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Hearing Voices, Pt. 2

Scripture: Proverbs 21:1
Can we hear God's voice? How does God communicate with us? If we have an impression, is it from God? The Lord speaks through people and through His providential workings.
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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. I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Gary Gibbs. Hi, Gary.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. We're talking today about hearing voices, specifically hearing the voice of God.

John: Yes, how do you know when you're hearing God's voice? There's voices everywhere. You receive an impression, you get an idea, you get a feeling, you hear something. Is it God? Are you going crazy? Are you making a mistake? How do you know?

Gary: Well, people are loathe to admit they hear voices but I live here in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Recently, a study was done of 15,000 people in this area and they found that almost 2,000 of them heard voices.

John: 2,000 out of 15,000 heard voices?

Gary: Right here in my backyard, my friend. But the conclusion of the researchers is reassuring. Here's what they said, "People who hear voices inside their heads may be perfectly well and do not necessarily need psychiatric help."

John: But maybe not.

Gary: It's the "maybe" and the "not necessarily" that will keep me from telling people I hear voices.

John: Yeah, that's an awful lot. I wonder if it is restricted to your part of the country or whether this is nationwide.

Gary: I don't know but we want to talk about more serious things. We want to talk about how can you know whether you're hearing the voice of God?

John: I know that at another time on Bible Talk we talked about how you hear the voice of God through the word of God. The word of God is God's front line method of communication. It's through the Bible that God primarily speaks to us. I know there got to be other ways as well.

Gary: Well, the word of God is such a fundamental way that He talks to us. That's why it's important to read the word because then we get acquainted with this character. We get acquainted with who He is and it tunes us into His voice. The word of God was written by people who were inspired, who were hearing God's voice speak to them.

One day, I was going to buy a car part. It actually regulate the window going up and down. It's a very expensive part. In fact, I called the dealer and it was like several hundred dollars. I called the parts house it was still several hundred dollars. Then I called the junkyard and they had it for under a hundred dollars. The guy at the junkyard said, "Yeah, I have it." I said, "Listen, I've got to take off time from work to come over there and get it. I want to make sure if I come, you've got the part." He said, "No problem, come."

When I got there, he takes me out into the junkyard, John. He finds a car just like mine and there's a door that has the part in it. As soon as I see it, I realized this is a perfect door. It's intact. He'll make more money selling the entire door than selling, ripping it apart and giving me one part of it. He actually told me this. He said, "You know, let me go find another one."

I thought, "Oh, man, I hope he finds another one or I've come over here for nothing." As he was looking through the junkyard, I thought this guy's going to come back and say, "Sorry, I don't have another one. I can't sell this to you." And then I started thinking wait, I deserve this part. I was going to make a stink over this. I can just sense this rising up.

John: Not you, man.

Gary: But a Bible text came to mind. Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. Like the rivers of water he turns it wherever he wishes." In other words, the king is the person in authority over you, right? His heart, his will is in the hand of God and God can impress that person.

John: Sure.

Gary: I claimed that promise and I said, "OK, God, I'm not going to demand my rights here. I want to be a witness for you here. You impress the guy if I'm supposed to have that part out of this door." Guy comes back. He looks at me. I could tell he was struggling over this and he said, "You know what? I'm going to let you have the part." I said, "I really appreciate that." I went home with my part. But if I would have been ready for a fight, I think he would have sensed that and he would have resisted giving me that part. But the spirit of God was there because God had spoken to me through His word.

John: That's right. When you're ready to receive the word like that, make your heart open and malleable, pliable. God's going to do something. He'll speak to you. It's because He spoke and you were sensitive, you heard, that situation really worked out great.

Gary: It really did. There's another way God speaks to us and that, I believe, is through the word of God's living messengers.

John: You mean a preacher, perhaps?

Gary: That's right.

John: Yeah.

Gary: You're a preacher, I'm a preacher. Have there been times where you have preached and you just knew God was speaking through you and then somebody comes up to you and tells you that?

John: Very often. In fact, just very recently, someone came to me after the sermon I preached and said, "You know, you were preaching just to me." I know every preacher listening today has had that experience. It's reassuring to the preachers to know that God is getting through to somebody through you. But then again, it illustrates this point that through the messenger of God, the person in the pulpit, God is going to... He speaks and communicates.

Gary: One day I was preaching. I used to preach at two churches, John. One an early service and the next one right after that. I had to drive an hour to get to the next service. I preach the same sermon but they were always a little different because different groups. While I rushed into my second church service and as I started preaching this sermon, I just felt like I wasn't communicating. I felt like I was preaching to a brick wall.

I wasn't getting anywhere. All the way through I thought this sermon is bombing. It's not going anywhere. But I had to keep doing it. I couldn't sit down in the middle of sermon and say, "Excuse me, folks. This sermon isn't going anywhere. Let's have the benediction and you can all go home."

John: Sometimes I wish I could.

Gary: Sometimes I've sat and listened to sermons where I wished the pastor said that. Anyway, nevertheless, I kept preaching. I've been in this long enough that I realized that's probably the time when I had that feeling that God is really trying to work through me and it's the devil trying to psych me out.

John: Sure.

Gary: I kept preaching. At the end of the sermon, I shook everybody's hands, they went home. I get a phone call later from a friend of mine who said, "I got to tell you a story." She said, "My daughter has been out of the church, isn't practicing her faith. She's visiting us right now." It was during the holidays. She said, "She brought our little grandson. He's about a year and a half to two years old."

And she said, "They came to church today. But you know what happened? Early morning as we get ready to go to church, we're all dressed, we're all ready to go to church. The little boy is all dressed and we're walking out the door and we say, 'Where's Johnny?'"Nobody knows where the boy is. And we go looking for him. Guess where they find him?

