How to hear from God

020319_1382_0021_lslsThe first and fundamental step for you to develop the ability to hear God’s voice in your life is by developing the habit of reading the Bible regularly. But there is an important catch: the worst possible application of scriptures that most Christians subscribe to today is to believe that scriptures are primarily meant to tell you what to do, what instructions to obey or follow. The primary objective of scriptures however is to help you grasp the true nature of God. While God is infinity and eternal, He reveals Himself in the Bible: it is His pleasure to reveal Himself through the modesty of the chapters and the verses of the Bible.

 

Now, listen to this: all scriptures speak about Jesus. In John 5:39, Jesus told the Pharisees this: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me (ESV). John also tells us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us – Emmanuel – God with us. The word, all scriptures, and Jesus speak about God. When you read the Bible, you need to see all the full traits of God, His passion for you, His temperament, His nature, and His character. Scriptures are meant to reveal to you God’s general outlook and His methods of doing things. Scriptures are supposed to show you God’s plans, designs, intentions and extent of His desire to bless you and address your deepest needs. Through scriptures, you are meant to come to the realisation that Jesus is God’s physical manifestation on earth, and Jesus’ life on earth is a demonstration to us of the essence of God. Jesus came so that we would not be left guessing about who God is. And God understood that the best way to transmit His message of His love for us was not through just telling us; He had to show us, He had to demonstrate to us the meaning of His radical love for us. And according to Jesus’ own words, eternal life is knowing the one true God (John 17:3); knowing and understanding the God that Jesus reveals. Therefore, in order to hear God’s in your life today, your regular Bible reading should lead you down a different path than that has been generally promoted by the church. You need to focus on seeing God’s nature above everything else in your Bible reading.

 

And the interesting phenomenon about this is that the more you focus on knowing and understanding God’s nature, the better you hear Him. It should naturally follow, shouldn’t it? Just yesterday I was meeting my good friend James at the airport before his departure. James is around 6’5 and has a booming voice. As I walked up to him, I told him that it was easy to spot him because of his height. He laughed in his loud and booming voice and said his voice also gave him away. James said it was difficult for him to make an impersonation voice when he was younger because everyone recognised his distinct unique voice especially in the dark which easily gave him away. I believe that when we get to know God’s love for us in scriptures, it becomes easier for us to recognise His voice in our lives. In John 10:26-27, Jesus said: but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (ESV).

 

Growing up, I thought knew God. I was taught that God was a wrath-touting creature who was holy and whom I needed to fear. And the Bible was primarily there to provide me with instructions for living; and God’s blessings in my life depended on my performance. This God was intolerant and I needed to be confessing my lies and dirty thoughts daily or else He would not answer my prayers: He would even punish me if I didn’t. In time, I realised that I did not really understand God’s true temperament towards me, towards sin. Through the process of Encountering My Designer, I began to know and understand God better. I realised that when God warns me against my vices, it is primarily for my own good rather than for His good. God knows that sin kills. Those little lies kill the godly nature God put inside me in my spirit. And my unruly addictions can kill me literally. When God warns me about sin, He is literally looking out for my interest. And God’s call for my repentance is really about changing my mind. He calls me to change my mind about sin in my life.

 

As I come to understand that the source of the fruit of the spirit is God Himself, I begin to see Him in a different light. Now I know that at His core, God is kind, loving, gentle, good, patient faithful, self-controlled, trusting, joyful and peaceful towards me. God loves me, and He is more interested in my receiving His awesome love for me than in demanding love from me. And this is the exact mission Jesus came to accomplish.

 

My son, Anthony, is six months old. And I love him very much without any expectations. As a new father, I can tell you that I love my son and I am glad I have this privilege of pouring my love into his life. I will not demand that Anthony loves me back as a condition for my love for him. He gets my love and care without any qualifications except for being my son. This is how I understand God’s love for me. God is more interested in my receiving His radical love for me than in demanding that I love Him back. I am created in His image. I am His child. He is my heavenly Father. That is how He loves me. That is why He loves me. And He loves me better than any earthly father has ever loved his child. This is the truth that we need to get from the Bible reading consistently.

 

But here is the interesting truth: after receiving God’s love, I do eventually end up loving God. The more I receive God’s love for me, the more I am likely to love Him from the depth of my heart. And when I love God genuinely, I also develop a strong desire to obey Him genuinely from my core. This is the essence of why Jesus came to die on the cross: to demonstrate to us how much the Father loves us even in our fallen state.

