Recognizing How And When God Speaks To Us
RECOGNIZING HOW AND WHEN GOD SPEAKS TO US
By Rodney W. Francis
Around the world today God is doing amazing things. We are seeing and hearing of great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. People everywhere are discovering as never before how to co-operate with the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to work through them in supernatural ways.
One of the "keys" to seeing the Holy Spirit released is in our ability to recognize how and when He speaks to us ~ collectively and personally. This is vital to releasing Holy Spirit ministry. For if we do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice to us, we will miss the opportunity to co-operate with Him in what He wants to do through us.
God has chosen to pour His Spirit out through His people ~ born-again, blood-washed believers. It was necessary for Jesus to return to the Father in heaven so He could send the Holy Spirit to us (John 14:16; John 15:26; John 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit's task is to bring to our remembrance the words of Jesus (John 14:26); to testify to us of Jesus (John 15:26) and to speak to us those things He hears from the Father and Jesus (John 16:15).
The Holy Spirit speaks to us of Jesus, revealing the will of Jesus to us. Our responsibility is to listen, to know how and when He is speaking to us, recognizing what He wants to say and do.
- Where do we stand, personally, on this?
- Do we know when God . . . Jesus . . . the Holy Spirit is speaking to us?
If we don't, how do we ever hope to be able to respond in faith and obedience to Him? Too many Christians struggle in this area! Until we can recognize how and when God speaks to us, we will always doubt, lack confidence and ability to respond positively to His will for us.
One area that has really helped me to develop hearing the voice of God has been my desire to cultivate the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in my life. The principles of recognizing when the Holy Spirit wants me to exercise the gifts have helped me to know they are much the same as hearing God's voice for other things as well. In the exercising of Spiritual Gifts one has to be desirous to function in them. To do that we have to make ourselves "available" to the Holy Spirit, i.e. that is, demonstrate a willingness to God that if He wants us to say or do anything in public, then we'll do it. If we're not committed to doing something it simply won't happen. That willingness to obey makes us open our heart and spirit to God to receive from Him. We make ourselves available. We become sensitive to what He wants done, rather than being focused on our own natural, selfish thoughts, doubts, fear of the people, etc.
When we open ourselves up to listen, the Holy Spirit (Who loves to use us) will speak to us and show us what He wants done. That "speaking" to us can be an impression, a thought, a desire, a surge of compassion, a word, vision, a certain kind of feeling, a "seeing" into the spirit realm. It can come to us as we prepare ourselves before a meeting; as we enter into a meeting, or while we sit (or stand) in a meeting. It can come to us via a song being sung and the Holy Spirit makes alive a certain word, line, verse, chorus, which is the theme of what He wants us to say. It can come in prayer, through the preaching of the Word, or via what someone else says or does.
DO NOT LIMIT GOD!
Often our problem is that we tend to limit God's way of speaking to us. We are guilty of "tunnel vision," which means that unless God speaks in a certain way, we do not respond. Some Christians have "rules" that they must get at least three, four or six Scripture verses of confirmation before a major decision is made. But is that necessary? Is it God's only way of confirming things to us? I don't think so.
- As Christians we should at all times be seeking to live out the principles of the Scriptures ~ not only in times when major guidance is required.
- Knowing God's voice is the key to obedience.
- Knowing God's voice means we do not have to fall into the trap of limiting God in our lives (Psalm 78:41).
GOD IS A GOD OF CREATIVITY:
God is a very creative God, and by His Spirit within us, He wants us to be creative people in our service for Him. By nature we want to work in formulas, to settle in the security of knowing how to do things. To move with God into new areas of adventure and experience demands a much more intimate knowledge of how God speaks to us and how He wants to use us. Just think for a moment about the Scriptures and how God used people to do miraculous things. Was there a repetition of various people doing the same things? No.
- There is only one incident of God speaking to a man (Moses) through a burning bush! (Exodus 5).
- There is only one incident of Moses crossing the Red Sea! (Exodus 14 & 15).
- There is only one incident of God setting a whole mountain on fire to speak to Israel! (Exodus 19).
- There is only one incident of the walls of Jericho falling down! (Joshua 6).
- There is only one incident of the commanding of the sun and moon to stand still! (Joshua I 0:12-14).
- There is only one incident of a man (Gideon) proving God with a fleece! (Judges 6:16-40).
