Summary: God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He speaks to His people just as He spoke the universe into existence. If we are looking, listening, and responding to God, He will direct our paths. This is the essence of the life God has designed for.
Discerning God’s will
The Lord Spoke to Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah . . . that’s just the first few chapters of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. If we just go through the list of people God spoke to directly, and who obeyed His voice (or disobeyed it) we will be here all morning.
To save time we can look at the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, then look at a few examples from the New Testament as well.
God spoke well of Abel’s offerings.
Enoch communed so intimately with God he simply disappeared from this earth.
God warned Noah
God called Abraham and gave him promises, and tested him
God spoke to Isaac and gave him the blessings promised to Abraham
God revealed to Jacob the future of his ancestors
More than 100 times the Bible says the Lord spoke to Moses.
When Joshua took over for Moses God said
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead . . . As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
God spoke to Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah (In the book of Jonah, God even spoke to the great fish & commissioned it as a personal submarine to deliver Jo to his destination), Micah, and the rest of the prophets
What do all the great men of faith have in common? Some were shepherds, some, business men, farmers, politicians, warriors . Some were highly educated, others knew little more than how to work the land. Some were among the most wealthy in human history, others were so destitute they lived in caves and holes in the ground. . . they were as different as anyone might imagine. It seems the only thing they had in common is they heard from God and obeyed what they heard.
Yet as remarkable as their record is, the writer of Hebrews says this:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40
Something BETTER for us? What could be better than hearing from God, obeying His word, and seeing his wondrous miracles?
I think, it’s intimacy directly with God, day-to-day hearing His voice, moment-to-moment making the choice to defer, to bend to His will.
“ 15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. . . you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. . . On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” . . . “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:15-23
It is this loving, obedient intimacy with God that separates the past from the present. It is also the universality of it. In the Old Testament, this experience of God’s presence and hearing His voice seems to be primarily for the leaders. In the New it is reserved for all.
We can see this in the Day of Pentecost (which the Church throughout the world celebrates today) After the Holy Spirit came on the 120 or so followers of Jesus in tongues of fire
Peter’s explanation of the event expresses the universality of the principle:
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. Acts 2:16-18
Young and old, rich and poor, men and women-everybody! God pours out His Spirit on everyone. Paul said “to each one is given a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that all might benefit” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
So, God’s Spirit is living inside us and, therefore, we can simply ask Him, “what do you want me to do?” and we can anticipate that He is both willing and able to answer.