Hearing the Voice of God
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Psalm 29 : 3-9, Habakkuk 2:1-2
Sunday 19th July 2015
So far in this series, we have looked at two messages: ‘Living In the Consciousness of God’s Faithfulness’ and ‘Living Through God’s Faithfulness’, which we discussed last week. We agreed that in living our lives through God’s faithfulness, we must totally depend on Him. God’s faithfulness can also be defined as ‘living a life of faith’ and holding on to what He has said and ignoring other variant opinions. We can be rest assured that God will defend the integrity of His word.
From Hebrews 11:11, we took a critical look at Sarah, who judged God faithful. Conversely, we all have our opportunities, with our various circumstances to judge God as faithful – when we need Him to heal, provide, sustain and intervene in our situations. We also examined the six secrets of faith, namely: (a) Faith is an empowerment to operate in the realm of divinity (b) Faith draws on God’s power (c) Faith draws redemptive provision (d) Faith Overcomes (e) Faith is a secret/Mystery, and lastly (f) Faith is a weapon. In rounding up, we agreed that faith comes by hearing directly from God, as we read His word.
Today as we round up this series, let’s look at a message titled ‘Hearing the Voice of God’. Here is Psalm 29:3-9: ‘The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
God’s voice, as we’ve read from Psalm 29, is limitless. We must realise that our success in life is rooted in knowing the voice of God for our lives. Psalm 37:23 reads: ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way’. Our victory in life is assured when we follow the specific route that God has already ordained for our lives. Hence, it is imperative that we hear God’s instructions for our lives. The most important factor in our lives is not our past or background, neither is it an educational qualification or the opinion of men. Rather it is simply what God has already concluded and spoken regarding our lives. It is a tragedy to live without knowing what God has declared concerning our lives. Such a person lives without a vision, direction or destiny to look forward to. It is a life without hope. As such, it is important that we know and fully grasp what God is saying about our lives.
Here are some questions you must ask yourself every now and again: ‘Where am I going?’, ‘What is God’s plan for my life?’, ‘In which direction is God taking me?’ Jeremiah 29:11 puts it this way: ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’. It is not sufficient for God to know what He has for us; we all must also know what God has concluded about our lives. Can I encourage you to be a person who yearns for the voice of God? ‘Where the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable’ is a well-known quote by Dr. Myles Monroe. Without knowing what God wants you to do and where He wants you to go, there is a tendency to misuse your God-given opportunities and potentials.
Habakkuk 2:1-2 reads: ‘I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint’. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others” (NLT). Here are some lessons to learn from these verses in Habakkuk 2: Firstly, the prophet made a decision to climb up to a watchtower, separating himself from others so that he could be far-removed from the noise. Sadly, our world nowadays is so busy that it could be challenging to hear God’s voice. We hardly spend time in prayers in seeking God’s face as we ought to. If we allow the boisterousness of life to crowd God out of our schedule, inevitably we will find it difficult to hear God's voice. To separate a day to seek God’s face could save a person fifty years of living without direction. It could make a difference in the course of the life of our future generations. Hearing God is a prerequisite for getting the world's attention. Jesus was often known to withdraw to a lonely place to seek God’s face. Matthew 14:23 records it this way: ‘And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there’. Each of us must make it a point of duty to find a lonely place to seek God’s face, so as to find out where to go in life. Secondly, Habakkuk waited on God. Again, sadly we live in a microwave system, where our lives are bombarded with instant delicacies and amenities, robbing us of our heritage in God. Like Moses who sought God on the mountain of Horeb, Habakkuk decided to give God his undivided attention (See also Exodus 3:4-5). In Exodus, Moses began to hear God’s voice when his attention was undivided. It must be noted that God is always speaking to us; it is our responsibility then to tune our hearts to His frequency. Thirdly, after waiting for God, Habakkuk noted that God spoke to Him.
