I am posting today in response to a question Edie posed last Friday over at http://richgifts.blogspot.com (wonderful blog go see her...you'll love her like I do.)
Her question was about how we hear God. I have heard God. Not His audible voice...but I know His voice when He speaks to my spirit.
Like Chatty Kelly at http://chattykelly.blogspot.com (another good one...I love her writings and insights!) I believe the voice of God can never contradict the Word of God! So that is a litmus test for me...does this sound like the God I know from Scripture?
Henry Blackaby in his study Experiencing God (A must do Bible study!) says there are four ways God will reveal His will to us.
Through The church body
When Experiencing God first came out, I got to spend time with Henry Blackaby and his family. A friend of mine from seminary new his family and introduced us. In fact, if you have been through the study and saw the video... then you saw me several times.
Henry was able to really clarify this for me one night as a group of us sat with him asking questions.
God is always talking to His children. We sometimes do not understand, or we miss what He is saying. He uses the above four ways in most circumstances. The first two are the most reliable when discerning God's direction. The last two, then are the least reliable. We can be fooled by the church. We have all experienced well meaning church people who have gone in a wrong direction, believing they were acting according to God. Saul was that way. Long before Saul met Jesus, he loved and served God. In fact, his persecution of the followers of Jesus came about from His devotion to what he believed was right from God. Church people can be lead away by misplaced devotion.
Circumstances can tell us God's will and direction. God has often used circumstances in my life to direct my path But this too can be unreliable if not tested against the other three.
As I was getting ready to graduate from seminary, I knew that God wanted me to continue my part-time ministry at the church I served. I also knew that I would need other housing, because I would no longer be eligible for seminary housing. As I was praying about this one afternoon my phone rang. It was one of the secretaries at the church where I worked. She asked me what my plans were after graduation. She then offered me a place to stay with her elderly aunt who needed someone to be there at night, and who could help her a little around the house. I could live there free by looking after her aunt. I said yes! I just knew this was my direct answer to prayer. However it was all circumstantial. It turned out to be one of the biggest regrets of my life! It was a nightmare for all of us. The aunt needed much more care than just someone to check in on her. She was paranoid and unstable. God used it to reveal to her family that she needed greater care, but the harm it caused with everyone involved could have been avoided if I had sought God further and not jumped at circumstances.
Most of the times I have heard God speak to me it has been through scripture. Occasionally He will speak in a soft humorous voice, so out of the blue from my own thoughts, that I know it is my Father. And sometimes it is firm and strong and to be obeyed immediately. Like this morning when my husband and I were having a small discussion. The right fighter in me wanted to correct something he said. It really was just a matter of a wrong noun, and not relevant to the discussion at hand. As I started to correct him...I heard strongly..."Quiet Pamela! Do you want to be right or have a right relationship? This is the time to be quiet my daughter. No! Do Not Speak!"
I obeyed and the discussion was soon resolved and blissful harmony restored. God gave me a wonderful husband! My wanting to be right would have hurt him and cut off the ground we had made. It was hard! I like being right.....but I love my husband more than I ever want to be right....And I LOVE MY GOD MORE THAN THAT!!!!
One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 19: 1-3
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard."
He is talking...read His Word, pray and seek His face, be with His people, look outside today....He's got something to tell you! Are you listening?