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Hearing the Voice of God

Anne Murchison

I sleep, but my heart waketh:
it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying,
Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove,
my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew,
and my locks with the drops of the night.

(Song of Solomon 5:2)

Garland (c) 1998 AngelicArtistry Cross (c) New Creation Web Design

Speak Lord,
your servant is listening.

1 Samuel 3:9-10

Hearing the voice of God has been the hallmark of relationship with Him from the Garden of Eden until today. Adam and Eve heard the voice of God (Genesis 3:8). Jesus said His sheep hear His voice (John 10:3, 27).

The men and women listed in the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11 were honored there because they heard, understood and obeyed the voice of the Lord.

The antithesis of hearing God's voice is legalism—the letter of the law. The only commandment God gave Israel when they left Egypt was "Hear my voice".

In his book, Listening to the God who Speaks, Klaus Bockmuehl says, "Genuinely listening to God will help us retain what is truly good without falling prey to either the arbitrariness of subjectivism with its bent toward lawlessness or the rule-bound rigidity of objectivism with its tendency toward legalism. This is why the prophets warn over and over again that animal sacrifice is a sorry substitute for an intimate relationship with God."

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices (the law): But this thing I commanded them, saying. Obey (Hear my voice), and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you" (Jeremiah 7:21-28 Parentheses and underlining mine). See also Exodus 15:26 and 19:5-6.

Samuel said to Saul, " . . . Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying [hearing] the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey [hear] is better than sacrifice, and to hearken [hear] than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22).

Adherance to Rules and Laws Replaces Hearing God's Voice

God never intended the law to replace hearing His voice. In fact, it was written upon tablets of stone because they refused to hear His voice.

One very big point I have never heard anyone mention is that the first time God gave the Law it was not written upon tablets of stone. It was spoken. At that time, the people made a choice. When Moses came down from the Mount after God spoke the Ten Commandments, they rejected the voice of God. They rejected a personal encounter with God.

" . . . all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak, thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was" (Exodus 20:18-21 Underlining mine).

The first time the Law was given,
it was not written
on tablets of stone.
God spoke it.

Consequences and Results of Not Hearing and Obeying the Voice of the Lord

There are grave consequences for not hearing and obeying the voice of God. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:3-4, "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised [everyone who tries to keep the law], that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace".

When we do not hear and obey the voice of the Lord, we fall from grace to the letter of the law. This does not mean we are lost and going to hell. It means we are walking in the flesh and the law, and both bring death. Adam and Eve did not fall over dead the moment they ate from the tree. Their bickering accusations were the onset of death after they fell. God did not remove them from the gene- alogy of the Lord Jesus after their fall. He covered their naked- ness with coats of skins. They were still part of His plan. But they were no longer able to remain in Eden.

When we sow to the flesh and the law, the glory of God fades away. It does not depart suddenly. 2 Corinthians 3 says it fades away. This is the saddest, most serious of all consequences to those of us who love the Lord. It happened to Israel and it happens to New Testament believers.

The voice of the Spirit of God
is as gentle as a summer breeze—
so gentle that unless you are living
in complete fellowship
and oneness with God,
you will never hear it.

Oswald Chambers

The Departure of the Glory of the Lord

In Ezekiel 2:5-3:11, God asked Ezekiel to speak to Israel, even as He warned Ezekiel that Israel would not listen to him. Why would they now ? After all, they hadn't listened to Him for a long time. Perhaps generations of them had never listened to His Voice. When Israel would would not listen to God's warnings through, Ezekiel, the glory departed from the temple of the Lord.

The glory of the Lord rested between the wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. His first step of departure from this sacred place was to go up from the cherubim and stand over the threshold of the temple (Ezekiel 10:4). It seems that the glory departed reluctantly, poising along each step of the way to see if His children would notice and respond. They did not.

"Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory".

What an incredible thing! The glory visibly left the temple of God and the cherubim with Him. Apparently no one noticed but Ezekiel. He beheld the Lord in all His glory.

"Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne" (Ezekiel 10:1).

Ezekiel must have been the only one remaining in Israel with eyes to see the glory of the Lord as it departed the threshold.

"Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory. And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh" (Ezekiel 10:4-5).

The voice of God
is that secret voice
unheard by any other ear,
which our own ear,
opened by the Spirit of God
recognizes with joy.

Charles Spurgeon

My heart leaps into my throat as I read these words. The sound of angels' wings could be heard. Ezekiel must have been the only one remaining in Israel with ears to hear. The brightness of God's glory could be seen moving away from Jerusalem. The cherubim scattered burning coals and the fire of judgment as they left (v. 2). God's people did not notice or seem to care! Is this the way it is for us? Is the departure of the Lord's awesome glory so subtle we hardly notice? From reading Ezekiel it doesn't seem so. The problem was their blind eyes and deaf ears. They were in full blown rebellion because they had long ago refused to hear God's voice. Here the word of the Lord spoken to Ezekiel.

"Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 12:2 NAS).

The Glory Moves On

The glory first moved from between the wings of the cherubim to the threshold of the temple. Next it moved above the threshold. It then departed from there. The glory moved on to linger at the East Gate. What a solemn and poignant moment. Was He still waiting for Israel to respond?

The glory moved on
to linger at the East Gate.
What a solemn
and poignant moment.

"Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them" (Ezekiel 10:18-19).

The Lord pronounced great judgments upon Israel for their refusal to hear His voice. Ezekiel fell in a heap of despair. Crying out with a loud voice, He inquired, "Oh Lord, will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?" (Ezekiel 11:13 NAS).

The Grace of God

In Ezekiel 12:13, the Lord said, "My net also will I spread upon [the house of Israel], and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there".

It's sobering to realize we can be living in Babylon and not see it. Like the children in the wilderness, we can also die there. Like many of the house of Israel, we can die in Babylon.

Do not pass go. Do not collect one hundred dollars. Go to Babylon. There is no more appropriate place for those who will not hear and obey the voice of the Lord. Babylon is the same word as Babel in the Hebrew. The men who built the tower of Babel would not listen to the voice of God either. No! They determined to build the tower of Babel to reach into heaven by their own ingenuity. They determined to make a name for themselves instead of a name for God. According to their own estimation of themselves, nothing they willed to do would be impossible for them (Genesis 10:4, 6). As far as I have seen in my twenty-seven years of walking with the Lord, He is the only one Who can make that claim. I dare say if I lived a thousand zillion lifetimes, this would still be the case.

Babylon is the dwelling place
of the spiritually blind
and hard of hearing.

Babylon is the dwelling place of the spiritually blind and hard of hearing. It not only effects our relationship with God. It also effects our relationships with those we love. I never want to forget I can be living in Babylon and not see it. It sends shivers up and down my spine.

The Lord responded to Ezekiel's question, "No. I will not completely destroy them." Listen to the tenderness of the Lord toward Israel in spite of their continued rebellion in their refusal to hear and obey His voice. They fell from grace but clearly He had no intention of leaving or forsaking them.

" . . . Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come" (Ezekiel 11:16 Italics mine).

They fell from grace,
but clearly God had no intention
of leaving or forsaking them.

Because they would not hear and obey the voice of the Lord, the chastisement for Israel was exile to Babylon. Even so He promised to be a little sanctuary, a place of refuge, for them.

The severest of all disciplines for Israel was not being sent to Babylon. It was the departure of God's glory. One might actually say that when the glory departs because we refuse to hear and obey the voice of God, we actually are living in Babylon!

"Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (Ezekiel 11:22-23).

Yes, there are consequences and severe disciplines for not hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord. Even these disciplines, how- ever, are instruments of his mercy and grace.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, the Lord spanks his children in one passage and in the next He is hugging and kissing us. Listen to His words to disobedient Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. Even as He sends them off to Babylon, He makes promises to them.

Rebellion does not nullify
God's promises to us
nor disqualify us
from inheriting them.
God's grace guarantees
that they are always available
to us when we sincerely
turn our hearts back to Him.

" . . . after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to [Israel]. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an unexpected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive" (Jeremiah 29:10-14 Brackets and italics mine).

