“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Just yesterday, I sat with a group of ladies that I have grown to love over the past several weeks. The context of this group is my Thursday morning Bible study. We get together each week, study God’s Word, discuss it together, and pray for each other together and throughout each passing week. Each time, I find that we have some incredible conversations about life, faith, and trying to blend the two together so that they are one and not two separate elements. Yesterday was no different. Often times in Christian circles, we throw around these “phrases” that perhaps mean little to nothing to someone who hasn’t walked with the Lord for quite as long as we have. Things like, “The Lord told me” happened to be the phrase that captured all of our attention yesterday, and the above question arose. “How does God speak to us? And how do we know that it’s Him speaking?”
I quickly provided an answer to the question, but then stepped back and realized that I often struggle with the same questions myself. I know the textbook answer, but do I wrestle with doubt? You better believe I do! There have been too many times than I’d like to admit lately where I find myself doubting what I think I heard God say, writing it off as, “That must have been my thoughts and not Him.”
So, how does God speak to us? How do we know that it’s Him? I’ll share with you what I shared with the ladies at my table. Sharing these things is one thing. Believing them and applying them is quite another. Perhaps we can link arms and support each other in this. Because the truth of the matter is this: God is not silent in your life or mine. He speaks to us all the time. Are we listening?
How does God speak to us?
1. Primarily, God speaks to us through His Word. Therefore, we can conclude that if we’re not reading it, engaging in it, studying it, meditating on it (I think you get the picture), it’s no wonder that we’re “not hearing Him.” God breathed out each word in Scripture, and it serves as His spoken Word to us. It is our guide, our roadmap, our “How To” in this crazy world. Pick it up. Dust it off. Open it. Read it. Believe it.
2. Secondly, I believe that God speaks to us through His people. How else can we interpret Proverbs 27:17 that says, “as iron sharpens iron”? All Christ followers have at least one thing in common. We have the Holy Spirit living and dwelling inside of us, which means that His Spirit speaks to us and speaks through us when we are walking in step with the Spirit. We can be used as God’s mouthpiece to one another. If God’s Word says it, and then a faithful, loving friend who loves Jesus seconds it, God might be speaking to you.
3. Finally but certainly not the last way that God can speak to us, I believe that God speaks to us through our circumstances. It’s important to remember the order of these three. When we put #3 first, we have misprioritized. God’s Word 1st, His people 2nd, and our circumstances, although not always how God speaks, 3rd. Have you ever asked God for something, but then your circumstances shout a resounding “No”? Perhaps, that is God’s way of speaking to you. You ask the Lord for provision to go somewhere or do something, and the door slams shut. If you believe that God is in control of all things, then you can know that this circumstance was one way that He spoke His answer to your prayer.
To summarize, God’s voice will never be in contradiction to what His Word says. So, if what you’re hearing does not line up with what God says in His Word, you can be certain that it’s not God speaking. If it does line up, if it’s affirmed by others who love God and perhaps also by your circumstances, God is speaking. Listen up!