Your perception of God affects what you think you are hearing Him say. Some of us impose upon the Lord a character of our own creation, and we project onto the Lord the deficiencies of our own losses. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
My questions for you today are: Do we listen to what God is saying? Do we obey what we hear? How do we listen to and hear the voice of the Lord? What must be true in our lives?
I believe one of the first things that must be true is a pure heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” I believe “Seeing” is much broader than just the visual connection. Seeing is perceiving. He’s saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will perceive – they will tune in and they will recognize – they will realize – they will see – God.
In Acts 16:6-7 we read, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
A man conducted an experiment to find out whether people really listen to one another. Whenever he got a phone call, he responded to the standard question of, “How are you?” with a simple, “Oh feeling.” Then he kept score of what people said back. The responses where “good,” “great,” or “that’s nice.” Nobody paid any attention to what he had said. Except once, the fellow at the other end perked right up “Oh!?” he exclaimed with interest. “Anybody I know?”
We've looked at Job 33:14 which says, “God does speak – now one way, now another and man may not perceive it.” It’s important to learn to listen. Clearly, if God does speak and we may not perceive it, then we’ve got to work on the perceiving end of things. So I want to look at the criterion for learning to listen.
With all the other ways that God speaks, I believe he prefers to speak through the still-small-voice. And do you know why we don’t perceive it? It’s because the only way we can hear that voice is to get still and small. Quite frankly, that’s not something we’re comfortable doing. We don’t like to be still. We like to go, go, go till the tops of our heads blow off. You know how awkward it gets in a church service when everything gets quiet? All of a sudden the worship stops and no one’s saying anything – pause…
Chances are, you’ve never been spoken to by God through a trance. I know I haven’t, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I personally know anyone who has. But in Acts 10 we have the story of Peter when God spoke to him while in a trance. While Peter isn’t the only one in Scripture to experience this, his story probably has the most colorful background.
Peter is an amazing example of someone who heard God’s voice in spite of himself! Acts 10 says Peter is at the house of Simon the Tanner, and that he is up on the rooftop. I wondered about why on earth he is on that rooftop. Well, there’s an interesting reason.
Maybe if we take a look at some Biblical examples we can learn how to be attentive, how to catch on, and not lose the opportunity of His speaking to us. How about Philip in Acts 8:26? This is a pretty encouraging story because this guy wasn’t one of the twelve.
I want to take a look at Job 33:14. It’s a very simple little verse, but broad. Elihu is speaking, and in the context of everything he’s saying, he’s correcting Job and he’s correcting Job’s friends because they’ve not been able to get anywhere with their religious arguing. And so finally he says, “Job, you’re not right to say that God doesn’t answer a man’s words” and then he makes this statement. Job 33:14, “For God does speak – now one way, now another – though no one perceives it.”
Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper will teach you everything and cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name.” One of the ways He speaks to us is by bringing things to our remembrance. You suddenly remember something. You remember something that the Lord said to you earlier – you’re in a situation with someone and you suddenly remember a verse of scripture.
Jesus Christ and His presence on earth is testimony enough that God speaks, and it also shows how committed God is to being intimately involved in our lives. He came down here, became one of us, and talked to us by His very life.