I think the toughest questions I have ever been asked are “How do I know God is speaking to me?” and “How do I hear from God?”. There is definitely no easy or quick answer. It has especially been tough when a non-Christian or someone who has never been exposed to church asks this. God speaks to us in so many ways and that is so exciting when you think about it.
I have learned that the ways that God speaks to us can be placed into two broad categories: General Revelation and Special Revelation. These are the two broad categories of the way God reveals Himself to us. It’s interesting because my first series I did with the students was “Glory Revealed”, then at one point I did a series simply called “Reveal”, which is also this years See You At the Pole theme. I think one of the biggest ways some may confuse God speaking is with emotions. Usually our emotions are not a good indicator of what God is saying because our emotions are fickle and can’t be trusted.
General revelation is very broad and can be broken into three categories itself: the universe, the conscience, and God’s providence. Special revelation on the other hand is the direct communication from God to mankind. There are several ways that God has revealed Himself or still does reveal Himself through special revelation. These include: the actual voice of God, theophanies (the appearance of God in a physical or visible sense), God’s activity throughout history, dreams, visions, the lot, the urim and thummim (Exodus 28:30), angels, prophets, object lessons or illustrations (why it’s so important to listen in church), the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Now I know this seems like a seminary lesson but I want to share a few instances of how God has spoken to me.
I want to share in this post about how God revealed Himself to me just yesterday. As I have shared previously, these have been extremely difficult and emotional times for us and as I mentioned earlier it can be tough to distinguish when God is speaking during emotional times. Well with that it has been hard for me to find motivation for some things and to be honest I have been frustrated with a few things and experienced some confusion. I decided to spend a couple hours at my favorite coffee shop Java on the Square and do some studying as I prepared for the next few Wednesday nights. It seemed that as soon as I opened my Bible, read some scripture and some notes I had on my computer that God really began speaking to me. I was trying to figure out what to do as a back to school series and what I wanted to convey to the students regarding making this year a fresh start if the past year(s) hadn’t been so great for them. God led me to the right scripture for it. I have used this scripture in Isaiah 6 earlier this year but we are going to focus on a different portion of it than before. Not only that but when I had been in Isaiah 6 earlier this year I felt God revealing Himself to me then. It was incredible getting that confirmation that it is where we need to spend a few weeks. Then all of the sudden a special song comes on the radio that confirms what God is speaking to me even more. This along with a couple of cool conversations with people in the coffee shop even more grounded in me the things that I knew God was saying to me. I know the explanation seems very generic and I feel it needs to be. I guess I could say that my exhaustion, emotions, and taking to heart some hurtful things that people have said have led me to doubt some things. But in this moment God gave me a peace about what I was sensing He was revealing to me. I was overwhelmed by the way God was speaking to me and the peace He was providing and found it difficult to not cry while sitting in the coffee shop. I want to share this with you not to say “look at me and the encounter I had with God” as to brag about it. Instead I want to say cling to God and He will reveal Himself to you. I want to encourage you if you are struggling with hearing from God, to continue to listen for Him to reveal Himself. I don’t have all the answers just yet, but know that He will reveal them to me as I need them.