I am tremendously encouraged by these words of our gracious and merciful Father. The wonder and glory of His faithfulness and love are stunning. Yes, there will be discipline. Yes, He chastises us when we walk according to the letter of the law instead of the voice of His Spirit. No! Rebellion does not nullify His promises to us nor disqualify us from inheriting them. It guarantees they are always available to us when we sincerely turn our hearts back to Him.

We either hear and obey
the voice of God
or we walk under the law
which is idolatry.

Dire Consequences—Idolatry

Scripture teaches over and over again that we either hear the voice of God or walk under the law, which is idolatry. The cornerstone reference to this statement is Jeremiah 11:1-11 (NAS).

"The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 'Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Cursed is the man who does not heed [hear] the words of this covenant, which I commanded your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, "Listen [Hear] my voice, and do according to all which I command you, so that you shall be My people, and I will be your God, in order to confirm the oath which I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day.'" And the Lord said to me, 'Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying "Listen [Hear] the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers in the day that I brought them up from the land of Egypt, even to this day, warning persistently, saying, 'Listen [Hear] my voice.' Yet they did not obey (hear) or incline their ear, but walked each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart; therefore I brought on them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, [which was 'hear my voice'] but they did not. Then the Lord said to me, 'A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear my words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their father.'"

Many other scriptures validate the principle that we walk in idolatry when we don't hear and obey His voice.

"This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing" (Jeremiah 13:10).

"And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 8:19-20 NAS Italics mine).

"But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them, I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it" (Deuteronomy 30:17-18).

"And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pro-nounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me" (Jeremiah 16:10-13 Underlining mine).

We can be sure if the glory of God's presence is not with us we are worshiping the God of our own stubbornness—the god of our own choice or imagination and the lust of our own hearts (Jeremiah 13:10, 16:12).

The root word for stubborness, lust and imagination means "enemy". Thus when we walk under the letter of the law rather than according the leading of the Spirit of God, we are enemies of God. James actually says that that we are adulterers—friends of the world and enemies of God.

Adultery, idolatry
and friendship with the world
are synonymous.

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Adultery and idolatry are synonymous in both the Hebrew and the Greek. The evidence keeps piling up, doesn't it?

Curses Instead of Blessings

The blessings of God come to those who "hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 Italics mine). The curses come to those who "wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:15 Italics mine). Legalism steals almost all of our blessings. The one it does not steal is the steadfast love of God. The hound of heaven never stops working in our lives, even when we are running from Him.

Hearing His Voice and Clinging to Him

We cannot hear and obey the voice of the Lord without cleaving to Him.

" . . . therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey [hear and understand] His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and length of thy days . . . " (Deuteron- omy 30:19-20 Underlining and brackets mine).

"For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear" (Jeremiah 13:11 Underlining mine).

1 Corinthians 6:17 says, "But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." The word "joined" used in this verse means "to cleave". This verse also gives further insight into cleaving. It implies "sticking to something or someone like glue". When we cleave to the Lord we are joined to Him. When we cleave to Him we are one spirit with Him. O Lord, You are too big to get my arms around, but I am sticking to you to the best of my ability. I cleave to you in the spirit. Please put plenty of glue on me.

Hearing God's voice
and cleaving to Him
are fertile soil for
the fruit of righteousness.

Many times when I pray, I ask the Lord to give me, the body of Christ and every person who takes a breath until the next time I pray, eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand so we may turn (repent) and be healed. Hearing God's voice and cleaving to Him are fertile soil for the fruit of righteousness.

"And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart; and hold it fast and bear fruit with perseverance" (Luke 8:15 NAS); . . . some an hundred- fold, some sixty, and some thirty" (Matthew 13:23 Underlining mine).

Legalism is the antithesis of hearing God's voice and cleaving to Him. Legalism hears with the head, writes it upon hearts of stone and turns the word of the Lord into rigid rules. Legalism usurps our faith. It steals the glory of God. It is not snatched away. It reluctantly departs little by little.

Legalism is the antithesis
of hearing God's voice
and cleaving to Him.

