes are becoming less. 
It's so fun! This adventure with God!
What He wants is to be in conversation with us all day long. 
If we'll let Him, and stop listening to a jillion other voices, He will speak as much as we will listen. 
The Holy Spirit has lots of things He wants to say to us, and if you're a Christian, He's living inside of you! 

When our flesh gets weaker and we shove it out of the way, 
the Holy Spirit gets stronger and starts doing most of the talking. 

"We also hear the voices of our own self and the enemy. Discerning the enemy’s voice is relatively simple: It will always contradict Scripture, have a bent towards selfishness, or hold an ulterior motive. The key to hearing God is discerning between His voice and our own, and this familiarity largely comes through practice."

"When you became a Christian, a change began to occur in your conscience. The basic moral code that everyone has at birth started to be overhauled. The Spirit of truth took up residency in your heart. Then, whether you were aware of it or not, He immediately set about to reprogram your conscience. Whereas before you had a general sense of right and wrong, the Holy Spirit began renewing your mind to more specific and complete truths (1 Cor. 2:10–13).
You participate in this renewal process every time you read your Bible, attend worship, memorize a verse, or pray. The Holy Spirit uses all this input to reprogram the database through which your conscience evaluates every opportunity, thought, invitation, word, and deed."
-Dr. Charles Stanley 

"When Samuel heard God's voice, he didn't recognize it, but Eli did (1 Samuel 3:1-10). When Gideon received a revelation from God, he was so unsure that it was from God that he resorted to asking for a sign three times (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40). If these men in the Old Testament had trouble recognizing God's voice, how can we know when we are hearing from Him?"