BONUS: How To Hear God – 12 Ways God Speaks
From Today's Episode:
Welcome! We're in our Know Who You're Listening To Series and today's topic is How To Hear God - 12 Ways God Speaks.
12 Ways God Speaks
- The Bible (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2, John 10:14-16, also see John 10:1-4)
- The Holy Spirit (John 14:26, John 16:12-13)
- A Still, Small Voice (1 Kings 19:9-13)
- An Audible Voice (1 Samuel 3)
- Supernatural Signs & Wonders (Exodus 3)
- Circumstances (Jonah, Jonah 1:4, Jonah 2:10, Acts 5:1-11)
- Our Thoughts (Romans 12:2)
- Peace (1 Corinthians 14:33, Philippians 4:6-7)
- Visions and Dreams (Daniel 7:1-2) Also see Acts 2:17
- People (Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 also see Acts 21:10-11, Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 14)
- Creation (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20)
Here's the episode transcript
Hey friends. Welcome to our very first bonus episode. As you know, here on Good God Talks, I want to come alongside you and help you engage in uncommon conversations with God in everyday moments of life. But for most of us, if not all of us, having conversations with God doesn't start as a natural experience. We come to Christ and we learn how to start recognizing God's voice. And so I'm offering this bonus episode to talk through 12 of the ways that we see God talk with us as demonstrated in the Bible, to help us lay that foundation of how God speaks to us. Sound good? Okay.
1. The Bible
God talks with us through his written word. It's one of the clearest ways that we hear God speak with us as his people today. And scripture is complete. Nothing that God talks with us about is going to go against His word and nothing he talks with us about is going to add to or change or take away from the Bible.
So as we grow in cultivating this ability to have conversations with God, a helpful resource that God has already provided for us is to go back to the Bible and to verify what we think we're hearing from him in our conversations is lining up with what he's already told us in the word.
It's also really helpful to remember that when we read the Bible, we're not just reading God's past communication. We're engaging in God's current communication.
Because his word is living and active. It includes God's recorded word for those time periods, but it's God's active word. His current communication for us as we engage in reading the Bible today, and I'll read two passages of scripture for us.
Hebrews 4:12. It says: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
And then 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Hebrews 1:1-2."Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)
And then John 10:14-16, which is Jesus teaching, and he says: "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." (John 10:14-16)
So, we have the Word, and we have Jesus, and we also have…
3. The Holy Spirit
In John 14:26 Jesus told the disciples he would ascend into heaven and the Father would send the Holy Spirit as our helper to teach and remind us of what he said.
We see this again in John 16:12-13. Jesus says,"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." (John 16:12-13 ESV)
Right now in our present lives, the Holy Spirit is active, declaring, and speaking.
4. A Still Small Voice
God speaks with a still small voice. We see this in 1 Kings 19, and Elijah is afraid for his life. He's going through some things. He's run and he's living in a cave. He's literally hiding for the sake of his life.
It says that he responds to the word of the Lord before a still small voice of the Lord comes, which indicates that there's multiple ways that Elijah is hearing God speak. I'll read 1 Kings 19:9-13, and I want you to try and keep an ear out for that.
So, we're talking about Elijah, it says:
"There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He said, 'I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.' And he said, 'Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" (1 Kings 19:9-13)
This sound of "a low whisper," depending on what Bible translation you're reading, is translated "a low whisper" or a "thin silence," or "a still small voice." Sometimes the way that God speaks to us is in that quiet voice. It's not in the booming ways. I would prefer neon signs but it's in those small ways that require that we would lean in and pay attention.
God begins speaking with Elijah before the still small voice. It says the word of the Lord came to him and God said to Elijah, what are you doing here, Elijah? And then Elijah replies to him, the people are trying to kill me. And God says, go out and stand on the mount, but Elijah didn't do it yet.
So, he's dialoguing with God back and forth, and all of these things are happening. The Lord passed by. The sound of a low whisper, and then Elijah heard it and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And the voice came to him and said the same question that God had asked him when he was inside the cave.
And that's a great segue into way number five…
5. An Audible Voice
We see this in 1 Samuel 3. And we talked about how God speaks with young Samuel back in episode two of our podcast. Young Samuel is serving before the Lord and God calls out his name, Samuel Samuel, and it takes Samuel a little bit to recognize that it's God talking to him.
We may or may not have experienced him speaking to us in all of these ways. I personally would love to hear God speak to me in an audible voice, but I've never heard him talk with me that way, and that's okay. God can talk with me however he wants to.
