In this episode, we continue to discuss ways to hear from God. We focus on two powerful ways to observe who God is and what He is doing. The first is by noticing Him in nature and throughout all of our circumstances. The second is by listening to the Holy Spirit within. Listening to the spirit is not always easy, even though He’s always speaking. In both internal and external whisperings, our discernment plays an important role. To heed God’s voice has great upside.
See God in nature
Number three is nature and circumstances. This is a way to listen to God. Let me show you Psalm 19.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Can you go somewhere on the earth and not see the sky? Actually, you can these days. It’s not because it’s not there, though. It’s just because it’s been covered up with light pollution or air pollution.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Look at verse 8:
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired than gold—same theme—
Yea, much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
And how do we get this gold? Just look around. Just look around you.
In our urban kind of culture, this actually gets harder to do. It requires, actually, some effort I’d say.
You could walk over to the light switch, and as you flip it on, instead of just not thinking, you could say there are little fellas in there spinning around, little electrons just buzzing and humming and bumping into each other. How in the world do they go from just spinning around to making that thing glow like that, turning on a light? That’s the sun coming in here, and how did that get—? I mean we could do that.
I try to do that a little bit just to be aware of what’s going on around me. It’s not quite as in your face as it would be in an agricultural economy.
I have to admit, when I’ve dabbled in ranching a little bit, it’s been more in my face than some of this hypothetical stuff we work with. I’ve got this machine here that, you know, I tap on it, and it starts giving me books. How does that work? Can anybody even start to tell me how this works?
This is just kind of so far past us, we tend to not even think about it.
Magic. I think that’s probably the best explanation.
Tim, I was thinking about what Paul wrote in Romans 1, that this idea of God’s presence in creation is why we are without excuse. It is everywhere. We may be blinded by the bright lights or whatever, but it’s there.
That’s really well said, Mark. You know that verse that says, “How would they hear unless a preacher’s sent”? You remember what the very next passage is? It says, “And have they all heard? Yes, because the heavens declare the glory of God.” Everybody’s heard.
I think your point is really well taken because, you know—
That’s all that’s all we needed to hear. We’re done now. The godly man has said we’re good.
I get up every morning—It’s usually dark—and go to work, and I go in a dark room, and I spend ten to twelve hours in there on a computer. I’ll do it nine or ten days in a row.
We should all pray for you.
You’re blessing everybody by doing it. I thank you for being willing to do that.
We live in a man-made environment, and to see nature as really, especially, I mean, you look out here and you don’t want see nature, I guess.
Now, let me take issue with you on that. It depends on where your eyes are. If your eyes look down, it’s not pretty. If your eyes look up, it’s awesome out here.
Another thing I was going to say, we were in New Mexico a couple of days ago. I went outside at night, and I came out of watching TV of course. You walk outside, and you go, there’re a few stars up there!
And then I turned the porch light off, and my eyes accommodated. And I go It’s kind of cloudy out here.
It was the Milky Way.
It was the Milky Way. There were billions of stars out there. But, I mean, you have to go some place else to see them.
I’ll put in a plug for Triple L Ranch, which is only seven miles outside of town. It’s brilliant out there. You don’t really have to get that far away from town for it to all turn on.
But you’ve got to look up, you know; and I don’t always think to do that. I’m more inclined to look at the little, flashing red lights of the windmills over there.
I bring the kids walking after a rain in the desert, and after a rain in the desert, seeing all the life that comes up, it’s just amazing. Because it’s just not there, and then, all of the sudden, there’s frogs croaking and all kinds of stuff.
When I dabbled in ranching, one of the things that happened to me—we raised goats for a little while, which was a whole education in and of itself. One of my favorite things the goats would do is stick their head through the fence, and they’d get their horns stuck; and they could usually get themselves out. Occasionally I’d go over there and try to get them out. You know what they’d do when you’d try to get their heads out of the fence? They’d kick you, and they would then scream. “You’re killing me! You’re killing me!”
“You’re going to die if you don’t get out of here.” I do that pretty often. God’s just trying to get my head out of the fence, and I’m like “Stop! Stop! I know best! Don’t do this to me! Leave me alone!” Like your two-year-old that falls in the water. You’re trying to fish them out. “Leave me alone! I’m drowning!”
See God in circumstances
Nature is one. Circumstances is also one. Let’s look at Numbers 14:22. I think God is talking to us through circumstances all the time.
Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word;
but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—
because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice—
What was it God did in the wilderness for the children of Israel? What were some of the things he did? Manna. Every day this manna—which means in Hebrew, what is it? This stuff showed up. What is it?
