Hearing God’s Voice!
Have you ever taken time to think about how many “voices” are clamouring for your attention? To mention but a few: the people around you, news media, advertisements, car horns, weather events, appetites (especially, your stomach!), music and the list goes on. We have five senses (sight, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching) which inform us what is going on outside ourselves. But, we also have three inner faculties which help us interpret and provide meaning and understanding to the “voices” that we perceive. We have minds to think, emotions which provide the colour to life and a spirit that has been “God-breathed” into us so that we might have the ability to respond to our Creator.
All animals have “language” of one form or another. Horses communicate fear, danger, anger and comfort with their ears. Dogs bark in certain ways or move their tails to express their desires or moods. Bees do a certain dance for their fellow workers to map out the location of the best nectar. Ravens communicate with quirks, yells, trills, knocks and rattles to communicate with each other. We can only begin to understand animals “language” by study, reflection and patience.
The human face has three and a half dozen muscles which can combine in certain ways to express up to 20 emotions: happiness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise etc.
When young, we start to learn the facial cues when they are put into the context of many life situations. Blind people are put at a huge disadvantage when they cannot see the subtleties of expression seen on a face.
So, we need to ask “How can we perceive what God is communicating to us?” Read 1 Kings 19:7-13 and also 1 Samuel 3:1-11 From these two passages, we see that there is a big difference between just hearing and actually listening. The former is being aware of the sound. The latter, taking in the message. There are sixteen ways that God has spoken and may speak to us!
- Creation. The heavens declare the glory of God as in Psalm 19:1. When one truly appreciates the profound, almost unimaginable complexity of creation, it leaves little option except to realize it took an all-wise, all-powerful God to put it all into action. The human genome of 3.2 billion base pairs is merely a blueprint comprised of only four elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. Without these being programmed with extreme precision, life forms cannot exist.
- Our Bible, Holy Scripture. The Bible is a remarkable book with profound symmetry and a consistent theme from first to last. It is an ancient book but at the same time very contemporary. It is a reliable and necessary frame of reference for almost every situation in life that we can think of.
- History. When we take a step back and review biblical history as well as world history, we see God at work with his creation continually. From the promise to Abraham that blessing would accrue to all mankind through his lineage right up to the present church age, God is seen to have kept his promise despite major obstacles and enemies. Faith at times has been difficult but has never fizzled out!
- Changed lives. God’s intervention in broken lives that open up to his healing bears testimony to God’s love as well as healing power. Millions have been restored to health spiritually by faith in their Creator through Jesus Christ. People such as John Newton, Augustine, Lou Zamperini are but three examples.
- Divine Emissaries. God has spoken through history by angels, prophets, apostles as well as pastors. In our era, we always need to verify such voices by applying scriptural truth and the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit because not all who claim to be speaking for God necessarily are sent from Him.
- Visions and Dreams. Although ancient individuals such as Jacob, Solomon,Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar etc. had special revelations, those in ministry around the world report that many in different cultures have had revelatory dreams/visions of Christ and have been led into a changed life.
- Miracles. Live is a miracle in itself. However, the biblical record makes very clear that miracles were used by God especially during the sojourn of Jesus and in the early church to validate the intervention of God in history. God does have unlimited power over nature since He established it in the first place. It is not ours to demand miracles (like Herod did) but to realize that God can do remarkable things when he so deigns.
- Holy Spirit. Jesus made it clear that when we yield to him in repentance and open our hearts to him in obedience, the Holy Spirit will come to reside with us and in us. A profound mystery but proven true by the experience of millions. The Holy Spirit does not shout or clamour but by a quiet voice will minister to our lives in comfort and counsel.
- Coincidences and Circumstances. God blesses us periodically with certain encounters that clearly have the divine stamp of intervention. They may seem so ordinary at times but we will recognize that God had a reason for that which we experienced or an encounter with someone else that took place.
- Prayer. God sees deep within our hearts and minds. He not only perceives the depths of our being but also is able to respond. At times, we may pray and think that nothing has happened but then wake up to the fact that something good did happen. As with Elijah in the cave, God speaks very quietly and only those who pause to listen for him will eventually hear!
- Beauty. Some things in the created order are beautiful beyond understanding! Charles Darwin said that if something exists with beauty for its own sake, then his theory fails. We have only to look at flowers, the adornment of hummingbirds or peacocks or the over-the-top form of the sea dragon to recognize the extravagant beauty that is not essential for survival nor reproduction. Grackles seem to propagate effortlessly without colour or fancy feathers!
- Counsel of godly people. There are wise and knowledgeable folk around who not only can provide sage advice but also challenge our thinking whether it be good or bad. We need to listen to such people but also realize that the ultimate authority is the Bible and the voice of God through the Holy Spirit.
- Prophesies Fulfilled. The advent of the Messiah, Jesus, was prophesied centuries before it every happened. There are so many other prophesies which were proven true by subsequent events. Consider reading the testimony of Richard Ganz which will exemplify something of the power of prophecy and its fulfillment: <https://www.hadavar.org/getting-to-know-god/jewish-believers-their-stories/from-jews-for-jesus/dr-richard-ganz-the-revival-of-a-rebel-jew/>
- Conscience. Since we have been mad “in God’s image” we have the capacity to resonate with right and wrong intrinsically. There is something deep within our being that God uses to keep us on track. The conscience can be damaged, suppressed and disabled and so we need to be soft toward God to sustain us on the right path.
- Stress and Difficulty. God may speak to us through our trials. They reveal our need, fallibility, vulnerability. Often it is in our difficulties that we will turn naturally to the One who can help us through them!
- The Logos of God: Jesus Christ. Read John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:13-23 and Hebrews 1:1-3. God wrapped himself in human form, maintaining his deity but leaving behind his glory, so that we might hear with our ears his words, see the miracles that he did, touch his wounded side which is testimony of his love for us. There is no greater communication of God the Father to us than the person of Jesus Christ. He is the pivotal point of history pointing back to the fall of creation, the reality of redemption and the wonderful events in the future which we have yet to witness and which we will experience as we continue to walk in faith or die in faith.
Just like we have to learn the “voices” of the world about us, we need to learn to recognize the imprint of God on our world and how he “speaks” to us in a multitude of ways. We need to tune in! Keep in mind that the message may be customized to us personally! We live in a world that has in many ways and places become “deaf” to God. However, God still continues to speak and those who wish to listen will hear!
God’s basic message to us is very simple. Three things:
“I AM AT WORK WITHIN MY CREATION”
“I LOVE YOU AND HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU NOW AND INTO ETERNITY”
Are you willing to hear his voice and to listen, take it all in? Both those of faith and those still seeking faith need to respond to God: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The secret of “God with us” (Immanuel) is fulfilled as we open our hearts to the One who Created us and loves us passionately enough to have sent his Logos, his Word, Jesus, into our midst.