How to know and do God’s will: God Speaks
God speaks. There are many ways that God speaks, and He does it on His own timing. He is creative in what He says. Sometimes it’s loud and clear, sometimes it’s a whisper we strain to hear. But He speaks.
Bottom Line: God speaks by the Holy Spirit, through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
Something To Talk About:
Though we aren’t likely to hear the audible voice of God through a burning bush as Moses did, or in the midst of a dream as Joseph experienced, the One who spoke the earth and the heavens into existence still speaks to us today. The following are five ways that God speaks to us:
- God speaks by the Holy Spirit: John 14:26 says, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” The Holy Spirit speaks to us in a number of wonderfully specific ways. As we read God’s word, the Spirit speaks to us, convicting us, encouraging us, and strengthening us. Have you ever felt prompted to pray for something out of the blue? That’s the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been suddenly convicted of sin? That’s God speaking to you. Have you ever felt the small or large push toward obeying God’s word? That’s the Holy Spirit at work.The more we give the Holy Spirit’s presence a place in our lives, the more sensitive we become to His voice.
- God speaks through the Bible: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The pages of Scripture contain so many amazing stories of how God spoke to His people. Within these stories we see the power of a people focused on following God’s leadership, and the problems that occur when people go their own way. The Bible is from God, written through people, for people—including you. When we read it, the Holy Spirit of God animates it and illuminates it for us, and can use it to speak directly to us. Don’t be duped into believing that God doesn’t speak to you through Scripture. He is always speaking through the greatest love letter ever written.“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” (Jeremiah 15:16). What is God saying to you through your Bible reading? Open your hearts this week to what He might be saying.
- God speaks through prayer. Prayer is designed more to adjust you to God than to adjust God to you. In fact, God doesn’t technically need to be made aware of your prayers. He already knows. Prayer is more about what God wants to do in and through your life during prayer. Most of us picture prayer sort of like a monologue: We talk to God, sharing our heartfelt thanks and offering up our petitions and requests. But prayer is really more like a dialogue, where we speak with God and the Lord speaks to us. Listening in prayer centers around a clear request for God’s guidance. Then we hit the pause button. We wait on God in a time of silence, giving the Lord opportunity to speak to us. We focus our time of prayer on intentional, purposeful listening and let God do the talking. We get faith initially through hearing about God, and our faith grows the more we hear about Him, and better yet, from Him. The more you hear, the more your faith will be built, and the easier it will become.
- God speaks through circumstances: God will sometimes create or allow challenging circumstances in our lives as a way of getting our attention. Henry Blackaby, in Experiencing God, says this about our circumstances: “When you face confusing circumstances don’t start blaming God. Don’t just give up following Him. Go to God. Ask Him to reveal the truth of your circumstances. Ask Him to show you his perspective. Then wait on the Lord. You need to have your life radically oriented to God. The most difficult thing you will ever have to do is deny yourself, take up the will of God, and follow after Him. The most difficult part of your relationship with God is being God-centered. If you were to record a whole day in your life you might find that your prayers, your attitudes, your thoughts, everything about your day are radically self-centered. You may not be seeing things from God’s perspective. You may want to explain to God what your perspective is. When He becomes the Lord of your life, He alone has the right to be.” Yes, God can manipulate circumstances to speak to you. Things happen that stand out. Things don’t happen. Watch what God is doing. When circumstances arise and confront us, we need to humble our hearts, silence our own ideas and ask the Lord for clarity about the circumstances.
- God speaks through the church: It is very easy to turn Christianity into an individual endeavor. This is a big mistake. God uses the people and leaders in a church to teach you, provide direction and provide encouragement and motivation, enabling you to grow with God and live as He wants you to. God places us in a church as a part of the body where Christ is the head, and we are the parts. The parts are interdependent, and God speaks through the parts to benefit the whole. One of the ways we hear God speak most clearly is through the church. Henry Blackaby, in Experiencing God, says this about the church: ““A church is a body. It is the body of Christ! Jesus Christ is present as head of a local church and every member is placed in the body as it pleases God. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself to every person for the common good. The whole body is fitted together by the Father. Members are enabled and equipped by the Holy Spirit to function where the Father has placed them in the body. The body then functions to build itself up into the Head and every member comes to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. God made us mutually interdependent. We need each other. What one lacks the other will supply.” We need each other. The church is less about ”me” and more about God and ”we.” As we give, serve, grow, and build authentic relationships, each part becomes stronger as the body becomes healthier so it can show the hurting world, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Not only does God speak through creation, His Word, and prayer, but God also speaks through what He is doing. It’s up to us to have our eyes and ears open, and to be ready to respond: Agree or disagree and why?
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, 12. How does God speak to us today? Why is this important? What can happen when we try to “hear” God apart from the Spirit?
- Why is the primacy and authority of scripture so important when we are listening for God? Discuss how we hear God’s voice through scripture?
- What is the most important role of prayer in how we listen for God’s voice?
- Read John 8:42-47. In reading over Jesus’ claims, what do you hear God saying to you? Why do you believe this is God speaking?
- How does God speak through His church?
- How does God Speak to us through our circumstances? Can we know God’s will through our circumstances?
- What did you think or find interesting about today’s message? Did anything that was said in the message particularly speak to you or surprise you? What is your biggest take away from the message?
- What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned this week?
Take one thing home with you:
We usually want God to speak to us so He can give us a devotional thought to make us feel good all day. If you want the God of the universe to speak to you, you need to be ready for Him to reveal to you what He is doing where you are. In the Scripture, God is not often seen coming and speaking to people just for conversation’s sake. He is always up to something. When God speaks to you through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, the church, or in some other way, He has a purpose in mind for your life.