 

Beyond that, I can tell you that something intriguing happens: at least for me, it did: the more I understood God’s love for me; the better I started to hear His voice. When I read the Bible, I heard His insights for me and got His blessings. I could not have started this blog had I continued on with my ‘normal’ path of Christianity. Somehow, the Lord reached out to me and has shown me many things that I am sharing with you through this channel. And today, I would like to share with you 6 ways I have personally used to hear God since becoming more attuned to God’s heart that I trust could also apply in your life and benefit immediately. These are:

  1. Meditating on scriptures for extended time

open-bibleWhen I meditate on scriptures for extended periods of time, I get very interesting insights about God from through His Spirit. What has worked well for me for the past four years has been to write about how I understand the word of God. I cannot tell you how effective and powerful the process of writing about God’s love for me has been in improving my ability to recongnise God’s voice in my life. Writing helps me stay focused and engaged with scriptures for extended periods of time. The insights that come from this process are extremely priceless. If you want to develop the habit of hearing from God, I would encourage you to find a small journal or diary where you can write your various insights about God. A good starting point could be to just pick a subject that you feel most people misunderstand about God and then write as if you were persuading someone to adopt your perspective. You may also take time to publish a blog as I have done.

2. Constantly applying to myself the words God spoke to Jesus

This has been another way that just blew my mind away: applying to myself what God spoke to Jesus. God speaks to us the same way He spoke to Jesus. The ways God spoke to Jesus are available to all people. You may wonder how these methods are at our disposal. Well, the Bible says that Jesus is the first borne of the saved. And as siblings of Jesus, we get to hear God speak the same way and the same words He spoke to Jesus. How different would your perspective of God be if you knew God the exact same way Jesus knew God? You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, God told Jesus. Is God pleased with you? After a long stretch of living in denial, I am now convinced that God is very pleased with me. He loves me. He loves the world so much – emphasis here is on the extent of His love – that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish because of the sin problem, but have eternal life. For you to get the benefit of this process, spend time meditating especially on understanding that God is moved by love, interest and admiration for you: He likes you and He is generally very pleased with you. He does not feel obligated to do things for you. He wants to give you a breakthrough in your work just to bless you. He is fascinated by you and will ambush you with an unexpected opportunity in your relationships just to show you His goodness. And in case you didn’t notice it, He has been doing it for a while now because He is nuts about you. That is how Jesus viewed God. Own the relationship that Jesus had with God: through the work Jesus did on the cross, this relationship is yours for the taking. When you are confused, stressed and disappointed, always remember the words that God spoke to Jesus: you are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased. Those words are yours because now you are Jesus’ sibling.

3. Through sermons, books, blogs, films, songs,

God uses everything to speak to me. Couple of years ago, I used to have a favourite preacher at the church I attended. If my favourite preacher didn’t preach that Sunday, I would get very disappointed and sometimes I would find myself dozing during service. But God graciously showed me that it is His Holy Spirit that is responsible for speaking to me and not the preacher on any given Sunday. After receiving this insight, I remember praying that God should open my heart so that I could hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and not the preacher. A miracle happened. I suddenly could hear God’s voice regardless of who was preaching. I no longer felt disappointed when my favourite preacher was not preaching on any given Sunday: God always spoke to me regardless. Now I know that God is no respecter of people, religions, personalities, or status. He will speak to me through denominations whose doctrine I do not agree with, He will speak to me through people who are not Christians. He will speak to me through a secular movie or radio program. It does not matter: God speaks. I am just on the lookout for what He is telling me through the Holy Spirit. You do need to deeply understand the true nature of God’s love towards you in order to be able to recognise God’s voice in the most unlikely places. The process of Encountering Your Designer goes a long way in assisting you gain some important insights into the nature of God.

4. Through the people closest to me

God has really spoken into my life through the people closest to me. My wife, Grace, has been a good channel. I can’t tell you how many times I have done things based on my wife’s advice and they turned out great. And I am not speaking about some small things here. Sometimes my wife would have an idea which at the time sounded very weird to me but in hindsight it was God’s voice directing my path at that very crucial point. I am really grateful to have her in my life. This is also true for my parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues. Armed with the knowledge of God’s heart and kindness towards me, I am able to know when a suggestion from someone close to me is God’s voice to me to take a different path. God is always speaking to us in various ways. Your family members and colleagues, even those who are not Christian could carry a message for you that God wants you to hear. Do not dismiss their input lightly. Rather, prayerfully lean on the Holy Spirit to help you discern God’s voice in everything. Remember that Christianity is a team sport: God the Father Himself is in close communion with Jesus the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one just as he is one with the Father.

