March 9, 2018
Have you ever heard someone say that God said something to them? Maybe you have heard the voice of of God. What was it like? The still small voice some people talk about? Maybe it was an audible booming voice from heaven? Did the voice of God speak in words so that you can articulate word for word what you heard? Or did it leave more of an impression upon your heart, but no less clear than if there had actually been words?
The Bible says that God talks to us through His word, but He also speaks to us personally. The Holy Spirit speaks and ministers to our hearts.
John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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.
The Holy Spirit guides us, personally and uniquely, if we let Him. He is not like a Magic 8 Ball that we can just take out and shake to find our answers. Instead He calls us to be in communion, conversation, and relationship with Him. It is out of that relationship that He speaks to us. It is also out of that relationship that we grow to know His voice.
Jeremiah 33:3 – ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
John 10:3, 27 – The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out….My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
If you are like me, hearing God’s voice more often is one of the greatest longings of your heart. Perhaps one of the best ways to grow in hearing God is to practice what the men and women of Acts did that led up to God speaking to them.
Philip the evangelist, one of the seven original deacons to serve in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5), had the Holy Spirit speak to him one day.
Acts 8:29 – The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Philip obeyed what the Holy Spirit said, and because of that, a man from Ethiopia heard the gospel message and believed in Jesus. What I find truly fascinating about this story though, is that an angel spoke to Philip first. Then when Philip obeyed what the angel had said, the Holy Spirit spoke to him.
Acts 8:26-29 – Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
It was while Philip was obeying what God had already told him that the Holy Spirit spoke to provide further direction. This is often true of us as well. Obedience is often a catalyst to hearing God. When we are in obedience, we are in communion with God and many times it will lead to more conversation with Him.
Acts also tells of the Holy Spirit speaking to Peter. Peter just had a vision from God about unclean animals (Acts 10:9-16). As Peter pondered the vision, the Holy Spirit spoke to him.
Acts 10:19-20 – While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
Pondering, thinking and meditating on God and His word or instruction to us can lead to Him speaking to us. This is similar to what I wrote about in my Gossiping post. I was pondering and thinking about what I’d heard in a sermon and the Holy Spirit spoke to me in these musings so that I would better understand what He was teaching me. When we think on what God is teaching us, that is another way of communing with Him. As we commune with God, He speaks to us. I love that this relationship with Him is a two way street.
The last place in Acts that I want to look at is a worship service. While some people of God were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them.
Acts 13:1-3 – Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Here again God’s people where communing with Him, this time by worshiping and fasting together. As they sought God, He spoke to them.
I would never want to imply that God’s ability to speak to us is dependent on our actions, however, it is good to know that He does respond to us. When we seek after Him and commune with Him, He speaks to us.
This relationship with God is just like any other relationship. It takes time. Time to know God and to know when He is speaking. It takes trust in obeying what He has said. It takes conversation in meditating and thinking on His instructions. And it takes a right heart shown by worshiping Him as the creator of all. It definitely takes some growing and learning, but hearing from God is attainable. Not only is it attainable, but it is what God wants from each of us. He wants to be in a relationship where He can speak and we can hear Him. Let’s all take the time this week to position ourselves to be able to hear from God.