- David only slew Goliath once! (1 Samuel 17).
- There was only one man (Elijah) fed supernaturally by ravens! (1 Kings 17).
- There is only one incident of a dead prophet's bones (Elisha's) bringing resurrection life to another dead man! (2 Kings 15:20-21). (If this was to be an ongoing thing, why didn't they bring numbers of other dead people to touch Elisha's bones?)
- Jesus turned water into wine only once! (John 2:1-11).
- Jesus only spat once into a blind man's eyes to heal him! (John 9).
- There is only one incident of Peter's shadow bringing healing and deliverance to people! (Acts 5:12-16).
And so we could go on.
Then there are some areas where we are all commanded to do certain things, e.g. witness to the lost, preach the Kingdom of God, heal the sick and cast out evil spirits (Matthew 10:1; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 9:1).
As Holy Spirit-filled believers our responsibility is to so know the voice of God that we are able to minister effectively in those areas of ongoing needs, or to know when we are to allow creativity to take over and we do a "new thing" . . . something we have never done before. It seems to me that there are times in our lives when we are called upon to do things only once, other times twice, or repeatedly.
Unless we learn to discern the voice of God we find it so easy to settle into the "repeatedly" mind-set rather than developing a "creative" mind-set that allows us to respond to God. The real issue here is in focusing on knowing God has spoken rather than "being thrown" by a new thing (that which God asks us to do). Once we know the voice of God we can grow in confidence because we know He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17; John 15:26; John 16:15). He does not tell lies, nor does He lead us wrong. Knowing His voice means we can learn to trust Him in everything He says to us, whether it is a "new thing" He is asking us to do, or something we have done before.
Jesus said: "My sheep hear and know My voice" (John 10:1-4, 14, 27). The key to effective Christianity is in our ability to know God's voice. There can be no true obedience to God if we do not know how and when He talks to us! The word "obedience" means "a hearing attentively, or listening; hence obedience as the result of attentive hearing" (Bullinger's).
- Obedience is all to do with our ability to listen to the voice of God!
- The great men and women of the Bible all knew when God was talking to them. And so should we.
HOW DOES GOD TALK?
God is a Spirit. He talks Spirit to spirit. He speaks into our spirit. From our spirit that information travels quickly to our mind where we begin to understand what is being said. It is when that word (or information) enters our mind that we have a decision to make. That “first impression” our mind picks up is usually from the Spirit of God. Once we have received that impression we have to decide to accept and believe it; or we can allow our natural, logical thinking to analyze what is being received and then reject it. The natural will naturally tend to reject the supernatural (the Holy Spirit information). The flesh fights against the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18). The flesh wants "to play it safe"; the Spirit wants to run with God, even though it might seem outlandish, illogical or scary (check again the Biblical accounts already mentioned in this study). Wait on the Lord for further clarification if you are not sure.
- This is a vital, key area of life for us. We must learn to recognize how and when God speaks to us.
Be accountable to others ~ so you can be encouraged to develop and sharpen your listening skills. Out of that ability comes effective ministry that enables you to be God's man or woman in the right place at the right time with the right message for the right person. When that happens, you cannot help but get the right results. If you are one who has struggled in this area of recognizing how and when God speaks to you, be willing to make adjustments, be willing to share your heart with someone you recognize is hearing from God, be willing to open up to a wider receiving of how God can speak to you. God knows your heart and desires. He wants you to know Him personally, so do not ever think God is not talking to you. He is, and He does! Keep making adjustments until you know you are hearing from Him.
A Prayer: "Dear Father, I come to You now, in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Your Son. You know my heart's desire to hear Your voice more clearly. Right now I still my spirit and wait quietly before You (Psalm 46:10). Speak into my life. Help me to recognize when You are speaking to me. Take away all my doubts and confusion. I love You, Lord, and I long to be available to You, to do Your will in my life. If there are any areas of my life that are a hindrance to my hearing from You, Lord, please show me what they are and help me to deal with them. I give You that right, Lord Jesus. Help my mind to be able to clearly discern Your voice, so I will not reject what You are saying to me. Fill me with such love for others that I will want to be used by You to bring Your blessings and presence into their lives.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for hearing my prayer. I expect You to touch my life by helping me to know Your voice more clearly in the days ahead. I ask these things in the Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen"
- This is a session from the “School Of The Holy Spirit” manual (by Rodney W. Francis).