Listening for God's Voice
Earlier this week I was having coffee and conversation with my good friend Freddy Guerra. The coffee was at Starbucks (they think a lot of their coffee!) and the conversation was about God and life.
Actually, Freddy and I have only known each other for four months, though it seems much longer. We met at a men’s retreat in March hosted by The Church of The Highlands, where both of us are members. Freddy also attended a small group that my wife Jackie and I hosted in our home this summer…
There’s something magical about sharing our faith and our problems with people that inextricably draws us closer to one another, enriches our walk of faith, and makes the problems that we face in life seem smaller, less insurmountable. I don’t know, perhaps it is through sharing in a small group setting that we come to realize that everyone has problems, i.e. financial, health, relationships, etc. I think that we take comfort in the knowing that we’re not alone in having a cross to bear. No, it’s not the “misery loves company” thing. It’s funny how this works…in sharing our problems and exposing our weaknesses with a group of people doing the same, we actually grow stronger!
So Freddy and I met to continue the sharing that had begun in our small group meetings. At some point in our conversation, the subject turned to listening for God’s voice to get “directions” in life.
Okay, I’ve got to tell you that I’ve never heard God’s voice, in the sense of having a conversation with someone. For instance, quite often during prayer I audibly ask God for advice or help in a certain situation…He’s never given me an audible answer.
But that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t answer me at all. I believe that there are several different means in which God may “speak” to us, and we need to be aware of what they are. I’ll preface what I’m going to say by telling you that I ask God to give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the awareness to know when He does decide to speak to me!
The eyes to see…
Okay, the most obvious place to hear God speaking to us is through the Bible. There are messages from God and references to conversations with God throughout the Old Testament. Turn to the New Testament, and what do you find? God’s Word, and His teachings, spoken here on earth by His Son! If you don’t use your eyes to read the Bible, you’ll never see it. And if you never see it, you’ll never know it! There’ll be more on the Bible later in this post.
Quite often God will speak to us through events that may or may not involve us. We may find ourselves in a situation, the same situation, over and over again, until we get the message and do things differently. Or we may know someone that has been “called” to serve God in some type of ministry.
The ears to hear…
Many times God will put someone directly in our path to deliver a message from Him. The bearer of this message may be a pastor, spouse, friend, relative, or a song writer. Quite often, God will speak to us through a complete stranger! The important thing to remember is that we need to walk with the awareness that God may be speaking to us through someone else.
I’ve spoken quite frequently about the need for us to bold in our faith (most recently on July 20th) so I won’t go into particulars on this subject. There is one thought that bears mentioning though, because I forgot to do so in the original post, and because I just want to!
I will speak openly about my faith, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the fact that I am a Christian anytime and anywhere; all the time and everywhere. I don’t know how I got to be this way…at first I felt very awkward talking about those things to a stranger, but now I feel awkward if I don’t take advantage of every opportunity to do so…I guess that the Holy Spirit has taken hold of me, and you know what? I love it!
So anyway, when I seize the opportunity to share my faith with someone that I’ve just met, and this individual has the same passion for God that I do, it’s, well it’s like throwing gasoline on smoldering embers! I’ve been told on several occasions that the fires of the Holy Spirit are dancing in my eyes…I don’t know about that, because I can’t see my eyes, but I can tell you that I certainly feel His presence in me…I’m always humbled, grateful, and overwhelmed that God fills me with Him. It is my prayer that in sharing your faith with others, you too will come to know this feeling.
That little voice…
During last week’s service, Church of The Highlands Pastor Chris Hodges made a reference as the Bible being a guide for us in life. I need to add that Pastor Chris grew up in Louisiana, and like many of us Southerners, isn’t afraid to tell you exactly the way it is…in layman’s terms.
There was one thing that he said that I wish I had taken the time to make a note of, but unfortunately failed to do so. I can’t quote him verbatim, so I’ll give you the gist of what he said:
You need to make a decision about something in life or some guidance on what to do in a certain situation? Holding his Bible high above his head for all to see, he provided us an answer to his question…If you can’t find it in here, it isn’t right. This Bible defines everything about the way we should live.
You know what? Three months ago I would have disagreed with my Pastor’s statement. Today, I agree with him 100%. So what happened? God gave me the eyes to see the Word, and the ears to hear the message. Consequently, I turn to the Bible quite often for guidance. This is a good thing, right?
Yes, yes it is. But it also poses a problem for me, and I suspect that it may do the same for many of us. You see, I don’t know all the lessons and guidance that the Bible has for me. I just started reading the Bible a couple of years ago, and there’s just so much to learn. When someone starts reciting Chapter and Verse right off the top of their head, I can only sit there in amazement…and admiration.
But I’ve come to realize something else: many of us may not be able to cite a specific passage in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t know the overall message of the Bible. The lessons that we learn from our parents, churches, family, mentors, and friends instill in us the “guidelines” for what is contained in the Bible: love, compassion, wisdom, right from wrong, etc.
Here’s what I’m getting at…there are times in our lives when we can’t wait for God to speak to us. We may be faced with a decision that must be made on the spot, or find ourselves in a situation that calls for immediate action. What do we do?
Say a quick prayer, asking God for the insight, and clarity to make the right decision in accordance with His will. And ask for discernment that you may know His word from that of Satan (who will get inside your head the moment you let your guard down.) Then be still and listen…
You know that little voice inside your head that talks to you all the time? (It’s okay; we all have one of those!) It’s called a conscience, and I believe that our conscience is God talking to us through us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it.: Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)
You see, among the many gifts that God gives to us is the ability to make the right choice, to do the right thing. And He trusts us enough to give us the freedom to make that choice.
Are you walking with Christ everyday, trying to know Him, love Him, and serve Him more? Trust yourself; you’ll make the right choice.
See you next Monday.