John: Where did they find him?

Gary: Sitting in the toilet. Not on the toilet but in the toilet, in his church clothes, splashing in the water. It's a great bird bath for a two-year-old.

John: No way.

Gary: His mother is horrified. Grandma and grandpa are shocked. "What are we going to do?" They just realized, "Oh no, our daughter's going to find this as her excuse out of going to church today. It's the only clothes they brought for the kid."

John: OK.

Gary: The grandma and grandpa sweep him up to say, "No problem, honey. We'll wash the clothes out. We'll throw them in the dryer. We'll have time enough still to get to church." That was coming for the early service, the Bible study period we call Saddle School. Some people call it Sunday School. They get him all cleaned up and sure enough they get there in time for church. This is the service where I'm preaching I feel like I'm not communicating.

Well, as I'm preaching, unbeknownst to me, every point I'm making in this sermon is addressing the issues this young lady has with God that she has discussed with her mother all week long.

John: Wow.

Gary: She leans over to her mother who now has goose bumps on her arms because she realizes what's happening here and she says, "Mom, did you call the pastor and tell him about my questions?" She said, "No, honey." She said it was uncanny. I was just hitting every single point. And so, that's why I was having a hard time getting through but you see what God was doing is he was using the living messenger, the preacher, to speak to one very specific person.

John: Hey, we've got a great offer we want to tell you about today. We've got a little booklet that you're really going to enjoy. It's called "The Power of a Positive No." Now, you make sure you call that number you hear, contact us at the address or addresses we give you at the end of the program. We'll be sure and send this to you right away. You'll enjoy it. It's free, no obligation involved. You're just going to love this and it will really connect you with the Lord. The Power of a Positive No. It's our free offer to you today.

Gary: Another way God speaks to us is through his providential workings, through the influence of his spirit upon our heart. Things happen that just aren't coincidental.

John: Hey, don't you have to be a little bit careful about this because then every next thing that happens, "Oh that's the Lord doing that. The Lord did this. God did that." You've met those people where every last thing...

Gary: Yeah but you're talking about neurotic-type people, psychotic-type people. I'm talking about things that happen that you know they didn't just happen by chance.

John: And sure enough, if you're a mature Christian, you know. You just know.

Gary: Let me give you an example of this. One day, I just sensed that God was getting ready to move me in ministry. I was getting ready to move from one job to another. I didn't know where I was going to move and I didn't know if this really was the voice of God.

I took the day, John, to pray. Actually, to fast and pray. As I was on my knees praying to God and saying, "Lord, am I really hearing your voice on this? Why would I even want to leave here? I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I love this church I'm pastoring." The only other thing I'd like to do would be this and I cast this thing before the Lord. And I said, "Who would do that?"

I thought about one particular ministry. The only ministry I know that would do that would be XYZ Ministry. Then the phone rang. I'm still on my knees. I reach over, pick it up. It is the president of that ministry who says, "Gary, we're sitting here talking about starting a new branch of the ministry." He named the very type of thing I had just talked to the Lord in prayer. He said, "And your name came up. Would you possibly be interested?"

John: It kind of taken you too long to say, "I think I'm game for that."

Gary: I think I'm game for that. Now, the reason I think God gave me that type of providence to confirm that he was speaking to me was ultimately, that became a very difficult decision to make because it meant a major change in my lifestyle, in the way my wife and I worked together. I ended up having to travel a lot and all that. But I could always look back through all the difficult times and say, "Wait a minute. I know God led me here." And so that's how God speaks to us through his providences.

John: Any other ways God speaks to us? That's a dramatic story and you know that God is at work then. Does God speak to you through other people, family, friends, whatever?

Gary: He does, and that's why the Bible says "In a multitude of counselors, there's safety." Proverbs 11:14.

John: Got to be careful about this, don't you? I mean if your scoundrel brother-in-law comes on and says, "Hey, I really think you ought to do this." Maybe that's not the voice of God but if some godly people approach you or counsel with you or say something to you. Perhaps, not in every case, but perhaps the Lord is speaking to you through these people who know him.

Gary: We have to check everything against the word of God. We really do. Another way is through impressions. Impressions are not, alone, are not a safe guide, but he also impresses us. I was driving down the road one day and I was going a little too fast. I've been on the road a long time. I was tired. I just was impressed, "Better slow down, there could be a police officer ahead."

I don't make a habit of speeding but I thought I'm so tired and I want to get home. "No, you better slow down." I didn't listen. I took a nice souvenir home because there was a police officer right ahead.

John: See, you got to listen to the voice of God or the impressions. I heard a story about one fellow who was traveling along in the vehicle enjoying the beautiful scenery and he felt impressed that God was saying to him, "You got to close your eyes." That's a funny thing, isn't it? He's driving along. You got to close your eyes.

Gary: It could be very dangerous if he's driving.

John: Well, no, he wasn't driving. I got to tell you he was a passenger.

Gary: Oh, good, I feel better.

John: He's a passenger in this vehicle, closes his eyes, and a moment after he closes his eyes, bam! The windshield shatters. Glass everywhere, all over his face and in his eyelids. If his eyes were opened, maybe he wouldn't even see today. An impression that God gave him.

Gary: Friend, I hope you're inspired to tune in to the voice of God. Read His word. Get acquainted with His voice and start praying that you can hear Him guiding you through the day.

John: The Bible says, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine eye." That's God's promise to you. Get our free book, "The Power of a Positive No". Be sure to join us next time for more stimulating discussion about the Bible. With Gary Gibbs, I'm John Bradshaw. This has been Bible Talk. God bless you.

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