One Way the Lord Spoke to Me

Anyone who has ever listened to Eric Clapton play the guitar knows that a guitar can speak. The question here is, can a God speak through a guitar.

My oldest grandson, Bradley, is a musician and a really fine young man. After the only guitar he had ever owned broke, I took him to look for a new one. We hit a few pawn shops and then went to the music store.

As of this writing Brad is not yet a believer, so I prayed that morning that God would give me a way to demonstrate the reality of His love for him.

When we arrived at the music store we looked at a number of guitars. They were all fairly expensive but they were not his dream guitar. That was a Les Paul Studio guitar, but it was definitely out of our price range, unless we were blessed to find a used one in good condition.

Brad decided on two mid-range priced guitars. I went to look for a salesman to help us plug them into an amp so we could listen to their sound. They were both good. Then the salesman and Brad began to talk guitars. They both talked about their dream guitar. Brad, of course, mentioned his dream guitar—the Les Paul Studio guitar. The salesman quickly jumped into the conversation. "I think we have a used one in the store that is in mint condition."

Well, it was a little more expensive than what we had intended, but how could I deny God's voice of love to Bradley through that guitar? The very guitar he wanted. A very expensive guitar in mint condition.

I told Brad I had prayed for a way to demonstrate God's love to him and that God was speaking to him (and me) through this Les Paul Studio Studio guitar. He is definitely pondering this "phenom- enon" as I write this story.

Yes, Eric Clapton can make a guitar talk, but only God can speak to the human heart through a guitar. After all, He did once use a donkey.

Yes, Eric Clapton
can make a guitar talk,
but only God can speak
to the human heart
through a guitar.

God Speaks Through Creation

Romans 1:20 says that God reveals Himself through His creation. To me this means He speaks through Creation. Psalm 19:1-2 says that "the heavens are telling of the glory of God; and the expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge".

So do I hear God's voice every second of every day? No. Do I hear His voice for every decision I make? The answer is also no. I don't need Him to tell me I need flour and sugar from the grocery store. I don't need Him to tell me to brush my teeth and with what paste. But when He speaks, I have no doubt He has spoken. Jesus said if we abide in His word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Though I always pray for His guidance, I have learned He leaves many decisions up to me. He has given every believer discernment. After years of being trained by the word of God and the Holy Spirit, my conscience has been tenderized to His conviction.

After years of being trained
by the word of God
and the Holy Spirit,
my conscience has been
tenderized to His conviction.

Hearing God's voice is not a spooky thing, though some who claim to hear it seem pretty spooky to me. I have always heard the Lord in very practical ways. I would like to share three more special times He clearly spoke to me about very personal and important matters. Hopefully these instances will illustrate a few of the ways the Lord speaks. I hope they will validate and encourage you in your relationship with Him.

His Voice and A Vision

When I first became a Christian, I had some physical problems. They were minor, but both of my parents had had cancer. My first reaction to my situation was fear . . . fear of cancer. At a prayer meeting, the group there prayed for my healing. At the moment of the prayer, I had a vision. In that vision I saw the Red Sea part, and heard God's voice inside me say, "You will never have cancer". I didn't tell anyone about this, because it was the first time something like this had happened to me. In fact this is the very first time I have ever told this story.

Later that day I went to a bookstore looking for books on healing. One seemed to almost leap off the shelf into my hands. I had never heard of the book. I cannot remember the title or the author today.

That night I could not sleep because of physical pain. I took my book and sat in a tub of hot water. In the first page or two, the author wrote that the first promise of healing was given after the parting of the Red Sea.

" . . . If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyp- tians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26 Underlining mine).

This was one of the first times I knew I had heard God's voice. It was so sweet of Him to confirm the vision He gave me of the Red Sea and His promise of health so quickly. Twenty years later I have had little more than a cold. The thought of cancer rarely crosses my mind.

His Voice and His Word

My mother was a destructive and abusive woman. Even though I was married and forty years old when she died, her abuse never ended. In my desire to be a good Christian, I tried over and over again to honor her. It was the greatest challenge of my life. I frequently failed. She kept me on my knees, usually in tears. Her abuse was devastating.

