That God speaks to ordinary men should be the assumption of all Christians. After all, Jesus' final words on earth were, "I am with you always." But even on the day of Christ's ascension, Matthew tells us that His followers "worshiped Him, but some were doubtful." And so we too are doubtful - not about Christ's resurrection, but about His nearness, His presence, His active voice in our lives.
God speaks to His people in many ways. YWH spoke with Moses "face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend." (Ex. 33:11) Mary received a message from an angel whom she could see and hear. God communicated to both Josephs through dreams Paul and other saints have heard the audible voice of Jesus, or seen Him with their own eyes. But the most common way God speaks to us is through an internal voice. This voice is often so quiet, so gentle and subtle, that we are quick to dismiss it as our own imagination.
A healthy dose of skepticism is a safeguard. People can get carried away by vain imaginations. Not every thought that enters our head is from God. But it is a tragic mistake, a stunting obstacle to maturity, to always doubt and never trust that God our Father, Jesus our Brother, the Holy Spirit our Advocate are speaking to us.
In the next few posts I want to share a couple of recent conversations I have had with the Lord. But before I do, I think it might be helpful to explain how I discern whether the voice I hear in my head is from God, or from my own imagination, or from some place darker than that. It is really very simple - I just ask the following questions.
1) Is what I am hearing in line with scripture? Even better, does it open new revelation or insight into scripture I already know? Revelation and wisdom are gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the voice I hear opens my ears to the word, or grants a clearer vision of Jesus and the Father, then I am confident it comes from God.
On the other hand, any voice which causes me to doubt scripture or sound doctrine must be rejected immediately.
2) Does this internal voice bring peace, joy, repentance or a hunger for righteousness? If so, it is approved by the Holy Spirit. Most thoughts originating from my own imagination, certainly all those which spring from the Accuser, lead to fear, worry, or perhaps anger and resentment.
3) Does the voice I hear cause me to love my brothers and sisters more deeply, or does it lead me to compare myself to others?
If the words I am hearing are in line with scripture and produce fruit in keeping with the Holy Spirit, then I am confident they come from the mind of Christ, which scripture assures us is ours. (I Cor. 2 :16) Thus I am fairly confident that the following internal conversation I had with the Lord a few days ago is safe and valid.
I was standing at my closet, facing a very busy day. I felt overwhelmed, so I asked, "Father what should I wear today?" Immediately I felt silly asking God such a small, inconsequential question, so I said something else....
"Father, how is it that You desire to be so close to us humans? That you care about the details of our lives?"
"Amy," He responded, " are you always thinking of Me?"
"Yes, Lord," I replied. "You know my thoughts."
"How could it be that I love you any less than you love me?"
I was amazed, and humbled, and full of joy! Scripture tells us that God knows us better than we know ourselves, that He loves us more than we, more than I, dare to believe. Still, I needed to hear these words directly from my Father in order to embrace more fully the assurance He has given us all.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:1-4)
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:29-31)