All of us need direction and wise counsel. God offers it. Wisdom not only comes from the Word, but from above. The God who wrote the Word communicated it and controlled those who recorded it. The Bible itself is a supernatural, God-breathed gift and can be trusted not to our imagination or necessarily everyone else’s potentially misguided interpretation, but God’s written Word is absolutely reliable. The God who inspired it desires to communicate with each one of us in a very personal way. You can hear God.
Jesus made it clear that His sheep hear and know His voice. At creation in Genesis, God talked with Adam and Eve, not only giving them divine direction, but also confronting their ineffective attempt to cover their nakedness by asking why they were hiding. He then followed with a very clear explanation of the consequences of their actions. Throughout the Old Testament, God communicated with the patriarchs and the prophets. God did not love Moses, Abraham, Samuel, David, Peter, John, Paul or any other person in the past any more than He loves us.
In recent days, as people have become more keenly aware of Holy Spirit power and a meaningful, personal relationship with God, along with the fact that the gifts have not passed away, you will often hear someone commenting, “I got a word from God!” Perhaps more frequently than is best, someone will comment, “I have a word for you.” Sometimes they do. Sometimes the best advice is, “Beware”. I find myself often deeply concerned about how frequently you hear people asking around church or in some spiritual setting, “Do you have a word for me?” People ask this quite often if they perceive that the person they are addressing has a meaningful, personal relationship with God.
It is perfectly appropriate to share a word with others, but we must be very careful how we present it. None of us are infallible and the closer we get to God, sometimes we are misled into believing that we always hear clearly or even perfectly. Often this is not the case. It does not mean we should live with fearful unrest or distrust. It does imply, however, that we walk in continuous humility and legitimate meekness, perhaps expressing a thought that is most appropriate, “Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. When we are right, make us easy to live with.” Sometimes when we’ve been dead on, we will soon find ourselves puffed up and then dead wrong.
I have enjoyed a meaningful, conversational relationship with God for extended periods of time. I am heartbroken to know how few Christians even believe such a relationship is possible. I am convinced it is what God wants for all of His children. It is in some ways an expression of what Paul exhorted New Testament Christians to do, “Pray without ceasing.” We are to live continually communicating with God. We share our heart and then listen to hear His heart. As I have gotten older, most of my praying consists of listening. And by the way, I am quite a talker, you know.
Scripture reveals, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The ability to live a life of faith comes from hearing God and hearing comes from the Word. If you’re not a student of His Word and fail to study it, your ears will not be open to hear clearly and you will have limited faith. Your confidence will be lacking. If you do not know His Word, you will not be able to discern the sounds in the realm of the Spirit.
Years ago I learned you will almost always hear the enemy – Satan – speaking at the same level you hear God speaking. If it is merely impressions from God, a gentle nudge, you will have similar counterfeit, deceptive, distracting impressions coming from the realm of darkness. If you honestly believe you hear God speaking out loud or audibly, you will likely hear the enemy the same way. Simply consider the great confession of Simon Peter when Jesus asked, “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter announced, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in Heaven. Upon this rock [this revelation – this ability to hear the voice of the Father] I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This is a clear indication the church that withstands the forces of hellish destruction and deception are the people who hear God, recognize His voice and respond appropriately to it.
When Peter opened his mouth again it was pure Satan. He went from quoting the Father, to quoting the enemy (the prince of darkness). He emphatically disagreed with Jesus saying that what Christ had predicted would not come to pass. Jesus then spoke to Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan!” He was rebuking the enemy that so negatively influenced Peter, leading him to speak deceptive words in the very same conversation. We can see in this passage, there is no room for arrogance, but in humility, trust and confidence we can hear God’s voice. (Read Matthew 16:13-23, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13:19, Matthew 13:43, John 10:3, John 10:16, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 13:9, Hebrews 3:7.)
Let me give you an example of “a word” in light of “the Word.” If you want “a word” from God concerning a situation, direction, person, or something important, you need to go first to “the Word.” You can always trust “the Word” to help you find “a word” for a particular situation. Keep in mind the word to some other person in the scriptures is not necessarily “a word” to you. For example, God told Joshua and Israel to march around Jericho seven days and on the seventh day to blow a trumpet and the walls would come down and they did. You may face your own “Jericho” – some serious problem. The word for you is not necessarily to spend the next seven days marching around that person or that problem and then blow a trumpet. That was a word and direction for Israel clearly teaching that we can also get a word and direction for now. But God’s way and Word for them is not necessarily the way for you. Consider the fact it is possible to walk on the water. You can read the truth of this supernatural possibility in the scriptures. Peter walked on the water. Study that passage until you are pickled in scriptures and then go try to walk across the lake or a local neighborhood swimming pool. Jesus told Peter, “Come to Me on the water.” Until you hear Him speaking that word to you, the word to Peter is not necessarily the word to you. But God will give you a word. It’s not always what we want to hear or delivered in our time frame.
I know I have heard God speaking directly to me that I am to spend the rest of my life living to help see an answer to the prayer of Jesus that believers become one with the Father and perfected in a unity beyond anything previously witnessed. I am seeking to learn what this looks like and hope to inspire it.
God has communicated that He loves to talk to those who love to hear Him. My challenge to you is to respond to His invitation to live in fellowship with Him. Just think of all the hymns that have been sung over the years like, “Where He leads me I will follow.” The chorus of a song struck me as a young boy and I honestly believe it inspired me to realize that I can go to “the garden alone,” to the forest or the hillside and find that I am not actually alone, for He is with me. As the chorus repeats, He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. I began to experience this sweet fellowship as a boy when I found that God wanted to talk with me even before I had trusted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. (God does speak to unbelievers, though they may not always recognize Him and heed His voice. On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus had a head-on collision and conversation with Christ, leading to His conversion.)
After I entered into a personal, life-giving relationship with the Lord, it inspired the sweetest little church girl – Betty, who became my wife – to recognize that she had “religion” and church membership without relationship. It was my conversational, personal relationship that inspired the most beautiful person and Christian I’ve ever known to trust our wonderful Lord.
You can be assured our great God and Father wants conversational fellowship with you. If you will seek to know His Word, you will begin to know Him and hear Him in ways you’ve never imagined. This is my prayer for you and all believers as I trust God for a great awakening in the church and the restoration of our nation.