We live in the age of the makeover. If we are dissatisfied with our surroundings or our appearance, we make them over. Our spirits also need a makeover every now and then. In a practical, conversational style, author Isunji Cardoso uses examples from her own life to offer encouragement, inspiration, and entertainment designed to give a sagging spirit a much needed lift!
Day 1 – How Do We Hear From God?
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7b, NKJV)
Because few topics elicit as much skepticism, confusion, and doubt as the subject of hearing from God does, I think it’s best to begin by talking about it a little. The concept of hearing God’s voice has been abused and misused by religious leaders and followers for centuries. Phrases like, “The Lord said,” or “God told me…” have been used to manipulate and oppress many into doing what a man wants. As unfortunate as that is, the fact remains that God does, indeed, speak to his creation today. Whether He chooses to reveal Himself in the beauty of a sunset, or communicate the answer to our dilemma through a dream, God is always speaking. I like to think of it like a television signal; it’s always transmitting, and when we turn our set on, we get the information we need.
So the question remains: how do we know if it is God speaking to us, or if it is the effects of that cold pizza we had before bedtime? Sometimes the results can be very similar! The good news is that hearing God’s voice is not as hard as it is sometimes made it out to be. Truthfully, it is just like communication in any other relationship we have. Perhaps that is the best place to begin—with relationship. God’s objective is, and has always been, for us to be in relationship with Him. To that end, He pursues us, much like a man pursues a woman with whom he desires to have a relationship.
Just imagine how strange a relationship would be if only one person did all of the talking. How would they get to know one another? How would they learn one another’s likes and dislikes?
How would they communicate their needs, wishes, hopes, and desires? Most people will agree that that kind of arrangement is ridiculous and can hardly even be called a relationship. As ridiculous as it seems, however, that’s often how we approach our relationship with God. We do all the talking, making our petitions, pouring out our heartaches, hurling our blame. Very rarely do we expect, let alone listen for, His response. The result is a lopsided relationship, one where we never get to know Him, His likes and dislikes, or His wishes, hopes, and desires concerning us.
As I stated earlier, God speaks to His creation today. First and foremost, He speaks through His Word, the Holy Bible. In His Word, he has laid out what He wants us to know about Him, about others, and about ourselves. It doesn’t stop there, however, because God speaks in other ways, but the Bible is always the final authority. Sometimes He speaks through a thought or impression that is outside of our finite realm of thought—one that we know could not have come from us. Sometimes God speaks through our dreams. (I have always wanted God to speak to me through my dreams, but that would mean I would actually have to have dreams!) There are times He speaks through other people, and some people may even hear an audible voice, which is often the way I hear him. In fact, earlier this morning, I was all set to send an email to a co-worker to order some Girl Scout cookies. My mouse was positioned over the “send” button, when I heard loud and clear in my ear, “Do NOT order those cookies!” I actually jumped and looked around. Of course no one was there. I know that wasn’t my own thought because I really wanted some cookies. Needless to say I hit “delete” as fast as I could. My point is that the way God communicates is different and unique for each of us based on the way He chooses to communicate and what He knows we will respond to. The burning bush was great for Moses, but Jesus knows that if He tried that with me, it would have been a very short and different story because I’d have gone to glory right then and there!
Whatever the method God chooses to communicate with us, the common denominator is the Bible. God will never contradict His Word in any way. If what we hear does not agree with the Word, the Word is always the final authority. The God who said, “Thou shalt not kill,” will never tell us to kill anyone, for example. He never goes against His Word. Studying and becoming familiar with God’s Word is the best way to prepare to hear from Him in other ways and have confidence that it is God’s voice, not cold pizza, that we are hearing.
I remember taking a course in Bible school about hearing from God. Our professor gave us an in-class assignment, which was to write down a simple question that we had for God and then listen for the answer. Class ended before we had time to share our questions and God’s answers, so we were told to bring them the following week. At the next class, one student shared her question, “God, what do you want me to do today?” God’s reply was that she should go look for a desk. It didn’t seem that earth-shattering to me. What I didn’t know was that she had been praying about creating a study space in her home, and the only piece missing was a desk. Remarkably, after looking in the local paper that afternoon, she found an ad for a free desk that was in perfect condition—proof-positive that God hears and answers us if only we take the time to listen for his answers. He doesn’t just want to talk about the big things, either. He wants to talk to us about everything going on in our lives. Sometimes His message is as simple as, “Go look for a desk today,” or as grand as, “Go tell Pharoah to let my people go.” Either way, it is worth tuning in to get the direction we need for our lives. Today, I encourage you to give listening a try; you just might be surprised what you hear.
Copyright© Isunji Cardoso. All rights reserved.