Experiencing God, Week 5

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God Speaks in Different Ways

Old Testament
Hebrews 1:1 ESV
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Angels, visions, dreams, Urim and Thummim (Objects kept in the breastpiece of the High Priest and used to discern the will of God -black/white stone?), symbolic action, gentle whisper, miraculous signs, etc.
Point made was it doesn’t matter HOW God spoke to His people, it is important THAT God spoke to them.
Now, relate that to us today. Does it really matter HOW God speaks to us? Or, is it more important that he DOES speak to us???
In the OT, when God spoke there was some unique meaning to that person. Each person had a different and unique experience with God and His communication with them. In the same manner, God speaks to each of us in a different and unique way. No two of us may have the same unique experience with God’s communication, so there is no right or wrong way that God speaks to us.
So, how many times have we “thought” we have heard the voice of God speaking? In all scriptural examples, each person was sure it was God speaking. Do you think that has changed today?
Exodus 3:14 ESV
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
Has I AM changed??? If I AM has not changed, then would he change His communication to something that was not recognizable?
Furthermore, the book states when God spoke the person knew what God said. The message was clear and purposeful for that person, at that time in their life, and for God’s specific will. He is not confusing in His message to us, either.
1 Corinthians 14:33 a (ESV)
33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
Not only do we know it is God speaking, we should clearly know His voice.
John 10:27 ESV
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Hearing the voice of God is an experience! I like what the book used as an example “Moses would have been foolish to say, ‘This has been a wonderful experience with this burning bush. I hope this leads me to an encounter with God!’” That experience with the burning bush WAS an experience with God.
While we see God speaking throughout the OT, the method He used was different from person to person BUT they all knew it was God, understood what He said, and it was a personal encounter with Him.
On the other hand, do we take time to truly listen to God? Or, do we ask Him to bless the mess we are about to create? “Lord, show me a sign if this is right or wrong…but until I hear from you, I’m going to do it my way”.
I think many of us are removed far enough from God that we are not sure when we hear His voice. And even when we do, we second guess ourselves. How many of us truly WAIT until God gives us clear instruction? That is how we develop an absolute trust and dependence on God.
Proverbs 3:6 M:BCL
6 Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
God WILL give specific instruction IF we are willing to wait and listen for Him. BUT He will not shout out instructions to us. We must be patient to listen, and to hear what He is saying.
If you do not have clear instruction from God, then pray and WAIT.

God Speaks by the Holy Spirit

In the NT, we see a change in the way God speaks to believers.
Hebrews 1:1–2 ESV
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 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.
God speaks to us in the Gospels through Jesus.
John 1:1 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 ESV
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He dwelt among us, and He still speaks on behalf of the Father today.
John 14:8–10 ESV
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
We were told by Jesus that, when He left us, God would send us the Comforter.
John 14:26 ESV
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
We cannot forget, that God peaks to us personally through the Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit reside?
1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
We encounter God on a daily basis, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have an experience with God through the Holy Spirit. We learn, understand, are guided, have truth revealed to us, and are lead by the Holy Spirit.
But, it is up to us to listen, hear, and RESPOND to His still small voice. In the OT, when God spoke the hearer did. In the NT, when Jesus spoke, the hearer did. When God speaks to us…it is up to us to DO.

God Reveals

God continues to speak to us, but do we listen to what He reveals to us? What are some things He revealed in scripture?
Genesis 17:1 ESV
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,
Leviticus 19:1–2 ESV
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Malachi 3:6–7 ESV
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
John 6:51 ESV
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
He reveals something to us today, in the same way He revealed to those in scripture. Why did God reveal Himself in scripture? To show those He spoke to that He was almighty, holy, forgiving, the source of eternal life, creator, and it goes on and on.
God reveals Himself so our faith can be increased, which leads us to obedient action.
God also reveals His purpose to us so that we will know what He plans to do! You see, it’s not what we intend to do for God that is important, it is what God intends to do that is critical. It’s how we grow confident that HE is who He says He is!
Amos 3:7 ESV
7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
He speaks so He can reveal His plans to us. We need to know His plan!
Proverbs 19:21 ESV
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
It is His way that He reveals His ways.
He reveals His ways to draw His people close to Him into the relationship He wants to have with us. Why? Because His ways are not our ways, by nature.
Isaiah 55:8 ESV
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
God’s ways are not our ways, because of sin.
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
When we try to do God’s work OUR way, we will never see His mighty power in what we do.
That one is difficult, in my opinion. How do we remove OURSELVES from the picture and fully rely on God’s will, way, and direction? You see, God is not as concerned over WHAT we do, but HOW we do it - His way!
Jesus taught His disciples to do the KINGDOM work, not their own.
In learning to follow God, we have to listen to Him and not others or ourselves. Where do we find guidance in how to do this?

God Speaks Through the Bible

God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. He speaks through a variety of ways, in particular for us, by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church. By reading the Bible, we are reading God’s Word. The Holy Spirit takes these words and applies them to specific circumstances in our life.
We have already heard that a person cannon understand spiritual truth unless the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) reveals it.
John 14:17 ESV
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
When the Holy Spirit reveals a spiritual truth from God’s Word, He is personally applying it to our lives. This is done through a process:
You read God’s Word (the Bible)
The Spirit of truth takes God’s Word and reveals truth
You adjust your life to God’s truth
You obey God
God works in and through you to accomplish His purpose.
Has God ever used a particular Scripture verse to speak to you?
What is an example of the way God used His Word to speak to you?
Once God has spoken to us, then our response is critical. We have to adjust our life to the truth by agreeing with the truth, and agreeing that the truth applies to us in the instance God brought it to our attention.
Simply agreeing in confession is not enough. We must be obedient.

God Speaks Through Prayer

If you noticed, I gave each of you a notebook at the beginning of this study. We should be keeping a spiritual journal of what God reveals to us throughout this study - not only this study, but in all our daily endeavors.
Prayer helps us receive from God. It is a two-way conversation with God. You speak to God, He speaks to you.
We have discussed before, we often speak and then don’t take time to listen. This is the greatest downfall in many Christians spiritual walk. Prayer helps adjust us to God, not align God to us.
Let’s read
Romans 8:26–27 ESV
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Now, answer these questions:
Why do we need the Holy Spirit’s help when we pray? (He helps us in our weakness).
What advantage does the Holy Spirit have that we do not have? (He intercedes for us).
What does the Holy Spirit do for us? (We are weak and do not know how to pray as we should. The Holy Spirit takes our feeble attempt and interprets / intercedes for us at the throne of God).
How should we pray? First, we are to deny self. We are then to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. Then we should DO what He says. There should also be a time where we compare what we hear to His Word. If it is contrary to Scripture, then it is wrong. We have allowed self to come into play. We must also be careful to not search for Scripture that can be twisted to agree with what we want to do and then convince ourselves it is God’s will.
Scripture has to be our guide for knowing when God is speaking. When He speaks, we will know it. We must be able to recognize His voice, and align what we hear with His character and His Word. If we don’t hear, then we must be patient and pray until it is revealed.
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