Summary: Looking at the different ways that God still speaks to us today
HEARING GOD – HOW GOD SPEAKS TO US
I was a student at Ontario Theological Seminary (now Tyndale) from 1997 to 1999. When I graduated that spring I had decided that I was going to go into missions. I had applied to SIM and had been accepted. I was going to be going to Liberia in West Africa. There was a compound outside the capital Monrovia that had a youth camp that I was going to be the director of. That summer I was living in Sarnia. The beginning of September I had to go to Toronto for a meeting so I decided to stop in and see my old roommate Tim Day. We had a good talk and then it was time to leave, so we decided to pray together. I prayed that Tim would have a great year and that his youth ministry internship would go well. When it was Tim’s turn to pray I sensed that he was hesitating. I opened my eyes and he looked up at me and told me that he sensed that God was telling me that I was not going to go to the mission field until I was married. I think I actually laughed when he told me that. I told him that God had better hurry since I was supposed to be leaving in a few months.
We went downstairs and I stayed to have lunch with him. In was there that I first met Naomi. It was during that meal that God told me that I was going to marry Naomi. I went back to school for another 2 years and told SIM that I would not be going to Africa. I would have left for Liberia in January of 1990. The compound was attacked that March because of the Civil War and all the missionaries living there were killed. My life was saved and transformed because I heard God speak to me.
Today we are continuing with our series Hearing God and we want to look at the different ways that God speaks to us. God created each one of us unique with different gifts, abilities and temperaments. We have different styles of learning and different ways of expressing and receiving love. It should not be surprising then that each one of us hears from God differently.
Job 33:14 For God does speak -- now one way, now another -- though man may not perceive it.
God does speak to us in different ways. The question is whether or not we are able to hear Him.
1Sa 3:7-10 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
God was speaking to young Samuel, but he did not recognize His voice. I think that is the story for many of us. God is speaking to us but we simply do not yet know how to hear and understand it. So what are some of the ways that God still speaks to us today?
1. Out Loud - audible voice
Sometimes God will speak to us in an audible voice. This is how God spoke to Samuel in the Old Testament. He called out his name audibly. This is also how Jesus spoke to Paul in the New Testament. He spoke out loud in a way that Saul could understand.
Act 9:3-4 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Throughout the bible and history there have been many people who have heard God’s audible voice. This has never happened to me, though there have been times that God’s voice was so clear that it almost seemed audible.
Years ago there was a Phycologist named Tanya Thurman who wrote a book “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.” She appeared on CNN and made fun of Christians who claim to have heard God’s voice. In her book she says that studies have shown that around 10% of evangelicals claim to have heard God’s audible voice at some time in their life. I do not know how accurate that is, but certainly one of the ways that God still speaks to us today is out loud, through an audible voice.