Bible Verse: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
I enjoy the commercials on TV that some of the cell phone service providers air, although I must confess that sometimes I’m just not sure what the video content has to with the audio content. I really not sure what a cute lion cub has to do with cell phone use. Maybe it’s just a way to grab our attention so we are open to the message they want to convey. Maybe. I once heard someone say, although I’m not sure who it was, that the biggest myth in communication is the mistaken belief that it actually occurred. Did we hear what the other person said? Did we understand what they meant? Did we actually get the message?
The Bible has a great overarching message, which is the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, and it is one of the main ways that God speaks to us, but it is not the only way. For example, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, had some amazing things to say, which we would do well to listen to. And it’s awesome to go to church on Sundays and hear some first-rate sermons. But some people in our culture believe that you have to be a bit disconnected from reality to believe that God may want to speak to you directly. Even some Christians might say, “Sure back in the day, when the books of the Bible were being written. Maybe to those men and women mentioned in the Old Testament, sure. But today?” People will usually encourage you to stick to the solid and the real, things you can touch and see and hear and feel. Stick to the science and the technology. That’s something you can trust.
But that’s not true, and if you hold on firmly to that, it’s holding you back from accomplishing what really matters in this life. Just because we can’t see or touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there or doesn’t exist. Gravity and electromagnetism exist even though we can’t see or touch them. But we experience their reality every day. They, along with the strong and weak nuclear forces combine to hold the universe together, binding together everything from atoms to galaxies, just as God created them to do. So consider God and His invisible works. We can’t see or touch Him either, but we can experience His reality, too, and in deeper ways than anything we can perceive with our everyday senses.
God does speak us today, and He wants to speak to you. He speaks to us in myriad ways, and He always has. He speaks to us ways that resonate specifically with each of us as individual creations. The Bible tells of Him sometimes speaking in ways that actually are detectable by our physical senses, with an audible voice; through physical phenomena and signs; through messengers, such as angels, prophets, everyday people, and in one particularly stubborn case, through a donkey. But scripture also shows Him speaking in ways that are beyond our physical senses: through dreams and visions; and directly to our minds, through His Holy Spirit.
This last one has come to be known as the “still small voice,” and the words come from the story of Elijah, when God told the prophet to go out from the cave where he was hiding because He was about to pass by. God was teaching Elijah, and us, that His voice doesn’t usually come as a blast, or a boom, or a blaze, although it can if He wants to, but as what we might call an inner voice. He’s teaching us that when He speaks, He speaks more to our thoughts than to anything else. Think of it! The voice of God Almighty, Creator of the universe, speaking to us in a whisper. Forcing us to pay attention, bending our minds to focus on Him, to humble ourselves to listen inside our thoughts for the God of impossibly great power. What might He say to you?
If you aren’t used to listening for His voice, find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed, remain humbly quiet for a while, invite the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts, and listen for that inner voice. Don’t try too hard and don’t overthink it. Just be still and invite Him in. When and if you think you might have heard something, test it against Scripture, or share it with a mature believer for their comment. If it fits with biblical principles, be encouraged, be bold, and believe that God is taking an active interest and role in your life. Praise be to the Ever-living God, our Heavenly Father!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.