Hearing God's Voice and the Gift of Prophecy - Bob Sawvelle

Principles to Hear God’s Voice, Part 5

From Genesis to Revelation, we see examples of God communicating with people. Whether Adam and Eve in the garden, Moses’ hearing God on the back side of the desert, Elijah hearing the still small voice of God in a cave, or a disciple named Ananias instructed by God to lay hands on Saul who would later become the apostle Paul, God has and continues to communicate to His people.

Yet, in our 21st-century rational culture, the idea of God communicating to people runs counter to accepted psychological beliefs. Even many in the Church treat ongoing communication and revelation from God as something dangerous and extra-biblical.

Unfortunately, many make the mistake of treating Christianity as simply a set of beliefs and rules to live life by, of Word only, ignoring this life in the Spirit that the Bible clearly reveals.

Our Christian experience should be understood foremost from the perspective that God sent His Son Jesus to restore us to Himself in every way—that includes normal, open communication like what Adam and Eve experienced in the garden before the fall. And God typically communicates with His people via dialogue, two-way communication!

As I’ve shared since the beginning of this series, if you follow Jesus, you know His voice. Further, the Holy Spirit has been given, commune with Him and obey Him!

Jesus said plainly, “My sheep recognize My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27 NKJV

While many today doubt the continuance of God communicating to His people, Isaiah prophesies 700 years before the birth of Christ that God’s people through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, would have ongoing Spirit interaction and communication with Him.

 As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.” Isa. 59:21 NIV

God’s Spirit and His Voice will not depart from us, or from our descendants—forever! What a promise! This is a verse to war with for our wayward sons and daughters!

So, how does one recognize the voice of God and distinguish it from all the other voices we hear?

Hearing God’s voice is more than just reading the Bible, though this is foundational, our starting place, and our daily manna. But it is also learning how God communicates by the Holy Spirit to us, through both the Bible and His gifts (1 Cor. 12).

Learning to recognize the “language of the Spirit” is vital. For example, God can communicate through the Bible, our thoughts, words to us, impressions, visions, dreams, encounters, or send an angel—all comprise the language of the Spirit. There is no formula to hearing the voice of God—I can give principles, but each of us will hear and communicate with God slightly differently.

For some, God may bring someone to mind, and usually this is an invitation to pray or to reach out to them. Or maybe God brings someone to mind, and you have a deep sense of compassion for them, so much so that you discover you cannot rest until you pray for them. These are examples of God speaking!

God promises spiritual understanding to those who are born again

Understand that when we are born again into the family of God, the Spirit awakens our human Spirit. “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NLT) It is in this realm that we recognize the voice of God. The person who has not come into new birth through Jesus Christ is still in the natural realm.

Paul explains this reality, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Cor. 2:14 NIV

But God has promised those who are truly born again that they can understand His thoughts and leading through the Holy Spirit,

1 Cor. 2:9-10 NKJV:

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Cor. 2:12 NIV

Paul is not declaring we automatically know everything to know about God and His ways. Rather, he is explaining to us that the Spirit does communicate with God’s people, and they have OPEN ACCESS to God’s mind. But to explore this reality, we must be ‘mature’ or ‘spiritual’ in Christ.

There is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from God available to us if we press in and pursue Him. As I shared above, many make the mistake of treating Christianity as simply a set of beliefs and rules to live by. To be sure, we are to obey His commandments. But there is more available to us if we live fully in Christ and seek understanding through the realm of the Spirit.

Luke shares in Acts a story about Paul being taken by ship to Rome. It’s God’s plan and purpose for Paul to go to Rome. The sailors however ignore Paul about leaving as it was turning winter in the Mediterranean. They encounter a severe storm, begin to throw cargo overboard, and it looks like they will perish. Let’s pick up the story, it’s a powerful example of how God communicates to those who sincerely seek Him:

Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.” Acts 27:20-26 NKJV

All hope is gone. Have you ever been there? What does Paul do? He begins to fast and pray to hear from the Lord and follow His leading. God sends an angel, reassuring Paul no one will be lost, and he will stand before Cesar. But the ship will be lost! In my words, “You will run aground Paul, but trust Me!”

This is what hearing from God does, it builds faith and trust in our circumstances. God may not always send an angel, but we need to trust the still small voice of the Spirit to comfort and direct us. Later, they did run aground, and the ship was destroyed, but no one on the ship died! God used Paul on Malta, where they landed, to bring revival before sending them on to Rome.

Value spending time with the Lord to increase your ability to hear His voice

James 4:8 declares, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

The primary reason more Christians do not routinely hear, or discern, the voice of God is not spending time in God’s presence, and/or they allow lukewarm living and double-mindedness to cloud their inner self.

Sometimes we are anxious about the cares of this life. Distracted and busy about other things. We ignore spending time in God’s presence, just waiting upon Him to hear what is on His heart. From this place of intimate relationship, we receive strength, hear His voice, and obtain strategies to move forward in God’s purposes. Martha became distracted, but Mary chose what was really needed in the moment:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NKJV

One thing is needed Martha! And for many of us today, the Lord is telling us, “If you want to hear my Words, receive strength and courage, one thing is needed, spend time in my presence. Choose each day to sit with Me!”

David knew this truth, he declares, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV

To walk with Jesus as a true disciple, follow Him, obey Him, and remain in Him. God reveals His secrets to friends, those close to Him hear His voice and obtain His strategies.

Choose this Easter Week to sit with Jesus, hear what is on His heart. You will grow in your understanding of how He communicates with you as you spend more time with Him!


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For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Principles to Hear God’s Voice, Part 5”

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