Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question for You

How does God speak to you?

This is such a subjective topic - within the Christian world, or even the secular world, man has claimed to have received leading and guidance from God, using the words like, "God told me to...", and "God spoke to me...", and "God led me..." to explain their actions and feelings. I have used these words as well, so I am not accusing or finger-pointing. I am being sincere.

So my question today is, how does God speak to you?

Samuel heard the voice of God as a young child. He was awakened in the night to God audibly calling his name. Later in life, God told him to go to the house of Jesse of Bethlehem and He would instruct him to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be king over Israel. (I Samuel 16)

I read this story this morning and got caught up on one of the details of the story. Picture this: Samuel, a famous prophet, shows up at Jesse's house and asks if he will sacrifice with him. He also requests that Jesse's sons join them as well. Seven boys gather with this aged father and prophet, and one by one God tells Samuel that they are not His chosen king. Finally, the last of the seven stands before Samuel and Samuel has to be sure this is the one, because God said the king would be one of Jesse's sons. Of course, Samuel didn't know that there was one more boy in the field with the sheep - the youngest son. So he looks at this final son, knowing this must be the one, and God says no again.

Samuel asks if there were anymore, and Jesse brings in the little redhead from the field. Finally, God says yes.

What struck me as curious was God's ongoing conversation with Samuel throughout this gathering with Jesse. What did it sound like? Could Jesse hear God as well? Or did Samuel hear God's voice in his head? Samuel knew the voice of God since he was a child, so was it a certain tone that made him know it was God and not his own conscience?

I really am curious about this.

Fast forward to present day. I know the usual answers to this question. Some will say that God speaks to them through the Word of God. (concrete, tangible answer) Others will say that the Holy Spirit speaks to them. (a little fuzzier) And still others will say that God spoke to them in dreams or while they were meditating. (what exactly did that sound like?) As I wrote earlier, this is a very subjective experience and as my husband has told me before, you cannot argue with someone's experience.

Keep in mind, Samuel did not have the complete Word of God, as we do today. He had the audible, verbal Word of God, as well as the Law, right? But we have the whole collection, so definitely, God will use His Word to speak to us. I am a huge advocate of dependency on this Word - so was King David. If you aren't sure what his view on God's Word was, read through Psalm 119.

So what does it sound like when God speaks to you? I am hoping some of you will post your answers, because this topic fascinates me. I personally believe that the concept of God speaking to man is biblical and completely abused within the church today. Harsh? Maybe, but we are to be a discerning people. So talk to me. How do we know when it is God and not our own mind? Does He communicate only through the Word? Does He do it through other people? Does He do it through our own thoughts?

Okay, I'll make it even easier on you - answer either question: How does God speak to you or how have you heard that God speaks to other people? (This way you are not on the spot!)

Awaiting answers...


  1. What a good question, Kristen! I might have to think longer, and I reserve the right to modify my answer later. The first thing that comes to mind is that he speaks to me most obviously through his Word. Sometimes though, that looks like principles rather than specific direction. In which case, I find that I have to speak to Him, and ask for clarification. Sometimes there has been a process of my taking a baby step in what I think is the right direction, then I have to stop and ask again. At that point, I usually know if I understand His leading based on there being either confirmation or confusion. There is peace & joy in my Spirit when I receive confirmation (usually via circumstances or His people), and I know I am pleasing Him as I step out in faith. When confusion reigns, I know to stop, and go back to listen again. One helpful motto there is, when in doubt, don't. I do know that no matter what, He hears me, and that the results are always for my good and His Glory when I hear and respond to Him.

  2. all of it...thanks, Laurie!

  3. hi kristen...i sometimes think God speak's to me through the gift's he give's me each day. for example....i love deer. so, when i see a deer in our back yard or on a bike ride i think of that as God speaking to me. i think of him speaking to me through that gift of seeing a deer.

  4. Very good question, I have often wondered about the very same thing. I do agree fully with what Laurie has to say, but I also think God speaks to us through nature as clothesloft1 has spoke of. Sometimes, I think God speaks through circumstances, and so called hunches, or gut feelings, (which we know are not always accurate) and must be checked against the living word. I have never actually heard an audible voice or a dream to tell me what to do, but there have been times when something comes to me so spontanous and I feel that peace and sense of confidence I know its a message from God. Granted that happens very rarely and more often I just have to wait patiently until I'm directed in some way usually from the written word. Thanks for the mind probe and brain storming.

  5. Hi, Clothesloft1 - welcome! Yes, I agree that when "checked against the living Word" we can have confidence that God is speaking through our circumstances or the moving of our hearts and emotions. Unfortunately, too often people are not in tune with the living Word and still are responding to circumstances and emotions. Then you have a problem...

  6. This site was sent to me by one of my readers - check out this answer to our question.

  7. i want to say that when God speaks to me in small way's such as seeing a deer or having a wonderful moment, it makes me realize that he is here for me, with me at all time's and loves me. it make's me take a second to be humbled by his grace. which is so amazing i don't even understand that.....

  8. Four years ago this very month I was preparing to lead a group of women through Kay Arthur's book Lord Heal My Hurts. I had already gone through the book myself. It's a very intense inductive Bible study. During this time my family received news that my alcoholic father who I had not seen in over 7 years had passed away. Because of the circumstances surrounding his tragic death I was really struggling emotionally. I was literally fighting a battle of the mind and was thinking thoughts like, "You are a nobody. You are just the daughter of a drunk." I immersed myself in Scripture one afternoon and very, very clearly my Heavenly Father impressed on my heart, "You are not the daughter of a drunk, but the daughter of a King and that makes you a princess."

