Summary: Part 4. How God speaks to us through prayer and the Bible.
If you haven’t been with us, let me catch you up to speed. We are in a sermon series looking at how we know God better and experience God working in our life. If we are not experiencing God’s abundant life right now we need to ask ourselves why? We are looking at three issues: 1) We might have a relationship problem with God. Having a personal relationship with God through Christ is the first thing God wants, it’s why he sent his Son to the earth to die for us. The Bible calls this knowing God. You might know about God through reading the Bible, going to church, or believing certain creeds or statements of faith to be true (like the Apostles Creed), but this is not the same as having a personal relationship with God. The quality of our experience of God’s work in our life is directly impacted by the quality of our relationship with God. The closer we are to Christ, generally speaking, the more we experience God working in our life. 2) We might have a hearing problem. Last week we looked at whether God speaks to us today, and as we looked through the Scriptures we saw that God continues to speak to his children because we have received God’s Spirit. The problem is not whether God is speaking, it is, are we listening. If we have trouble hearing God, we won’t know what God wants us to do. Today, we are going to begin to look at how God speaks and how we recognize his voice. 3) The last reason we may not experience God working in our life is because we may have an obedience problem. We know what God wants us to do, but we are unwilling to step out in faith and make the adjustments in our life and do what God wants of us.
1) God Reveals the Truth through the Holy Spirit
When it comes to hearing God’s voice, perhaps you’ve had questions like: How does God speak to me? How can I know when God is speaking? How can I recognize his voice?
First let me begin with sharing something which will help us understand when God is speaking to us. We only know the truth about God and his ways as God reveals it to us by the Holy Spirit. Sure, there are truths we can learn via our own efforts and intellect, the earth is round, the mass of the earth holds us down, we call it gravity, but any truth we know about God and his ways and how it applies to our life is only revealed to us by God. We cannot discover it, it is revealed by the Holy Spirit. Let me read for you again from 1 Cor. 2:10-12:
1 Cor. 2:10 But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
According to Paul, how can we know the wonderful things God has freely given us? Because God has given us his Spirit who shares God’s thoughts, God’s plans, God’s purposes. Paul goes on to say, this is why unbelievers cannot know or understand the things of God because it is foolishness to them. They don’t get it because God has not revealed it to them. The only way we know anything about God is because he reveals his truth to us.
Why is this important for us to understand? When we talk about hearing God’s voice, this principle is the key for unlocking how we know when God is speaking to us. If we become aware of a truth about God or his ways, or what he wants us to do, what I like to call an “ahah” moment, when something goes ‘ding’ in our heart or in our brain. We didn’t just have a V8, it wasn’t some great thought we can up with on our own, it was God speaking to us, revealing his truth. I will explain this in more detail in a moment.
Let’s say my favorite color is green, and one day you come to me and say, ‘I know your favorite color is green.’ The only way you could know for sure that my favorite color was green was unless I told you, or someone else whom I’ve told has told you. You might have noticed that I wear green a lot, I like to eat spinach, and so you might guess green is my favorite color, but unless I told you that information you wouldn’t know for sure. If you are made aware of a new truth about God, or about his ways, or what he wants you to do, that is God speaking to you.