Can you hear Him now? {Part 2} How does God speak to us?

“The Lord said to me…”
“I heard the Lord say…”
“I felt the Lord say…”
“The Lord wanted me to…”
“The Lord showed me…”
“The Lord brought you to my mind…”

Have you ever heard someone make any of the above or similar statements and wondered to yourself how in the world that person KNEW it was “the Lord” speaking and how they KNEW what He was saying? That’s what this series is all about, and we are  so glad you’ve joined in the discussion with us today.

Hearing and discerning the voice of the Lord isn’t a magical spiritual power that some believers have and others don’t. The ability to hear and discern the Lord’s voice is the natural product of an intimate relationship with God.

The more time we spend with someone and the more intimate we become with that person, the more we learn to recognize that person’s voice, laughter, and even his/her whisper. It’s that way with my husband and me, and my children and me. I can tell which one of them is sniffing, or breathing loudly, or coughing,  or walking – all because I love them and know them so intimately well. The same is true with God. An intimate relationship with God is the most important factor in being able to hear God’s voice. In fact, it is the most defining aspect of our entire lives. It holds the key to our success and survival, happiness and strength, and our joy and purpose in this life we’ve been given to live.

John 10:27 says, “The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.”

If you want to know how and when God is speaking to you, you must first make sure that you belong to Him. Click here for an easy explanation of belonging to God.

So how does God speak to those who belong to Him?

That’s a big question – and one we will {by God’s help} take a stab at discussing today. Next week’s post will be about how we can tell the difference between God speaking and our own wishful thinking or the enemy’s misleading.

God speaks through His Word.

Once you belong to Jesus, you must learn what His words sound like. This recognition comes through time spent in His Word, the Bible. The more you are familiar with the Word of the Lord, the more apt you are to hear Him speak to you through His Word, and direct you in applying His Word to the intimate details of your life. As God’s Word becomes more and more familiar to you, and as the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to teach, convict, and change you, you are learning the sound of God’s voice. God speaks to His people through His Word.

I will always remember a pivotal time when God spoke to me through His Word ~ It was 1997 and I was very sick, and we had a little baby boy who was about to turn one.  Galatians 2:20 (“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”) kept coming to my mind and heart.  Then a song about that scripture seemed to be on the radio every time I got in my car.  It was the focal verse of one day’s Bible study lesson, it was in our Sunday School lesson, and that verse seemed to show up everywhere I turned.  Finally I got the message, and asked God what He wanted me to lay down because I was crucified with Him.  As I was praying about this verse, The Lord kept bringing other verses to my mind about trusting Him.  So I determined that no matter what, I would trust God and whatever it was that He was about to bring into our lives.  Little did I know at that time that I was already expecting our second child – the one I was never to have because I was too sick to carry, deliver, and mother…The one the doctors said was too dangerous to conceive.

God’s Words  from Galatians 2:20 had prepared me to be willing to lay myself down – my health – my baby’s health – my body – as crucified… and to trust Him Who loves me and gave His life, His health, His body for me.  So I did.   And every time I started to worry about the future, God would remind me of Galatians 2:20, and I would set my heart back to trusting Him.

I did have that precious baby – that gift from God… and her name is Abigail.  She turned 14 last month and has been a joy to me every day of her life.  A few years after God speaking through Galatians 2:20 and me laying my body down as crucified, God raised up this body, healed me, and I have been well ever since.  Praise His Holy Name!!!

God speaks through His Word!

God, by the Holy Spirit, also speaks to His people through prayer, circumstances, and the church. If you’re familiar with Henry Blackaby’s wonderful Bible study, Experiencing God, you’ll recognize this as “Reality # 5.” ;-)


God speaks through Prayer.

Dr. Henry Blackaby explains it this way.

“As I pray about a particular matter, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and applies tit to my heart and mind to reveal the truth. I immediately stop praying and open God’s Word to the passage I believe the Spirit brought to my mind. I assume God wants to give me specific direction through the Scripture He led me to. Sometimes as I pray, the Spirit places a particular person on my heart. I assume God is alerting me, through prayer, to someone He wants to minister to through me. After I pray, I look for ways God leads me to minister to that person.

‘We are weak and do not know how we ought to pray. (Romans 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit has an advantage over us; He already knows God’s will – He is God. When He prays for us, He is interceding in agreement with God’s will. He then helps us know God’s will as we pray… You must decide, however, that you want only His will. You must dismiss any selfish or fleshly desires of your own. Then as you start to pray, the Spirit of God touches your heart and leads you to pray God’s will.

“…Don’t play games with God. Don’t just look for a Scripture that seems to say what you want to do and then claim it as God’s will. That is dangerous…Watch for God to use the written Word to confirm or correct what you sense in prayer…” [Experiencing God, Unit 5, Day 5]

God speaks through circumstances.

God does speak through the things that happen in and around our lives. However, we must not view our circumstances as the number one way God speaks. Circumstances are often confusing. God’s Word is the primary way He speaks, and then He uses our circumstances to move us into places or attitudes of obedience to that Word.  Not every “open door” is one we are to go through. And not every door we perceive as “closed” is closed to God. We can’t determine what God is saying by looking strictly at our circumstances.

