"How often does God speak to a person and how does one know it's God?" asked Perry. The Bible teacher sensed that the question was indirectly aimed at someone else among the forty people gathered for the weekly Bible study at the homeless shelter. Perry continued, "There is probably nobody here who loves the Lord or speaks to him more than I do, but I do not hear immediately from God every time I ask a question." Perry confirmed the teacher's suspicion, "Some people here are fresh off the streets or out of jail and not even Christians. Yet, they claim to hear a new message from God every day!" The room was hushed as the teacher prayed silently that God would give him a simple answer to a complex question.
"Perry, I believe God speaks to us, far more often than we listen to Him.God calls the lost to repent of sin, accept Christ as Savior and be saved, but many refuse to hear (Rom 10:13-18). He beckons believers to a closer relationship with him, but like children playing church, many are too preoccupied to come. God speaks in the midst of daily circumstances, but only ears attuned to God's voice hear Him over the din of the world's noise. God's indwelling Holy Spirit is always with believers to guide their steps and lives (Mat 28:20, ICor 6:19). Still, many anxiously watch and listen for mysterious signs and sounds. Some claim God speaks to them through his Word, prayer and meditation, but rarely find time for those things in their daily lives. Even those who know the truth of God's Word often seek a second-opinion or the counsel of men. Yes, God speaks to man in many ways, but "not all have ears to hear or eyes to see" (Ez 12:2, Mk 4:9,23; Lk 8:8).
Only believers in Christ receive God's indwelling Holy Spirit and can hearor understand God's Word and voice (I Cor 2:14). Believers who truly listen for God, will study God's Word and truth so they are not deceived by Satan's lies (2 Tim 2:15, I Jn 4:1-6). God's voice is always absolutely consistent with His inspired Word. Instead of study and work, however, some eagerly listen for voices and spirits to satisfy itching ears with new doctrines. They are easily deceived by human philosophy and false teaching (2 Tim 4:3-4). Christ's true followers quickly hear and reject false voices and stand firm in the truth of Jesus Christ (2 Jn.1:10-11).
New baby Christians do not automatically recognize God's voice or know, think or speak God's truth. Like baby lambs, they must be weaned from their mother (the world and flesh) and learn the shepherd's voice. God always produces fruit by His Word and work. "His word will not return empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which it was sent" (Is 55:11). One learns God's voice by responding in faith to truth that is consistent with God's Word and then watching for Spiritual fruit. God leads his sheep to green pastures and still waters, but not to every pasture or stream along the way. Some Christians wear themselves out rushing between pastures and streams without God. Well-intentioned church programs, activities and committees will not produce fruit unless they are the pastures and streams to which the shepherd is leading his sheep.
God commands. He does not offer advice, opinions or suggestions. True listeners maintain an attentive, obedient Spirit and are committed to obey God, without debate, hesitation or waiting to first hear what He says. They hunger and thirst after God, like a deer pants for water (Ps 42:1-2). Others weigh God's Word and truth against the world's view or their own opinions. They are double minded and should not expect to hear from God (Jas 1:5-8).
Perry's concern over God's dialog with others, may confirm that he is listening more to others than God. True listeners study the truth to distinguish it from error; recognize God's voice by watching for fruit; and commit to obey God, whatever He commands. (#325)