So far, we have stressed that God sounds like His Word. He never speaks contrary to what He has already revealed in the inspired Scriptures.
Additionally, God can sound like peace. God embraces us through our sanctified emotions. God communicates without words to our human spirit in an unmistakable sense of His presence. The Spirit can communicate directly, subjectively, to our listening hearts and minds. We sense His face shining on us (Numbers 6:25). We can label this abiding presence with words such as peace, well-being, rest, joy, kinship, assurance, or love. All these heart- perceptions flow directly from the promises of God which we embrace by faith. God speaks into us with a peace and sense of well-being that surpasses all understanding, that defies rational explanation. It is just . . . Him! Right here, right now!
A quick note here. Our capacity to experience emotions is God-given. God can communicate through our emotions as I said above. But not all emotions are from God, or healthy. A lost soul may be driven by emotions, addicted to them, enslaved by them, etc. Even demonic spirits can influence how we “feel.” Mature believers live by faith, not by feeling. They learn how to see emotions as a tool of spiritual growth, testing every feeling by the Word of God. I will share “The Theology of Emotions” in later blogs.
Next, God can sound like our own thoughts. Yes, God the Holy Spirit can impress upon our spirits godly ideas which show up in our thinking. God is an intelligent God, who created us to correspond to His likeness with intelligence. We can hear the voice of God played out in the way words and ideas and pictures show up in our thoughts. And sometimes, the Holy Spirit can be “felt” as conviction when we grieve him, or like a “check in our spirit” when we are about to get ahead of Him. Does that make sense?
Wow. Feelings are tremendous, but tricky. How will you know if that was your own idea or an idea formed in you by the Spirit? At Clearwater, we practice “listening prayer” around this theme: “Lord, if You speak clearly, we will obey courageously.” And we don’t rush the first part. We discipline ourselves seek confirm from the Lord that the idea in our thoughts is, in fact, from God. More on that later.
For now, let’s just marvel at the variety of ways God can speak to our hearts and minds.
Evangelical Christians experience the voice of God within and have used words like these to describe them: “I felt led to…” “I have this burden in my heart…” “I was prompted…” “God laid this on my heart.” “This passage popped into my mind…” “I sense a strong calling to. . .”
These kinds of expressions, I believe, can be Spiritual gifts operating in folks that don’t know what to call them. They fear going beyond what is written in Scripture. And they question the practice of those who stand at a microphone publicly declaring, “I have a word from the Lord: ‘Verily I say unto thee . . .!’” Their caution is merited. Yet what they offer, if true, may open the way for more direct communications from God. Evangelicals can serve well by testing these prophetic “words” by the Word.
Charismatic Christians are growing in their understanding of the prophetic gifts of the Spirit. We at Clearwater believe in all the gifts of the Spirit as valuable and operative today. Yet gifts can be misused by immature believers, too, just as the Corinthian Christians did. But let’s let God be God and welcome the Spirit to manifest Himself as He wills, to profit our family of believers here (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Since the Spirit can inform our thoughts, consider this: God can sound like a sudden insight, a spoken Scripture text, a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, a Spirit-prompted prayer in a language which can be interpreted if the Spirit so ordains, preaching, teaching, lyrics of a song, a dream, a vision, a CD recording, — or sometimes even like MOM! In each case, the Spirit interacts with our spirit awakening new thoughts in us that we weren’t thinking. So we ask, “Lord, is that You?”
We’ll pick this up next posting. Be encouraged. Bless you.