One morning I heard the Lord say, "I want you to separate from your mother". I questioned myself about whether the Lord would say such a thing. What about "Honor your father and mother, Lord?" When I asked Him again He said, "I want you to quit letting the devil abuse you through your mother". This seemed counter to the Word of God. I decided to counsel with my pastor.

I first related to him numerous serious past and present ongoing abuses committed by my mother and then told him the first part of what I thought the Lord had said. (I did not tell him the part about not letting the devil abuse me through her.) We talked and prayed. He then said, "I believe you have heard the voice of the Lord". He then gave me this Scripture, ‘ . . . I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils'" (1 Corinthians 10:10).

Don't forget. I had not mentioned anything about the devil using my mother to abuse me. The Lord confirmed I was to separate from her. This was more difficult for me than staying in the abusive relationship. I prayed with a broken heart for her everyday until she died. The Lord in His faithfulness provided someone to help her in her last months of life. This woman told me my mother was the most difficult person she had ever met. If this were the end of the story, it would be a very sad one. But the Lord is redemptive in all He does.

The day she died, she was in the process of moving to Dallas. Her hopes were high for reconciliation with me. Before her possessions were taken off the moving van, she died of heart failure! I was struck with guilt and fear. In the mercy of the Lord, He did not allow that to continue long.

The Lord communicated
to me what I needed
to relieve my guilt and anguish.

Early the day she died I was on my knees praying. A verse stood out on the page of a Bible on the floor before me. It said, "There- fore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead . . . " (2 Samuel 2:7). At the time I did not realize the Lord was speaking to me about my mother. When a verse stands out on a page like this one did, I sit up and take notice. I noted and dated it. After she died that night, I remem- bered the Lord gave me a verse but could not quite remember what it said. I couldn't wait to get home from the hospital and read it again. I went straight to my Bible.

Through this verse, the Lord communicated to me what I needed to relieve my guilt and anguish. Saul tormented David. David separated himself from Saul and actually hid from him until the day he died. Though I grieved for my mother, it was for what both of us never had. The Lord's assurance of my actions made my grief easier to bear.

Two days after her death, the woman she was staying with the night she died called me. She asked, "Did you receive the package from your mother?" I had not even looked at my mail since her death. I quickly looked through it and there it was. My hands trembled and my heart pounded as I opened the package. It contained a music album and a note from the woman who had called. Her note said, "Your mother listened to this all day the day she died. She planned to get a copy for you. I send it to you for her." The title of the album was, "It Is Well With My Soul". In addition to the title song, there was another song on the album. It started out, "I'll sit with my mother and father at the banqueting table in Heaven". It was clear to me and dear to me that the Lord, I believe, was telling me my mother was with Him.

I believe I was in the way of my mother's salvation. I was her god. I was a stumbling block. Though she knew the gospel, her sole desire was to possess me. Removing me from her life drew her to the only one who could save her.

I would have borne
unbearable guilt and grief
about separating from my mother
without that Scripture.

I would have borne unbearable guilt and grief about separating from my mother without that Scripture. The voice of the Lord is faithful and true. Over the years the Lord has given me great love, understanding, compassion and appreciation for my mother. In spite of her troubled life, she planted many values in my life.
I am grateful for her. I am grateful for many of her values.

A Ceiling Fan, A Calendar, A Scripture and A Precious Son

Another time I heard God's voice about a different set of painful circumstances. He spoke in a similar way. My son has had a neurological problem since he was twenty years old. He lives with me. His suffering is sometimes very intense. Many times so is mine. One night as I was getting ready for bed I began to cry. I poured out my complaint to the Lord. Surrendering to the Consuming Fire, I searched for my Bible and asked the Lord for direction and encouragement. Just as I found it, I heard the sound of paper fluttering. The ceiling fan (I thought) had blown a page of my calendar straight up in the air. This calendar has prayers and scriptures on each page. It had not been turned in more than two weeks. The exposed page said, "What have you done in My name today, child? Who have you sheltered or fed? How many lives have been warmed by My touch Through something you've
done or said?" There were also two scriptures on this page.