When we are trying to hear God through our circumstances, we must be careful not to view God from the middle of our circumstances. Picture this: (artist that I am… below is my “draw something” version of a point I’m trying to make – haha!)

The person viewing God from the middle of the circumstance gets a distorted view of God and a muffled sound of God’s voice. The person viewing the circumstance through God and His Word is able to discern what God is saying in the midst of the circumstance. The Holy Spirit will take God’s Word and apply it to our circumstances as we lay aside our wills and listen for what God has to say. He will use His Word to comfort us, convict us, confirm us, and instruct us. Then, as we wait and watch what happens next, God will often use our circumstances to confirm His Word.

God spoke to my husband through circumstances several years ago, and we thank Him often that He spoke in this way.  For months, my husband had been feeling the “pull” away from cooperate ministry to return to serving in the local church.  He continued to pray and wait and watch.  Over the following months, God used the unfolding circumstances to confirm His plan for our family.  The economy turned in a horrible way, and James’ Christian ministry corporation had to downsize.  James’ job was deleted.  But God… He had already stirred within my husband’s heart a desire to return to the local church.  God used what could have been a devastating experience in our lives to confirm His call to our family.  We are now happily settled and serving Him in the local church body He prepared for us. :-)

When circumstances are confusing, always ask God to reveal the truth about those circumstances. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”  We must ask God to reveal Himself and to give us His perspective. Then we must stay in God’s Word, obeying what it says, and wait for God to speak to us about Himself and our circumstances.

God speaks through other believers (the Church – the Body of Christ).

God will often use other believers who are seeking His Word to confirm what He has been saying to us. But very rarely will God speak about our lives through another person when He has not already been dealing with us about that same area or issue. God uses believers who seek His Word and His Will to come alongside other believers and encourage us to press on toward obedience. We must beware of the one who gives us  “a word from the Lord” that is either contrary to Scripture, or way off radar from what God has been speaking to us. Always carry someone’s  “word” back to the Lord and ask Him to reaffirm it through His Word.  He will not mislead us.

Arabah Joy had this personal story to share about God speaking through the Church and another believer:

God confirmed my personal call as a missionary through our local church.  This particular incident happened about three years before I was actually called overseas, while we were going through a group study.  I think our group had maybe 8 people in it.  One was an older woman who was a prayer warrior.  She came to the group one evening and told us that she had been praying for me but coming up blank.  Back then, I was especially quiet and reserved and broken.  So she was praying for His direction even in her prayers for me!

She shared that the Lord had given her a vision of sorts, a picture of me working amidst many “foreign” faces with the joy of the Lord on my face.

Honestly, at the time, I thought she was off her rocker.  I really didn’t believe the Lord spoke that way.  Additionally, I had not heard any call of God to overseas ministry.  However, after we planted a church in that area, the Lord kept bringing it to mind and I called the lady to talk to her about it.  I knew that the Lord was using that in my life to soften my heart to even hear His tender call on my life.

As wives, it is good to follow our husbands and I have always done that… but I also believe the Lord calls each of us by name (John 10) and He gives us a personal word as well.  This incident has become very precious to me over time, as I understood that the Lord was giving me a very special confirmation of His will for my life.  When things get very hard and doubts press in, things like these are what you go back to say, “This is God’s plan.  This is God’s will.  I’m here by HIS design, not my own.  Everything is going to be okay.”  What a gracious Savior we have!

Next Tuesday’s post:  Tips on discerning  if it is the Lord speaking, wishful thinking, or the enemy misleading.

If you want to delve more deeply  into this subject, may I recommend these three resources?


To read post 1, click here.  To follow posts from ArabaJoy, click here.  To follow posts from Smelling Coffee, enter your e-mail address in the box to the top left of this blog page (SmellingCoffee.com)

Now it’s your turn to speak. ;-)

  • How has God spoken to you by the Holy Spirit through His Word, prayer, circumstances, or the church?
  • How did God use His spoken word to you to make a difference in your life?

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two teenagers, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com

Comments

  1. Jennifer, this is SO wonderful. I just pinned it to refer to it often. I LOVE this series!!! I think that those of us who come to know the Lord as adults can sometimes become discouraged because we feel as though we are behind…. Or we feel that it should all happen in a short time. I love that you share that it TAKES TIME to develop the relationship and grow it…. Just as it does human relationships. Wonderful post and series my Friend!

  2. Love this post! This very topic and the verse about His sheep knowing His voice were very pivotal for me in realizing that I was not a Christian. There wasn’t any way for me to find wiggle room within those words and many other words that kept coming to me. Excellent post. Love Henry Blackaby…read another title by him on this very topic. Great read.

  3. Excellent. It always amazes me that the God of all takes time to speak to me. I love your illustration–it perfectly illustrates how we block our view of God when our eyes are on our circumstances. Dr. Blackaby challenges me. I love his writings.

What are your thoughts? :)