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Hearing God – Chapter 4 – Say What?

When Pam and I were first married, we enjoyed getting to know each other’s, extended family.  Her grandma Smith was nearly 90 years old and wore “coke bottle” glasses.  She spent a lot of time in her bed.  On one occasion, we went in to sit and talk with her.  I said loudly, “HELLO, GRANDMA.  HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY?”  We exchanged hugs, and I let Pam ask most of the questions. It was my turn again, so I leaned toward her and said. “HOW ARE YOU FEELING?”  She looked me square in the face and said, “Greg, I might be blind, but I ain’t deaf…quit yelling at me!”

Sometimes, when God speaks, you may try to distinguish between His voice and your own thinking.  But God speaks so differently than your inner voice.  The Bible says that His thoughts are not like your thoughts.  It’s not that His thoughts are the exact opposite of yours, it is just that He is another person sharing ideas from His side of the dialogue.  Your part is to respond to His speaking in obedience and faith.

HEARD WORD – When God speaks, you do not hear voices, instead, you hear one voice – HIS.

10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

15 So Samuel lay down until morning,[ and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. 16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!”

He answered, “Here I am.”

17 And he said, “What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.” 18 Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” I Samuel 3:10-18

The first time that God spoke to Samuel was to tell him that Eli and his family would receive punishment from the Lord.  Eli had failed as a priest and father by allowing his sons to continue to do evil as priests.  This was a challenging word to hear from the Lord, especially being the first time to hear God.  Samuel most likely loved Eli and knew about the evil his sons performed.  Why was he afraid to tell Eli?  Was he afraid of Eli’s reaction, or was he afraid that God’s word would come true?

Remember that questions are essential in our discerning the voice of the Lord.  Eli said to Samuel, “What is the word that the Lord spoke to you?”  Samuel was not to add or subtract from the word of the Lord.  He was not to editorialize what he felt the word might mean for Eli.  He was to speak it EXACTLY as God had revealed it to him.

HEARD WORD – Learn to capture what God just said first! When God speaks, try to write down exactly what you heard, the impression you felt, or the image you saw. Don’t add to or subtract from what you heard.  Let God’s words be His.  Asking for the meaning or interpretation is different from recording what was spoken.   Even if what you heard was just one word, record the impression. We are reading in the Bible Samuel’s written recounting of his experience.

Samuel did choose to share with Eli EXACTLY as he heard it.  Remember, Eve, ADDED to her answer in response to the serpent’s question.  She ADDED that if she touched the fruit, then she would die.  But God only said they should not eat it, for they would die!  In contrast, look at the effect of Samuel’s obedience to reporting the word exactly as he heard it.

I Sam.3:19-21 19 So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord21 Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

God let none of his words fall to the ground.”  What great favor.  When Samuel spoke for the Lord, everyone recognized it was from the Lord.  You don’t have to stretch your imagination to think about what God might say. Instead, our responsibility is to share exactly what we hear from the Lord. 

HEARD WORD:  Obedience to the voice of God is a pathway of growth in our spiritual lives.  If you feel stagnant in your walk with God, check to see if you have rejected, ignored, or trivialized God’s voice.  If so, repent humbly before Him and ask Him to speak again.

For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”  Hearing and seeing what God is doing comes from revelation.  Know that God desires to uncover His love and direction daily by speaking to you.

Prayer:  Father God, speak to me.  Give me the courage and faith to remember and record every word that you speak.  Your words are life.  Even when they include discipline for my life, your words are true.  My spirit will agree, like Eli’s words recognizing “It is the LORD.”  I know that you speak to others, but help my faith grow knowing that you desire to speak with me.  I trust that you love me and only want the best for me.

Daily challenge:  Get a notebook for journaling prayer conversations with God.  Designate three symbols.  An “O” is for recording your thoughts.   A “?” is for recording a question that comes to mind when journaling.  A “+” is for recording impressions that you feel God is speaking to you.  It would look something like this.

0 – God, today, there is a friend that I am praying for who is trying to raise money for a mission trip.  You know, God, that there have been people that have helped me financially to go on mission trips in my past.  In fact, many times, they have helped me.  But right now, I have limited resources.

?- Am I supposed to give money to my friend for their mission trip?

+ – Yes,

O – God, I am not sure I have enough money to pay my bills right now.  

? – Can I really trust you that you will help me?

+ – You can trust Me.

? – How much should I give?

+ – $25, but understand that I bless happy giving.  I love cheerful givers.  Giving is at the core of My being.  An expression of My love is to be a giver.  When you give to others, you are in harmony with My heart.

O – Wow, God, thank you for showing your heart by giving your Son.  Please help me be a more lavish giver.  Truly all that I have is yours.

Try journaling in a dialogue fashion such as this.  Trust that God desires to speak with you.  Have fun…He has so much to reveal of Himself to you.

Today’s entry should raise several questions. How will you know if what you record or speak to another is really from God? What if I say it is from God and I am wrong? Do I have the right to share a judging word from God to someone else? Does God speak in special ways to prophets? What if I am not a prophet, then how does God speak to me?

I will try to discuss more of these questions in the coming weeks. Feel free to reach out with your questions. Until then, record what you hear and respond to God in faith.