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How God speaks to us

As teachers, I am sure we all teach our children about prayer and encourage them to develop good prayer habits for themselves. However, we should always remember that rather than just listening to our monologues, God desires to have a two-way conversation with us. Listed below are ten ways in which God can and does speak to us. Some of these ways may not be totally understandable to some children, so taking their age and Christian maturity into consideration, you will need to decide which ones are suitable for sharing.

As you share these ways with your classes, it will always be good to illustrate them with examples, including your own personal experiences. Space considerations have only allowed me to include two such illustrations here. However, I have included many more examples in the fuller version of this article which is part of my Newsletter 28, and can be found on http://mauricesweetsur.blogspot.com/

1. The Bible.
This is God’s Word, so what the Bible says, God says. This is the main way in which God communicates with people today. Thus, if you neglect your Bible reading, you could well be preventing God from speaking to you.

Although all of the Bible is God’s everlasting message to us all, He can take a part of it – perhaps even a single verse – and use it to speak into our lives, by making it ‘come alive’ to us, so to speak. Thus as we read this particular verse, we get excited and just ‘know’ that God is using it to speak to us.

God can of course bring to our mind at any time any scripture that we have memorised. Almost every Christian has experienced times when the Holy Spirit calls to mind some scripture or truth at a moment when it is needed, for example in their own conversion experience or personal life, or in counselling or witnessing. That is why scripture memorisation is so important for teachers and children alike.

2. An audible voice.
The Bible records a number of occasions in which God spoke to people this way, perhaps the best known being the boy Samuel. This is not God’s usual way of communicating with people today, but that is not to say that He cannot or will not speak to you in an audible voice.

I have never heard God’s audible voice, but I know a number of people who have. In most cases, someone’s life was in danger. It was as though God had to speak to someone urgently to avert the danger. However, I once taught my class about God speaking to Samuel. The following week a girl came up to me and said God spoke to me a few days ago in an audible voice, just like He spoke to Samuel. He told me to go and tell my Gran. that He loved her. I asked her if she had done it, and she replied that she had. This reminds us that the important point is not how God speaks to us, but whether we are obedient to what He says.

3. An inaudible voice.
Although you may not hear God speaking to you with your ears, if you are trusting in Jesus, God’s Spirit lives in you and He can speak to you through your spirit. For example, you may get a ‘little voice in your head’, a strong desire or impression to do / not to do something, speak to someone, go / not go somewhere etc. The closer you grow in your relationship with God, the more clearly will you be able to recognise this ‘inner voice.’

4. Your conscience.
This is one of the things that makes us different from animals. God has given to everyone who has ever been born a conscience. This is God’s voice within us all that warns us – by making us feel uneasy or anxious – when we are about to do wrong. God will never take our free will away and prevent us from doing wrong, but He will always warn us when we are about to make a mistake.

We should always listen to our conscience, because if we keep ignoring this little voice and continue doing wrong, the voice will appear to get smaller and smaller until we can hear it no more.

5. Older Christians.
By this I mean people who have known Jesus longer than you have. They are often able to give us good advice and help guide us into what God wants us to do.

6. Circumstances.
God can use the everyday events of life to guide us. This can be likened to the opening and closing of doors. For example you may wish to get into the school Rugby team, but you are never chosen. Therefore you start playing Soccer instead – and find you have a greater ability for Soccer than you ever had for Rugby.

When certain events happen at the same time in our lives, it is very easy to just write them off as coincidences. Often it is only as we look back that we are able to see God’s hand guiding us through these ‘coincidences’.

7. The desires of your heart.
Psalm 37.4 says Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Most people think this means that if you put God first, He will then give you whatever natural desires you happen to have. I interpret this verse in a slightly different way. I believe it means that if you concentrate on delighting yourself in the Lord, He will then put His desires for you in your heart, so that they become your desires as well.

Probably the strongest motivation for doing something is that you desire to do it. So do you have a strong desire to be something, to do something, to go somewhere? It could be that God has given you these desires because that is His will for you.