At first, they were so excited about the manna, weren’t they? How long did it take before it’s like, “Manna again?” That wasn’t very long, right? They just got used to it, and it was every day. It was a miracle.
What is a miracle? It’s something that doesn’t happen all the time is all it is. Let’s just think about a miracle that’s happening right now.
I have a little control center in my body someplace. Maybe. Maybe it’s in my body. Maybe it’s somewhere else; I don’t know. My mind is there. Whatever that is. Nobody can explain what it is. We all know we have one. The Spirit of God is there. My flesh is there. And there’s a Sunday morning news program debate going on where they’re all arguing with each other about what should happen. My will is there. It’s got little buttons and knobs in front of it, and it’s pushing “yes,” “no,” “sit down,” “stand up,” “yell,” “scream,” “be quiet.”
They’re all at this control center. I decided what to say to you. That’s part of my control center. My flesh is over there yelling; Spirit’s over there yelling. Because what are they doing? Lusting against one another, right?
I pushed the button, and an electrical circuit happened. It goes into my brain, and then my brain started telling my tongue to flop, and my vocal cords start constricting. It’s causing me to compress the air, and that’s creating sound waves.
Then little sound waves are migrating over to your ear, and there’s little bones in there and hairs. They’re wiggling. It’s firing off little electrical things that are going in your brain, and a message comes up on a 90-inch screen in your control center. Your mind’s there, whatever that is, and the Spirit’s there, and your flesh is there.They’re all watching that screen. Then they all start talking. This is what that means!
The flesh is saying, “You’re hungry! Don’t think about that. Think about how hungry you are. Why should you listen to that guy? He doesn’t know. What’s—?”
Your spirit’s saying, “This is what you really should be hearing.”
You have to make a decision and punch a button. That’s all going on. And that’s not a miracle? Why do we not call that a miracle? Because that happens all the time.
Especially when you consider you evolved from—
Yeah, right. It’s all accidental!
We’re standing right here on a ball that’s twenty-five thousand miles in circumference that’s whirling at thousands of miles an hour, spinning around, and it’s not throwing us off. If we were in Australia we’d would be upside down, and it’d still be working!
It’s going around the sun! If it wobbles just a few degrees one way or the other we’ll either freeze or burn up! We’re just walking around like nothing’s happening! It’s been going on day after day after day. And that’s not a miracle? It’s not a miracle because it’s been happening.
I think our view of—it’s not that different than these guys. We see God working all the time. Babies are born. You think about how a baby happens! Starts with two cells. My gosh! That’s not a miracle? But we’re used to it.
We’re desensitized. Desensitized is a good word. You know, “I’d like to have some quail, really. Maybe a few greens. I mean, the onions were good back in Egypt!”
“We used to spend all day seven days a week stomping bricks in Egypt, you idiot!”
“I’m just not thinking about that right now. I’m just thinking about the onions.”
That’s just kind of what we do. But we don’t have to. We have a choice. You know, with the will sitting there with the buttons. We can actually choose to pay attention to our circumstances in such a way that we’re listening, and we learn from those circumstances.
Listen to the Holy Spirit
The fourth one is the tough one. The fourth one will be a challenge for any Bible Church person. And that is, I’m sorry to say this, the Spirit actually talks to us all the time. Just had to deliver that news.
Let’s look at John 16. Of course, I’m being facetious. John 16:12.
Jesus speaking, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. If I said them, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.
What do you think those guys were thinking when they’re heard that? Do you think they were glad that, “Oh, thank goodness, he’s not going to say that”? Or, “Oh, come on! We can handle it!” I don’t know.
“I would say them to you right now, but you can’t handle it.”
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak;
You can’t bear this from me right now, but I’m going to send the Spirit. When you can bear it, he will speak it to you.
and He will tell you things to come.
Now, you know if you look up the actual Greek words and passages that use this phrase, you know what “things to come” means? Things that haven’t happened yet. Gets even more uncomfortable for Bible Church people, right?
That’s what it says. Since we’re Bible Church people, why don’t we just listen to the whole thing? What he’s saying here is the Spirit’s speaking to us all the time. In this control center that we all have, the Spirit’s talking. If we learn to listen, we can hear.
You say, “but the Bible trumps that.”
I didn’t say that the Spirit’s overriding what the Bible says. What does it say? The Spirit will not speak on his own authority. The Spirit only speaks when he hears. The Spirit’s God! We have here God saying I’m not going to say anything I didn’t hear. You think he’s being careful about the truth? I don’t think we have to worry about the Spirit saying anything that’s inconsistent with Scripture.
