Many years ago I was a youth pastor. I learned a lot from the experience, mostly about my own weaknesses. It disciplined me to come up with a Bible study weekly. When the youth had questions it made me dig for answers. As I watched their growth I realized that everyone has the same problems and questions in life. One of the most asked questions I got during those years was “how can I hear from God?” We all want to hear His voice, don’t we? Any of us who call ourselves Christians want to hear His voice. How else can we have a relationship with the Creator of all that exists? I suppose there are many people who do not even realize that God speaks to His people. Let’s start with that thought.
In John chapter ten Jesus referred to His people as His sheep and Himself as the Good Shepherd. In verse sixteen He stated that He had people which were not of the Jewish fold and that they would hear His voice. Again, in verse twenty-seven He says that His sheep hear His voice. I know a little bit about sheep. I have learned a lot from them just as I did my youth-group. One thing I know is that they know the voice of their shepherd. When we demonstrated at craft shows with them years back the people were always amazed at the way the sheep went in circles running from children but when I started talking they stopped and came to the fence. Often they will come running simply because Olivia or Sarah is in the yard and starts talking. They know who feeds and cares for them!
Maybe you don’t think you have heard from Him. When you first had knowledge of Jesus and what He did for you on the cross; that first time when you realized that you were a sinner in need of a Savior and ran to Him for salvation you heard His voice! Many people don’t realize that they can hear more than that. In fact, we should always be hearing from God if we expect to overcome the world. We have been given three ways to hear from God and the knowledge of Him is just the beginning.
As a young Christian I was often envious of the people I read about in the Bible. They all seemed to hear the audible voice of God that was indisputable. I struggled to know what to do and which way to go (just as everyone does) and I wanted to hear that voice, too. Noah heard God calling him to build an ark and save mankind. Abraham heard God’s voice telling him to leave his home and to become a mighty nation. Moses heard from Jehovah onMount Sinaithrough a burning bush calling him to deliver the people of God. Elijah heard a still small voice after the wind telling him that he was not alone and that God had many more people. Daniel heard a voice telling him what would happen in world history in relationship to the Jews. Paul heard a voice on the road toDamascustelling him that he was in error. John the Beloved heard from God on theislandofPatmostelling him what would happen in the last days.
As years went by and I didn’t hear an audible voice I still had a desire to hear from God. I learned that God speaks through His word, the Holy Bible. This inspired writing is the way that God speaks to His people. Second Timothy3:16states that all scripture is inspired of God and useful for doctrine, reproof correcting and instruction. We can depend of His Word to steer us straight. Of course, there have been some who have read it and misinterpreted it to follow another course. That is why it is so important to not only have the Word but also the Spirit to help interpret it. The Holy Spirit is the second way that God speaks to His people. Once we begin reading the Bible and come to the point where we give ourselves wholly to Him we receive the Holy Spirit living inside of us to constantly remind us what it said.
Do you remember back when you took your driving test? Before you could pass it you had to study a manual. That manual explained the rules of the road. Once you understood those you were eligible to pass the test and then drive on public roads. Imagine that you not only received a license that day but also an officer to ride along with you and help you. That officer would not have the control of the car but would have the influence of speaking to you when you weren’t obeying the rules. This is something like the role of the Holy Spirit. He reminds us of what God said.
In John 16:7-11 Jesus explained to His disciples that the Holy Spirit was coming. He said that the Spirit would help to reprove the world of sin. In verse thirteen He said that the Spirit would guide us into all truth. If someone is not truly born-again and doesn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he cannot understand the Bible and will misinterpret it. Maybe you have read news story about someone who believed that God told them to attack abortion clinics or kill someone. God never directs someone to do something different than what He already outlined in the Bible. His will never goes against the Bible. THAT is why it is so critical to know what it says. The Holy Spirit can’t remind us of something that we’ve never read!
