Just a few housekeeping things before we get going, we have Phil Wickham, Stars Go Dim, and Micah Tyler coming to Christ Community Church on October 9th as part of Phil Wickham’s “Children of God” tour. It’s going to be off the hook and you should totally be there! So if you read this blog and are interested in coming to the show, go to this link and check out the October 9th show at Christ Community Church in State College, PA to find out about tickets and everything like that! Seriously, it’s going to be an awesome time and we would love to see the place packed out! Also, I’ve been regularly updating the “Gallery” page with a few photos of things that we’ve been doing here on campus, be sure to go check that out, God’s doing some really cool stuff.
Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the post. We just started a new sermon series at Christ Community Church (CCC) about knowing your direction and where you’re headed. So the rest of the campus staff and I were in a meeting trying to get our week on campus put together for the students and how we were going to tie into what we have going on at CCC. And in that discussion, we settled on one central idea; and that idea is this: the ability to know where you’re going revolves around one thing and that one thing is hearing the voice of God.
We have to be in true communion with God in order to know where we are spiritually headed. Some might find it interesting that the definition of communion isn’t what we do in church on Sundays with the bread and the wine (or grape juice depending on what kind of church you go to). The word communion means the sharing and exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings. It’s a two way thing, the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings with someone and the reciprocation of shared intimate thoughts and feelings with you is communion. In the verb form, we get the word communicate. Communion is a noun, it’s a state in which something exists in relation to something else. Communicating is the verb or action that is required to exist in that state of communion. We have to be in communication with God in order to know where we are headed spiritually. That’s the only way to know what direction you’re headed.
If the Bible is the map then God’s voice is the compass. A map helps you get somewhere if you already know where you’re at and what direction is what but it doesn’t help a ton if you don’t know how to identify direction. But a compass can help you get out of a place, even if you don’t know where you’re at because it tells you what direction you’re headed. Ideally, the two work best together, if you only utilize one there is always something left to the unknown. You might know where you are and where you want to go based on the map, but if you don’t have a compass to show you the direction you’re headed, you’re really just guessing at how to reach your destination. But if you use both, you can easily figure out where you are and where your headed.
The idea that hearing God’s voice is the way to gain direction should raise a couple of questions. Such as, if God’s voice is the compass, how do I hear it? Does God speak to everyone, including me? What do I have to do to hear God’s voice? etc.
And with all of that, I’m going to point us to a couple of scriptures. First up, John 8:47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God.” As children of God, He speaks to us. Plain and simple, our relationship with God is meant to be one where we talk to each other. It isn’t supposed to be a relationship where we just accept that He exists and that one day we’ll be judged based on how we did in the time between salvation and death. There is so much more and God walks beside us and talks us through. We’re not on our own.
Isaiah 42 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire bible and verse 9 is one of my favorite verses of the chapter. God is talking to Isaiah and says, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” This is saying that God is proclaiming new things over this earth, and before He does them, He gives us insight into what He’s doing? Why does He do this? It get’s into what I talked about with co-laboring in a previous blog post (go check it out if you haven’t yet! It’s one of my favorite topics) but He wants us to know his plans and contribute and declare those things in the earth before they happen because our zeal towards his plans can actually play a role in their coming to fruition on this earth. God talks to us and communes with us so that we can have a direction and a plan and something to work towards. He wants us to have purpose and direction so He shares His plans with us so that we can see the end goal before it springs forth in the earth. And that gives us direction. It’s remarkable and humbling really.
What a compass does is it sets our sights on something. You use a compass and identify what object is in the direction that you’re trying to go; then you go towards that object. That’s how you stay on course; that object is a marker of the direction that you want to head. We do that type of thing with stars all of the time, the North Star has guided people through the wilderness for millennia. That’s because the star represents a direction; it’s their compass. God speaks to us and tells of His plans so that we can set our sights on something and go towards it. That’s how we gain our direction.