One of the ways we can determine who’s talking at this table—because you know the flesh is really good about saying, “I’m using my Spirit voice right now, and I want you to think I’m the Spirit. And you would like to think that too, so let’s just pretend.” OK? Because that’s a way to self-justify, right? One of the ways we can tell, is that really the Spirit talking, is if it’s lining up with the Bible or not because they’re never going to conflict.
But the Spirit’s always talking to us.
This was an incredible advance for me because I kind of grew up with the notion that you only could talk to God, and you could only hear from God in dedicated times where you were doing nothing else. You had to have like a 15-minute minimum before God would start talking, only in the morning. The earlier the better, this quiet-time thing. The longer you go, the more God talks. It’s sort of like God has to warm up, you know. I’m not going to talk for a while, and then the longer you’re there, the faster I’m going to jabber.
Well, no. No, it’s really not that way. The Spirit’s always there, always leading, always talking.
I started realizing I’ve got this three-way conversation going on in my mind all the time. So I’m always in conversation with—I’ll talk to the flesh too. I mean, you talk to your dog, don’t you? So I just talked to the flesh that way. Like, “I don’t really want to hear what you have to say.” Or, “I recognize that that’s my historical pattern, but I don’t actually have to do that.”
I talk to the Spirit. I listen to the Spirit. I’ve gotten to where I understand, kind of, the Spirit’s jokes.
There used to be this TV show called Laverne and Shirley. We used to watch it in college. And the main joke was there was these two greasy characters I forget their names.
Lenny and Squiggy.
Ah! Everybody else watched it in college too! The major joke was somebody would say—it was a gag that was in every deal—somebody would say something like, “Who could be greasier and nastier than that?” Lenny and Squiggy would walk in and say, “Hello!” It was always something denigrating to somebody, and they would show up just at the right time.
That’s funny when stuff happens just at the right time!
I’m going to tell you, from my perspective, if you’re watching circumstance happen, you can actually see the Spirit do that and show up and say, “Hello!” Stuff just pops up just at the right time. It’s actually pretty funny.
I think that when we are in a position to listen to the Spirit, that we have the ability to get this gold because the Spirit’s always speaking.
Let’s look at Galatians 5:16, and you see this in clear words here.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another—
This lust word here means an intense desire for. We tend to think a lust only as a negative thing because people’s intense desire is too often for things that will destroy them. The Spirit has an intense desire for us too, and its intense desire is for us to have these riches, this water, this food, this clothing that brings us life and joy. That’s what the Spirit’s intense desire is.
They’re combating one another.
How is that combating going to happen if not in our thought life, if not in speaking? You know your flesh is talking all the time, right? “Hit him! Kill him! Undermine that lady! Stab her in the back! She did it to you; do it back to her!” Right? You’re always hearing those things all the time, aren’t you?
“That guy cut you off! What can you do to get him back? Just try a big honk. Give him a stare! A glare!”
That’s what’s always going on. The Spirit’s over there, “You’re going to be sorry. Don’t do it. Just wait. Count to ten, then we’ll talk.” Right?
You always have this. It’s always going on. You know it’s happening. Well, it’s because they have a lust. For who? For you! They’re trying to get whoever’s at that control center punching the buttons and doing the control to do what they want.
The Spirit’s saying, “Do what God wants you to do.”
And the flesh is saying, “You’re in control.” By that, the flesh means what? If you do what I tell you to do, you’re my slave. Doesn’t ever use those words, but that’s the point of Scripture.
We always have the Spirit talking to us.
Where does all that land? Let’s just land it all in Hebrews 12. This is the conclusion. Hebrews 12. We want riches. We get riches by hearing. And when we hear God’s Word through these four different ways, reading the scripture, listening to other godly people, nature and circumstance, and listening to the Spirit in our soul, then, that’s when we’re getting riches.
But look at the alternative to riches, what poverty looks like. Hebrews 12:25.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks—This is a New Testament book. —For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,
whose voice then shook the earth;
If you look at the context here, he’s talking about Mount Sinai.
but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”
Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken—like the whole earth, the universe, is going to blow up.
Verse 28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
The alternative—this is basically telling us we got Mount Sinai inside of us. Mount Sinai is this awesome event where there was a mountain and all this fire and lightning and stuff and God talking. The people said, “We don’t want it. We’re afraid to hear that because we’re going to die if we hear that.”
That’s now inside of us. That same God that spoke on that mountain that awed everybody is now talking to us through the Spirit on the inside. The question is, are you going to refuse that?
Not only is there’s this wonderful opportunity of having gold and riches, there’s this terrible downside of not listening to him. That’s the voice that’s going to blow up the whole heaven and the earth and speak into existence a reformation, a new heaven and new earth; and that’s who you don’t want to listen to?
So immense upside. A lot of downside. Listen. That’s where riches come from.