listening

Straining to Hear His Voice

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From time to time, I will receive questions about the faith and this was one such question.
“Why doesn’t God speak to me the way that he did to others in Bible times?”
Thanks for your question! I hear you asking whether God still speaks today in the way that he spoke during the times of the Bible’s writing.
The short answer to your question is that God still speaks to anyone who would listen. God was the first voice that spoke in the universe, the first voice who said, “Let there be light.” And he has been speaking ever since. And he will continue to speak!
Note that our times are very different times than the time period in which the Bible was written and that much time passed even during the writing of the Bible. Hebrews 1 gives us a great rundown of the ways that God has spoken to us throughout history (prophets, writings, Jesus!). Here are some of those ways and others that we see in Scripture.
Throughout history, God has been speaking in several different ways:
(1) He speaks through creation – See Romans 1
(2) He speaks through His written word, the Bible – See 2 Timothy 3
(3) He speaks through His Spirit – See John 14
(4) He speaks through His Son, Jesus Christ – See Hebrews 1
(5) He speaks through others around us – See James 3
(6) He speaks through songs, music, teachings, books, etc. – See 2 Chronicles 20
(7) He speaks through angels – See Hebrews 13
(8) He speaks through visions, dreams, and prophecies – See Acts 2
Jesus, in John 10 says that His sheep hear his voice. In other words, if you are a follower of Christ, you hear his voice and learn how to hear his voice more clearly. This does not necessarily mean that you will hear him talking in the burning bush or that you will see an angel. I can tell you clearly that I do not believe that I have ever audibly heard the voice of God or that I have ever seen an angel. But, I have heard God talking throughout my life in various ways.
Have you ever seen a rainbow so beautiful that you knew there had to be a God who had created the world? Have you ever read a Scripture verse and had it speak directly and clearly to you? Have you ever had a song or piece of music move you in a way that drew you closer to the Lord? Have you ever had somebody give you encouragement and teach you something about the ways of life or the the ways of God? These are all ways in which God can and still does speak today.
And certainly, there are ways that are more “mysterious” than this. 
(1) 1 Corinthians 2:16 teaches that we “have the mind of Christ.” In other words, we can learn to think like he thinks.
(2) Luke 12:12 says that the Holy Spirit will “teach us what to say.”
(3) In John 10, Jesus says that his sheep will “hear my voice.”
(4) Romans 8:26-27 says that the Spirit will help us know what to pray.
(5) Acts 2:17 talks about the dreams, visions, and prophecies that can come from the Lord.
There are people all over the world that share stories about God’s voice, God’s leading, God’s showing up in this life still. Liz and I once had a complete stranger approach us in a sandwich shop in a different city than where we lived to ask us if we had been praying about exactly what we were praying about the night before. God is able to speak in both small and large profound manners.
So how do we hear God’s voice?
(1) The first thing is that we seek to know Him as Lord and Savior. We ask forgiveness for sins, ask for His forgiveness and salvation based on the work of Jesus on the Cross and his resurrection life, and we ask the Spirit to come into our lives. We want to be filled by the Spirit, which quickens us until life.
(2) We start putting ourselves in positions and places where we know He speaks. We know He speaks through His word and so we spend time reading the Bible. We pray and communicate with Him while doing so. We listen while we pray to see if the Spirit is guiding us in some way.
(3) We spend time with people that know His voice and hear from God. We are more likely to hear from God when we spend time with others that are doing the same thing. Ask close Christians around you about how they hear from God. Find out if there is anything that you should be listening for or hearing from their perspective/experience. Listening to testimonies from others about God’s voice is very helpful in learning to hear Him more.
(4) Ask the Spirit to talk. Tell Him that you want to see more of Him in your life and experience Him in ways that will be beneficial for your growth.
(5) We stay connected to the vine (see John 15). If we stay connected to God and his people, we have a better chance of hearing from the Lord and bearing fruit in our lives. Spend time with God, go to Church, read the Scripture, pray. Practice these kinds of spiritual disciplines and see where/how God speaks. This practice and journey is ongoing. So, don’t be discouraged if there is no “lightning moment” on the first try.
I Kings 19 tells an awesome story about how God spoke not in the ways that we may have expected, but in the still small voice. Sometimes, God speaks in the subtle small ways and we simply aren’t listening. Let’s take the opportunity to hear him in any way that He speaks and put ourselves in positions to hear Him wherever he does so. We may just be surprised with the ways that he clearly shows up and speaks even today!

Enjoy Year (2018) : John Eldredge

“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” – Ecclesiastes 11:8

I enjoy John Eldredge’s awareness of the move of God.

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I have followed John Eldredge for a number years, after meeting him as a student at Biola University. Each year, Eldredge encourages people to consider what their word for the year might be. This is not a New Year’s Resolution. It’s not what do you want your year to be. It’s an opportunity for one to ask God to speak into and over the year what He would like to see in your life. I can honestly say that I tried multiple years to do this and never had what I believed to be a genuine word from the Lord over my year.

However, 2018 is the year. Liz and I have been more intentional about “Listening Prayer” over the past couple of years. We never wanted to manufacture something. We never wanted to manipulate. But, after quite a bit of study on the topic, we have practiced “Listening Prayer” more intentionally in the past couple of year. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise then when the Lord brought the word “Enjoy” to mind several times at the end of 2017 and leading into 2018. 2018 is the year of Enjoy.

I’m to enjoy the work that is before me.

I’m to enjoy the presence of God in my life.

I’m to enjoy the relationships that God has given me.

I’m to enjoy the world that is all around me.

So, 2018 is the Year of Enjoy. I plan to be intentional about enjoying God this year and all that He has for me. After all, it was John Piper who said that the purpose of life is to “Glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” I plan to.

I remain thankful for John Eldredge’s life and ministry. I remember breaking down crying within seconds of his Restoration of the Heart Conference in June of 2016. He hadn’t even begun to speak yet. But, the power and presence of God in that place (New Life Church, Colorado Springs) was palpable. I remember hearing him say later how much prayer had gone into the event, days and months leading up to the start. It’s no wonder that God was moving from the start!

So, here is the start to my Enjoy Year (2018). I enjoy John Eldredge, his awareness of the move of God, his compassionate heart for people, and the way that he walks with joy.

Perhaps you enjoy John Eldredge too?