I think all of us at one time or other have wished we could hear God's voice.
We read in the Bible of occasions where people heard God speak aloud. If you
believe the Bible as the whole, literal truth, as I do, you then believe that
God does not change, Yesterday, today, or tomorrow. That being the case, He
still speaks today, as He did before.
I used to think hearing His voice in an out-loud, audible way would be awesome. I have learned to see that in a little more mature way now. Great responsibility comes with hearing His voice in that manner. Not that I do not want to hear Him like that, it is just that I am aware of the implications and not so quick to wish for it. We see in Moses's time how God spoke to the Israelites like that, and they were scared to death. They did not want to hear him directly. "Speak to Moses, and we will listen to him" they said (to paraphrase). Note that they did have a tendency to NOT listen to Moses and obey God's instruction however.
Saul of Tarsus was struck down and blinded by that voice. We can see the
tremendous responsibility that Saul (Paul the Apostle) had on his life as he
fulfilled his calling from that point.
There is another way God speaks that I have experienced a couple of times. That is the way Samuel heard Him. It seemed so real to Samuel that he thought it WAS audible.
Most of the time however, God speaks to us through what I call His spokesmen. Preachers, as they preach the message God gives them, words of knowledge and prophecy as the Spirit of God moves on people, Teachers operating in group settings, Sunday schools, Bible schools, etc. Authors who write what God has put on their hearts, and one of the most important but often overlooked - passers-by who have a word from heaven in their conversation with you.
We often do not realize it, but this is how God speaks most of the time. As Israel tended to ignore Moses, reject his words and turn away, we today can also tend to do the same thing. Changing the coarse of your life based on what someone else says is not the smartest thing to do however. People are interpreting what they think God is saying to them, and He tells us in His word that people's knowledge is in part, and that their prophecy is also in part. 'In Part' meaning not complete. We also read in the Word that it is God's Spirit living in us that teaches us, not people. I have seen that taken out of context often though. If God is speaking through people, we can't ignore what the people are saying and just say "God tells me directly". It does mean however, that we need to learn how to listen "with the eyes of our heart". We need to examine that word from someone else, and be sure it lines up with God's word.
Man speaks to your head, but he speaks knowledge only. God is the one who speaks understanding to your spirit. It is understanding that will cause you to be able to walk in wisdom instead of foolishness. You can hear a thousand messages, read a thousand books, and graduate from a thousand Bible colleges, but if you do not hear God's Spirit speaking understanding to you, you will walk out this life as a knowledgeable fool.
How does one recognize God's Spirit speaking in them? There are a few indicators. You can actually 'feel' God, but that is not a safe indicator by any means, as you can also 'feel' the Devil lying to you like an Angel of light, and you can also 'feel' your human, fallen nature.
Something I have come to know for myself about recognizing as God's voice, is the 'knowing' that it is true. God knows me, inside and out, and when He speaks to me it is about me, it is true, and it is not condemnation. Even if it is something I do not want to hear, I can recognize that it is true, as long as I can admit that truth to myself. Accusation from others, or from the accuser himself, is condemning in every way and no fruit ever comes of it, other than bad fruit. If I chose to hear what God is telling me about myself, what I have to do is to admit to myself that it is true, even if it is not particularly pretty. It always comes with a real understanding of God's perfect answer however, not like the world's accusations which lead to condemnation, depression, guilt and frustration, with no prospect of correction.
There is something in our basic nature that balks at the truth about ourselves.
In reading the Genesis account or our beginnings, I observe that the first action by the serpent was to accuse. He accused God to Eve, calling God a liar. "You will not die by eating this fruit". Of coarse his lie, as with all good lies, contained a large element of truth, just not the whole truth however. She would not, and did not die, physically. As we read on, we see that when God spoke to them (in that voice we still hear in our inner being today) asking if they ate the fruit He had told them not to (rhetorical question, since He already knew what they had done) Adam and Eve's response showed the fundamental sin of the accuser that went right to the core of their new sinful nature. Self-defense, denial of wrong doing, and pointing to others was their response to God's voice.
Adam accused Eve of giving him the fruit, and even accused God Himself of giving him Eve! (ever hear anyone blame God for something?) Eve blamed the serpent (ever hear someone say "the devil made me do it?)
This sin goes deep into the core of our soul. There are many areas of sin that we can quite easily repent from and turn to God's way, like Theft, infidelity, covetousness, corruption, cheating, adultery, fornication, the list goes on. With these sins we can recognize that we are doing wrong, especially when caught at it by others, and turn over a new leaf.
It is this accusing, self-defensive nature that is embedded so deep in us that
keeps us from recognizing God's voice when He is talking to us about the real
issues we should be hearing. This is the most powerful way God speaks to any one
of us. Sermons, teaching, words of prophecy, reading books, all of those
wonderful things we must not become insensitive to by any means, but none of
them can be taken as teaching for yourself personally. Not without God's
convicting and understanding inner voice. The voice inside of you pointing out
areas of problems, hindrances, sin, wrong attitudes, etc. as well as telling you
to forgive, to love, to submit, etc. THAT is the voice of God that you can take
as direction for your own life.
"The truth hurts" is an expression that I am not sure of who wrote, but they touched on a very real truth that I believe is one of the fundamental things that keep us in darkness and trouble. We do NOT want to hear it, nor even admit to ourselves the often ugly truth about ourselves.
When you hear a message that you know deals directly with an issue in your own life, recognize GOD at that time, do not defend yourself, even in your own mind.
I have even seen people who are leaders in a church not responding to that voice. When someone in a God-given position over them re-directs them or has to tell them that they are wrong, their response can be very self-defensive. No-one wants to admit, even to themselves, that their opinion is wrong, or that there is some un-resolved sin that has not been dealt with.
Hearing God's voice as He admonishes you, chastises you, or convicts you, and recognizing it as God is, in my opinion, the most powerful and life-changing time to hear God speak. Just be sure to heed and obey the voice. God says He is for you, not against you. That means His voice, that inner voice telling you something, although it may hurt, is FOR you, not against you.
Trust Him with all of your heart, do not lean on your own wisdom, and just DO it.
Be sure to also check out earlier articles written by Mr. Lambshead. You can also contact him by e-mail.