There is a title greater than Pastor, Bishop, Apostle or President; it is Friend of God. Learning to hear God makes you His friend.
Listening to God is a learned behavior. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. The main lesson he teaches us is to hear and obey the Lord.
Many fail to hear the Lord. Others presume God is saying something that He is not.
This presumption is deadly. When we guess or make up God’s Word we fall into one trouble after another. It is worse if we are leaders because then we are the blind leading the blind and both fall into the ditch. Luke 6:39 King David was so concerned about presumption that he prayed,
“Keep thy servant from presumptuous sins.” Ps. 19:13
Another common problem happens when we hear God at the beginning of a decision, then we stop listening. We start off in the right direction, but become overly confident and fail to continue listening. Then we fail to make necessary changes and go off course while still clinging to yesterday’s instructions. Flexible faith is the ability to stay humble, to stay focused, always listening to the Lord. When we are flexible, the Holy Spirit is able to adjust us with course corrections. Without this flexibility we end up missing the target even though we started in the right direction.
Thousands of years ago, people like Abraham and Moses were chosen to be God’s friends. God did not make major decisions with the human race without first communicating with them. Amos 3:7
Now, in the New Covenant all of that has changed. Each of us who meet the requirements become God’s friend. He shares with us His secret plans and we learn to partner with Him. We become intercessors, invited to sit at the table of negotiation over the affairs of humanity. The prayers of intercessors tip the balance of destiny and change the course of history. Getting close to God is amazing and it is the very heart of the New Covenant.
“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fore-fathers when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. No longer will a man teach his neighbor saying, ‘know the Lord.’ Because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest.” Heb. 8:8-11
From this Bible passage we learn:
1. Both, Old and New Covenants were made with Jews. Gentiles are now included.
2. The New Covenant is about knowing God and becoming His friend.
3. All are invited to be God’s friend, from the least to the greatest.
Note this historical account of Pentecost.
“When the day of Pentecost came, … Peter stood up and addressed the crowd, … ‘Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on your servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.’” Acts 2:17,18
At Pentecost, God’s Holy Spirit was extended to everyone.
Consequently, all who receive the Spirit are able to prophesy.
Prophecy is the ability to hear God and tell others what He is saying. Prophecy may be spoken in counsel, whispered in prayer,
proclaimed through preaching, or given as a spiritual utterance. It is a bubbling up of God’s Word, designed to bring change. Every Christian may prophesy, even humble servants. All may hear God and speak His Word. This is amazing because God’s Word is the most powerful force in the universe. By the Word of the Lord, all of creation was made.
Hearing and Obeying God’s Word will enable us to succeed in life. His Word gives us guidance and purpose. Without it we can never fulfill our destiny. Without God’s Word we are like a ship without a rudder on a stormy sea. God’s Word is essential.
“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Deut.8:3
God’s Word is our very life. Without it there is no light in our lives. We are living in darkness.
“In the Beginning was the Word, … the Word was God. Through Him all things were made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” Jn. 1:1-4
God does not speak in the same way humans speak.
Hear are eight ways God speaks.
1. With the Bible Ps. 119:105
2. With our inner voice or conscience Acts 15:28
3. With dreams and visions Acts 10:10
4. With an audible voice Acts 9:4
5. With a prophecy Acts 11:27,28
6. With a fleece. We ask God for a demonstration and a specific sign Jg. 6:37
7. With circumstances Lk. 15:15-18
8. With miracles, signs and wonders Acts 8:6
Where major life decisions must be made, let God’s Word be confirmed by three of the eight ways, except if God speaks audibly. Once you are sure that God has spoken you have only one thing to do – obey Him. This always requires faith.
Here are five common hindrances that keep us from hearing God.
1. Pride, because God resists the proud 1Pe. 5:5
2. Unbelief, because without faith it is impossible to please God Heb. 11:6
3. Disobedience, because if we do not obey, He stops giving instructions
4. Sin, because it breaks trust and ruins relationships with God and people 1Jn. 1:6
5. If we ignore God, He stops speaking 1Sa. 3:1
Our growing sensitivity to God is like learning to hear a whisper. We must willfully stop and listen and then obey in faith. We must learn from our mistakes when we have failed to listen. Hearing God is a life-long, learning process that requires continual change and adjustment to our character.
Ask the Lord to speak to you often and then be passionate to listen. That is called seeking the Lord or watching in prayer.
His sheep hear His voice and a stranger they will not follow.
Jn. 10:4,5 A true disciple hears God and obeys. A true disciple is God’s intimate friend.