This grows out of a continuing conversation I've had with James Rix that spans several thread topics as I review them going backwards.
All are welcome to share their experiences & insights, or not.
2 or 3 Questions:
1. How do I, (Steven) hear God speaking?
2. How does Scripture talk about God speaking?
3. How do others experience and/or discern God speaking?
Sub-questions abound regarding effective & reliable discernment of which I'll suggest these as openers.
"How do you know that its really God?"
"How do we balance healthy skepticism and faith?"
"How do we avoid self-deception or deceiving others or being deceived, wittingly or unwittingly!
My short, life story: I was once quite sure of myself & what God says. Then, I fell into confusion. Then, God saved me. Things were fine for a while. Then, I got too sure of myself & eventually became confused, lost, bewildered, befuddled, bespeckled and flabbergasted. I cried out & God saved me, again. This cycle has recurred several times.
Currently, I'm in a phase of recovery having lost all confidence in myself, God & life following my wife's passing. Each of you in this group are partners in the Lord's continuing efforts to bring me to the next chapter of my life. Thank you!
“Nope! Often, God overrules my gut feelings! That’s one of the ways I know its God/Jesus/Holy Spirit & not me!”
James:Could you expand on this some? I’m having trouble seeing how you can tell the difference. I know you suggested a new thread for this and there are currently lots of them active right now, so I hate to ask. But I’d like to know how you hear God’s spirit.
Here's an example from current life, fresh & hot off the press:
Yesterday I needed to write a letter of reference for a friend applying to be a life coach. I had 1 or two shallow sentences in mind & didn't feel right about even those. Then, I just started typing & ended up with a page of very readable content. I emailed my friend who was quite humbled by my words of praise. I double-checked & concluded I could give specific examples for each of my comments. IOW, what I wrote was empirically based, not exaggerated or excessive. Nor was it the result of a clear conscious analytical thinking process as I was initially surprised at the whole thing.
My friend replied that it is exactly what is needed even though she had failed to give me clear instructions in those regards. Thus, I could not have rationally determined what the organization needed due to my information deficit.
IMNSHO, hitting the mark that well is beyond human ability & represents "God speaking" in some fashion. & even if it is not "God", I'll take the humble route & give God the credit either for inspiring me or making me smart enough to be a good guesser.
But, I don't ascribe such things to the Lord until subsequent evidence suggests high praise & I hit the mark well beyond my human ability.
That is one example & one type of "God speaking."
To make a formal study, I'd suggest reviewing a couple of New Testament passages for background:
(Or check out the current issue of Charisma magazine on The Holy Spirit)
I Corinthians 2
I Corinthians 12-14
Romans 8 and 12
go to http://www.biblegateway.com/
& do a phrase search on the following:
"Word of the Lord" 223
"Word of God" 40
"God spoke" 6
"God said" 54 (28 times in Genesis!)
"The Lord says" 184 (all in the Old Testament!)
"The Lord said" 299, all but 11 in the Old Testament
"Holy Spirit" 93 (with 69 being in the Book of Acts!)
"God's Word" 6
Don't try to look through all of them! Skim & skip.
I've done that & written long research papers that are getting old & dusty! My study of "Spirit" in the Book of Acts dealt directly & critically with the Greek text. My research paper on Spiritual Gifts ran well over 50 pages & could have been much longer but time ran out.
Formally put, my experience parallels that found in the Book of Acts, Romans 8 discussion of the Spirit as well as I Corinthians 12-14 (as a unit!)
But, I quote I Cor 12:
1Co 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
1Co 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
1Co 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Whatever else this passage may mean, God is spirit & we dare not neglect paying attention to the spiritual side of life which is different from emotions, feelings, reason & intellect.
Paul's words in I Co 2 have left me intrigued & wrestling with these words for decades as the implications appear profound:
1Co 2:6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
I encourage great care & drawing conclusions slowly, befitting my conservative style.
Suffice it to say, I follow a Christ that is alive & is neither deaf nor mute!
The Lord I serve is 3 persons in one God, the Creator of all who is always speaking if our hearts are open to hearing.
He turns a deaf ear towards no one. But speaks reluctantly to those not inclined to listen.