Thursday, May 7, 2009

Knowing God's Voice

I recently heard about something that shepherds do/did with their sheep. At one time, it was common practice for several different shepherds to keep their flocks together. This was useful for keeping them safe and convenient for a number of other reasons. Have you ever wondered why shepherds sing to their sheep? When the shepherd would come in the morning to collect his sheep from the common holding place, he would call out to them or sing to them. His sheep would recognize his voice and come to him, but the other sheep would not recognize his voice and would run away. Jesus said: "My sheep will know my voice." (Read John 10, please!)
Many times we have heard God's Voice and not recognized Him and run away.
So how do we get to know God's voice? That's an important question because God isn't the only one trying to talk to us. So how do we know? The Bible says to test every spirit. (1 John 4:1-6)
I've heard it said that we need to memorize scriptures to help with this. Okay, that's good as far as it goes, but have you noticed how BIG the Bible is? There's no way that most people will ever have the time or motivation to memorize the whole Bible. If you think that you don't need to know/ be familiar with the whole thing, you might want to consider why God put it all there then.
For example: you look at the hundreds of examples that God gives of how He spoke to His people. The different ways. The different words. What He likes. What He isn't like.
So Why?
Well, here a suggestion. I have heard God speak clear words, heard partial messages that only made sense to the people that I shared them with, seen visions, similatudes, had dreams, interpreted dreams, heard sounds (like thunder and horses running), smelled scents, and had scripture references (that I wasn't familiar with) pop into my head. That's a lot of variety for God to use. I also read my Bible. I've been through it many times. ( Not bragging, could have done a LOT more. Just saying what I believe God wants us all to know) We need to know God's written word so that no matter what way He chooses to speak to us, we will have some frame of reference to know if it is Him or not.

What is the most important thing in any relationship? Communication! The Bible says that we were created in His image. Is it likely that God said, "Hmm, make 'em like Me, but then I'll make 'em need to express themselves and then ignore them. . . . " That doesn't line up with "God is love."

He is always speaking to us. Always loving us. Always calling us to Him.

After the Order of Elijah

When I was 12 or 13 years old, I went to a teen retreat that was sponsored by the church I was going to at the time.  It was 3 or 4 days long and for the first couple of days it was interesting, but didn't amount to much more than a summer camp or an excuse to get away from my family for a while.  That changed on the last night there.  I don't know what the speaker spoke of, but afterward he gave an altar call.  There were probably 50-60 teens there between the ages of 12 to 18.  At least half of them answered the altar call.  I was sitting in the next to back row watching other kids my age go forward and meet God there.  Then I felt the first powerful move of God on my own spirit.  I went up to pray with/ for a friend and felt God wash over me like a tidal wave.  The next thing I knew, I was praying for someone else, and someone else, and someone else. . .  I prayed until I was hoarse and prayed for my voice, it came back instantly and I prayed myself hoarse again.  When my voice didn't come back that time I figured that maybe I should stop and see what happened.  I was praying for God to tell me what was going on and felt Him "calling my heart."  I was afraid that He was calling me to be a preacher, so I freaked out and ignored it.
A few years went by and God's call never let up, but I spent most of my time thinking about how messed up I was and how far from "usable" I was.  ( I'll save that story for another time.)  By the time I was 18 I knew that God was really calling me to something, but I didn't know what.  Then one day I heard Him clearly say "I'm calling you to be a prophet after the order of Elijah."
Okay, what was THAT supposed to mean?!  I checked up on Elijah and saw fire falling from heaven and a man out running chariots, not to mention years of drought.  So, I figured that I must have heard Him wrong.  That word never faded.  So, while I was pretty sure that the fire and stuff was not what God meant, I thought that I should probably figure out what being a "prophet" meant.  So I focused, REALLY focused, on hearing God.  It was rough at first, because I wasn't ever sure if I was hearing God or just my imagination.  
I was in a group that met on Sunday nights where we talked about God and what He was doing in our lives.  It was a great environment for learning to hear God.  So I wasn't afraid to try to "give a word," because if it wasn't directly from God, it was still scripturally accurate and encouraging. (An important point.  You are never wrong to encourage if it lines up with scripture)  After a while, it got easier to tell the difference from good Biblical advice, and a direct "living word from god that was pertinent to the situation."  You hear or see things that have the "ring" of God's voice to it, or it's "just God's style."
A few more years went by, (I was about 23) and I was at a conference my church was a part of.  The speaker was great and I got a lot out of his message.  Then he said something that froze me in my tracks.  He mentioned something about the call of Elijah, and I MISSED THE REFERENCE!!!!  I asked some others who were with me, but the reference wasn't as important to them as i was to me so they didn't pay attention.  So I scanned and scanned and someone said something about Malachi.  


5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. 
6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Ever had the light come on?  Ever heard a loud "click" in your head when something fell in place and you finally got it?  

Now I knew what "the order of Elijah" was.  Now I knew what the purpose of prophecy was.
The point of hearing God and speaking His word, is to draw people to God the Father!  

I can hear God and the reason I can hear God is so that I can show others that THEY CAN HEAR GOD TOO.  God wants a close, intimate relationship with ALL OF US!!!!!!