Hearing God’s Voice

Hearing God’s Voice

Yesterday in church, after the sermon, we did the abnormal.

Instead of standing and receiving the pastor’s blessing, we turned to a few around us and talked about how God was moving inside of us, either during the sermon or in the previous week. In my group, one man said that though he could think a lot about the sermon, he’d never had God speak to him and tell him what to do. You see, Pastor Peter had told about a time he’d stood high in a hotel overlooking an Asian city and told God he would live in this country and share about Jesus with these people. In fact, he’d love to have that assignment, he’d told God. God had spoken clearly to his spirit at that moment with, “No, that is not my will for you. I will use you to send others.”

Does God talk to you? Have you learned to hear his voice? What can we expect?

Dallas Willard has written a book on this topic, Hearing God (http://store NULL.renovare NULL.org/index NULL.php?route=product/product&filter_name=hearing+god&product_id=134), and he notes “three lights” we can heed when we’re trying to find God’s way.  They are: circumstances, impressions of the Spirit, and passages from the Bible. When the three are consistent in their direction, we can trust that God is speaking and confirming.

I talked about these three areas in a piece I wrote on the biblical character Gideon for Renovare’s Life With God Bible. (http://store NULL.renovare NULL.org/index NULL.php?route=product/product&path=63_71&product_id=165) This story of Gideon is a helpful one to teach and caution us about considering all three of these lights to our path in hearing and following God.

Gideon understood his own people’s circumstances only too well. They’d been oppressed by neighbors, the Midianites, for seven years, with destroyed crops and pastureland as a result. They hid out just to survive. But instead of praying to God for help, they had long been worshiping the false gods of the peoples around them. God stood ready to deliver, but the Israelites needed to return to him and away from the idols.

It was Gideon who originated the phrase “laying a fleece for God.” As a way of testing whether God had actually called him to lead Israel in breaking free of Midian, he placed wool fleece out and asked God to make it wet. Sure enough, the next morning he found dry ground and wet fleece. He asked for one more assurance, with the opposite conditions next. And again, he woke to find wet ground and dry fleece.

Gideon also received clear impressions from God’s Spirit. An angel appeared to him, and then God spoke directly through his Spirit. When it came time to gather the army to defeat Midian, “the spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon” (Judges 6:34). God pared down the troops, showing it would not be army strength that would conquer, but God’s power. Gideon followed the Spirit’s lead and Israel had victory.

We’ll talk more about Gideon’s story and Willard’s  three “lights” in my next post, but for now let’s think about this first “light.” Are you able to see your circumstances for what they are? Sometimes we can have trouble “seeing the forest for the trees.” We can feel so immersed in our life situation that we can’t stand back and look objectively at where God has placed us and what realities should appear obvious. When this happens, two things may help.

Sit quietly, thoughtfully, and “back up,” away from your life. Try to see the obvious. On a blank page write single words explaining your situation, your circumstances. Ask God to help you see clearly. And, second, talk with a friend or family member who knows you well. Listen to how they view you and your circumstances.

What do your circumstances say about what is needed in your life? How might God direct you to act based upon the situation you’re in, the set of circumstances unique to you?

Come back again and let’s keep this conversation going. We can all grow in our listening-to-God skills. God delights in sharing his life and his Word with us, and he’s faithful in helping us grow when we seek him.

Congratulations to Valerie Hess who is the winner in our random drawing for a copy of The Books of the Bible. Hope you enjoy this Bible, Valerie! Thanks to all those who entered and commented! So good to hear from you.


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