Today, I am going to share my husband, Dave’s teaching notes on “Hearing God through the word”. He has given me the permission to put his teachings here in my blog to bless you. I will post them in parts because there are a lot of nuggets that we can find progressively. Let’s begin…
God’s goal in communicating with us
When people heard from God in Scripture through the many ways He communicated, they were encountering Him. And God is calling you to a ‘face to face’ relationship with Him. His goal is that we would grow in our relationship with Him. How God communicates can be as important as what He communicates. There is always an opportunity to grow closer to God’s heart. Hearing God’s voice is about encountering God as a Person and having life-giving conversations with Him.
One reason we sometimes struggle with hearing God’s voice is that we are afraid of what He might say to us. Will He ask me to do something that I don’t want to do? Will He point out the areas of weaknesses in my life? These kinds of thoughts can hold us back from actively communicating with God.
We need to remember that God wants to communicate His heart for us. Yes, He does give instructions and opportunities to obey, but He is most interested in us as His children. He wants us to learn to recognise His voice so that we can know Him and know what He is like, so we can see the world as He does and do things as He would. This is what it means to be in a relationship with God as our Father. He entrusts us with His heart.
WHAT IS GOD COMMUNICATING?
He is communicating with us all the time. Following are some of the main areas that we have experienced God communicating:
· Who He is as God – his heart, nature and who He wants to be for us
· Affirming us in our identity and destiny in Him
· What is happening around us now in the spiritual atmosphere and what we can do to cooperate with Him
· His heart for those He wants to minister to
· Encouraging (putting courage) in us
· Affirming (speaking words that affirm who we are)
· Strengthening and comforting us in life’s journey
· Giving us prophetic glimpses of what is possible and the future He wants to create
Of course, he is also communicating specifically when we need direction and wisdom, etc.
GOD COMMUNICATES THROUGH HIS WORD
There are two general ways that God speaks to us through His written word – the Bible.
General revelation is truth from the Word which always applies to all believers. For example:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The only way to come to the Father is through Jesus Christ. This is true no matter what our situation is. In this sense, all the Word of God is general revelation and can speak to us. This is confirmed in the following verse.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16
Specific revelation occurs when God speaks to us through His Word into our life and situation in a very specific, personal, and unique way.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
God communicates with us through His written Word. In the case of the scripture above we may read a certain passage and find that our inner heart motivation is revealed, and the Holy Spirit can show us the adjustments we need to make. This specific revelation applies uniquely to us in that moment. God can speak to millions of people in this way at the same time. He is God!
In this course we will focus on specific revelation from the Word of God by looking at some ways God can communicate personally and directly with us through His Word. This is not to minimise the value of preaching, teaching, and general Bible study, which of course, also has great value.
THE WORD OF GOD IS AUTHORITATIVE
The Bible has God’s authority behind it and is completely reliable.
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19
This means that if we hear something from God and it contradicts the Bible, then what we have received is not from God. The Bible has the ultimate authority to determine what source our revelation is coming from. This does not mean that the way God speaks and the symbols He uses are always found specifically in the Bible, but that what we hear should never contradict the general revelation of Scripture.
The Word of God is the voice of God and differs from human voices and other ‘sounds that fill the earth.” We need to learn to trust God’s voice as He speaks to us through His Word.
THE WORD OF GOD IS INSPIRED
The Bible, although delivered through human writers, it is inspired by God.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 1:20-21
The Bible was literally breathed by God and He continues to breathe life into us through His Word.
THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE
Hebrews 4:12 declares that the Word of God is living and active – God’s words are dynamic, alive and bring life.
The Bible is the prophetic supernatural voice of God recorded for us to become more and more alive in God in our relationship with Him. God communicates His heart through His Word and will speak directly to our hearts and lives.
The Word of God is able to be continually alive to us because of the Holy Spirit living inside us. The written Word without the Holy Spirit does not bring life.
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.
THE WORD OF GOD IS A STORE HOUSE
God’s Word is a wonderful storehouse of revelation. The Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to bring to our mind truths, stories, principles, symbols, and illustrations.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
When we store the Word of God in us through reading, study, and meditation, the Holy Spirit will use this storehouse to speak to us and through us. This is how general revelation and specific revelation work together as God communicates with us.
THE WORD OF GOD REVEALS GOD TO US
God reveals Himself to us in many ways. He wants to be known and experienced. God has given us, His children everything we need to receive revelation from Him. Revelation happens when God uncovers or unveils who He is.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
In this passage the words, ‘make clear to you’ is the Greek word apokalyptō. This word means to unveil or uncover. God wants to give us revelation of who He is and how He sees us. He also wants us to accurately represent Him to those He has called us to influence.
God reveals Himself powerfully through His Word. The Bible is the main way in which we can gain firsthand insight and experience into who God is—His nature, His heart, His ways, and His plans.
However, we should always pursue relational knowledge of God, not simply intellectual knowledge. For example, God is love (1 John 4:16). We may say this is true about God but is it true to me in my experience with Him?
