Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people (Psalm 85:8)
Sin has affected us so deeply (Romans 3: 10-11) that you and I cannot understand the truth of God unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. He is our teacher. As you read your Bible, be open to the Spirit as He teaches you the Word of God. As you pray, watch how the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to confirm in your heart what God is saying. Observe what He is doing around you in the circumstances of life. The God who is speaking to you as you pray and the God who is speaking to you in the Scriptures is the same God who is at work around you daily.
The evidence of the Scriptures can encourage you at this point. The Bible illustrates that when God chose to speak to an individual, that person had no doubt it was God, and it was clear what God was saying. When God speaks to you, you can know He is the One speaking to you, and you too, can understand clearly what He is saying. Jesus explained, “The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep….and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out….I am the good shepherd, I know My own sheep, and they know me” (John 10: 2-4, 14)
Knowing God’s voice is not a matter of honing a method or discovering a formula. Recognizing God’s voice comes from an intimate love relationship with Him. Those who do not have the relationship do not hear what God is saying(John 8:47). Since God will uniquely communicate with you in the intimacy of your walk with Him, your relationship with Him is of utmost importance.
There is no substitute for an intimate relationship with God.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
Have you ever wondered just what it is that God wants from you? Maybe you’ve even wondered how you’re supposed to act or perform in some way that will please Him. Clearly this lies in the root of the Israelites hearts in the wilderness. They send Moses to God with the request that God just tell them what He wants them to do. And He does just that. He gives the Ten Commandments. I don’t know any and to my knowledge have been none outside of Christ that have kept them. So if this is just what God wants, that is for us just to be rule-keepers, then we are truly hopeless. The Israelites also believed that if they couldn’t fully keep the Commandments that they could somehow appease God through rituals that had their own sets of rules. The sacrifices had to be conducted in the proper way. Their dress when they came to the temple, the way they offered prayers and really anything to do with God was an elaborate, intricate system of rule and ritual. Often in the OT the prophets would say to the people that though they were keeping the rituals to the letter they were still missing being with God. As a matter of fact Jeremiah says this:
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and with the house of Judah (the Southern Kingdom), not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” says the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
Under the old covenant, the laws and ritual were external, but in the new covenant the conduct, attitude and worship of God now becomes a heart matter.
When we read the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jesus was teaching that our relationship with God is internal and not external. He taught that our outward actions comes from our inward desires and attitudes. This is and was always the plan of God. He would be with and in His people. They would know His voice even as He knew them. They would talk to Him and He would talk to them. They would not substitute ritual for presence. The relationship would be personal and intimate and eternal.
The work of Satan from the beginning has been to break apart the relationship between God and man. Like the human home wrecker, he works to destroy the communication between us and God. While he may not get us to fully abandon our relationship, he works so that we substitute ritual for relationship. He’s ok if we read the Bible as long as we get nothing from it. He’s ok if we pray as long as we don’t experience a connection with God. He’s ok if we gather for church as long as we don’t experience the life changing presence of God. He’s ok if we perform rituals week after week as long as we are satisfied with the performance and the performance becomes our ultimate goal. So he whispers that God may not hear us since we’ve not performed up to par. He accuses God of being a demanding master instead of being the Heavenly Father He really is. Satan who realizes that he cannot change God and His wish to be with His children, to walk and talk with them focuses on us as the weak link of the relationship. Like the home wrecker, he seeks out our flaws and weaknesses and the place of temptation so that he can seperate us from the Father. But the Bible teaches that that is impossible for nothing can separate us from God’s love.
“For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So go ahead be the child who runs to the Father with their arms held up expecting to be picked up, held and talked to. Do this without fear of rejection. Talk to the Father. He really wants you to. Tell Him about it all, holding nothing back. Rest in His presence and hear His voice. That’s what He’s after. Not whether we can keep the rules or follow the rituals but whether we will open our hearts to Him, whether we will call His Name and listen for Him to call us to Him. Wait in prayer till He speaks and makes known to you His ways and wishes for you. God wants to be with you, He really does. If you’ve sinned, don’t leave, don’t go away. Remember this is the God who sought Adam in the Garden after he had sinned and Peter on the sea shore after he had denied. God is seeking you. He wants to deliver you from dry ritual that leaves you the same and bring you into such an intimate relationship with Him that satisfies every longing of your soul. This is heaven, when child and Father walk hand in hand sharing everything and all with each other. This is Christianity. Not rule and ritual but a living, breathing, transforming relationship with God our Father.
Dr. John Thompson