In the last blog post we looked at the fact that God is a personal God who seeks relationship with us. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
We also recognize that without communication there can be no relationship. It also stands to reason that for any relationship to exist, communication must go both ways. God has communicated with mankind ever since creation. He has done so through many different means as Paul explains in Romans 1:18-20.
But many have refused to listen and have despised His offer of love, forgiveness, and eternal life in His presence. So, although they have communication from Him, they have rejected relationship with Him.
This brings us to our next point in how we hear from God. The writer of Hebrews begins that letter, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Matthew 17, when Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain on which Jesus was transfigured—or shone in all His glory—He met with Moses and Elijah who appeared with them there. Not knowing what else to say or do, Peter suggested he make shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
“While [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!’” (Matthew 17:5) God speaks to us through Jesus. “Listen to Him!”
Many who don’t yet know the Lord, try to bypass Jesus. They’re okay with talking about God, but they stumble over Jesus Christ, God’s Messiah. However, the Lord makes it very clear, if you want a relationship with God, if you want to commune with Him, you must go through Jesus. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
And for us who know the Lord and trust Him, we too must remember that we communicate with God and hear from Him through Jesus. Jesus invites us to petition God the Father in Jesus’ name. This is not a formula or incantation, but the nature of our relationship. The Father still says, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
What does it mean for us to listen to Jesus today? First, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Jesus’ words, God’s words are contained in the Bible, Old and New Testaments. His words are not merely sayings, or history, or good things to learn. God speaks to us through His Word.
“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) What I believe this is saying, and I have personally experienced, is that there are times when God speaks to us personally and specifically through His Word. In this respect, the Bible is like no other book.
Let me give you an example. When my wife and I returned from Austria where we had served as missionaries and helped establish two churches, I did not want to leave. My intent was to live, work, and die in Austria. Coming back to the States was not in my plan, but it was God’s plan. I just had a hard time accepting it, because to me, coming home after only six years spelled “failure.” I know that may seem harsh for some reading this, but those were the expectations of the day.
When we arrived back in the States, I floundered. My identity was so wrapped up in being a missionary in Austria that now I no longer knew who I was or what I was supposed to do. I agonized over this for two full years.
Then, one morning in my quiet time with the Lord, I was reading Acts 14. There it talks about Paul and Barnabas returning home after being sent out as missionaries. “They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.” (Acts 14:26)
“For the work they had now completed.” That’s the phrase that got my attention. And in that moment, the Holy Spirit tenderly spoke to me, “Rob, you completed the work I had given you. You can accept that and rest in it. Trust Me.” God’s printed word was so very personal and powerful in my life that day!
The Lord speaks to us through His Word, but we must listen. Always go to the Word with the intent to meet with and hear from God.
We also listen to Jesus today through His Holy Spirit. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
And in the same chapter, Jesus went on to explain, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you.” (vs. 13-14)
We continue to listen to Jesus through His Holy Spirit whom He sent to dwell within us. And in an effort to keep these posts short, I’m going to stop here and pick up this theme in the next post. See you there!