  9. Correction: I'm sorry for the mistake. Four years ago my step-father passed away. It was about 10 years ago when my biological father passed away.

  10. I hope more people chime in here because this fascinates me as well. As many have stated already, I know God speaks to me through scripture. When I'm struggling and I go to the Word to see what He has to say...or just spend time reading and something makes me pause and think. More recently though, as I learn more scripture and memorize it, certain verses are brought to mind as I stumble through life and all it has to throw at me. I think this is the Holy Spirit using scripture to speak to me.

    A simple example: The other day I took the girls to WalMart to pick up a few things one of which was a lip gloss. The girls were crabby and bickering and by the time we checked out I was ready to put them on their beds for the rest of the day. We made it out to the parking lot and as I was putting the bags in the van I noticed the lip gloss still in the back of the cart. It hadn't made it onto the belt..I hadn't paid for it. The thought of getting the girls out of the van and going back in to wait in line was more than I could handle...and He reminded, "Thou shall not steal." I'm ashamed to stay I tried to rationalize in my head that it was only a $2 lip gloss....but he reminded again and gave me the patience and energy needed to head back into Wal-Mart to pay for it.

    Same with our conversation this a.m. regarding the opposition you came against last night. Immediately I think, " our battle is not against strong and courageous...this battle is His...remember the deeds which He has done..."

    That being said..I do always try to check what comes into my mind with what I know as truth because I know my heart is wicked and I don't want to be led by my emotions.

    I also seem to find the same "themes" coming up in my reading, my conversations, my devotions, my prayers and take this to mean it is something the Lord wants me to think on
    I've got a good and recent example of this too, but this is already long enough!

  11. I loved reading all the comments posted above. I've had a lot of similar experiences. Sometimes God speak to me through circumstances. One particular experience comes to mind...We had left my parents' house and it had not been a pleasant weekend due to major differences of opinion and I was really struggling with judgemental thoughts, anger and pride. We passed an Amish buggy and I noticed the horse's blinders. And this thought that "I was the one with the blinders on" came to me and I felt so clearly that it was a challenge from God to me about my attitude. I felt so strongly compelled to pray and repent for my hard heartedness and my pride. It wasn't an audible voice, but more a thought that just dropped into my mind that flew in the face of all that I had been thinking at that moment and I knew it came from God because deep inside, I knew I was sinning with my attitude and the peace that came after repentance was so sweet (in spite of the fact that I still wasn't in agreement with my parents and that situation hadn't changed). Other times those thoughts are not so clearly from God (I don't have that certainty inside) and I have to check it against Scripture. Other times, it may line up with Scripture, but I'm still not certain it's God (ie. not a definite right or wrong situation) and I ask God to close the door or remove the thought or change my heart or whatever, if the thought doesn't originate with Him and time after time, He's proven Himself faithful.
    However, in spite of having clear, direct communication from God that didn't come directly from Scripture, I still struggle with doubts and questions when it comes to "hearing God's voice" on a regular basis. Ideally, His voice would be clearly defined for all believers, but that's really limiting God and I know Him to be very personal in His interactions (ie. I don't think the average person would've gotten the same message from horse blinders that I did that day), so He speaks in different ways to different people and through different means.

  12. Thanks for the testimony, Jen. I agree with you - I am very cautious that I am not trying to convince myself it is God I hear and not my own will speaking. I think the key to hearing from God is directly linked with your time in the Word - that brings a sensitivity to His leading. Not that I am being legalistic, but it's a fact that you just can't get around. Unfortunately, we want to hear from God without putting the effort in to knowing Him better and that's when we really get ourselves in trouble. Technically, everything we need to hear from Him is in the Word - anything above that will only be restating what He has already said in His Word (right?) and just a dose of added grace!

  13. I'd totally agree with that summary! If it doesn't line up with the word, then it's not God!

  14. I feel as though God speaks to me through my dreams and shows me the hidden things with in my heart. This is exception not the rule or norm.
    I know God confirms things through his people speaking into my life as well.
    I always know to double back to the word of God to verify truth. Even if an angel were to come to me and say go this way. I would still ask what does God's word say about that. Hope this helps.

  15. Welcome, anonymous!

    I am glad to hear that you use the Word as your rule of measure. I think there is a pecking order or a check list when it comes to hearing from God. First of all and most obvious is that we hear from God through His Word. This is the most common way and is available to all believers at any time - with the Word and the Holy Spirit, we can know His will and act on it all day!

    Second comes from hearing God's word through second hand sources that are bringing the Word to us - pastors, sermons, books - focussed on sharing the Word of God consistently, literally and unapologetically. We can hear from God through teachers.

    Third, we can hear from God through godly friends and family. This happens when a believer who is walking with the Lord consistently speaks into our lives. They can bring to us encouragement, hope, criticism and even praise that can be from God. You need to be discerning at this point - you need to know what that person's relationship with the Lord is like to be confident it is from God, and the flip side is that you need to understand that sometimes God may be urging you to speak into a friend's life on His behalf. The test? Is what I am communicating consistent with the Word? Am I speaking the truth in love? Good tests...

    And fourthly, and this is the most rare (as anonymous pointed out), God can speak to us through dreams. It doesn't happen often but absolutely MUST BE CONSISTENT with His Word or it is not from God.

    Great discussion, folks!

  16. Yes Kristen I just wanted to add that I 100 percent agree with you that what you hear or what you think you are hearing from God must agree with his word. Dreams,Angels,humans, doesn't matter it must line up with Gods word. For everything that we need pertaining to this life is found in his word.