Having been a pastor for nearly seven years I realize there are many believers and non-believers who wonder if God really speaks and more importantly, does He have something to say to them. The quick answer is: YES. God has much to say to you. He loves you more than You will ever know. Here are some thoughts that I hope will encourage you to know that God has much to share with you.
God is our Heavenly Father. We often think of God as a distant cosmic kill-joy who has nothing good and all bad to cast down upon the lonely peons he created… uhh, that is far from the truth! God is your Heavenly Father. He is good and gracious, kind and loving. Jesus taught us to look to God as our Father. After He rose from the grave He told Mary to tell the disciples, “go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (Jn 20:17). He is our FATHER, and a good one at that! We all know that any good father on this earth would have time to share with his children. He would listen and pour into them and encourage them and bless them. He would share his love for them and tell them how much they are loved and how proud he is of them. If God is our perfect Father in Heaven, don’t you think He wants to share those same things with His children? Yes He does. Psalm 40:5 states, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.” God’s thoughts toward us are too many to number! God has so much to say about you that if He started today telling you all the good He thought about you, your life on earth would finish before He got to the end! In fact, there is no end in His love toward you and His loving thoughts toward you will never end. In Amos 4:13 we are told that God “declares to man what are His thoughts.” This means that God is your Heavenly Father, His love knows no bounds, He has many thoughts to share with you, and while you may not realize it, He declares His thoughts to you.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more! (Heb 13:8) Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible Father, so when we see Jesus we see the Father (Col 1:15, Heb 1:3). So when we read the Bible and see the Lord conversing with His people we need to realize that God is the same way with His people today. He hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, many believe that God doesn’t speak today like He did before. They claim it is because we have the full cannon of scripture. Yes, the cannon of scripture (the 66 books that make up the Bible), is complete. But, still the Bible cannot give us everything God has for each of us. Why? Because we are living unique lives and our situations often need unique guidance from the One who created us and knows all things. I am NOT suggesting we do not need scripture. I am also NOT suggesting that God adds to scripture. NEVER. That would be heretical. What I am saying is that we all need the gentle nudges of our Heavenly Father to know what to do at times when we do not know what would best please Him.
Jesus demonstrated this concept when He taught that He relied on the Father to tell Him what to speak and what to do. He said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (Jn 12:49). The moment you say, “well Jesus is God” then you have missed the Gospel. Jesus was 100% man, and yet 100% God. If He relied upon His divine attributes as He walked on Earth then He would not have been 100% man. I will help you understand the humanity of Jesus by quoting two scriptures. James 1:13 states, “for God cannot be tempted by evil.” Why? He is God and in His fullness no evil can come near Him. Humans can be tempted, but not God. So this brings us to Hebrews 4:15 which states that Jesus was tempted as we are, “yet without sin.” So if Jesus walked in the fullness of His divinity while on Earth He would not have been tempted because God cannot be tempted. But if He walked in His humanity, He was tempted as we are. My point is that Jesus walked completely as a man and conversed with His Father just as we are to converse today (even though He was God and showed us how the Father was toward us). Thus, He showed us how to hear from our Father from heaven. So, the fact is that He, being a man and having to hear in the Spirit just like we do today, listened for direction from the Father. He was our example on how to live a spirit-filled life. We need to hear from the Father for daily direction and nuances! Before I close this thought let me return to the need for scripture. Here is the key principle: anything we think was communicated to us from our Heavenly Father will NEVER go against anything in the Bible that we know is the will of God. Any direction we receive, will align with the truth, will bring Jesus glory, and will fulfill the will of God for our lives. Anything that we are told that is counter to what we know is truth in scripture and not God’s revealed will in scripture, is NOT from God. So to really understand whether something is from God we must be well grounded in scripture. If we don’t know the scripture, we will really never know whether God speaks to us and whether or not something is His will or not. The cannon of scripture is the primary tool we have in discerning the will of God for our lives because we ground everything we think through scripture.
So back to my purpose for writing this today. You and I both have a heavenly Father who is good and wants to share His heart with us. Jesus modeled how to hear from Him and showed us the goodness of the Father in speaking to His children. So how do we hear from the Father?
- First, you must have a relationship with Jesus. Without a personal relationship with Jesus you cannot hear the Father’s voice. Until you know and accept Jesus, God is not your Father (Jn 8:44). If you know Him then it is your privilege to personally interact with God regularly because to have eternal life is to know (personally) the Father and the Son (Jn 17:3).
- Second, to hear regularly from the Father you must have solid time with Him. I cannot hear my wife’s thoughts about me and instructions for me if I do not invest time with her. Why would it be different in my relationship with God? Matthew 6:6 tells us that if we go into our secret place and pray to the Father, our Father will reward us. What is more rewarding than hearing His gentle nudging for our lives? Nothing, because then we can walk in His will. Jesus modeled a life dependent upon quite times with the Father in secret. He was always up early and in prayer. If we want to know God’s voice we must seek God’s presence in our prayer closets!
- Third, we must saturate our spirits with the word of God – scripture. How do we know what His gentle voice will sound like? You know by hearing it through His written word. The Spirit of God will use the scriptures to teach you how the Father talks and what is important to Him or what is not. To hear regularly from God you need to learn to enjoy scripture. In fact, most of what God will speak to you will come directly from the word of God.
- Fourth, we must learn to praise God. Psalm 100:4 says, “enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise.” Why would you enter into His gates? To visit with Him and hear Him and enjoy Him. How then should we approach Him? With praise and thanksgiving. All the best relationships in my life are filled with joy, encouragement, and praise for one another because that is what love does – it builds one another up. The Father is a personal being and He enjoys your praise of Him as much as He enjoys praising you. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise!
- Finally, to hear God’s voice you must rely upon the Holy Spirit to share with you. In Acts 11:12 Peter said, “the Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings.” How would Peter have known to go to the Gentiles and share the gospel? The word of God couldn’t have directed him in that exact moment because nothing said, “go to Cornelius” in scripture. He had to hear from the Spirit of God to nudge him in the right direction. So, the Spirit told Peter to go. How did he know it was from God? He knew the voice of Jesus’s Spirit, but the only real way was by acting upon faith and testing it. Once he showed up at Cornelius’ house he was confirmed that he heard the Spirit correctly. The same is for us today, we must rely upon Holy Spirit to share with us directions that God wants for our lives. Thus, it is important that we spend time coming to know the Spirit of Christ in us through prayer, praise, and enjoy the word of God. He is essentially Jesus in us. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Galatians 4:6 states, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” This is why Jesus said, “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). Jesus went to the Father and He himself said it was best for us because now we can all hear from Him individually. If He remained in the flesh on Earth only where He physically resided is where people would hear Him. However, now that He has sent His Spirit – Holy Spirit – into the hearts of His children, we can all hear His voice! That is good news!
I hope this is helpful to encourage you to know that God does speak to His children today. The Spirit of Christ in us has much to say because He delivers the thoughts of our Heavenly Father. We just need to dial in and begin to listen to what He has to say. God never wants to be distant from His creation. He walked in the cool day with Adam and Eve and today He wants to walk with you and talk with you. Just as the old hymn says, “And He walks with me… and He talks with me… and He tells me I am His own!”
In His Love, Pastor Bill Kimbley