How Does God Communicate With Us?
How does God communicate to His people today? It’s not that God couldn’t speak to you in a vision or a dream. Rather, it’s that today, He speaks through what I call “the four C’s”:
C-ommands from the inspired Word of God
C-ompetent and wise counselors
C-ircumstances and changing conditions
C-onscience aided by the Holy Spirit
Friend, at one time or another, God will use any or all of these means to give direction to you if you are ready to listen. In my case, God used the wise counsel of my pastor and guidance from some close friends as I struggled with whether to continue pursuing a pulpit ministry or to accept a seminary teaching position.
Whether you are a pastor, a plumber, a painter, an office worker, young or old, a Paul or a new Christian, you need to ask yourself: Am I listening as God speaks to me through some or all of these means? You will never know the will of God if you are not sensitive to God’s Spirit and therefore tune out His voice, which may come through any of these different avenues. How can I say this with such certainty? Because…
- You can never obey a command that you never read in the Bible.
- You can never obey godly advice that you never ask for or accept.
- You can never obey God’s leading through circumstances and changes if you are not willing to obey in the midst of those circumstances and changes.
- You can never obey the Spirit’s leading if you are not listening with a heart that’s willing to obey.
Obedience to the will of God is possible only as we listen when God speaks to us through any of these four means of communication. Are you listening?
Obedience leads us one decision at a time — Question: How did Paul get to the point in his life where he was looking across the Aegean Sea toward a new mission field? Answer: He arrived at it…one act of obedience at a time. Paul’s path of obedience started on the Damascus Road. But it didn’t stop there. As soon as Paul could see…he was obedient to be baptized. And it didn’t stop there. As soon as he regained his strength…he began to preach. And it didn’t stop there. It continued on, one step at a time…until Paul could reflect back on more than 25 years as a Christian and state before kings, “I was not disobedient to the vision” (Acts 26:19).
Dear brother, your impact on the lives of others — your family, the people at your church, your workmates — is cultivated with each life-decision you make. It’s the little things — such as reading your Bible, praying, going to church, and standing up for your faith at work — that add influence to your life. Obey God one decision at a time and see where it leads you. Always remember: The key to a powerful Christian life is obedience to our Lord’s leading — one decision at a time.
Obedience leads to confident living — As we’ve already seen, Paul and Company finally made it to Troas, where they received the vision of the man from Macedonia. Then these words — “we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia” — were used to describe the group’s eagerness to obey God’s leading once they understood the command (Acts 16:10). (Don’t fail to notice their teachable spirit…as well as their confident spirit!)
Now comes the icing on the cake — what I believe to be one of the most compelling reasons for our obedience. It is this: Obedience leads to a powerful, confident life. After Paul and his team had seen the vision, they got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel there (verse 10). Can’t you just feel the confidence these men had as they now knew what God wanted them to do?
When you and I are obedient, and when we allow ourselves to be led by God through the unexpected, we then have a confidence based on the fact that we know we are exactly where God wants us to be. What a joy it is to know we are at the center of God’s will! Then we, along with Paul, can confidently lead and boldly influence others as we declare, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Indeed, obedience leads to a powerful, confident life.
A Desire to Be Obedient
Now, how about you? Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of confidence in your life? Wouldn’t you like to live a powerful and influential life? Wouldn’t you like your life to have a lasting impact and give glory to God?
If your answer is yes (and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be!), then ask God to give you the strength to obey His commands as they come to you. And how will God’s commands come? They will come…
…as you faithfully read His Word,
…as you faithfully hear the preaching of His Word,
…as you faithfully listen to wise counsel from His Word, and
…as you faithfully deal with sin in your life as revealed by the piercing light of His Word.
A desire to obediently follow the Lord’s leading should be the supreme goal of your life. Is it? Your willingness to trust and obey the Lord is a key step toward experiencing God’s blessings in your life. And it is a key element in becoming a man who makes a difference.
Commit yourself to God daily
Our devotion to God is strengthened when we offer Him a fresh commitment each day. Every morning, in a heartfelt prayer either written or silent, start fresh with God by giving Him all that you are, all that you have… now…forever…and daily. Lay everything on God’s altar in a surrendered manner.
Give God your life, your body (such as it is), your health (or lack of it), your husband, each child (one by one), your home, your possessions. Nurture the habit of placing these blessings in God’s loving hands to do with them what He will. After all, they are not ours—they are His!
A daily prayer of commitment helps us to release what we think are our rights to these gifts. As the saying goes, “Hold all things lightly and nothing tightly.” I also find these words from nineteenth-century devotional writer Andrew Murray helpful: “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.”