In a cartoon, a tourist is standing next to a Native American who is sending smoke signals. The Native American is answering the tourist’s questions. “The most challenging message I have ever sent?” “It’s raining like crazy here!” That’s how I feel in teaching at times, especially in dealing with issues like hearing the voice of God and even more specifically with things like this: dreams, visions, trances, inner impressions, and supernatural experiences.
What’s the difference between a dream and a vision?
Well, one happens while you’re asleep, the other happens while you’re awake. Beyond that they are so much alike they’re almost inseparable because you see it just like in a dream. I can’t give you any personal examples of a vision because I’ve never had one. But I have spoken to people who have and I guess it’s a pretty amazing thing, like watching a movie in your mind, but it doesn’t seem like it’s in your mind, it seems real and it’s for the purpose of showing you something from the Lord. How realistic can a vision be? I wish we could just ask Isaiah when he had that incredible vision in the Temple that basically scared the daylights out of him
Don’t always expect that hearing God’s voice will be accompanied by warm fuzzies. It’s an awesome experience, especially in the Old Testament. When God showed up it basically scared people to death.
What is a trance?
My Bible dictionary says, “That extreme form of displacement of mind wherein the person is transposed as it were outside of himself. During such a time, the person is entirely focused on the things God is communicating with a sense of wonder. There are indications that at times it was even accompanied by what seemed to be an unconscious state.”
Now I would say of someone in that condition, that God had their attention entirely. In the case of Peter on the roof when God showed him the sheet and told him to kill and eat, God did it because he needed Peters’ full attention. In fact, he may have been in a semi-conscious state and he’s still arguing with the Lord. “Lord, I can’t do that! Lord, do you really know what you’re doing?” Questioning and arguing with the Lord even then. I think God wanted to get past that so He put him in a trance. He said, “I know this guy, let’s just immobilize him so I can get a word in edge wise.”
Inward impressions are probably the most common, or the most frequent form of the Lord speaking to us. We experience this form of guidance more than any other because He has written His laws on our hearts, and the Holy Spirit uses the Word within us to speak to us.
Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Philippians 2:13, “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”
Natural Events and Current Happenings
Another fascinating way that the Lord speaks is through natural events and current happenings. Things that go on around us right before our eyes. Rm 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Natural visible things speak of the invisible. And the Lord does use natural things to speak to us of spiritual realities like among others, the parable of the sower.
God is looking for people who can look into the circumstances of life and hear what God is saying. I saw a cartoon of a little girl one time and she’s sitting in her bedroom looking at a sun beam as her mother comes in. She says to her mother, “Mommy look, I’m pretending it’s an angel gown and I’m hemming it. Now it’s a magic slide,” as she moves her hand down it. “Now it’s a movie projector,” as she makes shapes with the shadows. Then she turns to her mom “You can see a lot of neat things in a sunbeam can’t you, mom?”
The mother is left looking at the sunlight and says, “And to think, a few minutes ago all I saw was dust.” Except you become as little children you shall in no way enter the kingdom of God. It requires a childlike faith on our part to look past the obvious to see the actual. Where we can stop looking at dust and see the sunbeam. Where we can cultivate our sensitivity to hear what the Lord is saying and interpret it and test it in light of the historical Word of God.
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