8. Through Prophets.
A Prophet is essentially a Messenger. That is someone who hears from God, and takes His message to someone else. There are many Prophets in the Bible. Indeed much of the Old Testament itself is a recording of these ancient messages from God.

There are still Prophets in the Church today, and God may use one of them to bring you a message, perhaps to tell you to do something or to go somewhere. But if someone ‘brings a message from God’ to you, how do you know that it really is from God? The main thing to remember is that God uses Prophets to confirm what He has already spoken to you about. For example, suppose someone comes to you and says God wants you to go to China. If your reaction is something like What me? What a surprise! I have never thought of going to China. Then forget it, this message is not from God. However, if your reaction is more like Oh yes, I have always been interested in China, I love the Chinese people, I always thought I would go there one day, then this message is almost certainly from God. It is God confirming what he has already spoken into your life, and perhaps enabling and encouraging you to take the next step in your preparation.
9. Through dreams and visions.
We all know what dreams are, and God can speak to us through them. Visions are often similar to the ‘moving pictures’ we get in dreams (or they could be just a still picture), but God gives them to you while you are awake. God spoke to many people in the Bible through dreams (e.g. Joseph and Daniel) or visions (e.g. Peter and Paul).

10. Through Ideas.
We all have ideas, and we tend to think Oh, that idea is mine. But perhaps God placed the idea in your mind in the first place!

I once came across an eight year old girl in the school playground, crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she replied that none of the other girls ever played with her and that she had no friends. I told her that I would pray for her and ask God to give her a good friend. As I began to pray, I noticed another girl about 100 metres away begin to run towards us. She arrive just as I finished my prayer and had said ‘Amen.’ She looked at the girl I had been praying for and said Will you come and play with me? An instant answer to prayer! But why did that second girl suddenly run over to the first one and ask her to play? I don’t really think that God shouted down into the playground with a loud voice Hey Jessie, Go and ask Jodie to play with you. No, I think He just put the idea in the mind of Jessie (who interestingly was a Christian) Why don’t you play with Jodie. She’s not really all that bad. Alternitively,Jessie could of course have heard God’s inaudible ‘inner voice’ , though when I questioned her afterwards she didn’t seem to be aware of it. In either case the important point was that she was obedient to what God said.

How can I know if it is really God speaking to me?

There are two tests that we can apply to any message we think may be from God.

1. Does it agree with the Bible?

God never contradicts Himself. Therefore, if your message doesn’t agree with God’s revealed Word in the Bible, then it is definitely not from Him. For example, if you think God is telling you to tell a little lie because it will get you out of trouble, forget it! That is not from God, because the Bible says Do not lie.

2. Do you have ‘Peace’ about the message?

Colossians 3.15 says Let the peace of Christ rule (be the umpire) in your hearts. An umpire is the one who decides. And God has given us His Peace as our umpire, so that we may know if something is from Him or not. Thus, if you feel at peace about a message, supposedly from God, then it probably really is from Him. On the other hand, if you feel uneasy or anxious about the message, that is God removing His Peace to warn you that this is not from Him.

How can we hear more clearly from God?

If you love God, your greatest desire will to know Him better and communicate more fully with Him. How can we hear more clearly from God then? Fortunately, the answer is very simple – stay close to Him!

If I was talking in my normal voice and you were sitting close to me, you would hear me very clearly. But suppose I was still talking in the same way and you were at the other end of the room, or even outside the room. Would you hear me so clearly then? No. You may not hear me at all, and if you did, you would probably hear me incorrectly and get the message wrong.

It is exactly the same when hearing from God. If we stay close to Him, we will hear Him clearly. But if we are a long way from God, we are unlikely to hear Him. How then, can we stay close to God? There is no short cut to this. We need to ensure that we spend adequate time in His presence by reading and meditating on His Word, talking to him (prayer) and doing what we know He has already told us to do. Then we will be in the right position to hear from Him when He speaks to us.

by Maurice Sweetsur, http://objectlessons.blogspot.com/

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