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Summary: We all hear and experience God in different ways with some it is through thoughts, feelings, inner voices we have to recognise God’s voice and respond to it.

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Christianity is unique among religions, for it alone offers a personal relationship with the Creator beginning here and now, and lasting throughout eternity. Jesus declared, “This is eternal life – that they may know God” (Jn. 17:2). Unfortunately, many in the Church miss the great blessing of fellowship with our Lord because we have lost the ability to recognize His voice within us. Though we have the promise that “My sheep hear My voice,” too many believers are starved of that intimate relationship, which alone can satisfy the desire of our hearts.

I was one of those sheep who was deaf to the Shepherd until the Lord revealed some very simple keys that unlocked the treasure of His voice.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about my future and what I should do with that future, now that I am able to retire from the police. Should I take another job or is there something better just over the horizon, which awaits me? Should I read my horoscope in the local paper, should I consult the stars or should I consult the one who made the stars? These are all thoughts that have been going through my mind as I travel along life’s winding pathway. I have now reached a point in my own life where I can change career and do something else. I am sure that you may also have reached that stage in your life at one time or another. Change is something we humans do not really like. We are creatures of habit and enjoy stability and routine. But the difficult decision that we have to make is what do we do? At times like this we need help in making that choice, help to decide and we need help from someone who we can trust. This is the time we have to be able to know how to hear and recognise God speaking to us in our lives, and this can be difficult to identify. For not only is there God’s voice there are other voices trying to talk to us. There are three voices that we may hear -- the voice of God, the voice of our own fleshly desires, and the voice of the Devil

In our reading from Samuel we heard how he had difficulty knowing and recognising God’s voice. He didn’t recognise it and indeed thought it was his master’s voice calling to him.

Perhaps he thought he wasn’t important enough to have God talk with him. Perhaps he believed God only talked to important people like the high priest and not such an unimportant person as him.

When my faith started to develop and it became stronger or to put it another way when I began to have a closer relationship with God, I really thought that I should hear a crash of drums and a choruses of alleluias to mark that special occasion! That may have been a simple and naive thought, but it was what I believed at the time. I suppose we all have ideas of how things should happen.

My son is 11 years old and although he is fully aware of the meaning of the sacrament of Holy Communion he had never taken it, but preferred to have a blessing instead. Last month, whilst on holiday in Scotland, we went to a Methodist Church in Montrose and it was Holy Communion. The bread and wine was brought round and to my surprise he took it. Now this was certainly not the way I had wanted it to happen. I had always planned that the family would be there for his first Communion and to witness this great occasion. It didn’t happen like that but it did happen when the time was right for him and without pomp and ceremony. God speaks to us when he thinks the time is right and not when we think it is right.

One of the most difficult things in following what God wants is firstly to be able to recognise his voice, secondly to listen to him and thirdly to be able to understand what he is actually saying to us. Faith is not born out of scientific proof or visual confirmation, but out of simply hearing the Gospel and believing what it says. Our relationship with Jesus has much in common with the relationships we have with friends and family. When we invest effort and commitment in our relationships, they flourish but when neglected or abandoned, they suffer and go into decline. As with any relationship, listening plays a very important part to this two way communication process.

Our relationship with God is a two way conversation

If you want to have a conversation with someone then one of you has to start the dialogue. One begins to talk and the other listens. It is a two way process. It is a vital part of communication. Jesus often went away to be on his own and to talk to God. How did he do it? – he prayed. This is how Jesus talked and listened to God. In Jeremiah 29:12-13 it says, "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Prayer is like saying, "Hello, God, it’s me. I believe You created me and that You know more about how I should live my life than I do. I’d like to get to know You better. Here’s what’s going on in my life, and I’d like Your thoughts on how to handle it. Would You please speak to me about this today?"

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