Another way that God talks with us is…
6. Supernatural Signs and Wonders
We see this all throughout scripture and one of the times we see this happen is when God is calling Moses in Exodus 3. Moses is out tending to the sheep, and he comes across a bush that is burning but not consumed, and it says the angel of the Lord appeared in a flame of the fire out of the midst of the bush. So cool. Have not seen a burning bush in my lifetime, but supernatural signs and wonders are one of the ways that God can and does speak. And I would love to see that someday. That would be amazing. Okay.
This tends to be one of the more common ways that we as believers nowadays, Will hear God speak to us. We see this in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira, when they are misrepresenting their contribution and we see what God does.
And we also see this evidenced in the life of Jonah when God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh to speak on his behalf, but instead Jonah runs away from the presence of the Lord. And he goes on his ship to go the opposite direction, and the ship goes into a huge storm.
I wonder why?! So Jonah 1:4, "but the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea." So Jonah's running away. God brings a storm. and they cast lots to know why their ship has fallen into a storm. And it fell to Jonah. Again, God's speaking through circumstances and so the other people on the ship throw him into the sea and the storm stops.
Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish and then prays to God. And then in Jonah 2:10, it says, "and the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land." And that's only the beginning of the story, but we already see so many ways that God is speaking through circumstances, even in causing the fish to vomit Jonah out.
We see God speaking through circumstances all the time. We'll talk about this as asking God to clearly open or close doors, asking God to provide the means for us to walk down the path that we think he's calling us into. Asking God for confirmation through things that are happening in our day-to-day life.
8. Our Thoughts
Romans 12:2:"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)
So, God speaks through our thoughts. He transforms and renews our minds.
He'll speak to us in our thought life by causing a Bible verse to pop up into our memory by bringing a phrase or a sentence. Maybe you'll have something come into your thoughts that you know is not wisdom or insight that you normally would've had. Sometimes we'll get pictures in our mind's eye and it's a way of God communicating with us through our thoughts.
We also see God communicating with us through peace. Having a sense of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says,"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33)
Sometimes the way that he's speaking is simply in that sense. Where there may have been ambiguity or confusion or uncertainty before, or maybe it just felt unknown, he will give us a sense of peace as a way of communicating the direction that we are to go.
In Philippians 4:6-7, it says,
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
He also can speak through visions and dreams. That's number 10.
10. Visions and Dreams
We see this in Daniel 7 when Daniel gets dreams and visions and then declares what he saw.
We also see this in Act 2:16-17 when it talks about people operating in different giftings. And we see all throughout scripture people that are receiving dreams and visions as ways of God capturing their attention and speaking, communicating to them.
These are not in any particular order here, but the 11th way on our list of ways that God speaks with us is…
In Ephesians four 11 through 13, it talks about the five-fold ministry and it says,"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood [personhood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)
We see it in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, where it says,"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men. But as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
We see evidence of this when pastors are preparing their sermons. Going before the Lord and asking for a word that God would want to communicate to the flock that they're under shepherds of, underneath his care. And we see this in the way that gifts function. Anytime we're going before the Lord asking him for a word of encouragement, for a word of instruction, a word of correction, to share with someone else, we're seeking to partner with God in the way that he wants to communicate to his people.
This is not an exhaustive list, but the last way we're going to talk about is how God talks through creation. In Psalm 19:1-4, it says,"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun," (Psalm 19:1-4)
And then in Romans 1:20:"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)
We see God on display, we see his communication taking place through creation.
12 Ways God Speaks
As you listen to these 12 ways, you probably were able to identify ways that you've heard God talk with you before. And if you haven't, I want to encourage you. God does want to talk with you. Sometimes if this is a new practice, we can feel discouraged. I've been there before where I felt like I had never heard God speak to me and I worried that maybe I would never hear God talk with me.
I want to remind you what we talked about at the very beginning of this episode. Reading the Bible isn't just reading past communication that God left for other people. It's engaging in God's current communication with you. And so listening to this episode, you have heard God speak to you. You have heard confirmation that God does speak, and now we get to continue in response to him by practicing talking with him, by practicing listening, by continuing to tune our ear to recognize him when it's him speaking with us.
In whatever way God talks with you already, keep talking with him. Ask him to help you grow in your ability to hear and respond to his voice. That is a prayer that God delights to answer.
Have a good talk
And if you've been encouraged by this content, please share it with a friend and help them grow in their conversational relationship with God too!
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