Hearing Voices, Pt. 1

Scripture: Isaiah 30:21, John 10:10, Matthew 2:13
Some people say, 'I heard God say...' or 'This is what God said...' How do you know when you're hearing God's voice?
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible and talk about themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible Talk where we talk about the Bible and how the Bible affects us today. My name is John Bradshaw, with me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi John, we're going to talk about something that a lot of people would never admit to and that is hearing voices.

John: Hearing voices? I've got a question for you today, how do you know when you're hearing the voice of God? Here's the reason I'm asking you this question, I've met a lot of people who will say, "The Lord told me..." "I heard God say..." "This is what God said..." or "This is what God wants me to tell you..." Man, I've got to tell you. Sometimes I get the impression that some of these people are right in what they heard. I've got to tell you sometimes I get the idea that some people are way off, way out there. How do you know when you're hearing God's voice?

Gary: I had a guy come to me, John, one time and he had these big spooky eyes, he has this blank look in his eyes and he came to my wife and me. He said, "I've got to tell you something. I've dreamed. I see things and they happen." And he recited a recent tragedy, national tragedy and he said, "I saw that, I knew it was going to happen."

John: Fascinating.

Gary: He said, "I had this dream, I saw you guys flying and something terrible was going to happen to you. Beware, beware." Well, that was nearly 20 years ago and if I would have really thought this guy was a credible witness for God, I wouldn't have flown on all the planes I have since in the last 20 years. But you know, I haven't died in an airplane crash yet.

John: Well, that's good news.

Gary: But he said he saw this. I had another guy, a good friend of mine. In fact, he would hear voices. I went into his office one day and, he was a very successful businessman. He said, "I need to talk to you but can't talk to you in here." So we walk outside and we're outside standing on the street corner and he said, "My office is bugged, I can't talk to you."

John: This was a friend of yours [inaudible 2:16] ?

Gary: That's right. Church member as well, and he said, "They're listening to me, the government is after me." He looked like a normal guy, he was a really nice fellow but he was hearing voices and one day he heard supposedly the voice of God tell him to go burn all the furniture in his house. Now obviously he wasn't really hearing the voice of God. He had some issues that he needed some medication for and some doctor's help and some prayer over.

John: Tell me, he didn't burn his furniture?

Gary: He burned all the furniture in his house.

John: Oh, man. Was it lousy furniture?

Gary: [laughs] It made great firewood. Let's put it at that.

John: He burned a house full of nice furniture?

Gary: It made great firewood.

John: Recently I was holding a Bible Prophecy Seminar and visited a fellow in his home and I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. We had a little language barrier but I could understand him well enough to finally establish that he felt like there was someone spying on him through the vent in the ceiling of his house and he heard voices. But OK, these are voices that maybe people with schizophrenia might hear and that's a medical condition, that's one thing. But what about "Hey man, God told me, hear I was and the Lord said and sometimes it's an audible voice and oftentimes it's not..." How do you know when it's God saying this to you or when you're just fooling yourself?

Let me share an experience I had. We're selling Christian books one day, I was out making some money while I was a student selling Christian books, going out into the community and visiting people who had an interest in these things.

I had a pretty good day and I was driving home. Still miles from home but I'm coming to a tee in the road. I'm about to get to the tee and turn left and I pass two houses, one on the left and one of the right.

And there was an elderly couple sitting on the front porch of the house on the left and a young couple and their two kids in the yard in the house on the right. I can still see it as though it was yesterday and that was years ago. Something said to me, "Go back, go back" and I got the impression to go back to the elderly couple.

Gary: Now was that an audible voice or just an impression?

John: I've never heard an audible voice, just an impression.

Gary: But it was a strong impression?

John: Oh yes, strong but I said to myself, "No, I'm just fooling myself. Maybe it's greed, maybe it's workaholism." No, that's just nothing. I turned left at the tee and I went on down the road, the impression came again, "You've got to go back to the old couple." No, I'm not going back. Man John, forget this. Little further down the road, this now became overwhelming, "You've got to go back." I pulled into a driveway and I said out loud, out loud I said, "Lord, I think I'm just fooling myself here but in case this is you speaking to me, I'm going to go back."

I went back and you know selling books, it's the families with the young kids who are more likely to want these but the impression said go back to the elderly couple. I went back to that house, and canvassed the elderly couple. They bought just about everything I had.

In fact when I got out of the car, the man looked at me like he was expecting me and he said, "So what have you got for us today?" That was the Lord speaking to me and communicating with me.

How do I know? Man, I know. Let's talk about how you can know whether it's the Lord, whether you're fooling yourself, whether the voice is from heaven or maybe you should be taking something.

Gary: We have to recognize that God does speak to people. I mean, look at it. God talked to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even after sin entered, God spoke to Abraham, He spoke to Noah, He spoke to Moses, to King David, Solomon, Ananias, Paul, Jesus...

John: No, wait. Adam and Eve, they lived in the Garden, they spoke to God face-to-face. These other guys, these were prophets and patriarchs. What about little old me, working at the saw mill, driving the school bus, working at Wal-Mart? We're not comparing apples with apples here.

Gary: We are. Because they were normal human beings. Abraham was a nomad, he traveled around, he didn't have a piece of land to call his own, and he didn't have his own city. He was a wealthy man, he became wealthy but he was a nomad and God spoke to him.

John: A wealthy nomad.

Gary: And here's a promise, I think that applies to everybody, the Bible says in Isaiah 30:21, "Your ears will hear a word behind you saying this is the way; walk in it. When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left."

