It’s funny how so many scientists and medical experts are amazed at how well we human beings are designed and yet they don’t believe in the Designer. The fact is we have been wonderfully and intricately designed for many things, one of which is this: we are designed to hear from God.
It’s in our nature as born-again believers to have faith, but it’s in our nature as human beings to hear from God. People will say, ‘Well, I just don’t hear God speak at all.’ If that is really true then those people may not be born again because our conversion is a response to God’s personal invitation – it’s never initiated by us. However very often another reason a person may think they do not hear from God is because they have such a narrow view of how God speaks.
It’s interesting how you can have a large evangelistic gathering and preach the gospel and people will come to Christ. But very few of them would say, ‘I clearly heard the voice of the Lord.’They just listened to a preacher, they became aware of their need for God, and they may even say they felt the presence of God. Well, all of that is actually the result of them hearing from God.
The problem is we tend to put God on the same level as we humans talking to each other and yet God speaks in so many ways. Sometimes He even speaks things that are so deep and so profound that He speaks directly to our spirit; He may deposit a thought or word that can take days, weeks or even months to unfold, develop and enter our conscious mind.
There are times in our life when we might make a really good decision – one that bears incredible fruit for us or our family or our Church. How did we get to that point? There could be any number of reasons but very often it was God’s voice speaking into our situation and us not realizing that God actually ministered to us in the night, weeks before the event because He knew what was coming and His presence in our life was His voice to our spirit. God prepared us for that decision which we think was brilliance on our part. It was actually the product of the voice of God.
Many times in my ministry I have heard a brother or sister say something like, “I am in a very dry season right now; I’m just not hearing from the Lord very well. I can sense His presence at times but I can’t hear His voice.” Again, we reduce God to our human level. We know that a human being can be right in front of us but not say anything because their presence is not the same as their voice. Not so with God.
When God is present in Christ – He is the Word of God. When the Word shows up, so does His voice. We often don’t interpret it as His voice and yet it is.
If God is present – God is speaking – and God is always present.
So, there is a huge difference between God not speaking and us not hearing. The end result may be exactly the same – we don’t hear from God – but the problem is always on our end.
The best example I can give here is this. At this very moment, regardless of where you are or what you are doing, there are literally hundreds of voices bombarding you. Did you know that? There are at least ten television stations transmitting their signal; many more radio stations; short wave signals from around the world are also occupying the same environment as you. There are police, fire and ambulance signals and who knows how many mobile phone transmissions. They are all here, all the time.
There’s only one reason you cannot hear all those voices – you are not tuned in! You have not made a conscious decision to hear those voices and you never will until you are tuned in. So, it is with God. He is always speaking collectively to the Church and specifically to each of His children, if only we had ears to hear.
In Luke chapter four, Jesus quotes a verse from the Old Testament, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Read that again: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Brothers and sisters, we are alive because God speaks. Our life is evidence of His voice. Even if it was possible for someone to not have the ability to hear from God, the moment God spoke, they would have that ability because God creates when He speaks. God spoke the whole world into being. The Apostle Paul knew this truth.
In Romans 10:1 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Now most of the sermons I have heard on that verse conclude that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. That’s not what it says. It says, faith comes from hearing. Hearing comes from the Word of God. We listen to God’s voice not to find something in addition to Scripture, but to clarify what’s been inspired, written, and preserved for us by the Holy Spirit.
You will recall that many years ago God spoke to Abraham and instructed him to sacrifice his son Isaac. But as the sword is coming down, the Lord spoke again and said, “Never mind.” Now I am only speculating here, but I think Isaac was forever grateful that his dear old dad never stopped listening to the Lord!
Many ‘Isaacs’ have been slain because people listened to what God said in the past, but not to what He is saying now. It is the present tense voice of God which really builds our faith. The very nature of faith implies I am hearing, You have a situation come up and you just believe God for a breakthrough, and it comes because God speaks and you listen. You just may not have realised it was the voice of God before, but in time you will know.
My hope and my prayer today is that God will broaden our perception of how He speaks to us. I am sure that many of us have had unique experiences of the voice of the Lord, but what I would like to emphasize here is that you have been intentionally designed to perceive His voice. It’s already in your design. In Hebrews 5:14 it talks about us having our senses trained to discern good and evil, having our human physical senses trained as we encounter the presence of God and the voice of God more and more.
You may already know this, but when they train people in banks to recognize counterfeit money, they only study the real money. They never study the counterfeit money. Day after day they immerse themselves in this study and become so exposed to the real thing that the counterfeit stands out. They may not even know at first why a note is counterfeit – they just know there’s something wrong with it.
That’s how you discern good and evil. You don’t discern evil by studying evil; you become so immersed in the Person of God that anything that doesn’t fit with God’s character becomes obvious.
We really need to understand that God’s presence is God’s voice. That doesn’t mean we go looking for His voice every time we are in His presence. His presence is an end in itself. God longs for us to hang out with Him and enjoy that intimacy the Holy Spirit can bring in worship times, prayer times or when meditating on the Scriptures.
Don’t be quick to try to figure out what God’s doing. Just be a pliable, teachable, hungry, thirsty child. Just be the sailboat with a sail that is set and ready to be moved by the wind of the Spirit, regardless of the direction it takes you. Don’t try to work out what the wind is doing – just submit to it. Or to put it another way …
You will never discover God through analysis. You only discover God through surrender.
It’s not that understanding is wrong – God tells us in the Bible to pursue wisdom and understanding – it’s vital. But the problem occurs when we only obey and embrace what we understand. Because then we have a God who looks a lot like us, we reduce Him to our size – so He fits within our intellect and understanding.
God is looking for a people who are yielded to Him and who say ‘Yes’ before He even speaks and it’s that ‘yes’ before He speaks that will always attract His voice.