The sad truth about Christian discipleship today is that we teach people about God, but we don’t teach people to experience God.
As followers of Jesus, we are invited into a relationship, having our daily steps ordered by the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 37:23).
I often hear from people who wish they could hear from God regarding His will for their lives.
The incredible news is that God does still speak to His children, and Jesus made this clear in John 10.
The sheepfold of the first century was usually an enclosure made of rocks, and the shepherd would guard the flock at night by lying across the opening. It was not unusual for several flocks to be sheltered together in the same fold. In the morning, the shepherds would come, call their sheep, and assemble their own flocks. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 10:3-4.
Jesus calls himself two different things in this passage, firstly he is the door (John 10:9). He is the Door of salvation for all who put their faith in him.
Then Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd and in verse 11 he says, “the Good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. Those hearing these words must have struggled to understand what he was saying. Jesus willingly went to the cross to die for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God the Father.
We miss the point when we get so focused on the plan of salvation as a means to get out of hell and into heaven. There is so much more. We are invited into a relationship with Jesus, in verse 10 he says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
In verse 16 Jesus speaks to the Gentiles who were outside of the Jewish “fold”. He uses the key phrase, “they will listen to my voice.” Are you listening to the voice of The Good Shepherd?
Prayer is not a monologue where you recite all your needs to God, and He responds like a vending machine. It is a two-way fellowship, where we speak to God, and He speaks to us.
Henry Blackaby wrote, “what God says to you in prayer, is far more important than what you say to Him. After all, God already knows what you are going to tell Him.”
How does God speak to us?
1. Primarily God speaks to us through His word, the Bible.
The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God because it is His special revelation of Jesus to mankind (2 Timothy 3:16). However, for us to hear and respond to the God breathed Word, we need to open it and meditate on it.
Having said that, God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible. God can speak in any way that He knows will get our attention.
2. God speaks through other Christians. God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us, and we all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love. God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit, as fellow believers use their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).
3. God will speak through Circumstances. In Genesis 50 Joseph saw how God used the seemingly impossible circumstances and redeem them to his glory. Be aware of God leading through circumstances.
4. God speaks audibly. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 God spoke to Elijah. The voice of God was a gentle whisper, and he knew that God was speaking to him. God also speaks to us in that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
It is so important to be quiet before the Lord and to listen for His voice.
This is where the value of a journal comes in. When you sit down with your Bible each day, come with an expectation that He is going to speak to you. Sometimes through the words on the page, sometimes through the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, and as that happens, write down your dialogue with God. Write out your prayers and write down what you hear from the Lord. I am always encouraged as I look back at my journals from years gone by and see how the Lord was speaking and directing me.
5. God still speaks in dreams. The life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretation. Today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in dreams and are being converted.
There is no doubt that God speaks today, but we must be careful to test every word. To test to discern if God is speaking, use these five simple tests.
1. Does it Exalt Christ?(John 16:13-14) If what you think you heard does not exalt Christ but exalts something or someone else instead, you can be certain that the leading is not from God.
2. Is it Scriptural? (Proverbs 30:5-6) God will never contradict His Word. If the person presenting the word to you takes the Bible out of context, you can reject it. Always go back to God’s primary revelation, His Word the Bible.
3. Do Other Christians Confirm it?(1 Corinthians 14:29) If you feel that God is speaking to you on a certain issue, but you are not sure. Take it to wise people in the church who can guide you and join in prayer with you.
4. Does it Produce Good Fruit?(John 15:5) Compare what you hear with the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. God’s word will always produce the fruit of the Spirit.
5. Does God Bring it to Pass? (Isaiah 55:10-11) If it never comes to pass, you can be sure God was not in it.
It is essential that you learn to test the word, whether it is something you read or something someone tells you. God is not intimidated by our questions, but He does expect our obedience when His word is confirmed.
The most important part of your day is the time spent waiting on the Lord.