THE WORD OF GOD IS OUR MEASURING STICK
The Word of God is our measuring stick for testing everything we receive. It should be the first place we turn to discern if we are hearing God’s voice accurately. The Word of God is both our measuring stick and a primary way that we communicate with Him.
We must weigh any insight we receive from God against Scripture. For this reason, we must know how to interpret Scripture properly. We will look at this in another section. We must never elevate revelation from God (visions, impressions, dreams etc) above what the Word of God reveals.
HEARING FROM GOD IN HIS WORD
There are many ways that God speaks as we interact with His word.
· Topical study
· Expository study
· Devotional reading
· Meditating on the Word
· Experiencing the Word
Here we will look briefly at topical and expository Bible study and teaching / preaching. Later we will look more closely at devotional ready meditating on the Word.
Topical Bible study
Studying the Bible topically. Be careful not to take verses out of context when you are building a topic.
Example: A 30-day Bible reading plan with passages about God’s love.
Expository Bible study is understanding what the Bible is saying in context (historical, cultural, original meaning, authors intent etc.)
Questions to ask about a Bible passage
· Why is it being written?
· Who is it being written to?
· What is the purpose, value, and intentions of the passage?
What are filters and why are they important?
We all use filters to read, understand, interpret, and apply the Word of God. These filters (or lenses) are formed from our beliefs, culture, perceptions, experiences, theology, church teaching, etc. Our filters are often subconscious (we don’t think about them consciously as we read the Word). The power of filters is they can cause us to see everything from a particular perspective that may or may not be God’s perspective.
While it is impossible to completely avoid filters (they are a part of who we are) we need to be aware of them. There are times when we need to completely remove a particular filter when we discover it is wrong. Other times we may need to adjust our filters to better reflect the teaching of Scripture, who God is and who He says that we are. Our goal should be to develop Biblically accurate, healthy filters that are helping us to grow in our relationship with God.
The way that we communicate with God will also be affected by the filters we have developed. Healthy filters will help us hear God’s voice, understand what He is saying and then respond to Him. Good filters will also enable us to discern if what we are receiving is not from God. They help us test the spirits.
Cessationism is a belief that God stopped releasing the gifts of the Holy Spirit after the first apostles died. If this is a part of our belief system, then we will have a filter that tries to deny the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. We will not expect God to communicate with us supernaturally and may even attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to the enemy.
Old Covenant Filters
Another kind of filter is what we call ‘Old Covenant filters.’ The Old Testament is a part of the Word of God and can help us, however, as New Covenant believers we no longer live under the Old Covenant. There can be many Old Covenant filters that can affect how we communicate with God.
For example: We may be praying one day and sense the Lord is speaking to our heart,” I love you and am close to you.” An Old Covenant mindset would not be comfortable with God being close and intimate in this way. We may feel that God is in a ‘far distant world’ and would not want to come near to a ‘sinner’ like me. We may even disregard this encouragement as being from God. This is an unhealthy filter. God is our good and loving Father and will often speak to us in a close and intimate way. When we have healthy filters, our expectation will be that God speaks to us personally as a loving Father.
The most important filter we have is the one we view God with. We are always asking in our hearts, “Who is God? What is He really like?” Developing healthy ‘God filters’ will help us communicate with God naturally and powerfully.
Child of God Filter
The second most important filter is what we call the ‘child of God filter.’ This filter determines how we see ourselves as children of God. Do we really believe what God says about us? When we have a healthy ‘child of God filter’, God can speak to us about who we really are. We will discover that He is continually speaking about who we are, encouraging us, affirming us, and speaking into our destiny in Him. If we have unhealthy filters in this area, we will miss many of the wonderful things God is saying about us and others.
Adjusting Our Filters
We mentioned above about the need to be willing to adjust our filters. This does not mean that we continually change our core beliefs and get tossed back and forth by every new teaching. It means that as God progressively reveals Himself to us and we grow in our relationship with Him, we will need to adjust our filters if we desire to deepen our communication with God.
In the Word, we discover truths we never saw before, and we discover that some of what we have believed might be wrong or incomplete. Examining our filters helps us do this. It helps us step outside of our assumptions and look at Scripture, God, and ourselves in a new way.
Several years ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to me powerfully in a dream. In the dream I am walking along a dark corridor. Ahead of me, I could see five cubes hanging in the air and slowly rotating. As I watched the first cube, one side turned toward me and began to glow.
I sensed the Lord was saying to me (and to us) to be willing to allow Him to adjust the way we see Him. Then He will reveal whole new aspects of who He is. Since that time, while most of my core beliefs rooted in the Word of God are the same, God has adjusted my filters. I have been able to experience Him in wonderful new ways and communicating with Him is now a normal part of who I am.
Lord Jesus, I lean into your truth. I submit all my filters to you for alignment and correction, if they contradict to what you are communicating to me. Teach me and grow me in hearing your voice through your word. Amen!