I asked for and received encouragement and direction.
The Lord spoke
and I heard Him.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat . . . I was a stranger and you invited me in" (Matthew 25:35).

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (I John 3:17).

I asked for and received encouragement and direction. The Lord spoke and I heard Him.

No human could give me such comfort and encouragement. I knew I was where He wanted me to be and so was my son. Coincidence? As long as I have owned this calendar, the pages have never been moved by anything but human hands. It is my belief that the holy wind of the Spirit of the Lord flipped the page. At the same time, my Bible fell open to Ezekiel 16:49-50.

As long as I have owned
this calendar,
the pages have never been moved by anything but human hands.

This is what it said. "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

The Lord made it clear to me that my son belongs with me. He is using his suffering in my life. When I weep my son says to me with holy reverence, "The glory, mom. Remember the glory." Some- times he says, "The cross, mom. It's the cross". He enriches my life and blesses me greatly.

These are some of the many times the Lord has spoken to me. It is always awesome. It is always comforting, and it is never condemn- ing. His sheep hear His voice. He is always speaking life into us.

The Voice of God is Light

The Israelites heard God's audible voice. It thundered from the Mount. For most of us, His voice comes as a still small voice quickening our hearts.

"Voice" in the Greek means a disclosure; a tone, an address for any purpose; a saying or language; a noise, sound or voice. Strong's says "voice" is probably akin to a word meaning "to lighten (to shine), to show, appear, seem, be seen, shine, think."

The word "revelation" is similar to the word "voice". It too means disclosure, appearing, and light as well as a manifestation, some- thing revealed, a revelation. This is what hearing God's voice does. It enlightens us. It reveals what has previously been hidden from us in His Word. It also shines His light on what has been hidden from us about ourselves.

"The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord. Searching all the innermost parts of his being" (Proverbs 20:27 NAS).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament translates this verse to read, "The lamp of the Lord (lighted by Him) is the soul of a man who explores the recesses of the breast". He knows when we are ready to see. He shines the lamp on what we need to see next.

The voice of God
enlightens us.

The light of His word and His voice bring light (glory), revelation and understanding of Himself and His plans to those who seek Him.

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" (Ephesians 1:17-18).

Light in the Hebrew and Greek is by definition almost always synonymous with fire. Centuries later, in spite of great techno- logical advances, fire is still our only source of light. It may be a literal fire, the fire of a burning wick in wax or oil, the fire of the sun or the fire of electricity. Whether through visions, revelation of His word or billboards along the side of the road, His voice is fire. It is our only source of His light and glory.

Moses heard God's voice out of the burning bush (Ex. 3). The Israelites "heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire" (Deuteronomy 5:24). When the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, tongues of fire rested upon each person there (Acts 2:3). When Jesus talked with His disciples on the road to Emmaus, they proclaimed,

"Did not our hearts burn [light] within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:32).

Did not our hearts
burn [light] within us,
while he talked with us
by the way,
and while he opened to us
the scriptures?

(Luke 24:32)

"To think" is also from a root word meaning "to shine". When we think upon the truths of God we see and "hear" light.

"For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).

" . . . What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think [shine] upon us, that we perish not" (Jonah 1:6).

" . . . awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14).

Many scriptures refer to the Word of God as light. It also gives or produces light.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).

The letter of the law cannot bring enduring light. Only the voice of God can do that. Reading the scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit brings light. They speak to us.

"Tell me, ye who want to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?" (Galatoams 4:21 NAS).

Tell me, ye who want
to be under the law,
do you not listen to the law?

(Galatians 4:21 NAS)

"Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in the strength, that do his commandments, hearkening [hearing/obeying] the voice of his word" (Psalm 102:20 Brackets mine).

"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the
law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light . . . " (Proverbs 6:20-23).

When stuck in the muck and mire of legalism, we read the word but don't hear what it says. We then make it law, insisting ours is the only interpretation. We become policemen and policewomen for God, judging according to the flesh and convicting everyone for failure to hear it our way. We are rarely open to hear that the scriptures mean something different to someone else.

