going to continue in the series on Learning to Hear God's Voice. We're going
to look specifically at how God talks to you. When we talk about people
listening to God and God talking to people, many people think this is something
very mystical, like it's something unusual or extraordinary that God talks to
people. But the fact is, He does it all the time.
A number of
years ago there was a Time magazine that came out with a headline that
said, "God is dead". The next day the reporters lined up at Billy
Graham's home and said, "Is God dead, Dr. Graham?" He said "Are
you kidding? I just talked to Him." Any of us can talk to God and God
wants to talk to you. The Bible says that God wired you up in order to talk to
you, that He created you with the ability to tune into Him, to hear Him, to
listen to Him, and to talk back to Him. It's nothing unusual. All of us can do
Job 33:14 "God
does speak, sometimes one way and sometimes another, even though people may not
understand it." He's saying the problem is not that God isn't
talking. The problem is our perception. Sometimes we're just not tuned in.
God wants to communicate with you because you can't have a relationship without
communication. God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to talk to
you. He's created you with that capacity to hear His voice.
HOW DOES GOD
TALK TO US?
God is not
limited to any single way. There are many, many ways. That's why this series
is talking about the many different ways that God talks to us. The Bible has
some really spectacular ways. I would have been shocked by some of them. God
spoke once through a burning bush. God spoke one time through a cloud. He
often spoke through angels. One time He spoke through a pillar of fire.
Another He even spoke to Balaam through a donkey.
going to identify the four most common ways that God speaks to us. Honestly,
more effective than me explaining it to you is for you to hear a story that
illustrates all four of these. But first let me identify the ways.
SPEAKS THROUGH THE BIBLE. This
is the number one way God speaks.
2 Timothy 3:16 "The
whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us
what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It is God's way
of making us well prepared at every point." Notice it says God's way
of talking to us first is through His Bible. The Bible is not just a good
collection of wonderful thoughts and ideas of men, just a nice inspired
collection. Circle "by inspiration". The word literally
means in Greek, "God breathed." That means that the Bible is
absolutely reliable. There is no other book in the world that is reliable like
this book. It can be counted on. It will guide you. It will correct you. It
will comfort you. It will help you. But if you don't ever get in it, how can
God talk to you? This is why it's so important to have a daily quiet time
where you set down for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes -- it doesn't matter the amount of
time -- and you talk to God in prayer and you let God talk to you through His
word. If you're not doing that on a daily basis, you're missing the number one
way God wants to talk to you.
"God never talks to me." Are you in the Bible every day? This is
how He wants to speak to you. If you're not reading the Bible, your phone is
off the hook. He's getting the busy signal and He can't get through to you.
A couple months
ago I bought a new car. When I did, they gave me in the glove compartment, an
owner's manual. That is the designer's original intent for the car. If I read
that owners’ manual and follow what it says, my car is going to last a whole
lot longer. It teaches me how to keep from putting my car under stress.
That's what the
Bible does. Why many of you are under stress is because you don't know what's
in here and you're not following what it says to do. So you're stressed out.
This is the owner's manual for life. When in doubt, consult the manual. God
speaks through His word.
SPEAKS THROUGH IMPRESSIONS
He puts ideas
in our minds. When God puts an idea in your mind we call that inspiration.
"I was inspired. I got a creative idea." Where do you think that
creative idea came from? It came from the creator! God is the creator. When
you are being creative you're being most like God. We're made in God's image.
God's the creator, human beings have the ability to be creative. When God puts
an idea in your mind we call it an inspiration. When the devil puts an idea in
your mind we call that a temptation. So He's trying to speak to you.
John 14:26 "The
Holy Spirit will be your teacher and will bring to your mind [circle this] all
that I have said to you." "Bring to your mind" means He
gives us impressions. He gives us ideas. He gives us hunches. He gives us
these gut feelings. God often does this. Some of your most brilliant ideas
weren't yours. They were God's. God was giving them to you. A brilliant
business idea, a brilliant family idea, a brilliant relational idea, a
brilliant financial idea. Where do you think you got some of those ideas?
God, who loves you, who cares about you, who infinitely interested in all the
details of your life. It didn't feel like God because it's so natural. You
were made to receive ideas from God. A lot of the things you think up, you're
just not that smart either. God gives you those ideas.
There are two
extremes you need avoid when thinking about impressions: one is the
rationalist, the other is the mystic.
rationalist denies that God ever speaks to us through the mind. He says God
only speaks through the Bible and never gives you any impressions.
mystic thinks that every impression they get is from God. That's obviously
I feel sorry
for both of these extremes. The rationalist, who thinks "God never gives
m an idea" misses out on God's counsel, God's comfort, God's care, God's
concern, God's challenges and guidance in the ways of life. They miss it all.
On the other hand, the mystic who thinks that every impression they get is from
God tends to make a lot of stupid mistakes and they embarrass themselves. They
say, "God told me to do this," and then they go bankrupt. What
happened? You missed God. Both extremes are wrong.
You look on TV
at some of these people getting all these weird ideas and you tend to be
skeptical of this. You hear these people say, "There's somebody out there
in the audience supposed to give me a million dollars." Sure, I've had
that vision too, many times! Never let a religious nut keep you from experiencing
the real thing.
Any time you
find something counterfeit, that is evidence that there is a real thing
somewhere. Have you ever seen a counterfeit three dollar bill? No, because
there's no such thing as a real three dollar bill. Wherever you find
counterfeit that means there must be something genuine somewhere. Wherever you
find false teachers that means there are true gifted teachers. Wherever you
find false leaders, there are also genuine Christian spiritual leaders.
Wherever you find false prophets, that means there are also real prophets. The
existence of something phony, fake, counterfeit implies there must be something
real. Satan does not counterfeit anything that doesn't exist. He's just
trying to throw people off track.
SPEAKS THROUGH PAIN.
acquainted with this way? We don't change when we see the light. We change
when we feel the heat. None of us really like to change and so we fear what it
might do to us. We fear change and we don't change until the pain becomes
greater than the fear of change. Once the pain is greater than the fear, we
change. God is so interested in speaking to you and so interested in having a
personal relationship with you and loving you and you loving Him and being able
to talk about everything, He will even resort to this in order to get your
Proverbs 20:30 "Sometimes
it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways." Everyone
of you know this one by experience. Not all pain is God speaking to you. Not
every little hurt, ache, and pain that you have is God. But some of it is.
And God often has to use pain in order to slow us down to get our attention.
to wander off until you punished me; now I closely follow all you say. The
punishment you gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for
it taught me to pay attention to your laws."
Pain gets our
attention. It's God's hearing aid. God whispers to us in our pleasures. But
He shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone. When you're hurting God
is saying, "Hey! There's somebody here who wants to help! You can depend
on Me. I'll help you through that tough time if you'll just let Me."
Pain is God's way, often, of getting your attention.
this church is all about, teaching people to hear God speak. When you hear God
speak, really, in your heart, you are changed. Nobody can have their life
turned around so radically for the good unless you get a power greater than
yourself in you to do it and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.