Today, let’s examine two major ways by which God speaks to us:
(a) God speaks to us through His Word: The voice of God is encapsulated in scriptures. When reading the bible, we must approach it with the intention of hearing God’s voice. Here is Isaiah 34:16, which reads: ‘Search the book of the Lord and see all that he will do; not one detail will he miss; not one kite will be there without a mate, for the Lord has said it, and his Spirit will make it all come true’ (TLB). Daniel 9:1 also speaks further on this: ‘in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem’. Everything about our lives is written in scriptures. Hebrews 10:6-7 makes this clear: ‘You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures (NLT). Every manufacturer has a manual, and the manual for our lives is God’s word. Behind every verse in scriptures is God’s voice. As Christians, it is our responsibility to find out what God is saying about our lives. The blueprint for our lives is written explicitly on the pages of the bible and God’s plans for our lives are coded in scriptures. As we study the bible, God’s Spirit will reveal to us what God’s intentions are. Hence, browsing through the bible is not enough to know God’s will. Deuteronomy 29:29 reads: ‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law’. We need to find out those things revealed to us by God. We must always take the posture of a learner in order to know more from God’s word. Jesus found that which was written about him in Luke 4:17: ‘And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written (about Him)’. God desires to lead us just like He led the Israelites by a pillar of fire in the night to protect them, and a pillar of cloud by day to shelter them. Here is the question we need to ask: ‘Are we willing to allow Him to lead and guide us through His word?’ Can I challenge you today to make yourself available to hear God’s voice?
Psalm 29:3 reads: ‘The voice of the LORD is over the waters’. Apostle Paul speaks about God’s word using the same language in Ephesians 5:26: ‘that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word’. By extrapolation, we can understand Psalm 29:3 to mean that God’s voice is upon His word as we read and learn from it.
(b) God speaks to us by His Spirit: Jesus speaks about the Spirit and the Spirit’s role in our lives in John 16:12-15: “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ Let’s reiterate some points from this scripture. Firstly, the Spirit will guide us onto all truth. With the Holy Spirit with us, we can live an error-free life.
Secondly, we can get ahead with knowing what God has in store for us in the future and thirdly, all that Christ reveals to the Spirit can be ours when we ask Him. It is vital then, that we befriend the Holy Spirit. As Spirit beings we ought to be living invincible and supernatural lives. If we can fully grasp this truth and inculcate this into our daily walk with God, then our lives will be revolutionised forever. Revelation 2:7 exhorts us to listen to the Spirit: ‘“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches’ (NLT).
There are other ways by which God speaks to us. He could speak to us audibly, through visions, dreams and through His servants. As we receive God’s servants during our half-week long Convention, let me encourage you to listen carefully as God speaks to each of us through His servants that He is sending to us.
Having discussed how God speaks to us, let us learn how to hear God’s voice. It is not enough to know that God speaks to us. It is even more vital that we have an understanding of how to hear His voice, in order to have a clear direction in life. Firstly, we must be spiritually discerning: 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 reads: ‘However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us’. In hearing God, we must quieten our physical senses, as God speaks to our Spirit. He doesn’t speak to our minds, nor does He communicate with our physical eyes or ears. What we can see or hear with our natural senses are temporal. However, our spiritual senses can pick up eternal words and thoughts from God. May the Lord help us to prioritise our interaction with the Holy Spirit. Apostle John writes about His experience with the Spirit in Revelations 1:10, which reads: ‘On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet’. Just like you cannot understand what a dog is communicating with another dog when barking, we must also understand that we cannot understand the Spirit until we are tuned in to the realm of the Spirit. So our posture in receiving from God, should that of humility and a desire to do what He tells us to do. As Spirit beings, it is imperative that we hear the voice of God. Secondly, we must be engaged in a lifestyle of Fasting and Prayer: We must make it a priority to make fasting and prayers a lifestyle. A recommended routine should be, at least once a week. Fasting subdues the flesh and elates the Spirit within us. Thirdly and finally, we must be engaged in a lifestyle of Praise: Isaiah 30:29 reads: ‘But the people of God will sing a song of joy, like the songs at the holy festivals. You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord— to the Rock of Israel’. And the Lord will make his majestic voice heard. He will display the strength of his mighty arm. It will descend with devouring flames, with cloudbursts, thunderstorms, and huge hailstones. Our time of worship is an opportunity to hear from God. 2 Kings 3:15 reads: ‘Now bring me someone who can play the harp.” While the harp was being played, the power of the Lord came upon Elisha’. As the harp was being played, God’s power rested on Elisha and he declared God’s counsel for that time.
May the Lord enable each of us to interact more with the Spirit of God within us, to be discerning, engaging in a lifestyle of Prayer, Fasting and praise so that we can hear and understand the voice of God for our lives and know the future He has prepared for us (Amen).
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