Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Being one of God’s people means hearing His voice, and we all want to hear God’s voice. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” But when we say we want to know God’s voice, it implies a number of things:
The first thing this implies is that there is a God. Now, through the written Word of God, the Holy Bible and through the revelation of His Holy Spirit, we know for a fact that there is one true God capital ‘G’. If you are not sure of the existence of God then I’m concerned about you, but glad you are here. Maybe that’s something you need to discuss with your Pastor. But for the sake of this discussion I am going to assume that everyone reading this believes in God.
The second thing that desiring to hear God`s voice implies is that this amazing God that created the universe and everything in it from atoms to apples, communicates with man. The Bible is the divinely inspired written record of God's relationship with man, but also, His communication with man; after all what is a relationship without communication? It details the ways in which God spoke to man and man’s response, both as individuals and as nations to the voice of God. So we can have confidence because the Bible confirms that God communicates with men and women.
The third thing implied is that we can recognize His voice when He speaks to us. The Bible verifies that believers can know the voice of God and respond to Him. Earlier in John 10:16 Jesus said this: And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Jesus foreshadows the church and declares that God is reaching out to the heathen Gentiles. Us. These people, again us; that had not known the one true God, and not heard His voice; would one day, not only hear God but would follow Him as well. So we know that we can indeed recognize the voice of God.
The fourth and final thing that is implied by this is that God has something to say to us. In Hebrews 3:7-11, Paul gives us a warning from the book of Psalms: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
When God is taking about the "trial in the wilderness" and the "rebellion" He is referring to the disobedience of the nation of Israel. After Israel was delivered from captivity in Egypt, they repeatedly disobeyed God, they wouldn't listen when He spoke to them. God was telling them very important things, God had something to say. In these verses God warns us to respond when He speaks and not disobey as Israel did.
To bring this back around, when Paul says: "today, if you will hear His voice," he confirms that God still speaks to us now just the same as He did then. The warning to listen confirms that what He has to say is important.
So how do we pick out God`s voice when there are many voices in the world clamoring for attention? In I Corinthians 14:10, 2000 years before the information age Paul picked out the problem: There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. The world presses us on every side, trying to drown out God’s voice beneath the droning of social media, mind numbing TV, drawn out movies, and ADD pop culture. Seriously, did you know there are these micro videos out now? It’s like Youtube but the videos can’t be longer than 60 seconds, because who has time to watch 5-10 minute videos anymore? Makes me want to put the ‘facepalm’ emote on a loop. But all of the noise in the universe even Youtube, can be boiled down to 4 voices.
THE VOICE OF MAN:
The first voice is easy to recognize, your hearing it right now. It is the voice of man, the audible voice of every other person on the planet. Sometimes the voice of man may give wise advice and sometimes not so wise, sometimes we are called to listen to each other, then again, sometimes not; but anytime the voice of man conflicts with the voice of God, you must obey God. In Acts 5:29 Peter is quoted as saying “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
THE VOICE OF SATAN:
The second voice you hear, is the one we want to hear the least, and that is the voice of Satan. If you believe in God then you must accept the existence of Satan. Period. The voice of Satan was first heard by man when he spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden. You can read about this in Genesis, chapter 3:1-5. Satan's voice lies, deceives, and always attempts to lead man into sin and away from God. Satan does not need to gain anything from it. Satan has lost the war and he only has one agenda now; cause God as much pain as he can before being tossed into the pit and the only way He can do that is by hurting God’s adopted children. In Matthew 4:1-13 you can easily recognize Satan’s voice as he tries to tempt Jesus and Jesus responds with the Word. Evil spirits (demons of Satan) also have voices: Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:33-34)
Sometimes the voice of Satan is actually audible when demons use the vocal cords of a possessed man or woman. Most of the time, however, Satan speaks in a near inaudible voice. He whispers lies, deceit, and sinful thoughts into your ear in an effort to draw you away from God’s path. I realize some of what I am saying is uncomfortable to hear, but warfare is rarely comfortable and in spiritual warfare and natural warfare, knowing is half the battle. I spent three quarters of my life comfortable; far from God, but comfortable.
