Hearing God’s Voice, part 4

Hearing God's Voice

Hearing and discerning God’s voice

For God does speak—now one way, now another—though no one perceives it.
–Job 33:14 NIV

God is always speaking, but we must learn to perceive, recognize, and listen to His voice.

This process is illustrated in the life of the young prophet Samuel.

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.
3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
5 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.
6 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.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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 3:1–10 NIV

The voice Samuel heard, he at first did not recognize. It takes faith to recognize and acknowledge that the Lord is speaking. It takes practice to build confidence in hearing the Lord’s voice.

God does indeed speak, so when we ask Him to communicate with us, we must believe and then practice hearing His voice.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV). If you earnestly seek the Lord to hear His voice, He promises to reward you.

If we would have the Lord to speak to us, submission is key. Pray for a clean heart and ears to hear. Samuel said, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then, you must really listen with expectation.

What does God’s voice “sound” like?

What will you hear? An audible voice?

Most likely, it will not be audible. Rather, it will be God’s “still, small voice.”

11 Then [God] said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
–1 Kings 19:11–12 NKJV

We may miss hearing God’s voice because we’re expecting something dramatic. While God can speak in dramatic ways, He usually speaks in a quiet whisper. To hear that whisper, we must still our hearts and minds to selectively listen to Him.

How will He speak? Where will His voice originate? Not in our ears, for it’s usually not audible.

Remember that God speaks through the Son, who speaks through the Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit live now?

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells IN you?
–1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is IN you
–1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB

You will hear God’s still, small voice in your heart (spirit), because that’s where the Holy Spirit dwells. That inner voice is very similar to your own thoughts.

Can you recite a Scripture or sing a song inaudibly, inside your head? That’s what the voice of the Lord sounds like. It sounds like the voice of your own thoughts.

Tune in next time to learn how we know it’s God speaking and what we should do with what we hear.

More information:

Hearing God’s Voice, part 3

Hearing God's Voice

How God speaks today

1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son….
–Hebrews 1:1–2 NIV

In the New Testament age, God speaks to us through His Son, the Word. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice” (John 10:27).

Now that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father, how does He speak?

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
13 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.
14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
15 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 16:12–15 NIV

Jesus speaks to us today through the Holy Spirit.

When we listen, we glorify Jesus. Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…” (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).

Ways that God communicates

God communicates with us in many ways, through various means.

Nature

  • Psalm 19:1–4
  • Romans 1:20 NIV: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Wise Counsel

  • Proverbs 12:15 NKJV: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.”
  • Proverbs 11:14
  • Proverbs 15:22
  • Proverbs 20:18

An Audible Voice (Rare)

  • Isaiah 30:21 NIV: “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.'”
  • Matthew 17:5

Personal Visitation of the Lord or Angels

  • Acts 9:3–6 NIV: “3 As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 6 ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'”
  • Luke 1:26–38

Dreams and Visions

  • Genesis 20:3–7
  • Acts 18:9–10 NIV: “9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.'”

Revelation through Scriptures or Preaching

  • Daniel 9:2–3 NIV: “2 [I]n the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”
  • Acts 14:8–10

Inner Witness of Your Spirit

  • Romans 8:16 NKJV: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”

Voice of the Holy Spirit in Your Spirit

  • Acts 8:29 NIV: “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.'”

Ministry of the Prophet

  • Acts 21:10–11 NIV: “10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, ‘The Holy Spirit says, “In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”‘”

Gifts of Holy Spirit Through Other Believers

  • 1 Corinthians 12:7–10 NKJV: “7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”
  • 1 Corinthians 14:3,24–25 NIV: “3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. … 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”

Next installment, we’ll learn more about hearing and discerning God’s voice.

More information:

Hearing God’s Voice, part 2

Hearing God's Voice

God communicates because He loves us

God is thinking about us all the time.

How precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
–Psalm 139:17 NIV

God wants to tell us what He’s thinking. God wants to speak to us personally as well as to speak to others through us.

God is not stingy with divine communication. God is speaking all the time. Are we listening?

People God spoke to in the Bible

God didn’t speak only to holy people. The Bible reveals that God spoke to everyone, saint and sinner alike.

  • Adam and Eve – Genesis 2:16
  • The serpent – Genesis 3:14
  • Cain – Genesis 4:6
  • Noah – Genesis 6:13
  • Abraham – Genesis 12:7; 21:1
  • Hagar – Genesis 16:7–13
  • King Abimelech, a heathen – Genesis 20:3
  • Rebekah – Genesis 25:23
  • Isaac – Genesis 26:2–5,24
  • Jacob – Genesis 28:13–15; 31:3; 35:1,10–12
  • Laban, a dishonest man – Genesis 31:24
  • Pharoah, a heathen – Genesis 41:1,25
  • Israel (Joseph) – Genesis 46:2–4
  • Moses – Exodus 3
  • Joshua – Joshua 1
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:4–14
  • David – 1 Samuel 23:2,4; 2 Samuel 2:1; 1 Kings 8:18
  • Solomon – 1 Kings 3:5–14
  • Job – Job 38
  • Balaam, a false prophet! – Numbers 22:10–12
  • Elijah – 1 Kings 17:2–5
  • Pilate’s wife – Matthew 27:19
  • Peter – Acts 10:13–15
  • Apostle Paul – Acts 9:3–6
  • Ananias – Acts 9:10–16
  • Apostle John – The Revelation

God loves to communicate! There is no one He won’t speak to.

We must be willing to hear from God

Since Old Testament times, people—even God’s people—have refused to hear God’s voice for themselves.

Hebrews 12:25 tells us, “do not refuse him who speaks.”

Jesus promises in Revelation 3:20, “…If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in….”

Hearing God’s voice requires a response from us, which begins with a willingness to open and invite His communication and fellowship.

We must desire to hear God’s voice with all our heart.

Cultivate this until next time, when we’ll learn how God speaks today.

More information:

Hearing God’s Voice, part 1

Hearing God's Voice

Some people believe that God only speaks to a special few. But the Bible reveals that God spoke to saint and sinner alike.

God is always speaking. Are we able to hear?

God wants us to recognize His voice so we can hear what God is saying to us and to the Church. God speaks to us because God loves us.

This series will lead you into understanding how God speaks to us today.

God is a communicator

Communication is a primary part of God’s nature. Jesus is the “exact representation” of the Father (Heb. 1:3), and He is called “the Word of God” (see John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks…” (Ps. 50:1 NIV).

Sin has damaged our ability to hear

God originally intended to have a personal relationship marked by intimacy and fellowship with everyone born on this planet. This relationship was broken by sin.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
–Genesis 3:7–10 NIV

Although open communication with God has been damaged by sin, God still wants to communicate. God sent His only Son, the Word, because He loves us and wants to restore that fellowship so we will not be afraid to converse with Him.

7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah…
–Psalm 95:7–8 NIV

Even Old Testament believers could hear His voice.

God is a shepherd, and His people are the flock under His loving care. To shepherd us, He will speak to us as a flock as well as individually.

Hearing God requires a proper heart attitude

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
–John 10:27 NIV

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. This verse is the New Testament counterpart to the Psalm 95 passage. Goats are stubborn and don’t listen, but sheep listen for His voice, recognize it, and follow His leading.

Hebrews 4:7 says: “…‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’ ” (NIV). Hearing God’s voice is still for today, and it’s still conditional.

If our hearts are right toward God, we will be able to receive His direction. But if we harden our hearts, we won’t be able to hear God.

Having a receptive heart attitude is necessary to hear God’s voice and move in the gifts of the Spirit.

Next issue, we’ll learn why God communicates with us. Stay tuned.

More information: