For those of you signing on for the first day of our online Bible study, welcome! For those who are regular blog subscribes but who are not doing the study with us, I hope there will still be some blessing for you in these weekly posts. Be assured that I’ll still be doing the regular devotionals during the rest of the week.
Let me give you, in a way, a grand tour of this Bible Study of ours.
If you haven’t yet introduced yourself to the group, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so. It will help us know who is in the group. You can click here to visit the introduction page: Before Our Online Bible Study Begins.
I’ll begin each week with a brief thought/comment on the reading. I’ll take you through a simple outline or walk-through of the chapters for that week. Then I’ll pose some questions for you.
Or, you can start here in this space. Read my intro. Read some from the book. Read some of my outline. Read some more from the book, etc. Then answer the questions, all at your own pace.
How you do it is up to you and your time and preferences. This post today will be the longest I write because of these extra introductory instructions.
Every time I post for the Bible study, I will link the new post up on the Online Bible Study space on this web site. You can easily access every old post from that page. I hope that makes it easy for you to come back multiple times and do this study in pieces throughout each week or catch up if you get behind.
You can also find the schedule I plan to follow on the Online Bible Study page.
The only thing I ask is that as many of you share as possible your thoughts, comments, questions, and responses. We want to hear from you. I know some of you will be reading this book alongside us and you prefer not to chat in this space. I understand and, again, there is no pressure here. The more people who share, though, the more benefit we will get from this study. It is your experiences, knowledge and testimony that we don’t want to miss.
Ready to get started? I sure am! Let’s go!
Discerning the Voice of God, Part I
(Intro and Chapters 1 and 2)
If you called my family home during my teenage years and I answered the phone, you would have heard me say, “Hello, Mason residence. This is Heather speaking. May I help you?”
And you’d probably hang up the phone the first time you called for fear that you had mis-dialed an attorney’s office.
That’s how I answered the home phone for years. It’s because we had a problem in my house—I sounded like my mom. There were a few accidents before my fancy phone answering ways. People called and launched into a full conversation with my mom after my brief “hello,” while I scrambled to announce that they had the wrong person.
God doesn’t usually speak to us by first identifying Himself. “Hello, this is heaven. God speaking. How may I help you?”
It just isn’t that simple, nor should it be because that would require very little intimacy or personal relationship. Hearing, identifying and obeying the voice of God takes discernment, which Webster’s dictionary tells us is: “Keenness of insight and judgment.”
As you read or have read the first part of this book, some of you may have books filled with underlines and highlights and you’re excited to learn more. Others may be shrugging your shoulders thinking, “That’s all? This is basic.” And in some ways it is. Discerning the voice of God is a basic foundational skill in our journey of faith.
But, do we ever get to the place where we stop growing in this area? Isn’t there always more to learn? Discernment is “keenness,” which says to me it is a sharpened skill developed over time.
That’s why I hope that you veterans of the faith will freely and honestly share about how you’ve grown to know God’s voice, so that we can learn from you.
We learn discernment through practice. We talk with God so much, we listen so much, that His voice eventually becomes distinct from everything else we hear in our lives. It is experience and sometimes mistakes that turn the basics written down in a book into a living, breathing reality of our faith.
Walking Through the Book:
I personally know a Bible-teaching, home-group leading Christian who does not believe that God speaks to us today. He believes everything God has said and ever will say is written in the Bible. More than that, he teaches it is pretentious and prideful of us to assume that God cares enough about our individual lives to have anything to say about them.
I loved that Priscilla Shirer answered this right from the beginning of her book.
On page 14, she reminds us that God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So, His pattern of speaking to prophets in the past continues with us today.
She also says that it is God’s voice—the fact that He was an active, involved, listening and responding kind of God—that set Him apart from the myriad of fake gods surrounding Israel.
I think Tozer’s quote on p. 17 (before chapter one begins) sums it up:
Those who do not believe God speaks specifically will simply ignore or explain away all the times when God does communicate with them. However, those who spend each day in a profound awareness that God does speak are in a wonderful position to receive His word.
Here are the basics of preparing to hear God’s voice:
Come Expecting: That’s what Habakkuk did. He dared to ask God such difficult, pain-filled questions and then he waited for God’s response, fully expecting to hear.
Come As You Are: I love the quote beginning on page 23: “God is gracious, and when we want to speak to Him, He invites us to come as we are – questioning, complaining, and confused.” He then takes those questions and uses them as a way to reveal more of Himself to us.
Come Determined to Wait: Habakkuk made his complaint to God and then said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give for this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1). He waited there patiently for God to answer and didn’t move until he heard God’s clear voice.
Come Believing: God didn’t foretell a fairy tale future for the prophet. But, when Habakkuk heard God speak, he moved forward in belief—even in the difficult times. He concluded with my favorite set of verses from the whole book:
Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
It was the sacrifice of praise.
Her emphasis in this chapter is on taking time to listen. Praying in such a way that we don’t just talk to God, but we take time to hear from Him. She outlines the disciplines of praying Spirit-guided prayers, meditating on God’s Word, and worship as the foundation that allows us to hear God’s voice.
You can share anything you like in this space on the topic of listening and hearing from God. Here are some specific questions I’d like to ask you:
- Can you tell us about a time that you clearly heard God speak? How did you know it was Him ?
- Do you have a favorite quote, verse or passage from the book that you want to share with us?
- What discipline of the faith do you most struggle with? Do you have any tips you’ve found that help you in this area?
- What do you most want to learn about discerning the voice of God from this study?
You can post multiple times throughout the week as you read more and read what others have to say. Please reply to one another and encourage those who have shared with your responses and answers.
You should see a little tiny check box at the very bottom of this page that says: Notify me of follow-up comments via email. If you click that box, you should receive a notice when someone replies to this post and you won’t miss what others have to say.
I’m praying for you this morning as we begin this study, that God will make His voice clear to you and that you will be able to hear Him and then radically and passionately obey what He’s calling you to do.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.