THE VOICE OF SELF:
The third voice we hear, more often than not, is the voice of self. Man talking to himself. Jesus showed us examples of this in Luke 16:3 in the parable of the steward “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. And in John18:4 in the parable of the widow the Judge says but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man. Your conscience, your sub-conscience, talking to yourself, your thoughts we need to be cautious concerning the voice of self. In Matthew 6:24: Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
I do not believe Jesus was just talking about denying ourselves our selfish desires of the flesh, but also of denying the voice of self and follow Him. So, if we are to deny ourselves, turn away from the voice of that old chowder head Satan, and be wary of the voice of man... Then that only leaves one voice we should be listening to.
THE VOICE OF GOD:
Jesus said believers could know God’s voice and distinguish it from other voices:
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:3-5)
Believers are compared to sheep, sheepeople if you will. It is the characteristic of sheep not to know where they are going, or care. They just wander around. Don’t care where they are, just as long as the grass doesn't run out. They must be led. We must be led. Left to our own devices, and things do not go well. Jesus said He is the shepherd, the leader of the sheep. He said His sheep would know His voice and follow Him instead of the voices of man, self, or Satan.
HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD
Now you might be saying, “That’s great! But how do we distinguish the voice of God among all the clatter of the other 3 voices?” God built us to hear His voice. God created us with the intention that we would always be able to have a relationship and open communication with Him. Look to the book of Genesis and read chapters 1-3 you’ll see what I’m talking about. These chapters record the creation of the world and of the first human beings, Adam and Eve. From the time of creation, God communicated His will to mankind and mankind listened. Until he didn't, but that’s another sermon.
Hearing God’s voice isn't the real issue, God wants you to know His voice so then you will understand His will as He speaks it to you. Learning to receive divine guidance is learning to walk in intimate fellowship with God. Jesus said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
I don’t know about you, but every time I read this verse I feel like it deserves a sound track. You know? It hits me and I can hear a deep epic orchestra piece, and see a slow motion pan of someone coming to a major life realization. Or maybe that’s just me.
The word "proceeds" speaks of a continuing function; not something that use to happen. It means something that happened in the past, is happening in the present, and will continue to happen in the future. As long as there is GOD, life giving communication will continue to flow. God speaks to communicate His will to mankind. This is why it is important to know the voice of God.
WHEN GOD SPEAKS
There are many ways God speaks to us, but there is one way that is universal to all of us, and that is through His Word. There are two Greek words translated as "word" in the Bible. The Greek words are "logos" and "rhema." "Logos" refers to the written Word of God. "Rhema" refers to the living or life-giving Word of God. There is a great example of this in Acts 17:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word (rhema) with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures (logos) daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
I know atheists who know the Bible much better than me. They can quote scripture and verse fluently, arguing timelines and minutia for hours, but only understanding the “logos” Word of God; the wise parables of Jesus and the cautionary tales of the Old Testament. Without the “rhema” Word of God, the Bible has little spiritual impact. The “logos” is wisdom but the “rhema” is relationship.
A "rhema" Word may be communicated through a sermon or a verse from the Bible which suddenly strikes you with great meaning. Like Matthew 4:4 for me earlier. It may be spoken to you by God through the use of spiritual gifts. But remember: The "rhema" Word will always agree with the written Word of God. The written Word of God is complete. It is a very bad idea to try to add something to the Bible, or try to omit something from it.
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19).
I have to stress this again because I believe this is of vital importance; when God speaks to us it will always be in harmony with His written Word. This is one way you can tell the message is from God.
The more we rest in the presence of God, the more we desire a relationship with Him; to press into Him. God wants to have conversation with you today right now; and if you want to hear His voice you need to focus on His Word. When Satan tried to tempt Him, Jesus responded with the Word. When man tried to confuse Him and create loop-holes, Jesus responded with the Word. When Jesus was stressed to the point of sweating blood in the garden and common sense would be to run like heck, Jesus responded with the Word and asked His followers to pray for Him; listened to His Father, and took the cup God had handed Him.
When we have a relationship with God He will reach out to us through diverse and unique means. For me, as I have said before, God and I have a running conversation in the back of my head. He also uses other people, even our situations to speak to us. And sometimes He uses that still small voice. But there is one way that is common to all of us. By meditating on the “logos” Word of God and opening our minds and our hearts to His “rhema” Word.
Take some time today to bask in His presence. Don’t listen to other people, shut out the enemy, don’t allow your own thoughts to distract you. Have a conversation with your Heavenly Father who loves you. Just listen to His still small voice.