Those who hear the voice of God as they read the Bible receive personal guidance and instruction for themselves. They are open to share what they have heard with others. Yet they do not insist everyone agree with them. Neither do they use what they hear to bring others under obligation to or condemnation of what they have heard. They trust others to God and His limitless and matchless grace.

We must trust others
to God's limitless
and matchless grace.

The Voice of God is Like Water

Water is another metaphor for the word of God and the voice of God. I lived on the West Coast for a period of time. Driving along- side the ocean with its many coves and bays, I learned a lot about how water reflects light. Whatever is going on in the heavens is mirrored in the waters below. When the sun shines brightly the water shimmers in shades of aquamarine to robin's egg blue. Overcast skies mottle the deep with splashes of grey and charcoal. As the sun sets, waters blaze with golds, corals and reds. On a moonlit night, the waters dance in a diamond-strewn path across a black velvet sea. When there is no moon, they are dark as pitch.

In the introduction of his 1828 Dictionary, Noah Webster indicates "light" and "water" both come from the same root word, which means "to flow." The general sense of "flow" is "to shine." This is borne out in the Hebrew root word, "nahar," which means to flow, to be lightened, or to shine.

"Torah" in the Hebrew and "word" (rhema) in the Greek also come from root words which mean "to flow." The torah was meant to flow like water and shine like light. God's voice flows like many waters.

" . . . and his voice as the sound of many waters" (Revelation 1:15).

"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters" (Psalm 29:3).

Water is always moving. If it does not, it becomes stagnant and contaminated. Nothing can live in it. Words written on stone cannot flow. They are dead letters. The spirit of the law flows like rivers of living waters.

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:38-39).

Words written on stone
cannot flow.
They are dead letters.
The spirit of the law
flows like rivers of living waters.

Paul referred to the Word of God as water that washes, cleanses and sanctifies us (Ephesians 5:26). This water (or light), he said, is used by the Lord to present Himself with a glorious church, a church filled with glory, a church without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish (v. 27).

If we do not hear and obey God's voice we cannot come to true repentance and be healed. Listen to this passage.

"You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return [repent], And I should heal them (Matthew 13: 14-15). (See also (Isaiah 6:9, Mark 4:12-13, Mark 8:17-18, Luke 8:10, John 12:39-40, Acts 28:26-27, Romans 11:8)

Abide, Practice, Trust, Obey

How do we learn to hear the voice of the Lord? First, abide, abide, abide in God's Word for therein is the truth that will set us free. Second, practice, practice, practice. Third, trust, trust, trust. And fourth, obey, obey, obey. Seek confirmation for the big things and look for confirmation for everything. There are several criteria for discerning the voice of the Lord. One, the Lord will never contra- dict the truth of His word. Two, He will always confirm what He has spoken. My personal criteria are 1) to love and want truth more than my own way, and 2) to seek confirmation from a mature, fruitful believer. I frequently pray for the Lord to correct me quickly. It is better for me to be right with the Lord than to be right in my own eyes.

The voice of God
is an Aha! moment.
Jewish priests of old called it
"A kiss from heaven."

The AHA! Moment

And finally, the voice of is an AHA! moment. Jewish priests of
old called it “a kiss from heaven.” It is a time of enlightment, a time of understanding. It is an awareness that something has
gone "kerthunk" deep down inside of us. It is a knowing that
we know that we know. That which has been in our heads
suddenly drops into our hearts.

An AHA! moment is never forgotten, as we are changed incre- mentally from glory to glory.

God speaks in many ways. For most of us, hearing the voice of God is having a Bible verse relevant to our lives come alive. It gives direction for the practical things in life as well as the spiritual. How would we know if God has an opinion about our occupation, who we marry, where we attend church, etc., if we cannot personally receive guidance from Him? More importantly, we cannot become vessels of honor when we do not hear His voice.

Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear truth. Open my eyes to see truth. Open my heart to understand truth. Open my ears to hear your voice. Correct me, Lord, when I need it. Your Word says your Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). It also says it will teach us about all things, and is true and is not a lie (1 John 2:27). I draw near to you, O Lord. Please draw near to me. In Your Name I pray. Amen.


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