Friday, August 20, 2010

Am I Listening?

Have you ever thought that maybe God would want to talk back? So much of our prayer time is one-sided, bringing to God our concerns and emotionally unloading on him (I am not downplaying this; God is our refuge! Ps. 62:7). Yet as you read through the Bible, including this Sunday's passage (Phil. 4:10-23) and Daniel 2, you cannot escape the fact that God speaks. The question is: Are we listening?

In John 10 Jesus is explaining the currency of our relationship with God the Father, and as is the case in any relationship, the currency is communication. Jesus placed the Holy Spirit within you and me to be a primary internal voice direct from heaven to guide and counsel us as we journey this globe. Are we listening?

The main way I hear God’s voice is through his written word. I make it a habit, before reading God’s word, to ask God to both illuminate the passage I am reading and to speak directly to me regarding how I can apply it to my life. Just yesterday I was meditating on a passage very close to me; I have even claimed it for over 20 years now as my life’s verse, Acts 20:24. Rather than quickly running through an already familiar verse, I asked the Holy Spirit to bring new meaning to my life through this verse. I sat, I pushed out intruding thoughts, I listened and sure enough…God spoke! God will always primarily speak through His word to you and me…Are we listening?

The next principle of God’s speaking to remember is that God chooses to also speak outside of his word. He will speak through nature (Psalm 19:1). He will speak through dreams, people, and circumstances. Heck, in Numbers 22, God speaks through a donkey! The most important encouragement I could give you in this matter is to seek God and not an experience.

The last principle I want to leave with you regarding God speaking is this: Even though he speaks outside of His word, he never speaks in a way that contradicts His Word. I have had, on occasion, people in my office justifying sinful behavior because, “The Lord told me to do it!” For instance, on one occasion, a man flat out told me that the Lord was telling him to leave his wife. To get his attention and to expose the absurdity of his comment I paused and replied, “Well the Lord was wrong!” It had its intended effect, and I went on to show him God’s clear teaching in the Bible on divorce. When I wonder if it truly is God’s voice I am hearing, I turn to community, and trusted Godly men and women, to confirm what I perceive to be the voice of God.

The whole purpose of eternal life is the development of intimacy with God (John 17:3). God wants a relationship with us, He wants to dialogue, and if we aren’t listening, we will never become the people God intends us to become. What keeps you from slowing down and earnestly asking God to help you hear his voice?