John: What is that scripture reference again because that is a great verse?

Gary: Isaiah 30:21 says, "Your ears will hear a word behind you, directing you, saying turn left, turn to the right."

John: In other words God will speak to you.

Gary: And Jesus said in John 10:10, "My sheep will hear my voice." This Isaiah 30:21, John, I was kind of fulfilled very literally with me the other day. It was late one day and I realized that the next day I had a speaking appointment at a church and I was going to invite you then to send postcards out to their local cable TV company to get the Hope Channel on television there. I worked with a ministry called the Hope Channel and I didn't have any of these cards and I had to get it either right then or I was going to lose my opportunity. It was late on a Friday afternoon and so I pulled out of my house, went down to the intersection and I turned right to go to my post office which is a little tiny post office in the country.

And as I was just turned right and I only went a few yards, it occurred to me. They might not have enough postcards for me and if I turned left, there's a larger post office and then you start doing this thing in your mind saying, "I'm just going to psyche myself out here."

And I kept going and I thought, "Hey, wait a minute. This may be God speaking to me." Telling me to turn left instead of turning right and I pulled over and I thought about it for a moment and I thought, "What do I have to lose?"

Follow the impression and I said, "God, if this is you speaking to me, I'm going to turn around, I'm going to go to the other direction." I went there and they had the 200 postcards I needed and I asked the lady, "Do you think this other little post office down the road would have had it?"

She said, "I think you made the right decision, we had them, didn't we?" And so the Lord will give us those impressions. They're not necessarily audible but they're impressions that God gives us and we need to be able to listen to them.

John: Hey, we've got a great offer today that you've really got to get. We want to offer you a small book called 'The Power of a Positive No.' Here's what you do, get the telephone number we're going to give you at the end of the program, the address, the email address, contact us and tell us you want to get 'The Power of a Positive No.' You're going to find this will really bless your experience. It may revolutionize your relationship with Jesus Christ and lead you in a positive, victorious path. It's 'The Power of a Positive No.' It's free; we want to give it to you. Be sure and contact us and we'll send it away, straight away, no obligation, we just want you to have it.

Gary: Let's talk about ways God does speak to us. There are several ways we can actually chart them through experience as well as through the Scriptures. One way is, He's speaks to people through dreams. In Matthew 2:16, remember Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was instructed in a dream by an angel to take Jesus down to Egypt because King Herod was going to try to kill him.

John: Gary, you might have just opened a can of worms here. Man, I'm having people every time I preach, practically come to me and tell me, "I've got to tell you about this dream, I've been having this dream, what do you think my dream means?" Now normally I tell the person, "I think your dream means you ate too much pizza right before you went to bed and your mind started doing something really funny while you were sleeping." Usually these dreams don't mean a thing.

Here's what I think because so many people have dreams and they want to know is this the voice of God. I think if God is going to speak to you through a dream, you're not going to wake up and wonder if that was God, you're going to know that God came to you and had something impressive to say.

Gary: Just like King Nebuchadnezzar.

John: Yes, he felt like he was sure the gods were speaking to him in a dream. It was very clear to him.

Gary: And God also speaks to people audibly. I know people who've heard the audible voice of God and we have multitude of examples of that in the Bible as we already mentioned. So He speaks to people audibly, it's very rare. He speaks in dreams, again very rare but He does do it. More commonly, He speaks to people today by His word through the Bible.

John: I believe that the Bible, the Word of God, is the front line method of communication God uses. I think the Bible even makes that clear.

Gary: It really is. In John 16:13 "However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you in all truth for He'll not speak on his own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will tell you things to come."

John: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light under my path. Hey, a dream I can be confused about, right? A voice, I could hear that wrong or I could even imagine it but the Word of God is sure, it's certain. You don't have to be too confused about what the Bible plainly says.

Gary: You remember the parable, the rich man in Lazarus in Luke 16?

John: Oh, yes.

Gary: In this parable, I believe it was a story illustrating truth. You have the rich man, he asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to his family and Jesus' point at the end of this, he says, listen in verse 31, "If they don't hear Moses and the Prophets..." In other words the writings and the Old Testament writers, "... neither will they be persuaded the One rose from the dead." Now what he's saying is they've got the voice of God through the Bible.

John: That's right.

Gary: If people don't listen to that, they're not going to believe in these more miraculous interventions of God, resurrection from the dead, dreams and all that. We need to believe in what the Bible says.

John: So tell me more about how God might speak to us through His Word.

Gary: As we read the Word of God, we get these Bible texts in our mind as we're going through our day. We'll get experiences where God will bring those Bible texts back to our consciousness and it will direct us in decisions that we have to make during the day.

John: John 14:26 tells us exactly that He will bring to remembrance the things that God has said so through the Word, God will speak to you, keep you, empower you. That's the front line method God has and it's effective, it's powerful and vital.

Gary: It's really why we need to be memorizing the Word of God. We would be storing the Word of God there because this is His audible Word. He speaks to us through these words from the Scripture. [music]

John: Friend, you want to hear from God, you want to hear His voice, you've got to keep that connection and God will speak to you. You listen for His voice and you'll hear Him speaking to you, maybe even more than you'd realized or imagined. It's all good news in the Word of God. Thanks for joining us today with Gary Gibbs, I'm John Bradshaw, this has been Bible Talk.

Announcer 2: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed. It expands on the subject including information you want to know. To receive this free, informative, Bible study guide, simply call, write or email and ask for 'The Power of a Positive No.' The toll free number is 866-Biblesays. That's 866-2425372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678 or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org.

Bible Talk is being produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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