Hearing the Spirit of God speak clearly.
Hearing God first, even when we are labouring for Him
Many times, when we talk of the Holy Ghost speaking to us, we only dwell on him telling us to do the things we know are right from the past experiences and learning we have made with God or in the church. Other times, he is revealing to us the mysteries of this world and the spiritual realm. And on some occasions, we see him rebuking, correcting and counselling us. Hardly do we ever think of the Holy Spirit telling us not to do God´s will, at least, when he says “not as yet!”
It seems like an oxymoron to us that God could ever tell us not to do something he told us to do. Like an impossible contradiction, it appears because God does not contradict himself. Rightly so, God does not change nor contradict himself. But let us look at the story of Paul and Silas in the chapter 16 of Acts. In the beginning verses, we see Paul went into Derbe and Lystra preaching and helping many churches to grow in faith and thus they increased in number. Yet he was stopped from preaching in the next cities he went into.
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. – Acts 16: 6 – 8
It is so amazing how Paul clearly hears the voice of Holy Spirit directing him where he should or should not preach. This profound evidence of the intimacy that existed between God and Paul makes me ask myself how often we go and do things, even those we think are for the will of God, in our own strength. We clearly read in verses 6 to 8 that the Holy Spirit stopped them Paul and his companion from entering into certain cities to preach the word of God. No reasons are given but we see that they obeyed and went by.
One could argue, that God is ever willing that we preach his word. Too often, we never stop to ask for his opinion when we are setting off to do “God´s work”. God knows the right time and place where he wants us to spread his Gospel. He prepares the hearts of people to receive it; he leads and goes ahead of us. Sometimes we just have to slowdown, stop and listen to what God is saying and where he wants to send us. If we miss his voice, we might end up going in our own strength. It would be so sad to move without the Holy Spirit leading us, even worse, not to even notice that God´s presence is not with us.
If God has neither sent you somewhere nor told you to do something, or if he has told you not to go or do it, and you insist on it, you might actually do it in your strength and succeed. But God´s presence will not be with you. He will not work against his own will. One visiting pastor went to a church and was amazed how much they could do without God! See even if we think we are doing the word of God, and our intentions are right, we still need to listen to God´s will. And when we hear his Voice, we should obey him even if we do not understand his reasons.
Hearing and Obeying the Voice of God
But how can I obey God´s voice if I do not know how to hear it? How can we even tell the difference between our own thoughts and God speaking?
Paul seemed very confident about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. It was not God the Father, nor the Son speaking but rather God the Spirit. Some of us even have trouble telling if it is the Holy Spirit speaking, our thoughts or the devil if what is said does not have a clear boundary of either good or evil. I am convinced he could tell who exactly was speaking easily because he spent ample time in fellowship with God. That Paul learnt to know God, his voice and will. In a home, because we spend enough time together, you can tell out of a crowd that it was your mother or father who just laughed or said something without even having to turn and look at them. This same kind of knowledge is possible for the God head. We too can learn to hear God´s voice.
God is an all knowing God. He knows the right time and the right place his will shall and should be fulfilled. He also knows who he will use to have his work done. So even if you do not understand God´s way, submit to his voice and wait for his instructions.
Lord teach me to know your voice and to hear you when you speak. Take me into your presence and make me more like you. Teach me to listen to what you want to tell me and to always be willing to wait on you. Amen
Read more about the lessons we learn from Paul and Silas in Learning from Pal and Silas 2
Photo from https://summitlife.org/hearing-gods-voice-summitlife-today-september-21-2015/