Daily Devotional for Thursday June 10, 2010
How Do I Hear God Speaking to Me
(Psalms 29:4; 1 Kings 19:12; John 10:4; Psalms 8:34)
One of the questions that I get daily is, " How do I hear God speaking to me?" That is a great question and one of the most important things for a follower of Christ to do, hear God's voice. The fact is, God not only does speak to us, but speaks to us constantly throughout the day. As a matter of fact, God NEVER STOPS SPEAKING TO US. I know this may come as a shock to many, even those who have followed the Lord and heard His voice for many years, but God is actually speaking to each of us non-stop, all the time. The problem is, we are not always listening for His voice all the time.
I remember several years ago having lunch with a good friend. I ordered a cup of broccoli soup and a roast beef sandwich on toasted rye bread with spicy mustard. I specifically asked the server to leave everything else off. Just a plain roast beef sandwich on toasted rye bread with spicy mustard. After our soup, the young lady brought out our sandwiches and apologized to me that they were out of rye bread so she had them use wheat. I told her that was fine and proceeded to eat my sandwich. A few minutes later my friend looked at me, smiled, and commented that the server must not have listened to my order very carefully. You see, not only was my sandwich on wheat bread, it was untoasted, plus there was lettuce, tomato, and onion on my "plain roast beef" sandwich.
I looked at my friend and laughed as I told him God must have wanted me to have lettuce, tomato, and onion today. I explained to him that there are no accidents with God- no coincidences. It would have been easy for me, and really not out of line to remind the server of what I ordered and ask her to take the sandwich back and prepare it as I wanted. But as I saw the sandwich, I "heard" God speaking to me that this was what He wanted me to eat and I could send it back and get it my way, or accept it as it was and "listen" to Him. Trust me, several years ago that sandwich would have been back in the kitchen in record time being prepared MY WAY. That day, I ate the sandwich exactly as God wanted it to be.
Now I realize that some of you are scratching your heads, maybe even a bit amused that I think God speaks to us in a roast beef sandwich, but He does! There are 4 main ways God speaks to us. He speaks to us through His Word, through our prayer life, through that "still small voice," through other people, and He speaks to us through our circumstances, yes even a roast beef sandwich. I do want to mention that there is one other way God can speak to us, though it is very rare, and that is audibly as He spoke to Saul on the Damascus Road. I personally have never heard God speak to me audibly, and to be honest with you, am not sure I really want to. I am very content hearing Him through the other 4 ways.
God speaks to us through His Word. Have you ever been reading the Bible and a verse or passage jumped off the page at you, almost like it was "talking to you?" IT WAS! That is how God speaks to us through His Word. We can read the same verse or passage 10 times, and it may say something different to us each time. As we read the Bible, we need to be listening to what God is saying to us as we read. Those places that "speak to us" are God speaking to us! God also is speaking to us when we pray. As we are in that time of prayer, that "still small voice" inside of us is God. One of the most important parts of our prayer time is the time we stop talking and listen. Part of praying includes being silent to "listen to the voice of God." God is talking to us if we will be quiet long enough to hear Him.
Another way we hear from God is through other people. God speaks to us all the time through others, both those who know Him and those who don't. Normally we hear God when He is speaking through our pastor, or someone we are accountable to spiritually, often through a pastor, evangelist, or teacher we may see on t.v., hear on the radio or a tape, or read in a book or on the Internet. God speaks to us through other people all the time, including those who may not know Him. He can use anyone to speak to us so we need to be aware that God uses other people to communicate with us.
The last way God speaks to us is through our circumstances. THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS AND NO COINCIDENCES WITH GOD! There is no such thing as "chance" or "luck." One of the most powerful ways God speaks to us is through the things that happen in our life, especially those things that are totally out of our control. God is speaking to us all the time through the events in our life and we need to realize that what happens to us is happening for a reason. We may never fully understand or comprehend that reason, but nothing happens in our life that God doesn't allow.
Hearing from God is like anything else, it takes practice. If you want to hear God's voice, you have got to practice listening to God's voice. The more you practice hearing God, the more you WILL hear God. The first thing you will be amazed at is how much God is speaking to you. Like I said earlier, God is ALWAYS speaking to you. The problem is, we are not always listening. The more you practice hearing God, the more you will hear God since He is always speaking to you.
The other critical issue in hearing God is knowing His voice. You see, satan also can talk to you in all these same ways I outline above. So, how do you know you are hearing the voice of God as opposed to the voice of the great deceiver? Again, the more you practice hearing God, the better you will become in knowing the sound of His voice. As you practice hearing God speak to you, you are also sharpening your discernment. Here is the key. When God speaks to you, what He says will always be in line with His Word. God will NEVER contradict His Word. God is not going to tell you to do something that He has told you NOT to do in His Word. That is another reason why it is so critical to read and study the Bible since it helps you know what God says. When God is speaking to you, it is always in line with His Word.
Lastly, let me share with you the main reason why people don't really want to hear God's voice much of the time. IF WE HEAR FROM GOD THEN WE MUST OBEY GOD! You see, most people really DON'T want to hear from God, since once they do, they now need to obey Him. They feel better about themselves by tuning God's voice out, and that way they can claim ignorance when they live in rebellion to God. That is a game from the pits of hell. Don't you know that rebellion brings consequences while obedience brings blessings? Why would you want to tune out God's voice, just so you can do it your way, when you know in the end, your way doesn't work? When you know in the end your way won't bring blessings but consequences? Aren't you tired of getting beat on the head with a 2x4? God had to hit me with a 2x4, a steel pole, and crush me with a few huge buildings before I finally figured out blessings were better than consequences. Yes, listening to God means you now need to OBEY GOD, but that is where your blessings come from!
I love you and care about you so much. This is a very important message today since we ALL need to do a better job of hearing God. God is speaking to us all the time through His Word, through our time in prayer, through other people, and through our circumstance. We need to start practicing hearing God, discerning His voice, and then obeying what He is telling us. After all, we call ourselves FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. That means we are to listen to His voice and obey what He is telling us.
Don't you know yet how much God loves you and cares about you? He only wants the best for your life. One of the ways God shows you His love is by talking to you. Think about that for a moment. The God of the Universe, the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who created you in His own image-SPEAKS TO YOU-ALL THE TIME! That is a powerful truth! He speaks to you because He loves you and cares about you. He speaks to you to guide you through this journey called life so that you can know the fullness of His joy, His peace, and the abundance this life can offer.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will start to do a better job of hearing God's voice. He is speaking to you all the time, non-stop. It is up to you, however, to listen to Him, and after you hear from God, obey Him. God loves you enough to talk to you, do you love Him enough to listen?
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller