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Hearing God’s Voice January 30, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Family, Parenting/Children, Religion.
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This morning in Bible Study, we were discussing the notion of hearing an audible “voice of God.” The subject of the study was Samuel, and the text was 1 Samuel chapters 2-3.

At the outset, I asked the following:

All of us have answering machines or voice-mail for our cell phones. Who calls and leaves messages for you? Now narrow that group down a bit… who calls that doesn’t need to leave their name and number at the beep?


God Left a Message on the Machine
To get things rolling, I disconnected the home answering machine and brought it along. On the machine are several messages, but one of them stands out. My younger sister found a message on her machine a few days after Mom died, and forwarded it on to my machine so I could keep it.

Spooky.

I went around the class and asked about the messages left on the student’s machines. Some use it as a mechanism for screening calls, but the calls are generally ones they would take, but for one reason or another, they can’t take the call at the time.

The messages from people who didn’t need to leave a name and number were consistently close family members. Mom or Dad, an older sister, a best friend… the voice itself was familiar. However, one student observed that it wasn’t just the voice, but also the nature of what the person was talking about. “Mom always tells me the same kinds of things.”

That’s when I twisted things around a bit. “What do you think of the following statement:”

The Bible is like an answering machine that God used to leave messages for us.

This brought to mind a voice in my head that said:

“The Israelites aren’t in right now. Please leave a message at the sound of the sheep, and we’ll get back to you. Baaaaaaaahp”

Beyond the humor of this are other questions. How do you respond when a given person leaves you a message? Do you call back immediately? What if it’s a call you’re waiting anxiously to receive? How often do you check your messages? Do you check more often when you’re expecting a response to a question, or a message from a specific loved one?

Familiarity Breeds Contentment?
Going back to Mom’s voice and words being familiar, we discussed why these would be instantly recognizable, even in a crowd of voices. With Mom’s voice, it may very well start before we’re born. In utero, doctors tell us that a baby can distinguish the mother’s voice, and may even be able to recognize the father’s voice too. So from before day 1, we are constantly hearing the nature of “Mom’s voice.” We hear her happy, sad, angry, stressed, every emotion she allows herself to feel.

Over time, we hear what Mom has to say about virtually any subject, and we hear thousands of subtleties of timbre and expression. Before long, we can quickly tell someone, “Oh yeah… that’s my Mom,” or “What? My Mom would never say that.”

The familiarity of her voice and her words (should) help us develop a sense of who she is. We should start to see a pattern develop of the kind of woman she is, and possibly even predict what she might say in a given situation. This familiarity is beneficial, as it develops some foundational things in our lives that we can depend on as we develop.

Why is it that we struggle to discern God’s voice the same way?

How Familiar is God’s “Voice” to You?
Compare God’s voice to that of your Mom. Relatively speaking, how long have you been listening to God speak (in any form)? Have you been hearing stories since your youth that accurately reflect Biblical truths? Have you pointedly and actively tried to understand what God was saying in a particular verse or passage?

If someone says that he or she believes God is telling them to blow up an abortion clinic, how do you respond? Is God’s voice familiar enough to you that you can confidently say, “What you’re hearing is completely inconsistent with the God who’s expressed Himself elsewhere in scripture. You are definitely not hearing the voice of God.”

On the other hand, if you haven’t immersed yourself in God’s voice, how will you know when it’s Him speaking and not your own desires making themselves evident in some subtle way? How will you know it’s God when, like Samuel, you hear His voice calling? Will you mistake it for Eli’s voice, or will you know, without a doubt, God is speaking?

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Comments»

1. Bill - April 30, 2006

Many people have answering machines and in their messages they do not even mention God at all. Yet they claim they love him? They also send out emails and there is no mention at all of him or Jesus, just a hello and a goodbye. In the sending of faxes no mention is made. No creative cover sheets or anything. The same goes with two-way radios or in advertising a business. I am not ashamed of the Gospel Of Jesus Christ! I want to sing it and I want to shout it and tell the whole world about it! What is with some of these churches? When you call them up their messages are carbon copies of each other. They are not even creative at all. All you hear for example is Hello the church names and times of services. Doesn’ t anyone have an imagination? Isn’t anyone even creative any more.
The same people who claim to be Christians will not even be a witness for the Lord. They keep their mouths shut and do not invite anyone to their church. Some that I gave visited the people stick in groups and cliques if they do not know you then your not included or greeted. Moral of this story is if you truly love the Lord stop hiding it. Lets have worldwide revival by working together!

2. timthefoolman - May 2, 2006

Or to paraphrase: A light under a bushel basket doesn’t give off any light. Good insights. Thanks, Bill!

Tim

P.S. My current answering machine is a “Dragnet” theme (including music), but in the past, I have sung parts of hymns, Christmas carols, and stream-of-consciousness messages. Of course, my goal there is as much about annoying telemarketing people as it is to evangelize.


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