So, we have two ways that God speaks to us and we can hear His voice. There is a third way that isn’t clearly understood. God gives us the mind of Christ to make decisions. Look at 1st Corinthians chapter two. Paul is explaining about spiritual matters and how they are discerned spiritually. In verse nine he refers to Isaiah 64:4. It says that God had not revealed His plan to men about what He would do for those who would be waiting for Him. I was in a church service one day when the Pastor quoted this (1 Cor. 2:9) and explained that we could not understand everything that would happen to us. As he continued speaking I looked down at the next verse and realized that he took it out of context.
The next verse (1 Cor 2:10) states that He has revealed His plan to us. He goes on to say that the natural man cannot understand the will of God but the Spiritual man can (v14). Now, look at the last verse. Paul stated that we have the Mind of Christ. What is the Mind of Christ? This is the mind of the mature spiritual man who has read the Bible, listened to the Holy Spirit and obeyed the Word. We develop the Mind of Christ when we grow spiritually. Think about it like this; when babies are born they don’t have control of their bodies. They have automatic responses like eating when they get hungry, breathing and such but their arms flail around without control. As they mature they learn to reach out for things they see and they turn their heads when they hear something. Later, they learn to walk and talk. Still later they develop reasoning skills.
We understand that the Christian who is immature can’t be expected to respond to the full knowledge of the Bible because he doesn’t know it. But after sitting in church for years he should have the full Mind of Christ because he has (hopefully) matured. Often times we don’t though. I have seen a lot of people who are struggling to know which way to go. Their lives are a wreck because they didn’t listen to the officer riding next to them. They cry out to God for revelation and beg to hear from Him. There is a reason that God isn’t heard by the immature man.
It goes like this. If you don’t obey what you already know God will not give you greater revelation. We want to know algebra but we haven’t learned to do multiplication tables yet. I remember when my children were growing up and learning math. Some of them learned the tables quickly and others balked at every number. It seems that some people stop learning because they are too busy asking “Why?” Why do I need to know this? It’s impossible to explain to a second grade child what balancing a checkbook is. We can’t progress to algebra until we learn adding and subtraction. Likewise, we won’t hear God’s voice when we ask Him to help us make a decision because we haven’t obeyed Him about loving our neighbor. He won’t give us more truth until we learn to walk in the truth we have. God’s Word isn’t a buffet where we chose which items we like and pass by those we don’t.
I saw someone post a message on Facebook a while back asking for prayer for direction. Their previous posts were about partying, worldly music, sports and the like. I know them personally and their life was not about living in God’s will. When they posted the cry I thought about how they had tuned God out of their days. We can do that, you know. We can follow our own agenda and then realize that we are off track when we go off in the ditch. The man (or woman) with the Mind of Christ is one who has diligently followed the Bible and has grown in following God’s written will. When we do this we will not fail.
Let me conclude the message with a passage in 2nd Peter 1:5-11. This is a guarantee to develop the Mind of Christ. There is a list of virtues here that the Man of God needs to develop. Peter finished the thought with an awesome promise. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Underlining is mine)
In my analogy- listening to the officer who was given to us to ride along side on the day we received our license would make us a mature driver. After a while we would think about everything he said all the time even when he wasn’t speaking. When we listen to the Holy Spirit who was given to us on the day we were born-again and follow His lead we become a mature Christian and have the Mind of Christ. When we have the Mind of Christ we love our enemies without being told to do so.
Maybe you’ve read this message because you feel stuck and want to hear from God. Let me ask you to be honest-have you obeyed Him completely up until now? Have you followed what you know or have you only listened to what you wanted? If so, you need to go back to where you left off. James5:16says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availith much. Note that it is the “righteous man” that has his prayers answered. May you walk with Him as He guides each step.
Prayer-Father, there are those who truly want to hear Your voice today. Perhaps there is something hindering their prayers that is their responsibility. I pray that the Holy Spirit will gently speak to their hearts today and that they would once again hear You. May they grow in truth daily as they study Your Word, the Bible.
In Jesus’ Name I pray-Amen
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