Lana and I went on our first missionary trip before we were married, down to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
She led scores of children from the streets into the daily Kid’s Crusade meetings like a Pied Piper and I preached each night. We met a special couple there, John and Sylvia. We appreciated being invited into their home and observing their wonderful marriage. He worked for the U.S. immigration service. They had a lovely daughter, about 10 years old, named Karen.
I remember Karen coming into the kitchen and saying to Sylvia, “Mom, I can’t get that ugly song out of my head.” It was a song she heard on the radio that was catchy but not nice. Her mom said, “Why don’t you ask the Lord what you should do?” Later in the day I overheard her mom ask, “Karen, what did the Lord tell you?” “He told me to sing a praise song and it would fix it.”
“Well, did it?”
"Yes, Mom, it did!”
Even a child can hear God’s voice! In fact, it is only as we become mature and “grown up” and start filtering out the Lord’s voice from our thoughts that we begin to mute the Lord.
We get so busy that we don’t take time to be still, to hush all the noise of the world. Thus we assume that the Lord has gone silent. Some theologians have made this into a doctrine, saying that the Lord never speaks today. I say, “Nonsense!”
I am so glad our Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27), and “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:22). Apologist Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “He is there and He is not silent!”
If God were to speak to you, what would He say? Would you listen for anger or admonition? Or would you expect love or encouragement? The Scriptures tell us that we should expect the latter, not the former. Even when the Lord warns us to forsake sin, His words are meant to save us, not destroy us.
In church, spontaneous words given by the Spirit should be received with precautions: “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).
If we know our Bible, we can evaluate what we hear based on God’s written word.
The written word of God is given for our instruction, to know God’s ways (1 Cor. 10:11). Spoken words given by the Spirit should line up with the Bible and must be for “edification, encouragement, and consolation.” (1 Cor. 14:3). God speaks to build us up, to inspire our faith, or to guide us: not to condemn, control or shame us.
Over the years I’ve received letters through the mail which had important news, even legal documents; things worth preserving. But nothing can ever replace the times when my wife and I have been apart (even on the other side of the world) and I received a phone call and could hear her voice! A letter may be true, but it may also be old, from years ago. But a phone call comes from a living, breathing person, and I can feel their heart and feelings coming through to me in the sound of their voice.
Try an experiment. Silence your phone. Turn the TV off. After you’ve been reading from your Bible awhile, after you’ve already praised Him or mentioned your needs, take the next step into two-way prayer: wait on the Lord while expecting to hear His voice. He’s already been speaking … but have you been listening?
Ron Wood is pastor of Trinity Assembly of God, located on Chandler Road at State
Boulevard in north Meridian. Website: www.trinitymeridian.com. Phone: (601) 483-8189.