5. Through the desires of my heart

God loves to lead us through the desires of our hearts. God does encourage us to follow our dreams and visions of the future we want. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand (Proverbs 19:21 ESV). Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… (Ephesians 3:20 ESV). God partners with us to get us to our destiny. We may plan for a small destiny, but He will always make us wildly successful. And our success will always be beyond our imagination or dream. I like that God. I see it in many areas of my life: whatever I touch turns into gold. As you get deeper into understanding God’s heart, you will begin to understand that your transformation ought to come from within you: it should be at your core identity level. As you see this, you will realise that you need to facilitate the transformation of your mind through a constant exposure to the word of God. In this constant exposure, God will transform you and put different desires in your heart. Those desires could be something like to support an orphanage or to open a convenience store in your neighbourhood to serve your community.

6. Through circumstances

God uses circumstances to direct my path. He teaches me through my mistakes, through my failures, through my successes, through systems, through opportunities and obstacles. I have to be sensitive to God’s heart at all times in order to hear His voice through the circumstances. The Good Samaritan is an illustration of how God could speak to you through circumstances. At very critical times, God has led people into my life who needed sponsorship for an aspect of their education. And prior to this, unbeknownst to the world, God had already developed in me a passion for education. And when such an opportunity arises to support someone on their path to education, I actually feel greatly privileged to have the opportunity to serve them. Please note that I am not talking about logical thinking here although there is nothing wrong with logic. I am talking about having your ear connected to the maker of heaven and earth and recognising His voice in the inane mundane happenings of daily life. It is also godly to seek knowledge wisdom. You need to be intentional about seeking opportunities to get new insights both in your spiritual life and in your life in general. By gaining knowledge, you put yourself in the path to hear God better.

 

I am still new to this process of hearing from God, and I can confess that sometimes it just looks like intelligent guessing. This is because while I have understood God’s heart, I do not always constantly walk with that understanding in my daily life. But I do not use this to condemn myself. I am a work-in-progress. I am enjoying the process God is putting me through. As I grow in this process, I expect that I would be quicker to volunteer for clean-up jobs that everyone shuns, I would be more daring to start my outreach ministry small but with a target to reach the whole world, I would be more decisive in committing to supporting university bursaries in Africa, I would be more collaborative in pursuing all these goals, and so forth. I trust that you will begin this exciting journey to discover and experience this God today. Do not feel condemned or pressured into doing anything. Rather I would like to encourage you to take a tentative curious step to experience an expanded existence with God’s voice in your life today. Add the God-element to it and see the difference it makes.

 

Through my spiritual evolution, I now know that God speaks to all persons regardless of whether or not they are Christians. God is more interested in loving people than He is in demanding love and obedience from them. Now I know that God was speaking to me even before I was a Christian. Now I accept that God speaks to the Muslims, God speaks to Buddhists, Hindus and people of all kinds of religions. Every person is precious in God’s sight, and God does not discriminate. What is challenging for people who do not know the one and true God is that they cannot intentionally position themselves to hear God consistently. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore without hearing from God, it is impossible to have the faith that is pleasing to God. Let us therefore approach this topic on hearing from God mindful of the critical part it plays in our spiritual life.

 

And perhaps you are beginning to see that the key goal of each and every Christian should be to focus to learn to hear God’s voice consistently. Hearing and recognising God voice ties in to having a real relationship with God where we get to fellowship with Him constantly in our lives. And perhaps that is the Great Commission Jesus gave us: go and facilitate that people of all nations can have access to enjoy a relationship with this awesome God who loves dearly and speaks to them constantly. Go teach, train and coach them on how to hear and recognise His voice.

 

Basking in God’s radical love for me is an important skill I am getting right now. It is not a skill taught extensively in the church today but I can assure you that it has been very crucial for me in recognising and hearing God’s voice in my life. Take time to understand God’s passion for you on a daily basis. God loves you passionately even in the midst of your challenges. You are special to Him and He is fascinated by you.

 

In the next few posts, I will share with you excerpts from my book Encountering Your Designer which will be coming out soon. I hope that you will enjoy this.

 

May God richly bless you

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