Hearing The Voice of God for the Direction You Need
Beyond Just Seeing
When we think of spiritual vision, we immediately go to the eyes and what we see. We expect to witness an angel, a supernatural sign or the promise we are seeking to play out in our minds like a movie. Vision is suppose to be something we see, at least in our minds if not in the world around us. After all, actual vision is directly associated with the sense of sight. Why wouldn't our spiritual vision be centered around seeing something from God, too.
However, most if not all of the spiritual visions in the Bible come with an added caveat: they required the receiver to listen to God or the angel presenting the vision from God. There is an oral utterance that goes along with the image God gives to His followers. We see it with the likes of Noah and the forerunners to the first covenant. We observe it in Abraham to Moses. Samuel, David, and Solomon all saw and heard from God as well did the prophets. John the Baptist, the apostles and even some ordinary saints heard and saw what God had for them in a vision. It seems that vision throughout the Bible requires open ears as much as it does open ears.
Let's focus in on our lesson from last week. Both Saul and Ananias got visions from God. However, within the telling of these visions, the only thing we are told that either one of them saw was the bright light that shone around Saul. We don't know what else these men might have seen, but we do know what they heard to the letter. The images, whatever they might have been, seem to be inconsequential compared to the inspiration and instruction given by God.
When God gets ready to share a vision with us, it is awesome if he shares a visual image with us. However, image or no image, we need to make sure that we focus on the verbal vision God speaks into our lives. Think about it like this. I present you with a picture of a new house that had your name on the mailbox. I show you pictures of each room, and the yard and it is exactly the home you have always wanted. You'd be excited and ready to move in, right?. Instead of telling you where the house was, though, I simply left you with the pictures and walked away. The pictures themselves don't have any indicators where the house is located. Your great reward is sitting in front of you but without any instruction all you have is a promise. God does more than just show us what He wants for us to do. He speaks to us to inspire and direct us towards that goal. We just have to open up our ears and listen.
Talking Back Is Allowed
Saul and Ananias had open ears. They listened intently, but they also spoke back to God. Saul asked who it was when God spoke. He knew it was God, but wasn't sure as he had thought he was doing God's will. Why would God be saying Saul persecuted Him? When God directs a vision at us, it's okay to ask God if it is Him. Many evil spirits desire to trick us with a false direction. If we don't have a clear understanding of God's voice and what it sounds like, it's easy to fall prey to those misleading statements. No evil spirit can claim to be Jesus, though, because it doesn't have the authority to claim that Name. So when you feel like God is speaking to you, it's okay to ask if it's Him. God will make himself known directly, while a spirit will try to further mislead you.
Once You Know, As Where You Must Go
Second, Saul asked God what he should do once He had identified Himself as Jesus. This goes back to the heart and intention of Saul. God had just called him out for being a persecutor. Saul wasn't proud or defiant in this. He humbly requested for God to direct him so he could get in line with God again. Once we are in communication with God and He is ready to speak, the only thing for us to do is ask what we need to do and listen. We must ask like Saul, though, with humility and submission to God's perfect will for our lives.
Deeper Relationship, Better Understanding
Ananias shows a similar approach to God, and his story gives us some further insights into communicating with Christ. First, when God addresses him, Ananias immediately knows it is Jesus. How did Ananias know it was God speaking to him? He had a devoted relationship with God and so had probably heard in some way from God before. When we get into regular relationship and communication with God it will be easy to recognize His voice when He speaks to us.
Answered Questions Give No Excuses
The second thing Ananias said to God was his concern about Saul. Ananias' concern was legitimate as Saul was a vicious and dangerous man. He had probably had people put to death less than 24 hours before so it's natural to be skeptical in our reasoning mind. However, God reassured Ananias and that is all He needed to go forth. We'll get into the going forth part next week, but it's important to understand that having concerns and questions for God is okay. When God calls us to do something, it's okay to question it. However, God is going to reassure us and give us the answer we need to move forward in His calling. It's up to us to make the choice to listen with believing ears when God speaks. If we do, we'll have a clear direction from Him to go forth.
From this lesson, we see that listening to God takes an understanding of God's voice when He speaks. When we begin to feel and hear the voice of God speaking, it's okay and even important to ask if it is God speaking, especially when we have little experience talking with Him. The closer we get to God, the easier it will be to recognize His voice when He speaks. Once we know it is God speaking, it's still okay to ask questions and have concerns. However, once God answers and directs us, it is on us to make the choice to follow Him in faith. If we do, we'll be in position to make our vision a reality.
We hoped you enjoyed this week's lesson. You'll be able to get Extra Access through our Access page tomorrow. To preview it for you, we will be discussing further the idea of listening by looking at another conversion story and it's effect on the world. Hint: It's just a chapter away from our current focus. Until tomorrow, we hope you keep your ears open as you pray this week. God might have something profound to tell you.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.