God’s distinct voice stands out!
Jesus told His disciples one day that sheep follow the shepherd, “because they know his voice” (John 10:4). How did they know his voice? Because they learned from experience to trust the voice of their shepherd.
To hear God’s voice clearly, we must have a growing love relationship with God and trust Him. It’s that simple. The better we get to know God, the better we will recognize His voice.
The Bible is filled with examples of common and ordinary people who heard the voice of a mighty God who spoke to them. The end result was lives that were changed.
Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden. The Lord startled Moses at a flaming bush in the desert when He called him to deliver the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt. God advised Joshua to be strong and courageous, and gave David fresh strategies for each battle against his enemies. The Lord told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus. God affirmed Jesus at His baptism through a voice from heaven, and Paul was totally transformed by the Lord’s voice on the Damascus Road.
God delights in revealing Himself to us. He promises to answer if we call on Him. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). When we pray, we engage ourselves in conversation with God, and God responds.
These are only the major highlights of God interacting with people in the Bible. And throughout history God has guided and directed His people by speaking to them. The same is still true today as we relate to Him on a personal level. God has made Himself known to me countless times over the years. He has spoken to me in thousands of occasions in a variety of ways.
Learning to discern God’s voice takes effort on our part. We can get so involved in the affairs of the natural world that we forget to listen. It would be easy if the Lord spoke to us in a deep echo effect, like in the movie, “The Ten Commandments,” where the Lord spoke to Moses in a booming voice! That would certainly get our attention.
The Lord wants us to take the time to listen as we open our hearts to hear. He wants us to become increasingly familiar with His voice as our relationship deepens with Him. The more often we meet with God in prayer and talk to Him, the clearer His voice becomes.
The Bible instructs us to make a concerted effort to meet with the Lord. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). We can’t make demands on God, but we can ask, seek, and knock, and the Bible promises that God will open the door (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Revelation 3:20). God will reveal Himself to those who humbly seek Him.
God wants us to acknowledge Him in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we acknowledge a friend, we talk to him, express our appreciation for him, and recognize his presence in our lives.
Imagine your friends not acknowledging your presence when you are together. You try to talk to them, and they completely ignore you. In fact, they talk right over you as if you were not even there. That is how we treat the Lord if we are not acknowledging Him moment by moment in our lives. If we are not recognizing God’s presence in our daily lives, it is little wonder we are having trouble hearing Him.
The truth is, even when we diligently seek God for an answer, we sometimes find ourselves struggling to hear. We really want to do what the Lord want us to do. We know that we serve a living God who speaks to us, and yet we struggle with the fact that we do not hear as clearly as we would like to.
Other times we think we have heard the Lord’s voice and respond to it, only to find out that we were wrong. Instead of pressing in to find out why we “missed it,” we hesitate to step out in faith the next time.
Frequently it may seem as if we are trying to tune in to a weak radio signal with a lot of static. In this series of blogs I want you to discover that God wants to speak to you even more than your desire to hear from Him, and He has many different ways to communicate with you. We cannot put Him in a box.
Although we may wish that God would send a ten foot angel dressed in white so have no doubt it is His voice we are hearing, I believe He often teaches us through our stumbling attempts of trial and error.
Even Jesus’ disciples did not always recognize His voice.
When Jesus joined two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus and began to talk to them, they didn’t recognize Him even though they had walked with Him, talked with Him, and eaten meals with Him for the past three years (Luke 24:13-32). Perhaps they were so immersed in the details of the dark events of the past few days that they couldn’t hear clearly.
I think there is a good chance, however, that they did not see Jesus because they simply did not expect to see Jesus. He appeared to them in an unfamiliar form, at an unexpected time, and their ears remained closed.
Before we criticize these disciples, we must ask ourselves, :How often do we experience the same loss of hearing today”? Could it be that the Lord sometimes speaks to us in ways that are unfamiliar to us, and we don’t recognize His voice? We lament that we can’t hear Him speak, but in reality He has been speaking all along. Could it be that our understanding of hearing His voice is limited? Maybe we have preconceived ideas how God will speak or not speak to us, and they limit us from hearing from God when He speaks.
I’m convinced we should not get too selective about the method in which the Lord speaks to us. Instead we should stay open for the Lord to speak to us any way He desires.
God desires to build a relationship with us. One way our relationship is built is by having ongoing dialogue with Him. It is talking and listening to each other. From the very beginning of time, God desired a two-way communication between Him and humankind. Adam and Eve were tuned to God as they “… heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day….”
This is how God wants to relate to us today as well. It is God’s desire to walk with and to communicate with His children. He yearns for you to hear His loving, distinct voice.