Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hearing from God.

The Holy Spirit over the bent world broods...Gerald Manly Hopkins.

I made the mistake once, of telling our leadership that God spoke to me. I am not ever likely to forget because no~one ever calls me *Dear Heart*. Well no~one bar God.

I was confused by the scepticism I met with because doesn't every Christian hear from God? Isn't that the idea?

So here's my soap box for to~day: hearing directly from God is not something confined to the first century church. This is what Christ procured for us with His death & when He ascended into heaven He left us with the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth.

Now I've run into people at different times who've said some really strange things to me along the lines of: "God told me to leave my wife". Um, no. Sorry. God didn't say that at all. How would I know? Because the Spirit that inspired the scriptures will always lead us in ways that are consistent with scripture ~ & God hates divorce. Scripture says so, so no, God isn't going to suddenly tell us to divorce our spouse.

Scripture also tells us to *discern the spirits* Now this is interesting because when it comes to hearing personally from God we often walk a razor fine line but there are tests to help us discern the truth. There are the outward tests: scripture, circumstances, reason, other believers. There are inward tests like promptings, *concerns*, personal integrity. There are exceptional tests: visions, dreams, signs, fleeces, angels. At different times God has used some or all of these things ~ as is His prerogative. It is up to us to discern what is going on spiritually.

Now I will grant you that discernment isn't always easy & quite frankly I prefer a clear directive backed up by scripture. That's pretty unmistakable. It is also a gift, & not always a gift for spiritual babies. As with so many things we learn, just as babies do, how to discern the voice of God amongst all the other racket that goes on inside our heads. This is why a solid knowledge of scripture is so important. This is our first line of defence for learning about the nature & character of God & dispensing with falsehoods. God never acts against His own nature. This is how we learn how to love God & serve Him; the Spirit nudges us along the right path & will confirm it with scripture more often than not & little by little we become accustomed to what the voice of God sounds like. Just as scripture has promised, His sheep know His voice.

The other thing I have learnt about discerning the will of God & hearing His voice is that I have to ditch my preconceived notions before we're going to get anywhere. If I try marching into the throne room with a list of demands I'm going to encounter a shattering silence. On the other hand God doesn't seem to mind me ranting & railing but pride & a haughty spirit will get me nowhere.

This is where I have found the spiritual disciplines of silence & meditation so helpful in my personal walk with God. They allow me to become calm & still. They allow the turbulence in my everyday life to ebb away. They force me into a place of submission where it is possible to say, "Not my will, but thine be done." They enable me to listen. It is only by listening we can hear.

Like so much else, listening for God requires practice ~ & patience. It takes time because we all cart so much baggage around with us. We clutch the tatters of our pride about us in a vain effort to cover our naked spirits. We try lying to the Holy Spirit in a vain effort to bolster our petty egos. Little by little God has to unwrap our clutching fingers & prise from our unwilling grasp everything that hinders us: the good things, the noble things, the right things & the sin that besets us.

And there it is; when we finally relax & rest in Him alone we hear his voice like a clarion call: unmistakable, like no other voice, ever.


seekingmyLord said...

I pray that Lord brings the people who need this message here to read it and that they will seek to hear the voice of the Lord.

The more often we talk *with*--not *at*--and listen *to* God, the more familiar that His voice is to us. Sadly, I have known some who have been Christians all their lives into their old age that have not heard God speak to them and I cannot help but feel a deep sorrow for that part of the relationship with God that they missed all those years. As David cried out that he felt forsaken, that is how I would feel if I could not hear the Lord's voice each and every day.

Amanda said...

Wow! yes. amen and amen. I love it. You *know* me, therefore you know I do lol.

I was confused by the strange looks and comments I got from people also, especially as a new Christian. I was naive then, to think that every other Christian I met would have agreed that that God speaks to us individually. I had one well-meaning fellow tell my husband that He only speaks to the Pastor. Can you believe it??!! LOL we were in shock that he actually believed that.

And yes, some things I thought He said, were proven in time, not to be Him. As a baby, we grow in these things. But saying that, there were many, many things that I did hear correctly on. Mostly, then and now, I just know His voice when He speaks to me. It is unmistakable, and then He usually confirms it with His Word.

Great post, friend! I enjoy these posts of yours...

Persuaded said...

I was just talking with a couple the other day... in the aisles of W*lmart of all places. They noticed my headcovering and since the gal covered, they struck up a conversation with me. The fellow asked me what had drawn me to covering... and I went on to tell my tale, lol. All was friendliness and light until I mentioned "I felt God saying to me..." Their faces immediately changed, almost imperceptibly, but still the atmosphere had changed. And he was a pastor too! How can one be a pastor and not hear from God?? It boggles my mind:-{

seekingmyLord said...

Thinking about what Persuaded wrote I am wondering if it possible that some of the more fundamental sects believe that God would only "talk" to the man, as head of the household, rather than He does not speak at all, but I have known pastors tell me that some things that just shocked me on how small the box in which they placed God, too.

Gerry Snape said...

I love that quote from Hopkins Ganeida. He had such a great way with english.

Ember said...

Amen, Ganeida.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: Yes, it is closely tied with how we practice prayer. If we always talk & never listen we make it very hard for ourselves.

Amanda:☺ We have been blessed in this house with Dearest, Liddy & I able to use each other for discernment & prayer.

Persuaded: I know. And often these people know their scriptures very well. I always wonder what they make of the Joel/Acts bit: those days I will pour out my spirit....or where Jesus says you will do greater things than this. One thing I didn't get round to talking about as I was pretty tired last night is that God doesn't always want to talk about the same things that we do & while I might be after guidance in one direction God'll be saying, "Address this". Of course once I address what's on His mind the other usually comes clear but it took me a long time to get there.

Seeking:I've known at least one missionary couple with that attitude & I always wondered how they put that together in their minds with the hand of God over them on the mission field.

Gerry. ☺ I adore Hopkin's poetry. It is so visually & linguistically satisfying!

Ember: ☺

Thank you all. ☺ I got up feeling a little down this morning & opened my e~mail to so many lovely responses I promptly felt much better. ☺

Jan Lyn said...

This is a great post Ganeida! I am thrilled to have a moment to come read and get caught up. Yes, God has come to teach and speak to his children today. At times, I do need a 'clutter button' to turn off my own thoughts, but try each day to have that more contemplative, listening kind of prayer with God. I find it not only good spiritually, but renewing physically part way through my day. And my heart is gladden to read another Quaker values the scriptures to the point that which God will not be divided. The Living Word and his word stand.

Ganeida said...

Jan Lyn: You know, It's only been on~line I've *met* others with a similar faith journey: Quakers who are conservative & plain & scriptual; Anglicans who practise contemplative prayer; charismatics who value silence; other people who *hear* from God...☺