I love this aspect of God. That He would subject His plans to our influence just because He wants to be close to us and commune with us. Call it prophetic insight, call it hearing from God, call it communion, call it what you want but the bottom line is that God speaks to us so that we can have direction and purpose. But make no mistake, the only way to gain that direction and purpose is to hear God’s voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
So how do we “hear” God’s voice? Well, in general, we don’t typically audibly hear God speak like you would hear me speak out loud if I were talking to you. I’ve only met one person who has ever audibly heard God’s voice and the funny thing is that it’s happened twice and both times was before he was a Christian. So what does it mean to hear God’s voice? It can be heard a lot of different ways, audibly is definitely possible, although I’ve never experienced it. Personally, I hear God’s voice a lot by identifying his character in things. If I’m trying to make a decision, the way that I hear the Lord saying, “this is the way, walk in it” is to identify which avenue I have before me possesses the most likeness to the character of God.
I often hear God’s voice by feeling. If I feel peace in a storm, I am very careful to note what is on my mind in that moment because peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Peace comes because of the presence of God existing around us and in those moments you are likely to hear God’s voice through a thought or idea. This is what Paul is talking about when he says about peace that surpasses understanding, note those moments because that peace is from God and He’s close. When you are experiencing peace in the midst of a situation that your flesh is anxious, it’s because God is with you and speaking to you.
You can hear God through music, through feeling, through art, through a story, through a sermon. God speaks in so many ways and so differently to people that it’s hard to comprehensively tack down beyond my personal experience. I do know one thing though, and that is that acknowledging that God speaks in a plethora of amazing ways is like opening the door to hearing Him speak through everything.
The final point I want to make is this: God is always talking, the question is are we listening? I’ve heard the analogy several times that God’s voice is like a radio frequency. That frequency always exists. Even if you aren’t tuned into that frequency with your radio the radio waves are still flowing all around you. You just have to tune your receiver to the right frequency to be able to hear those specific radio waves. God’s voice is a lot like this where He’s always speaking. Even if we’re not tuned in to the right frequency to hear, He is still speaking. So there has to be a key to make sure that we are tuned into the correct frequency to hear God’s voice.
Removing blocks in that signal is essentially the process of becoming Christ-like; sanctification. Jesus heard God’s voice in everything that he did and said, John 8:28 says, “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the father taught me.” There was never a moment where Jesus was out of tune with God’s voice. So where do our differences lie in comparison to Jesus’ life that would cause blockages to hearing God’s voice? The big one (well, the only one I can think of) is sin. Unrepentant sin is a huge block to hearing God’s voice because when we harbor sin in our lives it’s because in that moment of sin, we value the sin over communion with God.
The rest of that verse in John 8:47 says, “The reason you do not hear is because you do not belong to God.” And another way of saying that you do not belong to God is to say that you belong to sin. Those are the only two options. You either belong to God or are a slave to sin. So sin is the thing that prevents us from tuning into the frequency of God’s voice. I could elaborate more on that but I think that’s adequate discussion of sin for this post.
I want to take a minute and just explain my heart behind this. I don’t want to sound like another one of the bible thumpers who is speaking down to anybody because of sin. I have sin in my life that most definitely needs taken care of and hinders me from hearing God’s voice sometimes, I admit that. The reason I bring up sin and so desperately want to see us break those chains isn’t some self-righteous, look at me, chest beating type of plea. It’s that my heart literally breaks for us when, as a people, we aren’t living in communion with God. Because if we’re not in communion with God, we are living an inferior faith. We’re living an inferior version of what Christianity was supposed to be. Without the personal experience and display of being close to God, Christianity is just like every other religion and God is just like every other god of those religions, powerless.
If we truly believe that God is who He says He is, then we need to strive to be able to commune with Him and have a real and personal experience of who He is. Not just believe what we read, but feel the things that we read about.
My point is that yes, God speaks to everybody, including you. He is speaking all the time we just have to tune our hearts to the correct frequency to receive it. And the big finale, He does this because He wants to exist in a state of communion with you. He wants to exchange intimate thoughts and feelings with you. He wants to build something beautiful along side of you. He wants you to be part of the most amazing adventure, one that makes Bilbo Baggins look like child’s play. So embrace it, clear out the clutter of sin and tune into God’s voice because I promise that He’s speaking and that He’s got something amazing for you!
That’s all I’ve got for this post guys. As always, share and comment; I’d love to hear your thoughts and have a discussion about the topics. Thanks for reading